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A young lady who has a creative eye through the lens, Tara Anastasoff, is an avid photographer and writer. She is born and raised in Marietta and is the daughter of Brandon and Eden Anastasoff. Tara is currently the President of the National Honor Society and the Editor-in-Chief and Photo Editor of the school newspaper of North Cobb High School. A recipient of several awards, such as AP Scholar Award, Leadership Award, Wildcats Award, and Superior Award among other things, she has a cumulative weighted GPA score of 4.380. She was accepted at the University of Georgia majoring in Public Relations. Congratulations to The Filipino-American Association of Greater Atlanta’s 2019 Presidential Scholar, TARA ANASTASOFF!

2020 Presidential Scholar

JOHANN SHERWIN LOPEZ Earning a Grade Point Average of 4.0, Johann Sherwin Lopez is the Filipino-American of Greater Atlanta 2020 Presidential Scholar. He is the son of Felix and Josephine Lopez from Athens, Georgia. Recently, he graduated salutatorian at Monsignor Donovan Catholic High School. Johann is accredited for several academic achievements and to name a few: Vice-President of the National Honor Society, Silver Awardee of the Math League, 2nd place winner from 2017-2020 of the Knights of Columbus Catholic Citizenship Essay Contest District. Johann might also be our future successful businessman and politician. He was the Vice-President of the Future Business Leaders of America and a house representative of the Department of Georgia BoyState in 2019. An avid fan of sports, Johann played basketball, soccer, cross country, tennis and track in school. He was named MVP in tennis and placed fourth in individual race in Cross Country. For community service Johann was given the Outstanding Volunteer Award by his school. In addition, he is also into music. Johann played alto saxophone and had the opportunity to perform with the choir at St. Patrick Cathedral in New York. A well-rounded teenager, he tackled everything and excelled in all of them! Very impressive! Johann will be attending University of Georgia, Bachelor of Science major in Biology in the fall of 2020 under the Zell Miller Scholarship and UGA’s Harris Scholarship. Congratulations, Johann!

2021 Fil-Am Presidential Scholar

The older of two children, Cailene Escobal Afalla is the daughter of Mike and Christine Afalla and the granddaughter of Willy and Sally Afalla and Henry and Susan Escobal. A senior at North Cobb High School and expected to graduate in May, she has been an honor roll student since Freshman. Retaining a GPA of 3.768 all through high school, Cailene completed the high school requirements at the end of her junior year. Currently, she is also enrolled at the Kennesaw State University taking college courses. Furthermore, Cailene dedicates her extra time for Church and volunteer work around the community. Her major interests lies in gymnastics. A participating tournament gymnast for several years now she is at level 10 gymnastics skills, a very impressive feat. This would be the drive and direction for Cailene to major in Exercise Science Degree at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana in the fall. Our 2021 Fil-Am Presidential Scholar, Cailene E. Afalla, Congratulations!

A Day to Honor the Heroes

It was a perfect day with no clouds in the sky. Our drive to VA Hospital in Decatur was uneventful, no traffic to handle. We were met at the main entrance with a group of accommodating and welcoming nurses and security. As we introduced ourselves as members of the Filipino-American Association of Greater Atlanta we were greeted with wide smiles. Project Feed the Frontliners was coordinated with Dr. Anthony Cooper, Chief Voluntary Officer of the VA Hospital. And was setup for Sunday, May 31, 2020 at 12:00pm to feed 150 medical staff. Community BBQ delivered 150 boxes of freshly cooked smoked chicken, pork, beef, mac and cheese and cole slaw and three crates of bottled water to the front of the hospital. With the hospital’s policy restricting medical staff to leave the building during the day, the boxes were delivered to each floor by the housekeeping staff under the direction of Mr. Edward White, Environmental Management Supervisor of the VA Hospital. Altogether it was a very rewarding experience for all of us. This gesture was a simple token of our appreciation to the frontliners for their dedication and sacrifice. Fil-Am officers and members present to help were Lolita Elliott, Tiffany Elliott-Faber, Nenette Smith, Bob Peterman, Manoling Pellicer and Venus Soriano. Our deepest thank you to all who unselfishly donated and shared their appreciation to the frontliners.

A Story for Generations

Hi - I'm Cristina Baccay Holdsworth...happily married, mother of 2 children (soon to be 3 on July 4), a working professional in my mid-30's, and first-generation Filipino-American. When I was asked to contribute to the Fil-Am newsletter, I knew exactly what I wanted to share with our dear community...the inspiring story of how my parents, Dr. Romeo and Virginia Bacccay, came to the US to chase their dreams and build a better life for our family. Here's the beautiful note that my dad wrote to my sister (Eleanor Baccay Reece) and myself almost 5 years ago after celebrating America's Independence Day: Yes, America is still the best place to live in on earth! Even with all its shortcomings, and all the brouhaha of politics and the government, America is still great and beautiful. Happy Birthday America, "born" on July 4, 1776. I remember when I was doing my PhD in Japan, and before I met your mom, I thought that after my PhD, I will return to the Philippines, and enter politics, and hopefully become the next president of the Philippines. Ha-ha-ha-ha! Now, I see that altruistic ambition as pretty naive and immature at best. But I still recommend to young people to aim high, and dream big because by doing so, you will be inspired and incentivized to work better and harder, and achieve things beyond the wildest of your dreams. Anyways, EVERYTHING changed after I married your mom. Here's a little HISTORY of our pre-entry into the USA, and our early days in AMERICA: I married my dear Virginia in church, 2 days after I received my PhD on March 25, 1982 in a graduation ceremony at Osaka University, Japan. Although we already had our civil marriage performed at the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, Japan on March 11, 1982. Three days after our wedding in Suita City, Osaka, we flew to the USA on an H-1 VISA (a visa granted to foreigners with exceptional qualifications, whatever that is). Cristina had seen the Suita City Catholic Church in 2008 when we visited Japan. The H-1 visa was made possible through a postdoc fellowship that I received from the US Department of Agricultural Research Center, which was connected with the University of Nebraska and Roman L. Hruska Animal Research Center in Hastings, Nebraska. And you were born in Mary Lannings Hospital in Hastings, Nebraska during a blizzard. After you were born, I did not know what a blizzard is, and in spite of the advice of the nurses in the hospital, I went home for a good night sleep. Oh boy, oh boy, what a blizzard that really was! Halfway through, my car stopped running, and I have to walk several miles to reach home. I could not see the road because everything was white. I could not see street signs, left or right nor markers because they were all covered with snow. And Hastings, NE was sparsely populated then. So very few cars on the road, and NO PEOPLE passing by. It's like a zombie town. When I reached home, I thought I could remove my ears. My hairs were like popsicles, and my clothes were like starched and iron-pressed. As soon as I got to open the door, I immediately took a hot shower with all my clothes and shoes on. Only then, I learned what a blizzard really is! Anyways, going back to the US Department of Agriculture's Roman L. Hruska Research Center in Hastings, NE. How did we get there of all places? Well, my PhD thesis was on Wastewater Treatment combined with Fuel Generation from Biomass (animal manure, cow dung, human excretions, rotten leaves, all kinds of things), and the US Department of Agriculture was very interested in it. The Head of the Research Center went to Osaka University and interviewed me there. Actually, this guy (Dr. Andrew Hashimoto) met me already in Philadelphia, USA a year before my graduation in Osaka, when I came to the USA to present a paper on the above subject. Then a year after you were born, while still living in Nebraska, one of the technocrats of President Marcos, the charismatic president of the Philippines in the 70's - 80's, offered me a job as the Balikbayan Scientist (Returning Scientist) in 1983. But GOD has other plans for us. He changed our destinies. One of my former fellow employees at Philippine Refining Company, which is part of Lever International (the company that makes soaps, detergents, and cooking oils), where I worked as an R&D Manager before I went to Japan for my PhD, introduced me to an American entrepreneur in the Philippines who has a professor-brother at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, PA. This professor was looking for a Filipino scientist who wants to pursue research work on wastewater treatment at CMU. BINGO!!! Mommy and I cannot believe it. My former work colleague in the Philippines and the American entrepreneur did not know that I am about to accept a job back in the Philippines. And they as well as the professor did not know that my PhD was on wastewater treatment/biomass technology. How did all things come about like this? I can only attribute it to DIVINE INTERVENTION. And so, we are all here in America, law-abiding citizens in the land of great opportunities! And now, we are further blessed with your union in marriage with Adam, and Chris, and blessed furthermore with the birth of Zay, and Izzy! Thank God, the Almighty for all our blessings and the countless gifts and favors that we receive in life from HIM here in America. I am a little bit carried away, but I thought that's one way we could help celebrate the birth and founding of America by recollecting the gold 'ole days in America. God bless, and Great Love, Dad & Mom I was so touched by my dad's words, that I then wrote a note to my daughter, Isabella, in hopes that she will feel the same pride and gratitude that I do for the sacrifices that my parents made to pave a better future for their children, grandchildren, and generations to come. Dear Izzy, I am so proud to pass along an amazing story from your Lolo and Lola about how they first came to the US. They were very smart, courageous and strong. I hope that you, too, will one day have your own hopes, dreams and adventures; and embody the virtues, qualities and values that your Lolo and Lola embody. If it wasn't for them, I would've never been born in the US, and I wouldn't have met your daddy and had you. They are truly amazing, and we are so blessed to have their love and care. Love, Mommy Thank you for taking the time to read our story. Let's continue to promote pride in our Filipino-American heritage through our actions, words, and care for one another.

Consular Community Award 2018

This prestigious and fitting award was bestowed on Ely Abellera the first president of the Filipino-American Association of Greater Atlanta for developing a support organization for the Filipinos that migrated and made Atlanta their home. Ely Abellera's acceptance speech: This is one heck of an honor for someone, simply, for being old. Yes indeed, I get it! I am not one who throws compliments rather loosely and indiscriminately. Neither do I acknowledge compliments thrown my way that easily. Although I feel so honored I can only humbly accept this award on behalf of the broader Filipino community here in Atlanta, as all of us have worked diligently to serve our community. To be able to express this here in the open with all humility is precisely why the change of heart after the initial hesitation and feeling of embarrassment when I was first approached about this honor. My special thanks to the Kalayaan committee, especially to the chairman Ms. Meg Bhuiyan and Honorary Consul Raul Donato whom I understand initiated it. As I reflect on what has happened since I first arrived in Atlanta I am amazed at how much has changed over (dare I say) the last 52 years. Atlanta has come a long way since I rolled up in my flaming red 2-door Lemans with Eudora in her aquamarine Mercury Cougar. Along when I-75 and I-85 were still in the drawing board, a long way when the only landmark skyscraper was the regency Hyatt with its famous classy revolving blue-domed restaurant, the Polaris, a long way when there was only one Chinese restaurant in the entire metro area. It is a long way when my friend Manolo and I would have to decide whether to eat in the white cafeteria or in the cafeteria reserved for the blacks down in the basement; a long way when I would awake to a burnt cross in our front yard and eggs thrown to the front door of our very first residence. While Atlanta was warm, it was still cold to foreigners who didn't know where we stood while integration was slowly starting to take place. We relied on our friends to be our backbone, our community. By 1974, we decided to formalize our support system among the few Filipinos by forming the Filipino American Association of Greater Atlanta. Those days are gone but it is the first chapter of the yet to be written history of Filipinos here in this city we've come to love. Fast forward five decades, and those of us at the organizational meeting are now grandparents. Now, Filipinos are in the tens of thousands throughout the Atlanta area. Fil-Am is just one of dozens of organizations to help our community connected. While at times folks are confused which one is which, it probably does not matter as long as we are focused toward one direction ... together and forward. Among us are accomplished folks ... teachers, realtors, musicians, chefs, lawyers, nurses, doctors and entrepreneurs. All are contributing their individual talents and expertise in enriching Atlanta as a premier city of multiculturalism. Indeed, Atlanta has come a long way and so has the Filipino American community progressive and forward looking. Generation after generation, we have all served our community in different ways, all the while honoring and preserving our shared Filipino culture and values. I am honored to be a part of it and I appreciate how each and everyone has contributed their talents and hard work. We all have firmly planted our roots here in the South and got assimilated. We are an integral part in making Atlanta great and home for all of us. You made the difference! You all make it happen! Kayo po lahat ang dahilan! Make no mistake about it. It is not one individual, it's not one group, and it is not one organization. Lahat po tayo! MARAMING, Maraming SALAMAT at MALIGAYANG ARAW NG ATING KALAYAAN!!****


June 30, 2019 What a beautiful and perfect Sunday afternoon at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center, Tarpley Hall for the Filipino American Association of Greater Atlanta (Fil-Am) mid-year special cultural event, the DUO TEKLADO, “the epitome of celebrations: the 45th Anniversary of Fil-Am, the Commemoration of Filipino-American Friendship Day and honoring our leaders of tomorrow”, the next generation Filipino-Americans in Atlanta. Ms. Marites Fernandez (our very own celebrity, and current president of the Filipino-American Association of Greater Atlanta and Dr. Rene Dalandan, both internationally known Filipino concert pianists, gave us all a taste of American and Filipino music we all remember from years past. Playing simultaneously on two shiny baby grands, they entranced throngs of Filipino-Americans and friends listening attentively with nostalgia. A beautiful concert, it was also reminiscent of June 15, 1996, 23 years ago, when Ms. Marites was one of the Filipino artists of international fame featured alongside Maniya Barredo, prima ballerina for the Atlanta Ballet, and Lea Salonga (of Les Miserables Fame) at the 1996 Olympic Year Fil-Am Gala, “The Filipino Experience” held at the Niko in Atlanta, with about 500 guests in attendance. Most touching and memorable then and now was Ms. Marites’ playing the beautiful ever classic Mayon: Piano Concerto by Francisco Buencamino, Sr. whose greatest work musically describes the most famous perfectly shaped volcano depicting its peaceful idyllic mood and fiery eruptions, always bringing back memories of our beloved mother country, the Philippines. So it was exciting to see the concert hall packed, to see familiar faces of friends old and new, Filipino-Americans, along with the next generation, who came to listen to a repertoire of well-known music from Gershwin, Piazzolla and Bernstein, and our own equally beautiful Filipino classical music by Buencamino and some newer Filipino music by Ryan Cayabyab. A very nice Sunday afternoon of cultural entertainment right here in our neighborhood of Filipino-Americans in Greater Atlanta, Georgia. Didi B. O’Connor Fil-Am President Olympic Year 1996 What a beautiful show with beautiful & handsome performers & guests! Sorry, I missed it due to health problem. Gloria Macaraeg Sabiniano GREAT SHOW! Eligio Abellera What a great performance & congrats to all the scholars! Eden Fernandez Wonderful concert! Two very talented pianists and a great selection of music! Apanay Jr Manolo Amazing Duo!!! As always .... Marithes !!!!! you're awesome !!! Gloria Flores Awesome.. Lolita Elliott Congrats..regards to all Elito Circa

GA House of Representatives Resolution recognizing Filipino-American Association of Greater Atlanta

Happy New Board for a New Generation

The New Year’s Eve Induction Ball is an established tradition of the Filipino American Association of Greater Atlanta since its initial inception back in 1974. This year, it was held at the Marriott Hotel at the Galleria. It was another successful event put forth by the outgoing and incoming boards of the organization. We thank all of them for their selfless and thankless effort in carrying out the tradition and in volunteering their services to the various activities in the community. As both the outgoing President Nenette Smith and incoming President Marites Pellicer conveyed in their messages, this would not have been possible without those willing to serve. Of course, the continued community support has a lot to do with the association’s success and accomplishments. I would like, therefore, to echo the call for everyone to continue their support as we embark on the number 45, the milestone number, the number of years we have been in existence in promoting our Philippine culture and in the service for our ever-growing community. Further, I would reiterate the profound thanks and deep gratitude which Ms. Pellicer ably and loudly articulated to those who have served in one capacity or another. You are the epitome of what makes an association great! It has never been, “What is in it for me,” but “What can I do to help?” Our hats off to all of you! Ely Abellera 1974 Fil-Am President

Hari Ng Tondo

Just came home from watching the very well attended premier Atlanta screening of Hari Ng Tondo. Not knowing what it was about I did have reservations about going based on the title of the movie itself. I’m glad I went though because after watching the movie, meeting, and listening to the producer/director, it was totally well worth it. It shows the ability of Filipinos to produce quality entertainment even with limited budget, showcase local talents, and at the same time impart a lesson. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Practically all, if not, all of those who attended expressed similar sentiments. The title maybe confusing to a number of folks since apparently there were other productions with similar title. It is definitely not about gang-violence related to the notorious Tondo version of modern-day Robin Hood, Asiong Salonga. Thank you, Carlos Siguion-Reyna and to the Fil-Am Association of Greater Atlanta board for bringing it here. It was a realistic depiction of life in the Philippines especially the poor. By the way, Mr. Siquion-Reyna has very impressive credentials. He is very active in Philippine movies, not only as a director/producer, but also as an actor. He was a full-time Arts professor at the faculty of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Asia Graduate Film and Television Department from 2008-2015 teaching film directing and screenwriting. We need more of his talent and this kind of production promoted here in Atlanta and elsewhere. About Carlos Siguion-Reyna CARLOS SIGUION-REYNA is a film/theater director, film educator, and actor. He received his MFA in Film from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He served three terms as president of the Directors' Guild of the Philippines, Inc. (of which he is a founding member), and co-wrote and lobbied for the law creating the Film Development Council of the Philippines. For cinema, he directed 13 films, of which several have screened, competed, or received awards in the Philippines and in major international film festivals including those of Berlin, Toronto, Tokyo, and Shanghai. These works include Hari ng Tondo (2014), Azucena (2000), Ang Lalaki sa Buhay ni Selya (1997), Ligaya ang Itawag Mo sa Akin (1997), Inagaw Mo ang Lahat sa Akin (1995), Ikaw Pa Lang ang Minahal (1992), and Hihintayin Kita sa Langit (1991). For theater, Carlos directed Katsuri (2019), Coriolano / Coriolanus (2019), Marawing Salamat (opera segment, 2018), Ang Mga Propesyunal (2018), Nothing But Dreams (2017), Pangarap sa Isang Gabi ng Gitnang Tag-Araw / A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2016), Walang Sugat (2012), and Aawitan Kita sa Makati (2005-2010). He played Torvald in Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2, for which he received Gawad Buhay 2018’s award for Outstanding Male Lead Performance in a Play. As full-time Arts Professor on the faculty of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Asia Graduate Film and Television Department, he taught 12 courses in film directing and screenwriting (2008-2015), and served as Head of Third Year Studies (2013-2015). He currently heads the Cinemalaya Institute (Manila), where he also teaches filmmaking. Siguion-Reyna is deep in rehearsals of Sarah Rule’s play, Stage Kiss, opening in Manila on February 2020, after which he will prepare the 2020 rerun of the highly successful production of Katsuri. He performs as a guest actor in ABS-CBN’s action-drama series, FPJ’s Ang Probinsiyano, and is acting in two films currently in production.


The Filipino-American Association of Greater Atlanta (Fil-Am) hosted its annual Valentine's Day, as well as its Membership drive on Saturday, February 9, 2019 at the Happy Valley Restaurant in Norcross, Georgia. The theme of the event was Rock 'N' Roll. There were many representations of this genre, including poodle skirts, guitar centerpieces and a backdrop for attendees to take pictures. Guests also dressed in costumes of their favorite Rock 'N' Roll era. Juneli Zabala, Cultural Chair of 2019, led the party as the emcee of the evening. People danced to the music of the high-tech music mixer, Eric Mojica. Those who attended enjoyed an outstanding eight-course meal in lauriat-style dining. Miss Fil-Am of 2018, Sheena Erickson, entertained the guests with her rich, ringing vocal performance of "On the Radio" by Donna Summer. As a fun addition to the party, bouquets of flowers and gift cards were given away to Manolo and Gloria Apanay for the longest married couple of 55 years; Russell and Grace Antonio for the most recent married couple, who were married on November 24, 2018 and Ellen Eltz for best Rock 'N' Roll costume. Throughout the evening, two raffles were held to raise funds for future Fil-Am cultural events. The 50/50 raffle was won by Willee Bonus and Jeff Dulog won the getaway trip to Florida. Welcome to the new members who signed up during the party: Daemmion and Victoria Blaymon, Emmanuel and Theresa Bulang, David Butts and Susan Castro, Marcela Love, and Wilson and Joselyn Milan. Rock on! Overall, the party was a success as the guests enjoyed an exciting and pleasurable evening. We look forward to seeing everyone at next year's annual Valentine's and Membership Drive party!

Spring Picnic

Despite the cold and rainy weather, the spirit of the 2019 Spring Easter Picnic was warm and full of good food, old and new friends, smiling faces and fun and games.

After grabbing a bite (or two or three) to eat of the many pot luck dishes, such as spaghetti, adobo, fish sticks and of course lechon, people, especially the kids, were warmed up for games and the annual Easter egg hunt. We hosted several games for the kids to participate in, including a piñata. Man, those kids can swing a bat!

The egg hunts were divided up by two age groups with the younger kids looking for those colorful eggs full of candy on the playground, while the older kids had to hunt in those hard to reach places on the grassy area by the pavilion. At the end of the hunt, the kids were so proud to count how many eggs they had in their basket and wide-eyed to see what was inside each of the eggs. And even more wide-eyed when the Easter Bunny showed up to greet everyone. One by one, the kids lined up to get their selfies and photos taken with their furry friend!

For the adults, we had our annual Minatamisan, a silent auction with traditional Filipino desserts and baked goods. There were some tasty treats this year! I think next year we should hold a taste test. :)

To see the kids’ faces light up as soon as we said “Go!” for the Easter egg hunt. Or the energy of the children as they lunged after falling candy from the piñata. The competitiveness of the adults as they bid on their favorite desserts and baked goods. And the footwork of dance lovers to the tunes of Todo Todo and Cuban Shuffle. April 20 was a day to remember for all who attended!