By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
June 18, 2013
SANTA BARBARA, Calif–It’s been a Central Coast tradition since 1950. Filipino-Americans along California’s central coast put on their best Filipiniana and dance the night away to celebrate Philippine Independence Day, as well as Filipino-American friendship day.
“In other words, this is the only time that all the Filipinos in Santa Barbara can be together to celebrate our friendship day with Fil-Americans also,” said Filipino American Association president Virgie Horstman.
This region is considered as one of the most significant in Filipino-American history. The Central Coast city of Morro Bay is believed to be one of the first entry points for Filipino seafarers in the 1500s and the first known Filipino-American gravesite is in Santa Barbara’s presidio.
“We keep the culture going, so that the younger generation will remember how it is,” said Alex Tang.
This year marks the 63rd anniversary of the annual celebration many Filipinos travel hours to be part of the festivities. “We really want to build the Filipino community and as a group we realize its not just the local community that we really have to reach out to other communities in the Central Coast,” explained Minky Wilhelm of Lompoc.
As they have done so throughout the years, the community also handed out a $1,000 dollar scholarship to one outstanding high school graduate.