SAN FRANCISCO, CA – In keeping with the theme of writing with the theme of writing to California Senator Kamala Harris, the first Indian-American elected in the US Senate.
First grader Aubrey Ilasco received an award for the essay she wrote for the annual “Growing up Asian in America” contest, about the inspiration for her favorite show “Fresh Off the Boat.”
“They help me understand my life growing up as a Filipino-American,” said Ilasco.
Aubrey was one of 50 winners in the Bay Area wide 22nd annual contest put on by the Asian Pacific Fund.
Michael Nobleza, Vice President of the Asian Pacific Fund, said, “Often times here in our society we don’t necessarily pay attention to what students have to say but often times they have really powerful ideas and opinions. So we want to be able to give the next generation of leaders, is what we look at them, the opportunity to start talking about what they want to change in the world.”
And the other Fil-Am winners clearly showed their awareness of the current socio-political climate as demonstrated in their entries.
Kiana Aguilar, best in class essay winner of the 2nd grade, said, “I wrote that everybody should be treated fairly and kindly no matter where they’re from or what they look like and nobody should be mistreated.”
Malaya Conui, art honorable mention for the 9th grade, said, “By beginning to integrate Asian women to my art I would be spreading their representation which is something really important. I just hope this would be just a stepping stone to inspire others and inspire my art in the future.”
The students say that while they were surprised to be chosen as winners they humbly accept on behalf of their communities.
Bianca Bustamante, essay honorable mention for the 2nd grade, said, “It makes me feel very happy and very proud because I represent my class and my school.”
The families of all the winners were obviously overjoyed because this next generation of Fil-Ams reflect their own stories.
Day Ilasco, mother of Aubrey, said, “I really related to her story growing up because that’s exactly how we grew up. We never really had that outlet to talk about it. And we never really had those role models on TV. So the fact that she has role models to look up to now is amazing.”
Marc Aguilar, father of Kiana, added, “Very proud not just for her but also she gets to represent the Filipino community and the Filipino people and it gives us more reason to be proud of where we come from.”
The best in class winners will be receiving cash prizes that total $20,000.
Also, the art pieces will be showcased through 200 different libraries all over the Bay Area.