SAN FRANCISCO — The DJ began his night early this past Saturday at Hue Lounge and Nightclub in SF.
Music filled the air to celebrate Fil-Am Genevieve Jopanda’s 40th birthday.
As a 20 year advocate for Filipino World War II veterans, Jopanda turned her birthday celebration into a fundraiser to help the Fil-Vets pay for their congressional gold medals.
“I just wanted to take advantage of a milestone birthday, and if there was anything I could do to move the needle in the community, I’m definitely going to do that,” she said. “That was what I was raised to do.”
Jopanda began advocating for the Fil-Vets as a student at San Francisco State University.
Learning about their struggle for equity lead her to work on the passage of AB-199, which allows the inclusion of Filipinos’ role in World War II in the Philippines to be be taught in classrooms throughout California.
Now, after President Barack Obama signed the Filipino Veterans of WWII Congressional Gold Medal Act this past December — Jopanda says the work continues.
“They would have to pay for the medal, which costs $52, and a lot of these veterans are in their 90’s with limited income. Purchasing them should not be a burden to them for having sacrifice their lives to save our freedom during WWII.”
Jopanda chose to host her birthday/fundraiser at Hue nightclub because its owner — Fil-Am Bennett Montoya — also has close ties to the Fil-Vets.
“For me it was pretty much a no brainer. Coming from my grandfather who is a WWII veteran, was a prisoner of war, was in the Bataan Death March, and actually really learning a little bit of injustice of our Filipino veterans and the history of it, of how they’re not recognized.”
As of this broadcast, Jopanda’s GoFundMe page has raised $3,862 of the $5,000 goal.
The official congressional gold medal awarding ceremony for the Filipino WWII veterans looks to take place this October in Washington DC.