WEST COVINA, CA — Some 800,000 Filipinos consider Southern California home. And with every city landmark and anniversary, there’s always cause for a celebration.
BA’s Steve Angeles visits West Covina, CA for a special event honoring its Pinoy roots.
About 20 miles east of LA’s Historic Filipinotown, this West Covina intersection has been beaming with Pinoy Pride.
Close to 10 percent of West Covina’s 109,000 residents are Filipino — and the city celebrated the 17th anniversary of Manila Way.
This business district, where Amar and Azusa cross, is 80 percent Filipino — bringing delight to the Consul General on his first visit to the suburb as he met with the business owners themselves.
“There’s so many things to discover,” said Adelio Cruz, LA PH Consul General. “I’m just so happy being able to see a whole block of even more full of Filipino American businesses, so it’s something we can all be proud of.”
Of course, what’s a Filipino area without a TFC office. This West Covina office was actually one of TFC’s first Southern California offices, around since 2002.
The booming Pinoy Pride of this hub can be traced to the 1990s.
As house-hunting LA Filipinos began buying homes, many headed east to the San Gabriel Valley, where West Covina is.
With a strong growing presence, the Filipino community eventually had a street named Manila Way.
Linda Santos had lived in West Covina since 1983, and she spearheaded the campaign to have the street named Manila Way.
“It’s as if you’re in the Philippines, because it’s all mostly Filipinos roaming around,” said Santos, from the FilAm Chamber of Commerce in San Gabriel Valley. “And I really looked forward to even the guests, because there’s a lot of guests from other states they come here, they always go there, because they have all the bakeries, the foods, kind of like you’re really in the Philippines.”
Those who helped lobby for the street says its had a positive impact on the area.
“It has been vandalized — graffiti, robbers, homeless people, until the Filipino community found it best to do something about it,” said Johnny Chua. “We started having events to highlight the Filipino culture, and because of that our kababayans come from San Bernardino County, Orange County, to celebrate. And therefore the businesses, seeing the community is here together, the stores begin to flourish.”
Nearly 20 years later, the Filipino community does not want to stop on one small driveway. They’re now working with city officials on designating the entire section as a cultural landmark.