Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ilonggo Association of So Cal New Officers

Slideshow photos by Jerry Ubalde / All Rights Reserved

Ilonggo, where does this word originate from? Historically speaking, Ilonggo is a description of anything which comes from the province of Iloilo, Philippines. Iloilo was the original Ilonggo home base which gradually spread out to surrounding islands. This is where you see history dating back the 17th century and the Spanish period. Dubbed as the Queen City of the South, Iloilo has always been the center of commerce. Its port of call in San Pedro is utilized by an international blend of businesses who drop off and pick up goods for trade.

The Ilonggo person is a gentle and fun loving individual who will go out of his/her way to make other people smile. The tagalog world “malambing” is normally used to describe an Ilonggo. It is a positive description for a culture that is comfortable in its identity and has no plans to change its image.

Saturday, May 17, 2008 was when the ILONGGO ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA marked its 4th year anniversary. It inducted a new set of officers who will navigate this club for the next two years. The new incoming president EDUARDO “BUTCH” ZARAGOZA (in photo with wife Erlyn) has high but realistic goals for this association.

First and foremost of which is to unite all Ilonggos in California. This will be done thru constant communication and well, more parties! Mr. Zaragoza sees his association helping out newly arrived Ilonggos. Like parents welcoming their off springs, the group will provide guidance for them to properly start a new life in America.

Another goal which is currently a reality is to assist the different schools in Iloilo and surrounding cities. The Association, within the last two years, has set up two computer labs in different schools there. Each labs consists of 6 brand new computers. The children need computers to keep abreast of the times, do their homework, and maybe play a few games.

There is also the medical mission. At his point in time, the group has supplied Iloilo hospitals with essential medical supplies. Be it bandages, sutures, and medication, the care packages being sent to these hospitals are well utilized. There is a ship container full of wheelchairs which will be shipped soon enough to these different hospitals.

This is just the beginning of the Association’s plan to reach out and help their less fortunate “kasimanwas”. President Zaragoza, and the previous presidents before him (BING GOTICO and BOY ALDEGUER) have slowly but with firm hands, surely pointed the group to an honorable path in sharing their blessings with our less fortunate Filipinos back home.


People started showing up at 5:00pm. The men dressed in barong tagalogs and the beautiful women decked out in evening gowns and fine jewelry (bling2). English was the exception since everyone spoke Ilonggo. It is a dialect that sounds so well behaved. Someone might be cussing you out in ilonggo and you would think he/she was giving you a compliment. The southern quality is all in the intonation.

Open bar was announced at 6:30pm. This was a no holds barred, deep pocket affair which spared no expenses. Money was not an object and everything first class. Iloilo as a province has capital. It grows a lot of rice amongst other businesses. The Ilonggos maintain large savings account and refrain from spending unnecessarily on expensive toys. Lets just say they are old fashioned towards their approach to finances. Save for a rainy day.

As the evening moved on, evidence of ilonggo camaraderie surfaced. Board Advisor JIMBOY GARCIA brought a large tupperware of “kinilaw”. This is a local delicacy of fresh raw whitefish, chunked then marinated in spicy vinegar, ginger, and spices. Served cold, this is the iloilo version of ceviche. With beer or wine, it is a superb appetizer. True to custom, the dish was shared by all. This was aside from the actual hotel served fare that was still coming.

The beautiful first lady, EMMA ERLYN ZARAGOZA, was instrumental in organizing the affair and making sure everything was going according to plan. Association founder LUIS SERVANDO made sure all guests were comfortable and bonded with the guys. ZENAIDA and WILFREDO ALEJANDRIA worked the reception desk making sure all the guests knew what tables they where in. ROSEMARIE CHU also assisted in the organization and preparing for the actual induction.

The actual ceremonies started 8:00pm. The Glendale Hilton banquet room is large and resplendent. Attendees totaled 250 persons at this time with more incoming.

The Ilonggo Association has 325 registered members. And the numbers keep growing as more activities are set into motion. Thanks to leadership that makes it a point to communicate with its members and instill in them the spirit of giving back.

The new set of officers are as follows: Eduardo Zaragoza (President), Wilfredo Alejandria (1st VP), Rosemarie Chua (2nd VP), Mel Sarmiento (Secretary), Dinah Servando (Asst Secty), Jerome Octaviano (Treasurer), Alma Jesena (Asst Treasurer), Rey Gayomali (Auditor), Dexter Riobuya (Asst Auditor), Yvette Untarya (Business Mgr), Orchid Ecchevaria (Asst Business Mgr), Rene Aaron (PRO), Maribel Saadnia (Asst PRO), and peace officers Third Alejandria, Alberto Biclan, Rolando Chua, Gabby Prieto, and Hector Solinap.

As you can see, the leadership is backed by a solid crew of officers all willing to do more than their share to uphold the Ilonggo Association of Southern California.

Now and then, we will hear more from this evolving group. The next foreseeable event will be the Christmas party this year. President Butch Zaragoza, a retired military man (Major, Philippine Armed Forces) has the charisma and qualities to positively lead for the next two years. He has issued the challenge to the group. With the large gathering in this event, it is obvious they are up to it.

To the Ilonggo Association of Southern California, I say; “Gwapa mga Ilongga kag isog mga Ilonggo. Hala Bira!”

Article and Photos by: John (Ilonggo gid!) Lacson

Slideshow Photos by Jerry Ubalde / slideshow by Ver Penaranda -