By Katie Moritz
AP Wire Service
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Juneau’s Filipino community rolled out the proverbial red carpet for local and visiting lawmakers at its fifth annual legislative reception, and Filipino Community Inc. did not disappoint with the food nor the entertainment.
Pounds and pounds of house-made pancit, lumpia, chicken and beef were served at the FCI Hall and the floor was cleared for performances by local talents — including one of Juneau’s own Assemblymen.
Senators and representatives — including Juneau’s delegation; Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage; Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole; and Rep. Adam Wool, D-Fairbanks — gathered with their families and staffs for a night away from the Capitol and a shared meal away from the Legislative Lounge.
But first, there was serious business to attend to. FCI’s board and new president, Josielind Ferrer, were inaugurated and sworn in by Judge Richard Siangco.
Ferrer said her goal as president for the coming year is to preserve the downtown FCI Hall and work toward future expansion.
“But that takes time and planning, and money,” she said. “One step at a time, and we’re moving forward.”
She added during her brief speech that the FCI leaders before her have set the organization up for success.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t mess with it,” she said to applause.
She gave a shout-out to FCI’s first female president, Jenny Strickler, now an honorary consul general of the Philippines to Alaska.
The celebration featured a traditional Tinikling bamboo dance performance by Raymond Bernaldo-Lujan, Andrea Nguyen, Aaron Abella and Nicole Rodriguez.
Reps. Sam Kito, D-Juneau, and Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau, and Wool all tried their hands, or feet, at the tricky dance, but decided to leave it to the professionals.
Local talent Abella was the standout of the night, opening the evening with a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” He went on to star in the Broadway song-and-dance number “Brotherhood of Man” with a troupe of local dancers, including Assemblyman Jesse Kiehl, much to the surprise and delight of the locals in the room.
Former FCI President Dante Reyes recognized former Juneau mayor Bruce Botelho and former Gov. Sean Parnell special counsel Randy Ruaro for their support of FCI while the organization was raising money for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. The devastating natural disaster claimed the lives of at least 6,300 people in the Philippines.
Ruaro was also responsible for facilitating a large donation of Alaska salmon to Typhoon Haiyan victims and getting the first-ever Alaska seafood booth into a Manila seafood festival in September, longtime FCI member Rafael Castaños said.
Castaños said the Filipino community welcomes the Legislature each year because while they’re at the Capitol “the telephone is ringing and they have to meet with lots of people.” The reception is a good time to get their ears.
“While they’re eating, the telephone is not ringing,” he said. (end)