Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Filipino Community Celebrates Special Week; Council Presents Awards for Academic Achievement

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Filipino Community Celebrates Special Week; Council Presents Awards for Academic Achievement

Article excerpt

Byline: PATTI LEVINE-BROWN

Melissa De Guino views education as an adventure, and with aspirations of becoming a nuclear radiologist, she is well on the way to making her journey count.

"Education is like being on a trip," said the aspiring student, who will soon attend Bishop John Snyder High School. "You get to explore something different every day."

De Guino, who spoke at a recent awards luncheon where she was recognized by the Filipino-American Community Council of Northeast Florida for academic achievements at Sacred Heart Middle School, lauded the local Filipino community.

"I can't describe how wonderful it feels to be part of this community," she said. "I am so pleased to have the chance to tell others how I feel."

The council also presented awards to more than 20 other students of Filipino descent in elementary through graduate school for their academic achievements.

The luncheon last weekend was part of a yearly event hosted by the council to celebrate Philippine Week Rizal Day. The celebration is held in honor of the country's independence.

The Philippines, under the sovereignty of Spain for nearly 400 years, became a territory of the United States on June 12, 1898, and gained independence July 4, 1946. The country celebrates its Independence Day June 12, but during the course of what is recognized as Philippine Independence Week, the country also recognizes the birth of its most famous national hero, Jose Rizal, born in June 1861.

Rizal, a physician and writer, began writing essays, letters and novels about the principles of worth and dignity, human rights and the equality of all men and races.

His vision of a new world, where men were free of tyranny and slavery, made him a hero to thousands, but also made him a marked man. Rizal was executed before a firing squad in Manila in 1896, and never had the chance to see his country achieve its independence.

The local weeklong event, running through today, included a flag-raising ceremony, the reading of a mayor's proclamation recognizing Philippine Independence Week, and the luncheon at the Radisson Riverwalk Hotel.

More than 150 people attended the luncheon, which also recognized one local Filipino-American for the contribution he has made to the community. Albert Montemayor, who also serves as president of the council, was this year's recipient of the community service award.

"I thank everyone for the opportunity to help," he said. "I want to see our community grow stronger, but I can't make that happen without help. I need you to tell me what other things we need to do to help our community continue to grow."

Lally Ferro, who helped organize the gala, said unity is a goal of Filipino groups in Northeast Florida. …

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