May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month - recognizing the cultures’ contributions and influence in the United States.
In Grover Beach, the Filipino Community Center aims to preserve Filipino culture, especially among the younger, American-born generation.
“For most Filipinos, this center is actually home away from home,” said Abraham Garces.
Garces is the president of the Filipino Community Center in Grover Beach and strives to bring Filipinos in the area together to celebrate their culture
“Most of us are Filipino-Americans, but still we would like to maintain and preserve our Filipino way of life,” explains Garces.
The organization was formed in the year of 1945, just after World War II, with the physical center coming years later.
For generations, the center has served as a gathering place to socialize and share cultural traditions.
Garces says, “That's one of the programs that we are trying to do right now with my administration - to bring the younger generation to celebrate their culture, to be aware that they have their own identity, even if they have been born and raised here in the United States."
Often the struggle for older generations is keeping traditions alive with their children and grandchildren.
“People know us by our food, pancit and lumpia, but they don't quite know how rich our heritage is and our culture is,” said Jasmine Carranza, Boys & Girls Clubs of South San Luis Obispo County, Resource Development Coordinator. “We really assimilate to our surroundings. and so it's really nice to have a place with our cultural heritage to come home to.”
Carranza is a second generation Filipino-American. Her parents and grandparents are deeply involved in the community center.
She says, “Honestly, growing up, I didn't know much about being Filipino so every time we'd come to visit my grandparents, it was really great because we always came to their events here. And that's really how I was able to embrace my culture.
With preserving the culture within the center - the organization's leaders hope to making bigger imprint in the San Luis Obispo County community.
“They make sure they maintain their heritage through dancing and education, and they do a lot for the community, too, with local high school seniors scholarships every year,” said Carranza.
Garces adds, “We would like to be a part of the bigger for the American community. and we would like to be recognized. And we would like to have our own identity as Filipinos.
To learn more about the center, click HERE.