FAVHR: Filipino-American Veterans of Hampton Roads

Filipino-American Veterans of Hampton Roads The Filipino-American Veterans Association was formed to celebrate a common experience among veterans who have served on active duty in the United States Armed Forces, to promote unity through fellowship, to assist one another in times of personal or family crisis or need and to promote goodwill through participation and contributions to civic, charitable, cultural and social organizations. The Filipino-American Veterans Association of Tidewater was established year 1975. It originally carried the name, “The Seafarer’s Fellowship” with Mr. Pete Escucha as its President.

In 1976, a general election was held and Mr. Pablo Padilla became the second President for two years. Under his administration, a name transformation took place and the organization was renamed the “Filipino-American Veterans of Tidewater” paving the way for other service veterans to join the association. Under Mr. Padilla’s tenure, the association became more involved with the social and civic activities in the Tidewater community. Events participated included the Azalea Festival of Norfolk, King Neptune Festival of Virginia Beach, the Annual Memorial and Veteran’s Day Parade of the Tidewater Veterans Advisory Committee. The Filipino-American Veterans for the first time was assigned in charge of the annual CUFOT Philippine Flag Raising and Wreath Laying Ceremonies at Mac Arthur Memorial. At this time, The Filipino-American Veterans of Tidewater (Fil-Am Vets) became a member of the Council of the United Filipino Organizations of Tidewater (CUFOT).

Mr. Crisanto Romero became the President of Fil-Am Vets (1978-1980). Under his strong leadership the association continued vigorous participation in several annual community events. Several “firsts” were accomplished. These included the first Little Miss Philippines pageant, the first Family Thanksgiving Dinner, ODU’s International Jubilee, the creation of the Heritage Cultural School with its first graduates in 1980. He held Scientific CPR sessions and screening of individuals with Hypertensive and Diabetic health condition. In 1979, Phil-Am Vets and Filipino Women’s Club of Tidewater (FWCT) jointly held the Children’s Easter and Christmas parties because of the distinct husband-wife affinity of the two organizations. Special events that transpired in 1980 were Flores de Mayo in Virginia Beach, Asian-Pacific Week, the Navy Fair and the birth of the “Newsletter” with Cip Diaz its Editor. The Filipino-American Veterans of Tidewater sponsored the annual Veteran’s Day parade with the Honorable Eduardo Z. Romualdez, the Philippine Ambassador to the United States as Grand Marshall. This event earned the Fil-Am Vets praises and honors from the Tidewater Veterans Advisory Committee. Mr. Romero’s administration is marked by the positive projection of the Philippine culture to the community. His legacy is the origination of the “Newsletter” and the design and fabrication of the present patch (logo) of the Fil-Am Vets of Tidewater.

Mr. Angelo Dajon became the fourth President. (1980 – 1982). Mr. Dajon continued the sponsorship of blood pressure and Diabetic Screening (class and clinic). Because the present Philippine Cultural Center was not in existence then, class and clinic by Dr. Aleli Romero, Sergio Dumpit and Cip Diaz were held at Kempsville Elementary School. The Fil-Am Vets became a member of the Veterans Advisory Committee of Tidewater. Mr. Cip Diaz assumed leadership of the Filipino-American Veterans of Tidewater January 15, 1983. The most significant events during his administration were the production and staging of a prize winning skit about Dr. Jose Rizal’s last moments, a short but intensely moving event in the life of the greatest Philippine hero, as well as the Annual Little Miss Philippines and the successful participation of the Fil-Am Vets in the 1983 Veterans Day Parade in Virginia Beach.

LCDR I.B. “Sid” Barrera (Supply Corps) was elected as the sixth President (1984 – 1985). As President, LCDR Barrera desire for the Fil-Am Vets to continue the march for excellence and the pursuit of life of peace and dignity. During his administration, the Fil-Am Vets were active in the Philippine week activities, little Miss Philippines pageant, support to Dr. Magee’s “Operation Smile” and Father Frias apostleship “Star of the Sea”.

Mr. Vergil Gutierrez was elected seventh President of the Filipino-American Veterans of Tidewater (1985-1988). Under his Administration, the Filipino-American Veterans of Tidewater participated in the annual Azalea Festival of Norfolk, King Neptune of Virginia Beach and in the first Miss American pre-teen of Virginia in 1985. The FilAm Vets sponsored Miss Debbie Flores for the Miss National Pre-teen of USA pageant held in Houston, Texas. Locally, the Fil-Am Vets were active participants in the Philippine week activities held at Philippine Cultural Center.

Mr. George Daria was elected the eighth President of the Filipino-American Veterans of Tidewater (1988-1992). Through his dynamic leadership, the association membership increased by twenty percent. Mr. Daria continued in the participation of the Fil-Am Vets annual activities such as: Little Miss Philippines, The Philippine Week flag raising ceremonies at Mac Arthur Memorial, July Fourth Parade. For the first time in 1988, the Little Miss Philippines was held at the Virginia Beach Pavilion. Miss Charisse Marie de Vera Hipol was crowned Little Miss Philippines and went on to win also the little Miss Virginia Beach title.

Dr. Manuel A. Hipol, M.D., Capt/USN (ret), Medical Corps) was elected ninth President of Filipino-American Veterans of Tidewater (1992 -1995). Dr. Hipol’s leadership continued the successful fundraising tradition and the little Miss Philippines of Virginia pageant and successfully donated $4500.00 to the CUFOT’s PCC building fund. The Fil-Am Vets in 1993 became the host organization of the annual Veterans Day parade in Virginia Beach. It also co-sponsored honoring Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur’s 50th anniversary by re-enacting his landing in Leyte Gulf. The Fil-Am Vets choral ensemble was officially formed with (late) Maestro Albert Asercion its conductor. Not to be outdone, the Fil-Am Vets continuously supported PCC on the maintenance and upkeep of the “old-tiny” PCC of Virginia the humble beginning that eventually became the icon of Filipino immigrants in Hampton Roads and America. A tireless leader, Dr. Hipol was member of the national advisory council of Philippine-American leadership, a project to support homeless Veterans in Hampton Roads.

Mr. Bert Catan, tenth President – Dr. Hubert Ramos, M.D. (CDR/USN, Medical Corps) eleventh President (1995- 1998). The short term of Mr. Bert Catan found Dr. Ramos on the Helm of the Fil-Am Vets Association of Tidewater.

Dr. Ramos able leadership steered Fil-Am Vets through stormy times and was able to continue fund raising activities especially, the little Miss Philippines pageant. The Fil-Am Vets successfully participated in the annual Veterans Day parades, the wreath laying ceremonies at Gen. MacArthur Memorial and the support to the indigent children in the Philippines through Sister Dalisay in Bohol.

Mr. Romy San Antonio was elected twelfth President (1998 – 2009). After swearing in, he made sure that the organization has a very recognizable formal winter and summer uniform with patriotic flavor. He also established the official Honor Guard, complete with authentic Bataan era uniform to remember those who served and sacrificed during the dark days of World War II in the Philippines. Romy attended congressional and senate hearings in support of facilitating better benefits for the Filipino WW II Veterans. He continued to raise organizational and CUFOT funds thru the Little Miss Philippines pageant. He spearheaded the construction of the Veterans Memorial garden with red bricks inlay and with inscription of the name of the veterans. During his term the Fil-Am Vets received numerous positive comments for participation in many patriotic events like Virginia Beach Veterans Day Parade, Memorial Day parade in Portsmouth, Strawberry festival in Pungo and the Fil-Am Friendship day celebration every July. He also made sure that the departed members are well remembered and honored by the Fil-Am Vets color guard, by the choral group as well as playing of taps and the bell ceremony. During the construction of the Philippine Cultural Center, he led the Fil-Am Vets volunteer working parties. High points during his term as president are the Fil-Am Vets donation to the PCC of the following: Refrigerator, Television (w/ disc and tape player), 100 outdoor white resin chairs, electric blower, a microwave oven and fiberglass step ladder.

Romy’s proud contribution to the Philippine Cultural Center is his personal attention to the Veteran’s Memorial Garden. He tried to the best of his ability to ensure that every Filipino veteran from WW I and WW II, Korea and every conflict up to present day war in Iraq and Afghanistan are remembered. His unwavering support for all Veterans is summed up in the dedication plaque mounted in front of the Veteran’s garden. Incidentally, the name “Filipino-American Veterans of Tidewater” (FAVT) was officially changed to “Filipino-American Veterans of Hampton Roads” (FAVHR).

James-Barry R. Bugtong Jr., LTJG/USN (ret), LDO, 2009 to present. First accomplishment is the approval and signing of the constitution and by-laws that was written and rewritten but was never signed or approved. Continued the little Miss Philippines fund raising pageant until chairmanship became a burden and little Miss Philippines was temporarily curtailed. Filipino-American Veterans of Hampton Roads (FAVHR) continued membership with the Hampton Roads Council of Veterans Organizations (HRCVO) and in 2011, FAVHR was cycled to co-sponsor the annual Veterans Day parade. FAVHR participated in the annual signing of the declaration from the mayors of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth and Chesapeake.

The Filipino-American Veterans of Hampton Roads resurrected the Ladies Auxiliary (LAFAVHR) with Mrs. Adelaida Bugtong as its first President. It was so successful that it attracted its membership exponentially. Besides the annual Veteran’s Day Parade, Color Guard Duties to the Gen. Mac Arthur (when requested), Veterans Day of Remembrance, FAVHR and the LAFAVHR jointly contributes to the welfare of the Disabled American Veterans with the blessing of the Philippine Cultural Center. FAVHR and LAFAVHR additionally volunteer/participates in the Veterans Health Fair offered by the Montero Medical Mission. The Garrison Cap (fore and aft cap) was introduced and approved by the association. Henceforth, an official part of the Veterans Winter Blue uniform.

CUFOT Member Organziations

[*] indicates a founding member of CUFOT

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