Juneau’s Filipino community has a significant presence, recognized recently both by the government in the Republic of the Philippines and by local legislators. The Filipino Community hosted a dinner Jan. 29 to welcome state legislators with food and — surprise — some dancing. Juneau’s legislative delegation didn’t show up empty handed, Sen. Dennis Egan and Reps. Beth Kerttula and Cathy Muñoz had legislative citations to present to four outstanding community members.
Jenny Gomez Strickler was recognized for being named Alaska’s first Honorary Consul General of the Republic of the Philippines Oct. 8, 2012. She is also a former president of Juneau’s Filipino Community, Inc., and was a member of a first-of-its-kind Alaska state legislative delegation trip last November to the Philippines. As an honorary consul, Strickler is based in Juneau and has consular jurisdiction over the entire state. Duties include facilitating trade and friendship between Alaska and the Philippines as well as helping with passports, visas, immigration, citizenship and notarizing legal documents.
Rafael “Raffy” Castaños was recognized for being honored by the Republic of the Philippines with a 2012 Presidential Award for Outstanding Individuals and Organizations Overseas. This honor was conveyed by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III upon 29 overseas individuals and organizations in a Dec. 5, 2012, ceremony at the Malacañan Palace in Manila. Selected from a field of 137 candidates, the honorees were from 14 countries and consisted of 22 Filipinos, five Filipino organizations, and two foreign nationals.
Vicky Roldan, a longtime Juneau nurse, was recognized for the role she played as a translator and in-state coordinator during last November’s trade mission to the Philippines.
Last, but not least, Reynaldo Abella was recognized for serving the community with more than 35 years of employment with the United States Postal Service.
During the dinner, Rep. Muñoz and Bethel Representative Bob Herron presented a seven-minute video of their trip last November to the Philippines. They were part of a group that enjoyed cultural and educational exchanges as well as opportunities to promote Alaska, Alaska seafood, trade, tourism, and more with high-ranking officials in Manila and the Province of Aklan.
At the end of the dinner, legislators were called to the dance floor without knowing what was in store. Once there, they were asked to dance to an aerobics video. They took it in stride and danced — much to the delight of the audience.