The Filipino Community of Santa Clara County, Inc. has been in existence for seventy-six years which qualifies it to be one of the oldest, if not, the oldest Filipino organization in the United States.
In 1933, seventy-six years ago, a handful of hard working Filipino immigrants in San Jose, realizing the need of unity and solidarity among themselves with the high hopes and strong desire to be part of a multi-cultural community with whom they lived and enjoyed daily contact, decided to form and organize a social club then known as the “Filipino Circle.” From this humble beginning, this social club took root and grew into a solid group which had gained immediate popularity and prestige among Filipino farm-hands working the rich and fertile soil of Santa Clara Valley, and in the same token, it had earned themselves the well-deserved respect, esteem and admiration of not only the American people but as well as those other nationalities.
As the years passed by the mounting growth and popularity of this society could no longer be stopped nor ignored by the vast majority of the Filipinos in the surrounding areas. The name “Filipino Circle” of this society seemed inadequate to cope with the fast growing membership: hence, its name was changed to “Filipino Community of San Jose and Vicinity.” This new name earned a distinctive national tone---a Philippine entity thousands of miles away from our own land! A big name indeed with a big moral, spiritual and material responsibilities on its tag! Can the Filipinos of San Jose survive the difficult tasks and face the challenges ahead? Well, the course of the events had proved that they can. When World War II broke out, majority of its members joined the 1st and 2ndFilipino Infantries of the United States Army-two American Regiments with Filipino tags. Members who were too old to join the service stayed home but worked and tilled the rich agricultural lands of Santa Clara Valley to provide for Uncle Sam’s soldiers and civilian corps.
After the war, in keeping pace with the rapid growth of the City of San Jose, the Filipino community expanded its views and programs to accommodate its large membership. There were more Filipino families with permanent homes in San Jose and its neighboring cites than during the pre-war. More Filipinos came aboard and became active in promoting the cultural welfare of the Filipino community. They were a part of the city’s progress, a part of its society, culture and education. So, again, the Filipino residents fell that the name “Filipino Community of San Jose and Vicinity” needed final improvement and legal status. Hence, under the Corporation Laws of the State of California, this organization was incorporated on March 31, 1953 under a new name “Filipino Community of Santa Clara County, Inc.”
On April, 1953, exactly eight days after it was incorporated, Antonio L. Vertodes, an active member of the organization, donated a parcel of lot to the organization. Sometime in 1959, members of the Filipino Community contemplated of constructing a Filipino Community Center for the facilities and recreational use of its members and their families. A fund-raising drive was initiated with sole objective of completing the project. After a short period of time, with the help of the dedicated members with their unwavering determinations to conquer all obstacles and tribulations, the Filipino Community Center was erected.
Several years later, Malvar Lodge Number Seven C.D.A. donated a parcel of lot which is located adjacent to the already owned by the Filipino Community of Santa Clara County, Inc. The two parcels of lot were combined which is now called the Filipino Community Center.
In 1996, almost after more than a half a century, Diosdado “Mac” Macaraeg was elected President of the Filipino Community of Santa Clara County, Inc. One of his agendas was to unite and solidify Filipino organizations within the County, he reached out and offered them free use of the Filipino Community Center. But their response to his offer was, “the facility is old, dirty and inadequate for our meetings and activities.” In the early months of 1998, then FILCOM President Mac Macaraeg with the full support of the officers and members of the organization have agreed that a renovation of the building was needed. A building construction plan was drawn and an application for a grant for the renovation of the building was submitted to the City of San Jose.
In September, 1998, Mayor Susan Hammer awarded $100,000 to the Filipino Community of Santa Clara County, Inc. but it was not enough to staff with the project. So a major fund raising drive began. In two years, they were able to raise enough money and were ready to renovate the building but due to some building requirements, restrictions, codes, and current laws, it took a while before the building construction permit was approved. A Lot Line Adjustment between the two parcels of land and a new Grant Deed were required before the San Jose City Planning approved the building construction permit.
In 2002, under the leadership of Dr. Arline G. Macaraeg who carried on her husband’s vision of a better, safer and healthier meeting place a major construction of the Filipino Community center started and was successfully completed on June 2003. As expected from the Filipino community, there were minor problems motivated by dirty politics but the officers and members were more united, stronger and determined to finish one common goal, the construction of the building.
The Filipino Community of Santa Clara County, Inc. under the new leadership of Mars Soriano is proud to invite everyone young and old alike, to join us in promoting the goals and objectives of this great organization.
Our younger generation seems to have forgotten that we can’t just enjoy the fruits of hard labor those handful of Filipinos have done more than seven decades ago. We have to cherish everything they have passed along to us, the admiration and respect they earned from other people. We must not forget the three indivisible words of our Founders: FAITH, LOVE and HOPE!