Remarks by Board Vice President Susana Reyes About Filipino American History Month 

Delivered on Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Thank you, President McClain-Hill, my colleagues on the Board, and General Manager and Chief Engineer Marty Adams for your support for Filipino Americans.

I am a proud Filipino American and excited to highlight Filipino American History Month not only at LADWP but also in our city. On the screen is a photo I took with many of our 600 Filipino American employees here at LADWP pre-COVID. I am proud to stand with them, uplift them and share with our customers and residents of Los Angeles that we have talented, resilient, and dedicated Filipino American public servants helping bring reliable water and power, and deliver excellent customer service to the largest municipal utility in the nation. Through our work and our engagement in the community, we are all making Filipino American history today.

To help mark Filipino American History Month, I joined Public Works Commissioner Jessica Caloza to speak before City Council last Tuesday to celebrate the contributions of Filipino Americans to enrich our city and our country. I took the opportunity to highlight the importance of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in our workplaces, and to shed light on the history of Filipino Americans and many other people of color, that get overlooked and left unreported, therefore leading to a lack of appreciation and cultural understanding. Thank you City Council President Pro Tempore Mitch O’Farrell, CM Gil Cedillo, CM Kevin de Leon, CM Paul Koretz for sponsoring the resolution in honor of FAHM.

Last Thursday, the 21st, I hosted a webinar about Filipino American History, with the support of our staff in Communications and Public Affairs. We had Senior Assistant General Manager and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Monique Earl join us to deliver opening remarks on behalf of senior management. And we had the honor of having guest speaker Dr. Joseph Bernardo, LMU adjunct professor, host of the podcast “This Filipino American Life” which I encourage you all to listen to, and son of a proud LADWP retiree Carmencita Bernardo who retired in 2005 after 30 years of service . We had a great turnout with over 300 WebEx attendees at the event, and Dr. Bernardo’s presentation was a powerful account of our Filipino American history that is not often shared or told. We had four of our employees participate in the webinar and I want to publicly thank Alvin Bautista, Kristina Tolentino, Karlo Rondilone-Sabio and Maria Sison-Roces for sharing their personal histories. If you missed the webinar, please check out LADWP’s Vimeo page and take a look.

As President McClain-Hill said, 600 of LADWP’s employees are of Filipino American descent. They all work day in and day out to serve the customers of LADWP. Among them are several LADWP Filipino American leaders and top ranked employ, and I would like to share their names with you, up on screen.

A few of them are here in person and I would like them to please stand up and be acknowledged. Here today are:
• Annamae Peji, Assistant Director of Information Systems
• Pjoy Chua, Electrical Services Manager
• Rommel Balba, Power Transmission and Distribution District Supervisor
• Alvin Bautista, Managing Water Utility Engineer
• Lyzel Mutuc, Utility Administrator

Thank you for being here today and representing the Filipino Americans in our workforce. It's really important to fully acknowledge the contributions of Filipino Americans, because their role as well as of many other people of color have been overlooked in the writing, teaching and learning of United States history. This is a time of reflection and remembrance, and a time to renew efforts towards research and examination of our history and culture. We want to provide an opportunity for all people in our country, to learn and appreciate more about Filipino Americans and their historic contributions to our nation. And to those who haven’t had a chance to learn or hear about Filipino American history, I hope you find time to do so. If you start to look at your history with clear eyes, you will be more likely to look at the world with clear eyes as well.

In closing, no ethnic group is a monolith, and embracing our histories helps promote understanding and appreciation of all our backgrounds that are what inherently make our community and our workplace strong, diverse, equitable, inclusive. Happy Filipino American History Month!