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APAC Celebrates Heritage With Gala Banquet

June 2004
APAC Celebrates Heritage With Gala Banquet

APAC Celebrates Heritage With Gala Banquet

Governor Perdue Declares May Asian/Pacific Heritage Month

The Asian / Pacific American Council (APAC) of Georgia, under the leadership of its current president, Bala Pant hosted the Heritage (May) Month celebrations on May 2, at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast. The banquet preceded Governor Perdue's official proclamation declaring the month of May as the Asian/Pacific Heritage Month, in a brief ceremony at the State Capitol on May 3.

Established in 1985, APAC is a non-profit, non-partisan social organization which is strongly supported by participating member organizations such as Bangladesh Association, Center for Pan Asia community services Inc., Filipino American Association of Greater Atlanta, India American Cultural Association, Korean American Association of Greater Atlanta, Organization of Chinese Americans, Nepalese Association in Southeast America and Taiwanese Association of America. There are four affiliate members: Japanese American Citizens League, Pakistan American Society of Atlanta, Thai Association of Georgia and Vietnamese American Association.

Filipino pop-star and screen actress Toni Daya-Luetgers, was the emcee for the evening. Daya-Luetgers recently opened for the NBA Asian American Night hosted by Atlanta Hawks at the Philip's Arena. Dressed in an elegant green evening gown she sang the two National Anthems- Filipino and the American, followed by a brief address by R. C. Wu, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta.

Bala Pant, in his welcome address spoke of the early official migration of the Japanese to the United States in 1843, of the Chinese Americans who have been recognized as instrumental in building the first transcontinental railroad in 1869, of the Korean communities including that of Atlanta, which observed its 100 year anniversary of the first Korean immigration into the US as well as of the recent contributions made by Asian Americans in areas such as information technology, space, and other areas of significance. According to the 2000 census there are 156,000 Asian & Pacific Islanders residing in Metro Atlanta; an increase of 202 percent from the 1990 census.

Pant spoke of the challenges that are faced by the ever-growing number of immigrants coming from the Asia/Pacific region to Georgia or anywhere in the US; difficulties like maintaining their roots and cultural values in this society as they begin settling down in this promised land. "APAC is committed," he stated, "in promoting the integration of Asian / Pacific Americans in the American society, and at the same time encouraging the member organizations to maintain our cultural heritage. One of the ways APAC helps to continue preserving diversity and roots within our community is by celebrating the Heritage Month every year? this year is no different." He requested a minute's silence in memory of and to honor all the fallen soldiers in Iraq and all the military brothers and sisters stationed all over the world to protect us and our country, our freedom and our way of life.

The chief guest for the evening was Judge Alvin T. Wong. Judge Wong won the elected office to the State Court of Dekalb county (Atlanta's 2nd biggest county) in 1988. In his address Judge Wong spoke of the merits and contributions that individuals of the Asian/Pacific heritage have made and how they have impacted the life in the United States. "One of every six doctors in the US is southeast Asian" he cheered.

The evening also included a well-presented cultural program that began with a stunning ?Fan' dance by Lisa Chyn. Staged next was a dance medley by the Filipino Dance Troupe led by Linda Daster that began with a slow candle dance, native Filipino dances and a bamboo dance.

The third item was the presentation of the Korean Drums and a traditional dance by the Southeast Korea Dance Association. Chen of the Taiwanese American Association showed his versatility when he performed two karaoke songs.

The Nepalese Association concluded the cultural show with two dances, performed one after another by two sisters. Shailee Shrestha presented a folk dance followed by Sita Shrestha who danced to a more traditional track.

The evening banquet concluded with the awards ceremony. The awards were given out by APAC president Bala Pant. The recipient of the community service awards were Judge Alvin Wong, Willee Bonus, APAC president 2003 and Toni Daya-Luetgers. The Outstanding Student Awards were handed out by Yoon Chul Kim and the recipients of that award are: Ms. Joan Moon (Korea), Ms. Shailee Shrestha (Nepal), Mr. Marc Buenaventura (Filipino) and Ms. Grace Liang (Taiwan).

Pant and his dedicated team that included Upendra Bhatt of the India American Cultural Association (IACA) were responsible for making the banquet a success.

At the official proclamation ceremony the next day, Governor Perdue said he was grateful of the landmark achievements the people of Asian/Pacific heritage and the impact their work has created in our daily lives. He then invited those present to break bread with him.

He was earlier introduced by Dr. Josephine K. Tan , founder of the Asian American Chamber of Commerce and the chair of the Asian American Commission for a New Georgia.

-Viren Mayani

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