The women of Filipino Ladies Association of Guam donned brightly colored mestizas and floral wreaths to commemorate a golden benchmark -- five decades of service to the community.
On Jan. 8, the organization held it's 50th Induction and Christmas Ball at the Guam Marriot Resort & Spa, where new officers and directors pledged allegiance to FLAG.
Gov. Eddie Calvo attended as the keynote speaker with Fist Lady Christine Calvo by his side. Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio, wife Naoko Shimizu, and first-time Sens. Dennis Rodriguez and Shirley Mabini were also in attendance dressed in barongs and mestizas.
The group first formed in 1962 lead by Bea Macareg. They worked to unify Filipino women and promote their culture. They formed close relationships and have bettered the community for 50 years.
"The organization has completed so much for the community in education, charities and scholarships," says outgoing-president Chet Neri.
Over the years, FLAG donated tens of thousands to Guam Memorial Hospital, $50,000 to the construction of the first pavilion at Ypao Beach, and monies to typhoon victims here and in the Philippines.
"It's great that we can serve the community, find friendship and camaraderie through our culture," Neri says.
This year also marked the first mother and daughter membership. Linda Tolan, a member since the 1980s is proud to have her daughter Nietzsche follow in her footsteps, she says.
"We're so thrilled to have her, she's our youngest member so far," Neri says.
"I joined because I think it's such an asset to the community, and when your parents are involved in these civic duties, it's instilled in you too," Nietzsche Tolan says.
This year Tolan hopes to bring in new young women to diversify the membership, while aiding continued community efforts.
"The organization donates money to the Guam Memorial Hospital, which is even more needed right now," she says.
Rodriguez says he will make sure to support GMH in their efforts to save the hospital, and looks forward to working with the members of FLAG during his first senatorial term.
"I want to make sure we knock down any roadblocks that may stand in the way of GMH making progress," he says.
"FLAG has been around for a long time and have given back to the community so much, and I'm glad to be here to acknowledge them and help them celebrate their 50 years of service," Rodriguez adds.
Tenorio recognizes that FLAG has been a very proactive organization, and is happy to support their efforts.
"They're community oriented and are truly trying to advance the community, and that's a beautiful thing," he adds.
Calvo says he appreciates how special this event is, and is proud to help them commemorate their 50 years of service.
"The Filipino community has been a part of our culture for hundreds of years, and I'm glad to be here and I'm going to be working with these leaders in the community to see how we can foster even closer ties with the Philippines," he says.
"I want to see what I can do to work with the Filipino community of Guam to see if we can strengthen our cultural ties and how we can work together to build a better community."
He is also pushing for the visa waiver program for people from the Philippines, and the acceptance of Medicare in accredited health institutions in the Philippines.