After years of awarding scholarship grants to deserving familial members of our very own APO-GLA brethren, it was decided that it was time to “PAY IT FORWARD” and give back to the community. This was going to be APO-GLA’s small contribution in nation-building, as conceptualized by Bro. Mar Garchitorena.  In the beginning, the difficulty in putting together the mechanics and the logistics for the selection of the Ten Outstanding Filipino-American Senior Students proved to be a challenge. However, the group’s tenacity prevailed and thus, TOFASS was born.

Partnerships with local print and broadcast media were formed to ensure the success of this initial venture. APO-GLA signed a Memorandum of Agreement with one of the leading broadsheets of Los Angeles, the Asian Journal, to carry regularly, vital information regarding the search all throughout Greater Los Angeles.  APO-GLA was also able to receive the support of the Philippine Consulate in the person of Consul General Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon, who also agreed to be the Guest Speaker during the awarding ceremonies. Another key partnership was with the local television show, Kababayan L.A. on Channel 18, hosted by Ms. Janelle So, who graciously featured the selected scholars in a series of interviews. Another equally able partner was the 19th Tee Golf Club, composed mostly of brethren from the APO-GLA and APO-South Bay Alumni Associations, who held a series of golf tournaments and donated part of the proceeds towards supporting TOFASS.

The judges were then selected from a shortlist of recognized educators, community leaders and public servants and who were not in any way related to any of the organizers. The subsequent response was overwhelming, with nominations coming from various school principals, assistant principals and guidance counselors from all over the Greater Los Angeles area. Finally, after much deliberation, the ten scholars were chosen. During the awarding ceremonies, the scholars were exhorted to continue to further their intellectual skills in order to attain their individual goals in life.

Because of its resounding success, the TOFASS organizers decided to award as many deserving scholars, without putting any limit to the number of awardees to be chosen. Thus, TOFASS will now be known as The Outstanding Filipino-American Senior Students. The search will continue on an annual basis and APO-GLA remains committed in its desire to serve the community, to promote civic-mindedness among our youth and instill in them the value of education in ultimately achieving a better life.

Juliz B. Ancayan
A graduate of North High School in Torrance, California. She was accepted to attend UC-Irvine.
Eina Del Castillo
A graduate of Hollywood High School. Eina was accepted to enroll at UCLA’s School of Film and Television.
Cara Jaclyn Martinez
A graduate of Beverly Hills High School. Cara was accepted to attend UC Berkeley.
Melanie Lomio Viloria
A graduate of John Glenn High School in Norwalk. She was accepted to attend UC San Diego.
Jeff Aaron Calvo
A graduate of Azusa High School. He is expected to attend UC San Diego.
Katrina Dawn Lauron
A graduate of Golden Valley High School. Katrina was accepted to attend UC-Berkeley to major in Physiology and Metabolism.
Sheilmira Glen Pascual
A graduate of Artesia High School. Sheilmira was accepted to attend Cal State of Long Beach.
Ma. Denise Panaligan
The Awards Night was truly one of the best opportunities I had in years. Not only because of the prestigious award and the wonderful reception but also because I had the opportunity to meet the organizers. You are such an inspiration, that the legacy you are leaving behind will be told and passed on from generation to generation, thus will continue to touch and make a difference in the lives of many hardworking and deserving students along with their families, friends and their communities. It’s huge in my own opinion, if anybody who truly needs recognition and be appreciated that was you. On behalf of my family, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to all of you and for reaching out to all of us, for showing us what TOFASS is all about, it’s about pursuing excellence and giving back to the community.
Melia U. Asucan
Let me first thank you for one incredibly amazing awards night. Not only was the night an overwhelming and privileged experience for me, but my parents were able to sleep good after staying out on dance floor till the last music. Secondly, I cannot thank you enough for choosing me to be one of the TOFASS scholars. Just a few minutes mingling with my fellow awardees at dinner and I could tell that I was chosen into an elite group. I’m truly honored. I am grateful that you all have set up this program to award hardworking students of our Filipino culture. Unfortunately, cost is a burden when deciding to further your education. But your generosity has made the impossible, possible. My family and I are indebted to you. I am now inspired to become a pledge of Alpha Phi Omega in my school.
Katrina M. Bautista
I would like to thank the prime movers of APOGLA for your commendable search of TOFASS-GLA. As one of the first awardees, it is part of my journey and motivation to continue working hard. Attached is my fall semester grades. I will try my best to hopefully maintain this academic performance in my succeeding years in college.