SAN FRANCISCO – Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye and Rob Bonta were honored by the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC) as exceptional in their work and duties at their 36th annual Installation Dinner held at the Oakland Rotunda Building in the Frank Ogawa Plaza.
The Trailblazer Award was given to Cantil-Sakauye, the first Filipina-American to serve as the chief justice of the California Supreme Court, and it was presented by California’s first Filipina-American lieutenant governor, Mona Pasquil. Bonta, a California State Assemblymember representing California’s 18th District in the San Francisco East Bay, was given the José Rizal Award.
Christine Mari Palma Start is FBANC president. She described what the awards symbolize to her organization and the people who receive them.
"FBANC's Trailblazer Award recognizes a pioneer that has paved the way for advancement of the Filipino-American legal community," Start told the Northern California Record by email. "The Jose Rizal Award recognizes achievements made on behalf of the Filipino-American community by a leader whom exemplifies the qualities and achievements of our Filipino national hero, Jose Rizal. Both awards symbolize leadership, excellence, integrity and commitment to the advancement of Filipino-Americans in the Bay Area community, particularly in the fields of law, policy and social justice."
Cynthia Bonta, Rob Bonta's mother, accepted the award on his behalf at the dinner ceremony. Start praised Bonta for his work in the area of labor.
"FBANC selected California State Assemblymember Rob Bonta with the Jose Rizal Award," Start said. "Assemblymember Bonta not only exemplifies all of the leadership qualities of our Filipino national hero, Jose Rizal, but he continues to pay tribute to our community by authoring legislation requiring state school curriculum to include Filipinos’ contributions to the farm labor movement in California."
Start pointed out the achievements of Cantil-Sakauye as a trailblazer for leadership and positive role modeling.
"As the first Filipina-American and the second woman to serve as the state’s chief justice, Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye has blazed a trail for Filipino-American and women lawyers as the highest sitting judicial officer in California," Start said. "The chief justice was also selected by FBANC to deliver the keynote speech."
Start also explained to the Northern California Record the criteria for selecting the nominees for those awards.
"Criteria for both awards include dedication to the Filipino-American community, significant contribution to the advancement of the Filipino-American legal community, proven history of accomplishments that impact the community at a grassroots level and/or the community-at-large, and possession of qualities that exemplify leadership, social justice, empowerment and excellence," Start said.
The dinner also included scholarship awards for four students as well as and live auctions for the FBANC Foundation.
FBANC is a network of attorneys, students and legal professionals in Northern California. It supports the education and empowerment of its members to succeed and help the larger community with legal issues and education, according to its website.