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Salute is a word that gives some a feeling of awe, reverence and pride. It is a gesture during medieval times to acknowledge the presence of each other. It is also a sign used by all military personnel around the world to show respect and distinction between ranks. Among civilians, a salute is a simple wave of the hand or a nod to suggest that some- body is recognized. Saluting is a symbol practiced by everyone, and it is a symbol we now choose to recognize our younger generations who have just completed a very important chapter in their lives, graduating from high school.

The concept of Salute to the Graduates began in 1979 with a group of interested parents coming together to find a way to honor the younger generation. The parents wanted to motivate their children to further their education and to convey the message they fully supported them in their future goals and aspirations. The parents decided to pay tribute to their children graduating from high school by having a special celebration in their honor, accomplishments and graduation. This special celebration served as a rite of passage for their children who were fast approaching adulthood and who would eventually face the challenges of the world.

The forerunners that organized this special graduation celebration were the United Pacific Islanders (UPI) organization which consisted of members of the Filipino Community and the Guamanian Social Club. Eventually, the Filipino Community of Ventura County Incorporated (FCVCI) took over this special yearly graduation event. They honored the event with the Baccalaureate Mass celebrated at Mary Star of the Sea Church, as well as having a special celebration in which they handed out awards and scholarships to graduating students.

To date more than 1,500 graduates have been honored. Many students graduate with distinction are Valedictorian or Salutatorian, other leaders and still others participate in sports and various activities and organization. The FCVCI is proud of these graduates and their accomplishments and that these young individuals graduate from high school. Nearly over 500 graduates have been taught traditional Filipino Cultural as well as modern dances, performed plays, sing songs and learned the Filipino National Anthem. The parents as well, also perform surprise dances and sing songs to their sons and daughters.


It is hard to believe that 39 years have gone by since the first Salute to the Graduates Celebration. The Salute to the Graduate celebration continues to be a very meaningful event shared by everyone-the graduate, their parents, their brothers and sisters and their relatives and friends. In fact, the alumni from past Salute to the Graduates are now bringing their children to participate in this momentous event. The tradition of Salute to the Graduates has now become a generational event within the Filipino community.

Description derived from the Salute to the Graduates Manuscript

By: Mr. & Mrs. Vic Mercado

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