Alfonso “Al” Avecilla
Preserving the Past to Envision a Better Future
Last March, through the efforts of Alfonso Avecilla, the FIlCom received $3,500 donation from the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) Foundation’s Quality of Life Program. MDRT is the premier association of financial services professionals of which Al is a member. The MDRT Foundation was created in 1959 to provide MDRT members with a means to give back to their communities and improve the quality of life for people in-need throughout the world.
Since 2009 when Al “discovered” the FilCom Center while on vacation in Hawaii, he was very intrigued with the mission and programs of the center. One of the projects that he agreed to chair was the Family Legacy Project, which seeks to upload archival materials collected from pioneer Filipino families who have made significant contributions to Hawaii’s modern history. This project was conceived as part of eFil (http://efilarchives.org), an on-going project of the Filipino American Historical Society of Hawaii (FAHSOH).
Al Avecilla was born at Queens Hospital in Honolulu to Alfonso G. Avecilla and Angeles Mangaser Avecilla both from La Union province in the Philippines. The senior Avecilla came to America in the late 20’s to study law at the University of Missouri- doing odd jobs to put himself through school. He also received a Masters in Law from Lincoln University in San Francisco. During those days, he could not practice law as a Filipino citizen so he moved to Hawaii where he immersed himself in entrepreneurial pursuits as well as fighting for the rights of Filipino plantation workers. He was banned from the plantations on occasion and at one point, he carried a weapon for his protection from the plantation bosses. As an entrepreneur he opened a grocery store on Mokauea Street which is now Alicia’s Market in Kalihi.
Al’s mother, Angeles, was given a scholarship by a faith-based organization to study at the University of Minnesota. While at college, she worked as a domestic servant to the Pillsbury Family to support her living expenses. Eventually she relocated to Honolulu to work as a counselor to Filipino plantation workers. She later graduated from the University of Hawaii and had a career as a social worker. Her efforts at helping the Filipino sakada is documented in the book Notable Women of Hawaii published several years ago.
At the age of eight, Al and his family went back to the Philippines where his parents founded San Jose College in Nueva Ecija. However, in 1955, young Al and his family returned to live in Hawaii. Al eventually graduated from San Jose State University in California with a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology and was a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity. After graduation, at the height of the war in Vietnam, he made the decision to return to the Philippines to avoid the draft. While in the Philippines, he kept busy by managing the family farm and the college founded by his parents in Nueva Ecija province. He briefly attended the University of the Philippines in Diliman, where he met his wife of 40 years, Maria Editha Ramos.
In 1980 Al and his wife relocated to California with their three children–Saniata, Alfonso III and Andrea. Caleb, the youngest was born a month after their return to San Jose. Al and his wife are now blessed with three grandchildren–Kaliya and Noah Bond, and Tatum Dunning. They have resided in Almaden Valley in San Jose, California since 1983.
Al has been with Transamerica Life for 33 years as a Registered Representative and is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Roundtable for 25 years. He is also a member of the Almaden Valley Athletic Club and worships at the Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos. He and his wife have travelled extensively around the world for the last 10 years, with a trip to Croatia scheduled this August. He visits Hawaii three times annually, but is in touch with the islands digitally almost every day as he moves the Family Legacy Project forward, as we recruit more pioneer families to embrace the project.