The New York Knicks and the NBA celebrated Filipino American Heritage Night at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
At least a thousand Fil-Ams from the Big Apple and nearby states joined the annual appreciation event for the Filipino community on the East Coast. They also enjoyed a game of the Knicks versus the Cleveland Cavaliers at the iconic arena.
It was likewise a night to recognize the Fil-Ams making a mark in the NBA, from Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz, Jalen Green of the Houston Rockets, Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstra, to Knicks' own and the NBA's first ever Filipino medical staff Erwin Benedict Valencia.
"To be part of this at the world's greatest arena is such a blessing particularly because this is my home," Valencia said.
The Heritage Night was co-organized by NaFFAA or the National Federation of Filipino American Associations. The group's chairperson Brendan Flores said the event brings the community together. "It shows Filipinos' resilience. It shows Filipinos' culture, our bayanihan spirit," Flores pointed out. "Imagine over the past year and a half, we didn't have a lot of events together and what a way to showcase again us coming together and that bayanihan spirit."
As for Madison Square Garden representative Phil Young, he said he wanted to make sure the Heritage Night happened because of his Filipino connection.
"I grew up in the Philippines for 10 years, basically my childhood, and I always knew it would come back and in some way later in life. And here it is. I've been in the US since 2005. We had this event organized in 2019 by a Filipino American. He left the company and I wanted to continue this and even grow it," Young shared.
The heroism and service of Filipino frontliners in New York City were also recognized during the NaFFAA Healthcare Heroes Awards.