Avelino Lampitoc

Avelino Lampitoc Bio

I came to the United States in June 1969 as a permanent immigrant and on a professional visa I being a registered Civil Engineer in the Philippines. I arrived during the summer months in the City of Arroyo Grande, in this beautiful central coast of California. Just north of it is the City of Pismo Beach, very much well known over the world of its Pismo clam.

I was a complete stranger having no relatives or know anybody at all. I was introduced to some people in the area by friends as I was to depart from the Philippines. Since I didn’t have any place to go, I accepted the offer to come and meet with them. I believed I was the first to arrive in the area that does not have any immediate relatives. During those days, only the immediate relatives like spouses, children, brothers, and sisters of Filipino immigrants and U.S. citizens could come except persons like me that have a Bachelor of Science Degree could apply for permanent residency. I considered myself so lucky, because I never thought I would reach this wonderful land called by many as “Land of Opportunity” and thanks to the Lord for His guidance to me.

Meeting and talking to the Filipinos in the area, they would relate to me their early days and would tell me that I’m lucky for they would be there for me and they would offer the door of their home for me to enter. I told them how much I thank them and how lucky I am for having them and I told them they are my guidance or guardian for I am a complete stranger on this “land of opportunity”.

Borne and raised on the country side call Barrios in the Philippines where agriculture is the major occupation and it is a coincidence that agricultural farming was the major occupation in this area the same where I grew up. My first job here in the U.S. was working in the farm picking vegetables like tomatoes, beans, sugar peas, etc. When work slowed down in the winter of 1969, I tried looking for a job in connection to my profession. Lucky enough, I got a job in Paso Robles as one of the in-house engineer of a land development company. There I was able to practice my profession and this was the beginning of my career in U.S.

My Pinay fiancée, Luz followed me and arrived in U.S. in the late 1971. We god married that year and resided in Paso Robles. My three children (a girl and two boys) were born there. In 1975, I got an engineering job with the City of Arroyo Grande so I moved back to Arroyo Grande.

I retired in 1999 holding the position as Deputy Public Works Director/Assistant City Engineer. Not even three months after my retirement, the City of Santa Maria requested me to help them as an Engineering Consultant. The first project that I worked on was a multi-million industrial development. I thought that this would be the only project that I will worked on, but until now after eight years I am still working in Santa Maria. The City of San Luis Obispo requested me also if I could do Engineering consulting for them. Now, I split my days, Santa Maria in the morning and San Luis Obispo in the afternoon.

In the middle of 1980’s when my children were in high school, I decided to join the Filipino Community of San Luis Obispo, Ind. In 1988, to my surprise I was nominated President. I accepted the nomination and to my surprise nobody run against me. I know there were more qualified people than me. I was elected by acclamation.

As President, I did my very best to serve the Filipino Community for sixteen years. The Community Center was built in 1970 and working with the City of Arroyo Grande I could see that the building needed to be brought up to code especially the requirement of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). I also recognized that there was an increase of the number of Filipinos including firs, second and maybe third generations that the hall needed more space. I relocated the restrooms to the south end of the building which increased the usable floor area of the center by one third. Prior to the modification, the southern portion of the building was divided by storage and small meeting areas. The dancing hall with the stage located at the north end.

With the approval of the members, we relocated the restrooms to the south end of the building at the same time brought them up to building code. The usable public area is now increased and it is required by the City of Grover Beach that additional parking spaces is needed. Some trees were cut down and some landscaping areas had to be removed to pave for parking.

In the 1970’s, Bingo games were the best ways to raise funds for non-profit organizations. This is how the members of the Filipino Community raised funds for the acquisition of the lots and construction of the Center. In the middle of 1980’s bingo games were not getting so much interest to the public. The crowd attended the bingo was getting less and less. With the approval of the members, we started the Popularity Contest or Queen Contest which this is a popular way of raising funds in the Philippines for projects of non-profit organizations. Daughters of members or the members themselves will be selected to run and be candidate. Ballots will be printed for each candidate to sell and whoever will raise the most money will be the winner and called as the Queen. Fifty percent of the proceeds from the sale of the ballots will go to the Filipino Community and the other half to the candidate. There will be a formal Coronation program in which the general public and government officials are invited. A souvenir program will be prepared for the coronation ceremonies. With the souvenir program and general admission tickets to the coronation party will add to the funds raised by each candidate. Today it is difficult to acquire candidates for the Queen Contest, but we were successful in our era.

When we were able to raise sufficient funds to bring the building up to code, I decided to give-up the presidency. I was proud of our accomplishments and if we needed to make any more improvements, we had raised enough funds to make the upgrades.

He and his wife are proud grandparents of twin granddaughter Katelyn and grandson Derrick Benitez. Most of all they are proud of their daughter, Luvelyn Benitez, a civil and structural engineer for a private firm in San Diego, CA. She followed her father’s footsteps.

I personally like to thank Avelino Lampitoc for sharing his experiences and accomplishments.

read more memoirs