Lydia Solis- July, 2008 Person of the year/best journalist award--Congratulations!!
Monday, 04 February 2008
She comes from a family of educators: her mother taught first grade and remedial reading, her father was a public school district supervisor, who was instrumental in founding a high school (now college) in Mabini, Batangas. Wanting to follow in their footsteps, she studied for a BA in Child Psychology, graduating cum laude from the Philippine Women’s University, and later, she took up her MA in Counseling Psychology.But fate has other plans. Lydia became a wife and a mother, raising five children, volunteering in the kids’ church and school activities while working at the LAPD Narcotics Division.It gets interesting. In the middle of motherhood and civil service, she discovered journalism, influenced by her daughter Louinn, former print and broadcast editor with the Associated Press. So it began. From writing press releases for the organizations she belonged to, Lydia progressed into contributing features about her hometown, Taal, Batangas, for Philippine News, the oldest Filipino newspaper in the United States, where she received two awards: “Contributor of the Year,” and “Correspondent of the Year.”
Not bad for someone who hated writing so much she had to ask her father for help in her high school theme papers.But more than the accolades, Lydia is prouder of her experiences as a journalist. She has interviewed and photographed politicians from both Clintons, president and senator, and numerous Philippine government officials and community leaders, but it is in our people’s stories that she has concentrated her time and talent.Even though she was sorry to give up her Mace spray can during former President Clinton’s press conference, Lydia doesn’t mind giving up her hard-earned retirement hours to volunteer for community service organizations and write about the overlooked in our own Fil Am circle.She had interviewed fascinating personalities over the years but none touched her more personally than the stories of three murdered boys, whose stories she covered from the killings to the funerals, investigations, arrests, trials, and subsequent indictment of the suspects.
But never were these stories as deeply etched in her memory as the murder of Filipino American Joseph Ileto. “During the trial,” she recalled, “I wept, and I was embarrassed as I was supposed to be objective as a journalist. But when I looked to my right, then to my left, I saw mainstream media members themselves misty-eyed, some wiping tears, others sniffling, or blowing their noses – obviously as affected as I was, especially when Lillian Ileto, the victim’s mother, spoke about the family’s grief of losing Joseph.”Recognized in the field of journalism, Lydia advocates for Fil Am veterans throughout California and seniors in the San Gabriel Valley. She has volunteered her time writing volumes about them.
In 2002, Lydia retired after 31 years of service from the City of Los Angeles, and hung her gloves as Philippine News correspondent and columnist after “almost 15 years of chasing stories.” That paved the way for other challenges. In 2003, she was appointed as West Covina Senior Citizens’ Commissioner, a post from which she retired in 2007. In her four-year stint as West Covina Senior Citizens’ Commissioner, Lydia served lunch at the city’s Senior Center once a week. She also helped the city’s elderly to find suitable housing, get rent rebates and transportation vouchers. Then Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis, now Secretary of Labor, presented her with a Congressional certificate commending her leadership and dedication to the citizens of West Covina as a Senior Citizens Commissioner. The Congresswoman had also honored Lydia with a “Mother of the Year” award in her District.
Lydia has also been an unpaid executive at several organizations, including the Fil Am Press Club of Los Angeles and the Philippine Press Club International, serving as president of one (PPCI) from 2005 to 2007, and currently, as treasurer of the 30-year-old FAPCLA. She is an active officer of the Philippine Women’s University Alumni Association of Southern California and Trustee of the Philippine Heritage Institute International. Lydia has written stories for LA Reader, Asian Journal, Balita Media, LA Monitor, LA Pinoy Magazine, and Famegate Magazine; and has been a columnist, for Taliba, Ang Peryodiko, and California Examiner. Her awards, too numerous to mention, include those given by the City of Los Angeles, City of West Covina, state and federal governments, Sen. Gloria Romero, Los Angeles City Mayor, and other government officials, as well as from community, religious, civic and veterans organizations, and the Tri-Media Group of Companies. She was the first Journalism awardee of the Filipino American Filipino Library, founded by Helen Brown.
Busy as she is, Lydia maintains that her priority will always be her family.