Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, encompasses the independence day of seven countries in Latin America: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile.
At 4 p.m. today, Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin will host a reception for all Hispanic heritages and present a proclamation to members of the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
According to the 2010 Census, Killeen’s Hispanic population makes up about 23 percent of the total, a number former Killeen mayor and president of LULAC chapter 4535, Raúl Villaronga disputes.
More than many Texas cities, Killeen has diversity within its own Hispanic population, with many residents hailing from Puerto Rico, Panama and other Latin countries or territories with major military bases, Villaronga said.
But Killeen also has a large population from the southeast Asian nation of the Philippines, which was ruled by Spain for three centuries. Villaronga would like to claim those residents as Hispanics, too.
“The idea of Hispanic heritage is different cultures influenced by the Spanish. Filipinos have a very strong Spanish background,” Villaronga said. “If you add together all of the different cultures, it is really much larger than what it shows on the census.”
For that reason LULAC 4535 coordinates many of its cultural events with two local Filipino groups: the Filipino American Association and Cultura Filipiniana.
“It’s an excellent mix of different cultures that I think give Killeen an international flavor,” Villaronga said. “We welcome them to participate with us.”
Puerto Rican-born Villaronga has invited individuals from many different cultures to join LULAC, including non-Hispanics, such as Corbin, who has been a member of LULAC 4535 for 10 years.
“We have a diverse community and we recognize diversity by honoring the various cultural and ethnic groups,” Corbin said.