Richmond, Va. –
The Federal Asian Pacific American Council national 2021 theme is “Advancing Leaders Through Purpose-Driven Service.” This year’s theme is the start of the new theme series for 2021-2024, highlighting leaders who believe in leading with values, offering encouragement and feedback, and putting employees first.
Defense Logistics Agency Aviation spotlights Christian Lonzon, a lead financial liaison with Defense Logistics Agency Finance – Aviation who works on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. Lonzon has been working for DLA for almost six years. Prior to joining the Richmond team in December 2019, he worked for DLA Distribution in Norfolk, Virginia, for four years.
What does the 2021 Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you? Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage is important to me because it gives us an opportunity to educate and spread awareness about our culture and heritage amongst our community. In this case, the DLA community. There has been an uptick of violence and hate towards the AAPI community due to a fear and common misconception that COVID is from the APPI community. It is important everyone understands that we are proud and love to be American and still celebrate our culture and heritage with pride.
Tell us something unique about your heritage, country of origin or family traditions. I am a second generation Filipino American. My parents came to the U.S. after my father joined the U.S .Navy. My siblings and I were raised to learn my parents’ native language, and we practiced family traditions that were based around our faith. Filipino hospitality is, in my opinion, one of our best traits as a people. We will invite you into our homes, feed you like kings and queens and make you feel like you are part of the family.
Just a little history lesson. The Philippines was a Spanish colony for 400 years before the United States came and helped us free ourselves from Spanish rule, only to become an American Territory. We finally gained our full independence after World War II.
What misconception about your heritage or country of origin would you like to correct? Filipino food isn’t just lumpia, pancit, and chicken adobo. There is way more to our cuisine, and I urge everyone to try it. If you are ever in the Hampton Roads area, there are several places to try Filipino food.
On a more serious note, there is a common misconception that we are model minorities. I think our parents came to the United States to provide us with a life they did not get to experience themselves. I know my parents were faced with prejudice and racism due to their accents. They never fought against the system per se, or raised their concerns about the prejudices they faced, because they only cared that my siblings and I were going to experience something better. Their silence has become our fight today against AAPI hate. We are not a submissive people; we are fighters and we are more than capable of being leaders in our community. We serve in the military, we are doctors, nurses, engineers, and we are part of DLA. We are proud Americans. If you aren’t friends with an Asian American or Pacific Islander, I urge you to befriend one. You will learn and experience good food and family fun.
Another misconception is about the official language of the Philippines. The official language of the Philippines is English and Filipino. With that said, there is no true Filipino language. Filipino is made of over 100 dialects, mainly the dialects of Tagalog, Ilocano, and Visayan. If you hear Tagalog spoken, you may hear some Spanish influence. Before colonization, the Philippines had their own script, like Japanese, Thai, and Arabic. This is almost a forgotten way of writing, but activists are trying to revive it so it is not lost with the coming generations.
What do you consider one of your most important accomplishment that you would like to share? Personally, one my most important accomplishments is becoming a dad. I have three sons who I am super proud of.
Professionally, it is a toss-up between winning Sailor (Bluejacket) of the Year and most recently being hired to be a lead for the financial customer liaisons for DLA Finance Aviation, also known as J8R. My Navy career happened so long ago, but to be recognized as one of the top junior sailors was huge at the time. I went on to compete as a nominee for Bluejacket of the Year for Europe. Today, my goal as a lead in my department is to help everyone become better, well-rounded in our positions and to create a next-person-up attitude. As federal workers, we are always looking to become the best version of ourselves, so we want to further our careers by moving into a higher grade or even different career path.
Tell us a little-known fact that most people do not know about you. I was a hospital corpsman in the Navy. I did a combat tour for Operation Iraqi Freedom. I also have a Bachelor of Science in computer information sciences with a concentration in healthcare. The medical field is my first professional passion. I am 100% sure that if I ever got back into it, it would be so easy. There are plenty of days that I miss it, especially the rush you get working in a busy emergency room or even the craziness of being in the frontline with the Marines.
How important is it to you that DLA Aviation recognize this month? I personally believe that it’s important. One of the things that I really love about working for DLA is the diversity. It almost makes me feel like I am still in the military. The diversity aspect gives you an opportunity to learn more about other cultures. Back to a common misconception – most people see Asians as Chinese, Japanese, Korean. There is a whole other world of Asians that include, Filipinos, Indians, and Russians - and let’s not forget about our Pacific Islander family out there, Samoans and Chamoros (Guam). There is so much to learn about the Asian/Pacific Islander community and its members’ struggles and contributions to the American way of life.
What do you want the DLA Aviation workforce to take away from celebrating this particular month? I would like the DLA Aviation workforce to see past silly stereotypes and see what major contributions we have made in the government and in the public sector. There are many AAPI Americans serving in our military, in our local, state, and federal government, and we are all ready and willing to educate those who are willing to learn our culture and heritage.