Board of Directors
Lydia D. Neff
Reginald P. Tuyay
Jora Atienza Washington
Executive Director, Music Director & Co-Founder – Herna Cruz-Louie
Herna (pronounced “Er-Na”) Cruz-Louie is the Executive Director and Co-Founder for American Center of Philippine Arts (ACPA). Herna’s exposure to Philippine dance and music started at the age of 5, when she learned cultural dances to perform at local town fiestas. In 1995, she graduated from learning Philippine dance in garages and backyards to becoming a performer with PASACAT Philippine Performing Arts Company of San Diego, CA and eventually became an instructor for music by the age of 18. After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2000, she performed with LIKHA-Pilipino Folk Ensemble as a musician and became Executive Director.
For over 20 years, Herna has performed and collaborated with many dance companies, organizations, schools and individual artists such as KulArts, Barangay Dance Company, Kawayan Folk Arts, Kariktan Dance Company, Parangal Dance Company, Glitter and Razz, Francis Wong, Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE) of SFSU, Asian Pacific American Youth Promoting Advocacy & Leadership (AYPAL), Mga Kapatid of UC Davis, Kulintronica, Kasamahan of USF, and more.
Herna also has over 15 years working as an administrator for nonprofit organizations such as the YMCA, Coaching Corps (formerly Team-Up for Youth), Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, Kearny Street Workshop, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. Herna is the co-founder of her own events management company called Events by Herna & Marissa, and is currently the Director of Human Resources at the Girl Scouts of Northern California. She was awarded as one of Filipina Womens Network’s 100 Most Influential Filipinas in 2011, and was a featured Asian American Studies Alumna of San Francisco State University in 2014. Herna completed her M.S. in Human Resources Management from Golden Gate University in 2015.
Philippine Dance Practitioner, Artistic Director & Co-Founder – Sydney Loyola
For almost two decades, Sydney Loyola (formerly Jay Loyola) has created dance pieces performed by cultural groups in the Philippines, Asia and Europe. Her dance method have garnered respect form his peers as he emerged as the Bay Area’s ingenious dance practitioner with choreographies motivated through immersions in Philippine indigenous tribes. She has significantly contributed to Bay Area’s multicultural landscape by performances at major venues such as Palace of Fine Arts, and Cowell Theater as well as festival events like San Francisco Ethnic Festival, Pistahan Festival, and Filipino-American Arts Exposition that have been attended in by more than 150,000 audiences who yearn to experience a genuine Philippine dance experience.
Sydney Loyola recognizes the importance of actively engaging youth thus creating new generations of culturally invested community members and for young people of Philippine heritage within a multicultural population who desire a deeper connection to their roots. Loyola has a purpose to meet this cultural longing. Today’s youth move through educational system, with high school, college and beyond, they will inherently bring along a strong sense of heritage that can be shared with others.
Sydney Loyola has been recognized for her original dance work pieces Tagabanua (2011), Palau’an BIrd Call-Huni ng Tandikan (2012), and Maseg (Typhoon) (2014), and was featured on the dance documentary by Filmmaker Cecilio Asuncion, Sayaw in 2014.
Asst. Artistic Director & Master Instructor – Jennifer Cruz Reyes
Jennifer Cruz Reyes began her exposure in Philippine folk dance at a young age when she performed at the Pateros Association of San Diego’s annual town fiestas growing up in San Diego, CA. She continued to build a passion for performing arts and Philippine dance and music as a member of the PASACAT Philippine Performing Arts Company in 1993 and became one of the company’s core instructors for the youth program, as well as a musician for the music ensemble. After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2003, Jennifer became a performing member of the LIKHA-Pilipino Folk Ensemble and became a Founding Staff Member when American Center of Philippine Arts was established in 2009. Jennifer continues to pass on her passion, knowledge and teachings to youth through ACPA’s SEED Youth Program while raising her 2 daughters, both who are current members of the youth program.
SEED Program Manager – Oakland, Costume & Props Manager – Diana Tayag Lerma
Diana Tayag Lerma has been involved in Pilipino dance since she was 19. She was an original member of the Barangay Dance Company in San Francisco, a founding member of the Larawan Philippine Dance Company, and finally a performing member of the LIKHA-Pilipino Folk Ensemble. Her never-ending passion for Philippine culture and dance has led her to become part of American Center of Philippine Arts. She firmly believes in ACPA’s mission in nurturing our community and ethnic identity, especially through our youth. The mother of two children – both of who have been a part of ACPA’s SEED (Students Enriched in Education and Development) Program – Diana hopes that by sharing her passion with the younger generation, they can connect more fully with their cultural history and hopefully, have a better understanding of what it means to be a Pilipino in America.
SEED Program Manager – Brentwood – Maria Honrada
Maria Valentin Honrada began her exploration in Philippine culture during her college years at San Francisco State where she became an active member of the Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor organization. It was there that she discovered her passion for her culture especially in the art of Pilipino dance. In 1992, Maria was a founding member of LIKHA-Pilipino Folk Ensemble. She took several years off from dancing to raise her family but came back to perform and tour with LIKHA. As a mother of four children, she stands firmly behind the Mission and Vision of ACPA and believes in learning, sharing, and teaching the many aspects of our culture to our own children and to the communities at large.
Dance Assistant Instructor – Eric Dong
Eric Dong began his interest in Philippine Folk Dance and Music while he was a student at the University of San Francisco (USF) and was an active member of the Kasamahan Filipino student organization on campus. Eric began taking Rondalla classes with Herna Cruz-Louie in 2014, and took on the leadership role as Cultural Coordinator for the USF Kasamahan Barrio Fiesta (Pilipino Cultural Night) Production in 2016. Eric is an active member of ACPA’s Music Ensemble and is a performing artist for the Parangal Dance Company of San Francisco. He continues to build his passion in Philippine folk dance and music and recently became ACPA’s Dance Assistant Instructor in 2016.
Dance Assistant Instructor – Maegan Molo
Maegan Molo is the very first graduate of ACPA’s SEED Youth program and was part of the founding student class in 2009. Prior to being an active student with the American Center of Philippine Arts, Maegan performed at the local Sto. Nino festivities at Holy Rosary Church in Antioch, CA under the direction of Maria Honrada and “Wawa” Sydney Loyola and was an active student with LIKHA-Pilipino Folk Ensemble’s LIKHA Too! Youth Program in 2008. Maegan took some time away from Philippine dance when she left the San Francisco Bay Area to attend the University of Reno. After graduating, she has returned as one of ACPA Dance Assistant Instructors for the SEED Program in Brentwood, CA.
Props Master – Ron Honrada
Ron Honrada has always had interest in the many aspects of our culture. He was introduced to the world of folk dancing through his wife’s involvement with the community and dance companies. His biggest passions are his four children, which three are members of ACPA’s Seed Program. As his children’s number one supporter, he has also become an asset to ACPA as their Stage, Props, and Audio Lead.
Photographer – Chris Lerma
Chris Lerma was first introduced to Philippine folk dance with Larawan back in 1993 where he met and married his wife Diana. Since then he always had interest in Filipino folk dancing. Chris formerly worked for Hewlett-Packard since 2000. Prior to H-P he worked for Deliotte & Touche Consulting as Technical SAP lead. He is a Business System Analyst specializing in SAP, and currently works at Pacific Gas & Electric. He holds a Master Degree in Information Technology from Golden Gate University. His passion is in technology and photography; this is where he can add value to ACPA. Additionally, he is working on the side expanding his photography business. For samples of his work, visit www.ChrisLerma.com.