Evangeline “Vangie” Paredes, the city’s oldest Filipino-American, an Eastern High School graduate and District resident for 100 years, celebrated her 105th birthday on July 26.
A motorcade, heralded by a Metropolitan Police Department motorcycle, led two MPD SUVs — sirens chirping and lights flashing — and 15 cars that crawled past a Connecticut Avenue retirement high-rise to observe the birthday of the woman widely known in the District as Ms. Vangie. She had a busy to-do list that day.
“She told me she was ready to do some more volunteer work today,” Darnetta Bascomb, a volunteer specialist with Legal Counsel for the Elderly, said of one of the local AARP’s most celebrated volunteers.
“We work as resource guides for senior citizens. She offers folks plenty of good advice,” she said of the still-indefatigable local adviser and national lobbyist for senior citizens.
Ms. Vangie, who has been hailed for her volunteer work and guidance for more than 10 years by the AARP, said she was flattered and surprised by the birthday observance.
“I thought my 100th birthday party was great but this is the best one yet,” she said, greeting well-wishers seated and masked, recognizing family and friends by name with a voice that rose over the traffic noise.
She used a walker to emerge from the apartment building and entertained from a chair that had been placed on the sidewalk. The crowd included her grandchildren and a stream of friends who snacked on cookies and bottled water for the hour-long, mid-morning celebration.
She was serenaded by a guitar and ukulele trio that played and sang “You Are My Sunshine” and a Filipino song of affection, sung in togalu, the language of her Spanish father and Filipino mother.
“I’m enjoying every day,” she told The Informer.
“I love you all and I miss you,” she said to the stream of family who surrounded her in the mid-morning heat.
The party marked the latest significant D.C. moment for the Brooklyn, N.Y.-born woman whose family moved to D.C. from New York in 1921, settling in a house on Chesapeake Street SE in Ward 8, then a community of farms and dirt roads.
She graduated from Eastern High School and, after winning a scholarship to a local secretarial school, embarked on a career as an administrative professional that saw her working directly for Manuel Quezon, the former president of the Philippines, and other senior military officers, ambassadors and secretaries in various positions at the Defense Department, United Nations and what became the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington.
Active in community service in Ward 8 for decades, she was among the key architects of the Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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