By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lathrop Sister City groups fiesta Saturday
Newly elected United Bacarraneos of America, Emerson Castillo, center, is pictured with his predecessor, Gerry Cid. The picture was taken during this years election which took place in Lathrop. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO/Bulletin Correspondent

For the first time in many years, Lathrop will not be playing host to the annual traditional fiesta celebration sponsored by its Sister City organization, the United Bacarreneos of America.
The Hawaiian themed dinner-dance event will be held Saturday at the home of Tracy doctor Chuchi de la Cruz and his wife Lucy. Both are members of the group which was instrumental in establishing Lathrop and Bacarra as sister cities.
The decision to locate the fiesta observance this year was a money-saving move, explained Emerson Castillo of Manteca, a retired school teacher and business owner who was voted this year as president of the Bacarreneos for the next two years. Elections were held at the annual general meeting and picnic in Lathrop.
The occasion is always attended by members of the Lathrop Council; however, Castillo said he does not know which city officials will be attending this year. Vice mayor Paul Akinjo has already expressed his regrets that he will not be there due to previous commitments, said Castillo who, at the same time, expressed his thanks to the de la Cruz family for their generosity in hosting the celebration.
Gloryanna Rhodes was the sitting mayor when the council unanimously approved that Lathrop and Bacarra become Sister Cities. Recalling how that came about, Rhodes recalled that it was her introduction to “a couple from Bacarra in Stockton during my first term as mayor” which started it all.
She has since forgotten the couple’s name but that meeting “started the ball rolling,” she said.
“The couple introduced me and former council member Augie Beltran to more people from Bacarra and I was fascinated by the people and the culture,” she added.
Additionally, “I had learned about Sister Cities from Stockton and was very much interested in having a Sister City for Lathrop,” she said.
The council vote to approve the two cities joining together culturally “wasn’t a difficult process and was done quickly. I was surprised how fast we became Sister Cities. It helped that both cities were open and eager to get it done,” Rhodes said.
It also did not hurt that Lathrop is home to a large group of Filipinos, many of whom are from the town of Bacarra. According to the latest Census, one of every ten Lathrop resident is of Filipino descent.

Historic 400-year-old town started courting Lathrop in the mid-1990s
The town of Bacarra started courting Lathrop as a Sister City in the mid-1990s. Lathrop was barely six or seven years old as an incorporated City. Incorporation was June 1989.
The initial step toward the Sister City goal happened when then-Bacarra mayor Pacifico Velasco visited Lathrop in a luncheon gathering hosted by Macario Cudal and fellow members of the Bacarreneos.
According to the article in the Manteca Bulletin which chronicled that meeting, “both mayors agreed to take the first step and send each other their respective town’s ‘credentials’ including copies of their communities’ general plans.”
“We have to study the situation, so I’ll ask Mayor McKee to give us the history of Lathrop in the same manner that we’re going to give them the credentials of Bacarra. We will study carefully the process to see if there’s a chance,” Velasco was quoted as saying.
McKee concurred by saying that Lathrop will do the same “to see if there are enough areas of compatibility between the two cities to forge a cultural-exchange relationship.” He added that any action leading to this agreement would have to go before the council. With Lathrop being a new incorporated city, McKee told Velasco that the town was still “going through a lot of infrastructure-related growing pains so there was the “possibility that cultural exchange projects could end up in the back burner for the meantime while priorities are taken care of.” But he said he also recognized that “there’s a strong Filipino segment in this community. I think there could be some real benefits” to a sister city relationship.”
At the time of Velasco’s visit, Lathrop only had 9,000 residents. That number has since more than doubled.