Antonio “Tony” Somera was a lifelong resident of Stockton, California. In 1980 he became a member in good standing of the Legionarios Del Trabajo General Luna lodge. He was sponsored by his father, Celestino Somera and Leo Giron. Tony is a life member of the lodge and was transferred to become a member of the Daguhoy lodge.
One of the reasons for the transfer was because of his work on a Filipino American museum he created at the Daguhoy Lodge building. Tony discovered the vast treasures now held in the museum collection while doing some cleaning at the lodge during the transition of the Bahala Na Martial Arts Association from their training club located in North Stockton to South Stockton.
Over the years many people had lived at the lodge. Stored in the basement, and almost forgotten, were years of personal mementos left behind as the fortunes of life fluctuated. There were pictures, posters, newspapers, magazines, personal and group photos, musical scores, poetry, essays, letters and even books of jokes that were written by the manongs (elders).
There were beds, tables and chairs from the period. There were receipts and ledgers from small businesses of the time. There were zoot suits, clothes, watches, lighters and other personal items.
Tony even found a hand forged sword, spear and shield! Some of the most striking items are the many military medals, memorabilia and uniforms that were left behind as the heroic Filipino American soldiers, who fought for our country in WWII, moved on to continue their normal lives.
These World War II veterans were from the world famous and highly decorated 1st and 2nd Filipino Infantry along with General Douglas MacArthur’s 978th Signal Crop. They were the first known commandos of their caliber during World War II history.
Along with members of the Bahala Na® Martial Arts, Tony Somera renovated the space and put the collected materials in order for viewing. They created a museum space that approximates the living conditions of the time being displayed along with unique and fascinating objects that make history come alive. It is a wonderful snap shot back in time of a dynamic period in Stockton history and American history!
Tony was a life member of FALNHS and on the board of trustees for the Little Manila Foundation since 2002. The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) is truly a community-based organization whose mission is “…to preserve, document, and present Filipino American history and to support scholarly research and artistic works which reflect that rich past…”.
The Little Manila Foundation advocates for the historic preservation of the Little Manila Historic Site in Stockton, California and provides education and leadership to revitalize our Filipina/o American community.
Along with Tony Somera’s community service, Tony was also a leader in the martial arts community. He was a 3rd degree black belt in Goju Royu Karate gained in 1974. He was also the highest ranking student and vice president in Mande Muda Silat.
However, he is most well known for being Grand Master Tony Somera of the Bahala Na® Martial Arts, Giron® Arnis Escrima.
As a direct result of superior skill and devotion to the principles, philosophy and purpose of Bahala Na Martial Arts combined with leadership and his master level Instructorship, Master Tony Somera was promoted to the rank and responsibility of Grand Master by the late Grand Master and founder of Bahala Na® Martial Arts Leo M. Giron.
Grand Master Somera promoted the art of Giron® Arnis Escrima along with its rich Filipino History and culture by providing opportunities for students and community members to visit historic sites and learn Filipino American history through bi-annual “affiliate camps” held in Stockton. Tony Somera is the only person ever to be promoted to the rank of Master and then Grand Master by the late Grand Master Emeritus Leo M. Giron.