Dr. Avila Arcala left mark on Port Arthur and beyond; service planned Saturday

Published 8:06 am Friday, April 19, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

When family and friends gather to celebrate the life of Dr. Avila Arcala, they will be furthering her legacy in an especially meaningful way.

Dr. Avila Arcala passed away on Feb. 15, and the repass, following her memorial service, will be a time when the Filipino community’s culture, traditions and impacts on Southeast Texas will be reminisced and documented for future generations. That is becoming a reunion for residents of Filipino heritage and several who moved away, according to Joyce Manuel, president of the Filipino Association.

The memorial service will take place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at First Methodist Church in Nederland.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The repass, in the church’s Community Fellowship Center, begins immediately following the service.

A screen shot from a story on the Arcalas in the Port Arthur News. (Courtesy photo)

The Arcalas

The Arcalas’ 35 years of medical service in Southeast Texas has left a mark on the lives of many people, locally and across the globe. They came to the United States in 1969, at which time Dr. Federico was a student intern in Chicago and brought his wife with him.

She first planned to become a nurse but opted for becoming a physician after being told she had to cut her hair to become a doctor.

There she served as Faculty with the Department of Family Practice in Illinois’ Masonic Medical Center.

Throughout their time in our community, the Arcala family credited other physician couples — Drs.

Edgardo and Ceres Espiritu and Drs. Arsenio and Fe Martin — for paving the way for their decision to move to Port Arthur in the late 1980s.

Before joining her husband in their private medical practice in Port Arthur, Dr. Avila worked as a physician in the Port Arthur Health Clinic, where she later became the city’s medical director and then as director of the health department in Beaumont.

Dr. Oscar Enriquez describes the Arcalas as “robust pillars in the Philippine-American Community of Texas,” and credits her with giving him advice and helping him navigate his way in the medical field, when he became a new physician in 1996.

“They both helped make that journey for me smoother in many ways, and their leadership contributed to providing scholarships for medical students and a high quality of healthcare to our community,” he adds.

The Arcalas invested their time and resources in medical mission trips to the Philippines. One such

trip was reported by the Port Arthur News after their country was devastated by three major, natural disasters that came one right after the other — a massive volcanic eruption, followed by a flood that killed more than 8,000 — and all that just a year after a severe earthquake.


Dr. Avila earned numerous recognitions in the medical community –locally and statewide. She contributed a vast amount of personal time as a leader and volunteer.

Among her many achievements, Dr. Avila served as Chief of Staff for St. Mary Hospital, a Southeast

Texas Healthy Planning Advisory Committee member, coordinator of the Teen Pregnancy Forum, was inducted into the Southeast Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, and served as 1994 president of the Texas Association of Philippines Physicians (TAPP).

She was recognized by the House of Representatives for her rising medical career that brought her to Port Arthur, where she provided exemplary service across Southeast Texas and significantly impacted countless Texans.

Their son, Frederick “Freddie” Arcala, an attorney residing near Seattle, Washington, has fond memories of his days growing up in Southeast Texas. He was glad his mother chose to join him there after the passing of his father, the late Dr. Frederico Arcala, in 2015.

— Written by Verna Rutherford