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Hispanic Heritage Month: Spotlight on APM Team Members

National Hispanic Heritage Month is held each year from September 15 to October 15, celebrating the culture and significant contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans.

At APM, we use this as an opportunity to learn more about our APM Family and what their history, culture, and heritage means to them. 

hispanic heritage month

Ivan Burgos Alvalle, APM Senior Loan Officer, NMLS# 610220

Ivan has had a passion for serving his whole life. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, the men in his family—including his father, grandfather, brothers, and himself—all served in the United States military. That passion continued when Ivan moved to New Jersey at age 21 and eventually settled into banking. It was there that he found a new way to serve people, moving through every role from teller to vice president.

Ivan Burgos

His passion for banking faded as that industry became more about numbers and less about people, but Ivan pivoted. He got his mortgage license during the COVID pandemic, an act that was inspired by his aunt and godmother. Raising a special needs child as a single mother in Puerto Rico, Ivan’s aunt was the epitome of fearlessness. She was never afraid of change, and she met challenges head-on. If she could approach life like that, Ivan knew he could do anything, whether it was moving to the continental U.S., entering finance, or making a career change in his 40s.

Nowadays, Ivan splits his time between Florida and Puerto Rico. Licensed in Florida and New Jersey, he can’t wait to get licensed in Puerto Rico to help speed up the mortgage process there. It took Ivan’s own brother a year and a half to get a mortgage for his home. Thankfully, with lots of family still on the island, Ivan always feels like Puerto Rico is home.

His favorite “hometown” tradition is Christmas, which lasts much longer than most cultures’ holiday. From December 25 through January 6, Three Kings Day, Puerto Ricans close out the old year and welcome in the new one, celebrating with their loved ones. Then from January 7 through January 14, they celebrate Octavitas, which gives Puerto Ricans an additional eight days to celebrate. Friends and family gather to sing holiday songs (known as parranda), share their favorite foods, and celebrate life during this extended holiday time. Ivan holds it all close to his heart, whether he’s in Puerto Rico or elsewhere for the holidays.

Outside of Christmas, Ivan is proud that Puerto Ricans are famous for finding a reason to celebrate. These gatherings not only bring great fun, food, and family, but the opportunity to reminisce and make new memories. Ivan also wants to be a part of other families’ memories, which is why he holds first-time homebuyer seminars wherever he thinks his clients will be able to attend—even at beauty parlors! Ivan considers himself the Hispanic Batman, as he makes sure he has the tools and resources he needs to not only hold a potential homebuyer’s hands, but to hold them accountable. After vetting APM for months before making the move, Ivan is proud to say he’s now aligned with a company that can help fill his toolbelt.

David Garcia, Loan Advisor for Vault Mortgage a dba of American Pacific Mortgage, NMLS #286883

As a first-generation Mexican American, David Garcia grew up learning the value of hard work. His parents immigrated from Oaxaca, Mexico, in the late ’60s, with his working relatives taking up “labor” positions to get by, as David calls it. This, he says, has been the greatest blessing of his life. 

Watching a generation of family members work as plumbers, painters, and gardeners instilled a strong work ethic in David. He carries that lesson with him today as a Loan Advisor in Los Angeles, which has a large Latino community.

Though David welcomes all races, ethnicities, and types of borrowers, he has a special place in his heart for the Hispanic community. Many of these families remind him of his own—with multiple generations living together and a sense of bonding and loyalty above all else. For these reasons, David strives to ensure that his borrowers understand their options—in either English or Spanish—which may include multiple families purchasing one property.

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David also knows that he didn’t get to where he is alone. Reciprocating the opportunities that were afforded to him is a major motivator. Whether face to face or on social media, David is determined to help as many American dreams come true as possible.

He understands the value and challenges associated with creating generational wealth, particularly among the Hispanic community, and vows to do what he can to make that dream a reality for all families. David seeks out hard situations and deals that need to be explained because he knows the opportunities these doors can unlock once a loan is funded.

David thoroughly enjoys working with self-employed borrowers and small-business owners, who have already invested so much to achieve their dreams. As someone who is living the life he always dreamed of, David is honored to be the one to help these individuals and families reach the next step on their journey. 

Christina Adams, APM Pricing and Margins Analyst 

Christina Adams comes from a “family first” Mexican-American clan. From an early age, cooking, big family meals and authentic recipes passed down from the generations was the norm.

Christina AdamsThose traditions persist today, and though Christina’s family is scattered throughout California, the women still manage to get together every October or November to make tamales. They use Christina’s great-grandfather’s secret recipe, which he brought with him from Mexico when he immigrated to California.

Christina’s grandmother on her father’s side also holds a special place in her heart. She was a woman who “did it all,” raising her family, cooking those meals everyone appreciated and becoming an entrepreneur. Her grandmother was very independent for her generation, opening a dog grooming shop and inspiring Christina to follow her dreams of owning her own business one day.

Orlando Diaz, Loan Officer, Guarantee Mortgage, a division of American Pacific Mortgage

Orlando Diaz comes from humble beginnings that have made him who he is today. He grew up in New York as the son of a Puerto Rican mother and an airman father. His mother got him into music at an early age, eventually earning Orlando a place at the famed Julliard School. Though his time after school was spent practicing the French horn, Orlando’s summers were full of family, music, and salsa in Puerto Rico.

Orlando-Diaz

He recalls dancing with his many aunts and grandmothers as early as 5, and attributes his Spanish-speaking abilities to all the time he spent with his grandparents in Puerto Rican churches. Holiday meals were also an event during these summer visits, with the women of the family getting together to cook for an entire week ahead of a celebration.

His mother’s sacrifices to pay for his music lessons early on, coupled with his relatives’ appreciation for fun, food, and family, have driven Orlando’s own work ethic. To Orlando, his clients—like his friends—are just an extension of family. It’s the Puerto Rican way.

Luz Lluncor, Branch Manager for New World Mortgage Branch a dba of American Pacific Mortgage, NMLS #227914

Though there are many paths to success, Luz Lluncor believes education is the cornerstone that can help anyone achieve their dreams. That’s why she’s taken it upon herself to make sure her borrowers and the larger Latino community she serves understand the value of learning. 

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Now in her 22nd year in the mortgage industry, Luz learned early on that education was the key for her borrowers. She was trying to discover what would make her stand out among a crowded industry when she realized that what was lacking was the opportunity to learn more about homeownership, finance, mortgages, and generational wealth. This was especially true among her local Latino community in the Los Angeles suburb of Downey.

Luz is very proud of the workshops she hosts. They’re always on her calendar, and they’ve never stopped, even during the pandemic. These workshops are so important to her because Luz knows that if just one person listens, they can see the benefits homeownership can bring to them and their family—and family is front and center for Luz.

Luz’s mom and two siblings immigrated to the United States from Peru when Luz was 7. She didn’t speak English at the time, a language that the culture and school system highly emphasized over Spanish. Luz not only learned English, but soon found it to be her dominant language, both inside and outside the home.

Luz made a conscious effort not to lose her first language, though, and is proud to say that she remains fluent in Spanish without a trace of an American accent. The language, large family gatherings and Peruvian cooking motivate Luz to never lose sight of where she came from. She knows other Latinos feel the same and appreciates that, collectively, the culture embraces their community, family, and social events.

Luz also wants her community to keep learning, pursuing higher education whenever possible. She believes this will help close the wage gap that so often exists between Hispanic borrowers and others. As education continues, opportunities arise and advancement materializes. Luz knows homeownership can be a part of that advancement, which is why she’ll continue educating her community until she retires.

Marlyn Martinez, APM Loan Advisor, NLMS #1397191

Marlyn loves the Pacific Northwest and its tight-knit Hispanic community. Her Washington roots were laid down by her parents, who immigrated to the eastern portion of the state from Mexico. They met at a party and worked at the same apple farm. 

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Though her mother was convinced that she would return to Mexico after making a little money, she soon found herself with a husband, a daughter, and her own version of the American dream playing out. Now a mother herself, Marlyn lives only half an hour from her parents. She and her family visit them at least once a week, especially for her dad’s famous margaritas.

Marlyn knows that hard work, sacrifice, and family are the cornerstones of the Hispanic culture, which is why she embraces all three. In her experience, Marlyn has found that many Hispanics don’t realize they can buy a home with less than 20% down, or that they don’t have to be a citizen to qualify for a mortgage.

Her outreach efforts strive to dispel these myths while arming this community with the tools, resources, and information they need to buy a home. This includes a Spanish-speaking team of realtors, title representatives, insurance agents, and home inspectors who can walk borrowers through every step of the process. Marlyn finds that explaining each step, including why certain documentation is needed, really helps Hispanic borrowers feel comfortable.

Being as community-oriented as they are, Hispanic borrowers often refer their friends and family to Marlyn and her partners. This in turn arms even more would-be borrowers with the tools they need to achieve their American dream.

When Marlyn isn’t working, she can be found visiting with her very large extended family, as both sets of grandparents had 14 children each. Some are in the Pacific Northwest, making family gatherings that much more special. Others still live in Mexico, which presents endless opportunities to visit the country and stay connected via Zoom. This connection is especially cherished on holidays like the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), when Marlyn and her immediate family could partake in festivities in Washington while watching her relatives in Mexico observe the holiday as well.

Emelda Miranda, Branch Manager at Northwest Home Loans

Emelda grew up working in the fields of Yakima Valley, Washington, with her parents and six siblings. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school and went on to get a master’s degree in education while working full-time with a daughter at home. Her first career out of college was as an elementary school teacher, and she loved every minute of it. In fact, Emelda credits her experience teaching with her success in the mortgage industry today. Screen Shot 2020-10-01 at 5.26.00 PM

Emelda’s first glimpse into the mortgage industry happened when she refinanced her home. In fact, it ended up being a life-changing moment for her.

“It was a challenging transaction, but the way the loan officer handled herself left a lasting impression,” Emelda said. “We were sitting in escrow, and I told her she had done an amazing job and I’d love to help people the way she did someday. Right then, she invited me to join her for the summer to work in her business, and I agreed. Needless to say, I never left. That was 15 years ago. Once I started building my own business, I vowed to be what she was to us, to every client.”

Today, the majority of Emelda’s business comes from serving minority clients in a variety of complex situations.

“I understand the culture. I come from it,” she said. “I’ve done that work myself, and my parents retired from it, so I understand what our clients are experiencing. When I see a borrower with 40 W-2s for two years, I know the work that went into that, and I can’t walk away from it. In fact, I have built my team around it so we can better serve our clientele and be their go-to resource.”

Emelda credits her team’s firsthand experience as laborers to their ability to truly understand and help their clients today.

“My team all come from the fields, and they all speak Spanish, and that’s important because we need to be able to connect and have compassion for our clients,” she said. “We don’t see what we do as a numbers business. We see it as an opportunity to serve and get a family into a home that possibly wouldn’t have been able to without our help. Growing up as a worker in the fields, I almost felt like we were invisible in many ways. Now I am able to celebrate my upbringing and give back to those who may be feeling the same. There really is no better feeling. The Hispanic population brings so much to the table, and this is my opportunity to show people that they matter, that their dreams matter, and that we can help make them come true.”

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