National Actions to Commemorate the 74th Anniversary of Bataan Death March

Prisoners In Bataan

Japanese troops guarding Filipino and American prisoners in Bataan. The prisoners were forced to march over 62 miles from Bataan to Tarlac in what became known as the Bataan Death March. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


Washington, DC– The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP) is commemorating the heroism of more than 260,000 Filipino and American soldiers of World War ll by renewing its call to Congress to pass the Filipino Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Award of 2015. April 9 marks the 74th anniversary of the fall of Bataan, one of the critical moments of World War II in the Pacific theater.

Across the country, advocates will be holding community events, including wreath-laying ceremonies, to pay tribute to these soldiers who fought valiantly in Bataan and endured the Bataan “Death March” 74 years ago.

In San Francisco, Calif., the Philippine Consulate General, the Bataan Legacy Historical Society and Memorare-Manila 1945 Foundation will hold a Day of Valor Commemoration and open a Special Exhibit on World War II in the Philippines. The Exhibit will run from April 11-29, 2016.

In Washington, DC, FilVetREP will take part in a program of commemoration hosted by the Philippine Embassy on Friday, April 8. In the Philippines, the Day of Valor (“Araw ng Kagitingan”) is recognized as a national holiday.

Other actions nationwide include a #RecognizeBataanValor and #RecognizeFilVetValor social media campaign to secure co-sponsors to the Congressional Gold Medal legislation; letters and phone calls from around the country to lawmakers; and Op-eds on and other national publications.

Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), Chairman of FilVetRep, and other advocates will also be available for press interviews. Contact Jon Melegrito, FilVetREP Executive Secretary, at 202-361-0296.

Here is a list of events:

Friday, April 8, 2016, 5:30 PM Wreath-laying Ceremony, World War II

Memorial followed by program/symposium at Romulo Hall, Philippine Embassy, 1600 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC,    20036. Contact Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, Tel.202-467-9410.

Saturday, April 9, 1:00 PM Community Program, Philippine Mini Mart, Troy, Michigan. Sponsored by the US Pinoys      for Good Governance (USPGG). Contact Willie Deschavez, Tel. 586-713-8261.

Saturday, April 9, 9:00 AM Wreath-laying at the Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Bridge on the corner of State Street and Wacker Drive, Chicago, Ill., followed by a program at the Philippine Consultate, 122 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60603. Co-sponsored by NaFFAA West Illinois Region. Contact Anna Liza F. Alcantara, Tel. 312-583-0621.

Saturday, April 9, 2:00 PM Commemoration and Remembrance Ceremony, Filipino Veterans Education Center, War      Memorial Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, Cal. Contact Rudy Asercion, Tel. 415-564-6262.

Saturday, April 9, 2:00 PM Wreath-laying Ceremony, followed by a program, sponsored by the Philippine Consulate     of New York and the Filipino Executive Council of Greater Philadelphia, Inc.  Contact: Mae Ermita Manubay,  Philippine Consulate General NY, Tel. 212-764-1330 Ext. 4013.

Monday, April 11, 8:30 AM A Day of Valor Commemoration and Opening of Exhibition on World War II in the Philippines. The Philippine Center, Kalayaan Hall, 447 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA. Contact the Philippine Consulate, Tel. 415-433-666 x 313;

Majority of Deported AAPI Are Not Criminals


Immigrant advocates have been very vocal about their displeasure at President Obama’s decision to delay executive action on immigration. “Where is the leadership and courage from President Obama?” asked Gregory Cendana, Chair of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), “Asian Americans are losing hope.”

Indeed, it is personal for many in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community as undocumented family members remain at risk for deportation. About 11 percent of the country’s undocumented are AAPI, mainly from China, the Philippines, India, Korea and Vietnam.

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data group at Syracuse University which gathers nonpartisan information about U.S. federal immigration enforcement, reports that immigration court judges have ordered 82,878 individuals deported so far this fiscal year. TRAC points out that only 20 percent of these people are being “removed” because of criminal or any other activity that posed a threat to national security or the public safety. This statistic only rubs salt in the collective wound of immigrants.

Nearly six percent of individuals ordered to leave their families and communities are AAPI (4,778). Immigrants from China (1,840), India (793), the Philippines (344), Vietnam (251), Nepal (198), and South Korea (189) make up 75 percent of AAPIs being deported. The entire AAPI community is represented, including  the island country of Niue (2), Bhutan (1), Brunei (1), and East Timor (1).

Until immigration reform passes and the deportation of non-criminal immigrants stops, AAPI advocates will continue their protest.

“If our elected leaders are serious about fixing our broken immigration system, they must back up their words with actions,” said Miriam Yeung, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). “We will  continue to mobilize our base and make our concerns and needs heard from all across the country to Washington, DC.”

Why a Gay Asian Immigrant Marches


Image: AFP Getty

I was born years after the March on Washington in 1963 and came to the United States 27 years after hundreds of thousands demonstrated for jobs and civil rights. Nonetheless, I felt the need to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and so many other nameless women and men who marched and fought for the American promise of equality and opportunity. So am I compelled to be part of the ongoing march for social and economic justice.

Fifty years ago, the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and LGBT communities were not even visible in the civil rights movement. However, Asian and gay Americans took part in the struggle, having experienced discrimination and marginalization themselves.

During the anti-Chinese movement of the 1800s, Chinese immigrants were lynched and murdered. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act effectively ended immigration from China and prevented Chinese immigrants and their native-born children from becoming U.S. citizens. In 1929, anti-Filipino riots erupted in California, after Filipino men displaced white farm hands and socialized with white women. In 1941, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 which revoked the rights of Japanese Americans and sent over 100,000 women, men, and children to internment camps scattered throughout the United States. Five years later, President Truman signed the Rescission Act of 1946 which took away veterans benefits pledged to 250,000 Filipino service members who courageously fought for America in World War II.

Until the 1960s, most lesbians and gay men remained closeted, fearful of being identified as homosexuals and deviants. Thousands of service women and men had been dishonorably discharged during the Second World War. Homosexuals, along with Communists, had been deemed threats to national security and hunted down during the McCarthy era. Women and men who were suspected of being homosexual lost their jobs and were ostracized. Gay bars and establishments were regularly raided. Gay men were routinely entrapped by undercover police officers.

Today, the AAPI and LGBT communities are visible, marching alongside African American and Latino communities, in the continued struggle for equality and opportunity.

Although the model minority myth persists, nearly two million AAPIs live in poverty. The community suffers the highest rate of long-term unemployment of any group in the United States. A study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Urban Institute reports AAPIs face significant housing discrimination. At the polls, lack of language assistance and voter ID laws hinder Asian Americans from exercising their right to vote. Since 911, South Asian and Muslim Americans have been racially profiled by law enforcement agencies.

The myth of gay affluence also belies the fact that poverty rates for LGBT adults are higher than for heterosexual adults. Nearly a quarter of bisexual and gay women are poor and LGBT people of color are more likely to live in poverty than their straight counterparts. Transgender people are four times as likely to survive on less than $10,000 a year and twice as likely to be unemployed as the typical American. A HUD report found lesbian and gay couples experienced unfavorable treatment in the rental housing market. Even though queer people are more visible and have won major legislative and legal victories, they continue to be victims of hate crimes. Transgender women of color in particular are regularly brutalized and murdered for being true to themselves.

As a queer immigrant of color, as a member of the AAPI, LGBT, and immigrant communities, as one who abides by the American dream, I march. Our nation’s future does not belong to one community, it belongs to all of us. But as President Obama exhorts us, we should not turn from or on each other but towards one another.

“The March on Washington teaches us that we are not trapped by the mistakes of history; that we are masters of our fate.  But it also teaches us that the promise of this nation will only be kept when we work together. We’ll have to reignite the embers of empathy and fellow feeling, the coalition of conscience that found expression in this place 50 years ago.”

And so we march on together, with the dream that 50 years from now we will have a more perfect Union.

Also on the Huffington Post.

Queer Asian Pacific Islanders Gather in Washington, D.C.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), a federation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander grassroots organizations, held its second national conference in Washington, D.C. last weekend.

Over 300 representatives, mostly under 30 years old, gathered to network, educate themselves on key issues impacting both the LGBTQ and API communities, organize and build the capacity of NQAPIA, which had its first national convention in 2009.

The conference, whose theme was “Power, Presence, Progress,” featured notables from both the API and LGBT communities. It was kicked off with a briefing Thursday from the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders attended by Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu, followed by a reception addressed by openly gay Hawai’i Supreme Court Associate Justice Sabrina Shizue McKenna. The opening plenary Friday was moderated by journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and the awards gala Saturday had actress Tamlyn Tomita hosting and U.S. Representative Mike Honda honored for his work on behalf of the queer and API communities.

Conference sessions were designed to build community and organizational capacity, develop leadership and foster alliances. Key issues such as immigration, bullying, marriage equality and family cohesion were also discussed.

Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA’s co-director for programs said that now is the time for the activists to gather in the nation’s capital. “We’re doing more than just getting a seat at the table,” he said. “It’s our chance to really show our numbers, our presence.”

Conference attendees who often find themselves minorities within a minority certainly left empowered. “Many mahalos!” a participant from Hawai’i wrote on NQAPIA’s Facebook page. “So excited to be back at work, at my desk, and still recharged from the NQAPIA Conference — I feel the presence, power, and progress that is our revolution.”

Originally posted on the Huffington Post, July 26, 2012.

Filipino Expats Shop to Help Child Abuse Victims

February 8, 2011; Source: Asian Week | The ABS CBN Foundation International, a U.S.-based foundation for one of the Philippines’ largest broadcasting companies, has announced its official partnership with Seafood City Supermarkets to collect donations for the foundation’s main program, Bantay Bata (Child Watch), a child rescue and welfare program. Bantay Bata operates a 24/7 hotline number and a children’s village that offers safe transitional shelter for extreme cases of child abuse, neglect, and illness.

The partnership with the West Coast supermarket is a perfect match. Over a million Filipinos live in California, making it the largest concentration of Filipinos in the U.S.  The Filipino community has been patronizing Seafood City stores dispersed throughout the Golden State for decades and its members are now able to help through outright donations or a percentage of their purchases.

Low income and poor individuals and families in developing countries often depend heavily on the financial support of family members in developed countries. Those without relatives in richer nations occasionally benefit from the generosity of expatriates who feel a connection to those in need in their home countries. The Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development reports that, in 2009, more than 6,500 child abuse cases were served. It is most likely many more child abuse and neglect cases go unreported.

Originally posted on Nonprofit Quarterly, Nonprofit Newswire, February 14, 2012.

Nonprofits and Asian Immigrant Integration

Asians are America’s fastest growing minority group, increasing in number by 43 percent during the last decade. Close to 15 million people — 5 percent of the total population — identify as Asian. Another 2.6 million  say they are part Asian.

Immigration accounts for most of this growth. Asians are the second largest immigrant group behind Latinos, with most coming from the Philippines, India, and China.

In the D.C. Metro Area, 9.2 percent of residents are Asian, most of them foreign born.

D.C. Metro Area Population Breakdown

Uprooting oneself from home and country to start anew thousands of miles away is stressful and challenging. Immigrants encounter strange faces, a new language, and mores that may go against deeply held values and beliefs. All this while finding their way through a labyrinthine immigration system.

Some newcomers have friends and family members to lean on while they adjust. Others seek out compatriots through immigrant congregations and other organizations.  These community-based immigrant-serving nonprofits can be community centers and advocates. They also serve as intermediaries between immigrant communities, government and other stakeholders. They provide social services and help immigrants find work and advance.

The D.C. Metro Area has more than 500 nonprofits that help region’s immigrant populations get their bearings. Half of these organizations target Asian immigrants while one in ten caters to all immigrant groups. Most Asian-serving nonprofits are congregations.

Nonprofits serving immigrants are clustered around Washington, D.C. while Asians have been moving into outlying suburbs and counties for jobs and homes. This spatial mismatch however should resolve itself in time as Asian and other immigrants integrate and start new associations, much as those before them did — thanks to nonprofits that helped pave the way.

Foreign-Born Asian Populations

Originally posted on Urban Institute MetroTrends Blog, November 22, 2011.

Asian Immigration and the Myth of the ‘Model Minority’

Korean American Census Rally in Queens, NY - Photo: Sooyeon Kim.

A Korean American rally to promote participation in the 2010 Census in Queens, NY. (Photo: Sooyeon Kim)

Immigration is seen by most Americans as a Latino issue. The faces splashed on newspapers, television and blogs appear to be Hispanic, their names sound Spanish, and they are said to come from Mexico and other nations in Central and Latin America.

But the U.S. immigration system and the debate over how it should be reformed affect not only Latinos but all immigrant communities. Among the countenances rarely pictured and stories seldom told are those from Asia.

The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) reports that 28 percent of all immigrants in the United States – about 11 million – hail from Asia. Asians are the second largest immigrant group after Latinos, with nearly half coming from the Philippines, India and China and residing in California, New York and Texas.

Michelle Mittelstadt, MPI’s Director of Communications, believes that immigration is identified with Latinos because more than half of all immigrants to the United States are from Latin America, and much of the political discourse is focused on those without papers. “Much of the public discussion in Washington and beyond in recent years has focused overwhelmingly on illegal immigration – and more than three quarters of unauthorized immigrants are from Latin America,” Mittelstadt said.

Tarry Hum, associate professor of urban studies at CUNY Queens College and Graduate Center, agrees. “The American public assumes immigrants – in particular, undocumented immigrants – are Latinos who crossed the Mexican-U.S. border,” she said.

Melany DeLa Cruz, Assistant Director of UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center says the difference in perception of the two ethnic groups has to do with the history of immigration policy and where these immigrants fit into the U.S. economic scheme.

“U.S. corporations have heavily relied on cheap labor supply from Latin American countries. This has resulted in stereotyping Latinos as ‘taking jobs away’ or ‘bringing down wages’ when it is the corporate structure at fault. In contrast, recent U.S. immigration policies towards Asia and the Pacific have changed to attract wealthy investors and skilled workers. This has resulted in overlooking poor Asian immigrants that work in low-wage sectors,” Cruz said.

Asian immigrants are perceived as ‘model minorities’ who work hard, do well, and don’t complain. In the American imagination, they do not seem to share the challenges faced by other immigrant groups.

The statistics perpetuate the stereotype. Nearly half of Asian immigrant adults have a college degree or higher. Among all immigrants, Asians are more concentrated in management, information technology, and science and engineering. A majority of immigrant doctors and nurses are from Asia.

Hum, who characterizes the model minority ideal as “another type of racial stereotyping,” argues that this is bad for the Asian American community as “it sets Asians apart from other immigrant communities of color and reinforces our invisibility in the political sphere.”

“Countless Asian or Pacific Island immigrants are part of the 99 percent that are exploited in low-wage jobs and subsidize the comfortable lifestyle of the 1 percent that are privileged,” DeLa Cruz added. “These include Vietnamese nail salon workers, Thai massage workers, Filipino home health care workers, Chinese restaurant workers, etc. Their stories need to be told and be made more visible to the larger public.”

Indeed, not all Asian immigrants are highly educated, affluent or in the country lawfully.

MPI estimates that Asian immigrants accounted for 11 percent of all unauthorized immigrants in 2010. The Department of Homeland Security counts among the undocumented 280,000 Filipinos, 200,000 Indians, 170,000 Koreans and 130,000 Chinese.

Asians are no different from Latinos and other immigrant communities. Many families are threatened by separation since a family member or two, usually parents, are without papers. Young Asian women and men who were brought into the country as children and grew up thinking they are citizens often discover that they are not. Both high and low skilled Asian workers are wanting for visas and legal jobs. Gay Asian immigrants cannot be sponsored for permanent residency by their American spouses and partners.

A key issue for the Asian immigrant community is family separation which is exacerbated, rather than alleviated, by the current immigration system.

“Immigration is an area fraught with complexity, so the issues are many,” Mittelstadt wrote via email. “But among the top immigration challenges are the lengthy wait times for family-based visas for immigrants coming from China, the Philippines and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Asian immigrants and their family abroad often wait for as long as two decades to be reunited. In the meantime, children and parents get older and families grow apart.

The faces we see and the voices we often hear in the immigration debate might seem only Latino, but the often rancorous exchange and resulting consequences impact all immigrant communities, including the fabled “model minority.”

Originally posted on WNYC It’s A Free Country, November 14, 2011 and  Feet in 2 Worlds, November 15, 2011