Honoring Filipino Amerasians, America’s Forgotten Children on Memorial Day


US Embassy in the Philippines (Yahoo stock photo 2019)

On the last Monday of May, the US celebrates Memorial Day in honor of the people that served the US military. This Memorial Day, I would like to honor the many men and women that passed through the former US military bases in Subic and Clark, Philippines, the largest American bases overseas during the height of the Vietnam War.

Map of Clark and Subic bases, former US military bases in the Philippines

On this Memorial Day, I also would like to honor the thousands of Filipino Amerasians left behind. When the Philippines kicked out the US military in 1992, US servicemen left behind at least 50,000 Filipino Amerasian children. But none has been recognized as Americans, despite US paternity (Al Jazeera: April 2014).  In contrast, Amerasians from other countries including Vietnam, Thailand and Japan were recognized and offered US citizenship. As many Americans celebrate Memorial Day and the start of the summer season, I also would like to remember the Filipino Amerasians, America’s forgotten children.

Mark Gilbore (standing on the right) gives Dale Asis (on the left) a tour of Angeles City’s red light district with the infamous bar girls standing outside the bars (2011)

I still clearly remember my first night in Clark as Filipino Amerasian, Mark Gilbore showed me around Clark’s red light district, “Fields Ave” with its infamous girlie bars and nightclubs.  Since then, a lot of things have changed at the same time a lot of things stayed the same. Filipino Amerasians are still mired in poverty and continue to be forgotten by both Philippine and US societies. Many Amerasians are often employed in low wage jobs and are struggling to make ends meet. It seems like people are just ready to sweep them under the rug.

William Ward, a successful Filipino Amerasian. He is a US military veteran, and a PhD candidate at the University of Baltimore in Maryland (May 2020)

Then in May 2020, William Ward came knocking at my door. He said he wanted to help the plight of Filipino Amerasians. I was shocked as if an angel fell from the sky. Being an Amerasian himself, he might be the best thing that could happen to revive this issue. William is currently studying at the University of Baltimore School of Public & International Affairs and is completing his PhD studies. He is currently doing an extensive pilot study on the exclusion of Filipino Amerasians from the 1982 Amerasian Immigration and 1987 Amerasian Homecoming Acts. 

“This will be the foundation for my dissertation studying Filipino Amerasians and their plight of being forgotten by US and Philippine histories,” William said.  William also holds a law degree from Western Michigan University.

“My father was in the US Air Force and he was stationed at Clark Air Base. My mother is from Tarlac, Philippines. I looked like the other Amerasians around me. I am Amerasian but the only difference was that my father was present in my life and theirs abandoned them. After all these years, the plight of growing up as a Filipino Amerasians has always been an important part of my childhood memories growing up in Tarlac,” William said recalling fondly his childhood growing up in the Philippines.

William Ward will provide the personal story and experience of the plight of the Filipino Amerasian. Besides his compelling, personal narrative, William also plans to study why US policies and laws have abandoned Filipino Amerasians.

“I still have those images in my head–of little boys and girls who should be considered as American as me. But right now, they’re being treated as outcasts. I still remember the taunts and epithets when I was growing up in Clark. They have left a long and painful impression,” William said.

“It is exciting to work with the Bayanihan Foundation and with Dale Asis, whose passion and dedication for Filipino Amerasians is inspiring for scholars like me. It is my personal calling to bring attention to the plight of Filipino Amerasians.”

On this Memorial Day, let’s honor US military veterans like William Ward. He served during the Iraq War and was deployed during the surge in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2007-2009 in Mosul. Let us remember all the US military that served proudly. But let us also remember the Filipino Amerasians left behind. I am hopeful that William might be able to cast a light in this dark shadow in the US and Filipino histories of Filipino Amerasians, America’s Forgotten Children.

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Covid19 Cuts Remittances, a Lifeline for Many Families


Excerpts from this blog post came from the New York Times arictle, “Economic Freeze Cuts Remittances, a Lifeline for Migrants’ Families” April 2020 and the CNN artcile, “Virus Cuts Off Lifeline for Many of World’s Poorest” May 2020.

On May 2020, I helped my cousin send money to his family in the Philippines. He sent $100, a lifeline to his family who are also in quarantine. Migrant workers globally send hundreds of billions of dollars home every year. The economic paralysis with the coronavirus pandemic threatens that.

“If the economy gets any more difficult,” another cousin commented, “Baka wala na silang makain (well, we don’t know how we’re going to eat).”

The pandemic — and government measures to combat it — are snapping financial lifelines around the world. As millions of workers in the United States and elsewhere see their hours cut or lose their jobs entirely, many are no longer able to send money to relatives and friends back home who depend on these remittances to survive.

Migrants and others sent some $689 billion in global remittances in 2018, according to the World Bank, helping to reduce poverty in developing countries, boosting household spending on education and health care, and helping to keep social and political discontent at bay.

The story of my cousin and his family is not unique. Millions of Filipinos are working all over the globe. They continually send money back home, a critical lifeline for many. However, with the Covid19 pandemic and economic lock downs all over the world, that lifeline is under threat.

Maria Cristina Y Baolos, domestic worker in Hong Kong, shared her heartbreaking story of losing her job during the pandemic and being homeless. Her family back in the Philippines depends on her remittances. CNN, May 2020

Maria Cristina Y Baolos got fired from her job as a domestic worker in Hong Kong a few weeks ago and she was left homeless. CNN News reported that the 46-year-old Filipina says she was paid out in cash for her notice period, then given an hour to pack her things and leave. After hours of being stranded on the side of the road with all her belongings, eventually a friend helped her find a temporary boarding house.

“I’m sitting on the floor, all my luggage there,” Baolos said. “The life of a helper, it’s not easy.” Many of the 390,000 domestic workers in Hong Kong are women, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia, who are working abroad to send money back to their families. The Philippines consulate in Hong Kong says around 350 domestic workers from that country have lost their jobs due to Covid-19.

Before she was laid off, Baolos was sending a third of her income home to support her four sons, a husband who can’t work due to the lockdown, and a mother who needs expensive medical treatment. The story of Maria Cristina is not unique. There are probably countless stories like hers that are not told, of families struggling to make ends meet during the Covid19 pandemic.

“The human scale of this phenomenon is very, very large,” Dilip Ratha of the World Bank said. “They won’t be able to buy food; they cannot sustain their families’ livelihoods.” Covid19 has disrupted many lives, including those that are already hanging in the balance before the pandemic hit.

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Covid-19 Take Heavy Toll on Filipino Health Care Workers


Covid-19 continues to take a toll on the first responders and health care workers who remain on the front lines across the U.S. Among those affected are Filipino-Americans, who in states like California and New York make up at least 20 percent of the nursing workforce (PBS, May 9, 2020)

Major excerpts of this blog entry came from PBS New Hour segment “Covid-19 Takes Heavy Toll on Filipino Health Care Workers, May 2020

I realized that I have over 12 cousins, nieces, and nephews that are working as the first responders and as health care workers in a hospital or care giving setting. They are at the patients’ bedsides and cannot socially distance themselves. They are in the front lines of fighting this epidemic.

Filipinos are integral to the infrastructure of the US healthcare system. It has been especially the nursing community, going back for decades and the numbers are staggering. One in four Filipinos in the New York City area, the epicenter fo Covid19 pandemic, are likely to be working in the health care industry. Filipinos are four times as likely to be nurses than any other immigrants in the US (Pro Publica, May 2020).

But the increased number of Filipinos working in the healthcare industry is not by accident. It is by design of the US immigration system and the increasing demands of the healthcare industry itself. Filipino health care workers are deeply rooted in the health care industry in the U.S. Nina Martin of Pro Publica said, “They were trained and recruited to come to the US to fill nursing shortages at different times in history. They settled here. They had immigrated and brought family members in. And those family members very often have become health care workers themselves.”

That is true. I have cousins who came to the US to become healthcare workers – nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, caregivers. And now, their US born children have followed their footsteps and have become front line health care workers themselves.

Many of these Filipino healthcare workers are not only recruited and ‘pulled’ by the US job market but also ‘pushed’ by the Philippine government to relieve the pressures of severe unemployment in the Philippines at various times in its history. They are heralded as “heroes” in bringing in badly needed remittances to the Philippines (Marketing Dreams, Manufacturing Heroes, Guevarra, 2009).

Now the tide has changed. There is a rise of anti-immigrant rhetoric and xenophobia in the air. Part of the growing anti-immigrant rhetoric is by calling Covid19 virus the “China virus.” Filipino Americans have been targeted along with other Asian Americans in this anti-immigrant drumbeat and are being considered “The Other”.

This is a problem. Many of my cousins and nephews are health care workers and are doing their jobs as front line health care workers. They are taking care of people by their bedside in the most vulnerable settings. They are doing critical care. They are unable to social distance and often times without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) in place.

At the same time, they are afraid to voice out their opinion. Perhaps they are unable to protest because of fear. They have relatives who have immigration visas in process and are fearful of speaking out and hurting the chances of other of other people in the family to immigrate. “The saber-rattling of the Trump administration of de-naturalizing citizens also create additional fear,” Nina Martin said of Pro Publica.

Despite all this they continue to do their jobs at the front lines of this epidemic. My hats off to my cousins, nieces, and nephews and other Filipinos in front lines of health care. They’re doing critical care at the bedside of patients who need urgent care. They doing it in quiet dignity.

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Support Filipino Domestic Workers on the front lines of the Covid19 pandemic


Excerpts of this blog is from Damayan Migrant Workers Association, Pilipino Workers Center, and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)

Filipino domestic workers are on the front lines of the Covid19 pandemic. Domestic workers are required them to be in others’ home—often multiple homes—and to come in close contact with individuals and items that may be carrying the Covid19 virus. Domestic workers are frontline workers in this pandemic, and they are at risk.

Since the global pandemic began, domestic workers in all regions of the world are in the front lines including Filipino domestic workers in the US. Live-in workers have been told to work more to keep their employers’ home extra clean; some have been told they cannot leave the home at all. Many who come into work have also been told to increase their work—with no additional pay—or have had their hours cancelled with no compensation. Their very livelihood is at risk.

“Kapit sa patalim” (grasping the knife’s edge) as most domestic workers cannot stop working without losing essential income they and their families need to survive. For many, they don’t have a choice. It is a matter of life and death for them and their families, so much so that they would risk their very lives. Leaving their situation means losing everything, so they would much rather stay and be at risk.

Two domestic worker associations are on the front lines helping these domestic workers –  Damayan Migrant Workers Association in New York City and Pilipino Workers Center  in Los Angeles.

Photos courtesy of Damayan Migrant Workers Association (left photo) and Pilipino Workers Center (right photo)

Damayan Migrant Workers Association (Damayan) is providing emergency support for our sick, elderly, and financially affected members to fill the gaps left by the system. They are building a network to provide groceries, hot food, and personal protective equipment, and we are calling on our community and allies to step up and lift up our most vulnerable community members. Donations are tax deductible. Any amount that you can give will go a long way. Donate to Damayan at this LINK.

Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) is also carrying out a similar emergency response fund during this time of crisis. It is also helping out elderly folks, parents with young children, and other front line Filipino workers who are risking their health to help the community. Some of these workers have also recently lost their jobs or have been displaced. These domestic workers feel the economic and physical effects of COVID-19 pandemic. Any donation to PWC will also go a long way. Donate to PWC at this LINK.

Besides immediate help, the International Domestic Workers Federation has also called for the enforcement of paid sick leave and adequate compensation in the event of dismissal in their Statement on Protecting Domestic Workers Rights and Fighting the Coronavirus Pandemic [ en español | en français ] Support these front line domestic workers now.

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The Cure to Viral Racism is Within Our Hands


viral_racism_1150x460

On April 2020, the Bayanihan Foundation joins with the Asian Americans and Pacific Islander in Philanthropy (AAPIP) in an open letter to end bias and discrimination among Asian Americans during this Covid19 pandemic: https://bit.ly/2YgEHQn The Bayanihan Foundation joins with hundreds of other foundations, giving circles, philanthropy serving organizations, and individuals in philanthropy in denouncing the anti-Asian climate alongside COVID-19,

In March 2020, the drumbeat has been getting louder and louder in blaming China, Asians, and Asian Americans in general for the Covid19 pandemic. By April 2020, the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council reported over 1,500 incidents of hate crimes and assaults against Asians in the US: https://bit.ly/2YgFz7B

Xenophobia is ravaging Asian communities in the U.S. alongside the physical impacts of COVID-19. While Covid-19 may be novel, the racism accompanying it is far from new. Scapegoating of Asian Americans is fueled by fear and racism simmering just below the surface. When it comes from our country’s top leaders, whether direct or implied, it signals an official stamp of acceptance and puts Asian Americans in harm’s way, including children.

There are more than 21 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S., comprising the fastest growing racial group, and they too are impacted, especially health care workers and others that provide essential services who are risking
their lives to save others. And philanthropy is not immune. Our staff and colleagues are also impacted by microaggressions, externally or even within our own work environment when minimized or ignored.

Through every crisis, philanthropy responds. Giving circles, Asian American community foundations and other mutual aid solutions are stepping up to support the community, both to address COVID-19 as well as the unique harms to Asian Americans. Asian and Asian-American philanthropists are also stepping up to be part of the larger COVID-19 solution, donating personal protection equipment for American healthcare workers. Even Filipino Chinese in the Philippines are giving and helping their fellow Filipinos: https://bit.ly/2Yexnop

The cure to viral racism is within our hands. Don’t forward hateful speech and racist posts in your social media. Speak out when you see racism and prejudice against any individual or community. Let’s think expansively about our future together and support a path to finding our full humanity based on trusted relationships and not on hate. In this pandemic, we are one people with a shared destiny. Let’s close this chapter on these harmful stereotypes along with ending the Covid19 virus. Our collective health is strengthened by our shared humanity.

(Major excerpts of this post came from the Asian Americans & Pacific Islander in Philanthropy open letter against hate).

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2020 NEXTGEN Travel Fellowship Program Postponed to 2021 Due to Covid 19 Virus


(from left to right: Richelle Caday, school principal, Evelyn Castillo, Jacob Olaguir, and Camillo Geaga meet the school children of Giporlos Central Elementary School, July 2019

2020 NEXTGEN Travel Fellowship Info

No applications are accepted to the 2020 NEXTGEN: ‘Pagbabalik’ (Coming Home) Travel Scholarship at this time. Travel to the Philippines for summer 2020 has been postponed to 2021. The recent global pandemic of COVID 19 virus has made travel to the Philippines untenable. Please stay tuned for more details for next year’s 2021 NEXTGEN: ‘Pagbabalik’ Travel Scholarship Application. Next year’s travel application is slated to open this Fall 2020. The Bayanihan Foundation sincerely apologizes for this schedule change. Please bookmark this page for more details.

In the fall 2020, the Bayanihan Foundation will open applications to Filipino Americans and others to join next year’s Bayanihan Foundation’s 2021 NEXTGEN Program tentatively scheduled for June 19 to July 3, 2021. Stay tuned for more details.

Since 2015, the Bayanihan Foundation traveled with 12 young Filipino Americans and they visited historic sites in the Philippines; learned more about their Filipino heritage; connected with the foundation’s sustainable projects; and encouraged them to give back to the community, locally and globally.

In 2021, we plan to bring another cohort of young Filipino Americans to the Philippines. This immersion trip is coordinated to promote diaspora philanthropy; know more about Filipino culture; learn about the foundation’s sustainable projects; connect and develop the participant’s potential sustainable projects; and connect with relatives and the participant’s heritage.

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Pamasko (Gift Giving) to Help Others – Giving Tuesday is December 3, 2019


Tuesday December 3, 2019 is “Giving Tuesday,” a movement to create an US national day of giving on the first Tuesday of December.   Would you consider donating any amount to the Bayanihan Foundation this holiday season? The Foundation’s ‘Pamasko’ (Gift Giving) to benefit 10,000 children and their families in the Philippines.

Did you know that your $100 donation can send 100 children’s books and help build three libraries in the Philippines? The Bayanihan Foundation ‘Pamasko’ (Gift Giving) Program plans to donate 10,000 books to build libraries in Sanchez Mira, Cagayan; in Pililla, Rizal; and in Biabas, Bohol. Your donation counts and will give the gift of education for children in three different islands so they could have a brighter future.

Donated children’s books from board member Maria Ferrera, Juvenile Protective Association (JPA), Kay Nixon, and many others

Evelyn Castillo and Dale Asis distributing food to street children in Tacloban City, Leyte Philippines

Evelyn Castillo and Dale Asis distributing food to street children in Tacloban City, Leyte Philippines

Did you know that $1,000 can replace one water well and provide clean water for over 1,000 children and their families? The ‘Pamasko’ (Gift Giving) Program plans to repair the three wells in Iligan City, Philippines. Will you consider donating $1,000 and help repair these wells and provide clean water to 1,000 children and their families in rural villages outside Iligan City?

Shirley, six years old, taking water from the well

Did you know that $10 can provide food, rice, and provisions for one indigent student for one week at the Marcellin Foundation? The ‘Pamasko’ (Gift Giving) Program plans to provide much needed food supplies, rice, and provisions to indigent children teenagers who are part of the Marcellin Foundation. The foundation provides much needed shelter, care, and education to foster and abandoned children in southern Philippines. In January 2019, the Bayanihan Foundation visited the Marcellin Foundation and plans to help the indigent Muslim and Christian children and teenagers they support there day to day.

(standing far right): Evelyn Castillo and Dale Asis visits the children of Marcellin Foundation in General Santos City, Mindanao

Your donation of $10, $100, $1,000 or whatever amount you can afford will make a difference in these children’s lives. Would you consider donating today and make a difference? Donate today securely through Paypal. You can also donate to this Facebook fundraiser LINK.

Your donation is being matched by the Foundation’s board members and dedicated donors.  You can also check if your employer could double your donation by clicking on this link: http://bit.ly/1NWDFcr You can also donate by typing #donate on Facebook and Twitter.  ‘Like’ us on Facebook and social media. Thank you for your support!

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