Bayanihan – The Spirit of Community Giving

In this holiday season, Bayanihan – the spirit of community giving is alive and well. Despite the Covid19 pandemic and the restrictions to travel to the Philippines, the Bayanihan Foundation found ways to continue the spirit of community giving. You can donate and support that community spirit of giving. Donate any amount and 95% of your donation will go directly to programs that will support livelihood programs, education, and emergency relief to help flood victims in the Philippines.

You will support emergency relief to families affected by super typhoons in the Philippines

Flood villages in Vinzos, Camarines Norte, PHilippines where the foundation plans to support emergency relief

You Will Help Distribution of Masks to Prevent Spread of Covid19 in Cebu and in Giporlos

Bayanihan Foundation supports “Kinabuhi Mo, Kinabuhi Ko” (Your Life, My Life) local campaign to distribute masks locally in Cebu, Philippines

You can donate and help support local distribution of much needed masks in Cebu and in Giporlos, Samar. These masks will help stop the spread of Covid19 and keep low-income families in these islands safe.

You can Support Sustainable, Livelihood Programs in General Santos City

Donate any amount you can and your support will help build livelihood programs in General Santos City with the Marcellin Foundation. The Bayanihan Foundation plans to support the livelihood programs there to support out of school youth in General Santos City.

Donations to support Marcellin Foundation’s livelihood programs in General Santos, Philippines

Your Donations Will Help Education and Long-Term Sustainability

Your generous donation will also support building libraries in University of Rizal Pililla and in several high school and elementary schools throughout the islands. The Bayanihan Foundation plans to build libraries in Tuguegarao, Cagayan; in Giporlos, Samar; and in Linamon, Lanao Del Norte; Your donation will go a long way in all three regions of the Philippines – Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Willard Dix (far right) donating books to Linamon High School

Robni Alexander donated 10,000 books to University of Rizal Pililla in honor of her late father

You can donate books or you can donate cash to help us send these books to build much needed libraries and promote education in the Philippine islands.

Support Social Justice and Advocacy for Filipino Amerasians

Bayanihan Foundation photo of Filipino Amerasians

Your donation will also support advocacy for Filipino Amerasians, the long-lost forgotten children of the United States, left behind when the US closure of military bases there. The Bayanihan Foundation supports social justice issues like advocating for Filipino Amerasians.

Bayanihan Spirit is Alive and Well

Despite the Covid19 pandemic, the Bayanihan Foundation continues to plug away and help their Filipino kababayan. The Bayanihan Spirit is alive and well. It lives in you in your continued support. Donate any amount now and you can make a difference. Maraming salamat po!

Posted in Diaspora Donors, Education, environmental sustainability, philanthropy, Philippine poverty | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Coronavirus disproportionately affects Filipino nurses in the US, Philippines

Details of this blog post came from “Why the US has so many Filipino nurses” by Christina Thornell, VOX June 2020

I have over 20 cousins, relatives and extended family who are nurses or healthcare workers in a critical healthcare setting during this Covid19 pandemic. My family is not an outlier. Many Filipino families like mine face the same outsize proportion of exposure to the pandemic. The Covid19 pandemic laid bare many deep fissures in health care inequality. Filipino nurses have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in the US. And that’s because they make up an outsize portion of the nursing workforce in the US. About one-third of all foreign-born nurses in the US are Filipino (Vox, June 2020).

The Covid19 pandemic laid bare the ongoing healthcare deficiency in the Philippines and the coronavirus exacerbated the ongoing severe nursing shortage in the islands. The Philippines has a current shortage of 20,000 nurses. To stem the hemorrhaging, the Philippine government enacted a  temporary ban of Filipino health care workers migrating to the US or abroad as a stopgap measure (Manila Bulletin, September 2020). Is it enough to stem the tide? I don’t think so.

The Covid19 pandemic also laid bare that the long-term migration and recruitment of nurses from the Philippines to the US might not be sustainable. The trend of nurses migrating to the US and other countries has been going on for over 50 years (Vox, June 2020). You can trace it further back when the Philippines was a colony of the US. In the early 20th century, the Americans instituted “benevolent assimilation” and established Americanized hospital training system in the Philippines during their colonial rule. This set up laid the foundation of ongoing recruitment and pipeline of nurses migrating from the Philippines to the US (Choy, Empire of Care, 2003). The constant push and pull of migration of Filipino nurses to the US further exploded when the US enacted the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) of 1965.

The Covid19 pandemic will someday be over and everything will return to the way it was. So should the status quo of constant migration of Filipino nurses to the US continue? How about the the racial discrimination of Filipino nurses in the US; the ‘glass ceiling’ of  having only lower paying nursing positions of bedside care available to Filipino nurses; the ‘English only’ discriminatory rules; and the lower pay compared to native born nurses?

Both the US and Philippine governments have benefited from exporting nursing labor. The Philippines cannot just stop and turn off the spigot of nursing migration. It needs the remittances these workers send back home. Remittances accounts for more than 10% of the country’s GDP. The Philippines is also the largest exporter of nurses in the world, sending over 20,000 nurses to the US and worldwide every year and the critical care they provide to the US healthcare system is badly needed (Vox, June 2020).

To make a long story short – it’s complicated. At the same time I don’t think the status quo should remain. There must be a better solution to this healthcare inequality both in the US and the Philippines. If this is not solved, the outsize toll on Filipino healthcare workers will continue. My cousins who are nurses and health care workers and generations more of nurses coming through the pipeline will continue to bear the brunt of this health care inequality.

Posted in colonialism, government, Immigration, Labor | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Philippine English is Legit. Oxford English Dictionary Says So


Zoom Call Philippine Embassy Spain & Dr Salazar Oxford English Dictionary Aug 2020

Zoom Call with Philippine Embassy Spain and Dr. Danica Salazar of Oxford English Dictionary (August 2020)

Major portion of this blog post comes from ABS-CBN News “Philippine English is Legitimate, Says Oxford English Dictionary Editor” August 2020

It’s official. Philippine English accent is a legitimate variety of the English language, according to Dr. Danica Salazar, world English editor for the Oxford English Dictionary, the principal historical dictionary of the English language.

“The Philippine English is not slang. It is not wrong. It is not carabao English, or any other derogatory word that’s been used over the years,” Dr. Salazar said during a Zoom call with the Philippine Embassy Spain celebrating “buwan ng wika” (Language Month) last August 2020.

Dr. Salazar said that just like British, American, Australian, and Singaporean variants, Philippine English plays an important role in the historical development of the language, which the Oxford English Dictionary seeks to document.

“Philippine English, just like American English or British English, or Indian English or Singapore English, are all part of the same story,” she added. “We all have a role to play in this. Philippine English has as much of a place in the history in the lexicon of the English language as all these other varieties,” Dr. Salazar said (Philippine English is Legitimate, ABS-CBN News August 2020).

PHILIPPINE ENGLISH ACCENT Is Acceptable Like British English

Salazar also pointed out how Filipinos have their own unique way of speaking in English, and that this is something that should be embraced and not be ashamed of.  She noted how some people try to sound American or British, under the impression that this is the “right” way to communicate using the English language.

“I’ve been living in the UK for seven years now, and nobody’s ever told me, ‘I don’t understand you.’ And I speak with a totally Philippine English accent,” Dr. Salazar said.

“The accent and the words that we use, these are a reflection of our identity, of our culture,” she explained. “And adapting languages to suit a communicative means is something that everyone does. Americans adapted British English, Australians did the same, people in New Zealand do the same. So why can’t we do the same?”

I’ve grew up thinking that Philippine English accent is not acceptable and that we always have to sound ‘American’, or even better sound ‘British’. Years ago, some of my younger relatives were trying to correct the accent of my mother who was clearly speaking with a totally Philippine English accent. Not anymore! Philippine English accent is legit. Speakers of the Philippine English accent, rejoice. “Hindi na ito ikanakakahiya” (we should not be ashamed) of this accent. This hiya (shame) of speaking with an accent is part our long-term colonial mentality; if we can only sound like our colonial masters.

Philippine English – “Hindi na ito ikanakakahiya” (we should be ashamed) of this accent 

Dr. Salazar went on to share that the Philippine accent is “one of the most understandable accents in the world. This is one of the reasons why our call center industry in the Philippines is so successful,” she said.

“We don’t need to sound American to speak English correctly,” she stressed, adding, “We don’t have to waste our time in the classroom trying to twist our students’ tongues in shapes that they can’t make.”



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Fill Out Your 2020 US Census Form

The 2020 Census magazine ad in Tagalog promoting Filipinos in the US to complete their US Census Form (photo courtesy of 2020 US Census)

The Bayanihan Foundation encourages all Filipinos in the US to fill out their 2020 US Census form, regardless of their US Citizenship status. Conducted every 10 years, the census is used to decide the number of seats awarded to states in the House of Representatives, how representative boundaries are drawn, and how more than $675 billion a year in federal funds is distributed. It’s also used in determining which states and counties are required to provide voter language assistance according to the Voting Rights Act. Asian Americans are least likely to fill out the census form — and most concerned their answers will be used against them — according to a survey released in January 2019 by the Census Bureau.

Some people in the community, especially those who are undocumented, are concerned about the confidentiality of the census results after the Trump Administration tried to add a citizenship question to the census form. The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the move, but that hasn’t assuaged the fears (Medill Reports, March 2020). Concerns remain regarding the citizenship question, despite a Supreme Court decision in June that ruled otherwise.

Top Five Highlights of Filipinos Living in the US, 2018 US Census Community Survey

US Census reveals so much information about Filipino Americans in the US. Be counted, In 2018, here’s five top highlights of Filipinos living in the US (Migration Policy Institute, July 2020):

  1. Filipino immigrants represent the fourth-largest, foreign born group in the US following from Mexico, India, and China. In 2018, just over 2 million Filipinos lived in the United States, accounting for 4.5 percent of the country’s 44.7 million immigrants.
  2. Filipinos in the US continue to be concentrated in California. In the 2014-18 period, immigrants from the Philippines were highly concentrated in California (43 percent), followed distantly by Hawaii (6 percent). The next four most populous states—Texas, Illinois, New York, and Nevada—were home to 18 percent of the Filipino population collectively. The top four counties by Filipino concentration were Los Angeles and San Diego counties in California, Honolulu County in Hawaii, and Clark County in Nevada. Together these counties accounted for 25 percent of Filipinos in the United States.


    Top Metropolitan Areas of Residence for Filipinos in the United States, 2014-18 (courtesy of Migration Policy Institute)

  3. Filipinos in the US are slightly older than other immigrant groups, many arriving before 2000. In 2018, Filipinos were older than the overall foreign- and U.S.-born populations. The Filipino median age was 51 years, compared to 45 years for all immigrants and 36 years for the native born. This is largely due to the disproportionately high number of Filipino seniors: 24 percent of Filipinos were 65 or older, versus 16 percent of both the overall foreign- and native-born populations.
  4. Significant portion of the Filipino population in the US continue to be undocumented. Although the vast majority of Filipino immigrants in the United States are legally present, approximately 313,000 were unauthorized in the 2012-16 period, according to Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimates, comprising approximately 3 percent of the 11.3 million unauthorized population. MPI also estimated that significant portion of the population did not participate in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program when it was introduced in 2012.
  5. ‘Padala’ remains king. In 2019, Filipinos living abroad sent more than $35 billion in remittances to the Philippines via formal channels, according to the World Bank’s estimate. Remittances more than doubled in the past decade and represented about 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019.


    ‘Padala’ Annual Remittance Flows to the Philippines, 1990 to 2019 (courtesy of Migration Policy Institute)


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The Poor Hit Hardest in US and Philippines Covid-19 Struggle

Both the United States and the Philippines are hit hard by Covid-19. As of July 2020, the US have a staggering 3.2 million cases and over 137,000 deaths (New York Times, July 2020). Many of those afflicted are in the South and West, including California where almost half of all Filipino Americans live. The Philippines is also reeling from Covid-19 as the pandemic shut down the country and literally slammed the breaks in the economy. This caused untold pain for millions of Filipinos, with hunger and begging on the rise (National Public Radio NPR, July 2020). The ones who are most afflicted are the poor; they were disadvantaged even before Covid-19 hit. Now they’re situations are worse, including the abandoned children and orphans at Marcellin Foundation in General Santos City, Philippines.


Dale Asis (far right) and Evelyn Castillo (second to the right) joins a class of orphans and abandoned children with the Marcellin Foundation in General Santos City, Philippines (January 2019)

Supporting orphans in General Santos City, Mindanao

In 2019, the Bayanihan Foundation started supporting abandoned children and orphans in General Santos City, Mindanao. The city is located in the southern tip of Mindanao island with over 500,000 residents. International boxer and politician Manny Pacquiao hails from the city of GenSan, as many locals call their city. The Bayanihan Foundation partners with the Marcellin Foundation with Brother Crispin Betita, FMS with the Marist Brothers Catholic congregation.

(left to right): Evelyn Castillo, Bayanihan Foundation Liaison; Brother Crispin Betita, FMS; and Dale Asis at Marcellin Foundation (January 2019)

The Marcellin Foundation is part of a growing international community of Catholic Religious Institute of Brothers (FMS). In 1817, St. Marcellin Champagnat, a priest (Marist Father, SM) from France, founded the Marist Brothers, with the goal of educating young people, especially those that are most neglected.  Brother Crispin established the Marcellin Foundation following that same vision of providing quality education to youth who are most vulnerable and disadvantaged.

However, Covid19 has hit hard the Marcellin Foundation as the orphanage funding sources have started to dry up. Bayanihan Foundation wants to step in and help as much it can and support much needed food, rice, and supplies for the orphan boys under Fr. Crispin’s care.


(left to right): Brother Crispin Betita, FMS and one of the boys staying at the Marcellin Foundation share a light-hearted moment.   The orphanage is geared towards Filipino Muslim and indigenous orphans and abandoned children in General Santos City, Philippines.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation and the ones that are the most afflicted are the poor and disadvantaged including the orphan children at Marcellin Foundation. They’re situation is worse. Would you be able to help? Any amount is welcome and will provide much needed food and supplies to these orphans. 100% of your donation will go directly to help these vulnerable children.

charitable donations to help orphan children affected by Covid-19

Help the most vulnerable orphans and abandoned children in General Santos, Philippines


Posted in Diaspora Giving, Disaster Relief, homelessness, Poverty, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

George Floyd’s Death – We Should Start Conversations of Anti-Blackness Within Filipino Families

Dale Asis’ Personal Essay on race, racism, and Anti-Blackness Among Filipinos and Filipino Americans

“Naku, huwag kang pumunta doon. Maraming itim, nakakatakot.” (Don’t go there. Lots of blacks live there. It’s dangerous.)

“Ay ganda naman niya. Mukhang mestiza!” (Oh, she looks beautiful. She’s a mestiza.)

“Ay ayoko magpaitim. Ayokong pumangit” (I don’t want to get dark. I don’t like to be ugly.)

“Ay Intsik iyan. Nangungurat lang iyan.” (He’s Chinese. He’s just gonna take advantage you.)

I always hear many comments during family conversations. At first, I didn’t really give it much thought. But on a deeper level, these comments tell the real story of race and racism within the Asian American culture.

A mural of George Floyd painted on a remnant of the Berlin Wall.Photograph by Omer Messinger / Sipa / AP (Al Jazeera, 2020)

On May 29, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in Minneapolis, MN, after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on the street (New York Times, May 2020). In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, Asian American activists and social justice organizations have made renewed calls for solidarity and allyship with Black communities. This is also an opportune time to reflect on the deeper notions of race and anti-Blackness among Filipinos and Filipino Americans (The Power of Colorism, Bayanihan Foundation, 2018).

These notions of skin color are rooted on our deep notions of anti-Blackness. They’re connected to what we believe of what is beautiful or ugly; of what is good or bad; or what is a safe or dangerous. These hierarchy of skin color and colorism runs deep in Filipino culture (History of colorism, June 2018). It is ingrained after hundreds of years of colonialism. Why do you think most Philippine stars are ‘mestizas’ and considered to be beautiful? How about the aisles of whitening creams in many stores?

Caste System Based on Skin Color implemented by the Spanish Empire during colonial times (Quora, 2018)

How about the notion that Filipinos and other Asian Americans are the epitome of “good immigrants” and the “model minority”? Many of us have internalized this mentality, operating under the false assumption that being a “good” immigrant could help us assimilate into whiteness and align ourselves with white people (Model Minority Myth, National Public Radio, April 2017). This is a false narrative.

The perception of universal success among Asian-Americans is being wielded to downplay racism’s role in the persistent struggles of other minority groups, especially black Americans (Chelsea Beck/NPR, 2017)

Since the end of World War II, many white people have used Asian-Americans and their perceived collective success as a racial wedge. The effect? Minimizing the role racism plays in the persistent struggles of other racial/ethnic minority groups — especially black Americans.

Most of my family thinks that we as Filipinos work harder than black Americans and that we embody better the American values of individualism and self-reliance. We internalized this “racial resentment,” a moral feeling that blacks violated these traditional American values of self reliance. We absolve ourselves from dealing with the complexities of racism (Donald Kinder and David Sears, ‘Model Minority’ Myth Again Used As A Racial Wedge Between Asians And Blacks, NPR, April 2017).

It will take a lot of work to untangle and eradicate this, acknowledging that we as Asian Americans face our own racism throughout history — including during the current COVID-19 crisis — but have also sometimes instigated anti-Black racism, as many activists and social justice organizations have pointed out in recent weeks of demonstrations (How Asian Americans Are Reckoning With Anti-Blackness In Their Families, HuffPost, June 2020). So let’s start this difficult conversation in our dinner tables and perhaps someday we would own our notions of anti-Blackness and start the process of healing and taking down systemic barriers of racism in our lives.

Posted in colonialism, identity, justice, race | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Amerasians, history, Immigration | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Overseas workers, Philippine poverty, Philippines, Remittances | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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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