I had one of the most memorable 4th of July celebrations of my life! It was beyond the usual backyard barbecue of hotdogs and hamburgers and watching fireworks at Chicago’s lakefront. In 2011, I celebrated the holiday with Filipino Amerasians – America’s forgotten children. I proudly marched down the streets of Angeles City, Philippines with them and joined them in a two-day workshop co-sponsored with the Bayanihan Foundation’s nongovernmental organization (NGO) partners, WeDpro and Buklod. It was an amazing weekend as I watched Filipino Amerasians come together as a united group and form their own organization that will represent their needs.
Filipino Amerasians were born with fathers who were American military servicemen and their mothers were assumed to be prostitutes. They suffer severe discrimination and social stigma because of the accident of their birth. Many Filipino Amerasians suffer from severe depression; several committed suicide; have suffered from physical abuse, rape and even prostitution.
I am proud of the Filipino Amerasian leaders’ commitment to work together, overcome ‘crab mentality’ and form a new organization, United Philippine Amerasians (UPA) that hopes to speak on the tremendous needs and challenges that many Filipino Amerasians face.
Filipino Amerasians faced tremendous discrimination and challenges everyday. Despite of it all, many Amerasians dream the same dream as many Filipinos. They dream to finish their education, to secure a good job and to provide for themselves and for their family. In essence, they are Filipinos in their heart and in their soul. So Filipinos should accept them as part of the society.
I was so proud to see Mark, Wyne, Mike, Brenda and other Filipino Amerasians speak for themselves in front of the Philippine press. The Bayanihan Foundation plans to support public education and outreach on this important issue and support Filipino Amerasians in the Philippines and abroad.
Check out the press coverage of this event from the Philippine Inquirer, one of the Philippines’ leading daily newspaper.