On 4th of July 2011, I celebrated my most memorable American Independence Day with Filipino Amerasian community leaders as we marched down the streets of Angeles City, Philippines shouting out slogans of anti-discrimination and calls for equality. The march was full of hope and energy among the participants. The march seems like the hundreds of marches I’ve previously joined in Chicago, except that we were marching down Fields Ave. where strip clubs and go-go bars lined up both sides of the street. Bewildered foreigners, many of them patrons of the Philippines’ sex tourism, peered out of the clubs wondering why we’re shouting slogans of anti-discrimination.
I would like to share with you three reflections I’ve learned and took away from this pivotal event that overall showed remarkable clarity, unity and hope among Filipino Amerasians:
1. Filipino Amerasians share the same aspirations and hopes of many Filipinos. The newly formed group, United Philippine Amerasian (UPA) identified four key aspirations and dreams: 1) They want to finish their studies and value education; 2) they want to have more job opportunities and provide for their families; 3) they want financial stability for themselves and for their families; and 4) they wanted to be treated equally and without being discriminated based on their physical features and race.
This seems to be a clear departure from the clutter of many online chat forums and Facebook groups that highlight only the need to search for their American fathers. Many of the local Amerasian leaders I’ve met seem to seek out their roots but they are also preoccupied with everyday challenges of finishing their education, securing a good paying job and providing for their families. These aspirations and hopes were never mentioned in the endless chatter of many online groups.
2. Filipino Amerasians can come together, unite and form their own organization. The United Philippine Amerasians (UPA) seems to be a clear example that Filipino Amerasians can lead, create their own organization and chart their own course. WeDpro and Buklod, the foundation’s partners have been very helpful in this process.
I found a lot of cynicism and negative feedback in many online groups and forums; it was such a relief to prove all the online cynicism to be misleading. Grassroots leadership of Filipino Amerasians can happen and flourish.
3. Filipino Amerasians can lead and chart their own course. The United Philippine Amerasians have remarkably put together a clear statement of the direction that want to take other Filipino Amerasians. I was so impressed that they put this document together, with the help of an excellent facilitator, Red Macalalad, Jr. and others. They outlined here clear goals addressing issues of poverty, discrimination, drug addiction and empowerment.
I admire the clarity of the group’s vision which runs counter from the conflicting direction and senseless chatter being spewed out in many online forums and chats about the Amerasian issue. I’m aware that the UPA faces many challenges but I hope that the leaders and supporters of the group will prevail and rise above the cynicism and negative feedback that now dominate many online forums.