On the Fourth of July 2014, the Bayanihan Foundation is proud to support the activities of the United Philippine Amerasians (UPA), a group of young Filipino Amerasians that recognized their contributions to Filipino and American societies. The UPA hopes to increase the public’s awareness of Filipino Amerasian issues, challenges, ideals and successes. There are more than 50,000 Amerasians left behind; they are America’s forgotten children. Three years ago, the Bayanihan Foundation partnered with WeDpro and Buklod, nongovernmental organizations (NGO)s in the Philippines to support the Filipino Amerasian community leaders and the creation of the UPA. In 2014, I am proud to share that the Bayanihan Foundation continues to support these young Amerasian women and men in supporting their Fourth of July activities and celebration, as they are Americans as well.
When the US military bases in the Philippines closed in 1992, the military left behind thousands of Amerasian children. Since the closing of these military installations, American presence still exists and contrary to first estimate of 52,000. In April 2014, President Obama’s recent visit to the Philippines and the new deal over US army bases reopening, also opened up the painful past for many of these ‘Amerasians’ (Al Jazeera: April 2014). Many of these young Filipino Amerasians continue to live in abject poverty, forcing them to continue the cycle of marginalized subsistence.
In June 2010, ABC News George Stephanopoulos reported the successful reunion story of one Filipino Amerasian, Barry Bogert Jr. But what about the other 49,999 other Filipino Amerasians left behind? They are still looking for their parents; they are America’s forgotten children. In 1992, the United States military left the Philippines. I thought they took everything with them. But they left behind at least 50,000 Amerasian children whose fathers were American sailors and their mothers were assumed to be prostitutes. Amerasians have long been a marginalized sector in the Philippines, due to the lack of recognition and support from the government and the continuing discrimination and stigma that they get from their community.
So in July 2014, I was glad that Ms. Tin Jackson, one of the young Filipino Amerasian organizers of the UPA reached out to me and the Bayanihan Foundation. She told me that they would like to hold their 4th of July celebration and conduct some strategic planning with other Filipino Amerasians to increase awareness of their plight. A big thanks to the donors of the Bayanihan Foundation including Barbara Hall who wanted to help these Filipino Amerasians and bring this important issue to the forefront.
So as many Americans in the US celebrate the Fourth of July weekend cooking hotdogs, grilling hamburgers and enjoying the fireworks celebration, do not forget the 50,000 Filipino Amerasians left behind in the Philippines. They are also Americans celebrating the Fourth of July halfway across the world in the Philippines. They deserve to be recognized as both Filipino and American. It’s about time they shed the stigma of being America’s forgotten children.