REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – According to 2010 US Census, the San Francisco Bay Area is home to over 450,000 Filipinos and it is because of this large number that the local governments recognize the importance of Philippine Independence Day.
The largest concentration of Filipino Americans in the Bay Area is in Santa Clara County home to the annual Bayanihan Fil-Am Festival.
“Everything that we want to do going forward whether it’s strengthening education, whether it’s working with immigrants and helping new immigrants come into our country and be an integral part whether its business, education Filipino Americans are there right alongside us,” said San Jose Vice Mayor Rose Herrera.
Fil-Am residents say they work hand in hand with the city to ensure kababayans get access to city services.
“We try to sponsor over 20 scholars back home in the Philippines so they can complete their education anywhere from completing computer science, engineering, nursing, or education,” said Michelle Amores, president of the Filipino American City Employees of San Jose (FACEs).
“We outreach, provide training, facilitate wellness and recover action plans all geared toward mental health and mental health services,” said Eddy Alvarez who is a coordinator of the Mental Health Support Services for Filipino Families.
“It is very important to galvanize our community so that we have pride,” said festival coordinator Evangeline Sangalang. “The community will see that our numbers are big and we are very solid and that we can no longer be invisible.”
The night before San Francisco political leaders held a formal Philippine Independence Day gala at city hall.
The event brought together local officials, the international diplomatic community, and a cross-section of guests from business, arts, politics, education and community service.
“It is my honor to produce this exchange of gratitude of our relationship,” said San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee. “We continue that our governments are open to each other and our people are talking, exchanging with each other so that we could always be there for each other and therefore have a better world at the same time. So I make this toast to our relationship. Mabuhay!”
“Tonight’s gala event is a testament to what the Filipino-Americans have accomplished in the Bay Area and I hope this will be a building block towards Filipino empowerment in all areas and all aspects of life in the Bay Area,” said Consul General Henry Bensurto Jr. “This is Pinoy power!”
Even though these kababayans are thousands of miles away from home they are proud that the Bay Area takes the time to recognize and celebrate the independence of the Philippines.
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