HAYWARD, CA — Over 100 attendees and at least 20 Filipino-community based organizations, student and grassroots groups, nonprofits and small business leaders from across California gathered for the second annual Filipino policy symposium.
At this all-day event in Cal State University, East Bay — these various groups talked about their causes and advocacies, as well as goals for the year.
“We have families here today, young professionals, students, activists, community advocates, neighborhood leaders that all care about progressing and representing a Fil-Am voice in Sacramento. There’s much work to be done.”
In the end, the groups decided to focus their collective efforts on lobbying for better wages, affordable housing, and support for ethnic studies.
The Bay Area, home to a large number of Filipinos, has seen soaring rent and housing prices, as well as gentrified communities partly because of the tech boom.
“Since we’re seeing tons of schools around San Francisco closing, we’re seeing people leave San Francisco for the Central Valley, that if we don’t fix this problem, now, at what point are we going to take appropriate action to make sure that everyone gets the housing that they deserve?” says Kevin Suarez.
These community organizers said the housing crisis is also felt in some parts of California.
Those who made the trip from San Diego shared a story of the PQ village housing complex — where after 40 years, hundreds of Filipino seniors and low-income families were displaced due to development.
“Unless we work towards things like increasing the minimum wage to an actual living wage. Until we talk about affordable housing. Until we talk about low income housing because in San Diego, those are two different designations. We’re going to keep seeing these issues of unsheltered populations and homeless families,” said Kirin Macapugay.
And while there is much work to be done, these Fil-Ams took time to celebrate Filipino culture and history through the Bulosan Center for Filipino studies at UC Davis.
“So the Bulosan Center for Filipino studies is the very first-ever center focused on research on the Filipino American community in the UC system, in fact, in the entire country. And that happened because all of us convened,” said Dr. Robyn Rodriguez.
Fil-advocacy day is scheduled for May 13 at the state capitol building in Sacramento.