Filipino labor workers honored in Los Angeles

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

May 5, 2014

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. – As the Mexican American community celebrates Cinco de Mayo, Filipinos honored labor leaders past and present at Pilipino Workers Center Gala.

“This week is a celebration of immigrants. May 1st, the contribution of immigrants, and also at our gala we’ve had a lot of achievements over the last year,” said the Executive Director of the Pilipino Workers Center, Aqui Soriano Versoza.

“It is a great honor. My father’s work is an inspiration, to me doing what I’m having to do to get his work recognized, people like John Delorro,” said Johnny Itliong who is the son of labor leader Larry Itliong.

It has been a series of battles for Filipino immigrant rights groups.

They marched during the May Day rallies last week fighting for higher wages, immigration reform, and temporary protected status for Filipinos in the US- the humanitarian aid that would give immigration relief to certain Filipjnos in the wake of typhoon Yolanda.

“It’s taken longer than we hope it would take but they had to go through different processes but were actually pretty confident that a decision is coming up soon. We’ve been assured that they’re going to make a timely decision that they were going to wait until after Obama’s trip,” said Versoza.

Advocates say they have made progress in some of the issues facing low income and even undocumented workers.

While a new movement has formed for better wages across the country, caregivers like Gene have been celebrating the domestic worker’s bill of rights that aim to improve working conditions and pay for live in caregivers.

“These other employers, they follow the rules, laws. They’re being implemented,” said Gene.

Among those at the Gala showing support for immigrant and labor rights, Emmy winning animator Jess Espanola, Mithi Aquino-Thomas, the wife of former envoy Harry Thomas, and newly assigned Los Angeles Philippine Consul General Leo Herrera Lim who told the community that he will do his part help Filipino low wage workers and immigrants.

“You make every Filipino proud of this project,” said Lim.

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