DAVIS, CA — Posters of Larry Itliong, Gabriela Silang, Remedios Gomez-Paraiso, and others hang on the walls of Olson hall at the University of California, Davis.
These are the faces that many high school students from the greater davis area got to know through the 2018 Pilipinx Youth Conference.
This event was held by UC Davis’s Bridge: Pilipinx Outreach and Retention program — which is lead by Fil-Am students.
“In our educational system we’re not taught our history. We’re not taught the significance of our people. And having this youth conference empowers the youth,” said Mika Ella Pamaran. “It provides them the knowledge, and the encouragement, and the empowerment to move forward with this knowledge and spread it to our other peers.”
Students went through various workshops meant to enhance their cultural identity as Filipino-Americans.
“These cultural identity workshops are mainly here for students to hear their history from another student that looks like them that have the same history as them. We also have creative expression workshops,” said Austin Daniel Tarumoto. “We really encourage students to utilize how art can be a method of healing and a method of activism as well.”
Organizers here say that due to the current socio-political climate — citing the rise of hate crimes and the polarization based on the issue of immigration — young Fil-Ams should be more aware of their history.
“It’s frustrating to have this history and this knowledge came from you and kind of looking how history is a very impactful part of our identity and how we engage and navigate this world,” said Tarumoto.
“And to see this and how it happened before is kind of empowering them to do something and show them that the future doesn’t have to be like that,” says Chloriza Avila.
“The recent statistic is that we only represent 2.8% of the UC Davis campus and knowing that number, knowing that percentage is very discouraging because we have a lot of folks living and residing in California, second largest subgroup, but yet there’s a disconnect pursuing higher education.”
Following this event — high school students have mentors to assist them with getting into colleges and universities while providing any more support.