Filipinos fight for Tagalog access

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

August 15, 2013

LONG BEACH, California – Tagalog is at the center of a city-
wide debate in one of Los Angeles County’s most populous Filipino areas.

Filipinos and other Asian communities rallied outside of the Long Beach
City Council meeting this week to fight for the language access program.

“The city drafted a policy but it excluded some major languages including
Tagalog and Filipino. So we do have Spanish, we do have Khmer, but we don’t
have real commitment that they are going to provide language access and
good enough translation and interpretation,” said Alex Montances of the
Filipino Migrant Center.

The project began in 2011 and looked to include different language
translations in a variety of city services.

However the latest revision only included Spanish.

USA Today named the city as the most diverse city in America. About 30,000
Filipinos live in the city, and about 10 percent have limited English
skills.

“In the court system here in the city, if you have complaints about your
utility or water, sometimes asking about certain services about health or
medical services if you can’t communicate because you don’t understand the
same language then you’re not being treated equally,” added Montances.

For the Filipino Migrant Center, language access can be crucial for the
families and workers they assist.

“The Filipino Migrant Center has worked with many labor trafficking
victims, victims of wage theft and other labor violations on a daily basis.

They come to the Filipino Migrant Center because they feel secure safe and
comfortable because we are able to provide that language access for them. I
can only expect they cannot express the same concerns issues and pain to
the city,” Joanna Concepcion of the Filipino Migrant Center.
With the presence of the language access coalition The Long Beach City

Council approved the measure to spend over half a million dollars on the
program while expanding the program to include Tagalog, Khmer, and other
languages.

You may reach Steve Angeles at steve_angeles@abs-cbn.com for more
information.

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