This perspective was developed as a result of intense discussions among Ben Menor, Terry Acebo Davis, Bren Bataclan, Cheryl Platon, and Lorna Dietz on July-August 2002 while the group was preparing for NaFFAA’s 5th Empowerment Conference at the DoubleTree Hotel, San Jose, California on August 28 to August 30, 2002.
“Empowerment begins with the individual in order to care for others.” – Ben Menor, Jr.
During our interactions with Filipino American communities during the past 30 years, we often heard the words “Filipino identity” and “identity crisis” used interchangeably to describe the “state of affairs of the Filipino in America.” We also witnessed the plethora of talents and skills coming from Filipinos in America — from the business executive, political leader, health professional, union organizer, to the sports celebrity — making significant contributions to their communities. The 1960’s and 1970’s were decades that encouraged the development of affirmative action and diversity in most facets of the Filipino lifestyle and psyche. 30 years later, we assumed that we had gone beyond thinking about “Filipino identity” and “identity crisis.” The reasons, however, for what we are haven’t changed. Many Filipinos in America still believe that the core of our fortunes and misfortunes lies in the Filipino Identity.
The purpose of this perspective is to involve the reader in the process of consciousness and to explore ideas that have always been inherent in our internal make-up yet ignored. It is also a compilation of inputs and insights from networks of Filipinos across America. “Filipinos in America” is an all-inclusive term that embraces Filipino Americans, temporary and permanent residents, and recent immigrants. This perspective is meant to be thought-provoking and attempts to shift the perception of Filipinos in America from deprivation to abundance, from the “I” to the “we,” and from “Filipino Identity” to “Filipino Consciousness.”
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