“Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalinga, hindi makararating sa paroroonan”
-isang salawikaing Pilipino
Dual Citizenship and other Current Issues
in the Filipino American Community
The Filipino American community in the United States has always been confronted by key issues that often are related to the home country. Among these is the issue of dual citizenship. The Philippine government has opened the door for Fil-Am U.S. citizens to gain or regain Filipino citizenship. This move gives many the opportunity to the best of both worlds. This also bolsters the links with the heritage country and our desire to be of help to our brethren across the ocean is reinforced.
Another issue is Veterans Equity. WWII Filipino soldiers who served with the USAFFE have continuously petitioned the U.S. Congress to grant them benefits equal or close to those granted U.S. veterans. This goal has been difficult to achieve while numbers of our veterans are passing away. The efforts of Fil-Am group have met with limited success, but they have also been a venue for testing and strengthening the Fil-Am community.
The latter issue which involves lobbying, networking, and in general, navigation through the American legislative process, also highlights the broad, third issue of political empowerment of Filipinos in the U.S. We represent the second largest Asian American population in the country, but our representation in government, politics, and the professions needs to grow more. We have been fortunate in a few places like Hawaii where a Filipino-American had been voted Governor and many other have served in administrative and judiciary positions. In California, we have started to show our strength city and municipal elections, but still have to place representatives on the state and national levels. Clearly, we have to ally with and learn from the Latino, Chinese, and Japanese experience.
The representation of Filipino-Americans in the medical and health science fields is sterling, but graduates in mathematics and the physical sciences are not numerous. Filipino presence in faculty and administrative positions in higher education is also limited. Fil-Am students rank high in high school drop rates among ethnic minorities. Filipino teens have also registered the highest suicide rates among Asian American groups. The incongruity between these facts and the original Filipino ethic of parents striving hard to send their children to college as a venue for social mobility is an issue that remains alive and need to be addressed. Leo Paz
“Huli man daw at magaling, naihahabol din.”
—isang salawikaing Pilipino
Bakit mahalaga ang nagaganap na mga pangyayari sa kasalukuyan? Why are current events and issues important? Because knowing what is new helps keep us abreast with the world around us, and helps us make informed decisions on important issues. What is happening in the present is soon to be past. The decisions, happenings, and conditions that are unfolding are “the stuff that history is made of.”
Napapanahon means timeliness, current, in fashion, fit for the occasion. Why do we need to know the news, the “new.” The new may show progress or a new discovery. The root word of “napapanahon” is panahon, which itself carries several meanings: time, era, epoch, season climate, weather, duration.
Andres Bonifacio, the founder of the Katipunan that revolted against Spain, seized the day…and time, panahon, in his manifesto entitled Ang Dapat Mabatid ng mga Tagalog, “What the Tagalogs Should Know”:
Panahon na ngayong dapat na lumitaw ang liwanag ng katotohanan; panahon nang dapat nating ipakilala na tayo’y may sariling pagdaramdam, may puri, may hiya at pagdadamayan. Ngayon panahon nang dapat simulan ang pagsisiwalat ng mga mahal at dakilang aral na magwawasak sa masinsing tabing na bumubulag sa ating kaisipan; panahon na ngayong dapat makilala ng mga Tagalog ang pinagbuhatan ng kanilang mga kahirapan.
Now is the time that the light of truth must shine; now is the time that we should reveal that we have our own sentiments, honor, propriety and sympathy for one another. Now is the time to commence the unveiling of the noble and great teaching that would destroy the thick screen that blinds our mind; now is the time that the Tagalogs must recognize the source of their suffering. (1896)
This was written when the revolution against Spain erupted. And the rest is history.
The Filipino people also “seized the day” when they waged the People Power Revolution in 1986 to retrieve their lost freedom. And the youth chanted “Kung hindi ngayon, kalian pa? Kung hindi ikaw, sino pa?” “If not now, then when? If not you, then who?” (Tita Pambid)