The Asian Pacific American Resource Center, the Asian American studies department and two Filipino student organizations collaborated to host nine events for Filipino American History Month centered on Filipino culture and identity, mental health and open discussions with students.
Tia Chea, the coordinator of the center said that due to the pandemic, the center was unable to collaborate with other groups to develop events for Filipino American History Month last year. She added that they worked for over a month to organize this year’s events.
The inaugural event was “Mabuhay: A Crash Course to Filipino American History Month and Student Mixer,” led by the center. It briefed attendees on Filipino American historical figures and the basics of Philippine culture.
The following event was co-hosted by the center and the department. Writer and professor at Cal Poly Pomona, Anthony Ocampo hosted “The Latinos of Asia.” He spoke about his research on the intersections of sexuality, immigration and ethnic identity, and his new book titled “Brown and Gay in L.A.”
At the event, people were allowed to discuss the presentation and reflect on their experiences or the experiences of people they know.
“I was trying to share some stories about this research I did on gay children of immigrants or young gay men that grew up in immigrant families, and I feel really fortunate that there were people in the audience for whom that experience resonated,” Ocampo said.
The next event was “How Does That Make You Feel,” a collaboration between the center and Counseling and Psychological Services for their “Community Conversations” series. Students were able to ask personal questions and partake in mindfulness exercises.
Bayanihan Kollective, a student organization, invited a special guest speaker, Fernando Argosino, to give a presentation about the significance of Filipino folklore and how he incorporated it into a critique of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war in his comic book “What Scares a Monster.”
Argosino encouraged young Filipinos to become aware of the conditions in the Philippines and use their knowledge of history to propel them into community organizing.
“If we can start getting that expression of our feelings or thoughts that aren’t supposedly legitimate, that aren’t worthwhile, then we find the collective support and then work communally,” Argosino said.
Dennse Cruz, a sophomore and regular organization attendee said that she enjoyed Argosino’s presentation because she liked learning about Filipino culture.
“It was really cool just learning about the different folklore and the mythology,” Cruz said. “I know of some stuff about it from when I was younger, but it was cool to learn more about it now.”
Davide Scrofano, a third-year student, said that the events are a great opportunity for students of other cultures to learn about Filipino history and culture.
“Learning about other cultures is really cool. That way, it just makes you a more well-rounded individual, and also more culturally aware of what’s going on in other spaces of the world,” Scrofano said.
However, Filipino American History Month is not over. The center has an anticipatory spotlight on their collaboration with the Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance, “Overcoming Barriers to Mental Health” on Oct.18. It is a workshop meant to destigmatize mental illness in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and functions as a continuation from the students’ conversation with Nicole Enrique.
The center will also be hosting a film viewing on the Delano Manongs and open discussion for Larry Itliong Day on Oct. 25 to celebrate the Filipino labor organizer.
The Asian Pacific American Resource Center is one of several resource centers at the Diversity Initiative Resource Center. Chea said they aim to create quality events that allow students to engage with speakers and each other, rather than attracting a high turnout. Their mission is to create a sense of belonging for students on campus by providing educational materials and a place for students to relax and hang out.
“The biggest resources that we offer is a sense of belonging and a ‘home away from home’ type of feel,” Chea said.
Ryan Leano, an Asian American studies professor, said that people should celebrate Filipino American History Month because the contributions of Filipino Americans are often diminished. October allows Filipino Americans to highlight significant people and events in their history.
“It’s important because of the many contributions Filipinos have made in the development of American society and their contributions to American history,” Leano said. “It’s often overlooked, underappreciated, and why Filipino American youth tend to struggle with their identity.”