June 30: Know Your Rights Community Forum

KYR Forum 6-30-2018Join us on Saturday, June 30th from 10am-2pm as we’re joined by a number of local Filipino grassroots partners and nonprofit agencies to bring free resources to the community, provide sessions on applying for citizenship, and critical updates on the Census.

Please help us spread the word!


Razelle delivers keynote at Foothill College

LEAD Filipino Advisor Razelle Buenavista delivers keynote at Foothill College

On May 17, one of our advisors, and Managing Director for Santa Clara & San Mateo County Asian American Recovery Services – A Program of HealthRIGHT 360 Razelle Buenavista delivered a keynote speech at Foothill College’s Research & Service Leadership Symposium.

Her keynote speech centered on the tenets, actions, and results of Servant Leadership and how she employs that model as a nonprofit executive, community leader, social worker, and educator.

We’re proud of Razelle for such an amazing honor to share the positivity and impact of her work and the effects of Servant Leadership.

Angelica delivers keynote at SJSU’s 25th Annual Pil-Grad


SJSU’s 25th Annual Pil-Grad

Our founder, Angelica Cortez, delivered the keynote speech at San Jose State University’s 25th Annual Pilipino Commencement (Pil-Grad) last Saturday, May 26 to 54 graduates and ~500 attendees.

As a former Spartan and past Pil-Grad president, the opportunity was truly both a privilege and honor for her.

She opened her remarks with blatantly asking the Class of 2018 “What they would fight for in their generation?” but not before first laying a primer on our community’s wealth and history that we have in America.  She revered our lolas and lolos, moms and dads, aunties and uncles, for their strength, sacrifice, and courage in crossing oceans, fighting in wars, toiling in farm fields, and providing care for families other than their own, to bless their families with college experiences and degrees.

Her speech focused on asking the Class of 2018 to consider three practices:

  1. Not waiting. She shared her own struggles, fears, and how she waited 7+ years to start LEAD Filipino. 
  2. Embracing failure. She shared a personal story of failure and how it forced her to reflect, revise, rethink, and refine her approach. 
  3. Chasing experiences. She encouraged the class to diversify, widen, and deepen their local, regional, national, and international experiences. 

Angelica’s main message to the graduating class?  Don’t wait on things you want to do; failures make us better; experiences make us deeper.

Thank you to the 2018 Pil-Grad Committee, this year’s Pil-Grad president Darren Olay, Dr. Alexandria Gerrick, and San Jose State University for inviting Angelica and our larger organization, to celebrate in the achievements of the graduating class.

If you’d like to see a clip of Angelica’s speech, click here.

Go Spartans!

“Finding Identity and Pride: What Does It Mean to be Filipinx?”

Jenna Group Pic
5.29.18 – Jenna Edra poses with Barkada SCU following her workshop!

New Workshop!

On May 29, Jenna Edra, a current SJSU Sociology/Gender Studies student and organizer with our team, presented her newest workshop on “Finding Identity and Pride: What Does It Mean to be Filipinx?” to Barkada of Santa Clara University.

As a second generation Filipina American, Jenna’s workshop includes themes and questions around uniting second – and third – generation Filipino and Filipina Americans to their culture by language, cuisine, and visiting the Philippines.

For many – if not most – second and third generation Filipino and Filipina Americans, the topic of not understanding their family’s Filipino language, or not carrying the delicacy, or visiting the Philippines is a source of embarrassment.  This embarrassment, coupled with feeling disconnected from Filipino and Filipina heritage and culture, can cause further gaps from one’s own cultural identity.

We aim to mitigate these distances from happening and instead, focus on cultural education and the presence of dialogues that incite, invoke, and inspire interest in one’s own cultural experience, tradition, and identity.

*Jenna’s workshop is presented as part of our organization’s larger “Community Buddies Program” where we accept invitations to present a variety of workshops on Filipino and Filipina cultural identity, history, sociology, psychology, economics and/or politics.

If you are interested in the various workshops that we offer, please read more here and/or contact Angelica@LEADFilipino.org.

Our work in the Census

LEAD Filipino with LUCA!

On the morning of May 12th, members of our organizing team: ranging from currently enrolled college students to young working professionals, assisted the City of San Jose in their LUCA (Local Update of Census Addresses) process.  We did this by identifying non-traditional housing units in the Castlemont neighborhood of San Jose, to ensure that these addresses receive their questionnaires and are counted in our nation’s Census.

Our two teams successfully canvassed the neighborhood within the time period we were given. As we get closer to the 2020 Census, the members of our diverse team look forward in ensuring proper representation for all of our Bay Area residents.

Our group has been working with the City of San Jose in participating in the process leading up to the 2020 census. The City of San Jose has generously worked with local non-profits such as LEAD Filipino to effectively reach out to our respective communities. One of the most important tasks of this process is the updating of addresses.

Why is the Census important? 

The Census, mandated by the United States’ Constitution every 10 years, is extremely important in providing information regarding the trajectory of our population growth, demographic information of our various communities, and the apportionment of our Congressional districts. Since Congressional Districts are determined by population; the Census provides a clear opportunity to ensure that our communities are well-represented in our nation’s capital.

During the last Census in 2010, the City of San Jose underreported its population at an estimated 70,000 residents. An estimated yearly loss of $20 million in Federal Funding can be attributed to this underreporting in the City’s population. Over that 10-year period, an estimated $200 million in funds that could have potentially gone towards vital services such as schools, parks and other community programs never materialized.

One of the leading factors that the City of San Jose experienced with this undercounting was the difficulty associated with non-traditional housing units (in-laws, add-ons, converted garages, trailers and tiny homes built on larger lots).

If you are interested in volunteering/training with LEAD Filipino around our community’s Census efforts – including attending public input meetings, educational workshops, and better understanding the importance of the Census, please contact us!

Sugod Mga Kababayan!

Kevin Suarez
LEAD Filipino

Sign Up Today: 2018 Awareness in Action Program


2018 Awareness in Action Program (AAP): A Filipino Ethnic Studies & Civic Leadership Course in San Jose

LEAD Filipino’s summer Awareness in Action Program (AAP) is an eight-week free and community-based Filipino Ethnic Studies & Civic Leadership open to all community members.

The course is multidisciplinary and covers lessons, guest speakers, and discussions through the lens of Filipino and Filipina American experiences.  Sign up for 2018 Awareness in Action here.

The Awareness in Action Program (AAP) begins on Monday, June 25, 2018 (6pm-8:30pm) and will meet weekly through August.

The program covers Filipino and Filipina issues on:

  • Filipino/Filipina and Fil Am kultura and identity.
  • Diasporic experiences.
  • Our waves of immigration.
  • Kultural history, psychology, sociology, and anthropology.
  • Social justice movements – past, present, and future.
  • Civic leadership.
  • Political education.

2018 Awareness in Action Calendar:

  • Monday, June 25, 2018 from 6:30pm-8:30pm
  • Monday, July 2, 2018 — Holiday — No session
  • Monday, July 9, 2018 from 6:30pm-8:30pm
  • Monday, July 16, 2018 from 6:30pm-8:30pm
  • Monday, July 23, 2018 from 6:30pm-8:30pm
  • Monday, July 30, 2018 from 6:30pm-8:30pm
  • Monday, August 6, 2018 from 6:30pm-8:30pm
  • *Friday-Saturday, August 10 to 12: Delano Manongs Road Trip & Immersion Tour
  • Monday, August 13, 2018 from 6:30pm-8:30pm
  • Monday, August 20, 2018 from 6:30pm-8:30pm Despedida

Questions about our Education work? Contact Jay@LEADFilipino.org 

Sign up for 2018 Awareness in Action Program

Read more about our Awareness in Action Program here.


LEAD Filipino Opposes Measure A

Oppose Measure ADear Kasamas —

With Primary Election Day approaching on Tuesday (June 5), the urgency for us to push out and spread the message against the City of Santa Clara’s Measure A is dire!

While 73% of voters now cast absentee ballots, there’s still a small window to continue messaging our community’s oppose position against Measure A.

Last month, LEAD Filipino formally voted to join a chorus of nonprofit agencies, community organizations, grassroots groups, educators and civic leaders alike, in a movement to oppose the City of Santa Clara’s Measure A.

What is Measure A?

Measure A is a ballot measure that proposes to draw a line down the City of Santa Clara that would establish two electoral districts in the city. Furthermore, Measure A proposes the implementation of a ranked-choice voting by single transferable vote system.

What happens if Measure A passes?

Measure A will split the City of Santa Clara’s voting districts in half, right along El Camino Real. This line will in essence create a “North Santa Clara” and “South Santa Clara” in a city of just 120,000 residents. This north-south divide will weakens the minority vote in the city and will continue to disenfranchise minority voters in the City of Santa Clara.

Measure A threatens to disproportionately disenfranchise Asian Pacific Islander (API) voters, Latino voters, and seniors. The proposed drawing of a north-south boundary, coupled with ranked-choice voting, opens the door to spoiled votes and limited ballots. These factors – combined with inadequate resources for voter education – stand to continuously cripple the voice of minority communities in local elected representation.

How can you help?

If you share our views on Measure A, please help us spread the word on this campaign. Furthermore, if you have any friends or family that reside in the City of Santa Clara, share this deeper look into Measure A and its implications, with them.

Media Coverage & Statements on Oppose Measure A

To canvass with our group against Measure A, please contact Angelica@LEADFilipino.org.Oppose Measure A

23rd Annual SISTER to SISTER Conference


Last Thursday, April 26, several members of our organizing and advisory teams showed up and turned out for Asian American Recovery Services – A Program of HealthRight 360’s 23rd Annual SISTER to SISTER Conference, a community treasure that’s stemmed in advancing and supporting young Asian Pacific Islander women and girls, ages 11-18 years old.

The primary target population for SISTER to SISTER includes middle – and high school women and girls that are from the South Bay Area.

Bringing together nearly 200 participants, supported by a team of volunteers, guest speakers, and workshop presenters, and led by a small AARS team, SISTER to SISTER has – and continues – to strengthen our community’s pipeline for ensuring that young API women and girls are exposed to positive role models, engage in conversations around identity and confidence, and are guided in discussions around personal and mental health.

The women and girls started their day with an opening address from this year’s 2018 Legacy Award winner, Ellen Kamei, where she shared about her own connections to the Conference’s theme: RISE UP. From coming of age events, to personal lessons and triumphs, to family, Ellen’s words resonated and were relevant to the audience and their own experiences.

Carina Orozco, a familiar face in our Fly Pinays work, was the Mistress of Ceremonies at this year’s 23rd Annual SISTER to SISTER, where she led our cheering crowd of girls and kept the energy live all day; Dr. Jennifer Briscoe, one of our organization’s advisors, guest spoke on a panel, where she shared about her stories with leadership as she presently serves as the Chair for the County’s Commission for the Status of Women; Jay Page, our lead Education organizer tabled for our organization and helped spread the word about our programs; lastly, Razelle Buenavista, one of the founding members of SISTER to SISTER, led the day’s events, with her staff, volunteers and presenters, across the finish line of yet, another successful SISTER to SISTER.

It’s because of local leadership and examples shone through events like SISTER to SISTER that make our community stronger in evolution and transformation.

We’re proud to support and volunteer at SISTER to SISTER year over year.

Rise Up!

LEAD Filipino


Reflection: NaFFAA’s Civic Leadership Forum

            On Saturday, April 14th, LEAD Filipino participated in National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA)’s Northern California Civic Leadership Forum. The all-day forum was hosted by the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, and sought to: Spark, Connect, and Empower Filipino/a American students, activists, and elected officials within the San Francisco Bay Area.

            Members of LEAD Filipino took a key role both in moderating and participating in the event. Kevin Suarez; LEAD Filipino’s Naturalization Ceremonies & Voter Registration Organizer, helped organize the event with NaFFAA’s Region 8 (San Francisco Bay Area) team, as well as moderated the forum’s Civic Leadership Panel. Members of the panel included Roderick Daus Magbual of PEP (Pin@y Educational Partnerships), Arvin J. Garcia of NCPASA (Northern California Pilipinx American Student Alliance), Geraldine Alcid of FAJ (Filipino Advocates for Justice) and our very own Founder; Angelica Cortez of LEAD Filipino.

            The panel included questions on issues facing Filipino-American youth (18-34) who make up nearly ¼ of the 4 million Filipino/a Americans in the United States. The panel agreed on issues such as the loss of language/culture, the high housing costs of the San Francisco Bay Area, and the dissuasion of young Filipino-Americans to aspire to professional leadership roles. Angelica Cortez mentioned LEAD Filipino’s efforts in tackling these issues: by creating mentorships and networks through our Fly Pinay Mentorship Program, by educating young Filipino/a Americans of their culture and history through our Awareness in Action program, and by mobilizing the vote of our fellow Filipinos both young and old through our Voter Registration and Civic Engagement Team. The panelists agreed that while good work has been done in the past, much more work still lays ahead for giving our community the voice it deserves.

            One of these voices included Assemblymember Rob Bonta; the first Filipino American elected to California’s State Legislature. Bonta; who was the forum’s keynote speaker, related to the audience his family history and it ties to the United Farmworkers’ Movement. He mentioned that while our community has come a long way from that era, that our community needed to focus on inspiring and cultivating the next generation of Filipino-American leaders. Fortunately, his words did not fall on deaf ears, as many college-aged representatives from NCPASA (Northern California Pilipinx American Student Alliance) gathered around the Assembly-member after his speech to ask personal advice regarding empowerment and the possibility of running for elected office in the future.

            The Forum was a success: over 100 attendees were at the event, representing more than 30 cities from as far away as Stockton and San Diego. Of these attendees, LEAD Filipino’s organizers played a key role in being one of the few organizations to represent San Jose and received a Participation Award during the Community Reception.

A Filipino proverb says that “Kung may tinanim, may aanihin.”, which translates to: “If you plant, you harvest.” Though the harvest may seem distant, you can be sure LEAD Filipino is working hard to cultivate our community’s future in the Bay Area.

In Community,

Kevin Suarez
Naturalization Ceremonies & Voter Registration
LEAD Filipino

LUCA Training & Engagement

LUCA Group Photo

Last Saturday, April 14, our group completed a LUCA – Local Update of Census Addresses – training and service opportunity with the City of San Jose as part of a larger months-long process leading to the 2020 Census.

From now till the distribution of the 2020 Census, cities, townships and other municipalities are working collaboratively with their respective counties (or boroughs) to elicit community participation in the updating of addresses for the purposes of the Census.

Why is the Census important? 

The Census is mandated in our United States’ Constitution. Every 10 years, the Census is taken to inform ourselves on the Country’s population growth, provides useful demographic information and data, and is also the guide for redrawing governance lines that impact each of us. The Census Bureau is already submitting its intended 2020 Census Questionnaire to Congress (read more).

When critical public issues and needs hit us on a local, personal level, illustrating the need and explaining the “why” becomes much easier.

During the 2010 Census, the City of San Jose underreported its population by an estimated -70,000 residents. This underreporting turned into a yearly loss of -$20 million in Federal funding to the City of San Jose – over a 10-year span that amounted to -$200 million in funds that could’ve gone toward public, social and community programs for everyone. Including supporting our community centers, nutrition and wellness programs, maintaining after school programs, and many more health and human services.

This underreporting was due to a combination of factors.  But not factors that are necessarily specific to San Jose, as the Census count issues our City was faced with are a statement of the times we’re living in.

The City of San Jose identified that the 2010 Census undercounting was attributed to not having mailing addresses for the non-traditional housing units (in-laws, add-ons, converted garages, trailers and tiny homes built on larger lots) throughout the City.

With rising housing and living costs in the world’s innovation and technology Capital – many residents are forced to make economic decisions, that in this context, impact their residences.

The LUCA process helps address this.

As part of our LUCA training, we were trained on using the Census Bureau’s tool to capture and update addresses for every type of non-traditional housing unit that might not otherwise have a mailing address, to ensure that everyone receives their 2020 Census Questionnaire.

To make sure that everyone is included in this Census, to the best we can, LEAD Filipino is coordinating with its organizers, interns, volunteers and community members to involve as much of the public as we can, in the City’s LUCA efforts.

We’ll be training and walking through San Jose again on Saturday, May 12th from 9am-12:30pm.

If you can join us, please sign up 5/12 LUCA Training Sign Up.


LEAD Filipino