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Celebrating Women’s History Month: An ode to Filipinas in America

March 1, 2017

Being A Fly Pinay – what does it mean and why is it the name of our Leadership Summit?  The short answer: it is our ode to Filipinas in America.

Encarnacion Alzona, the first Filipina to obtain her Ph.D., a renowned scientist, historian, educator and suffragist (circa 1919).

The name Fly Pinays stems from a series of Filipin@ cultural, historical, familial and transcendent influences from both experiences of being a Filipin@ in America and the Philippines. From standard definitions, to the lay understanding of the slang term, “Fly”, our selection aims to strike a balance of reverence and emotion, while alluding to the powers of transcendence and determination we share as Filipinas. Two consonant words: Fly Pinay. Fly – to be cool and in style, while soaring and ascending. Pinay – to carry histories marred by sacrifice, but weathered with courage, yet bound by love; those are the beginnings of Being A Fly Pinay.

Deriving from equal parts past, present and future, Being A Fly Pinay represents a confluence of narratives and stories, in the context of our culture and history within the American tapestry; our tales of immigration, the hope that drove our families to the American Dream, and the persistence we still share. To advance tomorrow, we revere our past, for the spirits of our Filipina matriarchs shaped and instilled qualities of strength in their succeeding generations. To advance tomorrow, we reflect on the progress and gift of our present. At nearly ~4 million, Filipin@ Americans are the second largest – and growing – Asian community in the United States – and Filipinas are 51% of that population. Being A Fly Pinay is a contemporary image of retaining cultural pride, bearing courage, and leading by example, for those values were passed down by our descendants. To advance tomorrow, we need to work in community and in concert, to uplift an agenda of Filipina success, demonstrative of our own diversity and talents. As we continue to reach executive leadership positions, run for elected office, found companies, pioneer scientific and technological breakthroughs, and incite tomorrow’s leaders, we take must take pause in reverence and reflection, as we carry integrity in becoming a force for tomorrow.

Being a Fly Pinay means to lead YOU. Through your interpretation – and actualization – of authenticity, honor of your Filipin@ history, humility, growth, and invariably – love, we aim to embed, embolden, and enliven this message within Fly Pinays.

Remember that the stories of Filipinas in America run vast and deep, and that you are the progeny of this tale, contributing to the continuous history. We have been here – in fact, we have been here over ~250 years. The footprints of Filipinas on American soil are innumerable, scattered, and possess stories of innovation, economic ingenuity, social change, and most resonantly – retaining the nucleus of Filipin@ family traditions and customs on American shore. In 1763 St. Malo, Louisiana, Filipinas supported the shrimping economy that still thrives today. At the turn of the 19th century, Filipinas were amongst the first Asians – and women – to attend prestigious American universities (University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago, and Harvard to name a few) under the Pensionado Act. Studied in the fields of Business, Administration and Government, Filipina Pensionados would compete with the best of them.

Faced by discrimination and racial prejudice, Filipinas have lived through and contributed to the marvels of modern American past: the Reconstruction and Progressive eras, World War II (Pacific), the California Labor Movement, Civil Rights, and a post ’65 “Brain Drain” era.

From Filipinas succeeding in various professions, we realize the conditions of today, and bear witness to the sacrifices of Overseas Filipina Workers (OFWs) who leave their families to provide for a better future. Help us build a strong community of Filipinas that value progress, support our success, and unlocks opportunities for the next generation.

Happy Women’s History Month — now go thank your Nanay, Titas and Lolas!


Angelica Cortez
LEAD Filipino

LEAD Filipino
LEAD Filipino

We are a nonprofit that organizes for FilAm civic participation, grassroots leadership and direct community action out of San Jose, California.

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