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Recap: Fil Advocacy Day 2019

A day of symbolism.

The Filipino/a community is the largest Asian Pacific Islander group in California. At a population of ~1.5m, with the deepest concentrations residing in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego Areas, the time to incite our community to collectively touch the existing electoral processes that shape our lives, was yesterday.

After months of planning, coordinating, and strategizing alongside our partners at UC Davis’s Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, Little Manila Rising in Stockton, SOMCAN in San Francisco, Kumare Culture, Sinag-Tala Dance Troupe, NCPASA, PICO California, and the Domestic Workers Coalition of California, we joined a chorus of Fil Am nonprofits, student organizations, and grassroots groups from across the state in the first Fil Advocacy Day at California’s Capitol, Sacramento. With our entire Civic Engagement Team and one of our advisors, Dr. Jennifer Briscoe, in attendance, we were excited, nervous, and ready for the day’s events.

Our home base for the day was to be at the California Endowment on K Street in Sacramento. Up bright and early, our team huddled with our Bulosan Center partners to get hyped for the morning kick-off where we welcomed the participating high school youth, college students, and nonprofit clients and staff from across the state.

Gel Cortez, LEAD Filipino, and Dr. Robyn Rodriguez, Bulosan Center, co-lead an advocacy team at the first Fil Advocacy Day!
Vanessa Carr and Dr. Jen Briscoe, LEAD Filpino, pump up their advocacy team for the day ahead!

Our team debriefs consisted of co-captains running down the day’s events, our advocacy items, and their team’s specific schedule of legislator meetings! (For some, this was an advocacy crash course of sorts, but for others that had attended our trainings the past four months, they also lended a hand in guiding others on tips when speaking with legislative staff and elected officials!)

The day began with our delegation meeting with Assemblyman Jose Medina, the author of Assembly Bill 331, which was the centering narrative for our Advocacy Day: Seeing all communities represented in public curriculum via academic textbooks, literature, media and film, and other study materials that support California’s public education and learning.

Assemblyman Medina shared of his decades of experience teaching Ethnic Studies in Riverside Unified School District. He then ran and was elected to serve as a Trustee for Riverside’s Community College District. We thanked him for his leadership in continuing to advance Ethnic Studies via statewide legislation.

The first stop on our Advocacy Day: Thanking Assemblyman Jose Medina for authoring AB 331 (Ethnic Studies).

Following our meeting with Assemblyman Medina, our teams set off in separate directions and our collective delegation proceeded to meet with 25 legislators and staff on passing AB 331 (Ethnic Studies), allocating $5m for a Domestic Workers Education and Outreach Fund, and increasing tenant protections (ABs 36 and 1481).

“Stop and pose for that quick photo in the Capitol!”
“Let’s bring all 1.5m of us to the Capitol next year.”

Shout out to our friend and supporter, Genevieve Jopanda, nonprofit executive and political organizer, and Chief of Staff to California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, for hosting a small group of the nonprofit leaders and youth for a roundtable lunch. Genevieve was joined by her Legislative Director, Kasey, in sharing their reflections on Treasurer Ma’s authoring of AB 199, which was among the first series of legislative bills that gained visibility for the Filipino/a community in public education.

Gen and Kasey, thank you for hosting a small group of us in State Treasurer Ma’s Office!

Last Tuesday was the first Advocacy Day of many. The event was symbolic of our community’s growing presence and advancement in participating in a democracy that we have also fought for.

We look forward to developing our relationships with the many organizations that touched last Tuesday’s event. The beauty of movement and coalition-building is knowing that your community stands alongside your cause, because if it’s affecting your folks, it’s impacting us.

On behalf of LEAD Filipino, maraming salamat sa lahat, kami ay magkasama!


Gel 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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