On February 1, 2020 our organization held the privilege of communing with 21 Fil community-based organizations (CBOs), grassroots groups, nonprofit and student leaders at Cal State University, East Bay in the 2020 Annual Fil Policy Symposium.
The purpose of the Policy Symposium was two-fold: 1. To identify social issues impacting Fil Am communities and 2. Prepare for our Fil Advocacy Day in Sacramento on May 13, 2020!
The day was not only historic and symbolic, but memorable for numerous reasons. With 21 organizations represented, as a force multiplier, the Fil Policy Symposium boasted an attendance of ~150 individuals from across California.
The centering theme for the Fil Policy Symposium was a simple, but complex message: Addressing social issues that impact Fil Am communities across California.
With advocates, educators, and leaders from San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, to Solano County, and San Jose, the content and the substance of the Fil Policy Symposium focused on the experiences, stories, and opinions of Fil Ams on intractable issues facing Californians today.
The Annual Fil Policy Symposium began with a guided meditation by Drs. Rod Penalosa and Jeannie Celestial and honoring of our ancestors, instilling the message that our powers, capabilities, and knowledge, wouldn’t be so rich without their sacrifices.
Following our guided meditation, the program featured two opening segments. Dr. Robyn Rodriguez, the founding Director of the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies at UC Davis, provided the keynote remarks on the importance of representing, as a resonant hymn in her words that reverberated through the auditorium was that “Representation doesn’t mean they are representing” in the context of public policy and legislative engagement for the Fil Am community.
Next, Angelica “Gel” Cortez, LEAD Filipino’s founder walked the audience through connecting personal purpose to public policy. She reviewed the core concepts of community organizing and power that continued to undergird the Policy Symposium’s repeated message of addressing social issues together.
Vanessa Carr, an organizer on our Civic Engagement Team and staff member for California Governor Gavin Newsom’s team provided an update on the Sacramento Budget Process and how that influences our legislative advocacy.
To continue providing a learning and educational space for our audience of students, educators, and advocates (yes, for you advocates that attended, we know that some of the content was all too familiar to you and we thank you for being charitable with us!) the Symposium’s featured short TED-style talks by Fil Am leaders that currently engage in local and regional policy advocacy work. Dillon Delvo, the Executive Director of Little Manila Rising were among our presenters.
Fil Policy Symposium attendees were able to self-select and attend two different breakout sessions that addressed social issues that our statewide Steering Committee identified as critically important to our community:
- Housing Justice
- Immigrant and Workers’ Rights
- Civic Engagement and 2020 Census Education
- Mental Health and Wellness
- Ethnic Studies
The 2020 Annual Fil Policy Symposium is only the beginning of our group’s year-round efforts as a leading partner in the state’s Steering Committee. We were delighted to meet several of you at the Policy Symposium and can only hope to continue working alongside you and your organizations as we engage and prepare for our 2020 Annual Fil Advocacy Day in Sacramento on May 13, 2020.
Maraming salamat to everyone that attended. We look forward to seeing all of you on May 13, 2020 at our State Capitol in Sacramento!