Libroration Book Club

When a few folks gather together to share knowledge, exchange ideas, hear opinions, heal, and create space an activation known as “The [Libro]ration Book Club” is born.

We’re so delighted to announce that through our 2021 AAP Cohort, we will be hosting virtual book discussions the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 6-8PM (PST) centered around books through The Libroration Book Club.

Broad themes that will be covered through facilitated sessions include, but are not limited to: FilAms in the diaspora, identity, confidence and self-esteem, socioeconomics, politics, culture, art and society.


Wednesday, October 20th, 2021 from 6:00-8:00PM (PST)

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021 from 6:00-8:00PM (PST)

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021 from 6:00-8:00PM (PST)


Congratulations to our 2021 AAP Cohort!

Congratulations to our 2021 AAP Cohort!

On Wednesday, September 1st, we celebrated the completion of our 2021 Awareness in Action Program (AAP) Cohort with our participants from across the Bay Area region, state, and country!

This past summer’s 2021 AAP brought a depth and level of closeness and openness that we haven’t otherwise experienced – and it’s something that we revere and honor. Together, our 2021 AAP shared personal stories and experiences around mental health, generational nuances within their families, and many even discovered aspects of their own immigration stories that they hadn’t previously known.

Our virtual Salamat at Paalam [Party] included sounds by DJ Chrstvn and a keynote speech on putting one’s awareness into action delivered by L.E.A.D Filipino Board Member, Meredith Curry.

A staple program in our organization, the Awareness in Action Program (AAP) is an interdisciplinary community-based program that encompasses Filipina/x/o identity, society, history, and culture. In weekly sessions, participants engage in large and small group discussions, hear from guest speakers, and develop a workshop around aspects of the program that speak to them the most.

AAP started in Eastside San Jose, during the summer of 2016 with 5 participants. The next summer we more than tripled our enrollment with 22 participants from local organizations, colleges and universities – where we would meet for weekly classes and organize Ethno-Exposure tours throughout the course of the program. Past AAP Exposure Tours included trips to South of Market (SoMA) Pilipinas, Little Manila in Stockton, Agbayani Village in Delano, and Historic Filipino Town in Los Angeles.

While COVID-19 threw a curveball at all of us – in more ways than one – we’re reminded that the pandemic also brought many gifts and privileges. Among those privileges is the connection and existence of technology that enabled us to continue our programming online.

In spite of the global shutdown, we launched our first-ever AAP last summer 2020. For the first time, we brought regular programs to statewide and national audiences.

A core principle of our AAP is to incite our participants to continue their civic engagement and public leadership within their localities and communities, whether this is through board or commission service, community organizing, or volunteering for an issue-based or candidate campaign.

We’re excited to stay in contact with our 2021 AAP Cohort and learn about the many feats and achievements that are coming each of their way!


Dr. Cortez to present “Filipinos first, Americans second: Ang Kuwento Ko, Ang Komunidad Ko, At Ang Ating Pamana!” via livestream with De La Salle University’s Filipino Studies Department

About Dr. Cortez’s presentation, “Filipinos first, Americans second: Our Story, Our Community & Our Legacy!”

From Dr. Cortez (to De La Salle University, Department of Filipino Studies):

Thank you so much for the opportunity. On Thursday, 8/26 (Wednesday, 8/25 in the U.S.) I will speak at De La Salle University in the Philippines – via livestream – with their Department of Filipino Studies. This is very special to me. My Grandfather was too a La Sallian!

My lecture is entitled “Filipinos first, Americans second: My Story, Our Community, and Our Legacy!” I will speak on the duality of being a FilAm: being Filipino in America and being American in the Philippines – and the cognitive and emotional dissonance that happens when attempting to reclaim our identity and heritage as Filipinos in the diaspora.

As FilAms we seek connections to our cultural identity through language, food, traditions, and community. We’re enriched by knowledge, activism, and service that advances FilAm wellbeing, protects our rights, and lifts our economic prosperity – but what happens when we visit our homeland? We’re viewed as Americans first, Filipinos second. And in America, we’re conjoined across and within other communities in a shared struggle for liberation, exploited for a profit and imported for our labor, and in America, we’re Filipino.

My piece, we’re Filipinos first, Americans second.

I will share about the hearts and minds of @lead_filipino and the larger San Jose/Santa Clara Valley FilAm community and the dope plans we have for our future. 

L.E.A.D Filipino joins hundreds of other nonprofits to call for the immediate closure of the Reid-Hillview Airport in Eastside San Jose!

Our Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Gel Cortez, submitted this letter to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on our organization’s behalf earlier today.

We unequivocally stand with the hundreds of community members, nonprofit agencies, and grassroots organizations in a unified demand to immediately close the Reid-Hillview Airport in Eastside San Jose!

We will join everyone in testifying at tonight’s Board of Supervisors Meeting on the issue.

August 17, 2021

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors
70 W. Hedding Street
San Jose, CA 95110

RE: Reid-Hillview Airport agenda item 37

On behalf of the members, youth, and families of L.E.A.D Filipino a San Jose-based nonprofit, I write in support of Item 37 on the August 17, 2021 Board of Supervisors agenda that calls for the closure of Reid-Hillview Airport as soon as January 1, 2022. I and many of our members, youth, and families reside in the Eastside of San Jose.

No level of toxic lead emissions belongs in neighborhoods and communities.  The belief that we should continue to make accommodations for the Reid-Hillview Airport at the expense of youth and families – the majority being people of color and minority groups is baffling and misguided.  

During a time of need, most especially in the larger context of addressing integrative community health, racial equity, and the region’s housing shortage, we demand the immediate closure of Reid-Hillview Airport.

There are more than 12,000 children who live within a one-and-a-half mile radius of Reid-Hillview Airport. More than 17,000 residents, just under one-third of the population, living within the same one-and-a-half-mile radius of the airport are from working class communities of color.

The toxic effects of lead have been widely accepted for decades. Lead paint has been banned in the United States since 1978. Leaded gasoline in cars and trucks has been banned since 1996. And yet, in 2021, in the heart of Silicon Valley, thousands of children, most of them from lower income households and communities of color, are exposed to toxic lead fumes from private planes flying out of Reid-Hillview almost every day.

The new report from Dr. Sammy Zahran at Colorado State University and his team that concludes that “under periods of high piston-engine aircraft traffic, children proximate to Reid-Hillview Airport experience an increase in (blood lead levels) on par with the children of Flint (Michigan) during the (Flint Water Crisis)” is both a deep cause for alarm and a call to action for the Board of Supervisors.

This is an environmental justice issue and an equity issue. The airport is surrounded by neighborhoods where almost half of the residents have only a high school diploma or less, and more than three-quarters of them speak a language other than English at home. At Donald J. Meyer Elementary School, which is located immediately adjacent to the end of the airport’s runway, more than 88% of students are considered socioeconomically disadvantaged and qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

What is even more appalling is that these same neighborhoods on the Eastside of San Jose have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic in our county. The ZIP code that surrounds Reid-Hillview on three sides, 95122, has the highest rate of COVID cases per 100,000 people in Santa Clara County. The total number of cases in that single ZIP Code is 8,267, more than the total in all of Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Cupertino, and Saratoga combined.

We stand with the grassroots groups, civic organizations, nonprofit agencies, and community leaders and urge you to approve Item 37 on tonight’s agenda.

In Community,

Dr. Angelica Cortez
Founder & Executive Director
L.E.A.D Filipino

Angelo Quinto’s Family Files Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit

On Monday, August 9 our organization stood with Angelo’s family, community, and the Justice for Angelo Quinto! Justice for All! Coalition in the announcement of the family’s decision to move forward with filing a Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit against the City of Antioch’s Police Department.

This announcement comes 8 months after Angelo’s horrific death at the hands of Antioch Police Officer Jim Perkinson, who recently retired from the Antioch Police Department after 20 years in the force. Perkinson’s retirement now protects his pension and assets; should any charges be brought against him by the DA or if he is convicted, his pension and assets will be protected.

The members of L.E.A.D Filipino continue to stand with Angelo’s family as they fight through this tragedy.

Listening & Action Sessions

From January-February 2021, Santa Clara County alone received 731 reports of anti-Asian assaults and attacks.

While our organization has now been educated on the legal definitions that distinguish how the law views a “Hate Crime” versus a “Hate Incident”, we denounce any actions that alienate, berate, or inflict harm and pose threats to community members – and in this particular context, our larger Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

Back in March, our local policy organizing team hosted several Listening Sessions with FilAm families, seniors, and students. We created a space that welcomed everyone into an emotionally safe environment where our members could speak frankly and openly about their experiences with law enforcement, their opinions on ways to combat hatred, and how to increase awareness – and celebration – of multiculturalism within the Asian American community.

L.E.A.D Filipino was one of the “Bend the Arc” grant recipients awarded from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. These grants were awarded to grassroots and nonprofit groups that advance initiatives and programs that address racial equity and justice.

Through the funding of the “Bend the Arc” grant, we will continue the work of our Listening & Action Sessions throughout this summer and fall. By learning about the needs and experiences of the FilAm community, we will communicate all that we hear to local policymakers as we all work toward stopping Asian Hate.

To arrange a Listening Session with our team, please contact

AB 490, The Justice for Angelo Quinto Act Passes Thru Senate Public Safety Committee


Each year, thousands of bills are introduced in the California State Legislature.

By February, an estimated 1,500-1,600 bills ranging from addressing issues on gun control, environmental justice, adding or reducing regulations, healthcare premiums, eliminating lane-splitting, and consumer protections begin swirling in the accelerated world of California’s legislative process.

This year’s legislative cycle produced a bill that brought local, regional and national FilAms to the advocacy fore in ways unseen.

In February 2021, California State Assemblymember Mike Gipson introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 490, The Justice for Angelo Quinto Act of 2021.

AB 490 seeks to ban and criminalize all positional asphyxia to be used by police and law enforcement officers in California. Assemblymember Gipson, a former police officer, has been a rising champion in passing police accountability laws in the state; he was the author of California’s 2020 law – AB 1196 – which banned carotid holds.

Coinciding with a national outcry and surging anger from FilAms across the country, communities stood behind Angelo’s family as countless news outlets brought light to his horrific murder that took place on December 23, 2020. Caught on video, Angelo was experiencing bouts of paranoia and was in need of mental health services. Worried for his safety, his sister Bella called 9-1-1 – specifically an emergency call to the City of Antioch Police Department.

By the time four Antioch Police Officers arrived to their residence around 12am, Angelo had calmed down. His mother “Tita” Cassandra was hugging him tightly. Unarmed, compliant, and in his pajamas, two officers proceeded to apprehend Angelo: tethering his hands, laying him flat on his stomach, pretzeling his legs behind him, and restraining him for nearly 5 minutes with a forceful knee-to-neck hold. While this terrifying struggle took place, the two monitoring officers told Tita Cassandra that “They did this to calm him down.”

Angelo’s last words were “Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me.”

When the officers released him, their force proved not only excessive but lethal. Angelo was motionless and had no brain activity when he arrived at a nearby hospital, where he died 3 days.

There are more questions to Angelo’s case than there are answers. Grappling with the loss of life is one process, however to be a firsthand witness in the act of a brutal and violent murder, is another, and one that no family should have to endure.

Their pain is irreparable and nothing will bring Angelo back to his family.

For these reasons and to prevent future deaths at the hands of police we advocate for real reform and accountability.

Through the Justice for Angelo Quinto! Justice for All! Coalition we have been advocated for AB 490, The Justice for Angelo Quinto Act of 2021. We are pleased to share that on a 4-1 vote, AB 490 passed through the Senate Committee on Public Safety on July 13.

Thank you to everyone that signed the Justice for Angelo Quinto! Justice for All! Coalition letter – together, we gathered nearly 10 pages of signatures and brought 20+ advocates to testify in support of Angelo’s bill.

It is our honor to do this work with all of you.

-Gel Cortez, LEAD Filipino