Recap: Filipino Advocacy Day Statewide Training

On Friday, March 8th, we hosted our second statewide training on our upcoming Filipino Advocacy Day in Sacramento. Maraming salamat to Filipino Advocates for Justice for hosting our group and providing a space of community!

On Friday, March 8th, we co-led our second statewide training on the planning, development, and strategy of our upcoming Filipino Advocacy Day in Sacramento next month!

For some background, last fall, we co-led a uniquely Filipino Community Policy Symposium (read recap here) in tandem with our partners at UC Davis’ Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies. The goals of the Symposium were three-fold:

  • Host at least 20 Fil Am organizations, nonprofits, and grassroots groups in discussions around their agencies and what public interests were important to them;
  • Provide a space for base-building and networking;
  • Define a handful of public policy priorities from the discussions and workshops hosted at the Symposium.

The outcomes from the Symposium resulted in 27 organizations in attendance and the development of a distinctive “8 Policy Area Platform” (viewable here) that were representative of the diverse voices, experiences, and stories of the organizations that participated.

With this information, we continued our work with the Bulosan Center well into the winter with the intention of hosting a Filipino Advocacy Day in Sacramento.

Serving primarily as organizing leads, we have worked with the Bulosan Center to push forward the dialogue with the 27 organizations that attended last fall on envisioning, planning, and defining a Filipino Advocacy Day.

Since January, we have hosted one statewide Advocacy Day training and a conference call with our 20 partners. During these two convenings, we identified that our Advocacy Day items would be:

  • AB 331 (Ethnic Studies)
  • Requesting $5 million in General Fund support for the establishment of a Domestic Workers Education and Outreach Fund to be administered by the California Department of Labor Enforcement Standards (DLES).

At our first training, the partners reconnected, and we reviewed the purpose of the Advocacy Day which is:

  • To establish a Filipino/a presence in California’s Capitol.
  • To engage a delegation of 20 organizational leaders, staff, and clients in our democratic public policy process.
  • To advocate on passing AB 331 and a $5 million budget ask for domestic workers in California.

Our next statewide conference call, where we will begin planning our legislative visits will be in late-March. If you are interested in engaging in these efforts, we want to hear from you!

Support AB 331 (Ethnic Studies)

As a community organization that is founded on the guiding tenets and inspirations of building civic leadership through cultural and ethnic education, LEAD Filipino has legacy positions of supporting, advocating for, and dedicating organizational resources to advancing Ethnic Studies in California.

Three years ago, we collected and submitted support letters to California Governor Brown to pass Assembly Bill 2016, which he signed into law in late-2016. A huge victory for our shared advocacy partners, AB 2016 funded the development of an Ethnic Studies curriculum to be made available as an elective to California public high school social science teachers that could want to teach the course. Note that under AB 2016, Ethnic Studies is still an elective and not a requirement.

AB 2016 resulted in a statewide coalition of educators and academics that have worked collaboratively with the California Department of Education to construct a curriculum based on critical pedagogy that represents the untold stories, histories, and experiences of ethnic minority communities in California. The Ethnic Studies curriculum should now be available for instructors with an interest in teaching this elective to their students.

LEAD Filipino Supports AB 331

Building on the momentum and need to teach cultural pedagogy that reflects the diversity of California’s 39 million population, AB 331 would fund a pilot program across 11 school districts, with the intention of mandating Ethnic Studies as a high school graduation requirement by 2024.

The combination of the head and heart – California is the state of the majority minority. In a heterogenous state that benefits from our rich multiculturalism and multiethnic communities, we support the movement toward updating public instruction to include the historic contributions, struggles, and successes of minority communities whose roles are currently diffuse across scarce literature and diminished in our system’s textbooks, discourse, and coursework.

The status quo is that, in our K-12 public system, U.S. and world history is taught from a Euro-centric perspective. We combine our heads and hearts in our outlook on this current reality and future opportunity. Hear us out on our perspective and position:

Our globalized society that has sanctioned mass immigration – which we see evident in our workplaces and hence, our workforce; through this prism, national conversations celebrate diversity in the name of labor, skilled workers, and competition (by way of profits). We ask you to consider the moral imperative of supporting a diverse population in another key public sphere: our public education system. California particularly, celebrates a workforce that is 76% foreign born. In a majority-minority state, the time to revisit our educational system’s values – defined by core instructional content and coursework – in exposing our students’ hearts and minds to wider and deeper views of our country and world’s history is now.

Growing evidence supports that, from self-efficacy and motivated behavior frameworks (Eccles, 2006; Schraw & Lehman, 2006), students construct identity based on meaning, beliefs, perceptions and attitudes (Bandura, 2001). Cue positive images and convictions of achievement, where strong corollaries have been tied to cultural pedagogy and vicarious learning of minority communities seeing their stories uplifted in the same regard as high-achieving, high-performing, leaders with social mobility across all public contexts.

From the head and heart perspective, we support AB 331 and are currently collecting support letters from any of our members, families, or students that share the belief in supporting the passage of this bill. Read more about AB 331 here.

If you would like to submit a short statement for why you support AB 331, to be shared with elected leaders in Sacramento at the Filipino Advocacy Day on April 30th, please submit here.

In community,

Angelica Cortez
LEAD Filipino

Recap: Fly Pinays Pre-Session

To launch Women’s Herstory Month and celebrate our 3rd Annual Fly Pinays Mentorship Program, we hosted half of this year’s Fly Pinay mentors and mentees on Saturday, March 2nd at San Jose State University, in a Revealing and Pre-Session!

The staple of our Fly Pinays Mentorship Program is just that: facilitating mentor-mentee relationships and modeling positive sisterhood for the Pinays that enliven our community. Our Pre-Session was an extension of our “Revealing” event where our women and girls, paired in mentorship, not only met but also learning meaningful tips and practices on continuing their friendships beyond our Fly Pinays Mentorship Program.

Our mentors and mentees engaged in group exercises and icebreakers.
In addition to facilitating dialogue, our mentors and mentees set intentions for their journey through our Fly Pinays Mentorship program.
Look at these Fly Pinays!
What’s up, Fly Pinays!

At the Pre-Session, our 2019 mentors and mentees not only had a chance to meet and get acquainted, but they also engaged in leadership activities, group discussions, and received best practices on building their mentor-mentee relationships. We were joined by women and students from across Northern California in celebrating sisterhood, mentorship, and shared experience.

We look forward to seeing everyone this Saturday, March 23rd, at our 3rd Annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit!

Recap: 14th Annual R.A.A.P. Conference

On Saturday, February 23rd, nearly all of our organizing team rolled up to San Jose State University and presented at Akbayan’s Raising Awareness Amongst Pilipinos Conference on multiple issues relating to Fil Am experiences, leadership, and civic engagement to high school youth and college students from the region.

Here are a few pictures from the day, where the following leaders from our organization presented on various subject areas:

Jeren Penalosa — “Ethnic Studies in the Fil Am Community”
Katrina Figueroa & Tao Manacmul — “Turning your Campaign into Social Action”
Celeste Francisco — “Allyship in the LGBTQIA Community”
Kevin Suarez — “President Duterte’s Drug War”
Jay Page & James Binauhan — “Coalition Building in the Farmworker Movement”

Become a Fly Pinay Mentor!

The days are counting down till our Fly Pinays Pre-Session on Saturday, March 2nd at San Jose State University, where we’ll welcome our newest group of mentors and mentees for our 3rd Annual Fly Pinays Program.

Till then, we’re still pushing hard to reach YOU, you possible Fly Pinay mentor!

If you’re interested in becoming a Fly Pinays mentor, you will be joining a group of ~200 Pinay women and girls from across the Northern California region.

The time commitment is to attend two (hella fun) community events next month with your mentee, and from that point, establish your own meetup schedule that suits both your calendars.

To join as a mentor, there are three quick steps:

  • Check your calendar! Are you available on Saturday, 3/2 (10am-2pm) and Saturday, 3/23 (9am-4pm) to attend the two Fly Pinays events in the South Bay Area with your mentee?
  • Do you have at least four to five years of professional experience?
  • Have you registered yet? Register at link here 3rd Annual Fly Pinays. (Takes about 10-15 minutes.)

3rd Annual Fly Pinays Program:

Pre-Session for Mentors & Mentees
Saturday, March 2nd
San Jose State University
At the Pre-Session, you’ll meet your mentee, as well as other mentors and mentees involved in the program. From ice breaker activities to small sessions on how to build with your mentee, the Pre-Session will hype up the Leadership Summit and provide a space for our women and girls to bond.

3rd Annual Leadership Summit
Saturday, March 23rd
Mission College
The Leadership Summit is exclusively produced for our mentors and mentees. The day features leading Pinays from the arts, community, and industry on themes of sisterhood, mentorship, and Pinay experiences. You’ll engage in workshops, interactive sessions, and group activities with your mentee and other participants throughout the day.


AAP Expanding to East Bay

Those very familiar with our organization know that our bread and butter, our founding program, the initiative that gave us life in early 2016, was our Filipino Studies/Civic Engagement Course called the Awareness in Action Program (AAP).

An eight-week, free and community-based course, AAP is interdisciplinary and ties lessons on Filipino language, cultural history, psychology, and community action through a Filipino Communities Project and various etho-exposure tours.  Since 2016, we’ve ran AAP out of AARS-HR 360 on the Eastside of San Jose. #ShoutOutAARSFamily

Our AAP has continues to grow, attracting not just high school aged youth, college students, and young adults, but families from across the South Bay region.

It wasn’t until earlier this year that we noticed an upward trend. 

Our summer 2018 AAP received 6 sign ups from distance learners:  one from Ohio, one from Pennsylvania, and three from the East Bay.  Not to mention, our 16 in-person participants.

Bootstrapping all the way, we offered live streaming, hosted weekly Google Hangouts, and shared our learning materials virtually with our distance learners.

With half of our AAP organizing team hailing from the East Bay, coupled with the increasing interest in our program, we made the decision to expand our summer AAP to the East Bay!

Through the gracious support and sponsorship of Filipino Advocates for Justice, we will excitedly begin running our program in Union City this summer 2019.

The East Bay expansion will be led by: Celeste Francisco, Michelle Nelmida, and Jeren Penalosa.  Our San Jose team will be led by:  Tyrell Malonzo, James Binauhan, and Karen Manalac.

Meet the 2019 Fly Pinays Team!

Our Annual Fly Pinays program is a p-r-o-d-u-c-t-i-o-n that begins nearly eight months in advance, and entirely the end-result of volunteer leadership, capacity, and vision.  Primarily run and owned by college students and young adults from the South Bay Area, the work of Fly Pinays simply wouldn’t exist without the bold vision of our volunteer organizers. Bound by a commitment to bringing something special and distinct to our community and locked in shared conviction in its purpose: elevating and putting our community on. 


Marissa Martinez
Program Director
Alma Mater: Santa Clara University

About me:  Marissa is creative writer and advocate for youth and the arts, was born and raised in East San Jose. She writes plays and poetry inspired by her life as well as the lives of her close friends, family, and community.

Fave Filipino Dish?  Tocilog!

Fave Movie?  Moana

Why I’m involved with Fly Pinays.  I want to help create a space for fellow Filipinas to connect and thrive. Plus, I feel so empowered being surrounded by driven, successful Pinays!

Mentee Co-Director
Alma Mater: San Jose State University

About me: I’m from LA but love living in the Bay! I have my BA in Psychology from SJSU and hope to be going to grad school soon (-:

Fave Filipino Dish? My mom’s Sinigang na Hipon

Fave Movie? A Cinderella Story

Why I’m involved with Fly Pinays. I’m involved with Fly Pinays because I want to help young Pinays not feel restricted when it comes to choosing their career path. I want to help provide resources they didn’t realize they had.

Mentee Co-Director
Current: San Jose State University


About me:  I am a fourth year at San Jose state university majoring in public health and double minoring in Asian American Studies and Psychology. I love reading and have been reading a lot of Pilipino/Pilipino American books or books by Pin@y authors or books with historical context/social justice. One of my goals this year is to learn Tagalog and I’ve been watching a lot of Filipino shows/movies to help aid my quest in learning.

Fave Filipino Dish?  I love Diniguan. I know people are turned off by it being pork blood but I love the taste!

Fave Movie?  The Hate U Give. A super powerful movie/book that showcases a lot of experiences I may never face because of the color of my skin.

Why I’m involved with Fly Pinays.  I love that Pinay students like myself can connect with Pinays already in their own work profession. As a first generation college student, I found it hard trying to understand preparation for interviews or even opportunities in my career path. I love that Fly Pinays can bring so many womxn together in one day to lift each other up and feel empowered.


Social Media & Publicity Director
Alma Mater: UC Davis
About me:   I’m the Social Media/Publicity Director for this year’s Fly Pinays Leadership Summit! With my background in Design and Digital Media from UC Davis and as founder of the Brown Papaya magazine, I hope to bring a fresh exciting look and feel to this year’s 3rd Fly Pinays!
Fave Filipino Dish?  Tosilog.
Fave Movie?
Why I’m involved with Fly Pinays.  I was a mentee at the first ever Fly Pinays and felt this overwhelming sense of empowerment being among older Pinay womxn in their professional fields. As the oldest sister, I never had an Ate figure, so it was incredibly refreshing to have that space freshly out of college. I volunteered the year after, and continue to help out now with social media/publicity!


Fundraising & Mentor Director
Current: University of Southern California
About me: 
I’m a music-collecting, black t-shirt sporting, politics-following, sleepy iPhone-aficionado, with a love for travel, fervent conversation, and a great cup of cafecito.

Fave Filipino Dish? Pssh, bistek…one day later.

Fave Movie?  Coco!  Cried the second it started.
Why I’m involved in Fly Pinays. To contribute and give to a cause much larger, deeper, and broader than myself.  We saw and felt the need in our community and brought Fly Pinays to the South Bay; the program grows because it’s supported by shared belief in its importance — the importance of building sisterhood and forging connections that’ll transform and leave us better than we were.

Volunteer Director
Alma Mater: San Jose State University
About me:  My name is Katrina Figueroa! I recently graduated from SJSU with a political science major & human rights minor.  In my free time I’m either at the gym, playing video games, training my puppy, or at the movies.

Fave Filipino Dish?  I love everything my mom cooks so it’s hard to pick one.

Fave Movie?  I go to the movies almost every weekend so it’s hard to pick just one favorite. But I’m obsessed with the marvel franchise & Legally Blonde, haha.

Why I’m involved in Fly Pinays.  I love that it gives a space for women to network and attend workshops to develop their professional career. It also gives them an opportunity to learn more about their Filipina identity. I attended last year and I found is very empowering so I’m excited to be a part of the team that will put it all together.

Assistant Program Director
Current: San Jose State University
About me:  I’m currently a third-year college student at San Jose State University, majoring in Communication Studies with a minor in Sociology. Aside from being on the planning committee for Fly Pinays, I’m also an organizer for LEAD Filipino and active in my Filipino-American organization on campus. My hobbies include bullet journaling, exercising, and singing in the shower.
Fave Filipino Dish? Ginataang Hipon with Kalabasa and Sitaw.
Fave Movie?  A Walk to Remember

Why I’m involved in Fly Pinays.  I love how the summit ties in culture and sisterhood. Growing up, I never had a safe community of women to share experiences with, so planning an event that’s centered on Pinay experiences is really fulfilling.

Workshop Director
Current: San Jose State University
About me: 
I am a graduating senior majoring in Social Work at San Jose State University and an intern for Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence. In my spare time, I like to sleep, watch shows, (attempt to) play ukulele, and work out.
Fave Filipino Dish? Sinigang
Fave Movie?  Whiplash
Why I’m involved in Fly Pinays.  To support and uplift my community! We Pinays deserve to find mentorship and feel empowered.

Current: De Anza College
About me:  I was born in Cebu, Philippines. Currently a full-time student at De Anza College  pursuing a degree in psychology and also captain of Women’s Basketball team.
Fave Filipino Dish?  Tocilog
Fave Movie?  Lilo & Stitch
Why I’m involved in Fly Pinays.  My involvement in Fly Pinays as an intern is an opportunity in itself to connect with other strong filipina women and to follow the steps of my Nanay! Being part of this experience I hope to grow as a community leader and to develop my capacity to be able to become a mentor in the future!

Row of 106.1 KMEL to be at 3rd Annual Fly Pinays!


Announcement:  We’re so excited to share that Row of 106.1 KMEL will be joining our list of guest speakers at our 3rd Annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit!  Row will address our crowd of ~150 women and girls on Saturday, March 23rd at Mission College.

About: Row is a Radio Personality on 106.1 KMEL. She currently has a podcast called “100 Proof Radio” with co-host G-Biz of the Sana G Morning Show – available at, iTunes, iHeartRadio app, and Spreaker. She will also be launching a new podcast “Row After Dark” this Spring 2019, which will be available across the same platforms. Her passion for music, Hip-Hop culture, and radio has helped her make a name for herself within the industry – and she’s just getting started. Catch this Fly Pinay at our 3rd Annual!

Be sure to keep checking back for updates on our guest speakers and featured workshops!

Recap: Fly Pinays Retreat (1.13.19)

When we retell the story and the journey of each year’s Fly Pinays, we stretch our memories of the laughter, bonds, and last-minute-panic-scramble-runs-to-the-store-to-grab-a-forgotten-item back several months.

The community planning, that’s characterized best by student and young adult leadership, starts the fall of the preceding year.  It truly takes special people to commit of themselves in their talent, treasure, and time, to produce a two-series Fly Pinays program each spring for our region.

While our first meeting was last November, we had our visioning and strategy retreat this past Sunday at Google. Shout outs to Advisor Bautista for hosting us at her home base.

Joined by pizza, salad, home-made pancit, and great company, our team spent an afternoon sharing their goals for their respective Director positions, receiving a training on fundraising, and learning the ropes of their roles from their predecessors.

Needless to say, after our calendaring session of must-dos and release dates, our 3rd Annual Fly Pinays team is off to the races!

Stay tuned, and follow our journey on IG: LEAD_Filipino

Recap: Advocacy Day Training (1.11.19)

Last Friday, Jan. 11th, several members of our Education and Civic Engagement teams spent the day at UC Davis, with our partners at the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, in a deep discussion and training for our first [Filipino/a Legislative Advocacy Day] in Sacramento, planned for later this spring.

This Advocacy Day has been a long-time coming, and one that is being planned with consideration, thought, analysis, and most importantly — our community’s voices.

If you all remember, our organization co-spearheaded execution of last Fall’s Filipino Policy Symposium at UC Davis, where we featured speakers such as Genevieve Jopanda (with now, Treasurer Ma’s office), Appointments Secretary Mona Pasquil, Commissioners Austin and Villavicencio, nonprofit leaders Terry Valen and Angelica Cabande, and many more educators and activists.  Most especially, this Symposium engaged its participants — over 20 Filipino grassroots and nonprofit organizations and 80 community members — in “policy advocacy talks” on interests of public issues: Immigration, Workers and Women’s Rights, Housing, Education, Justice/Prison Reform, and Small Business Ownership. The list was endless…and we loved it.

The outcome of the Symposium was clear. 

We, and the Bulosan Center, would take our community’s feedback, experiences, and concerns, to the drawing board and sketch out our Advocacy Day in Sacramento, to show that the largest API community in California, is here to stay and most saliently, listening and observing.

During our training, we covered the basics on everyone’s mind:

  • We answered why we’re hosting an Advocacy Day.
  • We re-shared the goals of the Advocacy Day.
  • We provided the who within the Advocacy Day.
  • After the basics, we dove into providing a deeper view into Sacramento: our new Governor, bills that we will advocate on related to Ethnic Studies and Human Issues, and newly elected leaders that we could ask to support these efforts.

We look forward to continuing this work with — and for — the community.

The next training is scheduled for March.  We hope you’ll join us!

LEAD Filipino