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

Celebrating Angelo Quinto’s Life

On Wednesday, June 23, 2021 we joined hundreds of community members in honoring the life of Angelo Quinto.

His family laid him to rest exactly six months after he succumbed to injuries sustained during his fatal interaction with Antioch police officers. May he finally rest in peace.

However, justice delayed is justice denied.

We continue to hold his family – Tita Cassandra, Tito Robert, Bella, Tita Deanna – in our hands, minds, and hearts. His family knows that they aren’t alone through this tragedy despite being called “liars” by their local Police Officers Association (POA).

Our peaceful assembly ended with with public demands addressed to the Antioch Police Department (APD). We lost Angelo six months ago.

His family still has no answers from the APD. They know what the public knows – what can be searched on Google – and we both know that is morally despicable. Angelo’s family deserves closure – they have the right to know the official cause of his death.

Angelo’s final autopsy report does not list a cause of death. We in the community know that he was killed by the brute force of a knee-to-neck restraint used by the police that night. The same lethal hold that killed George Floyd.

Nothing will bring Angelo back. However, there is respite and power in strategizing and organizing to ensure that no one else succumbs to aimless, depraved, and wicked police violence. Assembly Bill (AB) 49, The Justice for Angelo Quinto Act of 2021 would ban all positional asphyxia in California. Our Coalition continues to drive this state bill through the legislative process, where it is currently being heard in the State Senate Committee process.

Send healers to rehabilitate our communities. Reallocate funding to services that strengthen our social safety net. Believe that most people just want to survive and feel love. Know that we will provide for each other.

Nothing will bring Angelo back to us, but we will continue to advocate and organize through the Justice for Angelo Quinto! Justice for All! Coalition to ensure the passage of AB 490 and prevent future ruthless murders.

Help us pass AB 490 and a series of other police accountability bills in California!

Contact us to receive updates on our future virtual organizing sessions:


Inaugural Queer Lakbay Summit Recap

On the morning of June 19th, 2021 L.E.A.D Filipino held our inaugural Queer Lakbay Summit.

Lakbay was formed as a direct response to the lack of Queer programming specifically made for Filipinas/xs/os in San Jose, CA. With Lakbay coinciding with Juneteenth, we recognized how FilAm community organizing must be done in solidarity with the Black community.

The opening keynote by Eufrosina Gates reminded us that our journeys are not linear, and called us to action in rebuilding systems that have been used to oppress Queer communities of color. Our closing keynote by Dr. Rod Penalosa emphasized preserving our peace and focusing on our mental health. 

Each speaker, workshop facilitator, panelist, and performer brought forth their lakbay (journey) to the event. The summit served as a site for storytelling. “Storytelling is prime technology for transmitting data and is key in changing the hearts and minds of others,” were words shared in Sera Fernando’s workshop. Lakbay offered two other workshops along with Sera’s, led by James Binauhan and Dr. Gel Cortez. Each workshop represented a theme of past, present, or future. The workshops served as an intimate space for participants to learn, bring forth their knowledge, and build with other Queer Filipinas/xs/os. 


  • Bakla – History of Gender Fluidity in the Philippines led by James Binauhan
  • Transgender Liberation – Activism Through Storytelling led by Sera Fernando 
  • Around the Rainbow Table – Queer Identity, Service, & Leadership led by Dr. Gel Cortez

Lakbay included a career panel discussion facilitated by Daniel Lazo. The panel featured Jenelle Borja, Richard Cross, Luzanne Batoon, and Joyce Zara. The panelists spoke about how their Queerness impacts their careers, along with who has been a pivotal part of their personal journeys. We honored the diverse experiences of the four panelists who come from various backgrounds ranging from STEM, to higher education, to birthwork.

To stay connected with us and our Queermmittee, please contact me at


This post was written by L.E.A.D Filipino’s Queermmittee Director, Celeste Francisco.

Welcoming Camille Valerio as Local Policy Organizer

We’re delighted to welcome Camille Valerio as our Local Policy Organizer for this summer. In this capacity, Camille will lead our local Listening and Action Sessions with our San Jose-based community partners and coalition relationships, including managing our work with the South Bay Asian Pacific Islander (API) Justice Coalition and additional local advocacy.

Camille has been organizing with our Annual Fly Pinays since 2018 and was a participant in our 2019 Awareness in Action Program (AAP).

Lightning Questions with Camille:

  1. What is your favorite Filipino food?
    Kare Kare
  2. What is your favorite smartphone app?
  3. What is your favorite movie?
    “Baby Driver”
  4. Favorite music album?
    “Anti-” Rihanna
  5. What book are you currently reading?
    “Monstress” by Lysley Tenorio

Short Bio: Camille (she/her/hers) is a second-generation Pinay born and raised in the Bay Area. She graduated from San Jose State University last spring with a degree in Management Informational Systems. During her time at SJSU she was heavily involved with AkbayanSJSU, where she was introduced to L.E.A.D Filipino’s Annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit. She later jonied the Awareness in Action Program (AAP) in 2019 where she became motivated to be more involved with the organization and joined the Fly Pinays Planning Committee for the 3rd Annual Leadership Summit. Beyond her work with L.E.A.D Filipino, Camille is a digital product and graphic designer. She hopes to combine her passion for community and design to create solutions that will help her address inequity, accessibility, and inclusivity.




Registration is officially live for our summer Awareness in Action Program (AAP)!

LEAD Filipino’s AAP is a 10-week community-based and publicly-accessible Filipino Studies & Civic Activism program that has served hundreds of students and families since 2016.

This summer’s AAP will meet virtually on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 – 8:45 p.m. (PST) beginning on Wednesday, June 23 and ending on Wednesday, August 25, 2021. Your registration fee secures your virtual seat in our summer class and helps support the health of our program.

Upon registering, you will receive access to our virtual classroom, an internal shared drive that holds our literature and videos, and engagement with your classmates from across California and the country.

For the past five years, our AAP has been developed and taught by organizers on our team that have taught in K-12 and higher education settings, have designed curriculum, and carry deep knowledge of social and political issues impacting FilAms and larger Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. Our AAP educators have studied under internationally-known Pinxy scholars, from the University of the Philippines to Asian American and Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University, to working on major civil and human rights campaigns statewide. The blending of our educators’ backgrounds and experiences are brought to the fore in our AAP.

The AAP seeks to create a learning community that centers the voices of our students and families. As a multidisciplinary course, AAP looks at Philippines history, FilAm diasporic experiences, civic activism, socioeconomics, and political education with practical engagement opportunities. This summer’s curriculum will also address the surge in Anti-Asian violence and xenophobia that has acutely plagued our communities since the outbreak of COVID-19. Guest speakers including FilAm nonprofit advocates, historians, and elected officials will join throughout the AAP.

Previously offered in San Jose and Union City, California, LEAD Filipino’s 2020 and 2021 AAP will be offered virtually to audiences across Santa Clara County community and beyond. Read more about our AAP here.

2021 AAP registration is open till June 18. Program begins June 23!

*Limited AAP scholarship opportunities available! Please contact us ASAP.

Questions: and to inquire about our scholarships or ask any questions.