Is anyone shocked to see how upwardly mobile the Fil-Am community has been over the last 20 years, maybe 30 years? Long ago, there used to be an offensive joke that if you looked up “Filipina” in the American dictionary, the definition would say “domestic helper.” Now that seems ridiculous. In my everyday life, I don’t run into Filipinos in low skilled jobs. I run into them as teachers, doctors, nurses, and accountants. I see them in the real estate business, at banks, and at tech firms. On occasion, there’s a new Filipino billionaire at the helm of a hot IPO. And there’s Bruno Mars, Apl.de.ap, and the former Miss Universe. At the firm where I work, there are four Filipinos in a 25 person office—two are technologists, one is in finance, and there’s me. All this might be anecdotal, but I don’t think I need to pore through a pound of statistics to make the point that Filipinos living in the US are doing better today than they were two decades ago.
I can only guess at the causes. When we immigrated (or your ancestors immigrated), you had to cross an ocean to get here and likely came from an advantaged demographic that probably had a superior command of the English language, a higher appetite for risk, and a high regard for education and self improvement. As a former US colony, we were already familiar in fundamental ways with American culture. So when the dictatorial barrier crumbled 31 years ago, we had a cultural gap to close but we closed it quickly.
This generation of Fil-Am millennials blends effortlessly into general America. Couple this with the ascent of multiculturalism during the
This begs the question: where is our Fil-Am subculture headed? Manila is 6,963 miles away and fitting in here so well makes the motherland that much easier to forget, especially for the young people who may not have a tangible memory of the things that bind us to home. Will we ultimately blend into the vast non-tribal America just like the Dutch, Germans, Irish and English? Or can we maintain a living connection to our other home like many of our counterparts in the Indian community?
That is the lens through which I view FYLPRO’s Immersion program. Every year, FYLPRO, a non-profit created by former Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia, Jr, Victoria Cuisia, and the Ayala Foundation, select 10 up-and-coming Fil-Am professionals to host on a 7 day tour of the Philippines’ community, government, and business leaders. The program aims to elevate the Philippine brand but what it really achieves, perhaps inadvertently, is a means to strengthen the ties the emerging Fil-Am youth will have with our native country. These efforts serve to cement the bond between the old country and the US transplants that have settled and assimilated into an American life.
Not only do they want to “recognize the successes of young professionals here,” according to new FYLPRO Boardmember Christina Laskowski (a Filipina) but enable them to “continue their connection to their home country.”
If you know an up-and-coming Filipino or Filipina professional between the ages of 25 and 40 (or if you are that up-and-coming professional) who is interested in solidifying ties to your other home, the deadline to apply for the next batch of delegates is fast approaching. Applications are due at 11:59pm Hawaiian Time on July 7, 2017. The application entails the submission of a resume, 2 letters of recommendation, short responses to 3 questions, and the proposal of a “Legacy Project,” typically a social impact initiative that is rolled out after the immersion program. You will also have to set aside about a week and a half for a trip to Manila from October 7, 2017 to October 14, 2017.
Go to the website fylpro.org to apply. If you are selected, this is a perfect way to launch a philanthropic path that will reengage you with your mother country, an approach that has proven popular with the millennial generation of Fil-Ams. You may make contacts that would last a lifetime and set the stage for Fil-Am success that distinguishes the bonds of our community.