The 2019 Filipino Policy Platform

On September 29th, 2018, LEAD Filipino with support from the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies hosted its first annual Civic Leadership Forum: Filipino Community Policy Symposium. Together, they gathered over one hundred participants consisting of community organizers, elected officials, and policy experts to facilitate the discussion of political issues directly affecting the Filipino community.


LEAD Filipino and the Bulosan Center helped synthesize the discussions and findings within the symposium into a California state-wide policy platform focused on eight major areas: Gender Justice, Housing, Health, Community Development and Small Businesses, Immigration, Workers Rights, Human Rights and Criminal Justice, and Education. This platform shares the lived realities experienced by the California Filipino population and their proposed policy recommendations. The 2019 Filipino Policy Platform can be utilized by policy makers, community based organizations, and the larger public as an educational resource to develop policies and further engagement with the Filipino community.

Although the platform is separated into eight categories and focused specifically on the Filipino population, the Bulosan Center recognizes that many of the issues discussed below impact one another and are not unique to only the Filipino community. The following recommendations can also be linked to advancing the rights and welfare of various other marginalized populations.

  • Gender Justice
  • Our focus on gender justice relates to those who identify as Filipina, gender non-conforming, and LGBTQQIA+. Due to stigma, poor media representation, and a lack of education around women and LGBTQQIA issues, many Pilipinx community members have been impacted by low self esteem, mental health issues, and exclusion from the larger community. Major issues include vulnerability to human trafficking and sexual assault, and challenges in accessing health care and employment with sufficient benefits and wages. These issues connect to human rights abuses in the Philippines such as with cases like the murder of Jennifer Laude, a transgender Filipina sex worker who was killed by a US military officer. BCFS proposes the following recommendations: The passing and state-wide implementation of Ethnic Studies curriculum that includes education around gender and LGBTQQIA+ issues. The funding and state-wide implementation of disaggregated research infrastructures to understand gender and sexuality in the Pilipinx community. Representation of the Filipina and Pilipinx LGBTQQIA+ community in the media and in political bodies such as health commissions. Comprehensive funding from private, community, and governmental sources towards services and programs focused on the Filipina and Pilipinx LGBTQQIA+communities. Increased education in the larger Filipino community about Filipina and Pilipinx LGBTQQIA+ issues. Trauma-informed policies and programs for those impacted by human trafficking and sexual assault.
  • Housing, Homelessness, Gentrification
  • Across California, communities are being impacted by the housing crisis through displacement, evictions, and homelessness. Advocates in the San Francisco Bay Area noted the rise of gentrification in low income neighborhoods, the skyrocketing rent increases, and how rent control serves as a “lifeline” for families to afford a place to live. Those living in the Central Valley and greater Sacramento area are experiencing the consequences of this outward migration from the Bay Area, driving up local rental fees. In Southern California, one in three renters in Los Angeles are severely cost burdened (Joint Center for Housing Studies 2017). Additionally, the expensive rental market has also impacted Filipino students across the state. Across the UC and CSU system, Filipino students make up 4.1% of the CSU student population, and 13.4% of the AANHPI population in the UC system (CSU 2015, Campaign for College Opportunity 2015). The trend of homelessness and displacement has been found across campuses with 5% of the UC student population and 10.1% of the CSU student population reporting to have experienced homelessness (UC Global Food Initiative 2017, CSU Basic Needs Initiative 2018). BCFS proposes the following recommendations: The Repeal of the Costa-Hawkins Act. The Creation of a Filipino Policy Network Focused on Housing, Displacement, and Gentrification. Increased funding from the federal, regional, and local level towards student housing, low income and extremely low income housing, eviction control, relocation money, and foreclosure assistance. Increased taxes on large corporations in order to develop revenue for housing assistance programs. More statewide housing policies which address the intraregional effects of displacement on rising housing prices and super commutes. Implementation of the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, or a similar law, within California, which gives tenants the right to purchase the property in which they reside. Developing partnerships between city governments and nonprofits around tenant protections such as the San Francisco Small Sites Program. Increasing the commercial housing linkage fee within for new housing developments in cities. Eviction leave from work for tenants. Tenants should not have to make the choice of whether to go to work or represent themselves in eviction court. Extended voting period for residents who move out of district. The current law allows for residents to vote remotely, if they have a current address in district. A new law would allow residents who move out of district to choose to vote in the district of their previous address for up to 4 years after they move, or when they register to vote at their new address, whichever is sooner.
  • Health
  • Filipinos are one of the largest ethnic groups in California as well as in the United States, yet there is a lack of recent disaggregated data around physical and mental health issues. Due to ideas around the model minority, it is assumed that Asian Americans in general do not experience health disparities, developing a lack of attention towards understanding the health inequalities impacting recently immigrated Asian communities. (NIMHD 2013) For instance, while Filipinos have a higher rate of insurance amongst the AAPINH population, many insurance policies do not cover mental health services. As a result, Filipinos have the least amount of access to mental health programs. In addition, many health programs also lack culturally appropriate services such as language access. Due to current political events, there is also higher rates of suicide in youth, and increased stress due to immigration related threats and gentrification. BCFS proposes the following recommendations: Community-engaged, intergenerational, and culturally appropriate health programs that provide preventative health measures such as emotional support, health screenings, and other services. Implementation of large-scale surveys focused on mental and physical health in the Filipino community. Culturally- appropriate trainings for educators, social workers, and counselors to better serve youth and other community members with mental health issues. Creation of a mental health network for the Filipino population to destigmatize mental health.
  • Community Development & Small Businesses
  • After the 2008 Great Recession, the Filipino population suffered the most foreclosures due to the deregulation of the housing financial market. With the onset of displacement, gentrification, and immigration related threats, the Filipino community has been utilizing small businesses and civic engagements as modes for community development. For Filipino small businesses, there is a dearth of funding, education, and mentorship in growing their businesses. In addition, there is also a lack of financial literacy and education. BCFS proposes the following recommendations: Increased community-based financial education within the Filipino community and other marginalized communities. Financial education would include business literacy, cash management, and other basics that bridge the gap between personal finance and a disciplined business financial strategy. Investment from large companies to reduce their impact on the local real estate market, increase transparency in their funding, and develop transportation and infrastructure. Creation of a Filipino Small Business Network for mentorship and education in creating new businesses. Existing business networks tend to be focused on specific trades or age groups, but very little is available for small businesses. Regular assessments of city planners and transit officials in community infrastructure.
  • Immigration
  • The United States is home to largest number of Filipinos abroad, with estimates of 1.9 million to 3.2 million Filipinos living in the country (Migration Policy Institute 2016, Commission of Filipinos Overseas 2015). Beginning with the transfer of the Philippines from Spanish to US colonization in the early 1900s, the mass influx of Filipino migration to the United States started with Filipinos becoming cheap migrant labor for US agriculture, canneries, and plantations. Throughout the 1900s and 2000s, there have been increased waves of migration of not only low wage workers, but also professionals, veterans, and petitioned families post-1965 immigration laws. Currently, Filipinos continue to migrate with many as low-wage workers for US industries with undocumented and temporary visa statuses. According to the Department of Homeland Security, there is an estimated 310,000 undocumented Filipinos in the US. Major trends impacting Filipino immigrants include tago ng tago, the cultural stigma of being undocumented; the rise of Filipinas being forced to migrate from Philippines; deportation and detention; and labor trafficking. BCFS recommends the following: Education around immigration policies, workers rights, and migrant rights from community-based organizations, and from the Philippine and United States government. Development of Rapid Response Networks and other community networks for protection from detention and deportations. Legislation to hold recruitment agencies and predatory loan companies accountable for debt bondage and labor trafficking; increased oversight from the Philippine and US government on labor recruitment processes; and funding for overseas protection and services for Filipino migrant workers. Legislation to defund the Department of Homeland Security and the US Immigration Customs and Enforcement, and transfer funds to social policies such as education and health care. Increased funding for dignified employment and infrastructure in the Philippines to curb forced migration and bolster community-led development in the country.
  • Human Rights
  • Issues of militarization, criminalization, and other human rights abuses widely affect the Filipino community not only in the United States, but in the Philippines and abroad. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Asians makeup 1.5% of the United States prison population, yet this number does not accurately portray the disproportionate criminalization of the Southeast Asian community nor does it reflect the numbers of those in state prisons and immigrant detention centers. (FBP 2018) Major trends include lack of support after re-entry and the model minority myth as one of the causes as to why Filipinos and AAPINH populations are overlooked when it comes to mass incarceration and receiving proper support when they are incarcerated. Globally, Filipinos are also impacted by the human rights violations in the Philippines and abroad due in part by US Military Aid to the Philippine government. These violations include the Duterte administration’s War on Drugs, the criminalization of Filipino migrant workers, the extra-judicial killings of activists, and the militarization of indigenous groups. Solutions Network of Resources, Legal Organizations, and Community Organizations focused on re-entry, criminal law, and immigration law. Defunding governmental departments and programs responsible for domestic and foreign militarization and weapons transfers. Stand in solidarity with movements for Black lives, native and indigenous communities, and marginalized peoples. Increase funding and services for veterans and their families, including Filipino veterans.
  • Education
  • In 2016, California passed a state law encouraging high schools to recommend Ethnic Studies electives and to create a model curriculum by 2020. Ethnic minorities account for 71% of the student population, and studies have proved that culturally relevant studies increase youth empowerment, political and social awareness, attendance, and GPA increases (Stanford-SFUSD 2016). In addition, AB 123 was passed in 2013 to include the histories of Filipino farm workers in the state’s curriculum. Although California has made strides in education, only 1% of California’s student population takes Ethnic Studies courses. Implementation and funding are still major issues as well as difficulties in accessing student counseling and mental health services. BCFS recommends the following: Development of trainings for parents, educators, school administrations, and district officials around the implementation of Ethnic Studies curriculum. Conscious local implementation and state funding towards a K - 12 Ethnic Studies curriculum. Funding towards teachers salaries, mental health services, and student counselors. Statewide legislation for Ethnic Studies courses to be a high school graduation requirement. Creation of sustainable programs to develop a pipeline of well trained Ethnic Studies teachers.
  • Worker's Rights
  • In the Filipino community, workers’ rights issues are intimately tied to issues of gender-based discrimination and immigration. Advocates have noted the feminization of migration to the United States, where primarily Filipinas are used as low-wage labor in industries such as home health care, nursing, domestic work, and teaching. Workers experience human rights violations such as threats of deportation, debt bondage, trafficking, wage theft, and sexual assault due in part to the isolation of these industries and lack of legal protections. For those in unionized workplaces, the recent Janus v. AFSCME ruling states that non union workers cannot be forced to pay fees to public sector unions, deeply affecting unions’ ability to collectively bargain for better working conditions. Public services unions include unions for nurses and child care providers, where 20% of all registered nurses in California are Filipinos (2013). Solutions City, County, and State-Wide Legislation to combat wage theft and develop protections for domestic workers and agricultural workers. This can include the passing of local wage theft ordinances to revoke licenses from businesses engaging in wage theft as well as an enforcement of the CA Domestic Workers’ Bill of RIghts. Statewide level Ethnic Studies curriculum, such as AB 123, to educate youth and students around workers rights. Statewide level legislation that counteracts Janus vs. AFSCME ruling and protects the right to collective bargaining.