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Thriving in the City That Never Sleeps: The Rich Culture & Contributions of Filipinos Living in NYC


Filipinos have been living in New York for over a century, and their presence in the city has only grown stronger over the years. Today, New York is home to one of the largest Filipino populations in the United States, with an estimated 100,000 Filipinos residing in the city. Allow me to explore the history of Filipinos in New York and their impact on the city.


Filipinos first arrived in New York City in the early 1900s, mainly as sailors on American ships. They settled in neighborhoods like Harlem and the Lower East Side, where they formed small communities and found work in various industries, including healthcare, hospitality, and domestic work. In the 1940s, a large number of Filipinos migrated to the city as part of the United States' colonial relationship with the Philippines, which lasted until 1946.


Today, Filipinos in New York are a diverse community, with different cultural backgrounds and experiences. They have established vibrant communities in neighborhoods like Woodside, Jackson Heights and Elmhurst in Queens, where Filipino-owned businesses and restaurants abound. Some of the most popular Filipino restaurants in New York include Tito Rad's, Ihawan, and Pig and Khao. New restaurants like Filipiniana, Fiestambayan, Kalye Bistro, Dollar Hits and Little Manila Grill.


Filipinos in New York have also made significant contributions to the city's culture and arts scene. Many Filipino-American artists, writers, and musicians have gained recognition for their work, including Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Bruno Mars.


Despite their contributions, Filipinos in New York still face challenges, including discrimination and lack of representation in politics and media. In recent years, the Filipino community has advocated for their rights and visibility through grassroots organizing and political campaigns.


One notable example is the successful campaign to rename a street in Woodside, Queens, to "Little Manila" in honor of the neighborhood's Filipino community. The renaming was the result of years of activism by community leaders and organizations, who saw it as a way to celebrate Filipino culture and history and to increase visibility for the community.


One of the challenges that Filipinos in New York face is immigration. Many Filipinos come to the United States on work visas, but the immigration process can be long and difficult, leaving many Filipino families separated for years. The Trump administration's policies on immigration also had a significant impact on the Filipino community, with many families facing deportation and uncertainty about their future in the United States.


In response to these challenges, Filipino organizations in New York have worked to provide resources and support for the community. For example, the Filipinos of NY with more than 24,000 active members helping Kababayans (fellow Filipino) how to thrive in America, the Filipino-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (FALDEF) provides legal services and advocacy for Filipino immigrants facing deportation. Other organizations, such as the Philippine Forum and the Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro) and Damayan for Migrant Workers, provide community organizing and support for Filipino youth and families.


Filipino-Americans in New York have also been active in advocating for social justice and racial equity. The Black Lives Matter movement has been supported by many Filipinos in New York, who see the fight for racial justice as connected to their own struggles for equality and representation. The movement has also led to increased solidarity between the Filipino and Black communities, as they work together to address systemic racism and police brutality.


In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the Filipino community in New York. Filipinos make up a significant portion of the city's essential workers, including healthcare workers and caregivers, putting them at higher risk of contracting the virus. The pandemic has also led to a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, with many Filipinos experiencing discrimination and harassment.


Despite these challenges, Filipinos in New York continue to thrive and make important contributions to the city's culture and economy. Their rich history and vibrant community are an essential part of New York's diverse and dynamic identity. As the city continues to grow and change, it's clear that the Filipino community will remain an integral part of its future.


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