JFAV Updates

May 30, 2016


By Alejandra Sanchez

I worked with Joe at the People’s CORE (Community Organization for Reform and Empowerment) for 7 years of my life. Joe hired me 3different times. I started out as CO (Community Organizer); I wasResource Development Person; was a member of the Board at one time and then became Project Coordinator.

Working at P-CORE was the vehicle for major turning points and momentous occasions in my life. I became pregnant with my son while working there and took a year and a half off for leave to be with my son and raise him firsthand, instead of allowing a stranger to do it. Joe supported that. When I came back,

I often brought my baby to the office with me, working part time until I left P-CORE to be a Union Organizer and applied all the invaluable strategies I had learned from Joe to union organizing: his revolutionary organizing model that emphasized bottom-up people-centered needs assessment, a consistent practice of self-reflection and community feedback (Criticism-Self Criticism),connecting every struggle–from tobacco use to workers rights to roach-infested housing–to corporate greed, global concerns, and anti-imperialism, and always embedded with a solid socioeconomicpolitical analysis that called for real and lasting change.

PCORE Awarded

Joe’s community organizing model is one that every service  provider community org in Filipinotown now emulates, but he is often not given his credit due because he shared his wide expanse of knowledge with everyone freely.

The third time I came back to P-CORE was a bit different. I remember crying in his office with the big window–that overlooked Beverly Blvd.–,large pictures of his dog, Revo, and huge stuffed teddy bear, telling Joe that I was in a bad situation.

He did not hesitate to tell me right then and there that I had a job at P-CORE if I wanted it. It had been 7 years since I had worked for him. I accepted his offer and worked for him for 3 more years.

For myself and many who loved him, Joe was above all KIND. And so generous. The entire time I worked at P-CORE he paid for every staff member’s lunch almost everyday. And he saved me, more than once.

It is because of Joe that I, a single mother and survivor of abuse was able to attain both my Bachelors and Masters degrees. As an educator, social justice informs everything I do–this has so much to do with Joe.

It is also because of Joe’s support that I have raised a beautiful young man, my son Geronimo, who is now going off to college at UC Riverside.

If you needed Joe, he was there. No question and no harsh judgement most of the time–if he did, his questions and judgement were critical and expansive, prodding you to ask deep, introspective questions that galvanized profound personal change.

Yes, Joe made me cry more than once, but he also hugged me and told me he loved me. And I loved him too. He was one of the fathers I’ve collected over the years.

There have not been many, but Joe was especially special because he was Filipino and through him I was able to connect with that essential part of myself that was missing because I have never known my Filipino father. Through Joe, words like “kasama” and “maganda” and rallying chants like, “Makibaka!/ Huwag matakot!” graced my tongue and

I felt a connection to my lost family. And in many ways he was myfamily. Those first years at P-CORE, Tomeka, Joe, Al, and myself had lunch together every day.PCORE1998

Often at Al’s mom’s house, or at Joe’sapartment behind the Concordia’s, or at Lalee’s, or the manygrassroots people’s organizations that Joe–the charismatic,powerhouse organizer– had initiated under the auspices of the
East/West Community Partnership and maintained under the People’s CORE and the umbrella organization of Asian stakeholders in LA organized by Joe, Alyansa ng Komunidad (Community Alliance) or AK.

Joe really loved his clever acronyms. There was SI for social investigation, PO for people’s organization, PEPSI for preliminary economic political social investigation, and of course CORE.

During those times at P-CORE, all the staff went to each of our family parties, and celebrated all of our birthdays together. We were very close.

Joe took me to my first rally, spoke to me my first Tagalog words, and took me to eat my first Filipino food. Everywhere we went to eat in Filipinotown it seemed like everyone knew him and loved him.

At first I thought they treated him like a kind of boss, don, or royalty. But later I realized that what I saw was a deep gratitude for a man who had most likely helped them in some way. And above all, he listened. As an organizer, counselor, boss and friend, Joe was an active listener.

JoeNav2016I think because he listened so well and with genuine concern, that people responded to him and respected him greatly.
When he asked me to go to the Philippines,

I wish I could have gone as planned but sometimes life intervenes on plans and I stayed home to care for my newborn son instead.

I wish so much that I could’ve seen him before he passed on.To hughim again and tickle him (he enjoyed being tickled and would gigglewildly and jump away nimbly, laughing). I wish I could’ve taken morepictures with him and seen him dance again, switching his hips backand forth, while he smiled maniacally.

Yes, Joe was hilarious, quirky, and idiosyncratic. He made everyone around him laugh and when he mentored you, you felt the world get smaller and you felt so special.

He was an amazing, one-of-a-kind-once-in-a-lifetime man whoseinfluence was so far-reaching, whose inspiration still sparks socialchange here and abroad, and whose legacy lives forever.Good night, Joe–beautiful mentor, benefactor, revolutionary leader, boss, and friend.

February 2, 1948 – April 22, 2016


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