Daily Archives: December 9, 2016

Redefine the Model Minority, Instead Be a Model for the Minority


December 09, 2016

Redefine the Model Minority, Instead Be a Model for the Minority

Trisha Erika Pamplona

Professor Tanaka

Intro to Asian Pac. Am. Studies

7 December 2016

Asian Americans tend to be complacent in political or social situations. It is common for the Asian American community to be silent within those circumstances. Additionally it is rare for Asian American groups as a whole to campaign in solidarity (especially when those issues do not revolve around the Asian community). However throughout my interview with Arturo Garcia, he expresses the importance of our Asian identities and why our community should be active in these said occurrences.

Born and raised in the Philippines, Arturo Garcia frequently experienced political and social injustices. He explained that what initially encouraged his activism work was his family. Garcia reveals that

“[my] family was political family. That is why our family has a very good tradition of serving the people or serving the community. That is why I was trained. Not only was it a tradition but I was brought to the life of serving others.”

There is rarely a time where Garcia isn’t marching on the streets. He has spent a significant amount of his time dedicated to advocating for social and political justices like immigration rights. He was also one of the founders of Justice for Filipino American Veterans and is currently the national coordinator. JFAV is an organization centered on World War II Filipino American veterans who were not compensated or acknowledged for serving in the war. The need for justice in the Filipino American community started on

“…December 7, 1993. They launched a political movement and the first political demonstrations have been in Los Angeles. More than six hundred veterans powered for equity and justice so they can be recognized as American veterans. Because the sad part is that out of the sixty-six nationalities that fought for America, it was only the Filipinos who were not recognized. That means they were not treated as American veterans, they called them Filipino veterans.”

He has devoted majority of his life to social and political activism both in America and the Philippines. JFAV is just one of the instances of both Filipino and American affairs.

He then correlated his activism work with racial identity and the significance that our Asian roots have on us as individuals. Garcia described how the model minority is one of the main influences of why Asian Americans are dormant in situations of injustices. He explicates that “[they] want to isolate themselves away from the society, [they] don’t care. That’s what we call a neutral attitude. But when you choose that, you have committed yourself to the status quo.”

By remaining idle in political or social occurrences, individuals have already fell victim to the oppressors. Asian Americans who fall under the model minority feel as if they are not as affected in issues within other marginalized groups. However although Asian Americans are perceived to acquire socioeconomic success above other ethnicity groups, they cannot socially be accepted as fully “American” (or at least will remain socially subordinate to white people). The myth treats Asian Americans as a homogeneous and monolithic entity. The model minority for Asian Americans create difficulties with identifying selfhood. It develops divisions between minority and majority groups because Asian American cannot identify themselves in either or.

Especially within the Filipino community, identity is an issue. The Philippines were periodically colonized therefore their culture presently is influenced by other countries. It is rare to indicate what is the initial origin of what was the Filipino culture as it was destroyed through colonization. Filipino culture is unique as it a combination of colonial occupations and mass migrations. The Philippines is a polyglot and heterogeneous society. Garcia also includes that the Philippines is a “cross-cultural exchange between [their] neighbors.”

However, Filipinos felt that they were more exposed to western culture because of their relations with America and Europe. Therefore believed that they strongly shared similarities. That is also why Garcia did not experience culture shock immigrating to America. Western adoption is highly encouraged, for example it is also an indication (or even a privilege) of the wealthy in the Philippines. Garcia implies that the exposure to the mass amount of cultures causes this identity crisis because it results in a clash of cultures. He states that Filipino Americans always question their identity, “am I an American? Am I a Filipino? It is common in subjugated nations [to do this].”

Generally Asian Americans question their individuality because they are can not solely identify with being Asian and with being American (as exemplified through the model minority). Rather than treating one another as different entities, he urges everyone to embrace both identities in harmony. He reiterates the relevance that identity has and continues to encourage others to embody their cultures especially among the youth.

He explains that these social and political matters also apply to the Asian American community. Although we are socially defined by the model minority we are still marginalized by an oppressive system therefore are also affected. Arturo declares that

“[he] cannot commit to the status quo. [He] cannot endure oppression. [He] cannot endure systematic racism, that people will look down on you because you are Asian. No! We are all made to be equal. We’re all humans. So why should we be a part of the oppressive system?”

The Asian American community tends to stay segregated within their own own racial parties. There are few instances (like the LA Riots 1992) where Asian American unite in unanimity. Garcia commends that “it is our duty as Filipinos to help our fellow Filipinos. But not only Filipinos, we should express solidarity with all oppressed people of color.”

As a second generation American there is a strong pressure to assimilate to western ideals therefore I am disconnected to my Filipino heritage. This disharmony between the differing cultures have made it difficult to define who I am as a person. However as I am significantly older now, I’d like to believe that I am similar to a mosaic work of art. Each piece not only are equally essential beings but also contribute to a bigger picture, my identity.  Additionally, I am created by a legacy of survival. My existence is conceived by my ancestors’ endeavors. I respect my people’s values not only how it was cultivated but also what it can become. Garcia is an example of two cultures being united in integrity. Not only through embracing his heritage but also applying it to social and political injustices. He believes that

“when [he] pledged allegiance to the United States, [he is] an American citizen. But [he’s] still a Filipino by heart. So [he] will combine that. As an American, [he has] a duty to uphold the democratic principles of the United States. That’s what [he] swore as an American citizen.”

That is why he is earnestly engaged within activism because of what our government and society ideals embody or more of what they should embody. Individuals like Arturo Garcia leave a legacy to the Asian American community, which is where my footsteps will follow


Works Cited

Garcia A. (2016, December 1). Interviewed by T. Pamplona (Phone recording). Introduction to

Asian Pacific American Studies Oral History Report.









For Immediate Release
December 8, 2016

DEFEND HUMAN RIGHTS: INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY MARKED-US WIDE.15232186_10208859863868460_4949690018749180156_n

Los Angeles- Uphold Human Rights, Defend Human Rights!

This was the call of different human rights organizations and their allies as they commemorate the International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2016 in the different cities of the United States.

These in the face of the widespread human rights violations in the Philippines and different parts of the world.

More than 5,882 extra judicial killings has been committed in the Philippines since May 2016 when PRRD assumed power.

West Coast15181517_10208056067664806_8134347330207195657_n

—In Los Angeles- the Kabataang maka-Bayan (KmB) marks their 17th Anniversary on December 10, 2016 at 6:00 PM at the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC), 153 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026.

KmB was founded on November 30, 1999 and it will also mark the International Human Rights Day (IHR) in solidarity with the people of the Philippines who are fighting widespread human rights violations in the face of escalating extra-judicial killings ( EJK’s) in the Philippines by the Duterte police state.

— Also in Los Angeles, another event, HIMIG PASKO is being held on December 10, 2016 from 2PM to 5 PM at the Celebrity Center International., 5390 Franklin Ave. Hollywood, CA 90028

The event is sponsored by the Philippines Institute for Language, Arts and Culture (PILAC) and the United Nations For Human Rights (UNHR) to mark International human Rights Day.

Other IHR Commemorative Events15284967_10208966520932968_5357779205953715625_n

– In San Francisco Bay Area, STOP THE KILLINGS IN THE PHILIPPINES END IMPUNITY Prayer service will be held on December 11, 2016 from 10:30 AM will be held at the United Methodist Church of Daly City at 1474 South Gate, Ave, Daly City, CA 94015.

The service will be led by Pastor Rev. Israel Alvaran and Rev. Dr. Ben Silva-Netto. The Filipino American Human Rights Alliance (FAHRA) is leading the event.

–In Chicago, Illinois, STAND UP FOR SOMEONE”S RIGHTS TODAY on December 10, 2016 will be held at the Rizal Center, 1332 W. Irving Park, Chicago, Illinois on December 10, 2016 from 2 to 5 PM (CST)

The event in the Mid-West United States is led by the Chicago Human Rights Advocates Convenors and different groups.