GMA Network, through its flagship international channel GMA Pinoy TV, the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO), and the Philippine Embassy in USA recently came together to host the “Here Now, Hear Now: Confronting anti-Asian Hate” virtual town hall event. This is in support of the #StopAsianHate campaign on condemning acts of racism and discrimination against Asian Americans. It was held last March 26 coinciding with the 231st anniversary of the Naturalization Act of 1790, which is the first written law in the United States that set rules for the granting of US citizenship by naturalization.

As a response to the spike in anti-Asian violence, the 1-hour panel discussion tackled how Asian Americans have been dehumanized for a long time. The panelists shared some scenarios to understand how the recent attacks against Asians and Asian Americans are a recurring theme in America. GMA News pillar and veteran journalist Howie Severino said that this pressing issue has been a concern to all Filipinos back in the Philippines as some of their relatives are OFWs working in the U.S.

“GMA Pinoy TV stands with FYLPRO and the Philippine Embassy in the US in expressing solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities to call an end to hate crimes. We are indeed #StrongerTogether as we support the continuing struggle towards respect and recognition in multicultural America,” said GMA International First Vice President and Head of Operations Joseph T. Francia.

The Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez assured that his office is doing the best it can to address the problem. “We will continue to do what we can and informing the authorities here in Washington D.C. especially paying attention to the kind of hate crimes that are being committed. We’re going to have a meeting with the White House and we have all collectively agreed that we are going to enforce,” said the ambassador.

Ambassador Romualdez also advised Filipinos in the U.S. to refrain from engaging with attackers. Instead, he encouraged them to use mobile phones to gather evidence of the attack. “Try to take a photo as quickly as possible, but do not confront them because they could turn violent. Actually, when you report it to the authorities, they can immediately identify them at least from the video, and that they will be able to use this as evidence. Again, it is a crime to throw racial slurs against fellow Americans, especially the anti-hate crimes and anything related to that is a federal crime,” he suggested.

As Asian Americans have faced a double pandemic of COVID-19 and anti-Asian racism, the forum focused on how to bring awareness in combatting discrimination against Asian Americans particularly Filipinos abroad. This message resonated throughout the virtual forum. 

U.S.-based journalist Leezel TangLao shared how the media can help bring awareness to the real situation. She had tried inserting the Asian community into a narrative that doesn’t usually get into the usual mainstream news story oftentimes. She cited an example of anti-Asian violence, “When you look at the coverage of who got the most coverage, you know, the victims were always seemed to be secondary,” she added.

Award-winning Professor Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales looked back at the history of hate crimes against Asians especially Filipino ancestors who tried not to tolerate racism. “Our ancestors have resisted and fought back. At this time, we cannot be silent. Silence is dangerous and we must not be invisible,” she said. Entrepinayship founder Anna Marie Cruz from Los Angeles highlighted how women have become an easy target for anti-Asian assault. She said that in 3,800 reported incidents of attacks, 68% were against women.

Also contributing to the discussion were some Filipino-American community leaders such as Deputy Attorney General at the California Department of Justice Chris Lapinig and Psychology Professor EJR David from Alaska.

Lapinig shared that Filipinos have been long framed as savages and low-class, but these oppressions can be changed if somehow Filipinos embrace their skin color. “I think we’ll, unfortunately, continue to face anti-Filipino violence if we don’t overcome white supremacy and anti-blackness. Our struggle against anti-Filipino and anti-Asian hate is very much bound up in the struggle for Black Liberation. We must fight white supremacy and anti-blackness if we’re ever going to stop anti-Filipino and anti-Asian hate” Lapinig said.

David pointed out the impact and how traumatizing hate crimes have been to some Filipino-Americans. “These mental health effects aren’t surprising because the research is clear: racism can lead to poor self-esteem, lower life satisfaction, severe depression symptoms, more anxiety symptoms substance abuse, and suicide ideation,” David added.

Anti-Bias & Anti-Racist Motivational Speaker Tony Dela Rosa from Miami suggested how the leaders can improve the situation with the help of good policy and enough funds. “We need action. Make sure your statement matches your actions, and we really want to focus on actions. If you’re the top of the leadership and listen to us we can tell you what we need,” he said.

Despite the relentless increase in attacks against Asian Americans, FYLPRO President Louella Cabalona promised to be committed in raising stories of Filipino-Americans and also highlighting the successes in overcoming racism against Asians. I think it’s very important for everybody listening today who have families in their homes that are older to make sure that they include them in the conversation and also urge them to report these crimes. So this forum itself and with the help of GMA, we’re amplifying the voices of these great leaders,” she added.

The virtual forum ended with a montage of messages from some Fil-Am Kapuso artists such as Tom Rodriguez and Garett Bolden along with some Filipino community members in the U.S. asking the audience to stop Asian Hate and stop hating in general.

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