Diaspora News

Filipino American workers join May 1 rally in southern California

By Abner Galino

Members of the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) show their butterfly costumes as they join other marchers during the commemoration of the International Workers Day. Photo © Abner Galino

A BIG contingent of Filipino Americans, most of them workers, joined thousands of marchers in the cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach on the commemoration of International Workers Day.

In Los Angeles, the non-profit organization Pilipino Workers Center (PWC), led Filipino Americans in a festive five-mile march from Pershing Square to the Federal building in Los Angeles St.

Lolit Lledo said the PWC participated in the march to express its commitment to the causes of workers, particularly those who belong to immigrant communities.

PWC sent some members wearing butterfly costumes. When asked why, Lledo explained: Butterfly symbolizes unending journey towards better future.

Immigrant workers, Lledo added, are in constant travel, literally and figuratively, to seek for better working conditions and for better quality of life in general.

As this developed, over 200 community members marched from Cesar Chavez Park to Long Beach City Hall to espouse workers rights and other issues that affect working class communities.

Organized by the May Day Long Beach, a coalition of over 19 social justice groups, non-profits, labor unions, and other grassroots organizations the march proceeded under the theme “Resist State Violence, Rise Up for Our Communities, and Reclaim Our Power.”

Among the speakers were George Funmaker from Red Earth Defense and Xenia Arriola from Gabriela Los Angeles who performed a song to highlight U.S. military funding for political killings in the Philippines.

Jonaya Chadwick from Housing Long Beach spoke about how her family is facing eviction and how all residents need renter protections.

The mother of Eric Rivera from Wilmington spoke about police brutality and the murder of her son by police officers.
Alejandra Campos from Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition highlighted challenges that undocumented families face such as the lack of access to health care.

“Healthcare is not only a one person issue, but an issue of everyone regardless of immigration status, and our communities deserve to live healthy!”

Nereyda Soto, a hotel worker organizer, spoke about how hotel housekeepers fear retaliation from management, experience sexual harassment from guests, and are overworked and underpaid. Soto talked about how the union helped workers talk about their pressing issues.

Photo © Abner Galino

Another speaker, Robert Bagalawis, a 16-year-old member of Anakbayan Long Beach, shared the story of his Filipino immigrant parents and their struggle to raise a family in Long Beach. He spoke about how his parent’s wages are too low and that they work so many hours that they rarely spend quality time with their children.

The May Day Long Beach march ended at City hall with rap and musical performances by local artists Patricia Poston (Poetic S) and Vanessa Acosta.

Abner Galino
The author is a poet and a writer. He was a cultural worker before he became a reporter for Tinig ng Masa and Malaya Midday Edition during the Marcos regime. He later became a reporter of People's Tonight shortly after 1986 EDSA Revolution. He went on to become its Chief of Reporters, City Editor and News Editor. He retired after 15 years in the Journal Group of Publications. He now writes for Weekend Balita and the US Asian Post (USAP), weekly Filipino-American newspapers based in Los Angeles, California.

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