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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More on Filipino-Americans as Minorities

This is my comment and my call for action to the first posting.

The first thing we can do as a start is to swamp the wide world of the internet with our concern especially in the US. Second, we can write our congressmen/lawmakers and Third, if PAASE have some extra FUNDS, hired a professional LOBBYIST.So as a start I have compiled several of the e-mails, without mentioning names in one article in my blog

I know I do not have much traffic yet as a new blogger, but if all of you tell your friends about the article then we can start the ball rolling. This should be followed by individual letters to our congressmen and senators and even sent a comment on OBAMA new website, as soon as the COMMENT section is enable. OBAMA has a lot of young volunteers manning his website, perhaps we could get his attention, in spite of his other top priorities ( world economic crises). But we have to start action now( after all these talks) Thank you for your attention! David

Comments from Scientist # 1:
It is indeed not that often that we receive an email message from you and now you realize that even just a single one can catch fire. It is amazing how somany PAASE members responded to your suggestions and mainly in a very positive way. I hope that we get more from you in the future. I was just going to keep quiet but decided not to especially after I saw the message from David Katague.I very much agree with the premise of helping young Filipino- Americans to get interested in science and that they need role models.

You are certainly the ideal role model but I think that there are many others,
including PAASE members, who could help provide the need. I think that with
the WEB, these talented young students will eventually find out. I also agree
that we should help young Filipino-American students to obtain support so they
can pursue scientific careers. But we should also bear in mind that not all
young Filipinos want to pursue science and those whose main interest is to be
DJs should not be forced to go into science. I understand that the special
Filipino-minority program at the University of California failed because most
of these special students were not motivated to study hard and eventually were
expelled (Ben, correct me if I am wrong).

My main concern is with the classification. I have always thought that being associated with the Asian community is preferable because of the good
connotations attached to it. I don?t have anything negative associated with
the ?Pacific Islanders? but I don?t like the stereotype. ?Pacific islanders?
are normally referred to as the ethnic groups who have continued to live the
same way their ancestors did a long time ago. They probably now have TVs and
cell phones but I still don?t think that we should be identified with them
since we have so much more in common with those from other Asian countries.
Geographically, we are Asians since we are along the same archipelago that
includes Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia. The Japanese, Chinese, Koreans and
Indians have indeed made their mark and have shown to the world that they excel
in many ways and can compete with the world?s best. Being associated with this
group is to me a great asset in that it provides a feeling of pride and
prestige. I think we should keep having this ?feeling? even if we are regarded
as the "sick man" in Asia.

Also, philosophically, I don?t believe that special minority programs should
last forever. Unlike many others, I did not have any resentment when the
affirmative action was eventually discontinued because I thought that
generally, it was demeaning to those who participated. I would like my kids
and grand-kids to compete squarely with other Americans and not have others say
that they got accepted to a program because they belong to a URM or
Pacific-Islander group. I have interacted with many young Filipino-American
students, some at the University of Maryland, and I think that they are mainly
above average and I don?t think that they need to be classified as
Pacific-Islander to make it in science. But I hope that PAASE will work hard
to help the talented few who do not have the resources and would not make it
otherwise. The challenge would be to identify those and get them to our

This a comment of Scientist # 2

I was reading all the exchange about obtaining minority status for Fil-Ams. I just want you to know that my feelings on this matter is closer to what Scientist #1
as written on his e-mail.I will highlight the following in terms of my experience:

I have been mentoring minority students black and Hispanic (undergraduates, graduate level) for the last 10 years. I have done this by partnering with organizations like American Chemical Society (ACS) Project SEED,NSF funded AGEP program, and Louis Stokes Alliance Program. To date,I havementored 34 students to work in my lab at various capacities supported by these programs and the University of Houston as well. It has been my mission to bring these underrepresented groups to the sciences. Last year, I was nominated *but did not get* the Stanley Israel Award of the ACS for contirbutions to minority mentoring in the chemical sciences by our local ACS section. I did this as a matter of contributing to society and doing what I can to the underrepresented....to help the next generation. I am sure a number of you havedone much ... and are much more passionate.

In getting this status for Fil-Ams, the advantage is to avail of funding from the federal government for scholarships, fellowshps, special education programs,etc. and even quotas. Universities like this as well for the minority status,affirmative action, and in statisfying quota. The same goes with having more minority in the faculty. I can see also some political advantages for Filipinos on this matter. I think the bottom line is really in getting more of the Federal pie that goes to minorities.

Having said these things, here are the reasons I do not personally feel good in us being classified in this category: There is pride in work, competency,accomplishment in a level playing field. Fil-Ams and Filipinos have been successful coming to the US because of this ethic, knowing that hard work will be rewarded. An under-represented minority status, while it may give us some funding or special status is not a matter of pride....knowing that we will get what we want simply because we have been placed in a special status...because of race and not of accomplishments. I know that the Federal government has done this to level the opportunities for all. But I personally believe it is time that US society should transcend through this categorization of its citizens. Of course it is possible to argue that....more has to be done. The US has already elected a minority for a President. I am curious to see what the definition of minority will be in the next 10-20 years. Note that the projection of a 50:50 white and non-white population is projected by 2050.

I think Filipinos and Fil-Ams will be more inspired to see successful Filipino-Ams
holding key positions, accomplishments in the sciences and egineering,on their own merit competing among the best in their chosen professions and making it.Our efforts may be best directed in bringing more Filipinos and Fil-Ams mentored and directed towards successful career paths in the sciences and engineering regardless of minority status. We can do this by simply using our individual and collective efforts and encouraging them to apply for scholarships, positions,programs in the sciences in every manner and any time. As we are already doing at PAASE and should do more.....

I currently have 3 Filipino and 1 Fil-Am PhD. student in my lab..am recruiting and talking to more Fil-Am undergraduates at UH. I have done this through visits at colleges and universities in the Philippines and in the US and a lot of personal contacts. Perhaps specific steps we can have at PAASE is to have a network or establish chapters of Fil-Am students in sciences and engineering at the graduate undergraduate level in different universities,or having special conferences at our PAASE meetings. It is also possible to form groups and partner with other professional and scientific organizations both in the US and the Philippines. I know that this will require funding and resources.Perhaps the argument can go back as to why we need this minority status.

Comments will be appreciated.

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