Ditas(in red jacket) and her staff with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The following news article by Fe Seligman was published by Filipinos Press dated August 29- September 4, 2009. If you follow my blog, I am sure you know that Ditas Katague, the current Director of Census for the State of California is my youngest daughter. So as her father, I am very proud of her accomplishments. Here's the news article on her recent outreached trip to San Diego area.
NATIONAL CITY, Calif.-- The California Census 2010 Director met key Filipino-American leaders throughout San Diego County to emphasize the importance of Filipino Americans being represented in the national survey.
Miss Ditas Katague, a Filipina American, oversees and directs the statewide outreach effort to ensure a complete count of all Californians in general and the Filipino community in particular. She spoke to more than 20 key leaders on August 18th at a Filipino restaurant in National City. “There is a lot at stake for everyone to be counted,” Katague explained. “But especially for Filipinos.”
The Filipino-Americans whom Katague addressed came from a diverse group of interests. They included political representatives, faith-based administrators, senior, youth and health care advocates as well as members from the media.
“San Diego is the second hard-to-count County (next to Los Angeles) in California and the eleventh in the country,” Katague explained. Immigration issues, linguistic and cultural isolation of some ethnic groups are a few of the reasons for such difficulty. The task is even more challenging during this decade because of a gnawing fear associated with a receding economy; and the reality in the number of transients that has increased resulting from job loss and home foreclosures.
The California Census 2010 is an innovative effort launched by the State of California to push for a complete count in California. It was initiated in 1999 when its leaders realized the huge amount of federal dollars lost in 1990 resulting from an undercount. In 1999, $24 million was earmarked by the Governor’s office towards the creation of California Census 2000 which increased its actual count and allowed the state to gain an additional congressional seat in the House of Representatives. The California Census 2010 is a replication of a successful program. And the secret? Grassroots outreach.
“Well, we learned that the thing that worked was you—the leaders of the community,” Katague said. The California Census is now partnering with state grassroots organizations to provide hands-on assistance in identifying and suggesting ways to reach those who may not be reached by mainstream media. These are the seniors, immigrants, the physically handicapped, low-income families, transients, linguistically isolated families who have no way to access the information passed except through friends and leaders in the community.
“In Census 2000, there were 1.8 million Filipinos across the nation,” Katague said. “You know what, more than 50% of those Filipinos were here from California. With that, I asked ‘Why don’t we have a Filipino state representative?...Why don’t we have a congressional representative?’ Do we have anyone in the nation? I challenge all of you tonight to start thinking about that.”
Meanwhile, Nampet Panichpant, also from the California Census Bureau, explained the difficulty in counting some populations in the Asian community. Nampet oversees outreach for hard-to-count Asian communities particularly those who are “mobile” (rotational beds) and those who belong to the “hidden units” (i.e. converting a garage to be used as a dwelling unit for families).
She explained that Southeast Asians have their own so-called “homeless families.” These are not the typical mainstream “homeless families” that we find in the park or under the bridge. These so-called homeless or transient families live in rotational beds, a lifestyle common among Hmongs. The beds are rented out (instead of rooms), 8 hours a day for a Hmong to sleep in. And because they survive on temporary jobs that are offered in other cities or states, these families don’t stay longer than a month. They move from one city or one state to another where employment may be found.
Another “homeless” lifestyle common to Asians (which we may find in some Filipino families) is the “hidden unit”. Under this set-up, a garage is converted into a dwelling unit for a family to occupy. These families, too, are transients. They also move from one city or one state to another wherever manual jobs may be found.
The key here, according to Nampet, is to find a strategy that will catch them to be included in the count. One idea is to find “trusted voices”; those who may be able to identify these groups and communicate with them the need and importance of being included in the national survey. Another strategy is to count newly arrived immigrants by working with commercial airlines, such as the Philippine Airlines. Upon arrival, Filipinos may be given Census 2010 forms to fill up and submitted in strategic locations.
Strategies and ideas on pushing for a complete count for the Asian and Filipino communities abound. As the Census 2010 approaches, the Filipino community needs to continue to build the momentum in raising the urgency to be counted not only on a political level but more important, on a personal level. ( Printed from Filipino Press , August 29-September 4, 2009)
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