‘Box City’ puts spotlight on homeless Filipinos in America


MANY of our kababayans back home think America is the land of milk and honey, and offers opportunities for immigrants to live a life far better than in the Philippines. This is perhaps almost the story for every immigrant in the United States’ — the pursuit of the American dream.

Many Filipinos have been fortunate in fulfilling their American dream, but what many kababayans in the Philippines back home do not realize is the fact that it takes blood, sweat, and tears to make this dream a reality not just for those who are already here in the U.S., but for their families back home whom they want to have a share of the blessings they are enjoying in their adoptive country.

BUT not all immigrants to the U.S. — whether they be documented or undocumented, have been as fortunate. For some, the American dream has become elusive. And some of these kababayans do not even want their families back home to know their true story here in America.

Many of these Filipinos work two or three jobs just to be able to send money back home, and in many Fil-Am families, especially during the deep recession that hit America, they have lost their jobs, their homes, and have just been depending on food stamps and welfare. Some are fortunate to get part-time jobs, but even with this meager income, they still send their earnings to their loved ones in the Philippines even if it would mean neglecting their own needs in living their lives in the United States.

Is this your story? And for those who live in the Philippines and are dependent on the “padala” from your family here in the U.S., do you know if they are struggling? Do you know if they still have a roof on top of their head? If they still eat three meals a day? If they have the means to take care of themselves if they get sick?

Sadly, this is the reality of some Filipinos in America.

This is the story ABS-CBN’s The Filipino Channel wants to share with you through Balitang America’s new documentary “Box City”:

The documentary presents a slice-of-life that some Filipinos live in San Francisco — home to some of the richest neighborhoods in America. However, it has also become a refuge for the poor, the destitute, the homeless.

Based on the city’s latest homeless count, close to 7,500 are homeless in San Francisco.

Homelessness may not be as prevalent among Filipinos, known for their deep family ties and strong sense of community.

But there are homeless Filipinos in San Francisco.

And Balitang America found them living in an encampment they called Box City.

In their moments of despair, these Filipinos turned to strangers for help. And these strangers became their family…their community.

Box City documents their first few months at the encampment, as they built their small homes made of cardboard and plywood.  But just as they started to find some stability, their world came crashing down when the city forced them to evacuate. Balitang America was there when they had to dismantle their shelters with heavy hearts and defeated spirits.

While Box City highlights their resilience as a people, it also exposes the harsh realities of life and the fact that the American Dream is not always within reach.

Box City is produced by the same team behind the Emmy Award-Winning documentary, Filipino Champions of SOMA.

SHARE this with family and friends who need to be enlightened about this.

Box City is airing on The Filipino Channel on Sunday, July 16, 4:25 pm, with a replay at 10:25 pm, and again on Saturday, July 22, at 9:30 am.

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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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