A Los Angeles-based Filipino American organization is raising awareness on anti-Asian hate through cultural programing and sharing stories of community members.
Pilipino Workers Center, which is located in Historic Filipinotown, launched the “Stop AAPI Hate” campaign and hosted a private in-person concert for Filipino human trafficking survivors, victims of hate and racism, and community social justice advocates, featuring OPM artists, Noel Cabangon and Gab Cabangon.
The cultural event was held on July 27, 2022 at PWC’s headquarters in HiFi. Through the event, the grassroots non-profit organization aims to build a community of support and open dialogue around combating hate and racism towards the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even though it’s a Stop The Hate program, it’s really love that brings us together. It’s the love for each other as people, wanting to protect each other, protect our dignity as a community. We feel the hurt and we feel the pain when we see our AAPI elders, our sisters and brothers so brutally attacked. It calls us together as a community to do something. And in this moment, it’s important for us to understand what’s happening so that we can all come from a place of love,” said PWC Executive Director Aquilina Soriano Versoza.
PWC’s “Stop AAPI Hate” campaign launch and concert with Noel Cabangon coincides with the Philippines’ “Lingo ng Musikang Pilipino” (Week of Filipino Music). In the private event, Noel Cabangon and his son, Gab Cabangon, performed a variety of songs dedicated to Filipino survivors of trauma and racism. According to Cabangon, the issue is very close to his heart since a family member of his also became a victim of a recent hate incident in New York.
Noel Cabangon is a multi-awarded singer, composer and musician, and is well-known for popularizing songs that evoke positive change in the community by uplifting human rights, environmental and social justice. His son, Gab Cabangon is also a singer/songwriter and is the frontman of the KE band from the Philippines. The repertoire from both Gab and Noel Cagangon’s musical performances were centered on bringing joy to the Filipino community amidst their struggles, sparking hope and healing, and encouraging strength and resilience. Noel Cabangon also invited members of the Filipino community to the stage for an impromptu jam session of OPM hits, which was then followed by community singing of popular Filipino songs.
“I know it sounds simple but listening to music really helps improve my emotional health and helps in my journey towards healing. I am grateful to Pilipino Workers Center and to Noel Cabangon for making this event possible. Napa-jamming at napasaya nila kaming lahat ngayong gabi!” said Lloyd, PWC member and trauma survivor, now based in Los Angeles.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, an alarming trend of individual acts of hate, from verbal harassment to physical assault, have been directed toward Asians. And more recently, incidents of hate crimes against Chinese, Filipinos and other individuals from the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community have been reported all over the United States.
A national report from the Stop AAPI Hate campaign indicate the following national trends:
- Verbal harassment (63.0%) continues to make up the biggest share of total incident reported.
- Physical assault (16.2%) comprises the second largest category of total reported incidents followed by the deliberate avoidance of AAPIs (16.1%).
- Almost half (48.7% of all hate incidents took place in public spaces – in public streets (31.2%), public transit (8.4%), and public parks (8.0%).
“The history of this country was actually founded on racism. From the beginning, our economy was built on slavery,” said Versoza. “It’s not new to the AAPI community that this is happening. This is larger. So, our solutions have to be larger than the incidents. In order to change the narrative and hold people accountable to what is happening in this pandemic.”
The organization’s “Stop AAPI Hate” campaign uses cultural events, healing workshops, bystander intervention trainings and educational programs to build solidarity and find ways to protect AAPI communities. The concert is just one of many events and programs that PWC plans to implement within the coming months. n