FAHM opens in Queens with a block party

The community fair showcases talent and voices recognizing the Filipino community’s achievements and contributions to U.S. history. Photos by Rocco Cetera and Xenia Diente

The Filipino community of Woodside, Queens gathered for a Little Manila Block Party on October 2 to mark the beginning of Filipino American History Month.

The event took place at the corner of 70th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, where community organizers, leaders and artists held a community fair, a talent showcase, and community workshops and activities that highlight the work and talent of New York City Filipinos.

A central value to the community is the Filipino concept of bayanihan—a spirit of civic unity and cooperation. The event emphasized the diversity of Filipino American voices and storytelling, ranging from writers to traditional dance to drag performance. The community fair also offered support in many forms including legal services, civic engagement, transnational mutual aid, and cultural work.

Bibingka Mama is a Pinay Drag Queen, baker, and entertainer.
Martial arts workshop is led by Francis Estrada.
Mural in the making by a local artist.

Little Manila is considered one of the largest concentrations of Filipino businesses in NYC and historically has been a common crossroads for immigrants to the area. Though Little Manila in Queens is recognized as an important hub for Filipinos in New York City, community leaders are still fighting for its visibility. Last year, the Mabuhay mural was unveiled to show gratitude to the Filipino healthcare workers and small businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Little Manila Street Co-Naming Initiative launched a campaign last summer to have a Little Manila street sign installed on 70th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, across the pioneering business Fil-Am Food Mart. The street co-naming application was submitted in August 2020, and is still awaiting approval from the New York City Council.

Recently, there have been redistricting advocacy efforts to bring attention to Little Manila as a community interest that has been split between three state assembly districts the past decade. As of September 2021, the districts are being redrawn to potentially include Little Manila in a newly created Asian American-majority state assembly district.

The block party was organized by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns-Northeast, the Diverse Streets Initiative, the Filipino American National Historical Society-Metro New York, Little Manila Queens Bayanihan Arts, and Woodside on the Move.

In addition to the host organizations, others such as Migrante NY, Legal Good, Filipino Americans for Racial Action, Malaya NY, National Federation of Filipino American Associations – NY Chapter, Anakbayan Queens, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, and Mission to End Modern Slavery threw their support behind the activity “recognizing the community’s achievements and contributions to U.S. history,” said the organizers.

© The FilAm 2021

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