Pinoys in Long Beach strive for positive change

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Jun 03 2015 08:19 AM | Updated as of Jun 03 2015 04:19 PM

LONG BEACH, California – Social, civil, economic and environmental struggles are a few of the issues the nearly half a million residents of Long Beach face.

"Kasama ako doon sa walking club kaya. Pagkatapos noon nagdi-discuss kung ano nararapat na gawin, kung ano nangyayari sa kapalibutan namin," Long Beach resident, Gerry Agpin.

Many of the Filipino residents took their concerns to this week’s People’s State of City address, joined by community leaders and city officials, including the mayor.

"There’s a big Filipino community here in Long Beach especially in West Long Beach that want to be involved and that want to be heard in the city,” explained Alex Montances of the Long Beach-based Filipino Migrant Center.

Two Filipinos were recently appointed as city commissioners.

“I know that there is a space and opportunity to be heard and not just be heard but work with the different backgrounds here in Long Beach to make sure that were all working together that were all engaged to basically transform the city,” said Human Relations Commissioner Elaine Bernal.

Long Beach is California’s seventh largest city, with Filipinos making up the largest Asian group in the city. But statistics show that nearly one in four residents live in poverty.

As neighboring Los Angeles draws closer to the passage of a $15-an-hour minimum wage by 2020, Long Beach residents are also considering an increase.

“There are a lot of folks that are working poor, a lot of Filipino immigrant families to who work at the hotels, who work as caregivers a lot of them even if they work full time they still don’t make enough to take care of their families,” said Montances.

For residents, the solution can be a trip to the ballot boxes on Election Day, or teaming up in coalitions such as the one looking into the possible wage increase.

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