POSTSCRIPT / March 17, 2022 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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3 more Pinays hurt in NY racial attacks

Within two days last week, three elderly Filipino American women were added to the lengthening list of Asians falling victim to racial-hate violence in New York City and its suburbs.

The latest victim was a 67-year-old Fil-Am who was coming home Friday evening when followed and beaten up by a man yelling racist slurs as she was opening her apartment’s front door in the suburb of Yonkers.

New Yorkers hold a rally to end the violence towards Asians. Photo: Shutterstock

Surveillance camera footage showed the attacker – identified by the police as Tammel Esco, 42 – sneaking up on her, punching her in the head, and stomping on her some 125 times as she lay writhing in pain in the apartment’s vestibule.

The victim, identity withheld, suffered fractures, lacerations, and bleeding in the head. Her attacker was to be charged with attempted murder. His record showed 14 previous arrests and multiple convictions for assault and selling a controlled substance.

The mauling fired up Philippine Consul General Elmer G. Cato in New York to call on authorities to “do more to protect the vulnerable”. Last year, 23 anti-Asian cases of violence were reported in Greater New York alone.

At the same time, Cato thanked the Westchester Asian American Democratic Committee for inviting him and others to a meeting in Yonkers yesterday with community leaders and officials led by Rep. Jamaal Bowman and Mayor Michael Spano in expressing outrage over the attack.

The Friday incident was the third in two days involving Filipino Americans. The day before, two elderly Filipinas were injured when shoved by unidentified individuals in separate incidents in Queens.

On Thursday, a Filipina in her late 50s, who walks with a cane and suffers from poor eyesight, was pushed down the stairs by an unidentified man at the 179th Street Station of the F Train in the neighborhood of Jamaica in Queens.

On the same day, another Filipina in her mid-60s was shoved by a man at the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) train platform, also in Jamaica. She landed on her face, broke her eyeglasses, and sustained multiple injuries.

Since last year, when a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes was noted, the consulate has recorded 26 violent attacks on Filipinos, mostly against the elderly and vulnerable, by homeless individuals with criminal records or mental health problems.

After the Friday attack, Cato said on social media: “We are outraged by this unspeakable act committed against another elderly member of the Filipino community.” Yonkers Mayor Spano also condemned the violence where Asian Americans were at the receiving end.

In the most recent one, an Asian man was injured after another man repeatedly hit him in the head with a hammer. In another incident, seven Asian women were assaulted by a man in separate incidents in Manhattan within minutes of each other.

Weeks ago, NYC Mayor Eric Adams, a retired police officer, unveiled his Subway Safety Plan to address the surge of violence and homelessness in subway areas. This has resulted in 143 arrests, 455 persons removed from trains and stations, and 1,553 tickets issued for various violations.

Despite these measures, criminal incidents in New York have risen nearly 60 percent in February compared to the same month last year.

“Mayor Adams promised to make New York safe again and we are counting on him to fulfill that promise,” said Cato while advising members of the Filipino community to be always alert when commuting or while outside their residences.

Aside from that, he said the consulate will hold a “self-defense and situational awareness” webinar on Monday (March 28). The class will be facilitated by Black 6 Project, a humanitarian assistance group made up mostly of Filipino American military veterans.

• Migrating after May 9? Read this

These anti-Asian flareups targeting immigrants remind me of what we usually tell kith and kin, especially the young ones, who plan to go to the US to study or stay.

First of all, we caution them that it will not always be easy. As they adjust to a new social and financial environment, they will likely not have the accustomed safety net of the extended family catching them when they fall into trouble.

If your long-term plan includes eventually emigrating to the States, better move early. Accelerate your timetable to be able to start living there at a younger age – not when you have almost used up your most productive years.

Having studied and learned English (at least our brand of English) most Filipinos adapt easily to the American scene. Starting out younger will help you to adjust, including acquiring the right accent, and to slide neatly into the workplace.

Whatever your social status in the Philippines, condition yourself to probably be doing domestic chores since most likely you won’t have any house help. You’ll often have to do things yourself, including the laundry, marketing, cooking, simple repairs, atbp.

Of course, there are those magic appliances, tools, and gadgets to help you do things, but you have to learn how to use them, and then troubleshoot when they malfunction as surely they will.

So while you’re still in the home country dreaming of moving legally to the US – and even if you later change your mind about migrating – aside from guarding your health, gaining a good education, and keeping out of trouble, include these basic parts of your preparation for life wherever you end up on the planet:

Learn how to swim, bike, drive (and change tires), cook regular food, fire a gun, and physically defend yourself and your companions at home, in the streets, and elsewhere.

And wherever fate or fancy may take you, keep family ties strong, be ready to help those in need, love our home country, embrace your faith, and pray to God always. End of sermon. Go in Peace.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 17, 2022)

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