Filipinos have been living in New York since the 1970s, so it’s about time.
For decades, Filipinos have been a part of New York City’s rich cauldron of culture and heritage from across borders. As proof, the Filipino community in the Big Apple has now staked their claim to a New York street corner, now formally known as “Little Manila Avenue” to locals.
Located in the southwest corner of Roosevelt Avenue and 70th Street in Queens’ busy Woodside neighborhood, Little Manila Avenue came to be after the NYC Parks and Recreation Committee voted 15-0 in favor of the proposal sponsored by Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, per the Sunnyside Post. Once all members of the New York City Council cast their vote, the street name will become official, which the publication claims is “almost certain to pass.”
The vote comes a year and a half after the “Our Little Manila” campaign was launched on June 12, 2020. Council Member Bramer then took up the proposed legislation after NYC’s Filipino community mounted an online petition that garnered over 3,000 signatures.
“For the Filipino community of the greater New York City area, Little Manila is their home away from home: a dynamic portal in which members of the Filipino community maintain their connections to their loved ones both locally and internationally,” the online petition’s cause read.
According to Sunnyside Post’s story, Filipinos have been migrating to the vicinity since the 1970s following the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965.
Presently, there are an estimated 86,000 Filipinos and Filipino-Americans residing in New York, making them the third-largest Asian group in the famed city today. More than half of this figure, or 54%, can be found in Queens.
“The street co-naming will bring visibility to the Philippine community’s contributions to New York City,” it continued. “Our hope is that Little Manila will be recognized as more than an ethnic enclave that adds to the diversity of the borough and the city, but home to a community who has been an integral part of the care and thrivance of fellow New Yorkers.”
Even before the legislation, the particular corner has been thriving with all things Filipino. Restaurants, businesses, and other personal care and professional services have catered to Filipinos and Filipino-Americans living in the area. There’s even a Red Ribbon bakeshop and a Jollibee – New York City’s first – in the Woodside area to cater to the Filipino palette.
Art Macky Arquilla