by Malou Aguilar/AJPress
The term “Amerasian” was coined by the writer Pearl S. Buck, in reference to people born to Asian women and US servicemen during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. In later 1982, its official definition came about as a result of Public Law 97-359, enacted by the 97th Congress of the United States. An Amerasian, according to the US Department of Justice and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), is “an alien who was born in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, or Thailand after December 31, 1950, and before October 22, 1982, and was fathered by a US citizen.” The term is also applied to children of Filipinos and American rulers during the US colonial period of the Philippines.
The closure of the bases resulted to an estimate of 52,000 Amerasians throughout the Philippines, with 5,000 in the Clark area of Angeles, Pampanga. However, unlike other in other countries, American-Asians or Amerasians in the Philippines remain impoverished and neglected. In a study made by the University of the Philippines’ Center for Women Studies, it was affirmed that many Amerasians have experienced some form of abuse and even domestic violence. There have also been cases of racial, gender and class discrimination among Amerasian children and youth from strangers, peers, classmates and teachers. The study also said black Amerasians seem to suffer more from racial and class discrimination than their white counterparts. White female Amerasians are highly vulnerable to sexual harassment, the study noted. Two-thirds are raised by single mothers; others by relatives and non-relatives; 6 percent live on their own or in institutions. 90 percent are born “out of wedlock.” It was reported in 1993, that prostitutes are increasingly Amerasian, children of prostitutes caught in a cycle which transcends generations.
With the majority of children abandoned by American fathers, the Philippine Children’s Fund of America (PCFA) was created by the US and Philippine governments in 1991. Founded to serve the needs of children left behind by the US military closure, today it’s serving more children, families and communities including 150 charitable groups all over the Philippines.
PCFA’s Amerasian Program continually assists impoverished Filipino children of American ancestry by providing educational scholarships, employment and working visas to the US. The program provides free travel, internship and a safe home in Sacramento, California, for children registered as American citizen, but somehow were left out in the Philippines without any funds and place to go home in the US. With the assistance of the PCFA, Amerasian children can trace and be reunited with their fathers. Those who are not qualified and have no information about their fathers are also helped through educational, psychological and livelihood programs.
Carrying the mission, “Building better lives and stronger communities,” PCFA also aims to improve the lives of the children and strengthening the families and communities in which they live. Through their Education Program, the PCFA sustains the educational needs of Aeta children in the indigenous communities by including daily feeding assistance and psychosocial activities.
Their Adopt a Community Reading Center partners with schools and local government units in providing thousand of books and reading materials to school libraries and community reading centers nationwide. Likewise, their School Building Project is a new program helps build school buildings in different parts of the Philippines to help solve the shortage of classrooms.
The PCFA also has other programs that reaches out to more children and communities like feeding centers in different parts of the country, Community Development for Indigenous Peoples (CDIP) for community empowerment, and Lakbay Puso, a life-changing travel mission to the Philippines for young FilAms to know more about their roots and heritage.
With all these projects, the PCFA hopes to open people’s hearts to help them in providing a better future for all these children. The organization believes that together, we can build better lives and stronger communities.