A Mother’s Day Call to Action

The CA Domestic Workers Rights Coalition has heard that SB 1257, The Health and Safety for All Workers Act, will be heard in the Labor Committee on this coming Thursday, May 14!

Help us build visibility and lift your voices in the creative ways to make sure that the Labor Committee sees and feels the domestic worker movement – even if we can’t mobilize to the capitol in-person!

Will you join us for our Week of Action?

Sunday – May 10 – Mother’s Day Digital Action

Tuesday – May 12 – Call In Day – Our goal is to have 500 people make calls to the Labor Committee!

Thursday – May 14 – #MyHealthMyDignity 11am Twitter Chat and 1:30pm Labor Committee Hearing


Filipino Home Care Workers, Unseen Frontliners

There are frontlines that are behind the scenes. And there are workers on those unseen frontlines, who day in and day out, are also fighting the battle against COVID-19. Home care workers are some of those who are doing this work in private homes, in non-hospital settings, in residential care facilities. They, too, are in need of personal protective equipment (PPE). They, too, are contracting COVID-19, and some without health insurance or sick leave afforded to them by their employers.

To highlight these set of essential workers, I collaborated with Bulosan Center‘s Executive Director and Chair of Asian American Studies, Dr. Robyn Rodriguez, and doctoral student in UCD’s Cultural Studies, Katherine Nasol on this brief report (JPG and PDF below).

PDF: Filipino Home Care Workers: Unseen Frontliners and Essential Workers in the COVID-19 Fight

Many home care workers–caregivers to the elderly, home attendants, home health aides, domestic workers and nannies–are all on the frontlines of this pandemic. Because of the particularities of their work places–isolated in private homes without frequent connection to other workers–leaves them vulnerable to exploitation. This was before the pandemic.

In and through the pandemic, the crises on home care workers looms even larger. The Bulosan Center’s brief report on home care workers provides some analysis on the conditions of home care workers and the need for SB 1257  The Health and Safety Act for All Workers is clear.

As we continue to cheer for frontline workers at 7 PM from our stoops and front yards, let’s cheer all of the workers who are battling COVID-19 from various frontlines!


Let the music play me off the stage

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about some awards I received from the Association for Asian American Studies. I couldn’t thank everyone I wanted to but here’s a list of folks who stood behind my nomination. And I want to thank you all here:

Michael J. Viola, Associate Professor of Justice, Community, & Leadership, Saint Mary’s College of California 

Faith R. Kares, Associate Director, Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago

Ethel Tungohan, Canada Research Chair in Canadian Migration Policy, Impacts and Activism and Assistant Professor, York University, Toronto, Ontario

Joy Sales, Postdoctoral Fellow in Immigration, Cultures, and Law, Washington University in St. Louis

Conely de Leon, Assistant Professor, Sociology, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 

Tracy Lachica Buenavista, Professor, Asian American Studies, California State University, Northridge

Lorenzo Perillo, Assistant Professor, Global Asian Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago

Armand Gutierrez, Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, University of California San Diego 

Melissa-Ann Nievera-Lozano, Faculty, Evergreen Valley College

Marcy Quiason, Ph.D. Candidate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas  

Pahole Sookkasikon, Ph.D., American Studies, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 

Josen Masangkay Diaz, Assistant Professor, University of San Diego

Nerissa S. Balce, Associate Professor, State University of New York at Stony Brook

Alma M.O. Trinidad, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Portland State University

Paulina Abustan, Doctoral Candidate, WSU Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education; Instructor, WSU Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Washington State University (WSU)

Katherine Achacoso, Doctoral Student, American Studies, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 

Katherine Nasol, Doctoral Student, Cultural Studies, University of California, Davis

Russell Jeung, Chair, Asian American Studies, San Francisco State University

Robyn Magalit Rodriguez, Professor and Chair, Asian American Studies, UC Davis and Founding Director, Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies

Catherine Ceniza Choy, Professor of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley

Paul Michael Leonardoa Atienza, Doctoral Candidate in Anthropology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Trung PQ Nguyen, Doctoral Candidate in History of Consciousness, University of California, Santa Cruz

Faye Caronan, Associate Professor and Chair, Ethnic Studies Department, University of Colorado, Denver

Ray San Diego, Visiting Assistant Professor, Asian American Studies Program, Northwestern University 

Edward R. Curammeng, Assistant Professor, College of Education, California State University, Dominguez Hills

Jonathan Magat, PhD Candidate, Department of Performance Studies, Northwestern University

Sherwin Mendoza, Faculty in English and Intercultural Studies, De Anza College

Amanda Solomon Amorao, PhD, Assistant Teaching Professor and Director, Dimensions of Culture Program, UC San Diego

Jewel Pereyra, PhD Student, American Studies, Harvard University

MT Vallarta, PhD Candidate, Ethnic Studies, University of California, Riverside

Emmanuel David, Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies, University of Colorado Boulder

Sarita Echavez See, Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, U of California Riverside

Dale Dagar Maglalang, PhD Candidate, Social Work, Boston College

Jan M. Padios, Associate Professor of American Studies, University of Maryland, College Park

Stefanie J. Lira, Ph.D. Candidate, History, University of California, Irvine 

Sarah Raymundo, Assistant Professor and Director, Center for International Studies University of the Philippines-Diliman 

James Zarsadiaz, Assistant Professor of History & Director of the Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program, University of San Francisco

Ruth Silver Taube, Adjunct Professor, Santa Clara University School of Law; Supervising Attorney, Workers’ Rights, Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center, Santa Clara University School of Law

Christian Aniciete, Social Media Manager, Corporate Communications; Founding Chair, Asian and Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group, Port of Portland

Dawn Lee Tu, PhD, Faculty Director, Faculty Professional Development, De Anza College and Faculty in Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Studies, San Jose State University

Anthony Ocampo, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Cal Poly Pomona

Vanessa Banta, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia 

Fatima Chrifi Alaoui, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies, San Francisco State University

Thomas X. Sarmiento, Assistant Professor of English, Kansas State University 

Karen Buenavista Hanna, Assistant Professor, Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectionality Studies, Connecticut College 

Jennifer L. Sta.Ana, Esq., Vice-President, Filipino Bar Association of Northern California

My acceptance speeches are below–as my daughter, Aya, would say, “Please like and subscribe!”



Solidarity In Place, today and tomorrow

I’ve been thinking and writing about space and thinking about how separation, and seeming isolation, can lend itself to solidarity and transnational resistance.

When I wrote and delivered the paper you’ll see above at Arizona State University in February, I was really theorizing about how migrant Filipinas working as domestic workers are often rendered isolated by the mere nature of their care work. Nannies taking care of children, caregivers caring for elderly, attendants working and assisting patients.

That was the world before COVID-19, and now I think about how perhaps many people in the world right now are rendered alone and isolated because of the nature of this crisis.

There is so much more to think about now in terms of what separation, physically, can teach us about being in solidarity with one another. We’re doing that daily: dropping off baked goods, virtual Zooming, catching up with friends across the world. But what is it we can do in solidarity with frontline workers? Those who might need our solidarity most during a time when they are facing the crisis daily.

Yes, nurses and doctors and hospital workers are in ground zero. But there are plenty of essential workers, doing the essential work of caring that are also in the crosshairs of this pandemic.

Not so long ago, daycare and care home owners, The Gamos family: Carlina, 67, Gerlen, 38, Noel, 40, and Joshua, 42, were arrested and had their Daly City facilities raided by police because of their notorious crimes against fellow Filipino migrant workers in their facilities. Stated in a press release by San Mateo Supervisor David Canepa, “The Gamoses operated Rainbow Bright, a child and adult residential care company in North San Mateo county. They were charged in 2018 with, among others, trafficking Filipino immigrants, and subjecting them to horrendous working conditions. It’s estimated that the Gamoses abused more than 100 adult and child care employees over ten years.” Currently they face a variety of charges, including human trafficking, grand wage theft amounting to some $8.5 million, tax evasion and illegal possession of firearms.

The kind of solidarity-in-place (#SIP of a different kind) needed is one phone call. The flyers below give you all you need to do the type of action required to bring justice to the 100 or more Filipino migrants exploited by the Gamos Family. Please join us!


Award Assembly, then and now

Baby Val

When my family arrived to the U.S. in 1992, our whole lives were upended. The only thing, ya girl Val, could hold onto for some stability was school. At Fair Oaks Elementary in Concord, CA, the monthly (?) awards assembly was always a treat for me. I always waited with bated breath to see if I would get an award.

Would it be student of the month? I was super helpful and polite and did all my homework this month!

Would it be excellence in language arts? I barely got anything wrong on my spelling tests!

Would it me excellence in mathematics? I did try my best to show my work on all of my equations!

Some months I’d get none, some I’d get one award, other months I’d get two (weird flex).

But the best part of the awards assembly was taking my award home to Nanay and Mama. They’d be so proud of me.

I can almost see Nanay Reme’s face as I pulled out my paper certificate with the purple ornate framing around the cursive lettering and at the center, my name. “Good job, Val,” was what she’d say and it made all the hard work during the month and the anxiety sitting through the awards assembly worth it. Amidst all of the changes in our family’s lives, I felt like this was the one thing I could control and contribute to my family’s well-being.

Fast forward to today: if it wasn’t for the global pandemic we are going through at the moment, today, I’d be at another awards ceremony. This year, at what would’ve been theAssociation for Asian American Studies (AAAS) annual conference in Washington D.C., I would’ve accepted the Early Career Award which recognizes scholars who:

has made valuable contributions to the field in the early stage of their career (no more than seven years from the date the PhD was awarded). Nominees should show outstanding and innovative research in Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies. Preference will be given to those who also exemplify excellence in teaching and demonstrate a commitment to campus, community, and/or professional service.

On top of that, I would’ve accepted an Honorable Mention in the Social Sciences Category for Best Book Award for The Labor of Care. I am in good company of friends and colleagues who won AAAS book awards: Jan Padios’ A Nation on the Line and Kawika Guillermo’s Stampedamong other brilliant scholars.

The AAAS is the premiere academic professional organization in Asian American Studies. Its conferences has always been a source of great insight, political inspiration, and importantly, a community of scholars that have encouraged me, lifted me up and made space for the work that I felt was important to me. That my peers in this organization deemed me worthy enough of not one but two types of recognition is deeply humbling. I am overwhelmed by what it means and, most importantly, I am deeply grateful.

Its often said that scholars that come from underrepresented and marginalized communities don’t celebrate their victories enough. So today, I’ll be raising a glass up to AAAS, the honors bestowed on me by the organization, my hard work and to Nanay Reme and Mama Irma, whom I know are still so proud of me.



The Power (or PAR) of Migrant Workers

Ethel Tungohan and I wrote an article on PAR and building migrant worker power and it is out now in the link below and downloads are free until the end of April! Our article “Mula Sa Masa, Tungo Sa Masa, From the People, To the People: Building Migrant Worker Power through Participatory Action Research” would be great to assign to an Intro to Methods class or a grad seminar on Participatory Action Research!


With my Filipina-Canadian collaborator, kasama-mama, sister in the struggle, Ethel Tungohan at York University, we wrote across borders, across the Filipina diaspora, to reflect on how PAR has operated in our organizing work with migrant workers in Alberta and San Francisco/Bay Area. As Ethel gestated and took home her second newborn, we wrote and edited and Zoom’ed and talked about how important this work is and how crucial that we were getting to reflect on it!


Ethel and I are sandwiched with 2 brilliant scholars: Eileen Boris and Conely De Leon

PAR is an acronym for Participatory Action Research–many scholars have explained it in great detail and in far more eloquent terms, but for me, PAR is a method of conducting social investigation that prioritizes the participation and action for change that matters for people normally “studied” as objects in sociological research.

PAR has been one of the research methodologies that I’ve been able to wield so I can craft projects that align with people’s organizations for social justice, towards the general rights and welfare of Filipino migrants and that contributes to the types of movement-building strategies that is needed in this world right now.




Care in the Time of Corona

Two full weeks has passed since the “shelter in place” mandate was passed in the San Francisco/Bay Area. And we are all learning. My partner and I are working from home and have full-time work expectations that we must carry out while we juggle the care and learning of our 5 and 3 year old children. Some days are/were smooth and some days were not.


I’m 100% sure that many working parents and families relate to this. (Hit me in the comments about your smooth and rocky days!)

And many parents who are at home and doing this juggling trick. Ali Wong’s famous words about motherhood never rang truer:

Yes, it’s very unlikable and unpopular to broadcast that because not everybody can afford a nanny, it’s super-expensive. Both me and my husband have to hustle. We have to work very hard to not take care of our child ourselves. 

Ok, no, but for real.

Many of us work really hard to pay our daycare providers and teachers to educate our children. And now we find ourselves in the position to, not only ensure that our children our dressed, fed and rested, but that we are meeting some type of educational marks while they are with us for god knows how long. Skills that we are not necessarily trained on. Even the high-powered creative and executive producer of everything, Shonda Rhimes, weighed in.


My point is that we all should consider how the care that we are so lacking right now, is the domestic work that makes all other work possible as the National Domestic Workers Alliance has argued for years.

When we are frustrated with a child that is itching to go outside, may we thank the preschool teachers that build open play time for our kids daily.

When our children ask us to draw yet another monster, may we value the early childhood educator, nannies, home day care providers that have drawn countless of imaginary creatures to assist our children’s stories.

When we are cooking up meals wishing we could just go to a restaurant, may we tip more generously the next time we are able to go out and eat, may we choose a local restaurant owned by families who are maybe temporarily closing down.

When we are staring down the mountain of dirty clothes from a week of staying in (how did it grow so big??), may we thank the dry cleaning service workers and laundry workers that take care of our dirty laundry.

When we are picking up the many toys and sweeping up the floor of chips, may we thank housecleaners and janitors that clean up after us.

When we get the next package of essential food and home goods, may we think of the important work of farmworkers, food packagers, food production, food retail workers, and delivery workers who are still working so we can cook up our meals for our children.

When we are cleaning up the next scratch on a child’s scraped knee in the driveway, may we think of the amazing healthcare workers, nurses, doctors, all of those in the frontline of this pandemic.

Bottomline: care and domestic work has and will  continue to be an essential part of our lives beyond COVID-19.

I hope that we can all revisit how we view and value this work, today and all days in the future.

Sign this petition by Hand in Hand, an organization of domestic worker employers that push legislation to:

will extend protections like minimum wage, safety and health, anti-discrimination and the right to organize to over 2 million domestic workers across the country, who work in individual homes serving millions as caretakers for seniors, people with disabilities, children, and our homes.



Together But Apart: Virtual Connection in the time of Corona

A centerpiece of my book The Labor of Care is the chapter called “Skype Mothers and Facebook Children”. In it, I look at how care work and intimacy between transnational family members is shaped by information communication technologies (ICTs), specifically, Skype and Facebook during the time I was collecting research in the 2000s.

FB Mothers Day 2

In the chapter, I argue that new care providers, patterns of care work and forms of care emerge from families building relationships and intimacy through technology. Different types too. Skype with its visual register will engender a different type of intimate relationship than Facebook with its up-to-the-minute updates of where children and migrant mothers are. And although, technology brings new possibilities of supporting relationships over long distances, it also sometimes hinders relationships through an “all seeing eye” specter.

I say all of this because as I see people post their Zoom calls on gallery view and create virtual runs and virtual watch parties. I think about how this chapter in my book resonates with how we’re all trying our best to stay connected and together even while apart. Just like the migrant mothers and their families in the Philippines in my book, we have increasingly seen innovative strategies in which people are doing their very best to link up even if our mandate is “shelter in place”. I’m doing it too! Below you’ll see a few of my friends and I at a virtual tea party!

Screen Shot 2020-03-20 at 3.42.52 PM.png

In the book, I wanted to highlight the ways that transnational family members craft these impressive abilities to stay connected through long distances and long periods of time. And yet, these strategies are only possible in fact because they are necessary in a world where families are forced to be separated to sustain their livelihoods. It was important to me to write about this version of motherhood during a historical moment where the conduit of migrant mothering and daughtering, son-ning and husbanding from the Philippines was technology.

I pause here to note that we are also innovating under these dire circumstances. We are in no way under the same conditions as migrant women who are forced to migrate to sustain their family’s livelihoods in the Philippines. No way. But it is so clear to me that our social interactions are so shaped by our political, economic and social conditions and that technology is crucial in that.

Lastly, being on lock down and creating these virtual social spaces reminds me that the public health crisis in COVID-19 is also framed by the crisis of scarcity in a time of monopoly capitalism. That’s a big leap, I know.

Here’s why I’m ending with this: the toilet paper crisis, the economic impact on small business owners (many of them people of color, immigrants, like my family members), the crisis in accessible health, the rent and mortgage crisis, the education and childcare crisis. All of which are already ruptures in a capitalist world, and are now agape as the clock in and grind schedules come to a halt.

I know people are feeling isolated and alone and scared and precarious. The reality is that we were already feeling that way and it took COVID-19 to confirm that, and to remind us that we are part of something way bigger. That perhaps, we should fight to change that something.


The Power of the Collective

During these days of social isolation, I’ve been at awe at the power of collective support and solidarity.

The photo here is of my chosen family, people whom I love and share a flat with in the Bay Area. Usually, we’re all busy bodies, ships in the night. But since “shelter in place”, we have had time to slow down and plan the domestic work in our collective home. The grown ups take turns with cooking and cleaning. The children take turns with toys (sometimes). We’re all balancing work from home responsibilities, so we’re all taking turns being morning and afternoon teachers for our young children.

The teachers at my children’s schools have organized take home curriculum complete with bags with instructions on how to actually facilitate an art project with children and hot glue guns. Worksheets and pre-K curriculum are sent out weekly to continue our 5-year old’s fascination with pencils and worksheets. (I know, I know the worksheets aren’t the best way to teach a preschooler, but that’s where I’m at.)

Friends and community members have offered to collectivize shopping and buy in bulk to share across many families, to reduce the times folks head out for groceries and also to save a little.

Comrades and friends have checked in and set up video chats to see how we are all doing in during these times.

My colleagues have started a text thread that is simultaneously trading strategies on how to translate our curriculum online but also to commiserate around how to teach our own kids while teaching our students from afar.

We are truly living in strange times. But I don’t want to let go of the kindness and compassion people have for one another during this time.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be trying to write more here. I’d be so happy to hear from you about how you’re doing. And if there’s something you think I should weigh in on, I want to hear from you!


Phoenix, here I come!

Professor Mary Margaret Fonow has invited an amazing set of scholars to talk about gender, labor and migration at Arizona State University’s School of Social Transformation. And I couldn’t be more excited to speak and participate about Filipina migrant activism and its connections to the vibrant national liberation movement in the Philippines.

I’m looking forward to learning from the scholars and students at the symposium!

I’ve never been to Arizona before but I’ll be there at the end of the week! If you’re in the area, let’s connect. Below is a snapshot of the Friday program, but there’s a Thursday program too!




Filipino San Francisco

In Filipino, kapwa refers to a cultural value of a collective well-being or togetherness in which Filipinos construct their selfhood, families and communities. In my work with conducting research about Filipino American lives with Filipino American undergraduate students at San Francisco State University, kapwa has been a driving force in uncovering Filipino immigrant and Fil-Am stories as intellectual resources towards producing knowledge.

Together with Jessa delos Reyes, Tiff Mendoza, Katrina Liwanag, Stephanie Ancheta, Jeannel Poyaoan, my experience of building kapwa with undergraduate students is an ongoing experience of democratizing the research process. These folks helped to recruit staff members working in community-based orgs in San Francisco serving Filipino community members. We all interviewed staff members, transcribed and analyzed their narratives. And we came up with different products!


As a group, my team and I were able to write one co-authored academic publication, “Claiming Kapwa: Filipino Immigrants, Community Based Organizations and Community Citizenship in San Francisco” in New Political Science. My collaborators assisted in proofreading a needs assessment I wrote for the city of San Francisco’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs entitled, “Speaking Up, Speaking Out: Filipino Language Access in San Francisco.”

A few weeks ago, Filipino organizations in San Francisco, community workers and city advocates including Supervisor Matt Haney and Sandra Fewer came together for the release of a report about the lack of language access Filipinos have to basic services in the city of San Francisco. In the report, I argue that if Filipinos in San Francisco do not receive information, applications and materials in language (which the city is mandated by under the Language Access Ordinance), they are not only excluded from the basic services they need, they are also excluded from the political life of San Francisco.


The truth of the matter is San Francisco has been a geography of Filipino American and Filipino immigrant life for well over a century. And its about time that Filipinos are seen as part of San Francisco, especially through language access. When students, community members and academics collaborate, we demonstrate that immigrants, the folks that work tirelessly to serve them, the young people that come from those families, those neighborhoods belong in San Francisco.



The Need for Caregivers Collective Resistance

The basis for organizing Filipino caregivers in the US is so astoundingly apparent. Stories about caregivers being overworked and underpaid are commonplace in Filipino communities. Many family members, community organizers, even popular films, understand that even if care homes are ways to get work, people gamble with the work being hard and the pay might not come through.

A recent LA Times article called, “An 87-hour work week for $4” recounts the horrible abuses Filipino caregivers and the victory that 66 workers achieved in their $1.1 million settlement. The protracted struggle of a 3 year legal battle has and was backed with supportive officials in the CA Department of Labor, who have issued rightful citations to wrongful carehome owners.

Still, this group of workers are often isolated. Working in care homes owned and visited frequently by the owners. Where camaraderie with one another is often facilitated by owners in the veil of benevolence. Where contact with one another is limited to the shift your on. Where families in the Philippines are quite dependent on whatever wages one makes.

Yet, the workers are in need of collective power. The CA DoL is apparently paying attention. And if the crisis of elder care in this country is not resolved (it won’t be in the next few years), this group of workers will be come essential to caring for your/our loved ones in their golden years. The need is obvious.