NEW YORK – “We would like the undocumented to come to us, they are the most vulnerable sector of the community. In fact, we should be their “kasanga” (ally) … They should not fear; the consulate is here to look after their well-being,” Consul General Elmer G. Cato said during a live show of the hit webcast Talk of the Town’s “Rise Against Racism” episode of PinoyLife.net.
Cato assured the community after Cris Godinez, the show’s host, pressed him about the consulate’s response to Filipino victims of hate crimes.
“This is one reason that some of our kababayans (fellow Filipinos) are hesitant in stepping forward. We think that some of the victims are undocumented and have this apprehension that if they go to the consulate or the NYPD their immigration status may be questioned and they may end up getting deported,” he said.
“Hindi ho tama yan, hindi po tutoo yan (that is not right, that is not true). We have received assurances fron no less than the NYPD that their immigration status does not really matter. For them, the victim is a victim, they should not be afraid to come forward,” Cato added. In like manner, Cato said the consulate would not report them despite the “misplaced apprehension that if they go to the consulate, we will be turning them in.”
Cato told the community to come forward and let the consulate know of their experiences. “So, if they have issues, even if it is not related to Asian hate or faces discrimination, they could come to us and readily assist them,” Cato said. “We have our assistance to national section, solely dedicated to assisting kababayans in distress.”
The consul general also explained that the consulate gathers data to give guidance and advice on which train lines or areas to avoid to keep them safe, whether in New York or elsewhere in communities under the consulate’s jurisdiction.
On day 1 at his job, Cato took action immediately after a paroled convict brutally attacked Vilma Kari, 65 while walking down a street near Times Square. In broad daylight, the man yelled an obscenity at her. He kicked her in the stomach and on the head several times while on the sidewalk. A security camera video from the lobby of a nearby luxury apartment building captured the incident. When Kari struggled to stand up, a security guard closed the front door to the building.
“We had to issue a statement alerting our community and reactivate a hotline number,” the consul general said. The community can reach the hotline number at 917-239-4118.
Filipino Americans Noel Quintana and Vilma Kari, both from New York, have gained national attention as anti-Asian hate victims that have galvanized the Asian American community to raise the issue of Stop Asian Hate into the forefront.
Cato also told Godinez that the consulate had received two hate incidents that afternoon the show aired due to the hotline number. One happened near the Penn Station, where a man allegedly took a swing at a Filipino woman but missed while she was buying food from a street vendor. Bystanders protected her and sent the man away. The other incident involved a Filipino woman while she got off the train and was walking on the arcade when a man yelled racial expletives.
Cato took it as a good sign that people are now responding to the consulate’s appeal to report hate-related incidents.
“Rise to Racism,” is Talk of the Town’s April episode of PinoyLife.net, a lifestyle and knowledge-sharing channel on Facebook Live and YouTube. It made its debut in November last year and has since been a much-awaited program month after month. The episode attempted to understand anti-Asian roots, specifically anti-Filipino discrimination and explored how the community can best respond to the lingering and worsening racism. It also presented Hollaback’s 5Ds of Bystander Intervention, which PinoyLife offered as important tools for viewers to know. Steven Raga, a FilAm New York City Council candidate from Queens, and DiSyl Delos Santos were likewise featured. Delos Santos sang her latest single and original composition, Can’t You Stay In Love.
Viewers can watch a replay of the entire show on Facebook.
According to the producers, the hour-length program aims to deliver each month to address challenges or issues regarding the Filipino American community and seeks to provide solutions or insights through interviews with special guests of the show. Segments on the news, Filipino American history, immigration, and the pressing topic of the day are presented and discussed, including upcoming community events. It also taps on the talents of budding musical artists to promote them.