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California gives $1 million to research center for Filipino studies, first of its kind

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California has announced during this year’s Filipino American History Month that $1 million in state funding will go to a research center for Filipino studies, the USA Inquirer reports. 

Founded in late 2018, the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies is located on the University of California, Davis campus. Center director and chair of Asian American studies Robyn Rodriguez said it is the first center of its kind at a major research university. 

According to the USA Inquirer, the allocated money will allow the center to launch an annual national conference on Filipino studies, conduct a major survey on Filipino American health and wellbeing, continue research on Filipino migrant workers and expand the digital archive and oral history projects. 

“The Filipino American community is one of the oldest immigrant groups in California, but our community’s place in California history and U.S. history more broadly — from leading the farmworker movement to fighting during World War II — is not widely known or taught,” Rodriguez said. 

The USA Inquirer reports that the 3.5 million Filipino Americans in the country represent one of the nation’s largest Asian American groups. 1.5 million of that population resides in California, but a statement on the Bulosan Center’s UC Davis page said that Filipino Americans fail to be adequately represented as students and faculty within the University of California system. 

“If knowledge is power then the Filipino community is severely disempowered,” the statement adds. “The Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies Initiative aims to change that.”

Since its founding, the center has raised $30,000 in private donations from across the state and nation, according to the USA Inquirer. This year’s million-dollar allocation was championed by Rob Bonta, the only Filipino American in California’s Assembly.

Rodriguez told NBC News last September that the Bulosan Center is named for Carlos Bulosan, a prominent figure in the labor movement who was committed to raising awareness of those marginalized within the Filipino community. She added that she hoped to eventually get his semi-autobiographical book, America Is in the Heart, formally adopted by California as recommended literature.

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