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Filipino Residents Want ‘Little Manila’ to be Incorporated Into One Assembly District, Currently Split Into Three

Filipino residents advocating for a Little Manila street sign at 70th Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside (Photo: ourlittlemanila.nyc)

Aug. 13, 2021 By Ryan Songalia

A Filipino advocacy group in Queens will petition redistricting officials in hopes of having the borough’s Filipino community grouped into a single Assembly district to maximize its political voice.

Little Manila Queens Bayanihan Arts, which organizes projects for the Filipino community in Woodside, is one of 14 groups comprising the APA Voice Redistricting Task Force, which seeks to influence redistricting efforts around the city, with the goal of keeping Asian communities together.

Jaclyn Reyes, co-founder of Little Manila Queens Bayanihan Group, says that her organization wants to see areas where Filipinos live grouped together into one Assembly district.

She feels that the community should be represented by one Assembly member, instead of being divided into three. Currently, Little Manila—which is located in the vicinity of Roosevelt Avenue, from 63rd Street to 71st Street—is split among Assembly Districts 30, 34 and 39.

Reyes says the state senate line, which is divided between the districts represented by Jessica Ramos and Michael Gianaris, is splintered, but not nearly as badly as the Assembly.

“I think redistricting is such an obscure thing to get people to care about, so that’s why we’re just focusing on this now,” Reyes said.

Little Manila is currently divided among three State Assembly districts (30, 34, and 39) Map Description: The blue markers indicate key Filipino small businesses; the yellow markers represent St. Sebastian Parish, where numerous Filipino families are members; the red marker is Elmhurst Hospital, a key employer for many Filipino healthcare workers. The yellow-orange shapes represents Filipino populations, with the darker orange representing higher densities.

Reyes said that the Filipino community would have more influence with a unified voice in one Assembly district. Filipinos would be in a better position to address gentrification and real estate development—as well as the 7 train line, which cuts through the heart of the area.

She fears that the Filipino community, which has been rooted in Woodside dating back to the 1970s, could be displaced by developers.

“As Filipinos, we know that back home with typhoons and disasters, entire communities get uprooted and moved somewhere else,” Reyes said. “We already see real estate developers strategizing, to do what they think is cleaning it up and trying to bring in wealthier people into the neighborhood and pushing people east.”

Reyes says she would like to see district lines redrawn to include places of significance in the Filipino community, like Elmhurst Hospital, where many Filipinos work, and Saint Sebastian Roman Catholic Church, where a number of Filipinos attend mass.

Steven Raga, founding member of another Filipino advocacy group, UniPro, plans to advocate for the community during the redistricting efforts.

He points out that the Filipino business community does not have one assembly member to go to– since the area is split into a number of districts.

He said some restaurants, for example, are in Catalina Cruz’s district while others are in either Brian Barnwell’s or Jessica Rojas Gonzalez’s assembly district. “[Little Manila] is divided into districts, and there goes our political voice,” Raga said.

Reyes is calling on residents to advocate on behalf of the Filipino community at the Independent Redistricting Commission of New York State’s virtual hearing this Sunday, which will take place at 3 p.m.

The hearing will be streamed live on the IRC’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/nysirc/. Participants will have three minutes to give their oral testimony, and are invited to provide written testimony as well. The input will be taken into account, along with the 2020 Census data, when redrawing District maps.

Other groups in the APA Voice Redistricting Task Force include Academy of Medical and Public Health Services, Asian Americans for Equality, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Caribbean Equality Project, CHHAYA, Chinese Progressive Association, Chinese American Planning Council, Homecrest Community Services, Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, MinKwon Center for Community Action, OCA-NY, Shetu, South Asian Council for Social Services, South Queens Women’s March, and Taking Our Seat.

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15 Comments

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AOC for governor now!

Ah, New York, where every crazy pipe dream conceived is given serious considerations by the Council

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Pierre

Great idea! I am a Frenchman. We have 5 French men and 3 French people in Sunnyside and 7 French women in Woodside. We need to connect those 2 areas so that we will have more power. Let’s get out there and demonstrate!

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Mac

Pierre – aka hashtagger and whatever posting handle you’re using – Back in the 60’s & 70’s 46th Street between QB and 43rd Ave had a large French immigrant community.

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Jay d

We visited your wonderful neighborhood in woodside queens and had a great timd visiting the stores we wanted to go to,never knew about the political issues there but i hope it works out for your wonderful place there in nyc

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Michele

They have a very valid point. Also the AOC congressional District should also cover all of Astoria not just the Ditmars area. It’s very unfair. Astoria is the birth place of the progressive movement in Queens. Caban is now the city council leader of Astoria. She is a proud queer and latina. The racists and homophobes lost.

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She’s the one

Uh election did not take place yet
Astoria turning into the lefty shame of queens

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Lucky number 7 train

there is no more people coming together to be Americans. Hey your from here and I’m from there and who cares, but we share similar thoughts let’s work together. that Concept has be lost to Tribalism.

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Got segregation?

Why stop there? Let’s create new tailor-made districts for African-Americans, Irish, Polish, Puerto-Ricans and Dominicans. Maybe carve out a district or two for lesbians and foot fetishists? Where does it stop?

Identity politics is divisive, dehumanizing and out of control.

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El loco

Yeh Steve, I’ll go to Albany and advocate for one Filipino district. I definitely think that is one of the most pressing problems. That would set a great precedent. Then every ethnic group will demand that. Nice try. I guess since getting trounced in the city council race this gives you something to do instead of getting a job. What happened to that guy with the big Fro whom you were demonstrating against American colonialism with.

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Woke

The Nepalese and Tibetans would likely have a different opinion. It sounds like a conflict for Steven Raga. He lost the city council race and is trying to set himself up for a new assembly district run.

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