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MANILA AVE, JERSEY CITY, USA

 

The first waves of Filipinos to settle in Jersey City were the exchange nursing students who were employed in the Jersey City Medical Center in the late 1950's. They were housed in the hospital dorm known as the Murdoch Hall. The program was successful that soon other local hospitals followed the exchange program. The nurses were on student visa permits that were usually good for a couple of years. Their presence was felt immediately by the Filipinos in the US Navy stationed in the East Coast. Romance and marriage allowed continued employment. The formation of close knit community around the hospital started. These were the seeds of 53,146 Filipinos in New Jersey that were counted in the 1990 US Census and one of the fastest growing ethnic group.

 

Today with the help of the change of mmigration law Jersey City is the home of thousands of Filipinos. The later immigrants were made up of working professionals who live near the train stations because they found employment across the Hudson River. These new citizens revitalized a deteriorating downtown street called Grove streets into some nice middle income houses. In recognizing the street is now called the Manila Avenue. The street comes alive in May during the Santa Cruz de Mayo Festival and Christmas seasons when the houses are decorated with the native Philippine Lantern (Parol). If you drive to New York City via the Holland tunnel just turn right on the second to the last stop before the tunnel entrance and you will see Manila Avenue. The rows of townhouses are kapitbahays.

 

Few blocks down the corner of Second Street and Manila Avenue lay the Philippine Plaza, a 40 by 60 ft enclosure dedicated to the Philippine-American Veterans. In the center you will find a bust of an anonymous Filipino soldier in the tradition of Bataan

 

Excerpts from the Jersey Journal dated April 22, 1997....in the early morning, flocks of pigeons are found there, pecking discarded food from generous passers-by. In the evening, the giant bust of the anonymous Philippine soldier at the plaza's center stands as night watchman. The front gate, decorated with letters "P" and "A" are perpetually locked.

 

The Jersey City effort to recognize and honor Philippine American veterans began in August 1992, but the memorial's status behind locked gates mirrors the veteran's status as deferred honorees, and the schism among its proponents.

 

Developments in federal legislation have shown sympathy for their cause. Former Pres. Bush signed the Immigration Act of 1990, in which granted naturalization to Filipino Veterans. Clinton proclaimed Oct. 20 'a day to honor Filipino veterans of the WWII'. Yet these issues do not deal with the veterans lack of full benefits.

 

The new immigrants took advantage of the extended family tradition bringing some surviving veterans to Jersey City. The days are closing in as the service in defense of freedom was rendered more than 50 years ago five thousand miles away from the United States and probably kept the United States in direct harms way. These veterans are still fighting for recognition.

The next corner you might as well treat yourself with the cooking of Aling Sabel in the tradition of turo-turo style. The small native restaurant caters to many Filipinos mouth-watering appetite of home made delicacies. Paolo Montalban's mom orders Palabok for him :OI

 

Santa Cruzan under "Parasol" (top) Mayor of Jersey City and Manila Avenue Filipino Leaders Opening the Parade

 

The next generation of Filipinos will certainly excel judging from the marks that young students are showing in all the schools in Jersey City. The family tradition of putting value to their children's education at all cost has insured a great coming millennium in the most deversified city in the United States..


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Nestor Palugod Enriquez

<p>dntg66a@prodigy.com

Prince from Jersey City

Linda Mayo-JC Deputy Mayor

Related Link

Jersey City-SLICE OF HEAVEN WEB PAGE