One of the major ethnic groups that is currently serving on the front lines of the pandemic is the Filipino population; nevertheless, the cost of this representation has meant that there has been a disproportionate impact.
It’s another chapter in the story of an immigrant population that’s been overlooked because of a stereotype, even though they’ve helped save countless lives and lifted the healthcare profession overall.
“You know, every generation in our family is a nurse,” said Maruja Torres, who is the director of nursing at Peterson Park Healthcare Center. “Every generation in our family is a nurse.”
It is the story that has never been told about a group of heroes who are frequently unseen in the industry that they not only dominated but also elevated.
“It’s not just a job; it’s a genuine love of taking care of sick people, especially here,” Torres said. “It’s not just a job.”
It is also the story of a voyage, a migration that carried them kilometers away from their homeland at the beginning of the story.
Raquel Collanto, who works at Northwestern Medicine as a cardiac care coordinator and nurse, described the experience as “a culture shock.” “I was stationed at a retirement home for the elderly. In the Philippines, there is not a single facility that provides nursing care.”
They stated that they had to deal with discrimination at an early stage in their jobs and throughout their careers.
I don’t even want to answer the phone since the person on the other end keeps asking, “Can I have somebody who could speak English?” Collado said. “And I answered that “I am able to speak English.” And those are the pains in one’s heart, this is so awful.”
The stereotype inaccurately defines an immigrant community, which is a significant driving force in the healthcare system in the United States.
“I am well aware that there is the stereotype of Filipinos and Filipino Americans as nurses,” said Catherine Ceniza Choy, associate dean of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice at UC Berkeley. “As an Asian American historian, and as the daughter of Filipino immigrants, I am well aware that there is the stereotype of Filipinos and Filipino Americans as nurses.”
The forgotten narrative of the Filipino nurse who worked in the United States, from the time of World War II up until the present pandemic.
Ceniza Choy expressed her viewpoint by saying, “I choose to regard Filipino nurses working in the United States as a lived experience of unsung heroes.”
Unsung for their bravery in responding to a decades-old appeal in the United States to fill nursing shortages, and according to historians, equally unappreciated for the way in which their culture revolutionized a field of work.
Ceniza Choy stated that without the work of Filipino American nurses, the facility could not run in the manner in which it does.
Catherine Ceniza Choy, an Asian American historian, and novelist who is also the daughter of Filipino immigrants is spotlighting the efforts of the late Esther Hipol Simpson, a Filipino immigrant nurse, and activist who arrived in Chicago in the 1970s. Simpson was a resident of Chicago. She gained notoriety for her work organizing protests against the racial scapegoating of two Filipino immigrant nurses in the state of Michigan.
Ceniza Choy stated that they also made petitions and staged demonstrations.
In addition to their dedication to their jobs, Filipino nurses are also known for their unwavering commitment to the betterment of both the communities in which they work and the fields in which they are employed.
According to Ceniza Choy, “they’ve made contributions during the decades that they’ve spent providing care.” But in addition to that, they have expanded democracy and improved human rights in the United States.
The story of the Filipino Nurse in America, which Ceniza Choy referred to as “a story of unsung heroes,” is truly one of dedication and duty, despite the fact that it is weakened by stereotypes.
When the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared that COVID-19 was a pandemic on March 11, 2020, the world as we had previously known it was irrevocably altered. And the healthcare industry was brought to its knees as it fought on the frontlines of a pandemic war without the appropriate protection for the earliest stages of the conflict.
Because there is such a severe lack of gowns available, “we used trash bags to use as our robes,” Torres said.
Because Torres’ long-term healthcare facility was severely damaged, the Peterson Healthcare Nursing Director volunteered to clean up instead of remaining at her desk.
Torres is quoted as having declared, “Like soldiers, it is our job now to serve.”
Collector refused to work in medical units that were located far away from the COVID units that converted and took over the hospital wings at Northwestern Memorial in response to an influx of patients, despite the fact that he had been classified as “high-risk” for getting the virus.
“Why should I turn around? I mean, they can’t function without me, and this is exactly what I want to be doing “Collanto stated. “I have no choice but to remain, and I have no choice but to fight for this,” she said.
According to Ceniza Choy, “it is crucial for the American public to realize that Filipino nurses working in the United States are truly risking their lives to save ours.”
According to research published by National Nurses United in March 2021, Filipinos accounted for 4% of all registered nurses in the United States. Despite this, the nurses’ union stated a month earlier than 26% of the nurses who passed away as a result of COVID-19 and related problems were of Filipino descent.
The epidemic has begun a new chapter in the history of the Filipino nurse; much like their beginnings in the United States, they are once again responding to a call to serve in the most critical time for our country as a result of the pandemic.
Nevertheless, this chapter, in conjunction with an increase in prejudice towards AAPIs, has been a gloomy one; however, it is one that puts light on the significant role that Filipino nurses serve in the United States.
“These nurses are indeed heroic; but, they have also been targets of surges in anti-Asian hate and violence,” Ceniza Choy said. “[T]hese nurses] have been a target of surges in anti-Asian hate and violence.”
In spite of the fact that there are only 2.9 million Filipinx in the United States, which accounts for about 1% of the population, according to a report published by the American Medical Association in 2021, approximately one in four working-age Filipinx adults are frontline healthcare workers.
The price of representation is just disastrous. Given the difficulties of the epidemic years and decades of being unnoticed and unacknowledged, masked heroes Collanto and Torres believe that their narrative would expose the stereotype that has forgotten how the pride of the Filipino culture has birthed the nursing sector in the United States.
“It’s something that we can be proud of,” Torres said. “It’s something that we can be proud of.”
It is a story that these Filipino nurses are reclaiming as they tell their tales, and it is one that is worthy of being shared. Who they are, where they originated, and what characteristics distinguish them as uniquely Filipino.
Torres is quoted as saying, “As Filipinos, I believe compassion is ingrained in us.”
A nurse is a hero in this sense. It’s not just about perpetuating a basic stereotype; rather, it’s about praising the quality of care that results when cultural and familial values interact with medical treatment and patients.
According to Collado, “Being a Filipino nurse, this is what we were brought up doing, and this is what we were taught.”
Their tale of self-sacrifice, cultural devotion to family, and duty-driven migration to a new land. The unreported factual story of the Filipina nurse who worked in the United States is now available to be told, discussed, and sung about. And no, not all Filipinos are nurses.