Drive up Newark Avenue past Dickinson High School and there is a slew Philippine markets and restaurants, including the Philippine Bread House, a red-colored building that's part bakery, part mini-mall.
And on the corner of Christopher Columbus Drive and Colgate Street, there is a statue of Jose Rizal, a national hero of the Philippines.
There are over 16,000 Filipinos that reside within the city's borders, according to the 2000 Census.
Young Filipinos with the Jersey City organization Sumisibol will celebrate in a forum and festival known as "Pamana ng Lahi: Connecting Many Journeys, Continuing One Legacy" on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 at Victory Hall on Grand Street.
The festival will celebrate 100 years of Filipino migration to the United States and encourage Filipino youths to appreciate their heritage and maintain those traditions in another country.
Sumisibol is a non-profit organization formed in 1999 with the mission of promoting the development of Filipino-American teens, their peers, and their families.Making Filipino youths aware
Julman Tolentino, Sumisibol executive director, said last week that the festival serves to not only inform Filipino youth about their history, but also help them realize they are part of American culture.
"The recent immigrant population feels a certain amount of marginalization, being treated as second-class citizens," said Tolentino. "American history most times obscures the contributions of other cultures, where Asian-American history or African-American history is not considered American history when it is."
He also said most Filipinos who emigrate want to embrace the American Dream at the risk of losing their heritage, but soon realize how "Filipino they are."
"They come to the United States and find themselves wondering what America is really all about, and they look at how attached they are to Filipino roots," said Tolentino. Tolentino looks forward to the forum on Dec. 2, which will feature Filipino-American historians and experts. On Dec. 3 there will be a festival with performances and traditional food on the agenda.
Tolentino hopes 100 to 150 youths come out for the forum and over 300 people of all ethnicities turn out for the festival.
"We want youth to have a larger awareness of Filipino identity in shaping America and we're hoping they realize they have to continue the legacy," said Tolentino.
For more information on the events, visit www.sumisibol.com or contact Cheryl Tolentino at (201) 963-4470 or at email@example.com.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org