Posted on September 20, 2016
By Myca Tran
Named after it’s lush meadow landscape at the end of the pioneer trail, El Monte was not only the home of early settlers and Tongva natives but also a significant Asian American population. From the El Monte Berry Strike of 1933 to the building of the Hai Nam Association Temple in South El Monte in 2014, this area is a rich historical cove of Asian American labor, discrimination, solidarity, and resilience. Despite a few observable gems, much of our history still isn’t easily accessible or visibly documented. Without some of the efforts of the La Historia Society Museum and the South El Monte Arts Posse to publicly shed light on these less traveled roads, APIOPA would have little to reference about Asian Americans in the two cities.
We were fortunate enough to bring back Dat Tran–long term resident of El Monte, graduate of our Bike to China program, and recent graduate of Cal State Fullerton–to help us bring this information back to life. Asian American Bike Tour 2.0 is part of a continuing series to explore and vocalize our diverse stories; shed light on political, social, and environmental issues; bring together folks from across Los Angeles County to discover bike friendly routes; and engage with local community.
Starting with bicycle safety fundamentals led by our very own Kyle Tsukahira, the tour commenced at El Monte High School. Dat delved into the city’s founding in the 1850’s and arrivals of Chinese and Japanese pioneers. We passed B Nutritious, the healthy establishment owned by El Monte resident Brian Nguyen, who donated delicious cookies and special sauce for our opportunity drawing. At the Lady Liberty Statue, Dat painted a picture of white supremacy lying as a backdrop for protests and rallies that led to the eventual wave of Southeast Asian immigrants establishing residency after the Vietnam War.
After cruising through the many Korean-owned charming fashion boutiques of Valley Mall and learning about the severe anti-Asian sentiment in schools and public spaces during our Lexington Ave pit stop, we situated ourselves in the shaded areas of the Veterans Memorial where we uncovered poignant facts about the Hicks Camp, Chino Camp (an article in 1903 even called it “El Monte’s Chinese Colony”), and El Monte Berry Strike where Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino farm workers advocated for fair pay.
Duyen Tran from The Wilderness Society educated us on the proposed urban National Recreation Area and the effort to bring more pocket parks, walking paths, signage, educational programs, and other community-driven projects to local residents. We hopped on the Rio Hondo River Bike Trail and took a small detour at the Metro Bus Station where we stood in awe at Phung Huynh’s beautifully intentional tribute to El Monte’s multiculturalism, “In the Meadow”, and dialogued around the new surrounding development’s impact on the community. Our last stop along the Rio Hondo River was Lashbrook Park where we briefly learned about the Emerald Necklace Forest to Ocean Expanded Vision Plan, Measure A (which came out of the Parks Needs Assessment and if passed would bring a 1.5 cent property tax to fund the maintenance and creation of new parks), and the Puente Hills Landfill Park Master Plan (LA county’s largest newest park).
We faced the afternoon sun at Viet Huong Restaurant where Dat and co-owner Augustine Tran shared their families’ stories. Augustine emphasized the positive influences of growing up in community with predominately Spanish-speaking folks and how his father paved the way for the acceptance of Asian cultural foods through his advocacy to the LA County Public Health Department.
Following the acknowledgement of the Thai garment slavery case that made international headlines in 1995, which forced the American public to reconsider the ethics of our retail industry, we gathered at the Hai Nam Association to break bread with elders over homemade traditional Hainan chicken. The local elders shared their personal stories, struggles, and triumphs over lunch. We concluded our stop with a temple tour describing the roles and significances of the various Buddhist gods. The temple holds annual Lunar New Years festivals and is currently recruiting lion dancers.
We wrapped up our tour with our opportunity drawing, reflections, and briefly discussed SB 75 Health4All Kids, an initiative to educate and create access to Medi-Cal for undocumented youth under 19 whose families have incomes at or below 266% of the federal poverty level.
We’d like to give a special thanks to The Wilderness Society, the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center, B Nutritious, South El Monte Arts Posse, Viet Huong Restaurant, and the Hai Nam Association for supporting our goals of bringing more historical awareness, community engagement, and healthy active living to the San Gabriel Valley!
We look forward to continuing exploring Asian American history throughout the San Gabriel Valley through future bike tours. In the meantime, please be sure to look out for our video clips of the ride, check out Dat’s article “The Asian Americans of El Monte, CA” on the APIOPA Blog, #AsianAmericanBikeTour on Instagram, and photos on APIOPA’s Facebook page!
Posted on June 14, 2016
- El Monte High School – Early History of El Monte & Asian American Discrimination
- B Nutritious – Local Business with Healthy Alternatives
- Civic Center – Lady Liberty & History of Gang Violence
- Valley Mall – History of Downtown El Monte
- Rio Hondo River Bike Path – Hicks Camp, Berry Strike & Proposed Urban National Recreation Area
- Metro Bus Station – Phung Huynh’s Mural, Bike Hub & New Development
- Lashbrook Park – Emerald Necklace & South El Monte Facts
- Santa Anita & Garvey – Thai Garment Workers Case
- Viet Huong – Personal Stories & Early Pioneers of Permitting Cultural Foods in Los Angeles
Posted on March 29, 2016
By Sina Uipi
Last week FAB had its seventh session, and we explored the Tongan concept of Fatongia and how it relates to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
FATONGIA/responsibility – accountable for something within one’s power.
In Tonga, being active or longo mo’ui is a natural part of being a productive member of the home. All members contribute to all work needed to maintain a healthy household. What is our fatongia in encouraging the same liveliness in our homes so we can foster a mindset of being active while contributing to the everyday lives of our families?
Here in America, physical activity like going to the gym, is something you have to make time for, it is separate from everything else you do. In Tonga, you are constantly in a state of movement, not just physically, but mentally. Being active includes doing chores, mowing the lawn, doing laundry, cleaning the house, etc. It promotes a mindset of forward thinking and a lifestyle of planning ahead. So it’s something that is already built into your daily routine and holds you accountable to your fatongia. How can we apply the same thinking to our lives here so that we can be more active?
Special thanks to our guest speaker, Kuaine Taufa, for joining us and sharing some awesome knowledge about our proverbs. Join us for our next one, April 28, 2016!!
Posted on March 29, 2016
This past Saturday, APIOPA partnered with CICLE, Metro and Koreatown Youth and Community Center (KYCC) to do a great community bike ride through the Pico-Union neighborhood. This 6 mile ride included visits to some of the more historic parts of the neighborhood, some great pit stops at a local pupuseria (Don Carlos), as well as 7/8 Liquor Store.
7/8 Liquor Store is one of the corner stores that APIOPA, in partnership with the LURN and the LA Food Policy Council, drops off fresh veggies to make healthy food more accessible and affordable in neighborhoods that don’t have large markets.
Posted on March 7, 2016
By Sina Uipi
I’d like to thank our friends at Empowering Pacific Islander Communities for organizing the #HerHeartMatters campaign in February, which is Heart Health Month. There was a challenge to post as many selfies with important women in our lives, and we would be entered to win weekly prizes and one final grand prize at the end of the month. All names of people who posted were fairly drawn. The weekly prizes were sponsored by Rudebwoy3nt, to win free tickets to the annual Island Reggae Festival, which takes place this summer. The grand prize was a free 8 hour tattoo session sponsored by Alipate Fetuli, a well known professional tattoo artist in our community. I am truly honored to win an amazing grand prize, and to be apart of a campaign that raises awareness about heart health through the power of social media, especially to our young people. I will always fight to make our health a priority! This makes the prize that much more meaningful, and I will always cherish this experience. Thank you to all those who participated in this campaign. A special thanks to our awesome sponsors and congratulations to all the weekly prize winners. All of our hearts matter:)
Posted on February 27, 2016
We are SO excited to share that long-time friend Sedora Tantraphol has become our newest sustainer! Sedora has been a big advocate of what APIOPA fights for and, because she’s holding this shirt up in this picture you know we have to say it…she walks the walk! During the day, Sedora works for Moonsail North, where she specializes in helping organizations build their capacity to promote the well-being of communities. By night she helps groups like APIOPA take our work to the next level by volunteering countless hours on our fundraising board. We are very fortunate to have this modern-day superheroine pushing our work forward!
What’s a sustainer you might ask? Sustainers are awesome people who decide to contribute any amount monthly to help support the great work we do at APIOPA. Whether it’s being able to make a healthy dinner for the family, or being able to safely walk or bike in your own neighborhood, APIOPA works hard to change environments so that every API family has a chance for good health! Being a sustainer like Sedora, means you believe in us and want to be part of this movement!
If you are interested in becoming as awesome as Sedora, become a sustainer by clicking here!
Posted on February 19, 2016
By Uyen Hoang
As I’ve been running discussion groups and workshops for students for the #IdealAsianCampaign, I’ve noticed many recurring things throughout each group and not just on the lack of knowledge of resources about the issue at hand. What I’ve noticed across the board is that in every group that I have ran there are always laughter present. And I know that they aren’t laughing because because they think it’s a joke based off the conversation, but still;
- There was laughter when we talked about how family spoons up critical remarks on weight and size at holiday dinners.
- There was laughter when we talked about the struggles of being the “fat one” in the family or if we had a sibling that occupied that role.
- There was laughter when we talked about skin whitening cream and how it fell into our hands.
- There was laughter when we talked about how extreme the beauty standards that we are inundated with from media and family are.
- There was laughter when we discuss the necessity for likes and affirmations on social media.
- There was laughter when we talked about how we or the people close to us skipped meals as a way of getting to a certain image.
- There was laughter when we talked about how we didn’t fit the images that we were pressured to strive for.
- And, so on.
I am compelled to wonder, why are we laughing?
Laughter can heal but laughter can also mask much darker feelings. When we’re hurt, we can choose either to laugh or cry. I guess, from what I see in my groups, laughing is a better fix for body image and insecurity issues. But after a while and with so many groups, it gets a bit unsettling. Is laughter really the best medicine for this? What does it mean when we laugh at the pain we feel?
Updated on February 8, 2016