Fil-Am group lauded for breaking cycle of domestic violence
DALY CITY, California – The City Council lauded a Filipino American nonprofit organization for changing attitudes and behaviors to promote healthy interaction and safe communities for almost two decades.
Canada-born, US-educated Fil-Am Mayor Rod Daus-Magbual on Oct. 24 proclaimed October Domestic Violence Awareness Month, urging the public to stand together against domestic violence by learning about the issue to become better partners, parents and community members.
Anastacio “Junior” Flores, 2022 president of ALLICE Alliance for Community Empowerment, received the proclamation on behalf of the organization’s founders and members, survivors and allies.
“You are breaking the cycle of violence,” Daus-Magbual gave praise at the packed meeting at City Hall, referring to the little-known and confusing honeymoon-tension-escalation-explosion phases of intimate partner violence. He also pointed to the effects of abuse on loved one of partners in abusive relationships, especially children, who are twice likely to become abused or perpetrators in adulthood.
“We would have a violent society” if the dynamic is unchecked through the generations, said the Filipino Studies professor. Just this May, Daus-Magbual invited the organization to enlighten his Skyline College class about the intersectionality of colonialism and abusive behavior.
Council Member Glenn Sylvester, a former San Francisco Police sergeant and ex-president of FALEO Filipino American Law Enforcement Officers, spoke of the transformation of police response to cases of intimate partner violence as a consequence of the October 2000 murder of San Francisco resident Claire Joyce Tempongko.
ALLICE in its events amplified the crucial role police play in the scenario, Sylvester said, accurately noting the “impetus” behind the organization’s foundation.
A study commissioned by then-Mayor Willie Brown found the lack of communication between San Francisco authorities led to the release from custody of Tempongko’s ex-boyfriend despite his having violated a temporary restraining order. He ended up stalking, torturing and stabbing Tempongko to death in front of her two young children.
Sylvester recalled that in 1999 when FALEO recommended the inclusion of DV response among best-practice training for their peers in the Philippines, “they were against it” because “basically (they believed) it (domestic abuse) was none of their business.”
“Your organization has brought a change to law enforcement,” Sylvester concluded, implying police are now aware of the dynamics of abuse and are careful not to escalate tension between troubled couples but instead defer to trained counselors and mental health experts. Stopping domestic violence is a community matter, he suggested.
Two years after formation in 2003, ALLICE in its earlier iteration as the CORA Kumares & Kumpares staged its first free and open to the public education presentation at the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco. For the first time in the Filipino community, a survivor of intimate partner violence detailed her experience to over a hundred people in attendance as the highlight of the event.
Every year since then, the community education team “gives a platform for survivors to share their stories,” said Vice Mayor Ray Buenaventura, a longtime supporter of the all-volunteer group.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of your organization for giving survivors the courage to speak in public,” he said. “Hearing and watching them sends chills down my bones because their stories are real.”
Council Member Juslyn Manalo coordinated ALLICE’s first-ever presentation and resource fair at a City Council Chambers when the Council under then-Mayor Buenaventura hosted the organization in October 2019, its last in-person event before the pandemic.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for providing tools and a safety net” for those suffering in abusive homes, she said, prodding the team to “continue with your advocacy.”
Like most nonprofits, ALLICE pivoted to virtual events for its traditional spring elder care and abuse prevention and fall intimate partner violence presentation-resource fairs. It collaborated with founding partners like the Philippine Consulate General and the Towns of Daly City and Colma, the County of San Mateo and Filipino Mental Health Initiative. It welcomed new partners like the County of Marin, Peninsula Family Service and Philippine International Aid.
In the past two years, ALLICE fulfilled its mission by posting a Love Letter to Survivors empathizing with the compounded challenge of being stranded with their abusive partners during the lockdown, giving tips on how to reach out cautiously to resource providers through tech devices. It made a presentation in early 2020 at “Tanong Kay Congen,” a Facebook Live program of then-Consul Gen. Henry Bensurto.
Later that year, it headlined the program as its new edition of its annual “Free From Violence” presentation when Bensurto dedicated his hour-long show – one of the last before the end of his term – to educate viewers on the root causes and examples of abuse and signs for abusive behaviors. ALLICE also issued a statement in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, defining racism as an example of abuse.
Last year its first virtual presentation of the annual “Our Family, Our Future” focused on the surging hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as a result of the scapegoating by public officials. Toward the end of 2021, it facilitated the first-ever training of Philippine Foreign Service Personnel upon invitation of newly assigned Consul General Neil Frank Ferrer, attended by the management and staff of six consulates and the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC.
This year ALLICE published the fourth edition of the A-List, a free guide for family resource providers vetted for Filipino and LGBTQ cultural and linguistic competence. The directory is the first of its kind in the Fil-Am community.
With immunization and treatments keeping COVID more manageable, ALLICE is planning to hold its first in-person event since the worldwide calamity, Flores announced in his response to the proclamation.
Council Member Pamela DiGiovanni applauded the idea, saying she would be in attendance. For survivors to see for themselves the many individuals and groups that believe in and support them is “impactful,” she said. ALLICE events “take away the shame” and show that “abuse can happen to anyone” in various walks of life, if they enter a relationship with someone who learned the behavior.