E. J. R. David Ph.D.

Unseen and Unheard

Celebrating the Rapid Growth of Filipino American Psychology

Group Holds First-Ever Psychology Conference on "The Forgotten Asian Americans"

Posted Jan 29, 2016

January 30, 2016 is a historic date for Filipino American Psychology, as the Asian American Psychological Association's (AAPA) Division on Filipino Americans (DoFA) hosts the first-ever national conference specifically focusing on the psychological experiences of Filipino Americans.

Led by DoFA Co-Chairs Dr. Alicia del Prado and Dr. Richelle Concepcion and organized by DoFA officers Dr. Krista Chronister, Dr. Michelle Madore, Dr. Steph Pituc, Dr. Christine Catipon, Lainie Posecion, Andy Paves, and Christine Ricohermoso-Shiaw, the day-long event is at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California, and features scholars, researchers, clinicians, administrators, students, and community members specializing on the psychological experiences of Filipinos in America. People everywhere can follow the event through social media by using the hashtag #DoFA2016.

AAPA DoFA
Source: AAPA DoFA

Filipino Americans are often regarded as the “forgotten Asian Americans” (Cordova, 1983) by society or the “invisible minorities” (Cimmarusti, 1996) by the psychological community. This invisibility and neglect takes place despite the fact that there is a long and significant history of Filipinos with and within the United States, with the Philippines being a former U.S colony and with Filipinos being on the lands now known as California as far back as 1587, long before there was even a United States of America!

The lack of understanding and attention on the psychological experiences of Filipino Americans is also surprising given the fact that the numbers of Filipino Americans are continuously and rapidly increasing (3.4 million total), currently making them the 2nd largest Asian subgroup in the U.S. after Chinese Americans. 

Thus, the DoFA conference is a landmark moment, a testament to Filipino American psychology's tremendous growth over the past few years. For example, a simple search on PsycINFO – the largest database of psychology-related scholarly literature – using the word “Filipino” produced 777 hits from 1904 to 2004 – a 100 year span; from 2005 to 2016, just over the past 10 years, there has already been 995! Plus, there has been several books published specifically about the Filipino American psychology experience over the past 10 years!

Despite the growth of Filipino American psychology literature over the past 10 years, however, that’s still only a total of around 1700 hits on PsycINFO. In comparison, the term “Chinese” returned over 47,000 hits. The term “Japanese” returned over 34,000 hits. The term “Korean” returned almost 10,000 hits. The term “South Asian” returned over 4000 hits. The term “Vietnamese” produced over 2,000 hits. In last summer’s AAPA conference in Toronto, there was not one presentation or research project that was about Filipino Americans.

So the Filipino American experience is still understudied. Filipino Americans are still a forgotten, neglected minority. Filipino Americans are still invisible, and are still marginalized even within the Asian American community. Filipino Americans are still on the margins, even within the Asian American Psychology community.

E.J.R. David
Source: E.J.R. David

But there is hope. The current AAPA president is Dr. Kevin Nadal, a trailblazer in Filipino American psychology, a DoFA founder, and former DoFA co-chair. He follows Dr. Alvin Alvarez, who is the first-ever Filipino American president of AAPA and also a DoFA founding member. DoFA exists, and the first-ever Filipino American psychology conference is happening - and is sold out! 

The Filipino American psychology community is hoping that it can continue to build on the foundations laid down by Filipino American psychology pioneers - Drs. Maria Root, Linda Revilla, Asuncion Austria, Patricia Heras, Leny Strobel, and many others. DoFA intends to capitalize on the significant growth of Filipino American psychology over the past 10-15 years, and build on the energy and momentum of the conference. Filipino American psychology hopes to continue growing as a community; to keep growing as a Filipino American psychology family! 

Follow along with the DoFA conference over Facebook and twitter using the hashtag #DoFA2016. You may also visit and "like" the DoFA Facebook page to get updates.

For more information about the AAPA's Division on Filipino Americans, visit their website here: http://aapaonline.org/divisions/division-on-filipino-americans/

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