July 21, 2011; Source: The Asian Journal |

Organizers of the annual “Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York Awards” (TOFA-NY) decided to go viral this year. Voting for the awards will be conducted via Facebook. The group of multimedia professionals made the move because they “believe social media is crucial in getting the word out about the many personalities and organizations that have made us one significant and dynamic community in this part of the U.S.”

Nearly half of the U.S. population is currently plugged into social networks but Asian Americans are the most connected, with 62% of the population socially active online.

TOFA-NY marks Filipino American History Month in October and recognizes individuals and organizations that have positively raised the profile of the community. Among this year’s nominees are nonprofit leaders of New York area groups, including The Children’s Orchestra Society, Damayan Migrant Workers Association, Kalusugan (Health) Coalition and Barangay New York, an LGBTQ organization.

Over 100,000 Filipinos call New York home according to the 2010 Census though some believe that many more were not counted. The Empire State is home to about 1.6 million Asians and the Filipino community is one of the largest.

Ethnic associations and community-based nonprofits contribute to the vitality of ethnic communities. Harnessing technology and the Internet to reach the next generation of hyphenated Americans is essential to maintaining community identity and solidarity. – Erwin de Leon