Kevin Lau

English 165

Essay #4

Final Draft


Interview with Nate Nevado


The person I interviewed was Nate Nevado.  He is a Filipino American who was born in Long Beach, CA and moved around during his childhood years.  His area of expertise revolves around helping his community.  He has devoted his educational goals and career goals toward helping Filipino youth today achieve success in school.  However, there are many questions to be answered including what motivates and drives him to help others and what place in Filipino historical continuum he is a part of.  These questions will be answered and will be explored thoroughly to gain insight and reliable knowledge about the history and culture that is Filipino.  However, early on I will need to address biases I may or may not have in analyzing this topic.  Before the interview with Nate, I did not know much about activism.  The official definition of activism is the direct action, often confrontational, in opposition or support of a cause.  My shortcomings including never being as passionately involved in any belief or cause the way Nate is dedicated to helping youth in his community.  I gained a great deal of insight into why he feels it is completely necessary to help youth today to preserve the future for Filipino Americans.  Growing up as a child, Nate was deprived of major support to help him reach his goals.  Lack of knowledge about how the educational system worked made things extremely difficult on top of all the moving during his childhood years.  However, Nate persisted and this stubborn drive to achieve eventually got him to where he is today.  Understanding Nate’s drive to succeed in his goal of helping others is extremely important to today’s movement of Filipino activism in furthering their cause of obtaining better education and fair treatment in San Francisco. 

My interview with Nate was conducted in a question and response format.  I had made an appointment with Nate to meet at his office at City College of San Francisco to discuss these issues that are extremely important to him.  I asked him questions that gave me insight into understanding what it was like to grow up as a Filipino child.  Personally, I did not have the same struggles as Nate so I was very interested in finding out more about how his life played out during his early years.  I touched upon these questions because I felt his childhood would be a heavy influencing factor in what he does today.  It answers my many questions regarding his passion and his motivating forces that guide him toward achieving his goals.  For the most part, I asked most of the questions and Nate answered them to the best of his ability.  Going into this interview, I did not know much at all about Nate so I felt this form of interviewing would give me the best angle to learn and absorb what he had to say. 

            One of the major themes in my interview with Nate revolved around childhood struggles and how they are still relevant and important today.  I will briefly summarize Nate’s childhood and describe some of his struggles.  Like I mentioned before, Nate was born in Long Beach in southern California.  His mother was a Nurse and his father was in the Navy, which explained why he was always on the move.  The first location they moved to was Virginia.  With the exception of his sister, Nate was the only Filipino American on campus.  Everyone would assume he was Chinese because they had never heard of the term “Filipino.”  In fact, the only thing Nate knew about Filipinos was what he was able to learn at home from his parents and family.  There were no other Filipinos kids for him to learn from.  Later on he moved to Chicago, where things were different.  He attended a school where there was greater diversity among the students.  He had Filipino kids to hang out with.  However, before he could get settled he moved again to the Bay Area.  He started college in the East Bay and eventually finished at San Francisco State University.  Once to obtain his bachelors degree and returning later on to obtain his Masters degree in counseling.  Between all the traveling Nate was troubled with a few aspects of growing up and not realizing your ethnic identity.  During the interview he mentioned that he did not experience outright racism many times, but most of the time no one would understand him and the racism although subtle definitely existed.  Nate experienced this racism from students and even counselors while he was growing up.  He mentioned a specific example of racism while he was trying to transfer from DVC to San Francisco State.  He was talking to a counselor and wanted to gain a better idea of what needed to be done so he could transfer to a 4 year institution.  The counselor looked at his transcript and saw Nate had enough credits to graduate but had taken many courses that he did not need. The counselor quickly told Nate that even though he had the units to transfer, perhaps school wasn’t for him because he was misinformed about the transfer process.  I found this extremely shocking, because I have never encountered an academic counselor at school telling me that school might not be for me.  I always assumed they were there to help.  This was not true.  Apparently, racism exists in many aspects of our lives and we often do not recognize it.   

The subtle yet obvious example of racism is part of what motivates Nate to be active in his community.  Nate eventually found out the transfer information he needed to move on, and very impressively completed his college career.  He realized after receiving his bachelors degree at San Francisco State, that his life calling was counseling.  All the disadvantages he placed under during his childhood he would try to help a new generation of Filipino youth overcome.  Often there is racism that is harmful, yet goes unnoticed or ignored by faculty.  Often mentally scarring episodes happen to Filipino students and are completely ignored.  “In grade school, he said, some kids used "to pull their eyes back, stick out their teeth and chant, ching-chong, ching-chong!'”(Veltasezar )  Nate knows this type of racism exists and he tries to fight it by sending out a positive message of tolerance and understanding. 

Nate’s fight is also with an educational system that is confusing and complicated to many Filipino youth.  He can see the real problem is not Filipino youth are uneducated, but that they lack the knowledge about the way the educational system works.  Filipino youth are rated as the number one ethnic group at City College of San Francisco, to either fall into academic probation or drop out of school completely.  Many of these students are willing to learn and only need support and guidance along the way.  Nate’s counseling services will go a long way toward helping youth in his community achieve their academic and personal goals in life. 

Nate’s involvement in community activism has great importance in his place in Filipino history.  The movement of Filipino community activism has been going on for years.  When you talk about activism and its effects on commuting change you must look back in history.  Filipinos have always had the desire to push change when things were

not looking their way.  Even today, there are many examples of Filipino activism that has tried to force change.  In the Philippines, activist groups are getting together to protest recent the recent killings of progressive activist leaders.  Many in the Philippines believe that these killings are linked to the U.S. backed regime that is currently in power.  The United States currently has great interest in making sure that it holds a strong foothold in the Philippines.  “With the collaboration of the present Philippine government, it is attempting to reestablish its military domination of that country so as to provide a stepping-stone for US military intervention in Asia and the Middle East”(Simbuland).  Basically, the United States will come in and intervene and try to stop any Filipino activism that might still occur in the Philippines, because it has vital interests in maintaining a military base on the islands.  However, active Filipino activism is making their voices heard, in that they will not take the abuse and suppression of voices by the Philippine government. Change will only come when a strong voice is raised to oppose what is wrong.

In mentioning activism in that is currently going on today in the Philippines, I relate it back to Nate’s work.  Even though his work does not directly connect him to protest against killing of Filipino activists, he has another fight on his hands.  He is fighting the war against the lack of knowledge.  Often the term, knowledge is power appears to be a random cliché tossed around liberally.  However, in this case it is very important because empowering students with knowledge is really a powerful key to their success.  “Offering support is the best way to change a student’s life.”(Nevado, Audio

file segment 8)  By supporting students and empowering them with knowledge Nate is giving them an opportunity to succeed in their own goals in life.  In his own childhood, such a luxury was not provided for him.  He had to dig hard to find information he needed to move on in school.  Counselors where not helpful and did not provide an outlet for him to voice his concerns and problems.  By providing such outlets for students today, Nate is giving Filipino students options they never had before.  “I want to use my own experiences to help students not go down the same path” (Nate Audio file segment 5). His experiences and knowledge can go very far to keep confused students looking forward into the future and achieve their own personal goals.    

Nate’s role in community activism looks toward brightening the future.  In addition to helping students achieve in school, Nate also mentors student led organizations that empower young Filipinos.  He is also working on a project that will bring a community center to Daly City for Filipino youth to learn more about their roots, heritage and culture.  In Litton’s book “Journey of 100 Years,” he states “Filipinos need to rediscover their rich cultural heritage and develop a more positive attitude toward Philippine languages.  (Litton 92)   The community center will work toward this goal.  Exposing Filipino youth with increasing frequency to their old culture and languages will help them gain a better understanding of what it is like to be Filipino.  Nate is taking the fight to many different fronts.  He is helping students stay in school and also trying to provide a place where they can work on positive projects and stay off the streets and away from gangs and drugs.  His work pushes Filipino youth to expect and demand more from themselves.  Only by helping themselves, Filipino youth can make a real difference in their lives.  Nate helps give young Filipino a stronger sense of identity.  As a child, moving from city to city, Nate felt he lacked an understanding of his own identity and what it meant to be Filipino.  Now as a grown up he wants to instill what he learned about growing up as a Filipino to students who are going through the same issues he had to deal with. 

            Nate Nevado’s work has brought him closer to his community.  His strive to help others goes a long way toward his fight against the lack of knowledge.  His work relates directly back to community activism, in that his main goal is to help his community achieve a better standing in life.  Nate’s place in in the historical context of Filipino history will lie with his active pledge to help Filipino youth.  Even though Nate’s form of activism is not in the traditional sense of protesting for a cause, his work is equally if not more important.  His impact on Filipino youth will be great as he is someone who they will respect and listen to.  With similar shared experiences he can connect to Filipino youth on a level their parents or teachers could never understand them.  This is extremely important because without the respect and connection, authoritative figures are usually shunned away and tuned out.  Reaching Filipino youth and guiding them through college is a vital step toward making life better in the Filipino community. 



Works Cited


Litton, Edmundo F. Jouney of 100 Years. Filipino American Literary House 1999


Nevado, Nate “Digital Oral Research Project”

            November, 2005 (Audio File Segments 1-9)


Simbulan, Roland G. “Filipino American Friendship: A Boone to the Filipino

People” July, 2002. <>


Veltisezar, Bautista. “Filipino Americans: Yesterday and Today” <>