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Filipinos on the rise in Glendale, Census shows

April 26, 2012

In the past two decades, Glendale’s Filipino population has grown 66% to 13,328, according to recently released 2010 U.S. Census data.

Filipino Americans now make up about 7% of Glendale’s population, outpacing Koreans, who were once the third largest minority group in a city of about 192,000. Armenians are the largest minority group, followed by Latinos of Mexican descent.

From 1990 to 2000, the number of Koreans steadily increased 32% to 12,504, but in the past decade, the population has slid 18% to 10,315, census data shows.

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The migrations in and out of Glendale highlight changing immigration and economic patterns of the Korean and Filipino communities, experts said.

While Glendale used to be like Beverly Hills for Korean immigrants with businesses in Los Angeles’ Koreatown three decades ago, the more affluent are finding greener pastures. But for many Filipinos, Glendale’s robust healthcare sector has made the city a steadfast beacon.

The population shifts also demonstrate Glendale’s own cultural change, experts said. Once known as a white, discriminatory suburb, Glendale has come to welcome minorities, offering translation services and special secondary language programs at its schools.

“Now it’s become one of the most important new gateway cities,” said Edward J.W. Park, professor of Asian American Pacific Studies at Loyola Marymount University.

While not yet a migration hub like Carson or Daly City, which is known as the Manila of Northern California, members of the local Filipino community say Glendale’s three hospitals and a large elder-care industry have been powerful draws.

In 2006, Glendale Adventist Medical Center got a flood of applicants from the Philippines, said hospital spokeswoman Alicia Gonzalez.

“They heard about us in the Philippines and they came to us,” Gonzalez said.

And at Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center, a significant number of healthcare workers are Filipino, including Cathy Ragasa, director for women’s services.

She moved to Glendale in 1990 to be close to the hospital, and like her, many Filipinos prefer living near work over commuting long distances, she said.

“I am happy. I can see that Filipinos are everywhere,” Ragasa said.

Nursing is a top job choice for Filipino women, a trait that stretches back to colonial rule. According to census data, 56% of Filipinos in Glendale are female.

Park said he expected the Filipino American population to continue growing as nurses with temporary visas attain permanent residency.

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-- Brittany Levine, Times Community News

Twitter: @brittanylevine

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