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Asian Journal: A Vital Resource for Filipinos

NCM Profile

NCM, Pueng Vongs Posted: Jul 11, 2003

In 1991, Cora and Roger Oriel, founders of the Asian Journal, surveyed the burgeoning Filipino community in Los Angeles, and felt there was something missing. Compared to other groups like Chinese and Koreans, Filipinos were not quite as visible and had not obtained the same level of financial success as a whole. The husband and wife team thought that by giving the community a forum to learn about each other and to network, they could also bolster the standing of Filipino Americans. "We wanted a politically empowered community as well as a financially empowered one," says Cora.

The Asian Journal debuted as a 24 page full color newspaper and has succeeded in helping the community come into its own. As readership began to grow, more Filipino businesses and professionals placed ads in the newspaper to promote their product and services. Word quickly spread that the Asian Journal was one of the main resources for the community to find out the latest happenings and also to learn about Filipino merchants.

"Mom and pop stores that began advertising with us were able to increase their business and are now more sophisticated and successful," Cora says.

The Asian Journal continues to duplicate this success with the rapidly growing Filipino businesses in California. The population of Filipinos approximately 918,000-- now rivals in size the largest Asian group in the state, the Chinese, who total 980,000 according to the latest census.

The content of the newspaper has been consistent throughout the last two decades including staples such as community news and news from the homeland. Recent stories include updates on Muslim extremist group activity in the Southern Philippines, sex scandals affecting Filipinos in the Catholic Church and profiles of successful Filipinos in the entertainment world.

The publication has also doubled in size since its beginnings and has spawned two other editions -- in Northern California and Las Vegas -- as well as a web site and a Filipino business directory.

The new Las Vegas edition reflects a growing trend as more Filipinos venture out of established enclaves in California to settle in new frontiers. Cora says they happened on the idea of a Las Vegas edition on a stopover.

"We spoke to one of the Filipinos who was working at the MGM Grand hotel and found out that there were several hundred Filipinos working there and that Filipinos made up a large part of the service industry in Las Vegas." In fact, she says, just a few blocks from the Strip and you'll find clusters of Filipino businesses. Some major Filipino chains also plan to open there soon. Filipinos represent the largest Asian population in Las Vegas with more than 33,000. The new Las Vegas edition already has a circulation of 18,000, compared to 35,000 in Los Angeles and 25,000 in Northern California.

Cora says the main challenge of the newspaper is to continue to evolve with the community, including reaching out to the younger generation of Filipino Americans. "We want to address their needs. They have adopted American thinking in their hearts, but we want to keep them interested in Filipino culture."

When she looks back on her and her husband's original goal to empower the Filipino community, Cora says she's still not satisfied. "Yes, the business community has grown significantly, but now we need more Filipinos in public office to represent our issues to ensure our needs aren't being overlooked."

Asian Journal is online at www.asianjournal.com.

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