Agnes Constante

Journalist & Blogger


How the Philippines’ colonial legacy weighs on Filipino American mental health

LA Times
Oct. 12, 2021

Daniela Pila spent an hour after school one day scrubbing her brown skin with a bar of papaya soap, hoping it would turn white.

She was 12 and had never really cared much about the color of her skin. But the negative comments she had received about her physical features throughout her life had started to weigh her down.

She remembered a family member saying her nose made her look like a pig. Her classmates called her fat, ugly and damak — a Filipino term that means filthy. She saw that her peers with lighter complexions were showered with compliments.

“I was so tired of having people comment on my body and my skin tone and my body parts — things I had no control over,” said Pila, now 32, a postdoctoral researcher in critical race studies at Fordham University. “And I thought, ‘Maybe if I’m lighter skinned, people will leave me alone.’”

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Mental healthcare for Cambodian, Vietnamese refugees limited by shortage of bicultural, bilingual providers

Sept. 17, 2020

Paul Hoang moved to Orange County in 2007 after a taxing work year as a mental health clinician in Illinois.

In the Midwest, he had seen clients who drove up to six hours once a month — even through blizzards — for his services. Demand was high because there was a lack of providers serving the Vietnamese community, he said.

It was something he tried to remedy by getting involved in local politics to advocate for more resources.

But after a year, he burnt out.

Hoang had hoped to find more groups that served the Vietnamese community and more support for providers in Orange County, given its Vietnamese population of approximately 200,000, according to the 2010 census. He said he arrived surprised to find that neither of those things existed.

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‘Never Too Late to Change’: In Deportation Limbo, Tung Nguyen Wants to Help Fellow Felons

NBC Asian America
Jan. 23, 2017

Every day, Tung Nguyen lives in uncertainty.

A resident of Orange County, California, he works as a construction helper and takes on random jobs to make ends meet. His income is unstable.

But it’s not his financial insecurity that worries him most: It’s the fact that any day, he could be torn away from his wife and stepson and deported from the United States.

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How a Second Chance Led Ex-Con Jay Ly to Some Stinkin Crawfish

NBC Asian America
Oct. 27, 2016

For Jay Ly, every workday is different.

Sometimes, he gets up at 6 a.m. to meet with contractors at the two currently under construction locations of a Cajun restaurant that he co-founded with friends called Stinkin Crawfish. Other times, he’s at the restaurant’s three existing branches, fixing the occasional clogged drain or broken power outlet.

He’s also busy coordinating with a friend and business partner about the two new locations, which are slated to be up and running by early 2017, perhaps even sooner.

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