May 25, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
A street corner in Woodside will be co-named “Little Manila Avenue” next month in celebration of the large Filipino presence in the neighborhood.
The intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and 70th Street will soon bear the new name as a way to recognize the contribution Filipinos have made to the community. A stretch of Roosevelt Avenue by the 69th Street subway station is known to many as “Little Manila” for its many Filipino restaurants and stores.
A co-naming ceremony will take place at the intersection on June 12, starting at noon. The date coincides with Philippine Independence Day, which commemorates the declaration of Philippine independence from Spain in 1898.
The ceremony will come nearly two years after residents launched an online petition calling for the stretch to be co-named as an ode to the Filipino community in the neighborhood. Many Filipino Americans have called that section of Woodside home for decades. The petition garnered more than 3,000 signatures.
Following the success of the petition, a bill to co-name the corner “Little Manila Avenue” was sponsored by former councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. The bill was unanimously passed by the council on Dec. 15, 2021.
Xenia Diente, a Filipino-American whose mother immigrated to the country as a nurse, said that Filipinos have been coming to Woodside in significant numbers since the 1970s, many as registered nurses. Diente helped launch the petition.
Many Filipino nurses and healthcare workers, Diente said, were recruited to work at Elmhurst Hospital and decided to settle in nearby Woodside. The neighborhood soon became a hub for Filipino arrivals.
“The co-naming will be important to recognize the increased Filipino population in Woodside, it’s really exciting,” Diente said.
During the 2010 census, about 86,000 Filipinos and Filipino Americans were estimated to be residing in New York City with about 54 percent living in the borough of Queens. A breakdown of the Filipino population in the 2020 census has not been released.
Diente said that Filipino residents have been discussing the idea of a co-naming for more than a decade.
She said people finally sprung into action to launch the petition immediately after a mural went up on the corner of 69th Street and Roosevelt Avenue in June 2020. The mural paid tribute to the Filipino healthcare workers who risked — and in some cases, gave — their lives during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s been a long time in the making and the community is happy to see it finally happen,” Diente said.
Steven Raga, who is running to represent the 30th Assembly District, said that the Filipino community went above and beyond the call of duty during the pandemic and that the co-naming recognizes those sacrifices. If elected, Raga would be the first Filipino American to win a seat in the state legislature.
“During the height of the epidemic, small businesses in Little Manila volunteered their limited time and resources to feed frontline workers all across New York,” Raga said in a statement to the Queens Post.
“This dedication highlights not just what Little Manila has contributed to Woodside, but what Woodside has contributed to our city at its greatest hour of need.”