June 13, 2022 By Czarinna Andres
More than 200 Filipinos and their friends took to Woodside on Sunday to officially name the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and 70th Street “Little Manila Avenue.”
The co-naming honors the Filipino community that established businesses and began settling in the area in the 1970s and built a hub near the 69th Street subway station in Woodside.
The area has long been known as “Little Manila” for its many Filipino restaurants and shops such as Renee’s Kitchen, Phil Am Foodmart, Ihawan, a branch of the National Bank of the Philippines and many more.
The event was held on Sunday to also commemorate Philippine Independence Day, a day that marks the declaration of independence from Spain in 1898.
The co-naming ceremony also includes cultural performances and dancing. Many attendees waved the Philippine flag as they cheered when the signage was unveiled.
Xenia Diente, a Filipino-American whose mother immigrated to the country as a nurse, told the crowd that the co-denomination represented two years of advocacy.
The call for co-naming, she said, stems from a mural that was erected at the corner of 69th Street and Roosevelt Avenue in June 2020 that honored healthcare workers. Filipinos who worked during the coronavirus pandemic. Many felt at the time that the area should be recognized as Little Manila, Diente said.
She said a group started an online petition shortly after calling for the Queens Boulevard/70th Street intersection to be co-named in recognition of the Filipino community.
Following the success of the petition, a co-naming bill was passed by the council in December 2021, she said.
Joseph Castillo, whose parents started Phil Am in 1976, told the crowd that New York City has ethnic enclaves in all five boroughs. He said he was happy that Filipinos now have an area named after them.
The “Little Manila” sign was erected in front of the Castillo business, a popular Filipino grocery store.
The area began to take on a Filipino flavor after nurses and healthcare workers began moving there in the 1970s after being recruited to work at Elmhurst Hospital. Many wanted to live near the hospital, which made the area a magnet for Filipinos.
The event ended with a joyful and spontaneous line dance to celebrate the new street sign and Philippine Independence Day.