Amerasians in the Philippines have longed for help since their abandonment, desperately seeking societal acceptance in the Philippines and legal recognition by the U.S. government. Yet, to this day, both governments have largely ignored their pleas for help. Moved by their heart-wrenching stories and frustrated by their political invisibility, Enrico Dungca is compelled to document the faces and stories of these Amerasians, in the hope that more people around the world will learn of their struggle.
Even after the end of American colonial rule, the Philippines hosted two of the United States’ largest overseas military installations for more than 50 years. The closure of these bases in 1992 left approximately 50,000 - 200,000 children, born to U.S. servicemen and Filipino mothers, stranded in the Philippines. These children suffer mockery, racism, discrimination, and self-identity issues. Labeled often incorrectly - as “half dollar," "souvenir babies" - many live in poverty and stigma in an ultra-conservative Catholic society.
In 1982, the U.S. passed the Amerasian Act of 1982, a law that permitted Amerasian children born in Laos, Kampuchea, Vietnam, Thailand, and South Korea to enter the United States through preferential immigration treatment. Though the Philippines and Japan were originally included in the Act’s list of countries, they were deleted at the last minute. To date, it remains a mystery why Congress excluded the Philippines from the Act.
In early 2016, the United States and the Philippines agreed on reinstalling U.S. military bases in the archipelago under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) - a deal between both countries in order to strengthen the U.S.-Philippines alliance. The agreement is due to the rising tension and China’s territorial conflict in the South China Sea. With this consent, we ask a very important question: should another child be left behind?
The Amerasian Photography Project is dedicated to increasing awareness of the plight of Filipino Amerasians by sharing their stories through compelling photography, in order to communicate, educate, mobilize and seek social and political reform.
PHASE 2: Photography Book Design and Development
Phase 1 of the project included two successful trips in the Philippines where subjects were interviewed, photographed, and studied by the artist. Travel expenses, accommodations, materials for the photography sessions were financially supported by generous friends, family and colleagues through crowd funding platforms. Funds raised in Phase 1 also covered film development and processing, brochures, and other administrative costs.
"The Forgotten Americans" is the proposed photography book which is a critical management in Phase 2. It is in this phase that precise execution to the design, production, publication and printing development is vital. The book is intended to be distributed to Members of Congress in the hope of putting a face to the issue. Being that the photography book is self-published by the photographer, it is a costly undertaking. Photography exhibition is also in the agenda. It stands to reason that book publication and art installations require sponsorship and endowment by generous organizations, foundations, and from kind people like you.
In order to continue this valuable and critical project, Enrico seeks further support from your organization and/or generous individuals like you. With your help, he will be able to sustain book design, production and publication cost. With your support, Enrico will be able to underwrite the material expenses needed for the photography exhibit. With your contribution, the voice of the forgotten sons and daughters of the United States will be heard.
It is with big hope that Enrico Dungca's photographs will humanize the consequences of their abandonment. Your generosity will go a long way towards the realization of “The Forgotten Americans.”