Los Angeles is just as diverse as New York in terms of immigrant population that enclaves have sprouted everywhere - there's Chinatown, Koreatown, Thaitown and well, Filipinotown. When I saw the sign along Freeway 101 on our way to Hollywood today, I was not even surprised. California is the preferred destination by more Filipino immigrants than anywhere else in the United States. Why? - it's the weather, of course. But do you know that the first Filipino settlement in America wasn't even in California or Hawaii? Pinoys back in 1763 formed the first settlement in Barataria Bay in Louisiana.

Unlike other established enclaves however, Filipinotown in Los Angeles isn't a Filipino enclave in the strictest sense. In fact, Latinos comprise the majority of inhabitants here. Of the 200,000 Filipino-Americans living in Los Angeles, only about 10,000 call Filipinotown their home. The rest of Fil-Ams are widely dispersed in the greater Los Angeles area, preferring to mix with others in the suburbs. Which pretty much sums up the way Filipinos live in New York - scattered in the boroughs of Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island and, if they can afford it, Manhattan. In other words, you could point any area in Los Angeles county, be it Cerritos, West Covina, West Hollywood, Artesia, Carson, Eagle Rock, places where Pinoys abound and where Pinoy businesses thrive and it might as well be another Filipinotown. It doesn't surprise me that even entertainers come all the way from Manila to conduct their business of - what else - singing, dancing and just playing cutesy-patootsie in front of enthralled fans. Fil-Am producers have them perform city to city - even coast to coast - as Pinoys are as scattered as the archipelago where I come from. During my first trip to Los Angeles in 2004, a friend working for a show's producer brought me along as Aga Muhlach, South Border Band, Carol Banawa and some starlet performed in Riverside (San Bernardino county) and Las Vegas, Nevada. It was my introduction into how little communities of Fil-Ams in two different States will bond together for an evening of Pinoy entertainment.

Even as a new immigrant, I remember how, during the process of getting my Social Security number at the office in Asheville, North Carolina, I was introduced by this Caucasian officer to an Asian woman behind the counter who happen to be a Fil-Am. Her first line: "Nice meeting you, I'd like to invite you to become a member of our Pinoy Association here". How could I possibly be homesick when I've got embracing arms already welcoming me to this land filled with multi-colored skin? And how would I know that in that little mountain town of Asheville, Pinoys have already bonded into their own Filipinotown?

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