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Queens community known for Filipino businesses and culture soon to be renamed 'Little Manila'

Queens community will soon be known as "Little Manila"
Queens community will soon be known as "Little Manila" 02:09

NEW YORK -- As part of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we are putting the spotlight on a community that will soon officially be known as Little Manila.

CBS2's Leah Mishkin has more from Woodside, Queens.

When asked if history is very much alive, Xenia Diente, founder of Little Manilla Queens Bayhanihan said Wednesday, "Yes, I believe that so deeply."

Tucked underneath the subway, between 69th and 70th streets on Roosevelt Avenue, is the block in New York City that has historically had the highest concentration of Filipino businesses.

"It came about I think in relationship to the 1965 immigration change, as well as the nursing labor shortage here in the United States, where Filipino nurses, like my mother, came to the U.S. to be a nurse," Diente said.

The artist said many of the nurses from the Philippines who got recruited to work at Elmhurst Hospital relocated to the area. One of those neighborhoods is Woodside.

"So they provided restaurants for more Filipino-Americans like my family to buy their food and cook at home," Diente said.

Her parents bought their first home just a few blocks away in 1976. It's where she lives today.

"I get to come here for Filipino food when I'm hungry or homesick. If you want a hot breakfast, it's anything with the word 'Silog,' which means garlic rice with egg and a side of a protein," Diente said.

The street also has businesses that help people send packages to the Philippines, and there's a national bank.

When Mishkin pointed out that even though some of these businesses might be changing, it's amazing that it's still staying filled with Filipino businesses, Diente agreed.

"We help each other in order to survive, especially during the time of the pandemic," said Dennis Nepomuceno, co-owner of Kusina Pinoy Bistro, which opened in 2019.

Nepomuceno said he knew he wanted his business in the area.

"The footprints of the Philippines are here," he said.

And now it'll be formally recognized as such. A new street sign will soon go near the oldest Filipino business in the area, a grocery store established in 1976.

Little Manila.

"Very happy and very proud of that. At least we have that small dot on the map that says Little Manila and that is something for us," Nepmuceno said.

Diente and her community art collective painted a mural on the other side of the block that says "Welcome."

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