Portraits of a Filipino American Nurse

by Renz Buenavista

The occurrence of COVID-19 has put a massive load and stress on the healthcare system. In particular, Filipino American Nurses has been hit hard as third of the nurses who died from COVID-19 identified as Filipino American while only making up 4% of the entire Nursing workforce (Constante 2020). In my project titled Portraits of a Filipino American Nurse, I investigated how the recent pandemic has affected Filipino American Nurses through a short film that combines various elements such as statistics and other news media materials, my mother’s perspective as a Filipino American nurse, and my own as her son. My aim was to produce a story that not only informs and educates viewers of this issue, but share personal anecdotes so that the viewers understand these unique perspectives and one of the consequences of COVID-19. 

The sources I utilized to create this short film were a book that educated me on this topic was Catherine Ceniza’s book titled, Empire of Care. This book analyzed the dynamic history of Filipino American nurses and how the Filipino professional nurse labor force became so prominent in the United States. Furthermore, I supplemented this research with a podcast episode that features the author that explains the reasoning behind of the high number of Filipino nurses in the United States. To craft my current narrative, I utilized an article written by Agnes Constantefor the NBC News titled With largest share of migrant nurses, entire U.S. Filipino community hit hard by COVID-19”thatshares a personal testimony and combines statistics that I hope to highlight in my film. Additionally, I will also include the statistic that is utilized as a headliner in Masson’s article, “Filipino Americans make up 30% of the COVID-19 deaths in US nurses.” In addition, I will include clips from the YouTube video created by Vox titled “Why the US has so many Filipino nurses that shares a brief history of how Filipinos nurses became prominent in the US and the current events of COVID-19. Through all these source materials, I hope to leave the viewer with a greater understanding of Filipino American nurses both in the past and how COVID-19 has impacted this demographic currently.

One of the reasons this project is significant as that this issue has not been covered beyond Filipino, Asian, and Asian American news channels. I hope that my work will assist in raising awareness and understand my own Mother’s personal thoughts of her current work.

My overall argument is to raise awareness of this issue and assist those who are affected. This project serves a reminder of all of the hard work and sacrifices healthcare workers have done both in the past and currently, and the toll it can take on their loved ones.


Brice, Anne. “Why Are There So Many Filipino Nurses In The U.S.?”. Berkeley News, 2019, https://news.berkeley.edu/2019/05/28/filipino-nurses-in-the-us-podcast/. Accessed 12 Mar 2021.

Choy, Catherine Ceniza. Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History (American Encounters/Global Interactions). 1st ed., Duke University Press Books, 2003.

Constante, Agnes. “With Largest Share of Migrant Nurses, Entire U.S. Filipino Community Hit Hard by COVID-19.” NBC News, 27 Aug. 2020, www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/largest-share-migrant-nurses-entire-u-s-filipino-community-hit-n1237327.

Masson, Gabrielle. “Filipino Americans make up 30% of COVID-19 deaths in US nurses”. Becker’s Hospital Review, 2020, https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/nursing/filipino-americans-make-up-30-of-covid-19-deaths-in-us-nurses.html/. Accessed 12 Mar 2021.

“Why the US has so many Filipino nurses” YouTube, uploaded by Vox, 29 June 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yw8a8n7ZAZg&t=365s

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