By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – Many Filipino Americans here are stepping up to vote out Pres. Trump in November. To open the 2020 National Democratic Convention in Milwaukee today August 17, the FilAms for Biden campaign held a welcome event emphasizing the necessity for Filipinos ‘to be heard and be counted in the US.’
At the virtual welcome event on August 16 Sunday, FilAms for Biden national chairperson Loida Nicolas Lewis urged Filipinos to be counted in the Census, volunteer in the Biden-Harris campaign, and vote early.
She said that FilAms have a choice – whether to vote for the Union of representation and justice through the ticket of Vice Pres. Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris or to continue Pres. Trump’s Union of ‘whites and privileged 1%’ only.
Lewis told Filipinos in attendance to tell their friends, relatives, and neighbors to be counted in the Census. “If our Filipino community is counted less than how many we really are in the United States, then we lose out in representation in Congress, lose out in the benefits and rights we should enjoy as residents of this United States.”
Lewis is a long-time Democrat leader, businesswoman, immigration lawyer, and philanthropist based in Manhattan. She said that even the TNT’s (tago ng tago, Philippine moniker for undocumented individuals) should be counted.
Deadline for the US Census was moved forward to September 30 instead of October 30.
Lewis also urged Filipinos to volunteer in the campaign. “We should think seriously to volunteer and do phone banking. Our own fellow Filipinos will be more responsive to our campaign for Biden/Harris if we can speak to them in Tagalog, Ilocano, Bicol, Cebuano, and the other dialects our 7000 islands have produced,” she said during the welcome event.
Lewis also encouraged early voting on account of the coronavirus pandemic. “More people would choose to mail in their ballot. But if it cannot be delivered on time, those ballots are not counted, and those most affected are the poor and the disadvantaged. So vote early.”
Two Filipino leaders have been fielded as official delegates to the DNC. One is Maria Castaneda, a veteran organizer and union leader of the 1199SEIU United HealthCare Workers East. She is the highest ranking Asian American woman labor leader in the US. The other is Filipino-Korean lawyer Eve Guillergan who has 24 years of experience in immigration law and deportation defense.
The DNC will wind up on Wednesday, to be capped by the formal announcement of the Biden/Harris Democratic ticket. The culmination kicks off what is seen as a defining electoral season.
As Lewis puts it, “this election 2020 is the fight for the soul of America because the very fabric of democracy and the rule of law is in danger of destruction.” Citing the need for a ‘full armor of faith and hard work’, Lewis said Filipinos could provide the margin of victory in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas, and North Carolina.
Former presidential candidate and entrepreneur Andrew Yang attended the Sunday welcome event as an inspirational speaker. “It is an honor to be asked to be here, because I love Filipino Americans. Some of my best friends in college were Filipino. And I envied the lumpia. It was the tastiest food there was. It is awesome to be part of an event like this. Right now we are in crucial times. You are stepping up that you are just as American as everyone else, which unfortunately has to come on the ballot. How did that happen? But we can make a very loud statement in just a few more days.”
There are more than 4 million Filipinos in the US, accounting for the second largest Asian ethnic population, tailing Chinese immigrants. #
(Featured photo: Loida Nicolas Lewis, Maria Castaneda, and Eve Guillergan)