LOS ANGELES—Local leaders held a joint online celebration of Latino and Filipino American History Month, stressing the importance of the Latino and Filipino vote and uplifting each other’s communities.
The virtual event called “Power at the Polls: Celebrating Latino & Filipino American History Month” was hosted by the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office and Board of Public Works Oct. 15.
Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Chief of Staff, Ana Guererro opened the celebration by noting the Latino and Filipino communities’ cultural and historical kinship: “As a Mexican American, I’ve always felt that deep bond with the Filipino American community; our large extended families, shared religious traditions, our shared love for the Virgin Mary.” She added, “I think what also brings us together is that we both carry in our DNA, the impacts and the trauma of colonization.”
Jessica Caloza, a Fil-Am Commissioner on the L.A. Board of Public Works, concurred. “We have so many shared dreams and hopes that I can’t wait to see what we are going to do next because we are going to build something amazing and already have,” she said.
Dr. Fernando Guerra of Loyola Marymount University expressed optimism at the growing clout of Latino and Filipino voters. “In 1994, Latinos voted 60 Democrat and 40 Republican and now it is (Democrats) over 70 percent. The Asian shift and even the Filipino shift was even more dramatic. In 1994, it was a 50/50 split (of Democrat and Republicans). Asians now vote in California more Democratic than even Latinos do.”
Mona Pasquil-Rogers of California Women Lead observed that “when our communities come together to put good people in office who will listen to us, who will hire our people as staff members. That’s when you see a really great impact.”
Pasquil-Rogers emphasized the importance of participating in the voting process. She said that as a granddaughter of farm laborers in California, “I remember them saying, ‘Well, we weren’t allowed in this restaurant, we weren’t allowed in this store, we weren’t allowed there!’ And I think, shame on me if I don’t do something every time there’s an opportunity to vote, every time there’s an opportunity to lobby for something, every time there is an opportunity to, you know, bring forward our issues.”
Independent journalist Pilar Marrero, who worked for La Opinion for over 30 years, shared: “I’ve always thought as a Latina and as a reporter in ethnic media that we need to be very aware about the history of other minority communities.”
The coronavirus pandemic has had a disparate impact on both communities. “Like Latino families, (Filipinos) live in multi-generational households where it is difficult to socially distance internally,” said Oriel.
Marrero and Pasquil-Rogers noted the risks facing frontline workers from both communities, especially workers who are not able to work from home. Oriel reported that the National Nurses United found that 31.5 percent of nurse deaths have been of Filipinos.
“Working together with other groups in our society is very important, especially if you’re an immigrant or if your ancestors were immigrants,” Marrero added.
Christina Oriel, managing editor of Asian Journal, stressed the importance of community news media and “coordinated messaging to show why our communities need to be counted and what resources there are, and we’re doing the same in the next 19 days that we have, especially when our communities are so vulnerable to misinformation. She added, “And we are trying to make sure that our communities are not afraid, where to go to vote, and make a plan to vote.”
Oriel said that a recent survey showed Asian Americans are highly motivated to vote and among those groups Filipinos showed the most enthusiasm, “over 60 percent.” “So, it is never too late and we just want to make sure that we equip our communities with the right information and resources to cast their ballots.”
Oriel mentioned the ballot tracking tool on the California Secretary of State’s website, Filipino Voter Empowerment Project (community registration to vote) and the Voter Protection Program by the National Filipino American Lawyers Association as resources to help voters.
In closing remarks, Caloza said, “We want to make sure that we are happy with the outcome when we wake up on November 4th and that we are doing everything we can to uplift both of our communities.”
The event included Ana Guererro, Aura Gracia, Jessica Caloza, Teresa Villegas, Kevin James, Mona Pasquil-Rogers, Dr. Fernando Guerra, Christina Oriel, and Pilar Marrero.
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