Saturday, September 1, 2012
VIRGINIA FIL-AMS MOBILIZED FOR NOVEMBER ELECTIONS
Filipino Americans in the Hampton Roads region of southern
Virginia have vowed to come out in force and
make their presence felt in the November elections.
“It’s all about building our political power as an ethnic community,” said Bert Dayao, Capital Region chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA). “And that means translating our numbers in a way that they truly count.”
Political mobilization and empowerment were among the themes that emerged from the recent NaFFAA convention in
The non-partisan voter mobilization project, dubbed “FilAm Vote Coalition of Hampton Roads” (FAVCOHR), aims to reach Filipino communities in
Hampton, Newport News,
Portsmouth and Virginia Beach.
The region is home to nearly 40,000 Filipinos.
“The issues in this election – jobs and the economy, budget and taxes, education – directly affect our community,” said Virginia House Delegate Ron Villanueva.
“There are clear choices this year and we’re all looking forward for a clear direction. But we have to be engaged and understand the importance of registering people to vote,” he said.
Following Villanueva’s remarks, Gloria T. Caoile, former NaFFAA national vice chair and founding member of FilAm Vote, stressed that “we have an opportunity as Filipino Americans to shine in
a key, battleground state. Hampton Roads can make a difference. We will make it
happen not only between now and November 6, but we will keep the fire alive
after Election Day and continue to play an active role in this country’s
Caoile cited the example of
Nevada where Filipinos grew by 146 percent in 10 years. “Politicians from both parties are heavily courting our votes and paying attention to our issues,” she revealed.
Gem Daus, an Asian American Studies adjunct professor at the
briefed those present about Census statistics, demographic data and recent
findings by the Pew Research. “In addition to our growing numbers, we have a
high rate of growth, high educational attainment, low poverty rates and income
that’s higher than the national average,” he explained. University of Maryland
“But of the hundreds of community-based organizations in the country, there are only four that’s primarily organizing around political and civic engagement. It’s a deficit we need to correct.”
“There’s less than a hundred days before the elections,” observed Tracy Laguid, a member of the Filipino Young Professionals (FYP).
“We need a lightning rod to move us into action,” she declared.
Nita Cacanindin, a board member of the Council of United Filipino Organizations of Tidewater (CUFOT) – the oldest and largest community organization in the area – also expressed support for the project and offered the use of the
to host voter outreach events. Filipino American
“We may belong to different political parties,” she said, “but this non-partisan effort of everyone working together will make a long and lasting impact.”
Dr. Johnny Montero, a long-time community leader, agreed: “Our ethnic community badly needs this bipartisan FilVote public service. This is the key to our empowerment and I am glad to see much enthusiasm, especially our youth.”
Other organizations participating in the launching of the FilAm Vote Coalition are: Bicol Association, Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of South East Virginia, Filipino American Historical National Society (FAHNS), FilAm Civic Action Group (FilAmCAG), Fil-Am Friendship Committee and Ilocano Association.
Naomi Estaris, former CEO of Operation Smile and now COO, The Travel Outlet of Virginia, Inc. and Founding President of South East Virginia’s Fil Am Chamber of Commerce, was designated to head up FAVCOHR and run the day-to-day operations of the voter mobilization project.
NaFFAA Capital Region Vice Chair Bing Branigin is overall coordinator, with Gloria T. Caoile as adviser. Funding was made possible from a grant from Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIA Vote), a national institution focused to encourage and promote civic participation of Asian Pacific Islander Americans in the electoral and public policy processes at the national, state and local levels.