How to get Filipino Americans elected in the U.S.

Some members and supporters of FILIPAC include:   Cerritos Council member Mark Pulido, Former Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang, FiliPac founder Mike Aguilera, Elaine Cartas, FiliPac founder Alex De Ocampo,Garry South, Garvey School Board Member Henry Lo, Board member CA State Board of Equalization Fiona Ma.  Photos by Lawrence C. Ochoa

Some members and supporters of FILIPAC include: Cerritos Council member Mark Pulido, Former Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang, FiliPac founder Mike Aguilera, Elaine Cartas, FiliPac founder Alex De Ocampo,Garry South, Garvey School Board Member Henry Lo, Board member CA State Board of Equalization Fiona Ma. Photos by Lawrence C. Ochoa

By Lawrence C. Ochoa

Los Angeles, CA — The Filipino Political Action Committee (Filipac) held it’s first annual mixer here at the Bahay Kubo Restaurant April 26 to exchange views with seasoned political strategists and elected officials on how to flex the muscle of what many views as an “invisible” but strong community, Filipino Americans.

The attendees were from a who’s who among Asian elected officials or their representatives from Cerritos Councilman Mark Pulido to Los Angeles, Unified School District (LAUSD) Board member Bennett Kayser, Jonathan Yang, Special Assistant to LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, Henry Lo, Senior Field Representative to the Office of Assemblymember Ed Chau to well- known political strategist Gary South, described by New York Times as the “Carville of California” to Democratic party leaders Melissa Ramoso, Gloria Perlas Pulido and Arnel Dino from Orange County and Steve Arevalo from up north. Filipac founding members Alex De Ocampo, Elaine Cartas, Mike Aguilera facilitated the dialogue.

Filipac is a new California political action committee that seeks to identify, recruit, train and support Filipino American candidates for public office.

Cerritos Councilmember Mark Pulido,Former Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang ,FiliPac founder Mike Aguilera, Elaine Cartas, FiliPac founder Alex De Ocampo, Political Strategist Garry South, Garvey School Board Member Henry Lo.

Cerritos Councilmember Mark Pulido,Former Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang ,FiliPac founder Mike Aguilera, Elaine Cartas, FiliPac founder Alex De Ocampo, Political Strategist Garry South, Garvey School Board Member Henry Lo.

Former mayor Mark Pulido offered his commitment “to support qualified Filipino American candidates who are courageous enough to want to serve their communities by running for elected office.”

“I’m excited for the possibility for more people stepping forward all across the state. I envision that this will happen more often. I believe it is inevitable that the urgency of the need for good qualified leaders from the Fil-Am community is what contributes to the feeling that this reality is inevitable,“ adds Pulido.

Gary South, whom Newsweek referred to as a “one-man brain trust on the battlements of Fort California who has led many successful political campaigns in the nation, observed that Filipino Americans lack a “pipeline to gain traction as substantial political candidates.”
“ When a Filipino American tries to run for any level in the state, or even nationally there is no existing network of donors who they can tap into,” South remarked.

Political Strategist Garry South

Political Strategist Garry South

South, who has managed or played leading roles in campaigns for President, U.S. Senate, Governor, County Supervisor, Mayor and City Council among other races, believes that the lack of acknowledgement on the public political sector does not do justice to what Filipinos can accomplish.
“ I think that this community is so under-served and under-utilized with respect to it’s political standing, and it’s political power that there has to be an entity out there , a pre-existing on-going thing where money can be raised into it, so when Filipinos run for office, whether it be the local level or state level, it can be used.”

South believes Filipac has the potential to be a powerful machinery to raise awareness, interest and funds to support Filipino-American candidates to run for office.

Filipac founding member Mike Aguilera, described the current political action initiative as a necessary step towards bringing visibility and empowerment to the large population of Filipino Americans in the country. When asked about the nature of the Filipac’s aspirations, he said Filipac is the latest effort in the community which already has a long history of advocacy and collaboration towards a “cause of positive political empowerment and influence.”

“There is lot of different pockets throughout Los Angeles and California and we want to help organize. Some groups do social service, some do mental health, but he said, the organization “wants to focus our efforts in bringing out many of talented people in our community who are potential candidates for elected office; it’s just a matter of our community creating an atmosphere of civic involvement.

If the Filipino community believes it is critical for us to be involved in our communities then those talented people will rise to the occasion to run for elected office.”

Aguilera believes in the potential that Filipinos have as a powerful entity. “But if our community ignores the importance of being a civically-engaged community, then those talented people will not see those goals or opportunities”.

Aguilera pointed out that there is “one Fil-Am on the State Assembly, Rob Bonta of Northern California, and we have to support to build for the future”. Filipac’s vision as a state-wide political action committee is to launch the base of political action in Los Angeles and “work with our Northern California affiliates to strengthen our ties. “

“We look at number of Filipinos in their districts, the entire saturation and everything. We look at up-and-comers who are working in local governments, who work their way up through state government.

He said that the Filipino American demographic is both Republicans and Democrats and “we contribute to candidates from both parties” in the spirit of making Filipino immigrant life easier. “We are not a one-party constituency.”

(An earlier version of this story by the author was from Inquirer.net, a news partner of The FilAm LA).

Supporters of FILIPAC include Garvey School Board Member Henry Lo,   Elaine Cartas, FADC-CDP ( Filipino American Democratic Caucus-CA Democratic Party ) CA  State Chair Melissa Ramoso , FiliPac founders Mike Aguilera and Alex De Ocampo, Political Strategist Garry South,Board member CA State Board of Equalization Fiona Ma, Former Irvine Mayor Sukhee, ‎West Covina Councilmember James Toma,  Cerritos  Councilmember Mark Pulido, FADC-CDP Vice Chair Los Angeles Region Gloria Perlas Pulido, PALAD( Pilipino American Los Angeles Democrats) VP for Outreach Grace Barrios

Supporters of FILIPAC include Garvey School Board Member Henry Lo, Elaine Cartas, FADC-CDP ( Filipino American Democratic Caucus-CA Democratic Party ) CA State Chair Melissa Ramoso , FiliPac founders Mike Aguilera and Alex De Ocampo, Political Strategist Garry South,Board member CA State Board of Equalization Fiona Ma, Former Irvine Mayor Sukhee, ‎West Covina Councilmember James Toma, Cerritos Councilmember Mark Pulido, FADC-CDP Vice Chair Los Angeles Region Gloria Perlas Pulido, PALAD( Pilipino American Los Angeles Democrats) VP for Outreach Grace Barrios

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