Boston College students, alum on candidacy of Grace Poe: ‘U.S. education can help, hurt her’

Grace Poe graduating from Boston College in 1991. Photo: Rappler

Grace Poe graduating from Boston College in 1991. Photo: Rappler

By Cristina DC Pastor

When Grace Poe announced on September 16 that she is “offering herself” to be the next Philippine president, the news was met with nary a ripple of reaction in Boston College where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.

“Unfortunately, I have not been following Philippine politics much,” said Lemuel Lim when interviewed by The FilAm. Lim is a senior in the School of Management majoring in Finance and Operations and is the current president of the Philippine Society of Boston College (PSBC).

He is not the only one. Lim speaks for many of the nearly 100 members of PSBC, an organization founded, according to him, 24 years ago by Poe.

The Filipino community of suburban Boston is divided into the “old generation” or the parents, and the first generation or the students. Boston College, a Jesuit-run private school, is located in Chestnut Hill in Massachusetts which is about a 30-minute drive from the capital.

“As with any cultural group, children have a very diluted sense of their culture,” said Lim. “Many, like myself, are very unaware of what goes on in the Motherland.” He said his own parents – both Filipino – “don’t go in-depth and detach themselves” from Philippine politics.

He continued, “In terms of the Philippine elections, only a few international students keep up with it.” He meant the Filipino students who come from the Philippines and not the FilAms who have acquired citizenship.

“Right now we live in a very small suburb, our attention span is in different places that do not extend in the realm of Philippine politics,” he said.

Lim said he has heard of Poe. He knows that she transferred to the college to complete the last two years of her studies. Her first two years were spent in the University of the Philippines until she transferred to BC.

“In terms of plain awareness we know she is a BC grad and is one of founders of this club,” said Lim.

Lim believes that having a foreign education cuts both ways.

“It could help or hurt her (chances),” he said. Some voters will look at her BC background and make the assumption that she got a prestigious education. Others, on the other hand, will see her as “not exactly homegrown.”

Matthew Alonsozana, an alumnus of Boston College, is closely following the developments in Poe’s career especially her “quick political ascent.” But it’s probably because Alonsozana has politics running through his veins. He is currently a senior research analyst for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, one of a dozen presidential aspirants in the Republican Party. Previously, he was a research analyst at the Republican National Committee.

“Some people think she’s breath of fresh air,” he said. While some of them may claim loyalty to her father, the movie actor Fernando Poe, Alonsozana believes Poe offers a departure from the typical Philippine political families.

He said Poe’s American education gives her a “worldly-wise perspective” on international affairs. More importantly, her Boston College education is grounded on the Jesuit focus on service which he said “will be of immense benefit to any leadership position” including the Office of the President.

He said it’s “too early” to discern what a Poe presidency could mean for the Philippines.

“There is still a lot to learn about her politics and her positions on issues between now and the elections,” he said. “It will be interesting to see who else she wants on her leadership team.”

Alonsozana said he has been following the developments in Poe’s political career, especially from the time she announced that she is pursuing her candidacy to become president after the term of Benigno Aquino III.

“It’s exciting to have a graduate of Boston College being involved in Philippine politics,” he said. “There’s reason to be optimistic (about the country).”

Lemuel Lim; Matthew Alonsozana

Lemuel Lim; Matthew Alonsozana

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