Finance council with a vision to increase political participation of Filipinos launched

Dr. Jill Biden: ‘In one of our darkest times, this community is answering a call to service… You are reminding us that the heart of this nation still beats with kindness and courage.’ Also on screen Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia and Rep. TJ Cox of California. Screenshots courtesy of Edwin Josue

To celebrate Filipino American History Month, Atty. Loida Nicolas Lewis called on her friends to help host a virtual meeting with Dr. Jill Biden, wife of former Vice President and now Presidential Candidate Joe Biden. The meeting took place online on October 2, which was also the soft launch of the Filipino American National Finance Council (FANFC), whose members pledged to give support to federal and congressional candidates who will stand up for the Filipino American community.

Among themselves, they raised $250,000 for the Biden-Harris Victory Fund. An additional $25,000 was contributed by over 200 members of Filipino Americans for Biden-Harris, a grassroots movement led by National Co-chairs Hon. Mark Pulido, retired Mayor of Cerritos City, CA; and Hon. Melissa Ramoso, Councilmember of Artesia City, CA. Lewis is also their National Spokesperson.

FANFC started with about 20 members who donated or raised $10,000 each, led by Founding Co-Chairs Lewis, Rocio Nuyda, a former senior executive of a global finance firm, and Gloria Caoile, a former Commissioner to the White House Initiative on AAPIs under the Clinton administration.

Founding Members include Allan Camaisa, CEO of Calidi Biotherapeutics; Anthony Olaes, philanthropist and President of Olaes Enterprises, Inc.; Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine, JD, MPP, Co-Founder of the Collaborative Center for X-Linked Dystonia Parkinsonism at the Massachusetts General Hospital; Atty. Aurora Austriaco, Commissioner for the Illinois Courts Commission; Angelica Berrie, author, entrepreneur, and President of The Russell Berrie Foundation; Lin Bildner, co-founder, Albert and Lin Bildner Foundation, NY; CA Assemblymember Rob Bonta, first Filipino to be elected to the California Legislature; Manina Chivi, business consultant and philanthropist; Dr. Angie Cruz, Founder of Spirituality in the Workplace, NYC; Atty. Audie de Castro, California corporate lawyer; Sonia Delen, Senior Vice President, Bank of America; Josie Disterhoft, educator and philanthropist; Dr. Noel Fajardo, M.D.; Gastroenterology Specialist in Las Vegas, NV; Atty. Lara Gregory, New York litigation lawyer; Sheila Marcelo, Founder,; Mona Lisa Yuchengco, community activist and publisher; and a few more who wish to remain anonymous.

Some of the participants to the soft launch of the Filipino American National Finance Council.

A seat at the table

While the immediate goal of FANFC is to raise funds (from 2020 to 2024 elections) for federal and congressional candidates who recognize the contributions of the FilAm community, their vision is to eventually increase the participation of Filipinos in America’s political scene.

Currently, there are four Indian Americans in the U.S. Congress, three Chinese/Taiwanese Americans, one Japanese American, one Vietnamese American, one Korean American, and only two Filipino Americans — Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia and Rep. TJ Cox of California – even though Filipinos comprise the second-largest population of Asian Americans. 

“We need to make sure we have FilAm leaders at the table where policies are made, who understand the issues that affect our communities,” said Gloria Caoile,who also served as Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA),

Added Rocio Nuyda, who is a mother to a nursing administrator and healthcare frontliner, “Our community is suffering under the Trump administration, especially our nurses and healthcare workers. The lack of PPEs, slow response to the pandemic, and the increase in hateful rhetoric against Asian Americans (led by Trump himself) — has led to over 200 thousand deaths already. We can’t just look away, and we must not allow this to continue.”

Biden: FilAms essential to nation-building

At the start of Filipino American History Month, former Vice President Joe Biden issued a statement echoing these sentiments, and honoring the contributions of Filipino Americans:

“Jill and I are proud to recognize Filipino American History Month and to honor the immense contributions that Filipino Americans make to our society. Whether fighting proudly in our armed services or fighting to advance social justice across the United States, Filipino Americans have enriched and strengthened every aspect of our country. And this year, as we battle a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 205,000 people in the United States and thrown our economy into turmoil, we have depended on the countless Filipino American essential frontline workers and caregivers who have helped carry our communities through this crisis. And we offer our prayers to the families of Filipino American nurses, who represent 4 percent of nurses in the United States, but make up more than 30 percent of nursing deaths due to Covid-19. Their heroism is a reminder that Filipino Americans embody the heart, the courage, and the values that define the United States.We are a nation that has always been renewed by immigration and fortified by our diversity. As President, I will build on that proud American legacy, including by celebrating the history of the Filipino American community and expanding access to a future of opportunity for all.”

From left, Atty. Loida Nicolas Lewis, Rocio Nuyda with presidential candidate Joe Biden, and Gloria Caoile.

The Bidens’ messages of compassion and vision to unite America is something that resonated with Tony Olaes, one of the founding members of FANFC. “I’m a registered independent. I don’t care for party lines. What I stand for is having more empathy and compassion for those who need help. What I take issue with the current administration’s style of leadership is the division it promotes — the ‘us vs. them’ mentality, or people who say that immigrants are the ‘enemy.’ I’ve never seen this level of division even in my own family until Trump came.”

“The Filipino American National Finance Council is a whole new level of Bayanihan,” says Atty. Lewis. “We are putting our money where our mouth is. Filipinos are the fastest-growing Asian American and Pacific Islander AAPI group in America today, but we are underrepresented in U.S. politics. It’s time we changed this…We want to help rebuild the America we love, where people are kind and compassionate to each other, where justice and truth are upheld, and dreams are allowed to flourish. We understand now that we need to contribute and participate more in American politics if we want to have a say in it. So, let’s do our part, whether by early voting or going to the polls on Election Day — let’s get out the FilAm vote. Together, we can make America, America again. We are the margin of victory!”

(C) The FilAm 2020

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: