While the US Embassy on Roxas Boulevard and the 5-star Sofitel Hotel were being battered by Typhoon Pedring on Sept. 27, delegates attending the Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora (http://d2dglobalsummit.cfo.gov.ph) at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in front of the Sofitel were busy hearing reports about the state of the Filipino Diaspora.
By the closing session of the Global Summit on Sept. 29, the delegates organized the Global Filipino Diaspora Council (GFDC) with 30 members comprising the Executive Committee, with only three from the United States. Atty. Loida Nicolas-Lewis, chair of the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USPGG), was unanimously elected global chair.
After establishing its mission/goals and agreeing on its organizational structure, the Council will establish regional chapters in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia, the continents represented at the Summit.
The first region to be organized will be Europe and a regional summit is set to convene in Rome in June of 2012 with possible regional conferences in Dhubai, Hongkong and Sydney to be set in the future. The 2nd Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora is set to meet again at the PICC in Manila on February 26-28, 2013. Save the date.
A “Medical Mission to Rome” may also be organized to coincide with the Rome regional summit to provide free medical examination and treatment to the Filipino priests, nuns, and domestic helpers in Rome who may not have access to health care. Physicians and nurses interested in joining the medical mission may contact Dr. Carmelo and Bernadette Roco at email@example.com.
Among the six delegates attending the Summit from Italy was Romulo Sabio Salvador, one of four members of the Rome City Council appointed by Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno to represent the immigrant communities of Rome. In fact, the Rome city government paid for the Summit expenses of Councilor Salvador and his aide, Pia Gonzales.
This week, Councilor Salvador and the three other immigrant councilors of Rome will be hosting a workshop for 24 future leaders of Rome’s immigrant communities at the American University of Rome (AUR) Center for the Study of Racism and Migration in Italy. The workshop will feature the premiere showing of Fred Kuwornu’s film about the children of immigrants, born and brought up in Italy without citizenship.
Rome has a total population of 2.7 million people, approximately 9.5% of which are of non-Italian stock. Half of the total immigrant population is composed of Romanians, Polish, Ukrainians and Albanians. The other half are of non-European origin, chiefly Filipinos: 26,933, Bangladeshis: 12,154, Peruvians: 10,530, Chinese: 10,283, and other nationalities.
In contrast, there are more than 50,000 Filipinos living in San Francisco proper (350,000 in the entire 9-county San Francisco Bay Area) out of a total city population of about 800,000. Rome has almost 2 million more people than San Francisco but it has a Filipino in its City Council while San Francisco has none.
Other immigrant communities are heavily represented in San Francisco city government. The mayor, Ed Lee, and the city’s state senator, Leland Yee, were both born in China and immigrated to the US as children. One supervisor, David Campos, even entered the US as an “illegal” before eventually obtaining his green card and US citizenship. Of the 11 members of the city’s board of supervisors, five have Asian ancestors: Carmen Chu, Eric Mar and David Chiu (China), Jane Kim (South Korea) and Ross Mirkarimi (Iran); while two have Mexican roots, Campos and John Avalos.
The San Francisco mayoral elections in less than three weeks will show the world how far immigrant communities in a major U.S. city have come. Of the sixteen candidates running for mayor, five are Chinese Americans: Lee, the incumbent who was appointed to the position after the former mayor, Gavin Newsom, was elected state lieutenant governor; Yee, the local state senator; Chiu, the president of the Board of Supervisors; Phil Ting, the city Assessor-Recorder; and Wilma Pang, a City College professor. The other Asian in the race is Jeff Adachi, the city’s Public Defender.
I endorsed Mayor Ed Lee whom I have known personally for more than 32 years, ever since he co-founded the Asian Law Caucus, where he spent a decade fighting for affordable housing and advocating for the rights of immigrants and renters in the Bay Area.
Among the other Filipino Americans joining me in endorsing Ed Lee are Hydra Mendoza, president of the San Francisco School Board; Dennis Normandy, chair of the San Francisco Civil Service Commission and former president of the city’s Public Utilities Commission; Rudy Asercion, a member of the Republican Party County Central Committee; Marily Mondejar, a member of the City’s Redistricting Commission; Marivic Bamba, former Executive Director of the city’s Human Rights Commission; and Ernest Llorente, former president of the city’s Public Library Commission.
According to his website, Sen. Leland Yee, whose district represents parts of San Francisco and San Mateo, has been endorsed by the Philippine News, Manila Mail, Philippine Headlines, and Philippines Today. He is also supported by leading Filipino American leaders from San Mateo County including Alice Bulos and Mario Panoringan.
Among the San Mateo community leaders not endorsing Yee is Prof. Fel Amistad who had previously been involved in hosting fund-raisers for Yee. “After personally campaigning for him among my San Francisco friends, I asked for Yee’s endorsement in my campaign for a seat in the Foster City School Board race,” Amistad said. “I was shocked when he turned me down and instead endorsed my Chinese-American opponent, an inexperienced newcomer. I guess it’s a one-way street for him.”
Although his campaign website does not contain the endorsement of a single Filipino community organization or newspaper, I know District 11 Supervisor Avalos is supported by a number of his Filipino constituents in a district which has more Filipinos than any other in the city.
San Francisco has adopted a ranked choice voting (RCV) system where voters pick their first, second and third preferences for the various positions. According to the latest University of San Francisco (USF) Bay Citizen survey, Mayor Lee wins 31.2% of voters’ first-choice votes, with his closest challengers City Attorney Dennis Herrera at just 8%, Supervisor Avalos at 7.4% and State Senator Yee at 6.4%.
Election Day is only weeks away and voters’ preferences may yet change. Regardless of which candidate you support, just vote locally even as you think globally.
(Send comments to Rodel50@gmail.com or mail them to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 4127 or call 415.334.7800).