SAN FRANCISCO—Surrounded by stalwart friends and supporters, Marily Mondejar, president and founding executive director of Filipina Women’s Network (FWN), recipient of the 2010 Award for Excellence in Civil Rights from the California Asian Pacific Islander Joint Legislative Caucus, formally threw her hat in the ring for a run at a seat in the Democratic County Central Committee, otherwise known as the “DCCC” or “D triple C, San Francisco.”
A graduate of Emerge California, an organization that recruits Democratic women to run for political office, Mondejar has found her calling and realizes the importance of bringing a woman’s perspective to discussions on matters affecting her constituents. She also wants to bring her “bi-cultural voice and immigrant perspective to the important decisions being made at the DCCC especially in the support, election and appointment of commissioners and judges.”
According to the 2010 Census, there are 36,437 Filipinos in San Francisco. They are also the second highest Asian voting population in the city and yet, since the DCCC’s inception, there have only been two Filipinos elected to the committee and that was in the past. Currently, no Filipino is on the committee.
In the county and city of San Francisco, only two Filipinos were ever elected to public office. First was Rodel Rodis in 1992 when he ran for San Francisco College Board. Rodis was re-elected three more times 1996, 2000 and 2004. Second was Hydra Mendoza who was elected to the San Francisco School Board in 2006 and reelected in 2010. (In the county and city of San Francisco, only two Filipinos were ever elected to public office. First was Rodel Rodis in 1992 when he ran for San Francisco College Board. Rodis was re-elected three more times 1996, 2000 and 2004. Second was Hydra Mendoza who was elected to the San Francisco School Board in 2006 and reelected in 2010.)
As head of Filipina Women’s Network or FWN, Mondejar has been inspiring her members to be more active in their spheres of influence and slowly but surely strengthening their resolve to be heard and acknowledged in their chosen fields of endeavor. As a groundbreaker, FWN had its annual production of Eve Einsler’s “Vagina Monologue” which for Filipinas is a very delicate topic and taboo among elders. But FWN has moved on forward, receiving flak at first but now totally understood in its fight against domestic violence and women’s rights.
“Marily is not afraid to raise issues that will cross the line when it benefits the disadvantaged. Marily leads by doing, not just talking.” Said Gloria Agcaoili, former Senior Political Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, during a 2009 Expo Magazine interview. Now, three years later, Mondejar continues her advocacy to get women, disenfranchised or not, to push for change. Fighting to dispel the preconceived notions of Filipinas as mail order brides or low-paid help or nannies, she has placed herself in the forefront as the emerging profile of the smart, educated, and highly successful Filipina.
Mondejar also champions other underserved communities such as immigrants, and the LGBT communities. For her continued advocacy on women’s rights, Mondejar was recognized as one of only four Local Heroes/Heroines by highly respected public television network KQED to mark the 2012 Women’s History Month.
For the June 5 elections, 30 candidates are vying for 14 slots for the East side / District 17 under Assemblyman Tom Ammiano. Mondejar represents the new and emerging Asian American Democrats. She hopes that Filipinos in District 17 will go out and vote for her. It will be a big task. Turn out has been historically low even as the district covers a huge swath of the City. District 17 covers the south end of San Francisco, the Downtown area, Chinatown, The Castro, The Mission, and all the way to Treasure Island to the east.
What’s going for Mondejar is that there are quite a number of Filipinos in Hunters Point, Bernal Heights, The Castro, Chinatown, Civic Center, Cole Valley, Diamond Heights, Downtown, Excelsior, Fillmore, Glen Park, Haight Ashbury, Hayes Valley, The Mission, Noe Valley, North Beach, Portola, Potrero Hill, South of Market, Sunnydale, Telegraph Hill, the Tenderloin, and Treasure Island. Mondejar’s supporters are already knocking door to door. The community should recognize the importance of representation by a minority woman immigrant in the city body politic.
Mondejar is not new to public service. Last year, she was appointed by Mayor Edwin Lee to the San Francisco Redistricting Task Force. The outcome from this task force will greatly influence the voting make-up of each district and impact the future of its residents for the next decade.