SACRAMENTO, California—A busload of Filipino American women and their supporters in late March took to the State Capitol to get firsthand “empowerment” training” and meet sympathetic legislators in celebration of National Women’s History Month.
With the theme “Filipinas Rising in Heels: Where are all the Filipina Women in Politics and Public Service?” the Filipino Women’s Network bused its members to meet Mona Pasquil, appointments secretary under Gov. Jerry Brown, and who also served as the 47th Lieutenant Governor of California, in 2010.
They were also introduced to the newly elected and to the first Filipino American to serve in the California State Assembly, Atty. Rob Bonta. An enthusiastic staff of Senator Leland Yee, led by Melissa Ann Apuya, led the delegation to the senator’s office.
Pasquil plied the women with pointers on how to empower Filipino women through appointments to the different State Boards and Commissions in a special session called “Appointments Workshop Overview.”
Lessons in getting power
“You need to learn how to get appointed to State Boards and Commissions, and how to get elected,” Pasquil instructed, going through a step-by-step process on how to locate vacancies, apply online for appointment opportunities and follow up on applications.
She gave the group a list of current Board and Commission vacancies in California. “This list gets updated every week, so you should be very conscientious in your search,” she added.
Pasquil also explained the value of letters of recommendation then, just like any classroom educator, surprised everyone by asking, “Who is interested for an appointment and in what area?” She then went around the room and convinced each volunteer to go through the application process.
“You should seize every opportunity to do it,” she added, also stressing the importance of honesty in the applications. “Don’t put just the good things,” she advised.
“Everything has to be out. We know life happens. When we are asked about something that is not in the application or we don’t know about, it can become very difficult,” she warned.
“This is a significant leadership coaching lesson from Ms. Pasquil,” stated one FWN member. “Truly, Mona should really be celebrated as a Filipino American Leadership Architect.“
After the session, Senator Leland Yee, a long-time ally and advocate of Filipino Americans, introduced FWN and its leader, Marily Mondejar, to the Senate Hall. “I have always been impressed by the leadership of Filipino Americans,” Yee stated, I’m really excited to continue this work with you, especially in the area of domestic violence,” he added.
Next stop was a visit to the office of the newly elected Atty. Rob Bonta, first Filipino American elected to the California State Assembly. Pasquil declared, “Rob is the newest star amongst the Filipino American leadership architects.”
Representing District 18, Rob Bonta proudly told the group that his election is not just representing District 18 alone. “As the first Filipino American elected to the California State Assembly, I am excited to have the opportunity to provide a voice for the Filipino American community.”
Bonta explained his pet bill at the moment AB123, which add the teaching of the Filipinos’ role in the history of the farm worker movement: “Our community has a long history of significant contributions to America, especially California; yet, our contributions have been historically underemphasized in the story of our State”
He reiterated that AB 123 is very close to his heart. “I was raised at the United Farm Workers headquarters in La Paz, California, where my parents organized farm workers alongside the leadership of the movement. My parents raised me to value public service and encouraged me to give back to the community. I am proud to be a product of California’s great public schools.”
“That’s why we are so proud of you, Rob!” Ruth Asmundson, former Mayor of the City Davis, California quickly responded.