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Aug 11th
Home Columns Unsolicited Advice A No-Magic Formula for Fil-Am Candidates’ Victory at the Polls
A No-Magic Formula for Fil-Am Candidates’ Victory at the Polls PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Unsolicited Advice
Thursday, 20 December 2007 11:01

Filipino Americans who want to run for public office must remember Manuel Uy, homework, the Buffalo Soldiers, the Galleon Trade and the NaFFAA Soap Opera if they want to have a chance of winning at all.


The withdrawal of Filipino-American candidate Mitz Sumilang Lee from the race for the San Diego City Council reminds me of the Philippine Sweepstakes seller, Manuel Uy. Mr. Uy extensively promoted his motto: “Ang umaayaw ay di nagwawagi; ang nagwawagi ay di umaayaw.” (A quitter never wins; a winner never quits.)

The first lesson in the Filipino-American quest for public office is Manuel Uy and his motto, for obvious reasons. There is no turning back if the formal announcement has been made and fundraisers have been scheduled and/or done. Perhaps Ms. Lee may be labeled unkindly as a “quitter” from now on, unless she can prove that her quitting was a “two-steps backward, one-step forward” strategy.

The second lesson is “doing the homework.” Very few Filipino-American candidates for public office really devote time and resources to preparing themselves for a political campaign. Many of them fail to gather statistics such as voters’ lists or even mailing lists or join the political party and/or associations that have influence in the targeted race – long before the announcement of the bid. Those who want to run for public office must remember the example of now-Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She started her career as a politician by becoming one of the top fundraisers for the Democratic Party first in San Francisco, then the State of California (where she became eventually the party state chairperson) and the nation at large. One must first “pay” the equivalent of the tuition fee and do the homework year in, year out, until he or she climbs in the ladder of responsibility. And remember this adage, “Never step on the toes of the people you meet on your way up because they will be the same people you will meet on your way down.”

The third lesson is the real-estate creed, “Location, location, location.” Obviously, running in a district where there are many Filipino and/or Asian-American voters would help a lot. It is inconceivable to run in a district where the majority of the voters is Black American or Latino American. But in places like Hawaii, or the City of Carson (California) or where the population is like a melting pot, the qualified Filipino candidate has a chance. Especially if ethnic groups are almost equal in strength, the Filipino can use his/her historical linkages to the Black Americans and the Latinos as a political advantage. The saga of the more-than 6,000 Buffalo soldiers in the Philippines from 1899 to 1902 should help the Filipino candidate reach out to the Black-American voters. This fact would play a major role if there is no Black-American opponent; even if there are Black-American opponents in a melting-pot area, this linkage would still help if among the said other ethnic candidates, nobody is really a strong bet.

The fourth lesson is to remember the contributions of Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Cuba and other Hispanic countries to the making of the Filipino heritage. The candidacy will also get a tremendous boost if the Fil-Am candidate were to use the Spanish heritage of the Filipino, especially in areas where there is a growing Latino vote. Especially among Mexican-American voters, the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade can be a good historical linkage. The Hispano-Filipino connection will be especially helpful if the Filipino candidate has a Spanish surname and he/she has conversational grasp of the Spanish language.

The support of the NaFFAA NEOs has become a kiss of death.

The fifth lesson is that the Filipino-American candidate must avoid being identified with the national leadership of the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA) and its corrupt national executive officers (NEOs). The so-called soap opera, “NaFFAA-ka-Sakit, Kuya Eddie,” is ongoing and many Filipino Americans know the well-publicized refusal of the NaFFAA NEOs to observe the ATIC tenets. ATIC, as I coined, stands for accountability, transparency, integrity and credibility. Just go to the NaFFAAgate Section of this web site to read again the documental financial scandals that happened in the NaFFAA. Obviously, Filipino Americans and to a certain extent, Asian-American community leaders, would not open their wallets and give their support if the candidate is heavily identified with the NaFFAA NEOs.  Proof? When Hawaii Sen. Ron Menor ran for the congressional primary in September 2006, his campaign organization’s fundraising operation was headed by Atty. Rodel Rodis and Ben Menor, two of the disgraced NaFFAA NEOs. Senator Menor fared badly in the primary. And Senator Menor is also the NaFFAA chair for Hawaii.

Want another proof? After a NaFFAA cofounder, who was the first Filipino-American mayor of the City of Carson (California), went to jail on corruption charges, no Filipino-American political aspirant in the city wants to be identified with the national federation.

Perhaps the budding candidacy of Ms. Mitz Lee was nipped in the bud because some officers with the NaFFAA chapter in San Diego became very visible with her campaign organization. As I have been saying, unless the candidate wants to be part of the NaFFAA soap opera, with all its sad episodes, warts and all, it is better to turn down any offer of support from the “damaged-goods” versions of the NaFFAA leadership. The support of the NaFFAA NEOs has become a kiss of death. # # #


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