CHICAGO – In response to a challenge aired by Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. during the recent 12th Pagkikita sa Konsulado (town hall meeting at the Philippine Consulate) here for Filipinos to go out and vote in the Philippines and United States elections next year, many Filipino Americans will be attending a meeting to be held on Dec. 5 at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel and Convention Center in this city.
The meeting will be graced by New York City-based Filipino American leader Atty. Loida Nicolas Lewis.
(The monthly Pagkikita sa Konsulado is a brainchild of Philippine Consul General Generoso D.G. Calonge).
Herminio T. de Guia, Jr., Gawad Kalinga Chicago Area coordinator, said he is delighted that “Ms. Lewis, who is a known workaholic and an overachiever, is a Mar (Roxas) and Leni (Robredo) supporter” and is coming to Chicago to update the community on the political developments in the Philippines.
De Guia formed two Facebook groups for the Mar-Leni campaigns – Filipinos Abroad and Friends for Mar at Leni (FAB 4 MAR AT LENI) with 3,001 members and Friends of Jim Paredes for Mar at Leni with 3,701 members. De Guia said,“I visit the Philippines almost every two years, followed the ongoings, news and articles about our country. I truly believe the Mar-Leni team is the best choice and the most qualified candidates to continue the necessary changes and reforms started by Daang Matuwid (straight path).”
Parties interested to attend the political meeting that will be presided over by Ms. Lewis may RSVP Cindy Flores at phone 312.925.7812 or email her at [email protected] or Marlon L. Pecson at 773.704.4342 or email him at [email protected]
Ms. Lewis also asked Chicago area community leaders Josie Disterhoft, Juanita Salvador Burris and Jan Paul C. Ferrer to spread the word about the meeting.
Aside from the political meeting, Ms. Lewis, an alumna of the University of the Philippines (UP), will be the keynote speaker and special guest of honor at the induction of officers of the UP Alumni Association of Greater Chicago (UPAAGC) at 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2015 also at Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare.
Ryan T. Tejero, incoming UPAAGC president, said Ms. Lewis will talk about her perspectives on Philippine politics and economy. She will also entertain questions after her 15-minute speech.
Ambassador Cuisia said registration of dual citizens ended on Oct. 31. Those dual citizens who have registered as voters can vote in the Philippine presidential 2016 elections. All consulates in the US have shown numbers that doubled their registration targets.
“I challenge those registered voters to really vote. Consulates do educational forum on electoral process. We are non-partisans and we will come up with suggestions for voters how they select (their candidates). For us to have sustained growth, you should select the leader,” Cuisia said.
“With the right leader, growth of 8 to 10% will be needed for six years to grow to address poverty and equality. (But there) remain many challenges.”
Cuisia said, “Despite the large number of (Filipinos) in the U.S., we have no voice. Many Filipinos, who can vote, don’t vote.”
He was dismayed to learn that of the three million Filipinos in the U.S. who can vote in Philippine elections, there were only 227,000 voters, who voted in the last Philippine elections in the U.S. This is equivalent to .08%.
It’s about time students, youth leaders and the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) really go out and vote, Cuisia said. “The Consulates will be pushing them to be politically engaged.”
He noted that in the 2012 United States presidential elections, there was a big increase in the number of Asian voters, including Filipino Americans, who voted in the U.S. elections. But in 2008, “figures are very dismal for Filipino Americans.”
Cuisia challenged the Filipino Americans to get involved in politics by asking them to consider political career. He named such young leaders as Jan Paul Ferrer, financial advisor of Morgan Stanley, and talented artist Louella Maningas Cabalona to take the political path.
He said they can find inspiration in such political leaders as Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA-03), Al Green (D-TX-09) and Filipino American Rep. Steve Austria, who bowed out of office to give way to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-08).
“Now that Speaker Boehner is gone from office, Mr. Austria can regain the district that will be left vacant by Mr. Boehner,” Cuisia said. Messrs. Boehner and Austria live in the same district in Ohio.
When Lewis comes to Chicago, it will not be the first time she will be asking the Filipino Americans to get out and vote.
In 2010, Ms. Lewis was in town to ask the Filipino American dual citizens to vote in the 2010 presidential elections. She attended the Noynoy-Mar rally on Jan. 23, 2010 at the Westin Hotel-Chicago North Shore in Wheeling, Illinois. It was organized by Marlon L. Pecson and Bart and Yoly Tubalinal.
At the same time, she joined a group that campaigned for the presidential elections of then Senator Benigno S. Aquino III and then Trade Secretary Mar Roxas.
In 2013, Attorney Lewis also came to suburban Carol Stream, Illinois to endorse at least eight of 12 Team PNoy senatorial candidates and then congressional candidate, Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo, who was then running for representative in the third district of Camarines Sur.
This time when she returns to Chicago, Lewis will announce her support for the presidential candidacy of Mar Roxas and the vice presidential candidacy of Leni Robredo.
“I am excited to pitch for the candidacies of Mar and Leni,” Ms. Lewis said. “I hope you will be there to cover the event,” she told this reporter.)