White House
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Will there be a time in the near future when an Asian American will be the occupant of the White House?

It’s more difficult than a long shot, says Filipino-American Dennis Apuan, a former state representative in Colorado. In a light-hearted manner, Apuan cited 10 purely Asian reasons why no Asian American will become the highest official of “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Apuan, who was state congressman in Colorado in 2009-2010, was one of two Filipino-American politicians who spoke on the topic “Running for Public Office” at NaFFAA’s (National Federation of Filipino American Associations) 10th Empowerment Conference held in Detroit on Aug. 2-5, 2012.

The other was J. Owen Diaz, former mayor of Milan, Michigan, who is running for state congressman in this year’s election.

Apuan’s discussion of the topic provided a light moment in the conference, which earlier tackled serious problems such as those bedeviling medical missions sent to the Philippines and a campaign to boycott made-in-China products.

His 10 reasons why no Asian Pacific American will become the occupant of the White House are:

[box type=”default” size=”medium”] 10. Big extended families — The White House is not big enough to accommodate all relatives and in-law. [/box][box type=”default” size=”medium”] 9. People in the engineering and medical professions are preferred over those who have degree in political science. [/box][box type=”default” size=”medium”] 8. The Oval Office has bad feng shui. [/box][box type=”default” size=”medium”] 7. You can’t find decent roast duck or roast pig in the Washington Beltway. [/box][box type=”default” size=”medium”] 6. Secret Service cannot handle nagging mothers. [/box][box type=”default” size=”medium”] 5. Dignitaries are generally intimidated by chopsticks at state dinners. [/box][box type=”default” size=”medium”] 4. There is no chance for promotion. [/box][box type=”default” size=”medium”] 3. Lactose intolerance is not considered politically correct. [/box][box type=”default” size=”medium”] 2. Senior aides won’t take off their shoes before they come in. [/box][box type=”default” size=”medium”] 1. Air Force One has no frequent flyer-mile benefit. [/box]

Apuan’s discussion tickled the funny bones of some conference participants, who badly needed the comic relief after they were bombarded by the other speakers with a barrage of talks on subjects as serious as the threat of a shooting war in the South China Sea.

Apuan’s presentation was markedly different from the extremely serious talk of the irrepressible Rodel Rodis, whose unique speaking style can provoke people into putting their very lives on the line for the sake of the mother land.

And who would not?

Rodis highlighted his discussion with a video presentation, which was prefaced by the singing of the patriotic song, “Ang Bayan Ko.” Then he talked about the explosive situation in the South China Sea caused by China’s attempts to occupy the Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly group of islands.

Rodis related the story of concert pianist Godofredo Asercion, a Filipino-American who was born in San Francisco, California in 1916. Asercion had the distinction as the first Filipino to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in music which he obtained in 1938.

Rodis said, “Though he was born as an American citizen, had never visited the Philippines and did not know the language, Godofredo nonetheless enlisted in the US Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) to defend the Philippines from an impending Japanese invasion. He joined his unit in Bataan which somehow managed to hold out for three months on meager food rations and with even more meager arms and ammunition… After the surrender of the American and Filipino defenders on April 9, 1942, Godofredo was among those who died. His widow was informed that Godofredo, along with 30 of his comrades, had been buried in a mass grave.”

He then exhorted members of the audience to make sacrifices for their homeland, saying that although they now live comfortably here in the US, “our mind, soul and heart did not leave the Philippines.”

He urged members of the audience to join the campaign here in the US to boycott made-in-China products, citing the potential economic damage the drive can wreak on China.

The reason China wants to grab the Recto Bank in the South China Sea, he said, is that there is a huge deposit of oil, estimated at 213 billion barrels, in the area.

If the Philippines can exploit this huge resource, there would be no need for Filipinos to work abroad as domestic helpers, Rodis intoned.

Indeed, his speech had so inflamed my patriotic passion that I am now boycotting all made-in-China products – except “siopao,” of course.

Well, I have to admit that speakers in the categories of Apuan and Rodis can brighten up my day.


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