JANUARY 2018



By Jon D. Melegrito

jdmelegrito@gmail.com

Letter from Washington

 

..."Fil-Am women rising in the year of Trump"

...continued from index page

Mass action.“I was a child growing up under martial law in the Philippines and it felt terrifying,” Youngberg said. “It’s starting to feel that way now in my adopted country. So, whatever skills we have, we must rise up to defend the America we love.”

Protests in front of the White House continued almost every week. On March 8, 16-year-old Filipino American Paula Fudolig of Gaithersburg, MD. skipped school and brought along her mother and 10-year-old sister to a rally near Capitol Hill. “I missed the Women’s March in January,” said Fudolig, a sophomore student. “This time, I was determined to be part of International Women’s Day.” Billed as “A Day Without A Woman,” the strike demanded fair treatment in the workplace and equal rights for women.

“I’m very concerned about Trump’s anti-women and anti-immigrant policies,” said Patricia, Paula’s mother. “I want to be able to raise my daughters to learn what they are worth, to grow up to think for themselves and to stand up for their rights.”
Fudolig was an accounting student at the Lyceum of the Philippines 25 years ago when she joined hundreds of students stage a walkout to protest planned tuition hikes. “That’s when I realized what mass action can do,” she recalled.“

Mass action was also something a couple of Filipino American business women engaged in, even if it meant suffering business losses. On May 1, Patrice Diaz Cleary shut down her popular DC restaurant, Purple Patch, in solidarity with “A Day Without Immigrants” strike across the country. Cleary, and another restaurant owner, Genevieve Villamora of Bad Saint, joined dozens of business owners to protest Trump’s immigration policies. “Many of our workers are immigrants,” Cleary said. “We depend on them to keep our businesses running and our communities vibrant and alive.”

A Wake Up Call

No doubt, the Women’s March in January was a wake up call. Instead of being silenced by the anti-woman rhetoric against Hillary Clinton, women felt even more emboldened.

“Donald Trump has definitely spurred a new activism among many women,” said Irene Natividad, former chair of the National Women’s Political Caucus and President of the Global Summit of Women. “They are saying ‘enough is enough,’ so they want to make real change by running for public office.”

According to Emily’s List, the largest national organization devoted to electing female candidates, about 1,000 women have indicated an interest in running for office. Of this number, 354 are candidates for Congress, which includes 291 Democrats and 63 Republicans.

One Filipino American who sees herself as a “change agent” is Gina Ortiz Jones. She wants to represent the 23rd district of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. Gina grew up in San Antonio and was raised by a single mother who immigrated from the Philippines. After college, Gina joined the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence officer where she was deployed to Iraq.

Other than Rep. Bobby Scott, there are no other Filipino Americans in Congress. Gina has an excellent chance of winning, but she needs our support. For more information about Gina, please see her website: ginaortizjones.com.

The election of Filipino American Terry Fowler last November to the Virginia State Assembly is an affirmation that Filipino American women are indeed rising, and not just resisting. They are not just outside protesting in the streets. They want to be inside the greatest deliberative body in the world and change policies that are currently made by politicians aptly described as “male, pale and stale.”

 


 

 

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