As an American of Filipino descent living in the traditionally conservative state of Arkansas, I have a unique viewpoint that many of my fellow Filipino-Americans on the West and East Coasts have not experienced. I know what it feels like to look different and be treated as an outsider, although I was born and raised primarily in the South. My mother is from Roxas City, Capiz, Philippines and was recruited to move to the United States in the late 1970s due to a shortage of registered nurses. She married my father, who is Caucasian, and had two biracial children, which was – and is still not – common in Arkansas, especially in the rural town in which I spent my early childhood. Throughout my life, I have heard the backhanded compliments like, “Wow, your English is really good. You don’t even sound like a foreigner.”
At first, I was confused, then angry. Then, I began to realize that the problem was not my fellow Arkansans, but an innocent unfamiliarity, that when left unchecked, can lead to a culture of ignorance and prejudice. This frightening ideology that seems to embrace hatred and bigotry is what we are facing on a national scale if we allow GOP nominee Donald Trump to become president.
Trump’s recent statements referring to Filipinos as “no better than animals” and a “Trojan horse” for terrorist activity to enter the United States clearly shows his lack of knowledge of Philippine history and complete disregard for international relations in general. The Philippines has been a fiercely loyal ally of the United States since World War II, when thousands of Filipinos answered General Douglas McArthur’s call at Subic Bay to stand with America against the Axis Powers in the Pacific theater. The Philippine government has been struggling with Islamic terrorist groups in the southern island of Mindanao for decades. Instead of offering to help Filipinos combat this threat on the ground level, Trump has insulted and discounted an entire nation of people who have been America’s loyal friends and allies.
Fil-Ams need to realize that Trump is not on our side. Trump does not recognize our achievements nor our contributions to American history and culture. Trump does not want our family back in the Philippines to join us nor even visit us here in America. If Trump had his way, Filipinos would be banished from American soil altogether.
As with all Asian Americans, Filipinos greatly value education. Trump himself does not educate himself on the issues facing America and has said that he “loves uneducated people.” Trump loves the uneducated because they blindly follow his hate-mongering rhetoric and far-fetched “solutions” for “making America great again,” like building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and banning all immigration. Except for Native Americans, all current citizens of the United States began as immigrants. America’s melting pot of different cultures and points of view is what makes our nation so great. Trump has insulted and disrespected women, African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslim-Americans, the LGBT community, and now Filipinos. For these reasons, along with Trump’s lack of political experience and legal knowledge, I stand with California Assemblymember Rob Bonta, community leader and philanthropist Loida Nicholas Lewis, and other leaders of the Fil-Am community when I say #BawalSiTrump!
Growing up in Arkansas, I saw the good Hillary Clinton accomplished, first as the top attorney in the state, then as First Lady of Arkansas, before she moved on to be Senator of New York and then Secretary of State. A graduate of Wellesley College and Yale Law School, Hillary is an American success story and champion for women and other minority groups. Hillary highly values education, personal development, and achievement based on merit, and has devoted her life to shattering the glass ceiling, which still holds people back from fulfilling their full potential because of their gender, skin color, or cultural beliefs.
I charge all Fil-Ams – both Democrat and Republican alike – to remember the sacrifices made by the Filipino soldiers who proudly fought alongside Americans in WWII and the sacrifices made by our grandparents and parents in coming to the United States to ensure that their children grew up as free Americans with every opportunity for success. I strongly urge the Fil-Am community to stay true to its core values of loyalty, education, and hard work by saying “no” to Trump in November and voting for Hillary Clinton as president of the United States!