Filipino American Republicans See GOP as Party of Values
News Report, Olivia Quinto,
Philippine News, Sep 04, 2004
NEW YORK -- Manny Cabildo was only 19 when, like so many other young men in his village of Caoayan in Ilocus Sur, he decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy to see the world and seek new opportunities. He came to America in 1955 and, after 26 years in the service, he retired as a Navy chief in San Diego, Calif.
Today, at 69, Cabildo keeps himself busy as chairman of the Filipino American Republican Club of San Diego County, a position which reflects his strong sense of duty to his adopted homeland.
“People should be willing to work and protect the freedom and liberty of America,” he said.
Why Republican? “When I was young, I was a fan of General (Douglas) McArthur. I believed in his principles of a strong military and strong leadership… [so] I was always a Republican, but just didn't know it,” he explained.
Cabildo is a virtual minority within the Filipino American community, a traditional Democratic stronghold. Filipino American Republicans offer the argument that being Filipino and Republican are not at all incompatible and that the GOP is a viable choice for Filipinos.
“The party concerns itself with those who are creating, making it on their own, instead of waiting for a handout from the government,” said Cabildo. “Republicans train people to do better in their lives. Democrats just talk and talk.”
Vellie Dietrich Hall, 53, a businesswoman who is a founding member and president of the Filipino American Republicans of Virginia (Farv), echoed Cabildo's views. She said, “Republicans reward people who are self-sufficient and hardworking entrepreneurs.”
Van Dichoso, an accountant and president of the Filipino American Republicans of Los Angeles County (FARLAC), voiced his theory on why Filipinos favor the Democrats. He said, “No one has really taken the initiative to market Republicanism [to Filipinos]. We must show that it is the alternative if you want to succeed.”
Indeed, individual responsibility and accountability seem to be the rallying point among FilAm GOPers. They argue simply that the GOP values individualism and self-empowerment more, while the Democrats encourage too much dependency on the government.
Hall, who was also recently appointed as a commissioner for the Presidential Advisory Board on Asian American and Pacific Islanders, said President George W. Bush has encouraged Asian Americans to start their own businesses using federal capital and grants. She said simple programs like holding town hall meetings and giving seminars on how to write business proposals, are helpful to new immigrants, especially those with language difficulties, gain the confidence to succeed in America.
Meanwhile, Angel Rice, a 49-year-old job search specialist for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, commended the Republicans' welfare reform of a five-year term limit as a good example of putting more accountability on those on welfare. “There's no end to it, that is why there's so many people to whom welfare has become a career and it's passed on from them to the next generation and the one after that,” she observed.
Among the FilAm Republicans interviewed by the Philippine News, support for the party remains steadfast, even for the most controversial issue on the Republican agenda: the war in Iraq.
Rice admitted that although war is “not a good thing, we are better off fighting the war outside the U.S., rather than fighting it in the streets of L.A.”
Marcia Andres, a 56-year-old medical technician from Virginia, expressed her ambivalence over the U.S. decision to invade Iraq. She said, “There wasn't any WMD (weapons of mass destruction), but the war deposed Saddam Hussein so I guess that's good enough.”
However, as military spending on the Iraq war continues to escalate, and as the deficit continues to increase, the Bush Administration's handling of the economy has become a meaningful issue.
While many commended Bush's tax cuts as a great incentive for business owners to create more jobs, Armand Aquino, a 34-year-old management consultant based in Boston, was critical of the Republicans' stance on outsourcing, the practice by U.S. companies of contracting jobs to countries, usually in Asia, to save on costs. “Outsourcing hurts our economy; we need to pull back the reins a little and Republicans should really look to the big picture of how it is affecting the U.S. instead of the world,” Aquino said.
Bush's leadership and personal charisma is also at issue. Hall praised Bush as a president who stayed the course. “He doesn't waver at all and that's the kind of leadership we want or we'll be controlled by terrorism or a type of liberal leadership which allows other states to control [our policies],” she said.
While Aquino is unimpressed with Bush's inability to grasp the more salient points of foreign policy, he also admires the President's uncompromising attitude and decisiveness. “True leadership is taking a stand [and I can admire Bush in that he] is decisive and stands by his decisions, unlike Kerry who is too wishy-washy,” he said.
Despite variances in opinions, FilAm Republicans are united in their view that the GOP represents traditional values that the Filipino culture stands for. “Filipinos are religious people and the Republican party believes that there is a higher power that is really guiding us, it is respectful of God and that's how Filipinos are, at least the Filipinos I know and grew up with,” said Hall.
Cabildo defended the Republican Party from criticism that it is dominated by the religious right. He said, “[Democrats] don't believe in the Lord Jesus Christ… they lie all the time and if you don't believe in what they're saying, they just label you 'extreme'…. [on the other hand] we believe in traditional values, we believe in family, like marriage between a man and woman.”
Rev. Alex Atienza, a 35-year-old minister from Virginia, praised Bush as a “moral leader” worth emulating. “He is a brave person and he stands on the principles of the forefathers of America… the Constitution of the U.S. was established on the Bible and President Bush is upholding that by his courage in telling people what is right and what needs to be done.”
It is these shared values “about religion, family, respect for authority and individual responsibility” which FilAm Republicans argue can be used as a powerful tool to rally the community behind the GOP.
Link to an Filipino-American Republicans of Virginia Website