Gaining political influence in Canada
With nearly one million Filipino Canadians, we have the numbers to influence the results of an election in some ridings for the local, provincial and federal levels of government. In the United States we have more than three million Filipino Americans. We can be the king makers or the game changers if we have the political strategy, play our role right and get involved in politics as much as we exert efforts in our traditional social, and cultural activities which do not bring us much but only satisfy the small prides and ambitions of our local leaders, our desire to party and have fun. However the expense on these activities we seem to focus on is in hundreds of millions every year and is draining our pockets without much progress or achievements for our people. It seems that we have not reached maturity and are still playing bahay kubo like small children.
Benefits of political involvement
Canada is our first country now. We live, work, pay thousands of dollars in taxes every year and will probably die here. Most of our children consider themselves Canadians and have no plans of going back. Even those who dream of going back home for good will not like it there anymore after staying here for more than 20 to 40 years. We can’t stand the pollution, overcrowding, heat and the lack of discipline, crime, injustice, corruption, red tapes, incompetence and the expensive health care services which we get free in Canada. Our relatives, friends and neighbors also take advantage of us with their mendicant attitude. Some have become parasites who think we owe them a living. We are treated as second class citizens there now, flattered as their heroes but milked dry of our dollars. We can’t even run for office in the government without giving up our hard earned Canadian citizenship. What kind of heroes are we?
We are lucky to have been accepted as citizens in this wonderful country with the right to vote and be voted upon, to participate in a true democracy and make a difference unlike those who work in other countries who will never have rights as citizens. But citizenship has its obligations and benefits. If we do not even vote or play a major role, others who have no concern for our needs and interest will decide our future and make it harder for us in the minority.
Here, people do not sell their votes and there are no politicians buying them. You can run without much expense unlike in the Philippines where a candidate for mayor spends millions to buy votes. But you have to have money to spend for promoting your cause and ours.
We have to get involved. Most legislation in both parliaments and local councils take away money from our wallets, and even the past gains that we have fought for. With money getting tighter and the economy getting weaker, expect even our retirement benefits, healthcare, and education of our children will be compromised. They have already moved retirement age to 67 which is a cash grab. Minorities are always blamed for problems of the country.
It could mean more jobs and opportunities if we share our bright ideas for the betterment of the country. The reason why the Philippines became what it is is because most of us did not get involved perhaps out of fear or were not concerned and the evil ones were able to corrupt the system to their advantage and perpetuate themselves in power. Do not let this happen here too. Remember the saying, “Evil triumphs where good men do nothing.” Our sayings “Wala tayong magagawa, itinala na ng Diyos iyan” (We can’t do anything more, it is God’s will) mostly does not work; we will always be the nakakaawa (pitiful). We are the hands and feet of God, so we must do something otherwise God won’t answer our prayers.
We can’t just suffer in silence again and accuse the system or blame others. We can only blame ourselves for permitting a system that disadvantages us and our children.
When we have Filipino Canadians elected or even appointed we are proud of our visibility and the success that our people contribute. To be a politician is prestigious and honorable job in Canada and the salary, perks and pensions are a lot higher than just being employed. But how can one be proud of something we did not work for and was never a part of? Are we not ashamed of that?
If we get involved, have a perception of solid vote just like the Iglesia ni Cristo we can ask the government for grants, loans, subsidies, counterpart funds, and other benefits for our community projects and even pay for the salaries of our community volunteers just like in other communities. Other ethnic groups like the Jews, Koreans, Chinese, and Indians get millions in grants. We can do the same if we are more active and are perceived as delivering the votes for these political parties. We can even ask them to help fund anti-poverty and justice projects in the Philippines or in case war breaks up in the Pacific against the Chinese, North Korea, Malaysia or Japan which are possible.
We can make them address our concerns like recognizing our foreign credentials and work experiences, and make it easier for our caregivers and temporary contract workers or bring more Filipinos here as immigrants. We have to make Canadians realize that in the global economies that work experiences in other countries is an asset. It is not only Canadian experience that counts.
We can ask them to appoint our qualified people to higher positions, nominate and support some of our people as candidates for councilor, Members of the Provincial and Federal Parliaments, even mayors.
We can be king makers, make the difference in an election. You will observe that sometimes a mere difference of a few votes elects an official into office. Less than 40% of citizens vote during the election. Let us take advantage of this lack of interest among Canadians and win some seats.
By getting involved in bigger worthwhile projects and challenges than the social, cultural and beauty contest that we do every year, our leaders will have no time or energy to fight each other over small amounts of money and projects and focus on their challenging projects. Therefore there will be peace in our community and pride in what we will do. The fault finders will be exposed as trouble makers and traitors of our race.
Those who are interested on this topic and might want to get involved in fulfilling this dream, please email the author at rodjalram@gmail .com
(Author’s note: Ramos is a visionary with background in organization, management and marketing who believes in the capacity of the Filipino. He was one of the initiators of the Filipino Centre Toronto during the time that the Filipino community has lost hope in having a centre. Our leaders tried for more than 35 years to build a Centre but failed. In 17 months, the FCT bought a $1.05 million building on Parliament & Wellesley Sts., an achievement never before made. He was Chairman of its Marketing & Promotion Committee. He also promoted the Philippine Centennial Festival at the SkyDome (Rogers Centre) in 1989 which drew more than 35,000, the first and last largest gathering of Filipinos outside of the Philippines. His social club Asian Connection was featured in full page articles in Toronto Star, Toronto Sun and CBC TV Monitor. Rodel was one of the founders of the Philippine Press Club – Ontario. He is a free launch writer. He has a BA in Management & Marketing and is a political strategist in his student days as president of the Free Voters Party of U.E. They won the Student Government by land slide.
During the Marcos era, he designed the orientation and organizational structure of the Student Government in the University of the East that triggered the massive rallies of its 60,000 students against tuition increase and the bus and jeepney fare increases in Metro Manila. This led to the 1st Battle of Mendiola that ended in the doors of Malacanang Palace against the rising dictatorship during the First Quarter Storm. He was awarded Outstanding Student Leader in U.E. in 1969. His group was awarded the Most Outstanding Organization for two years. He led the petition against fiestas in St. Joseph Church, Quezon City.)