Gaining political influence in Canada — Part 6
By Rodel J. Ramos
Dr. Jose Rizal, our greatest national hero and his co-expatriates during the Spanish era Marcelo H. del Pilar, Juan and Antonio Luna, Graciano Lopez Jaena, Jose Alejandrino and a few others were able to influence the Spanish Government in the late 1800s by their connection in their secret fraternity as Freemasons. They were just a few but they were able to mingle, influence and educate the Spanish leaders who were their brothers in Freemasonry. There were Freemasons who were in position of power at that time like Governor General Blanco and some in the Spanish Cortes. They also used the secret society to educate the intellectuals and wealthy Filipinos who were members of the fraternity and spread their cause very fast. In fact Emilio Aguinaldo, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, leaders of the Katipunan were all Freemasons.
During the American regime, the late President Manuel L. Quezon, Manuel Roxas, Sergio Osmena, Jose Abad Santos, General Vicente Lim, Claro M. Recto, and others repeated the same course. They went to America and influenced the American Congressmen, Senators and even Presidents via their brothers in Freemasonry to sponsor the bill to grant us independence. Mark Twain led the media campaign. Some American Governor Generals were also Freemasons. Even during the Japanese era, Jose P. Laurel, also a Freemason became president to save the country and its people from abuses of the Imperial Army.
In the Marcos era, there were only the Rolex 10 who planned the implementation of Martial Law which included Juan Ponce Enrile, Fidel Ramos and others. Ferdinand Marcos however always planned ahead of everyone and had alternatives in case his plan A did not work out. Sometimes it was overkill. This proves to us that we don’t need everybody to trigger change in a system. It only needs a few visionaries with determination and a right strategy and some brilliant people.
We have a lot of Filipino Canadian Freemasons today who have influence or can establish connections with those in the centre of power. There are Filipino Canadians with great influence among Rotarians, Lions, Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce, JAYCEES and other prestigious, influential or international bodies or organizations. Every church has Filipino religious organizations like the Couples for Christ, Bukas Loob sa Diyos and other Charismatic groups. We must connect to those people for the betterment of our race. The status quo is not acceptable.
Even our seemingly lowly caregivers have great influence. They work for wealthy, influential owners of corporations and mighty politicians whom we can approach through them for favors. In fact their children are taught the Filipino Christian values and even how to read, and write English.
Almost a decade ago, the “Shotgun approach” strategy wherein you try to hit everything in one blast was used by NaFFAA (National Federation of Filipino American Associations) for the Filipino WWII Veterans Equity Bill which was to give them pensions and citizenship was a total failure according to one officer. They were however in the process of experimentation, a time of trial and error but in time they learned. They also are not yet well organized nationwide, do not have the funding and their people are not yet politically motivated and trained just like us. But they are getting there.
Another approach is the “1 Filipino can make a difference” idea. We know that the Federal and Provincial Parliaments and even the town and city councils are numbers game and who ever have the majority votes wins. It means if you get 51% of the parliament, your sponsored bill will pass.
It will take a little more time but less expensive is to convince at least 1 Filipino or 1 Filipino Canadian group to be active in the campaign of each candidate for Member of Federal and Provincial Parliaments in their riding, in the major parties – Conservatives, Liberals and the NDP. With the more than 500 Filipino Canadian organizations we can have a “man to man” contact with these politicians educating them of our potentials and our concerns.
During the Philippine Centennial Festival at the (SkyDome) now Rogers Centre, people were telling me that the hundreds of organizations was a sign of disunity. I told them that this is a sign of unity. It is impossible to unite the Filipinos without these grassroots organization. You only have to talk to their leaders instead of approaching the thousands individually, give them the right incentives, and identify common goals. That is the reason why we were able to sell more than 35,000 tickets.
Better still if we are able to penetrate the inner circle or think tank of these candidates. This way our people will have the ears of the candidates. If that Filipino can ask as a condition of his volunteer work for the candidate to vote positively on the bills or concerns of the Filipinos so much the better. But we can only do this if we already are organized and recognized to deliver the votes. This goal is more attainable than uniting all the Filipino Canadians. This strategy will be easier implemented and are proven effective.
Our inside men/women must be intelligent enough and need to be trained on issues we are concerned about, must have knowledge of national, local issues, a great public relation, good talker and social skills, is a hard worker and can deliver votes from the community. He/she must have a following in the Community and will campaign hard with the candidate.
NaFFAA leaders in the U.S. said this is the same as “Pick a target doctrine”. This is adopted by the Military strategists, most especially applied in an ambush encounter, where each rifleman has a designated target. Simply said, the Filipino Political Committee should identify a marksman (a Community political activist) in each riding to personally lobby for future bills which will improve the lives of Filipino Canadians. A Constituent is effective when they lobby their own Member of Parliament in their home district, rather than somebody, who is not a constituent. American Congressman Mike Honda is correct, that the Members of the Federal and Provincial Parliaments must be educated about the bill we intend to promote, and it is the job of the Filipino Canadians to educate their own members of parliament.”
Of course to implement this approach, we have to train these Marksmen on their jobs. They have to undergo a rigid training on what are necessary qualities and qualifications for the job.
(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)