VIRGINIA BEACH, VA — When the mayor, local elected officials, and those running for office in the Hampton Roads area make the time to join the Filipino-American Friendship Day parade, it’s because they know the Virginia Beach Filipino-American vote counts come election time.
Former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ed Gillespie, is the GOP nominee for the Virginia gubernatorial election of 2017.
“I get a lot of advice on policy, and my policies will benefit all Virginians and in particular, I love working for with Filipino-American community, and so I’m here all the time, and I’m glad to be back with my friend Ron Villanueva,” said Gillespie.
Republican Ron Villanueva is the first Fil-Am elected to the Virginia state government, and currently sits as chairman of the Transportation Committee.
“We as Filipinos, we have to be involved in the process,” said Villanueva. “If we’re gonna have a voice, you need to be active in politics.”
John Adams, a descendant of the 2nd President of the United States with the same name, is running for attorney general.
He says the Fil-Am friendship day parade benefits both politicians and kababayans.
“It’s very important that you have a deep understanding of the people you serve, seek to serve… you can reach out to those who are seeking your vote, ask them questions and have a good conversation with them,” said Adams.
Community leader Joe Ortega, who has been organizing this event for the last 14 years, says that active political engagement with elected officials benefits the more than 40,000 Filipino-Americans in the Hampton Roads area.
“If we have a Filipino, like any kind of issue, they’re always there for us, especially the mayor,” said Ortega.
“Being here at Fil-Am friendship day is a true reminder of the importance of civic engagement,” said Jason Benjamin Tengco, exec director of NaFFAA. “We should really increase our turnout at elections to really increase the power of the Filipino-American community, that every single vote matters and counts, and it also just reminds us that when we vote, we matter…”
While Filipinos used to celebrate the signing of the treaty of Manila on July 4, 1946 as Philippine Independence day from its American colonizers — today, the Fourth of July is a symbol of the strong bond between two allied nations as Philippine-American Friendship Day.