By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
Jan. 23, 2013
WASHINGTON – These Filipino-Americans are enjoying the fruits of their labor. After months of campaigning for President Barack Obama’s reelection, their hard work is paying off. Many of them were at Obama’s second inauguration on Monday.
Melvin Tabilas, co-chair of Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress – D.C. said, “It’s really exciting. After all the hard work that we’ve put in our community — in Virginia, in Florida, in Nevada and in California — we are able to see the fruits of our labor and enjoy them at this point.”
“Filipinos for Obama” started out as a grassroots organization of Filipino-Americans rooting for a candidate, who would become America’s first African-American president.
In 2007, members would knock on doors, convincing people to believe in Obama’s promise of hope and change.
Today, it has evolved into a movement called “Kaya,” (We Can) inspired by the Obama campaign’s rallying cry, “Yes, we can!”
Founding member Ben de Guzman said, “We didn’t want an acronym, so we chose Kaya to keep that kind of spirit of possibility.”
Kaya’s mission: to find and mentor progressive Filipino-American leaders to represent the Filipino community at various levels of government — those who would push for policies the FilAm community.
Jason Lagria, national co-chair of Kaya said, “We helped elect Mark Pulido to the Cerritos City Council in Los Angeles. It took him three tries but with the support of members in L.A., San Francisco who raised funds for him and made calls, he won!”
Kaya members also campaigned for Rob Bonta, the first Fiipino elected to the California Assembly. He said, “I can’t say enough about KAYA and what they’ve meant to the Filipino-American community. They are a sophisticated, energetic group of folks who know how to win elections. That’s what we need to empower the FilAm community and get FilAms elected.”
Marita Etcubanez, co-chair of Kaya DC said, “It’s about building our community and supporting our own to become leaders. Hopefully, that will be Kaya’s legacy.”
For Obama second term of office, Kaya is actively lobbying politicians to finally address the need for a comprehensive immigration reform policy.
You may contact Don Tagala at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.