On the eve of one of the tightest races for the presidency of the United States, the Philippine embassy in Washington on Tuesday called on qualified Filipino-Americans to go out and exercise their right to vote.
The US is host to the largest concentration of Filipinos outside the Philippines and Filipinos are the second largest ethnic group in America.
“Let us use these numbers and play a bigger role in shaping the political, economic and social discourse in this country,” said Ambassador Jose Cuisia, Jr. said in a statement from Washington.
Cuisia made the statement hours before Americans begin trooping to polling precincts nationwide to decide whether to keep incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama in the White House or to have him replaced by his Republican challenger, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Echoing Malacañang’s statement, Cuisia said the Philippines will work with whoever wins the elections to further strengthen the relations between Manila and Washington.
A survey by the National Asian American Survey (NAAS) show that among Asian-Americans, Filipino-Americans are the ones most likely to go out and vote, representing a significant voting population.
There are an estimated 3.5 million Filipinos based in the US, most of them in the West Coast, particularly in California, a 2010 US census said.
“We are counting on you to help make this happen by making sure that you take part in tomorrow’s electoral exercise,” Cuisia said he rallied Filipino-Americans to support fellow Filipino-Americans who are running for other national and local positions.
At least two Filipino-Americans are running for seats in the US House of Representatives.
They are Dr. Marisha Agana, a Republican who is eyeing the seat for the 13th District of Ohio and incumbent Democrat Rep. Robert Scott who is running for an 11th term as representative of the Third District of Virginia.
Fifteen other Filipino-Americans are vying for state legislative seats in California, Pennsylvania and Hawaii:
Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta (18th District); Chris Mateo (12th District) and Jennifer Ong (20th District), all Democrats who are aspiring for seats in the California State Assembly; and Will Sylianteng
(151st District), a Democrat seeking a seat in the Pennsylvania State House.
Also running are: Henry Aquino (38th District); Romy Cachola (30th District);
Gilbert S. Keith-Agaran (9th District); Della Au Belatti (24th District);
Rida Cabanilla-Arakawa (41st District); Marissa Capelouto (42nd District); Ty Cullen (39th District); and Chris Manabat (40th District), all Democrats running for the Hawaii House of Representatives; and Will Espero (19th District); Donna Mercado Kim (14th District); and Donovan de la Cruz (22nd District), also Democrats running for seats in Hawaii’s Senate.
Former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano, the first Filipino-American governor in the US, is a strong contender for mayor of Honolulu while Kymberly Marcos Pine, Joey Manahan and Ron Menor are aspiring for seats in Honolulu’s City Council.
Others seeking seats in Hawaii are: Greggor Ilagan (4th District) and Chelsea Yagong (1st District) for seats in the Hawaii County Council and Don Guzman for the Maui County Council.
In California, Jose Esteves is running for mayor of the City of Milpitas;
Garry Barbadillo for a seat in the Milpitas City Council;
Jim Navarro for a seat in the Union City Council; Hermy Almonte
for a seat in the San Leandro City Council; and Stewart Chen for a seat in the Alameda City Council. –KG, GMA News