Third Annual KAYA National Filipino American Town Hall
The third annual National Filipino American Town Hall was hosted on Oct 2, 2015 at the Southeast Asian Resource Action Center in Washington D.C.. The National Filipino American Town Hall is an annual event coordinated by KAYA that brings together leaders from across the country to discuss issues affecting the community and ways to mobilize Filipino Americans, and increase our electoral power.
Speakers included Mark Pulido, City Council Member of Cerritos, CA, who presented the keynote remarks, and Jessica Caloza, KAYA board member. Panelists also included Pulido; Maj. Gen. Tony Taguba (Ret.), Chair of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Projects; Rozita Lee, former Commissioner on the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific; Irene Bueno, co-founder and partner at Nueva Vista Group, LLC; Eric Salcedo, National Field Director at Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) and Angelo Mathay, Associate Policy Analyst at the National Center on Immigration Integration Policy.
One of the main topics discussed was engaging and mobilizing the Filipino American community for the 2016 elections. Caloza presented data on the community’s political participation and lack of representation in positions of influence, as well as the Elected Officials Network. She said the community has to find the “untapped potential in Filipino American community” and that “we have to start electing our own leaders,” especially with being the second largest Asian group in the US.
The panel highlighted not only the numerous issues that are affecting us today, but also the dearth of Filipino American leaders willing to take the challenge of representing us in local, state and federal governments. For example, Angelo Mathay said Filipino Americans aren’t applying for DACA because of not only cultural issues and shame, but also representation.
“Sometimes there aren’t Filipino or AAPI representatives who talk about this issue and how it applies to them,” said Mathay, comparing his role in policy versus his role as a former undocumented immigrant: two that he said are hard to separate. “I do end up talking about my personal life experience, because there aren’t enough representatives among the Filipino unauthorized population who feel comfortable talking about their undocumented experience.”
Discussion also highlighted that although the community’s allies have been effective in advocating on behalf of the issues that affect us, Filipino American leaders will always be our most effective advocate in government.
For the first time ever, KAYA Town Hall was broadcasted live via Periscope thanks to Krystle Canare. April Siruno and Alicia Soller assisted on the back-end of KAYA’s social media efforts to live-tweet and engage with relevant leaders and groups. Melissa Josue also assisted with online communications. To watch clips from the Town Hall, visit https://katch.me/kayagrassroots and follow the conversation online with #KayaTownHall15.
The Town Hall was followed by KAYA’s AAPI Community Reception and Filipino Food Showcase, an event that highlighted the burgeoning Filipino food scene that is growing across the country with dishes from Washington, DC-area businesses such as Manila Mart, North Star Cafe and Grill and Purple Patch.
Other community partners included the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), Capitale DC, Filipino Young Professionals – DC, Kayle DC, All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church, Mama Sita’s, and the Academy of Culinary Education.
The reception capped off a day full of events in celebration of Filipino American History Month, recognized in a letter from President Barak Obama through the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Proceeds raised will fund KAYA’s programs aimed at fostering emerging Filipino American leaders and increasing the number of Filipino Americans in all levels of government.
“The support we received in planning the national town hall shows that our community can rise to the challenge of mobilizing ourselves to political action,” said Romeo Ymalay, KAYA National Co-Chair.
We are pleased to invite you to our 2015 Filipino American National Town Hall in Washington, DC on Friday, October 2nd from 11:30am to 2:00pm EST. This convening will bring together leaders from across the country to discuss pressing social, cultural, and political issues affecting our community, including WWII Veterans, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and comprehensive immigration reform. As a champion for the needs of Filipino American, Asian American, and underrepresented groups, we hope you are able to join us.
Building on last year’s momentum, we would also like to continue the discussion around political and civic engagement. One of the main topics we will cover is our strategy around engaging and mobilizing our community for the 2016 elections. Our hope is to work with you and Filipino American leaders and organizations in every region to continue building our policy advocacy and gain more political leverage for our community.
2015 National Town Hall
11:30 am to 2:00 pm EST
Southeast Asian Resource Action Center
1628 16th Street NW, 2nd Floor Ballroom
– Rozita Villanueva Lee, Former Commissioner, White House Advisory Commission for AAPIs
– Honorable Mark Pulido, Councilmember, City of Cerritos, CA
– Irene Bueno, Co-Founder and Partner, Nueva Vista Group, LLC
– Eric Salcedo, National Field Director, Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote
– Angelo Mathay, Associate Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Institute’s National Center for Immigrant Integration Policy
AAPI Community Reception and Filipino Food Showcase
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm EST
1301 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005