As election draws near, political analysts ask whether the Fil-Am Community is a sleeping or an awakening giant block of voters. Seldom do you see them in political rallies or pocket meetings; they prefer watching TV, barbecuing at home ,hanging out with friends, or working overtime.
These observations are some I mentioned on radio talk shows,
This time I would convey through print media.
By statistics, approximately 26% of population on island are Fil-Ams, In short , there are around 40,000 Fil-am souls and around 16,000 voters in Guam.(Historically and Genetically. 80% of the locals have Filipino bloodlines due to intermarriages for the last 500 years.)
On the Surface, it appears that Filipino-Americans in Guam are fragmented. Are they really divided ? to date, there are 70 Fil-Am organizations in island. These organizations almost mirror the political subdivisions in the Philippines. Adding to these are several professional organizations. All these organizations are under the umbrella of the mother organization- The Filipino Community of Guam (FCG). FCG supervises and controls these children organizations. They meet regularly and as often as necessary. When there are important national affairs here or calamities in the Philippines, the FCG coordinates all activities. As it is, FCG is indeed united.
The divisions we’ve experienced occur usually only during election time when Fil-Ams working for GovGuam got involved because of divided party loyalties between Republican and Democrat.
With Around 2,000 Fil-Ams affiliated with GovGuam, These political frictions affect only 5% of Filipinos on Island.
They’re just magnified because controversial political news and betting occur; or politicians invite their friends in exchange for personal and political favors etc.,
Fil-Ams are picky voters, too. Just because as Fil-Am is running for public office and says , “I’m a Filipino-American, vote for me!” will they vote for him? They’re not obliged to do so. If the candidate represents their ideals –educated enough , honest and respected in the community –they will solidly support him. But if he is just being used by politicians or simply to satisfy his ego, the Fil-Ams would repudiate him in the polls.
The observation that most Fil-Am candidates hardly win is also true. Aside from not having the credentials of an ideal candidate, many well-meaning Fil-ams are not attracted to enter politics. Guam politics is highly “polluted” and “suffocating.”
With the expected passage of Dual Citizenship Bill in the Philippine Congress and Senate, Fil-Ams will be better off as just voters than as candidates . The bill disqualifies Fil-Ams on retaining their Filipino citizenship if they hold any elective position in a foreign country.
The Fil-Am voters usually vote the candidates they personally like because of political agenda, charisma or at times for “photogenic reasons.” These are the Romanticists. Others vote for their close friends and relatives who are candidates regardless of their credentials. These are the Loyalties. The rest vote against candidates perceived as racists, corruptible, questionable, etc. They are more motivated to campaign and vote for the opposing candidates instead. These are more motivated to campaign and vote for the opposing candidates instead. These are the Reformists.
The Romanticists choose based upon individual perception , the Loyalists vote based on affinity or consanguinity , while the Reformists spread out and multiply by word-of-mouth , and they’re contagious. These three constitute a potential large number of voters.
Most Candidates in this coming elections are locals and they already have, at this time, their respective shares of votes from their local constituents.
With most issues and counter-issues discussed, this election will be greatly influenced by silent but big block of Fil-Am Voters.
Conservative estimates say that there are around 60,000 Fil-ams in Guam and around 25,000 are voters and as per the Philippine Consul General’s office, there are 21 Filipino associations/organizations. Likewise, the dual citizenship bill has already been passed by the Philippine Congress. This column first came out at the Mabuhay News 2002 and was lifted with permission from the author at his book Fighting for a Cause and More. The author will begin his regular column in this paper once done with urgent pressing personal concerns. – Ed