Diaspora News

Fil-Ams, Viet-Ams demonstrate together at Chinese embassy in Los Angeles

By Abner Galino

Filipino Americans and Vietnamese Americans join forces to protest People’s Republic of China’s incursion into the Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea. The two groups met in front of the Chinese consulate office in mid-city in Shatto Place, Los Angeles on June 12, the day marks the 120th Philippine Independence Day. Photo by Odette Galino

WITH the temperature hovering between 80 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, contingents of Filipino Americans and Vietnamese Americans together held a mass action in front People’s Republic of China (PRC) consulate office in mid-city Los Angeles Tuesday to protest the alleged aggressive behavior of the rising Asian superpower in the West Philippine Sea.

For the Filipino Americans, Tuesday, June 12 is a day of no equal in terms of its significance to the themes of sovereignty and territorial integrity. The day marks the 120th Philippine Independence Day.

“China is encroaching into the Philippine territory and it’s against international law,” says protester Karen Hanna as she cuddles a pole that carries a standard size Philippine flag.

“They are changing the (world) map. And we notice, that’s why we came here,” she adds.

Another protester, Jun Conga, carried a more expressive placard that says: “Get the f___ out of the West Philippine Sea.”

Conga also decried the supposed hypocrisy of compatriots who has been celebrating Philippine Independence Day since the start of the month of June with an array of communal activities.

One of the leaders of the protest action, poet and activist Fe Koons, tried to get a Chinese embassy official to accept a letter from the protesters but was ignored.

Because of this, Koons simply read out the letter in front of the Chinese consulate office.

Part of letter that was addressed to Chinese President Xi Jinping (through Consul General Zhang Ping) says: “we express to you our demand that China respect the national sovereignty of the Philippines, all territories within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEC). We renounce your foreign policy that refuses to recognize our rights to self-determination and territorial integrity. We ask that you honor the decision of the International Tribunal Court two years ago that reaffirms the Philippines’ rightful claim.”

The protest letter was endorsed by 14 Filipino American organizations.

Phat Bui, president of the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California and councilman of the Ciyt of Garden Grove, said their group was invited by a leader on the Filipino American side named Vangie Lara.

“We immediately organized because we also have issues with the People’s Republic of China. We also have territorial dispute with them and a host of other political issues,” narrates Bui.

“It was a short notice (Fil-Am invitation). But if we were given enough time to mobilize, we could bring a bigger crowd,” Bui claims.

As the demonstration was concluding, each group sang their respective national anthems. Bui and Art Garcia, representing the Fil-Am group, symbolically exchanged national flags to signify their intentions to support each other against the supposed “imperialistic tendencies” of the People’s Republic of China.

The Filipino Americans also offered a prayer for former Philippine congressman and military man Roilo Golez who up to his last breath spent his energy exposing the intrusion of the Chinese military into the Philippine waters.

Abner Galino
The author is a poet and a writer. He was a cultural worker before he became a reporter for Tinig ng Masa and Malaya Midday Edition during the Marcos regime. He later became a reporter of People's Tonight shortly after 1986 EDSA Revolution. He went on to become its Chief of Reporters, City Editor and News Editor. He retired after 15 years in the Journal Group of Publications. He now writes for Weekend Balita and the US Asian Post (USAP), weekly Filipino-American newspapers based in Los Angeles, California.

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