Sen. Grace Poe calls on Fil-Ams to protect undocumented Pinoys

By Abner Galino

Philippine Senator Grace Poe (6th from right) hands a plaque of appreciation to LACFAEA president Antonio F. Mendoza. Other union officers 2nd vice president Edwin Martinez (3rd from right) and advisory board chair Marge Ordiales (4th from right) look on. Photo by Tony Garcia

“SUWELDONG Sibuyas? Alam n’yo ba ‘yun? Mapaluluha ka kapag hinati-hati mo na sa iba’t ibang gastusin.”

Clearly the most applauded of all the jokes that Senator Grace Poe delivered last week in front of the members and officers of the Los Angeles County Filipino American Employees Association (LACFAEA) in downtown Los Angeles.

Humor partly mirrors social realities and Sen. Poe’s “sweldo” jokes probably were not just purely intended to elicit laughter. For all we know, they were actually punch lines (pun intended).

Before the “sweldo” jokes, Poe mentioned the Philippine current inflation rate of 4.17 percent which has ballooned from year 2016’s inflation rate of 1.78 percent. Thais is a staggering 50 percent inflation hike, resulting in higher prices of basic commodities and the weakening of the Philippine currency.

Wag po kayong matuwa,” Poe hushed the crowd when the peso-dollar exchange rate was mentioned in the ensuing conversation.

Mas malaki nga po ang value ng ipinapadala nyo, pero mas tumataas ang presyo ng bilihin doon.”

For the most part of her speech, Poe recalled her life as an immigrant in the US with her husband Neil Llamanzares.

At one point during her speech, the Philippine senator urged the audience to empathize with undocumented Filipinos in the US.

“… Marami sa atin, lalong lalo na ngayon, na medyo kabado di ba? Siguro wala dito sa kwartong ito, pero tiyak may mga kilala kayo na matagal na ditong nakatira sa Amerika pero sa kasawiang palad hindi nila naayos ang kanilang pamamalagi rito at ngayon namemiligro sila. Tulungan natin sila hangga’t maari. Huwag ‘yung tayo mismo pa ang magpahamak sa kanila.”

Poe said that living in the US trained her to possess work ethics and to do away with sense of entitlement. She added that living in the US makes people recognize and appreciate the essence of tolerance, diversity, professionalism and the importance of strong democratic institutions.

The Philippine senator also urged the audience to set a good example and become positive forces of change in each of the communities that they belong.

“I know that you here (in the US), not because you love the Philippine less, but because you also have to pursue personal goals,” Poe said, adding that by representing themselves well, Filipino Americans bring pride to their country of origin.

LACFAEA is an organization that aims to the Filipino Americans employees “rights to peaceful assembly” to “achieve their cultural, economic and social goals.” It also endeavors to foster brotherhood and preserve the national identity and cultural heritage of Filipino American employees.

LACFAEA’s officers are president and chair of the Board Antonio F. Mendoza, 1st vice president Rene Galano, 2nd vice president Edwin Martinez, treasurer Frank Ong, auditor Laura Sakihara, public relations officer Rosalinda Cruz, public relations officer Ariel Verayo.

Its board is composed Vangie Valdez, Bituin Haban, Jose Manglicmot Jr., Henry Ong, Adol Aguayon, Antonio Millonado, Rodolfo Brillantes and Angelica Martin.

Marge Ordiales (chairwoman), Emma Bravo, Loda Ong and Irene Q. Mendoza sit at its advisory board.

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