Fil-Ams vouch for Poe's loyalty to PH

COMING to the defense of presidential frontrunner Grace Poe,  Global Pinoys and Fil-Am leaders from various US  states expressed dismay over the continued attack by  Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and other critics against the landmark majority ruling of the Supreme Court on Senator Grace Poe declaring her as a natural-born Filipino  who has also  met the 10-year residency requirement to run for president.

“We laud the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno and the eight other magistrates for affirming the inherent rights of foundlings as natural-born citizens and the basic rights of overseas Filipino workers and Fil-Ams as represented by Senator Grace Poe. Her victory at the Supreme Court is not only her victory but the greater winners are the Filipino people themselves to include all Fil-Ams and overseas Filipinos,” said Fil-Am lawyer Noriel L. Flores, one of the key leaders of Team Grace Poe Chiz Movement based in Los Angeles. 

“We look forward to seeing Grace Poe as the first Fil-Am to win the presidency as an affirmation of our status and role as part and parcel on the growth and rebuilding of our beloved Philippines as she will lead us to a new era of unity, peace, progress and sustainability to meet the challenges of the millennial times,” added Flores.  

Former president of Pangasinan Brotherhood and a charter organizer of the Advocates for a Better Philippines Mel Castelo lamented the double standard being shown by Carpio and supporters of other presidential candidates on the status and treatment of Grace Poe, the Fil-Ams and OFWs:

“We are not second-class citizens, much more as lesser Filipinos than the rest of our countrymen when we decide to settle overseas and work to have better life for our family. The same thing goes to Senator Grace Poe. Just like the majority of Fil-Ams, taking the oath of allegiance in another country is required as a responsible and grateful citizen in recognition of the adopted country’s legal requirements as well as appreciation for its responsibility to protect the immigrant’s rights.”

On Grace Poe staying in the US, Castelo has this to say: “Just like all the rest of Fil-Ams, she cooked for her family, drove her children to school and herself to work, washed clothes, cleaned the house, supported her husband in raising their children, braved winter and snow in the East Coast, sacrificed her comfort and convenience away from her parents celebrity FPJ and Susan in order to play best in her role as mother and wife. She was never a “Doña” or a “Señorita” while she stayed here.”

He also praised Grace Poe for being a responsible and good citizen with American standard work ethic which she would carry on when she becomes Philippine president: “Just like the rest of Fil-Ams, she played by the rules and embraced the American standard and ethics of hard work, fairness, culture of excellence and equality. Living in America does not give you special treatment and privileges and Grace Poe just like many of us, lined up in groceries and malls to pay for the goodies she bought, paid her taxes dutifully, and, most importantly, just like all Fil-Ams, she always took pride of her roots as a Filipino and showing her stuff in the various jobs she experienced while staying here.” 

According to Castelo, “to say that we have abandoned and turned our backs from our beloved motherland Pilipinas by becoming US citizens not only insult our sense of patriotism but our sense of well being as Filipinos. Majority of us became US citizens so that we too can have the full benefits accorded to all who toil and are born here. By doing so, we are no longer treated as second-class citizens but primus interpares with anyone living in the land of milk and honey.”

The latest US National Census Survey now ranked Fil-Ams as the second ethnic group with highest income and bright future. At the core of living in America is still the economic pipeline that is brought back to the Philippine shores by Fil-Ams through their remittances wherein about 50 percent of the annual $20-billion remittances from overseas Filipinos come from US.

“That’s why we rejoiced when the Dual Citizenship Law was made a reality. It afforded us the chance to be called Filipinos again and regain our inherent right as natural born citizens,” Castelo said.

In an article titled “Are We Not Good Enough?” written by Dr. Abraham Rasul, he emphasized that majority of Fil-Ams who assumed US citizenship and decided to stay permanently to pursue their dream and provide a better future for their children didn’t mean that they have assumed a different identity, forget altogether their heritage and pride of being Filipinos. 

“The question posed by many regarding Grace Poe’s loyalty to our native country when she became a US citizen is the same question that each and every Filipino American needs to answer. Did we really turn our backs on our native country? The answer will be a resounding no.

“They will even answer you with the same Filipino accent they had when they migrated to the US.

Global Filipinos continue to share the same dreams and ideals as the Filipino residing locally,” said Rasul.

According to Rasul, these Global Filipinos to include those working and residing in other countries, support the Philippine economy, promote technology exchange, advance local education, assist in conflict resolution, and promote good governance. 

“We are no different from everyone else. The things that only differentiate us are our zip codes and area codes. In fact, we still maintain our accents no matter how hard we try to change them. We continue to manifest the Filipino State of Mind,” he asserted.

On the question whether local Pinoys are any better than Fil-Ams and OFWs on the practice of good citizenship, Rasul cited Jose Rizal: “As long as a Filipino lives and demonstrates responsible and proactive citizenship embodied by our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, it does not really matter where the Filipino lives. He or she needs to be given the opportunity to serve the native country as long as pertinent laws are followed.”

To further his argument why Fil-Ams remain Filipinos at heart and in mind, body and spirit, here are some of Rasul’s points to ponder:

a) Fil-Ams, as well as Filipinos with dual citizenship in other countries, are asked to actively participate in all aspects of Philippine society and yet their loyalty is still in question? We can follow but not lead? 

b) They are asked to join sports teams representing the Philippines in foreign competition, regionally at the Asean level, or at the Olympics;

c) Distinguished educators, various professionals come back to help educate, train the youth. Majority of them do it at their own expense; and,  

d)  Self funded medical missions come every year to help relieve the backlog of untreated medical commodities in poor communities and train local doctors.

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