Fil-Am barrier breakers want next US prez to be a woman
DALY CITY, Calif. - Council member Mike Guingona, the first Filipino-American elected in the history of this town, is facing the biggest campaign of his life this year.
The criminal justice lawyer who has been voted by his peers as mayor for five times is in the race for the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. He wants to represent District 5, also known as North County, home of his turf Daly City. He is the lone Fil-Am in the contest to begin first in the June primary for decision in the November finals.
Guingona has his hands full making friends with voters and supporters, a tough battle considering he is one of four elected town officials gunning for the post.
But the seniormost of the candidates—in terms of service—set aside his own aspiration to root for another candidate.
"Hillary Rodham Clinton is clearly the best candidate," Guingona proclaimed his choice to lead this country. "The fact that she has consistently reached out to the Asian and Pacific Islander communities and by hiring APIs on her staff has reflected her commitment to diversity."
Guingona, who is not known to jump on bandwagons, surprised colleagues and observers alike by hopping on board the "HillaryBus," an actual coach and the metaphor for admirers of the Democratic Party front-runner for president.
The bus coordinated by the National Federation of Filipino American Associations and US Pinoys for Good Government delivered Clinton fans from the Pilipino Bayanihan Resource Center in Daly City in the San Francisco Bay Area to the Hilton Hotel in San Gabriel, Los Angeles County, to launch Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders for Hillary January 7.
The event, orchestrated by Rep. Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, brought together Democrats from the western states, including elected and appointed officials.
"How are we going to make this (Clinton for President) happen? We can only make it happen if the grassroots is activated, if the grassroots works hard in every sphere, in every corner of the United States," Chu rallied fellow Dems and Americans of color.
Guingona paid attention.
"Best thing about attending the event was meeting and talking with our API brothers and sisters in SoCal," said Guingona, "and finding that we have a common cause in the support of Hillary."
Guingona bonded with fellow racial barrier-breakers in Southern California like Cerritos Council Member Mark Pulido and Artesia Mayor Protempore Victor Manalo.
Guingona, 53, was born in San Francisco and raised in San Mateo County, California. He attended Daly City's Westmoor High School, where he was elected first Filipino American student body president.
A product of the area's public school system, Guingona went to Skyline College before attending the University of California at Los Angeles to earn his BA in History.
He later returned north and pursued law at University of San Francisco Law School.
After passing the California bar exams, he joined the San Francisco Public Defender's Office. In 1999, he opened his private practice as a criminal defense lawyer.
Guingona is married to the former Jackie Castillejo, who was a tennis player and reporter before relocating to California. Guingona has a 15-year-old son Kai, from his first marriage.
Like Clinton, Guingona will have to gain top votes in June to advance to the November elections.
Unlike his opponents, Guingona has not invested in huge campaign ads. He is spending his time reaching out to current and would-be allies, even those with whom he had once faced off for political differences.
On his side are hi- tech entrepreneur Dado Banatao, pioneer organizer Guy Guerrero, political kingmaker Ray Satorre, and publisher Francis Espiritu.
"It would break my heart if a non-Filipino wins the seat on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors for District 5 in November," said Guerrero, who led the effort to change the county voting system for supervisors from at-large to in-district. "We worked so hard to give Filipinos equal opportunity to govern alongside the white establishment, and that time is now."
Guingona, said Guerrero, is the "most qualified of all candidates, bar none."
That's exactly the same ringing endorsement Guingona gave Clinton. —Philippine News