The recent news regarding the leaked "multicultural outreach strategy" from Premier Christy Clark's office is an affront to all communities in B.C.
When the story broke, we were taken aback by the arrogance and ignorant nature of this plan to score political points.
As taxpaying residents of B.C., we resent the use of public resources to further partisan ambitions. As Filipinos and Filipino-Canadians, we are offended and dismayed that we are seen to be exploitable by those looking to score "quick wins" to secure our votes.
In the Philippines, a politician that engages in unsavoury conduct is known as a "trapo," a contraction of the words "traditional politician." Many Filipinos have fled the country to seek a better life as a direct result of the decisions and indiscretions these individuals have committed. They perpetuate systemic corruption in government which has led to the decay of aspects of Philippine society.
As a community, we possess a collective memory of "trapos" and their lack of principle and unscrupulous practices. This behaviour of gaining votes through superficial means is reminiscent of the "trapo" mentality. Surely, we know better than to be susceptible to shallow expressions of support. Tulayan, a community network based in B.C., endeavours to maintain, promote and guide the evolution of many wonderful aspects of our culture -- the "trapo" mentality is something we need to completely evolve from and leave behind.
A politician's engagement with our community should go beyond handshakes and photo-ops. Their pledges and speeches should extend beyond platitudes and rhetoric. Politics should extend beyond personality and the promise of favour. We deserve specificity and resolutions to the issues that affect our community.
We have partnered with organizations that highlight some of the issues that affect Filipinos in Canada. We recognize their efforts in addressing specific issues like:
- Youth mentorship
- Supporting migrant workers
- Reuniting families separated due to the Live-In Caregiver program
- Improving the recognition of foreign credentials
We are the third largest visible minority in Canada. These are only a handful of the issues that specifically affect our community.
We invite those with influence and stature within the community to not only condemn this "multicultural outreach strategy" but to also hold to account any politician or anyone with aspirations or involvement in the political arena, regardless of political affiliation, to engage Filipinos in a meaningful way. We also invite them to join us in self-examination to identify and define what a "trapo" is as to remind ourselves of the danger this poses to our community.
Finally, we challenge the community as a whole to commit to critical thinking and not allow ourselves to be reduced as just votes to be culled. We are not to be pawns in the gaming of democracy.
Tulayan's stated mission entails building bridges within the Filipino diaspora. It is also implied that we endeavour to build bridges to other communities facing similar circumstances. We stand in solidarity with them.