Gene Alcantara, a well-known personality in the UK’s Filipino community, is running for Parliament. See his message below.
Dear friends –
As you may now know I am running for Parliament for the northwest London constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn. I would be grateful if you could please forward this to relatives, friends, employers and possible supporters in the constituency. The electoral wards covered are Belsize, Brondesbury Park, Kilburn, Queen’s Park, Fortune Green, Frognal and Fitzjohns, Hampstead Town, Swiss Cottage, and West Hampstead. If anyone could help with donations, that would be very welcome too!
Many thanks and best wishes
RUNNING FOR OFFICE
The announcement of the UK General Election on 6 May 2010 signals the start of the campaign to elect the 646 Members of Parliament across the nation. The event is also the starting point for the Filipino community in London to rally in support of British-Filipino compatriots who are running for office. These are yours truly, Gene Alcantara, running for a seat in Parliament for the newly created Hampstead and Kilburn constituency in Northwest London which combines wards from the London Boroughs of Brent and Camden. We then have two gallant community leaders running for local Councillor posts in East and West Ham in the east end of London, Eva Macadangdang and Tony Chavez. All three of us need the support of British-Filipinos in any way they can help, through canvassing, campaigning, leafletting or making a donation.
We British-Filipinos are probably mostly too busy making a living for ourselves and our families both in the United Kingdom and the Philippines to care about such things as empowerment for our community, and making people aware that we can be major participants in British society and public life. I think it is important to show that we are not just health workers, carers, hotel and catering service providers, factory, or domestic workers in the homes of the wealthy and the powerful. I know that we have respected professionals who are carving their careers in different spheres — some are in government, some in the public and private sectors, and many others are entrepreneurs. And there are a few British-Filipinas who have made it in the music business. But what we truly need now are visible British-Filipinos in positions of power who would be role models for our youth, and who would ensure that we as a community are included by decision-makers as a matter of course.
The black Africans/Caribbeans, the Indians, the Pakistanis, the Bangladeshis all know the importance of attaining power through the ballot box. And they have been relatively successful in returning their compatriots, through their solid votes, to the House of Commons, the European Parliament, and of course local government. The Arabs, Chinese and the Spanish/Portuguese speakers are waking up to the need for political empowerment. We British-Filipinos can do what they can do, we have the brain-power to do so, and we have the heart, honesty and determination to do it well. Our sense of fair play, love of family and community would fit such a public service role perfectly.
It is vital that we correct now the growing trend by politicians and extremists of blaming the ills of British society on migrants, and it is disheartening to see the British government pandering to hostility towards migrants and ethnic minorities. Unfortunately scapegoating is a fact of life in modern Britain. For the sake of our children and their children who will be future citizens of Britain and Europe, we must fight back through the ballot box. We have been referred to as a ‘hidden community’ back in the early 1980s and with the way our community is ignored by the UK government and politicians, can we truly say that we are now not hidden? The only notice that the government pays attention to the community is through the draconian measures seemingly being adopted by the UK Border Agency when they pick up say erring NVQ students and illegal immigrants and remove them from the UK. Of course we cannot change everything, but at least we should try.
The past few British and European elections have not enticed British-Filipinos to the polling booths. It is disappointing that people are so apathetic, unlike in the Philippines where everyone seems so excited about the forthcoming presidential elections. In a way this is understandable, because people seem still to be in transient-mode, that they do not engage in local British matters because they think they are just guestworkers and will go back home one day soon. However the concerns of white voters are not necessarily incompatible with ethnic interests. We all want safety on our streets, affordable healthcare, education and housing. We all hanker for equality and fairness, and we all want to progress socially and economically.
So how do we get British-Filipinos in the UK excited and challenged about empowering themselves, like they are in the USA and Canada? In North America a large number of politicians with Filipino blood have been elected into office by solid blocks of Filipino-American or Filipino-Canadian votes. We can achieve this in the UK too, and we need to tell every British-Filipino that we actually can.
There are now an estimated 250,000 Filipinos in the UK who have come legitimately to this country since the latter part of the 1960s. In 2008/09 alone, a staggering 8,000+ Filipinos acquired British citizenship. A similar number acquired British citizenship in 2007/08. So potentially in the last 30 years alone, if let us say the numbers more or less stayed the same, we could now have over 200,000 potential voters of Filipino blood. And what about their spouses, their children, their relatives and friends? With an average of 5+ registrations of Filipino birth in the UK per day reported by the Philippine Embassy in London, the pool of potential voters is set to grow.
In a given Parliamentary constituency you only need around 15,000 votes to win a seat, and in local council positions 2,000 votes will swing seats your way. So this means that if concentrations of British-Filipinos, their relatives and friends in Hampstead & Kilburn and in East and West Ham truly registered and turned out to vote, and voted for British-Filipino candidates then we could have our first 3 elected British-Filipinos by the 7th of May.
You may call me a dreamer, but sometimes dreams come true. This is my vision — that one day we will elect British-Filipinos into positions of power in the UK and the bigger arena of Europe. That we will be seen as major participants in British, European and world affairs. That we will no longer be ignored, but seen as equal partners in achieving social and economic progress, that we will be treated fairly and with respect as British, European and indeed global citizens. Of course this needs cultural transformation on our part, and greater open-mindedness on the part of policy-makers. All this is why I am running for office.
Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn
Mobs 07958 429056 & 07788 513542