LA county Fil-Am exec vows to share IP leaders’ stories
By Gigie Arcilla
LOS ANGELES, California (Philippines News Agency) – A Filipino American (Fil-Am) Cerritos City official admitted he was moved by the stories of indigenous peoples’ (IPs) leaders and vowed to share them after meeting with him at the City Hall here on July 15.
“As a Filipino American who is very proud of my heritage, it is important that I hear their stories like these,” said Council member Mark E. Pulido, referring to the eight IP leaders who met with him at the Cerritos City Hall to share the latter’s narrative of struggle and deception against the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) back in their tribal communities in the Philippines.
Pulido, who is former two-term mayor of an affluent suburban city in Los Angeles County, California, United States in 2014 and 2018, said he always had a natural interest and curiosity about things happening in the Philippines.
“But growing up in America, we are not offered a lot of information and one would have to seek them out,” he added.
He said he takes pride in being a son of a Filipino mother and father and feels equally the same of the Fil-Am community in Cerritos City for being a dynamic model of what can happen when they unite to support each other socially, economically, and politically.
“I care deeply about my Filipino identity and I don’t wish the Philippines to be in this type of turmoil. Since as a young child, even younger than my daughter is now, I was raised with the turmoil that my parents felt in their stories, from the war and then ongoing the immigration experience and then the accounting of the things that happened in the Southern Philippines,” said Pulido, who is the first Fil-Am mayor of Cerritos City.
He said he was made aware as a young child of what the IPs are really experiencing.
Data shows Filipinos make up a large percentage of the city’s majority Asian community, with a population of around 7,223.
Pulido vowed to share the IP leaders stories with the rest of the Fil-Am community, which he said is more than 50 years old and have fully realized the promise of political empowerment, and civic engagement.
“I am aware of the CPP and their efforts in the United States hence, it is important to get their stories out also,” he said. “So I think it is a matter of shedding light on the truth. I think it is important to educate people.”
The eight IP leaders from different tribes in Mindanao are on a speaking tour across the US to stand up the abuses and atrocities committed against their communities by the CPP-NPA, a terrorist-listed organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
“It is illuminating to hear from the speakers of the delegation and I encourage them to reach out to US Congressional and Community leaders. I think this is a good start,” added Pulido, who is also Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Alan Lowenthal.
He said he is particularly sensitive when he hears about injustices within his own community and around the world.
“I value freedom and justice so I appreciate that you come here and shared this information with me. I’m glad that you reached out to me as a public official. I encourage you to do so where you can as obviously, your adversaries are doing also,” he added.
Given the US-Philippine relations that is so long and deep, Pulido said he looks forward to more exchanges as he pledged support as a representative of a very diverse Filipino community.
Pulido, whose maternal roots are in Davao City, expressed hopes that there will come a time when the Philippines will enjoy what he does, too in a small little place that he now calls his home. (PNA)