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At the DNC: A First for Filipino Delegates

ABS-CBN News.com, News Report, Regina Reyes Posted: Aug 29, 2008

Political conventions happen once every four years. They signal the beginning of the general election season with the formal nomination of the parties' candidates for president and vice-president.

For the first time, several Filipinos are taking part in this year's Democratic Party convention as delegates.

The most number of district-delegates is from California.

Ana Marie Bustos and Ray Buenaventura are pledged delegates for Hillary Clinton. Jonah Lalas of Texas said it took a lot of hard work to be elected district-delegate.

"I have a union organizing background, so I spent three weeks campaigning, phone banking every night, talking to people in my delegation. I also made flyers, and every time we had meetings, I'd have one-on-one conversations with people. I think that's what made the difference," said Lalas.

There are alternate delegates as well who are brought to the floor to sit in for elected delegates when they're away.

"This election is historic, Barack Obama attracts youth like myself, empowers a lot of young people, including especially our community. We need to become more involved," said Cirian Villavicencio, an alternate delegate from California.

"There are twice as many delegates here than the last convention that are Asian-American. It really means that we're more involved and we're gonna play a critical role in the race," said Illinois alternate-delegate Naisy Dolar.

Another Filipino-American, Kari Luna is no ordinary delegate. She's a super-delegate by virtue of her position as vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

"People, after this convention, things will kinda settle down. We'll be able to really get out to our communities in our respective states and talk to our constituents, talk to our neighbors and friends, families and really tell them what Senator Obama has planned for the United States," said Luna, a super-delegate from Hawaii.

These first-timers may learn a thing or two from Georgia delegate Maxine Goldstein, who's attending her eleventh Democratic Party convention.

"They just need to get friendly with other delegates from other states. I keep coming back each time. It's a wonderful community," said Goldstein.

After this convention comes the hard part, and Fil-Am delegates say they have their work cut out for them in the fall.

The participation of more Filipino-Americans in the convention is a sure sign that the community's efforts at political empowerment are paying off.

It's still a long way to getting elected into office, but Fil-Am delegates say this is a good start.

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