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    Tuesday, October 21, 2008



    By Charmaine Manansala

    I've spent the past few weeks criss-crossing the country talking to
    AAPIs about Barack Obama and the vision he has for our community, and
    for our country. I want to say a quick word about where we are in
    this campaign to Filipinos.

    Filipino Americans across the country are working nationwide through
    the Obama campaign and Filipino Americans for Obama. Leading to
    November 4th, they are working diligently to deliver the electoral
    votes that will make Barack Obama our 44th President of the United
    States. This is because Filipino Americans, young and old, all
    recognize the challenges America faces, after all they impact our
    lives every day. Our economy is in crisis, thanks in large part to the
    Wall Street-first economic policies pushed through by President Bush.
    Our nation is in an endless war; our veterans are not receiving the
    care they deserve; and our health care system is broken. We need to
    call upon the can do American spirit to lift ourselves out of this
    precarious situation.

    In many ways the Filipino-American community's experience embodies
    this American spirit. Barack Obama has shared the same experience. He
    understands keeping the American dream alive, and he knows that
    government must keep its promise to you and all of the American
    people. This is one of the core reasons why I believe that Barack
    Obama is THE right candidate for Filipino-Americans.

    Barack first became acquainted with the diversity and richness of Asia
    and the AAPI community as a child growing up in Hawai'i. Members of
    his family are of Asian descent and ours is a community that he became
    a part of while living in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. The AAPI
    story and community are personal to him, and he is committed to
    keeping the door of opportunity open to Filipino Americans and
    expanding opportunities for all Americans. Senator Obama understands
    the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and the critical
    role that we play in this nation.

    Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed to policies that will help
    the Filipino American community succeed.

    For instance, many Filipino families rely on family reunification
    policies to help them build better lives in the United States.
    However, AAPI families have some of the longest immigration backlogs.
    That's why Barack has fought to improve and pass a comprehensive
    immigration bill. He has put greater emphasis on keeping immigrant
    families together. The Philippines and the United States have always
    enjoyed a special relationship, and I assure you that Barack Obama and
    Joe Biden are committed to building on our strong ties.

    As we saw so clearly during the first debate, it's a choice of the
    past versus the future. Barack Obama demonstrated the vision and
    judgment to be Commander in Chief. He'll change the failed policies
    of the last 8 years, and pursue 21st Century policies in Iraq,
    Afghanistan, and in reinvigorating our alliances.

    And on the homefront, again as seen during the debate, Barack Obama
    demonstrated he'll be a fierce advocate for the middle class, and
    offer the change we need on the economy, health care, and energy

    Kababayan, we can create the changes we seek in America. But this
    will only happen if ordinary people rise up to demand change. Just as
    some of you participated in the people power movement in Edsa, I'm
    also asking you to get involved NOW, and to encourage your families to
    look at the candidates, come to an informed decision, and vote.

    The reason is simple: the Filipino American community deserves better.

    We want fundamental change in our country. We want to turn the page
    on the failed policies of the past eight years and renew the promise
    of America. We simply cannot afford a third Bush term. And let's be
    clear. That is exactly what we'd get with John McCain.

    As Senator Clinton says- No Way, No How, No McCain, No Palin. I know
    there were many in our community who supported Senator Clinton in this
    year's elections and I want to say a word to you. Senator Clinton is
    someone I admire tremendously. I am a proud "Clintonista" who worked
    in the Clinton administration for the first White House Initiative on
    Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. If you love Hillary, if you
    believe in her, if you trust her leadership and if you gave her your
    vote, then I ask you to do the one thing that she has asked of all of
    us now: do everything you can to elect Barack Obama as the next
    President of the United States.

    The stakes are too high and the price of apathy is too great this year
    to give anything but our all.

    You know, there's been a lot of talk this year about making history.
    And I believe making history is an important goal. But the more
    important opportunity we have in November is to make possibility

    Next year, school children all over America will sit in classrooms
    looking up at the portraits of the American presidents on the wall.
    After scanning past the first 43, I hope they'll take a good look at
    number 44 because that one will look different. And suddenly, our
    kids will start to think, "Maybe I can be Mayor. Maybe I can run for
    Congress. Maybe I could be President." In that moment, possibility
    is born.

    I want a generation of Filipino boys and girls to see Barack Obama and
    know that in America, anything is possible - with faith, hard work,
    and determination, they can achieve anything in this land of
    opportunity. That, after all, is the American dream of our lolos and
    lolas. Stand with me today and let it be the commitment we make to
    the generation of Filipino Americans who follow us.

    No doubt, there will be some who say it's too hard. They will say
    that Barack Obama and our movement for change just can't win. But I'm
    here to tell you: kaya natin, yes we can!

    For generations, that's what we Pinoys have taught this nation. KAYA NATIN!

    When we were told that Filipino immigrants could never be at home in
    these United States, we said kaya natin.

    During WWII, when America was at war and soldiers were needed, our
    brave Filipino veterans said kaya natin.

    When farmworkers were told they could not organize, Filipino laborers
    joined Cesar Chavez and other union leaders and said kaya natin.

    When this country could not find enough doctors and nurses, the
    Filipino community stepped up and said kaya natin.

    As our families struggle with the longest immigration backlogs and
    living in this frail economy, Barack Obama joins with the Filipino
    community to say kaya natin.

    So, we cannot wake up on November 5th wishing we had done more and we
    can't afford to let someone else decide for us. We all know that this
    is going to be a very close race. A handful of votes may decide the
    election. Those handful of votes could be yours.

    Change doesn't come by hoping for it. It doesn't come by wishing for
    it. We have to organize for it, fight for it, register for it and
    vote for it. Change happens when we say, with great pride in our
    community and love for our country, kaya natin!

    Maraming salamat po.

    Charmaine Manansala is a Filipina-American immigrant. She serves as
    the National Director of the Obama for American AAPI Vote Team.

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