I went on an amazing weekend conference to West Palm Beach and met with several of the key Filipino American leaders in the state of Florida who represent over 85,000 Filipino American constituents. I was so impressed with their dedication and their agenda concerning the Filipino Veterans Equity Bill, the Immigration Bill and the development of disaster action plans to support local residents in the preparation for and aftermath of hurricanes as well as an outreach program to natural disasters in their ancestral land, the islands of the Philippines. Most exciting is the leadership's desire to educate their communities on the upcoming presidential candidates, the issues and their creation of an action plan to raise voter participation among the Filipino American community in the state of Florida. They are hoping to join forces with the larger Asian Pacific American voting community and working to make some strong and positive changes.
I felt at ease sharing with them the stories of the lolas. Many of the leaders identified with the stories of Lolas Remedios, Prescilla, and Cristeta for they too were children of Leyte. They were in awe because they admitted that growing up there, they had not heard these stories. Of course, the women had been silent for 50 years after the war. Many of us never knew of their stories until recently.
I suppose this is why it is so important to share their lives and their fight for justice. People don't know, but once you hear the stories, like the key leaders of the Filipino-American Coalition of Florida, your hearts go ablaze, and you know the right thing to do.
Here is their hand-written letter to House Speaker Pelosi. Another letter is being drafted to all Congress persons in the state of Florida. And leaders have promised to educate their communities and begin their own letter writing campaigns.
The organizations of the Filipino American Coalition of Florida are also joining 121 Coalition in support of House Resolution 121.
Community is a beautiful thing, no?
May 27, 2007
Honorable Speaker of the House
Washington DC 20515-6501
On Behalf of the Filipino-American communities in Florida, which make up one of the fastest growing populations in the state, we would like to urge your good office to support House Resolution 121, encouraging Japan to take full responsibility and make a formal apology to the 200,000 women and girls of Asia who were subjected to systematic rape and enslavement during WW2, from the Japanese Imperial Army.
Sending a clear message that the trauma inflicted upon these "comfort women" is intolerable, inhumane and unjust -- is the least we can do to make up for the atrocities.
Filipino-American Coalition of Florida
Council for Filipino American Organizations (representing ten Filipino American organizations)
Bataan Corregidor Memorial Foundation
Fil-Am Council of North East Florida (representing 9 Filipino American Organizations)
Knights of Rizal- North East Florida
Filipino Americans of Osceola and South Orlando
Bayanihan Ladies Association
Knights of Rizal - Central Florida
Vismindaluz - Central Florida
Ladies From Rizal- Central Florida
Filipino American Veterans Association, Central Florida
Kahirup Association of Central Florida
Philippine Chamber of Commerce of Orlando
Faith Foundation of Orlando
National Alliance to Nurture the Aged and Youth (NANAY, Inc. Miami)
Philippine-American Federation of South Florida