Marcos seeks support during meeting with SoCal Fil-Ams

Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. addresses
a crowd of 1,000 Filipino Americans in Downtown Los Angeles on
Saturday, November 18.

LOS ANGELES — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was welcomed by over 1,000 Filipino American community leaders and members last Saturday, November 18 during his first visit to the city since taking office.

Marcos, with his First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos and the rest of his delegation, arrived at the Los Angeles International Airport on a Presidential plane Friday night, November 17, after attending the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Week in San Francisco.

Before the meeting with the Fil-Am community in LA at the JW Marriott, Marcos had a briefing and tour of SpaceX headquarters located in Hawthorne.

Philippine Consul General of Los Angeles Edgar Badajos, who headed the welcoming committee in LA, told the Asian Journal that this was a momentous event as the Fil-Am community had an opportunity to hear updates on Marcos’ plans and programs.

“We are just so happy and we feel blessed that the president came to meet with the Filipino American community here in Southern California because this is where you find the biggest diaspora in the U.S. and outside of the Philippines,” he said.

The greater Los Angeles area is home to the largest population of Filipinos with over 500,000, as of the latest data.

The well-attended assembly of Filipino Americans in Southern California, Badajos said, is a testimony of the community’s support for their home country.

“You can see the big crowd today and everybody is so happy, so eager to listen to the president… tell them all the good things that have been happening back home since he became president. I think they’re just so eager to also hear from the president what can they do more to help in nation[1]building, which is a collective effort. It’s not just, the president’s efforts that we have to look up. The president needs to be supported by the Filipino people, wherever they are, and when we have that support, then we can be sure of even higher economic development and prosperity for our people,” the LA consul said.

Cora Aragon Soriano, an active Fil-Am community leader, in an interview with the Asian Journal, said the great turnout only signified the solidarity and loyalty of Filipinos wherever they are in the world.

“I am honored that he is visiting Los Angeles and of course, we have to respect the office of the President and as a community leader, I am so glad that he is here in LA,” Soriano said.

Echoing Badajos’ optimism, Soriano said “I expect for him to give an update of the status of the Philippines and what is his foresight and what are his objectives and goals for the Philippines to make it more better, I know it’s good now but to make it better.”

Fashion designer Carl Andrada, for his part, said he’s so glad to see the First Lady joining President Marcos, as she has been one of the most keen supporters of the fashion industry, particularly the use of Philippine fabric in promoting Philippine fashion to the world.

“I am delighted to see the First Lady here. She is very much into fashion, and most especially the use of Philippine fabric,” he said, adding that “I am promoting Philippine fabric in all my creations and I am so glad that the art and the fashion is being, in his presidency, is getting noticed and I am looking forward to more Philippine fashion [and] Philippine fabric to be promoted. I hope with the support of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry, we can continue to promote our world-class fabric, that’s what I am really looking forward to.”

Andrada, who started his career in the Middle East before moving to the U.S., is grateful for the Marcos administration’s programs for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“This will create a positive impact on his image as a president, and on all of us Filipino Americans who wanted to hear his plan for the Philippines, especially for the overseas Filipino workers. I myself was an OFW before in the Middle East and now here,” Andrada said.

One of President Marcos’ avid political supporters, Tancredo Guray Jr. of BBM 2.0 (USA) president for California, highlighted BBM’s achievements in less than two years in Malacanang.

“He’s not disappointing us. With less than two years in office, there has been significant progress in the Philippines,” he said.

Former Mayor of the City of Sierra Madre Rachelle Pastor Arizmendi, whose family is mostly from Laoag, Ilocos Norte, on the other hand, said she’s happy to see Filipinos coming together and supporting each other for a common good.

“When we talk about Filipinos being more engaged…if this is one way or multiple ways that Filipinos can get engaged, it’s a fantastic event. If we think about nationality, and the pride of the Philippines, people come together and we’re here to support each and making sure that we really are a community,” said Arizmendi.

On the business sector side, CSI Professionals Inc. director Rene Martinez said, “It’s a very positive and re-energizing event for us Filipino Americans. especially knowing that the president is adamant to have a new direction for our country. We’d like to conform and join him in his positive outlook for the Filipinos and for the Philippines in general. It would be nice to hear from him what his plans are, what’s his vision and we’d like to support him in whatever way we can.”

In his remarks, Marcos lauded Filipino Americans for always bringing pride to the Philippines.

“When I go on a trip, when I go to travel in other countries and I meet the leaders of those countries, they have nothing but good things to say about Filipinos. And that is something that – that is something that we hold close to our hearts. And here in LA, LA County, surrounding states, dito talaga ang pinakamalaking Filipino community dito sa Amerika, which probably makes you the biggest Filipino community outside of the Philippines. And you have made us all very, very proud,” the president said.

President Marcos talked about the recent developments of his APEC meetings and enjoined the community to support all his future programs for the betterment of the Philippines.

The chief executive also urged Fil-Ams to always take time to visit the Philippines and commended the overseas Filipinos for continuing to support the Philippine economy through their sustained remittances to their respective families in the country.

“On behalf of our countrymen back home, I appreciate the remittances that you have sent, and continue to send. Personal remittances over – of Filipino workers rose 2.2 percent,” he said.

“My dream, and that of the entire Philippine government, the state, is to one day make working overseas just one of your many options available – many options available to our country. But we cannot make this dream come true all by ourselves, we need your support and we know that you will gladly walk, and continue working with us in realizing our goal,” he said.

“After all, your love for our country and people has not been extinguished by the years that you have spent away from our motherland. Proof of this is your presence here tonight, and the support that you continue to provide your loved ones, our countrymen back home,” he added.

He called on all the Filipino Americans during the meeting to help him in realizing this dream.

“Help us realize this dream. Continue being the ambassadors that you have been for our Filipino culture and relentless champions of the Philippines as a tourism, trade, and investment destination in Asia,” he said.

In his more than 30-minute speech during the gathering, Marcos also talked about the significant productive discussions he had in APEC and other related business and investment talks.

investments in clean energy and affordable energy transition financing, food security, and we focused on research and development for the benefit of small-scale farmers, in health, in digitalization, in innovation, and particularly for our micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Fil-Am community members anticipate Marcos’ arrival at the JW Marriott in Downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, November 18.
AJPress photos by Donnabelle L. Gatdula

During the APEC meeting, he reported that the Philippines signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the United States concerning peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

“We are confident that these meetings will bear fruit in terms of more trade and foreign direct investments that will help propel our economy to greater levels of development and prosperity for our people,” he said.

“In these meetings, I also emphasized our priority towards sustainable development and the urgent need to address climate change, to build resiliency, and do the adaptation that is necessary to build resilience against destructive consequences of severe weather,” he added.

In LA, he said they were able to explore the possibility of a satellite broadband service to be available for the Philippines.

“We look forward to improving broadband connectivity in the Philippines through Starlink and through all the others,” he said.

After his LA stop, Marcos visited the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Honolulu, Hawaii and also held a gathering with the local Fil-Am community there.



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