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Temple-Beaudry : Policy Training for Filipino-Americans

July 04, 1993|JAKE DOHERTY

The nation's first leadership training and political internship program for Filipino-Americans began last week, opening the doors of local, state and federal government to 12 young interns.

Although one of the largest ethnic groups in California, Filipino-Americans are greatly underrepresented among elected officials, said Joel Jacinto, executive director of Search to Involve Pilipino Americans, a nonprofit agency serving Filipino-American youths and families in Los Angeles.

Although three Filipino-Americans have been elected to government positions in Carson and Daly City, there are none at the county, state or federal levels, Jacinto said.

To give young Filipino-Americans the hands-on political training and community experience necessary to be effective leaders, the organization and a coalition of community leaders started the Summer Political Empowerment and Leadership Program.

The coalition, the Network to Improve the Pilipino American Community Today, raised $13,000 from corporations, community organizations and individuals to underwrite the program.

Marissa Castro, a coalition member and director of the state Assembly's Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs, said she hopes the interns will become a "ice for the Pilipino-American community."

(Since Tagalog, the main Philippine dialect, has no F sound, some reject the traditional spelling of Filipino, preferring to use a P. But since other dialects do have an F sound, the spelling is often a matter of personal choice or cultural sentiment.)

The interns, mostly students or graduates of Southern California high schools and universities, will work with legislative aides from the U.S. Senate, the governor's office, the state Legislature, the state treasurer's office, the county Board of Supervisors, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the City Council and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The program started June 28 and ends Aug. 20. Each intern receives a $500 stipend.

In addition to performing daily tasks in each of their offices, the interns will work on a joint project about the needs of the Filipino-American community in Southern California, said Michael Balaoing, a coalition member.

The interns will look at issues such as the construction of low-income housing and youth centers, voter registration and education, and the college admission and attrition rates of Filipino-American students, Balaoing said.

"These internships are more than just about having a position for ourselves," said intern Michael Salazar. "It means having the community behind you and being accountable to the community."

Other interns are: Bettina Chan, Nathaniel Estacio, Antoinette Laudencia, Teresa Magno, Romel Espiritu Maquindang, Raymond Orquiola, Luzviminda Sanchez, Janelle Tangonan, Libertine Trajano, Junnie Verceles and Venus Cabebe Viloria.

Information: (213) 382-1819.

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