FilAms rip Trump for ‘hateful’ statements

Cherie M Querol Moreno
FilAms rip Trump for ‘hateful’ statements
Trump's recent statement tagging the Philippines as among 'terrorist nations' insults FilAms of various backgrounds across the US

SAN FRANCISCO, United States – Rob Bonta takes pride in breaking the racial barrier in the California State Legislature in 2012 when he became the first, and still the lone, Filipino American elected to the State Assembly.

The former deputy city attorney with the city and county of San Francisco was born in Quezon City, Philippines. His parents brought him to this country and raised him to fight for the underserved and champion social justice. 

So it’s understandable that he takes offense to vilification of his birth country and his people there and here.

Bonta is among Filipino Americans who have joined the rising tide of enemies GOP presidential standard bearer Donald Trump seems to be making daily with his campaign pronouncements.  

In yet another rant against one of his favorite subjects, Trump last week urged ideology tests for immigrants to weed out potential enemies of the state and protect the national security of the United States. 

“We are letting people come in from terrorist nations that shouldn’t be allowed because you can’t vet them,” Trump contended earlier in a recent stump in Portland, Maine, where he proposed banning immigration from specific nations. “You have no idea who they are. This could be the great Trojan horse of all time.”

Trump lumped the Philippines along with Afghanistan, Iraq, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Yemen – home countries of immigrants convicted of plotting attacks on American soil. One of those was Ralph Kenneth de Leon of Ontario, Los Angeles County, convicted in 2012 with 3 others for allegedly planning to join the Taliban and Al Qaeda to engage in terrorism against the United States. De Leon, then 25, was a legal US resident and Philippine national.

“We’re dealing with animals here,” Trump lashed out.

Bonta found the “sweeping statements that characterize an entire nation…divisive and hateful…a direct attack on the Filipino community.” 

“It’s a really important issue for the Filipino American community to focus on,” said the Alameda County representative and chair of the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee.

The blanket accusation insulted FilAms of various backgrounds across the US, some firing back at the offender, others belittling him and his statements as proof he is unfit for the job he covets, and encouraged responding on their ballot in November.

“Trump puts an exclamation point on his ignorance as he disregards over a century of relations between the US and the Philippines, a country that has been and continues to be one of our nation’s closest allies in that region,” Jersey City, New Jersey Council President Rolando Lavarro, the son of doctors who immigrated from the Philippines, blasted the billionaire.

First-generation Filipino American, Lourdes Astraquillo Ongkeko took the high road.  

“Nothing should be treated seriously in reference to the Trump policy proposal,” said the acknowledged grand dame of the FilAm community in Southern California.

Trump’s anti-immigrant invectives “evidently are loud testimonials to the overall surging criticism by many of his fellow Republicans who have denounced him that he has ‘done nothing right by traditional standards,’” said Ongkeko, who taught journalism at the University of Southern California. 

She noted that the GOP bet “has ‘picked fights’ with well-known Republican leaders who ably served the country in the positions they have been elected to” like Arizona Senator John McCain, whose experience as a POW in Vietnam Trump questioned. 

Ongkeko, mother to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ralph Ongkeko, reminded of 50 Republican officials, “many of them former top aides or Cabinet members for President George W. Bush, (who) affixed their signatures on a letter that Donald J. Trump, ‘lacks the character, values and experience’ to be president” and “would put at a risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

She echoed the“stern note” by the distanced GOP officials: “Trump would be the most reckless president in American history.”

Norberto Jo Jo Reyes, a aetired attorney in Los Angeles, said Trump’s recommendation reveals lack of education.  

“Trump is talking about eliminating or severely restricting immigration from countries with terrorist strongholds: Well, this would include the US, Great Britain, Belgium, Germany and many of our allies around the world. Trump himself couldn’t enter the US based on his own requirements. He needs to study basic world history and current events.”

NFALA (National Filipino American Lawyers Association) Regional Governor Robert Uy took a contemplative stance, calling Trump’s statement “another example of the dangerous anti-immigrant rhetoric he has espoused in the past.” Uy defined the candidate as a “demagogue the likes of which the world has seen during the rise of fascism and during World War II.” 

The South San Francisco resident depicted consequences of inflammatory rhetoric.

“This has incited violence against the Jews, Irish, Japanese, Catholics and a panoply of other social, religious, and ethnic groups,” said Uy. “This type of rhetoric has led to atrocities such as the Holocaust, the Japanese internment in the US, and genocide. 

The Millennial bristled at the reference to “our kababayan and those from other countries” as “animals.” 

“No responsible Filipino should vote for Trump,” he urged. “We should encourage all members our community to use our ability to vote to install leaders who will espouse democratic ideals and will promote civil and political rights for all.” 

Bataan Legacy Historical Society founder and executive director Cecilia Gaerlan shared the view.

“Clearly Trump suffers from a psychological disorder not unlike that of Hitler’s,” said the leader of efforts to teach California children about the Filipino soldiers with the United States Army Forces in the Far East. “He should probably go back to Grade 11 so that he can learn about the sacrifices of the Filipinos during WWII. God help us all if he wins.”

Cota Yabut, art educator and former vice president of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association – Berkeley Chapter, said she is tired of hearing the candidate’s hateful speech and hopes his supporters eventually do too.

“We have to keep our distance,” said the resident of Hayward, California. “I hope the crowd following him will wake up and dissociate themselves-ASAP.”

Realtor Corin Ramos of Reno, Nevada, did not appreciate the “fear mongering, race-hate-baiting statements.”  

“Filipino immigrants and Filipino Americans are among the most law-abiding and loyal Americans who love this country, maybe even more than Trump because we sacrificed much to be here,” said Ramos, who arrived in the US as a toddler with her engineer father. –

San Francisco Bay Area-based Rappler contributor Cherie M. Querol Moreno is editor-at-large of FilAm publications Philippine News and columnist of Philippines Today US.

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