Filipino students in U.S. wary of Trump presidency

Carmela Fonbuena
Filipino students in U.S. wary of Trump presidency
During the campaign, the Republican president-elect accused the Philippines of being a 'terrorist nation,' threatened to build a wall along its borders with Mexico, and made fiery anti-Islamic rhetoric

MANILA, Philippines – The morning after the US elections, November 9, University of Washington students Louie Tan Vital and Marijo Manaois stood outside their university library carrying a sign expressing concerns about the victory of presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Vital and Manaois are members of the Filipino American Students Association at the university. Other students, mostly of color, joined them as a megaphone was passed around, according to university professor Vicente Rafael, who posted photos of the student mobilization on his Facebook page. 

“Almost like spontaneous combustion, they were soon joined by others, with their own signs, concerned about the effects of a very long Trump winter,” Rafael said.  

He said the students shared fears, hopes, and calls for solidarity in the face a new leader who has spoken against people of color.

“As I realized the results of the election, I heard the backs of my ancestors breaking, and my bones weaken with fear. What else can we do but mobilize?,” Vital wrote on her Facebook page. 

Similar protests were staged across the US, which has continued to its 4th night on Saturday, November 12, even as Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has conceded and US President Barack Obama has welcomed Trump to the White House. 

During the campaign, the Republican president-elect accused the Philippines of being a “terrorist nation.” He threatened to build a wall along its borders with Mexico to stem illegal immigration. He has made fiery anti-Islamic rhetoric.

Trump lost in the state of Washington, which voted 55% to 34% in favor of Clinton. Clinton won the popular vote nationwide, too, but Trump got enough electoral votes to win – winning in states that mattered most in the Electoral College count.

Supporters of Trump also had their own gathering at the University of Washington. Unlike their candidate, the students politely engaged the other students, said Rafael.

“By the time I was heading home in the dark, the crowd was still there. A smaller gathering emerged alongside this bigger one, with a Trump sign and vigorous but polite arguments going on among the students,” he said. 

The same concerns are expressed by Filipino student Ciara Montalla, who is currently studying in Fordham University in New York City. 

“We are disappointed. We will go to school with this mindset of being unsafe… There is a bit more tredipidation in terms of where we stand and how we feel being part of this community,” Montalla told Rappler’s Maria Ressa during Rappler’s special online coverage of the US elections on Wednesday, November 8. 

“Honestly, I am caught off guard. The usual news web sites that I look at would forecast a Clinton win. Suddenly we have reached a sudden U-turn,” she added.

But Montalla is hoping their fears won’t be realized. 

“This is the reality we have to live with and we have to adjust to. The only way I can fathom waking up to a different America is if we ensure it becomes different in a good way, not different in a completely terrible violent way,” she said. –

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