” …hindi lamang sa mga nursing homes at ospital, sa mga dairy farms at mga construction sites, sa I.T., engineering at hospitality, at ngayon pati na rin sa larangan ng pambabatas,” Paulo Garcia honours heritage in maiden speech speaking in Filipino.

Paulo Garcia pays tribute to his heritage

By Ted Alcuitas

The first Filipino to be elected to the New Zealand Parliament introduced his first speech in Filipino honouring his heritage.

The former diplomat and lawyer Paulo Garcia was elected on May 16.

“Nagmamahal na Panginoon, kami ay buong pusong nagpapasalamat na minarapat mong mabigyan ng pagkakataon ang inyong mga anak na makapaglingkod sa bayang New Zealand, hindi lamang sa mga nursing homes at ospital, sa mga dairy farms at mga construction sites, sa I.T., engineering at hospitality, at ngayon pati na rin sa larangan ng pambabatas,” he said.

He thanked those who gave him “fortitude and courage” such as his mother Anna, who took care of his father while he suffered from dementia for 10 years.

“Fourteen years ago, I was a struggling student at the University of Auckland law, taking papers and the bar exam. Those were tough times. We were a single income household of six, but now here I stand as a Member of Parliament of this great nation,” he said.

Garcia ended his speech by quoting the poem of her daughter Mariana.

“A migrant house is built tall on foundations filled with sky, stacked with the hopes of generations into storied bastions that testify to us. We were made to hold together,” he said.

“I stand proud in the shade of a roof made for me, to raise it high by proclaiming I have a Spanish name, an American accent, and an Asian face and I have been welcomed in Aotearoa. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mabuhay!”

Garcia graduated from the University of the Philippines and practiced commercial law for 24 years in Manila and continued in New Zealand in the next 14 years. He also attended the Academy of American and International Law in Texas and the University of Auckland.

Another Filipino Romy Udanga, made an unsuccessful ran for  parliament in 2017.

There are an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 Filipinos living in New Zealand, which is more than one per cent of the population.

Canada is leading edge of political participation

Canada leads the world in electing a Filipino when Conrad Santos was elected to the provincial legislature of Manitoba in 1981, followed by Dr. Rey Pagtakhan of Winnipeg, Manitoba,the first Filipino to be elected to the Canadian Parliament in 1988.

Conrad Santos, first Filipino to win political office in Canada.

 

Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, first Filipino Member of Parliament.

At present, there are three sitting Filipino-Canadians  in the Manitoba Legislature – NDPs Flor Marcelino and Ted Marcelino and Conservative Jon Reyes. British Columbia has one, NDP Mable Elmore.

Benjamin J. Cayetano served as governor of Hawaii from 1994 to 2002 and was the first Filipino American elected as a United States governor. BRUCE ASATO / 2012, Star Advertiser