Michelle Macadangdang on the campaign trail in her local ward
LONDON - Michelle Paddit Macadangdang is a determined self-made woman, and now she has her eye on British politics.
The British Filipina is running with the Conservative Party and is eyeing a spot in the local ward of Grays Thurrock within the Thurrock Council in Essex, England, at the 2014 local elections on May 22.
"I'm running because I think it's important for individuals to be involved in the community, and most importantly that we have responsibility in the community," she told ABS-CBN Europe.
Macadangdang is vying for one of three councilor seats against four other candidates, namely: Ebuke Akueme (Liberal Democrats), Thomas Davis (National Front), John Legg (UK Independence Party), and Michael Stone (Labour).
Born and raised in the UK with Filipino parents, Macadangdang has come a long way from her self-confessed humble beginnings, working her way up as a healthcare professional.
Her hard work paid off and she now owns a care home in Romford, which she runs with her mother, offering 24-hour care and accommodation for people with learning disabilities and mental disorders.
She is also a wife to a church pastor, a mother to two young children, and an active member of the Filipino community in the Greater London area.
Local supporters campaigning for the British Filipina candidate
"It's important for everybody to be involved in politics not just ethnic minorities. Politics shape our future and affect our children and our children's children," she said.
"I live in the UK and my heritage as a Filipino is important but I feel that society has progressed where ethnic minorities have a feeling of belonging within the UK. I can't say that I have been treated differently because of my ethnic origin," she added.
That said, Macadangdang admits it may be unlikely for her to win at the elections on her first try, particularly because her ward is a known stronghold for the opposing Labour party. But win or lose, the healthcare entrepreneur plans to become more involved with British politics in whatever way she can.
"My vision is to fulfill God's plan for my life, and I believe that to be within the government. To what stage that might be, I'm not yet sure," she said.
In British politics, local councilors are elected to look after the interests of specific areas within larger districts. They can affect local affairs, from bin collections to children’s services and road maintenance, as well as local policies on things like council tax and housing.
This year’s local elections involve 161 councils in England and 11 in Northern Ireland.
The Conservatives, the current ruling party, won most seats at the previous local elections in 2009, but most opinion polls for 2014 suggest a surge of support for both the opposing Labour party and the controversial UK Independence Party (UKIP).
The results of this year’s battle will be a significant indicator for political parties as they gauge the mood of the nation ahead of general elections in May 2015, which will determine the next ruling party.
UK local council elections are taking place alongside European Parliament elections on May 22.