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Three Filipino Canadians run as city councilors in British Columbia

Rowena Papasin | TFC News Vancouver

Posted at Aug 11 2022 10:08 AM

Three Filipino Canadians are gunning to become councilors in the cities of Vancouver, Burnaby, and Surrey in British Columbia.

Lina Vargas, running as Vancouver city councilor.
Lina Vargas, running as Vancouver city councilor.

Vancouver city council candidate Lina Vargas first came to Canada as a caregiver before becoming a healthcare aide and a hairstylist. Vargas said she was inspired by how Filipino Canadians in healthcare stepped up and helped Canada during the pandemic. She believes she can make a difference by being in office.

"Nakita naman natin during the pandemic, trumabaho talaga yung Pilipino lalo na sa healthcare... May magagawa tayo na hindi magagawa ng iba. Marami tayong nakikita na hindi nakikita nila because yung ating background, sanay tayo na sumagupa ng anumang hirap at sakripisyo," Vargas, who is running as an independent candidate, noted.

(We saw for ourselves during the pandemic how Filipinos really stepped up especially in healthcare. We can do a lot of things that others can't do. We see a lot of things that others don't see because we have experienced how to face challenges and sacrifice.)

Maita  Santiago, running as Burnaby city councilor.
Maita Santiago, running as Burnaby city councilor.

In Burnaby, city council aspirant Maita Santiago is running with the Burnaby Citizens Association. She is well-versed in public issues as a constituency assistant to Filipino Canadian lawmaker Mable Elmore and a former secretary general of Migrante International back when she was in the Philippines in the early 2000s. Santiago also heads the Mabuhay House Society, the group behind the Filipino Cultural Center project in Vancouver.

"I think panahon na talaga na meron din tayong kinatawan na may boses kaya tumakbo ako para madala ko, madala natin ang ating mga stories and challenges doon mismo sa city hall," Santiago said.

(I think it's really time for us to have a representative who has a voice, that's why I ran, so that I can bring or we can bring our stories and challenges right inside city hall.)

Ramon Bandong, running as Surrey city councilor.
Ramon Bandong, running as Surrey city councilor.

Banker Ramon Bandong also believes that he can bring about change by running as councilor in Surrey, one of the biggest cities in Canada and home to more than 34,000 Filipinos. Bandong, who is running with Surrey Forward on a platform of affordability, is a grandson of former Presidential Commission on Good Government chairman and former Philippine Ambassador to Canada Ramon Diaz.

Bandong said, "I'll go back to what my Lolo, my Lolo Ramon said, who I’m named after, he said if you want to make a difference, you have to be part of the change."

With Filipinos being the third largest immigrant group in BC, the three bets all stressed that it’s time for Filipinos to have their own voice.

Filipino community leaders also urged kababayans to support the three candidates, saying their win is a win for the whole community.

"We are able to say we can be of service for the whole people and communities in our city, so we’re a force to reckon with," Erie Maestro of Migrante BC said.

The municipal elections will be held on October 15, 2022.