Aries Dela Cruz is on a mission to put Filipino Americans on New York's political map.
From creating the first Filipino American Democratic Club of New York to being on the frontlines of presidential campaigns, Dela Cruz has become one of New York's most important young political leaders.
This accomplishment was recently recognized by the City & State magazine's 40 under 40. City & State is a weekly magazine covering politics and policy in the Empire State.
"It's so significant for me to win this honor because there's so few Filipino Americans in government in New York and in the United States in general," Dela Cruz pointed out. "It's so meaningful to me particularly in the city where Filipino Americans [and] people who look like me are hurt and were victims of violence."
Dela Cruz is representing Fil-Ams who contribute to the city and state of New York. "I would say, just having me around in these hallways of power and in these rooms where decisions are being made, I'm able to speak up and advocate on behalf of the Filipino American community."
During the Covid-19 pandemic, he did just that. "We had people who were being evicted and it was my job to tell people that they had rights and that work is so much... it's sorely needed," Dela Cruz said.
A proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, Dela Cruz is also part of Equality New York that recently celebrated five years of advocacy, action, and service to the community. Its 2021 anniversary honoree is no less than New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who said the group will help her in making a difference. "We're gonna change the culture of this state right here, right now and this organization is gonna help me lead the way," Hochul declared.
Dela Cruz meanwhile believes politicians listen to groups like Equality New York "because they show up; they're visible; they come together as a community and they have goals. They tell their elected representatives those goals and if the elected representative wants to keep their job, they achieve those goals for that community."
For Dela Cruz, one Fil-Am representing the community is not enough. He is calling on more Fil-Ams to step up, get into leadership roles, and register and vote in their own cities and states so that the community will not only have a voice but elect officials that will actually listen as well.