LONDON—Another Filipino made history in England after winning a seat in the city council of Gloucester in the May 6 local elections.
Raymond Padilla, 49, won as councilor for Matson, Robinswood and White City ward. A ward is an electoral district in a city in England.
Padilla’s journey in England began in 2005, when he migrated as a dependent of his wife, Arlene, a nurse in the UK.
He left a flourishing career as a journalist for Panay News in Iloilo and a correspondent for Inquirer.
When he left to join his wife, he was already deputy editor. But the job he landed in England was hospital janitor, known in hospitals in the UK as domestic assistant. He also worked as health care assistant and security guard for 3 years until he studied and finished Adult Nursing at University of the West of England, Bristol. Padilla is now a proud nurse at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
His foray into UK politics was unexpected.
Although he has had his share of experience in the Philippines as part of university student council and as barangay council member, the UK is challenging to navigate because of its different political system. Being chairperson of the Filipino Association of Gloucestershire opened the doors for him and he is grateful for the support of fellow Filipinos in Gloucestershire.
He is the first to Filipino elected councillor in the southwest region of England.
“Ito ’yung unang may kumandidato na Filipino and incidentally chairman pa ng association, kaya parang proud ang members of the community at sila at lahat sila nag-contribute,” Padilla said.
“Sabi nila sa akin, if you can give me the names of the streets sa ward mo. Tatanungin namin ang mga kasama namin kung saan sila nakatira and we will campaign for you.”
He also credits Conservative party mates, the first Filipino mayor in England Danny Favor from East Grinstead, as well as former Hertsmere Mayor Cynthia Barker who mentored him. Sadly, Barker died last year, just a few months after being appointed mayor.
Padilla felt being a nurse was also an instrumental force in his win. He felt most welcome in the Labour-dominated area by residents when he introduced himself as an NHS worker.
“During the campaign, meron kaming mga door-to-door canvassing. Minsan ang nakakatok namin, di namin followers or supporters,” Padilla said.
“Minsan di na maganda ang itsura pero ’pag sinabi ko na, ‘I work as nurse in Gloucester Royal,’ napapatigil ang mga ’yan. One, two or three times may tumigil pa at gumanun pa (motions clapping). So ’yung mga kasama ko, sabi nila, ‘Why don’t you do the intro?’ Kasi every time ako mag-intro, di kami pinagsasarhan.”
Filipino nurses were disproportionately impacted during the peak of the pandemic in the UK in 2020, with some frontliners dying during self-isolation.
“Ang interpretation ko, ang pagkapanalo ko, ay official embracing of Filipinos into the mainstream dito sa Gloucester. Parang nasabi na talaga nila, nakasulat na, ‘You Filipinos are welcome to be a part of this greater community’,” explained Padilla.
Padilla wants to encourage more Filipinos to run for public office in the UK. Although the post is not paid and councillors are only given allowance during their term of office, he said it will usher in a better future for the Filipino diasporas in the UK.
“Sa mga aspiring Filipinos, maganda if you have a seat at the table, alam natin at naiintidihan natin ang nangyayari, ang mangyayari and then we can always inform the community beforehand and you can also be the voice of the community. And you are in a much better position to sign post everyone,” said Padilla.
As a councillor, he would like to promote social integration, among others.