Filipinos in Texas Concerned About Pacquiao’s Candidacy

Filipinos in Texas Concerned About Pacquiao’s Candidacy

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ARLINGTON (Texas) — Bringing together the various Filipino communities throughout the huge state of Texas could be considered an impossible task.

But doing the impossible has become a way of life for the Philippines’ legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao.

The seven-time world champion brought out Pinoys from all over the Lone Star State to Cowboys Stadium for the Mar. 13 WBO welterweight title fight between him and Joshua Clottey, a bout which resulted in yet another victory for the 31-year-old pugilist from General Santos City.

In convincing fashion, Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KOs) scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Clottey, of Ghana, who was thought of as a bigger and stronger opponent.

But as much as Pacquiao continues to be the main storyline for a majority of Filipino-Americans in 2010, there are a number of underlying social and political themes - as a result of his success - that impact the major Fil-Am enclaves around Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.

While Pacquiao’s boxing prowess emits strong feelings of unity and pride amongst Texas Pinoys, his attempt to become a congressman in the Philippines, on the other hand, is met with outright skepticism.

Retired Dallas resident, George Buentipo, 62, has lived in the Metropolis area for 40 years, and still helps out making food and cleaning at the family-owned ‘New Manila Restaurant,’ in East Dallas, which he started up over 11 years ago.

Buentipo, who hails from the Northern Luzon province of Cagayan, said that when he first moved to Dallas in 1970 after living in Canada for three years, there were very few Filipinos in the area.

That dynamic has all changed in the past 20 years, he explained.

“Now there’s a large area of Filipinos in Dallas, Mesquite, Garland, Plano and Frisco,” said Buentipo, who took time out from preparing Filipino food dishes for various Saturday’s fight night parties. “It’s very spread out, however. It’s not centralized like it is in California.”

When asked about the influence Manny Pacquiao has on the local Fil-Am population, the bespectacled Buentipo said Filipinos love him because he gives his time and money back to the less fortunate in the Philippines.
As for Pacquiao’s bid to become a congressman in Sarangani, Buentipo does not support the boxer’s aspirations in Philippine politics.

“You know how it goes down there [in Mindanao],” said Buentipo, an avid sports fan who follows boxing, basketball, football and even hockey. “He’s got the money, but I don’t like him going into politics. He and his wife [Jinkee] have got a lot of businesses, so he should concentrate on that after he retires. They can still help out the people.”

Buentipo added: “He should retire after probably another two fights, if he can get [Floyd] Mayweather to fight him. He’s going to beat him up just like he did with De la Hoya.”

Fil-Am Cherrie Ciron is originally from Cebu, but moved to Arlington in 1996 after living in Illinois. Ciron attended Friday’s weigh-in festivities for the fight with her two kids, Allie and Ivan. Her husband was unable to attend the event, which drew a few thousand Filipinos.

“It’s amazing,” Cirron said. “Finally, Arlington would now have a name. Being a Filipino, it’s something you can be very proud of, especially Manny. You know, with his name, every time he goes out and fights, he always brings the name of the Philippines and makes us proud. He doesn’t claim himself for all of the glory, it’s for his countrymen. I always tell my kids you should be proud of your heritage.”

While Cirron acknowledges that there are a lot of Filipinos in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, she did admit that she and her family stick to Arlington.

As for the Filipino involvement in politics, Cirron said she was familiar with a Filipino-American Association, but is not connected to them.

“I think Manny should just do what he’s good at, which is boxing, but if he so insists on going into politics, we can only watch what happens,” Cirron said. “Well, anyone starts at the beginning, you know, where they can stand and then they move on. Maybe he can start well in his province, because he can support and he’s popular in his own place. After they see results of how well he’s doing, he can move on and go up higher. Maybe we should give him a chance.”

Douglas G. Tigtig, the director of the Southeast Rehab Services, a chiropractic and rehab clinic, lives in Houston, an area that he says has close to 60,000 Fil-Ams.

“We are a big and growing community in Houston,” said Tigtig, who came to the city in the 1970s when there were only a few hundred. “We have a group there called FACOS, a conglomeration of all the Filipino organizations in Houston. They are basically the ones that get involved in activities, political or civic activities not only in the Filipino communities but also the Asian people…whatever issues that affect the Asian community.”

Tigtig said that most of the Filipinos in the Houston area are professionals with jobs such as nurses, doctors, and engineers. He also noted that at the moment there are no prominent members of the Fil-Am community who hold any political office.

He said that is basically their biggest shortcoming.

“We don’t have the political clout like the Vietnamese or the Chinese have,” said Tigtig. “There are not that many Filipinos that aspire for public office here. They are more involved with their families and work. They tend to be more Americanized. They assimilate to the American society, the American way of life faster than any other ethnic group.”

One reason he says that is the case is because of the Philippines’ relationship with American people (military) at the turn of the 20th Century.

“Other ethnic Asian groups…have a need to be represented for somebody to look after them,” said Tigtig. “Most Filipinos, it appears, would rather be left alone. In Houston, we’re more scattered around the city. We tend not to live in one place.”

“We still feel the Filipino blood though, and are loyal to each other. With Manny Pacquiao, everybody’s embracing him as you can see this weekend.”

Photo Credit: Nicholas Von Wettberg of FilAm Star.net

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