US politics have always interested Filipinos. As observers on this side of the Pacific Ocean, many are flabbergasted when they see Fil-Ams supporting US President Donald Trump—and their participation in the insurrection last week.
Trump’s Fil-Am supporters may not agree with his racist and inflammatory language or all his lies on social media (Twitter permanently deleted his account on Jan. 9), but they are card-carrying Republicans who voted for him in 2016 and 2020, and believe he was robbed of a second term.
In 2018, the American Community Survey estimated the population of Filipinos in the United States to be over four million, two million of them eligible voters.
But there is “no Filipino American vote. They're divided," Renato de Casto told CNN Philippines, based on data from US-based think tank Pew Research Center.
For financial adviser and Trump supporter Marc Ang, who organized a “Filipinos for Trump” rally during the campaign, Trump and the GOP represent his conservative values.
Ang’s political awakening started in 2007, when he became an active Republican volunteer in the McCain/Palin campaign. “The media and all my friends told me I had to like Obama and I wanted to like him but upon further research I solidified in my conservative ideology,” he says. “It was Sarah Palin that inspired me to get into politics as I loved how she related to the everyday person and aligned with my values, but mostly I was attracted to her extraordinary ability to communicate. Palin inspired me to get into something that most people consider dry. Trump has continued that inspiration tenfold.”
Whites are the least racist these days, and I've experienced more racism from blacks and Hispanics.
Five years before that, in 2003, Ang became a Republican when he was “tricked” into going to his first political rally for Democrat Howard Dean. “I listened to his empty promises and slimy politician style. When I met my first Republican political official, Ed Royce, I was shocked at the contrast. Then I read the party platform and realized I agreed with every bullet point and so I learned I was a Republican. For many years until then, I thought I was a Democrat because I was a minority. But I learned with age and wisdom and starting my first business that, because I'm a minority, it is the Republicans who have my back.”
In January 2016, before the Florida primaries, he became a Trump supporter after his candidate Marco Rubio “showed he was incapable of bringing the movement together.”
The siege of the US Capitol
Ang didn’t go to Washington, DC on Jan. 6 to march, but some members of his group Asian Industry B2B did.
“I personally chose not to participate as I spent the good part of December helping out with the Georgia senate races in Atlanta, where we sadly came short. From firsthand accounts of our members in attendance and trusted friends, there were curious things that transpired on Jan. 6 such as letting into the Capitol building some of the most radical-looking types that were most likely from the alt left. I’ll leave it at that.”
Ang says that he doesn’t believe all that Trump says either. “The President is prone to exaggeration, but with that said, this trait is what allowed him to be the best mouthpiece for the silenced. So many issues, such as election fraud, the imbalance of trade to China's benefit for an entire generation, immigration issues, human trafficking, etc. have been on the news because of the President's flair and style.
“And you wanna talk about exaggeration? The Democrats keep exaggerating that we're in such a negative world where everyone's so sexist and racist. Whites are the least racist these days, and I've experienced more racism from blacks and Hispanics. And then if you keep talking about the world that way, you will bring this negative energy out in people. So what the Dems are doing is very damaging.”
In life, we all have unique paths. Instead of falling into a victimhood mentality, I have instead embraced that uniqueness and found that Republicans understand the core of my humanity better.
He believes that for people to be colorblind, society must be merit-based and “judge the best by achievement and merit, not skin color. I embrace free markets and limited government. I fight against the Democrats treating government like an entity to give freebies to people, forgetting that is us, the working taxpayers, who are funding entitlement programs. Yes, the US is a prosperous country but if everyone is on the take, then that prosperity is going to disappear fast.”
How does he feel about the electoral cases filed by Trump’s lawyers and dismissed by the courts? (Biden got seven million popular votes more than Trump and 306 Electoral College votes; in 2016, Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton won the popular vote by three million but lost to Trump’s 306 Electoral College votes.)
“Sadly, many courts decided they didn't want to be in a political situation and stick their head out, so they herded together to throw the cases out. Fraud has gone unchecked for decades, which is why each election it looks like it is getting more and more polarized.”
Fil-Ams under Joe Biden’s presidency
How will Filipino-Americans and other minority groups in the US be treated under the Biden administration and what is the future of Pinoys in the process of migrating? “Filipinos have been migrating to the US before COVID under the Trump administration so I think this is a loaded question. So we shall see what happens under Biden. In fact, I'm excited to see how Biden will handle this issue.
“We may find that he will be even more restrictive due to the worldwide pandemic. Trump on immigration was masterful. He was focused on bringing the best to this country: those who were willing to work hard and understand the American constitution, those who wanted to build a craft and specialty and contribute to society instead of taking away from it. That is why we had the most successful economy I have ever seen in my lifetime from 2017 to 2020.”
Growing up an outsider in the US
Ang describes his childhood as “unique.” His family “moved around a lot as my father worked for European companies in the steel industry.”
He says it was his time in Asia that opened his eyes to other governments and true poverty. He was a student at Singapore American School in 1994, when 18-year-old American Michael Fay was sentenced to six strokes of the cane for theft and vandalism.
“Most of my life and childhood has been in Southern California but I did live in New York and Atlanta so I have a well rounded view of the United States (South and Northeast, as well as West Coast). We also spent a lot of our Christmases in the Philippines, where I got to know my relatives and extended family.”
Ang completed his undergrad at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and his master's at Columbia University in New York.
“At Pepperdine, I did not understand politics or get involved. I was mostly focused on working full time and going to school full time. I did join a few groups that were mostly liberal because in college, you tend to think you're liberal by default. By junior year, when my family fell into some financial hardship, I worked to get through school and that's when my conservative ideology started developing (seeing all the taxes taken out of my paycheck and researching where that money was going) and then I started to think that some of the progressive groups I joined seemed to be frivolous and not really action oriented. I was working retail at the time and I loved the fast pace and the ‘get stuff done’ mentality."
He adds, “Of course, I felt like an outsider at both institutions. In life, we all have unique paths. Instead of falling into a victimhood mentality, I have instead embraced that uniqueness and found that Republicans understand the core of my humanity better. I also am happier when I don't view myself as a victim. My path as someone who had to work during school was not something many people understood. In both Pepperdine and Columbia, my more privileged peers who had their parents fund everything seemed more focused on racism or being an outsider based on race or gender.”
At Columbia, he says, his conservative political beliefs led him to be bullied by his department heads. “They had no clue my struggle financially to get through school and wouldn't wrap their head around the fact that I didn't think like them or held certain viewpoints. A liberal peer told me that my pro-life shirt was offensive. But I just laughed it off and continued my path. Why let things like this get you down? Ultimately I graduated and landed a great job at Credit Suisse while in school. So I'm thankful for the blessings.”