Filipino Americans and Filipinos
We Filipinos enjoy elections, especially when it’s for high office. In the Philippines, the voting participation rate is easily 70 to 80 percent of the electorate. So it’s no surprise that Filipino Americans were the most eager to vote in the 2020 US presidential election, according to the Asian American Voter Survey 2020, fielded over 7/15 to 9/10 last year. (https://www.asianjournal.com/usa/dateline-usa/survey-fil-am-voters-most-enthusiastic-about-2020-election-among-asian-american-groups/, 9/17/2020).
Compared to previous elections, 62 percent of Filipino Americans said they were more enthusiastic now, and only 9 percent said they were less enthusiastic. Next were Asian Indians, whose respective numbers were 58 percent and 17 percent. The average for all Asian Americans was 54 and 18 respectively. Other nationalities were the Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese (the least enthusiastic, with numbers of 47 and 26). Missing balances from 100 percent, here and below, are neutral or don’t know answers.
As a whole, Asian Americans said they would vote for Biden, by an average score of 54-30 against Trump. The most pro-Biden were Asian Indians, 65-28. The least pro-Biden were Filipinos, by a score of 52-34, but that is still a majority for Biden, or closer to the general American popular vote. Only the Vietnamese were more for Trump (48 percent) than Biden (38 percent).
Thus, Fil-Ams fit the US pattern that cultural minorities favor the Democratic Party. Fil-Ams mostly ally, not with white Americans, but with voters of color: 69 percent of them favor affirmative action; 55 percent see “some” discrimination against Asians; and 48 percent worry about becoming victims of hate crime.
Yes, there are Fil-Ams, especially catolico cerrado types, who are Trumpistas, and I know some myself; but they are the minority. Only 25 percent of Fil-Ams view Trump favorably, whereas 46 percent don’t, putting his net rating at -21.
Although Biden is Catholic, half of American Catholics voted for Trump, according to the National Catholic Reporter (ncronline.org), citing the APVoteCast poll. This means that Fil-Ams, despite being overwhelmingly Catholic, were more anti-Trump than average American Catholics.
Biden has already nominated seven Catholics for the cabinet, for the portfolios of defense, energy, health, labor, agriculture, commerce, and veterans administration. At his inauguration, the opening prayer was by a Jesuit priest, Fr. Leo O’Donovan, S.J. Whether these moves will endear him to American Catholics is hard to say, but they should make him even more popular among Fil-Ams.
The resent-the-old-imperial-power card is a dud. Whether its President is Democrat or Republican, the United States has always been the country most trusted by Filipinos in the Philippines. Most likely this is true for Fil-Ams also.
Very early in his term, President Duterte raked up the massacres of Filipinos by US troops in the Philippine-American War and in its anti-Moro campaigns, but completely failed to turn Filipino sentiments against America. As early as 1994, only a few Filipinos still resented the American, or for that matter the Spanish and Japanese, occupations—as shown by an SWS survey in Metro Manila:
“A long time ago, the Philippines was occupied by Spain, the United States, and Japan. All these countries greatly benefited from the Philippines. Now that the Philippines has been independent for a long time, would you still have Much Resentment, Some Resentment, or No Resentment of [country]?”
This survey item found that those with No Resentment were 77 percent with respect to the Japanese occupation, 78 percent with respect to the Spanish occupation, and 84 percent with respect to the American occupation.
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