For the first time in Canada’s largest province, Ontario has five political candidates from the Filipino Canadian communities who won civic seats during the municipal elections on October 24, 2022. It was quite a promising political performance, indeed.
Five of the 11 Filipino Canadians in the winning circle are from different ridings in the Greater Toronto Area( GTA). They are Herman Viloria, Rowena Santos, Liza Abarquez -Bower, Garry Tanuan, and Luz Del Rosario. Viloria won for the first time as School Board Trustee, while Councillors Santos & Bower and Trustees Tanuan & Del Rosario are reelection winners. Six other Filipino Canadians, namely Councillor candidates Grant Gonzales- Toronto-Davenport, Kristian Santos- Etobicoke North, Dan Cortez Manalo-Toronto Centre, Erlinda Insigne- Vaughan & Ramon Estaris- Ajax, and Elvira Caputolan, Toronto mayoral candidate, ran unsuccessfully.
Herman Viloria. A long-serving Catholic high school principal and educational leader in Mississauga and Brampton won the election as Separate School Trustee for Wards 2 & 8 of the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board (DPCDSB). An educator by training and profession, Herman Viloria has been in the classroom and administration for 37 years, having served seven years as Teacher and Department Head and for thirty years as high school Vice-principal or Principal at DPCDSB. In a statement, Viloria said: “Many challenges face the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. I wish to bring the Board a fresh perspective from someone who has been in the classroom and administration for 37 years.”
Garry Tanuan is the longest-serving Filipino- Canadian Trustee at the Toronto Catholic School Board(TCDSB), Canada’s most prominent Catholic school district. Garry was first elected as Trustee for Ward 8 in the 2012 by-election and has been reelected twice in 2014 & 2018, and again this year, 2022. He helped form the TCDSB Filipino Advisory Committee and is currently Chairman of the Special Board Advisory on Race Relations Committee. Garry Tanuan, an electrical engineer by training and profession, continuously advocates for effective diversity, inclusion, equity policies, and practices in the School Board.
Luz Del Rosario was reelected as Trustee for Wards 6 & 11 in the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board. Luz was elected Vice Chairman of DPCDSB in 2020, the first Filipino woman to serve as Vice-chair of DPCDSB. She is a Certified Human Resource Professional( CHRP) and has completed a Bachelor in Commerce degree from the Philippines. First elected in 2006, elected again in 2014, and reelected in 2018, Luz Del Rosario will be serving her 4th term as Trustee in the City of Mississauga. “We have more work to do to ensure our children receive a high quality of education,” Del Rosario pledged.
Rowena Santos is the first Filipino woman City Councillor of Brampton in the Peel Region. A proud Bramptonian, Santos was first elected in 2018 to the City Council for Wards 1 & 5 and is one of few women on Brampton Council. Rowena holds an HBBA degree from the Schulich School of Business and a Master’s in Sustainable Development and Environmental Planning from the London School of Economics. Rowena was born to Filipino parents and raised in Brampton. She worked hard and was reelected. Rowena said: “She ran to continue serving her constituents and Brampton for a brighter future.”
Lisa Abarquez-Bower, the first woman Councillor of Filipino heritage in the Municipality of Ajax, a suburb of Toronto, was reelected for the first time. Lisa was first elected in 2018, representing Ward 3 in the Town of Ajax. She was born in Ajax and is a single mother of 2. As a member of the Ajax Council, Lisa established the Ajax Homelessness Task Force through Community Development Council Durham. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my experiences as Ward 3’s Local Councillor for over four years. I could not have done it without your support, and I am happy to for my reelection “, Bower said.
Historically, in Ontario, at the municipal, provincial, and Federal levels, the records of Filipino Canadian political candidates showed “not-so-encouraging” outputs, except for last month’s election results. Pinoys and Pinays in the province are still hopeful that with determined unanimity and collectively, future elections would result differently, that is, making successful inroads and electing more Ontario Filipinos into political service and community representation. ( Tony A. San Juan, OCT)