By Jon Melegrito
WASHINGTON, DC - Following the Supreme Court’s favorable rulings on gay rights and Obamacare, Filipino Americans joined millions of supporters across the country to celebrate two historic victories, in an outpouring of emotion here in the nation’s capital.
“Actually, we have seen three important decisions from the Supreme Court in the last two days,” said Filipino American Hector Vargas, a former Commissioner of the White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders.
“The Court upheld an important tool to prove housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. The Court then for the second time upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), ensuring that subsidies for health insurance will continue for qualifying low-income Americans. Finally, the Court confirmed marriage for same-sex couples is a fundamental right, something a majority in this country already support,” explained Vargas.
Ben de Guzman, a national coordinator of the Diverse Elders Coalition, added, “Decisions about the ACA and housing discrimination help make sure some of the most vulnerable people in our communities will have access to health care and protections.”
On Friday outside the Supreme Court, Hyacinth Alvaran and her friends and co-workers from the Human Rights Campaign cheered and hugged upon hearing the news.
‘Disrupt the status quo’
Inside the Philippine Embassy, about three miles away from the Supreme Court, Filipino Americans gathered for a book reading on “Pinay Power.” Many in the audience were also in a celebratory mood.
“This is a momentous day,” said Filipina Women’s Network (FWN) Founder and CEO Marily Mondejar to a mixed crowd of students, young professionals, senior citizens and community leaders.
“I have a gay son. He can now marry when he chooses, but he must fall in love first. I’m glad I’m in DC when this is all happening,” she gushed.
Mondejar flew in from her home in San Francisco to promote FWN’s book, DISRUPT. Filipina Women: Proud. Loud. Leading Without a Doubt. Delighted by the Supreme Court decision, Mondejar’s opening remarks provided a timely context to the evening’s focus. It was, after all, about “Pinay Power” – Filipina women “disrupting their lives, careers and communities” as they become “strong advocates for social issues that affected their families.”
Of the 35 authors, five other “Filipina Disrupters” were at the Embassy sharing their stories: Global Networks Director Maria Africa Beebe; White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford; Ramar Foods executive Susie Quesada; Air National Guard Chief Diversity Officer Col. Shirley S. Raguindin; Filipina Women's Network CEO and Founder Marily Mondejar.
In his welcome message, Deputy Chief of Missions Patrick A. Chuasoto recalled that “women empowerment has always been embedded in our culture.” Citing Filipina warriors Gabriela Silang and Teresa Magbanua, he described them as “Pinay Power at its finest.” In that spirit, he concluded, “let us disrupt the status quo.”
Unwitting or not, his remarks at the end of a tumultuous day may well have captured the essence not only of the evening program inside Romulo Hall, but of the stunning two days in the nation’s capital.
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