UPSIDE: 2022 Filipino American headliners

(Part 1)

A BIPOLAR YEAR, to borrow from behavior displayed recently by frequent newsmakers, 2022 sent Filipino Americans on a roller coaster ride.

Just when vaccines and boosters finally hit the brakes on COVID19 in the fall of 2021, emboldening folks to unmask and mingle, new coronavirus variants emerged to shift New Year 2022 and subsequent celebrations back to virtual instead of personal, outdoors rather than indoors.  And while the last two months stoked pride and joy with long-overdue triumphs in politics, entertainment and sports – women as prominently as men, recently arrived or several generations born here, millennial and older, biracial or not – FilAms also hugged headlines in shadowy acts in the same sectors.

Last year’s big stories show just how embedded in American society are the many and diverse ripples and waves of immigration from the archipelago.


FilAms in top offices shook up the establishment.

·         Former California Assembly Member Rob Bonta’s sharply vertical political career smashed another barrier when he sealed his already historic appointed position as Attorney General by winning voters’ approval for the seat on Nov. 8.  Gov. Gavin Newsom had appointed the Quezon City-born and first Filipino American elected to the State legislature in April 2021 with the departure of Xavier Becerra to join the Biden Administration as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

·         The FBI arrested former US Congress Member TJ (Terrance John) Cox on federal criminal charges of wire fraud, money laundering, financial fraud and campaign contribution fraud over a five-year period on August 16.  The Fresno Democrat faces a maximum 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud and money laundering, 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for wire fraud affecting a financial institution and financial institution fraud. He also faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for campaign contribution fraud.  The son of Filipino-Chinese parentage made history when he was elected to the 21st congressional district of California and became the first FilAm elected US Representative in the state.  He had defeated David Valadao for the seat in 2018 but lost to the same opponent in 2020.


THE MIDTERM elections catapulted FilAms across the nation to victory, most of the following marking first-ever state posts for one of their own:

  • In New York Democrat Steve Raga won the race for the State Assembly representing the 30th District covering Woodside, Elmhurst, Middle Village, Maspeth, Jackson Heights and Astoria.  The former chief of staff of an Assembly Member is a well-known community advocate for equity and social justice as a nonprofit strategist and FilAm organizer.
  • California native Maria Cervania, a Democrat, an epidemiologist, strategist and community advocate, was elected District 41 Representative in the North Carolina House.  The Cal grad taught Anatomy at Berkeley HS and PE in the Oakland School District while volunteering at the Berkeley Free Clinic before earning her master’s in Public Health in Chicago.  She and her husband moved to Austin then Phoenix before settling down in Cary near Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.
  • The results of the 2016 presidential elections drove New Hampshire’s first elected FilAm Luz Bay to run for office.  She said she “had to do something” when her heartbreak turned to anger as the new administration executed its policies.  Born and raised in the Philippines and a naturalized U.S. citizen as recently as 2002, Bay joined the Dover Democrats and launched her successful campaign this year for the North Carolina General Assembly House of Representatives to represent Strafford 21.  The three-time cancer survivor with a PhD in Educational Measurement and Statistics is a 29-year psychometrician who wants immigrants and people of color to have the same opportunities that sent her to the state legislature.
  • Tennessee House Rep. District 52 Rep. Justin Jones calls himself a “servant leader not afraid to put his body on the line for his community.”  The Oakland, California-born activist earned a bachelor’s in political science at Fisk University and is on track to gain a master’s in Theological Studies at Vanderbilt University.  A Democrat, he was raised by a single mother while studying nursing, and his Black and Filipino grandmothers from whom he learned “the importance of community involvement, care for the environment, and spirituality.”
  • Nevada House of Representatives District 14  Rep. Erica Mosca is better known as “Ms. Mosca” to her fifth grade students.   The Las Vegas Democrat and UNLV alum is an education advocate who believes: “The opportunity to attain a college education is the foundation, though not prerequisite, for underrepresented students to become diverse leaders of their own communities.”
  • Working as political aide to an Alaska Representative honed State House District 19 FilAm Rep. Genevieve Mina’s skills in communications and legislation development. The daughter of 1980s Filipino immigrants says she experienced injustice after her father suddenly died and the family ran their assisted living business but could not get health coverage themselves. The late Thelma Buchholdt, the first FilAm elected state legislator in Alaska and perhaps the United States, would approve.


MANY FilAm incumbents and aspirants won local polls up and down California, Hawaii and other states.  See


(To be continued)