Born to two Filipino immigrants who came here with the understanding that they would have better lives and that of their families, I was the first member of my family to be born in America. Upon my birth, I was quickly diagnosed with a rare genetic eye condition called Anaride, and also developed Glaucoma during this time. I was primarily raised by a single-mother. My father traveled back and forth between California and the Philippines because his family owned a small school-supply business back in the Philippines. This continued until my father ended up walking out on our family when I was 15.
Growing up, my family was not rich, but we had enough to get by every month. At a young age, the value of a good education was drilled into us. We were told that doing well in school is the vehicle that will get you to where you want to go. It is constant pushing for excellence that ultimately lead me to graduate from California State University: Fullerton in 2014 with a BA in Political Science and Philosophy with a minor in Religious Studies. Furthermore, I was a member of both Pi Sigma Alpha (The National Political Honor Society) and Theta Alpha Kappa (Nation Honor Society for the Study of Religion).
Aside from my academic achievements, my true passion is activism and politics. At young age, I was constantly keeping up with the current events of the day. After graduating from high school, I worked as a public speaker for the Disability Awareness Foundation, where we educated elementary and middle schools on people with disabilities and acceptance of them in school settings and in the community.
Healthcare as a Human Right
June 2008 changed my life and my political views forever, when my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and experienced a battery of chemotherapy and hospitalizations. After graduating from college, I decided to be my mother’s primary caregiver. It was then that I discovered how broken our healthcare system is. Although she had decent health insurance, she still had to pay co-payments. I recall that she would sometimes cancel appointments just to avoid paying the co-payment. Also, I found it extremely twisted that it was the health insurance companies, and not members of the healthcare team who were actually treating my mother, that were making final determinations on course of treatment. This was a wake-up call for me that our system was in need of radical repair. Although the Affordable Care Act did some good, our family could not escape rising healthcare costs. My mother fought her cancer with true courage, until she succumbed to it in early 2017. It is her fighting spirit that motivates me to make the changes I know need to be made in SD-34, state, and nation to fight for single payer healthcare and to make healthcare a human right. As the saying goes, “As California goes, so does the nation.”
Continuing Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution
Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign inspired me to run for office. At that time, I was very apathetic to the process in general. I knew that both major parties did not care about the people, but instead cared about their rich corporate donors. However, Bernie showed that one can run a competitive and winning campaign not funded by corporate interests, but by the people, by simply talking about the issues facing every day citizens, such as guaranteeing healthcare to all as a fundamental human right. I subsequently volunteered for and served as one of his 1850 pledged delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016. If it is anything that I got out of serving as a delegate and work with Bernie Sanders campaign staff, is that the only way we can have real change is if we all begin to take back our government by taking responsibility for it. If I don’t take charge and hold my government accountable through activism or even running for office, who will? From what we’ve learned, the answer tends to be corporate special interests who may not have the best interests of the people in mind. I have decided that I want to be part of this progressive movement and the way for me to do so is to run for office and bring about the change that the establishment has failed to bring about.