Prominent leaders in the Filipino community mostly based in the San Francisco Bay Area turned out in celebration as the first Filipino American elected to California State Assembly achieved a new milestone when he was appointed to the highest legal post in the state.
The Fil-Am leaders were ecstatic after Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed 18th California District Assemblymember Rob Bonta to succeed newly confirmed US Department of Health and Human Services Sec. Xavier Becerra as the State’s attorney general.
Their messages of appreciation to Newsom and congratulations to Bonta came from as far as the Philippine Senate, many of which were sent to this writer.
In her congratulatory letter, Philippine Sen. Risa Hontiveros sent her heartfelt Mabuhay greeting to Bonta “on your historic appointment as California’s first ever Filipino-American attorney general, one of the most important law enforcement posts in the United States.”
“When we met in June 2019, you were already ascending as an intelligent, progressive and effective leader in California, your ideals in public service rooted in 50 years of grassroots activism dedicated by your Filipino mother, Cynthia of Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino, and your father, Warren,” Hontiveros noted. “I am assured that with your excellent track record in amplifying the voices of Asian-Americans and working with marginalized communities, you will take flight as you face the challenges in your new office.”
In a joint letter of appreciation to Newsom, veteran broadcast journalist Lloyd LaCuesta and wifePositivelyFilipino Publisher and Founder of Philippine International Aid Mona Lisa Yuchengco congratulated and thanked Newsom “It is, as you said, a historic nomination and one of pride for Filipino Americans.”
“We have often been labeled, the invisible minority but this appointment is a signal that our community is very much part of the American fabric. Young Filipino Americans and other young people of color can now feel, they too can fulfill their dreams. Under your watch, California now becomes the first state to have a Filipino American top cop and a Filipino American State Supreme Court Chief Justice. Your efforts will not be forgotten by the Filipino American Community. We pledge our support to you as you continue to ensure California remains the best state in the Union.”
US Pinoys for Good Governance (USPGG) National Chair Loida Nicolas Lewis had this short note ,”Congratulations and mabuhay to Rob Bonta, the first Fil-Am attorney general in the State of California. Your success is our success. Thank God for this milestone and keep on making us all proud!”
For her part. Filipino community leader and staunch Bonta supporter Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara also cited Bonta’s appointment as historic and highly significant for Filipino and Filipino Americans who have been vastly underrepresented in government for generations.
“I congratulate Rob who will bring to the office compassion for the disadvantaged and a sense of justice for all Californians, especially Asian Americans who are currently facing vicious and racist attacks. I commend the Governor for recognizing Rob’s qualifications and for giving us a voice and presence in the affairs of state,” Aquino-Kashiwahara wrote.
Bonta’s Fil-Am co-workers and fellow lawyers hailed and weighed-in on the appointment by Newsom.
“I had the good fortune to meet and know Rob Bonta when we both served as deputy city attorneys in the Litigation Section of the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office and was impressed by the quality of his legal writings. But I was more impressed by the quality of his character as we had many informal talks as to how we can make a positive contribution to the Fil-Am Communities,” intimated retired San Francisco deputy city attorney Ernest Llorente.
Retired judge Ronald Quidachay also joined the Filipino Community and the community at large “in congratulating Assemblyman Rob Bonta as the first Filipino American attorney general of California.”
Retired Monterey County Superior Court judge Efren Iglesia gave weight to Bonta’s family, legislative, and professional background that equips him perfectly for the job.
“His achievements in the area of criminal justice reform and his dedication to public service in general are particularly impressive. The people of the State of California will be well-served by his appointment as its top law enforcement officer,” Iglesia said.
“Assemblyman Rob Bonta’s excellent record in the State legislature coupled with his active role in the social justice movement is an assurance that protection and equal rights of vulnerable minority immigrant communities are to be upheld and safeguarded under his leadership,” echoed Immediate past president of the San Francisco Bayanihan Equity Center attorney Lou Santos-Tancinco.
Filipino-American Development Foundation and Bayanihan Community Center Executive Director Bernadette Borja-Sy said, “He will fervently defend CA’s diverse communities, especially our API community, from racial hatred. His appointment will also help grow the emerging diverse leadership that America critically needs today.”
Long-time Bonta friend and staunch supporter and former San Francisco Human Rights Commission Executive Director Marivic Bamba Chennault viewed “Bonta’s appointment as the State’s chief law enforcer and protector as Newsom’s way of placing the Filipino and Asian American community in a pivotal position of strength during such a critical period of vulnerability.”
To entrepreneur Ben Menor, Attorney General Bonta epitomizes the very best of the Filipino American.
Global Filipino Network head Arnold Pedrigal said, “In my interactions with him in many community events, I had always felt his genuine desire to help not just his constituents as assemblymember but also the Asian community and of course the Fil-Am community in particular. I wish Rob all the best and thank him for being a role model for the Fil-Am youth as we hope that the younger generation can also follow his footsteps.”