rj aquino

On RJ Aquino's Campaign

Moments before the results of the #vanelxn were released, COPE’s campaign headquarters was buzzing with excitement and anticipation.  We were proud of our campaign efforts and I was optimistic that they would be rewarded.  When the first wave of polling results were released - and RJ Aquino and the other COPE candidates weren’t in the top 10 – the room was winded.  Crowding together to see the results being refreshed on the main screen, I heard one diehard dispair, “Oh my God, oh my God” as it looked like COPE wouldn’t have a single seat on council. 

As the polling stations slowly (and cruelly) released their results, it became more concrete that RJ would not be elected.  The initial buzz was wearing off and we became quiet, reflective, and accepting. 

But, gathering together near the back, Team RJ Aquino was in good spirits.  I found it similar to dying from hypothermia – immediately before the end, you hallucinate and begin to think it’s incredibly hot so you take off all your clothes.  I’m not saying that we were out of our minds, but looking around at each other, we were all smiles.  My support of RJ Aquino at the onset was due to shared passions and goals to build the Filipino community in Vancouver.  While the symbolic step that we wanted wasn’t realized, our goal most definitely was.

I genuinely believed that Vancouver would be well served by someone like RJ Aquino on council – days after the loss, I still believe that.  Thank you to all of my friends and family who listened to me and supported me in supporting RJ.  Our first foray into politics was a memorable one, and while we didn’t take the step that we had hoped for, the Filipino community most definitely did take a step forward.  Next time, we will be back, we will be better prepared, and we will take another step.  Congrats to RJ and the rest of our team for a memorable campaign, a solid fist step, and the start of something good! 

Watch on sacervantes.tumblr.com

When we started Kababayan UBC in 2007, it was partly motivated by a desire to change “what it means to be Filipino-Canadian in Vancouver.”  I was uncomfortably aware that while Filipinos were the 3rd largest ethnic minority in Vancouver, that representation in the community did not translate to our representation at UBC, one of Canada’s most prestigious universities. 

It irked me that while taking the 41 to UBC, I was often the only Filipino who did not get off before South West Marine to clean houses, mind children, work at  McDonalds.  I was conscious that as an ethnic demographic, our socioeconomic role in society filled many lower end niches, and I want(ed) that to change.

With Kababayan UBC, I hoped that we would create community among the future professionals, doctors, lawyers, and leaders of the Filipino community.  A desire to advance the role of the Filipino-Canadian is what drove my involvement with KABA.


It is the same desire that drew me to the campaign of RJ Aquino.  Tomorrow, if the community rallies, RJ might become Vancouver’s first City Councilor of Filipino heritage. He is running with COPE and with platforms that will pursue more affordable housing for young families like his and mine - his election would make a very symbolic step forward for us.  I firmly believe that he will be a responsive, principled, and vocal civil servant who will serve not just the Filipino community, but Vancouver as a whole. 

This is a call to arms.  If, like me, you share a desire for the Filipino community to advance our niche in society, I urge you to get involved tomorrow, and I don’t mean to just vote.   Please take a minute and encourage at least 2 others to join you tomorrow and help elect RJ Aquino, Vancouver’s first Filipino Councilor.

Mga kababayan ko, maraming salamat.

Samuel Cervantes
Founding President
Kababayan UBC


RJ Aquino wins the COPE nomination.  One step closer to electing Vancouver’s first city councilor of Filipino descent.  Municipal elections on November 19!