A New Leader for the NDP

What a great day to be part of the NDP!

Action. Suspense. Drama. No, I’m not talking about the Canucks playoff series. I’m talking about the NDP Leadership Election.

I never thought I’d find myself attending a political event with such excitement and anticipation. But BC politics, I’m learning, can be very entertaining.

April 17th, 2011. After months of intense campaigning, it all came down to this… election day. The New Democratic Party was to elect a new leader whose main task was to take government in the next provincial election. Four candidates participated in this fiercely fought, yet issues-driven campaign: Adrian Dix, Mike Farnworth, John Horgan and Dana Larson. Only one thing missing in this highly competitive race… a woman candidate.

The convention hall was packed. There was no empty seat in the house. You know it’s an important event when all the media outlets – print, radio, TV – have set up camp.

Entertainment came in all forms: live band, David Eby’s horrendous rendition of “Livin’ On a Prayer” (thank god you don’t need to be a singer to win against Christy Clark in the by-election) and Game 2 of the Canucks/Blackhawks playoffs on the big screen.

But even with ALL that, the main feature of the day was the NDP leadership race. Four guys battling it out in not one, not two, but three ballots! To be elected, winner must have 50% + 1 of all the votes cast. So even if Adrian Dix had the most votes in the first and second ballots, he couldn’t be proclaimed leader because he received less than the required number of votes.

The candidate with the least number of votes was eliminated after each round. By the third and final vote, it was only Adrian Dix and Mike Farnworth standing. Both camps worked hard on their respective campaigns and this was evident in the final count. In the end, only 700 votes separated the candidate from the winner.

Adrian Dix is the new leader of the NDP… and the Premier-in-waiting.

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Time to Change the World

RJ Aquino

A friend of mine just turned 30 and he says, “It’s time to change the world!”

RJ Aquino is a Filipino who has been living in Vancouver for over 12 years now. He noticed that there is something terribly lacking in Vancouver’s local politics – a Filipino voice! He decided to step up and is now running for nomination in the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) to be a candidate for City Councilor in the next municipal elections.

RJ brings youthful energy and optimism to his campaign. He is running on issues like affordability, diversity and youth engagement. A beautiful city like Vancouver needs to be more affordable for all. City Hall should represent the diversity of its population. And there must be a way to engage young people into more active participation of City programs and initiatives.

RJ is up for that challenge. Come out and support RJ at his campaign launch this Sunday (April 10th) at the Capri Hall (3925 Fraser St. Vancouver), at 5:30pm.

Let’s help RJ “change the world.”


No More Grand Slam Breakfast

A few months ago, Mable (my partner) and I went for our usual breakfast at Denny’s. Comfort food. We wanted a big, hearty start to our day.

Recognizing fellow Filipinos, our server introduced himself to us. He was a temporary foreign worker and relatively new to Canada. Mable gave him her business card and extended an invitation for him to come to her constituency office should if he have any questions or concerns about his employment. Sure enough, he did.

Months later, Mable’s office assisted him in filling out forms with Employment Standards and supported him in a precedent-setting $10 million class action lawsuit against Denny’s. It’s the first time that temporary foreign workers have come together as a collective to challenge their employer – a decision that was not made lightly considering what’s at stake… their lives and livelihood.

The lawsuit alleges breach of contract where workers did not receive the hours of work, overtime pay, air travel and other conditions stipulated in the employment contract. It also alleges that workers were required to pay approximately $6000 each to a recruitment agency for placement in Denny’s Canada locations in B.C.

I cannot begin to describe the sacrifice Filipino migrant workers make to be able to come to Canada – from the financial stress of travel and recruitment fees to the emotional stress of family separation. The last thing they need is a lawsuit.

Filipinos are generally a hardworking, peace-loving, “head-bowed-down” kind of breed. It takes a lot to get a Filipino up in arms. Just check out our country’s long history of colonization, tyranny and abuse. Something must have gone terribly wrong at Denny’s because Filipino migrant workers have had it. They are speaking out and fighting back.

Mo more grand slam breakfasts for me.

Nature’s Artwork

I haven’t really seen too many sunsets in my life. But I’m glad I caught these and paid attention.

Who needs a canvass when you have clear, blue skies?

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Happy Baby Boy

I was on a photo shoot last week doing portraits for a dear friend and his family.

I was a bit anxious, I must admit. I never know what to expect when babies (and/or animals) are involved. I remember my first gig in Vancouver working as a photographer in a portrait studio. I had three screaming toddlers first day at work. I resigned the next day.

This photo shoot was surprisingly different. Our little superstar was not only adorable, he was a pro. He kept dishing it out – one big smile after another – the entire hour of our portrait session! I couldn’t shoot fast enough.

Little Matteo has to be the happiest baby boy I’ve ever met.

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Crossover Series

I used to be a control-freak. I like being the driver and knowing where I’m going.

But the last 6 years of my life have been one big surprise after another. I moved from Manila to San Francisco to Vancouver without so much as a game plan. I found myself in unfamiliar places. I was a stranger and I was lost.

“Crossover” is a digital art photo essay that reflects my journey from the familiar to the unknown. While I rest in the comfort of “knowing,” I now appreciate the gift of “discovery.” I’ve learned that if I don’t step out of my comfort zone: (1) I will never know what I’m capable of, and (2) the mysteries of the universe will never unfold.

I now enjoy taking the passenger seat, watching the world go by while someone else drives.

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Things I Do

There are things I do for work. Others I do for fun. And a few more… for the love of.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to do any and all three. Because with the first, I develop discipline. With the second, I build personality. And with the third, I get to be me.