How I met Barack Obama

Inquirer.net’s Global Nation Section
November 2008

Text and videos by Ted Regencia


CHICAGO — Pressed against the steel railings, I struggled to keep myself from being completely crushed by the delirious crowd, all wanting to shake the hands of their idol. It was past 11 pm in Des Moines last January, and Barack Obama had just finished delivering his speech following a decisive victory in the Iowa Caucus that would propel him to the Democratic nomination.

Anxious not to miss a single moment, I feverishly clicked on my camera, now completely aimed on the subject who was inching closer and closer to me. All of a sudden, I hear Secret Service agents barking orders to people, “show your hands; show your hands.” It was part of the security measure to protect the candidate.

I had to clear my hands too. The next thing I knew, I was face-to-face with the would-be American president. He extended his right hand to me and flashed a toothy smile. All I could say was, “Thank You” as he I shook his rather skinny hand and looked him in the eye. Thank you? What was I thinking?
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Barack Obama and the re-education of Fil-Am voters

Inquirer.net’s Global Nation Section
August 2008

Text and photo by Ted Regencia
CHICAGO — At the height of the US presidential primaries that pitted Chicago’s very own Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, one Filipino American social butterfly emphatically said, “Ay, ayaw ko kay Obama! Baka yung White House magiging Black House (Oh, I don’t want Obama! The White House might turn into a Black House).”

It’s a sentiment not so few of Chicago’s Filipino Americans feel towards their very own senator, who is an African-American. Now that he is the Democratic nominee for president, a historic achievement for a black candidate, the antagonism has only intensified.

It all started when Obama won the Iowa caucus on January 3. Shortly after, an online group of Filipinos received a forwarded email attacking Obama’s “Muslim upbringing.”
Continue reading “Barack Obama and the re-education of Fil-Am voters”

Fil-Am Army captain hits the trail for Obama

Inquirer.net
July 2008

By Ted Regencia

CHICAGO — As an army captain assigned in Iraq, Mario Bonifacio experienced the war firsthand. Now, he is in a different battlefield helping Barack Obama get elected president of the United States.

“This is an extremely historic event and I am very proud to be a part of it,” Bonifacio said, referring to the Illinois senator’s candidacy.

Bonifacio is the Regional Field Director of the Obama campaign for the state of New Jersey. He is one of the very few Filipino-Americans with an inside look at the campaign from its early stage. Recently, the campaign also recruited Charmaine Manansala as director of the Asian American Pacific Islanders voter outreach program.
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Obama, Huckabee win Iowa on message of change

PINOY Newsmagazine/Philippine News/Inquirer.net
January 2008

Text, photos and videos by Ted Regencia

DES MOINES, Iowa — For one night on January 3, the midwest state of Iowa became the epicenter of American politics, as voters participated in the traditional caucus, catapulting Senator Barack Obama and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee to the top of the Democratic and Republican race for the White House.

Running on the message of change, Obama and Huckabee wrest Iowa from their better-known and well-financed rivals, such as New York Senator Hillary Clinton and multi-millionaire former governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney. The first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucus, a rudimentary process of securing votes by hours of debate, deliberation, even horse-trading, and eventually show of hands, could create momentum for both candidates as they move the next states.
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Filipino-Americans warm up to Obama’s bid

PINOY Newsmagazine/Inquirer.net/Philippines News
February 2007

Text and photos by Ted Regencia

SPRINGFIELD, Il — US Senator Barack Obama formally kicked off his bid for president on February 10, preaching his message of hope and transformation to a crowd of 17,000 supporters.

“Let us begin this hard work together. Let us transform this nation,” he told his visibly jubilant audience who braved the near-zero temperature outside the Old State Capitol, just to witness what one observer dubbed “history in the making.”

Obama began his speech by saying, “praise and honor to God,” then he channeled the legacy of former President Abraham Lincoln, who like the senator served in the Illinois state legislature in Springfield before moving on to the White House.

“In the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America,” he declared to the cheering crowd.
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Obama reaches out to Filipino-American voters

PINOY Newsmagazine
Originally published in September 2004

Text and photo by Ted Regencia

CHICAGO — Discounting not a single vote in his historic bid for a seat in the United States Senate, State Senator Barack Obama reached out to the Filipino-American community in Illinois, and extended to them his “message of hope.”

In an exclusive telephone interview with this reporter, Obama highlighted his progressive immigration policy, which seeks to give a “path to citizenship” to long-time undocumented residents. This, provided that they “obeyed the laws of the United States and paid the proper taxes.”
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