Fil-Am mayor rouses grads with plan to run for county supervisor

Fil-Am mayor rouses grads with plan to run for county supervisor

Daly City Mayor Juslyn Manalo reveals she will run for San Mateo County supervisor

Juslyn Manalo

Daly City Mayor Juslyn Manalo inspires SFSU graduates with her political plans. CONTRIBUTED

SAN FRANCISCO – Mayor Juslyn Manalo, the first Filipina American elected in Daly City, revealed she will run for San Mateo County supervisor in her commencement address at the Filipino graduation ceremonies at San Francisco State University, her very own alma mater.

No Filipino American has been elected to the Board of Supervisors, though Mike Guingona, the first Fil-Am elected in Daly City history, came close in 2016 but lost in the runoff to then-fellow Daly City Councilmember David Canepa.

Canepa currently represents District 5 covering Daly City, Colma, Brisbane, parts of South San Francisco and San Bruno. Manalo’s disclosure all but confirms that Canepa, one of her mentors, will be seeking another post when his next term concludes in four years.

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Manalo has won every race since 2017, topping all votes in her last campaign.  She is up for reelection in November.

“I say this because we know representation matters and it matters in any field you choose. We need you there,” Manalo roused the Class of 2024: “Don’t be afraid to put our dreams out in the Universe, because the Universe will hear you.”

The San Francisco native spoke from lived experience.


“It was in this very gym 10 years ago that in 2014 as the masters graduate student co-speaker (where) I shared with the community that I wanted to run for local municipal office and use my Masters in Public Administration to serve in that role,” she began her keynote by reminiscing a milestone.

Two years later, she marked a new highlight in her life by earning Daly City voters’ trust to join the City Council and swore in as vice mayor the same night she took her first oath of office.



Manalo’s words resonated with Public Health graduate Jade Murao, a fervent admirer.

Jade Murao

Public Health major Jade Caitlyn Gonzalez Murao seeks a career path in the public service arena like the fellow alum she invited to keynote the FilGrand commencement ceremony. CONTRIBUTED

The Vallejo, California-born daughter of immigrants who came to this country from Manila and worked at an airline shares the political leader’s aspiration to “inspire and uplift fellow Filipinxs.”

“(Manalo) assigns and delegates tasks to deserving kababayans, and in doing so is inspiring the community to do the same. She’s planning on running for higher positions in the future in order to further help the community, which I found to be incredibly motivating,” Murao told USA.  “I am certain that everyone that was in attendance at the ceremony, graduate or not, found encouragement to make a positive impact on not only the Filipinx community, but also in the broader society.”

Like Manalo, Murao grew up with a strong affinity for their ancestral culture.

“My Filipinx identity is extremely important to me because, although I wasn’t born or raised in the Philippines, embracing my Filipinx identity helps preserve, appreciate and celebrate the rich cultural heritage, traditions, languages and customs of the Philippines right here in the US,” she said.

“Embracing my Filipinx identity also helped create a sense of community and belonging with those who share similar cultural backgrounds and experiences. I’m happy to say that I was able to be more in touch with my roots and my culture by participating in the Pilipinx American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE) at SFSU. I was able to learn a lot about culture and history through PACE’s Internship program and participate in Philippine cultural dances.”


FilGrads celebrate their big day with Mayor Manalo and Vice Mayor Rod Daus Magbual. CONTRIBUTED

In her speech, Manalo recalled being immersed in Filipino community activities when her mother led the FilAm Training Center in San Francisco, where newcomers learned basic skills to navigate the local job market and help them thrive in American society.

“My personal journey starts with my mother, Josefina Manalo, who at the age of 24 moved to South of Market (in) San Francisco to take a risk with no family and move to the United States” from the Philippines, Manalo said.  She met and married Carlito Manalo and they made their home in Daly City, where Juslyn grew up and eventually graduated from Jefferson High School.

Manalo, known for donning Philippine-inspired attire at official events, disclosed the font of her activism, a program launched in the 1990s renamed in 2017 as Bayanihan Equity Center to reflect its expanded services.

“I was blessed to work for the Veterans Equity Center during college.  It was in my community service work, which I learned firsthand about advocacy and self-determination. Walking through the halls of US Congress with these heroes and heroines was a life changing experience,” she said.

Manalo recalled how witnessing WWII veterans then in their 70s unburdening themselves to the nation’s lawmakers “about the injustice they were still fighting” moved her to carry her weight.  The sight was pivotal.

“This showed me a system that had holes, a system that needed more people that reflected the communities that these legislators served,” she said.

Murao had known of Manalo’s loyalty to her school and community, and the town leader’s presence at the annual Filipino American Mural celebration reinforced the student’s choice for speaker at her graduation.

“Learning about how she was one of the people that advocated for the Filipino mural to be put up at the Cesar Chavez Student Center in the first place, to then eventually becoming the Mayor for Daly City, was commendable,” Murao said. “I told myself she’d be a great commencement speaker for our FilGrads (Filipinx Graduation), so I gathered the courage to walk up to her after she concluded her speech. I introduced myself, my position as FilGrad Director, and asked if she would be interested in speaking at our ceremony.”

True to tradition

Besides Murao, 13 FilGrad Board members coordinated the rites that have become a tradition on the SFSU campus: Dahlia Inis, assistant director; Katrina Uy, finance coordinator; Leilani Semana and Claire Satuito, co-logistics coordinators; Liam De Vera and Kesiah Zabala, co-undergraduate representatives; Jerisa Pasco, Cherry Caneng, and Joanna Gatchalian, co-aesthetics & events co-coordinators;  Kris Vicencio and Ysabel Brosas, co-internal public relations coordinators, and Theo Bonifacio and Ric Prado, co-external public relations coordinators.

Murao described the Filipinx Graduation as a student-run graduation under PACE.  The effort “welcomes students from any major and any graduate level to help commemorate the hard work, effort and resilience they have put into their community during their time at SFSU,” she added.

“You do not have to be Filipinx or a part of PACE in order to participate. It has been held annually during the spring semester, and is an alternative, more intimate college graduation ceremony at SFSU.”

Acknowledging one’s ancestry and recognizing the surrounding community harks back to the beginnings of student activism at the campus where this country’s first ethnic studies program was born and continues to inspire and develop future leaders.

Among prominent Fil-Am alums are retired SF Superior Court Judge Ron Quidachay and SFSU Professor Dan Gonzales.  It was at SFSU where former BART Board Trustee Rodel Rodis met his wife Edna Austria, one of his students when he taught history there.

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