A Fil-Am role ‘long overdue’: Meet the mayor of Daly City

A Fil-Am role ‘long overdue’: Meet the mayor of Daly City

/ 05:44 AM May 05, 2024

A Fil-Am role ‘long overdue’: Meet the mayor of Daly City

BARRIER BREAKER Migrant concerns like affordable housing and “Asian hate” are a major focus of Mayor Juslyn Manalo of Daly City, where a third of the population is made up of Filipino Americans.—FRANCES MANGOSING

SAN FRANCISCO, California—Juslyn Manalo broke barriers as the first female Filipino-American mayor of Daly City, a multicultural hub in California where a third of the population are Filipinos and where she hopes to inspire young women, especially Fil-Ams like herself, to follow their dreams.

“I think it’s important to have a representation. I am the first Filipina [to make that representation as mayor] and it’s long overdue,” said Manalo, who is now on her third consecutive term.


“When I was in high school, we already had a large population of Filipinos here and I always wondered why there wasn’t a female [mayor],” she said in an interview with Philippine journalists taking part in a reporting tour organized by the US Embassy in Manila.


Manalo, whose parents hailed from Batangas and Laguna, was born and raised in Daly City where she developed an early appreciation of its ethnic diversity, savoring it to this day.

Early in her career, she worked as a community service worker and later held a series of jobs that molded her further into an advocate of affordable housing, jobs, open spaces and youth development. Not surprisingly, politics would soon beckon.

“I didn’t think it would come into fruition that I would be [the mayor],” she said.

Surprised visitor

Manalo recalled an encounter she had with a group of young Filipinos from the Bay Area who came to City Hall for a visit. Among them was a 7-year-old girl.

Upon entering her office, the child saw the mayor and exclaimed: “She’s a girl?”

“At that moment, I knew, if like anything, her mind has now shifted because she thought the mayor she was gonna meet was a male,” Manalo said. “With that, we need representation and to foster the younger generation.”


Manalo was elected mayor in 2018, 2021 and 2023 in a city where some 34,000 of the total population of around 100,000 are of Filipino descent.

She has been actively supporting immigrant communities especially with their housing needs, and working with Fil-Am organizations, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns and the Filipino Community Center, to address Asian hate and other migrant concerns.

QC partnership

She said she was looking forward to reviving Daly City’s partnership with Quezon City in the Philippines, referring to the sister city agreement they signed in 1994.

The partnership promoted exchange and cooperation on the environment, human resources and community development, science and technology, education, sports, tourism and trade.

The two cities also agreed to share best practices in firefighting and wastewater management, among others, the mayor added. “We’re looking at ways to support Quezon City with some of our firefighting apparatus that we can actually give over.”

In a short visit to the Philippines last year, Manalo met with Quezon City Vice Mayor Gian Sotto. She said she would also like to host Mayor Joy Belmonte in Daly City in the near future.

It also excited her to see the return of the Quezon City Friendship City Festival, which she said was big hit in Daly City when she was growing up.

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“It was huge. The elder generation held that festival, so maybe one day we’re gonna have that resurgence happen and bring it back,” she said.

TAGS: Daly City, Fil-Am

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