They’re the first Canadians of Filipino ancestry in Ontario to be elected to council in their respective municipalities.
Last October 22, Rowena Santos and Lisa Abarquez Bower made political history with their election as councillors of Brampton and Ajax, respectively.
Santos is a community leader known for her grassroots organizing. She has volunteered as board member for several non-profits like Neighbourhood Watch Brampton.
Before entering politics, Santos worked in the business world, including a stint as a financial analyst with a major bank. She has been educated at Ontario’s Schulich School of Business, and the London School of Economics in the U.K.
Santos is a proud mother to a young boy. Her parents moved from the Philippines to Canada during the 1970s. Her mother is from Pangasinan, and her father is from Manila.
The family settled in Brampton in 1984 when Santos was six years old.
Santos’ platform calls for ‘Getting the Basics Right’ for residents of Brampton, a suburban city in the Greater Toronto Area. These include the upkeep of parks and neighbourhoods, better road infrastructure, hiring more police officers, and support for arts in the downtown core.
Santos was elected as Brampton city councillor for Wards 1 and 5 with a term of four years.
Bower, for her part, was elected as Ajax local councillor for Ward 3. Before politics, Bower worked in insurance and financial services.
As a cancer survivor, the proud mother of two has also raised funds for cancer research.
During the campaign, Bower pledged to work in finding supplementary sources of municipal revenue to relieve residents from the full current cost of property taxes.
According to Bower, attracting new businesses to open shop in Ajax will increase the commercial tax base and lessen the bill for residential property taxpayers.
Bower was born in Ajax, and grew up in Toronto. She moved back to Ajax in 1999 to raise her family.
Bower cherishes her family’s Filipino heritage by supporting the Fiesta Filipina Dance Troupe to honour her late mother, who worked closely with the cultural group for over 30 years.
Bower will serve a four-year term in Ajax, which is located east of Toronto by Lake Ontario.