School Board: Trinidad would be voice for Filipinos, Natives

Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2002

For Bonn Trinidad, who emigrated in 1980 to the United States from Manila, Philippines, being on the Juneau School Board is about giving parents in minority communities someone to talk to who understands them.

Bonn Trinidad

• Age: 55

• Lived in Juneau: 4 years

• Immediate family in Juneau: wife, Leticia, children Justine, 17; Marcos, 19; Pam, 21; Andrew, 21; Anita, 27; and Mary Jane, 30.

• Education: Bachelor of Arts with a major in English and physical education, Balivag Colleges in the Philippines; graduate of the National Police Academy in the Philippines.

• Public offices held: none.

• Occupation: Sales associate at Mendenhall post office; counter clerk JRC Alaska


• Interests/hobbies: Reading, working out.

"Why I need to run as a minority is that though the Juneau community supports diversity, minority people, Filipinos and Alaska Natives need someone to talk to," he said.

Trinidad, 55, is the father of six children who range in age from 17 to 30. He has lived in Juneau since 1998, and works at the post office in the Mendenhall Valley as well as the downtown JRC Alaska Club. Trinidad has been active recently with the Juneau Filipino Community, helping this spring with the dedication of Manila Square, a landscaped area downtown.

When he was in the Philippines, Trinidad trained as a teacher and taught English and physical education in high school, he said. He also spent some time there as a police officer. After he emigrated, he joined the U.S. Navy, working as a barber and a cook. He became a U.S. citizen in 1985. Trinidad moved to Juneau from California.

"I came to Juneau because it is so beautiful here," he said. "It is like a home for Filipinos, and there is no pollution and it is safe for my children."

Trinidad bases his vision for education in Juneau on a Filipino model, in which schools are more discipline-oriented, with high academic standards, school campuses are closed at lunch time, and students wear uniforms, he said. He noted that he doubts there would be support for uniforms in Juneau. Trinidad also wants more strict enforcement of anti-drug policies, he said.

Trinidad feels that schools still have to work hard to meet state benchmark test standards, especially for minority students, he said.

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"We must focus more both on the content (of class materials) and on performance," he said, adding that the same can be said for the state high school diploma qualifying exam.

Trinidad also supports developing and using a curriculum that teaches students about ethnic diversity, but said traditional subjects should be taught in the same manner to all students regardless of their ethnic background. The test-score gap that exists between white and non-white students can be solved with more parental involvement and parent/teacher collaboration, Trinidad said.

Trinidad is a proponent of continued education for teachers in their subject areas and higher teacher salaries.

"We cannot have good students if we don't have good teachers," he said. "How can you have a good teacher if you have low salary? We must invest our money for the preparation of children for the future."

Trinidad supports building a new high school in the Mendenhall Valley, saying it is needed to relieve overcrowding. He also thinks that two schools, like competing businesses, would offer better service to Juneau students.

"There must be a some kind of competition for academics and sports," Trinidad said, saying that competition makes students perform at higher levels, both in the classroom and the sports field.

Generally, Trinidad is a broad supporter of more physical education for all students, saying it is an essential part of a balanced curriculum, and is fond of the phrase "a healthy body makes a healthy mind."

"We must make schools a place that is very conducive to make students excel in activities and physical activities," he said. "So a student can be a good citizen, make the community proud, become a good leader, give us a good way of life in Juneau."

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