Many politicians wind up on television, but very few end up hosting their own reality shows.
This summer, Daly City Mayor Michael Guingona is launching "Pinagmulan," a reality-TV show that helps Filipino-Americans connect with their family and friends back in the Philippines. "Pinagmulan" means "roots" in Tagalog. The show will air both in the United States and in the Philippines.
"Pinagmulan" has required the Daly City leader to make several trips to the Philippines, where he scouts out locations and connects with families on the Philippine side to make sure a story is worth covering. During these missions, he has climbed Mount Pinatubo and seen parrotfish deep in the ocean.
"I know it sounds like fun, but please, make it sound like work," he said.
Guingona already has one television program on the air. "Citizen Pinoy," which launched a year ago in both countries and debunks common myths and misconceptions that immigrants to the United States — particularly Filipino ones — may have about the immigration process. On the show, Guingona, fellow attorney Michael Gurfinkel and Gel Santos-Relos focus on a different aspect each week, ranging from adoption to citizenship.
In both programs, carried on The Filipino Channel, "We’re trying to connect people who need help with people who can help," Guingona said. "It’s almost like being a broker."
The first episodes of "Pinagmulan" will track the stories of a woman who hasn’t seen her sister in the Philippines in 14 years, a woman who discovers a sister in Asia she has never met and a Hawaiian brother-and-sister team who haven’t seen their caretaker in a decade.
Born in the United States, Guingona moved to Daly City in 1965 at the age of 3. He graduated from Westmoor High School and earned his law degree from San Francisco Law School. In 1993, he was elected to the Daly City Council and became its youngest mayor when he was first appointed to the post in 1995.
He is separated from his wife, with whom he shares custody of their 6-year-old son, Kai.