Posts by Abner:

    Filipina doctor writes about the “miracles” in her life

    October 17th, 2017

    “I WAS born in a cowl, which to the superstitious, foretold good luck.”

    “Well, it must have been true. Otherwise, how else to explain how I survived leaving my mother’s uterus with the umbilical cord twice wrapped around my neck.”

    So goes the first two paragraphs of Dr. Erlinda Eustaquio Grey’s autobiography entitled “Miracles through prayers.”

    Dr. Grey, during her book’s launching on Saturday at the Filipino Cultural Center in downtown Los Angeles, highlighted her belief in prayers and miracles on which she attributed her fascinating journey — tracing her steps from a humble neighborhood in Santa Maria, Bulacan in the Philippines up to the affluent and cutting edge environs of Los Angeles and its suburbs.

    “Four times, I nearly died. I figured in a head-on collision and in another incident, my car flew off and turned turtle. But I’m still here, still fully equipped to fulfill my mission and destiny. God is good.” Dr. Grey said.

    Taking the trip into Dr. Grey’s life story isn’t like a roller coaster ride but more like a “kalesa” ride — not too smooth, not too bumpy either — but an entertaining ride nonetheless.

    In the book, readers are certain to come across perennial experiences and occurrences retold from an atypical perspective. Minuscule yet precious bits of insights abound from page to page to help refine one’s thoughts about love, joy, hope and faith.

    “You would see a lot of Bible quotes in the book but I wasn’t really trying to preach. I was simply sharing parts of the Bible that I thought perfectly provided me the wisdom that I needed in every crucial point in my life,” the doctor explained.

    Dr. Grey, who was at almost at the doorstep of a Catholic convent before she was ushered to the medical profession, is the medical director/owner of the San Fernando Mission Medical Clinic at 8215 Van Nuys Boulevard, Panorama City (818-901-0373).

    She is married to former concert pianist Maestro Dexter Grey. The couple lives in a mansion on top of a Hollywood hill, which their friends adoringly refer to as the “Castle.”

    Dr. Grey said some of proceeds of the book sale would go to the renovation efforts on the Filipino Cultural Center in the historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles.

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    PH tourism’s “bring home a friend” kicks off in LA

    October 16th, 2017

    Indy 500 racing rising star Neil Alberico (center) poses with former Carson City Mayor Jim Dear and a female fan after the Philippine tourism department’s “Bring Home a Friend” kick off ceremony at the Carson City Community Center on Friday. Photo © Abner Galino

    THE Philippine Department of Tourism on Friday has kicked off IN Los Angeles the old “Bring Home a Friend” campaign in Carson City.

    The kick off ceremony was highlighted by the presentation of the DoT’s Filipino American Ambassadors of Goodwill that included LA Lakers rising star Jordan Clarkson, boxer Brian Viloria and racing upcoming idol Neil Alberico.

    Alberico, however, was the only one who came to grace the ceremony.

    Nevertheless, Clarkson and Viloria sent videos where they expressed support to the Philippine tourism efforts, particularly the “Bring Home a Friend” campaign.

    Alberico revealed, in a brief talk, that he has been constantly coming back and forth to the Philippines since he was a child.

    “I love the Philippines and I am proud of my Filipino heritage, that’s why I’m all out to support all efforts to promote tourism there,” Alberico said.

    Binibining Pilipinas-USA Tourism 2017 Kylie Nishida and Binibining Pilipinas Teen USA 2017 Asia Aragon also came to pitch in for the campaign.

    Bring Home a Friend was introduced by former tourism secretary Dr. Mina Gabor in 1994, during the term of President Fidel Ramos.

    The campaign, which offers perks and big prizes for both the tourists and their sponsors, will run from October 15, 2017 up to April 17, 2018. The period covers the traditional long Christmas season in the Philippines and the succeeding summer months.

    Filipino sponsors, who reside either in the Philippines or overseas, could win a condo unit from Megaworld Corp., a brand-new Toyota Vios and a gift certificate from Duty Free Philippines worth P200,000.

    Foreign visitors, on the other hand, could win round-trip international flight tickets and tour packages to Palawan, Cebu and Davao.

    The winners will be determined by the number of foreign guests they can bring in.

    In a press release posted on the DOT website, the department said “the sponsor must duly register via the Bring Home a Friend webpage accessible via DOT’s website Registration may also be accomplished at BHAF booths soon to be set up at selected international airports in the Philippines.”

    “The number of eligible entries will also depend on the points they earn corresponding to the guest’s country of origin: Asia and Oceania/Australia: 2; Africa, Middle East, Europe, and America: 3.”

    “Based on the 2015 report of the Department of Foreign Affairs, there are 9.1 million overseas Filipinos, more than three million of whom reside in the United States of America while more than two million are based in the Middle East.”

    “Other countries with large numbers of Filipinos are Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Italy, and Australia.”

    “Employees of the DoT and all of its attached agencies, and their relatives up to the third degree are not allowed to join BHAF.”

    The DOT believes that internet and the social media, which were still in their infancy in 1994, would greatly contribute to the success of the Bring Home A Friend campaign.

    The campaign wants to target Filipinos who have foreign citizenship or expatriates and foreigners with Filipino parentage or ancestry.

    Bring Home a Friend also seeks to entice specialty travelers such as food trippers, divers, surfers, mountaineers and tourists who have interests in cultural-historical tours.

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    Pamana ng Lahi is now set to receive entries for “Best Picture of the Year” for its photo contest

    October 15th, 2017

    Pamana ng Lahi participating artists (from left to right) Magoo Valencia, Boi Sibug, Vics Magsaysay (standing 4th from left), Luz Spanks (seated 7th from left) Sal Floriano (seated) and Johnny Otilano (seated). Also in photo are PILAC president Bernie Targa-Ganon (seated 5th from left), FACLA 1st vice president Pol Julian (standing 2nd from right) and FACLA 2nd vice president Art Garcia (seated extreme right). Photo © Vics Magsaysay

    THE ongoing Pamana ng Lahi, a month-long art and photography exposition at the Filipino Cultural Center in the Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles, is now set to receive entries for its “Best Picture of the Year” photo contest.

    Bernie Targa-Ganon, president of Philippine Institute of Language, Arts and Culture (PILAC) said trophies and cash prizes await would-be winners to the photography competition. At the same time, she invited the public to visit the Filipino Cultural Center to see the ongoing art show of distinguished Filipino American artists participating in Pamana ng Lahi.

    The artists on the show are Rey Garcia Zipagan, Sal Budhz G Floriano, Parts Bagani, Vics Magsaysay, Luz Balbin-Spanks, Bienvenido Sibug, Magoo Valencia and Johnny Esj Otilano.

    Exhibition hours are from 11: 00AM to 6:00 PM Monday to Saturday.

    “It’s a great opportunity to support Fil-Am artists from Los Angeles and suburbs,” Ganon added.

    Ganon added that artists Sibug and Valencia are going to do on-the-spot portraiture during the closing day on October 28.

    As for the Best Picture of the Year photo competition, the guidelines are as follows:

    1. Participants should be Filipino or Filipino American.
    2. Entry should have been taken from October 1, 2016 to October 1, 2017.
    3. Subject/s of entry should be about Filipinos in the US, Filipino Americans and/or about Philippine arts, culture and events.
    4. Entries should have been published in local newspapers, the social media and or the internet for whatever purposes (dates and places of publication should be indicated in the entry.)
    5. entries should be submitted before October 17, 2017; printed on minimum size of 10 x 8 inches frame (cardboard frames will be accepted and as well as other kinds of frames); titled and bearing the name of contestant, date when photo was taken and where/when published.
    6. Three outstanding photos will be chosen by a five-member panel to be selected by PILAC.
    7. 1st Prize, 2nd Prize and 3rd Prize will be selected by the judges.

    Judging criteria:

    1. Relevance/importance to the Filipino American community
    2. Composition, display of photographic skills
    3. Impact on viewers
    4. Less use or absence of technological enhancement

    No member of the Pamana ng Lahi organizing members can join the exhibit, as well as members of PILAC and FACLA. Entries can delivered personally or mailed to the Filipino Cultural Center at 1740 W Temple St., Los Angeles 90026.

    For more information please contact Bernie at (323 683-6477 ) and Art at (213) 318-9065 or email us at

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    Great enthusiasm greets opening of Pamana ng Lahi expo in Los Angeles

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    Filipino American youths readies for annual Hollywood march for Vets

    October 13th, 2017

    Filipino American youths mass up at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Ivar St. for the annual march, which has become known as the Fil-Am Hollywood March, to seek justice for Filipino World War II veterans. The photo was taken in November 2016. Photo © Abner Galino

    THE Rescission Act of 1946 took away from Filipino-American veterans and their families the benefits, rights, privileges and recognition that they deserved and since then the wait for the government of the United States of America to rectify the monumental mistake has been on, 71 years now to be exact.

    “Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Eddy Gana , one of the prime movers of the Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV), which has been responsible for the successful yearly marches along Hollywood boulevard.

    The march for justice for Filipino veterans, slated on Veterans Day (November 10, 2107), would cover 1.2 miles of route and would start at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Ivar St.

    “The number of veterans and widows dwindles and the generational gap widens every year. Let us remember the veterans’ courage and sacrifices by recognizing the 75th Anniversary of the Bataan Death March where 80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war were forced to endure 100 km of severe abuse and torture,” JFAV said in the statement.

    The 17th “Hollywood march,” as always, is expected to draw big numbers Filipino American youths from various organizations.

    JFAV said the marchers would voice out the following demands:

    1. The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act must be passed by the congressional veterans committee immediately and moved to the House or Senate accordingly.

    Since 1993, this will be the subject of the reconciled bill that the veterans want. That is, a single unified reconciled bill must be signed into a law in 2018. Filipino veterans’ wartime services should be recognized and deemed as active service.

    Eliminate the distinction between the Regular or “Old” Philippine Scouts, “New “ Philippine Scouts and the remaining three groups of veterans: Commonwealth Army of the Philippines, Recognized Guerrilla Forces, and New Philippine Scouts.

    2. Survivors and children of Filipino veterans should be eligible for the Survivors Pension Benefit otherwise known as the Death Pension like the families of all U.S. veterans. In addition, veterans should be eligible for pension for non-service-connected disability like all other U.S. veterans.

    3. Lump sum under ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) should only be an additional benefit and there will be no quit claim attached to their benefits. All additional benefits should not be taxable and their other benefits should remain.

    Written and online petitions will be made available prior to the march and on-site.

    Visit and share this link:

    Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) is a nationwide alliance of Filipino World War II Veterans organizations, youth, students, and community advocates based in the United States.

    For more information:


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    Great enthusiasm greets opening of Pamana ng Lahi expo in Los Angeles

    October 10th, 2017

    FACLA president Fernandico Gonong leads the cutting of the ribbon for Pamana ng Lahi exhibit on Wednesday night at the Filipino Cultural Center. With him are (from left to right) Myla De Leon, Consul Wilma Bautista, PILAC president Bernie Targa-Ganon, Consul Rea Oreta and Vics Magsaysay. Photo © Genevieve Magsaysay Medina

    FORMER California Assembly member Ray Haynes, Philippine columnist Ramon “Mon” Tulfo and other personalities on Wednesday graced the opening of the month-long photography and visual arts exposition Pamana ng Lahi at the Filipino Cultural Center in the Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles.

    Unfortunately, Philippine Consul General in Los Angeles Adelio Angelito S. Cruz was not able to come as he rushed to Las Vegas to assist the two Filipino Americans who were seriously hurt last Sunday during a mass shooting incident. Police said 58 people were killed and more than a hundred were injured in that incident.

    Nevertheless, Cruz sent Consuls Rea Oreta and Wilma Bautista to represent him.

    Haynes, who is rumored to be the upcoming US Ambassador to the Philippines, congratulated the Philippine Institute of Language, Arts and Culture (PILAC) and the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) for their “commendable project to celebrate the Filipino American History Month.”

    Filipino Americans are intricately woven into fabric of the American society and it is just fitting for you to have this month-long celebration of history in this country,” Haynes said.

    For his part, Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Tulfo said: Filipinos are “proud of you (PILAC and FACLA) for promoting our (Filipino) culture and for representing our country very well.”

    Both Haynes and Tulfo took time to admire the valuable photography collection of World Heritage sites in the Philippines by multi-awarded lensman, poet and artist Vics Magsaysay.

    FACLA president Fernandico Gonong, who was visibly elated by the developments, told the guests that Filipino American artists would be given high priority in the use of the Filipino Cultural Center from now on.

    Meanwhile, PILAC president Bernie Targa-Ganon said the Filipino Cultural Center is expected to draw more people next week when nine distinguished Filipino American artists start displaying their works.

    The artists who will join the exhibit are Rey Zipagan, Bienvenido “Boi” Sibug, Luz Balbin-Spanks, Juan “Magoo” Valencia, Johnny Esj. Otilano, Sal Budhz Floriano, Parts Bagani, Jerry Esguerra and Vics Magsaysay.

    Guests at the Pamana ng Lahi opening were also entertained with fabulous performances of dancers from Filipino American Community of St. Ignatius and the Silver Lake Adult Day Care Center.

    The other artists who entertained the crowd were Mon Concepcion, Marck “Bagyo” Villamac Ho (who is fighting a life-threatening illness) and Luz Balbin-Spanks.

    Music and sound were provided by A8Creatives by DJ Aljess.

    Pamana ng Lahi was launched by PILAC and FACLA to complement various events put up by the Filipino American community to celebrate the Filipino American History Month.

    The month of October is observed as the Filipino American History Month since 1988 and this contemporary practice has been officially recognized by the 111th Congress of the United States of America in 2009 through House Resolution 780.

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    PH Consul General to grace Pamana ng Lahi exposition in Filipinotown, California

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    Why “moving on” is tough for PH Martial Law victims

    October 2nd, 2017

    Victims and former activists lighted candles, sang patriotic songs and chanted anti-Martial Law slogans after a forum held at the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday (September 21), the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines. Photo © Abner Galino

    ALMOST simultaneously as Filipino American youths were angrily remembering the 45th year when martial law was imposed in the Philippines in front of the consular office in Los Angeles, older members of the community held a forum at the nearby Pilipino Workers Center (PWC).

    One of the forum’s guests, Charice Nadal, was supposed to read a statement from Af3irm, a multi-racial political organization of women, but the intensity of the moment triggered a flashback of sad memories. She instead ended up narrating the travails of her own family during the martial law years.

    Nadal recalled that because her parents were known to be against to martial law, the entire family was in constant surveillance by the military.

    When the anxiety became so unbearable, Nadal — who was then a little child —was sent to the United States.

    “It took so many years until I was reunited with my family,” revealed Nadal who is now a professor in a southern California university.

    “The reason why it is not easy for the victims of martial law to move on,” explained another panel guest Carol Ojeda-Kimbrough, “is first and foremost — justice has not been served.”

    Kimbrough’s first husband, Rolando Federis was abducted by the military while travelling to Bicol with two female companions in 1976.

    Prior to the abduction, Federis has been regularly communicating with his wife and their child who were both in the US.

    “The communication stopped but they told me not to worry,” Kimbrough said, recalling the mental and emotional pain that she endured for months as she waited for news about her missing husband.

    It turned out that Federis and his companions Adora Faye De Vera and Flora Coronacion were brought to a military safehouse somewhere where they were tortured.

    Both De Vera and Coronacion were raped. Federis and Coronacion were executed later. De Vera was spared because the military officer who led the operation took interest on her.

    The said officer made De Vera his “girlfriend.”

    De Vera’s account was documented by Amnesty International. She testified in a Hawaii court on the class suit against Marcos.

    The remains of Federis and Coronacion were never found.

    In 2011, Federis’s name has been inscribed in the Bantayog ng mga Bayani’s Wall of Heroes and Martyrs in Quezon City, Philippines.

    An account of torture while under detention was provided by Myrla Baldonado who was abducted by the military while then a labor organizer at the former US naval base in Subic in Zambales, Philippines.

    Myrla recalled how she was stripped naked and “waterboarded,” — a form of torture that was known then as “water cure.”

    Under this form of torture, water was forced into the victim’s mouth while she was lying down until she was bloated. And then at that point, the tormentors would force the water out from the victim’s body by all means imaginable.

    “Everytime they do this to me, I passed out,” Baldonado recalled.

    Throughout the ordeal, Myrla said she trained her mind to forget anything that she knew.

    “I didn’t want to spill any name because I knew that if I did, they would suffer the same fate as me,” Baldonado intimated.

    “I became so good at it (forgetting names of people) that when friends begun visiting me in prison later on, I couldn’t remember them,” Baldonado recollected.

    The forum was organized by Human Righst Watch-LA, Filipino American Human Rights Alliance (FAHRA) led by Augustus Pedalizo and Justice for Filipino American Veteran Art Garcia.

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    PH Consul General to grace Pamana ng Lahi exposition in Filipinotown, California

    September 29th, 2017

    A piece of Vics Magsaysay’s splendid collection of photography of World Heritage sites in the Philippines as declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

    PHILIPPINE Consul General in Los Angeles Adelio Angelito S. Cruz is set to attend the next month’s Pamana ng Lahi exposition at the Filipino Cultural Center in the Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles to show the government’s support for Filipino artists.

    Emily Manansala-Roberts, president emeritus of Philippine Institute of Language, Arts and Culture (PILAC) made the announcement shortly after receiving a confirmation from the office of Consul General Cruz.

    Cruz is expected to lead the ribbon-cutting ceremony and to give an inspirational speech in connection with the celebration of the Filipino American History Month in the US.

    Meanwhile, PILAC president Bernie Targa-Ganon has announced the list of participating artists to the Pamana ng Lahi art exhibit.

    Ganon said the distinguished artists who made it to the PILAC’s short list were Rey Zipagan, Raul Deodato Arellano, Bienvenido “Boi” Sibug, Luz Balbin-Spanks, Juan “Magoo” Valencia, Johnny Esj. Otilano, Sal Budhz Floriano, Parts Bagani, Jerry Esguerra and Beyond Deadlines’ resident Culture and the Arts writer Vics Magsaysay.

    Ganon also announced that the three winners to the “Best Picture of the Year” news photography contest at the conclusion of the month-long exposition will get trophies and cash prizes.

    Details about the photography contest are to be announced soon, Ganon added.

    Audience will get to see a valuable photography collection on World Heritage sites in the Philippines, as declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

    The collection is a labor of love from multi-awarded artist, writer, poet and lensman Vics Magsaysay.

    Pamana ng Lahi is a joint undertaking of the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) and the Philippine Institute of Language, Arts and Culture (PILAC). It seeks to gather Filipino American photographers and visual artists from the City of Los Angeles and suburbs to showcase Filipino American culture, arts and history. And more so, to represent the thoughts, skills and emotions of Filipino American photographers and visual artists.

    The following are the schedule of events to be held at the Filipino Cultural Center at 1740 W Temple St., Los Angeles 90026:

    • October 4, 2017 opening ceremony at 6:00 p.m. Filipino Cultural Center at 1740 W Temple St., Los Angeles 90026.
    • October 4 to 28: Exhibit of a collection of photographs by celebrated artist Vics Magsaysay on World Heritage sites in the Philippines as declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
    • October 11 to 28: Exhibit of paintings about Philippine culture and arts by both distinguished and upcoming Filipino American artists.
    • October 18 to 28: Exhibit of news photograph entries to the “Best Picture of the Year” contest among Filipino American news photographers, professional photographers and social media contributors.
    • October 28: Closing ceremony. Awarding of plaques and trophy to the winner of “Best Picture of the Year” photo contest winners.


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    Filipinotown, Los Angeles to hold month-long art and photography exposition

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    American Humane unveils 50-foot animal rescue truck

    September 24th, 2017

    Philanthropist Lois Pope points to the 50-foot emergency animal rescue truck behind her during the unveiling ceremony in Beverly Hilton on Friday (September 15). Photo © Abner Galino

    THE American Humane, the United States first national humane organization and the first to serve animals in disasters, on Friday unveiled a 50-foot long emergency animal rescue vehicle.

    In a brief speech during the unveiling ceremony, Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane chief executive officer, said the “generous gift (rescue vehicle) of compassion will be able to do so much in terms of protecting the most vulnerable, the most vulnerable like the animals we see today in the ravages of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey.”

    Ganzert then went on to thank internationally known philanthropist Lois Pope who donated the rescue vehicle.

    To highlight the importance of animal rescue infrastructure, he narrated a recent incident when a senior dog got disoriented and ran away while the family who owned him was being evacuated from the wrath of Hurricane Harvey. The dog’s owners left their house in tears, not knowing if they could still find their treasured pet.

    American Humane CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert (second from left) helps philanthropist Lois Pope cut the ceremonial ribbon during the unveiling rites. Photo © Abner Galino

    Days later, Ganzert further narrated, “…they came to Montgomery county where there’s an emergency animal shelter staffed by our first responders.”

    It was where the family, after several days of worrying and crying over the lost pet, was happily reunited with their dog. Three members of the family were children, he added.

    The emergency rescue vehicle, which will be based in Los Angeles, will be serving California and the West Coast. It is the third rescue truck that Pope has underwritten for the American Humane. The other two vehicles cover the northeast and southeast regions of the US.

    When not responding to disasters, the rescue vehicle and its staff will work to help animals caught in cruelty, dog-fighting and hoarding cases. It will also serve as a traveling ambassador to champion the cause of compassion for animals in schools and communities.

    The emergency rescue truck can shelter up to 100 animals and are staffed by four certified and trained responders.

    Ganzert also thanked the Banfield Foundation for its contribution to cover the operational and deployment costs for the new emergency vehicle.

    Leading animal health company Zoetis has agreed to stock the truck with medical and veterinary supplies, as it does for all American Humane rescue vehicles.

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    Filipinotown, Los Angeles to hold month-long art and photography exposition

    September 20th, 2017

    Vics Magsaysay

    A VALUABLE photography collection on World Heritage sites in the Philippines, as declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will be the main feature of a month-long exposition of arts and photography in Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles in October.

    The collection, a labor of love from multi-awarded artist, writer, poet, lensman and one of Beyond Deadlines resident arts and culture writer Vics Magsaysay; is part of Pamana ng Lahi, a month-long exposition of photography and visual arts at the Filipino Cultural Center at 1740 W Temple St., Los Angeles 90026.

    The month of October is observed by the Filipino community as the Filipino American History Month since 1988; and this contemporary practice has been officially recognized by the 111th Congress of the United States of America in 2009 through House Resolution 780.

    Pamana ng Lahi is a joint undertaking of the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) and the Philippine Institute of Language, Arts and Culture (PILAC).

    The undertaking, amply titled Pamana ng Lahi, will gather Filipino American photographers and visual artists from the City of Los Angeles and suburbs to showcase Filipino American culture, arts and history. And more so, to represent the thoughts, skills and emotions of Filipino American photographers and visual artists.

    The following are the schedule of events to be held at the Filipino Cultural Center at 1740 W Temple St., Los Angeles 90026:

    • October 4, 2017 opening ceremony at 6:00 p.m. Filipino Cultural Center at 1740 W Temple St., Los Angeles 90026.
    • October 4 to 11: Exhibit of a collection of photographs by celebrated artist Vics Magsaysay on World Heritage sites in the Philippines as declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
    • October 12 to 18: Exhibit of paintings about Philippine culture and arts by both distinguished and upcoming Filipino American artists.
    • October 19 to 27: Exhibit of news photograph entries to the “Best Picture of the Year” contest among Filipino American news photographers, professional photographers and social media contributors.
    • October 28: Closing ceremony. Awarding of plaques and trophy to the winner of “Best Picture of the Year” photo contest winners.

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    More immigration advocates to sue US Pres. Donald Trump over DACA

    September 19th, 2017

    Pro-DACA rally in Los Angeles, California Photo © Abner Galino

    AN advocate of the National Immigration Law Center bared plans to hale United States President Donald Trump to court for violating federal administrative law that prohibits the capricious reversal of of a reliant and well-established policy like the Deferred Actions on Childhood Arrivals or more commonly known as DACA.

    If filed, it will be among the many lawsuits all over the nation to challenge Trump over his decision to end DACA.

    NILC Immigration Policy advocate Ignacia Rodriguez, during a teleconference hosted by New America Media (NAM) and Ready California, said the law center and its allies are now preparing to bring the Trump administration to court.

    “If the government is changing a policy there must be good reason for doing so,” Rodriguez said.

    She contends that the decision to rescind DACA violates federal law, particularly the Administrative Procedures Act, which holds that when a political administration reverses a reliant and well-established policy it should be able to show that the decision is based sound rationale.

    The federal law forbids arbitrary and capricious actions by the federal agencies that could result in abrupt changes or directions, the advocate added.

    Rodriguez argued that the Trump administration not only failed to put forth a satisfactory justification in its decision to rescind DACA but also erroneously claimed that it is in conflict with the immigration law.

    The suit, Rodriguez said, would also invoke the equal protection clause provided for in the Constitution which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity or nationality.

    Rodriguez also disclosed that in another lawsuit filed by 16 states before a New York federal court, it is being argued that the rights due process of DACA recipients were violated when the federal government failed to protect the personal information that they provided when they applied for the program.

    Another argument raised in the lawsuit was the alleged discriminatory reasons that motivated Trump’s action.

    Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (left) and US President Donald Trump Photo © The Epoch Times

    The lawyers noted that majority of Dreamers are of Mexican origin and pointed out the many inflammatory statements that Trump has made about them, including the one when he attacked a federal judge of Mexican descent.

    What Dreamers Need to know

    The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), during the same teleconference, said the Department of Homeland Security will still process new Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals applications if they were submitted on or before September 5, which was the day when the Trump administration announced that it will rescind the Executive Order implemented by President Barack Obama during his term.

    The DHS will also renew DACA for eligible current recipients if their permits expire between September 5 and March 5, provided they submit their applications by October 5.

    DACA recipients, better known as the Dreamers, would remain protected from deportation and could still legally work until their respective DACA approvals expire naturally.

    “And then the general recommendation for everyone is to get legal consultation to understand your legal options. So it could be that someone who has DACA is eligible for another immigration benefit and they don’t know it. Or, they do know it but they’ve been kind of putting off the application process because they have DACA,” explained Allison Davenport, ILRC staff attorney.

    There are 10,000 young Filipino immigrants who are enrolled in DACA which was implemented in 2012. These undocumented immigrants were brought to the United States as children.

    Since DACA was started in 2012, there were 787,580 have been approved for the program, which not only protected them from deportation but as well as to allowed them to work legally.

    Most of these so-called dreamers are not older than 30 years old and mostly came from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

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    Thousands march in Los Angeles to support DACA

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    Thousands march in Los Angeles to support DACA

    September 18th, 2017

    Two masked protesters display their handmade signs as marchers mass up at MacArthur Park. Photo © Abner Galino

    THOUSANDS of people from all walks of life and ethnic origins, including Filipino Americans, marched through the streets of Los Angeles to protest the Trump administration’s ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

    The protesters bearing handmade signs started massing up at 3 p.m. at MacArthur Park on Alvarado St. and moved through Echo Park Lake, and ended at Placito Olvera.
    The Los Angeles police closed dozens of streets and freeway ramps to let the march proceed unimpeded to its destination.

    Motorists were forced to wait out. Some drivers honked wildly to show support to the marchers while others put out their own signs from their vehicles’ windows. The marchers cheered and applauded motorists who displayed support to their cause.

    The marchers chanted “no, no, Trump has got to go,” “this is what Democracy looks like,” and other slogans as the march snaked through the city streets.

    There was an improvised stage at Placito Olvera where leaders and speakers for participating organizations gave impassioned speeches.

    Mike Manalo, who spoke for Filipino American group called KmB/Pro-people Youth, denounced the Trump administration for terminating the program that has shielded some 800,000 undocumented people from deportation.

    The DACA recipients, better known as DREAMers, were persons who were brought in the US when they were children.

    Manalo, who said he was an educator, told the crowd that the termination of the DACA program hurt, not only the Asia Pacific islanders, but as well as the Filipino American community.

    He urged Filipino Americans “with education” to donate funds for the efforts to compel the government to renew the DACA program.

    Another leader, Ivy Quicho, national chairperson of AF3IRM, also denounced the termination of DACA. She told out that majority of DACA recipient were women.

    “It is no coincidence that we transnational women are the majority of immigrants imported between and among countries. We women… are vulnerable to deportation because we are forced in the informal economy as caregivers, as garment workers and as street vendors,” Quicho pointed out.

    But Quicho concluded that women have the power to lead the movement for change and equity.

    An unidentified DREAMers supporter construct a handmade sign while protestors mass up at the MacArthur Park on Sunday (September 10). Photo © Abner Galino

    In a related development, the Filipino Migrant Center (FMC) issued a statement saying it “stands with the thousands of courageous undocumented young people throughout the U.S. who have been fighting for immigration relief for their families and won the creation of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Program in 2012 through an executive order by President Obama.”

    “We condemn in the strongest terms the decision of the Trump administration to rescind the DACA program which has provided 800,000+ undocumented young people with temporary opportunities to work and protection from deportation,” the FMC said.

    In the same statement, the FMC noted that “These young people have relied on DACA for the livelihood and survival of their families. They have become teachers, scientists, and leaders who have made positive contributions to our communities. We are concerned for the severe and devastating impacts that the termination of the program will bring on the lives of our bright and talented young people.”

    “The rescinding of DACA is a reflection of the anti-immigrant and racist character of the current administration. Despite the findings of 104 legal experts in August 2017 finding DACA as a legitimate exercise of prosecutorial discretion or executive power, the Trump administration insists on the unconstitutionality of DACA.”

    Read More:

    Tears of a Dreamer

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    Tears of a Dreamer

    September 14th, 2017

    Thousands of people marched through the streets of Los Angeles yesterday, each one of them carried a little message. Photo taken at the MacArthur Park where demonstrators massed up. Photo © Abner Galino

    LUIS Quiroz, a graduating student from San Francisco State University, was inside a bus and on his way to school when news broke that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been rescinded by the Trump administration.

    “I was kind of browsing the internet, reading through the headlines, when one comment has actually been made… I wasn’t prepared for the emotional distress… I kind of surprised myself when tears just started gushing from my eyes,” Quiroz, 28, a recipient of DACA or commonly referred to as Dreamer, told a teleconference on Thursday (September 7) organized by New America Media and Ready California.

    “Everyone (on the bus) started looking at me like a I’m a weirdo,” Quiroz recalled.

    The Dreamer, whose parents migrated from the Mexican state of Guerrero when he was six months old, said he felt like he has “stripped of everything that I had worked for.”

    “I know no other home. California has been my home pretty much. I grew up in San Diego and moved to San Francisco for college,” Quiroz said.

    Quiroz was able to get a decent paying job to pay for his education because of DACA.

    Quiroz said the news not only broke his heart but as well as dashed his hope of being able to pay respect to the grave of an older brother who was recently shot and killed in Mexico last March.

    “He was an honest man, with an honest business catering to tourists. He was shot point blank in front of his four-year-old daughter,” Quiroz recalled between sobs.

    That brother, according to Quiroz, was deported to Mexico some years back where the latter started a new life and raised a family.

    Photo © Abner Galino

    Quiroz was trying to avail of the advance parole as a DACA recipient so he could also visit both his parents who were arrested and deported one after the other within a sad chain of events during the last four years.

    “I just have saved enough money and finished the paperwork so I could visit the grave of my brother and see my parents and my brother’s daughter — whom I have not met,” Quiroz intimated.

    The parents of Quiroz beseeched their son to “stay in America” so he could pursue opportunities to get a better life for himself and the family.

    The Dreamer added that he was so thankful that he was in California where, aside from the presence of many pro-immigrant support groups, the state itself has been implementing compassionate policies to undocumented people like him.

    Quiroz also particularly commended the state of California for passing AB 60 which allowed undocumented persons to avail of driver licenses.

    “It was liberating, physically and figuratively,” Quiroz said.

    Quiroz, who would be graduating college nine months from now, said he would keep fighting for his right to remain in the US despite the sad development.

    “We have to learn twice as hard to get anywhere. We have fight twice as hard to keep what is ours. I am here to stay,” Quiroz concluded.

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    Iraq war veteran “Bagyo” fights the fight of his life

    September 13th, 2017

    Bagyo with comrades from the US Marine Corps during their tour of duty in Iraq. Image © Mark Villamac Ho a.k.a Bagyo

    THE scorching daytime heat and the cold nights of the desert around the Al Numaniyah district in Iraq were all but sparse memories for Filipino-American Marine Sgt. Mark Villamac Ho, better known here in Los Angeles as “Bagyo” — the hip-hop artist.

    The invasion of Iraq resulted in deaths of more than 4,000 American soldiers who participated on two large-scale military operations codenamed “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and “Operation New Dawn” from 2003 to 2011. Millions of Iraqis perished, including civilians and fighters.

    Bagyo, then with the MWSS-271 Crash Fire Rescue of the United States Marine Corps (USMC), drove a Humvee or whatever military vehicle available to him throughout these episodes of blood and gore — pulling out comrades, civilians and even enemies from wrecks and fires.

    Today, the pacified Al-Numinayah district is home to an airbase of the re-established Iraqi armed forces. It is also where US coalition forces operate.

    “It was an honor to have served in a time when my country called upon me,” Bagyo recalled.

    I was nothing and it was a chance to become something bigger than I was. Not only for myself, but for my country, my family and my friends.”

    Bagyo survived the war, albeit not unscathed. He was diagnosed with mild symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

    Luckily, Bagyo has his family, his friends, his hip-hop music and the Filipino American community on which to distract the anxieties from those nightmares entangled in his mind.

    Bagyo has been a regular figure in the Fil-Am community scenes — if not by himself, he performs with his brother Luwee, who is also a hip-hop artist. Or, if Bagyo were not performing, he would be an escort for someone or a marshall for a parade or event — donning the US Marine Cadet Uniform.

    As an outreach personnel of the Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA), Bagyo thought he was done fighting. But as it turned out, he doesn’t always have a choice on what war to fight on.

    Bagyo poses with candidates of Bb. Pilipinas-USA during this year’s annual Philippine independence day parade at the Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles. Photo © Abner Galino

    While preparing for a gig with the Miss Philippines-USA pageant, Bagyo accidentally stepped on a syringe while dressing in a gym.

    It was blessing in disguise,” Bagyo said, recalling the piercing pain on his foot. He immediately went to the hospital for blood testing as a precautionary measure.

    It was unusual for the VA to call at night,” Bagyo recalled. “They told me to come immediately to the hospital.”

    To cut the story short, doctors found out that Bagyo has multiple myeloma and, later on, nasopharyngeal cancer.

    Doctors have recommended chemotherapy for one disease and radiation for one disease. One disease would require a surgery and another disease would require a process to “destroy and rebuild” Bagyo’s stem cells. (I didn’t care to remember which treatment is for which disease. I didn’t want the details retained in my imagination).

    Bagyo said he is set up for a two-month treatment in a VA facility in Seattle, Washington in November. And added that he was thankful for the VA for “doing a good job of assisting him.”

    And Bagyo still packs the powerful winds of positivity — just like what most of his songs supply to his audience. In a mail he sent, Bagyo told me: Well, don’t get too caught up in the stages (cancer) as they aren’t too much indicator of my health. It’s more of the damage my body has acquired. So don’t be alarmed.”

    According to my oncologist, I am stage 3 concerning multiple myeloma. But as I have stated, I am extremely strong and able to work, function and exercise. I am a rare case indeed as it is estimated that only 1% get it (multiple myeloma) around my age.”

    The 2nd cancer is also stage 3. But there are 4 stages.”

    Prior to Bagyo’s interview, this writer also talked to his mother “Tita Ludi” Gilkinson, who is also active in the Fil-Am community scenes.

    I am a mother and I am trying to cope with all these pain and anxieties. But I believe in the power of prayers. And I do hope that you will join us in our prayers,” beseeched Tita Ludi.

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    Lotlot de Leon’s movie “1st Sem” is showing in Long Beach

    September 11th, 2017

    THE independent movie that won two top awards in separate international film festivals for veteran actress Lotlot de Leon is going to be premiered this week for Filipino-American audience in Long Beach, California.

    The movie 1st Sem,” which is scheduled to be shown on September 14 at 7 pm. at the The Art Theater (2025 E 4th St., Long Beach 90814), won the Special Jury award at the All Lights India International Film Festival (ALIIFF) last year and the Best Supporting Actress award at the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival.

    In the movie, Lotlot plays mother to three children played by Darwin Yu, Miguel Bagtas and Sebastian Vargas — all of whom have experienced playing roles in theater.

    Directed by Allan Michael Ibañez and Dexter Paglinawan Hemedez for Kayan Productions & Team Campy Entertainment, the movie revolves around the emotional rollercoaster that visited an ordinary rural family when one of Precy’s (Lotlot’s character) children has to come to Manila to pursue college.

    Maru (Darwin Yu’s character) was overwhelmed by his separation from his mother and siblings right on his very first night at the dormitory. He returned to their house in the province — to the consternation of his mother.

    The situation provoked the drama and humor in the movie.

    During a press conference at the Nonie Belarmino’s iDance Studio in Carson City last Thursday, Dexter, one of the writer/director of the movie, said the movie did not attempt to tackle any issue about the Philippine education system but simply focused on the emotional and social aspects of family relationships.

    Gary Paglinawan, for his part, described the challenges that independent producers face throughout the pre-production stage and up to its distribution.

    We don’t have the robust marketing and distribution arms of mainstream companies so we really have to work hard to bring our films to the audience,” Paglinawan said, adding that moviegoers still are very “star” oriented.

    As it is important for Indie movie producers to recover their investments on a movie so they could embark on new projects, Paglinawan explained, that the foremost motivation for encouraging moviegoers to see these films is to uplift their discernment of what good movies are.

    1st Sem has also won the “Cultural Exchange Award” in the 5th Seoul Guro Int’l Film Festival, “Best Feature Film in Debut Directors Category of the All Lights India Int’l Film Festival, “Gold REMI Award” in the 50th Annual Worldfest Houston Int’l Film Festival and the Neil Daza award in the Cinema Worldfest Awards in Canada.

    The movie has been selected to vie for awards at the 14th San Diego International Kids Film Festival, the 10th Columbi Gorge Int’l Film Festival, the 12th Buffalo Niagara Int’l Film Festival in New York, USA and the 13th Ellensburg Film Festival in Washington, USA.

    1st Sem was previously shown in Houston, Texas

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    THE Los Angeles Philippine International Film Festival is back and getting better

    September 5th, 2017

    Sweeney Mae, (second from left) marketing director of South Pavilion, joins the founders of Los Angeles Philippine International Film Festival (LAPIFF) Abe Pagtama, Jush Andowitt and Fe Koons (from left to right). Others are selection committee members, media people and supporters. Photo © Tony Garcia

    THE Los Angeles Philippine International Film Festival is back for its second year and hopefully it is for the long haul.

    As expected from any organization slogging the learning curve, LAPIFF went through a lot of challenges, the hardest of which was, of course, the money challenge.

    The money challenge is so difficult, as intimated by veteran Filipino American actor Abe Pagtama, one of the founders and prime movers of LAPIFF; that there were certain occasions that he had to spend his own money.

    But the future is not bleak, said Jush Andowitt, another founder and prime mover of LAPIFF.

    There are many sponsors who want to give us money. But they want us to guarantee a full house, which we cannot guarantee,”Andowitt said.

    Drum beatings from supporters, stakeholders, friends, families and the media, according to Andowitt, would greatly help the cause of the film festival.

    Please do help us bring the people to watch the film festival,” Andowitt said.

    During a press conference held at Pinoy Food Republic in Carson City, the LAPIFF selection committee announced that 10 narrative films would be competing in the film festival on October 29 to 29 at Cinemark Carson in South Bay Pavilion.

    The 10 films are Area, Birdshot, Dagsin (Gravity), EJK, Imbisibol, Laut, Sakaling Hindi Makarating, Sinners or Saint and The Sun Behind You.

    Comedian Ai-Ai delas Alas stars in the film Area.

    The selection committee has also selected the competing 10 short films namely; Back to One, Chapter X, Diliman, Instaland, Last Farewell, N.O.V.I.S., RELEVE, Sequins, Sins of Wasteland and Supot.

    Three documentary films were selected namely; Apology, Do You Remember the Philippines and We Will Never Play in Manila again.

    Special screenings of shorts from members of the FilAm Creative, an organization of Filipino American filmmakers, artists, actors, writers and producers will be part of the festival’s opening night.

    Last year, the movie Honor Thy Father, which starred John Lloyd Cruz, was adjudged Best Picture of the film festival (LAPIFF).

    Actress Cindy Pangilinan (Star Na Si Van Damme Stalone) was named Best Actress and Soliman Cruz (Balik/Return) was declared Best Actor in the feature films category.

    The Best Director award was shared by Pedring Lopez (Nilalang) and Randolph Longjas (Star Na Si Van Damme Stalone).

    The other honors were awarded to “Ari:My Life With The King” for Best Screenplay; and “Tandem” for Best Cinematography.

    Special Jury Prize For Ensemble Cast was given to “The Head Thieves.”

    In the short film category, Los Angeles based actress Katherine Olmedo (Got It Maid) was awarded the Best Actress honor while Niko Salazar (Sejour) was named Best Actor.


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    Rags-to-riches Fil-Am mechanic/photographer opens exhibit in La Habra Gallery, Southern California

    August 23rd, 2017

    Lensman Romeo Balboa (middle) holds his granddaughter as he poses with fellow Los Angeles photographers Rudy Autor (left) and Benny Uy (right). Behind them are some of Balboa’s frames that are on display at the La Habra Art Gallery. The exhibit called Flash and Strokes also features the works of visual artist Edwin Tuazon.

    ORDINARILY, travel and journey are interchangeable words. But when aiming for subtle shades of meaning, “travel” means a literal movement from one place to another and “journey” refers to a non-physical passage.

    So, first let me tell you the story about the travel.

    About two dozens photographs of places, animals and landscapes are on display at the La Habra Art Gallery. They were captured on frames by Romeo “Romy” Balboa, who is known here as the friendly neighborhood mechanic and as a gifted lensman.

    Balboa accumulated the photographs during years of travels to places such as France, Italy, Tanzania in east Africa, Toledo in Spain and to at least four states in the US.

    The colors, moods and appeal were competently encapsulated in Balboa’s frames. I think every one of them would make for a nice wallpaper — perfect to look at when the eyes and mind are exhausted from working the computer.

    I want to share them. I want to share my travels. Because I know that not everyone can do it (travel),” explained Balboa, even pointing out the many impediments to travelling such as money, time, legal travel restrictions and as well as physical and mental wellness.

    Of course, not everyone can work the lens as good as Balboa does and not everyone could afford to have all the equipment and gadgets that such a level of photography requires.

    And most of all, being able to travel almost without legal restrictions is a privilege of an American citizen like him — which brings me to tell the story of Balboa’s journey.

    Photography was already a passion for Balboa even when he was still in high school in Angeles City, Pampanga. He recalled repeatedly borrowing a friend’s Olympus camera while learning the curve to his passion.

    But photography wasn’t the one that started him to an incredible and successful journey. His skills as an auto mechanic did.

    Balboa and a friend were able to get visas to Saipan where they cleaned a patch of land and built a motor shop. Their skills were on demand but the problem was that the people in the neighborhood couldn’t afford to pay them.

    They paid us with food. Sabi ko, ‘di kami pwedeng mabuhay na ganito,” Balboa recalled.

    So Balboa looked for someone who could actually pay him for his skills. He found Scott Klassen.

    Klassen showed Balboa two broken trucks in his yard and challenged the mechanic to show what he got under his sleeves.

    After three days, I got one of the trucks running. And he (Klassen) hired me,” Balboa narrated.

    The partnership and friendship bloomed until Klassen realized that he had to let Balboa go so the latter could be properly compensated for his skills.

    Klassen asked his brother-in-law, David Riddel, who lived in Oregon, in the US, to help Balboa get into the mainland.

    Balboa was also able to impress Riddell with his skills and dedication to work. And after a little less than a year, Riddell prodded Balboa to go and “seek greener pasture.”

    The mechanic joined his brother in Los Angeles. He worked for a car company for sometime, saved money and built his own motor shop later on.

    Today, Balboa owns the building in Wilmington where his motor shop is situated, owns a house in Long Beach and owns a fleet of 20 vehicles.

    All of them (cars) running,” Balboa jested.

    So there goes Balboa’s journey in a nutshell. How he sees places from behind his lens when he travels around the world, derives a lot on how he got from there to here in a journey called life.

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    Two Fil-Ams seek elective posts in Los Angeles county (Last of two parts)

    August 22nd, 2017

    Edwin Duterte poses for Weekend Balita/US Asian Post during an interview at the Silver Lake Medical Center building in the Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles. Photo © Abner Galino

    TWO Filipino Americans are very visible these days in our neighborhoods.

    One of them, Alex De Ocampo, is caught up in the heat of the moment as he campaigns for the vacant California’s 51st Assembly District.

    While the other one, Edwin Duterte*, is still sort of “testing the waters” as the elections for the 43rd congressional district of California, the political race he intends to join, is still more than a year away.

    Edwin Duterte is a son of full-blooded Filipino parents. Although he was born and raised in the US, he could still speak Tagalog with ease. How could he not when each one of his parents’ immediate family members migrating from the Philippines came to live with them in their house in San Francisco?

    At one point, Duterte recalled, there were more than 20 people living in their house.

    That certainly was an interesting story, albeit not an uncommon one among Filipinos here or even back in the Philippines.

    But I’m sure what tickles your curiosity right now is whether this guy Edwin, is related to that Big Guy who lives in that palace by the Pasig river.

    Well, Edwin said they could be related. But so far, he was only able give a sketchy genealogy history.

    But whether Edwin is related or not to President Rodrigo Duterte, the Fil-Am political neophyte knows that his surname is certain to provoke curiosity and interest from people.

    I think people will see my last name, understand that I am really supportive of the community, and I really want to create an environment that is better for the community. I think when they see that — that message — then my surname will be a good thing,” Duterte explained.

    Duterte’s desire to run for the 43rd Congressional district of California, was apparently inspired by talks about Rep. Maxine Waters supposedly running for a national position before her term expires on 2018.

    When this happens, the said congressional seat (composed of portions of Los Angeles, Carson, Torrance, Hawthorne, Inglewood and Lomita) would be a free-for-all venue for anyone who could put up an electoral campaign.

    However, if the long-serving Rep. Waters were to choose re-election, it is virtually a fool’s errand for anyone to try to defeat her.

    Duterte described himself as a “focused entrepreneur, a pro-life and conservative Republican.”

    In his website, Duterte said “he supports the right solutions to our health care system, veteran care, immigration, national debt and employment problems.”

    I firmly believe Congress can create a positive business environment that will help the private sector thrive.  I want to be the legislator who understands technology and initiates the development of federal programs whereby the private sector collaborates with the full educational spectrum to produce high wage STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs and entrepreneurs.”

    For the Filipino community, Duterte said “we should have a representative that could make things happen. It’s all about access … I could be a bridge, because as we know advocacy in Washington D. C. is very limited. Sometimes they forget that there are 3.4 million Fil-Ams in America.”

    Duterte’s father migrated to the US in 1967 through a newly created immigration program that provided visas to foreign professionals.

    His father and an uncle reportedly lived with relatives for two months until they found “bookkeeping jobs that paid around $4 an hour, which at that time minimum wage was $1.65.” 

    In 1968, Edwin’s mother was reunited with her husband and the couple settled in San Francisco where Edwin’s sister was born in that same year and Edwin in 1969.

    The Duterte couple was naturalized in 1973 and they started petitioning family members on both sides.

    *A recent visit by this writer to Mr. Duterte’s Facebook site after this interview shows that he “has moved from testing the waters to officially filing his candidacy.”

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    Two Fil-Ams seek elective posts in Los Angeles county (Part 1)

    August 21st, 2017

    Alex de Ocampo, the Fil-Am candidate for the 51st Assembly District, poses during an interview in a coffee shop in the Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles. Photo © Abner Galino

    TWO Filipino Americans are very visible these days in our neighborhoods.

    One of them, Alex De Ocampo, is caught up in the heat of the moment as he campaigns for the vacant California’s 51st Assembly District.

    While the other one, Edwin Duterte*, is still sort of “testing the waters” as the elections for the 43rd congressional district of California, the political race he intends to join, is still more than a year away.

    Alex de Ocampo is a Filipino-American born from full-blooded Filipino parents. Alex proudly disclosed that he speaks Tagalog and Kapampangan. He is running in a crowded race for the chance to represent the 51st assembly district of California.

    De Ocampo has been engaged politically since he was in high school.

    I was very much involved in activism — fighting for various issues — from the issue of school funding and up to supporting the local Democratic party,” De Ocampo disclosed.

    He said his desire to run for an elective post was cultivated when he became a foster parent and personally experienced the challenges that confront parents like him, particularly in the areas of child care and health care.

    It really changed my perspective when I become a working father. I realized that laws and guidelines on how to access social services do matter to parents and their kids. I realized that there’s so much work that needs to be done,” De Ocampo narrated.

    As for the Filipino American community, De Ocampo is bothered that many of our seniors are being “taken advantage of” by scammers that include predatory lenders.

    So I would like to make sure that there would be laws to make sure that our seniors are not taken advantage of, and that they are educated and kept informed,” De Ocampo added.

    De Ocampo said he has big faith in the Filipino American community’s capacity to elect a worthy political representative. While the Filipino American voters has not been known to vote solidly behind a particular candidate, they are however known to be spirited voters.

    We really go to the polls,” De Ocampo observed, adding that getting the Filipino American votes depends on how far he would be able to connect with them and send his messages across.

    In 2013, De Ocampo ran and lost in the elections for City Council seat over the same area which was dominated by Latino voters.

    But it was a close and tight race,” de Ocampo recalled, adding that he thought that he did well because of the support of the Filipino American community.

    De Ocampo expressed confidence that he will also be able to win sizeable votes from the Latino community because of his message and track record as an activist and community leader.

    I believe that they (Latino voters) would recognize the work that I have done for the community,” De Ocampo said.

    The California 51st assembly district is comprised of Chinatown, Cypress Park, Eagle Rock, Echo Park, Edendale, Glassel Park, Highland Park, Montecito Heights, El Sereno, Lincoln Heights and Monterey Hills.

    The special primary election will be held on October 3, 2017.

    This writer, in a bid to know more about De Ocampo, visited his website and found the following posted information:

    Alex’s father, Pedro, immigrated during the 1970s to Los Angeles where he faced the harsh realities of being an immigrant. He washed dishes in restaurants, sold off family heirlooms, and slept on park benches until he saved enough money to reunite the family in Historic Filipinotown. Early in Alex’s life, his father became ill with cancer. Unable to afford health insurance, his condition rapidly declined and needed to return to the Philippines for care. By then, the cancer had spread and he passed away.

    His mother, Encarnacion, a widow with five children to provide for, worked 80 hours a week in convalescent homes. Gangs, drugs, and crime were part of the daily happenings in the neighborhoods surrounding the family’s studio apartment. Alex chose to spend his time working and focusing on his studies. A product of LAUSD’s Dayton Heights Elementary, Lockwood Elementary, Thomas Starr King Middle, and John Marshall High School, Alex took advantage of every opportunity offered to him and earned scholarships to attend California State University Northridge.

    Alex helped his family make ends meet by working after school and during summers. He was introduced to the Youth Entertainment Summer program that sparked his interest in working in the entertainment industry. The program connected students of diverse backgrounds to jobs at studios. He was assigned to work with Glenn Padnick, the President of Castle Rock Entertainment’s television division. After earning his degree, Alex used the connections and experience gained and began his career working with the creator of the Power Rangers, Haim Saban.

    Alex worked his way up through the ranks from an assistant to managing the Saban Family Foundation. With nearly $400 million of giving to causes around the globe, Alex helped establish the Saban family’s most impactful projects in Los Angeles. He directly supervised the $50 million fund dedicated to the Saban Research Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He also helped the family establish the Saban Theatre, the Saban Wellness Center at the Motion Picture Television Fund, the Saban Community Clinic, and the Cheryl Saban Self-Worth Foundation for Women & Girls.

    The arts and entertainment industry provided him with an opportunity to rise out of poverty, and he shares this perspective as a board member of the California Film Commission and the California State Summer School for the Arts Board of Trustees.

    (To be continued)

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    FACO presents candidates for 2017 Miss and Miss Teen Fil-Am

    August 17th, 2017

    The candidates for Miss Fil-Am 2017 show their form during a media presentation at the Grand Pacific Palisades Resorts in Carlsbad last August 12. Photo © Pol Joaquin

    THE Filipino American Cultural Organization (FACO) of northern San Diego presented to the media last Saturday the 12 candidates for the 2017 Miss Fil-Am and the 2017 Miss Teen Fil-Am at the Grand Pacific Palisades Resort in Carlsbad, California.

    The coronation for the dual beauty tilt, according to FACO Chairperson Rein Hanson, is scheduled on August 19 at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido.

    Those vying for the title of Miss Teen Fil-Am are Jaymie Lyn Best (Candidate No. 1), Fiona Baumhogger (Candidate No. 2), Soledad Cielo (Candidate No. 3), Natalie Andrei Barry (Candidate No. 4), Soleil Graham (Candidate No. 5) and Avalynn dela Rosa (Candidate No. 6)

    The candidates for Miss Teen Fil-Am 2017 show their form during a media presentation at the Grand Pacific Palisades Resorts in Carlsbad last August 12, 2017. Photo © Pol Joaquin

    Contesting the 2017 Miss Fil-Am title are Jesamea Batister (Candidate No. 7), Heather Salanga (Candidate No. 8), Tiare Willams (Candidate No. 9), Mariah Grace Fulinara (Candidate No. 10),Carol Cabrera (Candidate No. 11) and Princess Joy dela Pena (Candidate No. 12).

    Hanson, who shared the credit with her co-chair Sheila Cabuco Butler, thanked the members of the media that included Steve Marcotte of OsideNews Abner Galino US Asian Post & Weekend Balita, LA, Teodoro Yap with Pol Joaquin Photographer/FilAm Press Club, freelance photographer Tony Garcia, Rodel Borgonia of Asian Journal San Diego and Anne Laguerdier of Pinas.

    The beauty pageant hopefuls also presented their talents in dancing and singing and were evaluated by judges Lisa Smith Marie Barnachea and Carnie Encar Banares.

    Also given credits for the successful media presentation were Dorothy Mahimer, Belle Limoge, JM Ureta and Zucette Lumabas, FACO correspondence secretary.

    The show was hosted by Jun Guzman, who also directed the show.

    In her Facebook post, Hanson announced that the social media voting for 2017 Miss and Miss Teen Fil-Am will end at midnight of August 15.

    Miss Fil-Am and Miss Teen Fil-Am beauty contest is annual fundraiser to support FACO’s projects for Filipino American youths on the propagation and preservation of Philippine culture, arts and language; and scholarships to deserving Filipino American youths.


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    Filipiniana fashion wows crowd during fiesta celebration at Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles

    August 16th, 2017

    The entire retinue of ball gowns created by designer Carl Andrada as worn by Miss Philippines USA and Miss Young Philippines USA titleholders. Photo © Abner Galino

    A FILIPINIANA fashion show performed by beauty queens delighted the crowd at the recently held fiesta in the Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles early this month.

    Fashion designer Carl Andrada put out a colorful and ingeniously designed retinue of ball gowns for the 11 beauty titlists of the Miss Young Philippines USA and Miss Philippines USA.

    Half of the gowns were made out of “banig” or handwoven mat.

    They (gowns) are very pleasing to the eyes and they exude an unmistakable Filipino sophistication,” commented audience Issa Credo.

    Fashion designer Carl Andrada poses with two of Miss Philippines USA and Miss Young Philippines USA beauty titlists during a fiesta event at the Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles. Photo © Abner Galino

    For his part, Andrada said he endeavored to create gowns that were not “only beautiful to look at but wearable as well.”

    The August 5 fashion show was part of the day-long fiesta event organized by the Historic Filipinotown Neighborhood Council led by Cecille Ramos.

    It was held at the Silver Lake Medical Center grounds and featured live music by Filipino American artists that acrobat and magic duo Cecille and Mighty Torrente, Ciamara Morales, Jamie Bacani, Mary Ann Muah, GG Star and many others.


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