Posts by Abner:

    Hollywood welcomes RP’s Wish bus 107.5

    September 17th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Wish Bus 107. 5 innovator Kuya Daniel Razon poses with wife Arlene (on the left) and DJ Jelly (on the right) before the start of the show at the Universal CityWalk performance stage. Photo by Rudy Autor

    THE Philippines’ iconic radio bus, known as the Wish Bus 107.5, has been duplicated in Los Angeles — a city known as the world’s entertainment capital.

    The choice of Filipino American YouTube sensation AJ Rafael as the Wish bus USA’s first performer on board provided a somewhat encapsulated message as to the purpose of the gargantuan undertaking.

    AJ Rafael performed with three other musicians inside the Wish Bus 107.5 amidst posters of the Philippine Air Lines (PAL) in the backdrop.

    Rafael’s group was the only band that played inside the Wish Bus 107.5 as the rest of the performers did their acts on the Universal Citywalk’s performance stage.

    “I am so honored to part of this,” Rafael told the media during the red carpet walk.

    PAL, one of the event’s major sponsors, was represented by its Los Angeles senior account manager Maricel Wall.
    Wall expressed pride in PAL’s involvement in the historic event.

    Thousands of Filipinos from different states of US, and as well as from Canada, flew to Los Angeles to witness the unveiling of the Wish Bus 107.5 at the Universal Citywalk grounds last Saturday (September 8).

    Philippine media personality, Daniel Razon, the man behind the trailblazing concept, told the crowd that the arrival of Wish bus 107.5’s in the US was just the start of Wish FM radio global expansion.

    “Above all, we are thankful to God for allowing us to walk this extra mile. And now that we have reached Hollywood, we are looking forward to be moving a notch higher again. We are planning to move not only here in the US, but in other parts of the globe (as well). The next stop that we are looking at is the Middle East,” Razon said.

    A very young Filipino American artist Michael Keith, pumped up the show — not only through his remarkable talent to sing and dance — but as well as through his ability to connect with the crowd.

    “I am so happy to be here and be part of this event,” Keith said as he posed for photographers before the start of the show.
    Talents from the Philippines kept the energy up, chief of them DJ Robin Nievera, Annie Nepomuceno and Michael Regalado.

    Nievera was amply helped in hosting the show by a former Miss California contestant Maaikee K, another Filipino American talent and Los Angeles local.

    Filipino artists gather on stage for a final number. They are (from left to right) Perf de Castro (his back facing the crowd), AJ Rafael, Annie Nepomuceno, Jonathan Buencamino, Robin Nievera (partly hidden), Michael Regalado, Michael Keith and host Maaikee K. Photo by Rudy Autor

    A group from the 1990’s Philippine music scene, the Introvoys (who are now based in Los Angeles), spiced up the show with its rock ‘n roll songs.

    Original Pilipino Music (OPM) lead guitarist Perf de Castro was among those who performed on stage.

    The management of Wish FM, the Philippine’s number one FM YouTube channel, initially envisioned the “Wish Bus” to become a stage for Filipino artists to showcase their talents worldwide.

    But since its operation, the Wish Bus has also hosted international artists like David Archuleta, Jasmine Thompson, Dua Lipa and The Moffatts.


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    “Restorative care villages” to augment fight vs homelessness in Los Angeles

    September 16th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Homeless in Los Angeles. Image ©

    THE Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has unanimously voted to bring “restorative care villages” to county facilities as part of its wide-ranging initiative to fight homelessness.

    These so-called “restorative care villages” are a key element in the county’s ambitious efforts to reduce and prevent homelessness. It would seek to bring urgently needed interim housing to patients who would otherwise return to the streets after being discharged from county medical facilities.

    These villages will be built in places that include LAC+USC Medical Center, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center.

    On-site services will enable patients to move easily to the appropriate level of care, with the goal of supporting community reintegration for people with mental health disorders, victims of violence and abuse, substance use, serious disabilities, and psycho-social and economic challenges.

    This week, the Board of Supervisors also voted unanimously to begin developing plans for a restorative and recuperative care facility in the Antelope Valley.

    Previously, the Board of Supervisors voted to create a state-of-the-art behavioral health care cent on the Martin Luther King, Jr. health care campus.

    The restorative care village projects—which will bring together housing and a wide range of treatments and services in a series of villages on medical campuses—will undergo environmental review before project budgets and design details are finalized.

    Supervisors were united in their praise for the new model, and its potential to change lives.

    “By adopting and making these capital projects happen, the County is modeling an innovative, integrated, and exceptionally coordinated model of care that is a first in the nation. It will improve health outcomes as well as support full recovery and community reintegration,” said Board Chair Sheila Kuehl.
    “Restorative care is transformational care. It’s not only good for the individual and our health system, it’s good for all the communities in which we live.”

    “The Restorative Village project is creating a public/private, multi-stakeholder community partnership that is bringing together medical leaders who serve the area surrounding the LAC+USC campus,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis.

    “My vision of a ‘Healthy Village’ will bring a range of benefits to families and communities in the interrelated issues of health, economic opportunity, and wellbeing.”

    “By developing restorative villages on our medical campuses, we are showing our commitment to the most vulnerable populations in our County,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said.

    “This is about the public sector delivering on its promise.”

    “Many people experiencing homelessness get trapped in a seemingly endless cycle—alternating between the hospital and the streets,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said.

    “By using the Restorative Care Village model we can intervene at a key moment, give people the support they need to heal, and put them on a path toward a home.”

    “Restorative Care Villages will better equip the County to care for our most vulnerable residents who are in need of holistic treatment and care,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said.

    “This will be a vital component of the County system that will drastically improve health and wellness outcomes. These investments into restorative care will be impactful throughout the County, especially in the Antelope Valley.”


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    High heel shoe-wearing Pinoy all-male dance crew exits AGT

    September 14th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    JNS members pose with supporters shortly after losing their championship bid at the America’s Got Talent at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Photo by Abner Galino

    THE run of the high heel shoe-wearing Junior New System in the 13th season of the popular America’s Got Talent has ended but their legacy as the only Filipino dance crew that has gone so far in the said competition will surely live on.

    The all-male Pinoy dance crew was eliminated last September 5, during an hour-long semi-final show at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California but only after shining in the dance floor. The group’s elimination shattered the dreams of their members and fans to compete in the show’s customary Las Vegas finals.

    “We really cried hard,” the dancers admitted shortly after their elimination was announced.

    But despite the heavy hearts, the Filipino dancers still met and hang out with supporters when the show was over.

    “We all thank you, all of the Filipino communities here in the United States na sumuporta po sa amin at walang sawang bumoto po sa aming lahat. Even if, hindi po kami nakapasok ng finals, we feel great po and honored po na mai-represent po namin ang Philippines,” said the dance group’s leader Christian Ian Santos.

    Nonie Belarmino, owner of the iDance Studio in Carson City, where the JNS members prepared their dance routine before joining the competition, congratulated the JNS members for the impressive run.

    “It is the first time that a Filipino dance crew was able to get this far in this competition,” Belarmino added.

    The JNS is the 2016 World Championships of the Performing Arts (WCOPA) senior grand champion. Members of the team came from a poor neighborhood in Sampaloc, Manila.

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    Before they were famous, some of the boys collected and sold recyclable materials on the streets while some of them sold kakanin the Filipino native merienda (snack) to earn a living.

    Visda trained and organized the boys into an impressive dance group.

    The JNS crew has been in the US for more than a year now. They returned to the US in 2017 to avail of an arts scholarship award they won from joining the WCOPA after being granted performers’ visas.

    Since then they have become regular features in Filipino American shows and concerts.


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    LA County helps families keep sight of loved ones with autism, dementia

    September 11th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    An LA County sheriff shows the tracking device that will be installed on county helicopters to track missing persons under the project “LA Found.” Looking on are LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn (5th from the left on the background) and LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell. Photo by Abner Galino

    THE County of Los Angeles last week launched a countywide program dubbed as “L.A. Found,” which was aimed at quickly finding persons with autism, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease whenever they wander and go missing.

    The Wednesday launching of the project was led by Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, Sheriff Jim McDonnell, and Cynthia Banks, director of the L.A. County Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services Department (WDACS).

    The program involves a system of electronic bracelets that can be tracked by receivers installed in L.A. Sheriff’s Department helicopters and its designated ground units.

    During a short launching ceremony at the LA Sheriff Department’s helicopter launch pad, Supervisor Hahn told the media that “L.A Found” was the culmination of recommendations from experts and community stakeholders.

    It formed part of an initiative called “Bringing Our Loved Ones Home (BOLOH) Task Force,” which was reportedly originally proposed through a motion authored by Hahn and co-authored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

    In February 2018, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a comprehensive set of strategies proposed by the BOLOH Task Force, including a countywide pilot program to provide trackable bracelets to County residents (now known as L.A. Found).

    If you have cared for someone with dementia or autism, you know the fear of what might happen if you turn your back for just one minute,” said Supervisor Hahn.

    L.A. Found will not only save lives, it will finally give caregivers some peace of mind. If someone you love goes missing, L.A. County is ready to step in and help find them.”

    Wandering is a common problem associated with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and autism.

    According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 60% of people with dementia will wander at some point while a study by the Interactive Autism Network found that 49% of children with autism will engage in wandering behavior.

    We want caregivers to know that the County is here for you. Through L.A. Found we are not only providing access to tracking bracelets, but collaborating with law enforcement agencies, municipalities and other partners to improve emergency coordination, while providing information and resources to support individuals caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or autism,” said Cynthia D. Banks, WDACS Director.

    While the vast majority of these individuals are recovered, wandering cases can end in tragedy.

    Our LASD mission is to be the eyes and ears in the sky and on the ground. This technology literally enables lost loved ones to communicate their location to us and enable us to do all we can as first responders, to bring peace, comfort and families back together again,” said Sheriff Jim McDonnell.

    According to the office of Supervisor Hahn, the L.A. County has more than 177,000 residents with Alzheimer’s disease. It added that LA County also has “a large population of people with autism and other developmental disorders that make them susceptible to wandering.”

    L.A. Found is a voluntary system of trackable bracelets provided by the non-profit organization Project Lifesaver.

    Hahn’s office said the bracelet is not going to be under constant monitoring. It will only be monitored when a caregiver calls 911 after an individual wearing a bracelet goes missing.

    As soon as help has been asked, the Sheriff’s Department Mental Evaluation Team will deploy receivers to help locate the missing person.

    The Project Lifesaver bracelet uses radio frequency technology to transmit an electronic “chirping” signal to help rescuers locate the wearer.

    Hahn’s office noted that “electronic handheld receivers are used to locate missing persons with the bracelets and are being used by law enforcement agencies across the country with great success.”

    The designated LA County helicopters would enhance the capability of authorities to detect signals during search operations.

    To qualify for the program, caregivers must first schedule a phone interview with either the Sheriff’s Department or WDACS through the website at www.

    A trackable bracelet cost US$325, plus shipping and handling.

    There are also leasing opportunities available through Project Lifesaver.

    There is currently a waiting list to be considered for a free bracelet. Those who want to placed on waiting list can call 1-833-569-7651 or email LA Found@LACOUNTY.GOV.


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    Fil-Ams decry harassment of Senator Trillanes

    September 10th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Members of Samahang Magdalo and allies demonstrate in front of Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles on Friday in support of embattled Senator Antonio Trillanes. Photo by Ren Arrieta

    HUMAN rights advocates and other Filipino American cause-oriented groups in Los Angeles have denounced the alleged political harassment of Philippine Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for being a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.

    Arturo Garcia of the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance (FAHRA) in Los Angeles said their group is standing by with the members of Tindig Pilipinas and the Samahang Magdalo in protesting the alleged unlawful actions of the Philippine government against Trillanes.

    It is obvious, he (Trillanes) is the most active resistance leader against the de facto martial law of President Duterte,” Garcia said.

    He supported the filing of complaint against Duterte in the International Criminal Court (in The Hague in the Netherlands). He exposed the irregular government contracts cornered by Calida (Philippine Solicitor General Jose Calida). He has been speaking against extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. He is an outspoken critic of the Duterte administration and they are out to silence him.”

    Remedy Medina, a leader of the Samahang Magdalo in Los Angeles, posted an online video wherein he called the alleged political persecution against Senator Trillanes as a mere “diversionary tactic” of the Duterte administration.

    Eto ‘yung diversionary tactic na ginagawa ni Duterte ngayon. ‘Yung high inflation rate na abot na sa 6 percent, ‘yung economy, ‘yung mga bukbok (rotten rice), ‘yung galunggong, his ratings is probably been down in the gutter and they know that. And this is one of the measures that they are going to do, para mailihis ‘yung atensiyon ng mga tao sa tunay na kalagayan nila,” Medina said.

    Donny Deleon, a US veteran and also a member of FAHRA based in San Francisco, called the Philippine government’s action against Trillanes as an alleged political vendetta.

    Hindi po tama iyan, political vendetta po iyan. Wala pong legal basis iyan. Katulad po ng ginawa nila kay Senador de Lima,” Deleon argued.

    Deleon said that if the Filipino people would remain silent on the face of alleged harassment done to opposition leaders, it wouldn’t be far fetched that the same fate could befall Vice President Leni Robredo.

    Fe Koons, a Los Angeles based writer and activist, called the Philippine government’s action against Senator Trillanes a “violation of human rights.”

    The prices of basic goods continue to rise. Duterte should alleviate the socioeconomic conditions of poor Filipinos instead of going after Trillanes,” Koons said.

    Meanwhile, a mass action by Filipino Americans was held last Friday in front of the building that houses the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles to show support to the embattled Philippine senator.

    Duterte has voided the amnesty given to Senator Trillanes when he was jailed while still a junior officer in the Philippine Navy.

    Trillanes was detained for years before his election to the Philippine Senate because of his involvement in three military mutinies between the years 2003 and 2007. The renegade soldiers broke ranks to protest corruption in the military and the government.

    The Duterte government has cited technicalities in revoking the amnesty given to Trillanes.

    Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo told the media that Senator Trillanes “will be reverted to his status as active military personnel subject to military law and military discipline.” He added that Senator Trillanes could also be tried in a military court.

    Several military officers who also received amnesties for taking part in the failed coup are employed in the Duterte administration, but so far, only Senator Trillanes has been subjected to the revocation of pardon.

    Opposition leader, Senator Franklin Drilon, said attempting to resurrect rebellion cases against Senator Trillanes would amount to “double jeopardy.”

    Trillanes, for his part, said his lawyers will petition the Supreme Court to declare the government actions against him as illegal.


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    PWC praises fresh victory for California domestic workers

    September 3rd, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Members of Pilipino Workers Center unfurl their banner during a recent lobbying effort to pass a domestic workers’ protection and just compensation law in Sacramento. The group is part of the California Domestic Worker Coalition. Photo from PWC Facebook page

    THE Pilipino Workers Center recently joined domestic workers, particularly caregivers and nannies, in celebrating another victory in their continuing fight for better pay and better working conditions.

    The celebration was over the passage of AB 2314, also known as The Domestic Work Rights and Education Act, which passed the California Senate last August 23.

    The bill is now awaiting the signature of California Governor Jerry Brown.

    The Pilipino Workers Center is part of the California Domestic Worker Coalition that crafted and lobbied for the passage of the proposed law.

    When signed into law, AB 2314 will establish a program within the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement that will promote the implementation of labor standards for the domestic work industry.

    The said program will also provide resources, education and training for domestic workers and their employers.

    There are over 300,000 workers in California who work as cleaners, nannies and caregivers in nearly two million households.

    Domestic workers are historically excluded from most labor protections and as well as from legislated compensations.

    The current climate of escalated attacks on immigrants disproportionately impacts domestic workers — a labor force comprised primarily of immigrant women.

    Advocates noted that many of these domestic workers are breadwinners to their families.

    According to a handout sent out by advocates, AB2314 builds on SB54 & AB450 by seeking to uplift and protect the primarily immigrant workforce.

    Advocates noted that “domestic work is unique, violations are frequent, and domestic workers face multiple barriers to enforcing their rights.”

    Domestic worker organizations reported that “frequent violations of wage and hour laws and a strong trend of under-reporting of violations among workers.”

    Among the reasons cited for these violations were “lack of clear and basic information on their rights especially given the complexity of the law, language barriers, immigration status, fear of job loss and blacklisting, and lack of job security.”

    Sponsored by Assembly members Philip Ting and Gonzales Fletcher, when passed into law, it will be added as Section 1455 to the California Labor Code, and will read as follows:

    (a) The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement shall, upon appropriation of funds to the division for purposes of this section, establish and maintain a Domestic Work Enforcement Pilot Program in collaboration with qualified organizations. The program shall increase the capacity and expertise of the division to improve education and enforcement of labor standards in the domestic work industry.

    The program shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

    (1) Education and training for domestic work employees and employers addressing minimum wage, overtime, sick leave, record keeping, wage adjudication, and retaliation.

    (2) Training for domestic worker leaders to provide peer-to-peer support and wraparound service referrals to domestic work employees who have elected to file wage claims or take other actions seeking remedy from employers.

    (3) Development of core training curriculum to be used in the education and training of domestic work employees and employers.

    (4) Provision of technical and legal assistance to domestic work employees through a statewide telephone help line and the promotion of the help line to domestic worker populations.

    (5) Development of an online resource hub to provide information for employers on state labor laws and guidelines on fair employment.

    (b) For the purposes of this section, “qualified organization” means:

    (1) A nonprofit organization that has a minimum of five years of experience working with domestic work employees or employers.

    (2) An organization that works with a nonprofit organization that has a minimum of five years of experience working with domestic work employees or employers.

    (c) Qualified organizations that collaborate under subdivision (a) shall issue reports and meet quarterly with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to review the implementation and success of the program.


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    Filipinotown hosts two Pinoy boxers anew who gun for world title

    September 2nd, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Flanked by Tecate models on both ends, are Filipina American TV host and model Cynthia Conte (2nd from left), trainer Rodel Mayol, boxer Aston Palicte, boxing promoter Tom Loefller, three division world champion Donnie Nietes, trainer Edito Villamor and Australian Filipina boxer Luisa Hawton. The photo was taken during a meet and greet with fans at the Filipino Cultural Center in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Bobby Crisostomo

    FILIPINO American pride has been tickled anew recently as two kababayan fighters held a press conference at the Filipino Cultural Center (FCC) in Los Angeles to drumbeat their upcoming battle against each other for the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) super flyweight division crown.

    The said WBO title fight is another history in the making as it will mark the third time that Filipino fighters faced each other for a world title.

    Three division world champion and longest Filipino reigning champion Donnie “Ahas” Nietes is scheduled to slug it out with countryman Aston ‘Mighty’ Palicte on September 8 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

    The fight is set to broadcast on HBO.

    Last May 26, International Boxing Federation (IBF) bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas retained his world boxing belt against fellow Filipino fighter Jonas Sultan during their fight in Fresno, California.

    Looking back some 93 years ago – the last time that two Filipino fighters fought against each other for a world title belt was when the legendary boxer Francisco “Pancho Villa” Guilledo slugged it out with fellow kababayan Clever Sencio. Pancho Villa won that fight which was held in Manila, Philippines. By the time Pancho Villa and Guilledo fought, the former is already the world flyweight title champion for two years.

    Going back to the impending contest between Nietes and Palicte, their press conference at the Filipino Cultural Center (FCC) was hosted by Filipino American Cynthia Conte.

    Conte made it known to everyone about her Filipino ethnicity by speaking a couple of Filipino lines as she opened up the press conference for the boxers.

    The Filipino dominated guest table also featured Australian-Filipina undercard fighter, “Bang Bang Lulu” Louisa Hawton, (8-1-0, 4 KO’s) of Perth, Australia.

    Hawton proudly presented her “Filipino side” during her turn to speak. She will face Brenda Flores, (12-4-1, 2KO’s) of Tijuana, Mexico for the World Boxing Council Women’s Atomweight World Title.

    Fighters promise exciting clash

    For me hindi naman siguro advantage yung height para sa akin. Marami na rin naman akong nakalaban na matataas. At the same time hindi naman basketball itong paglalabanan namin, boxing naman, suntukan naman ito. So kahit na anong taas niya makiki sabayan ako. Kasi pinag-aralan naman namin ‘yung istilo niya. Magaling siya, malakas pero pinag-aralan talaga namin kung paano makuha ‘yung style niya,” three division world champion Nietes said during his turn to speak — soliciting laughter from the crowd.

    Nietes is three inches shorter than opponent Palicte who stands at 5’ 7”.

    For his part, Palicte said a win against Nietes might just be the start of his childhood dream becoming real.

    Bata pa po ako, nangangarap na po akong maging world champion,” he told the crowd. “Yung training namin doble. Sabi nila bakit dalawang Pilipino raw (who would fighting), hindi, sa akin trabaho lang po. Sport lang.”

    Fight promoter Tom Loeffler of 360 Promotions noted that the fight between Nietes and Palicte triggers mixed emotions for Filipino American fight fans.

    But it showed the quality of the Filipino boxers, these two world class fighter – ranked number 1 and number 2 in the world – fighting for the vacant title. So the Philippines should be proud that they will have another world champion after September 8,” Loeffler added.

    Loeffler has been known as the promoter for middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.

    Three division world champion Donnie “Ahas” Nietes poses with challenger and fellow Filipino Ashton “Mighty” Palicte during a workout show off at the famous Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles. Photo by Tony Garcia

    On Wednesday (August 29), Nietes and Palicte a both held workouts for the media at Freddie Roach’s Wildcard Gym in Los Angeles.

    The clash between Nietes and Palicte for the WBO world super flyweight title fight is a co-feature match on the so-called “Superfly 3” scheduled on Sep. 8 at The Forum at Inglewood.

    To headline the said event is former flyweight and super flyweight world champion Juan Francisco Estrada who will go up against fellow Mexican Felipe Orucuta.

    A match up between Japanese Kazuto Ioka and Puerto Rico’s McWilliams Arroyo is also slated on the same event.


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    Fil-Ams remembers Ninoy in LA

    August 29th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    A group of Filipino Americans offer a prayer for former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., during the commemoration of his assassination last August 21 in front of the Philippine Consular Office in Los Angeles. Photo by Mabuhay Lara

    A GROUP of Filipino Americans on August 21 said a prayer in front of the building housing the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the assassination of former Philippine Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

    The political action was attended by members of the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance and Magdalo Group-Los Angeles chapter.

    Community leader Art Garcia said in a telephone interview that while their mass action may appear to be numerically small, its significance could not be belittled.

    “Yung maliliit na pagkilos, diyan nagsisimula yan,” Garcia said, adding that the gathering was almost spontaneous.

    Writer and activist Fe Koons, on other hand, said the action was also meant for the victims of the extra-judicial killings that happened during the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos and the current President Rodrigo Duterte.

    “We commemorated the victims of martial law, primarily Senator Benigno Aquino, and at the same time reminding the Fil-Ams of what is happening in the Philippines with the war on drugs – is the same conditions during martial law,” Koons said.

    “The Marcoses are also allowed political opportunity which is wrong because Ferdinand Marcos was a dictator responsible for the death, torture of thousands of victims,” she added.

    One of the protesters, Mabuhay Lara, wore an armband bearing the name of Kian Loyd Delos Santos, an innocent 17-year-old student who was killed in police anti-drug operation in Caloocan City.

    Magdalo leader in Los Angeles Remedy Medina in an interview with reporters said “Ninoy Aquino lost his life trying to regain freedom for most of us and he should be remembered.”

    “Because of the death of Ninoy (Aquino) the seed democracy and freedom was implanted in the hearts of all Filipinos, leading to the ouster of Marcos. And we need the same spirit and the same kind of heroism today with the situation in the Philippines,” Father Ben Sagra said before leading the group’s prayer.

    August 21 is a national non-working holiday celebrated yearly in the Philippines to commemorate the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.

    In 1980, Aquino was allowed to go out of prison to seek medical treatment in the United States where he remained in exile for three years.

    While in the US, Aquino continued his fight against the Marcos dictatorship. He returned to the Philippines on August 21, 1983. He was assassinated shortly after soldiers and policemen escorted him out of the plane that brought him to the Manila terminal.

    The martyr’s wife, Corazon (popularly known as Cory) led a protest movement that led to the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship. She became a president of the country after a bloodless revolution dubbed as EDSA People Power Revolt.

    The event was first celebrated as a national holiday in 2004 through Republic Act 9256. The law was passed during the incumbency of House Speaker Jose De Venecia, Senate President Franklin Drilon and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.


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    When a business is not all about money

    August 23rd, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Blesilda Brucelas at Little Blessings shop. Photo by Abner Galino

    BEING your own boss and hustling your way to make bigger money through a business idea is normally how it works.

    But couple Giovanni and Blesilda Mejia-Brucelas of San Jacinto, California – who are threading separate careers in health care – were not exactly driven by these motives when they recently opened up a new business.

    Also, they actually embarked on a kind of business that did not align with their core competencies. They decided to open up a thrift shop, specifically carrying gently used children’s clothing, toys and other accessories.

    Well, on second thought, Blesilda being a mother of four kids – one of them is still a two-year-old boy – should know a lot about children’s stuff. And upping that motherly knowledge to an entrepreneurial sense wasn’t that hard.

    Fortuitously, Blesilda need not build a store for her new venture as she has enough space to run her thrift shop in the office where she also holds her home health staffing business. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone.

    I’ve always wanted to have a thrift store. I’m a thrifty person and I like the idea of saving money on anything. I would love to share the same opportunity to mothers like me by providing them option to do so,” Blesilda said.

    And I’d like to give a boutique experience with yard sale prices.”

    For his part, Giovanni – the better half – provided the sales pitch for their new endeavor: “Children clothes are very expensive yet they are slightly used. So this is an option against paying large amount of money for new clothes that your kids would barely use because they grow out of them so fast. We have a big family so we have the luxury of passing down the clothes from one baby to another. Not all families have that option.”

    At this early, Giovanni and Blesilda, who are both devout Christians, are already sold to the idea that their new endeavor would not, by its nature, reap them a windfall.

    I’ve done some math and I know that the profitability part of this endeavor isn’t that exciting. But what is exciting though, is the probability of helping other mothers like me save a lot of money by offering quality goods for a lot less. I handpick everything I put in the store and I wouldn’t put anything I wouldn’t want for my own children,” Blesilda said.

    Just a day after opening her thrift shop’s door, an expectant mother came in —with her two little ones — wanting to swap her single-seat stroller for a double stroller in the store, which was already tagged at a bargain price. She said she could not afford to pay the difference so she wanted to see if she could do an even swap.

    Blesilda knew that it didn’t make good business sense to do the even swap, but she also knew that it was an opportunity to bridge the gap for this mom. So she took in the single-seat stroller and gave the double stroller away.

    What happened was an exception to the rule, but Blesilda said she wasn’t scared to break her own rules.

    I believe that God has given me this store as an opportunity to serve the underserved. I always consider it a blessing when I am presented with opportunities to help someone in dire need,” Blesilda said.

    Don’t get me wrong, this is still business and it has to make financial sense for me to run it – but I like the idea of making money on the side, being able to bless others, yet have a lot of fun in the process. What more could I ask for? After all, this is a season in my life where I get to do exactly what I enjoy doing without the fear of failing. If it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world,” she added.

    By the way, the shop is at 1520 S San Jacinto Avenue # 9, San Jacinto, CA 92583. Telephone no. 951-800-2275.


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    Concert marks Buwan ng Wika celebration in Filipinotown

    August 21st, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Michael Keith poses with fellow performer Sydney Noelle (2nd from right) and host Rinoa Felix. Also in the picture are members of the TROPAE Group – Abner and Odette Galino and Elizabeth Zaide. Photo by Tony Garcia

    THE “Buwan ng Wika” celebration at the Filipino Cultural Center (FCC) in Los Angeles was remarkably amplified with the sterling performances of veteran performer Jo “Live Wire” Awayan, newly-arrived Philippine world singing champion Cristiani Rebada and the rising local young star Michael Keith.

    The Johaness Line Dance and Cultural Group was a revelation — injecting the show with a folksy and spirited atmosphere. Aside from performing the front act, the dance group later joined the main performers on stage as “back up dancers,” which greatly enhanced the excitement in the house.

    Michael Keith (who sung, danced and played guitar), showed the audience how he has steadily been transforming into a total performer.

    On Friday’s show, Michael also showed his ability to involve his audience into his act, resulting in a burst of energy and glee in the house.

    Rebada, the World Championships of the Performing Arts (WCOPA) 2017 grand champion, lived up to his billing. He performed four Original Pilipino Music (OPM) songs that amply showed the incredible range of his voice and his versatility.

    Rebada particularly impressed the 2017 WCOPA judges by singing operatic tenor, in the style of Italian legend Luciano Favarotti.

    Jo “Live Wire” Awayan, who insisted on a very short introduction, put the exclamation point to the show’s finale.

    As she has been known for, Jo Awayan’s energy and charm quickly filled the room as she stepped on the stage. She masterfully weaved music and humor by delivering hilarious jokes in between songs.

    Jo Awayan engaged not only her audience, but as well as her fellow artists, particularly Michael Keith.

    Guest artist Sydney Noelle was also a revelation. The 12-year-old Filipina American is a singer, songwriter and an actress from Orange County, California.

    The show was competently hosted by 2018 Miss Teen Cosmos Rinoa Felix and Miss Teen Mundial 2017 Nathalie Barry.

    The show was hastily organized for the celebration of Buwan ng Wika by the Philippine Institute for Language, Arts and Culture (PILAC), the TROPAE Group and the Filipino Cultural Center.

    DJ Karl provided the show’s lights and sound.

    The show was written and directed by Beyond Deadlines’ Los Angeles Bureau Chief Abner Galino.


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    “We will be remembered for what we give and not what we keep,” Matthew Manotoc

    August 20th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Ilocos Norte Board Member Matthew Marcos Manotoc shakes hand with Bernie Ganon, manager of the Filipino Cultural Center, as he enters the building in Los Angeles before the start of his meet and greet affair. Photo by Bobby Crisostomo

    QUOTING her grandmother former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, Ilocos Norte Board Member Matthew Marcos Manotoc told a group of Filipino Americans that “we will be remembered for what we give and not what we keep.”

    This was how the scion of the re-emerging Marcos clan ended his brief speech before an audience of Filipino Americans at the Filipino Cultural Center (FCC) in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday night.

    On behalf of my family and I, to those who have supported my family throughout the years, thank you very much. We really appreciate you and we cannot express how grateful we are to your support. It inspires us, your loyalty to my family and I, is the reason why my family and I continue to serve,” Manotoc told the crowd.

    And to those who do not support my family, I thank you too,” Manotoc paused as the crowd burst into laughter, “no, seriously — for you are a testament of a relatively healthy democracy where a healthy discord must occur and where a healthy debate and disagreement must ensue.”

    Manotoc went on to promote the impending senatorial run of his mother Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos.

    I hope that the Filipino community can get behind her and elect another Marcos in the senate,” Manotoc said.

    Seeing all of you is a pleasant reminder that the Filipino is truly world-class and you are all living proof of that. I hope someday, you will return home to the Philippines to help our people. It is good people like you who have the knowledge and experience that Filipinos can really benefit from.”

    He ended his speech by quoting his grandmother Imelda on the virtue of giving.

    Before Manotoc delivered his speech, three persons that included writer and activist Fe Koons bravely picketed the Filipino Cultural Center to protest the presence of the Marcos scion in Los Angeles.

    The protester held placards denouncing alleged atrocities committed by former President Ferdinand Marcos, particularly for plunder and human rights abuses.

    We are here because we are protesting the meet and greet for Matthew Marcos Manotoc, the son of Imee Marcos, the grandson of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos,” Koons told Weekend Balita and Beyond Deadlines as they held anti-Marcos placards in front of the Filipino Cultural Center.

    They still (Marcos family) want to promote their political dynasty. Ferdinand Marcos killed thousands of people,” Koons said.

    I know that Imee is going to run as a senator. I hope the Filipino people would realize that the Marcoses need to step down.”


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    Kris Aquino wears yellow in Hollywood movie premiere

    August 14th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Kris Aquino and son Bimby cheerfully pose in front of the Crazy Rich Asians tarpaulin during its premiere night at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Photo by Tony Garcia

    PHILIPPINE movie personality Kris Aquino, whose mother and brother both became presidents of the Republic of the Philippines, graced the world premiere of “Crazy Rich Asians” in Hollywood wearing a fabulous yellow gown.

    While the color yellow has been identified with the political opposition after the assassination of Kris’ father (former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.,) during the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos, the color has evolved to pigeonhole the supporters of the Aquino clan.

    The Aquinos and their followers, particularly those who belong to the Liberal Party, are considered oppositions in the government of President Rodrigo Duterte.

    As expected, Kris Aquino’s presence in Hollywood and her conspicuous wearing of a yellow gown during the event ignited an outburst of both favorable and unfavorable commentaries in the social media.

    Earlier, those who invited fans and the media for the Hollywood appearance of Kris Aquino sent out words early on that she would be attending a purely entertainment event.

    Entertainment po ito. Wala pong pulitika rito,” posted a leader of an organization in his Facebook invitation, days before Kris Aquino arrived in Los Angeles.

    Hi everybody! Mabuhay! Mahal ko po kayong lahat!,” Kris, accompanied by her son Bimby, was heard telling the crowd during a live Facebook streaming by Tony Garcia, a regular contributor of LA based Fil-Am newspapers.

    Many fans found it cute that Bimby tried to raise up the neckline of his mother’s gown while she was being interviewed by Filipino American media.

    Kris appreciated his son’s gesture and simply smiled at him.

    Bimby wore the traditional Barong Tagalog which he paired with a black pants and a dark colored rubber shoes.

    Kris also took time to pose with fans who were screaming and waving behind the steel barricade as Hollywood personalities and actors walk the red carpet before the screening of Crazy Rich Asians.

    Later on, Kris posted in Instagram her supposed “memorable moment” with Warner Bros chairman Toby Emmerich who introduced her to a Filipino American member of his staff.

    He said that for 25 years she’d been taking such great care of him but had never asked for premiere night tickets except for tonight for (Crazy Rich Asians) because she wanted to meet me. It was just so heartwarming how many pictures Mr. Emmerich took of us because it just proved to me that anywhere in the world — our graciousness as a people is valued,” Kris said in her Instagram account.

    Filipino American fans jubilantly take selfies with Philippine screen idol Kris Aquino in front of the Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood during the premiere night of the movie Crazy Rich Asians. Photo by Tony Garcia

    The yellow gown that she wore was a creation of Filipino fashion designer Michael Leyva. She reportedly brought along five gowns that were created by Leyva and another Filipino designer Francis Libiran.

    Kris Aquino’s look during the premiere night caught the attention of the Vanity Fair, a respected American fashion and lifestyle magazine.

    Crazy Rich Asians is a movie that features actors and actresses of Asian ancestry. It is a romance-comedy between an American born character named Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and Singaporean Nick Young (Henry Golding).

    Crazy Rich Asians is a movie based on a book of the same title that was written by Kevin Kwan. It generally talked about the lavish trappings of being rich, being crazy and being Asian – all at the same time.


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    Bacolod holds Masskara Festival in Long Beach

    August 13th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Masskara Festival poster

    THREE-day celebration that culminated in the jubilant and colorful staging of the internationally known Masskara Festival was recently held in the City of Long Beach.

    The July 28 activities that formed part of the celebration of the so-called “sisterhood” between the City of Bacolod (Philippines) and City of Long Beach (USA) included a seminar on international trade and financing and a screening of a film titled: Stateside.

    The said movie was about an undocumented Filipino who lost his way and becomes homeless in the City of Los Angeles.

    The Long Beach Bacolod Association Inc., (LBBAI) headed by Marcial Chavez spearheaded the event. Originally established in 1994, the Bacolod-Long Beach sisterhood has been dormant for almost two decades.

    However, according to LBBAI, the sisterhood of the two cities was revived recently through the help of Jose Gamboa and Joey Montalve.

    The Masskara Festival consisted of performances of Filipino American artists, presentations of various community organizations and mini business exposition of Filipino American products and services.

    The events were actively participated in by the officials of the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles and the Philippine Department of Tourism.

    The officials of the City of Bacolod who flew in to participate in the affair were Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, Councilors Caesar Distrito, Em Ang, Bartolome Orola, Dindo Ramos, City administrator Juan N. Orola Jr., and the members of City’s technical team.

    The Masskara Festival is an annual event in Bacolod City which is similar to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras. Participants in the festival wear colorful and unusually designed masks.

    The city uses the festival to enhance tourism and advertise its arts and cuisine.


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    Ten-year-old ventriloquist shines in Filipinotown fest

    August 12th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    A photo of Shane Selloria and Winston, the turtle, in promotion of the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops Concert at Arcadia Performing Arts Center.

    SHANE Selloria, a 10-year-old singing ventriloquist and his “turtle” named Winston, stole the show at the 15th Historic Filipinotown Festival in Los Angeles this weekend.

    Selloria, who performed for an hour or more, obviously got the crowd excited with his hilarious conversation and duet with his friend Winston, the turtle.

    The boy, said to be a self-taught ventriloquist, competed for the attention of a crowd that endured a temperature of 86 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit last Saturday.

    Filipino American YouTube sensation Karencitta also contributed greatly in sustaining the audience’s excitement.

    Philippine-based artists such as the Power Impact Dancers and classical singer Cristian Rebada, the 2016 grand champion of the Long Beach-based World Championships of the Performing Arts (WCOPA), also contributed to the entertainment of the mostly Filipino American crowd.

    Also worth mentioning were the demonstrations on single short-stick fighting conducted by martial arts guru Khalid Khan and his wards.

    Dancers from as young as the Burlington School pupils up to mature women donning Filipiniana costumes kept the show going throughout the day.

    The were also two sets of fashion shows that featured Filipiniana-inspired dresses participated by girls and ladies from the Ms. Philippines-USA pageant.

    Several Filipino Americans were also presented with certificates of recognition by the representatives of Los Angeles Councilmember Mitch O’farrel and Congressman Jimmy Gomez.

    The day-long show was hosted by celebrity Filipina Americans namely; NBC4 meteorologist Shanna Mendiola, actress Tessa Bartholomew, radio personality Mylene Recto and Thelma Sugay.


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    Voter roster omissions in June 5 election in Los Angeles is not a cyber attack

    August 10th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Image by

    AN extensive independent review by information technology leader IBM Security Services identified software misconfigurations and not a cyber attack caused the omission of 118,509 names from the printed voter rosters in precincts across Los Angeles County during the conduct of the June 5 Primary Election.

    No voters were removed from voting rolls because of the roster error, and their right to vote was never at issue, according to the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.

    The roster print problem ultimately affected approximately 12,000 voters who went to the polls to cast provisional ballots.

    The votes were processed immediately and counted as part of the official election results.

    The independent review verified that there was no pattern of voters being excluded from the printed roster due to demographic characteristics or geographic boundaries.

    In its investigation of the omissions, IBM found that formatting changes in the statewide voter database made it incompatible with the software the County uses to generate the printed lists for polling places.

    According to IBM, the County’s Voter Information Management System application had not been updated to process this state format change, so the system generated voter records with empty spaces for the birthdates of 118,509 voters.

    Since the birthdates were missing, the County’s system incorrectly classified these voters as “underage” and left them off the printed precinct rosters.

    IBM ran multiple simulations to determine what happened. It found that the incompatible state database was initially used to develop a voter roster file for printing.

    That initial export was stopped after 118,509 records were processed with empty birthdate fields. Then a second export was started, using the County’s own voter database.

    That export generated correct voter information.

    However, the system did not clear the erroneous data from the first export. As a result, the incorrect data was merged with correct data, leading to the error in printing the rosters.

    In its review, IBM also investigated a 21-minute outage of the County’s voter information website on the evening of the election after the polls had closed.

    It found no evidence of a cyber attack and attributed the outage to heavy demand on the website.

    IBM recommended that the County undertake a series of corrective actions, including:

    • Updating the software code so the state and local voter databases are compatible.
    • Implementing new quality control practices for Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk staff.
    • Resolving deficiencies in the system used to create the printed voter roster.
    • Increasing capacity and changing configurations on to accommodate periods of high demand

    Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan said the County has already put in place measures to ensure that voter rosters are correctly printed for the General Election on November 6, 2018.

    IBM Security Services’ full incident assessment and root cause analysis included a forensic review of the systems, procedures and agencies used in preparing and producing precinct rosters for the County’s 4,357 voting precincts and more than 5.1 million voters.

    The review also included testing of networks, servers and databases to evaluate any potential vulnerabilities and to assess the effectiveness of security controls, policies and quality control processes.

    The review was conducted with the assistance of the County’s Chief Information Officer and Auditor-Controller.

    In related development, LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn released a statement regarding the results of an investigation into the problems voters experienced during the June 5, 2018 election.

    The independent investigation has shown that the problems voters experienced during the June 5 election had nothing to do with foul play but were the result of a software error,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn.

    While I am relieved that this was not a cyberattack, what happened was unacceptable and we are going to ensure that the Registrar-Recorder’s Office fixes this issue so that this never happens again. Now more than ever, we need to ensure the public’s trust in our election system.”

    Supervisors Janice Hahn and Sheila Kuehl have authored a motion that instructed the Registrar-Recorder’s office to implement reforms to fix the said problem.

    Supervisor Hahn and Supervisor Kuehl’s motion will instruct the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk to implement the following:

    • Work with the Secretary of State to update existing software to ensure that the state and local voter databases are compatible;
    • Implement new quality control practices for Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk staff;
    • Resolve deficiencies in the system used to create the printed voter roster; and
    • In consultation with the Internal Services Department, increase capacity and change configurations on to accommodate periods of high demand.


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    US justice department indicts Napoles and five family members

    August 8th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Janet Lim Napoles

    A UNITED States federal grand jury has indicted Janet Napoles, who is currently detained in a Philippine prison, for allegedly laundering Philippine public funds in and out of the States amounting to approximately US$20 million through suspected “multi-layered bribery and fraud scheme.”

    Five other family members of Janet Napoles, who are presumably US citizens were also included in the charge sheet. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has identified them as Jo Christine Napoles, 34, James Christopher Napoles, 33, Jeane Catherine Napoles, 28, Reynald Luy Lim, 52, and Ana Marie Lim, 47.

    The said persons were indicted for “Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, Domestic Money Laundering and International Money Laundering.”

    The US justice department said four of the defendants — together with approximately 20 Philippines legislators and other government officials not charged in U.S. indictments — “converted to their own benefit hundreds of millions of dollars in Philippine public funds through the intricate scheme and then transmitted approximately $20 million from that scheme into the United States to purchase assets, including real property and luxury vehicles.”

    According to the charge sheet, the said defendants supposedly converted money for their personal use from lump sum discretionary “Priority Development Assistance Fund” or PDAF granted to each member of the Philippine Congress. The said government fund was allotted to benefit poor Filipinos.

    The money was allegedly paid to dozens of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) controlled by Jannet Napoles in the guise of funding Philippine development projects.

    It turned out, however, that the said projects were never undertaken and the money was diverted to kickbacks for legislators and other government officials, and for the personal use of the Napoles family.

    The US justice department alleged that the approximately US$20 million funds were wired by money remitters in the Philippines to Southern California bank accounts.

    The said money was allegedly “used to purchase real estate, shares in two businesses, two Porsche Boxsters, and finance the living expenses of three family members residing in the United States,” particularly Jeane Napoles, Reynald Lim, and Ana Lim.

    In a recent press release, the US justice department said charges handed down pertained “to events beginning in September 2012 and continuing through August 2014.

    In September 2012, an audit discovered the fraud. In July 2013, the fraud and the U.S. proceeds were exposed in the Filipino press. In August 2013, Jannet was arrested by Philippine authorities and Napoles family bank accounts were frozen in the Philippines. Thereafter, Napoles and her family members attempted to quietly liquidate the assets in the United States, secretly repatriate most of the resulting funds back to the Philippines and to other accounts in the U.S. and United Kingdom, and disburse some of the funds to Jeane Napoles, who used the money to finance her lifestyle and open a fashion business,” said the US justice department in its press release.

    Even after Janet Napoles made a highly publicized statement admitting that she had bribed Philippine legislators in connection with these ‘ghost projects,’ the defendants attempted to convert the proceeds of this crime to their own use,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna.

    The efforts of the Philippine and American investigators demonstrates that there are consequences to abusing the public trust and we hope to deter such conduct in the future. To do this, we will work with our Philippine counterparts to secure the extradition of the defendants to the United States.”

    According to court documents, approximately US$12.5 million in Southern California real estate has been seized by the United States Attorney’s Office and is subject to a civil forfeiture case pending before United States District Judge James V. Selna.

    If the court orders the assets forfeited, the United States will work with Philippine officials to return the stolen funds back to the Philippine government.

    U.S. authorities have received ongoing cooperation and substantial assistance from the Philippine government, including the Department of Justice, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Anti-Money Laundering Council, and the Commission on Audit, which responded to official requests pursuant to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the Philippines and the United States and through the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

    The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel O’Brien, Deputy Chief of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.

    (Read More:


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    Former RP college dancers group shines in US contest

    August 6th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Members of the Power Impact Dancers pose with Los Angeles community event organizers Rose Sarreal and Odette Galino (standing 3rd and 4th from left, respectively, on the second row). A fan, Tricia Pascual Mirandilla (sitting last from left), joins her idols at the stage of the Filipino Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Photo by Pol Joaquin

    THE members of a Filipino dance group called “Power Impact Dancers” may not be coming home to the Philippines as big title winners but they are proud nonetheless for performing well and bagging the 11th place in the recently concluded World of Dance in Pasadena, California, USA.

    Another Filipino dance team though, the Nitrous Image Crew, bagged the second place in the competition’s team division. Unfortunately, reporters were not able to locate the group when they were still in Los Angeles.

    The members of the Power Impact Dancers may have not won in the judges’ scorecards but the audience loved them and gave them a standing ovation.

    Yung moment na tumuntong kami sa LA to represent the Philippines, and to step on the stage in the World of Dance stage, para sa akin winning moment na ‘yun,” said one of the group’s leaders Airon Jazz R. Gamit.

    Gamit said the Power Impact Dancers garnered 90.17 percent in the judges’ scorecard.

    We were able to please the crowd, sinasalubong po nila kami to congratulate us when we stepped down from the stage,” Gamit recalled.

    The dance group is mostly composed of alumni from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), particularly from the university’s computer science department. But as the group evolved, it began accepting members from other schools and entities.

    The group won third place in the World of Dance qualifier held in the Philippines last March where a total of 21 dance groups competed.

    While of most of the members of the group are college graduates and are already working, the group still can’t afford they own place and is still practice regularly at the Pinaglabanan Park in San Juan.

    Even though kahit na walang mirror, kahit hindi ganun ka-furnish ‘yung place for a dance rehearsal, ‘yung effort po ng bawat isa at ‘yung desire na gumaling or magpakita ng magandang sayaw, hindi po nagiging hindrance ‘yung place na pinagre-rehearsal,” added Gamit.

    Generally, the members of Power Impact Dancers raised their own funds to be able to finance the costs of traveling to the US.

    But as a team, we also conducted fund-raising projects like holding seminars and selling t-shirts,” recalled another dancer Carl Francis Mabasa.

    Upon arrival in Los Angeles, the family of one of the group’s members, Riva Quenery, took all of them in an air-board-and-breakfast place in Koreatown.

    But not everyone from the Power Impact Dancers were able to get to Los Angeles. Some of them were denied entry visa by the US embassy in Manila.

    So we had to re-block (dance steps and positions) dahil nabawasan kami ng pitong member,” recalled Gamit.

    At the moment, the members of the dance group are busy performing for Filipino American organizations that are holding events in the Los Angeles area and suburbs.


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    Los Angeles County supervisors move to bolster women’s workplace rights

    August 5th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Image ©

    THE Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently approved two motions meant to boost gender equality in workplaces.

    The motions, authored by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, were filed to address workplace disparities, particularly the issue of women making make less than men.

    One of the motions filed was unanimously approved letter that supports a state legislation to improve gender representation and balance on corporate boards of directors.

    The other motion requires adherence to the County’s Policy of Equity (CPOE) in all future County contracts.

    “Throughout my career in public service, I have been fighting to ensure that every person, regardless of their gender, has access to the same opportunities, salary, and pathways to advancement as everyone else,” said Solis.

    “When women are strongly represented at top-management levels, companies perform better in profitability, productivity, and workforce engagement. Furthermore, by adhering to the County’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies and procedures, more workers will be safeguarded from prohibited and illegal conduct. By empowering and protecting women, these actions will advance our economy and benefit all residents, regardless of gender.”

    For her part Kuehl said: “The women and girls in LA deserve an equal chance at success, but too often, the disparities affecting their lives are invisible or discounted.”

    “These motions will continue to help the County achieve gender equity and empower all our residents.”

    The supervisors have noted that “one-fourth of all public companies in the Russell 3000 index in California have no women on their board of directors.”

    The national average is only 16%, and Los Angeles County lags behind both the state and the nation at only 12%.

    California Senate Bill 826 (Jackson and Atkins) seeks to address the said disparity.

    Under this bill, there must be at least one woman on the board of publicly held companies in California by the end of 2019 — with the foresight that such numbers will increase (depending on the size of the board) by the end of 2021.

    The office of Supervisor Solis pointed to the governments of Germany and Norway as having successfully instituted quotas to address the lack of gender diversity.

    The Board of Supervisors has approved a four-signature letter to the LA County state legislative delegation in support of SB 826.

    “The pipeline is overflowing with qualified women executives and business owners who would be outstanding directors for companies here in Los Angeles.

    The problem is there are no seats available,” said Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, past president and statewide board member of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO-CA) which sponsored SB 826.

    “SB 826 addresses this issue, and we believe shareholders will applaud this fair solution. Thank you to Supervisor Solis and the LA County Board of Supervisors for your support of equity on corporate boards.”

    CPOE was proactively adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 2011 as a means to address and prevent inappropriate workplace behavior.

    While CPOE is widely regarded as a model program, the County’s Executive Office’s County Equity Oversight Panel recommended enhancements to CPOE in December 2017.


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    LA County acts to ensure access to safe and affordable financial services regardless of their immigration status

    August 4th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Image © DCBA LA County – Los Angeles County

    THE County of Los Angeles Center for Financial Empowerment, housed within the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, is proud to celebrate the launching of BankOn Los Angeles County, a program designed to connect residents to safe and affordable financial products, regardless of their immigration status.

    This coming August 18, the CFE will host a free event that will connect Los Angeles County residents to checking accounts and financial empowerment resources. The public is invited to attend the free event, which will be from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, at the Barrio Action Youth and Family Center, 4927 Huntington Dr. #200 Los Angeles, CA 90032.

    The CFE and BankOn financial institution partners will help consumers understand the benefits of banking and start the process of opening a checking account.

    Attendees can also learn about credit, how to save for college and get first-time home buying tips at financial education workshops.

    “Our County residents have worked hard to earn their paycheck, it is important that they have access to affordable and secure financial services that help them safeguard every cent,” said DCBA Interim Director Joseph M. Nicchitta.

    “Families could lose up to US$45,000 a year by using expensive check-cashing services. Our BankOn Los Angeles County partners provide residents with low-cost alternatives.”

    BankOn Los Angeles County offers multiple checking accounts that include features such as free check cashing services, no overdraft fees and unrestricted customer service.

    Three accounts were specifically developed for the program by SCE Federal Credit Union, Self-Help FCU and First Foundation. Consumers can learn more about the program and the available accounts by

    The County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors created the Center for Financial Empowerment to lead regional efforts to build stability and household wealth L.A. County residents with low to moderate incomes.

    For more information on the Center for Financial Empowerment and its visit or, follow the Center for Financial Empowerment on Twitter @LACountyCFE.


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    Jed Madela commends RP team in modest WCOPA yield

    July 24th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Filipino pop idol Jed Madela poses with the rest of the Philippine team shortly after the closing ceremonies of the 2018 World Championships of the Performing Arts in Long Beach, California. Photo by Bobby Crisostomo

    PROMINENT Filipino singer Jed Madela congratulated the members of the Philippine team who competed in the recently concluded World Championships of Performing Arts in Long Beach, California for representing the country well.

    What matters is that each delegate really represented the country well. We are proud of every delegate in Team Philippines 2018. Hindi sila nagkulang. Ako, personally I am very proud of each and every one of them. They really gave pride sa bansa natin. This year, siguro ipaubaya muna natin sa iba. But what matters is the experience, what we call the WCOPA experience. And I am sure, hindi nila makalilimutan ang experience na ito,” Madela said shortly after the awarding ceremony at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center.

    Meanwhile, WCOPA Philippine national director Gerry Mercado, congratulated the members of his team and enjoined them to acclaim the victory of their competitors. He added that being able to compete in an international competition is a feat by itself.

    Sigurado tayo, pagbalik ng mga batang ito dala nila ‘yung mga natutunan nila dito. Sa boot camp, marami silang natutunan. Pagbalik nila (sa Pilipinas), they will bring home whatever they learned here,” Mercado said.

    Team Philippines won 286 awards, which include a category championship title in the instrumentalist category by virtue of guitar duo called M Squared (Cebuanos Maxwell Soller and Miguel Ibaseta).

    This year’s Philippine team was composed of 87 delegates who competed in the junior and senior divisions under categories such as dance, instruments, vocals, modeling and acting.

    The team won 55 gold medals, 83 silver medals, 81 bronze medals, 34 division champion plaques, and 33 semi-finalist badges.

    The competition’s highest award called the senior grand champion of the world was won by Cayman Islands actress Rita Estevanovich.

    Another actor from South Africa, Stefan Ogilvie, bagged the WCOPA 2018 junior grand champion of the world.

    Last year, Filipino Cristiani Rebada bagged the Senior Grand Champion Performer of the World title while Nhikzy Calma took home the Junior Grand Champion Performer of the World title.

    (Read More

    The rare feat was achieved by previous Philippine teams at the WCOPA during the years 2013 and 2014.


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    Filipino American wins singing crown for US in WCOPA

    July 23rd, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    The WCOPA 2018 vocal champion, Filipino American James Calacsan, jubilantly shows off his medal during the competition’s closing ceremonies. Photo by Bobby Crisostomo

    A FILIPINO American who moved to the United States five years ago, won the singing competition in the recently concluded World Championships of the Performing Arts in Long Beach last week.

    I am so happy right now. I didn’t expect this one, what I did is, I had fun. And then they announced my name and I was so surprised, so thank you,” said James Calacsan who now lives Minnesota.

    Calacsan, who has been competing while he was still living in the Philippines, said he would have loved it as well had he won a competition for the Philippines.

    I equally love both of these countries (USA and Philippines) because both of them gave me so much opportunities,” Calacsan, who is now an American citizen, said shortly after the awarding ceremonies at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center.

    Meanwhile, Calacsan’s fellow Filipino American singer in the WCOPA USA team, Femalu Ross Javines, immediately congratulated him shortly after the awarding ceremony.

    Javines, who just recently migrated to the US and settled in New York, has earlier said that the WCOPA Team USA had 10 competitors in the singing competitions and six of them were Filipinos.

    Malungkot because I am a Filipino but I’m representing another country. Hindi ko matanggal sa sarili ko na Pilipino ako. But at the same time, I feel blessed that they recognize me (US team). I am thankful for that,” Javines added during an interview prior to the finals of the competition.

    Javines, whose mother was a former employee of widely circulated Philippine newspapers People’s Journal and People’s Tonight, didn’t make it to the finals but has remained in good spirit despite failing to make it to the finals of the singing competition.

    The WCOPA USA team consisted of about 50 delegates from different states of the US.


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    Exhibit on Filipino indigenous textiles in San Pedro, California is extended

    July 22nd, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Photo shows the opening event on May 26, 2018. Eleanor Academia and her husband Cass Magda and members of the kulintang musicians and martial artists performed at the Kulintang Concert and Filipino martial arts demo. Kulintang is an ancient gong and drum ensemble music from the Southern Philippines. Eleanor Academia is a Durfee Master Musician with the World Kulintang Institute. Cass Magda owns Magda Institute of Martial Arts, in Reseda where he teaches Kali-Silat and other forms of Filipino martial arts. He is a world-renown Master Teacher and Martial Artist. Photo by Abner Galino.

    DUE to popular demand, Linda Nietes, Founder and CEO of Pinta*Dos Art Gallery has announced the extension of their exhibit, Strands: Part l – Filipino Indigenous Textiles, to Wednesday, July 25, 2018.

    The exhibit opened on May 26 and is open to the public from July 23 until July 25. Please call 310-514-9139 or email: if you want to view the exhibit so a docent will be available for the walk-through.

    An earlier time could be arranged. The gallery is located at an art deco building called The Arcade, 479 West Sixth Street Street, San Pedro, CA 90731.

    The exhibit features selections from the collection of Linda Nietes and Robert J. Little, Jr. It encompasses works from the ancestral weaving traditions of various indigenous cultural communities spanning the Philippine Archipelago.

    The exhibit is just a small selection from the over 150-piece collection of various cultural artifacts which have been collected over forty years.

    While traveling over the Philippines in the late 60s and early 70s, Linda have met some members of the various cultural communities of the country, and have enjoyed the experience of seeing them at work on their art and culture. But modern times have encroached fast into their traditions. Some were slowly losing the meaning of who they were, and their beautiful culture was fading away.

    At this point, she decided that one of the ways of preserving their culture was to collect some of the artifacts for posterity and hopefully, someday, share them with people who maybe interested in doing research or in knowing what their lives were. The result is this small exhibit which has been offered to the Filipino American community of Los Angeles to enjoy.

    To quote Linda, “My husband and I are merely caretakers, so to speak, of the cultural artifacts in our collection, preserving them for the generation that follows.”

    This exhibit is curated by Maryrose Cobarrubias Mendoza and Joseph Santarromana. Both artists will also curate the next exhibit called Strands, Part ll Exhibit: Contemporary Filipino and Filipino American Artists Encounter Textile, August 18-October 28, 2018.

    Opening Reception: Saturday, August 18. 4-7pm. RSVP requested. Email:

    This exhibit will feature works by Filipino American contemporary artists Cirilo Domine and Christine Morla, and Manila’s Aze Ong, all of whom have been conceptually, spiritually, or formally inspired to use textiles as a starting point of inquiry.


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    Filipinos, Vietnamese celebrate RP’s court victory over China in sea dispute

    July 18th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    File photo of a recent Philippine Independence Day (June 12, 2018) joint rally by Filipinos and Vietnamese in front of the Chinese embassy in Los Angeles. Photo by Ren Arrieta

    FILIPINO Americans and their Vietnamese American allies on Thursday held another joint demonstration in front of the People’s Republic of China’s consular office in Los Angeles to protest the alleged territorial incursions of the Asian superpower in the West Philippine Sea.

    The protest was timed with the second anniversary of the decision of the United Nations (UN) Arbitral Tribunal that validated the Philippine government’s jurisdictional claim over of the disputed sea territory.

    The rally was joined by the members of the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance (FAHRA), the Los Angeles Samahang Magdalo, Global Pinoy Diaspora, USP4GG, Af3IRM-South Bay and the Southern Vietnamese Refugee Association of Southern California (SVRASC).

    The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) deployed about a dozen of policemen around the Chinese consular office at 443 Shatto Place, in mid-city Los Angeles, and prevented the demonstrators to blow their bullhorns during the protest action.

    Unfazed, the demonstrators continued their peaceful gathering by chanting off their demand that China honor the ruling of the UN Arbitral Tribunal and leave the West Philippine Sea.

    Art Garcia of FAHRA said the demonstration was initially held at the doorstep of the Chinese embassy. However, the police asked them to move away, prompting them to continue their protest action across the street.

    Garcia considered Thursday’s protest action as a big step in the over-all efforts of the Filipino people to pressure the Chinese government to respect Philippine sovereignty.

    Similar protest actions were also held simultaneously by Filipino expatriates in Guam, Saipan, Vancouver in Canada and in San Francisco, USA.

    The demonstration started at 12:00 p.m. and lasted for an hour, specifically as provided in their rally permit.

    On June 12, on the celebration of the 120th Philippine Independence Day, Filipino and Vietnamese demonstrators also picketed the said Chinese embassy to demand that they leave the West Philippine Sea.

    The UN Arbitral Tribunal has said that “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the “nine-dash line.”

    The Philippines has asked the tribunal to rule on China’s claim to the contested waters in consonance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

    China and the Philippines are both signatories to the said convention.

    The tribunal concluded that China engaged in unlawful behavior in Philippine waters when it built a large artificial island on an atoll known as Mischief Reef.

    The Chinese government has built a military airstrip and naval facilities in the said island.

    The so-called “nine-dash-line” is a demarcation line used by the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) to assert their claims on major parts of the South China Sea.

    The contested area includes the locations of the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands, Pratas Islands, Macclesfield Bank and the Scarborough Shoal.

    The claim to these islands by the two feuding Chinese governments are being contested by other countries, aside from the Philippines, such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.


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    “Boom jazz tic” concert delivers the bang!

    July 10th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    (From left to right) Belly dancer Diane Caneda, Japan-based singer/songwriter Emma Cordero, comedian Mary Ann Muah and one of the show’s organizers Rose Sarreal thank the audience at the end of the show. Photo by Teodoro Yap

    A HASTILY organized concert dubbed “Boom Jazz Tic,” which was primarily meant to raise fund for the Filipino Cultural Center (FCC) and to provide a venue for a visiting Japan-based Filipina artist, led to an entertaining “birit” showdown between the three principal performers.

    “It kind of turned into something like a contest on who could belt out the highest notes,” observed Elizabeth Zaide, one of the show’s organizers.

    The show took place at the Filipino Cultural Center in historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles last June 28.

    Crooner Jimmy Corrales, on the accompaniment of his regular guitarist Teody Babiera, opened the show with his own high note versions of classic love songs such as “Yesterday”(The Beatles).

    Japan-based singer and songwriter Emma Cordero, on other hand, also kept the musical notes high up on the air with her original songs and a couple of traditional songs such as the “Amazing Grace.”

    April Velasco (left) of the Hearts of Rhythm Band poses with (right) host/singer Lani Sapphire. Photo by Pol Joaquin

    But April Velasco and her Hearts of Rhythm Band even intensified the excitement with their upbeat renditions of classic disco songs as “I’m so excited” (Pointer Sisters).

    April’s bouncy high note songs egged the audience to get up and fill up the dance floor.

    Belly dancer Diane Caneda came out as a pleasant surprise. Her colorful costume and atypical dance routine visibly evoked the crowd’s curiosity.

    A sad moment came when comedian Mary Ann Muah was called for her number. She was supposed to do a full stand-up comedy performance that night, but two days before the show, her mother, Teresa Romero Cidro, 73; passed away.

    Nevertheless, a professional artist that she is, she decided that the “show must go on.” However, Mary Ann shortened her performance and just opted to sing a couple of songs — one of which was dedicated to her mother.

    Lani Sapphire, who was also noted singer in the Los Angeles area, pleasantly hosted the show.

    DJ Reggie filled up the show’s music, audio and light requirements.

    The show was put up by Rose Sarreal, Elizabeth Zaide, Odette Galino, Beyond Deadlines Southern California Bureau Chief Abner Galino, Pol Joaquin and Teodoro Yap.


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    Sen. Grace Poe calls on Fil-Ams to protect undocumented Pinoys

    July 7th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Philippine Senator Grace Poe (6th from right) hands a plaque of appreciation to LACFAEA president Antonio F. Mendoza. Other union officers 2nd vice president Edwin Martinez (3rd from right) and advisory board chair Marge Ordiales (4th from right) look on. Photo by Tony Garcia

    “SUWELDONG Sibuyas? Alam n’yo ba ‘yun? Mapaluluha ka kapag hinati-hati mo na sa iba’t ibang gastusin.”

    Clearly the most applauded of all the jokes that Senator Grace Poe delivered last week in front of the members and officers of the Los Angeles County Filipino American Employees Association (LACFAEA) in downtown Los Angeles.

    Humor partly mirrors social realities and Sen. Poe’s “sweldo” jokes probably were not just purely intended to elicit laughter. For all we know, they were actually punch lines (pun intended).

    Before the “sweldo” jokes, Poe mentioned the Philippine current inflation rate of 4.17 percent which has ballooned from year 2016’s inflation rate of 1.78 percent. Thais is a staggering 50 percent inflation hike, resulting in higher prices of basic commodities and the weakening of the Philippine currency.

    Wag po kayong matuwa,” Poe hushed the crowd when the peso-dollar exchange rate was mentioned in the ensuing conversation.

    Mas malaki nga po ang value ng ipinapadala nyo, pero mas tumataas ang presyo ng bilihin doon.”

    For the most part of her speech, Poe recalled her life as an immigrant in the US with her husband Neil Llamanzares.

    At one point during her speech, the Philippine senator urged the audience to empathize with undocumented Filipinos in the US.

    “… Marami sa atin, lalong lalo na ngayon, na medyo kabado di ba? Siguro wala dito sa kwartong ito, pero tiyak may mga kilala kayo na matagal na ditong nakatira sa Amerika pero sa kasawiang palad hindi nila naayos ang kanilang pamamalagi rito at ngayon namemiligro sila. Tulungan natin sila hangga’t maari. Huwag ‘yung tayo mismo pa ang magpahamak sa kanila.”

    Poe said that living in the US trained her to possess work ethics and to do away with sense of entitlement. She added that living in the US makes people recognize and appreciate the essence of tolerance, diversity, professionalism and the importance of strong democratic institutions.

    The Philippine senator also urged the audience to set a good example and become positive forces of change in each of the communities that they belong.

    “I know that you here (in the US), not because you love the Philippine less, but because you also have to pursue personal goals,” Poe said, adding that by representing themselves well, Filipino Americans bring pride to their country of origin.

    LACFAEA is an organization that aims to the Filipino Americans employees “rights to peaceful assembly” to “achieve their cultural, economic and social goals.” It also endeavors to foster brotherhood and preserve the national identity and cultural heritage of Filipino American employees.

    LACFAEA’s officers are president and chair of the Board Antonio F. Mendoza, 1st vice president Rene Galano, 2nd vice president Edwin Martinez, treasurer Frank Ong, auditor Laura Sakihara, public relations officer Rosalinda Cruz, public relations officer Ariel Verayo.

    Its board is composed Vangie Valdez, Bituin Haban, Jose Manglicmot Jr., Henry Ong, Adol Aguayon, Antonio Millonado, Rodolfo Brillantes and Angelica Martin.

    Marge Ordiales (chairwoman), Emma Bravo, Loda Ong and Irene Q. Mendoza sit at its advisory board.

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