Posts by Abner:

    Pinoy designer gets a crack at Ms. Universe

    December 7th, 2017

    Miss Zambia Isabel Chikoti tries the national costume created for her by Filipino designer Carl Andrada at the dressing of Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas during the 2017 Miss Universe pageant. Photo © Tony Garcia

    A BUDDING Filipino fashion designer from Los Angeles had the opportunity to show off his creativity in the runway of the recently concluded Ms. Universe 2017 pageant held in Las Vegas.

    Carl Andrada’s design, which was worn by Miss Zambia Isabel Chikoti, didn’t make it to the top 10 best national costumes. It was Miss Japan Momoko Abe who won the Miss Universe national costume competition but the Miss Universe Zambia team was apparently impressed with Andrada and already retained the designer for next year’s competition.

    I am so happy that they really liked my gown and I am looking forward to again create Ms. Zambia’s national costume next year,” Andrada said, adding that it has always been a dream for him to see his work being worn on the runway of the Miss Universe pageant.

    Andrada was assisting a candidate from Mrs. Asia-USA at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center when the Miss Universe National Costume competition was airing.

    Naluha po ako sa tuwa habang pinapanood ko online ‘yung lumalakad si Miss Zambia na suot ‘yung design kong national costume,” Andrada recalled.

    I dedicate the honor to Mamang. Her dedication to her craft and arts inspired me.”

    Filipino designer Carl Andrada takes a selfie with Miss Zambia Isabel Chikoti at the sidelines of the 2017 Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas last month. Photo © Tony Garcia

    Miss Zambia’s costume received a lot of positive feedback from pageant enthusiasts and from Zambian people as well.

    Last July, a friend introduced Andrada to Alma Cabasal, Miss Philippines Earth-Water, who was then looking for outfits to wear for the launching of “Trash in a Bin” campaign being spearheaded by Miss Earth Ghana Deborah Eyram Dudor in Accra, the capital of Ghana.

    Andrada sent Cabasal some gowns to wear to the affair.

    Cabasal’s roommate 2016 Miss Earth Zambia Katrina Ketty Kabaso were impressed by Andrada’s designs and asked permission to wear a couple of them.

    Kabaso got a lot of compliments while wearing Andrada’s gowns which were labeled as Carmelo Designs.

    The event was attended by the First Lady of Ghana Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo.

    Weeks later, Kabaso recommended Andrada to Alice Rowlands Fall-Mordi, national director of Miss Universe-Zambia and 2010 Miss Universe-Zambia.

    It was exciting but challenging as well, Andrada recalled.

    I am quite adept in designing Philippine costume, but I haven’t done a costume for another country,” Andrada said.

    Andrada spent a lot of time researching on the internet on Zambia’s history, geography, culture, and even products to be able to come up with a design.

    The Filipino designer came up with a design that touches on the Zambian national flag and copper, a mineral abundant in the said country and considered as one of the greatest contribution of Zambia to mankind.

    Upon approval of the design, Andrada worked with Philippine-based prop master Marlon Soriano.

    Andrada has been designing costumes and evening gowns for contestants of Binibining Pilipinas-USA, Miss Philippines-USA and Miss/Mrs. Asia-USA pageants since 2015. He has been participating in the weekly Metropolitan Fashion.

    Andrada uses unconventional techniques and employs indigenous materials on his designs. His first experience to design for an international beauty pageant was during 2015 Miss Earth pageant in Vienna, Austria.

    During the competition, Andrada created the national costume of Miss Earth-Suriname from braided coco palm leaves.

    In the 2016, won the Best National Costume Award at the 2016 Binibining Pilipinas-USA(now Miss Filipina International pageant). The costume was created from “banig” and “tambo.”

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    South Border “originals” to hold reunion concert in Los Angeles

    December 5th, 2017

    Old South Border poster Image © by Abner Galino

    MORE than a decade ago, South Border — the band behind the infinite love song “Kahit Kailan,” bade goodbye to its two vocalists Vince Alaras and Duncan Ramos after which the rest of the band migrated to the United States.

    The band members had to leave the “South Border” in the Philippines even when most of them remained engaged with their music and art.

    Two months ago, the former bandmates played together at Josephine’s Cerritos, one of the few places here in Los Angeles and suburbs that features live performances of Filipino bands.

    As expected, the former bandmates were easily recognized by the crowd as the “South Border.”

    Inadvertently, someone who promoted the South Border in the Philippines when it was still an upcoming band, saw the musicians play in a popular Filipino club and restaurant in Cerritos a couple of months ago.

    The former show promoter, Aljess Bernardo, who has also migrated in the US and has become a disc jockey, approached the former South Border members. He showed them a throwback picture of a South Border’s poster used in the promotion of their concert in a Bulacan college.

    They were able to recognize each other and, as one might expect, the former South Border bandmates’ reactions to that old concert poster ranged from hysterical, to sentimental and downright hilarious.

    A couple of nights later, an idea for a reunion concert here in Los Angeles cropped up.

    I worked on the idea got because they (former South Border members) were excited about it. And I thought, why not? I’m sure their fans, and they are many, are also eager to watch them playing together again,” said Bernardo who is better known here as DJ Aljess.

    To cut the story short, DJ Aljess got the group’s nod for a sort of a reunion concert on December 22 at the Envision Center in the City of Van Nuys. The concert has been titled: The Jingle Ball 2017 (SB Project “Come Together – The Reunion Concert).

    The concert would be amply augmented by two of the best Filipino American vocals here, Leo Mercedez and Dylan Durias.

    Leo, one of the few vocalists who could belt out a Bruno Mars song almost effortlessly, has a lengthy and closer tie with the group. He has played with some of the former South Border guys in Las Vegas.

    It’s certainly wouldn’t be off-the-wall to bring in sexiness of Geneva Cruz to an otherwise pure celebration of pop and R&B music.

    Beauty queen and performer Shekinah Paguirigan has started rehearsing a performance number with the popular Filipino dance crew, the Junior New System (JNS). The group was the 2016 grand champion of World Championships of the Performing Arts (WCOPA) and has been known, not only for being funny and entertaining, but as well for their breathtaking maneuvers.

    More sexiness and musicality are expected from LA Pop princess Jacque Abad Santos, Bianca Jolyn Garcia, Belle (Belden Cahapay-Fujimara) and Aira Bella Luna.

    Special numbers would also be provided by WCOPA grand champion Garth Garcia and artist King Pintal.

    The show is to be hosted by mother and daughter Ging and Ashley Ragasa.

    Going back to the South Border, the band was formed in 1993. Its name was a tribute to the roots of its member who mostly hailed from Davao, a province in the southern Philippines.

    By 1996, South Border was clustered with top pop bands such as Side A, True Faith, NeoColours and Freestyle.

    In the succeeding year, South Border won the most number of trophies at the 10th Awit Awards that included: Best Performance by a New Duo or Group, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Produced Record of the Year for their hit song Kahit Kailan.

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    Filipino food trending in the culinary world — Bourdain and Zimmern

    November 27th, 2017

    American food connoisseurs Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern. Image ©

    ANTHONY Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern, two renowned American food connoisseurs, said the current trending of Filipino food in the United States would lead to its rise in the culinary world.

    Since the two iconic American food connoisseurs have been proclaiming the eventual trending of Filipino food in the United States, it should be noted that their forecasts stemmed from sincere professional estimations and the bequests of their friendships with Filipino Americans.

    Very few Fil-Am would disagree with Bourdain when he declared “sisig” as the very likely dish that would “win the hearts and minds,” not only of Americans but of the world as well (interview with CNN’s The Source).

    Zimmern, for his part, has said in an interview with Business Insider “their use of acidity, the quality of their food has the best of Asian cuisine and the best of sort of what happens when really good Asian food…island Asian food brushes up against Spanish culture. The Spanish had colonized the Philippines for almost 500 years at one point. So, the influences are heartfelt.”

    As the sizzling sisig appears to eclipse the popularity of adobo among non-Filipino foodies, there is also a growing concern that such may just reinforce sideline impressions that Filipino food is mostly flavorful but unhealthy.

    Bourdain himself noticed, we make sisig from all the parts of a pig (snout, ear, jowl, tongue, liver and skin) that Americans would not knowingly eat.

    Well, FYI Mr. Bourdain, arrozcaldo, not sisig, is the bestseller at the Sari Sari Store inside the Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles. Sisig here is not served on a traditional sizzling plate but as a rice topping.

    By the way, in Los Angeles — home to some half a million Filipino Americans — there is a dearth of Filipino restaurants that aim for mainstream clientele and celebrity Filipina Chef Coco P. Cruz explained why.

    “It away is a simple matter of practicality,” Chef Coco said.

    Chef Coco P. Cruz ©

    Because there is a sizable target market, investments are more secured in putting up traditional Filipino eateries as against experimental Filipino restaurants, added Chef Coco who is also into catering and event planning business.

    Chef Coco stressed that the eventual trending of Filipino food lies in the courage, energy, skills and creativity of those who venture in non-traditional Filipino restaurants.

    “We are lucky we have these personalities (Bourdain and Zimmern) drumbeating for us. They certainly make it easier for us Filipino chefs,” Chef Coco said.

    “But nurturing a positive perception for Filipino food would also greatly help our cause,” she added.

    To the Filipina chef, the childhood memories of our lolas or nanays obliging us to finish our “sabaw (broth)” as we fight off a lingering malaise could not be dismissed as mere acquiescence to quack doctor’s remedies that abound in the Philippines but a collective affirmation to the efficacy of our sabaw recipes.

    “Because those sabaw ng sinigang or nilaga really contained nutrients needed by the maysakit,” Chef Coco stressed.

    Sinigang, which uses all kinds of meats and fish, is a broth recipe made from extracts of tamarind, guava, santol, kamias, kalamansi and other local fruits that are rich in vitamin C.

    The fruits are boiled and mashed on strainers to extract their juices and mixed with the broth.

    “Let’s bring it (the process) back here, let’s do away with those instant powder flavors for our sabaw dishes,” Chef Coco raved.

    Popular Filipino vegetables such ampalaya (bitter gourd), kalabasa (squash) and okra — to name a few — are even advertised for their supposed medicinal qualities.

    “So I think we have to put the word out for the health conscious people that Filipino food is a great option out there,” the chef pointed out.

    Recipes from our Spanish colonial period, according to the Filipina chef, remain under served by those aiming for the mainstream clientele.

    “Our menudo, kaldereta, afritada and kare-kare need some more endorsements from our chefs,” chef Coco said.

    Menudo is the Filipino take on a classic Spanish soup that remains popular here in LA.

    “Kahit na ‘yung pinaghugasan ng bigas (the water used to wash rice), we use that to bring flavor to our dishes. And for me, that is the essence of fusion — using the ingredients and techniques that were passed down to us by our lolas and nanays, and mixing them with what is current to present a dish that stands out as a Filipino dish but is palatable to non-Filipinos,” explained Chef Coco.

    Chef Coco grew up in a barrio in the Philippines and experienced gathering and/or catching vegetables and animals that abound in her environment.

    “I remember my mom back then, one night when she heard frogs croaking she would say – Do you hear what I hear? Go out and catch some. That would be our dinner for tonight. And my mother cooked them so good because when she cooks, she puts her heart on it. That’s one of the most important lesson I learned from her.”

    Before she became a celebrity chef, Coco worked as a helper in a kitchen of a Las Vegas hotel. Her dedication to work was rewarded by a scholarship in culinary arts.

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    “Stateside” see its first screening in Los Angeles

    November 24th, 2017

    Filipino actor Mon Confiado poses with Stateside co-star American actress Olivia Hultgren during a cocktail party shortly after the movie’s screening. Photo © Abner Galino

    CHALLENGING is an understatement when used to describe producing a film here in Los Angeles where, as we all know, the legendary Hollywood is situated.

    So, more than a year after the makers, the crew and the cast of the movie “Stateside” held a press conference to announce the then impending screening of their movie, it was only last November 18 when it finally got a screening at the Raleigh Studios on Melrose St. in Hollywood.

    Director Marcial Chavez said that during the long lull, many of their shots were ruined, prompting them to make adjustments with their storyline.

    Filipino actor Mon Confiado confided that he also partly caused the delay as he had to finish his other commitments before he was able to come back to the US to shoot the remaining scenes.

    “But I am happy now that we were able to do the screening. It is really an honor and achievement to be part of this movie,” Confiado said.

    Chavez said that in reconstructing the film, he opted to bring more drama rather than action into it.

    “Mon is a good actor and he was able to deliver what we wanted,” Chavez said.

    Stateside is a movie that attempts to tell a story of an undocumented immigrant without the politics that ordinarily surround the issue.

    The main character, Andrew, figured in a series of unfortunate incidents that landed him in the city’s homeless area, better known here as the Skid Row. He eventually found love in the character played by American actress Olivia Hultgren.

    Hultgren provided a refreshing ambience to the film with her pretty face and charming blue eyes, and of course, with her convincing acting.

    Commenting on the movie; Hultgren said the movie is for people looking for “a tale of hope.”

    “If you are in a place where you feel discouraged, this should give you hope,” Hultgren said.
    Producer Francisco Fabiculanan said Filipino American would still have to yet a little more to see “Stateside” on regular theaters.

    “We would be submitting it to a couple of film festivals here and afterwards, we would start planning for its release,” Fabiculanan said.

    Interestingly, Stateside in Filipino colloquially means the “best of all imports.” The word apparently evolved in the Philippines when there were still an abundance of products that carried “made in USA” tags.

    “Stateside ‘yan,” was often said to stress that a product was made in the USA and therefore, superior to other products made somewhere else.

    The borrowed word lost its luster when American companies began manufacturing products in China.

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    Pinoy bakery renews “Trip to the Philippines prize contest”

    November 22nd, 2017

    Guests to the launching of the 2017-2018 Leelin’s VIP Rewards Loyalty Sweepstakes raise the thumbs up sign as they are led by “Momsy” Leelin (seated 7th from left). With her is her son and Leelin Bakery and Café founder Menard (seated 6th from left) and her grandson Michael (seated 5th from left). On her right is Philippine Air Lines (PAL) LAX area manager Michelle Narvaez. Also present are Cerritos Councilor Frank Yokoyama (seated 4th from left), host Thelma Sugay (standing 1st from left), singer Jaime Bacani (standing 3rd from left) and former wrestler Brittany Fetkin (standing 5th from left).

    A RENOWNED Filipino Bakery and Cafe in Southern California this month has relaunched its popular Loyalty Rewards contest that offers free round trip tickets to the Philippines and a culinary tour as prizes in a bid to promote the country’s culture and heritage.

    Leelin Bakery and Cafe, in cooperation with the Philippine Department of Tourism and the Philippine Airlines, relaunched the LRC during a modest ceremony in Cerritos City on Nov. 15.

    PDOT Director Richmond Jimenez and Philippine Airlines (PAL) LAX area manager Michelle Narvaez graced the affair.

    The launch was jointly hosted by Filipino American anchorwoman Thelma Sugay and former Japanese American professional wrestler Brittany Fetkin. Entertainment was amply provided by local karaoke host and singer Jaime Bacani.

    Visitors to the launch were served with pancit, lumpiang shanghai, sisig na bangus, and dinuguan topped with crispy lechon.

    Last year, a Filipino American who works at the Superior Court won the grand prize. Unfortunately, the winner was not around to tell his story.

    But Cerritos City Councilor Frank Aurelio Yokoyama, who won year long free meals in the 2016-2017 Leelin VIP Rewards Sweepstakes, was around to attest to the joy of such a reward.

    “I was so lucky to win Leelin Bakery and Café for a year, I was so sad when the year ended,” Yokoyama jested at the end of his short speech.

    Michael Leelin, chief financial officer of the firm and a third-generation Leelin, said the bakery started the contest in 2008 and has been in partner with the PDOT ever since.

    “Since 2008, we’ve been so blessed that we’ve been partners with the Department of Tourism,” Leelin said adding that “the partnership with the Philippine tourism department has been a manifestation of the company’s desire to promote Filipino culture and heritage.”

    Leelin also said that one need not buy anything to become a VIP Rewards member. Interested customers only need to sign up for it in any Leelin Bakery and Café stores.

    For his part, Jimenez disclosed four million people have already visited the Philippines during the past eight months.

    “We are expecting more visitors to come as the holiday season comes in,” he added.

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    Fil-Am youths show up for what could be last “Hollywood march”

    November 18th, 2017

    A bike-riding Los Angeles policeman watches on the roadside as Filipino American marchers mass up for the 17th annual Veterans Day March to seek justice for Filipino WW II veterans at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Ivar St. on Saturday (November 11). Photo © Abner Galino

    MORE than a hundred Filipino American youths showed up Saturday last week for what could be the last of the highly successful annual “Hollywood march” for Filipino World War II veterans.

    Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) National Coordinator Al P. Garcia said the Los Angeles Police Commission has informed the organizers that they will no longer be given permit to hold the same demonstration next year.

    “The ban on rallies and demonstrations is not specific to us, but for everyone else who wish to hold protest or demonstrations in that part of the town,” Garcia explained.

    The impending ban on all marches or demonstrations along Hollywood Boulevard was reportedly triggered by a petition filed by a group of Hollywood businessmen.

    “But the march to seek justice for Filipino veterans will still go on. The City of Los Angeles is a big place and we would surely find another venue to hold this demonstration,” Garcia added.

    Filipino veteran Rogaciano Dagdag sits on his wheelchair while waiting for the march to start. Photo © Abner Galino

    Filipino WW II veteran Rogaciano Dagdag, who sat on a wheelchair for most of the time, expressed his elation over the well-attended rally.

    Masaya ako kasi nakikita ko ang mga kabataan na nakikipaglaban para sa amin,” Dagdag told Weekend Balita/US Asian Post.

    Dagdag said he was not able to come to Washington D.C. last October to receive his US Congressional medal because he could not afford the expenses that the travel would entail.

    “But they would send me one (medal) here in my home,” Dagdag intimated.

    This year’s Hollywood march was special because this was also 75th Anniversary of the Fall of Bataan (April 9, 1942) and the infamous “Death March” that followed the surrender of United States Army of the Far East (USAFFE) forces to the invading Japanese army.

    As planned, the marchers did five symbolic stops to commemorate the five places in the Philippines where the American and Filipino soldiers were allowed to stop during the grueling 70-mile march.

    The Japanese Imperial Army forcible transferred some 80,000 captured Allied soldiers from Bagac in Bataan to Capas in Tarlac.

    The transfer began on April 9, 1942 after a three-month battle in the mountains of Bataan. It is estimated that around 5,000 to 18,000 Filipino died while around 700 Americans died during the march.

    The march was later judged by an Allied military commission to be a war crime because of the abuses and wanton killings that happened during the march. Despite the sacrifices offered by the Filipino fighters and by the Filipino people in general, the United States Congress passed the Rescission Act of 1946 that deprived the Filipino veterans of their rights and benefits as members of the United States armed forces.

    Of the 66 countries that fought with the US during WW II, only Filipinos were stripped of benefits.

    This year marks the 71st year that the Filipino WWII veterans started their fight for recognition and for the thrashing of the rescission law.

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    Filipino Human Rights Defenders back two US lawmakers statement on President Duterte’s dismal HRs record

    November 16th, 2017

    Image ©

    THE Filipino American Human Rights Alliance lauded two US lawmakers who told Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte that “sovereignty does not give governments free rein to kill their own people at will.”

    Art Garcia, FAHRA coordinator in Los Angeles, said the statement of Republican and Democratic Congressmen Randy Hultgren and James P. McGovern, co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, was on point.

    “Precisely the point that we are trying to put across — that the foreign governments and their representatives who are calling out the Philippine government for its deplorable policy on human rights are not intervening in the country’s internal affairs but are simply being the conscience of humanity. We do have obligations under international laws because we chose to become a part of the civilized world,” Garcia explained.

    Garcia made the explanation after the US Congress’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission has issued the following statement:

    “Since President Duterte came into office, his security forces have killed thousands of Philippines citizens in what he calls a ‘war against drugs.’ As Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US. Congress, we have encouraged Mr. Duterte to reconsider his policies in keeping with his country’s obligations under international law. His most recent response was to threaten to ban each of us from traveling to his country.”

    American lawmakers Randy Hultgren and Jim McGovern, who co-chair the US House of Representatives’ human rights panel. Hultgren, McGovern offices/Released

    “Today we are stating clearly that ‘sovereignty’ does not give governments free rein to kill their own people at will. We will continue to stand up for human rights and the rule of law in the Philippines and everywhere else in the world, in keeping with American and international values. We urge Mr. Duterte to join us in that endeavor. Should the situation in the Philippines improve, it will be our pleasure to recognize that the next time we hold a hearing on that country.”

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. © Erik De Castro / Reuters

    It can be recalled that Duterte has threatened to ban the two American lawmakers from coming to the Philippines after they criticized US. President Donald Trump for inviting him to visit the United States.

    The two lawmakers earlier asked Trump to raise concerns over the alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in his meeting with Duterte.

    “During your upcoming visit to the Philippines for meetings with regional leaders at the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit in Manila, including Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, we urge you to impress upon President Duterte the United States’ profound concern over reported extra-judicial killings associated with the Philippine government’s war on drugs,” the congressmen wrote to Trump.

    The Philippine government has denied that Trump discussed the issue of extra-judicial killings when he met with Duterte. But a White House statement claimed that “the two sides underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are essential, and agreed to continue mainstreaming the human rights agenda in their national programs to promote the welfare of all sectors, including the most vulnerable groups.”

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ©

    Meanwhile, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau courageously brought the issue of extra-judicial killings and human rights with Duterte, telling the media that he told President Duterte that “we are concerned with human rights, the extrajudicial killings. I impressed upon him the need to respect the rule of law and, as always, offered Canada’s support and help as a friend to help move forward on what is a real challenge.”

    On the other hand, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, for her part, said “the spate of drug-related deaths in the Philippines require investigation and oversight.”

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    Undocumented Filipino Pulitzer prize winning journalist honored

    November 11th, 2017

    Consul General Adelio Angelito s. Cruz (seated extreme right) listens to a performance of Grupong Pendong during the 20the anniversary celebration of the Pilipino Workers Center. Photo © Teodoro Yap

    UNDOCUMENTED Filipino Pulitzer award winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas was honored by the Pilipino Workers Center, one of the most successful non-profit organizations serving Filipino and Filipino American workers in the United States, last Wednesday during its 20th anniversary celebration in downtown Los Angeles.

    The PWC said the honor was in recognition of Vargas’ advocacy to help undocumented Filipinos in the US.

    Born in the Philippines, a former American colony, Vargas was raised in the US from the age of twelve. He was part of the Washington Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for its coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting.

    Vargas is the founder and CEO of Define American, a non-profit media advocacy organization that uses storytelling to humanize the conversation around immigration, citizenship and identity in the US. He revealed his status as an undocumented immigrant in 2011 in an effort to promote dialogue about the immigration system in the US. and to advocate for the DREAM Act, which would provide children in similar circumstances with a path to citizenship.

    “I am an American. I just don’t have the right papers,” Vargas said.

    Vargas, dedicated his PWC award to all undocumented Filipinos during a brief acceptance speech.

    “This is for all the undocumented Filipinos. It is no longer the time for us to go ‘tago ng tago.’ It is time for us to claim ourselves and claim this country. Because you cannot define American without defining the history of Filipinos in America. You cannot define American without talking about the Filipino fishermen in New Orleans, the Filipino manongs in Hawaii and in LA and all over California. You cannot define American without talking about the history of this country as it relate to the Spanish-American war and the taking of our country (Philippines) as a colony. You cannot define American without acknowledging the varied history of our people who’ve been in this country before it was United States of America,” Vargas said to the applause of his audience.

    The celebration, held at the historic Pico House on Wednesday, also saw the PWC honoring State Senator Connie Leyva for authoring Senate Bill 1015 which removed the 2017 sunset provision of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and made the law’s provisions permanent.

    Leyva said she was honored and humbled by the PWC recognition.

    “This bill is about honoring all workers. Sometimes people want to honor workers but they don’t want to honor all workers. I’d been in the labor movement for 20 years before I ran for office and this bill was so easy for me to do because it was the right thing to do. And I just want to ask you; I want the first right of refusal on any other legislation that you may want to carry,” Leyva told the largely Filipino American crowd.

    There are over 300,000 domestic workers who serve as housekeepers, nannies, and caregivers in private homes in California. A big number of these workers are Filipinos or Filipino Americans.

    Without them, many Californians would be forced to forgo their jobs to tend their households — which would be economically disastrous.

    The PWC has been at the heart of all the efforts to earn benefits for these workers, protect their rights and help them seek redress for abuses committed against them, regardless of their immigration status.

    Philippine Consul General in Los Angeles Adelio Angelito S. Cruz amply recognized the PWC achievements and contributions to the welfare of Filipino workers during his speech.

    Cruz even told PWC Executive Director Aquilina Soriano Versoza that he would want the government of the Philippines to honor the works of the Filipino American community leader, even promising her that he would work for such to happen.

    Among the PWC’s standout achievements is its construction of the Larry Itliong Village in downtown Los Angeles which functions as a community center and a 45-unit housing edifice.

    PWC also owns a Philippine jeepney which is part of its continuing promotion of the Historic Filipinotown and as well as of Philippine culture.

    The 20th year anniversary celebration was greatly enhanced by remarkable performances by Grupong Pendong, Pakuragayan Kulintang Ensemble, Malaya Filipino American Dance Art, Irene Soriano, activist couple Stephanie Sajor and Eddy Gana Jr., (known as Steady) and Iraq war veteran and hip-hop artist Mark “Bagyo” Villamac Ho and his brother Luwee.

    Bagyo, who is battling life-threatening illnesses, has also been driving the Philippine jeepney tours of the historic Filipinotown.

    Actress Giselle Toengi hosted the ceremony.

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    “Hollywood march” for Filipino WW II veterans set

    November 10th, 2017

    A Filipino-American marcher poses in front of Philippine jeepney while holding a placard during last year’s Hollywood march. Photo © Abner Galino

    LOS Angeles – THE highly successful annual justice march for Filipino World War II veterans, better known here as the Hollywood march, is all set for tomorrow, November 11.

    Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) National Coordinator Al P. Garcia said participants to the 17th annual Veterans Day March would be assembling at the corner of Ivar St. and Hollywood Boulevard from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The veterans, widows of veterans and their family members would meet at the Filipino Cultural Center (FCC) at 1740 W Temple St., Los Angeles and ferried to Ivar St. corner Hollywood Boulevard.

    Garcia added that this year’s Hollywood march is special because it would also mark the 75th Anniversary of the April 9, 1942 Fall of Bataan and the infamous “Death March” that followed the surrender of United States Army of the Far East (USAFFE) forces to the invading Japanese army.

    The marchers, according to Garcia, would be doing five symbolic stops to commemorate the five times that the marching American and Filipino soldiers were allowed to stop during the grueling 70-mile march by their captors.

    The Japanese Imperial Army forcibly made some 80,000 captured Allied soldiers march under the sweltering heat of the sun from Bagac, Bataan to Capas, Tarlac.

    The forcible march began on April 9, 1942 after a three-month battle in the mountains of Bataan. It is estimated that around 5,000 to 18,000 Filipino died while around 700 Americans died during the march.

    The march was later judged by an Allied military commission to be a war crime because of the abuses and wanton killings that happened during the march.

    Despite the sacrifices of Filipino fighters in particular and the Filipino people in general, the United States Congress passed the Rescission Act of 1946 which deprived the Filipino veterans of their rights and benefits as members of the United States armed forces.

    Of the 66 countries that fought with the US during WW II, only Filipinos were stripped of benefits.

    This year marks the 71st year that Filipino WWII veterans started their fight for recognition and the thrashing of the rescission law.

    In a related development, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) has recently introduced H.R. 3865, the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2017.

    This bill rights a shameful wrong created when Congress rescinded a promise to Filipino veterans of World War II over 70 years ago,” Rep. Speier said.

    I will not rest until these heroes, and their families, receive the benefits they need and deserve. If America won’t live up to its honor and duty to our allies and friends we may find ourselves alone in our next hour of need.”

    The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contained a provision that provided a lump sum payment of $15,000 for Filipino veterans who are now U.S. citizens and $9,000 for non-citizens. But there have been problems with the implementation of this payment program.

    To be eligible, a veteran has to be on the so-called “Missouri List,” an Army roster of eligible veterans. The Missouri List is incomplete. A 1973 fire destroyed 80 percent of the records for Army personnel from 1912 to 1960. As a result, over 17,000 Filipino veterans have had their claims denied.

    The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act directs the VA to take into account alternative military documentation to determine eligibility.

    The Recovery Act payments were a start, but our nation must bestow the full status it promised these veterans in wartime,” Speier concluded.

    Their average age is 90. Fewer than 15,000 are still alive today, and they are dying at a rate of over 10 a day. For these veterans and their loved ones the time to act is now.”



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    Critically acclaimed PH movie “Birdshot” shown in Asian World Film Festival in Culver City, California

    November 9th, 2017

    CRITICALLY acclaimed Philippine movie “Birdshot” was among the foreign films screened in the just concluded 3rd Asian World Film Festival (AWFF) in Culver City, California.

    A festival organizer said Birdshot’s screening was well attended and amply supported by the staff of the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles.

    Almost simultaneously, Birdshot won in the recently concluded Los Angeles Philippine International Film Festival (LAPIFF) which was screened at the South Bay Pavilion Cinemark at 20700 Avalon Blvd., in the City of Carson. The movie tied with movie Imbisibol the Best Picture Award.

    Birdshot is a mystery and drama film about a farm girl who shot a protected Philippine eagle, not knowing that it is illegal to kill protected animal species, as she wandered off a forest reservation.

    Commendably, as the movie unfolded, director Mikhail Red and his crew were also able to accurately illustrate — visually and cerebrally — the faces and lives of Filipino policemen as they go about their daily grinds.

    The filmmakers were also able to examine the challenges that rank-and-file policemen face as they are caught in the intricacies of a corrupt justice system.

    Birdshot is one of the 22 Oscar® Foreign Language contenders.

    The AWFF, which was held from October 26 to November 6, started on an emotional pitch when it opened through the screening of “Ayla: Daughter of War.”

    The real Ayla (Eun-Ja Kim) and the child actress (Kim Seol) who played the character in the movie pose with a fan shortly after the screening of the true-to-life movie. Photo © Abner Galino

    Ayla is a movie about a story during the Korean War in the 1950s. The main character, Ayla (played by Kim Seol) is based on the true story of child war survivor Eun-Ja Kim who was found and rescued during the war by a Turkish soldier named Suleyman in a heap of bodies.

The Turkish soldier, with the help of fellow soldiers, took care of Ayla in their camp. The bond between Ayla and Suleyman took the form of a father and daughter relationship.

After the war, however, Ayla and Suleyman were separated. The two kept their hopes of being reunited for almost 50 years after their separation.

Actress Kim Seol and the real life Ayla (Eun-Ja Kim) were present during the AWFF opening and were presented to the audience after the screening of the movie.

The AWFF screened a total of 37 foreign films during the week-long festival.

George Takei’s “Allegiance: The Broadway Musical on the Big Screen” closed the festival and was preceded by an awarding ceremony hosted by actors Christopher Kriesa (Fresh Off the Boat, Cast Away) and Alexandra Kahwagi, with Korean actress Banyah Maria Choi presenting the awards to a sold-out audience.

Takei was honored with the Snow Leopard Lifetime Achievement Award for his activism work within the LBGTQ community. The award was presented by Vietnamese actress, singer and philanthropist Ha Phuong.

Dr. Kim’s ‘He Can Do She Can Do’ Award, presented by Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions, was awarded to “A Taxi Driver” (Dir: Jang Hoon, Republic of Korea).

The USD$10,000 award was presented by Peter MaGuire, an executive at Lighthouse Solutions, and the film was chosen by a jury designated by the company.

Local newscasters Sam Rubin and Kimberly Cheng, both of KTLA 5, share a light moment with a foreign actress before the opening ceremony of the Asian World Film Festival in front of the Arclight Cinemas in Culver City last October 26. Photo © Abner Galino

The Snow Leopard Rising Star Award was presented to Sreymoch Sareum for her role in “First They Killed My Father.”

The film’s director, producer and co-screenwriter Angelina Jolie and co-screenwriter and executive producer, Loung Ong, accepted the award on Sreymoch’s behalf at a special screening of the film earlier in the week (October 30).

During the closing night ceremony, the award was re-presented by Jury President Lisa Lu to Olary Yim, Cambodian Community Leader. The award will be taken back to Cambodia and given to Sreymoch.

The Spirit Award for Dedication and Passion was given to Vietnamese actress Ha Phuong and presented by the Festival’s chairman and founder Sadyk Sher-Niyaz.

The Murray Weissman Poster Art Award was given to “Little Gandhi” (Dir: Sam Kadi, Syria; designer: Brian A. Metcalf) and presented by Korean actress, Banyah Maria Choi.

Little Gandhi is Syria’s 2017 Foreign Language Film Oscar contender.

From a total of 16 films in competition, The AWFF Jury Awards, presented by members of the Jury, were:

Snow Leopard Best Picture: A Taxi Driver (Dir: Jang Joon, Republic of Korea) was presented by Sergei Bodrov and accepted by Park Un-Kyoung.

The Snow Leopard Best Actor was actor and director, Aktan Arym Kubat in Centaur, (Kyrgyzstan) was presented by Nancy Wang Yuen.

The Snow Leopard Best Actress: Anoma Janadari in Burning Birds (Dir: Sanjeewa Pushpaumara, Sri Lanka) was presented by Cade Carradine.

A Special Mention was given to Kang-ho Song in A Taxi Driver by Banyah Maria Choi.

The Snow Leopard Special Jury Award went to Mad World (Dir: Wong Chun, Hong Kong)presented by Tuba Büyüküstün.

The Snow Leopard Audience Award was given to Ayla: The Daughter of War (Dir: Can Ulkay, Turkey). The Award was presented by Nathan Wang and accepted by the film’s actor Cade Carradine.

There were two winners in the Snow Leopard Best New Director Award: “Scary Mother” director Ana Urushadze (Georgia), which was presented by Thomas Lin; and “How Victor ‘The Garlic’ Took Alexey ‘The Stud’ To The Nursing Home” director Alexander Hant (Russia), which was presented by Igor Kokarev.

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No Filipino was hurt in Texas gun rampage – Consul General

November 8th, 2017

Consul General Adelio Angelito Cruz Photo © Philippine Consulate General Los Angeles California

NO ONE from the more than 7,000 Filipinos residing in San Antonio, Texas was hurt in the recent gun rampage that claimed the lives of 28 people.

This was confirmed by Los Angeles based Philippine Consul General Adelio Angelito Cruz in a Facebook post as where he also condole with the victims of the tragedy which also wounded 20 other people.

Cruz, at the same time, relayed the sympathy expressed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano to victims of the tragedy.

“We are saddened by this unimaginable tragedy in San Antonio that took the lives of many innocent men, women, and children,” Cayetano said in a statement released by the Philippine foreign affairs office.

“The Filipino people grieve with the families of the victims of this unfortunate incident.”
The shooting happened happened Sunday in the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, a small town outside San Antonio.

Reports said Devin Patrick Kelley, 26 of New Braunfels, Texas walked inside the First Baptist Church past 11 am. and fired his rifle at people attending church services there.

Kelley fled immediately after the incident and was later found dead with a gunshot wound inside his vehicle.

On Monday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Freeman Martin dispelled speculations that the massacre was racially motivated or that it was committed over religious beliefs.

Martin told the media that prior to the attack, Kelley has sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law who was a member of the church. He added that the carnage was apparently linked with the domestic situation going on within the said family.

The incident has been described as the largest mass shooting in Texas history.
The San Antonio shooting came a little over a month after a lone gunman killed 58 people in Las Vegas.

More than 546 people were also injured in that incident, which has been described as the worst mass killing in United States history.

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Pamana ng Lahi exhibit closes on high notes

November 2nd, 2017

Jhay “JhayO” Otamias shows the trophy and the Manny Pacquiao victory photo that won him the top spot in the Pamana ng Lahi’s Best Picture of the Year photo contest. Photo © Teodoro Yap

THE month-long exposition dubbed Pamana ng Lahi at the Filipino Cultural Center in Los Angeles concluded on high notes last Saturday.

Jason “JhayO” Otamias, a boxing photo enthusiast from Torrance, won the 1st place in the “Best Picture of the Year” photography contest. Bienvenido Sibug and Irwin Jazmines placed second and third respectively. The three photographers won trophies and cash prizes.

The photograph of Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao with his arms in raised in victory after beating Mexican-American Jesse Vargas won the first place for Otamias. The photo was taken on November 5, 2016 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Most of Otamias’ work could be seen on the largest boxing portal outside of the US. He also contributes to the GMA network, through Chino Trinidad; and

A five-person jury picked the three winning photos from a pool of 21 entries – former concert pianist Maestro Dexter Grey, professional photographer Romeo Balboa, Chinese artist and photographer Cao Yong, Philippine Consulate-Los Angeles Public Information Officer Cesar Angeles and Filipino American Community of Los Angles (FACLA) President Fernandico Gonong.

The “Best Picture of the Year” photo contest is the third and last segment of a three-part month-long exposition undertaken by the Philippine Institute of Language, Arts and Culture (PILAC) and the FACLA.

The first part of the program was a show of Vics Magsaysay’s photography collection of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared World Heritage sites in the Philippines.

The second part was the exhibit of the works of eight distinguished Filipino American artists that included Rey Zipagan, Bienvenido “Boi” Sibug, Juan “Magoo” Valencia, Luz Balbin-Spanks, Johnny Esj. Otilano, Sal Budz Floriano, Parts Bagani and Vics Magsaysay.

The event was sponsored by Dra. Erlinda Grey, Rose Sarreal, Rosemary Mejia and Grill City.

Rock ‘n roll icon Mon Concepcion and Arturo Garcia, FACLA 2nd vice president display the certificates awarded to them for their contribution to the month-long Pamana ng Lahi exposition. Photo © Teodoro Yap

Veteran performer Mon Concepcion hosted both the opening and closing ceremonies of Pamana ng Lahi. He also entertained the crowd by singing a couple of his compositions and other Filipino hit songs.

Other performers included hip-hop artist and Iraq war veteran Mark “Bagyo” Villamac Ho, who came without fail despite an ongoing battle with life-threatening illnesses; and the Filipino American Community of St. Ignatius and the Silver Lake Adult Day Care Center.

Emily Roberts, PILAC president emeritus, facilitated the issuance of certificates of recognition from the California State Assembly and from the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Meanwhile, Bernie Targa-Ganon, president of PILAC, expressed her gratitude to the eight participating artists, the photographers who competed in the photo contest, the sponsors and the hundreds of visitors who visited the exhibit at the Filipino Cultural Center throughout the month of October as we celebrated the Filipino American History Month.


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Ai-Ai delas Alas bags best actress award PH International Film Festival in Los Angeles

November 1st, 2017

Ai-Ai delas Alas Image ©

ACTRESS-comedienne Ai-Ai delas Alas won the Best Actress award in the recently concluded Los Angeles Philippine International Film Festival where critically acclaimed Filipino movies, Imbisibol and Birdshot, tied for the Best Picture Award.

Ai Ai was adjudged best actress for her moving portrayal of an aging prostitute in a rundown whorehouse in the red light district of Angeles City in Pampanga. The movie is titled Area.

Movie director Louie Ignacio received the award for Ai Ai during a modest ceremony at the Hilton Double Tree Hotel in the City of Carson last Sunday night (October 29).

This (LAPIFF) is different from other international film festivals. The crowd is Filipino and this is a Filipino film festival in LA. So this is very special for us,” Ignacio said after accepting the award in behalf of Ai-Ai.

Actors Arnold Reyes (Birdshot) and Tommy Abuel (Dagsin) tied for the Best Actor Award. While young movie director Mikhael Red (Birdshot) bagged the Best Director Award.

Los Angeles Philippine International Film Festival (LAPIFF) officers and 2017 awardees. In picture are Jush Andowitt of GMA international (4th from left, second row) Liza Dino Esguerra of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (5th from left, second row) LAPIFF founder Abe Pagtama (6th from left, second row), actor Arnold Reyes (5th from left, 1st row) actor Bernardo Bernard (7th from left, 1st row) and movie director Louie Ignacio (extreme right, 1st row). Image © Jhenny Morales Evans

The movie Imbisibol was awarded for Best Screenplay, “The Apology” was adjudged Best Documentary, “EJK” got the Chairman’s Award while the title of Best Short Film was shared by movies Diliman and Supot.

The competing films were show at South Bay Pavilion Cinemark, 20700 Avalon Blvd., Carson City.

The opening ceremony of the Philippine film festival featured youthful Filipino Americans showing off their talents through a collective screening of their short films.

The youthful actors and filmmakers, belonging to a group called FilAm Creative, put together a compilation of original and visionary short movie themes — ranging from forlorn, hilarious to scary — which demonstrated the uniqueness of the psyche of Filipino American youths.

I think this a great platform to showcase all the wonderful creative works from our filmmakers. And this is solely between the networking and the environment that we are building together. We creating a movement of filmmakers that would feature our creative talents in front of the camera and behind the scenes,” explained Meriden Villanueva, FilAm Creative president, during an after-party gathering.

Josh Andowitt of GMA International and one of LAPIFF founders, expressed gratitude to those who participated and as well as those who supported the undertaking in various ways. He particularly thanked Weekend Balita for its sponsorship.

This is a promotion of Filipino films and Filipino filmmakers all over the world,” Andowitt said as he noted that LAPIFF is becoming better and bigger. He added that a rise on viewers’ attendance for the film festival was also observed this year.

Liza Diño Seguerra of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) assisted LAPIFF founder and Hollywood Fil-Am actor Abe Pagtama during the awarding ceremony.


Boxer Mercito Gesta marries “big fan” in San Diego

October 30th, 2017

Boxer/groom Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta with bride Summer Radaza. Photo © Claire and Co.

AS METHODICAL as he is as a boxer, it seems that Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta is as meticulous in finding a life-long partner for forestalled battles outside of the boxing ring.

Last Friday (October 20), Mercito married a longtime fan, Summer Radaza, in a simple and intimate ceremony at the St. Anthony Catholic Church in Laguna Nigel.

We started as friends in 2010. We fell in love two years later and then we got engaged three years after,” Mercito narrated.

So there, while fans might have known Mercito as a boxer who always want to end the fight early, in romance however, he apparently employed a different tactic — preferring to take his victory in round 12.

The pretty bride, Summer, revealed that the romance began on Valentine’s Day in 2012.

We both didn’t have anyone to date and so we decided to hang out together. It (romance) basically started from there,” Summer narrated.

Summer was a big sports fan but was not actually into boxing until he met Mercito.

My (farthest) memory of boxing was when I was a kid, when I was watching boxing with my grandfather,” Summer recalled.

According to her, her love for boxing bloomed when she realized the significance of the sport in the lives of those who were engaged in it.

People depend on it (boxing) for their shot at life, for their livelihood, for everything,” Summer noted.

Summer also recalled Mercito “flying like a butterfly” and decisively pummeling Mexican Ivan Valle to a knockout win when she first saw him in action.

Mercito and Summer were introduced by common friends and the meet up bloomed into a robust friendship.

The marriage proposal came a couple of months back. After a big fight, Mercito intimated, he realized that he has to decide and fight to keep Summer in his life.

Days before the marriage, Mercito posted on social media: “We’ve been through a lot of challenges and obstacles together, but through it all you have always been there for me. You have never given up on me, and I truly admire your unconditional love for me. You are my rock, my soulmate, and my other half. That is why I am marrying this wonderful and beautiful woman in my life. This is the week of our wedding my laaby. I’m excited for us! love you!”

Asked about his plan, Mercito said he wants to see “my junior right away.”

The rising star boxer added he wanted to sire at least three kids with his wife Summer.

The families of both Mercito and Summer hailed from Mandaue in Cebu, Philippines. While Summer grew up in Laguna Nigel, she has been in and out of the Philippines since she was 13 years old.

This year, Mercito has beaten two Mexican fighters in succession, Gilberto “El Flacco” Gonzales (via unanimous decision) in April and Martin “El Brochas” Honorio (via knockout) in July.

Mercito is under the tutelage of legendary coach Freddie Roach and under contract with the Golden Boy Promotions.

During an interview early this year, Mercito said Roach did not change anything out of his fighting style.

Yun ang maganda sa kanya (Roach). Hindi niya binabago ang fighting style mo. Dahil style mo na yun eh. Ang ginagawa niya ini-enhance niya ang skill mo sa iyong fighting style,” Gesta added.

Mercito is based in San Diego and fights in the lightweight division. He was trained by Carl Espinosa, a brother of boxing titlist Gerry, in 2006. When Carl had trouble with his working permit in the US, Gesta returned to the tutelage of his father Aniceto who was his original trainer when he was starting in boxing.

Mercito said aside from Roach’s genius, he also expects to benefit from Wild Card Gym’s core of world-class boxers.

Malaking bagay din po kasi kapag mahuhusay ang mga sparring partners. Talaga pong nasa-simulate ‘yung makakalaban mo,” Gesta added.


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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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