Posts by Abner:

    “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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    Continental Miss Philippines America presents 2018 candidates

    July 6th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    The Continental Miss Philippines America candidates during their presentation at the James Irvine Japanese Garden in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday. Photo by Phillip Ner

    THE Continental Miss Philippines America has presented its final line up of candidates for its 2018 competition during a simple ceremony at the James Irvine Japanese Garden in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday.

    The event was graced by Janicel Lubina, who was Binibining Pilipinas 2015 and Miss World Philippines 1st runner up in 2013.

    The candidates are going to compete for the titles of Continental Miss Philippines Petite, Continental Miss Teen Philippines and Continental Miss Philippines America.

    Pageant organizer Jo Verte identified the candidates as Elana Arceo, Shaina Dayot, Anikka Manabat, Lynette Siahaan, Erika Rose Madlangsakay, Kimilei Mugford, Sariah Shaver, Angielyn Ruiz, Ashley Knowlton, Emmeline Sturgeon, Crystal Freedman, Pamela Saguinsin, Georgel Ruga, Dru Mendez, Reeva Gestre, Keena Mapanao, Kimilei Mugford, Jessica Duhay, Camille Knowlton and Monika Lois de Jesus.

    Competing for the title of Continental Mrs. Philippines America are Robey Staley, Dory Baghallian, Sol Magtuba Gairanod, Evangeline Taberrah and Leenda Balauag.

    Continental Mrs. Philippines America delegates are to be judged base on beauty, poise, personality and on the essence of their respective advocacies.

    “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Dream. Believe. Achieve. Embrace the world, your journey begins with Continental Miss Philippines America,” Jo Verte said.

    Verte added that whoever will be crowned Continental Miss Philippines America gets a chance to compete in the Philippines, particularly in the Miss World Philippines pageant.

    The grand coronation night will happen on August 4 at the Aratani Theatre at 244 S San Pedro St., Los Angeles.

    The candidates will also compete for the following special awards: Miss Photogenic, Best in Talent, Best in Swimwear and Designers Choice Awards.

    The judges will also look out for girls who will be conferred the titles of Continental Miss Eco Philippines USA, Continental Miss Multinational USA, Reina Hispano Filipina Americano and Continental Miss Philippines World USA.


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    12th annual Santa Monica 4th of July parade draws big crowd

    July 5th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Photo © Abner Galino

    THOUSANDS of of people came out and cheered for the participants of the 12th Santa Monica 4th of July parade.

    The parade, organized by the Ocean Park Association (OPA) under the theme: “Bringing Communities Together,” also drew hundreds of participants.

    School children, boy and girl scouts, students, teachers, sports teams, senior citizens, government employees, activists, musicians, artists, business people, firemen, law enforcers were among those who massed up at about 8 a.m. near the corner of Pico Boulevard and Main Street in Santa Monica and paraded through an estimated 1.4-mile route inside the coastal city.

    Many musicians played music while on top of floats and buses.

    Filipino American Mary Beth Sales, who helped managed the event and directed parade traffic, identified the show’s co-producers as Magdalena Davis and Brittney Seeliger.

    State Senator Ben Allen was the parade’s grand marshall. He was joined by other celebrities that included Santa Monica mayor Ted Winterer, Santa Monica police chief Cynthia Renauld, Assemblymember Richard Bloom, former Santa Monica mayors Judy Abdo, Ruth Goldway, Paul Rosenstein, Nat Trives and Denny Zane, and musician/actress Ava Frye.

    Riley Gerlach of Roosevelt Elementary who was crowned “Pre-Teen Queen” was also seen on a float.


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    Occupy ICE

    July 5th, 2018

    IMMIGRATION activists in Los Angeles are currently “occupying” the sidewalk on the north side of the Federal building at Los Angeles Street in downtown Los Angeles. The building houses the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USIS). The protest is particularly directed against the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE). The “occupation is ongoing” as the activists vowed to stay in the area as “long as the violence and injustice perpetrated by ICE agents continue.” Protesters are occupying Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities across the country. They were inspired by a Portland protest that resulted in the indefinite shutdown of an ICE detention center on Wednesday. Photo © Abner Galino


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    Council member O’farrel announces renovations in Filipinotown

    July 3rd, 2018

    By Abner Galino

     Filipino American “Gintong Kasaysayan” mural in Unidad Park

    LOS Angeles City District 13 Council member Mitch O’farrel has recently announced important renovations in the historic Filipinotown.

    During a recent meeting with leaders of the Filipino American community at the Silver Lake Medical Center in the historic Filipinotown, O’farrel reported that money has been allotted for the restoration of two important murals in the area, among them the Filipino American mural in Unidad Park, a pocket park along Beverly Boulevard.

    The other mural to be restored is situated at the corner of Vermont Avenue and Beverly Boulevard.

    The Filipino American mural scheduled to be restored depicts Filipino American labor leaders Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz. The two leaders joined forces with Latino worker leader Cesar Chavez who has also been recognized as heroes of the American labor movement.

    Funds has been also set aside for the renovation of the historic Filipinotown east gate marker, according to the LA council member.

    O’farrel has also announced the near completion of a city-funded 100-unit apartment at the corner of Beverly Boulevard and Lucas Street.

    The council member said he was proud of the city government for completing another project aimed at reducing homelessness in the city.


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    Three Fil Ams advance to California general elections

    June 28th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Image ©

    THREE Filipino Americans, one of them a descendant of an old Philippine political clan, have advanced to the California general election.

    The three will respectively be running to win California’s congressional district seats 14th, 21st and 34th in the United States Congress.

    But the good news seems to end there. The chances of anyone of them winning in their respective races in the general election in November are not very encouraging.

    For one, Kenneth Mejia, 26, a certified public accountant and Green Party candidate, will be facing incumbent Democrat Jimmy Gomez.

    Gomez garnered 79.49% percent of the votes during the primary elections as against Mejia’s 12.05% votes.
    District 34 is almost entirely within the City of Los Angeles, encompassing places such as Boyle Heights, Chinatown, City Terrace, Cypress Park, Eagle Rock, El Sereno, Garvanza, Glassel Park, Highland Park, Koreatown, Little Bangladesh, Little Tokyo, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, Monterey Hills, Mount Washington and Westlake.

    In a brief speech during a festivity at the Filipino Cultural Center (FCC) in the historic Filipinotown recently, Mejia revealed his pure Filipino origin.

    Mejia also highlighted the significance of his candidacy advancing into the general election. He told the crowd that it was high time for Filipino Americans to be represented well in the US Congress, being the second largest immigrant community in the country.

    Mejia runs on the platform of single-payer healthcare, tuition-free public college, cancellation of student debt, full legal status for all immigrants, universal rent control and clean renewable energy.

    On the other hand, Republican Filipina American Cristina Osmeña, advanced to the general election because the 14th congressional district race was classified as “uncontested.” Only one candidate for each party joined the race.

    The votes were not tabulated thus the disparity between votes garnered could not be gathered for this story.
    Osmeña will also be facing incumbent Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier, also a woman. The 14th congressional district is a traditional Democratic stronghold.

    Filipino American engineer TJ Cox, it seems, has the strongest fighting chance of all the three Filipino Americans going into the November general election. That is, if the sentiment against the supposed blundering Trump administration continue to swell and inspire voters to vote out Republicans.

    Cox only won 37% of the vote against incumbent Republican David Valadao who garnered 63 % of the votes during the primary. But a Democratic candidate, according to pundits, has an 18 points advantage over a Republican in Kern County.

    If this was any indication of his strength, Cox has reportedly raised more money than Valadao. He was also getting a lot of support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) which runs the so-called “Red to Blue” program.


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    A testimony on health

    June 25th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Gary Paglinawan (Before – After)

    THIS definitely qualifies as a success story.

    Well, no one becomes incredibly rich or becomes instantly famous. But someone triumphed against his own frailty and came out a happy camper.

    Gary Paglinawan is 5’4 ½” tall. Some years back, he weighed 210 lbs. Today, Gary weighs 158 lbs.

    I wouldn’t have known this, if not for a recent post by Gary on Facebook wherein he showed a couple of his “before and after” pictures.

    In the comment portion, Gary wrote: To keep me motivated and reminded (to) maintain my health regimen! Hashtag: #diet #exercise #healthiswealth

    Gary said he also post the “health is wealth” FB post every two years to inspire others who are having second thoughts, or worse, for those who have given up totally on the idea of losing weight.

    Two years is what took Gary to reach the weight which boxers would call the “fighting weight.” His journey to wellness wasn’t easy but the rewards were apparently well worth the trip.

    You feel good and you look good,” Gary intimated, “you can move freely. You can wear whatever you want.”

    Gary’s motivation when he started to lose weight was as plain as following his doctor’s advice. Lose weight, the doctor said, and he obliged.

    I have high blood and high cholesterol,” Gary revealed.

    Did he do a lot of lifting and running? Well, Gary said he did some gym time. But for most of the way, he literally walked to wellness. To be exact, 30 minutes to an hour of brisk walking whenever he could.

    Ok, that’s the easy part. The harder part is; Gary changed the way he eats.

    So, for those who want to try, here’s Gary’s diet:

    Strictly no meat, no sugar and no salt. No soda, no juices and no processed food. Of course, no smoking and no alcohol (Good luck to those who smoke and drink).

    You can reward yourself with some scoops of rice once a week. Yes, a cup of black coffee in the morning is fine. Drink a lot of water and treat your self to as much fish, vegetables and fruits.

    Is that a hard cycle to follow? Well, I bet it is because even Gary himself admitted that he pigs out once in a while.

    Oo, paminsan-minsan, basta kain lang ako. Wala akong pakialam. Nag o-order pa ako ng extra rice,” Gary delightfully revealed.

    Just make sure that afterwards, you’ll shed off what took in.”

    Gary was chubby as a kid but he shed off the fat as he reached puberty. But as he climbed his way to 30, the fat started to build up again until he was 210 lbs.

    A college professor when he was in the Philippines, Gary is now an independent film producer. He was recently sworn in as an American citizen.

    By the way, Gary is single.

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    Fil-Ams, Viet-Ams demonstrate together at Chinese embassy in Los Angeles

    June 15th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Filipino Americans and Vietnamese Americans join forces to protest People’s Republic of China’s incursion into the Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea. The two groups met in front of the Chinese consulate office in mid-city in Shatto Place, Los Angeles on June 12, the day marks the 120th Philippine Independence Day. Photo by Odette Galino

    WITH the temperature hovering between 80 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, contingents of Filipino Americans and Vietnamese Americans together held a mass action in front People’s Republic of China (PRC) consulate office in mid-city Los Angeles Tuesday to protest the alleged aggressive behavior of the rising Asian superpower in the West Philippine Sea.

    For the Filipino Americans, Tuesday, June 12 is a day of no equal in terms of its significance to the themes of sovereignty and territorial integrity. The day marks the 120th Philippine Independence Day.

    “China is encroaching into the Philippine territory and it’s against international law,” says protester Karen Hanna as she cuddles a pole that carries a standard size Philippine flag.

    “They are changing the (world) map. And we notice, that’s why we came here,” she adds.

    Another protester, Jun Conga, carried a more expressive placard that says: “Get the f___ out of the West Philippine Sea.”

    Conga also decried the supposed hypocrisy of compatriots who has been celebrating Philippine Independence Day since the start of the month of June with an array of communal activities.

    One of the leaders of the protest action, poet and activist Fe Koons, tried to get a Chinese embassy official to accept a letter from the protesters but was ignored.

    Because of this, Koons simply read out the letter in front of the Chinese consulate office.

    Part of letter that was addressed to Chinese President Xi Jinping (through Consul General Zhang Ping) says: “we express to you our demand that China respect the national sovereignty of the Philippines, all territories within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEC). We renounce your foreign policy that refuses to recognize our rights to self-determination and territorial integrity. We ask that you honor the decision of the International Tribunal Court two years ago that reaffirms the Philippines’ rightful claim.”

    The protest letter was endorsed by 14 Filipino American organizations.

    Phat Bui, president of the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California and councilman of the Ciyt of Garden Grove, said their group was invited by a leader on the Filipino American side named Vangie Lara.

    “We immediately organized because we also have issues with the People’s Republic of China. We also have territorial dispute with them and a host of other political issues,” narrates Bui.

    “It was a short notice (Fil-Am invitation). But if we were given enough time to mobilize, we could bring a bigger crowd,” Bui claims.

    As the demonstration was concluding, each group sang their respective national anthems. Bui and Art Garcia, representing the Fil-Am group, symbolically exchanged national flags to signify their intentions to support each other against the supposed “imperialistic tendencies” of the People’s Republic of China.

    The Filipino Americans also offered a prayer for former Philippine congressman and military man Roilo Golez who up to his last breath spent his energy exposing the intrusion of the Chinese military into the Philippine waters.

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    Mutya ng Pilipinas Southern California has final candidates’ roster

    June 13th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Mutya ng Pilipinas Southern California candidates with organizers and sponsors (from left to right) candidates Allison Lorenzo, Mariflor Sab Duhay, Alyssa Villagracia, Nina Ancheta, Maricel Gibson, Mutya organizer Venus Marin, sponsor Emerald Gutierrez, Susan Lim, Jenny Guzman Yu, candidates Jenice Domaoal, Jeena Dimaandal, Jill Marucut, Kyra Decastro and Korina Almalvez. Photo © Tony Garcia

    THE Mutya ng Pilipinas Southern California has 10 candidates who will compete for a chance to be part of the 50th anniversary staging of the second oldest national beauty pageant in the Philippines.

    During a press conference in Cerritos last June 10, Mutya ng Pilipinas Southern California officials Venus Macias Marin and Camille Agbayani said their organization has decided to send two candidates, instead of the customary one candidate, to the anticipated grandiose presentation of Mutya ng Pilipinas in September 2018.

    Agbayani explained that the decision was arrived at after they realized that they were able to assemble a group of young women whose qualities would make them strong contenders in the Philippine pageant.

    Whoever wins the Mutya ng Pilipinas SC crown and the Face of L’Aura winner will be sent to the Philippine competition.

    According to reports, the head office of Mutya ng Pilipinas is seeking to assemble 50 beauty contestants from all over the Philippines and from Filipino communities abroad.

    Mutya ng Pilipinas SC candidates take a break from practice. They are with organizers Camille Agbayani (standing 5th from left) and Venus Macias Marin (standing 3rd from right). Photo © Tony Garcia

    The 50th anniversary staging of Mutya ng Pilipinas will supposedly surpass all the previous presentations done by the organization.

    Mutya ng Pilipinas SC was able to gather a “lean but mean” pool of beauties. While serene beauty seems to be a common Filipina attribute, height isn’t. And this is why pundits find it remarkable to see so many Filipinas endowed with “towering” heights in a single competition. At least two of the candidates, measured at 5’8” to 5’9.”

    Most of the Mutya hopefuls also hold impressive academic credentials or are pursuing enviable careers – a distinction that shows in the way each of them talk and conduct themselves in public.

    The 10 beauties seeing action for the first Mutya ng Pilipinas SC are Korina Almalvez, Nina Ancheta, Kyra Decastro, Jeena Dimaandal, Jenice Domaoal, Jessica Duhay, Maricel Gibson, Allison Lorenzo, Jill Marucut and Alyssa Villagracia.

    The ladies are going to show off their talents at the popular Noypitz Bar and Grill in West Covina on June 24.

    The big night for the young ladies — the crowning of the 2018 Mutya ng Pilipinas Southern Californian – will happen at the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott Hotel in Long Beach on July 1. It will be hosted by sultry actress Anjanette Abayari and Miss California Earth USA Suzanne Perez.


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    Filipinotown kicks off 120th day independence celebration in Southern California

    June 12th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Candidates to the Miss Filipina International (formerly Binibining Pilipinas USA) carry the banner of the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles during the parade. Photo © Teodoro Yap

    REIGNING beauty queens and candidates headlined the Kalayaan parade in the historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles as Filipino Americans celebrate the 120th Philippine Independence Day all over Southern California.

    As billed, this year’s Filipinotown parade has eclipsed similar parades of the previous years.

    This year’s independence celebration is anchored on the theme: Pagbabagong ipinaglaban alay sa masaganang bukas. (which could be roughly translated as “Changes fought for are sacrifices for a prosperous future.”)

    Some 32 organizations participated in the 10-mile parade organized by the Historic Filipinotown Independence (KALAYAAN) Day Organizing Committee, Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA), the organization that operates the Filipino Cultural Center (FCC) and the Historic Filipinotown Neighborhood Council.

    Because of the big number of participants, the organizers extended the parade route by a couple of miles.

    As expected, the Philippine jeepney of the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) takes part in the annual Kalayaan Parade in the Historic Filipinotown of Los Angeles. Photo © Pol Joaquin

    The marchers converged in front of the Filipino Cultural Center at 1740 West Temple Street and at the Silver Lake Medical Center (SLMC) at 1711 West Temple St., Los Angeles, CA, 90026.

    The parade featured the FCC/FACLA beauty queens Elizabeth Zaide (Mrs. FCC/FACLA), Pamela Saguinsin (Miss FCC/FACLA), Renoa Felix (Miss Teen FCC/FACLA) and FCC Little Princess Jerrika Chow. The Miss Filipina International (formerly Binibining Pilipinas USA) also sent its entire 2018 candidates.

    A marching band from Virgil Middle School Band was among the main features of the parade.

    Later in the night, the Philippine Independence Day Coordinating Council of Southern California held a dinner gala at the LAX Hilton Hotel.

    No other than the newly installed Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III graced the occasion as its guest of honor.

    As you were reading this, an all-day festival in the City of Carson is ongoing at the Veterans Park at 22400 Moneta Avenue.

    Known for featuring Filipino entertainment stars, Filipino American talents, cultural performers and artists, the festival has been providing a venue for food and souvenir booths for spectators.

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

    This year’s guests are Sam Milby, singer Jona, Fil-Am social media phenomenon Jessica Lesaca, Fil-Am singers Rocky Sandoval and Jeserey, American Idol Season 10 and X Factor Season 3 Finalist Jules Aurora, Leanne Tessa, singer and comedian Joseph Gelito, Jo Awayan, legendary folk singer Florante and Geneva Cruz.

    The City of Carson is home to the largest concentration of Filipinos outside of the Philippines.

    By nighttime today (Saturday, June 9, 2018), the Kalayaan Incorporated of Southern California will also be holding another dinner gala at the Hilton Universal City in Hollywood.

    Like it has been the previous years, the dinner gala will be attended by large and prestigious Filipino American organizations.

    As this developed, the Philippine Consul General Adelio S. Cruz called on fellow Filipinos to “look to the future, to the work that lies ahead and the contributions everyone should make to build a safe, peaceful and prosperous Philippines.”

    In a message posted at the Philippine Consulate’s website, Cruz said the Philippine diplomatic contingent is fortunate to have many Filipinos “who take part in our collective nation-building efforts.”

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    Short film on a Pinay “TNT” competes in Indie film festival for an Oscar slot

    June 7th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Aina Dumlao in one of the still shots of the movie Diwa

    I DON’T know which is harder for a filmmaker to do: To expound on a story on a hefty time frame or to squeeze a story into a limited time span.

    But certainly, the guys who made the short film titled “Diwa,” (which in Filipino either means “essence” or “spirit”) did a good job at it.
    Diwa, the movie, is a tragic story of an undocumented Filipina, told in barely 18 minutes of dialogues, acting, music, sounds, lights, movements and camera works.

    Immigration, of course, is a hot button issue. No matter how much a filmmaker tries to depoliticize Diwa (the character), her tears could only melt the heart of the sympathetic while the uncaring will simply sneer. The political divide is just too immense for the viewers to remain just passive.

    However, shortly after the first private screening of Diwa at Canon Burbank last week, Undercurrent Films Director Bru Muller insist that the short film was never intended to be politically charged.

    “I just want to present her (Diwa) as a human being,” Muller said, adding that by doing so he was hoping that he might be able to get the human being on other side to recognize her as such, a fellow human being.

    “And maybe such could start a better political environment,” Muller reckoned.

    Lead actress, co-writer and co-director Aina Dumlao said part of the truth in Diwa’s story was a tragic account of her own family member. Her uncle worked undocumented in the US for years and was unable to go home to grieve for his departed wife.
    Apparently, her personal knowledge of the plights of undocumented immigrants was the source of the persuasive acting that Dumlao was able to draw out from within her.

    Diwa is hope snuffed out. She is a recurrent version of an immigrant who came to the US and risked everything for the sake of loved ones.

    But a tragedy is always unique to the one who suffers in it. And Dumlao succeeded in separating Diwa from the multitude of undocumented immigrants victimized by some nasty and greedy people, and by a system disdainful of redemption for the likes of her.
    Thus, the very strong desire from many viewers to know Diwa a little bit more after having introduced to her. It is notable that the short film also exposed that some abuses committed against undocumented immigrants were done by compatriots.

    Other actors that include; Leslie Thurston, Maria Pallas, Shaw Jones, Jeremy Andorfer-Lopez, convincingly played their roles despite the dearth of dialogues in the film.

    The cinematography of Corey Cooper and Ramesh Kumar Kannan’s musical scoring are also worth mentioning.

    So, Diwa is making its world premiere during the Dances With Films festival on June 9 at 5 pm. at the TCL Chinese Theatre at Hollywood Boulevard, West Hollywood.

    The short film will get another screening on July 30 at 5:30 pm. at the Woods Hole Film Festival in Massachusetts.

    “Our success at film festivals – from ticket sales, to audience reaction, to awards – will directly affect ‘Diwa’s’ future as a feature film. It’s a clear message telling investors, studios and powerhouses like Netflix, that our story is an important story that has an audience,” Dumlao told Beyond deadlines/Weekend Balita/US Asian Post during a subsequent online query.

    “An Oscar nomination will change our lives, there is no question about it. As filmmakers and actors, a nomination is proof and validation that there is a place for us in the entertainment industry. That for as long as we keep working on our craft and for as long as we keep the truth as our baseline…people will keep wanting to see films like Diwa.”

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    LA County Library to upgrade wireless tech in 87 locations

    June 4th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Image ©

    THE Los Angeles County Library has announced a forthcoming upgrade of the wireless technology in its 87 library locations following a US$5 million award from the Federal Communications Commission.

    The funding was part of FCC’s E-Rate Program.

    E-Rate is the commonly used name for programs undertaken by the Universal Service Fund for schools and libraries which is under the supervision of the FCC.

    The LA County Library has said that the funding will be used to improve internet connectivity and network speed in all LA county library locations.

    Public computers and Wi-Fi access are among the most used library resources in LA County, but internet connection has been slow with an average speed of 10 to 20 MB per second,” the LA County Library said in a press statement.

    The Library plans to offer speeds of up to 1 GB per second with the E-Rate funding.

    The statement added that the “funding will allow libraries to connect to the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network that serves the vast majority of research and education institutions in the state.”

    CalREN is operated by the non-profit Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), and will deliver faster, more reliable wireless access to library customers, helping to close the technology gap and remove barriers to access.

    The LA County Library said that since many lower income communities cannot afford the added luxury of internet access in their homes, the upgrade will surely help in closing the gap.

    This digital divide has adverse effects—students lacking access to digital educational materials from home may fall behind in school, while residents lacking access to general information may struggle to improve their lives.”

    Because a large percentage of our customers come to the library for Wi-Fi and computer access, increasing the quality of our technology is essential to removing digital barriers and improving the Library as the center for learning for our customers, one of our strategic priorities” said LA County Library Director Skye Patrick.

    Our current network quality is not at the level that our customers expect or deserve. This grant will allow us to upgrade our infrastructure to provide a high-speed internet connection, enabling our customers to learn and explore at a much faster pace, while hopefully also attracting more foot traffic to the Library,” Patrick added.

    The LA County Library has experienced an overwhelming increase in online resource usage within the last year—in addition to facilitating over 1.72 million Wi-Fi sessions and 1.8 million public computer sessions.

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    Los Angeles’ Filipinotown is all set for 120th Philippine Independence

    June 1st, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    (File Photo) Consul General Adelio S. Cruz (4th from left on the front row) poses with FACLA president Fernandico Gonong (3rd from left on the front row) and a group of Filipino American youths inside Filipino Cultural Center compound in Temple St., Los Angeles.

    THE Historic Filipinotown is all set to hold one of the biggest Filipino American parade in celebration of the 120th Philippine Independence Day.

    This year’s independence celebration is anchored on the theme: Pagbabagong ipinaglaban alay sa masaganang bukas. (Changes fought for sacrifices for a prosperous future).

    As of this writing, some 32 organizations have confirmed their participation in the six-mile independence parade, dubbed as the Kalayaan Parade, on Saturday, June 2, 2018.

    The parade was organized by the Historic Filipinotown Independence (KALAYAAN) Day Organizing Committee, Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA), the organization that operates the Filipino Cultural Center (FCC).

    Converging points will be in front of the FCC office at 1740 West Temple Street and at the Silver Lake Medical Center (SLMC) at 1711 West Temple St., Los Angeles, CA, 90026.

    Assembly time begins at 8 a.m. as the parade is scheduled to commence at 9 a.m.

    The parade will feature the FCC/FACLA beauty queens Elizabeth Zaide (Mrs. FCC/FACLA), Pamela Saguinsin (Miss FCC/FACLA) and Renoa Felix (Miss Teen FCC/FACLA), and candidates for the ongoing Miss Filipina International (formerly Binibining Pilipinas USA).

    Marchers and floats will traverse Temple St., Bonnie Brae St., Beverly Boulevard, Rosemont Street, Vendome Street, Court Street and Burlington St. as it make a round the neighborhood and end to where it started.

    Participating organizations, personalities and other private entities are as follows: ALKAVIDA c/o Dra Erlinda Grey, ALLIANCE PHILIPPINES (AJLPP), Burlington School, Chibogs Filipino Restaurant, Cebu Brotherhood, Everlasting Adult Day Care Center, Filipino-American Media and Entertainment (FAME), Filipino American Community of St Ignatius (FACSI) Filipino-Mexican Friendship Society (FILMEX), Filipino American Press Club of California (FAPCCA), Filipino Overseas For Constitutional Rights and Equality (FORCE),Historic Filipinotown Neighborhood Council (HFNC).

    Justice For Filipino American Veterans (JFAV), Kabataang maka-Bayan (KmB), Knights of Rizal-Central LA, Lions Club, LAKAMBINI 2015, Los Chavacanos of Cavite City, Miss Filipina International 2018 (Former Binibing Pilipinas-USA), Philippine Institute for Arts, Language and Culture (PILAC), Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association (PBMA), Pilipino Workers Center (PWC), Philippine Women’s Club of LA (PWCLA), Rotary Club of HFT, Relevance Dance Group (RDG), Silver Lake Medical Center (SLMC), Temple-Westlake Community Development Corporation (TWCDC),TINIG UCLA Choir, Tropang Pinoy, Tondo Association, United Architects Of the Philippines-California Chapter and the Virgil Middle School Band.

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    Pinoy boxers in tears after surprise reception in Los Angeles’ Filipinotown

    May 25th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Boxers Jerwin Ancajas and Jonas Sultan flank couple Rey and Bernie Ganon, FACLA director and office manager. Photos © Tony Garcia and Ric Gavino

    TOMORROW, either International Boxing Federation (IBF) bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas would have retained his junior bantamweight world boxing belt, or his challenger Jonas Sultan would have earned his first world championship title.

    Whichever way the Fresno, California fight goes, the Philippines will not lose a world championship belt — as both fighters are Filipinos — and the historical significance of the fight for Filipino boxing fans will not be diminished.

    The last time that two Filipino fighters fought each other for a world title belt was 93 years ago – between the legendary boxer Francisco “Pancho Villa” Guilledo and Clever Sencio. That fight happened in Manila and was won by “Pancho Villa,” who was already then the two-year world flyweight title holder.

    Ancajas and Sultan are well aware of the historical significance of their upcoming battle.

    Pareho kami nang nararamdaman ni Sultan. Masaya kami na dito gagawin ‘yung laban namin at saka world championship belt ‘yung paglalabanan namin,” Ancajas told Weekend Balita/US Asian Post and Beyond Deadlines shortly after stepping out from the plane.

    Ancajas added that he was proud that he would be fighting a compatriot for the crown.

    Ipinapakita lang kung nasaan ang mga Filipino boxer sa mundo ng boksing,” Ancajas added.

    But what Ancajas and Sultan are not expecting was the subsequent reception where they were both recognized for the honor and pride that they gave to the Philippines for duplicating a 93-year-old history.

    Ancajas was moved to tears during the awarding ceremony at the Filipino Cultural Center last Saturday (May 19, 2018) at the Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles.

    Napaiyak po ako. Hindi ko po inasahan na ganito. Dream come true po talaga,” Ancajas said after receiving a plaque of recognition from the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA), the organization that runs the Filipino Cultural Center.

    Sultan was also in disbelief after receiving the award.

    Tuwang-tuwa po ako. Lalo po akong na-inspire sa laban,” Sultan said.

    Apparently, both Ancajas and Sultan are not yet used to being accorded “superstar” treatment throughout their respective careers.

    Boxer Jerwin Ancajas poses with LA photographers Teodoro Yap and Pol Joaquin (extreme left and right), Bamboo Bistro owner Daniel Belen (3rd from left). Photos © Tony Garcia and Ric Gavino

    The inside story

    Without doubt, Ancajas and Sultan deserved the reception and the honor (including the three others who were honored, among them; longest reigning Filipino world champion Nonie Nietes) that were conferred to them.

    But the event was not in the calendar. The event happened almost exactly as the way Ancajas had felt about it shortly after receiving his plaque — a sort of providential thing.

    In fact, not even Top Rank, the promoter of the fight saw it coming.

    Here’s how it happened:

    Three days before the event, Los Angeles based photographer Jhay Otamias contacted this reporter with the help of another photographer Tony Garcia.

    Otamias asked if it possible to hold a meet and greet event at the Filipino Cultural Center.

    I discussed with FACLA president Fernandico Gonong about the possible event. He readily recognized the historical significance of the Ancajas-Sultan fight and as well as the need to drumbeat for the Pinoy boxers.

    Otamias brought out the idea of conferring recognition to the boxers. We agreed that they deserve the honor.

    Top Rank did not do anything except set up the Filipino boxers for the meet and greet at the FCC. They sent a representative and their round girls to the event but they did not spend a single cent.

    (And I have yet to upload on my bewilderment over why Top Rank set the historic championship battle in Fresno. Why oh why?)

    Talk about Filipino hospitality – the community, most of whom share the same sentiment with me over Top Rank’s decision to hold the fight in Fresno, fed every one of them just the same.

    I wrote the invitation letters and as well as the text inscribed on the plaques of recognition.

    I sought the help of my friends Rose Sarreal, photographers Pol Joaquin, Teodoro Yap, FACLA director Bernie Targa-Ganon and her husband Rey Ganon, Tony Garcia, Thelma Sugay, editor Val Abelgas and as well as my wife Odette.

    To make an event happen, people need to dress up the place, prepare food, send the invitations and show up.

    Because they were last-minute preparations, the plaques of recognition were picked from the shop by Odette and Tony Garcia an hour before the event.

    Aside from getting the Filipino Cultural Center for free, the other expenses incurred during the event were shouldered by FACLA.

    So there, talk about giving credit to where credit is due.

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    Los Angeles county creates first Arts Department

    May 20th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Image ©

    IN A bid to further elevate Los Angeles County’s arts and culture, its Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to create the first Arts Department of the county.

    The creation of County Arts Department was jointly pushed by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Board Chair Sheila Kuehl. It earned a great deal of support from arts funders, creators and institutions.

    “With a new arts department, we can further elevate the impact of the arts on our community, culture, and economy,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

    “The importance of the creative industries cannot be overstated, particularly in Los Angeles. Creativity is one of our most essential economic assets.”

    Quoting the 2017 Otis Report on the Creative Economy, Ridley-Thomas disclosed that the total creative output generated by industries within the region’s creative economy was $190 billion in 2015.

    “It also employed 759,000 people, which accounted for 1 in 8, or about 15 percent, of all private wage and salary workers in the region.

    For her part, Kuehl said that the Los Angeles County “contains an unparalleled wealth of arts and culture.”

    “It makes sense that we establish a County department to support arts and culture. With this motion, we will provide the capacity for a robust department that can strengthen the arts and expand our commitment to cultural equity and inclusion,” added Supervisor Kuehl.

    “This is a historic moment in the arts for this region,” said LA County Arts Commission Executive Director Kristin Sakoda.

    “It is world-class and community-based and there is still more to come!”

    The LA County Arts Commission was initially established in 1947.  It has grown in the last 70 years since from solely supporting local music performances to supporting hundreds of nonprofit organizations and functioning as a full-service local arts agency.

    Throughout the decades, the Commission’s role has expanded to include innovative and meaningful programs including working with school districts throughout the County to develop and implement a strategic plan to integrate arts into K-12 public schools.

    It also administers the Civic Art program, where artists are aligned with capital projects to bring aesthetics and programming to the community in which the project is located.

    Moreover, it also oversees the iconic Arts Internship Program. To date, more than 2,000 college and university students participate in a paid internship for ten weeks during the summer in arts organizations and venues throughout the County.

    “A County Department can make a deep impact in providing workforce training and advancing cultural equity and inclusion efforts,” said Stacy Lieberman, Deputy Director of The Broad.

    The new County Department will retain the Arts Commission as an advisory body and will begin its transition by July 1, 2018.

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    Leyte theater group winds up US tour in Los Angeles and San Jose

    May 19th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Members of the Leyte Dance Theater pose with Los Angeles community leaders and members of the media during a meet and greet at the Filipino Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Photo © Pol Joaquin

    THE exceptional Leyte Dance Theater is winding up its 8th US tour via a twin performance in California, particularly in Los Angeles and San Jose.

    Since April, the Leyte Dance Theater had performed in the states of New York, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, Texas and Arizona.

    “The motto of our dance company is: The last performance is always the best. So we’re making sure that the next performance that’s going to happen here is better than the last one that we had,” said Jess de Paz, LDT founder and its artistic director and choreographer.

    The Leyte Dance Theater has just provided a foretaste of their upcoming show titled “Salida – Simbolo at Kultura” on May 26 at the Marsee Auditorium (16007 Crenshaw Boulevard, Torrance).

    Paz and his theater group met with the members of the media and community leaders at the Filipino Cultural Center at 1740 W Temple Street, Los Angeles last Tuesday.

    The group was accompanied by producer, community leader and fitness guru Nonie Belarmino of the iDance Studio in the City of Carson.

    Paz narrated that the members of the theater group got into a “challenging” situation shortly after they arrived in New York.

    Masyadong malamig. Kaya marami nagkasakit sa mga dancers. But as expected of them, they delivered. We went on with the show,” Paz narrated, stressing not only the dedication of the members of the cast but as well as their resilience.

    The artists are mostly residents of Tacloban City in the province of Leyte. A couple of years back, the said city was devastated by a powerful storm.

    Paz recalled how the future of LDT hanged in limbo months after the storm.

    “I myself lost two of my houses. I wasn’t able to recover those losses up to now,” Paz narrated.

    According to him, the members of the theater group lost communications with each other for some time because they fled the city and did not return until some normalcy was restored.

    The LDT has been in an “artistic pursuit since 25 years ago.”“The LDT today is a handiwork of its founder, Jess de Paz, who never stopped training and learning under the hands of local and foreign masters. His scholarship to the Joffrey School of Ballet in New York and his representing the “Study of ASEAN-sponsored “Study of Traditional Dance, Music and Choreography” in Thailand, widened his teaching and choreographic interest,” says an LDT brochure.

    The programs of LDT includes: free training for poor but talented dance enthusiasts in numerous dance forms (folk, ballet, contemporary, jazz and creative dance); performances in local, national and international events; conducting seminar-workshops for teachers, dance students and children; spearheading festival dance development in Region 8 through consultancies, dance tutorials, and workshops; developing programs funded by cultural institutions for dance development in the region.”

    This year’s cast and crew of the LDT’s US tour are Lowe S. Tana, Romyr Gabon, Nielrex Castil, Duane Robet Abit, Matheo Federico Badaran, Joel Badion, Arnold Calo, Gerardo Canete Jr., Archie Gayon, Marboy Guiroy, Peter Paul Maneja, Ana Victoria Diaz, Ma. Babette Jeds Llorada, Savea Fise Baac, Jana Rae Babalcon, Charmaine Marisse Comendador, Giea Gay Severino, Pamela Tisha Tindugan, Pearly Dawn Tindugan, Maryan Mendano and Mae Nicole Nicolas.

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    History repeats in Pinoy boxing annals

    May 16th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Reigning IBF world junior bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas poses with Beyond Deadlines writer/Weekend Balita reporter Abner Galino at the Los Angeles International Airport arrival lobby. Photo © Tony Garcia

    HISTORY is bound to repeat itself on May 26 in Fresno, California. That is, a far as Filipino boxing history is concerned.

    Two Filipino pugilists, International Boxing Federation (IBF) bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas and IBF’s No. 1 contender Jonas Sultan, will slug it out for the world bantamweight championship about ten days from now.

    The last time that two Filipino fighters fought against each other for a world title belt was 93 years ago. And that was between the legendary boxer Francisco “Pancho Villa” Guilledo and Clever Sencio. That fight happened in Manila, Philippines and was won by “Pancho Villa,” who had held the world flyweight title for two years prior to that bout against a compatriot.

    Pancho Villa won the vacant world flyweight title from British Jimmy Wilde and twice successfully defended the title from American Benny Schwartz and British Frankie Ash.

    Ancajas, for his part, won the bantamweight title from Puerto Rican Mcjoe Arroyo and successfully defended the crown four times against Mexican Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, Japanese Teiru Kinoshita, Irish Jamie Conlan and Mexican Israel Gonzales.

    Sultan, on other hand, also holds an impressive record of 17 wins, nine of them via knockouts. He holds the IBF intercontinental junior bantamweight title.

    During Ancajas arrival at the Los Angeles International Airport yesterday, the world champion acknowledged the historical significance of his fight with Sultan.

    Pareho siguro kami ng nararamdaman ni Sultan. Masaya kami na dito gagawin ‘yung laban namin at saka world championship belt ‘yung paglalabanan namin,” Ancajas, considered by boxing aficionados as an heir apparent to boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, told Weekend Balita/US Asian Post and Beyond Deadlines shortly after stepping out from the plane.

    Ancajas added that he was proud that he would be fighting a compatriot for the crown.

    Ipinapakita lang kung nasaan ang mga Filipino boxer sa mundo ng boksing,” Ancajas added.

    Highly favored to win the fight, Ancajas only promised an action-packed battle between him and Sultan.

    Sultan has arrived in Los Angeles last week together with another reigning Filipino boxing champion Donnie Nietes.

    Sultan and Nietes have started training at the world famous Wild Card Gym in Hollywood. Sultan is preparing for his fight with Ancajas while Nietes is still waiting for a possible defense of his title.

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    8 living Filipino veterans,15 others get US Congressional Gold Medal

    May 15th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Filipino veteran leader Franco Arcebal shares a light moment with Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) President Fernandico Gonong. Photo © Pol Joaquin

    EIGHT living and 15 representatives of deceased Filipino World War II veterans received the United States Congressional Gold Medals in a momentous occasion Wednesday at the Filipino Cultural Center at the Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles.

    The awarding of the highest civilian award medals was officiated by retired United States Army Major General Antonio Taguba, chairman of the Filipino veterans recognition project and the second American citizen of Philippine birth to ever reached the general officer rank in the US Army.

    Those who were awarded (personally getting the medal or as representatives of deceased veterans) were Jesus Delfin, Ireneo Balani, Franco Arcebal, Heidi dela Torre, Gregorio Albano, Gregorio Espiritu, Reynaldo Figueroa, Yolanda Encarnacion, Nepomuceno Mangosing, Alfredo Lopez, Zosimo Novicio, Leoncio Jarlego, Virgilio Moreno, Antonio Ortega, Rizalino Tamayo, Lucio Tolentino, Fabio Villacrusi, Apolinario Froyalde, Marcelo Bartolome and Florentino Pascasio.

    A leader of the awardees, Franco Arcebal, 95, took the stage to speak on behalf of his former comrade-in-arms.

    We have witnessed the awarding of Congressional Gold Medal to about 23 of ethnic Filipino veterans in recognition of their war services 75 years ago. Mantak mong tagal niyan!,” Arcebal jested to the delight of the audience.

    Arcebal went on to explain that the Filipino soldiers “just like others who served in the war under the American flag risked their unrepeatable lives in defense of the values for which the American flag stands for — under God with liberty and justice for all — unfortunately, malas talaga! We were denied justice since February 1946. Mantak mo, barely two months after the war was over when Congress (US) passed the Rescission act of 1946,” narrated Arcebal.

    The Filipino veteran leader expressed his gratitude to the American legislators who helped Filipino lobby groups to pass laws beneficial to the interest of Filipino WW II veterans.

    The Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act was unanimously passed by the US Congress on November 30, 2016. On that same year, December 14, President Barack Obama signed the bill into law as Public Law 114-265.

    The passage of the law were largely credited to the efforts Filipino lobby groups led by the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project, the United Filipino American World War II Veterans Association and the Justice for Filipino American Veterans.

    Arcebal also credited the efforts of thousands of Filipino American youth activists, mostly students from southern California colleges and universities, who yearly conducted peaceful demonstrations along Hollywood Boulevard to gather support for the causes of the Filipino WW II veterans.

    Without doubt, nakatulong ‘yang mga mass action na ‘yan para kumilos ang mga US legislators,” Arcebal said.

    (From left to right) Filipino Veterans Recognition Project and Education (FilVetRep) officer Eric Lachica, Consul General Adelio S Cruz, retired US Army major general Antonio Taguba and FACLA President Fernandico Gonong. Photo © Pol Joaquin

    The awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal in the Historic Filipinotown was also graced by Philippine Consul General in Los Angeles Adelio S. Cruz.

    The FilVetRep has planned around 20 more regional awarding of Congressional gold medals all over the US.

    More than 100,000 Filipinos were duly inducted to the US Army of the Far East (USAFFE) in 1941. Then US President Franklin Roosevelt offered full veterans’ benefits to Filipinos who would enlist to the US Armed Forces. The Philippines at that time was a US Commonwealth and Filipinos are US nationals.

    The benefits were quickly rescinded by President Harry Truman after the war in 1946 and the Filipinos were stripped of their status as U.S. veterans.

    Out from the 66 nations that fought with the U.S. during the war, only the Filipinos were singled out by the rescission law.

    Today only an estimated 15,000 veterans have survived the passage of time.


    Retired US Army major general Antonio Mario Taguba, the man at the helm of FilVetRep, is known for authoring the so-called Taguba Report, an internal US Army report on abuse of detainees held at the Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq.

    The report was the result of Taguba’s investigation which started shortly after a military policeman turned over a CD full of images of abuse to the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division.

    The turning over of the damning piece of evidence happened on January 2004.

    In May of that year, Taguba submitted his report about the said abuses which was subsequently leaked to the press.

    The controversial report triggered a congressional probe that embarrassed many defense officials of the then administration of President George Bush.

    Taguba was bafflingly transferred to the Pentagon later on.

    And on January 2007, Taguba ended his 34 years of service, apparently a casualty of his truthful and no-nonsense investigation of the said abuses against prisoners of war.

    Taguba was born in Manila. His father fought in the Battle of Bataan as part of the 45th Infantry Regiment of the US Army.

    In 1972, Taguba was commissioned 2nd lieutenant and fought in the Korean War. He was a platoon leader at the Combat Support Company in 1974-1975 of the 1st Battalion, 72d Armor, 2nd Infantry Division, I Corps, Eighth Army.

    Taguba commanded the 1st Battalion, 72nd Armored Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Casey and was the executive officer of the Republic of Korea-U.S Combine Forces Command.

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    Fil-Am pop-rock artist banners “Gala for Justice”

    May 8th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    YouTube sensation and pop-rock artist Filipino American AJ Rafael during interview with reporters. Photo © Abner Galino

    FILIPINO American YouTube sensation and pop-rock artist AJ Rafael headlined the Asian Americans Advancing Justice inaugural black-tie gala at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County last week.

    Over 300 guests, composed of prominent business, legal and philanthropic leaders, came to celebrate and honor AAAJ’s 12 years of service and accomplishments in the Orange County community.

    AJ Rafael said he considered it a great honor to be part of the celebration.

    I have performed in colleges and in shows, but I haven’t been invited to galas a ton. But Sylvia Kim invited me. And I am really excited because I am all about Asian American representation, Filipino American representation, not only in the entertainment industry, but also in things like this… So it feels good to be here,” AJ Rafael said.

    The Filipino American singer said he had done concerts in the past for autism awareness and other meaningful advocacies.

    Rafael treated guests to a special medley of popular Disney songs.

    Foremost of the personalities that graced the affair were Anton and Jennifer Segerstrom and Anne Shih, chairwoman of the Bowers Museum, Sam Tang, Ed Lee, co-founder of Wahoo’s Fish Tacos were among the attendees, along with philanthropic leaders from the Kay Family Foundation and the Long Family Foundation.

    Each and every day we are on the front lines of serving the third largest and fastest growing Asian American population in the country,” said Sylvia Kim, regional director of Advancing Justice-OC.

    With a small but mighty legal service staff, we’ve served over 1,200 clients through citizenship clinics over the past year and we are excited to announce that we will be expanding our services to include voter education and civic engagement. With your help, we will continue to grow and transform Orange County.”

    Since 2006, Advancing Justice-OC has been instrumental in serving the needs of the Asian and Pacific Islander community.

    The organization was first established in the county due to attacks and even deaths of Asian Americans at the hands of white supremacists. Since then, it has grown both in size and capacity, providing linguistically and culturally competent legal services.

    I am proud to serve as the emcee for tonight’s event,” said May Lee, news correspondent for CGTN American and first Korean American anchor at CNN.

    It’s amazing and tireless organizations like Advancing Justice-OC that serve our community everyday, helping to amplify Asian American voices and encouraging an entire generation to make a positive impact in their communities.”

    We have a long-standing commitment to serving and fighting for the rights of all immigrants and refugees. And tonight, I am thrilled to announce that we have raised over $250,000 to support Advancing Justice-OC,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles and key leader in the national Asian American civil rights movement.

    The AAAJ black-tue gala at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County. Photo © Abner Galino

    The Gala ceremony included the presentation of two awards to outstanding trailblazers in the Asian American community.

    Jeremy Lin, considered one of the most influential players in the NBA, was honored with a Public Image “Breaking Barriers Award for his leadership in breaking barriers and speaking out against Asian American stereotypes.

    I just want to thank Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Orange County for the 2018 Breaking Barriers Award. I know Advancing Justice is doing a ton of awesome work amplifying Asian American voices and encouraging a whole generation of kids,” said Lin, who is currently a point guard for the Brooklyn Nets.

    Oftentimes a lot of Asian American kids will come up to me to tell me thank you for being an inspiration. That’s something I’ve always cherished and embraced and I hope that as people look back on my story that will encourage young kids to continue chasing their dreams.”

    Dr. Alethea Hsu, President of Diamond Development Group, was presented with the “Businessperson of the Year Award” for her trailblazing leadership in creating the iconic Diamond Jamboree Plaza.

    I am so honored to be selected as one of the honorees by Asian Americans Advancing Justice, along with Jeremy Lin. Unfortunately, he cannot make it this evening. But I promise you I am a pretty good substitute,” joked Hsu upon accepting her award.

    Jeremy and I have more in common than it might appear. We are both Taiwanese Americans and we are both dedicated to improving our communities. And I unleash insanity in my business practices.”

    We owe the success of Diamond Jamboree to the continued support of our patrons, and our ability to provide such a diverse community with restaurants and stores,” continued Hsu.

    Many of our patrons either find our menu interesting or they feel at home. We are encouraged to be able to please people with different backgrounds. And that is the secret of our success.”

    I invite each and every one of you to join us as we make history and build a legacy of fighting for justice on behalf of our communities right here in Orange County,” said Kim in her closing remarks.

    Now more than ever, we are in need of a unified voice to stand up for justice on behalf of our communities.”

    The “Gala for Justice” Host Committee included Joseph Cruz (Ernst & Young LLP),Mark Furuya (Clark Construction Group), Gloria Lee (Rutan & Tucker, LLP), Vivian Long (Long Family Foundation), Ginger Ong, Jack Toan (Wells Fargo), and Mike Yim (Quantum Capital Partners).

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    Filipino American Community in LA celebrates 73rd anniversary

    May 7th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Guest beauty queens Mrs. Philippines-USA Rosemary Mejia (extreme left) and Miss Filipina International Nikki Zulueta join the newly installed good ambassadors of FCC/FACLA namely; Elizabeth Zaide (Mrs. Filipino Cultural Center/FACLA), Amy Saguinsin (Mrs. Luzon), Alyssa Stovin (Mrs. Visayas), Elizabeth Galang (Mrs. Mindanao), Pamela Saguinsin (Miss FCC/FACLA), Renoa Felix (Miss Teen FCC/FACLA), JerrikaPacheco Chow (FCC/FACLA 1st princess) and Keira Mai Kwan (FCC/FACLA 2nd princess). © Photo by Bobby Crisostomo

    A SIMPLE but meaningful celebration marked the 73rd anniversary of the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles in the historic Filipinotown late last month.

    The gala night was highlighted by the honoring and crowning of FACLA’s ambassadors of goodwill – Elizabeth Zaide (Mrs. Filipino Cultural Center/FACLA), Amy Saguinsin (Mrs. Luzon), Alyssa Stovin (Mrs. Visayas), Elizabeth Galang (Mrs. Mindanao), Pamela Saguinsin (Miss FCC/FACLA), Renoa Felix (Miss Teen FCC/FACLA), Jerrika Pacheco Chow (FCC/FACLA 1st princess) and Keira Mai Kwan (FCC/FACLA 2nd princess).

    FACLA president Fernandico Gonong said the celebration was an opportunity to recall that FACLA and its headquarters (the Filipino Cultural Center) were legacies of four farmers who had great visions for the succeeding generations of Filipino immigrants.

    The challenge before us is not just to keep these inheritance for ourselves, but improving them, and making them relevant and useful to the incoming generations of Filipino Americans in Los Angeles,” Gonong said.

    Gonong also took the opportunity to call on fellow Filipino Americans to consider joining efforts to strengthen the Filipino American presence in the Historic Filipinotown of Los Angeles.

    As the second largest immigrant community in LA and in the US in general, Gonong said, Filipino Americans should be able to harness such strength to earn economic and political benefits for the community.

    Another FACLA leader, Bernie Targa-Ganon said organizational reforms have taken place since the new leadership took over less than a year ago.

    The physical changes to the Filipino Cultural Center are quite visible. You just have to come and see for yourselves. But more important than that are the reforms that have been instituted within the organization,” Targa-Ganon stressed.

    According to her, FACLA have strengthened its system of checks and balances within the leadership. FACLA has reportedly become more transparent and dynamic in its mission to serve the Filipino American community.

    Music throughout the night was provided by father and daughter tandem Boyd and Caroline Elston; and the trio of Imelda Wood, Rolly Javier and Robert Gamo.

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    Original Pilipino Music “Hitmakers” wow crowd in Orange County

    May 6th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    OPM Hitmakers (from left to right) Rico J. Puno, Rey Valera, Hajji Alejandro and Marco Sison meet fans after the concert. Behind them are producers Ashton Panlilio, CK Cruz, Terry Cruz and Ian Tallara. Photo © Arnold Capati

    THE magic of the so-called OPM’s Hitmakers have yet to wane as they bewitched the jam packed Filipino American crowd at the Grove of Anaheim Sunday last week.

    The Filipino fabulous four were given a standing ovation by the crowd at the end of the show.

    The Filipino music icons Rico J. Puno, Hajji Alejandro, Rey Valera, and Marco Sison also praised the crowd after the concert as they gave fans the opportunity to take selfies/groupies with them and to sign their souvenirs.

    You’re such a vibrant and spirited crowd. Salamat po,” Valera said after the concert.

    Puno is best known for his song “May Bukas Pa,” Alejandro for “Nakapagtataka,” Valera for “Maging Sino Ka Man” and Sison for “Si Aida, Si Lorna, O Si Fe.”

    The OPM Hitmakers brought back the memories of years ago with their past hit songs.

    Terry Cruz, one of the producers, said she was delighted that the crowd, despite the presence of many young people, enjoyed both the humor and the music of the Filipino fabulous four.

    Tinanong ko sila: Ang sabi nila naririnig daw kasi nila sa mga magulang nila ‘yung mga kanta na narinig nila ngayon,” Cruz added.

    An audience, Ellen Freel, said that she also enjoyed the jokes because most of them were actually current.

    Galing pa nang delivery ng mga jokes. Matatawa ka talaga. Lahat sila magaling,” she narrated.


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    Filipino American workers join May 1 rally in southern California

    May 5th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Members of the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) show their butterfly costumes as they join other marchers during the commemoration of the International Workers Day. Photo © Abner Galino

    A BIG contingent of Filipino Americans, most of them workers, joined thousands of marchers in the cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach on the commemoration of International Workers Day.

    In Los Angeles, the non-profit organization Pilipino Workers Center (PWC), led Filipino Americans in a festive five-mile march from Pershing Square to the Federal building in Los Angeles St.

    Lolit Lledo said the PWC participated in the march to express its commitment to the causes of workers, particularly those who belong to immigrant communities.

    PWC sent some members wearing butterfly costumes. When asked why, Lledo explained: Butterfly symbolizes unending journey towards better future.

    Immigrant workers, Lledo added, are in constant travel, literally and figuratively, to seek for better working conditions and for better quality of life in general.

    As this developed, over 200 community members marched from Cesar Chavez Park to Long Beach City Hall to espouse workers rights and other issues that affect working class communities.

    Organized by the May Day Long Beach, a coalition of over 19 social justice groups, non-profits, labor unions, and other grassroots organizations the march proceeded under the theme “Resist State Violence, Rise Up for Our Communities, and Reclaim Our Power.”

    Among the speakers were George Funmaker from Red Earth Defense and Xenia Arriola from Gabriela Los Angeles who performed a song to highlight U.S. military funding for political killings in the Philippines.

    Jonaya Chadwick from Housing Long Beach spoke about how her family is facing eviction and how all residents need renter protections.

    The mother of Eric Rivera from Wilmington spoke about police brutality and the murder of her son by police officers.
    Alejandra Campos from Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition highlighted challenges that undocumented families face such as the lack of access to health care.

    “Healthcare is not only a one person issue, but an issue of everyone regardless of immigration status, and our communities deserve to live healthy!”

    Nereyda Soto, a hotel worker organizer, spoke about how hotel housekeepers fear retaliation from management, experience sexual harassment from guests, and are overworked and underpaid. Soto talked about how the union helped workers talk about their pressing issues.

    Photo © Abner Galino

    Another speaker, Robert Bagalawis, a 16-year-old member of Anakbayan Long Beach, shared the story of his Filipino immigrant parents and their struggle to raise a family in Long Beach. He spoke about how his parent’s wages are too low and that they work so many hours that they rarely spend quality time with their children.

    The May Day Long Beach march ended at City hall with rap and musical performances by local artists Patricia Poston (Poetic S) and Vanessa Acosta.

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    Boracay closure may adversely affect Iloilo and Panay

    May 3rd, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Lambunao town mayor Jason Gonzales (seated in the middle) poses with members and officers of the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles, the organization that operates the Filipino Cultural Center. From left to right are Bert Frias, Art Garcia, Freddie Castaneda, Evelyn Gapultos and Rey Ganon.
    Photo © Abner Galino

    THE closure of the world famous Boracay island in Aklan province will certainly affect the economy of other provinces in Panay island, where the famous tourist spot is located, especially in Iloilo.

    This according to Lambunao, Iloilo town mayor Jason Gonzales during an interview with reporters while having a short visit to the Filipino Cultural Center (FCC) in Temple St., Los Angeles Thursday last week.

    We are talking of around 5,000 workers. And some of them are residents of my municipality,” Gonzales said.

    According to the young mayor, the sudden drop of tourists in the region may cause an economic downturn particularly in Iloilo City.

    Iloilo acts like a gateway to Boracay. Many tourists stay and roam around the city before going to Boracay,” Gonzales explained. He said the effects of the closure of Boracay is certain to be felt strongly in the towns and cities that surround the beach destination, as it would also affect the entire tourism industry of the country.

    There is a strong feeling of uncertainty everywhere, and we could just hope that things would turn out fine,” Gonzales said.

    As Gonzales looked around the FCC, he expressed his delight in finding a place in the heart of downtown Los Angeles where Filipinos could hang out and engage their compatriots.

    The Lambunao mayor is here on a seven-week training program sponsored by the non-profit and non-partisan organization called Eisenhower Fellowships.

    The program connects leaders from all over the world to experts and senior officials in government, industry, academia, arts and other non-profit sector.

    Eisenhower Fellowships was created by prominent Americans to honor President Dwight Eisenhower for his contribution to humanity as a soldier, statesman and world leader.

    The fellowship experience are expected to mold aspiring leaders to become agents of change — committed to creating a peaceful, prosperous and just world.

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    Mutya ng Pilipinas Southern California opens search for candidates

    April 29th, 2018

    By Abner Galino

    Mutya ng Pilipinas (SC) hopefuls (all of them seated starting from 2nd left) Marucut, De Castro, Lorenzo and Gibson pose with guest and organizers of the event. Photo © Pol Joaquin

    THE Mutya ng Pilipinas Southern California opened up its search for this year’s Miss Mutya giving rise to opportunities for its prospective queen to compete in beauty pageants in the Philippines.

    Camille Agbayani, one of the MPSC organizers, told reporters during a press conference at the L’Aura Wellness in Artesia that unlike other beauty pageants in Southern California, winners of the MPSC pageant go back to the Philippines, and compete and if they have showbiz or modeling ambition, they also have the opportunity to pursue them there.

    “(Winners of other Filipino beauty pageants) they stay here, they don’t go back to the Philippines (to compete). Unlike with Mutya (winners), they will go back (and compete)…”

    Agbayani was reacting to a query from reporters on what makes MPSC different from other Filipino beauty pageants in Southern California.

    For her part, Venus Macias Marin, Mutya ng Pilipinas manager, went on to explain that the winners of the MPSC pageant are assured of chances to compete in at least four international pageants.

    “You know, this is really a good pageant,” Marin added.

    Marin went on to explain that MPSC is first and foremost an organization that seeks to promote tourism in the Philippines.

    “It is the mission of Mutya ng Pilipinas International and we are ardently supporting that mission,” Marin said.

    During the same press conference, the pageant organizers presented at least four of Mutya candidates – Kyra de Castro, Allison Lorenzo, Jill Marucut and Maricel Gibson.

    According to Marin, a fifth candidate came late and was not presented to the media. A sixth candidate gave her commitment to the pageant but herself failed to show up for still unknown reason.

    Mutya’s first batch of candidates impressed guests and members of the media, not only because of their beauty, but due to their astuteness as well.

    De Castro is a student at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Lorenzo is a nursing student at the California State University San Marcos, Gibson is a pre-medical student at the Biola University and Marucut is a union organizer.

    Former beauty queens Anjanette Abayari (Binibining Pilipinas) and Rosemarie de Vera Javier (Mutya ng Pilipinas 1980) also graced the event.

    Miss California Earth Suzanne Perez, a student at UC Irvine, hosted the presentation.

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