Sunday, December 30, 2007


Today is Rizal Day.

Dr. Jose Rizal was executed on December 30, 1896 in Bagumbayan.
He was a revolutionary during the Philippines' Spanish colonial era. His writings were said to entice insurgency among Filipinos and for this and his other patriotic activities, he was imprisoned in Fort Santiago, Intramuros.
Rizal was executed by a Spanish firing squad. Before he died, he wrote Mi Ultimo Adios or My Last Farewell.

Written in Spanish, English translations of the poem can be found online. Here's one:

Mi Ultimo Adios
Dr. Jose Rizal

Farewell, my adored Land, region of the sun caressed,
Pearl of the Orient Sea, our Eden lost,
With gladness I give you my Life, sad and repressed;
And were it more brilliant, more fresh and at its best,
I would still give it to you for your welfare at most.

On the fields of battle, in the fury of fight,
Others give you their lives without pain or hesitancy,
The place does not matter: cypress laurel, lily white,
Scaffold, open field, conflict or martyrdom's site,
It is the same if asked by home and Country.

I die as I see tints on the sky b'gin to show
And at last announce the day, after a gloomy night;
If you need a hue to dye your matutinal glow,
Pour my blood and at the right moment spread it so,
And gild it with a reflection of your nascent light!

My dreams, when scarcely a lad adolescent,
My dreams when already a youth, full of vigor to attain,
Were to see you, gem of the sea of the Orient,
Your dark eyes dry, smooth brow held to a high plane
Without frown, without wrinkles and of shame without stain.

My life's fancy, my ardent, passionate desire,
Hail! Cries out the soul to you, that will soon part from thee;
Hail! How sweet 'tis to fall that fullness you may acquire;
To die to give you life, 'neath your skies to expire,
And in your mystic land to sleep through eternity !

If over my tomb some day, you would see blow,
A simple humble flow'r amidst thick grasses,
Bring it up to your lips and kiss my soul so,
And under the cold tomb, I may feel on my brow,
Warmth of your breath, a whiff of your tenderness.

Let the moon with soft, gentle light me descry,
Let the dawn send forth its fleeting, brilliant light,
In murmurs grave allow the wind to sigh,
And should a bird descend on my cross and alight,
Let the bird intone a song of peace o'er my site.

Let the burning sun the raindrops vaporize
And with my clamor behind return pure to the sky;
Let a friend shed tears over my early demise;
And on quiet afternoons when one prays for me on high,
Pray too, oh, my Motherland, that in God may rest I.

Pray thee for all the hapless who have died,
For all those who unequalled torments have undergone;
For our poor mothers who in bitterness have cried;
For orphans, widows and captives to tortures were shied,
And pray too that you may see you own redemption.

And when the dark night wraps the cemet'ry
And only the dead to vigil there are left alone,
Don't disturb their repose, don't disturb the mystery:
If you hear the sounds of cithern or psaltery,
It is I, dear Country, who, a song t'you intone.

And when my grave by all is no more remembered,
With neither cross nor stone to mark its place,
Let it be plowed by man, with spade let it be scattered
And my ashes ere to nothingness are restored,
Let them turn to dust to cover your earthly space.

Then it doesn't matter that you should forget me:
Your atmosphere, your skies, your vales I'll sweep;
Vibrant and clear note to your ears I shall be:
Aroma, light, hues, murmur, song, moanings deep,
Constantly repeating the essence of the faith I keep.

My idolized Country, for whom I most gravely pine,
Dear Philippines, to my last goodbye, oh, harken
There I leave all: my parents, loves of mine,
I'll go where there are no slaves, tyrants or hangmen
Where faith does not kill and where God alone does reign.

Farewell, parents, brothers, beloved by me,
Friends of my childhood, in the home distressed;
Give thanks that now I rest from the wearisome day;
Farewell, sweet stranger, my friend, who brightened my way;
Farewell, to all I love. To die is to rest.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


If you haven't heard of her, now's your chance.

15-year old singing phenom Charice Pempengco, who traveled all the way from Manila to be a guest at Ellen DeGeneres's show, has wowed audiences everywhere.

Ang galing ng batang ito!

Here's her goose-bump-inducing rendition of "And I Am Telling You".

I am telling you, talo pa n'ya si Jennifer Hudson!

[Thank you to reader Jon dela Cruz for the tip.]

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Here's an awesome pang-regalo idea: helps you let your friends and loved ones know just how much you care when you buy them Prepaid Healthcare Visa Gift Card.

It lets you choose the amount you want to place on the card, from as little as $25 up to $5,000, and the recipient chooses the health related expenses he or she wants to use it for.

The card costs $4.95 plus shipping and handling and can be sent to you or straight to the recipient.

Uses include: co-pays at doctor’s and pharmacies; dental care, and others.

Mas okay na regalo ito kesa sa stale fruitcake, di ba?
For others naman who wish to give the gift of laughter, here's a quick and fun (and FREE!) gift idea: Get your loved ones' pictures and go to to upload them and make a personalized Elf-theme singing card. I did this recently and I just could not stop laughing at the end result: My family as elves singing and dancing like crazy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I want to help my parents. I'm 16, pwede na ba ako'ng magtrabaho?

Yes. And I admire you for wanting to help your parents. (Pero 'wag mo'ng pababayaan ang pag-aaral mo ha!)

According to the Department of Labor, under Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), ang minimum age for employment in non-agricultural employment is 14.

Here are more info:
Hours worked by 14- and 15-year-olds are limited to:
Non-school hours; 3 hours in a school day; 18 hours in a school week; 8 hours on a non-school day; 40 hours on a non-school week; and hours between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (except from June 1 through Labor Day, when evening hours are extended to 9 p.m.)

Youth 14 and 15 years old enrolled in an approved Work Experience and Career Exploration Program (WECEP) may be employed for up to 23 hours in school weeks and 3 hours on school days (including during school hours).

The FLSA does not limit the number of hours or times of day for workers 16 years and older.

states have enacted child labor laws as well. In situations where both the FLSA child labor provisions and state child labor laws apply, the higher minimum standard must be obeyed.

Depending on what state you live in, you might need to get a work permit, click on this link to check. Though the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require that youth get work permits or working papers to get a job, some states do require work permits prior to getting a job. School counselors may be able to advise if a work permit is needed before getting a job, according to the Labor website.

You should also check this website, it is chock-full of info for teen workers.
[photo: south carolina DOL]


According to this report, Manila officials have banned Christmas carolers.

“The plan, controversial as it might be, is not done out of whim but rather for the safety of the children and the mo­torists,” an official said.

Last year a child was killed when he was run over by a speeding truck.

The rule effectively bans street kids from slum areas from knocking on vehicle windows on busy streets asking for cash while caroling.

Caroling in subur­ban areas where carolers would not affect road traffic is still allowed.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


ABC's "Wife Swap" is gearing up its 4th season and they are searching for "one-of-a-kind families with amazing personality and strong family philosophies!"

According to Elisha DeLeon, a proudly Pinay casting production assistant of the show, she is looking specifically "for families of all nationalities who are proud of their heritage and love their culture! Do you share your cultural values with your family and bring your cultural traditions into your household? If so, I would love to hear from you!"

Contact Elisha at 646-747-7959 or at

Let them know that you got this info from FilipinOnline ha!

Here's more info from Elisha:

"In case you’re unfamiliar with the show, the premise of “Wife Swap” is simple: two moms from two different families get the opportunity to swap lives for one week to experience what it's like to live a different lifestyle - and to see what they can teach each other about their own! “Wife Swap” airs on Disney owned ABC television on Mondays at 8 pm- the family hour!

Potential families can live anywhere in the U.S. Families must consist of two parents with at least one child, between the ages 7 and 17 living at home. (There may be other children living in the home who are older or younger than the required age, as long as one child is in the required age range.) Families featured on the show receive a $20,000 honorarium to thank them for their time."


You Better Watch Out So You Don't Cry...
Before Getting In-Store Credit Cards

I know the temptation of a discount is great - and believe me, I succumbed to it before I knew better - but if you're serious about maintaining a high credit score, you gotta be careful about opening another department store credit card.

Here's a tip from TransUnion's TrueCredit newsletter:

"Though it can be tempting to save 10 to 15% on your holiday purchases, consider this: the interest rates can be high (especially if you make a late payment), and applying for a lot of cards can damage your credit score."

In essence, that discount that retail stores give when you apply for a new card might seem like a good deal now but if you don't pay off your entire balance every month, you will lose more in the long run because of the high interest rate. Also, applying for new cards can put dings in your credit score. If you do pay off your balance every month, then by all means, take the discounts. Still, be reminded that each application could have an effect on your credit score.

Here are more credit report-related info from the newsletter:

Do you know how long records stay on your credit report?

Here is a quick list of expiration dates:

Late Payments: Up to 7 years.

Collections: 7 years, starting 181 days from first date of delinquency preceding collection activity on the account.

Bankruptcies: 7-10 years after the filing date, depending on the bankruptcy type and policy of the credit reporting agency.

Judgments: 7 years from the filing date or until the statute of limitations expires, whichever is longer
[PHOTO: American Chronicle]

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

FYI: Democratic Party Forum

An Asian / Latino Issues Forum featuring representatives from the leading Democratic Presidential Campaigns with special celebrity appearance by Kelly Hu.

Assembly Member Kevin de Leon (Hillary Clinton's campaign)
Assembly Member Anthony Portantino (John Edwards' campaign)
LA School Board Member Yolie Flores Aguilar (Barack Obama's campaign)

The forum will be moderated by Eric Byler (Asian Pacific Americans for Progress) and Sandra Mendoza (Metropolitan Democratic Club).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007 National Center for the Preservation of Democracy
111 N. Central AvenueLos Angeles , CA 90012
Event is FREETo RSVP, email:
6:15 PM doors open
6:45 - 8:15 PM panel/forum (will begin promptly)

Immediately following the forum will be the Tuesday Tingler, a special edition of the Monday Minglers co-sponsored by Asian Pacific American Legislative Staff, the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Committee and Asian Pacific Americans in Philanthropy. They will be joined by several co-sponsoring Latino organizations. Just walk around the corner to:
Far Bar at Chop Suey Café347 E. First StreetTel: (213) 617-9990
For more info on the party, email

Monday, December 3, 2007

Hit Delete on Texting While Driving

Naku, mga kababayan ko: Stop texting na while driving.

Apart from being ridiculously unsafe for you and the other motorists, it could land you in jail. If you haven't heard about the first texting-while-driving citation given to a distracted driver, then read this.

More and more states are adopting anti-cell phone-usage-while driving laws.

If you live in Calif., you must know that it is illegal for drivers under the age of 18 to use a cellphone, pager, text-messaging device or laptop while driving, even if they are wearing a headset.

Lawmakers used statistics that show that teenagers make up 6% of licensed drivers but 16% of auto accident fatalities in passing the bill.

For all California adult drivers, just a reminder: When you buy a new cell phone, make sure to get the hands-free one because by July 1, that's all we could legally use.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


It was very cold in Hollywood last night but at Black Eyed Peas''s birthday show at the Vanguard, the atmosphere was warm and fuzzy.

His celebrity guests, including, Taboo, American Idol's AJ Tabaldo and Camille Velasco, Bai Ling, among others, praised the purpose of the event. All the proceeds of the show will go to Asian charitable organizations, including the Philippines.

"All I want for my birthday is for people to help me give more help to our kababayans back home," Apl said at his birthday bash/A.P.L. benefit show.

The Black Eyed Peas Peapod Foundation presented the event. The mission of Apl's organization - A.P.L. or Allan Pineda Lindo - is to provide material, educational and monetary assistance to specific charities in Asia, including the Pearl S. Buck Foundation and Angeles University Foundation, among others. The objective of A.P.L. is to provide the tools for empowerment, progress and self-reliance for underprivileged and marginalized Asian communities.

Apl's best friend and BEP co-founding member had one major wish for the birthday boy.

"I want him to be the president of the Philippines," said

Watch out for my interview with Apl on Balitang America this week.


Ever heard of Jazzipino? Go to the 3rd Annual Fil-Am JazzFest and find out what it's all about.

Jazzipino's creator, the lovely and talented Charmaine Clamor, who's also the first Filipina vocalist ever to have an album simultaneously on both the JazzWeek Traditional Jazz and World Music charts, will be one of the headliners at the 3rd Annual Fil-Am JazzFest, presented by ABS-CBN.

Charmaine Clamor, who has received international acclaim for blending American jazz and blues with the languages and melodies of the Philippines, will perform December 7-9, at Catalina Bar & Grill Jazz Club, in Hollywood. Critics across America have praised Clamor for bringing the music of her birth country to a mainstream audience. Her current CD, "Flippin' Out," has been heard on more than 200 radio stations in the United States and Canada and has been on the World Music Charts for an unprecedented 14 weeks. Following an appearance this month on NPR's "Weekend Edition," her acclaimed album peaked at #2 on the World Music Charts.

"I'm obviously very proud of my Filipino roots," said Clamor. "And I'm even more proud to share the stage with some of the greatest musical artists our community has ever produced."

Clamor's smash radio hit, "My Funny Brown Pinay," a reworking of the popular American standard "My Funny Valentine," has been one of the most played songs on Los Angeles jazz radio stations KKJZ 88.1FM and KCRW. She is famous for taking beloved kundiman and harana songs, like "Dahil Sa Yo," "Hindi Kita Malimot," and "Minamahal Kita" and giving them a jazzy flavor. The resulting blend is called "jazzipino."

Clamor will be joined by Filipino jazz luminaries from around the globe, including Toti Fuentes, the legendary pianist from Sergio Mendes Brazil 66; Mon David, the first Filipino to win the London Vocal Jazz Competition; and Abe Lagrimas, Hawaii's renowned ukulele virtuoso.

What: 3rd Annual Fil-Am JazzFest presented by ABS-CBN
When: December 7-9; shows at 8 & 10PM; 7PM on Sunday
Where: Catalina Bar & Grill Jazz Club
6725 Sunset Blvd. (at McCadden), Hollywood 90028
How Much: $20-35, plus drinks or dinner
Tickets and information are available at:


Kung kailangan ninyo ng legal advice about immigration matters, here's a chance to talk to immigration lawyers for free.

The Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) and the Southern California chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will host a free immigration clinic TODAY, November 28, 2007 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.. The event will be held at APALC, 1145 Wilshire Blvd. , 2nd Flr., Los Angeles , CA 90017 .

“The clinic offers people a chance to get accurate, up-to-date information and sound advice about green cards, visas, citizenship, etc.,” said Mark Yoshida, APALC staff attorney.
At the clinic, attendees will be able to discuss their immigration concerns with experienced attorneys, who are providing their assistance at no charge.

“We are fortunate to have attorneys from AILA Southern California volunteer for this program,” said Yoshida. “They bring the expertise immigrants often need to resolve their legal issues.”

Appointments are strongly encouraged; attendees without appointments may have to wait to talk with an attorney or be rescheduled for another clinic. Attendees should bring all records and documents relating to their immigration status.

For more information about the workshop or to schedule an appointment, call APALC at (213)977-7500 (English).


The Philippine American Bar Association (PABA) of Los Angeles once again joins the Asian Pacific American Legal Center , other local Asian Pacific American bar associations, APEX, and other APA community groups for our 8th Annual Holiday Toy Drive and Networking Reception, to be held on Thursday, December 6, 2007, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The Holiday Toy Drive and Networking Reception will take place at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, 1145 Wilshire Boulevard (corner of Lucas Avenue), in downtown Los Angeles. PABA has selected Search To Involve Pilipino Americans as its beneficiary to receive toys from this event.

There will be a Raffle for a Pair of Round-trip Tickets to Anywhere Southwest Airlines Flies. Raffle tickets are $5.00 a ticket or 5 tickets for $20.00.

All proceeds will go toward the purchase of new toys for recipient organizations. Winner need not be present to win. Call APALC at (213) 977-7500 x 201 to purchase raffle tickets in advance.

Admission is $15 or a new, unwrapped toy with a value of at least $15, which will be donated to one of several APA charities for their respective holiday gift-giving programs. To volunteer or for more information about becoming a Toy Sponsor, please contact Cecilia Amo at

Monday, November 26, 2007


While we're celebrating Thanksgiving here, sadly, a lot of our kababayans back home are experiencing extreme hardships due to Typhoon Mitag. It has killed at least ten people, according to latest reports.

Mitag pounded the northern city of Tuguegarao on the main island of Luzon, bringing strong winds and heavy rain, knocking out power lines and causing widespread flooding, reports said.

Another tropical storm, Hagibis, hit Palawan, where officials said a Philippine air force plane went missing while looking for 25 crewmen of a Filipino fishing boat that was sunk by the storm last week.

[photo of Albay province evacuees:]

Gov. Schwarzenegger Appoints Pinoy; Announces Plans to Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosures

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has recently appointed a Filipino to a state agency that manages programs and initiatives to increase the number of Californians involved with service and volunteering.

Michael Balaoing, 39, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to the CaliforniaVolunteers Commission. He has served on the commission since 2000. Balaoing has worked for the Entertainment Industry Foundation since 2002, where he currently serves as senior vice president. He previously served as program director for the California Wellness Foundation from 1996 to 2002. Balaoing is chair of the board for the Liberty Hill Foundation. He also serves as board secretary for the Council on Foundations and the Ayala Foundation USA . This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Balaoing is a Democrat.

Schwarzenegger also recently announced a program to help residents affected by the mortgage crisis. Here's the press release:

Gov. Schwarzenegger Works with Lenders to Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure; California 's Foreclosure Rate Twice the National Average

With California impacted more than any other state by the national home foreclosure crisis, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger worked with loan servicers from Countrywide, GMAC, Litton and HomeEq to agree to streamline "fast-track" procedures to help keep more subprime borrowers in their homes. Together these four enterprises service more than 25 percent of issued subprime mortgage loans.

"With this type of cooperation from loan servicers, we can save tens of thousands of people from being added to the foreclosure lists. This common-sense approach does not involve a government subsidy or bailout," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "Borrowers need to do their part too. If these lenders are willing to meet more than halfway, it's important that consumers don't run when they reach out. It was a two-way street that got us into this mess and it will be a two-way street that gets us out."

The agreement the Governor negotiated with lenders builds off a proposal put forward by Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chair Sheila Bair that encourages lending agencies to keep subprime mortgage borrowers at their initial interest rate if they are living in their home, making timely payments, but can't afford the loan "re-set"--or jump to a higher rate. A half million Californians have subprime loans that will jump to higher rates in the next two years. Bair's proposal has been endorsed by the newspapers including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times as well as public and community leaders. Governor Schwarzenegger is the first to spur servicers to publicly commit to modifying loans in a streamlined and scalable manner.

Schwarzenegger also announced additional steps the state is taking to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Through a statewide outreach campaign, which will include public service announcements, the Governor will help reinforce the importance for consumers to reach out to their lender if they are at risk of foreclosure. The Governor will also continue to lobby
Congress to raise federal loan limits so that more California families can take advantage of these secure products, rather than relying on subprime loans.

"Losing your home in a foreclosure is an emotional crash that can take years to recover from, but we don't have to sit idly by and watch the American dream turn into the American nightmare. We must take steps at both the state and federal level to make sure future mortgages are on more sound economic footing. In the meantime, by working together, we can protect the American dream and our economy without hurting the American taxpayer," said Governor Schwarzenegger.

Seven of the top sixteen metropolitan areas with the highest rates of foreclosures in the nation are in California ,
according to the latest data from RealtyTrac. In the Stockton , Riverside/San Bernardino, Sacramento , Bakersfield , Oakland , Fresno and San Diego metropolitan areas, there was an average rate of approximately one foreclosure filing for every sixty households in the last quarter. The Governor made his announcement this morning at a meeting with San Joaquin Valley elected, business and community leaders in Fresno , which ranked 13 on the list.

This year,
Governor Schwarzenegger signed legislation to increase protections for Californians who own or plan to purchase homes and to expand affordable housing opportunities. The Governor has also pledged to work with lawmakers in the coming year to take additional steps to protect homebuyers.
Earlier this year, the Governor directed his Cabinet to form the Interdepartmental Task Force on Non-Traditional Mortgages. California was one of the first states in the nation to form a task force to examine the alarming developments in the non-traditional mortgage market. The task force consists of leadership from two agencies and seven departments responsible for all aspects of this complex issue.
In September, the Governor made $1.16 million in Community Development Block Grant funds available to counties for consumer counseling and urged Congress to provide more funding for these programs in California.

The following additional resources are available for homeowners:
· The "HOPE Hotline" (1-888-995-HOPE or, which provides free mortgage counseling 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

· A website with helpful information for prospective homebuyers, as well as homeowners who are experiencing difficulty in keeping payments current: and the Spanish language version:

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Here's Christine Pechera's latest public service announcement. It chronicles this remarkable Pinay's courage and eventual victory over cancer.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

ASK A KABABAYAN: Small Claims Court

"Naloko ako. It's for a small amount but I don't want others to be victimized so I want to sue this person. May nagsabi sa akin about Small Claims Court. Ano ba yon?"

I know how you feel. The moment after you've realized na nagoyo ka by a person you trust can be devastating and incredibly frustrating. Con artists have been around since the beginning of time, unfortunately. Pero somehow, mas nakakainis when it's perpetrated by a kababayan, ano?

You can either chalk it all up to experience and say, "It's only money. I can earn it back."

Or you can sue through the Small Claims Court, and yell (like that mad woman in the picture), "No, it's not fair! I will make him/her/it pay!"

Small Claims Court is the place where regular guys like you and I can have their day in court, without a lawyer at our side, to present our case.

The fee to file a claim is from $30 to $100, depending on your situation.
The maximum award varies widely by state and jurisdiction. In California, it is $7,500.

Before pursuing the matter in court, be sure to write a "demand letter" first to the other party, setting forth the payment you expect. Mention that you will go to court if the other side does not come through.

Now, here are the caveats and things to consider before filing a claim:
- There is also a statute of limitations or time limit during which claims can be filed.
- If you win a settlement, the court doesn't collect the money for you.
- Tingnan mong maige what are the odds of collecting the judgment based on the debtor's ability and willingness to pay. Baka mamroblema ka kung yung defendants ay chronically unemployed, ang business nila ay unlicensed o wala silang assets of value.
Here are some more helpful info from an L.A. Times article written by H. May Spitz: "How much should you sue for? In Ralph Warner's book Everybody's Guide to Small Claims Court in California, a chapter is dedicated to this important question. The amount varies based on the type of case. Do some research on the subject, since excessive claims may anger the judge. When getting ready for trial, organizing your evidence is particularly important. Photographs, receipts, bills and contracts or leases are important building blocks in establishing your viewpoint. Keep in mind you won't have lots of time to present your case; most folks are only given 10 to 15 minutes to state the situation, including presenting evidence. Be prepared to give specific dates for any details involved. Don't underestimate the importance of dressing appropriately. Although there is no formal dress code per se, the court is not a day at the beach or cocktail party. Don't expect witnesses to always be called. It can't hurt to bring the kind neighbor who saw the tidy apartment you claim to have left, but there may not be time after evidence is presented to question the person. Once both sides have presented their case, verdicts are either rendered on the spot or mailed within a few weeks."

For consumers in California, here are sites where you can get more information:

Monday, November 19, 2007


O.C. fans and residents, rejoice.

A new FBI study found that Orange County's Mission Viejo is the safest city in America.

Five other Southern California cities - Lake Forest, Irvine, Thousand Oaks, Chino Hills and Glendale - made it in the top 20 safest cities list.

The rankings are contained in the 14th edition of "City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America," published by Washington-based CQ Press

They are based on statistics for murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and vehicle theft and include about 400 cities of at least 75,000 residents that reported crime data to the FBI.

Two Northern California cities were among those named in the top 10 least safe: Oakland and Richmond.

In order of being least safe, here are the cities' rankings:
Detroit was the least safe city, followed by St. Louis, Mo, Flint, Mich., Oakland; Camden, N.J.; Birmingham, Ala.; North Charleston, S.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; Richmond, Calif.; and Cleveland. Compton, Calif. was ranked 14th least safe.


He is a 54-year-old doctor, she runs a grocery store and bakery in central Pennsylvania.

They have been Americans for two decades. Their children were U.S.-born and -educated.

But the day after Thanksgiving, they are scheduled to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to start their deportation proceedings.

This is the life-changing dilemma being faced by Pedro and Salvacion Servano. They are, by reported accounts, model U.S. residents since arriving from the Philippines in the 1980s.

Their problem stemmed from a mistake in their visa application 17 years ago. They started the application process as single but by the time their visas were approved, they have gotten married. They didn't correct their status. It was a simple oversight, they contend.

"We love this country and this is our American dream to be here," Salvacion Servano said to AP reporter Genaro C. Armas. "We've been here for 25 years. This is our home."

Many people are appealing to the government to give the Servanos a chance, arguing that they do not fit the profile of the demonized image of deportable immigrants. Even a Department of Homeland Security official has publicly signified his support to the couple.

"I fervently believe in the ICE mission. However, the Servanos did not sneak into this country illegally, they have broken no laws, and they have not been a burden to the economy. They pose no threat. I cannot fathom how deporting the Servanos fulfills any portion of the ICE mission. In fact, I would argue the action runs counter to it," DHS counterterrorism operative Bill Schweigart wrote in a published letter.
-Yong B. Chavez,

[PHOTO: The Patriot-News]
Thanks to Art Pacho for the news tip.

Balitang America's Newsmaker of the Year

The story that I did about Senator Francis Pangilinan (and Pinoy overseas voting) made him a finalist for The Filipino Channel-Balitang America's Newsmaker of the Year search.

To see the report, click on the link below, scroll down to find Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, then click on video:

To vote by text or e-mail, find the phone number and e-mail address info at the bottom of the page in that link.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Filipino photojournalist Luis Sinco wrote this poignant piece for the Los Angeles Times where he works. It is a must-read.

Sinco is known as a great photographer; this article shows he's a brilliant writer as well.

In 2004, while embedded in Fallouja, he took a picture of Marine Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller [below].

That image, dubbed as "Marlboro Marine", made Miller famous and Sinco a Pulitzer finalist.

But their intertwined lives didn't end when they went home.

The article deftly shows what war does to young soldiers and to the people who care about them.
[Miller's photo from; Sinco's photo from]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Rex Hermogino, Yahoo's talent show champion, scored another picture-perfect win.

The San Diego native won the grand prize of a Vespa GTS 250 in the user-generated video contest. More than 100 original videos competed for the prizes.

Piaggio Group Americas, Inc. conducted a two-month contest, the “Go Green Vespa Video Challenge,” in which Vespa scooter owners and fans of Vespa were encouraged to develop creative videos that demonstrate their devotion for Vespa scooters and brand.

Below is Rex's award-winning Vespa video. To see and hear Rex's catchy song "Love On the Internet," click here, choose Video and then choose the song.

Here's the report I did about Rex last year when he won the Yahoo contest:

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"At a Pinoy store I go to, the credit card receipt they give me shows my whole card number. Okey lang ba ito?"

No, it's not okay because there are two vital things that ID thieves can get from those receipts. Your name and the numbers can equal to unauthorized credit card charges.

It is a very unsafe practice, and illegal, too.

You should tell that store's manager or owner that since Dec. 1, 2006, all businesses in the U.S. have been required to show only the last 5 digits of a credit card number or the expiration date on receipts on electronically created receipts, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Due to escalating ID theft cases, Congress passed the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act which deals with this thing. Baka di lang informed yung store, so let them know na bawal na ito.

The rules don't apply to handwritten or "imprinted" receipts, which are created when your plastic card is placed into a device used to physically transfer its numbers to a paper receipt, and the law applies only to electronically printed receipts, not to handwritten ones. It applies to the receipts the customer is given, not to the receipts the businesses retain for their own records.

Businesses who disobey are risking FTC civil actions and fines by refusing to comply with the law. Anyone can file a complaint by visiting the FTC website or calling the agency's toll-free number, (877) FTC-HELP, or (877) 382-4357.

Monday, November 5, 2007

BLAZING STORIES: Hope from the Ashes

How do you recover from losing everything you worked your whole life for?

If you are John Rodrigo, you try to move on with grace and hope.

The former U.S. Navy diesel mechanic and instructor worked hard for 20 years to realize his American dream: to be able to build a home and provide security for his family.

It took a while but through backbreaking effort and perseverance that Filipinos are world-famous for, the devoted husband and father was able to do just that.

But in just one day, Mother Nature intervened and burned down his dream.

Ramona residents John Rodrigo, 61, and Jeanette Rodrigo, 62, and their grownup children lost three houses, several cars and a lifetime's worth of possessions amounting to more than 2 million dollars to the devastating Witch Fire which burned 195,000 acres in San Diego County. The fire gutted over 640 homes, damaged 250, and injured many firefighters. Heavy Santa Ana winds knocked down power lines causing the fires, according to reports.

"My children were asking me, 'What are we going to do now?' Rodrigo said.

The houses of the Rodrigo children were gifts from their parents.

"Those houses, masakit talaga na nawala kasi 'yun ang pamana ko sa kanila eh. Di bale na sana kami ng asawa ko, kaso yung mga anak ko tsaka yung mga apo ko, kawawa naman, nawalan ng bahay."

What's worse, the two houses did not have fire insurance. It was their worst-case scenario realized: They couldn't get coverage for the 24 acre-farm due to a lack of fire hydrant.

"Wala sa water district eh so we have our own water well," he said.

Rodrigo's property was full of fruit-bearing trees, a barn, lots of farm animals, and wide-open spaces where his children grew up. He said he is sad that his grandchildren won't be able to enjoy their place the way they used to.

When I spoke with Rodrigo a few days after the fire, he was at a doctor's clinic, getting his wife's blood pressure checked.

"Na-high blood ang misis ko dahil sa nangyari eh," he said.

"But I told my family that we have to move forward," he said. "We have a lot to do. We can't keep thinking backwards. I'm hoping for the best."

"Pasalamat ko lang sa Diyos, walang nasaktan sa amin," he said. "We'll be okay."

Below is his account of how this tragedy changed their lives forever.
–Yong B. Chavez,

"Matagal na kami sa Amerika, yung misis ko, 1961 pa. Dati syang nurse sa Long Beach, ako naman nasa US Navy, 20 years ako doon.

We bought the land in 1976. Ako mismo ang nagtayo ng bahay namin. Bumili ako ng sarili kong gamit, even a bulldozer, at meron din akong kaibigan sa construction na tumulong sa akin.

In 1978, finally natapos na magawa ang bahay namin. It was on a 3,000 square feet land with 3 bedrooms, a second floor, and a full basement.

Blood, sweat and tears talaga pero sulit naman. It was a very nice place, very peaceful. We had all kinds of animals and fruits. My two kids grew up here.

Even if they have left to live on their own, they still lived near us. We gave them their houses: one has 2 bedrooms, the other has 3 bedrooms.

I'm retired, and my hobby is taking care of and fixing antique cars: a GTO 1970 and a Jeepster 1941.

We haven't experienced a fire before so when it happened, we were really surprised.

My son called me, sabi nya: "Dad, I think the fire is coming so I'll move the truck and then I'll come back."

However, once he left he was not allowed to come back anymore. Too risky daw. Sayang, kung pinabalik sya, we would have time to save the antique cars and other things.

But the fire was so fast. My wife and I evacuated as fast as we can.

Later on, we found out that all of the houses were gone.

Masakit talaga. Nawala ang bahay namin, ang mga tools ko, ang mga kotse namin, all of our trees, gone.

Pati yung mga wedding pictures namin at saka yung mga pictures ng mga apo ko, nasunog lahat. We were able to save our house deed pero yun naman we could have gotten a copy even if the original burned.

The other day was the first time I returned to the house. I knew what to expect already so I prepared myself before we went. I have to accept it. Mother Nature ang dahilan eh, so there's nothing I can do about it.

We were told not to touch anything. The water line was contaminated so I had our well repaired so that there will be good water available for our area. My neighbors also lost their houses. Only three homes were spared.

Our insurance guy is coming soon. I have to prepare a list of what we lost. It will be a long list.

Right now, we're staying at a friend's house. Another friend has lent us their RV. But after the insurance talk, I told my wife we have to look for a place to rent already.

We lost our house and we lost our sense of security. I really feel bad for our children, but I have hope that everything will still be all right."
-John Rodrigo, Ramona, Calif.

Two Pinoys' Reactions
"What we learned from this disaster"

By Yong B. Chavez,

A family close to Beth Tagle - Leo and Juliet Pastor of Rancho Bernardo in San Diego - lost their beloved house to the fires. The Pastors are one of the original residents of Azucar Way, a once pristine hillside community where a ravenous fire leaped over a hill and consumed half a dozen houses in its wake.

"We were not able to visit them because [officials] won't let anyone in the area for security reasons. The smell of gas, smoke, and electric cables are still in the air and on the ground. They are still in shock and are not yet ready to face anyone. They are too hurt and devastated," Tagle wrote a few days after the Pastors' house burned down.

"They didn't have a chance to save anything except for some legal documents, everything else turned into ashes. It was 4 a.m. when a neighbor called them and woke them up to tell them they had to evacuate because a neighbor's house was already burning. They were in their pajamas so they panicked and just got some legal papers and drove their two cars out of there.

They were not able to save their wedding pictures nor the baby pictures of their two grownup children. Not her favorite dress nor favorite nightgown. All the memories of their almost 40 years of marriage are gone.

They are going to start all over again just like the first day they set foot in America more than 40 years ago."

From the Pastors' experience, Tagle, who's from Chino Hills, Calif., learned a valuable lesson:

"In just a moment, people's lives can change forever... Make everyday special, do not save anything that you like in your closet: Use it, wear it, or give it away. Let someone else be helped by it. Be always prepared by preparing ourselves spiritually so that we will always be ready to face God. We don't know when our time will come, who's next and what's next."


Jon dela Cruz resides in Northern California, far, far away from experiencing first-hand the treachery of the Santa Ana winds whose fury fanned and transported embers, resulting in one of Southern California's most fiery days, but he felt immediate kinship and sympathy for everyone whose lives were turned upside down by the blaze.

"What a difference a week makes. One previous Saturday most people from Southern California, especially San Diego area, did what they usually do on a lazy weekend: kicked-back, relaxed, ate breakfast with their families, walked the dog, jogged by the seaside, washed their cars, watched a movie.

The next weekend, many of them woke-up and saw what was once their sanctuary: charred ruins of their homes underneath smoldering pile of ashes.

To most, the only thing they could keep were the memories. On TV, as I watched the news, the only structure you can see standing on some of the burned-down homes were the fireplaces: a special part of the home to warm themselves on a chilly winter and bond with friends and families through - what else (as Pinoys) - karaoke sessions.

This is a grim reminder that material possessions can be taken from us in a flash.

Others may contend that these earthly possessions are theirs to keep for good. Not! These are just a loaners from up above.

To the ones whose homes were spared: We pray that the Lord continue to blanket them to safety.

To the families whose homes were burned to the ground: We pray to the Lord that they will be showered with comfort and relieve them with their pains, anxiety and sufferings. We pray that they will be given the strength as they start rebuilding their lives again."

[photo: LA]

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Action Agad from the Philippine Consulate

Responding to the community's need during the wildfire crisis, the Philippine Consulate of Los Angeles quickly sent a team led by Vice Consul Jim San Agustin to San Diego to find out where and how they could help Filipinos affected by the disaster.

While visiting the evacuation center, they met with Filipino community leaders and offered the Consulate's assistance in acting as a "clearing house for disaster relief and coordination."

The consular team was happy to know that the Filipinos affected by the disaster were getting the help through FEMA and other organizations, but they worried that there might be Filipino fire victims who were afraid or ashamed to come forward.
Not everyone might be able to get any help through traditional sources so the Philippine Consulate wanted to spread the word that all fire victims can contact the Consulate to see what type of assistance they can render.

"Major concerns are elderly, those with disability, and undocumented workers. These people may not know how to access assistance, are ineligible for assistance or have difficulties accessing assistance (language, sense of intimidation, hiya, etc.)," wrote Vice Consul Ed Yulo, who led the Philippine Consulate team when Katrina hit.

Any assistance from the community need not be coursed through the Consulate but they encourage everyone to give in any way they can in any form or manner.

Fire victims who have lost their documents, particularly for passports, can be assured of immediate assistance on this matter.

Filipinos affected by the fires may call 213-268-9990.

The Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles wishes to remind Filipino associations to refrain from mentioning the Philippine Consulate General as an organizer or sponsor of fundraising activities in view of existing Philippine government regulations prohibiting Philippine foreign service posts from soliciting funds from the public in any form. Promotion materials, posters or fliers bearing the name of the Philippine Consulate General must have prior written consent from the Consul General prior to printing or distribution. However, the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles can assist Filipino organizations involved in disaster relief activities in terms of facilitating the flow of relief goods and resources, recommending appropriate forms of assistance to recipient organizations, matching the resources of donors to the requirements of identified recipient agencies, and disseminating vital information during emergency situations.
[photo: Philippine Consulate website]

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


October 22 to 26 was the week when many Southern California homes went up in flames. Here is one Filipina's account of how she almost lost everything.

LCT of San Diego is very modest and didn't want her full name to be publicized but she generously agreed to share her story.

She originally sent a version of this letter to family and friends to let them know of their status.

LCT is not a reporter – she is a nurse by profession - but her comprehensive account of her wildfire experience showed a considerable storytelling skill.

Her care for others - including remembering to pick up a freeway driving-averse relative (all of us Pinoys have one, admit it), and volunteering her services as a nurse even when she was on the brink of losing her own house – is a real lesson in selflessness.

Breathless, real, and ultimately blessed with a happy ending, LCT's account will make you wish you have her quick thinking and strength when disaster strikes. What she did first when she came back home will make you smile: The lady obviously loves her plants.
–Yong B. Chavez,

"Our house was blessedly saved from the fire. Miracles do happen. We survived the crisis.

It started Sunday for the Santa Ana weather; the wind was going 90 miles per hour. It started with two fires in the mountain but due to strong wind, the fires spread so fast and hit our place in Rancho Bernardo. On Monday, 4 a.m. I received call from 911 that we have to evacuate at once due to fire.

Got out of bed, took whatever I can: important documents, pictures and some clothes.

Of course [my husband] Ric told me not to panic.

But I wouldn't take any chances. I went out first, picked up my older sister who does not drive on the freeway, and waited for another sister in my nephew's place.

Ric finally left the house after the sheriff asked him to leave or else he will be cited. There were about 5 police cars in our street at that time knocking at every house to evacuate.

On Tuesday, the strong winds continue and the fire spread more. [We saw] our neighbors' houses burning down. The apartment they were showing on TV was just across our house.

They called this fire a tornado due fire swirling upward, kaya yun ibang bahay not affected, parang bang pinipili lang.

I did not sleep at all and continued to watch news.

Then I decided to volunteer for medical help in the shelter they asked people to go to, the Qualcomm football stadium. I am glad I did it because people there needed help and were very appreciative. My experience as a volunteer and as evacuee was so rewarding. The people of San Diego were so generous and caring. It was so organized and the evacuees were happy and comfortable, kahit na nasusunugan na, as you see in TV. They provided hot food, folding beds, blanket, tent, toiletries, day care, live band, massage for 20 minutes, assistance for insurance, Internet and Fema assistance.
Parang street fair na may give aways pa. The real homeless people from downtown, nag-fiesta nga.
Wednesday, the winds died down. We still had fire but in our place, it was contained in our place. They let the residents get in for 5 minutes to get medicines so Ric went to the site and he was escorted by police to pick up his meds.

He was in tears when he saw that the house was still intact. It's just ashes outside and in some part inside the house because I forgot that the windows were open.

It was a relief. They closed a big area in our place due to the fire so nobody will burglarize the empty houses. It was blocked by the military and police so that it was also secured when Pres. Bush delivered his speech in the affected site.

After his visit it opened to the resident na.

I was so happy to be united with our house. I checked if the inside was intact and then I watered my plants. Nag-apple picking na ako sa floor but my persimmon fruits were still intact. I was called to work that afternoon.

On my way to work, I passed by the burned down houses and started crying again up until I reached work. My director of nursing saw me crying and with my eyes so swollen, she was so considerate sent me home. I was not emotionally and physically ready to work.
It's Friday, I didn't know where to start cleaning. There is still fire in the mountain and it started to be cloudy again so I stopped cleaning.

Right now, it's like war, helicopter and police cars are making their rounds to make sure it's safe.

I am glad to be here, and to retire here. Everyone is welcome to stay in my place if you are in San Diego. I don't have a new house but a comfortable house and I will cook for you."

LCT, San Diego

A Burning Desire To Help

Nurse Juliet Danggoec was born in Baguio, lives in Yorba Linda, works in Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, and is a shining example of a good Filipino.

I found her, all-smiles and in full-nursing-mode, at the Red Cross medical tent on the day I visited the National Orange Show evacuation center as she was tending to a nauseous evacuee. It was a Sunday, her day off from work, but as she explains below, the best way to spend one's day of rest is to make sure that others who need it more can. -Yong B. Chavez,

"When Katrina happened, I wanted to go and volunteer there, too, but I wasn't able to. As soon as I heard about the fires I know that I would want to help so here I am. Instead of going to church today, I am here.

Yesterday, there was a long line of patients. Most have breathing difficulties, gastric ulcer, diarrhea. The area was packed. But today, most of the evacuees have left the center. I think most were told that they could go home already.

I didn't see any Filipinos in the center. Siguro kasi they have families, friends or relatives to stay with.

The volunteers came from different places and different hospitals. But we're all here to do whatever we can to help those who need it."

-Juliet Danggoec, Volunteer Nurse

BLAZING STORIES: Rekindled Faith

Larry Espiritu didn't panic when the fires started near his home. Instead of running away and quickly carting off his belongings, he started videotaping the blaze. In his words below, he explains why and how he knew he will be safe.

The Santa Clarita fire, which burned down 38,000 acres and destroyed 21 homes last week, was believed to have been started by a boy playing with matches. The dry conditions brought on by Santa Ana winds helped spread the fire quickly. - Yong B. Chavez, FilipinOnline

"There were seven fires in Santa Clarita Valley alone; Agua Dulce, Lake Piru , Saugus & Canyon Country on Sunday, the 21st of Oct. and Magic Mountain , Westridge & Newhall on Monday the 22nd.

The fire on Monday morning started close to Six Flags Magic Mountain and was just a few blocks away from my house. Since there were several fires the day before and already turned several houses into ashes, my neighbors were panicking, with cell phones on their hands talking and taking important documents into their cars out of their garages getting ready to evacuate.

Instead of me doing the same thing as they were, my strong faith in God that I just strengthened over the last few years taught me how to remain calm and confident in times like this. Thinking that the Lord will spare my house, I grabbed my video camera and decided to record the fire instead. But when I was walking towards my van which was parked in front of my house, I could feel the droplets of hot ashes in the air and some neighbors started crying. That made me feel nervous a little bit and hesitated to do the video taping, and I was gonna go back to my house to get ready for the evacuation.

At that point the wind blew so hard at me like it was telling me not to worry about it because it was driving the fire away from my house. So I did, I drove my van to the best spot and started to tape pretty much of it. All along the video taping, patrol cars and fire trucks were going nuts around the neighborhood and the fires already spread to Stevenson Ranch. There were still a chance that the wind direction may shift anytime but I was not worried at all. I didn’t even call my wife at work nor my son who was at his girlfriend’s house, to go home despite all of all chaos.

I finished the tape at about 7:00 p.m., about the same time when the fire was fully contained. By then, the wind shifted its direction towards my house and I didn’t like the smell.

The lesson that I learned on that day was that faith alone doesn’t move mountain: It’s wisdom and faith. When I told this to my friends, they can’t understand my rhetoric.

Some of them even thought that I’m using God in my publicity gimmick to serve my own purpose in YouTube. Those are the friends that haven’t seen my YouTube profile. Once they saw it, only then will they realize that I have other decent purpose and not just greed or self-satisfaction. Each one of us may have been called by God to do something for Him. My call is to promote wisdom and I use YouTube as one of my medium to promote it. Lot of people may believe in Him and others even think that they have strong faith on Him and that should be good enough to live fully and get saved at the end. Faith alone is meaningless without wisdom. Obeying The Ten Commandments is impossible without wisdom. Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is the love and respect of all His creations so wisdom and God is synonymous. God knows my faith on Him and He also knows how I’m trying to understand wisdom and He is guiding me."

- Larry Espiritu, Santa Clarita, CA

Monday, October 29, 2007


Watch out for a series of first-person accounts of Filipinos whose lives were touched by the Southern California wildfires on FilipinOnline.

Yesterday, I visited an evacuation center in San Bernardino. Today, I spoke with John Rodrigo, a former Navy man whose losses include three houses, six cars, and a wedding album. It was a lifetime's worth of blood, sweat and tears that he lost. He is devastated, but he finds it in his heart to count his blessings: "At least, walang nasaktan sa amin," he said.

[photo: Larry Espiritu - Santa Clarita fire]

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Pwede ba akong kumuha ng refund for an expedited passport service that did not deliver?"


Normally, for an expedited service, it takes 2-3 weeks to receive your passport from the date you applied, so if it didn't arrive at that time, you may request a refund by writing to:

U.S. Department of State
Passport Services/PPS/Refunds
2100 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington D.C. 20037-3202

Put the passport number (if available), name, date and place of birth, application date, mailing address and phone number where you can be reached.

Only the expedited fee of $60 will be refunded. The regular application fees and your overnight delivery costs, if any, won't be.

Need to know exactly how to apply for a passport in a hurry? Click on this link.

The government's passport agency has been harshly criticized for massive delays in processing passports as a result of the surge in applications due to the new security laws passed by Congress, but I actually got lucky when I applied earlier this year. I got it only 5 weeks after applying. Not a bad wait at all, I was told. When I applied, the clerk at the post office said I should expect it in 12 weeks.

On a related note, if you want to help ease the backlog, you can apply for a Passport Specialist job. Here's a link to that job posting. The pay looks so good it might make you (almost) forget your passport application woes.


Joseph Estrada, "Erap" to his movie fans, will go free this Friday. He was pardoned by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who got the post after Estrada politically drowned in a sea of corruption scandals and was driven from office in 2001.

The former president, 70, has been under house arrest for the past six and a half years. He was convicted of corruption charges and was sentenced by an anti-graft court to a maximum of 40 years in prison for taking bribes and kickbacks during his presidency.

“The motive for granting the pardon is utterly self-serving of Mrs. Arroyo,” said Renato Reyes, secretary general of the leftist group Bayan, in a report. Arroyo is currently facing a scandal of her own in a case involving "$70 million in kickbacks from a multimillion-dollar broadband contract between the government and the Chinese company ZTE."

A government spokesperson said that the executive clemency, which is kicking up a dust storm of protest among anti-graft and corruption groups in the Philippines, is in line with the government’s policy to release inmates who are 70 or older.
[photo: CNN]

Monday, October 22, 2007


A friend of mine forwarded this text to me. Fr. James Reuter, S.J., is spearheading a prayer brigade through email. He is asking Filipinos all over the world to forward the text (in addition to praying, of course) to everyone they know.

by Father James Reuter, S.J.

The signs are clear.
Our nation is headed towards an irreversible path of economic decline and moral decadence. It is not for lack of effort. We've seen many men and women of integrity in and out of government, NGOs, church groups & people's organization devote themselves to the task of nation-building, often times against insurmountable odds.

But not even two people revolutions, bloodless as they may be, have made a dent in reversing this trend.

At best, we have moved one step forward, but three steps backward.We need a force far greater than our collective efforts, as a people, can ever hope to muster.

It is time to move the battle to the spiritual realm. It's time to claim God's promise of healing of the land for His people. It's time to gather God's people on its knees to pray for the economic recovery and moral reformation of our nation. Is prayer really the answer?

Before you dismiss this as just another rambling of a religious fanatic, I'd like you to consider some lessons we can glean from history.

England's ascendancy to world power was preceded by the Reformation, a spiritual revival fuelled by intense prayers.

The early American settlers built the foundation that would make it the most powerful nation today - a strong faith in God and a disciplined prayer life.

Throughout its history, and especially at its major turning points, waves of revival and prayer movement swept across the land.

In recent times, we see Korea as a nation experiencing revival and in the process producing the largest Christian church in the world today, led by Rev. Paul Yongi Cho. No wonder it has emerged as a strong nation when other economies around it are faltering.

Even from a purely secular viewpoint, it makes a lot of sense. For here there is genuine humbling & seeking of God through prayer, moral reformation necessarily follows. And this, in turn, will lead to general prosperity. YES, we believe prayer can make a difference.

It's our only hope.

Today, we launch this email brigade, to inform Filipinos from all over the world to pray, as a people, for the economic recovery and moral reformation of our nation. We do not ask for much. We only ask for 5 minutes of your time in a day, to foward this email to your close friends and relatives.

This is the kind of unity which can make a big difference. Of course, if you feel strongly, as I do, about the power of prayer, you can be more involved by starting your own prayer group or prayer center. We have tried people power twice; in both cases, it fell short. Maybe it's time to try prayer power.

God never fails. Is there hope? YES! We can rely on God's promise, but we have to do our part.

If we humble ourselves and pray as a people, God will heal our land.By God's grace, we may yet see a better future for our children. God bless and God save our country will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.'(2 Chronicles 7:14).

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Fil Am hip hop group Native Guns' "Champion" recently won the Best Music Video Award the 2007 San Diego Asian Film Fest. The video was written and directed by filmmaker extraordinaire Patricio Ginelsa.

To view the award-winning video, click this.
[photo: Patricio Ginelsa]


Dr. Noel Chua, a Filipino doctor from Georgia, received a sentence of life in prison after a jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict on felony murder charges in the overdose death of Jamie Carter, reports Florida-Times Union.

He was also sentenced five years in prison after he was found guilty of seven of 16 drug charges for violating the Georgia Controlled Substance Act.

Chua, 45, has been held in jail since September 2006 when he was arrested and charged with the drug overdose death of Jamie Carter III. Prosecutors say Carter, 20, died from drugs Chua prescribed for no legitimate medical purpose.
Chua told police that Carter was a former patient who was working for him and living in his home while attending college. Investigation reports said police found numerous medications while searching the home, including a hypodermic syringe that contained an unknown clear substance and an unidentified white powder in a clear plastic bag.
Several groups and opinion columns have come out in defense of the doctor from Georgia but in the end, they were not enough to help him.


La Maison du Pain, a Filipino-owned French bakery, is mentioned as one of the best places to eat in in the premiere issue of Los Angeles Times' The Guide.

Artist Gary Baseman raves: "La Maison du Pain has the best cinnamon rolls in the city. Fresh. Full. You pull them apart and they wrap around your tongue."

I wrote a feature about this wonderful bakery back in 2005. Here's a link to that article.

To Carmen Salindong (left) and Josephine Santos and the whole family:

La Maison du Pain is at 5373 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Filipina Lolas Campaign for Justice

By: Yong B. Chavez

LOS ANGELES - In the same week that an unprecedented number of Filipino Americans expressed unity in contesting a controversial line in "Desperate Housewives," and on the same day that thousands of Filipinos once again cheered as one for Manny Pacquiao in his latest boxing match, without fanfare and with only a handful of supporters, Adela Reyes Barroquillo, 78, related to a small group of book launching attendees in Historic Filipinotown why she is fighting to tell her story.

"I have to tell my story. I kept it to myself for a long, long time because I was ashamed. Sila ang dapat mahiya sa amin, I should not be the one who should be ashamed," she said. "I want justice."

Lola Adela is a survivor of Japanese military sexual slavery during World War II. The victims, their families, and supporters have been asking the Japanese government to issue an official, unequivocal apology for the crimes, as well as demanding that restitution should be made to the survivors and their families.

Adela's testimony was one of the highlights in a historic world conference recently held in Los Angeles on the sexual enslavement of women and girls by the Japanese military. U.S. House Resolution 121, authored by Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), was passed in July. It urged the Japanese government to apologize for its wartime sexual enslavement of at least 200,000 Asian women. H.R. 121's passage has strengthened a global alliance that seeks justice for surviving sex slaves.

In the new book called "Justice with Healing," an anthology of 23 Filipina survivors, Adela, a former schoolteacher and auditor bares her pain.

She was born in a small town in Capiz province to a simple family. Her father was a farmer and her mother kept the house for her and 6 siblings. Adela was the youngest.

When the war broke out, she was only 12. Two years after hiding in the mountains with her family, she received information that it was already safe to go back to her hometown. She encountered two friends, Pestang and Nita, whom she hasn't seen in years. Together they went to the public market.

There, they were accosted by Japanese soldiers and later delivered to a garrison where her and her friends' nightmare began. At 14, she was raped repeatedly by Japanese soldiers.

"I remember being forced to enter a room. I hesitated because it was very dark inside. One soldier shoved and kicked me in until I tumbled face-down on the floor. Then the soldier slapped me hard in the face until I fainted," she said.

When Adela got to this part as she was recounting her story in the book launching, she stopped abruptly. Her eyes watered while she stared ahead, looking at no one and nothing in particular. Sixty-four years after, it is as plain as day that the horror of her experience still lives and breathes within her.

For more than three months, she and the other victims suffered physical and sexual abuse. At one point, out of extreme despair, she wished that a bomb would hit the garrison and kill them all.

But it wasn't a deadly bomb that liberated them. When a group of Filipino guerillas attacked the garrison in May, 1943, Adela and her friends escaped and walked on bare feet for many miles to get home. Many other kidnapped victims of Japanese military sexual slavery died in captivity.

Except for her mother, Adela kept the horrors she experienced a secret. When her mother told her not to tell anybody else to avoid a scandal, she readily obeyed.

"I was sick for a long time after we escaped. There were days when I didn't even speak at all. I fainted sometimes. I was so afraid of people. I couldn't eat nor sleep," she said.

When the war ended, she went back to school. Eventually, she met and married her former schoolmate, Servando Barroquillo. They had six children.

Servando died in 1995 not knowing that the woman with whom he shared a life harbored a painful secret. Four years after his death and after hearing from fellow former sex slaves who have gone public with their stories, Adela felt it was time to share hers. Shortly thereafter, she joined Lolas Kampanyeras, a survivor group coordinated by Filipina human rights activist Nelia Sancho of Asian Women Human Rights Council.

"They were very young. Most of them have never even experienced having a boyfriend before they were attacked," Sancho said. "Their traumas were multiplied. They had low self-esteem and their families and the society imposed silence on them."

"Most of them kept what happened to them a secret. Many of those who shared their stories with their husbands had to endure being called "just remnants of Japanese soldiers" whenever they fight," Sancho added. Some never even recovered enough to have healthy relationships.

Unfortunately, even up to now, the survivors – euphemistically called "comfort women" – suffer from triple discrimination due to their gender, race and class.

While there are many supporters of Filipino World War veterans who are fighting for equity, Filipina "comfort women" still struggle to find champions to aid their cause. While the veterans have medals and the unstinting admiration of the community for their wartime bravery, WW II sex slave survivors, to this day, have to endure unkind words and a lack of support even from their own family and community in the Philippines.

"My children don't like that I talk about what happened to me. Some of my neighbors told me that I should just have just kept this "shame" a secret. Some tell me I'm just doing it for the money," Adela said. "But I have to fight for me."

Before Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo won the election, she was a supporter but "she has changed her tune," Sancho said, adding that despite overwhelming evidence attesting to the veracity of their stories, up to now, they are also still fighting to include in Philippine history textbooks the fate the women suffered during World War II.

Their harrowing ordeal first came into light when Lola Rosa Henson came out in public in 1992 after she heard the story of a Korean sex slave survivor. There are about 400 documented Filipina survivors of sexual slavery. There were three batches of victims who came forward – one group consisted of more than a hundred survivors of mass rape in just one village in Pampanga. Around 94 have passed away without seeing justice.

In the last 15 years, Japanese soldiers have come forward to admit their wrongdoing. Recovered documents showed that the military was involved or knew about the "comfort stations," according to news reports. Many, including Japanese human rights activists, have criticized the Japanese government for admitting only moral but not legal responsibility for wartime atrocities against the women.

In 1996, Asian Women's Fund, a private fund collected by the Japanese government from its citizens, was set up to compensate the former "comfort women." Japanese officials wrote letters of apology to women who received the payments. Not all of the victims received the compensation.

In 1998, the Tokyo District Court dismissed a case brought by 46 former sex slaves from the Philippines who accused Japan of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Some of the lolas included in the lawsuit died even before the ruling was handed down.

It is because of their advancing age that the survivors and their supporters thought it was imperative to participate in the World Conference on Japanese Military Sexual Slavery held in UCLA early this month.

Some delegates of the Lolas Kampanyeras didn't make it to the Los Angeles conference due to lack of funds. Those who made it hocked their jewelries and went house to house of well-to-do Philippine families to solicit donations to fund some of the trip's expenses. Sancho's Los Angeles-based friends provided assistance to the group, from picking them up from the airport to transporting them to the conference.

When they arrived, they stayed in Fasgi, a Filipino agency that provides social services to low-income and homeless individuals.

At the book launching, Annalisa Enrile of Gabriela Network volunteered to pass a box around and asked the attendees to give what they can to provide some pocket money for the delegates. The event, which drew a very modest but enthusiastically supportive crowd, was sponsored by the Filipino American Press Club of Los Angeles, Philippine Press Club, Inc., and People's Core.

Copies of "Justice with Healing," priced at $10, immediately sold out. The book includes just 23 stories - even though its researchers were able to interview 50 survivors - because of their measly publication budget.

The title of the book, a product of seven years of painstaking work and research of the Asian Women Human Rights Council and the Buhay Foundation for Women and the Girl Child, came from the group's desire to finally get justice and to provide healing to the survivors. Lolas Kampanyeras provide therapy and counseling to the victims – something that wasn't available to them for decades.

Sancho was touched by the positive reaction expressed by Filipino Americans at the event. She hopes to be able to put up a website soon where they could be easily reached and where the book can be sold.

"I'm really thankful to our kababayans and to many foreigners, too, who have shown their support to us during our trip here," Adela said. She admitted that for many years, she cannot even bring herself to look at any man who resembled a Japanese national. But she met many wonderful people at the conference who told her how they admired her courage.

At 78, the petite grandmother remains strong but her strength cracks noticeably when she hears the term "comfort woman."

"Mali at masakit kasing pakinggan eh. Hindi naman kami prostitutes (It's a wrong term, and it's painful to hear. We're not prostitutes)," she said. The euphemism was coined by Japanese military officials.

The day they were scheduled to return home to the Philippines, she was nursing a headache brought about by her group's visit to Disneyland the day before but she gamely recounted the experience, how she savored a chance to be happy on their last night in America. When asked if she went on any of the rides, she said that they actually just stayed outside of Disneyland.

"Naku, ang mahal ng tiket eh (The admission price was expensive)," she said with a laugh. Just being able to set foot on such a place was already an impossible dream come true for her, she added.

While her elusive dream of getting justice remains unrealized, Adela vows to keep on fighting for as long as she lives.

"I just hope they don't forget what happened to us," she said.
To contact Lolas Kampanyeras, e-mail Nelia Sancho at or; Phone number: (632) 433-1680.