Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Be sure to check your W-2 for errors

This is the time of the year when we get our W-2 forms. The deadline for employers to put W-2s in the mail is Jan. 31 so if you haven't received yours by that time, tanungin na ninyo ang inyong accounting department.

[If you're a new immigrant: The W-2 is the tax form distributed by employers which lists the income you earned, retirement plan contributions, and the income taxes that were withheld for the previous year. This is needed to file individual tax returns.]

Kahit di mo natanggap ang W-2 mo
, you're still required to file your tax return on time. Kung nahihirapan kang kunin ang W2 mo dahil may problema sa employer, you can file a complaint with the IRS by calling 800-829-1040 or go to Don't call until after Feb. 14.

The deadline to file individual tax returns is on April 15.

After reviewing your W-2 and wondering where all the money went (or feeling depressed about how little the amount was), check your W-2s for any errors.

This article lists some potential problems to look for when you receive your W-2:
Wrong name.
If you got married last year and changed your name, the name on your W-2 may not match the one on your Social Security card. Notify your employer of name mismatches right away. You may be able to get it corrected before your W-2 is sent to the Social Security Administration and your state.
Misplaced W-2s.
You're supposed to get a W-2 from every company you worked for in 2004, even if you stayed for only a day or two. Companies that have gone out of business are supposed to send employees a W-2 form by the end of the month following the quarter they stopped operations.

What if Your Employer Refuses to Give You Your Form W-2?
Kung ayaw kang bigyan ng W2 for whatever reason, your employer still doesn't want to give you one, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

Pag tumawag ka sa
IRS, have this information ready:
1.) Your name and address, Social Security number, and contact information.

2.) The employer's name and complete address, including zip code, the employer’s identification number (if known), and telephone number.

3.) An estimate of the wages you earned, the federal income tax withheld, and the dates you began and ended employment.


Saturday, January 19, 2008


Election day is coming up so DON'T FORGET TO REGISTER.

Voter registration is permanent - if you already did so during your oath-taking then you're set. However, you should re-register kung lumipat kayo, wish to change your political party affiliation, or have changed your name.

For the upcoming presidential primary elections on February 5, the last day to mail in the registration form for California residents is on Jan. 22 . For more information about registration and voting, go to this site:

You may register to vote if you meet the following criteria:

You are a United States citizen
You are a resident of California [or the state of your residence]
You are at least 18 years of age (or will be by the date of the next election)
You are not in prison or on parole for conviction of a felony
You have not been judged by a court to be mentally incompetent to register and vote
To find the deadline to register in other states, just Goggle your state's name and add "voter registration."

Thursday, January 17, 2008


You knew it was just a matter of time. On the second day of American Idol Season 7 auditions, another Pinoy has made it to the show of shows.

Upon seeing previews of a contestant in a shiny silver cape and gaudy hat, I groaned knowing that he's Pinoy. I was afraid that the 44-year-old, 100% Pinoy, Renaldo Lapuz will do something completely embarassing. But as it turned out, he was so guileless and so sincere that he won me over.

Yes, he probably will be in the Worst list in the inevitable American Idol's Best & Worst, but unlike the completely deluded AI should-not-bes, Renaldo wasn't cringe-inducing (okay, maybe the costume was).

In fact, he did the most funny and entertaining audition so far. He even got the hosts to sing along and dance along with him.

The Reno, Nevada native didn't actually get the golden ticket to Hollywood (where many contestants wash out anyway) but he got something better: Fifteen minutes of fame and a prediction from his idol, Simon Cowell, that his audition piece - an original composition called "We're Brothers Forever" - will be a "hit record."

Okay, so Simon was laughing when he said that but it's not unthinkable: Renaldo could be this year's William Hung. And he already has one thing over Hung: Renaldo sings better, and I guarantee you, once you've heard him, for better or for worse, his song will stick in your mind like day-old malagkit. As one blogger described his performance: "He is freakin' hilarious!"

"If I were an American Idol, then I would give hope to those who are in despairs, and to be tough, to be strength," Renaldo said.

His English might be broken but his spirit surely wasn't when he tearfully thanked Simon after his audition for "giving a chance to everyone to sing to the whole give a chance to any talent, free of charge."

Other kababayans might get crabby and start bagging on him but I hope for the opposite. Sure, talent-wise, he's no Jasmine Trias - not even AJ Tabaldo - but he just seems to be a happy Pinoy with a song in his heart so let's let him have the time of his life.

So - congrats, Renaldo! Idol ka namin.

And now, here are the lyrics to his song. All together now!

We're Brothers Forever

By Renaldo Lapuz

I am your brother
Your best friend forever
Singing this songs
The music that you liiiike!

Brothers till the end of time
Together or not
You're always in my heart
Your hurt, your feelings
And you will worry no mooore!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Volunteers To Receive President’s Award for Service to Older Immigrants

LOS ANGELES – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the White House Office of USA Freedom Corps will hold a volunteer and civics orientation seminar at Los Angeles City College on Thursday to encourage individuals to volunteer to help legal immigrants become more actively engaged in their communities.

During the seminar, the Project SHINE chapter at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) will receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award for helping older immigrants learn English and prepare to become United States citizens.

Following the seminar, Alfonso Aguilar, Chief of USCIS’ Office of Citizenship, will teach a citizenship class using the new USCIS video, A Promise of Freedom: An Introduction to U.S. History and Civics for Immigrants and engage the students in a discussion using the lesson plan in the accompanying booklet.

January 17, 2008- 10 a.m.
Los Angeles City CollegeEl Camino Theatre
855 N. Vermont AveLos Angeles, CA 90029
Main Office: (323) 953-4000


Boxing champions Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez had a press conference today in Beverly Hills to promote their upcoming fight called "Marquez vs Pacquiao II - Unfinished Business".

The highly-anticipated match for the Super Featherweight world championship will be staged on Saturday, March 15 , at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. This bout is a rematch of their legendary May 8,2008 battle which ended in a draw. The fight will be telecast live on HBO Pay-Per-View.

--Photo Credit : Chris Farina - Top Rank, copyright 2008


The Internet Age brought us many great things but it also brought us spam, ID theft, and other hideous things perpetrated by hideous (and usually anonymous) people.

I'm starting a new segment on FilipinOnline today to help expose these scams, and to warn our kababayans against them.

For starters, I got this e-mail yesterday (see picture above) saying that I have a pending item for delivery for a free laptop.
Wow, a free laptop. I sure could use one. And I was lucky enough to be chosen by these wonderful people!

Too good to be true, right? Right. That's my first clue that this e-mail was bogus. So I hit Report Spam.

I've heard of sob stories of kababayans who fell prey to these kinds of things. They lost money, time and their sense of security because they trusted so easily.
If you wanna share your story so you could help others be informed, please e-mail them to me: ybchavez at (no space in between, @ replaces 'at').

Here's a list of common Internet scams, from the FBI.

To file a complaint, go to this Internet Crime Complaint Center, ran by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center, and fill up a form.

Monday, January 14, 2008

ASK A KABABAYAN: I read that Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire caucus. Ano ba ang kaibahan ng caucuses at primaries? Ano'ng susunod na mangyayari?

These are the same things being asked by other Fil-Ams who are voting for the first time or who are just wondering what the heck these caucuses and primary elections mean. Here's what I know:

First: what they had in New Hampshire where Hillary (for Democrat) and McCain (for Republican) won was not a caucus; it was actually a primary election. Sa Iowa yung caucus where Obama and Huckabee won.

Caucuses and primaries accomplish the same basic thing: They are used by each political party to let voters nationwide select their party's presidential nominee. Magkaiba lang sila ng implementation.

Ang caucus is sort of like a classroom election/barangay-level elections, while the primary elections are just like any other secret ballot election. Sa Iowa, they held several caucuses - depende sa dami ng counties (ang counties ay parang provinces sa atin, kumbaga). Sa Iowa Democratic caucuses, taasan ng kamay ang elections, at pwedeng mangampanya during the process.

The primaries and caucuses are used to select delegates (representatives of party members in each state) to send to the party's Presidential Nominating Convention.

Ang importance ng Iowa caucus is that, in the election season, it's the earliest to have any kind of voting process in an election year. It's the first time that the candidates and the public can see kung sinong kandidato o anong plataporma ang kinikilingan ng publiko.

So maraming publicity kasi well-covered ng media. Parang nagkakaroon ng momentum kung sinuman ang manalo dito kahit hindi naman nito ni-re-represent ang cross-section of the American voting public.

Iowa has been described in news reports as a lily-white state - meaning, it's a state na hindi masyadong maraming immigrants like Latinos and Asians, unlike California. Ganun din ang demographics ng New Hampshire.

Ang susunod na inaabangan ngayon ay ang mga primaries where minorities, like us Pinoys, vote.

Bawat state gets to have caucuses or primary elections kaya lang unang-unang gumagawa ang Iowa ng caucus at ang New Hampshire ng primary elections kaya sila ang unang center of media attention.

Sa primary elections and caucuses, nade-determine ang state party's nominee for president, which it will present sa susunod na event - which is the Presidential Nominating Convention where each (Dem and Rep) party's delegates will select the party nominee.

The outcome decides kung sino ang magiging official na kandidato per party sa general elections, which will be held in November.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Most Commonly Mispronounced English Words

Yes, we're known for sometimes confusing our Ps and Fs but there are other English words that trip even native English speakers.

Speaking of our Ps and Fs, naalala ko tuloy yung kwento ng isang katrabaho ko dati. She called a Pinoy client but the client wasn't home so the voicemail came up. The voicemail prompt left my coworker confused as to where and how exactly to leave her message for the client. This is what the client's recorded voice said:
"Sorry we missed your call. Please leave a message after the beef."

Anyway-- Here's a partial list with explanation from Scroll down to get the full link. The first word is the commonly misprounced usage; the correct pronunciation is highlighted.

Some entries may surprise you. I didn't know that I've been mispronouncing "forte" till now:

Antartic - Antarctic
Just think of an arc of ants (an ant arc) and that should help you keep the [c] in the pronunciation of this word.

athelete - athlete
Two syllables are enough for "athlete."
[David Spader used this mispronunciation to great comedic effect in "The Benchwarmers". I know it's not an Oscar movie but it has Rob Schneider, who is Pinoy, so rent it now. - YBC]

cannidate - candidate
You aren't being canny to drop the [d] in this word. Remember, it is the same as "candy date."
[I know some of us are tempted to pronounce this with an American accent, like saying "twenny" instead of "twenty", but it doesn't make it correct - YBC]

duck tape - duct tape
Ducks very rarely need taping though you may not know that ducts always do—to keep air from escaping through the cracks in them.
Febyuary - February
We don't like two syllables in succession with an [r] so some of us dump the first one in this word. Most dictionaries now accept the single [r] pronunciation but, if you have an agile tongue, you may want to shoot for the original.

fedral - federal
Syncopation of an unaccented vowel is fairly common in rapid speech but in careful speech it should be avoided. See also "plute" and read more about the problem here.

forte -fort
The word is spelled "forte" but the [e] is pronounced only when speaking of music, as a "forte passage." The words for a strong point and a stronghold are pronounced the same: [fort].

'erb - herb
Does, ''My friend Herb grows 'erbs,'' sound right to you? This is a US oddity generated by the melting pot (mixed dialects). Initial [h] is always pronounced outside America and should be in all dialects of English.

irregardless - regardless
"-Less" already says ''without'' so there is no need to repeat the same sentiment with "ir-."

lambast - lambaste
Better to lambaste the lamb than to baste him—remember, the words rhyme. "Bast" has nothing to do with it.

often -ofen
We have mastered the spelling of this word so well, its spelling influences the pronunciation: DON'T pronounce the [t]! This is an exception to the rule that spelling helps pronunciation.

Here's the complete list of the 100 Most Commonly Mispronounced Words.
[picture from Savvy Traveler]

Monday, January 7, 2008


Discovered via YouTube, bonafide Quezon City boy and singer-extraordinnaire Arnel Pineda skipped gazillion steps in securing a spot desired by many aspiring singers. Last December, he became the new lead singer of Journey.

This juicy piece of good news was first brought to my attention by FilipinOnline reader Jon Dela Cruz, and I even talked about it when I guested on Kababayan LA. Today, I got another e-mail about this talented Pinoy from FO contributor Art Pacho. Thanks, Jon & Art, for the tip!

On its official website, Journey welcomed Arnel with Open Arms.

The group, which achieved its biggest commercial success thus far in the '80s, had another high-profile moment recently when one of its biggest hits, Don't Start Believing, was used in The Sopranos' much-talked about fade-to-black finale.

Here's Arnel singing:


A Pinoy husband and father of five died on Christmas Day when he aided in rescuing children who had broken through the ice on Jackson Lake in Wrightwood, Calif.

Claro "Bhoy" O. Claridad II, 41, slipped beneath the ice and died from hypothermia.

Bhoy was born in Manila and has lived in California for 23 years. He and his wife Judith and their five children - all under 12 - resided in Victorville in the last four years. Bhoy was a Verizon store manager and he was also a former U.S. Army man.

"He risked his life for something he would do for everybody," said co-worker Diane Bach in a report. "He doesn't think, he just acts. No matter what anybody needs." In the same article, Bach described Bhoy as the manager that everyone loved who brought lavish lunches to work, "oftentimes wrapped in banana paper."

The Claridads went to the snowy lake for a family picnic to celebrate Christmas, not knowing that it will be their last day together.

When the incident happened, Judith had momentarily left to change her two youngest daughters. When she came back, she was informed that Bhoy has been brought to the hospital.

There, Bhoy's belongings were returned to her, including a hat with a Filipino flag, according to a news report.

A trust fund has been established to help Judith and the Claridad children.

Donations may be made at any Washington Mutual branch under the Claridad name and account number 3403135523.

Donations may be sent to Claridad Fund, c/o Washington Mutual, 12690 Hesperia Road, Victorville, CA 92302.

Airline Restrictions on Spare Batteries

Travel Alert!
Effective January 1, 2008, the U.S. Department of Transportation have prohibited loose lithium batteries in checked baggage.

In response to exploding laptops incidents, the government agency has issued this directive.

Eto ang mga detalye:
1.) Iba ang treatment sa mga installed batteries na nakakabit na (sa telepono, computer, camera, etc.), at sa spare batteries (carried loose). Only lithium-based batteries are affected, not nickel-based rechargeables or alkaline batteries.

2.) You can't pack spare batteries in checked baggage but equipment with batteries installed can be checked in.

3.) Sa carry-on bag mo, you can take as many batteries as you want (installed or spare), basta hindi lalampas sa 8 grams of lithium content each battery. How much lithium is in a battery? This informative article from Yahoo! tells you how to figure it out:
"An 8-gram battery equals about 100 watt-hours of power. Now, your battery won't say how many watt-hours it provides, but it's easy to do the math. Look on the bottom and you'll find a voltage rating and a mAh (milliamp-hours) rating. Multiply these two together and divide by 1,000. That's your watt-hours. In the (big) battery I'm looking at as an example, it offers 11.1 volts and 7,800 mAh. Multiply and divide by 1,000 and you get 86.58 watt-hours, acceptable under the new rules."

Since most travelers don't typically carry these big batteries, not a lot of people are affected by this restriction. But if you carry them, check out FAA's safety tips.

For more details, here's the link to the DOT website.

[Photo: US-DOT website]

Saturday, January 5, 2008


H-2B Cap Is Reached;
Suspension of R1 Premium Processing Services Suspended

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced this week that it has received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the second half of Fiscal Year 2008 (FY2008). USCIS is hereby notifying the public that January 2, 2008 is the “final receipt date” for new H-2B worker petitions requesting employment start dates prior to October 1, 2008. The “final receipt date” is the date on which USCIS determines that it has received enough cap-subject petitions to reach the limit of 33,000 H-2B workers for the second half of FY2008.

The cap was reached with existing totals for that day. USCIS will reject petitions for new H-2B workers seeking employment start dates prior to October 1, 2008 that arrive after January 2, 2008.

USCIS will apply a computer-generated random selection process to all petitions which are subject to the cap and were received on January 2, 2008. USCIS will use this process to select the number of petitions needed to meet the cap. USCIS will reject, and return the fee, for all cap-subject petitions not randomly selected.

Petitions for workers who are currently in H-2B status do not count toward the congressionally mandated bi-annual H-2B cap. USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to:

Extend the stay of a current H-2B worker in the United States;
Change the terms of employment for current H-2B workers and extend their stay; or
Allow current H-2B workers to change or add employers and extend their stay.

More information about the H-2B work program is available at or by calling the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.


USCIS Extends Suspension of Premium Processing Service
for Religious Workers (R-1) Nonimmigrant Visa Classification

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that suspension of premium processing services for religious worker (R-1) visa petitions will be extended until July 8, 2008. A previous six-month suspension was announced on June 18, 2007.

The Premium Processing Service provides faster processing of certain employment-based petitions and guarantees a 15-calendar day processing time. USCIS needs additional time to assess whether it is possible to provide this level of service for nonimmigrant religious worker petitions. Due to the complexities with adjudicating R-1 visa petitions, USCIS cannot reasonably ensure a level of processing service within 15 calendar days.

On April 25, 2007, USCIS proposed significant revisions to its regulations related to the special immigrant and nonimmigrant (R-1) religious worker visa classifications. USCIS is currently considering comments on the proposed rule and promulgating the final rule. The proposed rule suggested steps to eliminate fraud in the religious worker program and discusses concerns addressed in an August 2005 Benefit Fraud Assessment conducted by USCIS’ Office of Fraud Detection and National Security. That assessment revealed potential vulnerabilities in the religious worker program.

USCIS will continue processing R-1 visa petitions which include already-established procedures designed to ensure the legitimacy of the petitioner and statements made in the petition. The procedures may include inspections, evaluations, verifications and compliance reviews for religious organizations – procedures that exceed the 15-day guarantee for premium processing.

In the future, if USCIS is able to properly process these cases within 15 calendar days of receipt, the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) requesting R-1 nonimmigrant visa classification may once again be available for premium processing services. Additionally, USCIS may prescribe additional conditions of availability on the Premium Processing Service for religious worker petitions.

USCIS Press Release

Friday, January 4, 2008


I started this blog on January 2007 so, yes, one year na tayo!

One of the many memorable things that I got to do in 2007 happened during its last week: I was invited as a guest at "Kababayan LA" for its year-ender report, and I had a blast.

Choosing the top 10 Fil-Am stories that made an impact on me as reporter and an immigrant was difficult but ultimately rewarding. I'll post my choices later today.

"Kababayan LA" is the first and only Filipino daily show in LA and it enjoys a wide following so it's an honor to be asked. I couldn't make it last year but this time, I made sure to come.

Here's a link to the video. Here's another link.

Seeing Kababayan's tireless host/producer Jannelle So in action is always a treat. When I started reporting for ABS-CBN more than two years ago, Jannelle was the regular freelance correspondent so I've known her for quite sometime na. The success of her show is a testament to her talent and determination.

Check out her show on KSCI 18 weekdays at 4:30pm, and check out my Q&A with Jannelle this week on this blog.