Saturday, August 30, 2008

"U.S. citizen ako. If I lost my wallet while traveling abroad & can't contact friends and relatives, where can I get help?"

Uncle Sam can rescue you. Or at least loan you some money.

If - traveler nightmare alert - your wallet disappeared while you're out of the country, American citizens can turn to a U.S. consular officer abroad for help.

The American Citizens Services and Crisis Management (ACS) will help by contacting your family, friends, or business associates to raise private funds. They will also help in transmitting these funds to you.

Subject to approval, they can also loan the money to you until your funds arrive.

You can also contact the Overseas Citizens Service if you need help for these emergencies:
-Death of an American citizen abroad
-Arrest/detention of an American citizen abroad
-Robbery of an American citizen abroad
-American citizens missing abroad
-Crisis abroad involving American citizens
-After-hours number for an emergency involving an American citizen abroad

Call 1-888-407-4747 (from overseas: 202-501-4444) or go to for more info.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Filipino American, Champion Olympian

Originally from Concord, California, she started swimming when she was just a few months old. In the last two summer Olympics (Athens and Beijing), she won in every event she competed in, stashing a total of 11 medals.

She is Natalie Coughlin, and yes, the gorgeous, awesome swimmer is also Pinay/Irish American.

In Beijing, she became the first American female athlete in modern Olympic history to win six medals in one Olympics and the first woman ever to win a 100 m backstroke gold in two consecutive Olympics.

"I'm gonna take a long break away from the water for about a year," she says after her triumphant stint in Beijing. "I'd love to do a dance class, just for fun."

Here's a clip of her:

If you missed her recent appearance on Jay Leno's show, here's a link .

Here's an article about Natalie written by Dr. Ludy Ongkeko. "Her parents are Zennie and Jim Coughlin. Natalie has professed how she loves Filipino food and named ‘halo-halo’ and adobo as stand-outs, underscoring her grandmother’s chicken adobo," says the article.

[Picture - that's Natalie in the middle - from]

Monday, August 25, 2008

Filipino Breast Cancer Awareness Day in October

The first ever Filipino Breast Cancer Awareness Day in Southern California will feature screenings and education. It is free & open to the public.

Sunday, October 5th, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
at the Center Court of the Eagle Rock Plaza (in front of Seafood City Supermarket)
2700 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles, 90041.

The event is in in honor of, Ms. Alva Marie Argonza, a five-year civil servant for the state of California who passed away in less than two years of being diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Only 35 years old, she died on June 18 early this year, a loss that devastated her family and friends.

They learned that Filipinos have the highest death rate from breast cancer than any other Asian-American group. As a result, friends and community members rallied together to organize the first ever Filipino Breast Cancer Awareness Day in Southern California. The purpose of the event is to inform, educate, and empower the Filipino community to take charge of their breast health.

Representatives from organizations including Glendale Adventist Medical Center, the American Cancer Society, and Comprehensive Community Health Centers will have booths and offer free health screenings and information. Other collaborating partners include Kiwanis Club of Verdugo Hills, Botana & Gomez Company, Filipino American Business Association of Glendale, Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce, and the Glendale Commission on the Status of Women.

For information, call (818) 409-8100.

[Thanks to Art Pacho for the info.]

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Filipino American Lives:

At age 6, Angelo Mathay [pictured] traveled with his mother from the Philippines to the U.S. for a vacation. He has not returned, not even for his father's funeral. He is a "TNT" - tago ng tago - an undocumented immigrant.

Angelo is also a student of the UCLA, one of the country's most prestigious schools. His story is included in Underground Undergrads: UCLA Undocumented Students Speak Out, which profiles plight of undocumented college students who were brought as young children to the U.S. and their struggle to complete their educations.

They are unable to legally work, obtain drivers licenses in California, and are barred from many other rights afforded their classmates. Because the students are “out-of-status,” they are ineligible for any government financial aid and struggle to stay in school by taking jobs where they are paid "under the table," living with family far from campus and taking long daily commutes on public transportation, and withdrawing from school when funds are low.

At the book's launching in Historic Filipinotown early this month, he told the audience, “Filipinos believe “tago ng tago” (hide and hide) our status, but we have to come out of the shadows if we want to change immigration policy.”

Together with community leaders, the students are lobbying for the California and federal Dream Acts which would respectively provide government financial aid and a path to citizenship for undocumented college students. Currently, there are more than 300 undocumented UCLA students.

At the same event, Stephanie Solis, a Filipina student, also spoke. Solis did not learn she was undocumented until she was 18 and announced to her parents that it was time to apply for a driver’s license, passport, and college. They finally disclosed to her that because of her status, she was not entitled to many of these rights. She admitted, “Yes, it is scary to stand at press conferences, or hearings, or speaking engagements and be identified as undocumented, but it would be much more scary if we didn’t speak out.”

[text and picture Marshall Wong/APALC press release]

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another Phone Company Charges 411 Calls
but, FYI, there's also another Free 411 Service

Earlier this year, Verizon started charging subscribers who dialled 411 for directory service. They charge 95 cents to look up local numbers and $1.50 for all others.

Next month, AT&T follows suit by cutting the number of free 411 calls offered to customers each month. You only get one now instead of three.

I wish they'll just divert some of that the money they spend on their ubiquitous TV ads to maintaining this basic service. It's not a big amount, for sure, but the way phone companies are piling on fees is just annoying, isn't it? Have you tried going through your phone bill, line by line? You might get cross-eyed from understanding all the obscure, small charges that add up to a lot.

But there's hope if you want to avoid 411 fees. I already wrote about another firm that offers free 411 call (with ads) before, but here's another one that's supposedly ad-free: it's 1-800-GOOG-411 or 1-800-466-4411. It's from the good folks at Google. There's one rant about it online, but the L.A. Times gave it a rave.

Monday, August 18, 2008

You Can Save 20% On Your Gas Bill

A family of four earning up to $43,200 a year may qualify for the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) discount, which provides 20% off your gas bill.

Especially kung bago pa lang kayong nag-ta-try na i-establish ang buhay ninyo sa America at isa lang ang nagtaratrabaho sa pamilya, or you're simply one of many affected by the national econimic crisis, this is welcome help.

If you are approved within 90 days of starting new gas service, you will also receive a $15 discount on the Service Establishment Charge.

If you or another person in your household receives benefits from any of these programs:
Medi-Cal, Food Stamps, TANF (AFDC), Women, Infants & Children (WIC), Healthy Families Categories A&B, LIHEAP


Total income for all persons in your household meets the following income guidelines:
Number of persons in household /Household Income not more than
1 or 2 - $30,500
3 - $35,800
4 - $43,200
5 - $50,600
6 - $58,000

For more info, go to their website or call 1-800-427-2200. On their website, there's a link to apply online or to download a form which you can mail.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Here's a distressing update to this story:
According to the latest reports today, August 18 PST, guerillas attacked towns in southern Philippines and killed more than a dozen people. The fighting continues as of this writing. Though older rebel leaders have been negotiating with the Philippine government for a ceasefire, reports say that younger rebel leaders have become impatient with the slow progress of the talks. The latest assault led to the burning of more than 20 houses while civilians scamper to seek shelter in evacuation centers. ================================================================
It's the same, sad story. In wars, it's the civilians who usually suffer the most.

After the smoke of the battle between government forces and Islamic separatists in the southern Philippines cleared, more than 160,000 refugees went home to a pile of rubble and ash.

The fighting between government troops and the rebels, which has killed more than two dozen soldiers and guerrillas, destroyed their villages.

"It’s been like this as far as I can remember, we build houses then fighting occurs, we leave and return home and build our houses again," Midsayap resident Rogelio said to Manny Mogato of Reuters. His house in North Cotabato province, about 560 miles south of Manila, was burned down, Reuters reports.

He is one of the refugees who had to flee from their homes and farmlands due to intense military airstrikes and mortar fire aimed at Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels holed up in the area.

In July, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government agreed to an accord that will establish a Muslim homeland in negotiations brokered by Malaysia. Rebels claimed the area as part of that deal. The Supreme Court stopped the formal signing of the accord after politicians and lawmakers opposed to the deal filed a petition, according to the L.A. Times.

Muslims in the south of the largely Catholic Philippines have been fighting for some measure of independence since the late 1960s.


Thursday, August 14, 2008


I met a fellow Pinay blogger online (Hi, Avee!) and she gave me some tips on how to add some gadgets on FilipinOnline. Hopefully, I'll be able to follow her instructions because as evidenced by the bare-bones look of this little shingle, I could never be mistaken for a blogging expert.

Anyway-- This morning, I added a 'Latest News' link on the right. I put the keywords 'Filipino Americans' and was pleasantly surprised to see the online version of my Balitang America report about Singgalot in the ABS-CBN site as one of the links. Serendipitous! If you didn't catch that TV report, this short article summarizes the event.

And if you find yourself in the L.A. area, go to Remy's at Temple in Historic Filipinotown and see this Smithsonian Institution exhibit about the history of Fil Ams in the last 100 years. It's terrific, compelling, educational, and touching.

Here's a photo from the exhibit's opening taken by lotusflower252004, sent to me by one of Singgalot's prime movers, Prosy de la Cruz.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"I saw an ad for buying an International Driver's License. Gagamitin ko sana pag-bakasyon ko sa Pinas. Is this valid?"

Nope, they're not valid. Beware of these ads - if you Google "International Driver's License," you will see these scams, too. (Even if you see them in this blog's AdSense list of ads, don't click on them. They are automatically generated based on keywords.)
The Federal Trade Commission strongly advises the public about this.

It's wrong to call it International Driver's License, by the way. To get a legitimate International Driving Permit, or IDP, which allows U.S. motorists to drive in 174 countries, you have to get them ONLY from either of these two organizations: Triple A (American Automobile Association), or the National Automobile Club. They are the only organizations authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue IDPs.

IDP is a translation of your U.S. license into several languages and is available to anyone over 18 who has had a license for at least six months.

It costs $15 and is valid for a year. The scammers promise that it is valid for 5 years, which is your first clue that it is fake. The permit is not a license and if you drive abroad, you are advised to carry your IDP and U.S. license.

The fake permits advertised by scammers cost more than $100, even as much as $300, and they make you believe that they can be used as substitutes or replacement for a U.S. license or any DMV-issued ID. That's false. They are not valid in an individual's country of residence, i.e. U.S., if you live here.

The US State Department warns about the scams: "...marketers falsely claim that their documents authorize consumers to drive legally in the U.S., even if they don't have state-issued licenses or if their state-issued licenses have been suspended or revoked; can be used to avoid points or fines affecting state-issued drivers' licenses; and can be used as photo ID in the U.S.
FTC officials say all these claims are false.

In fact, if you're a U.S. resident, and you're caught using an IDP in place of your state-issued driver's license, the consequences can be severe. You could be charged with driving without a license or driving with a suspended or revoked license. If you can't produce proof of your identity (for example, a valid driver's license, a state-issued identification card, valid immigration documents, or a passport), the officer can assume that you're trying to withhold your identity and arrest you."

To apply for a legitimate IDP, you will need to fill up a form, present two passport-size photographs and your valid U.S. license.

Visit the office or download an application from:
AAA (American Automobile Association) , 1000 AAA Drive, Heathrow, FL 32745-5063. The application is available on-line.

National Auto Club, 1151 E. Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City, CA 94404, tel: 800-622-2136 or 800-294-7000 ; fax: 650-294-7040. Here's the application form.

For more info: or

If you've been scammed: To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

[photo: NYTimes]

Monday, August 11, 2008

U.S. Passport Card Acceptable
for Employment Eligibility Verification

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is informing the public that the new U.S. Passport Card may be used in the Employment Eligibility Verification form (I-9) process. Typically, employers ask you to fill up this form when you're a new employee.

The Passport Card is a wallet-sized document for land and sea travel between the United States and Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. It is not valid for international travel by air - for that, you need the regular passport.

In July, the Departments of State and Homeland Security announced that the new passport card was in full production. The new card is less expensive and convenient, and will expedite document processing at United States land and sea ports-of-entry for U.S. citizens traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.

While the new card is not valid for international travel, it is a valid passport that attests to the U.S. citizenship and identity of the bearer. So, the card may be used for the Form I-9 process and can also be accepted by employers participating in the E-Verify program.

The passport card is considered a “List A” document that may be presented by newly hired employees during the employment eligibility verification process to show work-authorized status. “List A” documents are those used by employees to prove both identity and work authorization when completing the Form I-9.

The Passport Card is available for $45 for first-time adult applicants and $35 for children under 16. Adults who currently have valid passports can apply for the passport card by mail for $20.

Para mag-apply ng U.S. Passport Card, or the traditional passport, go to

Friday, August 8, 2008

FO PICK: Journey's Arnel Pineda on CNN

The rock band Journey, now fronted by true-blue Pinoy talent Arnel Pineda, will be featured on CNN's "News To Me" this coming Saturday, Aug 9 at 7:30PM & 9:30PM EST.

Thanks to Jon de la Cruz for the tip.
[photo: CNN]

No More DMV on Saturdays

If you have pending business with any California DMV office, you will now need to go on weekdays because they have eliminated Saturday service this month.

Due to the ongoing state budget crisis, the DMV has fired 700 employees, crippling its Saturday operations.

Before this, 53 California Department of Motor Vehicles offices are open one Saturday morning every month. Since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the "layoff of thousands of part-time employees, limited overtime and imposed a hiring freeze," many government and government-funding-dependent offices have been suffering.

To avoid the expected long wait, schedule your DMV appointments online or over the phone before your visit.


For those who haven't seen Manny Pacquiao fight since his epic battles with Erik Morales, here's one that you should mark as a must-see: his potential non-title Las Vegas bout with Oscar De La Hoya on December 6.

"I would say, cautiously optimistic, there's maybe a 75% chance that the fight will happen," De La Hoya camp's Richard Schaefer said to Los Angeles Times.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

FYI: Another Chance For Pinoy Texans to Apply for New Philippine Passport

Here's another opportunity for Pinoys in Texas (if they can't make it on August 9) to apply for the new passport and to avail of other Philippine Consulate services:

The Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles is pleased to announce that a Consular Outreach Program will be held in Houston, Texas on 23 August 2008 from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm at the International Food Court, Beltway Plaza, 8388 W. Sam Houston Parkway, Houston, TX 77072 (same building as PNB Remittance Centers, Inc., same complex as Viet-Hoa – off Beechnut and the feeder road of Beltway 9 South).

Interested parties may wish to contact Shirley Camacho of PNB at any of the following email addresses:,; or telephone nos.: (800) 762-8788, (281) 988-7575 or 7001; Ethel Mercado of PACC at 214-334-8487; and Tess Tuazon of FACOST at 713-787-1938.

The Consulate will only accept payments in cash, postal money order or cashier’s check. Personal checks will not be accepted.

Application forms and requirements could be downloaded from the website of the Consulate at

To ensure a smooth and orderly processing of applications, interested parties are requested to contact Ms. Shirley Camacho or the Consulate, for any questions or inquiries.

For more info on the new Philippine passport application process, here's some.