Friday, September 26, 2008


Filipina Nurse Heads a Charitable Group of Health Professionals

By Yong B. Chavez

Las Vegas resident Nenita Rattanopas is a mother of two, a registered nurse, a dreamer, and a big-hearted Filipina.

She leads From The Heart Charitable Group, a nurse-organized organization, in its mission to "serve the community and/or people from other countries by coordinating acts of charity or volunteer work from individuals or groups."

Theirs is a small yet steadily growing organization that has big philanthropic plans.

They recently lent a helping hand to a 6 month-old Filipino child named Mikayla Faye Kaiama who needed a liver transplant. The group has also raised funds for the American Cancer Society.

To help more people, this October 11, they will hold their annual charity ball at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. [To donate, visit their website From The Heart Charitable Group, or contact Nenita at]

In this Q&A with FilipinOnline, this admirable Pinay reveals more about their group and their plans.

FilipinOnline: Tell me all about your organization.
Nenita Rattanopas: From The Heart Charitable Group is composed of a multicultural group of healthcare professionals whose vision is to become a premier nurse-organized and nonprofit charitable group supporting other established organizations or individuals to improve quality of life and alleviate suffering. We carry out this mission through fundraising activities, volunteer work or medical missions.

What is your motivation in starting this organization?
In my line of work, I‘ve seen so much pain and suffering. I want to make a positive difference and help improve people’s quality of life.

What are the challenges you've encountered since starting the organization?
Our biggest challenge, of course, is raising the money needed to carry out our mission. We are spending our own money for the most part. We are a “young group” with no prior experience about fundraising, but we are all learning together. Our common and primary goal is to help others who genuinely need help.

What are your dreams for the organization?
My dream for this organization is to eventually get all of the healthcare professionals in Southern Nevada, especially nurses, involved in working, donating or volunteering for a good cause. We plan to do four small projects and one huge event each year.

Tell me about the charity ball. Who will it benefit?
Our 2nd annual charity ball event will be on Oct 11, 2008 from 7 PM to 11 PM at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino. Tickets cost $95 per person that includes a nice dinner, entertainment, fashion show with cancer survivors as models, and dancing. We are expecting 250 guests and proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society.

Would you like to make an appeal to our kababayans to help?
To our kababayans, let’s get involved. We are lucky to have stable jobs. Let us give back to our community, let us help the “not-so-lucky ones” and let us make this world a better place for our children and our children’s children.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

FREEBIE ALERT: Have a Birthday in Disneyland for FREE!

The House of Mouse has a wonderful promo in 2009: Free entrance in DisneyWorld (Florida) and Disneyland (California) on your birthday!
Click here for more info. Proof of birthdate is required upon entry.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Jess EspaƱola, first Filipino to win an Emmy Award

LOS ANGELES — Multi-awarded animator Jess Espanola put the Philippines in view during the 60th annual Creative Arts Emmy Awards last week, bagging one Emmy trophy for his work as Assistant Director for the The Simpsons' "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind," which was named "Outstanding Animated Program (for programming less than one hour)."

Also given recognitions, along with Jess, are the top executives of Fox Gracie Films and Starz Film Roman, namely: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening (the creator of "The Simpsons"), Al Jean, Ian Maxton-Graham, Matt Selman, and Tim Long, executive producers; John Frink, Kevin Curran, Michael Price, Bill Odenkirk, Marc Wilmore, Joel H. Cohen, Ron Hauge, and Rob Lazebnik, co-executive producers; Lurie Biermacki, and Rick Polizzi, animation producers; J. Steward Burns, writer; Chuck Sheetz, director; Mark Kirkland, supervising director; Patricia Shinagawa, animation timer.

"The Simpsons" (FOX, Gracie Films in association with 20th Century Fox), bested four top nominees, namely: Creature Comforts America "Don’t Choke To Death, Please " CBS, Aardman Animations production in association with The Gotham Group; King Of The Hill "Death Picks Cotton " FOX, 20th Century Fox Television in association with 3 Arts Entertainment, Deedle-Dee Productions & Judgemental Films; Robot Chicken "Robot Chicken: Star Wars" Cartoon Network, ShadowMachine Films, and SpongeBob SquarePants "Inmates of Summer / Two Faces of Squidward" Nickelodeon, Nickelodeon with United Plankton Pictures, Inc.

Jess, who graduated with a fine arts degree from the University of the Philippines, is the first ever Filipino to receive an Emmy award. Although some long-time Filipino residents in Los Angeles are ambivalent on the distinction heaped on him, saying someone else — a Filipino-American engineer — set the milestone in the early 80s, a claim that remains unsubstantiated as of this writing.

Meanwhile, Jess is riding on a crest of mainstream accolade, a feat that validates the common knowledge that Filipino animators are among the best in Hollywood.

"That's correct, a lot of Filipino artists are in the cutting edge of the animation industry. I guess I am lucky that I worked with "The Simpsons," said Jess.

Actually, this is the second time that Jess got involved in an animation project that won an Emmy. He was also an assistant director for "Futurama," an animated show that won the Emmy in 2002. Unfortunately, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences did not include the assistant director in the nomination process then.

How does he feel rubbing elbows with the prime movers of the American entertainment industry?

"It was cool. All of us nominees had a party on August 26 at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences where everybody was given the certificate of honor, but the announcement of winners were set a couple of weeks later on Sept. 13 at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles where the formal announcement was done. During that day, all of us from the studio anxiously waited. And when the final reckoning came, the master of ceremonies called out, 'and the Emmy goes to... The Simpsons!' I thought I punched the air and hollered yeah! It was a surreal experience for me. The excitement was just so overwhelming at that moment," Jess told this writer in an exclusive interview.

Jess, who was given permanent U.S. residency status as a "person with exceptional ability," has an equally compelling life story. Raised by a single mother in a depressed area in Central Luzon, Jess used his artistic talent to survive when he came face to face with hunger.
"I experienced real hunger while I was a boy. There was no food on the table most of the time. Sometimes I just imagine I already ate. It was a hard life," said Jess.

Amazingly, despite the great odds, Jess still remained on top of his class, and people started helping him out when they noticed that he was an exceptionally talented kid. He was among the high achieving students in high school that gained scholarships at the University of the Philippines.

When Hanna Barbera put up Fil-Cartoon Inc., a subsidiary outfit in Pasig, Metro Manila, Jess was hired as a team supervisor and lead animator. Jess's works were, and still are, considered standards of excellence in Philippine animation.

Jess and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1994.

[photo: Jess, holding his Emmy, with The Simpsons' director Raymond Persi]

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Homeowners can get tools and important information to prevent foreclosure at a free and comprehensive homeowners preservation fair scheduled for TODAY.

The fair will take place in the Long Beach Convention Center Grand Ballroom, on Pine Avenue, between Ocean Boulevard and Shoreline Drive from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.

Participants must bring a copy of a recent mortgage statement. Counselors and housing experts will offer on-site assistance and information on viable options regarding foreclosure prevention assistance. Presentations will also be conducted on topics which include the foreclosure process and fraud prevention. All information will be kept confidential.

Free parking is available off Pine Avenue at the Convention Center.

The fair will be facilitated by Los Angeles Neighborhood Housing Services (LANHS), a US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved housing counseling agency. For more information, please contact LANHS at 888-895-2647 or via e-mail at or visit the agency’s website at or the City of Carson’s Housing Development Division at (310) 233-4800.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"How do I get my prescription refilled at another pharmacy. So many things I don't know yet, bago lang ako dito eh."

When I was new here, I didn't even know where to begin at the pharmacy because buying medicine here is different from how we do it in the Philippines where we pretty much just go to the Mercury Drug counter and that's it.

Here you're supposed to have a regular pharmacy pala (recommended so that all your medicine info is concentrated in one place) but I didn't know that so I went through different pharmacies each time I get a prescription, which is not that often, thank God.

I know there's a lot to learn when you're new here, but that's why FilipinOnline is here - to share experiences and hopefully help newcomers like you get the info you need.

Anyway, back to your question: You can just go to your new pharmacy of choice for a refill, just make sure you have your prescription number which is written on the bottle/packaging/drug information sheet of your original prescription.

To avoid the long wait next time, you can even call to have it refilled ahead of time or you can subcribe to auto-refill (I know Rite-Aid has it) so that they will automatically refill your prescription each month, if necessary and allowed by your doctor (see prescription data).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bowers Museum's Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors

By: Jon dela Cruz
For FilipinOnline

I guess I can say I was at the right place and at the right time.

The Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China's First Emperor exhibit is one of the most amazing archeological findings of the 20th century. Often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the Ancient World, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness its grandeur was just too much for me to pass-up. The exhibit runs through October 16.

After attending my high school reunion in SoCal's Dana Point, I spent my remaining weekend with my daughter in the Newport area. It didn't take me a beat to say "YES" when my daughter, Michelle, asked me if I want to go to Bowers Museum in Sta Ana, Calif. to see China's national treasure, the Terra Cotta warriors. The museum presents the largest exhibit of Emperor Qin's Terra Cotta Army ever seen outside of China.

My wife and I are both so into this Terra Cotta warriors, you can see replicas of them scattered around our house.

China's First Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the boy king who united the country in 221 BC and began construction of the first Great wall, was not only obsessed with building but also a fanatic about death. After experimenting with potions to prolong his life, the megalomaniac king abdicated himself to death on his own terms. He would build a standing army of 8,000 soldiers to enforce his rule over the afterlife.

Since his birth in 259 B.C., China's First Emperor was destined to become one of the most important political leaders to rule the country. Beginning at age 13, and for the next 38 years, he assigned over 700,000 workers to build an enormous mausoleum with life-size terra cotta warriors to protect him throughout eternity. The figures vary in height (6ft–6ft 5 in), according to their roles, the tallest being the Generals. The figures include warriors, chariots, horses, officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians.

Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army, there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits. The exhibition provides a deeper knowledge of this historical site and showcases 100 sets of objects, which includes approximately 20 life-size figures.

A noted egomaniac, Qin Shi Huang was also known for building large, extravagant structures. Almost immediately after taking power, he began construction on a large wall that would link up bits and pieces of existing defensive walls throughout the country. This would become the forerunner to the Great Wall that's still in existence, most of which was completed under a later dynasty.

This terra cotta army of soldiers, servants, musicians, acrobats, and animals silently remained underground for two thousand years. Until, in 1974, Chinese farmers digging a well made the startling discovery of a terra cotta head. The chariot is one of the only two reproductions displayed at Bowers Museum which is a fifty (50) percent scaled down of the original.

It was noted that the emperor suffered from extreme paranoia as a result of several attempts on his life from outsiders and from within the walls of his palace. He moved from one palace to another to avoid future effort to overthrow him.

Just three years after Qin Shi Huang's death in 210 B.C., the Qin dynasty was overthrown. The imperial system that he'd set in motion, however, would remain at work in China until 1912, when the last Emperor abdicated and China became a Republic.

Despite his reputation as an autocratic ruler, Emperor Qin Shi Huang is still regarded by many today as a pivotal figure in Chinese history whose unification of China has endured for more than two millennia.

[The writer at the exhibit]
So if you happen to be in Southern California, don't miss out on this outstanding array of China's cultural treasure. Visit Bowers museum website at After its first stop in Southern California, the exhibit travels to the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the National Geographic Society museum in Washington in 2009.

There are several exciting ways to experience Bowers museum besides the five (5) permanent and the on-going exhibitions. On the date of my visit, we were treated to some activities that went on at the museum's courtyard. Persian and Mexican non-profit groups rendered their own cultural presentations that include music, dances and arts displays. Weekends are usually crowded due to the Terra Cotta warriors exhibit and it is advisable to call or buy tickets in advance. Cameras are allowed in the facility except inside the exhibit areas. So bring your tiniest camera and you maybe able to capture some memorable photos for keeps but you didn't hear that from me.

Ticket, museum hours, and parking information:
Address: 2002 N. Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706
Parking Fee - $8.00 or free at the sourrounding streets
Bowers Museum: (714) 567-3600

Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 10 AM-4 PM; Friday, 10 AM-8 PM; Sunday-Saturday, 10 AM-4 PM; The fourth Thursday of every month, 10 AM-8 PM

All ticket prices include the exhibition audio tour and access to all other museum galleries.
Weekdays: $25 adults, $19 students and seniors (62+), *$8 children 6-17
Weekends: $27 adults, $21 students and seniors (62+)
Admission for children under 6 is free*Valid June 24 - September 1. Weekdays Only. Must be accompanied by a full price paid adult. Cannot be combined with any other offer or discount.

Tickets are currently on sale for Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China's First Emperor. This is a date and time stamped, specially ticketed exhibition. The last entry is one hour before the museum closes. Tickets can be purchased at the Visitors Services desk at the Bowers Museum, online or via phone through Ticketmaster: 877.250.8999.

Sta Ana residents - Free admission to the Bowers' permanent exhibits to Santa Ana residents, with proof of residency (e.g., driver's license, utility bill, etc), on the first Sunday and third Tuesdays of every month.
Target Free Sundays - Starting Sunday, October 5, visitors to the Bowers can enjoy free access to the museum and all activities on the first Sunday of every month.
PIMCO's Free Friday Nights - Free admission for up to 100 visitors per hour at 4:00, 5:00, 6:00 and 7:00 pm. The museum will close at 8:00 pm.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Mailing Address for N-400 (US Citizenship) Applications

Beginning October 14, 2008, if you are planning to submit an N-400 (US citizenship) application, there's a new Lockbox address to send it to. (Military N-400 cases are still to be submitted at the Nebraska Service Center.)

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) will forward to the appropriate Lockbox any N-400 applications received at their facilities during the 30-day transition period.

The N-400 form instructions have been updated to reflect the new filing procedures. OTHER UPDATES to be found on the new form: Applicants are required to submit two passport-style photographs and a copy of the Permanent Resident Card for applicants who are lawful permanent residents.

Starting on October 14, applicants must submit Form N-400 and related supplements to one of two new USCIS Lockbox facilities for initial processing, using the following addresses:

Per USCIS: "Since 1998, Form N-400, Applications for Naturalization, have been filed at the four Service Centers. The Service Centers completed initial processing on the cases before the cases were forwarded to the local USCIS Field Offices for interviews. During 2008, the processing of N-400s is undergoing change through a two-step process. First, N-400 cases were transferred internally, by the Service Centers to the National Benefits Center (NBC). The NBC, located in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, began to accept N-400 cases from the Service Centers in June 2008. During the time that the first step was taken, there was no change to where the applicants filed their applications.

The Federal Register Notice begins the second step of the process, requiring the public to file their applications directly with a Lockbox facility beginning October 14, 2008. Each Lockbox facility will scan the documents submitted and complete the data entry and fee processing steps before forwarding accepted applications on to the NBC for further processing. The NBC will not accept any N-400 filings mailed directly from the public."

Helpful Info:

Click on Application for Naturalization (N-400) if you need a form. Application Fees: $595 plus a biometrics fee of $80; the fee total is $675. Applicants 75 years of age or older are not charged a biometric fee; their fee total is $595. No fee is required for military applicants filing under Section 328 and 329 of the INA. Forms dated 10/15/07, 07/30/07, 11/01/06, 05/31/01 can be used. No other editions accepted.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

REVIEW: "Miracle In Rwanda"

Violence destroyed by Artistry Par Excellence
By Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D.
"We artists are indestructible; even in a prison or in a concentration camp, I would be almighty in my own world of art, even if I had to paint my pictures with my wet tongue on the dusty floor of my cell." -- Pablo Picasso

As Pablo Picasso has wisely shared, Leslie Lewis Sword has become an indestructible artist through her masterful work called Miracle in Rwanda, performing 10 different roles, and speaking three different languages: Rwandan, French and English, leaving indelible marks on her audience about the power of forgiveness and its strength to stop intergenerational transmission of violence.

For countries in the Middle East and their intergenerational cycles of war and peace, or even in my birthplace, Philippines, with its recurring conflicts between the Muslims and the Christians, or wars brewing now in different parts of the world, this play has a universal appeal. By next year, the play would have traveled to worldwide audiences: New York, Florida, Scotland, Costa Rica, Maryland, Stanford, Los Angeles and Rwanda. Throughout 2009, the play is fully booked. To have its Los Angeles debut during the World Music Sacred Festival, Sept. 13-28 is a stroke of genius by its executive producer, Ted Benito, but also adds to the sacredness of its message.

Miracle in Rwanda, a play about Immaculee Ilibagiza’s 91 days of ordeal, confined in a closet-sized bathroom with 7 other women is radical peacemaking. This play was created and was performed by Leslie Lewis Sword. Leslie received her MFA in acting from UCLA’s Department of Theater and Arts and has a BA from Harvard University, cum laude. As featured in Flipinas Magazine, she made her New York debut of Miracle in Rwanda in April 2007. Leslie then took the play to Edinburgh, Scotland, where it became a “ Top 10 Plays “ to watch from 1000 plays showcased.

Miracle in Rwanda is revolutionary as it stops violence from being passed onto the next generation, and instead, in its place, peace. It opens hearts, and it illustrates how hope is sustained amidst terror and adversity through absolute faith in God. And with the power of forgiveness, comes a release of a burdened past, of one’s wounded self being healed, and a wholeness emerging in the present. And with a transformed self, no longer carrying the burdens of a violent past, nor the present by its past’s unconscious power, one is able to fearlessly forge forward.

As Leslie performed for 70 minutes, the audience journeyed with her, into the inner chambers: of fears, of horrors, of pain, and into the outer chambers: of loud chants, stomping feet, dead bodies, of shriveled lives of terrorists, as if animals craving for drips of blood.

She performed as the terrorists and effectively demonstrated their depraved abilities and affinities towards violence: physical, psychological and imagined. She deftly performed their opposites as well: how Immacullee transforms her inner self to first consider, then to consciously create small spaces, then choosing pathways to forgiveness, developing in the process an interpersonal intimacy with Jesus and Mary.

At the end of the show, folks gave her minutes-long standing ovation, generously wrote checks for the orphans of Rwanda, and bought copies of “ Left to Tell “, a memoir written by Immacullee Illibigaza.

Such was forgiveness’ power to influence, such was its power to transform, such was its power to open American hearts to connect with Africans thousands of miles away. It is generous and compassionate America at its best.

Leslie Lewis Sword, an American performance artist of Filipina and African American descent, went beyond her own identity, went beyond her ethnic origins, went beyond her learned multiple languages, including a very privileged background of being born to self-made multimillionaires Reginald Lewis and Loida Nicolas Lewis, to embrace the horrors of this Rwandan genocide, which lasted three months, with 1,000,000 African people senselessly butchered in April 1994, while faced with worldwide indifference, until France intervened. Former President Bill Clinton, for all his greatness in being a good steward of the American economy, visited Rwanda to apologize for the absence of American-initiated interventions to stop this genocide.

But while the U.S. government failed to care, the power of Leslie, a single American citizen to show care, compassion and empathy for others, is growing in depth and impact. Leslie’s private immersion into Rwanda’s genocide led to her own friendship with Immacullee, her and her husband’s own adoption of two children from Rwanda, and her artistic talents fully occupying center stage in many theaters around the world, invoking her own empathy as well as evoking her audience’s generosity to these survivors and orphans of genocide, rippling their multiplier effects, and making this play a transformation vehicle to evolve our own humanity as our collective destinies. It is the power of our American example, rather than a naked example and display of our American power of guns and violence.

Miracle in Rwanda premiered on September at the New Los Angeles Theater (514 Spring St.), attended by nuns, priests, representatives of Archbishop Oscar Solis, television anchors, Los Angeles Times’ critic, and Asian community representatives who were moved to tears. It will run until Sept. 28, from Thursdays to Sundays.

If you want to heal, see this play. If you want to know how to forgive, see this play. If you are an artist and need inspiration, see this play. If you are a progressive, tired of the horrors of war, see this play. If you are a seeker and wish to know how to capture your destiny’s potential, see this play. If you want to know the depths of the rosaries, the sorrowful mysteries and the glorious mysteries and Jesus’ sacrifice of his own life that you and I may live in HIS LOVE, see this play. If you are an avid theater goer who is looking for avant garde works of art, see this play. If you are a lover of cultures and languages, see this play. And lastly, if you are about PEACE, see this play! And for about five lattes, you can help heal the world and end intergenerational violence!

[For showtime and ticket information, click here to go to "Miracle in Rwanda's" website.]
Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D. retired from the California Department of Public Health, after a 27 years’ public service career as its regional administrator. She served as the city of Los Angeles’ commissioner to the Civil Service Commission and Convention Center, appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa from 2005-2008. She is a 34 years’ community advocate and volunteer in literacy, civil rights and leadership development. She is an author whose works have been published in the Los Angeles Times, Philippine News, Taliba, Balita, Los Angeles Asian Journal, UCLA’s Amerasia Journal and Quality Press-published newsletters for the American Society of Quality. She is part of the 2,000,000 volunteers, self-organizing for Obama 2008.

[picture: The Guardian]

Monday, September 15, 2008

How You Can Help the Victims of the Metrolink Crash

On Friday, as soon as the Los Angeles train crash news came out, I immediately called my best friend. Like many trying to avoid the cost of high fuel prices, she likes riding the train every working day to Los Angeles. I was so relieved when I found out she was okay. Her train line ran the opposite way. Many people were not as lucky.

The nation’s worst train crash in 15 years - and the deadliest in Metrolink's history - occurred when a Metrolink train collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth.

This tragedy has claimed 25 lives and left 150 injured. The death toll, per news reports, could still rise owing to the large number of victims still in critical condition.

The Los Angeles County Democratic Party released a notice over the weekend to inform the public on how they can help the victims by donating blood:

"Both the American Red Cross and the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center have called on people to come out and donate blood for victims of this deadly accident. Any person 17 years or older - 16 if accompanied by a parent - and weighing at least 110 pounds is eligible to donate blood.

The UCLA Blood and Platelet Center will be open Monday through Friday to accept blood donations. Healthy donors of all blood types are needed to donate blood. Appointments can be made by calling 310-794-7217, extension 2.

The Red Cross is in need of donations of all blood types. Eligible donors are asked to schedule an appointment to donate by calling 1-800-GIVE LIFE or by visiting Your donation can save lives."

Those wanting more information on blood donation can visit the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center website.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Free ID Theft Monitoring Services

It's a fact of modern life: At one point, you or someone you know has been a victim of ID thieves. Going through it is one those awful times when your life will consist of severe teeth-gnashing and cursing as you sift through and repair the damage caused by usually anonymous criminals.

Even if you safeguard your personal information Fort Knox-like, the companies you give them to (such as creditors and past & present employers) might lose them. You read about what happened to TJ Maxx, Office Max, and others, right? Kung hindi pa, read this link It has details on the millions of credit and debit card numbers that were stolen.

What to do? The best way is to do a security freeze on your credit report - which means no one can access your credit file without your approval. The one-time fee for a permanent freeze (unless you lift it) is $5 to $20, depending on what state you live in. If you're a victim of ID theft and you have a police report, it's FREE. You can unfreeze it when you're in the market for credit.

If you don't want to do a security freeze and you just want to monitor your credit file activity, you can subscribe to credit protection companies - they usually charge the first month free, then a monthly fee will apply. The downside: If you're on a budget, this could be expensive; and also, there are a lot scammers and/or overpriced services out there so don't automatically go with the one with the best TV commercial.

Besides, there are free or low-cost steps you can take to safeguard your identity, aside from the security freeze. Here's a great one: Until September 24, as part of a legal settlement, TransUnion is providing up to 9 months of FREE credit monitoring. Go to to register (scroll down, then click on Register for Benefits.) Everyone who has an active credit file can register & get the FREE benefits. You can choose to:
- Sign up for six months of credit monitoring services. If you select this option, you can also register to possibly receive cash benefits in the event of a cash distribution or file an individual lawsuit against the Defendants.
-Sign up for nine months of enhanced credit monitoring services. If you select this option, you will not receive any further benefits, including a cash payment, and you will not be able to file an individual lawsuit against the Defendants.
-Register to possibly receive a cash payment. If you select this option, you can also sign up for six months of credit monitoring; however if you receive a cash payment, you cannot file an individual lawsuit against the Defendants.

Remember, you have to register by September 24 to get the free services.

Here are other ways to protect yourself from identity theft, from
-Obtain copies of your credit report. Federal law entitles you to one free report every year from each of the three credit bureaus. Go to, the only Web site authorized to deliver the free reports. Stagger your requests to get one report every four months.
-If you think you need to subscribe to a service, consider signing up for one of the new ID fraud prevention and detection services rather than a credit-report-monitoring service.

ALSO: Do you know your rights when you become an ID theft victim? Here they are, per the Federal Trade Commission:
Various laws limit your liability for fraudulent debts caused by identity theft. REMEMBER: For most of them, there's a short window of time to report so be vigilant.

Fraudulent Credit Card Charges: You cannot be held liable for more than $50 for fraudulent purchases made with your credit card, as long as you let the credit card company know within 60 days of when the credit card statement with the fraudulent charges was sent to you. Some credit card issuers say cardholders who are victims of fraudulent transactions on their accounts have no liability for them at all.

Lost or Stolen ATM/Debit Card: If your ATM or debit card is lost or stolen, you may not be held liable for more than $50 for the misuse of your card, as long as you notify the bank or credit union within two business days after you realize the card is missing. If you do not report the loss of your card promptly, your liability may increase.

Fraudulent Electronic Withdrawals: If fraudulent electronic withdrawals are made from your bank or credit union account, and your ATM or debit card has not been lost or stolen, you are not liable, as long as you notify the bank or credit union in writing of the error within 60 days of the date the bank or credit union account statement with the fraudulent withdrawals was sent to you.

Fraudulent Checks: Under most state laws, you are liable for just a limited amount for fraudulent checks issued on your bank or credit union account, as long as you notify the bank or credit union promptly. Contact your state banking or consumer protection agency for more information.

Fraudulent New Accounts: Under most state laws, you are not liable for any debt incurred on fraudulent accounts opened in your name and without your permission. Contact your state attorney general’s office for more information.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

More About Philippine Passport: Reader Questions, False Information, and Outreach Dates

I got a lot of responses (and new information) relating to FilipinOnline's new Philippine passport article (July 23 post) that I thought it would be best to address some questions and give out a fresh batch of hopefully helpful info today. At the bottom, you will see the upcoming Philippine Consulate-LA outreach schedule - they will be in Arizona, San Diego & Las Vegas in the coming weeks so you don't have to travel all the way to L.A. Just apply for your passport when they're in your neck of the woods. (Before that, read also a disclaimer to a forwarded e-mail that you might've received from your friends & family that has wrong information on passport validity - mga kababayan, it doesn't automatically expire in 2010!)

Reader Question:
I just missed the outreach here in Houston, Texas, just wondering if they will be going to have another one soon. If not then I guess I have to fly to LA to renew my passport... I'm planning to go on thursday Oct 2, 2008 (I hope they're open...trying to call the office, no one's answering) & fly back the next day, just to renew my passport.
Answer: No new Texas schedule yet, sorry. The consulate is open on October 2. They will be closed on October 13 (Columbus Day). The holiday notices could be viewed at their "Contact Us" page on their website - All other announcements are posted regularly on the site.

very resourceful blog! thank you very much! i'm getting my passport renewed in Texas on the 9th, which part of the recent passport must i photocopy?
A: Here's what the consulate said: "...from green passport to MRP, the applicant should submit photocopy each of the following data pages (the page with photo and name), the page with entry visa (or the green card) and the last page (with the signature of the approving officer).

Q: I live in Dallas and I recently went to that outreach passport program here. 3 weeks after having submitted my application, I got a call from the consulate that my picture was rejected by Manila and that I need to mail a new set of pictures... Can anyone suggest a place/shop in Dallas where I can get royal blue background photos that will have a greater chance of being accepted by DFA?
A: I'm asking around for any suggestions as to where to get the fotos in your area but so far, no one has given me a lead.The initial response that I got from the consulate about your situation is that you should contact the PNB remittance center who contracted the photo service, but I could tell from your comment that you've already done that. The consulate is not affiliated with nor can they promote any photo company. But I understand your frustration - that blue background thing & the other requirements can really be a headache for applicants. And I hope a Texas reader can help you. I will post here any response I get.

Recently, I received an e-mail that has this subject: "GREEN PASSPORT - No Longer Valid Effective January 2010." The rest of the e-mail with the photo requirement list is correct but that subject line is INACCURATE. If you get that e-mail, respond with a link to this article so you can properly inform your friends and family.
Per consulate: "The green passports remain valid until its expiration date."

Finally, here is the latest OUTREACH SCHEDULE:
1.) SAN DIEGO - Sept 20 - 9:00 am until 4:00 pm at the Council of the Philippine American Organizations of San Diego County, Inc. (COPAO) Center, 832 “E” Avenue, National City, CA 91950
2.) CHANDLER, ARIZONA - Sept 27 - 9:00 am until 4:30 pm at the Barrio Fiesta, 941 West Elliot Road, Chandler, AZ 85224 (Tel: 480-855-4646).
3.) LAS VEGAS - Oct 4, 9:00 am-4:00 pm/Oct 5, 9:00 am until 2:00 pm at Seafood City, 3890 S. Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89119 (Tel: 1-702-851-0021).

Some reminders when you go:
1. All Applicants for any of the above consular services are requested to set up an appointment with the Consulate either through fax (213) 639-0990 or through email at or at telephone no. (213) 637-3010.
2. Passport Applicants should send an advance copy of their passport application forms and data page (bearing the name and photo) of their passports to the Consulate either by fax or by email. Incomplete forms will not be processed.
3. Dual Citizenship Applicants should also send an advance copy of their application forms and supporting documents. Incomplete forms will not be processed.
4. Confirmed appointments of all applicants will be posted at the Consulate’s website ( While walk-in applicants will also be entertained, priority will be given to those with confirmed appointments.
5. The Consulate will only accept payments in cash, postal money order or cashier’s check. Personal checks will not be accepted.
[Sources: Eric Sierra, PIO of Philippine Consulate-LA/press releases/]

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Charice Pempengco on "Oprah"

Charice Pempengco has been wowing people all over the world, but the icing on her incredible story must be her appearance yesterday in "Oprah".

Born in San Pedro, Laguna 16 years ago to a loving mother, and as shown in the clip, an abusive father, Charice's Cinderella life is just getting better and better.

After her duet with Andrea Bocelli in Italy, she will match vocal talents with her ultimate idol, Celine Dion, this month at the Madison Square Garden in New York. This last piece of good news, delivered by Celine herself, made the young Pinay (and Oprah!) cry.

If the YouTube clip doesn't work, here's the link to her website where you can view Charice's Oprah performance & interview.

[Thanks to reader Jon dela Cruz for the YouTube link.]

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Fee-for-Service Program Replaces FOIA Process

Customers can now turn to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for help in researching their family’s immigration history through the agency’s new Genealogy Program.

USCIS maintains historical records documenting the arrival and naturalization of millions of immigrants who arrived in the United States since the late 1800s or and naturalized between 1906 and 1956. Until today, the process to request these records was handled through a Freedom of Information Act / Privacy Act (FOIA) request.

“In many cases USCIS is the only government agency that has certain historical records that provide the missing link which genealogists or family historians need,” said Jonathan “Jock” Scharfen, USCIS’ Acting Director.

The agency expects interest in genealogy to continue to grow. In the past four years alone, USCIS received more than 40,000 FOIA requests for historical records. The new genealogy program will create a dedicated queue for genealogists, historians and others seeking genealogical and historical records and reference services that generally require no FOIA expertise. As a result, USCIS will provide more timely responses to requests for records of deceased individuals.

Individuals may submit genealogy records requests by using the new forms, G-1041 -Genealogy Index Search Request, and G-1041A - Genealogy Records Request. Both forms are available on the new USCIS Genealogy Program page at: The fees include:

Genealogy Index Search - $20
Copy of a File on Microfilm - $20
Copy of a Textual File Copy - $35.

To read their Frequently Asked Questions page, here's the link.

[text and pic from USCIS]

Friday, September 5, 2008


Here are the top 5 things to do this weekend at FPAC (Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture), the biggest Filipino event in Southern California.

1.) See the headliners: Joe Bataan - dubbed "the king of Latin soul," the Latin soul legend has been crooning and making fans swoon to his sweet voice and songs about life struggles and romance for over 40 years. The king of Latin soul is Filipino! Christine "Happy Slip" Gambito - Happy Slip will be making her West Coast debut as a standup comedian. As one of the most popular youtube stars (the second most subscribed on youtube), you can meet her live and in person at FPAC.

2.) Watch Pinoy fave performers Bambu and Anthony Castelo wow the crowd.

3.) Witness the 8th Annual Filipino Vegetable Competition. "Where else in Southern California can you see these unique Filipino vegetables in gargantuan sizes?" says Ben Biscocho, one of FPAC's organizers.

4.) Are you a fan of America's Best Dance Crew & other dance shows? Well, here's a chance for you to cheer for the first ever FPAC Tinikling Battle. Different collegiate Filipino organizations from all across Southern California will be showcasing their tinikling skillz. They should have included this skill in the Olympics, if you ask me, because dancing with those bamboo poles is no joke.

5.) Pt. Fermin Park, where FPAC will be held this weekend, is a beautiful seaside park,with a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean. You can watch the sunset just as the festival closes at 6.

Here are your FPAC details, if you go:
Come and enjoy delicious Filipino and Asian food, traditional and contemporary music, dance, visual art, shopping and so much more at the17th Annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture!

September 6 & 7, 2008
Point Fermin Park, San Pedro, CA