Monday, October 27, 2008

Cash For Your Old Electronics

Here's a good idea for anyone who wants to raise some money - or just wants to clear some closet space and help the environment in the process: You can exchange your unused electronics for store gift cards.

EcoNEW is a green website that allows you to trade-in products for: Laptops , Desktops , MP3 players, LCD monitors , LCD TVs, Game systems, Camcorders, Digital cameras, and Smartphones/PDAs.

Here are the steps, per its website:

1. Click on the participating retailer's website - Sam's Club, Office Depot, or Navy Exchange -
to enter information about your product to get its value.

2. EcoNEW generates a trade-in value on the product and provides a pre-paid shipping label for you to print and send the product to our ISO 14001 certified partners. Upon receipt, the product is audited and a branded gift card is mailed to you for the trade-in value of the product. Some products have no trade-in value, but you can still send the product back for proper recycling.

3. The returned product may be resold in whole form or broken down for parts. The remaining product is then safely recycled. Other recyclables that you can send are: CRT monitors , printers, fax machines, and small home electronics.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Former Tawag ng Tanghalan winner Mar Dureza keeps on singing

By Yong B. Chavez

As Nelson Doreza, he was "Tawag ng Tanghalan's" undefeated singing champ for 12 weeks. The American Idol-like talent show was the Philippines' most popular in the '60s. His reign as 1968's winningest singer followed then-nascent superstar Nora Aunor's successful run the previous year. They later worked together in the movie "Bahay Kubo Kahit Munti".

The singer now goes by Mar Dureza but neither name-change nor time has dimmed his talent. He has been living in America for more than two decades now. In his early days in America, Mar used his architecture background to work as a draftsman in Chicago for 10 years while singing regularly in local lounges and concert arenas.

He and his wife, Bella, who's his biggest fan and supporter, are currently enjoying their retirement years in Florida but making music is something he says he won't retire from.

"I had a stroke in June of 2005. Now, three years later, I feel alive and kicking once again, although I lost the ability to play guitar because of the effect of the stroke on my left side. However, my voice is as good as ever," he says.

On December 27, 2008, at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, he will be the recipient of the Hall of Fame awards for achievement in music and art from the Chicago Philippine Reports Television.

His biggest project to-date is his recently released CD called "Maalala Mo Kaya" where he covers popular Filipino love songs called kundiman. Songs in the CD include absolute Filipino classics like Saan Ka Man Naroon, Kapantay Ay Langit, Matud Nila, among others.

In a time when current events might be spurring in you a yearning for the good old days, listening to Dureza's soothing voice singing melodious Filipino songs of yesteryears might do the trick. His CD is available for purchase through

Here's more on Mar:
"One Monday night in February of 1968 I defeated the reigning champion and went on for 12 consecutive weeks successfully defending my title. On the 13th week, Patsy & Pugo, who were the regular emcees of the show, advised me to retire to give others a chance on the championship. The truth of the matter was that the regional finals was approaching and they needed more champions to compete. In order to qualify one should have at least won two weeks. Edgar Mortiz had a lot of weeks to his credit earlier that year but was not competing in the finals because he was already fast becoming a star with the growing Vilma-Edgar tandem.

Although I wanted to win some more weeks, I reluctantly retired under the pressure and my 13th appearance in the show was just as a guest relinquishing my crown to whoever won 1st place that particular night."

"I hit the nightclubs circuit instead of going into television and performed professionally all over the Philippines and the Far East. Coming home in 1977 I realized I needed to change my name from Nelson Doreza to Mar Dureza which is actually the shortened version of my real name Mariano Nelson Doreza. Filipino sounding Mar Dureza came quite naturally and easily stuck to the minds of the audiences of "Astral Villa" and "The Manila Garden Hotel" where I performed regularly from 1978-1981 before I came to the USA on a petition visa from my father."

"I was very unfortunate not to land on a recording job for myself in the Philippines...It seemed that the big stars always got the parts before I did. No wonder my greatest passion was to be able to record something. Here in the U.S., I had my chance when I met Warren Kime, a friend who took interest in the idea of doing an album of Filipino music.

First thing that came to my mind was an album of timeless music - the nostalgic [quality] of kundiman that never grows old and stands the test of time. Not having heard of the Filipino sound before, Warren Kime, who happened to be a band leader, great trumpet player and arranger was faced with a challenge of his musical career. But as I tried to explain it, I may have told him to imagine serenading a beautiful lady with guitars and mandolins and whatever he could think of. He well may have gotten the picture as the result of our little labor of love came out to be something simply perfect as I have expected it. We recorded and released the album in cassette and it was played and sold all over Chicagoland for sometime.

Disc Makers got ahold of the cassette that my wife, Bella, secretly sent to them. After listening to it, they decided to digitally enhance and release it on CD to be marketed in the Internet worldwide. I, myself, drew the cover design that impressed them as well."

"The song that I liked the best in the CD is Ay Kalisud, hands down. This song originated from my home province of Iloilo where I was born on April 17, 1945.

Among my favorite singers, which is a whole lot of them, are Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Ruben Tagalog in the olden days always fascinated me. I also enjoy Hajji Alejandro, Basil Valdez, Rico Puno, Jun Polistico, Anthony Castelo."

Apart from singing, Dureza continues to tend to his other talent. His CD's self-drawn portrait is a testament to that. "I also accept commissions for my drawings of portraits in pencil. You can see sample of my works at"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Economic Crisis Survival Tip #3

If you're stressed about money these days, you don't need the added aggravation by getting scammed.

So, if you see one of those TV ads promising to GET YOU OUT OF DEBT NOW! - please change the channel. Better yet, turn off the TV to save on power costs. Yes there are legitimate, for-profit credit counseling companies but before you send them anything, thoroughly research their company first. There are scammers, vultures, really, who are capitalizing on the fact that many are having money problems now, and they promise things too-good-to-be-true. Remember, they are not magicians who can just wave off your debts. What's absolutely true? Legit or not, they will get your hard-earned money.

Non-profit organizations are giving help for free. Here are some legitimate and FREE credit counseling organizations:

1. The Homeownership Preservation Foundation
Call 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) and receive free counseling when you're facing foreclosure.
Seventy percent of those they've assisted retained their, according to a report.
They will also connect you with free services if you have other financial issues, such as credit card debt.

SCORE, a nonprofit association working in partnership with the Small Business Administration, offers financial counseling to small businesses.

Avvo is an organization of lawyers (all screened and profiled on the site) who answer legal questions online for free. They specialize in helping regular people like you and me. You can post a question about foreclosure, credit or bankruptcy issues.

Here's the link to some other organizations that you can get free counseling from.

If you have a question or other tips for our kababayans, please let me know.

[Reference: CNN; Photo:]

Friday, October 17, 2008

Popular Creme-filled Cookies Recalled Due to Melamine

As one mom blogger said: Lead is so 2007. It's all bout melamine-tainted product recalls nowadays.

In late September, it was the White Rabbit candy; now it's Koala's March creme-filled cookies.

The cookies are being recalled from U.S. store shelves because "they were made in China and may be contaminated with melamine," a newspaper report say.

Michigan-based Lotte USA Inc. said to the New York Times that it initiated the recall on Sept. 29.

It recalled king-size chocolate, white chocolate and strawberry flavors, family pack-size chocolate, white chocolate, strawberry, chestnut, Hawaii chocolate and Hawaii pineapple flavors.

Melamine is the industrial chemical blamed for killing four infants and sickening thousands of children in China. It's used to make plastics and fertilizers. Melamine is an organic compound that is often combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin, a synthetic polymer which is fire resistant and heat tolerant. Melamine resin is a very versatile material with a highly stable structure. Uses for melamine include whiteboards, floor tiles, kitchenware, fire retardant fabrics, and commercial filters.

In the Philippines and in many other countries, it is also widely used in plates and other household items. I even remember the blue set I bought from SM more than two decades ago. Oh, those were the days when we were blissfully unaware that the products we use everyday can actually harm us.

So to be safe, here are some tips from SafeMama:

- Don’t microwave, boil or otherwise heat melamine dishware or utensils, ever.
- Hand wash all melamine in warm water with mild soap.
- Use safer materials like bamboo, stainless steel, or BPA-free plastic (same heat rules apply here though, no microwave, hand wash).
[photo from Wikipedia]

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


A lot of people who lost their jobs due to the present economy are hurting from losing their health insurance coverage. Many people don't have health insurance in the first place.

Luckily, there are people in the community who are always there to help those in need.

If you live in or near Los Angeles, here's an opportunity for you to get health screenings for free. At this health fair, you will also get information about eligibility for public health care programs including Medi-Cal, Medicare, Healthy Families, and California Kids.

Here are the details:

Asian Pacific Health Care Venture and The Philippine Consulate General, Los Angeles - 5th Annual Pagpahalaga Sa Kalusugan Ng Pamilya Health Fair
Where: Philippine Consulate, Community Hall, Ste.500
3600 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90010

When: October 22/2008 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
October 23/2008 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
October 24/2008 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Schedule of Activities & Free Services:
· Blood pressure screening * Glucose screening * BMI screening
· Information about eligibility for public health care programs including Medi-Cal, Medicare, Healthy Families, and California Kids
· Information about available services in the community such as:
o Pregnancy testing & counseling, HIV screening, prevention & counseling
o Family planning; Parenting classes, CPR Training; Nutrition Education for Diabetics
o Healthy Women screenings (mammograms & pap smears),
o Enrollment to WIC, Food Stamps, Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, other health programs
· On-site Osteoporosis scanning services
· Bone Marrow Donor Registration undertaken by the National Marrow Donor Program

Monday, October 13, 2008

"How do I block an e-mail address? This person I don't know keep sending me e-mails...

... even if I asked to be removed from their mailing list."

Since you're using Yahoo! Mail, you can block all mail from up to 500 email addresses. All mail from these senders will be automatically deleted before you see it. [This is not for spam - the spam/bulk folder is for that.] Use the list of blocked senders for individual senders whose messages you don't want to receive but won't stop. This will save you the hassle of deleting every incoming mail manually. To have Yahoo! Mail delete all mail from a particular address automatically:
1. Select Options Mail Options... in Yahoo! Mail.
2.) Go to the Spam category.
3.) Type the unwanted email address under Add a blocked address:.
4.) Click Add.
5.) Now click Save Changes.

- For Hotmail, click on this link to get the instructions.

- If you're using a Gmail account, it's a little bit more tedious but it's doable. Here's the how-to.

- For AOL acount holders, here's what I found online to block e-mail address or website. [Caveat: I don't have AOL so I haven't tested this]:
1. On the AOL toolbar, click Settings.
2. In the By Category tab, scroll down and click Spam Controls.
3. Under Control Who I Get Mail From, click the radio button next to Use a Custom Sender List, and then click the Custom Sender List hyperlink.
4. In the Custom Sender List window, choose from the following settings:
- Block all senders and domains listed below: Select this radio button to block mail from the e-mail addresses and domains you specify.
- Remove: Click this to remove a selected e-mail address or domain.
5. Use AOL Smart Block to make room for additional addresses: Select this to enable AOL Smart Block, which automatically removes inactive addresses from your block list to make room for other addresses.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Economic Crisis Survival Tips

There's a Tagalog phrase that Pinoys like to say whenever a financial problem hits them: Kailangang maghigpit ng sinturon.

In today's nightmarish economy, belt-tightening has become mandatory.

So, starting today, I will regularly post one or two belt-tightening and money-saving tips that would be a good to follow year-round, crisis or no crisis. If you have a tip of your own, please let us know!

1.) Claim those rewards
Most of our credit cards have some sort of rewards program. Even if you keep a zero balance (Good for you! That's the smart way to go.), you get reward points anytime you use your card so the experience of claiming it can be like finding money under your bed. So review your credit card statement today and find out how much points you have, then claim it! It's easy to claim - log on to their website and choose the reward you want. I recently got about $250 doing this, that's grocery money galore - cash that I don't have to eke out from my budget so it was lovely. I opted for the debit card-type of reward which can be used everywhere.

2.) Get a loyalty card
The painful lesson that a lot of us are learning in today's economic downturn is that mortgaging our future by charging everything to credit cards that we can't pay in full monthly is disastrous. But there are cards that allow us to save: grocery loyalty cards. Because I used to live near Filipino stores like Seafood City where food items are usually cheaper, I rarely shopped at mainstream stores like Albertsons and Ralph's. But when I moved a couple of years ago, those two became the ones I bought grocery items from regularly so I got their loyally cards which allowed me to save hundreds of dollars since. (Here's a caveat, though. When you sign up, they will have your name and shopped items on file but I don't think them knowing I buy bokchoy every week is a huge invasion of privacy.)

Monday, October 6, 2008


Mga kababayan, did you register already?

Today, October 6, is the deadline for new voters to register in many states (including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Indiana and Colorado). California allows registration till October 20.

I don't have to tell you how important this election is not just for us U.S. residents and citizens. Our economic woes are affecting the rest of the world, including our native land, the Philippines.

This election year, an unprecedented number of new voters have registered. Last year, 660,477 people were naturalized, 38,830 of whom were Filipinos. We can be a strong force this election.

Recently, at a party, I spoke with a very nice elderly Pinay and while watching a noontime show on TFC, we got to talking about politics. She asked me who I was voting for, and after answering and explaining my choice, I asked her back. She said she was not voting for my choice even though she feels that he will do a better job because someone told her that my candidate was "going to raise taxes." I asked her where did she hear that. "I don't remember," she said, "I just read about it sa e-mail."

I told her it might be better if she doesn't take at face value the lousy smear tactics that some people have resorted to and instead read up on well-documented reports and fact-checked accounts to get some real information.

I told her that even if she's not a news junkie, she can get valuable knowledge by widening her circle of information.

Earlier she had shared that her family lost a big amount of money because when their bank imploded, their deposit exceeded the FDIC insurance limit. I asked her if she knew why this economic crisis is happening, and she sighed before saying, "kaya nga parang ayokong bumoto ngayong eleksyon eh." A lot of things don't make sense anymore in her political party, she said.

I told her that would be a huge mistake, to waste her opportunity and to abandon her duty when many remain voiceless at a time when too much is at stake. After a while, she nodded.

She said she will research more. I added that, to spike her interest, she should also find out the positions of both candidates on Filipino issues that she can identify with such as the WWII veterans' rights, immigration, and of course, where they stand on things that affect middle class Americans like most of us.

Her earlier hesitation is understandable. Many of us who grew up in the Philippines were not taught how our votes matter. Unfortunately, it was a place where many votes were for sale and/or stolen so voting might not necessarily be a passion. The mantra for some voters there was, "kahit sinong nasa pwesto, walang mangyayari."

I don't know enough about the current political climate back home to say that that has completely changed but this much I know is true: We're in America now, in this place that has been good to us, where we and our children can aspire to greatness no matter the circumstances of our births or gender or race or current station in life. Whether we're Democrats or Republicans or Independents, this is the place where we can be assured our votes matter. And barring any chad-related gaffes, they won't be stolen.

So be a part of history. Claim your space in this country you now call home. Register, and on November 4, let's vote.

Here's the list of State Voter Registration Deadlines:
Alabama Fri, Oct. 24
Alaska Sun, Oct. 5 (postmark by Sat, Oct. 4)
Arizona Mon, Oct. 6
Arkansas Mon, Oct. 6
California Mon, Oct. 20
Colorado Mon, Oct. 6
Connecticut Tues, Oct. 21
Delaware Sat, Oct. 11
District of Columbia Mon, Oct. 6
Florida Mon, Oct. 6
Georgia Mon, Oct. 6
Hawaii Mon, Oct. 6
Idaho Register at Polls
Illinois Tues, Oct. 7
Indiana Mon, Oct. 6
Iowa Fri, Oct. 24 (or on Election Day at polling place)
Kansas Mon, Oct. 20
Kentucky Mon, Oct. 6
Louisiana Mon, Oct. 6
Maine Tue, Oct. 21 (or on Election Day at polling place)
Maryland Tue, Oct. 14
Massachusetts Wed, Oct. 15
Michigan Mon, Oct. 6
Minnesota Same Day Registration at polling place
Mississippi Mon, Oct. 6
Missouri Wed, Oct. 8
Montana Mon, Oct. 6 (or same day at elections office)
Nebraska Fri, Oct. 24 (mail by Fri, Oct. 17)
Nevada Tue, Oct. 4 (or in person until Oct. 14)
New Hampshire Same Day
New Jersey Tues, Oct. 14
New Mexico Tues, Oct. 7
New York Fri, Oct. 10
North Carolina Fri, Oct. 10
North Dakota N/A
Ohio Mon, Oct. 6
Oklahoma Fri, Oct. 10
Oregon Tue, Oct. 14
Pennsylvania Mon, Oct. 6
Rhode Island Sat, Oct. 4
South Carolina Sat, Oct. 4
South Dakota Mon, Oct. 20
Tennessee Mon, Oct. 6
Texas Mon, Oct. 6
Utah Mon, Oct. 6 or in person Tue, Oct. 28
Vermont Wed, Oct. 29
Virginia Mon, Oct. 6
Washington Sat, Oct. 4 (or until Mon, Oct. 20 in person)
West Virginia Wed, Oct. 15
Wisconsin Wed, Oct. 15 (or on Election Day at polling place)
Wyoming Can register at polls

If you are, or someone you know is, a US citizen living abroad, you can get information about overseas voting.

Here's an interesting way to express why you are voting: Go to and tell America why you’re voting. Through pictures, words and your voice, you can participate in "A Million Reasons to Vote". All you need to do is go to their website, upload your picture, record your reason to both (written, spoken or both), then share your "patch" in the Virtual Quilt, "made by the people who will be most effected by the outcome of this election, the voting public."