Saturday, February 28, 2009

BUHAY AMERICA TIP: Free Health Care in L.A.

Due to the economic crisis and job lay-offs, a lot of people are losing health insurance coverage.

If you need to see a doctor, try the Asian Pacific Health Care Venture, Inc. (APHCV).

is a community health center that helps low-income families and underserved Asians and Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles County.

They have an program called PPP (Private-Public Partnership) which could help you if you qualify. They are open for enrollment until March 31, 2009.

"The PPP program provides no-cost preventive and basic health care as well as free supplies of prescription drugs for eligible patients at our clinic," said Marilyn Johns, APHCV community outreach worker. (Every year, in partnership with L.A.'s Philippine Consulate, Johns also mounts a free health screening event at the consulate that is open to every kababayan. She is truly one good Filipina, always with a helping hand.)

PPP eligibility will be determined by APHCV's financial screeners based on set guidelines, some of which are:
1.) Applicant should be able to establish at least 6 months residency (citizenship and/or green cards not required). Any evidence that the person has been residing in L.A. county will be considered. Some examples of proof of residency: any mail received with USPS seal, utility bill).

2.) Low-income or No income proof
The potential beneficiary should be able to satisfy this screening process requirement by presenting pay stubs for those gainfully employed.
For the unemployed: a signed Affidavit or Declaration by the person providing support with the complete name and contact information of the signatory, plus a copy of his/her Calif. driver's license or California ID.
NOTE: All criteria for screening not fully provided in this list.

For more information, contact Marilyn Johns at (323) 644- 3880 Ext. 229

Asian Pacific Health Care Venture is located in 1530 Hillhurst Avenue . Los Angeles , CA 90027.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Filipino fashion designer is an Oscar winner

By Yong B. Chavez
No, he didn't bring home one of those golden trophies - Alexis Monsanto's Oscars triumph has to do with the fabulous gown he made for Kimberly Roberts, the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary "Trouble the Water". The Katrina disaster docu-film was produced by Danny Glover.

On Oscar day, we were with the charming designer inside the Beverly Hills Four Seasons hotel room as he was dressing Roberts. An NBC crew was also in the room documenting the preparations of the group. It was a tad chaotic, but Monsanto was all-smiles.

His sunny attitude helped him when he got the call that he was to make the dress in three days.

"It wasn't a problem - I thrive on challenges," he said. True enough, there was no trace of rush in the final product, a queenly silk-chiffon and French lace gown in gunmetal gray.

"I'm so happy with my dress...I wouldn't let anyone else do my Oscars dress but Alexis," Roberts said.

Later on, Monsanto's creation graced the red carpet when Kimberly and Scott Roberts and Danny Glover were at the TV Guide post:

Back at the hotel, Monsanto, a former medicine student, said that making an Oscars dress was an impossible dream for him when he was growing up in Cebu. Nonetheless, he never gave up on it. When he moved to Los Angeles 15 years ago, he met so many challenges ("You have no idea. It was tough."), but he persevered.

Slowly, he worked his way up and now he has become well-known in celeb fashion circles, scoring design jobs for the likes of Drew Barrymore and Felicity Huffman.

Last year, his label, Alexis Monsanto/Los Angeles had a major show called "Ano XV" which celebrated his success thus far.

With his dress gracing the Oscars red carpet, he got the cherry on top of his sweet life:

"The dream has come true right now," he said. "But this is just the beginning."
All rights reserved. No duplication without author's permission.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Identifying Types of Fraud

Do you know what to do if you become a victim of fraud?

While we can knock on wood and hope that we don't become victims, the reality is, there's always a chance we might become one. In today's economic chaos, fraud incidents are becoming more rampant.

Ang masakit, kung minsan mga kababayan pa natin mismo ang nanloloko. So, mas mabuti ng mag-ingat at maghanda tayo.

There are a lot of our kababayans who have experienced some type of fraud at some point but didn't know where to get information, or didn't want to speak up because they are somehow ashamed na naloko sila. That's just the kind of mind-set that perpetrators of fraud thrive on.

Just remember, kahit nasa ibang bansa tayo, di kayo nag-iisa. Ask for help.

This is the first in a series of posts about this topic.

I recently contacted lawyer Carmina Ocampo, a kababayan at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, and she gave this information:

The steps a victim should take really depends on the type of fraud they are a victim of. There are many different types of consumer fraud: identity theft, credit card fraud, telemarketing fraud, mail order fraud, elderly abuse, internet fraud, debt collection, spam/phishing schemes, real estate fraud, etc. They might be scammed by businesses, landlords, tenants, sales people, telemarketers, con artists, people pretending to be immigration lawyers, etc. There are so many different types of fraud and , different steps a person should take depending on what type of fraud they are victim of.

1. A consumer should first contact the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs. The website is There are lots of great articles on the website about how to protect yourself from fraud, and what you can do if you are the victim of fraud.

Here are some phone numbers they can call at the LA County Dept. of Consumer Affairs:
· Consumer Protection (800) 593-8222 : Consumers should call this number to get information about steps they should take. Investigators resolve disputes a consumer has with purchases, credit, automobiles, landlord tenant, identity theft and other consumer problems. They investigate complaints or provide counseling and referrals.

· Real Estate Fraud and Homeowner Assistance: (800) 973-3370: They provide counseling, investigate complaints, and serve as the central reporting agency for real estate fraud. They can help with problems concerning: A home purchase or sale, Refinancing, Contractors, Real estate fraud, Foreclosure, Undeveloped land sales

· Small Claims Advisors(213) 974-9759: They help people use the Small Claims Court. Their advisors give people the information they need to get their cases started, Serve court papers, Prepare for court, Collect or pay a judgment

· Dispute Settlement Service(213) 974-0825 : Instead of going to court, mediators can help you resolve disputes with neighbors, businesses, and others. mediators are trained to be neutral and unbiased.

· Identity Theft Unit(213) 974-9459: They can help people deal with credit card and credit reporting companies, bill collectors and others. They will help get your finances back to normal and stop thieves from making new charges.
· Senior Abuse and Fraud Protection(213) 974-9778: staff investigates cases of financial fraud and abuse against seniors. This effort is in partnership with the Department of Community & Senior Services.
· Media inquiries: They have a phone number for MEDIA INQUIRIES, in case you want to ask them more questions. 213-974-9761
· Articles based on types of fraud:
o Co-signers of loans: Here is an article about what will happen if you co-sign a loan for someone else, and they do not pay the loan:
o Elderly abuse: Here is a link to articles about elderly abuse:
o Identity theft:,
o Renters:
o Credit scams:
o How to go to small claims court:

[photo credit:]

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Parents, you can get your children's toys, jewelry, backpacks, lunch boxes, costumes, pajamas, etc. tested for lead contamination.

On Saturday, February 21, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office (will hold a Lead Toy exchange at four locations throughout the city. From 12:00 to 4:00 pm, testers will be in four locations to test toys for lead content.
If a toy is found to contain lead, the toy can then be exchanged for a $25.00 American Express gift card. RSVP is preferred but not essential. Go to this website for more info and to RSVP.
A second toy testing positive may be exchanged for another American Express gift card. There is a limit of two gift cards/exchanges per household and this offer will only be good while supplies last. Gift cards will only be handed out in exchange for lead contaminated toys.

The City Attorney's Office will ensure the proper and safe disposal of the collected toys. Parents may be asked to limit the number of toys depending on the popularity of the event. Please visit for a list of more than 1,500 toys and children's products which have recently been tested for lead levels.

- Harmony Elementary School899 East 42nd StreetLos Angeles, CA 90011
- Grand View Elementary School3951 Grand View BoulevardLos Angeles, CA 90066
- Pacoima Elementary School11016 Norris Ave.Pacoima, CA 91331
- Huntington Drive Elementary School4435 Huntington Dr NLos Angeles, CA 90032

LA City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo will be at the Grand View location at 1:30pm.
Since 1987, lead has been listed on the Governor's list of chemicals that can cause reproductive harm and birth defects, and since 1992 has been on the list of chemicals known to cause cancer. Exposure to lead occurs chiefly from ingestion, such as eating or putting objects into the mouth, putting young children particularly at risk.

There are no safe levels of lead. Impacts include birth defects, learning disabilities, hearing loss, reduced attention span, and behavioral abnormalities. Teenagers also can suffer adverse effects, which include brain damage, kidney damage, hearing loss, and impaired growth.

To get more info on recalled items with lead, go to the Department of Health website:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ASK A KABABAYAN: "My employer is not paying my salary on time. How can I get help from the Dept. of Labor?"

I got this question recently from a Southern California Pinay nurse. Isang buwan na syang di nakakatanggap ng sweldo kasi laging tumatalbog ang tseke ng employer n'ya.

Her case has been reported to Labor officials. They say that the employer is doing an illegal act by not paying her and her co-workers on regularly scheduled paydays.
There are two agencies that employees in California with wage problems can get help from. One is through the California Department of Industrial Relations (specifically, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement ), and the other one is through the federal government.

Here is the link to office locations and phone numbers of the Division Of Labor Standards Enforcement:

CALIFORNIA: (866) 924-9757
OTHER STATES: (866) 4US-WAGE (866-487-9243)


I recently interviewed a group of Pinay friends from Long Beach who lost more than $22,000 to alleged con artists. Being generous and trustful of kababayans, they realized that sometimes, no good deed goes unpunished: After opening up their homes and hearts to a couple who asked for their help, they ran off with their money. The case is now being investigated by the Long Beach police department.

The story came out on Balitang America last week but I plan to post an article later this week about it with more details and additional information on what to do to avoid - and how to deal with - scams.

Meanwhile, here's a release from the Philippine Consulate advising people against Internet and text messaging scams. Read and beware!


Los Angeles, 12 February 2009 - The Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles cautions the public to beware of internet fraud schemes and text scams, especially those purported to be involving cash inheritances from persons unrelated to email recipients.

One such modus operandi specifically involves the supposed multi-million dollar inheritance from a certain Engr. Jurgen Krugger being offered to email recipients and allegedly being managed by one of the following:

. Barrister David Smith, Esq. of David Smith and Associates with email address at;

. Barrister Jerry Morgan, Esq., of Jerry Morgan and Associates, with email address at, Tel. No. +44 704 570 8111, and mailing address at 33 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4JH, England; or

. Mr. James Peters of the Royal Courts of Justice Probate Registry Department in London, with email address at and Tel. No. +44 703 192 8723.

The said contact numbers are either numbers of dubious legitimacy or not recognized numbers. The email addresses concerned also tend to vary in some email messages.

Various internet websites dedicated to alerting the public to internet fraud, such as the Anti-Fraud International, have issued a warning to internet users not to answer email messages from David Smith and Associates.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Anna Maria Perez de Tagle:
"Fame" Star is a Proud Filipino

By Yong B. Chavez Exclusive

Anna Maria Perez de Tagle is the lissome and winsome "Hannah Montana" and now, "Fame" star. The remake of the popular '80s movie is getting some serious Hollywood buzz so it's becoming more evident that when "Fame" comes out in September, her star will shine even brighter.

But no matter how successful she gets, those who know Anna Maria say she won't be a big-star-with-big-ego Hollywood cliche.

"I'm really lucky with her. Even the mom of the Jonas Brothers tuwang-tuwa sa kanya because she's really nice," her mom, Evelyn, says.

And if you think she is pretty onscreen, you'll be knocked out by her delicate beauty in person.

On a recent set visit for the Balitang America story (above), she was all decked out in her character's clothes. She plays Joy Moy, an outgoing, aspiring performer in the movie.

"I'm actually very different from Joy. She's very out there and I'm more reserved. It's cool to play someone who's the opposite of myself just because it's fun," Anna Maria says. She adds that she has no clue how she gets the confidence to play characters that are miles away from her personality. The 18-year-old talent is a bit shy in person.

"I go onstage or in front of the camera and something in me just snaps and I become a different person," she says with a big smile.

She remembers that she shares something with her "Fame" character.

"We both had to leave (regular) school because of our careers," she says.

Anna Maria was home schooled starting in the 10th grade and finished high school last September. "I'd like to go to college one day, too," she says.

She loves her plum role in "Fame" but Anna Maria's Hollywood dream is "to be in an action movie. Kind of like 'Charlie's Angels', Lucy Liu-kind of thing."

Later this year, she will reunite with the Jonas Brothers in "Camp Rock 2".

"They're like my brothers, we're constantly texting all the time. It's great to collaborate with people like them and Miley (Cyrus, "Hannah Montana" herself), too," she says. "I think they're amazing."

They must be saying the same thing about her.


For those asking for updates on this story, I've already contacted LBPD and as soon as I get the response, I will post it.

I've received a lot of Anonymous comments about this story that I haven't posted - some of them I can't post entirely because there are a lot of unverifiable contents. I request that if you have information about this case that you want to be included or be considered for inclusion in future posts about it, please send me an email at ybchavez [at] instead of posting under Anonymous so that I can correspond with you and verify the info.

Also: Bear in mind that I can't post any comment that mentions too personal information about the persons involved in this case (i.e. SS numbers, etc.).