Thursday, May 28, 2009

Update on Melissa Roxas' case

Fil-Am activist Melissa Roxas, together with co-workers John Edward Handoc & Juanito Carabeo were abducted last May 19 by masked gunmen, according to reports.

They were doing volunteer health mission in Tarlac when they disappeared. After 5 days, in which time Philippine and international groups actively spread the word about the incident, Roxas surfaced. She has not talked about what happened to her yet. Handoc and Carabeo have also surfaced.

Last night, a group of people sympathetic to Roxas held a rally at the LA Consulate demanding justice for Roxas.

Roxas is a UC San Diego graduate and a U.S. citizen. Her family is based in Los Angeles. She co-founded Habi Arts, a cultural organization in L.A.

The Philippine government has denied involvement in the disappearances. Here's a link to their official statement:

[video taken by Janine Chavez]

ASK A KABABAYAN:"How long can a US greencard holder stay abroad?...

...I've checked the documents that USCIS give out to new residents and it says 1 year, but a recent immigrant told me that during first-time immigrant processing at the airport, the immigration officer told them that if they plan to travel abroad after they get their greencards, they have to return within 6 months. My mom is abroad and can't come back till August (her 7th month abroad) due to personal reasons so I want to find out if USCIS will revoke her greencard if she's not here before then."

Here's the response from which provides FREE answers to legal questions:
The answer isn't really as simple as "how long" - overall it isn't a question of time spend abroad by itself; there are other factors, with time abroad being only one part of it.  The question is: what would cause a determination that a person has "abandoned" a green card - a determination made when the person tries to come back to the U.S. based on the officer's determination of the person's subjective intent. This is a fancy way of saying "what the officer thinks you were thinking" with regard to abandoning the green card based on the facts presented, whether or not that was actually what you were thinking.  As a general rule (and this is the only point where time spent abroad can really be a guide, without anything else), if a person is abroad six months or less, they rarely question intent and make a determination of abandonment.  Six months to a year abroad (like your mom), and the person can still be OK if they can prove that they still have very strong ties to the U.S.: property here (real estate or personal property, such as bank accounts, a car, etc.), family living in the U.S., a job to return to, etc. When returning, your mom can bring evidence of her ties to the U.S. - you might want to consult an attorney about her specific situation to discuss ideas for ways to prove this.  If the person is abroad a year or more without returning, there is a presumption that the person meant to abandon. Even here, though, very strong ties to the U.S. can overcome the presumption. If someone knows that they will be out of the U.S. for that long, it's a good idea to apply to a Reentry Permit - essentially, advance permission to stay out a year or more without abandoning the green card - before leaving.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Quest Crew! Yup, America's Best Dance Crew was the highlight of the East West Players' party. I have so much more info about them that is not included in this report, but I hope to do a follow up soon.

[videographer: Janine Chavez]

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Vets Receiving Checks From Government

By Yong B. Chavez

After President Obama approved the lump sum payment for World War 2 veterans, many of them have been anxiously awaiting for their checks in the mail. They did receive something from the government recently, but it's not for the money they've been waiting for.

Instead of rejoicing, Jim Catral became worried when he recently got a letter from the federal government saying that he will be receiving $250.

"Nagkaroon sya ng confusion, na-confuse sya...'what about the $15 thousand, you think I can receive that?'" Cora Boyd, Catral's caregiver said.

Catral thought it was from the Veterans' Compensation Fund.

In recent weeks, senior citizens receiving Social Security benefits have been getting checks.

The money is part of the stimulus bill which 55 million American seniors are receiving, not just Filipino WW II veterans, as Catral thought.

Catral was relieved when he found out that there's hope that he could live to see and enjoy his $15 thousand check.

The latest data released by the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund has this information:

Claims received: approximately 31,000

Number of claims in process: 15,962 Phils. /7,407 US

Number of claims completed: 2,011

Payments made: 1,661 checks sent, plus 242 approved

Disapproved: Less than 200

Average days to process: 46.6

Source: US Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Out of 31 thousand claims, almost two thousand checks have been sent and approved.

The idea that one of those checks could be his delights Catral.

He was a former prisoner-of-war who alter became a Philippine Constabulary general.

A widower, Catral says that apart from getting calls from his family, getting the check is one of the few things he still looks forward to when he wakes up each morning in the retirement home where he lives with his caregiver.

The veteran says that he has memory lapses and sometimes forgets the details of his compensation claim but there is one thing he is always sure of: the simple things he would buy when he gets his money.

"I think I have enough for something to eat, our food here," Catral says.

Catral is turning 90 in a few months. More than money, he says that he cares more for what the check symbolizes: the pride and glory of being a finally fully recognized war veteran while he's still alive.

[video taken by Janine Chavez]

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fil-am family in a fatal car crash

Fil-am family in a fatal car crash

Authorities are still investigating the cause of a freeway accident in Hacienda Heights, Calif. that took the lives of a Filipino family.

Maynardo "Boy" Romey was driving the car that crashed with another vehicle in a busy Los Angeles freeway last saturday morning. 

The 59-year-old bank employee, his wife Lucy, and their teenage son Patrick were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

Patrick was supposed to attend his senior prom on the same day that the accident occurred.

The driver of the other vehicle was a 60-year-old man.

No arrests were made in connection with the crash.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


After Manny Pacquiao's stunning knockout against Ricky Hatton, the Pacman partied it up with Filipino celebrities in Los Angeles. Here's my report: