Monday, May 31, 2010

A Filipino Veteran Remembered

NEW YORK - On Memorial Day millions of American families and friends remember and honor the sacrifices of their fallen warriors. Filipinos in the United States also fondly recall their fallen like World War II veteran Pacifico “Tatay” Timbol, who passed away on May 18.

Timbol was the longtime commander of the American Legion Douglas MacArthur Post in Woodside NYC with more than a dozen elderly Filipino veteran members. Over the past decade, Timbol and comrades were regular parade marchers in the Philippine Independence Day festivals on Madison Avenue. They often visited Capitol Hill in Washington to lobby for their equity benefits and family reunification bills.

Timbol's widow Rosalina and two daughters, Marilu and Carolyn, welcomed more than seventy guests during his May 21 farewell mass in a funeral home in their immigrant neighborhood.

According to the widow, "Tatay" Timbol was born Dec. 5, 1922 in Concepcion Tarlac. During World War II, Timbol was wounded in leg in battle and was held as a prisoner-of-war. There was also a movie script entitled "Kilabot ng Hapon" (Feared by the Japanese) featuring Timbol’s WWII exploits. Rosalina remembered their first meeting and feeding him as a guerrilla when he visited her family. They have seven children and “about eighteen grandchildren.” He worked after the war as a rail inspector for the Tutuban railroad and became a business man in real estate. One of his four sons is Edgardo Timbol, a current town mayor in Davao Del Norte province.

Father Neil Villaviza, a close friend and kabayan from Tarlac, officiated the mass. In his homily, Villaviza said, “Tatay has finally surrendered to God, even his sins. He has returned to his beginning.” Villariza asked his audience to celebrate Tatay’s life and legacy with the loving family.

Legionnaires: Rafael De Peralta, Jesus Novoa, Paul Hipolito, Elpidio Ramos, Mario Lumida and Sonny Sampayan paid their respects to their departed commander. Sampayan, a retired US Air Force Desert Storm veteran, tearfully eulogized Timbol’s dedication and caring leadership in serving his low-income comrades to win US government recognition and veterans pensions. In previous years, Timbol organized his team who were dressed in blue Legion satin jackets to proudly march several blocks on Madison Avenue to draw attention for their campaign during veteran day parades.

Eric Lachica, the executive director of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, an advocacy group based in Arlington Virginia, also eulogized Timbol’s optimism and untiring leadership. Lachica recalled his last phone call three weeks earlier with Timbol who was released from the hospital. Despite his weak voice and failing health caused by prostate cancer, Timbol pleaded for ACFV’s to continue to assist his elderly members get their pension applications approved and to pass their Filipino Veterans Family Reunification bills in Congress this year.

Lachica urged the audience to honor Timbol’s memory by continuing his fight to persuade New York Senator Charles Schumer and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney to champion the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification bill S. 2757 and H.R. 2412 now languishing in Congress. More than 20,000 sons and daughters of US citizen Filipino veterans have been waiting for more than 10 years with approved immigration petitions including several of Timbol’s children.

For details, visit the ACFV website: or e-mail:

American Coalition for Filipino Veterans
(This Memorial Day, let's also thank people like Eric Lachica for their commendable and tireless advocacy for the veterans. -Yong)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Charice and Lea Salonga on Glee: Make It Happen, Please!

No, as you all know by now, she won't be on Glee.

Yesterday, I was one of those who rejoiced when a Philippine Daily Inquirer article reported that Charice Pempengco will be a Glee castmember. I really thought it was legit because the article quoted Charice's Philippine manager and the Inquirer is a well-respected publication.

"Yay!" We all said. I sent her U.S. manager an e-mail and contacted his office in Los Angeles to confirm. I also called Fox's publicity department. Haven't heard back from them. But it's all moot now, because Charice herself tweeted yesterday afternoon - hours after the Charice-on-Glee news has been posted even by non-Filipino media including Perez Hilton -that it's all just rumors, sadly.

I hope to interview Charice soon to get more info on what really happened. Glee or no Glee, her career is soaring (she's on Billboard 200 Albums at No. 8, after selling 43,000 copies of her debut album) and I hope to get details on her current and upcoming projects.

Anyway, last night's Glee was awesome and the Idina Menzel/Lea Michele number made me think how awesome it would be if Charice AND Lea Salonga get to duet on the show. Come one, Glee, make it happen!

Here's my most recent interview with Lea Salonga. I haven't posted it here; this was done end of April at East West Players Visionary Awards night, before the Philippine elections. Below is my report last year where EWP's leader credits Lea for inspiring other Asians to make it in the mainstream.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

FO FYI: What to do if you get counterfeit money

By Yong Chavez

Do you carefully check the cash you receive from anyone? Especially if it's a big amount - you always should. An LA Times story recently exposed the frustrating experiences of a local man who said he got fake money when he cashed a money order at a US Post Office, of all places. Turns out, no place is safe when it comes to counterfeits.

So what do you do when you get counterfeit money? Contact the authorities IMMEDIATELY so it will be established that you are the victim (if you didn't know that the money you got was fake when you got it), not the one passing it off.

Here are the steps, per the US Secret Service, the government branch that deals with this issue.

1.) Do not return it to the passer.
2.) Delay the passer if possible.
3.) Observe the passer's description, as well as that of any companions, and the license plate numbers of any vehicles used.
4.) Contact your local police department or United States Secret Service field office. These numbers can be found on the inside front page of your local telephone directory.
5.) Write your initials and the date in the white border areas of the suspect note.
6.) Limit the handling of the note. Carefully place it in a protective covering, such as an envelope.
7.) Surrender the note or coin only to a properly identified police officer or a U.S. Secret Service special agent
Per Secret Service agent interviewed by the LA Times: "Anyone who receives questionable cash to stop by a bank and ask what the money pros have to say. If a bill is indeed counterfeit, contact the Secret Service and turn it in to authorities. Maybe they'll be able to find out where it came from, maybe not."

Using fake money is a felony - punishable by up to 20 years in prison - and you could be arrested if you get caught passing it off.

Yes, by surrendering the money you'll lose it but, hey, the alternative is prison so think carefully and do the right thing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Part of my latest interview with the Jabbawockeez for ABS-CBN shows

Ask A Kababayan:
"I'm undocumented & I got jury duty summons"

A reader who calls herself "Pinay in LA" asks: "I am an undocumented immigrant. I received a Jury Duty summon months ago that I ignored. Recently I received another notice saying that I have to call the court because I I failed to report for the jury duty. They said I will pay $1500 if I don't respond. What should I do? Can they report me to ICE?"

Dear Pinay,
Below is what Atty Jemela Nettles, a kababayan immigration lawyer in LA, said about this question. Good luck, and I hope you'll be able to get your papers in order soon. -Yong

"A person can not 'ignore' a jury duty summons. Everyone summoned is required to register by phone within 5 days of receiving the summons, even if that person cannot serve.  No. 1 question is: "I am a citizen of the United States".  In your reader's case, the answer, of course is: NO. By reason of that answer, the person summoned is not qualified to serve. I am not personally aware of anyone being reported to ICE on jury duty summons matters.  But who knows? In these turbulent immigration times, there are no iron-clad guarantees. Good luck to your reader."

About Atty Nettles:
Law Offices of JEMELA AGRAVIADOR-NETTLES  700 South Flower Street, Suite 1100  Los Angeles, CA 90017  Phn: 213/234-9591  Fax: 213/234-9589  Txt: 213/675-1281

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fil-Am Transgender Sues Macy's

Fil-Am Transgender Sues Macy's for Wrongful Termination

By: Yong Chavez

A former cosmetics department employee of Macy's Torrance, Calif. is suing the company for wrongful termination and various gender-related grievances, including verbal abuse, being ejected from the women’s restroom and being ridiculed by both management and other employees.

Jason “Jazz” Araquel, 21, is alleging three years of sex gender humiliation, harassment, discrimination, intimidation, coercion, and emotional distress.

The case was filed today at the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Per Business Wire: "According to Ms. Araquel’s attorneys, Eric E. Castelblanco of the Los Angeles law firm of the Law Offices of Eric E. Castelblanco and Kelly Y. Chen of the Law Office of Kelly Y. Chen, the plaintiff is a pre-operative male-to-female transgender individual whose sexual status was known to store management at the time she was initially employed in a part-time capacity in November 2006. She subsequently became a full-time employee in March 2008 and worked there until September 1, 2009, when she was terminated.

Ms. Araquel alleges that she had repeatedly been subjected to “unfair treatment and humiliation.” This included having to work as a part-time employee for nearly a year-and-a-half during which she sought full-time work, only to witness others being continually hired from outside the store. She received full-time work only after threatening a lawsuit against Macy’s.

Castelblanco said that Ms. Araquel was ultimately terminated by Macy’s for alleged insubordination and use of foul language."

Araquel believes that the termination was in retaliation to her numerous complaints to the management about harassment incidents.

She is seeking general and punitive damages and compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of dignity, legal costs and attorney’s fees.

(Note: In 2005, I did several reports on a legal case involving another Fil-Am transgender woman. Pic of typical cosmetics counter from

Thursday, May 13, 2010

EVENT: Make-Up & Model like a PRO



Elgin Zulueta


“Make-Up and Model Like a Pro!”

LOS ANGELES (April 23, 2010) - Calling all make-up and model enthusiasts. ‘Tis the spring workshop season and an elite group of successful make-up artists, international model and photographers in Los Angeles and Asia will be having a one-day makeover workshop on May 15, Saturday at the famed film school IAFT (International Academy of Film and Television) at the chic and urban Abbott Kinney Rd in Venice Beach.

‘Make-up and model like a pro’ workshop is a combination of lecture and guided practical application in make-up and modeling. Hollywood based make-up artist, Eugene Conde, who has done several music videos, films and commercials, together with fashion make-up artists Paula Mauricio and Rod Alcover will share their beauty secrets in make-up application that will enhance your natural beauty. International model, Zara, who has done numerous TV and print ads all over Asia, will give tips on how to look best in front of the camera. There will be an after party capping the day’s workshop with VIP’s from different industries such as film, fashion and entertainment. All artists will personally handle everything; so expect to rub elbows with gorgeous models and modeling insights directly from the experts.

Boost your confidence, overcome shyness and identify your best angles, be with the pro! The workshop fee is $99 per person all inclusive of an IAFT Certificate of Completion, 5 professionally shot studio photos, a $50 worth beauty gift bag, and an after party ticket. So, mark your calendars!

This workshop is a collaboration of IAFT, FilAmNation, and M&P Design House and is sponsored by Red Glass Photography, Design K Studios, Terry’s Essence of Beauty, VuQo Premium Vodka, Good Buzz, and Human Heart Nature. For tickets please call Au at 949.331.8328 and Manny at 310.384.1586.


YONG's note: This event is organized by enterprising Fil-Ams, so come and support - and get gorgeous! - this Saturday.

See you there.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

SoCal Pinoys on Election Day

How did Southern California Pinoys participate in the recent Philippine elections? Here's the story I did for ABS-CBN.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Allison Iraheta: ‘Idol’ finalist talks about ‘firsts’ – including first trip to Manila

By Yong B. Chavez
Philippine News

LOS ANGELES -- She breezed into the interview room all-smiles and with none of the diva attitude that emerging stars seem to wear as a uniform in young Hollywood.

Possessing one of the most unique voices in the recording industry today, Allison Iraheta, American Idol season 8's raspy-voiced rocker, has won the respect and admiration of fans and music industry players alike since taking the Idol stage last year and finishing as the best-performing female contestant in one of the show's most memorable seasons.

With her fierce, emotionally-bare performances and sunny disposition off-stage, Iraheta is a refreshing talent, someone that stands out in an era of auto-tuned and manufactured performers.

Prone to speaking her mind and unwilling to be anyone but herself, the young singer is proud of how much creative control she was able to assert in making her debut album, "Just Like You".

"I had a lot of control, and I was definitely grateful for that. They sent me songs that they thought suited me, and I chose the ones that I could really relate to," she says. During recording, she also gave a lot of feedback on which tracks she thought worked best with her voice and which didn't.

Iraheta says being able to come out with a good debut album contributes to her long-term goal: longevity. "Ten years from now, hopefully, I'll still be singing and will be known for the music I write."

She recently made a stop in the Philippines for a promo tour. "It's my first trip abroad on my own. I'm 18! I'm so stoked," Iraheta said. She turned 18 on April 27, a week before performing to Manila.

In honor of her first international concert as a recording artist and her first trip abroad since turning 18, the singer shared her other firsts in an exclusive interview.

Yong Chavez: What was your first memory of singing?
Allison Iraheta: (At) La Curacao (laughs). It was called Dias delos Ninos. They closed the parking structure. It was a huge stage, and there was a bunch of people. They had me sing “Mi Ranchito, My Little Ranch.” I was 7, I think. I remember my dad recorded it and when we looked back at it, it was shaking so much, and we were like 'What's going on?' And he said, 'I was so nervous.' It was the first time for me and I will never forget it."

What's the first big mistake that you ever made?
Jeez. And this is anything? Eat wasabi. It was so gross! I can't handle it. No, thank you.

What was your first paycheck? How much was it?
Um, La Curacao (laughs). Actual first real good paycheck... Don't remember. The only thing I can remember was the $50 thousand for Telemundo (TV reality show) QuinceaƱera, the one that I won.

You were supposed to get a recording contract from them, too, right? Didn't happen?
To read the full article: Philippine News