Monthly Archives: January 2008

Overseas Filipino Caucus for Sustainable Development: Looking forward to MDG 2015


This song is the MDG Anthem composed and sung by Filipinos. You can find it here, too: 2015 is the magical year. Spread the word!

Click here to go directly to

For the past four months, I have been a low-key internet personality. You see, I got involved with a group of Filipinos I had met in Utrecht, The Netherlands for a Filipino Experts Meeting and a European-Filipino Migrants Conference in late October of 2007. It had been a very busy time for me. It started with a trip to Hercules, California where Ed Balico, the mayor, honored me with a “Congratulations” recognition during a City Council meeting. The next day, I left for Washington DC where I was honored as one of the “100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the US” for the category of “Behind The Scenes Leadership.” My sister, Myrna de Vera, joined me for a night of festivities which reminded me of an “All Girls Night Out” affair. At the same FWN Summit, I joined my co-panelists in the “Crafting the Filipina Image” session where I explained how to craft an online campaign to take back the keyword “Filipina” from its dating and marriage SERPs entries.

While my sister packed my award inside her suitcase, I had two more days at the summit before I left for Amsterdam, then on to Utrecht, The Netherlands. Since I am more involved with Filipino American community-based organizations devoted to helping each other in the United States, bonding with 20 other people from Europe, Middle East, and the Philippines (who specialized in advocacy work benefiting migrant Filipinos) was quite overwhelming — and really, a dream come true. I didn’t even realize that my Euro-Pinoy friends were aware about the volunteer work that I do. Yet, here I was, breaking new ground in Utrecht. I even joined the IT group within the caucus. I’m still trying to figure this one out because people know I’m a non-techie.

For a detailed report about my adventures in The Netherlands, go to

Here I am, deeply involved in the planning and implementation of our Caucus’s initiatives. We look forward to the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development that will be held in October 2008 in Manila, Philippines. Do take the time to check out what our Overseas Filipinos worldwide are doing. It ain’t easy.

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Human Development International Vanguard Corps: Call To Save The Mountains Of The World

January 25, 2008

Getting to know HDI Vanguard Corps with Janelle So of Kababayan TV (LA 18) in Los Angeles. Click here if you cannot see the video.

A couple of Saturdays ago, I invited John Ryan Largo, the founder of Human Development International Vanguard Corps, Ian Jon Mendoza, Executive Director for HDI Philippines, and Ryan Largo, HDI USA Action Officer, for dinner at my Fisherman’s Wharf apartment. Bam-i, the classic Cebuano dish with silver noodles and canton noodles (that takes time to cook, you bet!) was something I wanted to share with them. Instead of my fabulous Leche Flan, I opted to serve a selection of Trader Joe’s signature dessert dishes.

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Filipinas Magazine, January 2008: Traveling with Johnny

I don’t write too many profiles nowadays. This particular article that I wrote for Filipinas Magazine actually took eight months to germinate in my “to-do” list before it even saw print. Well, it was worth the wait. I wrote this story because I wanted to highlight the entrepreneurial experiences of our successful Filipino American business owners. Johnny Francisco of Travelfast International, Inc. and Mango Tours certainly fits the bill. Peachy Pelaez had introduced us many, many years ago when my attention was still on the Rotary Club of Fisherman’s Wharf-San Francisco and the San Francisco Business Times, not on the Filipino American community. So, when I finally sat down with Johnny inside a private conference room at his Flood Building office, it was quite an exhilarating experience for me especially since he had this forward-thinking attitude about the travel industry. Now that his son, Jappy Francisco, is handling the marketing for Mango Tours (do I hear a lot of second and third generation Filipino Americans trekking the beaches, mountains, and clubs in the Philippines?), succession planning (which I keep hounding family-owned businesses with) seems to be working just fine for the Francisco family.

The article is found on pages 20 and 21 of the January 2008 edition of Filipinas Magazine.


Traveling with Johnny

by: Lorna Lardizabal Dietz

“Taking a chance on running a travel agency nearly 30 years ago, Johnny Francisco has built a business that continues to soar.”

Johnny Francisco, standing, works with his team in his San Francisco office

It is 11:00 p.m. in San Francisco. A sleepy Filipina travel sub-agent, who has an online booking engine at her website, answers a telephone call from a friend in Chicago. Apologetic, he asks, “My grandmother just passed away — and I want to leave in a couple of days for Manila. I need the best internet airfare. Can you help me?”

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Food Review by Marylou “Dada” Tan: Archipelago Bistro in Burlingame, California

I started with one posting about the “Pinoy Dining Guide” for the San Francisco Bay Area so whenever people asked me for a listing of Filipino-themed restaurants, I could quickly look it up in my Blackberry 8830 (from my own postings, of course!). Yes, my friends know that when I enjoy a well-prepared meal, I really look ecstatic! No one has dared to shoot a photo of me when I’m in this almost-Nirvana state of mind — not yet, anyway. I haven’t gone to the level of actually slurping my soup just like the Japanese do when they want to show their satisfaction. Yet, I do take the time to savor the taste of the ingredients and speculate on the spices and seasonings that were used as well as the preparation methods. After all, the food industry is my first love.

So, I have these friends, Agnes Torres and Dada Tan, who are members of the Filipina singing group, the Spice Divas. I haven’t been updated with their latest singing gigs but I have hilarious fun during the rare times we get together. They sing for the love of it!

Dada TanIn the last couple of years, Dada has been sending emails to her friends about her food reviews. I suspect that she actually likes writing about her culinary adventures. Dada’s e-mail about Archipelago Bistro in December 2007 was particularly interesting and oh-so “salivating” that I forwarded it to my colleagues in Fil-Am media. I’m also cajoling Dada to blog about her food adventures.

Jacqui Conclara of Manila Bulletin-USA printed Dada’s edited food review a couple of weeks ago. Shortly after the article was published, I met Archipelago’s Jack Tien at a mixer hosted by the Young Filipino Professional Association (YFPA), who provided me with a menu of the restaurant’s gustatory delights with his follow-up email. Jack also sent me some beautiful photos of their restaurant. I have yet to make the time to enjoy Archipelago’s cuisine. For now, I can walk in Dada’s shoes and pretend that I’ve actually been there.

For reservations, you can contact Jack Tien at 650.348.3888 or at [email protected]

:-) And here is Dada’s unedited review:

Archipelago Bistro
1107 Howard Avenue
Burlingame, CA 94010
(650) 348-3888

It was over two weeks ago when I first heard about Archipelago Restaurant from my long time friend and classmate, Tet Alba Gaskell. I found out her brother-in-law Chito Dakis (a graduate of UP) is one of the partners in the business. I was real excited to try another Filipino owned fusion restaurant in the San Francisco bay area

Archipelago Bistro - at the entrance (photo provided by Jack Tien)

I wanted to celebrate my belated birthday dinner with my family and sister at Archipelago so we went there 2 weeks ago. We got to the restaurant and saw their modern signage outside. There are elongated rectangular orange lanterns hanging on the ceiling of the bar area on the left side as we entered. Some painted bamboos are part of the décor. There is an archway leading to the private banquet room. To the right is the main dining area which is a just little bit too dim. There are nice booths along the walls with modern wall lamps. In the center of the high ceiling room where we sat are hanging bamboo fish trap baskets used as lamps. There are more bamboo décor towards the back. The wood tables did not need any table cloths. Dark orange napkins are displayed neatly. The waiters are dressed in all black with dark orange floor length aprons. I am in awe at how beautiful the restaurant is and just so classy, elegant and romantic. It is really impressive with the Oriental and modern ambiance of this upscale restaurant that opened on November 9, 2007. I kept repeating “WOW” several times.

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Ethnic Retailers: Enhancing Their Value in the Marketplace

A nice, simple set-up for a candy store that customers like to see - photo by Lorna Dietz

The ethnic retail market is a reality in the United States. It’s a vibrant component of a truly diverse community. I don’t want to be stereotypical in my observations but here’s what I’ve noticed in my travels around the San Francisco Bay Area:

1. Many Chinese Americans own dry cleaning services.
2. Many Asian Indians own liquor stores or taxicab companies. I have a friend who owns 13 liquor stores in Santa Clara County and I have special cab service (whenever I need it) in San Jose (Thank you, Mr. Rimpy!).
3. Many Koreans and Filipinos own grocery stores and restaurants. I’m expanding my Pinoy Food guide into a separate category because I need easy access to a list of Filipino-owned restaurants to recommend.
4. Many Vietnamese own nail salons or beauty parlors. In fact, Lyn at Beach Beauty Salon at Fisherman’s Wharf is my colorist.
5. There are many Chinese and Thai-owned restaurants.
6. There is a huge Chinatown in San Francisco that makes my food shopping worth the shoves I get in the crowded streets.

It’s possible that family connections and strong friendly ties encourage people of the same ethnic group to concentrate their monetary success in one industry. Remember, this is not a general observation — simply strictly my own. It is a reality that minority-owned businesses are a major work force in the United States. I’m very proud when I say that I work with ethnic communities in terms of public relations and marketing.

A few months ago, in my networking site, Ryan Turner asked a question: Are “Ethnic Retailers” Still Serving A Niche Market?

There’s an assumption that “ethnic” markets, convenience stores, etc. which once thrived upon dedicated clientele and hard-to-find items face tough times, ironically, as larger ethnic and mainstream retailers adopt their product mix at cheaper prices to broader cross-cultural audiences. Noted with particular interest:

Cecilia Kang’s 9/3/07 Washington Post article:
“Ethnic Grocers Losing Their Niche”

If Kang’s article points to larger truths outside the Washington DC area, and smaller ethnic retailers in general face marketing challenges, what strategies should they consider to

(1) raise their profile/visbility within their communities
(2) adjust their perceptions against larger competitors

Or is the threat/challenge simply a matter of changing times? I know I’d hate to see some great cultural neighborhood meeting spots disappear in the Bay Area, but know the ability to effectively market, as well as compete on price and quality must count for something as well?

Thanks for sharing…

You can see the answers to Ryan’s question here.

I’m reprinting my answers to this question.

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Watching the Squirrels: Sanny Leviste’s photos of Lorna’s squirrel basking in the sunshine

Lorna’s squirrel, up close & personal. Copyright by Sanny Leviste, 2007. All rights reserved.

In my one my blog entries, I talked about the joys of taking a gratitude break through squirrel-watching. Shortly after I wrote the posting, I badgered Sanny Leviste of Visual, a friend of many talents especially in environmentally-sustainable advocacies, to find the photos that I had requested him to take of a squirrel. He took some beautiful photos while we were inside the car… He finally found “Lorna’s squirrel” in time for a New Year’s gift to me.

What a memorable outing it had been! Sanny and I were on our way home from the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve after an afternoon of photographing birds (I was the urbanized observer). Sanny, who had given me some useful lessons about birds that afternoon, was driving his car toward the park’s exit. Then, I saw the squirrel — perched on top of a denuded bush, enjoying his or her moment in the sunshine. A squirrel oblivious to our presence. Jubilant about my delightful discovery, I asked Sanny to take a few photos of MY squirrel.

Do watch out for Sanny Leviste’s photo book that will be published sometime soon.

Thank you to Sanny!

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A photo of the Manila Bulletin’s news entry - photo provided by Noemi Dado

This is the e-mail that I sent out to thank our readers and contributors. Congratulations to my niece, Lauren Dado, for being honored with the “WikiPinoy of 2007, People & Society category” recognition also.

From: Lorna Dietz
Date: Jan 6, 2008 9:08 AM
Subject:, advocacy blog & news portal (social change), wins WikiPilipinas’ Newsmakers of 2007, website category

Breaking news! Our advocacy blog and news portal,, was honored by WikiPilipinas as Newsmakers of 2007, Website Category, just announced by Manila Bulletin in its January 6, 2008 edition (Students and Campuses, J2-J3).

Go to, “Reshaping the Filipina Image Online,” and check it out. This is a group blog — and so the co-founders of this site (my sister Noemi Dado — 2nd year in a row winner for Best Blog Category, Philippine WEB Awards, Filipina Sexy Mom extraordinaire Dine Racoma, and Lorna Dietz, yours truly — a Filipino Community Publicist) are waiting for YOUR entries.

The goal of is to take back the keyword “Filipina” and balance the Google SERPs (search engine results pages) from its dating and marriage entries — so please note that the word is “balance.”

This website is truly a work of effective convergence. The timing was right when this website came to be. I belong to a committee at the USA-based Filipina Women’s Network (the committee is headed by Fay Olympia of Stockton, CA) that is working on crafting the Filipina Image for its 2012 deadline (from the Future Search Summit’s initiatives in 2006). So, for FWN members, the success of this portal is partly because of our own initiatives, spawning into a life of its own in new media publishing. Noemi and Dine are two of the Philippines’ esteemed bloggers who highlighted the trials and tribulations of those who came before them in the “Filipina” SEO Campaign. They also belong to Pinoy Moms Network.

To join the “Reshape the Filipina Image Online” campaign, please click here:

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