Category Archives: Writings and Musings

Most of these works have been published

Overseas Filipinos Worldwide’s Open Letter to President-Elect of the Philippines, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III


Overseas Filipinos Worldwide’s Open Letter to President-Elect of the Philippines
Highlights Recommendations for Addressing Migration and Development Issues

KOWLOON, Hong Kong – May, 25, 2010 – A network, composed of overseas Filipinos worldwide based in many countries and in the Philippines, recently wrote an open letter to Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, president-elect of the Republic of the Philippines. The open letter highlights the perspectives unique to migrant Filipinos and offers solutions that could impact transformational, positive changes in policy making. After many years of collaboration and cooperation, the group, which represents various organizations implementing projects in the Philippines and in their host countries, offers a starting reference point for the incoming administration, led by President-Elect Aquino, to more effectively harness the Philippines’ migration gains into mechanisms for the development of the Philippines and its hometown communities.

The open letter points out several key economic points, among them:

 Migration gains are mainly remittances by overseas Filipinos to their family members, approximately USD17 billion, and are the primary source of livelihood for millions of Philippine households.

 At 10.8% of the country’s GDP, migration gains are also the third biggest source of the country’s foreign currency reserves, acting as the primary driver of the Philippine economy, thus shielding the country from bankruptcy during the current economic meltdown and the 1997 financial crisis.

 The Filipino diaspora, estimated currently at about 10 million Filipinos working or residing in 239 countries and territories worldwide, have sent donations to the Philippines for various humanitarian causes, such as disaster relief, medical missions, school houses, and other infrastructure. These contributions have supplemented local and national Philippine government deficits and, as of 2003, have already amounted to USD218 million, per central bank figures in that year. Not included are other investments made by OFWs in real estate, education, and health care for their family members, and consumer goods and services.

The group emphasizes the urgent need to push for genuine poverty alleviation after 30-plus years of heavy reliance on labor export, and as thousands of Filipinos continue to leave every day for overseas jobs or contracts. Although the “Philippine model of overseas migration” is considered an ideal model for other migrant-origin countries to emulate and copy, the group believes that social costs that migration has incurred have not been successfully addressed by past administrations. They cite examples of countries such as South Korea, Ireland, and Italy, once considered labor-exporting countries, that evolved from their “migration hump” by taking advantage of their workers’ remittances, investing them to develop local infrastructure, shipyards, factories, and other industries. As a result, a “brain gain” occurred. Many of these expatriates left their high-paying jobs abroad, convinced that their home countries’ governments were effective and that they could trust their country’s inspired leadership.

The open letter frankly addresses Senator Aquino: “Shall we continue to send out our people and rely on remittances and without any development objectives in sight? Conversely, don’t we have the talent to formulate a road map toward self-sufficiency over a period of time, in order that the hemorrhage of talents could be stopped, that a crisis in our dysfunctional families and society at large could be averted, and so that our people do not have to take migration as a forced option? If long-term migration goals are set now, the government could, in the meantime, work on some basic but urgent deployment and migration issues in order to clear the way toward having a genuine and serious program on translating migration gains for use in human development.”

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Financial Fitness: Hazel Valera, Credit Rebuild Coach and Debt Arbitrator

Hazel Valera is clearly my NUMBER ONE credit empowerment coach for personal credit and business credit. I found some videos online that will give you more information about Hazel Valera. Please note that the laws on Credit are always changing. What you hear Hazel Valera talk about in these videos could be laws that have changed recently. I am sharing these videos so you will understand why I value her as my credit empowerment coach. More power to you, Hazel!

THE 3 C’S OF CREDIT – Credit, Capacity, and Collateral: What it takes to get a real estate loan

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Sept. 4-6, 2009: UP Alumni Association in America General Assembly and Convention at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC

Here are the updates for the upcoming University of the Philippines in America’s biennial General Assembly and Convention at the JW Marriott Hotel on September 4 to 6, 2009 in Washington DC. I’ve conveniently used the SCRIBD tools so anyone can share the brochures, registration form, advertising form, and photo montage form for the UP Hall of Fame. For those of you who are not familiar with, I have also included some instructions (scroll below). – Lorna Dietz, Liaison for the West Coast, UPAAA

Thank you to acclaimed Folksinger/Pinoy Rocker/Painter Heber Bartolome for providing his video diary of the June 2008 UP Centennial Celebration at Araneta Coliseum in Metro Manila. He asked me to share this with our Overseas Filipino UP graduates. Check out the slide show. You or your friends might be there.

The University of the Philippines Alumni Association
In America (UPAAA)
“Building Bridges to the Future:
Uniting Alumni for Excellence and Service”
September 4-6, 2009
J W Marriott Hotel, Washington, DC

Let’s keep the UP Spirit alive! Join us in this biennial convention and grand reunion. Meet fellow alumni from all UP campuses and colleges. Enjoy the camaraderie, fun, and sharing interdisciplinary perspectives on important topics. Raise funds to support Professorial Chairs at our Alma Mater, the University of the Philippines.

2009 and 2010 Alumni Jubilarians Will Be Honored:

- Diamond (1949 & 1950), Emerald (1954 & 1955), Gold (1959 & 1960)
- Sapphire (1964 & 1965), Ruby (1969 & 1970), Coral (1974 & 1975)
- Pearl (1979 & 1980), and Silver (1984 & 1985)

Featured Events:

• Sept. 4, 2009, Friday Night: Fellowship Night and Pabidahan
• Sept. 5, 2009, Saturday Morning: Interdisciplinary symposium includes plenary sessions on science, technology, economic & social issues
• Sept. 5, 2009, Saturday Alumni Luncheon with keynote speaker
• Sept. 5, 2009, Saturday Afternoon: Interdisciplinary breakout panel discussions; election of officers for 2009-2011 & venue selection for 2011
• Sept. 5, 2009 Saturday Night: Gala Night Dinner Dance, Outstanding alumni awards, parade of Jubilarians, & induction of new officers
• Sept. 6, 2009, Sunday Morning: Evaluation and board meeting;
• Sept. 6, 2009, Sunday Brunch in the Park – Hosted by UPAA DCMDVA

Featured Speakers:

Emerlinda Roman, PhD, President, University of the Philippines
Teofilo Abrajano, PhD, Head, Surface Earth Processes Section, Division of Earth Sciences (GEO), U. S. National Science Foundation
Belinda Aquino, PhD, Director, Center for Philippines Studies, University of Hawaii
Josefino Comiso, PhD, Senior Scientist, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Jose B. Cruz, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Engineering, Ohio State University
Lawrence Heaney, PhD, Curator, Field Museum, Chicago
Loida Nicolas Lewis, Lawyer, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, TLC Beatrice
Francisco S. Sy, MD, DrPH, Director, Division of Extramural Activities & Scientific Programs, NCMHD, National Institutes of Health

Panel Discussions:

As U.P. alumni and global citizens, you are invited to actively participate in our panel discussions to explore the opportunities and identify our roles in addressing these current topics.

1. U.P., What’s Next? What Are the Post Centennial Plans and Challenges Facing U.P. in the 21st century?

2. Emerging Challenges in Energy, Environment, and Health: Integrating Science, Policy and Practice

3. New Global Economic Realities and Opportunities: Think Globally & Act Locally

Hotel Information:

• Hotel Address: JW Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington DC, 20004
• Special Group Rates for UPAAA: A limited number of rooms has been blocked for UPAAA at the following group rates:
$119 for single or double
$139 triple
$159 quadruple
• Hotel Reservation phone: Phone: 202-393-2000 and 1-800-228-9290
• Hotel Website:

Contact Persons:

• General information:
Francis Sy, President [email protected]
Fe Lacbawan, Secretary [email protected]
Zeny Ply, Asst. Secretary [email protected]

• Registrations:
Lumen Sotelo, Treasurer [email protected]
Philip Lacbawan, Asst. Treasurer [email protected]

• Jubilarians Committee:
Emmy Ceguerra [email protected]
Terri Magdongon [email protected]

• Awards Committee: Luz Micabalo [email protected]

• Ad for Souvenir Program: Jo Wee Sit [email protected]

• Fellowship Night/Pabidahan: Lydia Fontan [email protected]

• Check updates at UPAAA website

Please Act Now!

Register early and save! Please complete the registration form and mail it now!

– Join and win prizes in the Fellowship Night/ Pabidahan singing & dancing contests as an individual or group. Please contact Lydia Fontan for inclusion in this event.
– Place an ad in our souvenir program book by July 27, 2009. Please contact Jo Wee Sit.
– Recognize and honor the achievements of our Jubilarians & outstanding alumni.
– Nominate outstanding alumni for awards by May 31, 2009.
– Invite alumni and friends to participate in our convention in the nation’s capital.


Convention Delegate: If you register as a convention delegate, you have to pay the FULL registration fees. Alumni who have registered as Convention Delegates are eligible to vote at the election for UPAAA officers on Sept. 5, 2009. All Convention Delegates will receive the registration packet, tickets to all convention events and meals, and the souvenir program book.

Convention Participant:
If you register as a convention participant for an individual event, you have to pay only the fee for the specific individual activity. Alumni who have registered as Convention Participants are not eligible to vote at the election for officers on Sept. 5, 2009 . Convention Participants will receive the registration packet, the ticket for the specific convention event and meal. The souvenir program book will not be provided. It may be purchased at the convention registration desk.


A. Early Bird Registration Fees (Paid & postmarked by July 27, 2009):
• Convention Delegate Full Registration Fees: $ 275
• Convention Participant Individual Event Fees:
Sept. 4, 2009, Friday Fellowship night : $ 50
Sept. 5, 2009, Saturday Breakfast plenary,
luncheon and afternoon sessions: $ 150
Sept. 5, 2009 Saturday Gala Night Dinner Dance: $ 150

B. Regular and On-Site Registration Fees (Paid & postmarked after July 27, 2009):

• Convention Delegate Full Registration Fees: $ 350
• Convention Participant Individual Event Fees:
Sept. 4, 2009, Friday Fellowship night: $ 75
Sept. 5, 2009, Saturday Breakfast plenary,
luncheon and afternoon sessions: $ 175
Sept. 5, 2009 Saturday Gala Night Dinner Dance: $ 175

Please write your check payable to UPAAA and mail the registration form and payment to:

2009 UPAAA Convention
c/o Philip Lacbawan
1003 Princeton Place
Rockville, MD 20850

:-D :-D :-D

For those of you who are not familiar with


After you have clicked on the BLUE UNDERLINED TITLE ABOVE THE DOCUMENT. This will take you to the website where the document is housed.

Please look at the options given to you on top of the document:

SHARE THIS – allows you to copy and paste the URL to your favorite bookmarks like DIGG, DEL.I.CIOUS, etc.
SEND THIS – allows you to email (with your personal note) the document to friends
EMBED – get the html code and put it in any website


Put your cursor over the word “MORE” (below the Share This, Send This, etc. titles) which also has the “Down” arrow — and look for the PRINT option.


Look at the document in this posting and on the top left-hand side, you will see the title “Scribd.” Beside it is the word “MORE” with a “Down” arrow. The various options are found there, from emailing to printing the document.

:-D :-D :-D


UPAAA 2009 Convention at JW Marriott Washington DC Sept 4-6, 2009 Convention Brochure as of Jan. 18, 2009


UPAAA 2009 Convention at JW Marriott Washington DC Sept 4-6, 2009 – Advertising Form for Souvenir Program a…

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Check Your Facts About Ben Menor & The Northside Community Center Case Before Writing Your News Story

July 25, 2008


I have kept quiet for so long because I believe that the “sacred scales of justice” will allow truth to prevail in the cases against Ben Menor and the Filipino American Senior Opportunities Development Council Inc.’s Board of Directors (a.k.a. FilAmSODC).

As a former staff member and consultant of FilAmSODC, Inc./JTS Northside Community Center, I was there when the storm (that eventually resulted in the Ben Menor and FilAmSODC legal cases) started actively brewing and I was there when the Friends of JTS Northside Community Center, led by Mohinder Mann and Annie Dandavati, supported the fight to retain its deserving Filipino management in 2005-2006. Since FilAmSODC had been serving Filipino and Indo-American communities — with plans to serve other ethnic groups in San Jose — the multi-ethnic coalition (that I love and support) headed by these Friends was a constant inspiration to the senior citizens, the youth, and other stakeholders served by the center. Recently, I came across the website of the Mabuhay Cultural Club of Independence High School, wherein the young members honor Ben Menor as one of their heroes. Rodel Rodis wrote about these Filipino CRABS in 2004 (who started it all!) — which, of course, the latter used to spin and brand themselves “The Silicon Valley CRABS.”

Dr. Antonio Abiog during the ground-breaking ceremony at Northside Community CenterWhat I am writing here today is a continuation of my PERSONAL INSIGHTS AND THOUGHTS which started with the Flames of Consciousness and A Perspective on Filipino Consciousness at the NaFFAA Y2K2 Empowerment Conference in 2002. I had also celebrated my employment with a story in my column at Manila Bulletin USA in August of 2003, “Filipino Consciousness at Work.”

The Stimulant:

Yesterday, I checked in by phone with Ben Menor since I wanted to know what happened to his “sentencing” date in court on July 24, 2008. The judge gave him an extension of 30 days to come up with the balance of the required restitution. Ben told me that he had raised over 50% of the required restitution. That was good news.

Later on last night, I found out that Joseph Lariosa, a supposedly credible Filipino American journalist based in Chicago, had written an article about Ben Menor’s day in court. Ben shared with me that Joseph had indeed asked him for his comments or Ben’s lawyers’ comments BUT before the lawyers could respond, Joseph e-mailed him with his published news story and wrote Ben, “Please let me know if you have problem accessing it. Please let me know also if there is any correction to be made.”

The Response:

Duh, what would my fellow media practitioners say about this?

Here’s what I’m thinking. “Really, Mr. Lariosa! How interesting it is that you couldn’t wait for any corrections (or fact checking) BEFORE sending your supposed credible article for publication. You are just as bad as Bobby Reyes of, who I do not support and who I have publicly denounced as a NON-journalist.”

Joseph Lariosa’s article about Ben Menor’s case today is INCORRECT, MISLEADING, AND DECEIVING.
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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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A Pre-Convention Dinner with Friends of UP Foundation in America (FUPFA)

Today is September 1, 2007. This is written before I go and register for the UPAAA General Assembly & Pre-Centennial Celebration.

Date of Dinner: Friday, August 31, 2007
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Place: Belden Taverna, 2nd floor at 52 Belden Alley, located at the cusp of San Francisco’s Financial District and Chinatown

During the past year, I’ve been advising the organizing team of UPAAA and UPAASF quietly and yes, intermittently. I’d like to thank Ted Aquino (UPAAA) for understanding why I couldn’t become a more committed volunteer and for Manny Gaspay (UPAASF) for encouraging me to work on whatever I could handle during these past few weeks. My purpose of writing these notes is “to pay forward’. I will need to rely on my documentation to help find ways and means to help out my college alma mater.


You know what it’s like. You receive an e-mail from an old friend about a small dinner with special guests from the University of the Philippines Centennial Commission. You don’t have any expectations other than a nice, rewarding reunion with this friend.

Let me give you some background about my relationship with Polly Cortez, a wonderful, energetic Filipina community leader.

It was then-Philippines’ Department of Tourism Attache, Peachy Pelaez, who first introduced me to Polly at the Philippine Consulate sometime in 1997 (or was it 1998? How time flies!). After the “getting to know you, like you, and trust you” phases, destiny brought us together in a project in July of 1999. Rex Drilon (at that time, who oversaw the Cebu Holdings, Inc.’s operations), through Teng Angan’s recommendation, asked me to participate in the first-ever Ayala Land, Inc. road show in the US with Polly. Rex and Polly had worked together in the US as founding board members of Filipinas Magazine.

For this project, Polly handled most of the invitations to Filipino community members while I took care of most of the logistics. We learned so much from the San Francisco, Walnut Creek, and Los Angeles road shows. I’m such a sentimental “pack rat”. You see, I kept the e-mails of the preparations (10 days to get everything done!) of this road show in my Yahoo briefcase!

Polly Cortez just recently finished her term as a board member of the Girl Scouts of San Francisco Bay Area. A 30-year US Treasury veteran, where she serves as Third Vice President and Regional Manager, Polly’s Vice Chair position at the “Friends of the University of the Philippines Foundation in America” or FUPFA (the easy name to make out your donation to) allows her to invite an eclectic group of friends for supposedly-social occasions. (Ah, Polly! You sure know how to reel us in! Very effective!)

Now you what happens whenever Polly contacts me. Yeah, I jump. And I ask her, “How high do you want me to jump?” Only kidding.


Last night’s dinner was a truly memorable, educational experience. I came in from the cold and asked all the inquisitive questions. I even lamely countered Dado Banatao’s suggestion about forming an adhoc Development Committee within the UP Centennial Commission. All right, I’m so over-committed that at this time, I’m thinking only about how to write effective marketing copy and how to deliver a compelling message for a fundraising campaign. I’m going to let this weekend seep into my skin and bones before I know what level of commitment I can give to my alma matter.

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The Power of Blogging in the Filipina Blogosphere: The Aftermath of Malu Fernandez’s Comments about OFWs

August 26, 2007

This morning, I received an e-mail from one of my friends in the Filipina Women’s Network 2006 Future Search Summit google group about the Malu Fernandez fiasco. I decided to write a blog entry a week after the Pinoy blogosphere rocked cyberspace with the story. This is because I wanted to find out what gifts we received from this miserable situation.

I dedicated this blog, TALK STORY, to my nieces and nephews. After all, 50 years from now, their children and grandchildren will be able to read my stories straight from the heart, hopefully reaching out to their offspring across several generations.

The article from People Asia Magazine

People Asia Magazine & Malu Fernandez’s Article Page 30 People Asia Magazine & Malu Fernandez’s Article Page 31

Here is the e-mail I sent out this morning to some of my friends in the Filipino American community (slightly edited).


This matter about Malu Fernandez has already been resolved. She just resigned a few days ago from the publications she is affiliated with. I had been following the events during the past week because the person who started a call to action —the boycott movement — Nick of, asked the help of Philippine-based bloggers.

During this past week, as I read the comments at, I was both happy and disappointed. I heard more OFW voices speak out, but I also saw the worst of the comments, the ones that commented on Malu’s physical attributes. It got bloody personal. And out of control.

I didn’t ask for a boycott. I recommended a public apology and a suggestion that Manila Standard send Malu off for three months on a writing assignment, based on her experiences as an OFW (to work as a domestic helper overseas). My commentary was also picked up by Joseph Dominic, who quoted me in full (it’s all right, Dominic, I’m honored that you decided to quote me), who then re-posted my comment at Manolo Quezon’s blog, wherein many bloggers didn’t think a boycott was warranted. The other bloggers weren’t as kind.

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