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ONE COMMUNITY: Three Filipino American candidates for the CA State Assembly in November 2012 Elections





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Imagine what it would be like when we have Rob Bonta, Chris Mateo, and Dr. Jennifer Ong at the California State Assembly! Filipino Americans will have more of a VOICE. Yes, we already have our representatives who we’ve elected and supported. Yet nothing resonates like VICTORY in our hearts and minds when we can say, “Pinoy yan! Pinay yan!”

MEET OUR STARS OF COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT!


Rob Bonta
Vice-Mayor of Alameda, CA
http://www.robbonta.com


Dr. Jennifer Ong
Commissioner, Alameda County Commission on the
Status of Women
http://drjenniferong.org


Chris Mateo
Vice-Mayor of Lathrop, CA
http://chrismateo.com

June 6, 2012, Personal Thoughts.

I have not written in my RadiantView blog for a while now. I know I need to document my activities in the past few months. Yet, nothing is sweeter than victory — in the PRIMARY ELECTIONS.

Today is a special day. I can smell HISTORY IN THE MAKING. I can feel it in my bones.

I woke up early this morning (4:00am) and the first Facebook notification I read was Ben Menor’s status update (which he wrote at 2:00am).

Ben Menor wrote:

History is in the making! Congrats to Rob, Chris and Jennifer in making it to the November election. This is beyond anyone’s imagination to see all of you do so well. It is not impossible to see all three of you at the State Legislature. Your time in history is now and do not let up for a second because the momentum is on your side. Congrats to your campaign team.

Last Sunday, my personal communications specialist had called to remind me that the FILIPINO VOTERS in one East Bay city in the San Francisco Bay Area were the SWING VOTE for one particular Filipino American candidate. Thus, I sent out a reminder invitation to a press briefing and rally. I was blessed that I had one TV correspondent answer my call — even if it was a last-minute request.

“I’ve never had to work this hard on my personal time!” One of our strongest activists shared with me. I empathized with her lack of sleep yet I was hopeful that her work would shine through and make her candidate win.

AND HER WORK IS SHINING LIKE DIAMONDS.

__

WHAT’S NEXT?

Our work has only just begun. We can actually be there when HISTORY HAPPENS.

As the second largest Asian population in California (next to the Chinese Americans), we have this tremendous opportunity to rally behind these three AWESOME role models of COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT!

When I was elected as the Regional Chair of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations-Region 8 (Northern CA) last March 16, 2012 at the AT&T-sponsored NaFFAA-Region 8 Community Empowerment Summit at Hana Zen-Pier 39, my closing remarks focused on the FILAM VOTE.

Here are my personal thoughts and calls to action about how we can help GET OUT THE VOTE!:

1. I will follow up with ethnic media (ok, that’s New America Media) on how we can collaborate in increasing and enhancing the visibility of these three Filipino American candidates for the California State Assembly in mainstream media. How do we report about these candidates to our local media outlets?

2. I will follow up on Genevieve Jopanda’s chat with me last September 2010 (at the Fairmont San Jose) about how we can make the FILAM VOTE “sexy!” That’s the marketing parlance for “exciting, amazing!” “Exciting” and “Amazing” are generally what gets HIGH RATINGS with our Filipino broadcast networks (GMA Network, Inc., ABS-CBN, and TV 5). So, I will keep pursuing these networks with my QUESTION: When can we work on a project that is common ground for all these TV networks? Meaning, set aside your differences, and help us make these three FilAm candidates win! (HINT: One US-based Filipino broadcast network official articulated his personal thoughts to me last July 2011 about what would work. Let’s see what the other two networks have in mind.)

3. I will follow up with my personal mentors Gloria Caoile, Rozita Lee, and Ben Menor since I am such a newbie — and push them (even if it is late at night) for more advice and recommendations — so my family and friends can help support these wonderful candidates.

4. Everything is all about grassroots community organizing. Let’s keep listening to each other as we move forward. Push for our voters’ political awareness. Push for political activism!

During my April 28, 2012 TV interview with Joy Dodds of the Filipino Journal (KTSF, Comcast Channel 8 in nine counties in the San Francisco Bay Area), Joy asked me what the difference is between political awareness and political activism. Fortunately for me, I had had a recent discussion with Ben Menor about this topic. Ben is our NaFFAA R8 Strategic Facilitator and Adviser, a very wise “manong.” This was what he explained to me — and this is what I replied to Joy’s question.

Definition of POLITICAL AWARENESS – Knowing about it
Definition of POLITICAL ACTIVISM – Doing something about it

5. Maximize TWITTER! And for all the slacktivists and activists, if you tweet, it’s as simple as adding the hashtag #FilAmVote.

Here is the simple call-to-action I provided during our NaFFAA Region 8 Community Empowerment Summit last March 16, 2012.

WHAT CAN YOU DO RIGHT NOW?

Share your TWITTER name with us. You can follow us at @naffaausa. Email us at [email protected] If you don’t know (yet) how to tweet, there are easy lessons here: Look at #4 at http://radiantview.com/blog/a-radiant-digital-view-mga-kapuso-social-media-tips-for-2011/

2. When you tweet, use hashtag #filamvote.

Examples:

@drjenniferong Looking forward to your talk: March 16 #NaFFAA R8 Community Empowerment Summit http://NaFFAAR8.com @NaFFAAUSA #filamvote

@RobBonta Looking forward to your talk: March 16 #NaFFAA R8 Community Empowerment Summit http://NaFFAAR8.com @NaFFAAUSA #filamvote

3. Join the open FilAm Vote group on Facebook, moderated by NaFFAA FilAmVote Co-Chair, Rudy Asercion: https://www.facebook.com/groups/301024073262911/

4. LIKE our new NaFFAA Region 8 Facebook Community Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/NaFFAA-Region-8-Northern-California/206254976138415

5. Check out our website at http://NaFFAAR8.com and the national website, http://NaFFAAUSA.org for #FilAmVote updates.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FOLLOW @naffaausa AND HASHTAG #filamvote? Your tweets will be captured by our daily curated newsletter, NaFFAA #FilAmVote Daily.  http://bit.ly/nzurFs

This means that, at any given time, in real time, we will know the “State of the #FilAmVote” in AnyTown, USA — just as long as you inform us.

___

When Ben Menor and I co-wrote the theme for the NaFFAA Region 8 Community Empowerment Summit, Ben had told me: “The theme is ONE COMMUNITY. Get our community empowerment role models — Rob Bonta, Jennifer Ong, and Chris Mateo — up front and center. They will share what it will take to be a ONE COMMUNITY.”

For my personal blog, I am sharing what this call of ONE COMMUNITY means to many Filipino empowerment advocates. Please pass it on! It could help get your Filipino American candidate elected in your city or state — or nationally.

Our Strength: ONE COMMUNITY!

In November of 2010, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) convened its 9th Empowerment Conference in the San Francisco Bay Area with NaFFAA Region 8, Northern California as the host and organizer of “Empowerment 2010.” The theme of E-2010 was “Building the Next Generation of Community Advocates in an Intergenerational Environment.”

Today, NaFFAA Region 8’s leaders are taking advantage of the political atmosphere, economic conditions, public policy, and the Filipinos’ transcontinental success by using its existing infrastructure, skills, talents, resources and other tools so they can implement a master plan for community empowerment in 2012.

NaFFAA Region 8’s other resounding call to action is: “To empower Filipino communities so they can participate in supporting individuals who desire to hold public office that support the advancement of causes for the Filipino community.”

What does it take to empower these highly-qualified political candidates so that they will be inspired to do their best in order to win? It takes ONE COMMUNITY.

NaFFAA Region 8 believes in coalition-building, connecting dot after dot after dot, mindful that its leaders and supporters have been advocating AND are advocating for community groups and individuals to take action in supporting achievable empowerment objectives. The master plan includes providing a platform for our communities to establish activities for community empowerment as a non-profit organization. Rocking the vote through NaFFAA’s #FilAmVote (http://bit.ly/nzurFs) also means meeting these candidates who can share the nuts and bolts of community empowerment as well as interact with their constituents in a series of gatherings — from socials to workshops.

“ONE COMMUNITY.” What does this mean to NaFFAA Region 8? Through ADVOCACY, our voices and actions will always act as “the glue” that binds the shared hopes and aspirations of our authentic and unique communities.

Can you help us empower more highly-qualified Americans of Filipino ancestry to take a leap of faith in their credibility and strength of character so they can become true servant leaders in public service?

Can you stand on the shoulders of our elders and take the best of their wisdom and experiences so we can walk together, fearlessly and jubilantly, on the roads — less travelled — as ONE COMMUNITY?

Can you support us in becoming ONE COMMUNITY?

ONE COMMUNITY – A Call to Action in NaFFAA Region 8, Northern CA

NOTES:

1. The Star of Empowerment is special to NaFFAA. It was created by BREN BATACLAN for the NaFFAA 9th Empowerment Conference in 2010.

2. I am very proud of my new NaFFAA Region 8 executive board members. They keep me humble.

Here they are:

Lorna Dietz, NaFFAA R8 Chair; Genevieve Jopanda, NaFFAA R8 Vice Chair; Clarence Madrilejos, NaFFAA R8 Youth Chair; Tina Novero, NaFFAA R8 Secretary; Jinni Mabalot Bartolome, NaFFAA R8 Treasurer; Jose Pecho, NaFFAA R8 Chair Emeritus; Ben Menor, NaFFAA R8 Strategic Facilitator & Adviser and NaFFAA R8 Santa Clara County Chair; Charito Benipayo, NaFFAA R8 Alameda County Chair & NaFFAA R8 Adviser; Rudy Asercion, NaFFAA R8 San Francisco Chapter Chair; Rodel Rodis, Esq., NaFFAA R8 Adviser & NaFFAA National Legal Counsel

May 27, 2011: A Pilipino Culture Night (PCN) with Mabuhay Cultural Club at JTS Northside Community Center


At Seasons, Milpitas: It’s FREE Philippine Folk Dance and Music Lessons by Kawayan Folk Arts

Kawayan Folk Arts at Seasons Marketplace at Landess, Milpitas - FREE Philippine Folk Dance Lessons Spring 2011
Kawayan Folk Arts at Seasons Marketplace at Landess, Milpitas - FREE Philippine Folk Dance Lessons Spring 2011


I’m Proud to be Kapuso! A collection of videos from Seasons Marketplace at Landess, Milpitas, California

I HEART MY JOB! I can believe that my natural attraction to anything “social media” and “digital public relations” is because of my “social activist and sosyal activist” personality. I am thanking Joji Deduque, my executive recruiter friend, for giving me the labels because he is a good friend who belongs to my coterie of “taga-Lahug” neighbors — loyal and true friends from Cebu.

Here are my video stories for this week. These new friends of mine (the lovely Merchants!) at the Seasons Marketplace at Landess are AWESOME! You don’t have to be Pinoy to love them!

GPTV & GLTV - Building Community at Seasons Marketplace at Landess, Milpitas, CA


Building Community with the Merchants at Seasons Marketplace at Landess, Milpitas, California

This is the shortened link for this RadiantView.com blog post: http://bit.ly/hCDslM

Here’s the shortened URL for this news curation which you can embed into your website or blog: http://bit.ly/gmd8PU

Please keep coming back as I finish the rest of the videos. When you visit these wonderful hardworking merchants at Seasons Marketplace at Landess in Milpitas, let them know that GMA Pinoy TV sent you their way. :-)

For more information about GMA Pinoy TV and GMA Life TV, go to http://GMAPinoyTV.com. To subscribe, go to http://www.gmapinoytv.com.ph/ver1/subscribe.php

“BUILDING COMMUNITY” RULES!


Mae Flores, A Filipina American Actor, stars in “Atlantis Down,” the movie

“I had the pleasure of getting to know Mae Flores, an up & coming Filipino actress. Her natural beauty and talent came through in her big screen debut.”

I found this quote in one of the reviews at the Washington Post for the sci-fi (or syfy) movie, “Atlantis Down.” Congratulations, Mae!

The Los Angeles Premiere of “Atlantis Down” will be shown during the Los Angeles Italia Film Festival on February 20th, 2010 at Mann’s Chinese Theatre.

Mae Flores - Photo by Lorna Dietz atE-2010, NaFFAA, Nov. 20, 2010 Hyatt Burlingame

When I took this photo, Mae Flores was running a fever just before the Opening Plenary Session of the E-2010. Mae was our YP (young Pinoy, young Pinay, young Professional) Opening Plenary Speaker. During those few minutes before the conference started, we had some quiet time, getting to know each other. What a refreshing breath of fresh air this Filipina performing artist brought to the conference! I’m not saying anything more because I would prefer that you get to know Mae Flores. She’s in Los Angeles, California, a Filipina born in Quezon City, raised in Chicago, adopted by Hampton Roads, and ended up at our NaFFAA Empowerment Conference whose theme of “Building the next generation of Community Advocates in an Intergenerational Environment” evoked a kaleidoscope of insights from this elegant young woman.

For the Red Carpet Premiere of “Atlantis Down,’ the movie, I decided to find whatever news was out there about Mae Flores and the movie. Here is my collection. Enjoy it, Mae!

Atlantis Down, the movie

Mae Flores, Filipina actor and performing artist
Mae Flores, Filipina actor and performing artist

2010 Holiday Gift Catalog from One World Institute: Pearls for Peace, One-of-a-Kind Brooches by Basil Anik

It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, right after the E-2010: 9th NaFFAA Empowerment Conference, when I visited Dr. Tom K. Stern and Yolanda O. Stern. I remember that the rain had dissipated to a moisturizing mist as I disembarked from an East Bay Bart Station. Serendipitously, God and the Universe believed it was time for the three of us to reconnect and catch up. Yolanda O. Stern had done a remarkable job in presenting One World Institute’s Projects for Peace at the E-2010. Thus, we had a lot to talk about.

The 2010 Holiday Gift Video Catalog from One World Institute, focusing on “Pearls for Peace,” is one of the results of this life-changing visit. There’s a lot more in store for all the volunteers in this non-profit organization. We’ve created an OWI
Community
blog. One step at a time, we’ll get there.

The message I sent my Facebook friends is:

I hope you can support me in my holiday non-profit project. If you’re looking for unique, meaningful gifts, I have something to offer online. It’s TheOneWorldInstitute.org’s “Pearls for Peace” project. They are featuring BASIL ANIK, a Fisherman-Artist from Jolo, Sulu, who creates one-of-a-kind brooches suitable for everyone. Video catalog at http://bit.ly/g5qVf4.

Your donations, starting at $25 per brooch, will help save many lives in areas of conflict. For more information, see http://OWIcommunity.tumblr.com. Special orders accepted at  [email protected]. Please pass on to your friends. Happy holidays!

Welcome to One World Institute’s “Pearls for Peace,” a project for the soul… Featuring Basil Anik, Artist, of Jolo, Sulu.

Bas and his wife have four children. He is saving money to send them to school. Living on the water at the Tulay (bridge) in Jolo, Bas is a fisherman who makes dried fish to sell.

Recently, he volunteered his humble house on the water for The One World Institute’s “Movie Nights” and a reading program for children sponsored by Thomas M. Ortega Stern. “Books for the Barrios” supplied the books.

Basil Anik’s home has been disrupted by many conflicts caused by war. Last year, an errant missile hit the Anik home and wounded his father-in-law, mother-in-law, and two sons. The year before, his home was ruined by a typhoon. People helped to rebuild Bas’ home for the fourth time — in true “rebuilding community” spirit.

When we first started “Movie Nights”, we were expecting 50 children. Instead, almost 300 came from all the stilt houses — but due to the unexpected heavy weight of these movie-goers, the bridge fell. We had to postpone the project until the community’s residents fetched bamboo from the mountains to rebuild and reinforce the bridge.

One day at a time, life changed for the residents of the Tulay…

Children come to read with volunteers from the local schools. Games and contests are organized for them during special holidays…

Bas is also now supervising a “Basketball for Peace Program.” Teams compete on a beach court when low tide sets in. Basketball teams’ uniforms are made locally for US$100.00 per team. The donor gets his own colors and company name on the uniforms. At the end of each final tournament, the players keep their uniforms…

Most of the young adults in 2010 came to get tutored at the Tulay. All of them have graduated. As they look forward to being in high school, we celebrate their achievements as milestones…

Bas began experimenting with creating brooches by following instructions from a “do-it-yourself” book. Today, your donation of every pin provides pocket money for food to the apprentices who come to assist in polishing and shining the finished products. Bas cannot make new brooches until he dispatches this batch because he had invested his savings for tools and materials…

In areas where war can wreak havoc and destroy communities, a sustainable livelihood through the artisan craftsmanship of these “pearls for peace” saves many lives.

We thank you for making it possible for Basil Anik and his team to continue creating one-of-a-kind brooches…

ABOUT THE BROOCHES:

“Sulu Wildlife Series. Materials: .999 Silver from Tongkil Island & Sulu Mother of Pearl.

The traditional brooches depict fruits and flowers of Sulu. The pins are worn by both male and female for the “sablay”— or to hold a shirt closed or to keep a scarf secure. Men wear it on their lapels and women pin it to their head scarves. There are many uses for the pin, so let your imagination go to work.

One definition of “sablay” is “a loose piece of clothing, worn by a person, that is simple yet elegant and joined in front by an ornament; as well as the draping object or fabric on the shoulder.”

Since the brooch is made of pure silver, it is soft to the touch and needs delicate handling. No two brooches are alike.  

Brooches in 14/18Kt gold can be custom-made to your specifications, too. Please contact us at [email protected] for any special orders.

DONATION: $25.00 for one brooch; 45.00 for two brooches; Volume Discount: For 10 to 20 brooches, get 10% discount; For any brooch at $50 or more, get 15% discount for the Holiday Season. LIMITED QUANTITIES AVAILABLE.

Use PayPal to donate at
http://theoneworldinstitute.org/donations/index.htm.

For more questions or special orders, email us at [email protected].

(The producer of this video is Lorna Lardizabal Dietz, http://OWIcommunity.tumblr.com. [email protected])

Myrna Lardizabal de Vera: Councilmember, City of Hercules, California

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January 26, 2011

Today is my 25th anniversary of my arrival in the United States of America, having landed in “air-conditioned” San Francisco, California on January 26, 1985 — without any clue that I would be staying here. I flew in at that time to be my sister’s official family representative during her wedding. Our father had an untimely massive stroke in October 1985 — and aside from a pregnant younger sister, Noemi, who couldn’t travel, I was the only one who could fly to San Francisco at a moment’s notice.

Today is also the day that I announced to some of my mentors the following message: http://bit.ly/eYEhqZ (details are found in this link)

My sister, Myrna de Vera, is officially Vice-Mayor of Hercules, CA, thanks to fellow councilmember John Delgado’s nomination. Congratulations! Ang galing ng Pinay — and thank you to my special friends whose role as “villagers” in a “village raising a child” really helped out. Before you get too puzzled, those of you “who mentored me” know that I passed on many of your lessons, experiences, mistakes, and advice to my sister. From Alex E., Ben M., Rozita L., Yolanda S., Jose P., Loida N.L., Greg M., Mohinder M., Marily M., Jon M., Charito B., to Larry F. and other unmentioned villagers in the hundreds, thank you! Let’s keep building “the next generation of community advocates in an intergenerational environment” in every community worldwide! See the fruits of your labors (put on your headsets for the livestream!) at http://naffaar8.com/technology-in-empowerment-e-2010-naffaa-9th-live-on-ustream-on-nov-20/

I don’t know how the scheduling of mayorship works. Myrna, can you enlighten us with more information? If you are Vice-Mayor in 2011, then are you still scheduled to be Mayor in 2013 (one-year term)?

For those of you who are interested in Myrna’s platform (yes, she built her own political campaign website using a Google website template), here is her website: http://citizensformyrnadevera.com/

December 14, 2010
7:00 p.m.

Tonight, my younger sister, Myrna Lardizabal de Vera, is officially sworn in as a Councilmember of the City of Hercules, California. My brother, David, and my sisters Noemi and Belen, and I won’t be around BUT we are there in spirit. We spent time with Myrna, campaigning and experiencing the thrill of knowing that she was most likely going to make it.

Spending more than a month in the San Francisco Bay Area at that time was definitely worth it because we had our first-ever sibling reunion in the United States. Although I was very busy with my volunteer work as one of the core organizers of the E-2010: 9th NaFFAA Empowerment Conference, I brought all my work to my sister’s dining table, quite stressed yet relieved that I was present and engaged in her campaign process. Yet, it was my two sisters based in the Philippines who stood with Myrna in the early mornings when they took to the streets and waved at all the commuters.

We may not always be together — but we did take the time to have our family photo taken at Sears Studio in Concord, then happily made our way to Seafood City to shop for my brother’s Filipino groceries.

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Of course, Adin Martin Villanueva, who handles Seafood City’s Northern California events, and veteran politician (and our acknowledged Senior American Idol) Rudy Fernandez convinced Myrna to make a public service announcement about her candidacy.

Now that Myrna is officially going to be a Councilmember tonight, together with another Filipino American, John Delgado, I can now say that there are THREE Filipino Americans (out of five) Councilmembers in Hercules, California. Is this a record in American political history books — or what? Tonight is a celebration of sorts. Myrna is also the FIRST FILIPINA AMERICAN to become vice-mayor in 2013 and then, will be mayor in 2014. She told me that Hercules has a good history of electing Filipino mayors. Let see, is she going to be the 6th Filipino American mayor of Hercules in 2014?

When I had initially written Myrna’s press release announcing her “feelers” about running for office in July 2010, I had also intentionally not mentioned other Filipinos running for office. Perhaps my own intuition guided me (o.k., I’m giving myself a pat in the back especially since I had known about the reality of the Filipino vote when my mentor, Ben Menor, had ran for Councilmember in the City of San Jose in the early 1990′s but the Filipino vote was split with another dear friend; i.e. they both lost!).

Everyone ran on their own merit, thank goodness! John Delgado, 1/4th Filipino by ancestry, lives in Hercules and works in San Francisco. Ditto with my sister. They got to know each other very well during their individual campaigns. So, all’s well that ends well. No negative Filipino split vote here. We learned, didn’t we, Ben?

Myrna also had a hard-core, dedicated group of campaign volunteers. Her husband, Manuel de Vera, multi-tasked as the campaign manager. There are many people to thank BUT I think I’ll let my sister do the honors. All I know is that all my friends who have been my worthy companions in our political empowerment activities these past many years have had a hand in helping Myrna reach “her place on the table.”

We truly are like a “village that raised a child,” my friends.

Here is the “thank you” video that my sister, Noemi, and I worked on (truly, I produced it while Noemi was the creative) that was shown to appreciative volunteers during the post-election party at Myrna’s home on November 2, 2010. I remember the night so well because I had to prepare for the Giants victory parade the next morning, dragging my Manila-based sisters with me for — work-related stuff! (This really does happen in the life of a public relations consultant!)

I took some Flip videos during the street rallies (a tradition in Hercules, California). This is the first time I’m making them into a movie.

While I wait for the photos to arrive in my INBOX for my Filipino American press friends, I decided that I could, at the very least, share my unedited article that I had written for Zee Lifestyle a few months ago, while Myrna was still going through the graduation activities of her three sons. The final article was edited to fit the space requirements. Someone had taken the photo of Myrna from the magazine. Here it is.

Myrna de Vera - article in Zee Lifestyle Magazine June 2010

Myrna Lardizabal de Vera: Living A Life Worthwhile
“the unedited version”

By Lorna Lardizabal Dietz
For Zee Lifestyle Magazine
http://zeelifestylecebu.com/
Originally published in June 2010

I thought that writing about my younger sister, Myrna Lardizabal de Vera, was going to be a “cakewalk” — easy and sure. I was wrong. My first profile about my self-assured sibling was a relatively effortless assignment. The article had been published by a Filipino American newspaper five years ago, heralding Myrna’s debut into politics when she was sworn in as a Planning Commissioner in the City of Hercules, California.

The perfect opportunity arrived when one of Myrna’s friends, Jojo Soriano, asked me for information about Myrna’s impact on our family life in Cebu City — from Mabolo to Lahug. Eureka, my “writer’s block” disappeared after his request! I just needed to capture the essence of Myrna’s metamorphosis from the “dollhouse” to the “powerhouse.”

The night Myrna was honored with a special recognition, Jojo’s introduction took her by surprise.

“You, however, were known as the ‘Pretty One!’ — a label you struggled with, growing up, since your family values intellectual prowess rather than external beauty. But this compelled you to do and be more,” Jojo informed the audience.

Our parents, Joe P. Lardizabal of Sariaya, Quezon and Sally Veloso Lardizabal of Mandaue City, did not encourage descriptive labels for us during our teenage years. Our friends were relentless. I was considered the “Friendly One,” Noemi Dado was teased as the “Sexy One,” and Belen Dofitas was praised as the “Intelligent One.”

“Tonight, your community and the Hercules Chamber of Commerce present you the SPECIAL RECOGNITION award. We’re simply saying to you, Myrna, that your father’s beautiful spirit lives on through you. Your sister Lorna’s mentoring and your creative response to tragedy have shaped you and made you the person who ‘responds beautifully’ to life’s circumstances; and we, too, recognize the healing effect of creativity amidst life’s painful circumstances. Your generosity to help out in front of the public or behind the scenes, we recognize, as well as having an abundant mentality. Give and it keeps flowing through you. And this is why, Myrna, you are the Special Recognition award recipient.”

“This moment is a major milestone in my life. I feel I have arrived ‘full circle,’” Myrna responded with a hint of validation. “Your award also means so much to me because you recognize me as a person — for all that I do, as Sylvia Serrano explained to me — not just as a woman OR not just as a Filipina.”

It had been a very hectic week for the woman previously acknowledged as “The Pretty One.” Three days before the event in Hercules, Myrna de Vera had been honored, together with nine other women from West Contra Costa County, at the John & Jean Knox Center for the Performing Arts in nearby San Pablo. The West Contra Costa branch of the American Association of University Women and the Contra Costa College established the on-going CCC National Women’s Program to show appreciation to some of the local women who were making a difference in their communities.

Supervisor John Gioia mentioned, “The women on this stage are great role models for young women. They really seem to care about the community.”

Myrna explained how she had garnered the accolade for her community development work. “I think that the City Council appreciated my contributions in the Planning Commission for the past five years, where I served as the Chair for a couple of years. I am currently the Vice-Chair of the Commission. In fact, we rotate leadership roles in the Commission. My community is showing its gratitude for my volunteer work as the treasurer of Filipino-Americans of Hercules, my Pastoral Council and Fundraising Advisory Board membership at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Rodeo, California as well as my Chamber efforts, to name a few of the projects I’ve been involved in.”

A few months before her “double honors” week, Myrna received a working award from the Filipina Women’s Network. As one of the “100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the US for 2009,” Policy Makers & Visionaries category, my sister promises to “womentor” one or more US-based Filipina women for a top leadership role in government, industry, or non-profit.

“It’s a very ordinary story,” Myrna insists, as she describes her transformational journey from being the shy, precocious child that Cebu raised to evolving as the confident, compassionate, and personable mommy citizen leader that the City of Hercules nurtured.

Since I am the oldest Lardizabal sibling, I recalled some little-known details. “When Myrna was about four years old in our first home in Mabolo, Cebu City, our brother, Oscar, would take her out on a ride inside his home-built car, which was really a chair placed upside-down on the floor. Our creativity and imagination were somewhat forced on us because we didn’t have many toys to play with.”

St. Theresa’s College in Cebu City was Myrna’s educational environment until our mother transferred all of us to her alma mater, the University of the Philippines. After spending her junior and senior years at the UP Cebu High School, Myrna studied at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, and finished with a B.S. Architecture degree. As a licensed architect, she worked in Manila-based architectural firms before moving to the United States.

During her first year in San Francisco, Myrna met another new immigrant, her husband, Manuel “Manny” de Vera, an Ateneo de Manila graduate with deep roots in Manila. During the first year of their marriage, Manny became an exclusive agent for Allstate Insurance in the Excelsior District, San Francisco. Myrna continued working for a couple of civil engineering companies where she learned CAD (computer-aided design). In the meantime, Mark was a bundle of joy for the first-time parents.

When the twins, Christian and Emmanuel, arrived three years later, Myrna opened her own Farmers insurance agency in Hercules. She enjoyed volunteering at the Hercules Chamber of Commerce. Although she was her customers’ “peace of mind” specialist, Myrna closed shop to become a full-time mother in 1999.

Myrna listed her duties like badges of honor. “Treasurer and registrar of the Hercules-Pinole Cub Scouts. Team Mom for some soccer games and Little League baseball games. Faith Formation teacher once a week at St. Patrick’s. Full-time chauffeur and chief cheerleader of my ‘boys,’ taking them to their games as well as martial arts classes and tennis matches. I was contented to be my children’s mommy citizen leader,” she noted.

Inspired by the resiliency of our family when faced with a series of deaths, Myrna found out that she could grieve and unleash her creative writing talent by attending a class at the Hercules Community Center. She discovered several books relating to ancient Filipino and Asian practices about dealing with water curses in the well-stocked Pinole Public Library. Myrna is still working on her first yet-to-be-published novel.

My sister’s desire for a simple family life was interjected with friends’ suggestions for her to be of service. Myrna said, “It took a resident of Hercules four years to convince me to volunteer. My excuse was that the boys were still so young.”

In 2005, Myrna decided to apply for the Planning Commission since she had the requisite credentials. Today, as a seasoned commissioner, Myrna de Vera is involved in approving various projects in their conceptual to final stages of planning.

“Empty nest” is a common word in the de Vera home after celebrating three graduation ceremonies. Mark graduated from the University of San Francisco with a B.S. in Business Administration degree, Minor in Performing Arts and Media Studies. Christian and Emmanuel have just left De La Salle High School in Concord, California.

Myrna discloses the importance of the family’s next milestone. “My hopes are that they discover their place in this world, have a positive impact, find true love, be safe and healthy, and be financially-independent. Right now, our utmost priority for the twins is preparing them for the universities they will enter during the Fall — after making such an important decision that can change one’s life.”

In 2009, 10 years after she closed the doors of her Farmers Insurance agency, Myrna purchased an existing Allstate Insurance Agency and its “book of business” in the busy corridor of 19th Avenue in the Sunset district, San Francisco. Her nascent entrepreneurial endeavors are starting to bear fruit.

Myrna de Vera’s inner powerhouse of energy, talent, intellect, and experience is waiting of the next chapter of her life story.

The “Cebuana” and “Americana” — formerly known as The Pretty One — isn’t ready to reveal her plans. My sister chose to share snippets of her acceptance speech when she was honored as ‘Woman of the Year’ of Hercules, California during the West Contra Costa County event.

“I believe that every woman is a citizen leader. She listens, she facilitates, and she arbitrates. In my ideal world of writing women back into history, I envision more mothers stepping out of their comfort zones and finding a vocation in community development, such as a planning commission. A mommy citizen leader would know how to work with dissonant voices in her community — and help all stakeholders find the common ground they can work on.

As author Marianne Williamson wrote: ‘We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.’

My message to all women and girls, wherever you are: ‘Be fearless! Just do it! And shine! Thank you!’”

____

About the blogger, Lorna Dietz (in case you’ve noticed, my ABOUT LORNA DIETZ section isn’t updated). You can check me out at http://www.linkedin.com/in/radiantview.

E-2010: Building The Next Generation of Community Advocates with NaFFAA’s Intergenerational Leadership

Somehow, I am finding the energy and the motivation to work on all three of my major projects: My new public relations consulting gig with GMA Network, Inc. through its flagship channels, GMA Pinoy TV and GMA Life TV, my “about-to-be revived insurance career” — where I get to recruit new insurance agents in 48 states — at http://YourInsuranceCareer.com (Team John Oei), and the E-2010: 9th NaFFAA Empowerment Conference this November 19-21, 2010.

For the past four months, I know I lost some more weight because I am TOO busy working on all three projects — one after the other. At least I now know (I’m new, remember?) that at GMA Pinoy TV / GMA Life TV, we have a very tight-knit, efficient team — especially after working on the “PNoy sa GMA Pinoy TV” interview. My heart goes out to my business partners in the insurance business, John and Vonny Oei, who make sure that I bring out the best of my talent and creativity in my marketing and copy-writing, aside from making sure that I take my vitamins.

Everything is as it should be.

I somehow found time to sleep — and best of all, I found time to pray, to meditate, and to reconnect with old friends and family. My husband can feel comfortable knowing that “Lorna has gotten her groove back!”

I’ve teamed up with my former mentor, Ben Menor, and a mutual colleague, Baylan Megino, to provide the first tier of conference management support before the rest of the NaFFAA leadership comes in and helps out. I’ve known for the longest time that this day was coming: the day we can open our doors and welcome everyone to the conference and shout: “Yippee! The YP’s are here — and they’re coming in strong!” (You have to see the slide show if you want to know what YP means.)

I am truly enjoying everything that I am doing in my personal and professional lives. I am unstoppable. I am unbeatable. My creative quotient is on over-drive (not the adrenalin!). My angels are with me every step of the way. Whenever I feel down and out, I allow my pity to wash over me BUT only for a few minutes. Then, I stand up and say to myself, “Lorna, it’s time to SHINE! Remember that you are using your gifts for the good — and that others will share their gifts with you.” Folks, it is AMAZING what a pep talk to yourself can do!

Although I had created a slide show invitation for the E-2010: 9th NaFFAA Empowerment Conference that has an upbeat, almost rhythmically-monotonous cadence, I created a second version — just for me — so whenever the going gets tough, the tough gets going… This conference is already a success because its mission is truly amazing.

Enjoy!

ONE OF MY PROJECTS:

Dec. 20, 2009: Dance for a Cause with Cheryl Burke in San Francisco

We all had a wonderful time “for a good cause” last December 20, 2009. I arrived in Chicagoland to a snowy wonderland the next day, tired and happy!

The victims of the devastating typhoons in the Philippines in September and October of 2009 were the “focus” of our hearts and souls in preparing and implementing the necessary tasks and responsibilities for this fundraiser. Cheryl Burke and Mark Ballas, among the many entertainers who wowed all of us that night (and our checkbooks!), truly understand the meaning of Christmas. “Dancing with the Stars” champions together in the same dance studio, wow!

I will be updating this posting with a photo slideshow in the coming weeks. I found some youtube videos that were taken by some of the guests during the fundraiser. We were all digitally-happy! In the meantime, Happy Holidays!

Here is the sample of the dancing that Cheryl Burke and Mark Ballas performed for the fundraiser’s guests, Cheryl’s Argentinian Tango and Mark’s Cha Cha that I was able to document.

:-)

In the black and red Bad Romance Costumes, Jeremy Babagay, Jaymee Racho, Stephanie McShurley, and Michelle Bird dancing with Paju Munro as the Lady GaGa. Thank you to AHILTON for posting this youtube video.

:D


Another youtube video, contributed by mrtonysmith, shows another angle of the P.Y.T. dance performed by Cheryl Burke and Mark Ballas.


From Cheryl Burke Dance Studio’s youtube channel. This video was taken from the opposite side of the studio (from where I was).

:D

I also created another video (which is not available on Youtube) that I posted in Facebook, showing some of the work that Cheryl Burke and Mark Ballas did for the fundraiser. There will be another video that will show my documentation of the total event.

:-)

Here is the video invitation.



Download, print, embed, or share the flier with your family and friends.

Cheryl Burke: Dec. 20, 2009 Fundraiser – Dance for a Cause