Tag Archives: Benny Menor

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:

Ben Menor To Plead No Contest To One Charge, 2 Other Charges To Be Dismissed: Sentencing Rescheduled October 9; Charge To Be Expunged

Thank you for the prayers! What a roller-coaster ride it has been these past five years — with many lessons learned and true friendships cherished… Greg B. Macabenta, veteran journalist and publisher/editor-in-chief of Ang Panahon and Filipinas Magazine, who witnessed Ben Menor’s September 18 sentencing, wrote this special news article. To contact Greg, email him at [email protected]

BEN MENOR TO PLEAD NO CONTEST TO ONE
CHARGE, 2 OTHER CHARGES TO BE DISMISSED
Sentencing rescheduled October 9; charge to be expunged

The much-awaited verdict on the three cases filed against San Jose, California community leader, Ben Menor, which was to have been handed down on September 18, was moved back to October 9, following an agreement between the District Attorney’s Office and Menor’s counsel, Charles Hendrickson of the Public Defender’s Office, before Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Ray E. Cunningham, that Menor would plead No Contest to one charge, while the two other cases would be dismissed.

The postponement was because the Department of Probation was not prepared to present the necessary documents that would have facilitated the immediate resolution of the cases.

According to Hendrickson, in a briefing to media after the proceedings, the dismissal of two of the three cases against Menor had earlier been offered by the DA’s office on condition of payment of restitution of $46,862 and of Menor pleading No Contest to the charge of making a false statement on a financial report.

At the September 18 court appearance, Menor’s counsel informed Judge Cunningham that a payment of $51,000 had already been made to Santa Clara County by Menor, thus satisfying the first condition. Other fees and charges account for the excess payment.

Hendrickson further explained to the media that the No Contest plea would result in the charge being reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, with no jail term, and in its being immediately expunged. Based on the provisions of Section 1203.4 of the Penal Code, that would amount to a dismissal of the case.

“In effect,” said Hendrickson, “it would be as if the case were just being initiated and the defendant were to enter a plea of not guilty.”

The cases against Menor were filed by the City of San Jose based on allegations that Menor, as President and CEO of the Filipino-American Senior Opportunities Development Council and Executive Director of the Jacinto Tony Siquig Northside Community Center, had used funds and facilities of the City and of the center for unauthorized and illegal purposes, and that he had submitted false financial reports concerning payment of services rendered by the center.

One of the charges was for grand theft, allegedly because Menor had used City and center funds for the August 2002 national conference of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), a national organization of which Menor is a member. The other charge, also for grand theft, alleged that Menor had arranged for services that benefited his parents at the expense of the center.

Based on the evidence at hand, the District Attorney’s office offered to have the two grand theft cases dismissed, provided that Menor paid restitution amounting to around $14,000 for the case involving NaFFAA and around $32,000 for the case involving his parents, or a total of $46,862.

The other condition was for Menor to plead No Contest to the third case, which alleged that Menor had unlawfully over-charged the city for services rendered to the center’s clients. An uncertain reading and interpretation of the rules on charging for services may have been the reason for the agreement to reduce the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor and its immediate expunging from the court records.

The Jacinto Tony Siquig Northside Community Center, on North 6th Street in San Jose, is a 16,500 square ft. facility consisting of the center itself and an apartment for senior housing. It serves all ethnicities, although up to 80 percent of beneficiaries are of Filipino descent.

Menor led the efforts to raise the money – totaling $8 million for the center and $17 million for the senior housing – from grants from the City of San Jose, Santa Clara County, the state of California and other sources, including funds made possible by the Community Reinvestment Act. Construction of the facility began in 2001. It was inaugurated in 2003.

Menor had been connected with the Filipino-American Senior Opportunities Development Council since 1993. He left in 2006 when the charges against him were filed.

-30-

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

July 25, 2008

Introduction:

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 myspace.com 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 MabuhayRadio.com, 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.
Continue reading

Keeping Track of Ben Menor: “I’m happy that the case is coming to a close”

Ben Menor Ben Menor, one of the top Filipino leaders in community development and service in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, is currently going through the final phase of proceedings on alleged charges thrown at him 2-1/2 years ago. According to court documents, an agreement between the District Attorney and defendant was reached. Out of the three charges, two counts will be dismissed — charges related to theft and embezzlement. Ben pleaded “no contest” to one count.

No statements are being sent out by Ben Menor because there is still a court hearing he needs to attend on July 24, 2008. Ben Menor said that “I’m happy that the case is coming to a close — and I can move on with my life —- and that I can get back to what I had been doing, which is my love for serving the community.”

For any media interviews regarding the case, please contact Charlie Hendrickson at 408.299.7192 at the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s office.