Please note that the photos in this posting are taken from my archives when I was a volunteer, employee, and consultant at the FilAmSODC, Inc. at JTS Northside Community Center (the venue of the May 24, 2011 event) from 2002 to 2006. There is no relationship whatsoever between 4C.org and my photos. I’m being sentimental because Northside was very much a part of my growth as a Filipino community advocate.
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.
ONE OF MY PROJECTS:
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]
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.
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 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.”
What 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.”
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.”
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.