Here I am, writing “backwards,” i.e., documenting my work for KULINARYA 2011, A Filipino Culinary Showdown in San Francisco, California. The event was held on January 21, 2012 at the Carnelian by the Bay Restaurant (Behind Ferry Building at The Embarcadero), San Francisco. The PILI nut was the food ingredient that took center stage and the Philippines’ KULINARYA TOURS were also highlighted.
Of course, I am “drooling” over the prospect of KULINARYA 2012, the 3rd Filipino Culinary Showdown, being convened later this year — but I promised to keep my mouth shut until the organizers make their official announcements.
I am making more time to document some of my written works and audio-visual creations in this personal blog. I keep reiterating to my nieces and nephews that all I can give them are my experiences (through this blog) and sharing my memories and learnings, whenever we reconnect… I miss them! Fortunately, nowadays, I interact with three of my nephews almost every day — and sometimes, in between my viral marketing and public relations work, I get to share my culinary experiences with them.
FOR EXAMPLE: Last night, it was all about PASTA. I taught Christian that the only way to learn if his spaghetti noodles are cooked “al dente” IS to actually taste them, semi-raw — and then done to perfection. Of course, I did not teach him how to throw a spaghetti noodle against the wall to see if it would stick or not. And yes, I also taught him how to “refresh” his refrigerated noodles inside a colander — over hot running water in the sink.
I hope to share more of these culinary experiences with my nieces and nephews.
In the meantime, this is what I did for our hardworking professionals at the Philippine Department of Tourism in San Francisco. Thank you, Rene de los Santos, Debbie Gallano, Gabby Agcaoili, and the rest of the team for giving me this opportunity to sharpen my culinary writing skills and PR capabilities.
SECOND, I was given the writing assignments on a Friday — and I had to turn all of them in on a Monday. It was quite an exhilarating writing adventure for me with this KULINARYA magazine BUT I had my recent 3-month trip to the Philippines that helped me with some of my writings as well as the permissions of my friends in the Philippine tourism industry for their photos, words, etcetera.
The KULINARYA Magazine was a supplement inside the San Francisco Examiner Magazine on its Thursday, January 19, 2012 edition. More than 80,000 copies were distributed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and copies were also available at The Examiner racks on the same date.
I wrote and I edited the following:
1. About the 2nd Kulinarya (summary, a mash-up; the “higher notch in the culinary world” didn’t come from me; whoever edited this, thank you! You made my original “higher good” relevant and meaninful to foodies)
2. The Pili Goes Gourmet! (article based on research and mash-up; I didn’t write the top portion or recipes in this page)
3. Philippines: Where Green Cuisine Means A Healthier Lifestyle (article)
4. TRENDING: “It’s More Fun in the Philippines!’ (article; the original article went viral on youtube by pinaswatcher6, who had uploaded a GMA News broadcast re: the new slogan on January 8, 2012, and had asked my permission to use my article — after I asked their permission to quote them; see http://youtu.be/kkbW-w5UkMI). As of today, August 25, 2012, this video, with my accompanying article has 8,574 hits on Youtube.
5. Top 10 Things to do in the Philippines (edited from Gab Agcaoili’s beautifully-written 2,000+ words to a precise 500 words)
If you’ve moved, this is the easiest way to register!
Fill it out, print it, and mail it!
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!”
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.
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!
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 HAPPENS WHEN YOU FOLLOW @naffaausa AND HASHTAG #filamvote? Your tweets will be captured by our daily curated newsletter, NaFFAA #FilAmVote Daily. Â 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 â€œEmpowerment 2010.â€ The theme of E-2010 was â€œBuilding the Next Generation of Community Advocates in an Intergenerational Environment.â€
Today, NaFFAA Region 8â€™s leaders are taking advantage of the political atmosphere, economic conditions, public policy, and the Filipinosâ€™ 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 8â€™s other resounding call to action is: â€œTo 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.â€
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 NaFFAAâ€™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 â€” from socials to workshops.
â€œONE COMMUNITY.â€ What does this mean to NaFFAA Region 8? Through ADVOCACY, our voices and actions will always act as â€œthe glueâ€ 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 â€” less travelled â€” as ONE COMMUNITY?
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.
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!
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
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.
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 Lardizabal de Vera: Living A Life Worthwhile
“the unedited version”
I thought that writing about my younger sister, Myrna Lardizabal de Vera, was going to be a â€œcakewalkâ€ — 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 Myrnaâ€™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 Myrnaâ€™s friends, Jojo Soriano, asked me for information about Myrnaâ€™s impact on our family life in Cebu City — from Mabolo to Lahug. Eureka, my â€œwriterâ€™s blockâ€ disappeared after his request! I just needed to capture the essence of Myrnaâ€™s metamorphosis from the â€œdollhouseâ€ to the â€œpowerhouse.â€
The night Myrna was honored with a special recognition, Jojoâ€™s introduction took her by surprise.
â€œYou, however, were known as the â€˜Pretty One!â€™ — 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,â€ 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 â€œFriendly One,â€ Noemi Dado was teased as the â€œSexy One,â€ and Belen Dofitas was praised as the â€œIntelligent One.â€
â€œTonight, your community and the Hercules Chamber of Commerce present you the SPECIAL RECOGNITION award. Weâ€™re simply saying to you, Myrna, that your fatherâ€™s beautiful spirit lives on through you. Your sister Lornaâ€™s mentoring and your creative response to tragedy have shaped you and made you the person who â€˜responds beautifullyâ€™ to lifeâ€™s circumstances; and we, too, recognize the healing effect of creativity amidst lifeâ€™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.â€
â€œThis moment is a major milestone in my life. I feel I have arrived â€˜full circle,â€™â€ Myrna responded with a hint of validation. â€œYour 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.â€
It had been a very hectic week for the woman previously acknowledged as â€œThe Pretty One.â€ 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 Womenâ€™s Program to show appreciation to some of the local women who were making a difference in their communities.
Supervisor John Gioia mentioned, â€œThe women on this stage are great role models for young women. They really seem to care about the community.â€
Myrna explained how she had garnered the accolade for her community development work. â€œI 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. Patrickâ€™s Catholic Church in Rodeo, California as well as my Chamber efforts, to name a few of the projects Iâ€™ve been involved in.â€
A few months before her â€œdouble honorsâ€ week, Myrna received a working award from the Filipina Womenâ€™s Network. As one of the â€œ100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the US for 2009,â€ Policy Makers & Visionaries category, my sister promises to â€œwomentorâ€ one or more US-based Filipina women for a top leadership role in government, industry, or non-profit.
â€œItâ€™s a very ordinary story,â€ 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. â€œWhen 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 didnâ€™t have many toys to play with.â€
St. Theresaâ€™s College in Cebu City was Myrnaâ€™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 â€œMannyâ€ 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 customersâ€™ â€œpeace of mindâ€ specialist, Myrna closed shop to become a full-time mother in 1999.
Myrna listed her duties like badges of honor. â€œTreasurer 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. Patrickâ€™s. Full-time chauffeur and chief cheerleader of my â€˜boys,â€™ taking them to their games as well as martial arts classes and tennis matches. I was contented to be my childrenâ€™s mommy citizen leader,â€ 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 sisterâ€™s desire for a simple family life was interjected with friendsâ€™ suggestions for her to be of service. Myrna said, â€œIt took a resident of Hercules four years to convince me to volunteer. My excuse was that the boys were still so young.â€
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.
â€œEmpty nestâ€ 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 familyâ€™s next milestone. â€œMy 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 oneâ€™s life.â€
In 2009, 10 years after she closed the doors of her Farmers Insurance agency, Myrna purchased an existing Allstate Insurance Agency and its â€œbook of businessâ€ in the busy corridor of 19th Avenue in the Sunset district, San Francisco. Her nascent entrepreneurial endeavors are starting to bear fruit.
Myrna de Veraâ€™s inner powerhouse of energy, talent, intellect, and experience is waiting of the next chapter of her life story.
The â€œCebuanaâ€ and â€œAmericanaâ€ — formerly known as The Pretty One — isnâ€™t ready to reveal her plans. My sister chose to share snippets of her acceptance speech when she was honored as â€˜Woman of the Yearâ€™ of Hercules, California during the West Contra Costa County event.
â€œI 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: â€˜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.â€™
My message to all women and girls, wherever you are: â€˜Be fearless! Just do it! And shine! Thank you!â€™â€
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.
Here’s a thought: If more people can walk for a cause, then it would be so easy to be healthy and wise! Physical fitness + fundraising + fun always benefit our Filipino American communities. The way my friend, Mohinder Mann, explained it to me during an ALS Walk I joined last month with his team: “The best part is that you get to meet old and new friends — and walk at your pace.” Go ahead — and join the 2nd Annual Lakad Tulong in New Jersey this Sunday, October 17, 2010! Spread the word! (Exclusive TV Media Sponsor: GMA Pinoy TV)
I can also see many of our NaFFAA Region 1 colleagues are actively engaged in this event. Thanks to Roger Alama, Cora Reyes, Elsa Olsen, and Nena Kaufman (among the many, many volunteers) for supporting this wonderful “walk for a cause.”
Inquiries, please contact:
Nelsie Parrado, Board President â€“ 201.794.7321
Corazon Reyes, 2010 Lakad Tulong Coordinator â€“ 646.789.6788
Mark Habana, Public Relations Officer â€“ 201.841.5518
SECOND ANNUAL LAKAD TULONG EVENT
FEATURES FITNESS AND FUNDRAISING
LAKAD TULONG, the annual walkathon fundraiser coordinated by the Handang Tumulong Foundation, Inc. (HTFI), will be held on Sunday, October 17, 2010 in Jersey City. Marking the eventâ€™s second consecutive year, the walkathon will feature fitness, while raising funds to build and maintain a disaster relief fund for victims of natural calamities in the Philippines. This yearâ€™s theme is â€œWalk for health, Walk to Help.â€
In partnership with the Philippine Consulate General in New York (PCGNY), the foundation aims to surpass last yearâ€™s fundraising result of $12,000. To achieve this increased success, members of all communities and ages are encouraged to get involved as walkers, donors, sponsors and volunteers. Those who make the biggest impact will be recognized for their efforts. Forms and additional information are available on the organizationâ€™s website (see below).
â€œAs a volunteer member of the organizing committee last year, what became evident to me was how a fundraiser like this bridges gaps and connects people of all ages, backgrounds and professions,â€ commented Mark Habana, the public relations officer of the foundation. â€œThese disasters struck close to our hearts and it was inspiring to see a community step up to address them in an empowering and fun way.â€
The walkathon program will validate the importance of health and fitness. A pre-walk warm-up session, coordinated by a licensed physical trainer, is planned. Following the three-mile walk will be dance segments featuring hip hop artists and â€œDancing on the Square,â€ which is open to all attendees.
This yearâ€™s walkathon fundraiser will be held in Jersey City, NJ at 8:00 AM on Sunday, October 17, 2010. It is a 3-mile walk starting and ending at the City Hall of Jersey City at 280 Grove St.
All are welcome to support this initiative by raising funds, gathering pledges and participating in the walkathon as walkers or volunteers. Awards will be given to the organization that raises the most funds and the organization that brings the largest contingency of walkers. One individual will also be recognized for bringing in the most donations that day.
Registration is now open: $30 for adults, $10 for students with student IDs and seniors (age 70-80), free for seniors 80 years of age and older. Commemorative T-shirts will be available for the first 300 people that register on-site for the event. For sponsorship opportunities, please e-mail the foundation at [email protected] See the attached flyer for more details and contact information.
This event is sponsored by GMA Pinoy TV and GMA Life TV, Phil-Am Trading, Phil-Am Foodmart, Casa Victoria and Drs. Greg and Emelie Ongcapin.
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ABOUT HANDANG TUMULONG FOUNDATION, INC.
The Handang Tumulong Foundation is a not-for-profit organization whose primary purpose is to raise funds for the needy in the Philippines, the USA and elsewhere around the world, especially the victims of natural disasters and catastrophes. The Handang Tumulong Disaster Relief Fund is a readiness project for the victims of recurrent calamities in the Philippines. For more information, contact the foundation at [email protected] or visit the website at www.handangtumulong.org.
ABOUT THE PHILIPPINE CONSULATE GENERAL IN NEW YORK
The Philippine Consulate General in New York provides services and assistance to Filipino nationals residing in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. (www.pcgny.net)
EXCLUSIVE MEDIA SPONSOR: GMA PINOY TV / GMA LIFE TV
After you finish viewing the Media in Focus segment last January 15, 2009, please scroll below to understand the interconnectedness of our journalistic and blogging relationships (from my point of view). My sister, Noemi Dado, who is a new media publisher, has her own blogging community that strongly supports each other. There are many blogging communities. Noemi belongs to a group of mom-bloggers — its friends and allies.
Greg B. Macabenta, our NaFFAA National Chair who was elected in September, 2008 recently appointed me as NaFFAA’s Online Coordinator. This appointment clearly acknowledges the evolving power of cyberspace. With this appointment also comes great responsibility. As a coordinator, I am both in a position of support and front-line activity in advocacy empowerment and online reputation. Since I have always publicly stated that I am a community publicist for the Filipino community — and not a journalist — then it is the community’s experiences that mandate my overt efforts in making this constituency understood to the community-at-large.
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.
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.”
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. Continue reading →