Monthly Archives: July 2008

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

July 25, 2008


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

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

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

The Stimulant:

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

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

The Response:

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

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

Joseph Lariosa’s article about Ben Menor’s case today is INCORRECT, MISLEADING, AND DECEIVING.
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Breaking Stereotypes at the 6th Annual Ginoong Pilipinas-USA (aka Mister Philippines USA) Pageant

Me and my big mouth! The persevering and tenacious Elton Lugay, one of the co-founders of the Ginoong Pilipinas-USA pageant/competition, and I were having an intense discussion about the portrayal of young Filipino male pageant candidates as men who dare to assert their empowerment goals in a pop culture event. Elton was very excited about their first Los Angeles event (after four years in the San Francisco Bay Area and one year in New York City) for July 20, 2008 at the Radisson Hotel Los Angeles Midtown at the University of Southern California, located at 3540 South Figueroa St, Los Angeles CA 90007. He explained to me that California State Senator Leland Yee’s advocacy, the White Ribbon Campaign, a worldwide campaign of men working to end men’s violence against women, is one of the primary beneficiaries of the event’s proceeds.

“Make sure the emcees are respectful to these young men, Elton! It takes a lot of guts for them to be there on the stage,” I reminded him. “I understand that community service involvement is one of your criteria for these contestants. How will you make sure that the interview portion of the pageant will be handled sensitively?”

“Because you’re going to host the interview portion of the program,” Elton declared.

“Moi? I write profiles, Elton,” I protested.

“But you interview people, right? What’s the difference?” Elton asked, determined not to get a “No!” for an answer.

“OK, this is my personal support for you, Elton, as a Filipina who wants to end violence against women and girls,” I agreed, not sure why he thought I was an ideal pageant interviewer.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area on Sunday, July 20, 2008, please come and celebrate with us as Filipino men “break stereotypes” at the 6th Annual Ginoong Pilipinas-USA [Mister Philippines USA] competition.

6th Ginoong Pilipinas USA


Radisson Hotel Los Angeles Midtown at USC
3540 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles CA 90007
Telephone: (213) 748-4141 Fax: (213) 746-3255

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