Category Archives: Business


John and Vonny Oei
John and Vonny Oei

Serendipitously, in 2002, I met a dynamic couple who are trailblazing entrepreneurs in the Indonesian American community, John and Vonny Oei, at their April Financial Inc. office in San Francisco, California during a political campaign’s phone banking activities. It would be three years later that John offered me a marketing position at their insurance brokerage and Intero Real Estate San Francisco Sunset office.

There were other interesting endeavors that attracted me as I worked side by side with them in the office where Bahasa and English were the languages of choice. In 1998, John Oei helped organize the Indonesian-Chinese-American Network (ICANet) as a result of the violence that was aimed at Indonesia’s eight million ethnic Chinese. This non-profit organization is dedicated to the advancement of universal human rights for all people, with a focus on Indonesians. ICANet’s strong interest in the development of a bright future for Indonesia a well as the promotion of cultural appreciation and friendship among Indonesians, Chinese, Americans, and other groups in the global community resonated with my personal advocacies.

In 2006, I transitioned to a part-time consulting position at their office. When I shared what I was doing at Filipinas Magazine, where I had a business development position, and what most Filipino American media enterprises nationwide were doing to being effective publicists and champions of their communities in mainstream USA, these entrepreneurs took notice. There just wasn’t enough in-language and intercultural information exchanges between Indonesians in the motherland and Indonesian Americans.

One day, John mentioned to me that they were inspired to create their own in-language Indonesian print and internet-based publication,, because of their observations about my ethnic media experiences in the Filipino American community. Metaphorically, I was elated that Indonesia, a neighbor of the Philippines, both members of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), would strengthen its media presence in the US. There were very few Bahasa media organizations in the marketplace.

Kabari News (i.e. Kabari is Bahasa for “news”) launched its maiden issue in early 2007 to a hungry “Indo” population in California. The magazine was partly responsible for publicizing the popular Indonesian cultural festival, Pasar Senggol, which started as a “block party” in 2004. It is considered as one of the go-to festivals featuring the Indonesian community in the West Coast.

In the past 10 years, John and Vonny enthusiastically kept living their publishing life like an experiment. They tracked their “numbers,” organically growing Kabari News’ online presence by producing short video documentaries and interviews while nurturing an untapped worldwide audience that enjoyed their stories, homesick for news from Indonesia. There was no lack of news leads, considering that Indonesia is the fourth largest populated country in the world. The result was Kabari TV on YouTube.

Like any other publishing company, the number one challenge was about tapping more advertising and sponsorship support. John and Vonny continued to cross-promote Kabari News as a community-focused news magazine, sometimes creatively packaging its advertising opportunities with other enthusiastic Indonesian-owned businesses’ marketing and public relations programs.

In mid-2013, John Oei decided it was time to expand their publishing horizons to include the rest of the ASEAN community. The couple wanted a bi-monthly printed and digital magazine that would draw attention to the lifestyles, triumphs, achievements, and celebrations of these 10 nations in an encapsulated, content curation format.

“It’s an information and intergenerational bridge for these ASEAN countries,” John stated, “yet we want people to know that we are not related to ASEAN, the organization. We support them!”

John tapped me to be the magazine’s editor-in-chief. His directive was simple: “Find a way to get a team of writers to work on your editorial calendar for every bi-monthly issue. The graphic design and layout will be done by our creatives in Indonesia while website development will be done in the US. Distribution will also be concentrated in the US. We will find the ASEANs in the US communities.”

ASEAN LIFE: Letter from the Editor
ASEAN LIFE: Letter from the Editor

I turned to the Philippines for help in recruiting writing talent. Once the writing assignments were submitted electronically to me, the graphic designers in Indonesia worked on our “Look Book,” laying out the editorial and advertising pages. The first cover and its accompanying story had to be special. We chose to shine the spotlight on the One World Institute, a private foundation headed by Dr. Tom Stern and Yolanda Ortega Stern, Ph.D. The couple’s philanthropic work was mostly done in areas of conflict, from Southern Philippines to Cambodia and Myanmar, where the poorest of the poor were not adequately served. Butch Monserrat was credited for shooting the cover photo of Yolanda Ortega Stern who wore a typical Yakan* attire, accessorized by a kris*. We launched the magazine in newsstands where Kabari News was also welcome.

Yolanda Ortega Stern, President of
Yolanda Ortega Stern, President of

The ASEAN LIFE magazine’s entrepreneurship model was so ambitious that it would eventually find a reincarnation with another business partner. John and Vonny continued the same editorial process. By then, I had moved on to other projects. The lessons I learned about editing a magazine will always stay with me because I succeeded in developing a model operation of collaboration among three countries: US, Philippines, and Indonesia.

Today, ASEAN LIFE is waiting for another incarnation. I know that John and Vonny will be willing listeners to a potential business partner’s proposal.

Do you think John and Vonny’s “ASEAN LIFE” story is about to evolve — again? You betcha! Vonny is waiting for me to finish editing the marketing copy of their newest business endeavor: a wholesale travel company with a niche market — Japan, South Korea, and Bali (Indonesia) — for outbound land tour operations marketed in the US.

Who knows where I will be writing my next ASEAN story?

“Bali, please, Vonny!”



*Yakan – A major Muslim tribe in the Mindanao region of the Philippines
*Kris – A dagger with a wavy-edged blade

I wrote this story as a contribution to Noemi L. Dado’s blog writing project. I really want ASEAN 2017′s memorabilia!

Noemi said:

I am holding a blog writing project and a chance to win an ASEAN memorabilia. Here are the   guidelines:
1. The contest is open to all bloggers worldwide.
2. Follow  @asean2017 on twitter or
3. Write a blog post of your own personal story with a minimum of 500 words on the theme #MyAseanStory” and post it on your blog platform (self-hosted blog, facebook, tumblr, wordpress)
• What are your life experiences: challenges, great memories?
I will even share it on my social networks.
4. Use the hashtag #MyAseanStory #Asean2017 when sharing your post in social media.
5. Contest will start May 9 and end May 31, 2017. Cut off of entries is 11:59 PM on May 31, 2017.
6. The post that is creative and interesting will receive an ASEAN memorabilia

Strategic Millennium Partnerships: USA-Philippines

Federation 2011 – Millennium Challenge Corporation’s PowerPoint Presentation (Portland, OR)

Hazel Valera: Smart Business – Use Grants and Business Credit

Buy tickets for SMART Business Bootcamp

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

This is the shortened link for this blog post:

Here’s the shortened URL for this news curation which you can embed into your website or blog:

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

For more information about GMA Pinoy TV and GMA Life TV, go to To subscribe, go to


Jan. 22, 2011 at Intramuros Restaurant: Pina Couture by Anthony Cruz Legarda

I always say that it takes a village to raise a child — and the child that Filipino fusion fashion has raised is for a noble cause — that our indigenous weavers in the Philippines do not lose sight of their traditional weaving techniques for the sake of progress: leaving for overseas employment. Anthony Cruz Legarda, ever since I started volunteering with him through ARKITEKNIK, is a couture designer extraordinaire. There is a saying that “Kindred spirits find each other, no matter what.” We are definitely like-minded. I hope to make it to this fashion show fundraiser. Please join me.

Pina Couture by Anthony Cruz Legarda at Intramuros Restaurant
Pina Couture by Anthony Cruz Legarda at Intramuros Restaurant

For Immediate Release

Contact: Anthony Cruz Legarda
Mobile: (415) 577 – 6985
[email protected]



December 2, 2010, San Francisco, CA — Filipino American high fashion makes a grand entrance, accompanied by sumptuous Filipino cuisine during the much-anticipated fashion show, “Piña Couture,” on Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 6:00 PM at the Intramuros Music Hall, 101 Brentwood Drive, South San Francisco. Proceeds from this fundraiser fashion show event benefits the master weavers and artisans of the Philippines.

The philosophy of the Anthony Cruz Legarda Fashion House and Textile Design Studio is fusion eco-artwear that combines beautiful Filipino fabrics with modern American sensibility. Fabrics for the collection are hand-woven, embellished, and dyed with natural pigments by indigenous master weavers from the Philippines. This encourages development of eco-entrepreneurship and sustainable fashions by honoring traditional methodologies and fair trade with native artisans.

The signature textile is piña, a high-quality cloth hand-woven from natural pineapple fibers made only in the Philippines. Other variations in the fabric palette include Philippine silk, organic cotton, and other natural and eco-friendly fibers. The workmanship of the collection is a revival of the golden era of Philippine arts and culture. Each piece is opulently hand-woven, embroidered and beaded by Filipino master artisans in Kalibo, Lumban and Iloilo.

The emphasis is the research and development of new hand-woven textiles with organic fibers and natural dyes for the world market. These fabrics are then hand-embroidered and beaded by talented craftspeople from the Philippines. Motifs of the embellishments are a mélange of eastern and western iconography and patterns. Ultimately, these translucent and iridescent textiles feature the technical virtuosity of Filipino master weavers and artisans.

Donation pricing starts at $50.00. For tickets and more information, please contact: Anthony Cruz Legarda 415.577.6985 or
[email protected]

This flier can be forwarded easily to your friends. EMBED code is provided. The shortened URL is

Pina Couture by Anthony Cruz Legarda at Intramuros Restaurant, Jan. 22, 2011

Barry Picazo of Intramuros Restaurant Honors Pinoy Street Food With a 10-10-10 Festival

The first time I met Barry Picazo of Intramuros Restaurant, it was through Anthony Cruz Legarda of “Arkiteknik” fame who insisted on introducing both of us. Barry, a young retired financial wizard (at least, that’s what I thought of him) decided that his love for Filipino fusion cuisine was luring him to unexpected places, such as a Financial District “food court” on Third Street (about 25 steps away from Market Street) in San Francisco, California. His foodie experiment at that time was called “Mango Bay Cuisine.”

A few years later, Barry went on to help launch Patio Filipino Restaurant in San Bruno, California. It is well-known for its cozy ambience and Filipino-Spanish cuisine in a patio-like setting.

Then again, another restaurant concept that took advantage of multiple rooms and exponentially, more function room space, convinced this intrepid entrepreneur to take another leap of faith. Thus, a fine dining concept with banquet facilities named “Intramuros Restaurant” was born in South San Francisco, California.

I thought that Barry was quite innovative in using his social media techniques when it came to promoting Intramuros Restaurant. He would make me salivate with his short video clips on his Facebook wall about the lunch buffet specials, happy hour menus (It’s super-valued that I called them dinner menus!), Crab Feasts, Karaoke Nights, and lots of entertainment — from the classic to pop culture.

One of my friends once told me that Intramuros Restaurant is this decade’s version of the defunct Tito Rey’s Restaurant or the Mabuhay Gardens, where Filipinos and Filipino-friendly gourmands would gather to eat and make merry… and yes, especially to see who among their friends would drop in.

It’s all worth it, Barry! The late hours, the juggling of schedules, and aligning common purpose and vision with your business partners. I am so proud of your growth as a restaurateur (this is the foodie speaking!) because you have succeeded in making the Intramuros Restaurant an elegant “five-senses” delight that makes me proud to bring in my family and friends. I feel as if I’ve been a part of your growth… Yes, I still have some recipes to share but that will come during one of my visits (that is, if you can spare the time to foodie-chat).

Keep the Filipino cuisine coming! My cousin, Marisa Abad, was so happy that we took the time to enjoy your dining room (leisurely!) that she brought her friends there to celebrate someone’s 80th birthday party. Another classmate, Cynthia Bernaldez Gaabucayan, also brought her family there. So many friends are flocking to your sacred space in Filipino cuisine. Wait till I take my momblogger sister (aka a very popular food blogger in the Philippines with two blogs, Pinoy Food Blog and Food Photo Blog) to enjoy your exquisite culinary delights. I’m not saying anything to her. We’ll just go unannounced — and I will just have to see what my food blogger-sister has to say about the Intramuros Restaurant.

I’ll be coming back to this blog posting so I can update it.

Let’s ring in the TRIPLE 10 Celebration — on October 10, 2010 — or 10-10-10 — when Barry Picazo invites us to celebrate in style — where else? — at the Intramuros Restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bon appetit!

Pinoy Street Food Festival at Intramuros Restaurant, South San Francisco, California
Pinoy Street Food Festival at Intramuros Restaurant, South San Francisco, California

I’m also including one of your Crab Fest posters as a souvenir in my blog.

Intramuros - Crabs


For those of you who want to know how to cook Intramuros Restaurant’s Crispy Binagoongan over Grilled Eggplant, click here for the recipe.

Here’s Christina Dunham from Filipinas Magazine Online with Barry Picazo in an episode from the Filipinas Magazine Show on GMA Pinoy TV.

Financial Fitness: Hazel Valera, Credit Rebuild Coach and Debt Arbitrator

Hazel Valera is clearly my NUMBER ONE credit empowerment coach for personal credit and business credit. I found some videos online that will give you more information about Hazel Valera. Please note that the laws on Credit are always changing. What you hear Hazel Valera talk about in these videos could be laws that have changed recently. I am sharing these videos so you will understand why I value her as my credit empowerment coach. More power to you, Hazel!

THE 3 C’S OF CREDIT – Credit, Capacity, and Collateral: What it takes to get a real estate loan

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Launching the TV version starting April 25 on GMA Pinoy TV: FILIPINAS MAGAZINE SHOW

Hello, everyone! It is my pleasure to send an ANNOUNCEMENT from the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Filipinas Magazine and Producer of the upcoming TV show, Filipinas Magazine Show — Greg Macabenta. Please forward this to your family and friends in the US. For those outside the US, please look at your GMA Pinoy TV local schedules. Click here:

Thank you.

Lorna Dietz
Business Development – Filipinas Magazine

P.S. Here is a slideshow I created.

Date: Fri, Apr 24, 2009 at 2:36 PM
To: undisclosed recipients


Here’s an exciting update to the email I sent out yesterday about The Filipinas Magazine Show. The facts I laid out yesterday turned out to be incomplete. Allow me to restate them with more complete information.

– will go on the air starting April 25 (Saturday) at 6:30 pm (PST) or 9:30 pm (EST) on GMA Pinoy TV, beamed direct to homes across the US by both DirecTV and Dish Network and on all the Cable Systems that carry GMA Pinoy TV, as follows:

1. Astound (San Francisco, Concord, Oregon)
2. AT & T U-verse
3. NexHorizon Broadband (San Diego, CA
4. Cablevision (io TV)
5. Comcast (California, Boston, Brookline)
6. Cox Communications (San Diego, Las Vegas, Hampton Roads, Orange County/Palos Verdes, North Virginia)
7. Oceanic Time Warner (Hawaii)
8. San Bruno Cable TV (San Bruno, CA)
9. Time Warner (L.A.)
10. Verizon Fios
11. Wave Broadband (Cerritos, Oregon)

FILIPINAS MAGAZINE SHOW is a 30-minute, weekly magazine-type program that features the personalities who are the pride of the FilAm community (just like the printed magazine), probes issues of concern to our community and spotlights Filipino cuisine, restaurants and chefs. The host is my daughter, Christina Dunham, who is also associate publisher and columnist of Filipinas.

GMA Network, the mother network of GMA Pinoy TV, is the leading TV nework in the Philippines, in terms of viewership, advertising load and profitability. It has been in the US for 4 years now and is also aired in much of Europe and Asia.

The director of our show is Maila Gumila, a veteran TV and film star (she started as a child actress) and TV director, as well as the director of the annual Filipinas Magazine Achievement Awards. She owns SilverMesh Productions, which handles the production of the show, as a joint venture with Filipinas Magazine and GMA Network.

The writers are Gemma Nemenzo, Maricar Liberato and myself, all members of the Filipinas Magazine team. Raymond Virata, Filipinas Mag art director, is also art director, while Jinx Macabenta, my youngest son, who has his own graphics company, is creative director. Ringo Macabenta, my eldest son and managing editor of our weekly newspaper, Ang Panahon, is production manager.

As you can see, it’s pretty much a family undertaking. But the team has had years of creative and broadcast production experience.

Here’s the line-up of the first episode:

1. Cover Story – Elaine Quijano, former White House correspondent of CNN and 2008 Filipinas Magazine Achievement Awardee for Communication
2. Issues – The 2nd Death March, the struggle for veterans equity
3. Spotlight – Paolo Montalban, Broadway actor and star of Cinderella
4. Expat’s Kitchen – Mercury Lounge Restaurant

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Looking for advertisers for a DVD movie, a Punjabi Film Comedy directed by Jaskaran S. Sahota

And I don’t even speak or write Punjabi.

So, one of my friends at the San Jose Punjabi Mela Committee, Jaskaran S. Sahota of Bridgepoint Entertainment LLC, a former professional field hockey player slash independent filmmaker slash bhangra music video director slash software engineer in Silicon Valley, asked me for assistance in finding advertisers for his made-for-DVD movie, shot with high definition cameras. 15-second and 30-second broadcast commercial spots are available for placement inside the DVD. Jas tested the story line with a live Punjabi Comedy show in Milpitas, California this past February — and he got rave reviews and a sold-out house! Thus, 60% of this DVD movie was inspired by this theater project.

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