Category Archives: Bulan Observer and Fil-Am Friends

JAPANESE WW II AIRPORT REVIVED BY CANDIDATE

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

 BULAN, Sorsogon, Philippines (JGL) – In 1943, the Japanese Imperial Army started building an airport in a small sitio of Bulan, Sorsogon so their soldiers can easily escape if General MacArthur were to return with his Allied soldiers during World War II.

But because of the extraordinary grit and resiliency of the Filipino guerillas (militias), they were able advance the timetable of MacArthur’s return, which caught the Japanese by surprise.

As MacArthur was carpet-bombing Leyte from the nearby Leyte Gulf, the Japanese Forces abandoned the airport they were building in what is now believed to be sitio Oyango in Bulan that ends up in Ticao Pass, a part of the Luzon Strait that connects the Philippine Sea to the South China Sea (Philippine Western Sea) in the western Pacific Ocean.

inlandviewofrunway

(LOLO BOBBY M. Reyes (right) surveys the extend of the runway of the Bulan Airport, which he said he will complete if he were elected Sorsogon governor on Monday, May 9, during his visit to the area recently in Bulan, Sorsogon, Philippines. (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)

Several Philippine presidents since Liberation had dreams of reviving the construction of the airport but an independent candidate for provincial governor LOLO Bobby M. Reyes would like to finally help the people of Bulan (Bulanenos) have their own airport if he is elected governor on Monday, May 9, 2016. Government officials who tried to build the airport just put the money for the airport in their pockets that’s why nothing had come out of the airport, Mr. Reyes said.

Mr. Reyes said he could make the Bulan Airport a reality if his patron, Sen. Grace Poe, is elected president on Monday.

Mr. Reyes, who celebrated his 70th birthday last May 1, said the completion of the Bulan International Airport (BIA) is going to be one of the flag-ship projects of his administration out of the ten priority projects to “reinvent” the Quality of Life in Sorsogon and its “Isles of the Future” and create 300,000 jobs.

 TAKING A PAGE FROM FRIVALDO

 Taking a page from Sorsogon’s longest-serving governor, the late Juan G. Frivaldo, who sported the name “Tata (elderly) Juan,” Mr. Reyes said his moniker “LOLO,” which means grandfather in Bikol, stands for “Law and Order, Less Government and Opportunities equally for all.”

As a long-time Balikbayan from Los Angeles, California, where he was a lifelong community activist, LOLO Bobby returned to his boyhood and high school-age home of Barangay Bibingcahan in what he now calls “Bacon-Sorsogon (Bac-Sor) City” with all the wisdom and perspectives he accumulated so that he could pay back his dues to his  province of birth.

Based on his writings from his travels on his own mabuhayradio.com and Facebook posts, LOLO Bobby now wants to put those ideas into practice if he luckily wins the majority vote of the 425,025 Sorsogon voters, who had an 83.71% voting turnout record in 2013.

Bobby decided to run for governor of Sorsogon when he started to urge Senator Poe to run for president, when nobody did, thru his Facebook posts, which generated tens of thousands of likes and followers and when nobody from the crop of candidates for governor in Sorsogon supported Ms. Poe. Bobby was introduced to Ms. Poe by his daughter, who was a classmate of Ms. Poe from grade one in Antipolo City to high school.

Because Bobby is not allowed to host a radio program a few weeks in the run-up of the elections, he asked some of his friends, including this reporter and Bubot Laguna, to sub for him in spreading his message over Catholic radio station (DZGN-FM, 102.3mHz)(11a.m. to 12 noon) hosted by Psalm Geraldino and PADABA (103.9 FM) (4 p.m.-6 p.m.) hosted by Bhem Emmanuel Desabayla.

 RUNWAY TURNED INTO PALAY PLATFORM

withfarmersIn his visit to Purok 7-B in Bulan Airport with this reporter, LOLO Bobby told the people, who turned the 10-lane runaway of the airport into palay drying platform, that with the grace of God if he were elected Sorsogon governor, he foresees the airport to be his flag-ship project that could generate hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs.)

“I will make sure that you will earn a minimum of P1,000 (US$22.22) a day in contrast to Manila where P450 (US$10.00) a day is the minimum daily wage,” Bobby told one of farmers who were drying his palay over the ten-lane runway.

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(ASIDE FROM THIS Terminal building, only the 10-lane runaway is the only visible task that was constructed from an alleged release of P15-M (US$333,333) to construct the airport in 2007. (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)

When asked why he is making Bulan Airport his main project, Bobby said, “I am the son of Cristina Mercado, who hails from Bulan. And I am the only candidate out of the eight candidates for governor, who hails from Bulan.”

It was reported by the Bulan Observer that sometime in 2007, there was funding for the airport in the amount of P15-M (US$333,333) for the parcellary survey, to complete the runway upgrading and right-of-way acquisition that was supposed to be completed by 2008. It did not mention if the terminal building that is the only visible building in the airport was part of the funding.

outwardviewofrunway

(HIS EXPANSIVE runway that was started by Japanese Imperial Forces was being rebuilt by every administration after World War II but has yet to be completed. LOLO Bobby M. Reyes, a son of a native of Bulan, Sorsogon in the Philippines, wants to finish this Bulan International Airport if he is elected Sorsogon governor on Monday, May 9. The runway ends in Ticao Pass, a part of the Luzon Strait that connects the Philippine Sea to the South China Sea (Philippine Western Sea) in the western Pacific Ocean. (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)

Aside from the airport and the other priority projects he wants to pursue, Mr. Reyes said he wants to introduce economic development in Sorsogon because it is one of the 20 poorest provinces in the Philippines. “It’s about time somebody has to do positive things for the province and of course I want zero corruption. I would handle peace and order under a law and order program that will stop corruption and stop crimes from rising, especially drug epidemic.”

He said his projects have been posted on his Facebook page and website, mabuhayradio.com.

Although nobody is bankrolling his campaign, LOLO Bobby likes his chances to be elected governor as he has been rated fourth among the eight gubernatorial candidates by a Sorsogon radio station.

lookingathimself

(BECAUSE HE has no money to pay for his own billboard, Independent candidate LOLO Bobby M. Reyes is very pleased to see and thankful that the office of Sorsogon City Mayor  Sally A. Lee and the Sorsogon City Tourism Office have included his name and photo in the billboard of six of eight Sorsogon gubernatorial candidates. LOLO Bobby said that the “catch” of the ad is actually a backhanded endorsement of one of the candidates, Eric Dioneda (PDP-Laban), whose educational attainment was portrayed as a college undergraduate first-year midwifery education. Mayor Lee’s son, Bobet Lee Rodrigueza (Liberal Party), is portrayed as a holder of a BSBA-Management degree while LOLO Bobby Reyes is a college graduate in AB Journalism. (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)

Mr. Reyes said on or before July 1, 2016, the first day of office when he takes over the “Sorsogon Interactive New Government (SING),” he will launch simultaneously 10 or more crash-programmed projects designed to raise dramatically the “Quality of Life (QoL)” of the people of Sorsogon that will lead to eliminate unemployment and underemployment.

 “PROJECT 2021”

 He said ten separate task forces, with at least 100 trained staffers each, will be organized and fielded to implement the projects that will translate into hundreds of thousands of new well-paying and permanent jobs.

All local-government units (LGU’s) will be asked to provide more manpower and support to the task forces.

The priority projects will be classified into short-, medium-, and long-term goals that shall be the vehicles needed to accomplish the so-called “PROJECT 2021.” “They will be treated like items in a conveyor belt of an assembly line, so that a long-term project can become a short-term goal if the circumstances and needed resources are present,” Bobby said.

Among the “PROJECT 2021” that will take Sorsogon from 20th to the 21st century (2016-2021) are introducing to the province a Health Maintenance Organization that will provide “Patients’ Rights and Responsibilities” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/216368558400241); education reforms, including retraining of teachers, increasing their salaries, lowering teacher-student ratio, school-provided meals to elementary students and acquisition of modern equipment (https://www.facebook.com/groups/390671054351428/); inspection and retrofitting of concrete buildings in the province, including churches, followed by school-based earthquake-and-other-disaster-preparation classes and training and fielding of trained volunteer fire-and-disaster brigades;

Organization or re-organization of tree-farming co-ops in all the province’s 541 barangays (barrios) and crash program of planting cacao, coffee and cash crops and their shade trees, including an extensive cultivation of bamboo, so as to double the income of participating families in five to ten years, thereby wiping out poverty;  organization and reorganization of fishing co-ops in all the coastal barrios of the province, including the massive cleaning (every weekend) of Sorsogon Bay, the province’s 50 rivers and numerous springs, brooks and other bodies of water and reforestation of their watershed areas. (http://www.mabuhayradio.com/ecology-and-the-environment/the-save-our-sorsogon-sos-bay-initiative);

withwidowofairportproponent

(LOLO BOBBY M. Reyes (extreme left) paid a courtesy call on Flor Solis (second from left), widow of the late Sorsogon Rep. Jose Solis (whose photo is hanging above) of the second district of Sorsogon, who lobbied for the construction of the Bulan Airport, in the house of Mrs. Solis and her daughter-in-law, Joanne Solis, who is running for provincial board member for the second district of Sorsogon, Bubot Laguna and journalist, Joseph G. Lariosa. (JGL Photo)

The fresh water of Sorsogon’s 50 rivers and other springs, brooks and streams can be harnessed and exported to different parched countries as today clean potable water is more expensive than crude oil or even gasoline. Launching of food-production centers with grain-storage silos, solar-powered refrigerated warehouse and other equipment; Concreting of the runways, aprons parking spaces of the Bulan and Bacon airports, the construction of control towers, with electronic-and-electrical facilities and fuel depots. (https://www.facebook.com/notes/bobby-m-reyes/how-to-complete-the-bulan-airport-as-revised/10202484307966425); the “New Uber-like Parcel Service and Postal House” (www.nupsph.com); solving the growing squatter problem; massive tourism development program; launching of a law-and-order campaign with a “reinvented” Sorsogon Provincial Sheriff’s Office and fielding of one law-enforcement officer (LEO) with training of five employees that will compose a security force of 5,000 to safeguard millions  of domestic and foreign tourists.
And many other projects that include development of stock market, title insurance industry, workmen’s compensation industry, crop-insurance and/or health-insurance industry, broadband industry, call centers, water parks, solid waste, waste-water (for the Bac-Man geothermal plant) and sewage treatment plants and other environmental friendly energy projects. (
jglariosa@hotmail.com)

Videoclip:  https://youtu.be/oUize3Zp4g4

Joseph G. Lariosa
Correspondent
Journal GlobaLinks
5401 West Lawrence Ave.

Suite 30110
Chicago, IL 60630
Tel. 312.772.5454
Telefax 312.428.5714
E-Mail address: Jgl@jgli.net
Website: jgli.net
Facebook: Joseph G. Lariosa
Twitter: @jogalar
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Filed under Bulan Airport, Bulan Developments, Bulan Municipal, Bulan Observer and Fil-Am Friends, Politics, The Matnog Environmental Advocates Organization (MEAO), Views and Concern

OVERSEAS VOTERS VOTING IN PERSON MUST DEMAND A RECEIPT

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

CHICAGO (JGL) – Overseas Filipino voters, who are interested to find out if their votes match their receipts, should vote in person, not by mail.

But if you don’t care or if you trust the Embassy or Philippine Consulate that your vote will be counted regardless if you want see the receipt or not, then you may just mail in your ballots for as long as you believe that your mail-in votes will be postmarked on or before the May 9, 2016 deadline.

This overseas voter found it the hard way when the staff in the Philippine Consulate in Chicago, who are deputized by the Philippine Commission on Election, to handle the conduct of voting were not able to properly explain to me the nuisances of the difference between voting by mail and voting by person.

It was only after I learned from a complaint of an overseas voter in Hongkong that there was a receipt that validated her vote after dropping the ballot. The complaint of the overseas voter, which was enclosed in a youtube link (http://kickerdaily.com/hk-ofw-claims-she-voted-for-duterte-but-roxas-came-out-in-the-ballot/), which went viral, led me to double check with the Philippine Consulate in Chicago how come I did not get a receipt after I filled up my ballot in the voting precinct in the Consulate.

The complainant said although she voted for “Duterte,” the receipt showed she voted for “Roxas.”

This took me aback and I wanted to find out what happened to the ballot that I filled up and informed the Consulate.

Deputy Consul General and SBEI (Special Board of Election Inspectors) Chairman Romulo Victor M. Israel, Jr. belatedly explained to me that according to COMELEC Resolution No. 10087, ballot receipts are shown only to those who voted personally, meaning those who cast their votes by receiving and accomplishing their ballots at the polling center, and feeding their ballots into the Vote Counting Machine (VCM).

Moreover, after verifying his/her votes as contained in the receipt, the voter will be asked to fold and drop it in a designated receptacle or box. Voters shall not be allowed to bring the receipts with them.

 “BATCH FEEDING”

voting1

FOR THE RECORD: (Just for my record, I asked that a picture be taken of me while I was voting at the Philippine Consulate last Wednesday, May 3.  I never imagined I would be publishing this picture . (JGL Photo)

 When I voted last May 3, I took with me the ballot I received from the mail in the Consulate. I filled up my ballot in the Consulate voting table.

When I asked where I should drop my ballot, I was told the “batch feeding” has been closed for the day.

I was given an option to come back the following day so I will be one to drop my filled-up ballot in the batch feeding. When I asked if my ballot would be deposited with other filled-up ballots, they said in the affirmative.

But there was no mention of a receipt at all by the Philippine Consulate staff. What was mentioned was “batch feeding.”

If not from the complaint of the Hongkong voter that there was discrepancy between her filled up ballot and her receipt, I would just have kept quiet about it.

Technically, because I brought my ballot and filled up my ballot in the Consulate, I really voted in person, not by mail. The Consulate should have told me that because the “batch feeding” is closed, “we cannot hold on to your ballot and you have to come back.”

I would have gladly come back because I wanted to experience the thrill and excitement of seeing the election tools working properly.

Otherwise, I will follow the lead of the Hongkong voter, who had to complaint to media to expose the discrepancy.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I am going to accompany someone, Mr. Marlon Pecson, who has not yet voted.

I would like to find out if the voter will experience the thrill and excitement that the votes in the receipt he took matched with what he had written in his ballot.

Overseas voters have until 4 a.m. , in case of Central Time  in Chicago, Monday, April 9, to come to the Consulate to personally vote.

Those mailed-in ballots postmarked before April 9 and received at noon of April 9 will still be received and counted. (jglariosa@hotmail.com)

Joseph G. Lariosa
Correspondent
Journal GlobaLinks
5401 West Lawrence Ave.

Suite 30110
Chicago, IL 60630
Tel. 312.772.5454
Telefax 312.428.5714

E-Mail address: Jgl@jgli.net
Website: jgli.net
Facebook: Joseph G. Lariosa
Twitter: @jogalar
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GOV. LEE MANHANDLES MINING TRESPASSER

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

CHICAGO (JGL) – A driver at a mining firm, who was suspected of trespassing in a mining concern in Castilla, Sorsogon in the Philippines, was manhandled by Sorsogon Gov. Raul R. Lee in a video clip that is going viral.

govleeattacksdriver

Sorsogon Gov. Raul Lee (in red shirt) is shown messing up the face of a mining driver, who turned his back on the governor, who was asking him questions for trespassing in a mining firm for gold and platinum in Castilla, Sorsogon from this screenshot from a video clip that has gone viral. (JGL Photo)

Although, the incident happened a year ago, it was only now, three days before the Philippine election, that the video clip was circulated by an anonymous videographer, who fed it to the critics of Governor Lee.

It was reported that the governor, who is not running for office this time, was pissed off when the driver turned his back to the governor, who was asking him a question.

It was also reported that Governor Lee was asking the driver, who authorized him to trespass in the mining concern and who his financier was. Mr. Lee, who is a lawyer by profession, was also asking what equipment the driver was using.

When the driver could not answer the Governor’s question, he turned his back on the Governor. This prompted Governor Lee to gang up on him and rough the driver up by crashing the driver’s face with his hands and fingers while Governor Lee’s security officers tried to stop the Governor from causing the driver more harm.

Although Lee can still run for the third term, he decided to pass up the election and let his son, Bobit Lee Rodrigueza, run for  governor. His wife, incumbent Sorsogon City Mayor Sally Lee is running for re-election against Jo Abegail “Bem” Dioneda, the eldest daughter of former Sorsogon Mayor Leovic Dioneda, who died from heat stroke two weeks ago.

Rodrigueza, who is running under the Liberal Party, is up against Sorsogon provincial board member Eric Dioneda, son of the late Mayor Leovic Dioneda, who is running under the PDP-Laban, and six other candidates, including Independent gubernatorial candidate and Balikbayan Bobby M. Reyes, who is running under the ticket of Sen. Grace Poe, on the May 9 elections. (jglariosa@hotmail.com)

Contributed videoclip: https://www.facebook.com/AngPeepNiSally/videos/vb.1554654264852412/1609323166052188/?type=2&theater

Joseph G. Lariosa
Correspondent
Journal GlobaLinks
5401 West Lawrence Ave.

Suite 30110
Chicago, IL 60630
Tel. 312.772.5454
Telefax 312.428.5714

E-Mail address: Jgl@jgli.net
Website: jgli.net
Facebook: Joseph G. Lariosa
Twitter: @jogalar
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Filed under Bulan Observer and Fil-Am Friends, Graft and Corruption, Joseph Lariosa, The Matnog Environmental Advocates Organization (MEAO), Views and Concern

CAN DUTERTE END “REIGN OF ERROR” IN PH?

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2016 Journal GlobaLinks)

NARITA, Japan (JGL) – I was on my way to Chicago, Illinois when I got a PM (private message) on my Facebook account that my cousin’s husband was gunned down because he refused to give up his dream to become a councilor in the municipality of Matnog, Sorsogon.

onoy

Onoy

Seven bullets from a .45 pistol were pumped in various parts of the body of Cayetano “Onoy” G. Oro, Jr., 58, an UNA candidate, by two men, who fled after his killing in front of the house of Barangay Captain Nelson Gacis in Pawa, Matnog at about 6:20 p.m. on April 25. 

I felt guilty because I was in Matnog a few days before the shooting for about five hours while I was writing a story for my outlets in one of the Internet cafes there. But I forgot to ask Onoy’s uncle, retired Matnog policeman Nonoy M. Garra, for me to talk to Onoy.

Onoy’s death followed the broad daylight shooting of Onoy’s uncle, also a retired policeman Virgilio “Bilyong” Garra, who was also gunned down after losing his election as Matnog councilor in the 2013 elections.

Like Onoy’s death, Bilyong death was also attributed to the “people’s justice” promoted by the New People’s Army (NPA’s).

In other words, Onoy’s death will be an unsolved crime again — a perfect crime, where killers will never be brought to justice – like Bilyong’s.

Will this murder of impunity stop if Mayor Duterte were elected president on Monday, May 9?

It remains to be seen.

I am not a big fan of Mayor Duterte, in fact I am leaning on voting for the Gobyernong may Puso, but if Duterte wins and make good his threat to pulverize the criminals, like the killers of Onoy and Bilyong, I might warm up to Duterte’s Death Squad (DDS).

Like Hitler’s SS (Schutzstaffel) or Marcos’ Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group (MISG) or Metrocom Strike Force (MSF), who could not shoot straight, President Duterte’s Death Squad (DDS) should still give killers of Onoy and Bilyong a day in court before DDS take matters into their own hands.

These killers should hope and pray that Mayor Duterte does not win on Monday.

 NPA’S CLAIMED RESPONSIBILITY TO BILYONG’S KILLING

bilyong

Bilyong

 The NPA’s had already claimed responsibility for the killing of Bilyong because they alleged Bilyong was pushing drugs. But the NPA’s brand of justice is spotty. If the hierarchy of NPA’s only investigated Bilyong first before killing him, they would learn that their intelligence information was flawed.

Bilyong could not have sold drugs because he did not even have money to buy medicine to cure his big boil on his neck. (Please note the towel covering his boil in this photo).

The Sorsogon Philippine National Police cannot go after the NPA’s even after the NPA’s claimed responsibility for the killing of Bilyong because the PNP said the relatives of Bilyong refused to file a complaint. Can you believe the alibi of the PNP? Who of the relatives in their right mind would file a complaint against the NPA’s when the PNP could not even provide protection to my relatives?

PARENS PATRIAE

 When there is dead body, a good police agency can motu proprio (on his own impulse) conduct a criminal investigation even if there is no complainant. The dead body is considered “evidence,” a “smoking gun.” Why wait for the scared complainant to come forward when the government under the Constitutional doctrine of “parens patriae” can extend protection to the victims of crime by prosecuting the criminals?

I’ve been prodding the relatives of Bilyong to sue the NPA’s but my relatives were hesitant to do so, because they feared they would be the next victims of NPA’s.

True enough, their fear and apprehension unfolded before their very eyes when Onoy was killed and the killing was attributed yet again to the usual suspects – the NPA’s.

But Onoy was not even a suspected drug pusher either, nor a common criminal. Onoy just wanted to make his dream as an elected municipal councilor come true.

Where is the outrage of the community?

But I have a feeling the NPA’s are terrorizing the peace-loving people of Matnog, the birthplace of my mother, because the NPA’s are conspiring with or are being coddled by local municipal officials of Matnog and Sorsogon provincial officials.

When the death of Bilyong was brought up two years ago in my conversation with Matnog Mayor Emilio G. Ubaldo, Mayor Ubaldo was silent. (Please see my photo with Mayor Ubaldo.)

According to grape vines when Bilyong ran for councilor in Matnog, Mayor Ubaldo felt threatened by Bilyong’s candidacy.

 BILYONG WAS AS POOR AS A RAT

 How can Bilyong become a threat to Mayor Ubaldo? Bilyong is as poor as a rat. His pension as a retired policeman was not even enough to feed himself. Bilyong did not even have money to buy medicine to cure the big boil on his neck. My sister and nephew gave Bilyong money to buy medicine to cure his boil but Bilyong saved the money for himself so he could keep his small business going while he endured the pain.

Bilyong obviously did not profit from his business because when he was gunned down, his boil was still sticking on his neck and was even growing!

And I surmise, Mayor Ubaldo also felt threatened by Onoy.

Bilyong and Onoy were only running for lowly municipal councilors. Why will Mayor Ubaldo feel threatened?

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The Mayor (left) with the author Josep G. Lariosa

Mayor Ubaldo has been the undisputed political warlord in Matnog. Bilyong and Onoy were not even challenging him. Why doesn’t he let other people run for office in Matnog so they can also serve the people, like Bilyong’s granduncle, the late Lamberto “Papa Titong” G. Garra, who was a long-time outstanding councilor of Matnog with unblemished record?

Bilyong’s father, Jose “Papa Tote” G. Garra, was also a long-time municipal secretary of Matnog and was never involved in corruption.

NPA’S SHOULD BE PROSECUTED BY HRC

 As for the NPA’s, who are extorting money from politicians by demanding “permit to campaign (PTC),” I suggest the government human rights commission (HRC) should prosecute these NPA’s. Reward money should be given to anonymous tipsters, who can give information of the extortion activities of the NPA’s to the HRC so the NPA’s do not know the anonymous tipster and the NPA’s do not know whom to retaliate against.

In the first district of Sorsogon, NPA’s demanded and was granted P1.2-M (US$26,666) by candidate running for congress while NPA’s demanded but was rejected when they demanded P500,000 (US$11,111) from a gubernatorial candidate (Eric Dioneda) of Duterte’s PDP-Laban party because the candidate does not have money. Eric Dioneda is the son of Sorsogon City mayoral candidate Leovic Dioneda, who died of heat stroke last week. Leovic will be replaced (or substituted) by his eldest daughter, Jo Abegail “Bem” Dioneda.

Onoy is going to be replaced (or substituted) by his sibling.

Another Sorsogon gubernatorial candidate, Bobby M. Reyes, who is running as an independent supporting Grace Poe, said he does not have money to pay the PTC to the NPA’s but he will focus his campaign on airwaves (radio/TV/social media) and print media so his message can hopefully reach out to the areas under the influence of the NPA’s.

If NPA’s extortion activities weaken because of the reward money, then reward money should also be given to anonymous tipsters of terrorists groups, like Abu Sayyaf.

In the case of jueteng lords, these jueteng lords should pay taxes to the Philippine government because they are using the transportation and communication lines and other facilities set up by the Philippine government. (jglariosa@hotmail.com)

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NPA’s OUT OF TOUCH, ANACHRONISTIC!

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange)

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – The New People’s Army used to have my respect for championing the causes for social justice and reform in the countryside.

Not anymore.

If they keep on their murderous streak, like what they did to my first cousin, Virgilio “Bilyong” Miguel Garra, based on their faulty intelligence, they would turn up like the boy, who cried wolf. Nobody would believe them anymore that they could be the
alternative law enforcers or vigilantes for the oppressed Filipinos in the rural community.

Saying that they killed Garra, a retired Senior Police Officer 1 in the Philippine National Police, for being active in intelligence work in Matnog, Bulan and Magallanes in the Philippines against the NPA’s last July 24 at 6:45 a.m., the NPA’s took matters into their hands by executing (salvaging) him extra judicially without mercy in the middle of the street.

The NPA’s accused Garra of reporting their activities to the Philippine government’s Commanding Officer of the 31st Infantry (Army) Battalion.

So, what if Garra would still remain to be in the intelligence community after his retirement? If he would be reporting only the truth, I don’t see anything wrong with him taking a post-retirement second career path!

Garra was like some retired policemen joining a private security agency or as bouncer of some nightclubs or bodyguard to some celebrities and politicians, which are very much part of a field of his expertise. Other policemen, who retired from the mounted service, would even form an escort service to cater to funeral processions and wedding events.

At 55, Mr. Garra was too young to retire and to give up the knowledge he learned after years of training in the field that contributed to the maintenance of peace and order in his neighborhood.

His killers, the NPA’s so-called Celso Minguez Command in Matnog, had blamed him for causing the surrender of two members of the Command during the 90’s and in 2006.

Why would Mr. Garra be deprived of doing something that he loved to do that made him an effective supplier of prized information that helped the local military keep the peace in the neighborhood?

 TRAITOR TO NPA’s, HERO TO THE GOVERNMENT

 In the eyes of the NPA’s, Garra was a traitor to their cause. But in the eyes of the Philippine government, Garra was a hero!

This bunch of thugs and outlaws could not manufacture a more credible accusation against Bilyong. So, they contrived a ridiculous web of lies that Bilyong was being punished for being a “dealer of shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) that wrecks havoc on the health of Sorsoganons.

If my cousin were a drug dealer in the community, “in the schools and in the offices,” why was this accusation not ever raised when he ran for town-wide councilor of Matnog last May?

A real drug dealer, in his right mind, would not run the risk of exposing his reputation as a drug dealer by running for a public office, like Virgilio.

At a street value of 5,000 pesos (US$ 119.00) per gram or $167,683.30 to $251,524.90 (P6.7 million-P10 million) per kilogram, shabu should have made Virgilio a very rich man. He could have financed the surgical operation and the professional fees of the doctors, who could treat his “two baseball-sized boil” in the back of his neck. If Virgilio had sleepless nights, it was not because his conscience was bothering him because he was a  drug dealer but because the boil in the back of his neck could not let him sleep if he lied down flat on his back!

But instead of spending the money sent Virgilio by his nephew, who is in the U.S. military, to have his boil treated, Virgilio used the money to buy a van that he needed in his small auto repair business. But when Virgilio’s wife needed the money to treat her cancer, Virgilio sold his auto repair business lock, stock and barrel to pay for the hospitalization of his cancer-stricken wife, who died last year.

To support his family, Virgilio started a rattan furniture business, which would not have been necessary, if he had a lucrative business in dealing shabu.

THEY SHOULD SHED THEIR DUTCH COURAGE!

 I challenge the killers of Virgilio, who owned up the crime, to come forward and present their evidence against him and extricate themselves from the crime of murder. They should not hide under the skirt of anonymity or have the Dutch courage of their leader Jose Ma. Sison, who waged his war against the Marcos dictatorship from Utrecht.

For the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, it’s about time they give up their arms, come down from the hills, and join the mainstream society. World War II was over a long time ago!

The Hukbalahap (Hukbong Mapagpalaya Laban sa Hapon) has long disbanded. Your North Star, namely, the Socialism in Russia and the Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, had crumbled and is now turning capitalist! Your raison d’etre is gone!

Why don’t you step out of the shadows and help the Philippine government in its peace and order drive? Tama na an pasaway san mga bulan-bulanan! (Grow up. Enough of being a nuisance!)

If you don’t return to mainstream society, you are just common criminals and petty extortionists, who are considered terrorists by the international community.

If you return to society by renouncing use of arms, you can run for public office. If your campaign would make sense, I am sure you can get some votes and you can even win!

But you have to step out of the shadows as Communism as an ideology, except perhaps for Cuba, is now becoming extinct. And your murderous spree will never endear you to the rural folks either nor to your supporters, local or overseas, who should now be wearing out your welcome.

If your children will realize that their education and their goals under Communism are very limited to taking up arms against their kababayans (countrymates) and the government, they should be deserting you so they can live peacefully by embracing the rules of society. But of course, your children’s desertion will only be possible if the Philippine government can bring education to them and provide them jobs and treat them humanely, not with iron hand.

These children will leave the aging NPA warriors to fend for themselves. When this time comes, it will be the end of Communism in the Philippines.

But if the NPA’s will insist on leading a life on the run, it is entirely up to them to lead an everlasting life of isolation and more hardship. Nobody will cry for their loneliness nor covet their godforsaken kingdom. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 Virgilio Bilyong Miguel Garra, the candidate for councilor

Photo of Virgilio “Bilyong” Miguel Garra (left), whose hand is being raised by Sorsogon leader, Hermie Aquino, during the election campaign last May when he ran for Matnog, Sorsogon, Philippines councilor. (From the Facebook of his daughter, Versie Garra Antonio)

 Virgilio Bilyong Miguel Garra Shot in the middle of the street

Photo of Virgilio “Bilyong” Miguel Garra when gunned down in the middle of the street by the New People’s Army last July 24 in Matnog, Sorsogon, Philippines. (Facebook of the NPA’s, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006470253173)

Joseph G. Lariosa
Correspondent
Fil Am Extra Exchange
Journal Group Link International
P. O. Box 30110
Chicago, IL 60630
Tel. 312.772.5454
Telefax 312.428.5714

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MAKING A DIFFERENCE WITHOUT WALLOWING IN POLITICS

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange)

CAROL STREAM, Illinois (FAXX/jGLi) – Unlike the father of Sorsogon re-electionist Sen. Francis “Chiz’ Escudero, who discouraged Chiz from running for elective office, the father of Escudero’s province mate, Loida Nicolas Lewis, groomed her in politics early in life.

In fact, her father, Francisco J. Nicolas, gave her name recognition a head start while she was still a young student, by naming one of the first movie houses in the province after her – Loida – in the capital city of Sorsogon, instead of his three other children.

When another accomplished Filipino American – Cook County Judge Jessica O’Brien in Illinois – asked Attorney Lewis last April 12 here if she ever has entertained plans of running for office in the Philippines, her response was short and swift: “No. Kakainin tayo ng buhay, (politics will eat us alive) if we run (for office) in the Philippines. Voters are poor. You have to give them money. They get your money (but they can) not to be trusted. If you run, run to win. If you run for principle, gaga ka (you are nuts.)”

Of course, another militating factor for her not to enter politics in the Philippines is the injunction for her to give up first her U.S. citizenship, a Constitution ban, which many dual citizen Filipinos want scrapped.

So, instead of politics, Ms. Lewis now sticks by with what she does best – keep up with her advocacies with her fellow members of the U.S. Pinoys For Good Government (USP4GG) as watchdogs to politicians, who stray off the straight path.

She said, when someone proposed to bury the late Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (National Heroes Cemetery), “we were there to stand in the way.” Ironically, it was a congressional resolution authored by Senator Escudero’s father, the late Congressman Salvador “Sonny” Escudero, one of the sponsors of my wedding, who sponsored the resolution to give Mr. Marcos a heroes burial, which did not get off the ground.

Ms. Lewis was in town as one of the motivational speakers to what was billed as “Billionaire’s Expo” held at the Holiday Inn & Suites at 150 S. Gary Avenue sponsored by IPJM in cooperation with twice-monthly Fil-Am MegaScene of nearby Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

THE 1-MILLION OAV’s

On the side, she also endorsed eight of the 12 senatorial candidates of the PNoy Team that the nearly one million registered Filipino overseas absentee voters out of the estimated 9.5- to 12.5-million should vote by mail from April 13 to May 13 elections. Overseas voters will also be voting for one Party-List representative. If the registered overseas Filipinos would turn up in droves, the votes could spell victory or defeat for candidates contesting the 12th spot.

A leading overseas political campaigner and fund-raiser for the Noynoy-Mar 2010 presidential elections that resulted in a split victory to President Aquino, Attorney Lewis is also grounded on local politics in keeping with the truism that all politics are local.

She is now being viewed by bickering local politicians’ as their lifeline to political gods like Secretary Mar Roxas, the presumed standard bearer of the Liberal Party in the 2016 presidential elections.

Sorsogon provincial board member Vladimir Ramon B. Frivaldo, the official candidate for Vice Governor in Sorsogon under the Liberal Party, sought the help of this columnist to bring his complaint to Attorney Lewis for Mr. Roxas to impose party discipline on 2nd District Sorsogon Rep. Diogracias “Ding” Ramos,” Sorsogon and Provincial LP Co-Chairman, for not recognizing Mr. Renato “Ato” Laurinaria, LP official candidate for Sorsogon governor, and himself as LP vice gubernatorial candidate in Sorsogon.

Mr. Ramos, instead, endorsed an independent gubernatorial candidate. Mr. Frivaldo wants Ms. Lewis to relay this confusion to Mr. Roxas.

And as a Bicolana, Ms. Lewis was also invited by Ms. Evelyn R. Tolledo, president of Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest, to be the guest of honor and speaker at the national convention of Bikol National Associations of America in Chicago, Illinois on July 25-27, 2014.

Aside from local politics, Attorney Lewis is also attuned to international affairs, involving the Philippines. Last year, she was a godsend to Filipino nationalists, who could not speak openly against Chinese aggression in Philippine Western Sea (South China Sea). She advocated for the boycott of Chinese products around the world by urging overseas Filipinos to hold rallies before the Philippine Embassy and different consulates in the U.S. On Aug 21, 2013, it will be a much bigger rally, she warned.

SPOTTY CHINESE INTELLIGENCE EXPOSED

Her boycott call must have been so effective that when she led a rally in Makati, she saw her face on a Chinese footage carried by a local TV denouncing her as China’s “Public Enemy No. 1. The footage urged Chinese to boycott her Beatrice products in Mainland China, eh, nabenta ko na ito! (I already sold out my products in China!),” evoking laughter from her audience.

Ms. Lewis’ feat of attracting the attention of China was a coup of sorts as it exposed China’s spotty intelligence apparatus for calling for a boycott of Beatrice products based on false information – a bum steer (koryente).

Ms. Lewis congratulated the government of President Aquino for piling up over $80-billion in reserves since he took power from Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; for improving the investment grade of the country to triple “B” rating in 2012; for turning the GDP growth as No. 3 in Southeast Asia at 6.6 % economic expansion with China as first and Turkey, second; for the International Monetary Fund to ask the Philippines to lend Spain $1.3-billion. “Isn’t it amazing? Spain brought us Christianity but was repressive to us, but is now saved by the Philippines!”

She added another feather in President Aquino’s cap is the elevation of Secretary of Finance Cesar Purisima as the best finance minister in the world by a financial magazine.

The philanthropist, who helped raised a portion of “blood money” for the release of Rodelio Celestino “Dondon” Lanuza, said Mr. Lanuza is going to be released next month from Death Row in Saudi Arabia after the Saudi King Abdullahoffered to fork over a substantial balance of 2.3 million Saudi Riyals (P25 million) of the total 3 million Saudi Riyals (P33 million) to spare Lanuza’s life. She credits this columnist for bringing Mr. Lanuza’s case to her attention.

But for all the accolades she heaped on President Aquino, she dumbed down Mr. Aquino for his handling of the Sabah issue. “The Sultan of Sulu wrote him letters three times and nothing happened.  They (the Sultan’s men) invaded Sabah. Why go on TV (and threaten the Sultan with jail)? (Bakit hindi niya tawagan ang Sultan nariyan lang sa Taguig?) (Why didn’t he call the Sultan, who is just there in Taguig? And tell him, “What do you want? Let’s talk.” Paghindi niya ginawa yan, napakasimple. Otherwise, he is doing good.” (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

Atty. Loida N Lewis

FAXX/jGLi Photo of Atty. Loida N. Lewis.

JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Correspondent
Fil Am Extra Exchange
Journal Group Link International
P. O. Box 30110
Chicago IL 60630
U.S.A.
Tel. 312.772.5454
Telefax 312.428.5714 
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FIL AM GROUP ENDORSES 8 TEAM PNOY SENATORIAL BETS, JUNKS ENRI

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange)

CAROL STREAM, Illinois (FAXX/jGLi) – Filipino American business tycoon Loida Nicolas Lewis, co-leader of the U.S. Pinoys For Good Governance (USP4GG), disclosed here on the eve of the start of the absentee voting for overseas Filipinos on Friday (April 12) that USP4GG is endorsing at least eight of the 12 Team PNoy senatorial candidates to give President Noynoy Aquino a majority in the Philippine senate for the next three year. But she clarified the endorsement should “not let [President Aquino become] a dictator but only to get things done properly.”

The ageless and tireless civil rights activist said USP4GG would also be campaigning for the election of two Independent candidates (Edward Hagedorn and Bro. Eddie Villanueva) “who are straight (honest) at hindi ipagbibili ang bayan(who will not betray the people). But she will be campaigning against a senatorial candidate accused of murdering an actor during martial law (Rep. Jack Enrile).

The credibility of the USP4GG gained traction in 2010 elections when majority of its endorsed senatorial slate in the 2010 won in the presidential elections, including then Sen. Noynoy Aquino, who won the presidency. But its vice presidential bet, former Senator and now DILG Sec. Mar Roxas, lost to former Makati City Mayor Jojo Binay. There are about 900,000 registered Filipino overseas voters.

A Makati city resident and former law classmate of Vice President Binay, Attorney Lewis said she would still be backing Secretary Roxas if Mr. Roxas and Mr. Binay would have a return bout in the 2016 presidential elections.

She said Mr. Binay simply cannot toe the line of President Aquino’s call for a “tuwid na daan” (straight path) as Vice President Binay has surrounded himself with corrupt underlings with the likes of former Sen. Ernesto Maceda, who was accused of car smuggling and human trafficking while Philippine Ambassador to the United States under the President Joseph “Erap” Estrada Administration.

BINAY OWNS BAKERY

While then Mayor Binay was giving away birthday cakes to senior citizens of Makati, these cakes came from Binay’s bakery. A resident of luxury Rockwell condominium in Makati, Ms. Lewis said in every high-rise tower built in Makati, Mr. Binay has one condominium unit, like his daughter, who has a penthouse at Rockwell.

At the same time, the Bicolana businesswoman and lawyer from Sorsogon province is raising funds for the campaign of Atty. Leni Robredo, the widow of the late iconic DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, who is running for congress of the third district of Camarines Sur under President Aquino’s Liberal Party. Mrs. Robredo, a very poor candidate, is running against a well-ensconced political dynasty — the wife of incumbent termed-out Rep. Luis R.  Villafuerte – Atty. Nelly Favis-Villafuerte, former Trade and Industry Undersecretary a columnist of Manila Bulletin.

The philanthropist urged Evelyn de la Rosa Tolledo, president of Chicago’s suburban Schiller Park, Illinois-based Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest, to help her appeal to fellow Bikolanos to raise funds for Mrs. Robredo that Attorney Lewis will match and would turn over by April 30, 2013 to Mrs. Robredo. Ms. Tolledo, a native of Catanduanes, can be reached at 3809 Emerson Drive, Schiller Park, Illinois, 60167 U.S.A., Tel. 773.946.9668, or email address:evelynbikolusamid@gmail.com.  Checks are payable to Loida N. Lewis and at the memo of the check, “In Trust for Leni Robredo.”

In brief remarks before members of the Filipino community, Ms. Lewis thanked the community for supporting the causes of USP4GG, among them the election of President Aquino last May 2010. She said President Aquino needs continued support of overseas Filipinos for keeping his word to eliminate corruption in the Philippine bureaucracy. She credited Mr. Aquino with the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona and the passage of the contentious RH Bill, which spells out the need for spacing the children, which is vigorously opposed by the Catholic Church.

Lewis explained that when Mr. Aquino’s mother, the late President Cory Aquino, took power partly behind the support of the Catholic Church, there was no government policy on birth control. During that time, the Philippine population stood at 45-million. But after nearly 30 years, the Philippine population has doubled to 100-million.

MORE CHILDREN, MORE CHALLENGE TO FIND THEM JOBS

Lewis said, “If we don’t give women the right to decide the number of children in the family, the Philippines will lose its ability to find jobs for these children. This will force Filipinos to go to the ends of the world. Filipinos have now relocated to every part of the earth, including the God-forsaken and the coldest place on earth, Antarctica, where studies on earth are being carried out. There are three Filipina nurses working in Antarctica. There are even 2,000 families living in La Loma Cemetery in Manila and even under bridges.

“If you send your children to school, go to a puericulture center to get advice when pregnant and how to feed babies right and undergo vaccination and health check ups, the government gives away 1,500 Philippines pesos (US$36.00) a month under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT). This is the program that weakens the existence of the New Peoples Army because the government is now taking care of the poorest of the poor in the Philippines,” she said.

The other speaker at the community interaction was Judge Jessica O’Brien, the first Filipino American elected Cook County Circuit Court judge, who narrated her early struggles growing up in Mandaue City in the Philippines.

The Team PNoy senatorial candidates that Attorney Lewis is endorsing for overseas Filipinos to vote by mail starting April 13 up to May 13, 2013 elections are: No. 2. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino; No. 3. Benigno “Bam” Aquino, Liberal Party; No. 18. Risa Hontiveros, Akbayan Citizen’s Action Party; No. 19. Loren Legarda, Nationalist Peoples’ Action Party; No. 24. Ramon Magsaysay, Jr., Liberal Party; No. 27. Koko Pimentel, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan; and No. 13. Chiz Escudero, Independent; and the Independents are No. 16. Edward Hagedorn and No. 31. Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Bangon Pilipinas Party.

Being endorsed as one of the three Party-List Representatives are No. 117. Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party; No. 127. Ang Nars, Inc.; and No. 129. Coalition of Association of Senior Citizens in the Philippines; and being junked from senatorial slate is Rep. Jack Enrile.

CAYETANO, ESCUDERO VOTES EXPLAINED

Mrs. Lewis added Pia Cayetano into the mix for supporting the “RH” (Reproductive Health) bill. But Cayetano is not a candidate in next month’s elections  either as her term would still end in 2016. She might have in mind Cayetano’s younger brother Alan Peter Cayetano, who is also a part of Team PNoy and was one of the 13 senators who also voted for the passage of the RH bill.

Although, Senator Escudero is not in the endorsed list, Attorney Lewis is campaigning personally for Mr. Escudero, not only because he is her fellow Sorgogueno but Mr. Escudero has not been accused of big-time corruption baka maliliit lang (maybe petty ones). Although Mr. Escudero has not done anything to improve Sorsogon province except for the appropriation of 500,000 pesos (US$11,904.00) for a book on Sorsogon, he could not be entirely blamed because during the term of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Mr. Escudero was never allocated his pork barrel.

As former classmate of the mother of actor Alfie Anido, Sarah Serrano, at St. Theresa’s College, Mrs. Lewis said the family of Anido did not pursue the investigation of the murder of Anido whose death was being pinned on Jackie Enrile because during martial law the truth could not be established. She urged Filipinos to junk the senatorial candidacy of Jack Enrile even if Senate President Enrile will be mad at her.

Mrs. Lewis also accepted an invitation from Ms. Evelyn Tolledo to be the guest of honor and speaker of the 31st national convention of Bikol National Associations of America from July 25 to 27, 2014 to be held in Chicago area. The BNAA will be holding its 30th national convention this year at Oriental Hotel in Legazpi City from July 16-18 in cooperation with the Department of Tourism.

Among the initial donors for the Leni Robredo campaign fund drive are Bikol U.S.A of the Midwest, $100; and its members, Bob Tolledo, $20.00; Tony Blando, Romy Sarcilla of World Financial Group and Danilo Auro, $10.00 each; and Jun Delfin of Chicago’s suburban Palatine-based Unlimited Agency, Inc., $50.00.

Tony Blando, a classmate of Jesse Robredo and Joel Anselmo Cadiz, President Aquino’s former lawyer and Solicitor General and two-time president of Integrated Bar of the Philippines and running under Aquino’s Liberal Party banner, said Attorney Cadiz is facing termed-out 77-year-old Rep. Luis R. Villafuerte Sr. of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and the latter’s 23-year-old grandson, Miguel Villafuerte, of the Nacionalista Party, for the gubernatorial race in Camarines Sur. Mr. Cadiz had earlier requested his classmate, former Philippine prosecutor Carlos A. Cortes, Jr., a Chicago immigrant, to return to Camarines Sur to help him run for governor. Mr. Blando asked Attorney Lewis to support Mr. Cadiz if only to help totally topple the Villafuerte dynasty in the province..

Ms. Lewis was in town to speak on April 12-14 before “Billionaire’s Expo” at the Holiday Inn & Suites at 150 S. Gary Avenue here sponsored by IPJM in cooperation with twice-monthly Fil-Am MegaScene published and edited by Bart & Yoly Tubalinal of nearby Buffalo Grove, Illinois. The other featured guests at the event were Bishop Abraham Gaor, founder, “School of Wealth & Success,” and Pastor Armand Cudia, author of Shepherds Into Kings, Ms. Irene Alano-Rhodes of “Miss Saigon,” West End Theater, London and Dany Juat of “Papuri” singing group and IPJM Band. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

Accepts BNAA Invite To Chicago

BIKOLANA TYCOON ACCEPTS BNAA INVITE:

Bikolana Filipino American Attorney Loida Nicolas Lewis (seated) holds the book, “Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun?,” a bio epic of her husband, Attorney Reginald Lewis, shortly after accepting last Friday, April 12, an invitation from Ms. Evelyn de la Rosa Tolledo (third from right), president of the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest, to be the guest of honor and speaker at the national convention of the Bikol National Associations of America (BNAA) on July 25-27, 2014 in Chicagoland. Attorney Lewis was the featured speaker at the  “Billionaire’s Expo” at the Holiday Inn & Suites at 150 S. Gary Avenue in Carol Stream, Illinois sponsored by IPJM in cooperation with twice-monthly Fil-Am MegaScene, published and edited by Bart & Yoly Tubalinal of nearby Buffalo Grove, Illinois. The other guests at the event were Bishop Abraham Gaor, founder, “School of Wealth & Success,” and Pastor Armand Cudia, author of Shepherds Into Kings, Ms. Irene Alano-Rhodes of “Miss Saigon,” West End Theater, London and Dany Juat of “Papuri” singing group and IPJM Band. Ms. Lewis also spoke about current events in the Philippines. Looking on from left are officers and members of the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest, Danilo Auro, Tony Blando, Romy Sarcilla, Bob Tolledo, Joseph G. Lariosa and Luz Nunez. (FAXX/jGLi Photo)

Campaign Opening Salvo (1)

OPENING CAMPAIGN SALVO:

Filipino American Attorney Loida Nicolas Lewis (standing), co-leader of the U.S. Pinoys For Good Governance, gives brief remarks, where she endorsed to 900,000 registered Filipino overseas voters to vote for at least eight of the 12 Team PNoy senatorial candidates to give President Noynoy Aquino a majority in the Philippine senate for the next three year. But she clarified the endorsement should “not let [President Aquino become] a dictator but only to get things done properly.” Looking at left is Judge Jessica O’Brien (left), the first Filipino American elected Cook County Circuit judge, and Ms. Yoly T. Tubalinal, co-publisher/editor of Fil Am Megascene, a twice-monthly publication in Chicagoland. At left are participants to a community event that include Jun Delfin, Tony Blando, Bob Tolledo, Bart SG. Tubalinal, Thelma Fuentes, Evelyn Natividad and Luz Nunez. (FAXX/jGLi Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)

JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Correspondent
Fil Am Extra Exchange
Journal Group Link International
P. O. Box 30110
Chicago IL 60630
U.S.A.
Tel. 312.772.5454
Telefax 312.428.5714 
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What Is Obama’s Take On North Borneo (Sabah) Standoff?

By Joseph Lariosa

“Men take advantage of weakness of other men. They’re just like countries that way. The strong man takes the weak man’s land.”
-Lolo Soetero Mangunharjo, stepfather of President Barack Obama (“Dreams from My  Father”) © 1995

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – Barack Obama was probably in the third or fourth grade of his impressionable years in the late sixties in Jakarta, Indonesia when he asked his stepfather Lolo (Soetero Mangunharjo) if he ever saw a man killed.

Lolo answered, “Yes.” And Barack asked again, “Was it bloody?” Lolo answered, “Yes.”In his book, Dreams from My Father (Random House, 1995/Kodansha Globe 1996), the grade school boy, who would be the 44th United States President, asked again, “Why was the man killed? The one you saw?”

Lolo answered, “Because he was weak. That’s all. That’s usually enough. Men take advantage of weakness of other men. They’re just like countries that way. The strong man takes the weak man’s land. He makes the weak man work in his fields. If the weak man’s woman is pretty, the strong will take her.” He paused to sip water, then, asked, “Which would you rather be?”

“I didn’t answer,” Obama said, and Lolo squinted up at the sky. “Better to be strong,” he said finally rising to his feet. “If you can’t be strong, be clever and make peace with someone who’s strong. But always better to be strong yourself. Always.”

These quotes from Mr. Obama’s bestseller reminded me of the attempt of some 200 heirs and followers of the Sultan of Sulu, who tried to reclaim North Borneo or Sabah from Malaysia. Among them were several dozens of Royal Army of Sultan bodyguards.

Instead of negotiating with Sultan of Sulu landlords, the Malaysian Army used all its might and attacked the members of the Royal Army. Malaysia used a sledgehammer, instead of a flyswatter, by killing several dozens of the helpless Filipino landowners. Less than a dozen Malaysian policemen were also killed. 

But Malaysian Army kept on attacking the Filipinos, despite appeals of the United Nations  for a ceasefire, and violated the human rights of the Filipinos, who were arrested.

The young Obama’s nearly four-year stay in Indonesia gave him a brief knowledge of history of Indonesia, which was colonized for centuries by Netherlands (Dutch) and the Japanese during World War II.

OBAMA KNOWS THE REGION IS OIL RICH

In his book, Mr. Obama wrote, “[b]efore leaving Hawaii, she (his mother Stanley Ann Dunham) had tried to learn all she could about Indonesia: the population, fifth in the world, with hundreds of tribes and dialects; the history of colonialism, first the Dutch for over three centuries, then the Japanese during the war, seeking control over vast stores of oil, metal, and timber; the fight for independence after the war and the emergence of a freedom fighter named Sukarno as the country’s first president.”

So, if Mr. Obama would be provided with intelligence by his national security advisers on how to handle the peaceful-turned-bloody take over of North Borneo by the Sultan’s Royal Army, he does need a lot of introduction.

All Mr. Obama needed to be told was that North Borneo or Sabah was the former real estate property of Sultan of Brunei, who ceded Sabah to the Sultan of Sulu for extending protection of the Sultan of Brunei.

But because Brunei struck oil in 1920’s and the oil is still flowing to this day, the neighboring North Borneo has suddenly become a hotly contested property.

Finding the Sultan of Sulu vulnerable from the attack of Spanish colonizers, Austrian Consul Baron von Overbeck tricked the Sultan of Sulu into signing a lease treaty with the Sultan on Jan. 22, 1878. The treaty was written in Malay language written in Arabic script. The agreement gave Overbeck the authority to administer North Borneo estate with a very paltry lease amount – an annual payment of 5,000 Mexican pesos (now Malaysian Ringgit).

This is exactly what Lolo meant when he told the young Obama, “Men take advantage of weakness of other men. They’re just like countries that way. The strong man takes the weak man’s land.”

NO ONE-YEAR ADVANCED NOTICE, NO TREATY SIGNED BY U.S. & GB

Despite the revocation of the lease agreement in September 1878 by the Sultan of Sulu, a Protocol of March 7, 1885 was allegedly hatched among Great Britain, Germany and Spain. For unknown reason, the Protocol let Spain renounce “as far as regards the British government, all claims of sovereignty over the territory of the continent of Borneo, which belong, or which have belonged in the past to the Sultan of Sulu (Jolo) and which comprise the neighboring islands … from the coast, and which form part of the territories administered by the company styled the British North Borneo Company.”

But Mr. Obama will find out that this “Protocol of March 7, 1885” became a worthless scrap of paper when Great Britain tried to ask the United States to transfer North Borneo to Great Britain after the United States signed the Treaty of Peace of 1898 with Spain after U.S. payment of $20-M to Spain, ceding the Philippines and Sulu Archipelago, including North Borneo, to the United States.

Question, if the Protocol of March 7, 1885 was in effect why did Great Britain still ask the U.S. to transfer North Borneo to British administration when the U.S. and Great had the Exchange of Notes of July 3 and 10, 1907 and Jan. 2, 1930 Convention?

According to the Jan. 2, 1930 Convention, “Firstly, the said company (BNBC) be left undisturbed in the administration of the islands (North Borneo) in question unless or until the United States Government give notice to His Majesty’s Government of their desire that the administration of the islands should be transferred to them. The transfer of administration shall be effected within one year after such notice is given on a day and a in a manner to be mutually arranged.”

Its Art. V says, “The present Convention shall be ratified by the President of the United States of America, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate thereof, and by His Britannic Majesty, and shall come into force on the exchange of the acts of ratification, which shall take place at Washington as soon as possible.”

There was no “one year such notice … given and a manner to be mutually arranged” and there was no such ratification by the President of the USA and advice and consent of the Senate and by His Britannic Majesty” on June 26, 1946 when the British North Borneo Company entered into an agreement with the British Government, transferring its interests, powers and rights over to the British Crown to become State of North Borneo. No wonder, the International Court of Justice ruled in 2002 that there was no such transfer.

( lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

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CEBU GOVERNOR SHOULD VACATE CAPITOL

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange)

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – When I advised then San Juan, Metro Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada to ignore the order of Revolutionary President Cory Aquino in 1986 to vacate the San Juan municipal hall, I questioned the validity of the order because it was not addressed to anybody. I told Mayor Estrada the anonymous order was an insult to his person and his office.

If he really wanted to make a point, Mayor Estrada should call a television cameraman and tear the order to pieces, which he did. Estrada would leave the mayor’s office after a violent take-over by the Aquino forces. And only after presenting a detailed financial report – a surplus – which was unheard of at the time to the Aquino government officials so Estrada would not be accused of running away with the taxpayers’ money.

I was already in Chicago, Illinois, when the iconic defiance of Estrada of tearing the order that conjured an image of a Bonifacio tearing up the cedula (residence certificate) and would launch Estrada’s political fortune to the stratosphere.

Of course, I don’t want this to happen in Cebu. And I appeal to former President Estrada and his allies, including Vice President Binay and Senate President Enrile, to tell Cebu Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia to vacate the capitol while she appeals her case. What she needs are lawyers, not her grandstanding supporters, to win her case.

The case of Gov. Garcia, whose six months suspension by the late Sec. Jesse Robredo of the Interior and Local Government was sustained by President Noynoy Aquino’s Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., was a far cry from Estrada’s case.

In Estrada’s case, the order came out of the blue. But in Garcia’s case, there was a full-blown administrative hearing, where she was given a day in court. She knew a decision was forthcoming.

ROBREDO FOUND GARCIA GUILTY OF GRAVE ABUSE OF AUTHORITY

Robredo found Garcia guilty of grave abuse of authority among others for usurping the appointing power of the Vice Governor, for hiring 19 consultants without prior authorization from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), and “slashing the budget, while not illegal, is suggestive of harassment, oppression, and vindictiveness with respondent utilizing the powers of her office and affinity to the SP.”

A copy of the decision on Garcia’s case was emailed to me by Provincial Board Member Vladi Frivaldo of Sorsogon, whose Governor, Raul R. Lee, was denounced by Frivaldo in a privilege speech earlier before the SP for “usurping legislative authority of the Vice Governor by transferring the funds from SP to the Office of the Governor and reducing the budget of Vice Governor from PHP23.2-M in 2009 to PHP2.5-M in 2011 or 76% and the SP budget by 30%.”

Garcia’s trouble started when the late Vice Gov. Gregorio G. Sanchez, Jr. filed complaint against her before the office of Secretary Robredo on Nov. 8, 2010 for encroaching upon Sanchez’ legislative powers, grave misconduct and abuse of authority.

On July 26, 2012, a few months before his death, Secretary Robredo came up with a ruling and elevated the case to the Office of the President “for appropriate action.”

According to the decision of the Office of the President, Gov. Garcia gravely abused her authority by: (1) encroaching on the appointing authority of the complainant over employees of the Office of the Vice-Governor (Sanchez); (2) slashing the budget of the Office of the Vice Governor by 61%; (3) stopping the publication of the Legislative Gavel and non-payment of honoraria of the publication staff; (4) transferring the funding of the Legislative Research and Codification Project from the Office of the Vice-Governor to the Office of the Governor; (5) hiring consultants without prior authority from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) or Provincial Board; (6) withholding the overtime pay of the personnel of the Office of the Vice Governor; and (7) issuing a check worth PHP10-M without prior authority from the SP.

ELECTION CONDONATION OF PRIOR MISCONDUCT

Gov. Garcia denied all the allegations in the complaint with respect to acts that occurred before June 30, 2010, (when she was re-elected for the third time as governor), invoking the case of Aguinaldo v. Santos. The case held that a public official’s re-election to office operates as a condonation of the official’s misconduct committed during a prior term. I agree with this ruling only if the misconduct was made known to the voters on or before the election.

Garcia was later accused of charges she committed after June 30, 2010.

The ruling did not give credence to her claim that all acts complained of are within a governor’s powers of supervision and control over all programs, projects, services, and activities of the provincial government.

Prior to the investigation of the complaint, Sanchez died. But DILG moved forward with the formal investigation, requiring parties to submit their respective memoranda.

In her memorandum, Gov. Garcia moved for the dismissal of the case due to the death of the complainant, “absence of a valid substitution of complainant” and lack of interest to proceed on the part of the complainant’s successor in office.

In his ruling, Robredo said “administrative case survives the death of the complainant and is not rendered moot by the dismissal of related civil cases,” adding, “unilateral acts of a private complainant will not bind the disciplining authority in its exercise of disciplinary power over erring public officials” and “complainant is only treated as witness.”

The ruling also found Garcia to have usurped the appointing power of the Vice Governor, who has a power to appoint “employees of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, as well as those of the Office of the Vice Governor, whose salaries, are paid out of the funds appropriated for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.”

After the complainant Sanchez died, Garcia restored the salaries and wages of contractual employees of the Vice Governor, which evoked “malice and bad faith,” “suggestive of an arbitrary exercise of authority,” according to the ruling.

But when Sanchez’s successor, Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, “transferred to another political party,” Garcia suddenly reduced “the budget of the Vice Governor and the SP for 2011,” which indicated “malice and bad faith,” the ruling added.

Garcia also gravely abused her authority when she hired 19 consultants without “prior, express and separate authorization from the SP.” The ruling said, “continued practice does not justify an illegal act and no vested right can be acquired by an administrative official from an erroneous construction of the law.”

I just hope when a similar complaint is filed against Gov. Raul Lee and other governors, the Office of the President would swiftly investigate and carry out its suspension order as it did against Governor Garcia. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Correspondent

Journal Group Link International

P. O. Box 30110

Chicago IL 60630

U.S.A.

Tel. 312.772.5454

Telefax 312.428.5714

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GANGSTERS OF CAPITALISM

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2012 Journal Group Link International)

CHICAGO (jGLi) – “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period, I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers.

“In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in.

“I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912.

“I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903.

“In China in 1927, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

This quote from the talk last Sunday, Oct. 21, at the public forum, “Living the Social Gospel Today” at the Philippine American Ecumenical Church in Chicago, Illinois at the 40th anniversary observance of Philippine martial law by Filipino American author and theologian, Dr. Eleazar Fernandez, was a direct quote from Major Gen. Smedley Darlington Butler, an outspoken critic of military adventurism and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history – for being one of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice.

General Butler, who saw action in the Philippines during the Philippine-American War, appears to be the poster boy of trigger-happy Philippine military, among them soldiers of the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army led by Lt. Col. Noel Alexis Bravo.

Karapatan, the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights based in Quezon City, Philippines, said it was the soldiers of Colonel Bravo, who strafed the house of an indigenous B’laan tribal leader, Dagil Capion, on Oct. 18 at 6 a.m., killing Dagil’s wife, Juvy, who was two-month pregnant, and their two sons, Jorge “Pap,” 13, and Jan-Jan, 7, in Fayahlob, Sitio Datal-Alyong, Danlag Village, Tampakan, South Cotabato.

Both Dagil and his daughter, Vicky, 5, were wounded.

In order to lure Dagil to give up, the soldiers brought the bodies of Juvy and her sons outside the house. Juvy was a member of Kalgad, a local Lumad organization, which is opposing the Xstrata’s Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) in Tampakan. Dagil, as B’laan tribal leader, is likewise opposing SMI for exploiting the rich gold and copper deposits in Tampakan.

AQUINO SHOULD FORM INDEPENDENT FACT-FINDING PROBE TEAM

President Noynoy Aquino should immediately order the formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of human rights groups, the Church, local government, the Commission on Human Rights to look into the massacre.

The military should stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.” It seems the rebels could no longer match the firepower of the military and the military should just take defensive position.

The Philippine government should withdraw its counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians.

As a signatory to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other major Human Rights instruments, the Philippines should protect, not violate, the human rights of the Filipino people.

If the large-scale mining of Xstrata’s Sagittarius Mines, Inc. is straying into the tribal property, President Aquino should cancel the mining permit just as the American government has granted American Indian Natives their own reservations.

The massacre of the Capions does not appear to be isolated. In my home region of Bikol, elements of the 49th Infantry Battalion are also being accused in the killing of Barangay Captain Merlyn Bernas last Aug.7 at Barangay Malaya, Labo, Camarines Norte. Bernas was tagged as a member of the New People’s Army. Bernas, however, had the support of her constituents, who turned out in full force to denounce the military for the killing Bernas during Bernas’ funeral procession.

In Bulan, Sorsogon, soldiers from 8th Scout Ranger led by 2nd Lt. Jay Maravilla under the 31st Infantry Battalion also shot and killed on July 17, 2012 a coconut farmer they suspected as NPA member. The killing was announced on local radio by 31st IB Commander, Lt. Col. Judy Torribio.

DISBAND DEATH SQUADS

On the other hand, on April 30, 2012, soldiers from the 9th Infantry Battalion also shot and killed Jovic Estrellado in Gubat, Sorsogon. A PFC Jordan Enconada earlier approached Estrellado to withdraw his case against some members of 9th IB.

President Aquino should dismantle the Peace and Development Team (PDT) that is used as cover as the Army’s Death Squads.

These extra-judicial killings should be stopped and the killers should be punished. If these military men cannot stop the killings under their watch, they should be re-assigned and be re-trained to be sensitive to human rights procedures before they are given new assignments.

Mr. Aquino should never use the military to support what Dr. Fernandez calls “corporate greed” that was denounced by General Butler, who called the U.S. military as “gangster of capitalism.”

Dr. Fernandez said, “When your interest is not of the people, you need the military to protect yourself against the people.

“Protection of the interest of the few leads to repression of the many. This is what the predatory global market does. It goes against the interest of the people. It is anti-democratic and what is at stake here is our democratic life.”

President Aquino should justify reports that his government has informed the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland last May that “there is armed rebellion in the Philippines that gives him an excuse to use the military to fight the rebels.” He should also countermand the Executive Order No. 546 signed by his mother.

And he should go back to the stalled peace talk with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front and come up with agreement that will bring about lasting peace.

If he can pull off this agreement with the left, Mr. Aquino will be the first Philippine president to have entered two major peace agreements with rebels within his term of office following the framework agreement his government signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front two weeks ago. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Correspondent

Journal Group Link International

P. O. Box 30110

Chicago IL 60630

U.S.A.

Tel. 312.772.5454

Telefax 312.428.5714

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TRIBUTE TO BIKOL’S TWO FAVORITE SONS

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2012 Journal Group Link International)

CHICAGO (jGLi) –

In a span of less than a week, my fellow Bikolanos lost their two favorite sons – Congressman Salvador H. Escudero III of Casiguran, Sorsogon and Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo of Naga City.

While Congressman Escudero lost his battle with colon cancer at the age of 69 and Robredo lost his life to a plane crash at the age of 54, both certainly died ahead of their time.

Rep._Sonny_H._Escudero

Of the two, I had a close-up look at senior Congressman Escudero, a classmate of my elder sister, Dona L. Hernandez, in the college of veterinary medicine at the University of the Philippines in the 60’s.When Dr. Escudero became Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, my sister worked for a few months as a Sorsogon provincial veterinarian, where she met her future husband, the late Jose E. Hernandez from what used to be Bacon and now part of Sorsogon City as a district.

My sister, Dr. Hernandez, parted ways with Dr. Escudero when she immigrated to the United States in the late sixties.

Dr. Escudero’s work ethic and being workaholic served him well him and had not gone unnoticed by the martial law government of President Marcos, who later appointed him as Director of the Bureau of Animal Industry and later as Minister of Food and Agriculture, not Minister of Education as listed in the House of Representatives’ press release. He also became Agriculture Secretary from 1996-1998.

Because of his incorruptible image and as my role model, I sought him out as one of my wedding sponsors.

MADE IT TO THE FIRST DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME IN PH

Despite his busy schedule, Dr. Escudero attended my wedding sometime in 1977 on the day that the Marcos government adopted the first daylight saving time. Making it to an early appointment was no stranger to Ninong Sonny Escudero, who as a teetotaler, usually reported to work at 7 a.m.

Less than two months before his death, I got word that he was very sick as his mobility was confined to a wheelchair. My nephew, Manuel Villamor, in Sorsogon City, told me in a Facebook message, “your Ninong wants to say hello to you. But he is now in a wheelchair.”

But I was surprised that he died so soon last Aug. 13. I wish I could have reached out to him sooner as I emailed his son, Sen. Chiz Escudero, to condole on his father’s death.

The email messages I sent a number of times to some members of the Philippines House of Representatives had never generated a response. I suggest the HR should investigate the inefficiency of its Webmaster, who should be replaced if HR wants to receive feedbacks from the public.

Ninong Escudero has sponsored and co-sponsored numerous bills. But one that left a lasting impression for him was HR 01135, which he authored in his capacity as chair of the Committee on Basic Education and Culture. HR 01135 is a resolution, urging the Administration of President Benigno C. Aquino III to allow the burial of the remains of former President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The bill never gained traction in the House. But one of these days, if my research will check out, this resolution might see its light of day. If I find out something compelling that will vindicate the House to pass the resolution, I will dedicate my effort to the memory of my Ninong Sonny. For now, goodbye, my Ninong. May you rest in peace!

In the case of Secretary Robredo, whose tragic death caught the sympathy and interest not only of the Filipinos but also overseas Filipinos and their friends, I still find it shocking three days after his remains was recovered from the bottom of the sea that he died.

Although, he was not known to have a good “pr” (public relations) or sociable with the media, Mr. Robredo made up for this lack of this knack by being accessible and straightforward with full public disclosure of available information at hand. And this demeanor should make him popular to media types.

SILENT WORKER

Sec._Jesse_Robredo

Never known to take public issue with local politicians, who opposed his confirmation as full-fledged secretary of the department of interior and local government before the Commission on Appointments, Mr. Robredo was a silent worker, who was never distracted by petty politics. He just performed his job while he enjoyed the trust of President Aquino.Unlike Dolphy, whose deteriorating health was detailed in the news on a daily basis and made the people, who are conferring him the National Artist award, appear to be dragging their feet, the members of the Commission on Appointments found themselves being hit by lightning when they procrastinated for two years to confirm Robredo as cabinet secretary with the plane crash on Aug. 18 (Philippine time).

But from all the comments after the death of Mr. Robredo that I find intriguing is that of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who appeared to have dishonored the memory of Mr. Robredo, who was made to appear to be harboring a criminal. Lacson said he tried to seek the help of Secretary Robredo to convince Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to respect a Court of Appeals decision that set aside the arrest warrant against him when he was running from the law.

If what Mr. Lacson was saying was true, I think, Mr. Robredo, being a non lawyer, might have also asked the opinion of his lawyer friends if what Mr. Lacson was asking him to do made sense. I’m sure Mr. Robredo’s lawyers advised Mr. Robredo that complying with Mr. Lacson’s request for help was premature – the Court of Appeals’ decision was not yet final and was still appealable to the Supreme Court!

I just hope President Aquino and the Commission on Appointment will honor the memory of Secretary Robredo by replacing him with and confirming someone, who has no criminal record. How can a once fugitive from the law have moral ascendancy over lawbreakers?

When Secretary Robredo will be honored at the Philippine Consulate in Chicago, Illinois on Friday, Aug. 24, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. by his APO-USA fraternity brothers and by his fellow Bikolanos, particularly the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest, I will be praying not only for the soul of Secretary Robredo and my Ninong Sonny Escudero but also for President Aquino to appoint an independent-minded Supreme Court Chief Justice, a more sensible replacement for Secretary Robredo, who will be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments, who should not be distracted by petty politics. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Correspondent

Journal Group Link International

P.O. BOX 805072

CHICAGO IL 60680-4112

312.772.5454 (312.772.JGLi)

Fax 312.428.5714

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A CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO IS WIN-WIN FOR P-NOY

 

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 202012 Journal Group Link International)

 

CHICAGO (jGLi) – Published reports that install Justice Secretary Leila de Lima as the front-runner in the search for the replacement of convicted Chief Justice Renato Corona are not only overhype but also myopic choice.

Even if the Judicial Bar Council (JBC) would include Secretary De Lima, my kababayan (region mate) from Bicol (she was born in Iriga City), in the short list, my bet is President Noynoy Aquino should not pick her as the first woman Chief Justice of the Philippines. That is, if he wants to continue with his Daang Matuwid (straight path) reform program.

Not because the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is having issues with her for defying the Supreme Court’s TRO (temporary restraining order), allowing former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) to leave the country. The TRO was, in effect, subsequently affirmed by Pasay City Judge Jesus Mupas, who allowed GMA to post a one-million-peso bail. Secretary De Lima should really apologize to the Supreme Court for defying its order.

Mr. Aquino still needs Secretary De Lima as his chief graft buster. Her non-selection, though, as Chief Justice is not really a rebuke to her but will not be in the best interest to Mr. Aquino’s overall scheme of his administration.

If Mr. Aquino will be selecting a woman to replace Mr. Corona to help women break the glass ceiling in the judiciary, as did his mother in the executive branch, I feel, it should be Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, 52, and not Associate Justice Teresita de Castro, 63.

Between the two, GMA-appointee Justice De Castro, who convicted my friend and former President Joseph Estrada for plunder, and Justice Sereno, who was the first appointee of Mr. Aquino to the High Court, the latter has an edge even if Ms. De Castro is more senior than Ms. Sereno.

Why? Not only Justice Sereno is forward-looking and has an independence streak but she also has concrete plans to unclog the court by installing a monitor or a computerization or “software” that will lump some cases into one, say covered by “stare decisis” cases. Justice Sereno is the only one of the three and the most senior appointees so far of Mr. Aquino out of the 14 sitting associate justices. And Justice Sereno is the only one of the three Aquino appointees to apply for the vacant Chief Justice position. The rest are Arroyo appointees.

ELEVATION OF SERENO IS SHOOTING TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE

From now until the May 2016 presidential elections, from among the majority Arroyo court, only one can be replaced by Mr. Aquino – Associate Justice Roberto Abad – who is retiring on May 22, 2014. The other associate justice, Martin Villarama, who will be retiring on April 14, 2016, may not be replaced by Mr. Aquino as his retirement period falls within the ban on appointment during presidential elections.

So, if nobody is impeached or retires like Associate Justice Florentino Feliciano, who retired at the age of 67 to accept appointment to the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization, or Associate Justice Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, who retired at 68, due to health reasons, or dies, from now until May 2016 from among the sitting associate justices, the most that Mr. Aquino can appoint before his term ends is one and that of the replacement of Justice Abad. This would run the total to four appointees before Aquino leaves office.

But if President Aquino “elevates” Associate Justice Sereno as Chief Justice, he will have another chance to appoint another Associate Justice for the post that will be vacated by new Chief Justice Sereno.

So, if Mr. Aquino commissions Justice Sereno as Chief Justice, he will be shooting two birds with one stone! This will give Mr. Aquino a high five.

That is why as soon as the Supreme Court resolves the pending motion for reconsideration filed by Sen. Francis Escudero and Rep. Neil Tupas, the JBC will be recovening again if Justice Sereno makes it to the short list and is eventually selected by Mr. Aquino.

If I were my kababayan from Sorsogon, Senator Escudero, I will not feel very bad if the Supreme Court denies their MR (motion for reconsideration). I believe the ruling of the Supreme Court should stand because the Constitution is very clear and unmistakable – Congress should only be represented by one person, not two, to the JBC. There is no more room for interpretation.

If the Supreme Court will allow him and Mr. Tupas to be members of JBC, the Court will be accused of amending the Constitution, a power the Court does not have.

But if they really insist on their MR, and since they have this power, Messrs. Escudero and Tupas can propose that the House of Representatives and the Senate convene as a Constituent assembly or “Con-Ass” and propose that “JBC has one representative each from both the House of Representatives and the Senate” and pass it with three-fourth votes from all their members based on Art. XVII of the Constitution and presto, they can both attend the JBC deliberation.

CALL “CON-ASS” OR PLAY POMPYANG!

If they do not call a Con-Ass, Messrs. Escudero and Tupas can alternate in attending the JBC deliberation by either a coin toss, as to who attends first, which is done to decide who receives first the ball in football or by raffle, which is done by raffling cases in court, or pompyang (rock-paper-scissors) game we used to play as kids in Sorsogon to find out who the winner is.

When asked if she won’t feel handicapped to get along with other more senior justices if appointed Chief Justice, Justice Sereno said she thinks she can handle the situation. She cited her passion for constitutional rule when, at age 39, she was appointed as the lone female member of the 25-member Presidential Commission on Constitutional Reform headed by Chief Justice Andres Narvasa, together with leaders such as former Justice and Ombudsman Conrado M. Vasquez and former Prime Minister Cesar Virata. She was appointed chair of the Steering Committee and nobody hesitated to appoint her in a leadership position. They even entrusted her to write the executive summary of the Constitutional Amendment of the economic provisions of the Philippine Constitution.

Looking herself in the mold of the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee as dissenter during martial law, Justice Sereno earned herself a reputation as a dissenter, among other cases, when she questioned Chief Justice Corona for raising two important policy questions on the Hacienda Luisita before the Court: Can a case that is already with the Supreme Court and that has already been heard in oral argument be subjected to mediation as ordered by the Chief Justice? And Can the Chief Justice individually give such an order that constitute a major policy decision?

Justice Sereno also objected to the issuance of a temporary restraining order for a petition and she and other justices had not even seen – in the case involving the impeachment of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

As to criticism that at 52, Justice Sereno could succumb to the Peter Principle of burnout and boredom, I believe, her “Seven Principles” that would guide her Court for the next 18 years should serve her well as these principles will make her life exciting. In the United States, only three Chief Justices were 50 years or younger, with John Jay, the youngest at 44.

In the US, the Judiciary is the only branch of government that comes closest to a royalty – Supreme Court Justices and some federal judges are appointed during “good behavior” or for life. If she is appointed Chief Justice, Sereno can find herself in the shoes of U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall, who for 35 years presided over a Court largely populated by Justices of an opposing political party. According to John P. Mark in Marble Palace, The Supreme Court in American Life, because of the “newness of the Constitution, it was expounding, (it) dealth with some of the greatest questions of history.” (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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GOING FISHING IS MORE FUN

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2012 Journal Group Link International)

CHICAGO (jGLi) – The last time I went sea swimming was in 2005 when I accepted an invitation from Filipino American lawyer and businesswoman Loida Nicolas Lewis, my kababayan (town mate) from Sorsogon City in the Philippines, to go swimming among the Butandings, white-spotted monster but gentle whale sharks, frequenting the mouth of Donsol Bay, part of the Sorsogon Bay and what is now known as Philippine Western Sea (formerly South China Sea).

It was also a homecoming for me as Donsol is my birthplace and two of my other siblings – my elder sister, Gregory, who died at the age of six after being run over on Aug. 18, 1952 by a bicycle driven by a hit-and-run cyclist named David Ricafort, and my younger brother, Ramon, who shortened his name into Ray when he became a U.S. Citizen.

Joining that trip were Loida’s younger sister, Mely Nicolas, now Secretary of Commission on Filipinos Overseas, who will be one of the guests at 2012 NaFFAA’s 10th National Empowerment Conference in Detroit, Michigan on Aug. 2-5, 2012, and Loida’s youngest sibling, Pastor Francis Nicolas, and my kababayan from neighboring Albay province and fellow Chicago resident, Marlon L. Pecson, and others.

But last Monday, July 9th, I went swimming again by the sea. This time by the shore of Imperial Beach, a residential beach city in San Diego County, California, with a population of 26,324 (2010 census). The city is the most southern beach city in Southern California and the West Coast of the United States. It is in the South Bay area of San Diego County, 14.1 miles south of downtown San Diego and 5 miles northwest of downtown Tijuana, Mexico.

IRRESISTIBLE WAVES

The shore is part of the expansive Pacific Ocean. It does not have the inviting Butandings but its sizable waves were irresistible for me as they reminded me of the Pacific Ocean waters in far-off Matnog, Sorsogon, the birthplace of my mom, Consolacion G. Garra.

Like Matnog’s waves that slap into the shore that create the ear-splitting sounds, where the town got its name for “Matonog” (loud sound), Imperial Beach’s waves were so alluring that even if the cold westerly winds were whipping my front and my back with piercing cold winds, I still dipped into the waters and ventured into the deeper part, where waves had not peaked before breaking into micro-bubbles that lash the sea shores.

This time I rode the waves with a surfboard that I could only paddle but not stand on. Although, I still took on water, my reunion with the waves was electric that blew my mind.

My nephew, Rico Villamor, suggested that we also harvest some clams (sea shells) that we can collect by pushing our two bare feet deeper into the knee-deep sands while we twist our feet. In combing the beach, if we felt something as hard as a stone, there was a likelihood that we stepped on a clam, which we can collect up to the maximum of six.

Of course, there was no way that we could reach the limit ourselves as we came up empty-handed. Unlike in massive Sorsogon Bay shores, seashells could be collected in buckets in just a few hours even in dry but still soft sands.

After an hour of swimming, I told Rico’s mom, Violeta L. Villamor, my elder sister, that I was heading to the nearby Imperial Beach pier, where my brother, Ray and Ray’s wife, Angie, were angling for tamban or small milk fish.

After an hour of fishing, Ray and Angie, and Rico’s brother, Nino, whispered that they only caught five tambans while a nearby angler was pulling up 2 to 4 tambans every minute.

The angler, who looked like a Mexican, appeared to have so mastered the art and science of catching tambans that other anglers, mostly Filipinos, can only shake their heads in disbelief.

EYES ON THE PRIZE

 But it took us an hour or so to figure out how the Mexican caught tambans. If one had stared long enough into the wavy waters 40 feet below, he could spot a school of tambans moving in groups. All one had to do to catch them was to throw his hook, line and sinker in the middle of tambans and pull it up and release it a little bit. Sooner or later, a tamban or two or sometimes three and four would race to nibble at several hooks tied to small colorful feather-like “jigs” that served as “baits” and the tambans would be pulling his line away. By pulling his line up gingerly but firmly so that the tamban/s could not get away, one could easily load the tamban/s safely into the waiting container. One can also catch a variety of other fishes but they are few and far between.

After a few hours when sun started to disappear from the horizon, we ran out of container and we headed home.

It was a reunion of sorts for the relatives and friends of the young Villamor family, whose patriarch, Jose Grones Villamor of Sorsogon and Imperial Beach cities, died of lung cancer on July 1st at the age of 72.

We were there to pay our last respects to Joe Villamor, my brother-in-law, at his funeral services last Saturday, July 7th, at the National City and Chula Vista Mortuary and Cremation Service at 611 Highland Avenue. Those of us from Chicago, including Ray, Angie, our eldest sister, Tonie L. Rey, were there to extend our moral support to a grieving family member. Our other sister, Dr. Dona L. Hernandez, like, Tonie, who paid a visit a month ago to Joe Villamor before he died of lung cancer, decided to stay put in Chicago. But Dona would be offering a requiem mass for Joe at the 10:30 a.m. mass on Sunday, July 22nd, at Chicago’s St. Gregory the Great Church.

Also on hand at the funeral services were the friends and co-workers of Joe and his children, Onie (Jose L. Villamor), his wife, Cathy and children Joey and Jaye, both girls; Rico, his wife, Evelyn Geraldin, and their children, Gaby (Gabrielle) and Corylene, also both girls; the widow of Melvin, Jennet, and their children Michael and Viola; and Nino and Jesse, the latter two are both in the U.S. Navy.

Joe’s cremated remains is going to be brought to Sorsogon City to show it to Joe’s other children, namely, Manuel, Roman and Celeste, and Joe’s grandchildren.

What made Joe’s life remarkable and inspirational is that he was able to fulfill his American Dream after just 14 years of immigrating to the U.S. when he was able to convince Nino and Jesse to join the U.S. Navy.

Perhaps, Joe, who used to fish by the Imperial Beach pier, gave us a lift in catching a big-bucket full of tambans as his way of appreciation when we flew in from Chicago to attend his funeral services. Good bye, Joe!   (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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Fil Am Engineer Dies On His Junior’s Birthday

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2012 Journal Group Link International)

CHICAGO (jGLi) – Jose “Onie” L. Villamor, Jr. was celebrating his birthday July 1 Sunday morning when the celebration was interrupted by the death of his father, Jose G. Villamor, Sr. at 1:40 p.m. Pacific Time at the hospital (Sharps Hospital Grossmont) in San Diego, California of lingering lung cancer.

When “Onie” called this reporter, his uncle, he did not even mention that it was his birthday. He just relayed the grim news that his father passed away. “Please pass around the sad news.”

Although the death of the elder Villamor, a native of Sorsogon City in the Philippines, was expected, it was a surprise because he was able to recover from a grave condition three months ago when doctors gave him 48 hours to live.

Villamor (photo), 72, an engineer by training and a college professor, was recovering and rehabbing in a nursing home (Jacob Health Care Center, also in San Diego) when he was rushed Saturday to the hospital, where he eventually died. He was the son of the late Nicolas Villamor and Concepcion Grones, both of Bulan, Sorsogon.

His wife, the former Violeta G. Lariosa, a former public school teacher in Sorsogon City, told her eldest sister, Antonia L. Rey in Chicago, Illinois, that Joe was able to say, “I am ready to go. Just cremate me and take my ashes back to Sorsogon City for my other children to see.” He must be referring to Manuel, Roman, Celeste and his grand children, who were not able to immigrate to the U.S.

During the time that he was rehabbing, Joe wanted to get healthy enough so that he could travel back to Sorsogon City, where he wanted to die. He was a general manager of the government Sorsogon Tecommunications office, where he retired before immigrating to the U.S.

His other children who were with him in San Diego are Onie, Rico, Nino and Jessie, the latter two are both in the U.S. Navy. He is also survived by his daughters-in-laws, Cathy, Evelyn, Jennet and grandchildren.

Other survivors include his in-laws, Antonia L. Rey (Roling), Dona L. Hernandez, Joseph G. Lariosa (Josie), Ray G. Lariosa (Angie), all of Chicago, and many nephews and nieces.

Funeral services, including a mass, will be held at National City and Chula Vista Mortuary and Cremation Service at 611 Highland Avenue, National City, CA 91950 on Saturday 7 July 2012 starting at 2:00 PM.

Inquiries and questions please contact his son, Nino L. Villamor, at email address, tsampion6582@yahoo.com or at cell phone number 619-518-6680. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Correspondent

Journal Group Link International

P. O. BOX 805072

CHICAGO IL 60680-4112 U.S.A.

Tel. 312.772.5454

Telefax No. 312.428.5714

Email: lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net

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CREMATION AS A RITE OF PASSAGE

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2012 Journal Group Link International)

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.”   Genesis 3:19

CHICAGO (jGLi) – The recent death of my first cousin (on my maternal side), Milagros “Yangos” or “Young Goose” Garra Chua, of Matnog, Sorsogon in the Philippines of lung cancer left some of my relatives scratching their heads when she decided before she died that she wanted to be cremated.

Like a typical closely-knit Roman Catholics, our extended family has never considered cremation as an option until Young Goose’s decision. Cremation is a dreaded word that is better left unspoken.

Among its main objections is its perceived denial of the resurrection of one’s body as shown by Jesus, who was given a traditional burial, not cremation, after the Crucifixion before He could rise from the dead.

Young Goose’s only child, Dave Simon G. Chua, told me in an email that it was his Mom’s decision to be cremated. But Dave did not tell me the reason or reasons for his Mom’s decision.

But I got an idea from Chicago, Illinois’ Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim: it is cheaper.

The top Chicago Filipino diplomat told me the cost of shipping human remains from Chicago to the Philippines alone comes in the range of US$4,000 to US$6,000 while shipping cremated ashes could be less than US$1,000. (Note: You can lose an arm and a leg if you try to smuggle an urn containing cremated remains by stuffing it in an airline baggage or in Balikbayan boxes and get caught!) That’s why more Filipino Americans prefer to be buried in the U.S. than in the Philippines because it is costly for their loved ones to ship their remains unless they bought life or burial insurance!

I emailed the customer service of Loyola Plans Consolidated, Inc. in Makati City in the Philippines, requesting for the comparative rates for cremation and traditional burial after it provided cremation service to Yangos. But I did not get an answer.

The National Funeral Directors Association in the United States says the average funeral cost in the U.S. is about US$6,500 and the average associated cost for buying a burial plot, funeral flowers and services can add up to US$10,000.

 CREMATION 80 % CHEAPER

 On the other hand, the Cremation Association of North America says the average cost of cremation is $1,600 but could reach $5,000. But cremation is usually 80 percent less expensive than a traditional burial. But if cremation services such as coffin, complete funeral, an ornate urn and visitation hours may cost as much as burial.

One of my second cousins, Ramon “Tamoy” Garra, also of Matnog who is now an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) in Saudi Arabia and close to Young Goose family, asked me in an email, if the “(cremation) was orally willed by Yangos?  

“’Tho cremation has become prevalent, I cringe at the thought of burning the dead body especially of my dear ones as Manay Yangos.  Wonder if the Roman Catholic Church do recommend disposing a dead body in this fashion?”

According to Wikipedia, the Roman Catholic Church discourages cremation because, aside from denying the resurrection of the holy body, the body, as the instrument through which the sacraments are received, is itself a sacramental, holy object; and that as an integral part of the human person,it should be disposed of in a way that honors and reverences it, and many early practices involved with disposal of dead bodies were viewed as pagan in origin or an insult to the body.

But cremation was, in fact, never forbidden in and of itself; even in Medieval Europe, where there were multitudes of corpses simultaneously present, such as after a battle, after pestilence or famine, and there was an imminent fear of diseases spreading from the corpses, since individual burials with digging graves would take too long and body decomposition would begin before all the corpses had been interred.

But cremation is now permitted as long as it is not done to express a refusal to believe in the resurrection of the body.

 INURNMENT ON THE 40TH DAY

 Current Catholic liturgical regulations requires that, if requested by the family of the deceased, the cremation must not take place until after the funeral Mass. This way the body may be present for the Mass so that it, symbolizing the person, may receive blessings, be the subject of prayers in which it is mentioned, and since the body’s presence “better expresses the values which the Church affirms in those (funeral) rites (or Mass).” 
Once the Mass itself is concluded, the body could be cremated and a second service could be held at the crematorium or cemetery where the cremated remains are to be interred just as for a body burial.

Dave told me he brought the ashes of his Mom home. Inurnment at the columbary will be on the 40th day also at the Loyola Commonwealth. Inurnment is the process of placing cremated remains in an urn. The urn is placed either above the ground in a niche, or below ground in a grave.

As early as Dec. 30, Dave emailed me, saying, “My mother is still fighting the happy battle together with God. She’s slowly regaining her appetite and physical strength but unfortunately we cannot prevent other complications to arise because of her illness. Her feet are beginning to swell “nagmamanas” possibly due to kidney failure. We put our trust in God with everything my mother is going through that He will continue to give her that fighting courage and spirit to fight the happy battle.

“Thank you very much for all your prayers and concern! Keep in touch!

Happy Holidays! God Bless!

“Dave”

By Monday (Manila time), Jan. 2, my other first cousin (Rosario “Sayong” Garra Burgos) emailed me, “Kaninang 6 a.m. iniwan na tayo ni” Yangos. (At 6 a.m., Yangos left us.) “Hindi me makatulog kaya pala. (That’s why I could not sleep.) (At) 7 a.m., tumawag c Manoy Uyi at nag text daw c Dave na wala na Ma2 n’ya.” (At 7 a.m., Jorge (elder brother of Yangos) called me, telling me Dave texted him his Mom is gone.).

Yangos is survived by Dave, Dave’s wife, Jackie, their two-year-old son, Danny, Yangos’ elder sisters, Panching and Belen and elder brother, Jorge. Her husband, Danny Chua, died five years ago. Yangos was the youngest daughter of the late Dominador G. Garra, a retired treasurer of Matnog and elder brother of my late mother, Consolacion Garra Lariosa.

Yangos studied education at University of Santo Tomas and celebrated her 62nd birthday last Dec. 21st. She worked at the real estate department of the Social Security System in Quezon City for a long time.
In my last phone conversation late last year with Yangos whom I had not seen in more than 50 years, she blamed her smoking habit and her lifestyle for her lung cancer.

We will miss you, Yangos. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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Fil Am Family Visits Santa Claus in North Pole

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2011 Journal Group Link International)

CHICAGO (jGLi) – The children of Ronnie L. Rey do not really need to call United States First Lady Michelle Obama to track Santa Claus thru the North American Aerospace Defense Command. They can actually visit Father Christmas in the North Pole as shown in the photo that Ronnie, my nephew, sent me.

We are are talking, of course, about the town of North Pole, Alaska, which is 15 miles from Fairbanks, Alaska, where Mr. Rey’s family lives. We are not talking about the geographic North Pole, which is 1,122 nautical miles (2,078 km) from Point Barrow, Alaska (the northernmost point of land in the United States), where the average temperature is -30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mr. Rey, a Technical Sergeant at the Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, said they went to the town of North Pole last Dec. 22 when the weather was “tolerable,” which was minus 2 degrees Fahrenheit or minus 19 degrees Centigrade or Celsius.

On Christmas Day, which was also his 34th birthday, Tech. Sgt. Rey just stayed at home with his family, including his wife, Contessa, 34, and their children, Angel Haven, 9, Ashley, 7, and Aiden, seven months old, although he has invitation to have nochebuena (good night), a traditional family dinner, from other Filipino Americans in the city. He said the temperature was minus 16 degrees Fahrenheit, which is minus 19 degrees Centigrade or Celsius.

With population of 30,224 in 2010, Fairbanks has a racial makeup of 66.67% White, 13.10% Black or African American, 9.91% Native American, 2.72% Asian, 0.54% Pacific Islander, 2.45% from other races, and 6.57% from two or more races.

The biggest attraction of Fairbank’s suburban town of North Pole is a gift shop named Santa Claus House, the modern-day incarnation of a trading post established in the town’s early days. The Santa Claus House is known for the world’s largest fiberglass statue of Santa Claus outside.

FILIPINOS ALSO CELEBRATE SIMBANG GABI IN ALASKA

 Prior to Christmas each year, the United States Postal Service post office in North Pole receives hundreds of thousands of letters to Santa Claus, and thousands more from people wanting the town’s postmark on their Christmas greeting cards to their families. It advertises the ZIP code 99705 as the ZIP code of Santa Claus.

Despite its cold weather, Filipinos in Fairbanks still celebrate Simbang Gabi, a novena celebrated in the Philippines nine days before Christmas.

In Ronnie Rey’s case, he attends the mass in the chapel inside the Eielson Air Force Base, home of the 354th Fighter Wing, with some Filipinos but the mass is in English since there is no Filipino priest.

The tradition of Simbang Gabi dates to the 1600s in the Philippines. It traces its origins to Mexico, to a monastic monk by the name of Fray Diego de Soria. He is said to have received Vatican permission to hold an outdoor Mass at dawn for Christmas, to accommodate all the people. It evolved into the novena tradition of holding an early morning Mass on each of the nine days before Christmas.

These Masses were called the “Misa de Gallo,” Spanish for “Mass at the rooster call.” Having Mass at such an early time in the morning helped people embrace the penitential spirit of Advent.

Because dawn comes so late in the day in Alaska, Filipinos and other Catholics in the state celebrate Simbang Gabi in the evening.

Simbang Gabi is also a time for the faithful to pray for their special intentions. In Ronnie’s case, because he will be transferring for six months from his Logistics, Readiness Squadron in Eielson Air Force Base to Qatar Al Udeid Air Base west of Doha starting on Jan 7, he had prayed for his safety and his family he will be leaving behind.

His family first relocated at the Eielson Air Force Base last July 2010. His tour of duty in that base will be up until June 2014, when he will be relocated elsewhere.

During their nochebuena, Ronnie’s family treated themselves at home to spaghetti pasta and dinuguan (pork blood stew). “Meron din nag-iimbita sa amin sa isang handaan ng mga Filipino. Pero dahil sa lamig, dito na lang kami sa bahay namin nag-dinner.” (We got some invitation to attend a party with some Filipino friends but the cold weather prevented us from going out of our house. So, we just had our dinner in our house), Ronnie told this reporter and his relatives over the phone while his relatives were also celebrating Christmas dinner and reunion in the house of his cousin, George L. Hernandez, in Chicago, Illinois.

Born in Manila and raised in Sorsogon City in the Philippines, Ronnie is a son of the former Antonia Garra Lariosa and Rolando Rey, both of Sorsogon City.

The average winter low temperatures in Fairbanks range from −15 °F (−26 °C) to −25 °F (−32 °C), but extremes can range from 50 °F (10 °C) to −60 °F (−51 °C). (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 

FILIPINO FAMILY WITH SANTA CLAUS IN NORTH POLE:

Technical Sgt. Ronnie L. Rey of the Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska restrains his youngest son, Aiden, seven months old, being held by his wife, Contessa, 34, as they pose in front of Santa Claus in North Pole, Alaska, cradling their two daughters, Angel Haven (left), 9, and Ashley, 7, last Dec. 22 inside the gift shop named Santa Claus House in North Pole. (jGLiPhoto courtesy of Ronnie L. Rey)

 

 

 

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Chicago Church Bucks Trend; Holds Misa de Gallo At Dawn!

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2011 Journal Group Link International) 

CHICAGO (jGLi) – In the run-up of Dec. 16, the start of “Simbang Gabi” (evening mass) in Chicago and around the world, Father Alfredo Salera, Pastor of Transfiguration of Our Lord Parish in Chicago’s northside, sent out word that his parish was going to hold the Simbang Gabi at early dawn at 5:30 in the morning, which is the closest as it is observed in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, Simbang Gabi is held at 4 a.m. because of the tolerable weather.

The timing of the mass must have sent a chilling message to the parishioners, mostly Filipinos, because of the dip in temperature around the event in Chicago.

Feeling that there seems to be no takers to his plans, Father Salera, a native of Meycauyan, Bulacan in the Philippines, sent out another word that even if only one will attend the Dawn Mass, he would still hold a mass.

When his church parishioner and pianist, Amor Saenz, a native of Sorsogon City in the Philippines, told this reporter about this startling schedule at the Simbang Gabi community celebration in nearby St. Gregory the Great Church last Dec. 16, my first impression was that Miss Saenz must be joking.

So, at 5 in the morning on Sunday, Dec. 18, when radio newscast was telling me that the temperature was 29 degree Fahrenheit, I went to the Transfiguration of Our Lord Parish Church, at 2609 West Carmen in Chicago, some five miles away from my home in Jefferson Park in Chicago’s northside, just to satisfy my curiosity.

(For those in the Philippines, the freezing temperature is like the temperature inside the freezer of your refrigerator. At 33 degrees Fahrenheit when rain falls, it turns into snow. The 33-degree temperature stings when it is windy.)

So, when I got inside the church at about 5:40 a.m., the Dawn Mass presided over by Father Salera had started in earnest with Miss Saenz smiling at me while playing the piano.

It turned out there were not only one but about 30 parishioners, who braved the very cold weather just to attend the mass that they missed attending in the Philippines. They were the same number of parishioners, when the Dawn Mass started last Dec. 16.

One of the parishioners, Marc Aguja, told this reporter, “I used to sleep at 11 in the evening and got up at 5 in the morning. During these nine days until Christmas, I advanced my sleeping habit at 10 p.m., so I can get up at 4 a.m. just enough time for me to prepare and attend this 5:30 a.m. Misa de Gallo (Spanish for rooster’s mass, when the roosters or cocks crow).”

FIRST CHURCH TO HOLD DAWN MASS OUTSIDE PH?

 If Transfiguration of Our Lord Parish Church will be able to hold a 5:30 a.m. for the nine-day Novena, ushering the Christmas Day celebration, it is believed to the first church located in a cold weather area outside the Philippines to hold a Dawn Mass anywhere in the world.

All the 75 different Catholic churches under the Asian Archdiocese of Chicago are holding the Simbang Gabi daily from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at its 26th anniversary celebration this year.

“I hope to keep up this same Dawn Mass while I am the pastor of this parish,” Father Salera, 65, told this reporter. “I hope my successor will continue with what I have started and other churches will follow suit” as he looks toward his retirement in five years.

He said, “Rising early in the morning with children is a form of discipline to keep up with Misa de Gallo as festive as Christmas is celebrated the longest in the Philippines. It still has penitential color in it, to reflect the life of Jesus to be like us, except for the sin, the sharing and His saving act. The act of all saints in Heaven, the sharing of our local food. The Filipino delicacies in the Philippines, where you buy them outside the church while some parishioners take the food with them in coming to church and partake of them in the basement of the church after the mass.”

When asked if he was going to pray for the 652 victims, who perished from the flash floods in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro cities in Mindanao during the last two days, the priest, who grew up in Cebu and Bohol, said he was not aware of it, saying he “doesn’t watch TV but I have not opened the news online. I will pray for them just as we have for so many intentions for many people.”

CARDINAL GEORGE TO CELEBRATE SIMBANG GABI

 Father Salera was pastor for seven years of St. Catherine Laboure in suburban Glenview, Illinois, where His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago, will be celebrating the Simbang Gabi at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 23. On Monday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m., Chicago Bishop Francis Kane will be celebrating Simbang Gabi at Transfiguration of Our Lord church at 7 p.m.

Last Friday, Dec. 16, St. Gregory The Great Church in Chicago’s northside was one of the 11 Chicago churches which celebrated Simbang Gabi at 6 p.m. Fr. Paul Wachdorf, pastor of St. Gregory The Great Church, celebrated the mass in front of majority members, relatives and friends of The Filipinos of St. Gregory, a lay and voluntary organization headed by Dr. Dona L. Hernandez of Sorsogon City in the Philippines. St. Gregory The Great Church is one of the Chicago churches, which have been observing Simbang Gabi during the last 24 years.

In a note to her fellow parishioners, Dr. Hernandez explained that, the Simbang Gabi “masses refer to the practice of performing nine days of private or public devotion to obtain special graces.”

Like the rest of other churches celebrating Simbang Gabi, a light dinner for the parishioners follows after the mass. The nine-day Novena during Simbang Gabi culminates with the Midnight Mass on Dec. 24.

Father Salera said there are 1,000 Filipino priests around the United States headed by the first Filipino American bishop, Bishop Oscar A. Solis of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. There are 100 priests from Tagbilaran and Bohol; there are about 65 or 66 Filipino priests each in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York and less than 10 in Chicago. He urged parishioners to be generous in their donations and asked families to encourage their children to join priesthood. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

Photos:

TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD CHURCH:

Announcement of the 5:30 a.m. Misa de Gallo is shown outside the Transfiguration Of Our Lord Church at 2609 West Carmen Avenue, Chicago, Illinois last Sunday, Dec. 18. (jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)

HOMILY BY FR. SALERA:

Fr. Alfredo Salera encouraged parishioners during the Misa de Gallo (Dawn Mass) at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, to pray often as part of the covenant with Virgin Mary, the Spiritual Mother of God, and who responded to the message of an angel when she answered “yes” to be the Mother of God, the most momentous and profound event in human history and the Christmas story full of beauty. Listening is Atty. Manny Aguja, lector during the mass. (jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)

LIGHT BREAKFAST:

Parishioners take a light breakfast in the basement of the Transfiguration Of Our Lord Church after the 5:30 a.m. Misa de Gallo (Dawn Mass). (jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)

TSAMPORADO:

Parishioners await their turn to have their tsamporado (chocolate porridge), one of the light offerings during a light breakfast in the basement of Transfiguration Or Our Lord Church in Chicago’s northside after the 5:30 a.m. Dawn Mass last Sunday, Dec. 18, the first such early sunrise mass in Chicagoland area with cooler climates outside the Philippines. (jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)

FILIPINOS OF ST. GREGORY:

Rev. Paul Wachdorf (ninth from right, back row), Pastor of St. Gregory The Great Parish Church in Chicago’s northside, and Dr. Dona L. Hernandez (fourth from right, seated), president of The Filipinos of St. Gregory join the officers, members and friends of The Filipinos of St. Gregory after the Simbang Gabi mass celebration at St. Gregory The Great Parish Church last Friday, Dec. 16 in the church cafeteria. To Dr. Hernandez’ right is Gina Ibardaloza, executive vice president of The Filipinos of St. Gregory, Angie G. Lariosa (second from left, seated), incumbent vice president; Mandy Ibardaloza (to Angie’s right), Alex Siapno (third from left, back row) and Mr. Vic Tibudan (fifth from left back row with cap), past presidents. (jGLiPhoto)

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Bikol U.S.A of the Midwest Holds Christmas Party, Keeps Tradition Alive

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2011 Journal Group Link International)

CHICAGO (jGLi) – “Mommy” Irene Emperado, an employee of Unimart on 5845 North Clark Street in the northside of Chicago, Illinois, was scratching her head when I placed an order over the phone for 22 pounds of Galunggong (mackerel) to be fried for the Christmas party of the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest last Sunday, Dec. 11.

But it was another director of our club, Dr. Dona L. Hernandez, who would be paying for the order. And yet there were two other members, Ben and Chit Ner, who were going to pick up the seafood.

I told Irene she should just keep still. We were not pulling a trick on her. It is just how teamwork and transparency work in a socio-civic organization. Everybody has to get involved no matter how trivial the part, including cleaning-up the place after the party, if you are the host of the party.

Nobody should be prima donna in any organization if they want to make it strong.
 If there are burden sharing, everything becomes even lighter, especially the checkbook.

In fact, even if members were no-shows for the event, they even volunteer to contribute.

Take for instance, my province mate, John Claridad, a Philippine lawyer of Bulan, Sorsogon. For the second time, John could not attend our party because our Christmas party coincided with the birthday party of his daughter. So, he told another, director, Miss Amor Saenz, from Sorsogon, Sorsogon that he will be contributing just the same for the expenses of members from Sorsogon of the club.

Even Nita Payos from Gubat, Sorsogon was able to convince Salvacion ”Sally” Expectation and Sally’s sister, Lourdes Coloma, to chip in too, even if they were no shows.

COOPERATION AND CAMARADERIE

This story of cooperation and camaraderie in an organization was in full display during the annual Christmas party of Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest headed by Ms. Evelyn R. Tolledo of Pandan, Catanduanes, as her whole family was involved in almost all facets during the party that was shared with Juzz Dance Club headed by Mr. Ed Cabanayan.

Evelyn’s better half, Robert “Bob” Tolledo, a doctor of medicine (orthopedic surgeon) in the Philippines, who decided to run his own medical code billing company, Alert Solutions, LLC, in Chicago area, for a living, did not want to eclipse the role of his wife. But he bought $500 worth hard drinks for the guests and parted with $250 cash as gifts to children, during the gift-giving.

While Rocky Tolledo, one of the three children of Evelyn and Bob, was the photographer, Rocky’s brother, Royce, donned Sta. Claus, complementing his Mom, who was dressed up as Mrs. Santa Claus also. Ronnel, the youngest, was busy giving away goodies to children, who were the envy of adults, for having lots of gifts, mostly cash.

But the officers of Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest made sure that the kids, who were to get gifts had to take the hands of Lolo Norberto and Lola Irene Pagatpatan, parents-in-law of past president, Ayres Pagatpatan, and plant them on their foreheads. It is some trait that is running out of style, especially for overseas Filipino kids, who may not have ninongs (male sponsors) or ninangs (female sponsors) to turn to.”

The John Ajena family seemed to take the cake when Jau and Jannae Ajena turned the party into a virtual “American Idol” contest while the Christopher Jones Family performed Michael Jackson footwork to the tune of Billy Jean.

But the adults led by Ed Cabanayan, disk jockey and master dance instructor, and Lilibeth Castagna, representing Masbate province, did not take it sitting down by giving “Dancing With The Stars” performers a run for their money with their fancy steps.

DANCING KEEPS THEM FROM FREEZING

If the party was a non-stop dancing, it had to because the social hall of St. Henry Church at 6335 North Hoyne in Chicago’s northside had no heater. If one were stationery, one could freeze.

The non-stop dancing was interrupted only when Evelyn Tolledo told the crowd of over a hundred that the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest had donated $1,000 for victims of Typhoon “Juaning” in Bato, Bula, Buhi and Nabua, Camarines Sur; $300 for the completion of Divine Mercy Shrine and Carmelite Monastery of the Carmelite Nuns of the Holy Trinity (CNHT) in Kawakawa, Ligao City in Albay province; and another $320 for a package of three kilos of rice with six pieces of Nissin Ramen and canned goods in each of the packages to about 150 indigent families last month in Bagamanoc and Pandan, Catanduanes brought by club secretary Alice Llames plus additional contribution of $100 from Ray Galicia.

As PRO of the club, I was also tasked to announce some of its upcoming events for 2012. They are the Post-Valentine Party Fund Raising for Calamansi (Citrofortunella microcarpa) Tree Planting Project at $35 per donation at Lone Tree Manor at 7730 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Niles, IL on Feb. 24; a trip to Our Lady of Snow in Belleville, IL from May 26-28; Hawaiian Luau Party on July 14 for $10 donation; BNAA National Convention, Hyatt Regency, Dearborn, Michigan from July 20-22; Annual picnic on Aug 12 at Proesel Park at 7001 N. Kostner Ave., Lincolnwoold, IL; Novena of Our Lady of Penafrancia and Feast Day at St. Mathias Catholic Church at 2310 W. Ainsle St., Chicago, IL, Sept. 7-14; Golf Tournament Fund Raising at Big Oaks Golf Club & Country Club in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, Sept. 23; Halloween Party and Masquerade Ball, Oct. 17; and Bikol U.S.A of the Midwest Christmas Party and Election of Officers, Dec. 16.

As PRO also of The Filipinos of St. Gregory headed by Dr. Dona L. Hernandez, I also announced the Simbang Gabi on Friday, Dec. 16, at 6 p.m. at St. Gregory The Great Parish Church at 5545 N. Paulina, Chicago.

Among the donors (mostly cash) to the Christmas party aside from Evelyn Tolledo, who also donated red and white wine, decorations and six bags of bread, were the Bikol USA of the Midwest, which spent $500 for the food; the Stanley’s Fruits which donated fruits; Alice Llames, Toy Mancenido (cash), Dennis Alban (water/ice soda) and Ayres Pagatpatan (hotdogs) (past club presidents), Rosalle del Valle, Rick & Aida Joseph (chicken), Letty Costales, Gil Buena (vice president), Jess and Lilet Mante (Arroz caldo), Julie Buenafe, Julie Chavez, Naty Atienza and friends Sally Kagingin , Julia Estrada and Lisa Soriano (Sotanghon), Ben and Yoly Zoleta (balloons), Rico del Rosario (chicken curry), Lilibeth and Sam Castagna (gifts), the Tolledo children – Rocky (gift/photography), Royce and Ronnel; Mila Emocling (cash); Lura & Darlo Gonzales (cash); Pipo & Frances D. (lechon kawali), Romy Sarcilla (dessert), Cecile Manlapaz and Joel Basilio (pancit). (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

MANO PO LOLO:

A young boy takes the hand of Lolo Norberto Pagatpatan and plants the back of the hand in his forehead to ask for a blessing as Lola Irene Pagatpatan is about to hand him the bills at the joint Christmas party celebration of the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest and the Juzz Dance Club at the Social Gym of St. Henry Church at 6335 North Hoyne in Chicago’s northside last Sunday, Dec. 11. (jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)

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GROUP PHOTO:

Ms. Evelyn R. Tolledo (sixth from left, third row wearing red with black hat) smiles as she joins the officers and members and friends of Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest in this souvenir photo during the Christmas party last Sunday, Dec. 11, at St. Henry Church at 6335 North Hoyne in Chicago’s northside. Also in photo are Bikol U.S.A. past presidents Toy Mancenido (behind, President Tolledo) and Dennis Alban (second from left front row) with Bob Tolledo to Dennis’ right, Joseph G. Lariosa (third from right, front row) with Marlon Pecson to his left and Dr. Dona L. Hernandez (sixth from right front row). (jGLiPhoto by Ernie Antonio, Jr.)

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PAROLEE INDICTED FOR 14-COUNT MURDER OF FIL AM NURSE

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2011 Journal Group Link International)

CHICAGO (jGLi) – A 36-year-old parolee was indicted Wednesday (Dec. 7) with 14-count murder in the brutal attack last October of Filipino American nurse Virginia Perillo before the Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago’s south side.

A Clerk of Court source said that although, there was only one victim in the attack, the 14-count murder considers “different ways and intents” that contributed to the brutal killing.

Raymond Harris, a resident of 7100 Block of South Yale in Chicago, was not granted bail.

He will be up for arraignment on Dec. 28 at 9 a.m. at Room 101 at the Criminal Courts building on 2650 South California Avenue in the south side of Chicago.

Harris, who is on parole for an attempted murder conviction, was arrested after stealing the wedding and engagement rings of the victim, Perillo, 73, and used them to propose to his girlfriend.

If found guilty of murder, Harris could be sentenced to a maximum life in prison without parole. There is no death penalty in Illinois.

Prosecutors said Harris, who was paroled in May, attacked Perillo as she was getting out of her car in her garage in the 3300 block of South Parnell Avenue. He stole her purse and wedding and engagement rings. 

Perillo, a native of Cagayan de Oro City in the Philippines, sustained serious head wounds and was found lying unconscious by a neighbor, who was trying to close her garage door that was open. 

An intensive critical care nurse of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago’s southside for 40 years, Mrs. Perillo died on Oct. 24, two days after she was rushed to the hospital.

Prosecutors say on the night of the attack, Harris went to a party, wearing “brand new clothes” and showed the rings to a witness, asking which of them he should use to propose to his girlfriend. Harris later used both rings.

 DNA TRACED TO SUSPECT

It was the DNA collected from a blood-stained men’s watch found inside Perillo’s car that matched Harris. A resident of suburban Carpentersville, Harris was arrested Tuesday afternoon in suburban Elgin, police said. 

When police contacted Harris’ fiancé, she turned the rings over to the detectives and Perillo’s family identified them as hers. 

Harris was paroled in May after serving 13 years of a 30-year sentence for his 1997 attempted murder and aggravated arson convictions, according Assistant State’s Attorney Melissa Howlett. 

In that case, Harris broke into a woman’s home, raped and beat her for several hours, Howlett said. He also threatened that victim at knifepoint, cut her neck and set three separate fires in the woman’s home, Howlett said. The woman woke up with her legs on fire and suffered third-degree burns. 

Just three weeks before that attack, Harris had been released from prison for a 1993 armed robbery, vehicular invasion and burglary. In that case, Harris brandished a gun at a woman getting outside of her car outside her home, Howlett said. 

Perillo’s son, Michael Perillo, 32, the youngest of Perillo’s three children, all boys, told this reporter in an interview that Chicago police found his mom lying unconscious Saturday (Oct. 22) between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. by a neighbor, who tried to close her garage after seeing it open.

M rs. Perillo’s husband, Mauro Perillo, 75, is a native of Polangui, Albay in the Philippines. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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Bikol U.S.A of the Midwest Joins in Raising Funds 
For Building of Shrine & Monastery in Ligao City

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2011 Journal Group Link International

Joseph Lariosa

CHICAGO (jGLi) – The Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest led by its President Evelyn R. Tolledo joined Friday (Nov. 11) a dinner-dance fundraiser for the victims of typhoons and floods in Bikol region and Laguna province in the Philippines at Elk’s Club at 495 Lee St. in suburban Des Plaines, Illinois.

Money raised will also be used for the completion of the Divine Mercy Shrine and Carmelite Monastery of the Carmelite Nuns of the Holy Trinity (CNHT) in Kawakawa, Ligao City in Albay province.

Rev. Mother Maria Trinidad P. Bunac, CNHT Prioress General, said that part of the proceeds would also go to scholarship program of some poor and deserving students. She said so far the program has graduated two nurses, one of whom had just passed the nursing board at first attempt while another other is reviewing for the board.

Part of the proceeds will also be earmarked for treatment of some children with hydrocephalous medical condition.

Ligao native Romy Badiola, CEO of RC Trading and charter president of the Ligawenos of the Midwest which became Bikol U.S.A. in Chicago, appealed to the guests and his fellow Bikolanos to help CNHT in its fundraising.

Rev. Fr. Peter Caposo, associate pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Skokie, Illinois, led the invocation during the event.

Mother Trinidad Bunac thanked donors, who went out of their way, to buy dinner tickets while others sent in their donations.

John Arcilla and the Trio Carmelite Nuns also serenaded the guests while Anita Rosa, Ronald Zapata and Sister Maryjohn L. Mendones, CNHT, performed exhibition numbers.

Ria and Josephine Bonjoc played violin and guitar while Espie Nguyen and Danny Garcia acted as the masters of ceremony. Boy Bonjoc and Company provided the music and the band.

Those invited by Evelyn Tolledo chipped in half of the $50.00 dinner ticket to fund-raising event.

Among those invited by Ms. Tolledo to the fund-raiser were her husband Roberto Tolledo, Joseph G. Lariosa, G. Jun Delfin, President/Director of the Unlimited Agency, Inc. based in Naperville, Illinois, Bob Sioson, Hyde Sombilla, Tom Held and his wife, Letty “Nene” Servino-Held, first President of Bikol U.S.A. Romy Badiola and his friend, Heidi Lim.

The Bikol USA of the Midwest also donated $300.00 from its own fund. Those who did not attend but still sent in their donations are as follows: Aida and Rick Joseph and Virginia Ordonez in the amount of $50.00; Alice Llames, $50.00; Dulce Oreta and Efren Sarmiento, $50.00; Teresita Catorce and Lettecia Cope Costales, $50.00; Emelita and Jess Mante, $50.00; Alegria and Jay Bacerdo, $50.00; for a grand total of $600.00.

“Sister Trinidad will be sending us the letter of acknowledgement and the receipt of these donations.” Ms. Tolledo added.

Ms. Tolledo also invited Bikolanos and other guests at the event to join the Christmas party of the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest on Sunday, Dec. 11, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Social Gym of St. Henry Catholic Church at 6335 N. Hoyne Avenue in Chicago’s northside. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

TURNOVER OF DONATION:

Rev. Mother Ma. Trinidad P. Bunac (third from left) of the Carmelite Nuns of the Holy Trinity (CNHT) in Kawakawa, Ligao City, Albay Province in the Philippines holds the $600.00 check turned over by Evelyn R. Tolledo (second from left), President of the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest, during the fund-raising of the CNHT at the dinner-dance at Elk’s Club at 495 Lee St. in suburban Des Plaines, Illinois last Friday, Nov. 11. Looking on from left are Bikol U.S.A. Charter President Romy Badiola, Sister Maryjohn L. Mendones of CNHT, Heidi Lim, Evelyn’s husband, Roberto Tolledo, and Joseph G. Lariosa, PRO of the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest. (jGLiPhoto by Dante de Guzman)

DANCING NUN:

Rev. Mother Ma. Trinidad P. Bunac of the Carmelite Nuns of the Holy Trinity (CNHT) of Kawakawa, Ligao City in Albay province in the Philippines obliges Ligao City native and charter Bikol U.S.A. President Romy Badiola to a dance after Mr. Badiola pinned dollar bills on her habit during the fund-raising at the Elk’s Club at 495 Lee St. in suburban Des Plaines, Illinois last Friday, Nov. 11. At left are Sister Maryjohn L. Mendones, CNHT, Josephine Bonjoc and other members of the Boy Bonjoc band. Part of the money raised will go to the completion of the Divine Mercy Shrine, Carmelite Monastery, victims of typhoons and floods in Bikol region and Laguna province. Evelyn Tolledo, president of the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest donated $300.00 from the fund of the club and invited other members of the club and friends to donate to round out a total donation of $600.00.

(jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)

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Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest Holds Masquerade Ball Oct. 29 To Raise Funds for Destitute

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2011 Journal Group Link International)

Joseph Lariosa

CHICAGO (jGLi) – A lot of times when you see kids jumping on the street as they make their way to and from schools on school days, they are not really dancing nor are they having fun.

They are actually grimacing in pain as they struggle to avoid the sun-baked concrete or asphalt road when they are walking with their bare feet.

On the other hand, if there is low turnout of students in the school, it’s not because they are sick or having errands. It’s because they are too hungry to go to school because they have nothing to eat.

Zayda O. Baron, former president of Bikol U.S.A. of Chicago and former president of Bikol National Association of America (BNAA), appealed to the officers and members of Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest during a meeting last Oct. 7 at 3839 N. Kedzie in Chicago, Illinois to send in contributions so that she can buy sleepers for students, who are walking barefoot.

Ms. Baron was referring to very poor students in the far-flung areas in Bikol region, whose parents cannot even afford to buy sandals for their school-age children.

On the other hand, she also noticed that there is a preponderance of absentee students because many students have no food to eat during breakfast nor do they have any food to wrap up in their brown bags for their lunch.

However, it was not discussed if parents are being educated to stop having children if they don’t have jobs and if they have no money to raise a family.

DOCUMENTATION REPORT

In response to the appeal, Evelyn R. Tolledo, president of Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest, has encouraged members and friends of the club to donate money during the club’s Masquerade Ball starting at 5 p.m. on Oct. 29, 2011 at 3839 North Kedzie in Chicago.

During her brief remarks, Ms. Baron said the $1,000 check donated by the club to victims of Typhoon “Juaning” last July 30 was given to many families, who each received one kilo of rice and six dried fishes. These were mostly for families in Bato, Bula, Buhi and Nabua, Camarines Sur. She brought albums of photos that documented the distributions.

She was assisted in the distributions by her husband, Senen, her brother, the late Engr. Joe Ordonez, former President of Bikol U.S.A. and Ordonez’s wife, Virginia or Jenny and other volunteers.

She also bought a big container of bread and ice cream for very poor school children. Parents of these children even begged to also have ice cream.

Ms. Baron also reported that the BNAA, of which the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest is a member, has so far 38 scholars in Bikol.

Because of the unceasing presence of typhoons in the region, there were discussions on the fruit-bearing plants that should be encouraged to grow in Bikol. The most popular suggestion is the lemon because of its very short stature at maturity – it bears fruit even if it is very short and will not be swaying with the punishing wind. Honorable mention is the dwarf coconut that is also indigenous in the region, like the lemon, and can avoid the whipping of the typhoons.

During the meeting, there was also a treasurer’s report of the annual golf tournament dedicated to the late Bikol U.S.A. President Joe Ordonez. The tournament was held last Sept. 25 at Big Oaks Golf Club & Country Club in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.

The club is also slated to hold its Christmas Party on Dec. 9, when new set of officers will be elected.

Photos:

HAPPY  RECIPIENTS:

The Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest brought cheers to victims of Typhoon “Juaning” last July  after they received one kilo of rice and six dried fish in Bikol region.

VOLUNTEERS:

Former Bikol U.S.A. of Chicago and BNAA President Zayda O. Baron (fourth from right, back  row) joins a group of volunteers in one of the lulls of the distribution of rice to disaster typhoon victims inside the Sto. Domingo Church in Nabua, Camarines Sur. Also in photo are from left (back row) are Larry Casero, Senen Baron, Virginia “Jenny” Ordonez, Fr. Jess Berdol, Julie Briguel, Don Darondon, Danilo Briguel and Jose Vinson and other volunteers. (jGLi Photos courtesy of Zayda Baron)  (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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Our Lady of Penafrancia Assured of a Shrine In Chicago

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2011 Journal Group Link International)

Joseph Lariosa

CHICAGO (jGLi) – The celebration of the miraculous Our Lady of Penafrancia has been observed in the Chicago, Illinois for the last 22 years. Last Saturday, Sept. 17, the Rev. John J. Sanaghan, pastor of St. Matthias Church at 2310 W. Ainslie in Chicago’s north side, assured devotees that they could call St. Matthias Church as the home of Our Lady of Penafrancia “for the next 301 years.”

In brief welcome remarks after the translacion (transfer of the image of the Virgin of Penafrancia from one church to the other), Father Sanaghan, impressed with the big crowd that packed his parish church, has offered his parish church to be shrine of “Ina,” the revered Bikol name of Our Lady of Penafrancia.

The Penafrancia festivities have been observed annually in the home city of Ina in Naga in the Philippines for the last 301 years from the second Friday up to the third Saturday of September. Other parts of the world where there are preponderance of Bikolano devotees have also observed the same festivities simultaneously.

After a 30-minute fluvial procession from Belmont Harbor to Burnham Harbor in Lake Michigan in Chicago Saturday, the image of Penafrancia was returned to St. Matthias church on board a school bus along with the devotees.

BOAT BUFFETED BY WAVES

Medyo ma-alon ang Lake. Pero hindi naman ako natatakot dahil kasama ko ang Virgen ng Penafrancia,” (The boat was buffeted by big waves of Lake Michigan. But I was not afraid because I was with the Virgin of Penafrancia.), according to Avelino “Ben” Ner, one of the devotees, who joined the fluvial procession.

But Daniel Hernandez, the three-year-old son of Larry Hernandez, who joined the fluvial procession, was dead tired, when the bus returned to St. Matthias church. His lola (grandmother), Dr. Dona L. Hernandez, who was also on board the boat, said Daniel might have felt dizzy during the trip on board the boat.

The fluvial procession was the culmination of the nine-day novena to usher the feast of the patroness of Bikolnons from the Philippines.

As in the eight previous nights, a chaplet, Rosary and Novena were held starting at 7 p.m. since Sept. 9 in St. Matthias Church.

When the fluvial devotees arrived in front of the St. Matthias Church, like a similar refrain in Naga City, welcoming devotees shouted “Viva La Virgin De Penafrancia !!! Vila El Divino Rostro! (Long Live Virgin of Penafrancia! Long Live the Holy Face!)

In Naga City, the fluvial procession is held at the Naga River.

To sustain attendance of devotees, residents who hailed from different six provinces and three cities of the Bikol region took turns alternately in hosting the nightly vigil.

President Roger “Boy” R. Odiamar of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Penafrancia said observance of the Penafrancia festivities in Chicago is growing each year because of the support of the Filipino American community. “We even got support from a boat owner, who provided us the boat for free during the fluvial procession for the last 22 years. I cannot just thank enough our supporters, including the flower and cape donors, voyadores (devotees), etc..”

But he is also thankful for the support of the Bikolanos notably the group called Bikol U.S.A., which was later renamed Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest now headed by Ms. Evelyn R. Tolledo of Catanduanes in the Philippines but is now a resident at suburban Schiller Park, Illinois. Ms. Tolledo is this year’s ad hoc committee co-chair.

PENAFRANCIA RETURNED TO ORIGINAL HOME

At the mass during the Fiesta, Fr. John Era was the main celebrant assisted by Rev. Fr. Nelson Garcia and Deacon Roland Merced.

The nightly liturgy ministers included Fathers Nelson Garcia, John Era, Andre Beltran, Danilo Soriano, Leoncio Santiago, Tirso Villaverde, Joel Lopez and Noel Reyes.

Members of this year’s ad hoc committee included Jimmy Alto, Monette Calderon, Amor Saenz, Delia Silva, Aida Joseph, Lura Gonzales, Dona Hernandez, Romy Sarcilla, Alice Llames, Lilia Untalan, Danny Auro and Fely Odiamar.

In Naga City, on the second Friday of September, that is, September 9 this year, the image of the virgin and the Divino Rostro (Holy Face) are transferred, hence the term traslacion, from the Penafrancia Church to the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral by barefoot male voyadores or devotees. While at the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, the faithful start the Novenario. 
In previous years, the image of the Our Lady of Penafrancia was kept at the Basilica. But last year, the 300th year or tercenary of celebration, it was brought back to its original home, Penafrancia Church.

The festivities feature a fluvial procession on the ninth day of the novena bringing back the image to the Basilica for the Pontifical Mass. While only men can participate in the traslacion and fluvial procession, women devotees on the other hand have their own procession around the Basilica.

Photos:

OUR LADY OF PENAFRANCIA AFTER TRANSLACION IN CHICAGO:

The image of the Virgin of Penafrancia is moved from the school bus after the fluvial procession towards the St. Matthias Church in the north side of Chicago, Illinois as it is met by female devotees last Saturday, Sept. 17. Photo shows foreground at left Roger “Boy” R. Odiamar, president of Confraternity of Our Lady of Penafrancia, talking to a devotee.

OUR LADY OF PENAFRANCIA ENTERS THE CHURCH:

The image of the Virgin of Penafrancia is surrounded by devotees as it is being brought inside the St. Matthias Church in the north side of Chicago, Illinois last Saturday, Sept. 17, after the fluvial procession.

OUR LADY OF PENAFRANCIA INSIDE THE CHURCH:

The image of the Virgin of Penafrancia is ushered inside the St. Matthias Church at the north side of Chicago, Illinois last Saturday, Sept. 17, after the fluvial procession, led by Fr. John Sanaghan (from left), Fr. John Era, and Fr. Nelson Garcia while devotees look on.

(Photos by jGLi Joseph G. Lariosa)

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Golf Tourney Honors Bikol U.S.A. Ex-President Sunday

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2011 Journal Group Link International

Joseph Lariosa

CHICAGO (jGLi) – The Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest is going to host a golf tournament on Sunday, Sept. 25, at Big Oaks Golf Club & Country Club (262) 694-4200) at 6117 123rd Place, Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin 53158-3635.

Jimmy Azul, former Bikol U.S.A. President, said tee time will start at 10 a.m., shotgun and the format, stroke play.

There will be first, second and third place trophies to be awarded separately under the U.S.G.A. (United States Golf Association) Handicapping System and the Peoria scoring system.

One low gross prize will be awarded under both scoring systems for men and women.

Competition for the longest drive, closest to the pin and the longest putt will be available on designated holes.

Various golf and household merchandise will be raffled off after the game.

There will be two divisions for men: One for players with current (within the calendar year) and verifiable official USGA handicap index and another for players with no official USGA handicap index, where the Peoria scoring will apply.

Each player will donate $55, which covers Green fees, Cart, Snacks and Dinner Buffet, while each sponsor will have to fork out $100.

Parties, who are interested to join the tournament, may call Mr. Azul at 847.308.0410; incumbent Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest President Evelyn Tolledo at 773.946.9668 and club member, Tony Blando at 832.603.7167.

This year’s golf tournament is dedicated to the memory of Engr. Jose “Joe” Ordonez, the third president of Bikol U.S.A.. Ordonez, a former dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Nueva Caceres in Naga City in the Philippines, died last month at the age of 76 of stroke at the Aquinas University Hospital in Legazpi City also in the Philippines. He retired in Tiwi, Albay in the Philippines and is survived by his wife, Jenny, and four children. He worked in the U.S. Federal government for many years prior to his retirement.

The golf tournament is one of the annual activities of Bikol U.S.A. based in Chicago, Illinois area. The group is now renamed Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest.

Photo of the late Engr. Jose “Joe”
Ordonez. (jGLi)

(lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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PH TOURISM COUNCIL VICE CHAIR RECALLS “SURVIVING” 9/11

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Joseph Lariosa

(© 2011 Journal Group Link International) 

CHICAGO (jGLi) – A small group of Filipinos from my home province of Sorsogon in the Philippines was looking forward to a hearty breakfast in the Twin Towers in New York City, New York 10 years ago.

But the jetlag of the late arriving party and the long drawn-out conversations of the others waiting for them at Beacon Hotel on 72nd Avenue in New York City spilled into the small hours of the morning, prompting the group to move their meeting from breakfast to “brunch” (breakfast-lunch) between 10:30 and 11 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001.

My friend, Joesan Gabarda, of Troy, Michigan and Sorsogon City, recalled that he was about to leave their Beacon Hotel and hail a taxi that would take him and some of his companions to the Twin Towers on Sept. 11 when he saw live on television that day that the Twin Towers were burning.

“If the late arriving party did not complain of being tired from the trip and if the others did not extend their conversations well into early in the morning, we would have rushed to the Twin Towers at 8 a.m., the exact time when the two planes hit the buildings. I am very sure we would have been among the victims of that tragic event.” Gabarda, a Filipino American anti-graft advocate, now muses.

“Perhaps, we were just lucky to “survive” 9/11,” Gabarda deadpans.

As vice chair of the Sorsogon Tourism Council, Gabarda’s presence was a must so he drove all the way from Troy to New York City to make it to the presentation of artifacts of Sorsogon Tourism Council in the Philippine Trade Center on 5th Avenue in New York City.

OTHER MEMBERS OF SORSOGON TOURISM COUNCIL

 Among the officers and members of the Council were Sorsogon’s Filipino American Attorney Loida Nicolas Lewis (chair) and her brother, Francis Nicolas, Wilfredo “Buboy” Duana and his wife, Cherry, and his mother, Milagros Duana, Cecilia Duran of Sorsogon City’s Fernando Hotel, Cecilia Capinpin and Eddie Chua.

“I made a reservation earlier at Twin Towers so our group can have a breakfast at 8 a.m. but we could not make it that early. So, I delayed our meeting to 10:30 or 11:00 a.m.” he recalls.

Gabarda said Eddie Chua, Buboy and Cherry arrived from the Philippines in the morning of Sept. 10. So, he and Fernando Laban of New Jersey picked up the three at the Newark, New Jersey airport. They brought the three new arrivals straight from the airport to Philippine Trade Center to catch the presentations of artifacts.

In the afternoon, some in the group took the stuff of the new arrivals to Beacon’s Hotel and together with rest of about 30 to 50 guests, they proceeded to the two-floor Central Park condominium of Atty. Lewis, who hosted a dinner party.

While most of the guests took cabs to go to the hotel after the dinner party, others, like Joesan, Cherry, Buboy and Francis, decided to walk from the Central Park condominium on 5th Avenue to Beacon Hotel at 72nd Avenue. It must have been a long walk, he remembered it was almost 3 a.m. in his watch and he was dead tired when they reached the hotel.

Coupled with the lack of sleep of the new arrivals and the late morning sleep of the rest, it was easy to delay the breakfast meeting from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sept. 11.

“When I saw TV footages with the jets hitting the Twin Towers, I thanked God and congratulated our group, telling them, ‘we were survivors.” Gabarda said.

He said that while everybody were scampering from the Towers, he and Eddie Chua were curious so they tried to take a cab going to the Towers. But they could not flag down a cab. They went to catch a train at the subway but there was no train to catch either.

TRAPPED FOR TWO DAYS IN NY

 Since nobody can get out, “we were trapped for two days in New York.” Everyone was being inspected and was properly identified. Atty. Lewis later invited the group to her home at South Hampton, Long Island for a get-together.

Atty. Lewis was so nervous she did not ride her car but decided to “join me and Eddie Chua in my small run-down P.T. Cruiser” to her South Hampton home.

Eddie Chua later joined him in his trip back to Michigan and Eddie flew to California after three days.

Among the artifacts presented on the eve of 9/11 were paintings that were being exhibited in the Sorsogon Tourism Council now being run by Ms. Sylvia Perdigon, a coordinator of Sorsogon’s governor’s office.

Gabarda said when he noticed that the Sorsogon provincial government was taking an active hand in running the affairs of the Sorsogon Tourism Council, he resigned from the position. “After my resignation, Atty. Lewis followed suit,” Gabarda said.

He believes the Sorsogon Tourism Council is better left to the non-government organizations (NGO’s), with the government “just supporting role.”

It is unfortunate that the government is always interested in raising sponsorship money on behalf of the council. But the money is not flowed back to the projects of the council. The money lines the pockets of those running the council, Gabarda rues.

Gabarda said his original group, who “survived” the 9/11, had a reunion a year later in the condominium of Atty. Lewis at Rockwell in Makati City. But they might reminisce again about “our second life” in another reunion, maybe sometime in the future.

“Meanwhile, let’s pose for a moment to pray for those, who were not as lucky like us, who survived,” he said.

 

9/11 “SURVIVOR”

Joesan Gabarda (extreme right), a 9/11 “survivor,” is shown in this photo with this columnist (extreme left), when they met at Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center in Michigan last Aug. 10. Others in photo from left are Brooke Camp, a CNN recruiter, Curtis Lee Jay, news anchor of “Action News” of NBC in Kansas City, Missouri, a grandson of Felino Lee of Magallanes, Sorsogon and Bobby M. Reyes of Sorsogon City and Mabuhay Radio based in Los Angeles, California. (© 2011 jGLiPhoto) //

JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
Correspondent
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