Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Is Lorna Tolentino's employer hiding something?

-Ashes flown to the Philippines on February 3.

By Alex P. Vidal

Despite threats from Lorna Tolentino's former employer, I personally pursued this case and interviewed Philippine Consul General Jose "Joey" Ampeso in his office in the Philippine Consulate General on Pender Street last January 30.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Philippine Consul General Jose Ampeso has confirmed reports the former employer of the late nanny and caregiver Lorna Tolentino was "uncooperative and it seems she was hiding something."
Ampeso said six months before Tolentino, 39, succumbed to cervical cancer in Burnaby on New Year's day, she had not renewed her registration with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and, thus, she was not able to avail financial assistance from the Philippine government as overseas contract worker.
For its duly registered members, OWWA reportedly delivers a wide range of health care, disability and death benefits, scholarships and financial assistance for education and training, workers assistance and on-site services, and social services and family welfare assistance subject to the qualification requirements and availability of OWWA funds.


Under OWWA's programs and services, all benefits and services are over and above the provisions of the employment contract, offer of employers, or the laws of the receiving country.
For a US$25 membership contribution, an OWWA member and/or his family is entitled to the following benefits and services: social benefits, insurance benefits, burial benefit, disability and dismemberment benefits, total disability benefit, medical rehabilitation.
Tolentino died in the hospice without the presence of any family member. 
Efforts to bring her body to San Miguel, Bulacan in the Philippines failed due to lack of funds.
She was cremated last January 17.
"I don't want to talk about the employer anymore because it seems parang may tinatago (the employer must be hiding something)," Ampeso said in an exclusive interview in his office on Pender St. January 30.


Ampeso identified the employer as Elizabeth Mahilan. "Although she has talked directly to Lorna's family in the Philippines, she wanted everything to be in private," Ampeso added. 
The employer did not have to spend for Tolentino's medical and cremation expenses because they were shouldered by the St. Mary's Parish Church and Migrante B.C., according to the consul general.
On February 3, Ampeso will send off in the Vancouver International Airport in Richmond Tolentino's ashes which will be brought to the Philippines by Dr. Dan Vargas of the Canadian Medical Mission Society.
"I will have to make sure as representative of the Philippine Government that Lorna Tolentino's mortuary certificate has been officially turned over to Dr. Vargas before the departure," Ampeso said. "As to the employer, I will not deal with her anymore. 
Mahilan had warned the media, including this writer, not to write anything about Tolentino "or I will sue you." 


UP Alumni, Consulate General hold 
briefing on workers rights in Canada 

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Newly arrived workers in Canada will have a chance to learn more about their rights and responsibilities when the "First-ever Post Arrival Orientation Seminar for Temporary Workers based in B.C." will be held at the Metrotown Community Room in Burnaby on February 5.
The five-four symposium will be brought by the UP Alumni Association in B.C. in cooperation with the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO).
Among the topics will be briefing on rights and responsibilities of working in British Columbia, immigration options and opportunities, and Philippine Consulate services.
Immigration hour has reported that Canada, despite being known as a country of bitterly cold weather, is a country of choice among many Filipinos – both professional and skilled workers alike. 
Filipinos’ immigration to Canada has become a favorite topic nowadays among most of working age Filipino women and men, both in the Philippines and also those who were already working outside of the country.


And why has immigration to Canada a hot topic? Foremost in the minds of the average Filipino is their economy, which could not satisfy to employ the ever growing population of work ready adults year after year. Specially for those who had a taste of "going abroad" – coming back to the Philippines to work is not an option, that’s why immigration to Canada comes to mind first.
Philippine statistics show that there are 700,000 new graduates yearly in the Philippines and this young people have nowhere to find a suitable employment after graduation. Many of them would work in call center agencies, many more will find temporary employment abroad but majority are thinking about immigration to Canada as their passport to a better future.
Immigration to Canada, unlike working in other countries like Saudi Arabia or Singapore or Hong Kong, gives them the chance to become a resident and then after completing certain residency requirement, become citizens of Canada.


One need only look in the classified advertising in Philippine newspapers both in the Philippines and abroad where there are great number of concentration of Filipino nationals how hot immigration to Canada really is – numerous immigration consultants and immigration lawyers advertising spots keep coming up, offering help in finding jobs or processing of immigration application papers.
Canadian provinces, in their own ways also help prop-up interest in immigration to Canada by offering seminars to both immigration consultants and lawyers and employers who are willing to recruit workers both temporary and permanent thru their provincial nominee programs.
Indeed immigration to Canada have eclipsed the former first choice of Filipinos wanting to live abroad – the U.S.A. Stricter immigration regulations in the U.S. have prompted highly skilled Filipino professionals to shun America and instead opted immigration to Canada.


Strict immigration rules is not the only reason immigration to Canada is a choice for many working Filipinos. Canada’s universal health care and top notch public education – which are both free – is another reason for this change of heart.
At present, Filipinos make up the third largest source of immigrants in Canada, next to the Chinese and Indians. And it keeps growing year after year after year. Truly, immigration to Canada is embraced by many Filipinos as their chance at a better life.

'We are planting the seeds for you'

'We are planting the seeds for you'

-Maxipro Entertainment, 'FYE Live' talents sign contract

By Alex P. Vidal

SURREY, British Columbia -- Talents from the "FYE Live" and their promoter, Maxipro Entertainment Inc. have formalized their tie-up with the signing of "artist management agreement" at the Reyfort Media Group studio January 28.
Performers who were minors were represented by their parents in the signing of the four-paged contract and a special power of attorney that would bind both parties for a year with a "four-year annual irrevocable option."
"It is our responsibility to hone your skills," announced Socorro "Babes" Newland, COO/managing director of Surrey-based Maxipro Entertainment, Inc. "We are planting the seeds for you so that someday those interested to hire your services as talents will come to us and ask how much are they going to pay you."
Newland stressed that once they have signed the contract, they have become part of a poll of talents "and we know how to market you."
"It's always be for the better. We don't want to start with a big bang and then disappear in thin air," she added. "It's a slow but sure kind of approach."


Maxipro Entertainment Inc. will help the young singers and dancers in the pros and cons of how to promote their album, Newland explained.
"It's not one-sided. We are committed in the Maxipro and you are also committed as artists," she further said.
Under the agreement, Maxipro Entertainment, Inc. will represent the performers and act as their negotiator, "to fix the terms governing all manner of disposition, use, employment or exploitation of their talents and the products thereof."
Maxipro Entertainment, Inc. will "exploit their personality in all media, and in connection therewith, to approve and permit for the purpose of trade, advertising and publicity, the use, dissemination, reproduction or publication of their names, photographic likeness, facsimile signature, voice and artistic and musical materials.


Maxipro Entertainment, Inc. will also hire, fire and give direction to such theatrical agents, booking agencies and employment agencies, as well as other firms, persons or corporations who may be retained for the purpose of securing contacts, engagements or employment for the performers.
The performers will be solely responsible for payment of all booking agencies, fees, union dues, publicity costs, promotional or exploitation costs, traveling expenses and/or wardrobe expenses and reasonable expenses arising fromm the performance by manager of services hereunder.
In the event that manager advances any of the foregoing fees, costs, or expenses on their behalf, or incurs any other reasonable expenses in connection with their professional career or with the performance of manager's services hereunder, they shall "promptly" reimburse manager for such fees, costs, and expenses. 


Agreement's initial term "shall be for one year with a four-year annual irrevocable option from the date thereof to renew the agreement by written notice mailed to artist no less than 60 days prior to expiration of the initial term or option periods, as the case may be."  
The agreement was construed in accordance with the laws of the Province of British Columbia and the federal laws of Canada applicable herein, "and shall be binding upon and enure to the benefit of the parties, respective heirs, executors, administrators, successors, and assigns."
The signing of agreement was witness by show floor director Debbie Arkoncel and program coordinator Jackie Diy, both Maxipro Entertainment, Inc. executives and their partner producer, Reyfort Media Group chairman Rey Fortaleza.


Formed on November 27, 2011, the "FYE Live" talents are composed of  Nhemy "J.J." Cepeda, Jr., 12; Andrie Legaspi, 11; Dominique Mailloux, 10; Mia Torres, 9; Bella Acero, 16; Ria Diy, 14; Vanessa Hillman, 15; and Sarah Cantuba, 18. 
Also in the group are Angel Escabarte, 15; JP Olin, 25; Martin Torres, 23; Nikki Pangilinan, 28; Vernice Paysan, 23; Charice Curata, 15; Russel Fegueroa, 26; Chantel Cruz, 10; AC Bonifacio, Marlowe and Mikaela Reyes.  
Some of them failed to sign the agreement as they were absent and their parents were not around. Singer/actor/host/columnist/comedian/event coordinator/emcee/rapper Jerry "PapaBear" Legaspi was among the most prominent entertainers who signed the contract.
Prior to contract signing, they talents underwent a day-long workshop on Fashion and Style and Vocal Stage Performance Coaching in December.
Meanwhile, Newland announced that the poll has a new member -- Angelica Escabarte.

Other team members of the team are floor director Jonathan Alday, logistics Benilda Fortaleza, assistant logistics Denise Diy, assistant program coordinator Jerry "PapaBear" Legaspi, videographer/editor Rolly Fortaleza and assistant Alvin Barrera.
Hosts include Winnie Chan, Andre Enriquez, Missey Reyes, Ronn Reyes, Miguel Maravilla, Tisha Newland. Performing comedians are Jojo "Bean" Alpuerto, Jerry "PapaBear" Legaspi and Aldo Endique. 

THE CITIES SUMMIT 2012 Mayor Bistek: It's my first time in Canada

Mayor Bistek: It's my 
first time in Canada

By Alex P. Vidal

                      Mayor Herbert "Bistek" Bautista and APV

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- In his first ever trip in Canada, Mayor Herbert "Bistek" Bautista of Quezon City, Philippines will be one of the panelists when some 40 international business and urban leaders discuss various issues particularly the business of city building during the two-day Cities Summit 2012 Feb. 1-2 at the Vancouver Convention Center West Building. 
"It's my first time in Canada and I have just signed a reaffirmation of our (Quezon City) sisterhood with New Westminster (British Columbia's oldest and former capital city) Mayor Wayne Wright," Bautista said in an exclusive interview Monday (January 30) night.
Bautista said he and Wright discussed the possibility of expanding their ties not only in the area of education and culture but also in technology, economic and human resources.


"Our cities have one thing in common," Bautista pointed out. "Quezon City is the former capital of the Philippines, while New Westminster is the former capital of the British Columbia."
Quezon City and New Westminster City signed a sisterhood pact in 1991, Bautista disclosed.
He clarified that Quezon City and Vancouver City don't have any sisterhood agreement but he was tapped as panelist along with Mayor Naheed Nenshi of Calgary, Milo Medin, Google, Vice-President of Access Services; Gordon Innes, CEO of London & Partners; Courtney Pratt, chairman of Toronto Region Research Alliance; David Helliwell, CEO of Pulse Energy, among other mayors and business leaders.
The Cities Summit 2012 is hosted by Vancouver City Mayor Gregor Robertson and the Vancouver Economic Commission.
Vancouver is hosting a global Summit on the pressures city regions must address as the world urbanizes at an increasingly rapid pace. 


International speakers, thought leaders from both the public and corporate sectors, and participants will be engaged in discussions on the solutions urban centres and their citizens can apply to address strain on cities and their environments, while supporting responsible growth and innovation.
The world is reportedly urbanizing faster than ever. For the first time, half the planet’s population-over 3.5 billion people-lives in cities. Another two billion will join them by 2030. This great migration is set to define urban life for generations to come, said the summit description.
The Cities Summit will assemble international business and urban leaders to design the creative, practical solutions for a sustainable urban future. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Damayan nets $25,000 aid from B.C. Premier Christy Clark

Damayan nets $25,000 aid from 

B.C. Premier Christy Clark

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- As organizers of the January 21 Damayan concert for typhoon victims in the Philip­pines initiated a “pass-the-hat” campaign, B.C. Premier Christy Clark donated $25,000 to the International Red Cross for the fund-raising campaign. “In times like this, support from the international community is critical in order to help deliver emergency aid to those who need it most,” Clark declared in a video message aired at the concert ven­ue Broadway Church. Clark emphasized that funds are “urgently needed for food and shelter, health care services, and clean water to the families who are suffering so terribly.”
“On behalf of all British Co­lumbians, I send out our deepest condolences to those who have lost family and friends to this tragedy. I want you to know that our thoughts and our prayers are very much with you in this incred­ibly difficult time,” Clark added.
The fundraising effort was a collaboration of Philippine Con­sulate General, the Multicultural Housing Help Society and the Reyfort Media Group. The Damayan concert and oth­er fundraising initiatives gained a total of at least $42,000. The donation was delivered to Consul General Jose Aspeso, MHHS president Tomas Aven­dano, and Reyfort Media Group chairman Rey Fortaleza by Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minis­ter and Burnaby Lougheed MLA Harry Bloy and Outreach Director Pamela Martin of the Office of the B.C. Premier.
Also present were Communi­cations Director Brian Bonney and B.C. Government Commu­nity Liaisons Dennis Marsden and Sepideh Sarrafpour. In a heartfelt speech, Fortaleza described as “overwhelming” the response by the Filipino Canadian community and its friends to the call for aid to the typhoon victims.
“From the first calls I made to organize a series of fund raising events, the outpouring of com­passion and sympathy is the most touching I have been in recent years,” Fortaleza told the audience.
“It proves that as a commu­nity united in purpose, we can do great things,” Fortaleza added.
The concert was preceded by a telethon event on January 20 at the MHHS on Fraser Street. The telethon saw the strong participa­tion of members of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Ac­countants.
The concert featured Joey Al­bert, Ray-An Fuentes, Luisa Mar­shall, Salve Dayao, Linda Magno, FYE Live Artists, and PNT Idols.
It was also presented by the Metro Vancouver Philippine Arts and Culture Exposition Society (MVP-PACES), Palengkeng Pinoy Trade and Exchange Network (PP10), G-AIR Cargo, Royal Bank of Canada, LBC Cargo, Filipino Seniors Club of BC, Filipino Canadian Construction Society, and CanFil Golf Association.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fil-Cans condemn racist acts of Canada’s neo-Nazi group

Fil-Cans condemn racist acts 
of Canada’s neo-Nazi group

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance, Philippine Women Centre of BC and SIKLAB for Migrant Workers will hold a “protest of all forms of racism” on Feb. 13, 2012 at 9 a.m. in front of the Vancouver Provincial Court on 222 Main St.
The groups have condemned “the racist acts of neo-Nazi group Blood and Honour for setting a young Filipino man on fire while sleeping on a couch on Commercial Drive in 2009.”
In a statement released January 27, 2012, the three groups “hold Canada’s legal and policing system accountable for not acting fast enough to penalize and dissolve the white supremacist group. On Feb. 13, during the hearing of the men charged with burning the Filipino man, Filipino Canadians will take to the streets in protest of the racist acts.”


They lamented that “despite being the third largest minority group in Canada, Filipino youth are faced with racist systemic barriers and limited access to resources in Canada. Education obtained in the Philippines is often not recognized, pushing college kids back to high school upon arriving in Canada. There are few public services that integrate Filipinos successfully while being culturally-sensitive to the realities and struggles of migration.”
They added: “In the case children of Filipino nannies entering Canada through the Live-in Caregiver Program, reunification with their families occurs 5 to 15 years after being separated.” “Depression and anxiety are prevalent in the Filipino community due to separation from family and isolation. Because of meager earnings and unrecognized qualifications by the Canadian state, poverty amongst first generation Filipinos permeates into future generations to create a legacy of poverty. As a result, Filipino youth are overrepresented in escalating high school and post-secondary drop-out rates, low-income communities, and service sector jobs.


“Racism and class oppression of people of colour still exists. Canada has and continues to be built on the backs of exploited immigrant communities. These forms of systemic racism and violence that the educational, immigration and labour systems have imposed on Filipino Canadians have marginalized Filipino communities since the 1980s, when foreign credentials became invalidated and Filipinos were streamlined into the Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP).
Today, they cited that “Filipinos are reduced to ‘working horses,’ or as Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has said, ‘economic units.’”
“Canada’s history is muddled with racist policies such as the colonization and genocide of First Nations people, the Chinese Head Tax, the Japanese internment during WWII, the refusal of entry to Indian refugees on the Komagatu Maru ship in 1914 and the recent Sri Lankan refugees on the MV Sun Ship in the summer of 2010. Through these race-based policies, the state has effectively sowed an anti-immigrant sense into Canadians.
“Filipino communities have also faced a history of racism and violence in Canada, with the banning of Filipino youth at the Scarborough Town Center in 1993, the hate graffiti and physical violence against Filipino youth at the Vancouver Technical School in 1999, and the deaths of two young Filipino men, both sons of nannies who entered Canada under the LCP. Mao Jomar Lanot was a victim of school bullies at Vancouver’s Sir Charles Tupper Elementary in 2003 and Jeffrey Reodica was shot to death in the back by two plain-clothed Toronto police officers in 2004. Filipino youth have been targets of police brutality and racial profiling, as they are immediately labeled as gang members.
“In 1999 following the racist dismissal of Filipino students from Van Tech, the Kalayaan Centre formed a group named ‘Filipino-Canadians Against Racism’ dedicated to exposing and opposing Canada’s racist policies, empowering the community and uniting marginalized groups towards a common goal of genuine equality and participation.


“It is both timely and urgent that we need a resurgence of activism and organizing in the community so that we are not complacent, but are proactive and not reactive to racist events.
“The blatant acts of racism committed by Blood and Honour show how systemic racism trickles down to an individual level and pervades everyday life. That the Crown charged Alistair Miller and Robert de Chazal two long years after brutalizing the young Filipino man on Commercial Drive is an act of racism and discrimination in itself.”
They “refuse the racist policies Canada maintains to oppress our community and subject them to violence! We demand full entitlement and equal rights, refusing to be Canada’s underclass! It is our human right to build our homes and root ourselves in Canadian society!
They demand an ending in “systemic racism!”
“Scrap the Live-in Caregiver Program! Status upon arrival!”
“End family separation!”
“Equal rights for all!”
“Oppose economic inequality!”
Contact info: pwcofbc@gmail.com | info.ukpc.bc@gmail.com
Phone: 604.215.1103
FB: Ugnayan Ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada|Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance BC
Twitter: @ugnayanbc
Website: http://www.kalayaancentre.net/

Friday, January 27, 2012

'Send to jail Lorna Tolentino's employer'

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — If reports were true that cancer patient Lorna Tolentino did not have any insurance and she died a pauper, authorities should investigate the matter and file proper charges against those responsible for her employment as nanny and caregiver, including her employer if evidence warrants, suggested a community leader who requested anonymity.
According to Philippine Consul General Jose Ampeso, Tolentino’s former employer has refused to cooperate with members of media and other authorities concerned and insisted Tolentino’s case is a private matter.
Due to unknown reasons, some officials of the Filipino community previously vocal and freely giving media interviews, have now refused to comment about Tolentino’s case.
“It seems they chickened out,” a source informed us recently. “All of a sudden, they shut and zippered their mouths at a time when the caregiver and nanny community was looking for leaders that would pick up their cudgels and bring to light the sad plight of some nannies and caregivers who are in danger of being exploited; in danger of suffering the predicament of Lorna Tolentino.”


“No comment na ako dyan (I will not comment anymore),” quipped Tomas Avendano, president of the Multicultural Helping House Society (MHHS), who earlier disclosed they could only give $200 to Tolentino’s family from the MHHS’s social fund.
Ampeso said it was cheaper to cremate Tolentino’s body than shipped the cadaver to her town in San Miguel, Bulacan. The cremation was pushed through in Burnaby last January 7 after Tolentino’s sister failed to arrive after her visa had been denied in Manila.
The consul general said Dr. Dan Vargas, of the Canadian Medical Mission Society (CMMS), will bring Tolentino’s ashes to the Philippines to be turned over to her family on February 3.
All caregivers and nannies working in Canada must have health insurance, according to one of the nurses who took care of the 39-year-old Tolention who died of cervical cancer last New Year after being confined in the hospital and transferred to the hospice for several months last year.
Rosemarie Alcantara, the nurse who attended to Tolentino when the patient was still confined in the surgical ward, suggested that caregivers and nannies should secure insurance if their employers can’t provide it.


Kahit term insurance lang of let say $35 per month good for 10 years. By all means, all health workers must have proper insurance for their protection,” she said. Alcantara narrated that even Tolentino herself did not have idea she had cancer. Tolentino informed her that while she was cooking, she suddenly fell on the floor. Her boss was not around. It was when she was brought in the hospital that doctors diagnosed she had terminal cancer.
“Most of us are afraid of general check up because it could give us stress if doctors found out something was wrong with our health,” quipped Alcantara, who has been nurse in the Burnaby hospital for six years.
Alcantara said she made Tolentino laugh every time she visited her. “That’s what she needed — a lot of smile. I knew she wouldn’t last long. She even told me, ‘ate pagnakita kita masayang masaya ako dahil pinapatawa mo ako palagi,’” recalled Alcantara. “I did not want to see her in a sad moment. As much as possible I gave her words of encouragement.”
Alcantara and her fellow nurses would always buy Tolentino Filipino foods like monggo and palabok from “Kusina Manila” restaurant “but she could not eat them all. She was always aware of her fate. God bless her soul.”


'I have great respect 
for Filipino community'

By Alex P. Vidal

Alex P. Vidal and Bill McNulty

RICHMOND, British Columbia — No public official in British Columbia, or in the entire Canada for that matter, has placed a home phone number in a calling card except William “Bill” McNulty, this city’s longest serving councilor and next mayor.
“For others (public officials) it’s a no-no; but for me, I am available to serve 24 hours a day,” McNulty told this writer in an exclusive interview at Kumare Restaurant and Bakery January 26.
“I have great respect for Filipino community in British Columbia and I am actively involved in raising funds to help calamity victims in the Philippines and other countries,” he added.
A long-time Richmond resident who worked as a counsellor in a Vancouver secondary school, McNulty has been city councilor since 1993. His efforts to donate funds for recent victims of typhoons in the Philippines were “through my own personal initiatives,” he said.


“I am consistent and I go out on my own and do something with or without the election to help people here and abroad,” he stressed, explaining that they were able to raise $127,000 for children victims of “tsunami” in Onagawa, Japan last year.
Better known as “Richmond’s Man in Motion”, McNulty has been active as a community volunteer in Richmond for many years, especially in sports-related activities. He has served on Sport B.C. for six years, was a member of the committee which organized Richmond’s bid for the 1994 Commonwealth Games, and has been extensively involved in local community television broadcasting.
McNulty, raised as a Catholic, wants to work with newly landed immigrants to achieve a better quality of life saying “Canada is a better place to live and I want them to enjoy the quality of life here.”
As a public servant, he describes himself as “hard working, very honest, very trustworthy, and most caring councilor.”


“I don’t do things for personal gains. If I consider you as friend, you are my friend for life and not just during the elections,” he quipped.
“I know many people in the (Filipino) community have dug deep in their pockets to help (calamity victims in the Philippines). We are all part of the community and our small efforts become big efforts.”
McNulty has been involved in track and field for six decades and is a life member of Richmond’s Sports Council and the Richmond Lawn Bowling Association. He has been a President of both B.C. Athletics and the Canadian Track & Field Association. For many years he was a B Director of the Canadian Olympic Association.
He has been a coach, manager, administrative leader and Chef-de-Mission of many Canadian Games teams and touring Canadian track and field teams around the world. McNulty is also a long time serving Rotarian.


“I believe in sharing cultures,” McNulty mused. “It is important we understand each other from music to arts to family values. Regardless of religion, race, culture, we all have the same goals and objectives.”
A past president of the U.B.C. Alumni Association, McNulty is currently serving his eighth three-year term on the Senate of the University of British Columbia. He served on Richmond’s Advisory Planning Commission for six years from 1986-1992, five of them as Chairman.
He currently represents Richmond as the first alternate to the first Director on the Metro Vancouver Board. He is also a director on the Board of E-Comm (911) and is Richmond’s representative.


McNulty is director of the Metro Vancouver Housing Committee and a director of the Metro Vancouver Housing Board of directors for the past six years.
He is chairman of Richmond’s Planning Committee and a member of the following Standing Committees of Council: Finance; General Purposes; Community Safety and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services.
He is also the City Council representative to the following advisory committees, organizations and community associations: the Richmond Sports Council; the Richmond Arenas Association; the Richmond Chamber of Commerce; Thompson Community Centre; Richmond Committee on Disability; and Tourism Richmond.

'Symphony 8' investors launch Philippine Canadian Inquirer

'Symphony 8' investors launch 
Philippine Canadian Inquirer

TIMES Telecom CEO and "Symphony 8" head Alan Yong (second from right)center) with L-R Lhord Macalanda, Alex P. Vidal, Reyfort Media Group Chairman Reynaldo Fortaleza during the launching of the Philippine Canadian Inquirer.

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A group of investors calling themselves “Symphony 8″ led by Times Telecom CEO Alan Yong launched “Canada’s first and only nationwide Filipino Canadian newspaper” at the Rock Studio Academy on Granville St. Tuesday (January 24) evening.
To be published four times a month, Yong said the paper, which carries the masthead of the Manila-based daily, will also circulate in Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary soon.
“We have not invited representatives (of the Philippine Daily Inquirer) from the Philippines today but we will invite some of them during our second launching in Toronto in April this year,” Yong said.
Yong, 52, a Malaysian-Canadian, said the Manila PDI office is the one preparing the paper’s printing materials “and we do our own marketing here in Canada.”
In her published message, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said the paper “will not only serve as a medium to help readers to stay informed about issues that matter to them, but it will also help to enhance a greater sense of community among Filipino-Canadians.”
In his published message, Philippine Consulate Consul General Jose A.P. Ampeso said “the paper’s entry into the scene will heighten the competition in this field, no doubt, and expand the choices for the Filipino-Canadian reader which, for us, is an exciting prospect as this opens up opportunities to better serve the community through a broader reach and improved and enhanced coverage of events.”
He also welcomed “this development as an opportunity as well as to harness the power of the mass media as a tool for spreading useful and constructive information, empowering the Filipino community, and advocating for Philippine growth and development.”
Others who gave messages were Canadian Heritage and Official Languages Minister James Moore, Member of Parliament for Richmond Alice Wong, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Richmond Mayor Malcolm D. Brodie, Burnaby Mayor Derek R. Corrigan, News Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright, and the different Filipino-Canadian community associations.
Yong’s other partners include Terry Bahar, Peter Cheung, David Mew, Kenneth Kwan, Gigi Astudillo, Jojo Quimpo, Janice Lozano, Irene Yatco, Lilia Tiamzon, Theresa Baguisa, Ryan Ferrer, Laarni Liwanag, Boy Masakayan, Jenn Torres, Jennifer Yen, and Nancy Floro.

EXCLUSIVE: Miss World Canada swimsuit component to be removed?

(Above Photo: L-R Alex P. Vidal, Director Evelyn Yadao, Miss World Canada Chairman Ike Lalji after the exclusive interview in Langely City January 25. Below them is reigning Miss World Canada Riza Santos of Calgary)

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Will organizers of the Miss World Canada remove the swimsuit component when the pageant’s 2012 edition selects its new “Voice and Ambassador” on May 13 at the River Rock Resort Show Theater?
This will be known when the Board of Directors of Miss World Canada discuss the controversial issue during the “business mixer” meeting of the ownership, the management and the staff of Quality Hotel and Suites Langley at the hotel in Langley on January 26.
In an exclusive interview, Miss World Canada National Director and Chairman Ike Lalji said they will have as guest Miss World Canada 2011 Riza Santos, who will join the discussion.


She will also be promoting Miss World’s powerful mandate of Beauty with a Purpose, said Lalji, who is president of the Coast Meridian Hospitality.
Lalji, an industrial engineer who grew up in Belgium, said there have been mounting suggestions to remove the swimsuit portion in consonance with the pageant’s mandate as “philosophic and charity-driven.”
“While other pageants are based on beauty, ours is not only based on beauty but charity. Other pageants teach the participants how to walk while we teach our participants the life skills — leadership skills prior to the competition,” Lalji stressed.
He said as ambassador of Canada, the Miss World Canada travels around the world to pass the message to the young generation to help the children.


“We involve the United Nations and we let the people all over the world know that Miss World Canada is also about beauty with a purpose,” he pointed out.
Santos, 24, who wowed everyone at the Miss World competition in London with a 4th place finish in the sports competition, and a top 30th overall ranking out of over 120 contestants, will be accompanied by her runner-up Poonam Punni.
Santos is from Calgary and is engineering student and Canadian Forces soldier. She completed her BMQ and SQ with the Canadian Forces Army Reserve, and plans on becoming a commissioned officer.
She has also been a dedicated volunteer for the last 14 years, and continues to raise funds for charities such as Variety – The Children’s Charity, the Safe Haven Foundation, and relief funds for victims of natural disasters.
Lalji said “a lot of changes are happening with Miss World Canada. The search is on for women aged 17-24 that are beautiful on the inside and out, have a philanthropic and passionate mindset, and above all else believe they can be Canada’s next ambassador to the world.”
Every contestant will be taught valuable life building skills which will help open up many doors. The winner will receive numerous gifts, including an all-expense paid trip to China to compete in the Miss World pageant in July of 2012, as well as scholarships, and opportunities to work with and become a spokesperson for Variety – The Children’s Charity.


Lalji said the Miss World Pageant is the oldest and most annually watched televised show in the world, even beating out the Olympics in its ratings. Miss World is one of the two top pageants in the world and continues to break records.
Represented by over 120 countries and fundraising topping £150 million and the most successful ever international television show.
Lalji said they have donated $5 million for children’s charities worldwide. He was accompanied in the interview by Comfort Inn & Suits Director Evelyn Yadao.
Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender will award a certificate to Santos.


"Our thoughts and our prayers are very much with you" -- BRITISH COLUMBIA PREMIER CHRISTY CLARK to typhoon victims in the Philippines as she disclosed a Canadian $25,000 donation to the International Red Cross during the Damayan Concert at the Broadway Church in Vancouver, B.C. January 21 night. The donation was delivered by Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Harry Bloy and Outreach Director Pamela Martin. Also present were Communications Director Brian Bonney and B.C. Government Community Liaisons Dennis Marsden and Sepideh Sarrafpour. (Photo By ALEX P. VIDAL)

Friday, January 20, 2012

SCOOTER STORY: PapaBear's Gambit

PapaBear's Gambit

By Alex P. Vidal

SURREY, British Columbia -- What raffle draw grand prize winner Jerry "PapaBear" Legaspi did before the year 2011 ended was unprecedented: he offered as "gift" to the son of the "real" winner the stand up electric scooter, the grand prize in the December 26 Christmas raffle sponsored by the Reyfort Media Group at the media outfit's studio here.
Legaspi turned over the scooter, worth $1,895, to Nemecio Cepeda Sr., father of his beneficiary, Nhemy "JJ" Jr., five days after the raffle draw or a day before New Year.
"Me and Pangga (Annjanette Camacho, Legaspi's wife) have decided to relinquish it in favor of JJ because we love JJ and the scooter is too small for me," said Legaspi, who weighs around 200 lbs. "And besides, we want to preserve harmony and peace."


The scooter was the center of controversy immediately after the raffle draw when Cepeda Sr. claimed he was the rightful winner. 
Multicultural Housing Help Society (MHHS) president Tomas "Tatay Tom" Avendano picked Cepeda Sr.'s name during the grand prize draw but the winner was not around to personally receive the scooter.
Cepeda Sr. missed the draw by the skin of the teeth when he left as soon as the raffle for grand prize was starting. He had informed raffle organizers he was having a chest pain and asked them give his prize to a proxy in the event his name would be picked as winner in the raffle. 


Avendano and his assistant, Winnie "Jojo" Alpuerto, called Cepeda Sr.'s name several times and asked him to personally receive the prize but he failed to show up. This prompted organizers to forfeit the prize and raffle it off. This time, the new winner Legaspi, who had earlier won a Blue Ray player in a draw for consolation prizes, was present.
He received the scooter.
When informed the following day, Cepeda Sr. raged. "I am the rightful winner," he rued. "I asked permission to leave because I had a chest pain. It was not 'PapaBear's' fault."
Organizers explained they had set rules that only winners present would receive their prizes.
"No problem," Legaspi intoned. "I will offer the scooter as gift to JJ to settle the matter."
"No, that's yours," retorted Cepeda Sr. "It's not your fault."


"It's not anymore the question of who is at fault here. Just come to my house (in Guildford) and get the scooter," Legaspi shot back.
Before New Year, Cepeda went home riding in the scooter smiling.
"JJ anak (my son), the scooter is here given by 'PapeBear.' You can now use this when you go to school," Cepeda told JJ.
"Thank you papa. Thank you 'PapaBear," quipped the 12-year-old JJ.

British Columbia Premier Clark backs 'Damayan' concert

British Columbia Premier Clark 
backs 'Damayan' concert 

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – No less than B.C. Premier Christy Clark has heeded the call of leaders of the different Filipino-Canadian organizations here for everyone to come to the aid of victims of the recent deadly floods in the Philippines.
A special announcement will be made by representatives of Clark’s office at the Damayan concert to be held at the Broadway Church on Broadway Street in Vancouver on January 21. The concert will be preceded by a telethon event on January 20 at the Multicultural Helping House Society  (MHHS) office on Fraser Street.
A statement from Premier Clark is expected at the Damayan concert wherein she will be represented by B.C. Liberal Burnaby-Lougheed Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Harry Bloy, and Pamela Martin, former CTV anchor and now director of outreach at the Office of Premier. Leaders of the community continue to appeal for aid for the calamity victims in Mindanao.


The aid effort is being spearheaded by multimedia entrepreneur Rey Fortaleza, who also chairs the Filipino Canadian Cultural Heritage Society. 
"This will be a joint effort of the entire community and the Philippine Consulate General Office," said Philippine Consul General Jose Ampeso. "We will appeal to members of the community to open their hearts for the victims of calamity in the Philippines," MHHS president Tomas Avendano said.
Video news clips of typhoon "Sendong's" wrath will be shown immediately after the audio-visual introduction. This will be followed by welcome remarks from Avendano, Fortaleza, and Consul General Ampeso.


Hosts Debbie Arkoncel and Joey Ruiz will announce the total amount/pledges gathered from telethon followed by description of each respective organization's participation to the fundraising project and how the cash and goods will be distributed to the flood victims in the Philippines.
Cash proceeds of the event will be sent to the Sagip Kapamilya of ABS-CBN in the Philippines through the Filipino Canadian Cultural Heritage Society. Donation in kind will be sent to LBC Foundation through its Vancouver office, those goods will be distributed to calamity victims. The concert will feature Joey Albert, Ray-An Fuentes, Luisa Marshall, Salve Dayao, Linda Magno, FYE Live Artists, and PNT Singing Idols.
Also presented by Reyfort Media Group, LBC Cargo, Metro Vancouver Philippine Arts and Culture Exposition Society (MVP-PACES), Palengkeng Pinoy Trade and Exchange Network (PP10), G-AIR Cargo, Royal Bank of Canada, Filipino Seniors Club of BC, Filipino Canadian Construction Society, and Can-Fil Golf Association, the concert is "Handog ng nagkakaisang lahi ng Filipino-Canadian sa Metro Vancouver para sa typhoon 'Sendong' victims ng Iligan-Cagayan De Oro."


Relleve said there will be a 10-minute break for "Passing The Hat" to be spearheaded by Avendano, Fortaleza and Ampeso.
FYE Live! managing director Socorro "Babes" Newland said another 15-minute break will follow after the "The Climb/ "We Are The World") song FYE Live! Artists Jerrica Santos, JJ Cepeda, Alyssa Gutierrez, Bella Acero, Martin Santos, Mia Santos, Jenessa Escabarte, JP Nilo, Nikki Pangilinan, Vernice Payasan, Russel Figueroa, and Genevieve Villabrosa.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Q and A with Vancouver's most popular entertainer and TV talk show host


Vancouver's most popular Fil-Can entertainer, TV talk show host

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- One of the most dynamic and well-respected figures in the Filipino-Canadian music and entertainment industry, Ms. Luisa "LUI" Marshall, also maintains a very popular all-season TV talk show dubbed as "Simply The best" -- The Luisa Marshall Show every Mondays at 10:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. primetime at the Shaw Mutlicultural Channel 116.
A truly intelligent and charismatic peformer, Marshall, popularly known as "The Tina Turner Impersonator" because of her flawless and almost perfect rendition of the famous American pop star's Grammy Award-winning gigs in her major concerts in Canada and the United States, manages the show together with her artist husband, Steve, since November 2009.
On January 21, 2012 Ms. LUI will be one of the world-class artists invited to perform in "Damayan Concert" or "Handog ng Nagkakaisang Lahi ng Filipino-Canadians sa Metro Vancouver para sa Typhoon Sendong Victims ng Iligan-Cagayan De Oro" at the Broadway Church. Here's our brief tete-a-tete with Ms. LUI:  

Q: What is the objective of your show?

A: Simply The Best, The Luisa Marshall Show is to inspire, educate and entertain Filipinos and mainstream viewers in a multicultural society.
It is an upbeat variety talk show which features celebrities, musical entertainment, reality show, fashion, makeovers, interesting inspiring stories of unknown people and local heroes, entrepreneurs, political figures, community issues/events and other requests from the viewers.

Q: How do you divide your time or handle your role as TV hostess and international entertainer?

A: I don't divide my time, I just don't sleep. Hahaha! Seriously, I welcome and embrace my hectic life. I'm used to it. I enjoy it. I take it one step at a time. I determine what's important at that moment, what I have to do. The very moment that I am Luisa Marshall the tv host, my whole mind and body just switch to a different level.  Sometimes it comes very easy because I write the entire show.  I know what I want and I basically make it happen. I take care of the concept, guests, topics, filming schedule, location shooting, studio, editing, etc. so I have a lot on my plate. My co-producer/manager/husband Steve Marshall does all the technical editing that takes 3-4 days to complete a 30 minute TV show.  During that whole gruesome part of the business, I have time to rehearse, work out, pack, get ready for my live performances. It's not easy... there are times when my body just wants to shut down, then I decide to slow down. Sometimes I turn off my cell and spend my quiet moments at airports, airplanes, dressing rooms, trailers, etc. It surely helps.

Q: What was the best episode of your show last year?

A: The past two years, I enjoyed doing all my shows.  My shows are the extension of my whole passion, my ideas, my feelings, my whole being.  I like them all.  However, if I have to pick one... it's a tie between the inspirational story of my good friend singer/performer Riley Inge who continued to move on, recover and help others after he suffered a severe neck injury from the PNE roller-coaster ride in the summer of 2010 and another great story of a former prostitute and drug addict Trisha Baptie who founded Exploited Voices Now Educating and a recipient of The Courage to Come Back Award.

Q: Your programs/community service involvement in 2012?

A: I am so excited to tell you that I have programs and projects lined up for the community that my husband (Steve) and I have been putting together for quite sometime now.  I will be announcing this as soon as I get the confirmation.  You'll be the first one to know. As of now, I try my best to support and promote all the fundraising projects for the Sendong flood victims. Simply The Best TV show is also dedicated to promote and cover community events, to create an awareness on outstanding social issues and, most of all, to give the general public a chance to voice out their sentiments and complaints.

Q: Tell us more about you and your projects/shows, etc.

A: This year will be a full load of wonderful inspirational stories, community issues, interesting artists and hot topics for Simply The Best tv show.  Believe it or not, we have lots of materials that we have on file that we filmed in 2010 and 2011 that we haven't featured yet.  We will be interested to share all these this season. I believe one of the highlights of 2012 is my upcoming one on one interview with BC Premier Christy Clark.  I had her on the show last year before she became premier and we had a blast talking about the NDP, HST, and other hot topics.  On the next interview, I assure you there will be more hot topics.
As for my live stage performances, I have upcoming shows open to the general public in Metro Vancouver this winter. 
1. January 21/2012, Saturday, Project Damayan Fundraising, Broadway Church, 6pm
2. February 26/2012, Sunday, Tina Turner Tribute Show with band and dancers, Coast Capital Playhouse, Whiterock, 7pm
3.  March 4/2012, Sunday, International Women's Day Celebration, Crystal at York Banquet Hall, Surrey, 11:30am 
Some of my other shows are exclusive private corporate events.
Also, there are negotiations going on right now for a possible US Tour. For more information, check my website luisamarshall.com or Facebook Luisa Marshall for my show dates.
Q: Your opinion on the proposed "Filipino Town" on Fraser St.
A: What is the significance of a Filipino Town on Fraser St.?  When I heard about this, my initial reaction was "cool" but when I stepped back and contemplated on how this would affect other non-Filipino residents and businesses in the area, I have to re-think about this deeply. I would surely hope that any area considered to be a Filipino Town would be, in fact, a Filipino owned and operated area before anyone even try to put a claim on it. That's my common sense talking.

Q: Your advice to aspiring Fil-Can entertainers.

A: There are so many Filipino Canadians who are so talented who want a big break in the mainstream world.  Sometimes you can get lucky and sometimes it's all a hard long climb to success.  My advice is for them to acknowledge their dreams, act on their dreams, learn from the experts, practice, practice, practice, and most of all remain humble.  

Q: Please tell us about your involvement in the program on January 21st regarding "Damayan" for Typhoon victims in the Philippines.

A: Once again, I am honored to perform for another good cause to benefit our kababayan.  I have done so much fundraising events in the past years but this one is close to my heart.  I am very happy to be a part of what my friends Babes Newland, Reyfort Media and MHHS initiated.  This is a spectacular show of the collective effort of various artists, organizations, volunteers, crew and other media companies in this Filipino Canadian Community.