Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vancouver to host World Indigenous Housing gab

Vancouver to host World 
Indigenous Housing gab

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The 2012 World Indigenous Housing Conference (WIHC) will be held on June 11-15, 2012, with the breathtaking Coast Mountains as a backdrop for the event, reported the Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA), host of the five-day conclave.
AHMA said the WIHC is the first international forum to bring Indigenous housing leaders, senior government officials, researchers and corporate heads from around the world together to learn from best practices, build a global network, and showcase Indigenous cultures.
Participants will have the opportunity to share expertise and build powerful connections with this influential arena of leaders from Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, developed countries that share common Indigenous housing experiences.


Stimulating speakers, workshops and presentations will explore five key themes: Sharing Our Stories, Governance and Capacity Building, Government Partnerships, Housing as a Determinant of Health, and Disaster Preparedness.
Senior government leaders will exchange ideas on how to advance Indigenous housing self-management in different jurisdictions. Housing managers will share a spectrum of achievements in governance and capacity building. Indigenous leaders will reveal best practices. 
Policymakers will explain ways to ensure sustainable solutions and infrastructure. And a rich cultural exchange, with vibrant traditional and contemporary Indigenous entertainment, is part of the package.

New York-bound Surrey 'wonder boy' Cepeda trains in Oakridge

New York-bound Surrey 'wonder 
boy' Cepeda trains in Oakridge

By Alex P. Vidal 

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Under strict supervision of some of British Columbia's cracked and top-notch music mentors, Surrey son Nhemy JJR Cepeda has been revving up for a Celebrity Benefit Performance at the Times Square in New York City on April 23.
Twelve-year-old Cepeda's singing prowess is being fine-tuned at the prestigious O Music Studios in Oakridge led by highly regarded music director Jeannie Lee.
In several weeks that he has been undergoing voice lessons in the music institution, Cepeda has learned how to emcee and handle musical instruments, among other skills related to entertainment.
"JJ's teachers, all experts in their respective fields, are seeing to it that no stone will be left unturned in their efforts to hone his skills as well as the skills of other students performing with him," reported the boy's father, Nemecio Sr.


Cepeda will perform together with other selected O Music Studios students, it was learned.
The New York performance is reportedly connected to Jane Elissa's campaign for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's (LLS) Man and Woman of the Year Event (MWOY) with the New York City Chapter. 
O Music Studios, which teaches classical and jazz for young aspiring musicians, believes in balancing the traditional with the modern innovative techniques of learning. 
Through inspiration, innovation and imagination we strive to bring out the excellence and musical abilities of each child. Our music school offers many diverse programs, ranging from traditional classical piano lessons to informal group classes," O Music Studios' website said. 


"We see daily strides in our students self-confidence and academic achievement, whether their best is performing in Carnegie Hall or playing for their families and peers. Music is a gift we give to our children."
The music school offers classical piano music studies, music history and theory, composition classes, Canadian and international music preparation classes, conservatory Canada prep classes, and group and private music programs.

'I did not shout'

'I did not shout'

MHHS Vice President Amado Mercado (right) and Richmond City Councilor Bill McNulty (Photo by Alex P. Vidal)

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The tone of his voice when he wanted to explain something during the board meeting may have been higher, "but it did not mean that I was shouting," clarified Amado Mercado, Multicultural Helping House Society's (MHHS) erstwhile second highest official.
Mercado denied he raised his voice in one of their recent board meetings the reason why a feud ignited between him and director Jose Ong that resulted in the passing of a "unanimous" resolution stripping him of his position as vice president in January this year.
"I just wanted to make a point that not all activities and programs initiated by my committee needed a board resolution," Mercado insisted. 


He was referring to the committee on infrastructure he chaired when the MHHS building was built in 2010 and financed mostly by the Canadian government and private donors in the community.
MHHS president Tomas Avendano said the board was asking Mercado to provide them with copies of the job order in the construction of additional facility -- MHHS Newcomer Resource Center -- which was finished in 2011.
Avendano agreed with Mercado that "there was no need for the board to squeeze him on the job order since the project has been completed already."
Avendano assured that "Mercado is clean" saying he did not believe there was irregularity in the construction or any project undertaken under his administration.


"Everything is transparent here and, so far, I have not monitored any irregularity done by anybody eversince I became president," said Avendano, who confirmed he was present when the board passed the resolution ousting Mercado as vice president.
Avendano, however, stressed that "a legitimate question deserves a legitimate answer." He did not elaborate.
Mercado maintained the board resolution was "illegal" because the board lacked the number or didn't have a quorum when they decided to yank him out as vice president.  
Avendano, 83, clarified though that Mercado still retains his position as member of the board. The resolution passed by those present "was not official since it was not yet ratified," Avendano said.


Avendano identified those present as directors Ong, Ric Asistio, Robert Montes, Ching Concepcion, secretary Pocholo Insua, treasurer Michael Cayetano, and himself. 
Mercado accused them of "controlling the meeting" protesting that he was not informed of the agenda. He was absent when the board booted him as vice president.
When reached for comment by this writer, Cayetano did not call back. Some of the original members of the board have already resigned, Avendano disclosed.
Mel Cruz, Patricia Diamzon, Roy Ricarse, and Marius Alparaque are the newly appointed members of the board. They were not present when the Mercado's ouster from vice presidency was tackled.


Avendano also confirmed their financial records are now being reviewed by an external auditor as well as auditors from the Vancouver city government and the British Columbia provincial government.
The federal government, city hall, and provincial government chipped in $500,000 each when the MHHS building was constructed in 2010. The Filipino Canadian Construction Society (FCCS), composed of General Contracting, Trade Contracting, Project Management, Es­timating, Plans and Drawings, Drafting, Autocadd, Repair and Renovation, Dry­wall, HVAC, Plumbing & Electrical works, Painting & Water-proofing, and Sales also donated $6,000 for the three-storey building on Fraser Street.


Mercado snubbed Avendano's invitation for him to attend the regular board meeting last February 25 saying he was advised by his lawyer to "stay away for a while."
"I don't want to have an exchange of words with Tatay Tom (Avendano) kaya huwag na muna akong magsalita (that's why I will stop from further talking about the issue)," Mercado said.
Avendano clarified that "the board is not at war with Mercado. He is still a member of the board and he is always welcome to attend the meeting -- that is if he is still interested to serve!"
Formerly called as the Filipino Canadian Support Services Society (FCSSS) until renamed to MHHS in 2001, the non-stock, non-profit organization was founded in 1996.

Pinoys in Vancouver to march against racism

Pinoys in Vancouver to 
march against racism

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- A group of protesters led by the Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance, Philippine Women Centre of BC and SIKLAB for Migrant Workers will hold a march protest against racism at 2 pm on March 18.
Calling participants to "celebrate our courage" by bringing banners and drums in the march starting at Clark Park on Commercial and 14th and ending at Grandview Park on Commercial and Charles, the marchers will also celebrate the March 21 International Day for the Elimination of Racism.
The event "marks the anniversary of the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa when police opened fire on hundreds of South Africans protesting against Apartheid's passbook laws, killing 67 and wounding 186," the marchers said in a statement.


"Collectively, we join friends and allies around the world to mark this day and to speak the truth about racism."
The marchers said, "We know of the historic injustices this country was founded on, including the forced confinement of Indigenous children in residential schools and Japanese children in internment camps." 
They added: "Today, we urgently need a renewed anti-racist consciousness as examples of institutional racism abound: Mass criminalization and incarceration under the new crime bill, human smuggling bill, and proposed anti-terror legislation; Tragedies of missing and murdered Indigenous women and communities like Attawapiskat across these colonized lands; Restrictions on immigration and family sponsorships but expanding exploitative temporary worker programs; Bailing out banks while communities of colour live in poverty." 


They also demand an end for "corporate destruction on indigenous territories from pipelines in Alberta and BC to Canadian mining operations across Africa and Latin America; Involvement in military occupations from Afghanistan to Palestine; Racist stereotyping and scapegoating permeates the media, education system, policing institutions, and workplaces." 
They marchers said they are "outraged at the white supremacist hate crimes of groups such as Blood and Honor in our very own neighbourhoods, and the general silence surrounding this horrific example of violence."
"We encourage our friends and allies to be pro-active in countering racism. Join us in solidarity and resistance on March 18th to celebrate the dignity, strength, and resilience of our communities."

US-Philippines forge baseball sports exchange program

US-Philippines forge baseball 
sports exchange program

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ (ECA) SportsUnited division announced a baseball sports exchange that will bring six female softball and six male baseball coaches from the Philippines to the United States February 28 - March 8, reported the U.S. Department of State (USDS).
USDS said the Filipino coaches will engage in Major League Baseball’s (MLB) spring training in Phoenix, Arizona. 
"They will meet and attend games of several MLB organizations including the Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants, and San Diego Padres," USDS added. 


"They will also engage with young American athletes by visiting local area high schools and universities and participate in a Special Olympics event. These activities further develop their leadership skills and help strengthen people-to-people relationships between the United States and the Philippines."
USDS said this will be SportsUnited’s first exchange program with the Philippines. It is a follow-up program to the successful visit of Major League Baseball great, Ken Griffey Jr., to Manila last spring on behalf of the Department of State.
Sports diplomacy builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power,” embracing the full range of diplomatic tools, including sports, to bring individuals together to foster greater understanding.


SportsUnited is the sports exchange program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Athletes and coaches from a range of sports are chosen to conduct clinics, visit schools, and engage with youth overseas on the importance of education, positive health practices, and respect for diversity.  
Since 2003, SportsUnited has brought almost 900 athletes from 59 countries to the U.S. to participate in Sport Visitor programs. Since 2005, SportsUnited has sent over 200 U.S. athletes to more than 50 countries to participate in Sports Envoy programs.

'PNT Idol' debuts as 'Pinoy New Talent'

'PNT Idol' debuts as 
'Pinoy New Talent'

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia --  The "2012 PNT Singing Idol" will unfold on March 17 at the Java Jazz and Bistro in New Westminster for its first monthly finals.
"We are back for our Season 5 and we are now known as the Pinoy New Talent Idol," remarked overall coordinator and managing director Jerry "Papa Bear" Legaspi.
The first audition and karaoke night has been scheduled on March 3 at 5:30 pm at the Olympia Pizza and Resto in Surrey.
"Our first monthly finals will also serve as tribute to the late Hollywood singers Whitney Houston and Etta James," said Legaspi, who is also the program's main host together with his "Pork and Bean" partner Jojo Alpuerto.


"We call on all Filipino-Canadian singers in the community with hidden talent to come out in the open and join us," Legaspi announced. "This is their opportunity to be discovered and be given due recognition."  
Here are the schedules for audition at the Olympia Pizza and Resto all from 8 to 10 pm: March 3, April 13 (Friday, May 5 (Saturday), June 2 (Saturday), and July 7 (Saturday). Auditions in Java Jazz and Bistro are on Mondays to Sundays (except Tuesdays) at 5:50 to 8 pm. 
Schedule of singing contest at the Java Jazz and Bistro is at 7 pm Saturday on March 17. The rest -- April 21, May 19, June 16, and July 21 -- will be held at the Olympia Pizza and Resto.
The contest categories are: Young (15 years old and below), Young Adults (16 to 26 years old), Adults (27 years old and above).


Emcees and PNT Idol talents are: Nhemy JJR "Wonderboy" Cepeda, Angela Bianca Gerardo, Vanessa Marie Hillman, Charisse Curata, Manigeh Mirzae, Irene Lumayag, and Angel Lumayag. Judges are Emee Escaro and Wel Medina.
The PNT Singing Idol is produced by the Reyfort Media Group headed by chairman Rey Fortaleza and managed by Legaspi, Jojo Alpuerto as overall organizer, musical director and script/program coordinator; Nemecio Cepeda as associate producer and consultant, Lhord Macalanda and Salvacion "Salve" Dayao as venue sponsors.
Production staff is composed of Rolly Fortaleza, Marjo Sevilla, Johnette Sevilla, and Luningning Leonera. Here are the contact persons: Jerry Legaspi (604-720-9882), Nemecio Cepeda Sr. (604-591-3150), Jojo Alpuerto (604-616-1953), Lhord Macalanda (604-584-1388), Cely Fortaleza (604-588-6397), Jo Ann Mirzae (604-327-3466).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


British Columbia Premier Christy Clark is the guest in "Simply The Best, The Luisa Marshall Show" on February 27 at 10:30 am and 9 pm primetime, Shaw Cable 116, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Senior community leader appeals: Let's vote for Narima Dela Cruz

'Let's vote for Narima Dela Cruz'

Nemecio Cepeda, Nora "Ate Guy" Aunor, Narima Dela Cruz (File Photo)

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Filipino community should rally behind 2012 Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards qualifier Narima Dela Cruz of Surrey, British Columbia by voting on line at
This was the appeal made recently by Nemecio "Mang Nhemy" Cepeda, Sr., longest-serving former president of the Filipino Zodiac Circle of British Columbia and one of the most respected senior leaders in the Filipino-Canadian community here.
"A vote for Narima Dela Cruz is a vote for the whole Filipino community," declared the 69-year-old Cepeda, who also lives in Surrey.


Cepeda said he was not surprised when he learned that Dela Cruz, president and founding director of the Surrey Philippine Independence Society (SPIDS), has been chosen to be one of the 75 finalists among a selection of 300+ people.
"She is a very competent and brave woman and we need a leader like her," said Cepeda, who has started campaigning for Dela Cruz in his organization. "I have been following Mrs. Dela Cruz's philanthropic activities in the SPIDS and I can safely say that she is a quick thinker and a result-oriented person."
He said if Filipinos in the whole community will unite, Dela Cruz will make it to top 25 "not only because of our large population here in British Columbia, but because she really is very qualified and somebody who possesses a true leadership."


The prestige of the award is an honor to the entire Filipino community, added Cepeda who emphasized that "by being in the top 75 all over Canada, Dela Cruz is already a winner."
Cepeda's call came in the heels of announcement made by the president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, an association of 10,000 professionals, that they would bestow on Dela Cruz the prestigious Realtors Care Award in honor of her charitable works and community involvement in 2011. 
"I share this one to my SPIDS family and supporters who supported us with the 'Sendong' fundraiser, to the number of students who benefit from the PAC Scholarship Comm. which we head for four years now, and to the new migrants of different community service-oriented associations in Surrey where I have been volunteer in the last years," Dela Cruz wrote in her Facebook account.


The Top 25 Canadian Immigrants is a people’s choice award that recognizes people who have come to Canada and have made a positive difference living here.
Those who have made a particular or significant impact in 2011, as related to their achievements and contributions will be specifically considered to become shortlisted as finalists, it was learned.
Among their prominent past awardees include two former Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarksen and Michaelle Jean.
There have been four winners in the past from Surrey, which include Dela Cruz's Facebook friend, Charan Gill, founder of PICS; 19 past winners from BC which include former Premier Ujjal Dosanjh and her another Facebook friend, Naeem Nick Noorani.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

You are only wasting your time, Joe!

You are only wasting 
your time, Joe!

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- At around past 8 o'clock in the evening of February 24 while I was in New Westminster, I received a call from one Jerry Brimmer, a lawyer from Broadway Street. 
Joe wanted me to stop my expose about a "multi-million construction project" which supposedly involves funds from the government. "Which expose are you talking about?" I asked Joe. He did not answer my question. 
He volunteered that all the documents in the project are intact and assured me there's no monkey business in the deal. "Which project are you referring to?" I asked Joe anew. He must be an astute lawyer he didn't want to leave any trace of "evidence" in that brief conversation. Who gave him my mobile phone number is now the subject of my own investigation. 


I wanted Joe Brimmer to say something concrete and explicit about something which he wanted me to stop from tackling about. If you talk to a lawyer in such circumstance, you must think like a chess player. Joe was polite nevertheless and conversed like a Street Wall stock broker: direct to the point. Cunning.
The only sound bite that I dread not to hear from a stranger as a dyed-in-the-wool investigative reporter is when Joe warned me of the "legal implications" should I continue writing about the issue. Short of saying, "shut up or else..."
If the papers are intact and no anomaly attended to the transaction as Joe is confidently claiming, no need to tell an inquisitive journalist to zipper his mouth.  


Joe, I know you are reading this item in my blog (you claimed to be an avid reader of my other blog Fine, thank you, sir!). As long as public interest is at stake, you can never gag or muzzle a journalist in a free society -- unless we are in North Korea, Iran, or People's Republic of China where even the internet is being bastardized by the iron curtain.  
The good thing about Canada is that it adheres to the universally recognized freedom of the press and expression. This freedom doctrine is preciously recognized and enshrined under the Bill of Rights of the constitution of every country that believes in free speech and openness which the Russians call "glasnost."    
Just tell your clients to relax and calm down if they have nothing to hide, Joe. For the meantime, excuse me, I need to do my job.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

'Amado Mercado is clean,' says Tatay Tom


'Amado Mercado is clean,' says Tatay Tom

DURING HAPPIER MOMENTS. (L-R) Vice President Amado Mercado, APV, President Tomas "Tatay Tom" Avendano. When I made an ocular visit in the construction site on June 29, 2010, two smiling faces greeted me. Those were the days, friends! (Below) My most recent interview with Avendano (5 P.M. February 23, 2012)

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Embattled Multicultural Helping House Society (MHHS) vice president Amado N. Mercado, Jr. has rejected the invitation of president and CEO Tomas "Tatay Tom" Avendano for him to attend a "crucial" board meeting on February 24 saying "he was still hurting" after he was "illegally" ousted as vice president.
"Hindi ako mag aatend. I have already consulted my lawyer at hindi ko masabi kung ano ang gagawin namin (I will not attend the meeting. I can not divulge our plans now that I have already consulted my lawyer," Mercado said in a phone interview Thursday (February 23) evening.
Several hours earlier in an exclusive interview at the MHHS on Fraser Street, Avendano, 83, appealed for Mercado to attend their regular board meeting on Friday (February 24).


"The board resolution (that ousted Mercado as vice president) is not yet official because we have not yet ratified the minutes of that meeting," said Avendano. "And besides, he is still a member of the board."
Avendano wants Mercado's presence during the meeting "so he can clarify matters and answer questions from the board of directors."
Mercado chaired the committee on infrastructure when the multi-million MHHS building was constructed in 2010 and inaugurated last year.
"I believe Amado Mercado is clean," explained Avendano. "In fairness to him, he did his job well and I am a witness how he sacrificed a lot when this (MHHS) building was being constructed."


The Vancouver city governmment, British Columbia provincial government, and the Federal government chipped in $500,000 each for the construction, confirmed Avendano, whose term as president will expire on May this year when the MHHS, formerly known as the Filipino Canadian Support Service Society (FCSSS), convenes in a general assembly to elect 15 members of the board of directors.
Avendano said the imbroglio started when some members of the board asked Mercado to provide them with copies of the job order for additional works done in the building.
MHHS completed its additional facility last year dubbed as the MHHS Newcomer Resource Center, the office intended as "expansion of services for newcomers and recent immigrants alike."
Instead of explaining his side, Mercado was "very emotional" and raised his voice, Avendano disclosed.  Some members of the board resented Mercado's actuations, especially director Jose Ong, added Avendano.
"I'm sad because Ong and Mercado are supposed to be good friends and their families are closed," he said. "But I think a legitimate question deserves a legitimate answer." 


Avendano, a former councilor of Pasay city in the Philippines, said he could not protect or side with Mercado even if he believes in his integrity "because I am neutral like a presiding judge."
"And I don't want to be defensive here," Avendano quipped. "Everything is alright and I believe there is no irregularity here." 
Avendano said he himself is against the action of the directors to further squeeze Mercado on the additional works done on the building saying "eh total tapos na ang project. Nandyian na yan eh (what is there to worry about when the building is already done?)." 
Avendano confirmed they are being "badgered" by at least three auditors -- their external auditor, the British Columbia government auditor, and the city hall auditor. "But I understand it's but natural for them to do (audit us) that because they donated a large amount for the project," he said.


Mercado accused the board of "controlling the meeting."
"Sila ang nag co-control ng meeting eh. Before the meeting, I asked Tatay Tom what was the agenda and he told me 'hindi ko alam.' In any meeting, there should be a communication. I am not perfect but I believe in communication," Mercado thundered.
He said the board meeting had no quorum and was illegal because there were only six members present, including Avendano.
Avendano identified those present as directors Ong, Ric Asistio, Robert Montes, Ching Concepcion, secretary Pocholo Insua, treasurer Michael Cayetano, and himself. "Some of the names you mentioned (in my previous article) are no longer members of the board because they have already resigned," Avendano said.
Mercado said it was Avendano who informed him that he had been removed as vice president;  Avendano ribbed him for not attending the meeting when the resolution was passed to yank him out as the MHHS' second highest official.


"I told Tatay Tom that I could not attend the meeting at that time because I was at home attending to an important communication in the Philippines," Mercado explained. "I already wanted to resign then but Tatay Tom told me to stay put. But when I stayed, he did not protect me."
Mercado said in spite of what happened, "I still continue to receive favorable feedbacks from my supporters in the community. I assured them that I would continue to serve the community and the society (MHHS) in my capacity as a private individual even if I am not anymore the vice president."
"We are not at war with Amado (Mercado). I want him to attend the meeting tomorrow (February 24) because he is still a member of the board. His problem is only with the board," assured Avendano.
Avendano said Mercado should attend the February 24 meeting because it will be attended by newly appointed directors he identified as Mel Cruz, Patricia Diamzon, Roy Ricarse, and Marius Alparaque.
"These new members of the board of directors have nothing to do with the resolution (that stripped Mercado of his position as vice president)," explained Avendano. "And besides, Ong is scheduled to go to the Philippines and might not attend the meeting."

'FYE Live' artist Ria Diy's video earns nod from UK-based boy band

'FYE Live' artist Ria Diy's video earns 
nod from UK-based boy band 

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Ria Diy's dream to someday sing together with a popular British boy band might soon be realized when the band, known as One Direction, picked her video in a contest called "Canada Loves 1D" - Challenge #6 on the band's website on February 9.
The contest requested fans to send in videos about why One Direction should visit their city.
Ria's  cover of the One Direction's song, Moments, was chosen as one of only seven favourite video covers from across Canada.
The mainstay of Maxipro Entertainment-produced "FYE Live" learned about her feat when she found her video posted the website of One Direction on February 16, according to a report by The Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Times.
"A Grade 9 student who goes to Thomas Haney Secondary in Maple Ridge loves the boy band One Direction," said the Times report.
"Everyday Ria Diy surfs the band's website and dreams the dreams that only a 14-year-old budding musician would have - to one day meet the famous British boys who got their start on the U.K. version of The X-Factor in 2010.
"The group is made up of Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson and they finished in third place in the seventh series of the popular TV show.
"Following The X-Factor, the group signed a œ2-million ($3.15 million) record contract with Syco Music.
"And since their rise to stardom, they have had more than 54.6 million views on YouTube of their first hit What Makes You Beautiful.
The report said Ria's video submission began with an introduction about why the band should come to Canada, followed by her version of one of the band's songs.
Report said: "She knows that one of the members of the band loves chicken so she held up a pan and said: 'I made you all some chicken. You know how much weight I'm going to gain if I eat this by myself? Will you guys eat my chicken with me? It's honey garlic.'"
"But truth be told, it was actually onions covered with tin foil. Now she wants to make the band the real deal.
Here's the Times report: On Feb. 16 she was shocked to see her video posted on One Direction's website."I was yelling, 'Dad, Dad, that's my face!'" she said.
Her cover of the band's song, Moments, was chosen as one of only seven favourite video covers from across Canada.
"Her dream is to sing with them," said older sister Denise.
"Then I can give them some chicken, I'll have to make the real stuff this time," Ria laughed.
Ria is no stranger to performing. On Saturday, she was onset doing a photo shoot for a variety show she is a main stay in - FYE Live! (For Your Entertainment Live!) It is the first Filipino variety TV show on the Shaw multicultural channel on channel 116, which airs on the last Sunday of every month.
"We have themes every month and this month, because of Valentine's Day, we had love songs," explained Ria. "Next month we are doing Motown, which will be fun. I love Motown."
Ria first performed at the Canadian Composers Gala in 2004 when she was seven years old. She performed the jazz piano piece, Who's There, and has passed her Royal Conservatory Music exams with honours.
The Diy family moved here from the Philippines 10 years ago. Dad Rafael said he is "speechless" about Ria's growing success.
"I just want the best for my kids, it's why we came here, we will always make sacrifices for our girls," Diy said.
To view Ria's YouTube entry, visit One Direction's website:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012




I will consult my lawyer, says 
'ousted' Fil-Can vice president  

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia --   The former vice president of the Multicultural Helping House Society (MHHS) here has disagreed with the decison of the board of directors to strip him of his position saying he would bring the matter to court if necessary.
"I will consult my lawyer (regarding this matter)," the emotional Amado Mercado boomed in an exclusive phone interview on February 20. "What they did was illegal and this will reflect on the image of the (Filipino) community."
Mercado lamented that he was never given a due process even if "I have been serving the MHHS for 12 years now as a volunteer."
Mercado said the board did not have a quorum when they convened to remove him as vice president. "And besides, there was no vacancy," he stressed. "It's a long story. For the meantime, I will confer the matter with my lawyer."


Mercado's name has been stricken out as vice president but he is still member of the board, confirmed MHHS president Tomas Avendano.
"He was not removed," Avendano explained. "He is still a member of the board."
Avendano said under the MHHS constitution and by-laws, the board can remove all officers, including him as president, for loss of confidence.
He did not elaborate.  Avendano did not disclose the reason why Mercado's position was supposedly abolished but confirmed "there is no more (position of) vice president."
"I can not comment on this issue further because the minutes of the meeting did not yet reach my table," said Avendano, 83, who just arrived from Ottawa as awardee of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal “for his commitment to helping new immigrants on Canada’s West Coast to integrate into Canadian society" on February 6.


Avendano admitted he was aware of the board's decision and blamed Mercado for not attending the meeting held before he flew to Ottawa when the matter was discussed. Avendano denied he did not protect Mercado during the board meeting saying "as president I have to be neutral and will only listen like a presiding judge."
Formerly called as the Filipino Canadian Support Services Society (FCSSS) until renamed to MHHS in 2001,  the non-stock, non-profit organization was founded in 1996.
According to its website, the society "sought to establish a new center to serve as a one-stop-shop to serve its clients and by 2003, the MHHS inaugurated its main center on Fraser and 32nd Avenue.  The three-storey edifice hosted temporary accommodations for newly landed immigrants, respite housing, as well as staff offices, rooms for meetings, counseling, and training/workshops. The expanded support services included settlement, job assistance, and programs for the youth, seniors and families."


The Society’s services reportedly outgrew its facility, and a second office was established by 2009.  The second site hosted the Fast Track employment services program, as well as workshops for EI clients, skills development programs, job creation partnerships, targeted wage subsidies and self-employment assistance.
With financial support coming from all three levels of government – Federal, Provincial and City – the society began to construction to expand its main center in 2010.
The board is composed of directors Ric Asistio (medical supplies representative), Tita M. Bognot (business owner), Rebecca Delos Reyes (retired), Limbania Deza Lau (retired nurse), Roberto Montes (welding inspector), Jose Ong (IT consultant/realtor), and Danilo Pizarro (business owner). Secretary is Pocholo Insua (mortgage broker) and treasurer is Michael Cayetano (certified general accountant).

Q and A with British Columbia's 'Prettiest Filipina'

British Columbia's 'Prettiest Filipina' 
who directs shows, sings, dances, acts 

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- When Winnie Chan was crowned as the 2010 Miss Philippines British Columbia in the "BC Prettiest Filipinas" competitions at the River Rock Hotel in Richmond on June 23, 2010 she became a household name in the Filipino community after collecting four of the five major awards that night. 
And because of her beauty and intelligence, a one-two punch combination rarely possessed by many eager-beaver beauty titlists today, everyone thought she would next enter the showbiz in the Philippines like other Filipino-Canadians and Filipino-Americans who have reaped stardom and accolades in beauty competitions.      
One of the most low profile beauties in the Filipino community in British Columbia, Chan, a product of the University of Sto. Tomas in the Philippines where she obtained a degree in Bachelor in Music, opted to stay in Canada to continue with her "mainstream volunteer works."
With humility as her most favorite virtue, Chan is now a recording artist, actress, singer and one of the most senior and active talents of the "FYE Live" variety show produced by the Surrey-based Maxipro Entertainment of which she is part of the production staff. She takes pride of having the privilege to work together with highly regarded musical titans and educators Soccoro "Babes" Newland, Jackie Diy, and Debbie Arkoncel.

Q: As a prominent entertainer/singer/host and beauty personality in the Filipino-Canadian community, what do you think is your best asset? 
A: Hahaha, Asset? I would say being happy and contented in my own skin. If you’re oozing with confidence and happiness, it shows and everything else follows. 

Q: Aside from entertainment what are your other involvements in community-based programs and activities? 
A: Actively participating at this new variety show at Shaw Cable 116, "FYE Live" and also part of the MaxiPro Entertainment Talent Management Group. Aside from being active in the Filipino Community, I am quite active with mainstream volunteer works.

Q: As a senior artist and member of production staff of the "FYE Live" how do you handle your job as well as your working relationships with both the producers and the younger artists? 
A: Balance and flexibility are the key. You cant be too rigid and closed minded especially now, the younger generations are exposed to things that were either scarce or non existent during my time. You can’t be too liberal and forward that certain values that are still highly regarded by other individuals are forgotten or set aside. Although I am mainly work with Filipinos, I still deal with different demographics and personalities. Young or old, you have to treat everyone with RESPECT, no exceptions. One very helpful tip, learn the art of listening, a lot of relationships whether personal or work fail because we tend to overlook facts or reasoning but focus on what we need and want.

Q: What advice can you give to uprising and and young Filipino-Canadian singers and other entertainers who are following your footsteps as a successful artist? 
A: It sounds cliché but it is true, "be your own self." No two individual are alike, we all have our own special quality that makes us unique. Be open to failure but embrace success, polish those rough edges and never be apprehensive in seeking help, guidance and advice from people or individuals that have your happiness in their hearts.

Q: What are the beauty titles, awards, honors you received in the past three years here in Canada? 
A: Oh, after my stint as 2010 Ms. Philippines BC, I decided that it was my first and last beauty pageant. You know how some people have their bucket list, that was part of mine. I am not much of an award or honor type of person, mind you – who wouldn’t want to receive or be nominated for something. 

Q: Describe your life as an artist and prominent figure in entertainment world here in British Columbia. 
A: My life is very much comparable to majority of families here in BC. Its quite routine almost every day despite the different events that I have to go to on weekends. Here’s a typical weekday for me: wake-up, work, then off to either meetings or whatever engagement I have in the evening, catch- up time with my daughter, sleep really late or early in the am then back to same routine the next day. Weekends: errands then off to one or two of the following: recording, taping, event, meeting, party. It does get a little hectic at times but I do enjoy what I do whether work or my extra-curricular activities.

Q: How do you assess the impact of Filipino singers invited by Canada-based producers to perform in concerts here? 
A: Artists are same everywhere, the only thing that differentiates them is the artists' ability to engage their audience. You may have an awesome singer but if he/she is unable to keep the crowd engaged from beginning to end of the show then it minimizes their talent. You have to be an ENTERTAINER, you cant just be a singer or just a dancer. The great singers or artists have one thing in common, they are all effective entertainers. 

Q: What is your philosophy in life? 
A: Philosophies for me, First and foremost practice self-awareness: knowing my strengths, weakness and my abilities. Treat everyone with respect regardless of their color, sexual orientation, religion, political views, economic status, young or old even education. Carry humility with you at all times - despite all the success and achievements in your life. humility- in accepting your mistakes, failures and indiscretions. Lastly, maintain a cheerful HEART.

Q: What do you think is the biggest asset of the Filipino-Canadian community? 
A: Honestly? I personally think that the biggest asset of the FCC is a double edged sword: competitiveness. Pros: we push ourselves over and beyond our limits to reach our goals and objectives. When focused in succeeding we all work harmoniously. When we experience stress or roadblocks we emerge victorious because we are driven to win. Cons: we turn everything into rivalry even the most innocent things e.g. fund raising events. We start creating cliques, groups or clans causing disparity and partiality within our community.

Q: Your working relationship with fellow artists in the entertainment world here in British Columbia. 
A: In general, artists that I’ve had the honor of working with are quite easy to get along with. A lot of them are firmly grounded, no air of arrogance, humble, down to earth and most importantly confident. It's not a perfect world therefore it is but safe to say that as much as I would like to maintain good relationship with everyone we can not please them all. I just have to accept that we are all individuals and that we all come from different backgrounds and have different beliefs and values.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My first world championship assignment as boxing referee

My first world championship 
assignment as boxing referee

I sign the tapes in the hand of world champion and undefeated Samson 3-K Battery after inspecting it. 

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Sixteen years ago in Chonburi, Thailand on February 17, 1996, I was among the last boxing referees in the world to administer the "mandatory standing 8 count" in a 12-round world professional boxing championship.
In probably the last "mandatory standing 8 count" applied in a world title fight by the World Boxing Federation (now Foundation) or any world governing bodies for that matter, I was third man on the ring in the 12-round WBF super-flyweight championship bout between Samson Dutchboygym (also known as Samson Elite Gym and Samson 3-K Battery) of Thailand versus Genaro "Poblanito" Garcia of Mexico.  
Samson (43-0, 36 KOs), Thailand’s most charismatic world champion until his retirement on April 19, 2002 at age 30, decked the visitor from Puebla, Mexico with a barrage of head and body blows in the 7th canto. 
Sensing Garcia was no longer fit to protect his own life, I automatically pulled the plug and declared Samson winner by technical knockout (TKO) in that round. 


Three rounds earlier, I gave Genaro a mandatory standing eight count after Samson trapped him in the ropes and threatened to blow away the space between Genaro’s ears with a series of damaging uppercuts and hooks. 
Genaro survived Samson’s homicidal onslaught but finished the 4th round on wobbly legs. 
When I collected the scorecards of the three judges—the late Don Marks (Australia), Jaffar (Indonesia), a Thai judge--and submitted it to fight supervisor, then WBF Asia Pacific Rim representative and vice president Jack Rennie, who sat beside then WBF president Ron L. Scalf (Tennessee, USA), he gave a thumbs up sign indicating his approval of the mandatory standing 8 count. 
In the sixth round, Samson, fighting like a full gasoline tank, again pulverized the 19-year-old Genaro with ear-piercing shots in the jaw and midsection.


I thought of stopping the carnage but Genaro showed some signs of life as he quickly used dizzying lateral movements to avoid Samson’s laser-laced fists while punching his way out of harm’s way. 
Genaro was good for another round. 
After I terminated the fight in the 7th round, Supervisor Rennie approached me while on my way to the dressing room and handed over a US$100 bill. "You deserve a bonus for a job well done. Those two mandatory standing eight counts showed that you were decisive,” said Rennie who immediately informed President Scalf of the ante. 
The WBF rules then allowed us referees to impose a "mandatory standing 8 count" for a fighter still on his feet despite absorbing an avalanche of heavy blows in any round. 
A mandatory standing eight count is a rule used in amateur boxing. 
When leading world boxing organizations led by the World Boxing Council terminated the rule, referees started to implement the mandatory 8 count only on a boxer who hits the canvas after being zapped by a legal blow. We couldn't anymore halt the bout temporarily and initiate the mandatory 8 count if based on our judgment the boxer receiving the severe punishment was on the verge of falling or in danger of absorbing lethal blows but was too cocky to stay on his feet.


In imposing the WBF rule, the referee had the sole discretion whether or not to halt the action and declare the besieged boxer a loser by TKO if he felt he had suffered punishment too many or to allow him to continue but give him time to recuperate by administering the mandatory standing 8 count if he felt he was still on in the fistic game. 
This rule once had sparked some controversy especially when other world boxing bodies such as the World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF), and World Boxing Organization (WBO) did not observe it. 
Under the unified rules, a boxer can be given only a mandatory eight count if, after being hit with legal blows, any part of his body down to his legs touches the canvas. 
And if he fails to beat the mandatory count after being dropped by a legitimate punch or punches, he loses the bout by knockout. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Female Pinoy leader shoo-in for 2012 Top 25 Canadian Immigrant plum


Female Pinoy leader 
barges in top 75 

PINOY PRIDE. Ms. Narima Dela Cruz and husband, Engr. Joel Dela Cruz

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Narima Dela Cruz could become the first Filipino-Canadian woman leader from Surrey to be enshrined in the pedestal of modern leaders when the prestigious 2012 Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Awards finalize the list of awardees on April 13 this year. 
Dela Cruz, president and founding director of the Surrey Philippine Independence Society (SPIDS), has been chosen to be one of the 75 finalists among a selection of 300+ people. 
"Needless to say that the shortlisting made me happy and honored, still, I am aware that from 75 it wont be easy to make it to the Top 25," Dela Cruz, a successful realtor, wrote in her Facebook note on February 14.
She had been informed about being shortlisted in the awards a week earlier through email and telephone.


The Top 25 Canadian Immigrants is a peoples’ choice award that recognizes people who have come to Canada and have made a positive difference living here.  
Those who have made a particular or significant impact in 2011, as related to their achievements and contributions will be specifically considered to become shortlisted as finalists, it was learned.
Among their prominent past awardees include two former Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarksen and Michaelle Jean. 
There have been four winners in the past from Surrey, which include Dela Cruz's Facebook friend, Charan Gill, founder of PICS; 19 past winners from BC which include former Premier Ujjal Dosanjh and her another Facebook friend, Naeem Nick Noorani. 


Rafael Fabregas of Toronto was the only other Flipino past awardee. Fabregas is the author of the Tejada Law which brought reform to Canada’s Live-In Caregiver Program.  
Dela Cruz said she was struck by Fabregas' statement that "There are many hurdles to jump over along the way, but don’t let that stop you from moving forward and dreaming big. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big."
"Last night (February 13)," narrated Dela Cruz, "the list of finalist and voting link was sent on my email encouraging me to send it to my circle and entourage to be able to vote for me, and when I first looked at it, I was stunned!"  
She said, "the line up was incredibly humbling and awe-inspiring!  To be selected based on criteria with these shortlisted nominees is a gift and a blessing. And so I no longer care about how being in the Top 25 would be difficult.  These 74 people I am with have achievements and contributions every one of which shine to the utmost, and I I feel I have already been awarded!"


Dela Cruz wrote: "I have never ceased to believe that we reap what we sow and we sow what we reap, and that making a difference, no matter how little, comes back in 10th fold, even if you don't really wait for it."  
"Being with people is a passion to me.  It is bonus that I get to do it in both my line of work and in my passion to serve and share.
"I thanked God for always redeeming me at the end of every battle in life, and for guiding me  to do the right thing and decision, and leaning in to the light to make a worthy expression of life, and to bring honour to my race.  "At the risk of being accused of tooting my own horn,  I wish to share the link with you, with the hope that you can share it too and allow us to be privileged and recognized.  VOTING STARTS TODAY, February 14th and ends April 13, 2012.  Thank you for your never ending support. We will strive to bring back the Glory by continuing to do our share in helping make our world a better place to live in!"

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Is it love or lust?

"Deepest need of man is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness."

By Alex P. Vidal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- A joke recently made the rounds that when women are eating banana, they must avoid eye to eye contact with the opposite sex. 
When men are eating oyster, will they also avoid looking at the pretty eyes of someone? 
Man's love for food--and his eye movements while eating -- has now become the object of suspicion.  
When he was still writing a column for the Chicago Daily News, Dr. Mortimer J. Adler, known as "anti-expert" and one of the most orderly, compendious, and yet adventurous minds in the world of letters, was asked what's the difference between love and lust.
"To define love is difficult," Adler, the first to advocate that free men should make their own decisions, admitted. "Freud, near the end of his long life confessed: 'Up to the present I have not found the courage to make any broad statements on the essence of love and I think that our knowledge is not sufficient to do so...We really know very little about love.'"
According to Adler, we can actually gain some insight by considering the views of various philosophers, poets and psychiatrists, all of whom have contributed to an understanding, if not a solution, of the problems--what is love?


"When a man and a woman fall in love they desire each other," he suggested, "but not in the same way that they desire food or water."
Human sexuality takes two directions: there is sex in the service of love, and there is sex divorced from love (i.e. lust). Adler said to desire a person as one desires food or drink is lust -- a completely selfish desire. "But sexual love implies a fusion of soul and body," he explained. "It seeks to realize itself in a union which involves knowing, understanding, compassion and self-sacrifice."
We may never be able to tell which comes first -- "liking" or "wanting." Does love spring from desire, or desire from love?
Aristotle, he pointed out, felt that benevolence comes first; Freud felt that sexual love grows out of desire. While the question is perhaps insoluble, it does seem to make a practical difference which way love does happen.


"If sex comes first," Adler stressed, "the union is likely to be short-lived; if love comes first, a more stable, fruitful union seems likely because, among other things, a more intelligent choice has been made."
The observations of the poets and the clinical experience of the psychoanalysts and psychiatrists seem to confirm this point. "Love and sex often coincide," wrote Theodore Reik, the well-known psychiatrist, "but coincidence is not evidence of identity...There is no doubt among psychoanalysts that there is sex without love, sex 'straight.' (But) they vehemently deny that there can be love without sex."
Another psychiatrist, Erich Fromm, the author of The Art of Loving, warns us: "Since erotic love is the most deceptive form of love there becomes important to distinguish sexual desire per se from love. If erotic love is not also brotherly love, the union is likely to be orgiastic, transitory."


The great poets support these views. Indeed, fascinated by the subject, they long ago anticipated some of the findings of the psychologists. If they fail to come up with a precise definition, they do at least discern some of the attributes of human love.
Love implies passion, or as Milton put it in Paradise Lost: 
...with new Wine intoxicated both
They swim in mirth, and fansie that they feel
Divinitie within them breeding wings
Wherewith to scorn the Earth.

Love implies constancy, or as Shakespeare declared:
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds.

Above all, love implies union, a union of body and soul, or as John Donne expressed it:
Love's mysteries in souls do grow
But yet the body is his book.


According to the ancient Greek myth, man was originally a composite being, half male and half female. 
A capricious god split him in two, with the result that the separated male and female have sought ever since to become reunited with the "other half."
Modern psychologists make the same point in a somewhat different way when they say that "the deepest need of man is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness."