Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Climate change and the 'Quines Miracle Bus'

“The clear and present danger of climate change means we cannot burn our way to prosperity. We already rely too heavily on fossil fuels. We need to find a new, sustainable path to the future we want. We need a clean industrial revolution.” Ban Ki-moon

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY – We have been repeatedly told that carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases affect our climate change.
That larger emissions of greenhouse gases lead to higher concentrations in the atmosphere.
According to environmental experts, greenhouse gas concentrations are measured in parts per million, parts per billion, and even parts per trillion.
One part per million is equivalent to one drop of water diluted into about 13 gallons of liquid (roughly the fuel tank of a compact car).
Like Filipino-American environmentalist, Dr. Emilio Quines, we also advocate a green Philippines.
It will only be possible if we minimize greenhouse gas emissions, if we know how to dispose of our garbage properly, if we plant more trees, eliminate smoke-belching vehicles in streets among other moves to save the environment.
A vehicle fuel in the United States is more commonly called as renewable natural gas (RNG), also called biomethane.
RNG is produced from biogas, also known as swamp gas, landfill gas, or digester gas, which is the gaseous product of anaerobic digestion of organic matter.
With minor cleanup, biogas can be used to generate electricity and heat. When processed to a higher purity standard, biogas is called RNG and can be used as an alternative fuel for natural gas vehicles.
With traces of gases such as hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen, Biogas is usually 50 percent-80 percent methane and 20 percent-50 percent carbon dioxide.
In contrast, natural gas is usually more than 70 percent methane, with most of the rest being other hydrocarbons (such as propane and butane) and traces of carbon dioxide and other contaminants.


Meanwhile, Dr. Quines exhorts Filipinos to “Hop in!”
In an article called “It’s a Quines thing you wouldn't understand,” Dr. Quines narrated:
Once upon a time, there was a country so green.
It was dubbed Pearl of the Orient! Quietly and happily the people enjoyed its bounty.
Then natural disasters hit.
Mt Pinatubo erupted! First known tsunamis surfaced! Yolanda/Haiyan struck!
Unguided souls, exploiters, some  blinded politicians, souls supposed to understand how it feels to go to bed with empty stomach's and extreme poverty while others couldn't even consume what they have in their lifetime flourished.
Disasters caught the world's attention and wept with our Philippines! 
The very green country with its complement of some misguided politicians and exploiters continue to bear the brunt of caring for its impoverished populace.
Then there after came the denuded brown instead of green mountains and "smokey mountains".


Now came the Quines thing hard to understand.
We have dreams of getting you all to plant couple of trees all can afford with a few sweat affordable to anybody to grow and nurture.
Leave a legacy that outlasts us, a green Philippines, a handful of trees from every Rizalistas, overseas friends and believers.
If all overseas brain drained and kind hearts exported from the country can join the Quines Miracle Bus, assist the youth Rizal's hope you have dreamed of, then the Miracle Bus can roll and keep on rolling.
Let's all leave a legacy, let us help to make our country green again- "The Pearl of the Orient Seas."
It's a good initial move affordable, doable to any compatriots and believers!
Next bus move - a clean Philippines. Use of modern technology--bio gas. Dream of those who can afford, help those who can't---share their bounty from our Lord.
A dream of green and clean Philippines.
It's a Quines thing for all you know.

Friday, June 19, 2015

'Not Guilty!'

"Never mind if the repercussions are disastrous and can hurt and permanently damage the dignity of certain individuals."

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY – Were the elderly doctor and his wife in Manhattan arrested here recently victims of black propaganda perpetrated by jealous characters out to sabotage their lucrative business?
Everywhere we go the term “crab mentality” among Filipinos is always prevalent.
Never mind if the repercussions are disastrous and can hurt and permanently damage the dignity of certain individuals.
Dr. Rogelio Lucas, 77, and wife, Lydia, 79, have pleaded not guilty of charges they were the sources of $77 million worth of painkillers being sold on black market.
What if they were really innocent?
They have been successful in their business and some of their rivals have reportedly grown jealous of their success story that they have started digging some dirt to pin them down.
They posted a $500,000 bail and are scheduled to appear in court on June 30.


“They are ready to prove their innocence in the proper forum that’s why they have refused to say anything about the case,” said a retired Fil-Am doctor who refused to be identified. He is a friend of the arrested elderly doctor.
They have refused to issue a statement and allowed their lawyer, Liam Malanaphy, to speak on their behalf.
The Lucas couple, married for 55 years, was arrested recently for allegedly peddling the pills since 2009, according to Narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan.
The couple, who resides in Upper West Side, a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, is accused of selling more than 28,000 prescriptions for oxycodone, a highly addictive painkiller.


Brennan said Dr. Lucas worked with several major drug rings to write prescriptions for over 3 million tablets.
The couple, who have nine children, was slapped with 37 counts of illegally selling a controlled substance.
Dr. Lucas earned his medical degree in the Philippines, where the couple has several properties.
They also reportedly own homes in Hawaii and Florida.
Prosecutors said Lucas operated a family practice that catered to patients covered by Medicaid before they allegedly engaged in the illegal activity.
The episode in the court on June 30 is worth watching once they appear and insist their innocence.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

No justice for Pinoy killed in New York 'hate attack'

“Fighting means you could lose. Bullying means you can’t. A bully wants to beat somebody; he doesn’t want to fight somebody.”  Andrew Vachss

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY – Filipinos are not spared by perpetrators of hate crimes, which remain unabated even in the United States.
It’s not always safe to walk in the streets at night especially if we are alone—even in the “freest” and “safest” country in the world.
In every nook and cranny there are always racial haters and muggers ready to bully us when we least expect them to attack.  
And chances are, police won’t consider the attacks as hate crimes like what happened to a Filipino limo driver, Robert Martirez, in Queens a year ago.
I visited the place where Martirez was attacked. His friends placed flowers and flag of the Philippines and a demand for justice in the lamppost beside the Roosevelt Avenue.
Before I wrote this article, I visited the place once more and watched Martirez’s photo in the frame. His face will forever be etched in my memory.
The Hispanic man sought by police for Martirez’s murder in Woodside, has not been arrested and justice continued to elude the 56-year-old Filipino who was attacked on June 24, 2014.


Police attributed the senseless murder to the World Cup and refused to call it hate attack, it was reported.
Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce had announced that the New York Police Department “doesn’t have any belief that it was a hate crime.”
The Hate Crimes Task Force reportedly refused to investigate the incident.
Ironically, the Philippines was not a qualifier in the World Cup.
“It’s almost one year and Robert’s killer remains at large. We feel the authorities are not exerting efforts to arrest him,” lamented Liza Bandiolo, 54, who, like Martirez, was also a regular habitué of Krystal Cafe on 69th Street Roosevelt Avenue.
Martirez just came out from the café near midnight when the unidentified suspect, whose face was captured by a CCTV, punched him in the face in an unprovoked attacked, it was reported.
The assailant reportedly first asked him, “Are you a Filipino?” before punching him.
Martirez, known in the community as a “regular churchgoer” and a “good guy”, fell and hit his head on the pavement.
He was rushed to the Elmhurst Hospital Center where he died.
We join the demand for Martirez's immediate arrest.
A reward of $2,000 has been offered for tipster who could lead police for the killer's whereabouts.

PUBLIC SERVICE: The Philippine Consulate General of New York in partnership with The Association of Fil-Am Teachers of America, Inc. will hold the 17th Paaralan Sa Konsulado, a summer workshop for Filipino-American children aged 6 to 16 on June 27, July 11, July 18, July 25 and August 1, 2015 from 9 am-3pm at the Philippine Center New York. With a theme: “Kulturang Pilipino, Ipagdiwang Mo”, its aim is to provide children born and raised in the United States opportunities to learn about their culture and heritage and to offer a better understanding of their roots. It runs for five Saturdays with participants learning about Filipino values, heritage, history, arts, songs, game, traditions and conversational Filipino. There will be registration fees. For more information, contact Raul Cajigas (347) 932-6631 and Luz Dara Valconcha (917) 609-6141…the 2015 Fiesta in America dubbed: “Fil-Ams Mean Business” will unfold on August 15-16, 2015 at the Meadowlands Expo Center, Secaucus, New Jersey. Now on its 17th year, the event will feature trade exhibitors, business to business networking, international and local entertainers, cultural and food festivals.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Jhett Tolentino: A world class Pinoy in New York

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.” Arthur Schopenhauer

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY – The second Filipino to win a Tony Award (Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre) is an Ilonggo from Iloilo City.
Tony Award recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre.
Presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City, the awards are given for Broadway productions and performances, and an award is given for regional theatre.
Several discretionary non-competitive awards are also given, including a Special Tony Award, the Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre, and the Isabelle Stevenson Award.
The awards are named after Antoinette Perry, co-founder of the American Theatre Wing.
We had the privilege to briefly meet Jhett Tolentino, a world class theater producer, who was one of the special guests during the recent 117th Philippine Independence Day parade on Madison Avenue.
He was introduced to us by Jojie Jalandoni, past president of the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) after the parade.


The very unassuming and talented Filipino-American from the City of Love in the Philippines is the partner of Joan Raffe.
They are co-producers of JOAN JHETT PRODUCTIONS, LLC, a three-time Tony, two-time Drama Desk, two-time Drama League, three-time Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel and Off Broadway Alliance Award.
A successful entrepreneur and animal rights advocate, Raffe is a fabulous cook and baker, her brownies are rumored to be the best in the country.
Her life-long passion for theatre has refined her knack in picking quality shows, according to their website.
Tolentino, a 2014 The Outstanding Filipino Americans-New York (TOFA-NY) awardee for Entertainment, grabbed headlines and made history last year when he bagged two trophies as one of the producers of “A Raisin in the Sun” and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”
A Raisin in the Sun,” which stars Denzel Washington, and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” respectively won Best Revival of a Play and Best Musical at the 68th Antoinette Perry (Tony) Awards held at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City on June 8.


Theater producer Jhett Tolentino (of JoanJhett Productions) is over the moon as he and his producing partner Joan Raffe are currently among the toasts of the theater world, particularly The American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League, reported the Filipino Reporter last year.
Here’s the complete report:
And in honor of his latest Tonys, he even named his new puppy, a Morkie, Toni.
Last year, Tolentino bagged his first Tony for producing the comedy play “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” which won Best Play.
He and Joan also produced recording albums for various musicals.
Tolentino, who has an accounting degree from his hometown Iloilo City, Philippines, is actually the third Filipino to receive a Tony following Lea Salonga (Best Actress for the musical “Miss Saigon”) and Robert “Bobby” Lopez (Best Original Score for “Avenue Q”).
“Just got home from the Tony Awards bliss,” Tolentino wrote on his Facebook following the ceremony hosted by Hugh Jackman.
“Going through over 100 e-mails, 600 text messages and voicemails, 1,100+ Facebook notifications, likes, friend requests, tags, mentions, comments and private messages. I have never felt so loved by this community, family and friends. My eternal gratitude to the company of ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’ and ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’ Long live the theater!”


“A Raisin in the Sun” also won Best Direction of a Play for Kenny Leon, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for Sophie Okonedo.
“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” was also honored with Best Book of a Musical (Robert L. Friedman), Best Direction of a Musical (Darko Tresnjak) and Best Costume Design of a Musical (Linda Cho).
A photo of Tolentino, along with his co-producers and stars of “A Raisin in the Sun,” landed on the pages of The New York Times.
“Made my The New York Times photo debut today,” Tolentino wrote in a Facebook shoutout, adding #pinoy and #pinoypride.
Tolentino and partner Raffe are also responsible for the Broadway comedy play “The Velocity of Autumn,” and the revival play “Macbeth,” as well as the Imelda Marcos-inspired Off Broadway musical “Here Lies Love.”
The JoanJhett team unveiled the “My Life is a Musical” (previews beginning July 29, 2014).
Aside from three Tonys, JoanJhett Productions also has several Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel and Off Broadway Alliance awards.
In 2013, Tolentino and Raffe were nominated for a Grammy Best Musical Theater Album as associate producers of the cast album of “Matilda: The Musical.”

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Brave Fil-Am woman of America

"The only use of an obstacle is to be overcome. All that an obstacle does with brave men is, not to frighten them, but to challenge them." Woodrow Wilson

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Through this article, I wish to convey my most sincere apology to Mrs. Loida Nicholas-Lewis, who reportedly waited for us at 11o'clock in the morning at the Philippine Consular General on W 46th and Fifth Avenue for an exclusive interview last June 9.
We failed to arrive due to last-minute unforeseen circumstances, which we would explain to her personally in the event she is still willing to meet us in the future. 
We saw Nicholas-Lewis wearing a Filipiniana dress during the 117th Philippine Independence Day parade on Madison Avenue last June 7 and she waved at us while we were taking photos.
"Mabuhay ang Pilipinas," she loudly shouted while waving a small Philippine flag.
We wanted to sit down with her to talk about the mass actions against China which she spearheaded on June 12, among other global economic and political issues.
She lives in a posh mansion several blocks away from the official residence of the Philippine Consul General on 66th Street and Madison Avenue.


As chair of the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USPGG), Nicholas-Lewis had called for a boycott of all "Made in China" products as the "most meaningful way" to celebrate Independence Day.
The boycott of Chinese made goods was to protest China's bullying of the Philippines and the Chinese' continued militarization of the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea.
Wal-Mart and Apple are the largest distributors of China products in the United States, Nicholas-Lewis said during the rally. "That's why we are calling for a boycott of these stores," she said.
Nicholas-Lewis led protesters before noon on June 12 in picketing the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue and 58th Street here. 
Nicholas-Lewis said the unexpected decline in Chinese exports to the United States may have been the result of "a sustained organized boycott of China-made products"
Chinese exports to the United States and other countries "fell by a massive 14.6 percent in March from a year ago," Nicholas-Lewis revealed quoting a Reuters report.
The decline surprised many economists who had projected that China's exports would increase by double digits in 2015, added Nicholas-Lewis, who is the richest Filipino-American businesswoman in the United States.


Records showed that boycotting all Chinese products in the Philippines, which include a wide range of goods may be more difficult.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that in 2014, the Philippines imported P418.5 billion from China but exported to China P373.5 billion.
No Filipino-American businesswoman has done what Nicholas-Lewis did last June 12.
She was consistent, intrepid and straight to the point in her crusade.
This earned her the reputation as a "brave and strong Fil-Am woman in America."
We won't hear the last of "Madame Loida" in the crusade against Chinese bullying.
For several years now, she has been in the front line voicing her stand on various issues.
We hope to finally nail an exclusive interview with Mrs. Nicholas-Lewis soon. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Filipino woman is world’s youngest city mayor

By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY – At 33, Laarni “Lani” Lopez Cayetano of Taguig City, Philippines is the youngest city mayor in the world.
This was announced by her husband, Philippine Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who is here to accompany his wife as the 6th World Cities Summit Mayors Forum officially blasted off June 8 at the Grand Hyatt.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio welcomed delegates from around the world.
Senator Cayetano said his wife will be recognized for being the youngest elected leader of a city in the world.
“That’s why this summit is very important to us,” said Cayetano, who attended the official flag raising ceremony at the Philippine Consular General for the 117th Independence Day June 7.
Part of the senator’s agenda is to confer with officials of the foreign affairs in relation to the Philippines’ problems with China.
Also invited from the Philippines were Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, ranked as the eighth best mayor in the biennial World Mayors Project (WMP) for 2012, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella, and Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who opted to skip the event as Iloilo City prepares to host segments of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) this year.
Organizers considered New York City as “the ideal venue for critical urban conversations to take place” based on the theme of “Innovative Cities of Opportunity.”
This city has been a beacon of opportunity for generations, a cosmopolitan city of immigrants building a better life for themselves and their families.
According to organizers, New York City is many things to many people: a global hub of finance, fashion, media, culture, technology and design; an increasingly resilient coastal city; a five-borough path-work of polyglot neighborhoods and cultures; a cutting-edge center of cool.
The forum brings the unique city leaders’ round-table closer to cities in the Americas for the first time, and feature special speakers and luminaries from the region, to deepen the discourse on urban solutions, encourage greater international collaborations between cities and provide opportunities to translate many of the ideas into real solutions.
The World Cities Summit (WCS) Mayors Forum is an esteemed, invitation-only round-table that brings mayors from around the world together to share best practices in urban leadership.
It is organized by Singapore’s Center for Liveable Cities and the Urban Redevelopment Authority and a flagship event of the biennial WCS, which is held in Singapore.
The next WCS will be on July 10-14, 2016.

An encounter with ‘Fighting From A Distance’ publisher

“There's a lot of activism that doesn't deal with empowerment, and you have to empower yourself in order to be relevant to any type of struggle.” Talib Kweli

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY – Now that Marcos has fallen and there seems to have no more dictators lording over the Philippines with iron hand to fight against, is there a need for Filipino-American writer and activist Jose V. Fuentecilla to continue fighting from a distance?
In a chance meeting at the Madison Square Park June 17 during the 117th Philippine Independence Day parade, Fuentecilla averred that he chronicled how his fellow Filipino exiles helped topple the dictatorship in the 1986 EDSA Revolution in his book “Fighting From A Distance.”
When (former Philippine President Ferdinand) Marcos was curtailing the freedom of the press, we were already here in the United States together with (the late former Senator Raul) Manglapus and other opposition leaders,” Fuentecilla said in an exclusive talk.
The University of Illinois graduate of communication studies was among the pre-cursors of the opposition movement in the United States during the Martial Law.
“In my book, I narrated our struggles and how we fought the dictatorship outside the Philippines where press freedom was among the first casualties during the Martial Law,” he explained.


The “People Power” in 1986 served as the inspiration for oppressed citizens to rise up as demonstrated by the peaceful revolts of the Arab Spring and the fall of the Berlin Wall, Fuentecilla recalled in the book.
“Much has been documented about how the Filipinos achieved their historic feat on their home ground, on their own,” he wrote. “Much less is known about how groups of Filipinos living overseas, mostly in the USA, helped in this effort. Now for the first time, a book-length history describes their role.”
Fuentecilla’s book was first released in May 2013 by the University of Illinois Press.
It describes the personalities, the politics, the perils of conducting a US-based campaign against a powerful regime. And how they ultimately succeeded.
The University of Illinois Press has interviewed Fuentecilla in relation to the book:
During February of 1986, a grassroots revolution overthrew the dictatorship of Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos.  Jose V. Fuentecilla was involved in the anti-Marcos movement in the United States.  Fuentecilla answered our questions about his new book Fighting from a Distance: How Filipino Exiles Helped Topple a Dictator.
Q: As a native of the Philippines who emigrated to the United States in 1968, how did you first view the Marcos regime?
Fuentecilla: When I completed my graduate communication studies at University of Illinois, I had plans to return home to apply what I learned. One of Marcos’ first decrees after imposing his dictatorship was to muzzle the press and imprison journalists. So, heck! Why enter the lion’s den?


Q: Were you surprised by the increasing measures the Marcos regime took leading to the 1972 declaration of martial law?
Fuentecilla: No. It was inevitable that he had to do what he did in order to consolidate his power — restrict the press, round up oppositionists and throw them into prison, dissolve Congress, employ the military establishment as his personal police, weaken the judiciary, etc.
Q: How did you become personally involved in the anti-Marcos movement?
Fuentecilla: At the founding convention of our group in Washington DC in 1973, whose history is the subject of my book, I was elected the first Secretary General. Hence I was an  on-the-ground participant of the Movement from its birth.
Q: Were there many Filipino immigrants who supported the declaration of martial law?
Fuentecilla: The Marcos regime was very successful in intimidating immigrant relatives and their friends to refrain from joining opposition groups in the U.S. Reports of roundups of oppositionists back home gave the impression that if they participated in any U.S.-based anti-Marcos activities, their kin back home will suffer consequences. As a result, our movement could not mobilize a large following.
Q: What was the most shocking event to affect the movement during the Marcos regime?
Fuentecilla: The assassination on August 21, 1983 of a Filipino Senator (Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino) who returned to Manila on that date after three years in the USA for a heart operation. His murder at the airport upon his arrival was the spark that led to a gathering “people power” revolution that finally forced the Marcos family to flee the country in 1986.
Q: How much resistance did the exiles encounter from the U.S. government in their attempts to lobby for anti-Marcos policy?


Fuentecilla: Lobbying the U.S. government to limit military aid to the Marcos regime because of its rampant human rights abuses was the focus of their activities. We won allies in Congress but the White House administration, concerned that Marcos will retaliate against the U.S. bases in the Philippines for any military aid reductions, continued to support his regime in the 14 years that he was in power. Indeed it was this support that prolonged his rule. Ironically, it was a U.S. helicopter that flew him out of Manila and gave him refuge in Hawaii where he died.
Q: Did the Movement for a Free Philippines lean any particular way ideologically?
Fuentecilla: There were two main groups opposing the regime in the U.S.–  one allied with a leftist militant armed anti-Marcos New People’s Army operating throughout the
Philippines; the other was our group which preferred a non-violent return to democracy by various groups of society: students, workers, businessmen, the clergy, etc.
Q: Did you reflect at all on your experiences “fighting from a distance” when you saw the wave of political change that resulted in the Arab Spring?
Fuentecilla: Yes, as we watched the triumphant masses overthrowing dictators with minimal bloodshed, we said, “Been there! Done that!” It has been cited many times that the Philippine “People Power” revolution of some 20 years ago was the template of the Arab Spring.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fil-Am doc: Convert organic waste into clean biogas

"Climate change is happening, humans are causing it, and I think this is perhaps the most serious environmental issue facing us." Bill Nye

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- A medical doctor, who served as grand marshal together with his wife in the 2014 Philippine Independence Day parade on Madison Avenue, has proposed to adopt the Jewish-type organic waste disposal and conversion method for Filipinos in the Philippines.
"Since the theme of this year's parade is about environmental awareness and climate change, I propose that we ask the (Philippine) government to adopt a bio-fuel disposal method," Dr. Emilio Quines suggested during the 2nd ConGen Press Hour at the Kalayaan Hall Annex  of the Philippine Consulate General June 2.
Quines and wife, Felicisima, also a medical doctor, were named grand marshals in the parade last year.
Both had been presidents of the Philippine Medical Association of America (PMAA) and are active medical mission volunteers.
Quines, who migrated to the United States in 1967, where he finished his U.S. trainings in rotating internship, medical residency and fellowship at various medical institutions, said the method will reduce gas emission.
The machine, he said, will convert organic waste into clean biogas for cooking, heating and lighting, as well as organize crop fertilizer.
Quines learned that the family-size TevaGas (TG) backyard units, available as an easy-to-assemble kit, generate safe energy and fertilizer through bacterial anaerobic digestion of organic waste such as food scraps and animal manure. 


They reportedly provide a sustainable solution for off-grid urban and rural families, as well as environmentally conscious homeowners and small farm owners, in warmer climates.
Citing the research he discovered in the ISRAEL21C, Quines said Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection purchased and installed TG units at Umm Batin, a Bedouin village near Beersheva without access to clean energy and garbage removal only last summer.
Based on the success of a small pilot program, the ministry has  reportedly ordered another 25 units–at NIS 8,000 apiece—for Umm Batin and another Negev Bedouin village.


Lawyer Reuben Seguritan, grand marshal of the 2015 Independence Day parade, said the Philippine government does not have any budget for the programs in relation to this year's theme about environmental awareness and climate change.
 "We will only have exhibits in very consulate after the parade and some of the floats will carry signage about environmental awareness and climate change," explained Seguritan, who prepared the incorporation papers of the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI), the umbrella organization of community-based activities here.  
He added that the objectives of the PIDCI are not only cultural and historical activities, but also promotion of advocacy and outreach programs and connecting with the youth organizations.


Seguritan described the Independence Day parade as a "monstrous" activity that grows every year.
"Organizers are determined to uphold the Filipino tradition and culture, and affirm our solidarity," stressed Seguritan, explaining that when the parade first started in the 70s, the New York City Hall allowed the Filipinos to use the Fifth Avenue.
When the parade became bigger, it was transferred to the Madison Avenue, he added.
Consul General Mario L. de Leon Jr. said the participation of his office is only limited.
"I am only an honorary adviser. We have so many limitations that's why it's difficult for us to raise funds and we need to outsource the organizing of the parade," De Leon said. "The production, planning, presentation and organizing (of the event) are done by the PIDCI."
Fe Martinez, PIDCI 2015 president, said their expenses for the parade reached $280,000 last year.
They paid $23,000 for the permits alone, she revealed.
There will be 12 floats and 10 marching bands and some 140 contingents.
This year's parade will coincide with the World Cities Summit Mayors, thus they have Philippine mayors and governors as guests.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Banned from FIFA confab, will Nyok fly to New York?

"A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it." George A. Moore

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Sources from the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) here informed us recently that Bacolod City Mayor Monico "Nyok" Puentevella will be among the Philippine government officials who will grace the 117th Philippine Independence Day, which will be celebrated in a grand parade on June 7, here.
Puentevella's presence should be necessary since Bacolod's Masskara Festival has been reportedly invited to participate in this year's parade of Philippines festivals.
We will have a press conference this afternoon (June 2) at the office of PhilippineConsul General Mario L. de Leon Jr. where Philippine Ambassador Albert del Rosario will reportedly arrive from Washington, D.C. in relation to the big activity on Sunday.
Three days ago, we learned that Puentevella was prevented from traveling to Switzerland to attend the International Football Federation (FIFA) congress because of the pending graft case filed against him when he was a congressman.


We remember Puentevella's aborted trip to Switzerland when the PIDCI sources informed us the 68-year-old mayor of the "City of Smiles" would be arriving here for the Philippine Independence Day Parade.   
If he wasn't able to attend the FIFA congress in Switzerland as board member of FIFA's marketing and television committee which was only days ago, can he be allowed to attend the Philippine Independence Day parade in the United States on June 7?
Since Puentevella has a U.S. visa, he can travel to the US anytime except if there is a hold departure order against him.
We presumed that any elected official with pending graft case does not lose his right to travel especially if it involves an activity about Philippine festivals or commemoration of historical events.
We saw Puentevella in Las Vegas during the Mayweather versus Pacquiao rumble on May 2, thus we conclude that the United States did not ban him from entering here in relation to sports, festivals and other important events.


And besides, Puentevella has not been convicted of any crime. 
A graft case does not make a person criminal unless proven otherwise.
A graft case can't curtail any person's right to move around and travel abroad to attend in activities related to his function as a public official. 
This year, noted area lawyer and community leader Reuben S. Seguritan will be the Grand Marshal for the Philippine Independence Day Parade.
Seguritan was the founding President of PIDCI when it was incorporated on February 14, 2002.  He also co-founded the Filipino American Human Services, Inc. (FAHSI), a leading New York organization that provides social services to disadvantaged Filipinos, according to its website.
Seguritan was presented to the community by the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) at the official residence of the Philippine Consul General in New York, Ambassador Mario L. de Leon, Jr. at a dinner and merrymaking-in-the season event last December 8, 2014, attended by close to 100 community who’s who.


NOTE: The Damayan Migrant Workers Association, iAmerica and 1199SEIU will provide free immigration services and free health services for uninsured/low-wage workers in the "Free Health and Immigration Fair" during the Philippine Independence Day celebration on Madison Avenue between 25 and 26 Streets, next to Madison Square Park...It's been raining in the Big Apple since May 31. We are hoping that the weather will improve during the parade...The Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) is an umbrella organization of Filipino American associationns based on the East Coast. It is principally dedicated to promoting history, the cultural heritage and traditions of the Filipino people through the celebration of Philippine Independence Day, hence, the name. But there is more to PIDCI than its name implies. Jojie Jalandani, an RN from Victorias City, Negros Occidental, was the council president in 2010-2011.  

Monday, June 1, 2015

'Welcome to New York, Holy Black Nazarene'

"Love of family through Mary in Jesus Christ the Nazarene."
-- THEME of the Holy Mass (St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City) in Celebration of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Among the devotees who welcomed The Holy Black Nazarene (Mahal na Poon Nasareno), the most religious holy icon in the Catholic tradition, during its first launching at the St. Patrick's Cathedral on May 31, were a retired female nurse and a male illegal immigrant.
"The Holy Black Nazarene has changed my life," beamed 74-year old Filipino-American Carmelita "Aling Lita" Bombase, a retired Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in an exclusive talk.
"Since I became a devotee of the Black Nazarene, all my prayers have been answered. I survived a heart surgery when I was 57 years old. I won a raffle in the Heritage (a casino on EDSA-Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City, Philippines) and I used the money to help my relatives."
Bombase and her brother, Romeo, a retired member of the United States Coast Guard, were petitioned by her father, Jose, a war veteran, and arrived in the United States in 1975.
"My mother was only a housewife. We lived a simple life. I regularly went to the church in Quiapo and in Baclaran to pray for the Black Nazarene and Mother of Perpetual Help," recalled Bombase, who first finished midwifery at the Luzon College (now university) in Dagupan City.
"I knelt from the (church's) entrance to the altar. I asked for forgiveness for all my sins and the health and safety of my parents and brother."


The successful heart surgery enabled her to fulfill her dreams, Bombase said, who never had a husband.
Because she did not have children, Bombase considered her two nieces--one a member of the U.S. Air Force and the other a scholar in Virginia-- as her children.
"I'm here today to welcome and pray to the Holy Black Nazarene and to convince my fellow Filipino-Americans to offer something during the Mass," Bombase said.
Rolando Vergara, 54, of Butuan City, Mindanao, asked this writer to take a photo of him posing with the Holy Black Nazarene inside the St. Patrick's Cathedral.
He has been a TNT (tago ng tago) since 1989 "and I terribly missed my family (a 49-year-old wife and three children he left when they were kids).
Vergara said he was worried that his kids no longer recognized him even in the Skype (a social media communication system) and his wife was slowly getting cold at him.
Vergara danced and sang a hymn during the 6:30 p.m. Mass celebrated by Fr. Efren Esmilla and attended mostly by members of the Filipino community that included Consul General Mario De Leon and wife, Elenor.
"Black Nazarene tulungan nyo po akong makita at maka piling muli ang aking pamilya. Miss na miss ko na po sila. Mahal na mahal ko po sila. Ayaw kong magka hiwalay kami (Black Nazarene, help me to be reunited with my family again. I miss them and I love them so much. I don't want to be separated from them)," Vergara prayed, tears rolling down his face.


In his message, Rev. Dr. Joseph Marabe, JCD, invoked Isaiah 53, even from the Old Testament, which described as the "Suffering Servant", whose face is "without a desirable appearance", the Black Nazarene of Quiapo which "manifests the utmost compassion for us all, sinners ('wounded for our transgressions) and many of us who suffer physically and materially ('the spoils of victory')."
The Black Nazarene, known to the devotees in Spanish as Nuestra Padre Jesus Nazareno (Tagalog: Poong Itim na Nazareno), is a life-sized, dark wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ carrying the cross, while representing his passion and suffering.
It is believed to be miraculously by many Filipino Catholics.
Originally with fair complexion, it is believed to have turned dark after the statue survived a burning galleon ship on its arrival from Mexico to the Philippines.