Daily Archives: January 23, 2008

Jury Awards Mother of Slain FilAm $12 Million

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES — A civil jury in Los Angeles awarded the mother of a slain FilAm tenant $12 million in a wrongful death suit against the owner and property manager of a Burbank apartment complex.

The civil case stems from the rape and murder of Sharon Santos, a Warner Bros. financial analyst. Santos disappeared from her home in the Scott Villa Apartments in Burbank on August of 2004. Police discovered her body more than two weeks later, badly decomposed and locked inside the trunk of her black Honda Accord near Chinatown in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Superior Court last January 18 found that Scott Villa Apartments LP and Francis Property Management Inc. were negligent in hiring Eriberto Rodriguez as a maintenance man. Rodriguez was a convicted felon and registered sex offender.

The owners of the apartment complex gave Rodriguez access to all the apartments units, said Larry Grassini, one of the attorneys representing Santos’ mother, Edna Santos.

The civil jury found that Rodriguez was responsible for the rape and murder of Sharon Santos.

However, no criminal charges have been filed in the death of the 31-year-old FilAm. The criminal case is still ongoing.

Rodriguez is currently serving a 12-year-prison term for sexual battery, robbery and other charges.

“Hopefully, this verdict will lead to the conviction of Rodriguez,” said Grassini.



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No Anti-Terror Courts – SC

by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

THE Supreme Court has denied the request of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) to create special courts that will handle cases filed for violation of the controversial Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act, also known as the “Anti-Terrorism Law.”

Instead, the Court, in a minute en banc resolution  directed the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) to monitor all cases involving terrorism, “and see to it that the judges concerned shall set these cases for continuous trial” as stated in Section 48 of the HSA.

The ATC through its secretariat, retired Police Deputy Director Marcelo Ele, earlier asked the Court to designate Regional Trial Courts in Manila, Cebu City and Cagayan de Oro City to act as special court for terrorism cases.

In an interview, SC spokesman, lawyer Jose Midas Marquez said the justices do not see any necessity yet to designate special courts to handle terrorism cases.

“We find no reason yet to create special courts for that because the regular courts can still handle cases related to terrorism if there is any,” Marquez said.

The HSA took effect on July 15, 2007 despite strong opposition from various cause-oriented groups claiming that the law will lead to human rights abuses.

The Court has yet to act on the petitions filed by concerned groups and individuals seeking to scrap the Anti-Terrorism Law.

The government, however, maintained that there is no provision in the HSA which constitutes a violation of the Constitution.


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House Speaker in Danger of Losing His Post

by Jherlyn Meneses/Asiajournal.com

MEMBERS of President Arroyo’s Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) party met and agreed to support moves to oust House Speaker Jose de Venecia. The two presidential sons Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, a party-mate of de Venecia in the ruling Lakas party and Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo were present at the meeting held in Quezon City on Wednesday night.

At least 66 Kampi members attended. Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, Kampi party president said that the “reform bloc” seeking to oust de Venecia was able to garner 134 signatures. He added that he will present to De Venecia on Monday the manifesto declaring “loss of confidence” signed by 134 lawmakers. Villafuerte further stated that they wanted to avoid confrontation on the plenary and they didn’t want to hurt de Venecia’s feelings and hoped that this will give the House leader a graceful exit.

De Venecia said he would fight on. He said he and his supporters in the majority coalition would call for a floor vote next Monday to see if members of the anti-de Venecia faction would succeed in their moves to unseat the Speaker.

“We still have the numbers. They don’t have the numbers. In fact they are under the gun. They are pressured to produce 121 warm bodies on Monday,” De Venecia told reporters. He said his group expects a heated debate and is confident he still has the House majority’s support

The pro-De Venecia group also issued their own manifesto to declare status quo in the House.

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The move came less than a week after President Arroyo – then in Switzerland – relayed a message through Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita to Lakas members that she was discouraging moves to oust de Venecia. President Arroyo however continued to distance herself from moves by her party-mates. She met with De Venecia on Thursday night and gave a virtual assurance that he would not lose his post to the so-called reform bloc in the lower chamber.

Former president Joseph Estrada is set to meet with the leaders of the United Opposition (UNO), including Representative Rufus Rodriguez of Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), to tackle the fate of Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr.

Bacolod City Rep. Monico Puentevella said that De Venecia’s days as Speaker are now numbered. He even advised De Venecia to discipline his son, businessman Joey De Venecia III, the one who exposed the alleged anomaly and bribery involving the National Broadband Network (NBN) deal entered by the government with the China-based ZTE firm. This may have played a part in the ouster move against him.

“For as long as he cannot discipline his son, there will always be allies of the President and the First Gentleman who will be hurt by his accusations and take it against the Speaker” Puentevella said.


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Asian American Political Group Endorses Clinton: 80-20 Initiative aims for unity, equality in the workplace

by Malou Liwanag- Aguilar/Asianjournal.com

OAKLAND, CA — The 80-20 Initiative, a national, nonpartisan, political action committee, announced last Jan. 18 in a press conference that its board has voted unanimously to endorse Sen. Hillary Clinton for California’s Democratic primary.  The committee has also appropriated $30,000 to support Clinton in the Asian ethnic media, to be released starting Feb. 5, a day they call the Super Tuesday.

Questionnaires for the candidates

In the desire to get the much-needed support from the presidential candidates, 80-20 formulated six questions which are directed to issues of equality and affirmative action in the Asian American community.  This includes the nomination of qualified Asian Americans to serve as Article II life-tenured federal judges.  At present, only 0.6% of Level III Federal judges are Asian Americans, all of which are at the District Court level.

Part of the questionnaire also addressed the issue of enforcing Executive Order 11246 on behalf of Asian Americans.  EO 11246, signed by former US Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson on Sept. 24, 1965 required Equal Employment Opportunity and “prohibits federal contractors and federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, who do over $10,000 in government business in one year from discriminating  in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”

The Executive Order also required contractors to implement affirmative action plans to increase the participation of minorities and women in the workplace. Pursuant to federal regulations, affirmative action plans must consist of an equal opportunity policy statement, an analysis of the current work force, identification of problem areas, the establishment of goals and timetables for increasing employment opportunities, specific action-oriented programs to address problem areas, support for community action programs, and the establishment of an internal audit and reporting system.  In the past similar efforts have already been made on behalf of women and other minorities, but has not been fully applied in Asian Americans.

With the questionnaire sent to all Republican and Democratic candidates, only Clinton and John Edwards answered “yes” to all six questions, with their affixed signatures confirming their support for the issues raised.

“We want all presidential candidates to put their promises in writing,” said Joel Wong, former president of the Chinese American Political Association.

Sen. Barrack Obama, said to be Clinton’s fiercest rival in the race, unfortunately declined to sign.  This has prompted the organization to question Obama’s stand on helping fight racial discrimination and challenged him to sign the questionnaire.

Kathleen To, President of 80-20 said, “Sen. Clinton promised in writing with one unambiguous word, YES, that she’ll use the power of the presidency to eliminate all discrimination against Asian Americans in workplaces, including the glass ceiling, and signed it.  Sen. Barrack Obama willfully refused.  That is why we endorse Sen. Clinton.”

To has also explained that 80-20 was most considerate to Obama, having had the questionnaire for six months as all the other candidates.  “You may recall that 80-20 challenged Sen. Clinton to be the first of the top-tier presidential candidates to reply to its questionnaire with all yeses. We focused on Sen. Obama for a reply, only after Sen. Clinton & Edwards have both replied with all yeses, although Obama has had our questionnaire for 6 months as all others,” said To and added, “By then it was clearly politically safe for him to also answer yes. However, he willfully refused. So it was NOT that we picked on him, it is he who didn’t care for us! Sen. Obama left us with no choice but to defeat his candidacy.”

“Asian Americans are still underneath the glass ceiling,” said Joel Wong.  “We must break the glass ceiling and think of the common good for Asian Americans.”  He also added that the only way to get ahead in the US is through the political process.

Clinton over Edwards

Members of the press asked 80-20 why the organization chose Clinton over Edwards, since both signed ‘yes’ to all questions.  They explained that it was a matter of strategy.

“The race is between Clinton and Obama,” said Joel Wong and added, “We chose Clinton because we chose the candidate who will help Asian Americans unconditionally.”

Guest community leaders also spoke about their support for Clinton and the need to push for equality and unity.

FilAm community leader Fel Amistad said, “This is pivotal for all Asian Americans.  EO 11246 is being ignored, we are taken for granted.  I call on our fellow Asian Americans to support Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has done tremendously well.”  He also stressed that the community must be united to advocate for our own rights and representation.

The 80-20 Initiative is dedicated to winning equal opportunity and justice for all Asian Americans through a swing bloc vote, ideally directing 80% of the community’s votes and money to the presidential candidate endorsed by the organization.

Present at the press conference were top leaders of the Asian American community in the Bay Area, including Harrison Lim of the Chinatown 6-Company, Niraj Baxi, former president of the National Federation of Indian-American Associations (NFIA), Fel Amistad of the Filipino American community, Peter Cheng of the Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos community, and Leon Chow of the Chinese American community.  Leaders of 80-20 and its affiliates, the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA) and the Chinese American Political Association (CAPA), were also present.


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Amparo Filed to Surface Captured NDF Consultant

by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA — The daughter of a political prisoner Thursday filed a petition for writ of amparo and habeas corpus in a bid to secure the release of her mother, who is being held by the military since last year on suspicion that she is a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Lorena Santos, daughter of Elizabeth Principe, also filed the petition on behalf of her missing father, Leo, who was accused of the same charges.

Santos admitted that her parents were consultants of the National Democratic Front Peace (NDFP) negotiating panel who are protected by the Joint Agreement on Securities and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).  She denied that they are members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

In her 21-page petition, Santos sought the CA issuance of an order for the military to present her parents and release them from unlawful detention.

She also asked the CA to compel the respondents to produce documents pertaining to the arrest of her parents.

Named respondents in the case were President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Executive Sec. Eduardo Ermita, Defense Sec. Gilbert Teodoro, Interior and Local Gov’t. Sec. Ronaldo Puno, Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, AFP Chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Police Chief Gen. Avelino Razon and eight other high-ranking military and police officers.

Santos also sought the issuance of a protection order that would direct state authorities to transfer their custody to an accredited person or private institution capable of keeping them safe.

Santos recounted that her father Velasco was allegedly abducted by military elements on Feb. 19, 2007 in Cagayan de Oro City. She said she has not received any information about the whereabouts of his father since then.

After nine months, Principe was abducted on Nov. 28, 2007 in Cubao after she went to a diagnostic clinic for a medical examination.

“Their unlawful arrest and forced disappearance came at a time when the government is engaged in an all out war against its perceived enemies and those critical of its policies, which has resulted in unabated extrajudicial killings, abductions, political persecution and violations of civil and political rights of the people,” the petition read.

Santos said her mother was reported transferred Tuesday night from the custodial center in Camp Crame to Candon, Ilocos Sur.

Human rights groups condemned the transfer and said it was a move by authorities to thwart her petition to seek the court for a writ of amparo and habeas corpus.

The groups Karapatan and Desaparacidos, in a statement, said the transfer of Elizabeth Principe is “highly illegal and suspicious” since the authorities did not inform Principe ‘s lawyers, who visited her earlier Thursday to let her sign the petition.

The PNP said Principe was being transferred because there is an arraignment on Wednesday (Jan. 23), for the case of rebellion charged against her in Candon, Ilocos Sur.


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The Asian Nightlife Conference: FilAms Across America Gather for Nightclubbing

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

CHICAGO, IL. – More than 50 Filipino and Asian American promoters nationwide weathered the coldest weekend in Chicago to attend the first annual Asian Nightlife Conference (TANC) held at the Fairmont Hotel last January 18.

Asian American and FilAm nightclub promoters, marketing representatives and Disc Jockeys (DJs) from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, New York, Connecticut, Las Vegas, and Orlando, among others represented their respective cities to this invitation only event.

Hosted by Dynasty Empire, a Chicago-based marketing company, The Asian Nightlife Conference educated promoters on various brands that serve the nightclub scene and created a marketplace for Asian American talents in front of the biggest promoters across the nation.

“It also serves as a networking opportunity for Asian American nightlife promoters to get ideas from other promoters elsewhere and apply it to their own events,” said Lyle del Mundo, President of Dynasty Empire.

Del Mundo started TANC as a way to raise the awareness of corporations about the Asian American youth market and for them to work hand in hand with promoters when throwing their events.
“Corporations have been ignoring the Asian American segment for years because they are really unfamiliar with the demographic,” said del Mundo. “They still feel there is a cultural, language, heritage, and lifestyle differences which is so not true. ”

Del Mundo said that while there are still a lot of marketing agencies across the country that do target Asian Americans, these companies have not been youth lifestyle-driven.

“So, larger corporations are really starting to get aggressive towards our demographic because they really see the potential and our segments buying power overall minority groups,” he said.

The numbers don’t lie. Corporations most recently have been trying to attract the Asian American buying power. Reports show that Asian Americans have nearly $254 billion in annual buying power in the US. The Selig Center for Economic Growth projects that Asian American spending power will reach $528 billion by 2009.

“Our research shows that Asian Americans have three times the amount of buying power as African-Americans and other minority groups,” said Diana Stephens, a marketing manager at Diageo-Illinois. Stephens spoke at the conference to share the corporation side of targeting a niche group. “Asian Americans have the highest per-capita-household.”

Relationship Building

Temperatures may have dropped to sub-zero degrees outside, but inside the Fairmont hotel things were heating up.

Throughout the four-day-conference, the promoters attended a variety of workshops that discussed matters like acquiring corporate sponsorships, strategic marketing techniques, events productions, and even the importance of radio DJ’s for events.

Tom Yamada of NVR MT Promotions in Seattle attended the event to network with other promoters and to learn about acquiring corporate sponsorships.

“It’s all about relationship building,” said Yamada. “Just to network and to sell yourself, your company and your city. My main thing was to learn about sponsorships and how to present myself to these companies. We want to show them that we’ve made a difference in our company and our city.”

Yamada said that the nightlife is not just about having a good time.

“We throw parties but we also throw fundraisers,” he added. “We’ve given money to [victims] of Katrina, the tsunami and toys for tots.”

Allen Palos of Usual Suspects LA agrees.

“One of my friends suffered a heart attack and we’re throwing a fundraiser to help his family,” said Palos.

Palos added that people don’t understand the nightlife can also be a way to educate and bring together younger Asian and FilAms about important causes that are happening in the community.

Mike Villanueva of the Orlando-based company, Deepvision Entertainment, attended the event to learn more about trade secrets. Villanueva said that Orlando has a very small  FilAm market so his company has to cater to the larger Asian American population and college scene.

“I’m just here to talk to people and hope they can share their experience with me,” said Villanueva. “We’re all over the country but we’re basically doing the same thing. I’m just interested in learning how they do things and [how they] promote their events.”

Chris Miguel of Vegas Bachelorette Services in Las Vegas serves as a nightclub host in the Las Vegas area. She said the TANC is a great opportunity to brainstorm and learn about the different ways other promoters from the various cities promote their event.

“It’s also a good way to introduce talented Asian Americans,” she said. “We’ll have Jo Koy or Apl.de.ap headline an event but other talented Asian American artists will have a chance to showcase their skills too.”

“We all know that Filipinos have talent,” added Marlon Vigan of Dynasty Empires. “There are a lot of Filipino DJ’s nationwide. We need to try to get them more exposure and to organize the Filipinos from all across the country.”

Attendees participated in the workshops during the day and partied at different clubs to at night.

Christine Blanco, also known as DJ KrisCut, is a resident DJ at Paris nightclub in Las Vegas. She had a chance to showcase her skill at Ontourage, one of the hottest clubs in Chicago.

Vince Garcia, also known as DJ Flipside from B96 Chicago, said he came to the event like the others to network with other FilAm DJ’s from across the nation.

“I’m just glad to be part of this event,” he said.

Seeing the success of this first event, Del Mundo said plans are already underway for next year’s TANC.

“Next years event will be open to the public and will take place January 22-25, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.”


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Galing Pinoy: A Pinoy Fighting Master

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

ALTHOUGH Bruce Lee passed away more than 30 years ago, his legacy lives in the hearts of a handful of students. One of these students is FilAm Richard Bustillo.

Now in his 60’s, Bustillo looks like he’s straight out of a kung-fu flick in the 70s. He may not have ever appeared in a film but in real life he’s a master in more ways than one. Bustillo holds a 10th degree black belt and holds the title SIFU Grandmaster at the IMB Academy in Torrance, CA. He is also recognized as being one of two persons for reviving and promoting Eskrima, the Filipino national martial art.

He credited much of his 40 years of martial arts success to the legendary Lee.

“When I was young I thought I knew everything,” recalled Bustillo. “But Bruce changed my whole life. He always said ‘knowing is not enough, you must apply’.”

And applied, he did.

For the past 30 years, Bustillo has been inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame, the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame, World Karate Union Hall of Fame, United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame, and the Filipino Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He’s been honored by the Los Angeles City Council, the City of Torrance and Cerritos, and a large number of other world- wide organizations for his contributions to martial arts.

On March, he will reap another award when the Cacoy Doce Pares World Federation meets in Cebu, Philippines for their first Hall of Fame Banquet Ceremony and International Training Seminar.


Born and raised in Hawaii, Bustillo began martial arts training at the age of eight. The son of a hard working Ilocano and Chinese Filipino mother, he learned early on that nothing in life is given. He was one of six kids who grew up in the projects of Hawaii.

“I used to walk six blocks barefoot to the judo studio,” recalled Bustillo.

He studied judo before learning kajukenbo in high school.

After high school he moved away from the island to attend college in California. He continued to train, this time as an accomplished amateur welterweight boxer. He won a few novice boxing championship awards and placed second in the Los Angeles Golden Gloves competition.

But the idea of becoming a professional boxer did not intrigue the adventurous Bustillo. Growing up in Hawaii, he had a luxurious outdoor life. He knew he could not just focus on one sport.

“Boxing is about dedication,” he said. “I didn’t think I was that good. I loved to box. I loved to fight but I hated putting the time in training. I like to go out and go surfing. I didn’t want to concentrate on one thing.”

That is until he met Lee. In 1964, Bustillo was among those in attendance when Lee made is debut and demonstrated his martial arts style at the Long Beach International Karate Championships.

“When he [Bruce] said, ‘the individual is more important than any style or system,’ I fell for it. I saw him demonstrate his speed and power. I said this is the kind of guy I want to learn from.”

Bustillo wrote to Lee about wanting to learn from him. However, Lee at that time was based in Seattle. Bustillo had to wait three years before Lee opened a martial arts studio in Chinatown Los Angeles.

The wait was well worth it.

Lee’s teaching of Jun Fan Jeet Kun Do and life philosophy inspired Bustillo to be a more confident person.

“He’s the one who told me to express myself,” said Bustillo. “Asian people like you and me are really humble but we really don’t express ourselves. You don’t have to show off [but] you have to learn to express yourself.”

During that time, another martial arts prodigy was studying under Lee. FilAm Dan Inosanto was became known as Lee’s right hand. Bustillo and Inosanto became close friends because of their shared Filipino heritage. Together they were known as the “Stockton Pinoy” and “the Hawaiian Pinoy.”

Lee advised the two Filipino fighters to revive and promote the Filipino art.


During the time Bustillo and Inosanto trained under Lee, they also practiced Eskrima on the side. Eskrima is the Filipino art of stick and/or sword fighting. They soon realized that there was a lack of Eskrima instructors in the US.

“Back then, there were all these Filipino fighters, who were good fighters but fighting under a different national martial arts,” said Bustillo. “So we came together and we wanted to make Filipinos proud of their own culture and heritage and to start developing it.”

Bustillo and Inosanto went on a manhunt. They began by looking for any Filipino Kali instructors.  Inosanto asked around and searched all over Northern California. Meanwhile, Bustillo asked his family and found more Eskrima instructors in Hawaii.

Their perseverance paid off. The two together found more than a dozen elder Filipinos willing to share their art.

Before being contacted, most of the elder Filipinos kept their knowledge of Eskrima a secret.

“You have to remember in the early days when the Filipinos were being colonized by Spain, they were forbade to practice Filipino martial arts,” explained Bustillo. “Anyone caught would be executed.”

“So it was hidden and put in dance form,” he added. “It was passed down from father to son. And sometimes the father never shared it with the family. He wanted to protect the family and didn’t want them to get hurt.”

Since then Bustillo has made it a point to add Eskrima to his martial arts curriculum for his students.

Even in his ripe age, Bustillo continues to tour the US promoting the teachings of Lee and the elder Eskrima instructors.

He recalls one seminar in which an older Filipino approached him and Inosanto after an Eskrima demonstration.

The older man said to Bustillo, “Thank you very much for showing my son and my grandson our Filipino art. For years, they didn’t believe me that we had a martial arts.”


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