Daily Archives: April 9, 2008

FilAm Earns Culinary Scholarship

By Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/Asianjournal.com

VALLEJO – Chocolate plus creativity worked for Carole Jessica Cruz, a 24-year-old from Vallejo, when she grabbed the second prize at the California Culinary Academy’s Panier De Marché Patisserie Scholarship Competition last month. The competition takes place twice a year at 12 of the Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America affiliate school locations. All participants start off with an essay and end with an intense kitchen challenge.

Cruz’s winning culinary piece was original white chocolate custard garnished comwith berries and oranges. During the kitchen challenge and scholarship competition, future students were given a market basket containing key ingredients they can use. They were then given 90 minutes to prepare and present two identical plates consisting of assorted fruits, dairy items and dry goods. Contestants were assessed on cooking technique, kitchen organization including safety and sanitation, presentation, taste and timing.

In a story released by the Times-Herald, Cruz explained her choice of ingredient. “You can’t go wrong with chocolate in a dessert competition.” And she was absolutely right, as the recipe earned her a $1,000 scholarship to the California Culinary Academy.

A graduate of Solano Community College, Cruz originally considered majoring in International Studies at San Francisco State. Then finally she decided to focus on “international desserts” — by learning foreign recipes. Admittedly, she has a sweet tooth — partnered with her love for cooking — but her pursuit of making culinary arts as a career only came recently.

“I figured it would be good for my culinary skills to learn French and Japanese,” said Cruz in the Times-Herald. “I just wanted to do something I would enjoy for the rest of my life, and not have second thoughts.”

She credits her mom for her love for cooking as it was her mom who taught her all the Filipino dishes at a very young age. That time, she already knew that she wanted to be chef.

A true Filipino, Cruz infuses her culture into her cooking especially for friends and family, for whom she cooks native dishes like palabok and sinigang.

Cruz looks forward to her culinary career and is aiming to open her own bakery.


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Mt. Diwalwal Mining Motion Set for SC Deliberation

By Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA – The Supreme Court has set for deliberation on Wednesday in Baguio City a motion filed by local mining firm Southeast Mindanao Gold Mining Corporation (SMGMC) seeking to reconsider its 2006 ruling that that cancelled all mining rights and operations of Filipino firms within the Diwalwal Gold Rush Area.

The Court’s Special Third Division has decided to include in its agenda the urgent manifestation and motion filed by SMGMC seeking to elevate its case to the en banc.

Earlier, SMGMC claimed that the 2006 decision of the Court’s First Division has paved the way for the government’s understanding agreement with ZTE International Investments, Limited, the investment arm of the ZTE Corporation of China, to explore, develop and operate mining areas within the 8,100 hectare Mt. Diwalwal Gold Rush Area, in Mindanao.

The agreement, the SEMGMC said, is questionable considering that the status of the mining areas in Mt. Diwalwal remains unsettled.

It noted that the government executed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with ZTE International on July 12, 2006 or just less than three weeks after the SC First Division issued the subject decision.

It further stressed that the signing of the memorandum with ZTE was made even before the June 23, 2006 decision has attained its finality. The first motion to reconsider the decision was filed in August 2006 or almost a month after the signing of the ZTE agreement.

SEMGMC’s motion for reconsideration is still pending resolution before the SC. The mining firm motion has been referred to the Special Third Division following the retirement of the two members of the First Division.

Included as supporting document to SEMGMC’s urgent motion to elevate its case to the full court was a copy of the Senate’s transcript on the March 11, 2008 testimony of Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila.

Based on the transcript, Favila confirmed that on July 12, 2006 he signed in behalf of the Philippine government a MOU with ZTE International Investments, Limited involving the establishment of an information technological school; operating of mining in Davao; exploration, development and operation of mining areas in Diwalwal; and the establishment of an economic zone in Davao area.

According to SEMGMC’s, the Diwalwal area subject of an MOU with ZTE is the same area covered in the 2006 SC decision.

In June 26, 2006 decision, The First Division held that Marcopper’s exploration permit has already expired and that its subsequent transfer to its local subsidiary SEMGMC on February 1994 is void. SEMGMC is a domestic corporation alleged to be a 100%-owned subsidiary of MMC.


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Pinoys Hit the Charts in Canada

by Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – The latest figures from Statistics Canada released recently reported that the Filipino community outnumbers other visible minority groups in Winnipeg, the capital and largest city of the Canadian province of Manitoba. Visible minorities, who now make up 16.2 percent of Canada’s population, are defined as persons, other than aboriginals, who are non-Caucasian or non-white in skin color.

The growth of the number of Winnipeg residents of Philippine ancestry increased to 36,935 in 2006 from 30,155 in 2001, according to the latest census figures. This is the most dramatic local rise among visible minorities in actual numbers, if not in percentage.

Statistics Canada said last Wednesday that the country’s “visible minorities” now number more than five million for the first time largely due to an influx of Asian immigrants of late. Filipinos are among the great number of South Asians immigrating to the country.

To date, Canadians of South Asian origin, numbering 1.3 million, have become the largest minority group, surpassing Chinese Canadians who slumped to 1.2 million in the last census, the government agency said.

Canada’s total population, according to the last census in 2006, is 33 million.

Over the past century, the number of ethnic groups recorded in Canada has grown from 25 in 1901, when immigrants to Canada originated mostly from Europe, to more than 200 today, Statistics Canada said.

South Asians represented one-quarter (24.9 percent) of all visible minorities, or 4.0 percent of the total population in Canada.

Chinese accounted for 24.0 percent of the visible minority population and 3.9 percent of the total Canadian population.

The number of those identifying themselves as black, the third largest visible minority group, rose from 662,200 individuals in 2001 to an estimated 783,800. They accounted for just 15.5 percent of the visible minority population and 2.5 percent of the total population in 2006.

After the Chinese and the Blacks, the other visible minority groups include Filipinos, who represented 8.1 percent of the visible minority population, Latin Americans (6.0 percent), Arabs (5.2 percent), Southeast Asians (4.7 percent), West Asians (3.1 percent), Koreans (2.8 percent) and Japanese (1.6 percent).

One Filipino who is a part of the steady influx of immigrants from the Philippines interviewed by the Winnipeg Sun is Ryan Cruz, a 30-yearold Winnipeg Transit driver. His family recently moved to the city from Manila, and to him, it was all about opportunity.

“We were doing as good as most Filipinos back home, but we could never have really lived there comfortably,” said Cruz, who lives in The Maples with his wife Karen, son Kyle and daughter Lindsey.

“It’s a very peaceful place here. I hear about lots of crimes here every day, but it’s nothing compared to what’s going on back home,” he added, citing Philippine government corruption and other crime. “On the streets there, there are lots of robbers and snatchers.”

Between 2001 and 2006, the visible minority population increased at a pace nearly five times faster than the total population, due to immigration from non-European countries, Statistics Canada said. In 1981, 68.5 percent of all recent immigrants to Canada were born in regions other than Europe, and by 2006 this figure had grown to 83.9 percent.

If the trend persists, says the government agency, one in five Canadians will be a member of a visible minority by 2017.


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Illegals Welcome in San Francisco

by Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – The City of San Francisco recently launched an advertising campaign featuring TV and radio ads, billboards and bus signs reminding residents that the city is a sanctuary for illegal immigrants. The $83,000 ad campaign includes brochures distributed at police stations and hospitals, promising safe access to city services regardless of residency status.

This city has long considered itself as a compassionate place, promoting gay marriages and expanding homeless welfare programs. Now officials are extending a very public welcome to undocumented workers.

“We’re inviting people to come out of the shadows and take advantage of services. Our city officials want to remind illegal workers that the city would not play a part in any possible discrimination they might encounter at the hands of the federal government,”San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said.

Since 1989, when San Francisco became a sanctuary city, it has tried to make this point clear for years. It has barred employees from assisting federal officials with immigration investigations or arrests. Recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in San Francisco and the Bay Area convinced Mayor Newsom.

Although there are other communities in the country that consider themselves as sanctuary cities– including Seattle, San Jose, Miami and Oakland — only San Francisco has launched a campaign to advertise that fact, officials here say.

San Francisco’s ads — written in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Russian — encourage residents to seek services and report crimes without fear of being deported.

Los Angeles does not consider itself a sanctuary city, but officials say police will not take part in federal immigration raids. “Our officers are not immigration officers,” said Matt Szabo, a spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

A spokesman for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, however, called San Francisco’s program “a tragedy.”

“It’s an insult to the people who waited in line and filled out forms so they would do things right,” said Tony Bell. “For them, it’s a slap in the face.”

But Newsom brushed off the criticisms. “We’re not trying to convince people in Los Angeles,” he said. “We’re trying to assist people in our own city and county.”

Newsom, a Democrat who is considering a run for governor in 2010, said he hopes it will have an effect at shelters and psychiatric intake units.

He acknowledged that much of the reaction to the sanctuary program has been negative, attracting even more criticism than his stand on gay marriage.

“We’re convinced that this is the right thing to do,” the mayor added.


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Filipino Boy in Pasadena Accident has Died

by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com

PASADENA – Jose Gabriel Dela Rosa, the 7-year-old Filipino boy who was critically injured in a vehicular accident on Thursday, has died from his injuries on Sunday afternoon, it was announced by Huntington Memorial Hospital.

The boy’s father, Jose Dela Rosa, is still recuperating from injuries sustained from the car crash that occurred during rush hour on Fair Oaks and Colorado Blvd in Old Town Pasadena. The Dela Rosas had just arrived from the Philippines to visit relatives hours before the tragedy.

The release said that the Dela Rosa family does not wish to grant media interviews or disclose information about the accident. The father remains in fair condition and the mother was not injured.

A fund has been established in Jose Gabriel’s name at Comerica Bank in Pasadena, according to an official news release sent out by Andrea St radling, spokes – woman of Huntington Memorial.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family would be grateful for contributions to this fund. Checks can be sent to the Jose Gabriel Dela Rosa Fund, care of Comerica Bank, 35 North Lake Avenue, Suite 120, Pasadena, CA 91101.


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Wanted: Pinoy Skilled Workers in ME

By Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – There’s a construction boom in the Middle East and they need hundreds of thousands of Filipino skilled workers fast!

The problem is the supply cannot meet the demand. The Philippines is running out of skilled workers to deploy to the Middle East. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia alone is asking the Philippine government to fill up some 300,000 different positions this year. Other Middle East countries like United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman are also in the midst of a trilliondollar construction binge. Labor demand from these countries has increased in the past three years, with employers offering higher salaries to Filipinos who want to seek greener pasture.

One recruitment consultant, Emmanuel Geslani, admitted that it will be very difficult to deploy 300,000 workers to Saudi Arabia this year as the country’s manpower agencies experienced problems in filling up just over 100,000 job orders which the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) approved for 2007.

“Recruitment companies are vying with each other in attracting the few remaining qualified Filipino construction workers with free placement and welfare benefits,” Geslani said in a press statement. He noted that in 2007, only 1,012,054 workers were deployed, only a little above the one-million mark, with the help of 480,000 re-hires.

Records from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration show that deployment of Filipinos to Dubai and Qatar increased by 200 percent in the past three years. It was estimated that only 350,000 were new-hires in 2007, with the sea-based sector adding an additional 250,000 seafarers to the total deployment.

Geslani suggested that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) implement a massive manpower training campaign to train skilled workers in the construction industry to meet the huge demand in the Middle East and other parts of the world looking for more Filipino blue-collar workers.


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US Army Sergeant Vies for Ms. Earth RP

By Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

CERRITOS – She turned in her military uniform and boots for an evening gown and high heels.

FilAm Melanie Felix, a 23-year-old Sergeant in the US Army, is going to do her best Sandra Bullock impersonation when she competes for the Miss Philippines-Earth 2008 title, a preliminary competition vying for a spot on the Miss Earth World international pageant for environmental awareness.

In the movie, Miss Congeniality, Bullock played an FBI agent who went undercover in a beauty pageant.

“I sort of feel like that,” said the precocious Felix. “Just like in the movie Miss Congeniality, I find myself doing some of the same things she (Bullock) was doing like practicing the cat walk during my military drills.”

Last weekend, friends, family and media personnel at the Pinoy Bistro in Cerritos gave her a grand send-off before she headed to the competition in the Philippines. The Ms. Philippines-Earth Grand Coronation will be held on May 11, 2008 at the Airport Casino Filipino Theater in Parañaque City.

Felix was recently crowned Miss Filipinas-USA to represent the FilAm community for the competition. She will compete against 23 girls representing the different parts of the Philippines as well as Filipinas from Australia, Norway, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Germany, and Europe. During the competition, the girls learn about the environment; compete in a swimsuit, eveningwear, and talent competition before a question and answer segment.

“We have to remember that this pageant is not just about beauty and poise but it’s about the environment,” said Dexter Echeverri, a producer for the Miss Filipinas-USA pageant.

Echeverri said that Felix has a lot going for her in this year’s competition.

“There was something about Melanie that stood out,” said Echeverri who chose Felix out of 17 other aspiring Miss Filipinas-USA candidates. “Her personality, intelligence and I think her spirit. She really has that enthusiasm and special spirit that always stands out.”

Last year, the former Miss Filipinas-USA 2007 Emerald Morales made it to the semifinals of the Ms. Philippines-Earth competition. Echeverri likes Felix’s chances for this year.

“Emerald made it far last year,” he said. “Although she didn’t win, Emerald made us proud… Melanie’s chances are really good. We checked out some of the other contestants, she is going to have some stiff competition but she’s very well prepared and she exudes an air of confidence and with that she’s already a winner.”

Morales said she learned a lot from her experience competing in the pageant last year.

“It was a great experience and I never expected anything like that,” said the 26-year-old Morales from Carson. “I learned a lot from it. I met a lot of great friends who I still keep in contact with. It’s a just a great experience for me. I learned that a lot of Filipinos are in need of help and that we also need to care more about the environment.”

As for advice, Morales told Felix to just have fun.

“I just told her to enjoy the moment and try not to stress too much about it,” she said. “I told her she’s going to have a lot of fun and that she’s gong to have a great time there.”

From Boots to Heels

“It’s polar opposites. Totally different,” said Felix comparing the Military and Beauty pageant duties. “I really love the experience. There’s a time and place for everything and there’s a time to get dirty and that’s when I get in my overalls and boots and then there’s a time to be pretty, girlie and get your nails done.”

Felix entered the Miss Filipinas-USA pageant after her aunt encouraged her to compete.

At first, Felix was apprehensive about the idea but warmed up to it because of the environmental cause it supports.

“The environment is very important,” she said. “We only have one home and one earth and if we don’t preserve it or maintain it right now then we’re not going to have a place for our future kids.”

Felix has served in the US military for the past five years. She is an E-5 Sergeant in the Army National guard for California. She works as a mechanic or as she says, “anything that deals with wheels – diesel, humvees, and five-ton vehicles.”

Felix said that she enlisted in the Army to follow in her father’s footsteps, First Sergeant Gerardo Felix.

“My father means a lot to me,” she said.

As for the competition, she’s using her military background to set her apart from the other contestants.

“I’m different,” she said. “I’m unique. I’m sure all the girls are unique but I have the military background. I’m proud to serve my country the USA and the FilAm communities of the USA. I just want to take that with me and show everyone who I am.”

But more importantly, Felix said that by competing in this pageant she wants to get the word out about the environment.

“If I can just get one person listening to me, to hear my voice about the environment that would be everything to me,” she said. “I already feel like a winner because of where I am right now and where I’m going.”



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