Monthly Archives: May 2008

Pinoys Among US Naval Academy Class of 2008

By Cynthia De Castro/

LOS ANGELES – More than a thousand graduates, including two Filipinos and about half a dozen Filipino-Americans, tossed their caps during the graduation ceremonies of the US Naval Academy Class of ‘08 in Annapolis, Maryland last May 23.

Graduates of Annapolis are commissioned as Ensigns in the Navy or as 2nd Lieutenants in the Marines.

Among the Filipino American new graduates are Geraldine Manalo, Laura Pattawi, Jerson Peredo, and Joanne So. Filipino graduates Ensigns Carl Catalan of Dumaguete City and John Berjuega of Catanduanes are two of 16 foreign students who graduated. They entered the Academy after topping competitive exams administered through the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Baguio City. The two new Philippine naval officers told ABS-CBN’s Balitang America, that beyond the state-of-the-art weaponry and tactics, the Academy has taught them the value of good leadership.

Another Filipino-American, Master Chief Bernard Quibilan of Cebu, was honored during the graduation rites. The highest ranking noncommissioned officer in Annapolis until his retirement earlier this year, Quibilan served like a second father to many of the midshipmen. In gratitude, the new graduates made him an honorary member of Class 2008.

In a study conducted by The Migrant Policy Institute (MPI) earlier this year, the Philippines was reported to have provided the most number of immigrants serving in the US military, many of them in the US Navy. Of around 65,033 foreign-born soldiers in the 1.36 million US Armed Forces, nearly 23 percent came from the Philippines; Mexico came a distant second with 9.5 percent.


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Asian Journal’s LA Editions Passes Verified Audit

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – The Asian Journal’s Los Angeles Midweek and Weekend Editions recently joined the elite roster of publications that include the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, among others, who met the rigid standards of Verified Audit Circulation.

“This is to reaffirm our commitment to our readers and advertisers. Having our circulation verified by this very reputable firm means that what we claim is what we actually print,” said Roger L. Oriel, Asian Journal’s Publisher and CEO.

Founded in 1951, Verified Audit is considered the leading independent third party media accreditation agency that authenticates the distribution of a newspaper, magazine and other forms of print and electronic media. It ensures the public, advertisers, media planners and marketing professionals the legitimacy of the media outlet.

Verified Audit is guided by a distinguished group of industry representatives. The Board includes publishers, distribution companies, associations, and consultants. These industry leaders assist Verified in shaping audit procedures and services to meet the needs of its members and the industry.

Their audits also provide advertisers and media buyers the assurance they need to make informed purchasing decisions—and afford media owners the tools that maximize their performance and demonstrate their efficacy to advertisers. The goal is to make sure that clients reach their target audience and provide valued advertisers as well as prospective clients truthful and accurate circulation figures.

For over half a year, the Asian Journal Los Angeles editions underwent a rigorous Verified Audit certification process. Verified Audit field staff studied the number of Asian Journal copies distributed at certain locations around the Los Angeles area and the number of copies remaining at the close of the distribution period.

The Asian Journal Los Angeles bi-weekly edition circulates an average of 70,000 copies across the LA and Ventura Counties. Verified Audit confirmed the Asian Journal’s distribution number and target audience. Distributed by a fleet of company-owned delivery trucks, this honor only affirms that Asian Journal is the true community newspaper of the Filipino American community.

The Asian Journal Los Angeles edition now joins local reputable newspapers such as the Long Beach Press Telegram and the Los Angeles Daily News.

The Northern California Asian Journal (SF)is also Verified-accredited.

The Asian Journal Los Angeles and Northern CA editions are the only Filipino-American newspapers to become full-fledged Verified Audit members to date.

Finally, this honor also attests to the Asian Journal’s commitment to providing news that is informing, empowering and serving the FilAm community.


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Final Push to Pass Equity Bill

By Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – World War II veteran Franco Arcebal patiently waits. “We are so close,” he said.

Twenty-years ago, he walked into a Veteran’s Affairs office to find out that he had no veteran’s benefits. Since learning neither he, nor his fellow Pinoy soldiers, who fought with American troops during WWII would receive recognition or VA pension, he made it his life’s work.

“We’ve dreamt about this bill finally passing,” he said.

With the US House of Representatives in recess for the Memorial Day holiday, Filipino WWII veterans, advocates and their supporters gathered at the Philippine Consulate on Wednesday to strategize their final push for the passage of the FilVet Equity Bill to make the dream a reality.

It’s been a quiet month since S.1315 the FilVet Equity bill overwhelmingly passed the Senate floor last April. The measure would enhance life insurance benefits for disabled veterans, burial allowances and housing grants, and provides for $221 million in new pension benefits for Filipino WWII veterans.

After the Senate

FilVet advocates have a more daunting task after the measure’s stint in the Senate. Now they need to gather 2/3 of the 435 member House of Representatives to vote yes on the bill. The 290 votes would prevent delays, killer amendments and defeat, according to Eric Lachica of the American Coalition of Filipino Veterans.

The House of Representative will convene and most pundits expect the bill to be introduced in the next coming weeks.

Consul General Mary Jo Aragon said it’s time for the Filipino and FilAm community to contact their State’s representatives.

“We need to keep the pressure on,” she said in the FilVet meeting. “We have to let them know how important S. 1315 is to our community.”

Aragon, Consul Daniel Espiritu, and Ben De Guzman, the coordinator of the Washington DC-based National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE) hosted the meeting. Many Filipino WWII veterans dressed in their military uniform came out to share their thoughts. The biggest hurdle most Filipino WWII supporters foresee is the complacency in the community.

“When the Senate passed the bill, people were literally celebrating and dancing on the streets,” said Ben De Guzman. “But we are so far from that. It’s not over yet. We are standing on a razor thin edge. It’s either we make it across or fall off.”

Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) Coordinator Art Garcia warned that this is not the time for the community to become complacent.

“It’s normal to relax when we are near victory,” he said. “

’Bahala Na’ is the [attitude] that is so common in our community. But if we work harder, the sweeter the victory [will be].”

De Guzman said that the opposition mostly House Republicans and “blue dog” (fiscally conservative) Democrats are lining up to strike down the bill.

“We’re making history,” he said. “I always say that when people look back at this time, the members of the community are going to have to ask themselves whether they helped the cause or not.”

De Guzman said that the best way for the community to get involved is to start calling, writing, or visiting their representatives even if they’ve never done it before.

Garcia is already lining up his troop of supporters. JFAV has over 67 chapters nationwide.

“I’m issuing a press release so they can start to make their rounds of calls and visits,” he said. “I’m hopeful that this is going to pass this year.”


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Songs for GJay

By April Tiamzon/

NEW JERSEY — While most people strolled along the shore or went out of town for Memorial Day Weekend, some paid tribute to a memory of a little boy. Jose Gabriel Dela Rosa, also known as GJay, is a 7-year-old Filipino boy who was struck by a car in Pasadena, CA last April.

Now referred to as ‘Angel Gabriel’ by his friends and family, May 25 was indeed a memorable day for them. Through the combined efforts of GJay’s aunt, Jessica Ticzon and her boyfriend, Jay Legaspi, a local musical act fundraiser was organized. After the unfortunate incident, Jessica and Jay knew that GJay’s family would need help with paying the endless medical expenses. A week later, they reached out to their friends within the musical circle and invited them to perform.

Students and artists gathered from different high schools and colleges around the area in remembrance of GJay. The benefit was held at Babo Bubble Teahouse in Newport, Jersey City. With the kind generosity of Babo owner, John Sim, the teahouse provided an intimate setting which complemented the blend of acoustic music and celebration of innocent life lost.

Host Ashley Clack opened the evening’s commemoration with a poem and audience participation. Musical acts and poetry performances followed which included: HelloImDylan, Julian ‘JuCe’ Pormentilla, Marq Romero of Warholsoup, and poetic duo Two Warriors’ Mark Habana and Harry Ramos. Jay Legaspi concluded the tribute by covering Death Cab for Cutie’s, I Will Follow You into the Dark.

In just under three hours, almost $700 was raised from the $5, shirt sales, and donations. A kind soul who came just to purchase boba was touched by GJay’s story and donated a $50 check. KellyAnn Nipal and the rest of the Babo Staff, most of whom are still in high school and college also made a generous donation of $100. All proceeds from the evening will go towards the Jose Gabriel Dela Rosa Family Fund.

GJay’s story happened last April when “the family was visiting relatives from their home in the Philippines and had been in the country only a few hours when the collision occurred,” the Los Angeles Times reported. GJay and his father were hit by a car which jumped the curb following a collision with another vehicle, a fire department spokesperson said at the time. The boy’s father, 36-year-old Jose De La Rosa, was taken to the hospital in serious condition, but he got better Friday afternoon, she said. The boy’s mother also suffered minor injuries in the collision, as did the two people in the Altima. Old Town Pasadena was to be their first sightseeing destination. GJay was not even able to enjoy Disneyland or pick out a favorite toy at a Toys R Us since he passed away on the same day at Huntington Memorial Hospital.

Anyone wishing to assist the family may send donations to the Jose Gabriel Dela Rosa Fund, c/o Comerica Bank, 35 N. Lake Ave., Suite 120, Pasadena, Ca. 91101. Or visit


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Boratong Drug Trafficking Case Revived

By Joel Roja/

MANILA – Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez on Monday denied the appeal of the officers Eastern Police District to set aside the ruling of the Pasig Prosecutor’s Office issued on May 23, 2007 dismissing the murder complaint against Amin Imam Boratong in connection with the killing of a media asset last year.

The charges against Boratong, the suspected owner of the P900-million shabu market in Pasig City, and three other accused — his second wife Memie Police Officer 2 Ramir Along and Nashir Labay – were dropped by the Pasig Prosecutor’s Office for lack of evidence.

The four were being blamed for the killing GMA 7 informant German Colisao, who supposedly took a video footage of the drug den before it was dismantled by government authorities.

In a three-page resolution, Gonzalez denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the Eastern Police District Office and state witness Samir Palao seeking to sustain the indictment of Boratong.

Palao, who was once working for Boratong, told investigators that Boratong and Memie had ordered Colisao killed after the latter was discovered taking video footage of the shabu market on November 14, 2005.

Police said Colisao was killed on November 17, 2005 and his body was found dumped on a Pasig street with three gunshot wounds.

“After a careful scrutiny of the records of the instant case vis-à-vis the arguments posed by the complainant and respondents, we are of considered view that no compelling reason exists to depart from our previous resolution dated may 23, 2007,” Gonzalez said.

The DOJ chief said that it is not convinced with the argument of the complainant that the that the issue on the credibility of a witness should be left to the discretion of the trial court, thus, the justice department should have not entertained the petition for review filed by Boratong and his co-accused since an information has already been filed with the court,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said the EPD’s reliance on the case of Crespo vs Mogul is misplaced. In the said case the Supreme Court held that once a complaint is filed in the court, any disposition of the case as its dismissal or conviction or acquittal of the accused rests in the sound discretion of the court.

He said that there is nothing in the Crespo case that prohibits the DOJ secretary from accepting or deciding on an appeal filed by an accused.

“Finally, for failure of herein complainant to present additional proof and evidence clearly showing that respondents authored the murder of Colisao, we are constrained to deny the instant. For determination of probable cause may not solely rest on conjectures and surmises but on concrete proof positively showing person’s  culpability on the crime charge,” Gonzalez said.

In his May 23, 2007 decision, Gonzalez said despite Palao’s positive identification of the suspect, the police failed to establish a chain of events that Boratong indeed authored Colisao’s killing, and that complainant’s statements were adequate to justify a reasonable conclusion that the killing of the victim was perpetrated by respondent Boratong.


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by Momar G. Visaya/

LAS VEGAS – “Tonight, a star is born!”

With those words, Grammy-award winning composer and producer David Foster officially welcomed Charice to the musical world. And with those words, Charice made it to the consciousness of the audience inside the jampacked concert hall, who trooped to Vegas to watch a tribute to the musical genius that is Foster.

The event was the star-studded David Foster & Friends concert held Friday, May 23 at the Mandalay Bay Event Center. It was an almost fourhour musical extravaganza that featured tour de force performances from Foster’s friends such as Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Katharine McPhee, Peter Cetera, Brian McKnight, Babyface, and Boz Scaggs.

Charice, a day after the once in a lifetime show, was still on a natural high the following day when we had a chance to chat. “Ang tindi po ng nerbiyos ko kagabi. Sobra sobra. Para akong si Cinderella, kasi para siyang fairy tale. Para akong nananaginip lang. Parang hindi totoo,” Charice said, recalling the experience of the previous night.

Charice was the penultimate performer to take the stage and Foster introduced her as someone whose talent “you’ve never seen before”. She sang a medley of I Have Nothing and I Will Always Love You, from the movie TheBodyguard.

After her stellar performance, the audience rose to its feet and awarded her with a standing ovation. Trying to contain her tears, Charice exchanged high-fives with Foster.

Only three other performers received a standing ovation when they performed, and rightly so.

Foster received his the moment he entered the stage, Bocelli got his in each and every song he did and Groban got his standing ovation after his four-song set.

After her medley, Charice performed And I Am Telling You, the song that catapulted her into world-wide YouTube fame. With such poise, grace and precision, the young singer belted her way out of the Dreamgirls song and earned yet another standing ovation from the audience. Charice approached Foster and they hugged.

This was when the audience got up on their feet and cheered for the young singer. “That was just incredible. I can’t think of anybody who can top that,” Foster said, “Charice, don’t forget that name.”

Nakakaiyak po, kasi hindi ko in-expect na makakapagperform ako sa harap ng ganun kadaming tao. Tapos kasama ko pa sa line-up sila Andrea Bocelli at saka Josh Groban,” Charice shared. When she reached backstage after her twin knockout performances, Charice said Andrea Bocelli congratulated her.

Yun siguro yung pinaka highlight na. Yung kinongratulate ako ni Andrea Bocelli. Sabi niya sa akin sana daw next time, mag-duet kami ng The Prayer. Ako naman, parang, “Ha? Yes Of course, Thank you” kasi hindi ako makapaniwala. Dream na dream ko kayang makaduet siya. Sana matuloy,” she said.

Asked about her favorite part of the concert, Charice quipped, “Ah yung kay Bocelli po, kasi ang galling galling talaga niya kahit may kapansanan siya. Ang sarap sarap pakinggan ng kinakanta niya kahit hindi ko maintindihan kasi Italian.”

Rave Reviews

Concert viewers are one in claiming that Charice more than delivered the goods that night.

According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, “If Groban is one of Foster’s most renowned discoveries, this night truly belonged to a newer one, doe-eyed 16-year-old Filipino belter Charice, whose voice is like a jetliner taking off from her sternum.”

Ang suwerte suwerte niyang bata. Ang galing galing niya! Just imagine. Para mapasama siya sa show na ito na puro superstars. This is really something,” a Filipino couple from North Hollywood exclaimed. Marisol Lagmay and some of her friends drove to Las Vegas earlier on Friday to catch the show.

Nakakakilabot. Mangiyakngiyak kami when David introduced her as from the Philippines. I’m so proud of her. I’m so proud to be Filipino,” she said.

A trio of Caucasian fans expressed their admiration towards Charice. “She has an amazing voice, incredible presence and charisma. She’s very phenomenal and we hope she keeps this up. Definitely one of the best performers of the night,” they chorused.

Atty. Michael J. Gurfinkel and his wife who were both instrumental in Charice’s ascent to international stardom were quite emotional as well.

Like doting parents, the couple felt proud.

“It is very rare to see aFilipina talent on the stage, alongside the top names in the musical industry. We’re very, very happy for Charice for all the success she has been reaping,” Atty. Gurfinkel said.

A Filipina fan from Victorville was ecstatic. “Naka-bonus tayo. I didn’t realize that there was going to be a Filipino talent in this show. I’m very, very proud of her and her insanely big voice. Napaiyak ako sa kanya. She made all of the Filipinos in the audience proud,” she said.

In between the medley and her second song, Charice responded to Foster’s question about her and where she came from.

“I’m from the Philippines and I started singing when I was 4,” she said, and the Filipinos applauded wildly. “May mga Pilipino ba diyan?” she asked, and was met by louder screams.

Charice wore a black and gold number by noted Filipino designer Alan del Rosario, who also created Paula Abdul’s red dress during last week’s American Idol finale.

The Others

Tennis legend Andre Agassi introduced Foster and said that it was a great honor for him to introduce one of the greatest musical talents of our time. “He started with a vision, then it became a calling, and now it is a movement,” Agassi said as he described Foster’s other passion aside from music.

The musician has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for his own foundation which assists families with children in need of organ transplants and other causes such as the fight against cancer and AIDS.

One by one, a cavalcade of stars happened and performed a song or two with the man of the hour.

Kenny G, Michael Johns, Brian McKnight, Katharine McPhee, jazz artist Renee Olstead, Cheryl Lynn, country singer Blake Shelton, Boz Scaggs, Eric Benet, Peter Cetera and Andrea Bocelli, who was the finale of the first part of the show.

The second half opened with pianist William Joseph, followed by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Michael Buble, then Charice and Josh Groban, who served as the evening’s finale, and as Foster said, “the only one person tonight who can follow Charice”. Groban performed five songs, including his signature hit You Raise Me Up and a duet of Bridge Over Troubled Water with McKnight.

“He is going to be around for a very, very long time,” Foster said of Groban. The illustrious Bocelli, who flew from Tuscany just for the show, had a larger than life stage persona and the audience just lapped at every song he sang. I had goosebumps listening to the man. To describe him as amazing would be an understatement.

He performed The Prayer with American Idol alum McPhee, who was just resplendent and captivating every time she appeared onstage. McPhee’s natural charm and her melodious voice are a potent combination. Michael Buble was the wild one in the bunch. He goofed around both in his performances and during the spiels. It was a welcome sight, especially for those who always see him in very formal clothes during very formal gatherings. He had spot numbers and sang Save the Last Dance for Me and his own duet, with country crooner Shelton as they sang their hit Home.

“I truly had no idea of the magnitude of his talent,” Foster said of Buble before he introduced the singer.

The $2 million one-night only musical event was filmed for broadcast this December on all PBS stations nationwide while the CD/DVD of the show will be released by Warner Bros. this fall.


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Six-week Wait for Machine-Readable Passport – Consulate

By Rene Villaroman
LOS ANGELES – The Philippine Consulate General here announced that beginning on June 2, 2008, it will be accepting and processing applications for the new Machine Readable Passports (MRP). A Machine Readable Passport is a passport where the personal details of the passport holder are not only printed in a way that can be read by the naked eye, but also encoded in a machine readable zone on the passport where they could be read by a machine or a computer.
“Effective June 2, 2008, all the consulates in the United States, as well as the Embassy in Washington, DC will start accepting and processing applications for MRPs,” Consul General Mary Jo Bernardo Aragon announced during a town hall meeting last week at the Philippine Consulate General Office.

“All of these passports will be issued in Manila, and that’s why the waiting period (six weeks) will be slightly longer,” Aragon said. “As you know, here in the US, all passports are machine readable, and in Asia, all the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries, including the Philippines, are already issuing MRPs, in accordance with an agreement reached with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that all its nationals should be carrying machine readable passports no later than April, 2010,” Aragon said.

ICAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is promoting the safety and orderly development of civil aviation throughout the world. These global standards are observed and harmonized by its member countries, and compliance will benefit governments, travelers, airports and airlines in document security and integrity and ease of travel. The use of MRPs would also put a stop to the segregation and delay of Filipino travelers in airports due to the slower process of manual processing and close scrutiny of documents.

“Conservatively, we will be accepting around one million or so application for such passports in our area of responsibility which extends as far as Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Southern Nevada and Southern California,” Aragon declared.

The new passports will be maroon-colored, 46 pages and computer-printed. “Now, we will require applicants to personally appear at the Consulate. We ca no longer accept passport applications by mail,” Aragon emphasized. One important change is that passport photos must be shot in front of a royal blue background. Photos must be 4.5 by 3.5 centimeters in size and the image of the applicant must occupy 70 to 80 per cent of the photograph. Other requirements are: the photograph should be a straight frontal shot (no tilting of head); medium smile is allowed, applicants must be in a collared shirt and or decent attire, with both ears visible. Prescription eyeglasses are OK, provided it does not show glare. Head scarves and veils are allowed for religious and health reasons.

The MRPs will be issued by the Philippine Consulate General at no additional cost. It still costs $50.00, the same as the old green passports. Valid green Philippine passports will be still honored as bona fide travel documents until they expire. “We would like to encourage our kababayans, especially those who are not in a hurry to travel to come and apply for the MRPs,” Aragon said. “Those who will be traveling to the Philippines in three months, you can set an appointment and apply for the MRP at this Consulate,” Aragon announced.

The Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles issues the most number of passports in all Philippine posts: over 31,000 passports a year.


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