Daily Archives: June 17, 2008

America’s Online Family Caregiver

By Cynthia de Castro/Asianjournal.com

The New York Post refers to the Stevie Awards as “the business world’s own Oscar Awards”. Thus, when Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder and CEO of Care.com got a Stevie Award for Women in Business in its 4th annual awards a few months ago, it was no mean feat.

Considering that Sheila’s company, Care.com, got the judges’ nod for Best New Company of the Year among tens of thousands of new companies formed every year in the US and bearing in mind that Stevie Awards’ past judges include the likes of Donald Trump and Gary Hammel (named by Fortune Magazine as the world’s leading expert on business strategy), Sheila should be proud indeed.

And yet, this humble Filipino American simply describes herself as a “a working mom, entrepreneur, and blogger” (who likes cook ing adobo, pancit, sinigang, leche flan and sinukmani). Originally hailing from Candelaria, Quezon, Sheila graduated in high school from Brent International School in Baguio. Then, her parents took her and her six siblings to immigrate to the US.

Sheila took up Economics at the Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts where she graduated magna cum laude. While in college, she met and married her husband, Ron Marcelo, a Bicolano from Naga, who was then studying in Yale. Like Sheila, Ron was very active in Filipino organizations in the university. He founded the FilAm organization, KASAMA, in Yale while Sheila taught and danced Filipino cultural dances in Mount Holyoke.

Sheila went on to pursue dual degrees from Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, graduating with honors and receiving two prestigious awards: the Dean’s Award for overall leadership and contributions to Harvard Business School; and the Fitzie Foundation Award, given by the Margaret Fitzgerald Grogan Petersmeyer Foundation, which honors the most outstanding female students.

Like her husband Ron, Sheila is an internet specialist. After teaching at the Harvard Business School, Sheila worked as an executive at several successful companies: Upromise.com, an online service helping families save money for college; TheLadders.com, an online job search website for executives; and a venture capital firm, Matrix Partners.

Then, a family crisis led to an idea for a new business.

“Over the years, Ron and I frequently needed care providers for our two sons. My father had a quadruple bypass surgery and we had a hard time looking for a good caregiver. In Spring 2006, we had a crisis while trying to find reliable care for our family. It was a very painful experience. Luckily, through sheer chance and persistence, we found a wonderful nanny, Amanda, who joined our family and brought joy and peace to our lives. But finding Amanda wasn’t easy. Given my professional background and experience, I started thinking about a consumer Internet business that could help families avoid the suffering and frustration we went through. That experience raised my awareness of the fact that no online site existed for addressing the constantly changing care needs of many families out there. You may have a trusted nanny or a regular pet sitter, but if their personal circumstances change or if they suddenly fall ill, it can be a struggle to find help in a moment’s notice. And so Care.com was born,” Sheila related.

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Sheila wrote a business plan for her new concept and managed to get investors who believed in her idea. One write-up about Care.com stated that Marcelo’s concept is actually so ridiculously simple, that you wonder why there hasn’t been an exchange like this before.

For a monthly fee as low as $10, families get unlimited access to a network of child care providers, free background checks on every prospective care provider, e-newsletters offering expert advice, and an inexpensive alternative for families so they always have access to back-up or emergency care.

“After just a year, our company is nationwide now, worth around $15 million,” said Sheila. “We now have 36 full-time staff and we’re growing everyday. It always amazes me to see how much we have grown this company even in a short period of time.”

Sheila has also become a leading expert on providing families with care planning advice, having appeared on NBC’s Today Show and ABC News Now. Additionally, she has been featured in news outlets across the country, including The Boston Globe and Redbook.

What families like best about Care.com is the quality of its care providers. “We aim to provide peace of mind for families looking to address the lifecycle of specific care needs by providing free background checks and a suite of tools and resources for selecting the best care options possible,” said Marcelo.

Asked where she got her entrepreneurial skills, Sheila replied, “My parents owned a lot of different businesses so I guess I got it from them.”

Sheila’s network of care providers include many Filipinos. “We have thousands and thousands of providers listed with Care.com and I’m happy to note that many of them are kababayans. Actually, one of my future goals is to work out something with the Philippine and US government to provide more jobs for more Filipinos. We do plan to add more care services and go international someday,” Sheila stated.

Since Care.com’s success, Sheila has been so busy working, traveling and guesting in shows. But Sheila revealed a welcome respite coming soon, which the family is all eagerly looking forward to. “We’re going home to the Philippines for a visit in June. The last time we were home was in Dec 2005 so we’re excited to go back. Our sons love it there,” Sheila said excitedly.


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Galing Pinoy: FilAm Tennis Ace Leads UCLA to First Championship

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – FilAm UCLA college student Riza Zalameda double dipped during the NCAA National Tennis tournament held at the Tulsa’s Michael D. Case Tennis Center last May 26.

The 22-year-old senior clinched UCLA’s first ever women’s Team Tennis Championship and also captured the NCAA Doubles Championship with partner Tracy Lin.

“Before I hit that last overhead, everything culminated at that last moment,” said Zalameda on the UCLA Tennis website. “It was a moment that I have been dreaming of. I’m speechless.”

Zalameda clinched the team championship when she defeated Susie Babos of UC Berkeley, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. The win gave the lady Bruins a 4-0 series sweep against the Bears of Berkeley and earned Zalameda the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.

In the same tournament, Zalameda and Lin captured the NCAA Tennis Doubles Championship after defeating CSU Fresno State’s Melanie Gloria and Tinesta Rowe in three-sets, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

“It was a very exciting win,” said Zalameda at the post match press conference. “We just came into it pretty confident in our skills. We’ve been playing for two weeks and our shots are pretty refined. All we had to do was execute. We knew they were a great team because I saw them earlier this year and we were expecting them to come out big. They did come out big on certain points, but we just toughed it out. We had more experience, more skill today and more will, but they were a great team.”

Both wins are a culmination of Zalameda’s stellar UCLA tennis career. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) named Zalameda as the Senior Player of the Year award, becoming only the second UCLA player to ever earn the prestigious award. She also earned the Pac-10 Player of the Year award.

The only thing that Zalameda didn’t do during the tournament was to win the Singles Championship. She reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Singles draw. Before entering the tournament, she had won the Pac-10 Singles title.

According to UCLA, Zalameda is just one of six four-time All-Americans in UCLA history.


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RP taxi operators should issue receipts – SC

by Joel Roja/AJPress

MANILA – The Supreme Court has denied the petition filed by major  taxi operators seeking to stop the Land Transportation  Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) from implementing  several memorandum circulars imposing standards and  regulations for taxi and mega taxi units, including the  issuance of taxi meter receipts.

In a one-page en banc resolution released on June 4, 2008, the SC held that the Court of Appeals did not err when it junked the petition for prohibition filed by – Philippine National Taxi Operators Association, Inc. (PNTOA), New Qualitrans, Inc., R & E Transport, Inc., ABC Transportation Services, Inc., Lucky 8 Transport Service seeking the nullification of LTFRB’s memorandum circular nos. 2003-10, 2003-020 and 2005.

“The Court resolved to deny the petition for review on cetiorari, assailing the decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals, for failure thereof to sufficiently show that the public respondent committed any reversible error in the challenged decision and resolution as to warrant the exercise by this Court of its discretionary appellate jurisdiction in this case,” the SC said.

The appellate court earlier held that the said circulars are intended to “ensure passengers’ welfare and safety.”

It declared that claim of the tax operators that the requirement of taxi meter with receipts to be installed in taxis is for effective monitoring and improve revenue collection under circular no. 2005-039 is “misplaced.”

The CA explained that the revenue collection goal expressed in the said circular seems to be incidental only to the stated purpose of the requirement under Circular No. 2003-010 which is to “ensure passengers’ welfare and safety.”

The tax operators also failed to convince the CA that the said circulars violate the equal protection.

It noted that the requirement of installing taximeter issuing receipts only for units operating within Metro Manila is justifiable considering that tourism and commerce are concentrated in Metro Manila.

The CA also stressed that the volume of taxis and mega taxis is concentrated in Metro Manila.


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Ensuring humane immigration raids

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Times reported June 8 that as federal authorities expand immigration enforcement in California and throughout the nation, teachers, mental health professionals and immigrant rights advocates are raising concerns about the effect on children who are US citizens.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma), a California congresswoman, recently held a hearing on the raids’ consequences for children. “The administration must take the necessary steps to ensure that these raids are conducted in a humane fashion and they are protective to kids, not harmful,” said Woolsey.

In the hearing, an elementary school principal from the Bay Area city of San Rafael, testified that local immigration raids in 2007 traumatized children and resulted in high absenteeism and low test scores. Another one who testified, National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguia, said that immigration agents instilled fear among children by conducting enforcement operations near public schools and Head Start programs.

A 2007 report released by the Latino civil rights organization disclosed that about 5 million children in the US have an undocumented parent and two-thirds of those children are US citizens. Many of these children were left to fend for themselves when their parents were arrested and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

ICE officials say they strike a balance between enforcing the law and humanitarian issues that arise during enforcement. Spokeswoman Virginia Kice said the agency goes to extraordinary lengths to address family concerns. But once it is determined that a person does not have a legal right to be in the United States, the agency is going to carry out the judge’s order, she said.

While immigrant rights groups are protesting that arresting parents in front of children and detaining and deporting them is unfair to US-born children, some advocates who favor stricter controls on immigration said illegal immigrant parents — not the government — are to blame.

Barbara Coe of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform said that “The impact on their children is their responsibility, not ours.”

One clinical psychologist, Marlies Amarca, who has testified as an expert witness in Immigration Court, said children whose parents have been arrested by immigration authorities often have nightmares and separation anxiety and frequently fall behind in school. The trauma has an effect on their psyche and on their school performance, she said.


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Villaraigosa offers friendly wager to Boston Mayor

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – Everybody in LA and Boston are excited about the Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals. Everyone, including the mayors. On the day of the first game, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sent the following letter to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino making a friendly wager on the outcome of Finals series:

Dear Mayor Menino:

Tonight is truly an historic night. It is hard to believe that it has been twenty one – long – years since the last time the Lakers beat the Celtics in the NBA Finals. Tonight we renew this great American tradition.

The only thing harder to believe is that it’s been more than two decades since the great Boston Celtics have tasted the sweet victory of an NBA Championship. The year was 1986. Hair was big. Shorts were short. And Michael Dukakis was preparing his historic run for president.

I truly expected our great rivalry of the 1980s to carry into the 1990s – particularly as the Lakers and Celtics continued to assemble a pantheon of NBA legends: Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Derek Fisher, Phil Jackson, Pervis Ellison, Bryant Stith, Vitaly Potapenko and Rick Pitino.

So to commemorate this historic event, I say we scrap the tired tradition of wagering regional trinkets or cuisine – and go big. Let’s really put it on the line: jobs, tradition, pride.

So here’s my proposal:

If the Celtics win, we’ll send you the best professional football team L.A. has to offer: the Arena League’s Los Angeles Avengers.

If the Lakers win, we get the Patriots.

I know what you might be thinking: Villaraigosa must be nuts! Bostonians would make out like bandits in that deal! With an indoor arena team, the fans would not have to risk frostbite to see a mid-September game. And with the smaller field, our coaches wouldn’t even need cameras to steal opponents’ signals.

I’m sure my constituents might not be happy with this deal, but I am so confident in the Lakers’ victory that I am willing to put it all on the line.

Oh, and to sweeten the pot, in the event of a Lakers victory you can keep the Patriots’ coach. We have a pretty good guy down the street who might be interested in the job – and who probably still has the gear.

I look forward to your response and a great finals series. My only regret is that I will not be able to visit the Garden for a game. I was hoping to experience first-hand the legendary Bostonian hospitality and sportsmanship.

Good luck and Go Lakers!

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa


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Filipino culture SF style: Fiesta Filipina 2008 unites Bay Area FilAms

by Malou L. Aguilar/AJPress

SAN FRANCISCO – One of the things that can be associated with the Filipino culture is their fiestas. Probably as popular as the adobo, Filipinos will never run out of excuses to celebrate something – or anything. Here in the US, the annual Fiesta Filipina in San Francisco last June 7 and 8 at the Civic Center united the Filipinos even just for the weekend.

Fiesta Filipina is a commemoration of the Philippine Independence Day. During the 80s the Department of Tourism (DOT) launched the Fiesta Islands festival in San Francisco and almost after a decade of successful festivals, the cash-strapped DOT decided 1994 would be its last year. However, in 1995, four organizers from the private sector formed the Asian Pacific Exhibits and Conferences, Inc. (APEC) and continued the celebration. Thus, the first Fiesta Filipina was held at Fort Mason on June 10-12, 1995. It was an overwhelming success. Since then, Fiesta Filipina has been at the forefront of Filipino festivals in the Bay Area.

A fiesta of food, fun, freedom and freebies

This year is no different from the previous Fiesta Filipina celebrations. Aside from keeping the Filipinos in tune with the 110th year of Philippine Independence, the weekend was filled with a wide variety of products and services from the exhibitors’ booths, Filipino food and best of all, freebies.

Yes, free stuff. From the interesting and useful pens, green shopping bags, shirts and fans, to the best-loved food samples that had people waiting in line. Never mind that the new Starbucks Mint Mocha Chip Frappucino sample is about less than one-eighth of the size of their tall cup. It was still for free and there was no limit on how many you could get. Besides, Safeway’s booth is just across it and with just a simple game you’d be able to take home free grocery items like laundry detergent, milk, salsa and carrots.

Star power

And what’s a fiesta without entertainment? For 14 years, Fiesta Filipina invited numerous Filipino artists to perform for the crowd and this year’s celebration lived up to many people’s expectations. Saturday, Las Vegas-based Asia’s Nightingale Lani Misalucha serenaded the crowd, along with performances from Rachel Alejandro and South Border member Duncan Ramos. Of course, the appearance of Jake Cuenca sent the girls shrieking with delight, especially during his autograph signing on Sunday.

But the piece de resistance was reserved for the last day that drove the crowd — Filipinos and not – to the event was the performance of rising international star Charice. Barely having the time to sit back and relax from her flight, Charice wowed the crowd with her strong vocal prowess with Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You and Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.

After the crowds have dispersed and the exhibitors have packed up their booths, hopefully Filipinos brought home more than just giveaways. It will be another year until the next fiesta, but this one had given most Filipinos a feel of home. As for the younger generation who hardly know their roots, Filipino Fiesta is a gateway to learning about the culture. “I enjoyed the games and free stuff,” said 12-year-old FilAm Timothy Aysip about the event. “But I did learn a lot of things about being Filipino – picking up Tagalog words I never hear at home, the culture — and realizing how big the community has grown.”


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We are going to be part of history: FilAms for Obama Movement begins grassroots campaign

by Rene Villaroman/AJPress

In the headquarters of the Filipino-Americans for Obama Movement, there is a poster-sized black-and-white photograph of martyred Filipino reformer Benigno S. Aquino hanging next to a huge color photograph of Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Ninoy Aquino and Barack Obama both embody change,” says Danny Lamila, head of the 200-member FilAm organization that is working to help catapult Obama to the White House in January 2009.

The Aquino portrait has a deeper connection to Lamila than meets the eye. He had known Aquino from the time the Tarlac Province senator was incarcerated by the Marcos regime during the Martial Law years until he was assassinated at the Manila International Airport after returning from years of exile in Boston, Massachusetts in August 1983. So when this writer interviewed Lamila on Saturday morning at his mid-Wilshire house that doubles as headquarters of his organization, he took pains to brief a handful of journalists about his many years of collaboration with Aquino.

Lamila was one of the founders of the Ninoy Aquino Movement, a forerunner of the Movement for a Free Philippines, an organization founded by Senator Raul Manglapuz to oppose Marcos’ imposition of Martial Law. Lamila claimed that NAM was also a part of the “People Power” movement that eventually ousted Marcos in February 1986 and sent him to exile in Hawaii.

Today, Lamila is once again involved in a movement. His grassroots organization is advocating for the election of Senator Barack Obama as the first minority leader to win nomination of a major political party. “We cannot just be fence-sitters and just watch what’s going on. We should demand what is right for us,” he begins. “In this campaign we are not thinking what Obama can do for the Filipino American community, but what the Filipino American community can do to help Obama,” he told Asian Journal.

He said that Obama faces many insurmountable problems when he is elected President in November. “We are talking about the economy, Iraq, Afghanistan, the healthcare system. This country is bankrupt. We are working on what you call a Ponze scheme. We are borrowing to pay the debts of this country,” Lamila said. “We are borrowing extensively from China. That’s why, eventually, you and I will have to speak Chinese.”

“For the first time, we are going to have a minority to lead this most powerful country in the world. But that’s not how we look at it,” Lamila reasons. “Being a minority, we are going to be part of history. We have to work with Obama.” He said one of the movement’s first priorities is to ask Obama to advance the cause of the Filipino World War II veterans through the veterans’ equity bill now being debated in the House, and universal healthcare system.

He believes that Obama would pick Hillary Clinton to be his runningmate. In fact, he had already e-mailed Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago and made that suggestion. “Hillary should be in his ticket because she can add a lot of ideas to the Obama campaign,” Lamila said. Hillary’s campaign promised to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system, which, Lamila said, favors only rich people. “Here in the US, if you are poor, you’ll have a hard time getting health insurance,” Lamila said. “Case in point: my wife and I pay $259 each every month for health coverage. How can poor people afford to pay that much to buy health insurance?”

Lamila also said that Hillary and Obama both support withdrawing the American troops from Iraq. “Obama’s plan would involve pulling out all the ground forces from Iraq, letting Iraq forces fight the war, and leaving a strike force to prevent Iran, Syria and Turkey from invading the country.

“We are spending $10 billion a month (to fund the Iraq war). We cannot afford it anymore,” he said. “I love and respect (Republican Party nominee) John McCain. I have followed his life since he was released from a Vietnam prison. But I lost my respect for him for supporting and continuing to support the war in Iraq.”

“This election is not a question of Obama being a minority. This election is about choice. And Obama is the only choice. If you want to buy homes at $99 each, or gasoline at $20 a gallon, vote for McCain,” said Sharusal Islam, a Bangladeshi neighbor of Lamila. He added that of the 50,000 Bangladeshis living in California, 20,000 are registered to vote in the elections. “I assure you that 90 per cent of them will vote for Obama,” Islam said.


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