Editor-at-Large

Why Colma rocks

By Cherie M. Querol Moreno

Editor at Large

COLMA, Calif. - This town has proven time and again that its heart belies its size.

Less than 2,000 people call Colma home and that's a small but satisfied population that received free cable access long before its North County neighbors and who get treated to a picnic where they get to meet and chow down with their elected officials and city workers while enjoying multigenerational, multicultural entertainment every year.

Last week residents of this valley straddling South San Francisco, Daly City and Brisbane got to share their privilege at the Colma Community Fair, the town's first public gathering focused on resource-sharing, health, service, music and fun for all ages.

From 11 am to 3 pm that sunlit Saturday, July 15, anyone from anywhere who needed information about the town and beyond got to consult with public and private providers and compliment or complain to their officials in and around Colma Community Center on Hillside Boulevard here.  San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa arrived before the fair opening and struck a spirited conversation with Mayor Helen Fisicaro, who strolled in and visited each booth. The District 5 representative's chief of staff Tony Bayudan and field rep Mike Richardson soon fielded questions from visitors at their booth alongside San Mateo Human Service Agency's Cal-Fresh program, San Mateo Credit Union, HICAP Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program, Colma Police Department, Colma  Historical Society,  purveyors and producers of handcrafted art and jewelry, among many goodies.

For all the jokes referring to its underground population outnumbering the living, the town built by cemeteries knows how to party.

Colma Recreation Services Director Brian Dossey and coordinator Cynthia Morquecho made sure to offer treats and thrills for everyone.  Coffee, doughnuts and water were offered to guests.  A band named SF Rock Project filled the air with hits beloved to Baby Boomers and Millennials alike, pausing only for the two BMX acrobatic stunts by champions from near and far.  Zumba and Palenga sessions took place in the Center for those craving a workout.  A First Aid station stood by in case of emergency that did not happen.

But Colma knows much more than amusement.

SERIOUS SIDE

A fortnight ago it hosted a two-hour training on intimate partner abuse in collaboration with the San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services and ALLICE Alliance for Community Empowerment at the very same location.

BHRS program director for Equity & Diversity Dr. Jei Africa facilitated the training initiated by Colma Council Member Joanne Del Rosario to raise awareness on and plan remedies to what U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier has branded a "silent epidemic."

Participants went home with certificates of attendance and a deeper understanding of the root causes and dynamics of dating and domestic violence as well as appropriate responses and resources.

"Too often we see DV (domestic violence) on the TV and just accept it as an everyday occurrence," admitted Vice Mayor Rae Gonzalez. "We all know it happens and perhaps  know the victims.  With this presentation I now have (knowledge of) resources to offer."

Gonzalez expressed appreciation for learning how to address disclosures of being abused by focusing "not on the victim, not making them feel like the situation is their fault."Image: Colma Vice Mayor Rae Gonzalez, Council Member Joanne del Rosario and Rene Malimban visit with the staff of District 5 Supervisor David Canepa. Photo by M. Z. Moreno

Photo: Image: Colma Vice Mayor Rae Gonzalez, Council Member Joanne del Rosario and Rene Malimban visit with the staff of District 5 Supervisor David Canepa. Photo by M. Z. Moreno

She heard tips to empathize rather than judge by asking what barriers may be preventing survivors from seeking help, such as fear, uncertainty, guilt, or love for the perpetrator.

"I was caught off guard ...in disbelief that in a county of 750,000, there are less than 50 beds available (20 through private nonprofit CORA, San Mateo's only DV direct service agency)  to help the victims.  As an elected official I feel that is something we need to work on for San Mateo County," said the mother of two. " I hope that cities throughout San Mateo County can be better partners with ALLICE (the independent private nonprofit that offers free education to prevent intimate partner and family violence).  I plan on looking into this to see how Colma can be a better partner," she said.

New Council Member and veteran CPD office John Goodwin attended the training with his wife Silvia.

They had just arrived home from the training when he got to put his newfound wisdom to use.

"A neighbor texted me to say that an incident of domestic  violence had just  happened two houses away from her, " he told this writer. "The violence had startled her young son, as well as another neighbor down the block with small children.  My neighbor called the Colma Police, who responded to deal with the incident very quickly.  With the information I gained from the class,  I was able to provide the number for CORA to my neighbor."

Little wonder CPD Officer Mark Francisco abruptly had to excuse himself from the workshop to respond to the 911 call.

Dossey attended the training and imparted with colleagues what he had learned.

"I thought the segment on differentiating between the root cause and the triggers was very interesting," he touched on the societal stresses often cited but do not justify IPV, which Africa emphasized is a learned behavior where the perpetrator takes power and control over the partner.  "It was also sad to hear the statistic on how few accommodations there are for victims of the LGBTQ community in San Mateo County."

Once again, Colma has shown how to roll community service.

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Presy Lopez Psinakis defined grace, courage

Family, friends and business associates streamed daily into the Capilla de la Virgen of the Santuario de San Antonio in Makati City to say goodbye to Presy Lopez Psinakis, only daughter of the pioneer industrialist Eugenio Lopez Sr. and Paz Moreno Lopez and widow of Steve Psinakis, arch enemy of the Marcos dictatorship.

Mrs. Psinakis passed away early morning July 25 at a hospital in Manila, where she was rushed for severe abdominal pain. She was 81. She left behind her children Rogy Panganiban, Michael and Geni Psiniakis, her brothers Oscar and Manolo Lopez
and their families, and a multitude of allies and admirers in the Philippines, Greece and California.

San Franciscans remember Mrs. Psinakis for her elegance and grace, and especially for her quiet strength and fortitude in the face of monumental adversity. For love of her husband, her family and her country.

Intimates know of her steel resolve, displayed in her decision to marry Psinakis, a mechanical engineer hired by her father, who expanded the electrification of the Philippines when he acquired and turned Meralco fully Filipino-owned in 1962. The Athens-born U.S. citizen Psinakis shared Eugenio Sr.'s pride in Filipino skills but not the approval to court his boss' daughter. Imbued with the determination of her "Tatay," Presy followed her heart, fled to Greece in 1969, married and started a family.

The rift between father and daughter did not prosper.

When Ferdinand Marcos, whom their family had supported in his presidential campaign and whose vice president was Eugenio's brother Fernando Lopez, plunged the Philippines under military rule in 1972, he seized the Lopez companies, particularly the electric power distribution company the Manila Electric Company known as Meralco, their radio and television network ABS-CBN and daily newspaper Manila Chronicle. Appropriating the Lopez media was the only way the dictator could silence its opposing views and exposes against his abuse of power.

But the severest punishment against his former ally was yet to follow in the arrest of Eugenio Jr., who was imprisoned in Fort Bonifacio with other political enemies including Benigno Aquino Jr. and Sergio Osmena III.
The story goes that Eugenio Sr. had offered Marcos to take what he wanted for the release of his son "Geny." Marcos allegedly helped himself and yet kept Geny captive.
But Steve Psinakis proved to be his wife's and her father's equal, planning and orchestrating a successful extraction of his brother-in-law, Osmena and others to freedom.

By then the Lopez elders had left the Philippines for voluntary exile in San Francisco and reunited with the Psinakises. There Mrs. Psinakis, daughter of wealth and privilege, joined her husband in running a Mediterranean pita restaurant in the financial district and managing an ally's law offices in South San Francisco.

"My father always used to say, whatever you do, you have to set an example…whether it’s (for) your employees or your children,” Mrs. Psinakis told Lopezlink.com two years ago.

Mrs. Psinakis confronted another test to her fealty in the mid-1980s, when her husband stood trial for

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Berkeley Fil-Ams defend free speech

 
 
 
What would Mario Savio say?
The voice of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) in this country would have served up a mouthful about recent events at University of California at Berkeley, where on December 2, 1964, the then-philosophy major delivered his impassioned call to action for racial equality at Sproul Hall, birthing the Free Speech Movement.
Back then, Savio urged fellow students to “put your bodies on the gears” and disarm the political establishment.
Had a heart attack not silenced him at age 53 in 1996, Savio surely would have words about the aborted visits to his alma mater by conservative commentators.
"Cal," as locals refer to the school, is either emulating or betraying the Baby Boomer champions of civil rights, goes the debate on assorted media platforms. 
The issue of free speech rages anew amid recent events, such as President Donald Trump dismissing criticism of his administration as "fake news," the Federal Communications Commission reviewing TV host Stephen Colbert for making a vulgar joke against the president, and the conviction of 3 Code Pink activists for protesting the confirmation of then-nominee for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 
Berkeley may be the bastion of progressive thought, but it draws folks of every political leaning. And Filipino Americans agree that FSM is alive and well from where it sprung. 
“I don't think the free speech movement is dead at Cal,” said Cagayan de Oro-born Jacob Sese, a 19-year-old molecular cell biology freshman.
“I think there's a disagreement on what is considered hate speech, and many people here don't tolerate hate speech. The violence and threats of it in no way represent the desires of the university or the student body, and great efforts have been made by students to make that clear," Sese said.
22-year-old media studies junior Robin Cid Calleja, who was raised in Las Piñas in Manila, sees the same picture.
“Sproul continues to be a bustling plaza where students can engage in social, cultural, and political activities. It continues to be the heart of student activities, where various student groups – including racial minorities, like Filipino students who make up barely 2% of the student population – can have their identities represented and where political minorities on campus, such as the Berkeley College Republicans, can express their ideas and opinions. I think that shows that the Free Speech Movement's legacy lives on,” he said.
For Calleja, those lamenting the death of free speech in Berkeley are unaware of the spirit of the movement. 
"They need to understand that while free speech protects people from state- or university-sanctioned censorship or retaliation, it does not protect them from being ridiculed by their peers. Peaceful protests and harsh criticisms from liberal students are not indications that the Free Speech Movement is dead. Rather, these are (acts of) free speech at work," Calleja said.
While New Jersey-born Justin Lagera agrees with his schoolmates, he stressed that the Free Speech Movement has taken on a different character than it did during its inception in the 1960s.
“To me, the biggest debate is whether or not the political correctness culture has become too invasive. There’s a big gray area as to what constitutes protected free speech or what determines unprotected speech and that fogginess sparks competition between differing parties," the political studies freshman said.
Cancelled visits, echo chambers
The question on free speech was also prompted by the violence that cancelled the February 1 campus visit of alt-right Milo Yiannopoulos, former editor at Breitbart News, who last year was permanently banned by Twitter for allegedly “inciting and engaging in harassment."
Over 100 Cal faculty had signed a petition calling for the cancellation of the Berkeley College Republicans engagement before a thousand protesters assembled at the event site. Violence erupted when mask-wearing individuals descended on campus.
The university averted a potential conflict with the cancellation of a planned speech by right-wing advocate Ann Coulter scheduled for April 27. Berkeley police recommended postponing Coulter's visit, which Coulter rejected. This later fueled contradicting versions on why her speech did not happen. 
The fate of her speech does not signal the death of free speech, Calleja said, but simply the lack of coordination between event sponsors and the university.
Opposing views
Licensed marriage and family therapist Nan Santiago, a Democrat, attested to the fundamental identity of the campus and the Free Speech Movement. 
“I was there in 1981, so the internet and electronic media were not as available as now. Everything can be posted instantly today, whereas before it took longer to gather people and to spread the words to the community,” she said.
“UC has been very liberal with free speech, lots of demonstrations, diverse students and all ages...I recall when I was there, even the teens not (enrolled) hung out there since Berkeley city itself did not have the same curfew hour for teens as the neighboring cities,” she recalled.
Corin Ramos also expressed admiration for her alma mater’s “history of student movements.”
“Students are not afraid to voice their opinions. In fact, it was encouraged. So many different viewpoints to learn from. Without fear or retaliation for thinking differently,” said the mass communications graduate.
"I vehemently disagree with Ann Coulter’s hateful rhetoric and others like her. But, I support her right to free speech just as much as I support those who speak out against reprehensible intolerance," she added.
Calleja, a future journalist, said he is open to hearing opposing views.
"I'd like to know where they are coming from, and possibly find common ground. That's the whole point of having free speech – to have a marketplace of ideas where people can choose to support the ones that speak to their values and reason or to come up with their own," he said.
He may still have the opportunity to hear Yiannopoulos, who has vowed to initiate "Free Speech Week" before the year ends in Berkeley. – Rappler.com
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Caring never gets old

 

Caring for elders never gets old, Philippine and California officials emphasized at a faith-oriented community education program and resource provider fair last weekend here.

“Respect for elders is a hallmark of our culture,” enunciated Philippine Consul General in San Francisco Henry Bensurto Jr.  “Wherever we are, no matter our station in life - even in this age of information technology where novelty wears off fast - what remains constant for us Filipinos is our instinct to care for our parents.”

The highest ranking representative of the Philippine government in Northern California and nine other states underscored the time-honored Filipino value in his keynote at “Our Family, Our Future,” May 11 at Grace United Methodist Church.  A gathering of community-based advocates and providers from public and private sectors, the event was the 11th yearly presentation focusing on older and dependent adults by ALLICE Alliance for Community Empowerment, a non-profit all-volunteer organization composed of Filipino Americans.  The team’s mission is to promote resource-sharing for healthier and safer homes.  

“The family is the heart of the community, and events like this bring agencies closer to those who need services the most,” special guest Phil Ting, California Assembly Member reinforced the significance of the gathering.  Since 2012, Ting has represented the 19th District spanning the west side of San Francisco and further south to Broadmoor, Colma, Daly City, and South San Francisco in San Mateo County. 


“I know there is a sense of uncertainty with all that’s going on in Washington D.C., but here in California, we will continue to provide services regardless of immigration documentation,”  the former executive director of Asian Law Caucus assured, offering a personal invitation to contact his office for assistance.

Ting’s district is home to a heavy concentration of Filipino Americans, including majority of the congregants of Grace United Methodist Church.  Rev. Alex Cambe, a Filipino with roots in the Ilocos Region in the Philippines is its pastor.

“We are honored to host this event for a noble cause – the complete wellness of the entire family,” Cambe said in his opening prayer.

Using theater to inspire reflection and build empathy, ALLICE dramatized unhealthy interaction followed by healthy alternatives with roles played by Kumares and Kumpares, as ALLICE members call themselves.


While the vignettes drew chuckles from the audience - such as a U.S.-based daughter reminding her newly arrived immigrant mother not to call her "Anak" and to throw away the "stinky dried fish" that the former  favored in childhood - these touched on behaviors often mistaken as harmless.  


In fact constant demeaning crushes the subject's self-esteem, making her feel inferior, and is a form of emotional abuse," defined Kumpare Dr. Jei Africa, a licensed psychologist who annotated the skit with Kumare Bettina Santos Yap, a marketing executive.

“Maybe because we see such interactions on TV or in the movies, or maybe we don’t realize that we are actually committing abuse, thinking such is always physical,” proposed Frances Dinglasan, general assignment reporter for KGO Channel 7 News, who co-emceed with Lloyd LaCuesta, retired KTVU Channel 2 News South Bay Bureau Chief.

“We hope to bring about healing and enlightenment at this presentation,” LaCuesta added, noting that the event was dedicated to departed Kumares Alice Bulos and Erlinda Galeon, longtime leaders passed away last year.

For 14 years ALLICE has been staging education presentations to address relationship matters free and open to the public.

“Our spring presentations focus on issues intersecting domestic violence that we highlight in our fall events,” said Jennifer Jimenez Wong, 2017 ALLICE president and a licensed marriage and family therapist.  “In homes where there is intimate partner violence – or violence between two people romantically involved with each other – chances are high there is abuse involving other members of the family including the elders, the subject of today’s event.  Hearing from our experts enables us to recognize healthy and unhealthy behaviors and make changes as needed.” 

At least 15 nonprofits consulted with attendees about their programs.  Kaiser Permanente Filipino Association provided free health screenings.  Seton Medical Center, Union Bank and Pilipino Bayanihan Resource Center sponsored the event with  San Mateo Behavioral Health & Recovery Services, Philippine News, Philippines Today, Positively Filipino, GMA News Online, Rappler.com, The Filipino Channel, Lucky Chances, Moonstar, Noah's Bagels, Chalet Ticino and Hapag Filipino among donor allies.

Founded in 2003, ALLICE members represent a cross-section of the FilAm community, a diverse group united to bed violent behaviors.  Allen Capalla, Santos Yap, Cecile Gregorio Ascalon, Cherie Querol Moreno, Edna Murray, Elsa Agasid, Africa, Jimenez Wong, Joanne del Rosario, Jose Antonio, Leonard Oakes, Malou Aclan, Nan Santiago, Nellie Hizon, Ofie Albrecht, Paulita Lasola Malay, Sarah Jane Ilumin, Teresa Guingona Ferrer and Father Mark Reburiano form the current team.

***

is executive director of ALLICE.  For more information, visit www.allicekumares.com.

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District 5 Comes Together

By Cherie M. Querol Moreno

Editor-at-Large

Daly City, CA - First-term Supervisor David Canepa returned to his home turf last week to a rousing reception at the debut event hosted by his new office on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors that he claimed last year in two successive landslides.

Billed as a Cultural and Resource Fair, "District 5 Together" March 18 at Jefferson High School marked Canepa's premiere toward fulfilling his campaign promise to give northernmost towns a strong voice and their representative's full attention. The community gathering of leaders, organizers, advocates, students and teachers, and residents was free and open to the public.

"Today is not about politics...but about volunteerism," Canepa said at the crowded school auditorium before inviting state Senators Jerry Hill (Dist. 13) and Scott Weiner (Dist. 11) and Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Kevin Mullin (Dist. 22) to join him onstage to affirm the diversity of the constituency and assure their support "especially in this administration.”

Arriving a half-hour after the event officially opened, Canepa waded through throngs, shaking hands and trading air kisses with his boosters including Filipino Americans: Daly City Personnel Commissioner Perla Ibarrientos, board chair of Pilipino Bayanihan Resource Center; SM County Commission on Aging Member Aurea Cruz, and former San Francisco Commission on Aging Member Puchi Carreon di Ricco.

Daly City Mayor Glenn Sylvester and wife Nida, Vice Mayor Juslin Manalo, and Council Member Ray Buenaventura followed suit, whiffing the damp but aromatic-of-barbecue air as the "Jeff" marching band kept attendees on their toes.

Colma Vice Mayor Raye Gonzales, in her self-described "low-key" style, made the rounds of resource providers led by a strong contingent of County programs and contractors of the San Mateo County Health System.

County and town agency representatives distributed informational tools and the usual fair goodies to appreciative visitors.

Carmen Babasa supervised the staff of Health Plan of San Mateo between perusing brochures offered by Nicole Fernandez of Elder and Dependent Protection Team. EDAPT, which detects and monitors incidences, found that financial abuse is the most prevalent form of abuse against seniors in San Mateo with Daly City often accounting for highest number of reports.

“This is an ideal way to let newcomers know about resources they would not know about otherwise,” said Healthy Adults Response Team director Chito Patricio, who rewarded visitors with health bars while responding to their questions.

The weather went typically overcast following sunswept days, but the nimbus clouds did not deter revelers of every generation and heritage to partake of the goodwill and complimentary food offered by neighborhood businesses.

“I'm glad I came," Mercy Alcantara said while reviewing Medicare booklets at the HICAP (Health Insurance & Advocacy Program) of San Mateo table. “Knowing what resources are available is important to self-sufficiency and independence.”

“This event is wonderful for families,” said Daly City resident Carol Escobar, who attended with her husband and their daughter.

Behind the fair was Canepa chief of staff Tony Bayudan, a FilAm who grew up in Daly City, studied business at San Jose State, met his current boss some six years ago and ultimately engineered their drive to County Center.
Bayudan heads a four-person crew with former San Mateo Daily Journal reporter Bill Silverfarb, registered nurse and Burlingame Council Member Ann Keighran, and social media maven Mike Richardson as legislative aides.

Canepa won the race for District 5 representation against then-fellow Council Member Mike Guingona, the first Filipino American elected in Daly City.

District 5 covers Brisbane, Colma, Daly City, parts of San Bruno, South San Francisco, unincorporated Broadmoor and Brisbane.

Last year, voters passed Measure K to extend one-half retail sales and use tax to “ensure county quality of life” by continuing support for initiatives such as District 5 renovations for Daly City Youth Health Center, literacy programs for children, a new library in Brisbane and gun control aimed at educating women against purchasing firearms for those legally barred from possession.

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