Chief Correspondent, Southern California

Wish for the New Year: ‘Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men’ Comfort for the bereaved, prayers for the sick

A cloud of gloom has descended over two Filipino-American organizations as ‘devastating’ and ‘shocking’ news reached them about the untimely passing of their members’ loved ones. Coincidentally, they died a few hours apart, on the same day, two days before Christmas.
“It is with great sadness,” emailed Philippine Disaster Relief Organization president Archerie Calunod, “that I inform you that the son of our PeDRO Director Maricar Cabasag passed away this morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with them for comfort and support in their time of grief and sorrow.” Maricar’s son Louvic Cabrera died on December 23. No details have been received as of press time.
Newly-inducted Kalayaan Incorporated auditor Mario Barrameda suffered a cardiac arrest on Dec. 23, at approximately 2:55 p.m. at the Northridge Hospital Medical Center.
Mario was recently elected as the KI auditor for Fiscal Year 2017/2018. “It is very unfortunate,” stated KI secretary Violet Mislang, “that he did not get to serve much of his term and enjoy the pride of being an officer, but we certainly will cherish and remember his warm personality and friendliness while attending our many meetings and functions, which validated his dedication to Kalayaan, as well as his great love for our very own Ex-Officio Techie (Emperador).”
“I brought Mario at Northridge Hospital Medical Center last Monday,” Techie texted,” and he was confined for pneumonia and asthmatic bronchitis… he’s struggling to breathe normal.” According to past KI president Zeny Sabocor, who felt ‘devastated’ when she conveyed the ‘shocking’ news to KI members, Techie and Mario still shared lunch at his room. “They were told that his hemoglobin count was low,” Zeny added, “so he was supposed to be given transfusion. But before it could be done, he was hit with this fatal heart attack.”
Due to the holidays and sudden deaths of both Louvic and Mario, there are no specifics about services and funeral arrangement at press time.
An e-mail amplified sad news received – that newly-elected KI president Susan Dilkes has been hospitalized since Dec. 18, after undergoing substantial lung surgery. Her KI family wishes her, and all those suffering from illness, speedy recovery.

Mario was seen having fun during the Kalayaan Incorporated’s Christmas party on Dec. 3, in Anaheim, dancing away, feeling the music pulse from Frank, Willie, and Ralph, of the Midnight Motion Band. Mario was also excited as he waited, along with other officers, to be inducted by Deputy Consul General Ambrosio Brian F. Enciso III (“You can call me Ambo.”)
He graduated in 2001, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the Ateneo de Manila University. The following year, he worked as a staff officer with the Presidential Management Staff of the Office of the President of the Philippines.
DCG Ambo came to Los Angeles on Oct. 26, 2016. Prior to his L.A. assignment, he was the Director, Division for Southeast Asia 1, Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs. From 2008 to 2014, he was the Consul at the Philippine Consulate General in Xiamen, China, among other assignments. He completed Chinese Language Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, People’s Republic of China.
Other KI board directors who’ll serve for two years are: Arnold Bejasa, Benel Se Liban, Rene Galano, and Carmelita Paule.
Kalayaan Incorporated, a 501 (c)(3) organization, is tasked to organize and implement the annual Philippine Independence Day celebration in Southern California while raising funds to finance such nationalistic celebrations and KI’s charitable projects. The Philippine Consulate General supports Kalayaan Incorporated. One of KI’s goals is to foster unity and camaraderie among Filipino American leaders and residents coming from various organizations in Southern California.
Save the date: 120th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence on June 9, 2018, at the Universal Hilton Hotel, 555 Universal Hollywood Dr., Universal City, CA 91608.


Simbang Gabi A tradition loved and revered by Filipinos around the world

LOS ANGELES, CA. – The Filipino Ministry of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles invites everyone: families and organizations to join in the Archdiocesan Simbang Gabi liturgy, 6:30 p.m. on December 15, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Fr. Albert Avenido, moderator of the Filipino Ministry, the Leadership Council, and parish leaders from San Pedro Pastoral Region, headed by Georgina Uy, from St. Bernard Parish in Bellflower, will lead this year’s celebration. The main celebrant is the Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, with dozens of Filipino priests as concelebrants. Music will be provided by an inter-parish choir to be conducted by Robert Shroder.
This year’s theme, ‘Jesus, Light for our Shepherds, with Mary, Lead Us All to Holiness’ (Hesus, Tanglaw Para sa Aming Mga Pastol, Kasama ni Maria, Akayin Mo Kaming Lahat Sa Kabanalan), reflects renewal of our relationship with Christ, making an effort for all of us to be the light of the world.
“As shepherds of Christ,” explained Ray Factoran, a parishioner from St. Linus Parish, “we ask our Blessed Mother to help us become closer to God. Our committee met and brainstormed this year’s Simbang Gabi theme. Everyone was thoughtful and all reflected how best to express worship on the first evening of the nine-day novena dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
“This year’s celebration,” Georgina expressed,” will be meaningful to all since its intent is to evangelize through our cultural tradition. Sharing this tradition with the young is wonderful for it helps them understand the true meaning of Christmas in the Philippines. We want them to experience the spirituality and holiness of this event especially at this Advent Season,” she added.
In many parts of the world, Simbang Gabi has been a practice that propagates Filipino spirituality during Advent, a unique preparation for the coming of Jesus. Christmas in the Philippines is the world’s longest Christmas season, with carols heard as early as September and lasting until Epiphany. Traditionally, Pasko in the homeland is ushered by the Novena of Masses which begins on December 16 and culminates on Dec. 24, with the much anticipated Misa de Gallo or Midnight Mass which is immediately followed by the Noche Buena, the family Christmas feast.


 Throwback 2016: parade of FilAm organizations, dozens of FilAm priests concelebrating and backdrop of colorful parols.

“Simbang Gabi traces its roots in Mexico,” narrates Jo Solomonson. “As the early Spanish settlers and missionaries traveled to the New World across the Pacific, they brought with them the religious practice of ‘Aguinaldo Masses.’ The faithful made every effort for nine days to attend Mass in the early morning as preparation to receive from God the greatest gift or ‘aguinaldo’ of Christmas: ‘Jesus, the Savior of the World.’ The ritual is also an expression of the deep devotion of the Filipinos to Mary, Mother of God. The people join and accompany her as she awaits the birth of her Son. In her honor, votive Masses are solemnized on those nine days.”
Parols of different parishes exalting Simbang Gabi will be processed at the pre-liturgy and will be blessed by Archbishop Gomez before they are returned to the parishes to officially begin Simbang Gabi in the entire Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The procession will also include parols of religious FilAm organizations, civic and professional organizations, and government offices, usually led by the Philippine Consulate General.
For more information, please contact Jo Solomonson (626) 627-6672; Gina Uy, Coordinator of the San Pedro Region Simbang Gabi (562) 480-6058 or E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Visit https://w.w.w.facebook.com/ filipinoministry.losangeles


FilAms of the Millennium WH and PHII bestow honors

LOS ANGELES – It’s a triple celebration on October 28, for the Philippine Heritage Institute International, a private foundation established in 1989, by the late Naomi Palma-Armada: Filipino American History Month, PHII’s 28 anniversary, and Tribute 2017, annual recognition and dinner to be held this year at the Pasadena Hilton with Consul General Adelio Angelito S. Cruz as keynote speaker.
It’s the 19th White House Millennium Council Award to Outstanding Filipino American Nurses and the 11th President’s Award: ‘Profiles in Service, Pillars of Community.’ PHII had also established the Founder’s Award and before Naomi’s passing, only two organizations have been honored: Philippine News and Dr. Jose P. Rizal Monument Movement.
PHII’s annual recognition event is in answer to the White House Millennium Council Initiative from then Pres. Bill Clinton, who came with his wife Hillary to Los Angeles in January 1998. They created the Council in August 1997, with the theme “Honor the Past, Imagine the Future’ and traveled across the United States to promote its objectives – an agenda with 21 ‘Ways to Commemorate the Millennium.’
“Mrs. Clinton gave a speech, stirring and inspirational,” said the late Mrs. Armada. In 1999, PHII became a partner to the WHMC and selected agenda item ‘Millennium Recognition Awards’ to pay homage to outstanding individuals whose contributions have enhanced the quality of life in the community. Both awards to nurses and community leaders are the result of the partnership.
Awardees can only be nominated by PHII trustees or past awardees. Besides academic excellence and professional leadership, the selection committee also looks into the nominees’ volunteerism.
Outstanding nurse awardees are: Lilibeth Pipo Cruz, BSN, RN, Department Administrator, Kaiser Permanente, Los Angeles Medical Center; Mary Reyes-Gonzales, MSN, RN-BC, NMF, Associate Director, Cedars- Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; Maria Rosario D. Ocampo, BSN, RN, CNOR, Clinical Nurse III, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; Sasha Alexis Rarang, PhD, MSN, CCM, RN, Director of Nursing, CNI College in Orange; and Joan Romero, BSN, MSN, RN, Associate Director, Cedars- Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles.
Pillars of Community awardees are: Dolores ‘Loleng’ Baradas, Doctor of Dental Medicine, Author of Towering Faith of a Mother; Jesus ‘Jess’ Española, internationally-acclaimed animator and director, first Filipino to receive an Emmy for the TV series The Simpsons; Teodorica ‘Cheody’ Maglanoc Fortunato, president of the Filipino American Tarlac Association, election inspector for six terms for the Orange County Election Board; Susana de Guzman, current president, Shotokan Karate Academy Intl.- Los Angeles HQ, past president, Malasiquinians of America; Grand Master Conrad Manaois, U.S.A. Martial Arts Hall of Fame, Technical Director of MOTHER (Movement to Help End Rape & Other Child Abuses); Millie Recio Moncada, Governor, United Batanguenos of Southern California and LAUSD English as a Second Language instructor; and Lillibeth Espinosa Navarro, super heroine for the disabled, founder and executive director, Communities Actively Living Independently & Free.

PHII seeks to improve the quality of life affecting Filipino American communities through research, education and recognition with the youth as its main focus; broaden the general public’s knowledge and understanding about the culture of the Philippines; educate the general public and policy makers on the key issues of Filipino American communities geared towards their advancement and well-being; herald the accomplishments of FilAms and organizations that make significant contributions to the Filipino American experience; and recognize individuals as role models and coordinate outreach programs and special events to the effect.
The early focus of PHII, from 1989 to 1999, was to promote Philippine culture and bridge cultural gaps for more understanding through sponsorships of various FilAm events: Saturday summer classes on the National Language for grade school students and arts exhibits for Filipino artists at the Philippine Consulate; Rizal Day commemorations; fundraisers for Philippine float at the Rose Parade, chaired by Dr. Ludy A. Ongkeko, and Pearl S. Buck Foundation for Amerasians (for which Naomi received a nomination, but she couldn’t make the trip to Washington D.C., so she forfeited the award); media symposium with Father Reuter, SJ and past members of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines with PHL Post Martial Law as the theme; and many other advocacies.
Executive Director is Dr. Anna Lourdes Armada-Chickey; Josie E. De Jesus, president; and Arthur ‘Jojo’ Armada, vice president. Trustees serving as officers: Vangie So, secretary; Lily Lara, treasurer and Tessie Lightholder, assistant treasurer; and Eddie Ronquillo, auditor. Board of Trustees: Teresita A. Caisip, Victoria de Leon, Sarla & Jake Duller, Rene Galano, Willy Leano, Willie Manacsa, Pedro Ramirez, and Virginia B. Vivas. Advisers are: Dr. Ludy A. Ongkeko, Mon‘chito’ Mandap and Violeta O. Unabia. Photographers: Marcelo V. De Jesus, Jr. and Romy Lara.
PHII welcomes new trustees to be inducted on October 28: Amelia Armada-Carpio, Administrator/Director of Patient Care Services, Alpha Care Hospice, Inc.; Freya Cruz Nishimura, Events Senior Director, Asian American Professional Association, and Francisco C. Enverga, DDS, general and cosmetic dentist at his own clinic in Ontario, California.


The launching of a dream: St. Lorenzo Ruiz Catholic Church, a Diocesan Shrine

Walnut, CA – “As they celebrate the 26th anniversary of their parish,” announced Miramon Nuevo, programs coordinator at the St. Lorenzo Ruiz Catholic Church, the faith community here is inviting everyone in the Southland to come and celebrate as they launch yet another milestone in their continuing journey of ‘becoming and being church’ – the quest to become a Diocesan Shrine!”
“The launching to elevate our parish to a Diocesan Shrine,” added parishioner Romy Baylon, “will be on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 10:00 a.m., as part of our church’s Foundation Day, at 747 Meadowpass Rd., Walnut, CA 91789. The vibrant community of the St. Lorenzo Ruiz church is truly blessed many times over. In her first 20 years of becoming a parish, the community nestled in the San Gabriel Valley accomplished what many considered to be impossible: to build a permanent house of worship where the faithful from different backgrounds are welcomed. Yet, against all odds, the dream of building a magnificent church became a reality.” 
“The festivities will begin on Friday, Sept. 22, at 7:30 p.m.,” said Miramon, where food trucks and lots of music and dancing will solely be the order of the evening. On Sunday, Sept. 24, at 12:30 pm, shortly after the community will have sealed the Lifetime Benefactors Time Capsule, the parish will unveil the Good Shepherd statuary in honor of, and in gratitude to, those who, in the past and the present, are unabashed in offering their lives, talents, time and treasures for the church.”  
In a recent homily, Fr. Tony Astudillo shared his thoughts: “Twenty six years ago, we had a dream – that was to build a church. God granted us that dream. Then, 17 years later, we longed for a bigger, more permanent church that can accommodate a burgeoning population of parishioners and devotees who are coming from all over. Once again, God had blessed us to accomplish that dream despite the tough economic situation that saddled the entire nation at that time. This year, as part of our Parish Renewal Encounter program on the Life of Missionary Discipleship and Evangelization modeled after our Blessed Mother, we will be launching our quest to become a Diocesan Shrine dedicated to our patron and first Filipino Saint, Lorenzo Ruiz.
“The devotion to Saint Lorenzo Ruiz is fast gaining traction over the years not only among Filipinos but among other ethnicities as well,” continued Fr. Tony, “especially on those who have experiences with our patron saint whose works of miracle have been strongly felt in their lives. Are you burdened with something heavy that you no longer know how to come out of it? Ask Saint Lorenzo Ruiz to intercede for you.  
“As we celebrate our anniversary,” Father Tony ended his homily, “we ask everyone to come and join us as we raise our prayers and aspirations to heaven, that our Almighty Father would grant our wish, our new dream, to become a Diocesan Shrine… that whosoever enters our doors, kneels on our pews, or celebrates the Eucharist with us, may incessantly encounter Christ... and that their ‘earth’ shall ceaselessly meet ‘heaven.’”
 Fr. Tony, who was a priest at the Diocese of Abra, became the head pastor for St. Lorenzo Ruiz parish in Walnut in 2005. It was under his tenure that the new permanent church building was built, dedicated and blessed. He ‘earnestly and vigorously did a capital campaign at that time which reached $8.6 million.’ 
“As the youngest Catholic church in the San Gabriel Valley region,” noted Miramon, “San Lorenzo Ruiz parishioners couldn’t believe that she would be designated as one of the pilgrim churches for the Door of Mercy last year – a privilege usually given to older churches of historical importance.  That event made her Silver Jubilee celebration even more significant, touching and memorable.” 
“San Lorenzo Ruiz church being declared the site of the Door of Mercy,” added Romy, “welcomed and embraced the faithful in Deanery 12 (parishes in the San Gabriel Valley) and beyond, where pilgrims ‘experienced the Mercy of the Father in its fullness.’  And so, once more, we ask the faithful to be a part of our historic moment, our journey of ‘becoming and being Church,’ and celebrate with us as we lift our prayers to bring our new dream to fruition of sharing our community to the entire Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”
For other information on this and other events of the parish, you may contact the Parish Office at  or Romy Baylon at ; and visit our website at www.saintlorenzo.org



‘Pray for us,’ implores Florida governor

LOS ANGELES – Senior Pastor Rev. Glenn Oyan of the Los Angeles Filipino Baptist Church is heeding the appeal from Florida Governor Rick Scott for prayers as Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida on Sunday, Sept. 10.
According to the National Weather Service, the first landfall occurred at 9 a.m. at Cudjoe Key (southwest of Miami), followed by a second landfall in Marco Island (southwest Florida), at 3:35 p.m., with damaging wind gust of 130 mph, accompanied by heavy rains and flooding. There could also be tornadoes, according to forecasters. The hurricane center warned that Irma is expected to “move near or over the west coast of the Florida Peninsula through Monday morning.”
Joey Omilla from Tampa, Fla., reported that they expect Hurricane Irma to hit Tampa, ‘between midnight and 3 a.m. Monday.’ Joey, a former Bayanihan dancer, hopes that the ‘storm stoppers’ they installed will protect their house. “To all our family and friends, who pray for us here in Florida, thank you. We need all the prayers we can get. Please continue to pray for us. Thank you and love you all!”
“Join us at our church to pray for our brothers and sisters,” Pastor Glenn invites the faithful, “if you are looking for a place to worship, join us on Sundays, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.” The church is located at 837 South Park View Street Los Angeles, CA 90057.
“We have been serving the Lord, first as a mission since 1971, and in 1975, as an organized church,” added Pastor Glenn. “Our Church is small, located in the heart of Los Angeles. Our members are mostly Filipinos but all ethnic groups are welcome to join us. We would like to embrace all people who love and want to serve the Lord Jesus and we will welcome you as part of our church’s personal family.” The church, a member of the Filipino Southern Baptist Missions, has given birth to new missions and churches, according to Pastor Glenn, in California cities such as Glendale, Carson, North Hollywood, Pasadena, Lancaster, Palmdale, Long Beach, Oxnard, Fullerton, and La Puente.
“As our church expanded, several pastors have been ordained and commissioned to new missions,” he stated. God has been good to us these last couple of years. We have dedicated babies to the Lord and baptized people who accepted the Lord Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. We are blessed that the men and women who led this Church exemplified strong moral and spiritual standards; standards that shaped our values, minds, spirits, and hearts. Our aim is to live and maintain the preaching and passion to the next generation.”
The Los Angeles Baptist Church distributes food at Rosewood Gardens, 504 N. Berendo St., Los Angeles, CA 90004, on the first Friday of the month at 3:30 p.m. “It’s absolutely free,” announced Pastor Glenn, “it is as easy as meeting the eligible income limits. Only one food ticket per individual/family will be accepted, and picking up food for someone else is not allowed. Sign-ups begin at 1:30 p.m., so please arrive early in order to sign in and receive a food ticket.” The Baptist Church thanks the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, United States Department of Agriculture, Feeding America, and Los Angeles Housing Partnership, celebrating its 28 years, for making the food distribution possible. For information, contact Pastor Glenn at
(213) 386-2585.


Trump rescinds DACA - Statement from Bishop Oscar Solis

Bishop joins end-of-DACA-protest


Salt Lake City, UTAH – Bishop Oscar Solis, installed 10th bishop here on March 7, has issued a statement on behalf of the Diocese of Salt Lake City regarding the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind DACA Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an administrative relief from deportation which protects eligible immigrant youth from deportation.
Past president Barack Obama created the program in June 2012, through an executive order. The average DACA recipient, according to a survey by the Center for American Progress and the University of California, San Diego, came to the United States at the age of six. Most of them are now in their 20s. They have no criminal record and 91 percent are employed. 
In February, President Donald Trump said he would treat the “incredible kids” who have been protected by DACA “with heart.” At the end of August, he made a statement at the Oval Office, “We love the Dreamers” and “We think the Dreamers are terrific.” On Tuesday, Sept. 5, he’s scheduled to make a statement putting an end to DACA – some 800,000 law-abiding, longtime residents of the United States could be in danger of deportation.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops early on Sept. 5, appealed for a spirit of hospitality, stating “Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” (Mark 9:37). “Today’s actions, stated Solis, represent a heartbreaking moment in our history that shows the absence of mercy and good will, and a short-sighted vision for the future.”daca protest
Bishop Solis, 63, from Nueva Ecija, is the first FilAm bishop ordained in the United States, and is the first FilAm and first Asian American to lead the diocese in Utah.  “The Catholic Diocese of Sal Lake City,” he said,” is saddened by the administration’s decision to abandon immigrant youth in our nation. We believe in the rule of law,” he added, “but we also have a moral obligation to protect the life and dignity of every human being, including youth brought to the United States in their parents’ hope of finding opportunity and safety for their children. The young people who qualified for the limited protections of DACA were innocent children with no intent to violate our laws. They are part of the fabric of our society and nation. Many have achieved their dreams of undergraduate and graduate degrees and serve as health care professionals, bankers, construction workers, plumbers, and members of our U.S. military.”
Since 2004, the Catholic Church in the U.S., including the Diocese of Salt Lake City, has been advocating for comprehensive immigration reform. “We renew our call to our Utah Congressional delegation,” continued Solis, “to support and protect migrants by, as a first step, providing youth with permanent legal status that cannot be lost through the arbitrary whims of politics.”
Bishop Solis asks our community to pray that our congressional leaders will be inspired by God’s wisdom, compassion, and call to welcome the stranger. “The Diocese has the honor of serving hundreds of DACA recipients through Catholic Community Services (CCS) and Holy Cross Ministries and we have witnessed firsthand their contributions to our economy, their academic achievements and their roles as leaders in our parishes and communities. CCS of Utah and Holy Cross Ministries continue to support DACA recipients and will be offering consultations and renewal appointments to the DACA community free of charge. For more information, you may call the Pastoral Center at .


FilAm cop in dire need of bone marrow transplant

LOS ANGELES – The Los AngelesPolice Relief and Assistance Foundation’s Blue Ribbon Trust Fund has requestedthe Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union here to open a donation account in supportof seven-year LAPD veteran Matthew Medina, 40.
Matthew, who is deployed in the Gang Unit of the Los Angeles PoliceDept. Harbor Division, visited his doctor in March, because of a rash and foundout he was suffering from a rare blood disorder known as aplastic anemia. He wastold his bone marrow had stopped working and a transplant is crucial for him tosurvive. In the meantime, blood transfusions keep Matthew alive, according toDr. Len Farol, a bone marrow transplant specialist at City of Hope NationalMedical Center in Duarte, CA.
Helping Matthew find amatch is the Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches, a nonprofit organization, whichfocuses on recruiting marrow donors and diversifying the ‘Be The Match Registry,’which is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, another nonprofitorganization dedicated to creating an opportunity for all patients to receivethe bone marrow they need. The Be The Match is the largest and most diversedonor registry in the world. Its partnership with international and cooperativeregistries provides doctors with access to nearly 27 million potential donorsand more than 680,000 cord blood units worldwide. It is the connection betweenpatients searching for a cure and life-saving bone marrow donors.
There is a higherpercentage of finding a match when patient and donor come from the same ethnicbackground so Matthew needs a donor who shares his Filipino heritage; but accordingto A3M, Filipinos make up only half percent of registered potential donors. Themajority of the 25 million registered donors nationwide are white. The search for a match continues.
Matthew and his wifeAngelee Jader Medina, who reside in Bellflower, CA, with their two daughters, are overwhelmed with all the support they are gettingthroughout Southern California. Matthew can’t attend all the bone marrow drivesthough because of his weakened immune system. Exposure to a common virus couldkill him.
An FB message fromMatthew posted in July (the latest) reads in part: “I just wanted to take thistime to give a brief update on my condition. What’s been approximately 4 monthssince diagnosis has felt like an eternity. Truth be told, the only reason I wasable to stay sane and positive throughout this entire ordeal was due to theoverwhelming support, prayers and love I received from everyone… To everyonewho has supported my family to make sure we were comfortable in this time ofneed, I will be eternally grateful. If I were to list everyone individually, Idon’t think the names would fit on this page, but nevertheless, you know whoyou are and I owe you a debt of gratitude. I’d also like to thank the LordJesus Christ because without him, none of this would have been possible… TheMatch4Matt campaign has been amazing, to say the least, thanks to the effortsof the A3M team, volunteers and hosts… Thiscampaign is probably one of the busiest they’ve had to take on in a long time…two people have found their match and have gone through their marrowtransplant. Even if they never find a match for me, I can say that thiscampaign has been a success since it has already helped save the lives of atleast two people (so far)…
“As for me, thetreatments that I went through since being diagnosed are showing positiveresults so far. My blood cell counts have gradually increased and we are hopingthat the upward trend continues towards remission. I am not out of the woodsyet and there is still a long road to recovery ahead, but the proverbial lightat the end of the tunnel is definitely getting brighter. At the very least, Iam hoping it helps me to recover to live a ‘normal’ life again….”
Credit Union members may donate online through PATROL Online Banking, or by phone using CODE 3 phone system at 877-MY-LAPFCU (877-695-2732). Enter account number 2080491 S4.11 and LOS (the first three letters of the account name).
Donors may also mail in their donation, payable to “Blue Ribbon Trust for Matthew Medina,” and send it to: Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union, Attn: Blue Ribbon Matthew Medina, P.O. Box 10188, Van Nuys, CA 91410.
Please join the registry today and you could save someone’s life. There are ongoing campaigns in search of a match. Find out more about the drives in Matthew’s Match4Matt Facebook page. Register at join.bethematch.org/Match4Matt. If you know of any events where A3M can hold a bone marrow drive, please contact Chris Chen via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; call toll free: (888) A3M-HOPE (236-4673) or (213) 625-2802.


Pampanga native creates her own future against all odds

Rosemed, CA – “Queng leon queng tigre ecu tatacut, queca pa?” That’s how Mercy Tolentino Steenwyk, a petite native from Lubao, Pampanga, got everyone’s attention when she spoke before a group of young professionals on July 24, at the Southern California Edison employee lounge here during the Asian American Professional Association’s ‘Create Your Own Future’ Speaker Session #3. Pampanga warriors’ motto means ‘I fear neither lions nor tigers, why should I be afraid of you?’
Mercy shared her lessons in courage, after facing numerous rejections; perseverance, after doors closed on her and nay-sayers confronted her; and lessons in humility. She shared five critical strategies to create your own future: (1) Know who you are, your deep driving desire, your passion, and purpose. (2) Focus on the big picture, which holds everything together. (3) Never stop learning and embrace a growth mindset that helps you to meet each challenge and keep going. (4) Surround yourself with inspiring people. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And (5) Have faith in yourself and believe in your purpose.
Born in Lubao, ‘a sleepy town in the Philippines,’ Mercy earned her degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines. She wrote art reviews for the local paper before traveling throughout South East Asia, and came to the United States as a young professional. Though her career in art journalism morphed into PR and, later, an entrepreneurial venture, “my love for the arts remains,” she noted.
She says she draws inspiration from her home country. “The bright and vivid colors along with tribal aesthetics reference not only my Filipino heritage but the history of my culture as a whole.” Her work intertwines portraits with bold abstract shapes to explore the notion of time and the human condition. Drawn to tell the story of those who may not be allowed to speak for themselves, Mercy’s work looks to give a voice to those without one.Mercy and family



Mercy Tolentino Steenwyk, 3rd from left, with AAPA Program Director Lia Andika and Program Manager Freya Nishimura; daughter Emily Steenwyk, sister Daisy Walworth and AAPA president Francis Cheung; back row: Steve Walworth and Howard Steenwyk. Photo by Lydia V. Solis.


In the early 1990’s Mercy was determined to create her own future against very low probability: she’s not an engineer; she’s not a lawyer; and she doesn’t even have a business degree. She had no capital and had a young family to support; and her friends discouraged her from starting a business, advising her: “You’re a minority woman in a male-dominated industry.”
But Mercy believed in herself. “I had the passion and purpose, and faith,” she asserted, “and I welcomed the challenge, remained resilient and had a growth mindset.” She went on to build one of the leading expert and consulting service companies in the nation.
Mercy Tolentino Steenwyk is the founder, president and CEO of ForensisGroup. The adjective forensic, according to vocabulary.com, comes from the Latin word forensis, which means ‘in open court’ or ‘public.’ “I founded the California expert resource group in 1991, with just ten engineers,” she narrated. “Today, the firm boasts over 3,000 consultants and experts in hundreds of technical and scientific disciplines.” ForensisGroup’s mission, Mercy expounded, is “to bring the best minds together to uncover the truth when something has gone wrong and then, ultimately improving people’s lives and making the world a safer and better place.” She has grown her nationwide expert and consulting firm into a multi-million dollar business, earning close to $10 million in sales in 2016. Such success has been noticed by private and public firms across the nation, including 98 of the top 100 law firms in Los Angeles, having all contacted ForensisGroup for its particular brand of quality, service, and expertise.
ForensisGroup has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Women-Owned Businesses and Top Minority-Owned Businesses in Los Angeles for the past several years. While the company has made Los Angeles its home for more than two decades, its services now stretch far beyond the city and it serves over 15,000 clients in 20,000 litigation cases nationwide.
But it’s not all business for Mercy, who was one of the top Five Finalists in Women Making a Difference in Los Angeles. The success of ForensisGroup has provided opportunities with which Mercy and her company help the community. She serves on the board of directors for the American Red Cross in the San Gabriel Pomona Valley Chapter and is a Community Boardmember of Youth Business Alliance. “My mission,” she declared, “is to educate as many children as possible and to challenge business leaders to drive their companies with a higher purpose. The daughter of educators from Davao, who believes that the best gift for children is education, runs the ForensisGroup Give Back Program which through Empowerment through Education provides scholarships to 50 students and “we have graduated teachers, engineers, and vocational people through the years.” The program also provides meals to malnourished children two times a week in the Philippines and supports other causes. “We’re partners with the American Red Cross,” she added, “and we raised close to $30,000 for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan by matching various donations.
“She inspires me everyday,” says daughter Emily, who is a teacher. “She’s a loving mother and I trust her as my mentor. She’s always pushing me to give back for the greater good. More than ever, I’m inspired to create my own future.”

The Asian American Professional Association (AAPA) is a non-profit organization committed to addressing the diverse talent challenge in corporate America. AAPA focuses on inspiring, developing and promoting Asian American professionals and minorities to maximize their leadership potential. For over 17 years, according to Freya Cruz-Nishimura, more than 75 passionate AAPA mentors have delivered the award- winning AAPA mentoring program to over 1100 mentees. AAPA’s programs include one-on-one mentoring and effective leadership and management training through speaker sessions, workshops, and special networking events.



By Lydia V. Solis

 West Covina, CA – “It’s the warmest welcome I've received,” announced L.A.’s Consul General Adelio Angelito S. Cruz on July 25, at the City Hall courtyard here.

Effectively planned by Atty. Abraham Limand former West Covina Mayor, Council member James Toma, the Filipino AmericanChamber of Commerce Tri-County (Los Angeles, Riverside and San BernardinoCounties) coordinated the tribute for Congen Cruz. Lim is an FACC Tri-County board member and also the legal counsel; president is Merwynn Montenegro.
The visit of Congen Cruz to West Covina coincided with the commemoration of the 17th anniversary of ManilaWay, a street on Azusa Ave., north of Amar Rd., which connects the east and west malls populated by predominantly Filipino-American businesses.
In 1998, the Filipino American Chamber ofCommerce San Gabriel Valley founded by financial adviser Linda S. Cruz in the mid-90s, petitioned the city to name a street Manila Way. On July 11, 2000, the City Council approved a resolution naming Manila Way and the traffic sign was put up three months later. It made Santos very happy although she was actually pushing then to have the Amar/Azusa corridor designated as Little Manila. She’s optimistic though thatLittle Manila will still happen.
Prior to the evening reception, Congen Cruz was invited to meet with City officials and the community at Seafood CitySupermarket for photo ops in front of the store where the bust of Dr. Jose P.Rizal is displayed. The original plan was to have the photo ops at the ManilaWay site, but safety concerns dictated that another site be chosen. The commemorative bust of the Philippine national hero and martyr was installed onJune 6, 1998, in commemoration of the ‘First Centennial of the Declaration ofPhilippine Independence on June 12, 1898, in Kawit, Cavite.’ The patriotic gesture was made possible through the combined efforts and resources of thePhilippine Centennial Commission, the Philippine Consulate General, LosAngeles, and Seafood City Supermarket, in cooperation with the FilAm Chamber ofCommerce San Gabriel Valley, the FilAm West Covina community, Chow King and RedRibbon.
City officials, including Assembly member Blanca Rubio (48th District) and her sister Susan Rubio, Baldwin Park Mayor Pro Tem, and a few friends kept Congen Cruz company during the tour of the northeast mall, visiting various businesses.He was seen being measured for a barong at Nostalgia, the Barong TagalogShoppe and having refreshments, according to Atty. Lim, at the Victory EliteAuto Connect and the Philippine National Bank hosted by Rick Ramos on behalf ofFACC Tri County Chamber treasurer Ricky Villacisneros, L.A.’s PNB RemittanceManager.
Consul General Adel Cruz couldn’t have asked for a warmer reception at the City Hall courtyard where more than 100people were waiting for him. After an invocation by Chamber secretary Ed Cansino, president Merwynn Montenegro introduced Councilman Toma who in turn introducedMayor Pro Tem Spence. The latter acknowledged the presence of Council members Lloyd Johnson and Tony Wu, as well as the other dignitaries present: WC City Manager Chris Freeland and Assistant City Manager/Community Services Director Nikole Resciani; WC Commissioner Phil Kaufman, Los Angeles City Colleges District TrusteeMike Eng, Monica Farias, President/CEO, Greater West Covina Business Association; and long-missed community advocate, Marissa Castro Salvati, Public Affairs Region Manager, SouthernCalifornia Edison. Also in attendance were former PH DOT acting director Manny Ilagan and his wife Meg; former Walnut Mayor Tony Cartagena, and a big delegation from the West Covina Masonic Lodge, among many others.
Former PH DOT Director Annie Cuevas-Lim introduced Congen Cruz, who expressed deep appreciation to the City of WestCovina, its officials and the community. After the city’s presentation of a certificate to officially welcome Congen Cruz, another presentation, on a lighter side, was done by Raoul Pascual, member of FACC Tri-County. It was a caricature which drew a comment from the Consul General, “I look younger! You can be sure that this is the first thing people will see when they enter the consulate.”
Closing remarks were delivered by FACCTC board member Abe Pagtama and the program closed with a cultural presentation directed by yet another Chamber board member, Jo Solomonson. The Vessel of Mary Liturgical and Cultural DanceGroup, founded in 2010, consists of parishioners from Holy Name of Mary Parish in San Dimas and San Lorenzo Ruiz in Walnut, and former students from St.Joseph School in Pomona. “Its purpose,” said Solomonson, “is to support and provide parish and civic organizations at their events and encourage young people to use their talents positively. VOM has performed at Religious EdCongress at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, several Sinulog events at many churches, Simbang Gabi and many others,” she said.
While watching performers dance Cariñosa, Binislakan (Pangasinan) and Subli (Batangas) guests savored the appetizing spread, prepared by FACCTC board members Wilma Orendain of Epicure Catering & FoodDistribution and her sister Myrna Ramos.


$20,000 reward for FilAm's wife's murder

By Lydia V. Solis
Chief Correspondent, Southern California

MONTEREY PARK, CA – Homicide Capt. Christopher Bergner announced a $20,000 reward on July 11, during an emotional press conference at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept. here to influence the public to come forward with information about a suspect who shot and killed motel employee Michelle Chen, 45, during a robbery at the Ambassador Inn in the 2700 block of West Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, CA. The crime happened before 11 p.m., half hour before Michelle's shift ended on June 2. She had lived in Alhambra for 16 years and was married to Armando Escandor for 25. They have two children: 21-year-old Armando Jr. and Analisa, 12.
“Homicide bureau investigators are working diligently to solve the murder of Michelle Chen,” Capt. Bergner stated. “She was a steadfast member of the Alhambra community, a treasured wife and beloved mother of two. We ask the public for their assistance to help bring the suspect to justice, for her sake and to offer some sense of peace to her family.”IMAG1070
Lt. Joe Mendoza explained the details of the crime. “On the night of the murder, Miss Chen, who was affectionately known as Michelle, was working the night shift at an Alhambra motel where she had worked for the past six years. The suspect entered the lobby and pointed a handgun on Michelle. He demanded money, reached over the counter and shot her as she stood behind the counter. Michelle was fatally wounded.” Lt. Mendoza added that “she was a wife and mother, who enjoyed cooking, attending church, and spending time with her family.”
The masked suspect, described as a male adult, standing between 5 feet 6 inches and 6 feet tall with medium build, fled the location on foot while Michelle lay on the floor dying, shot in the abdomen, and later pronounced dead at the scene. Nothing was taken, according to Lt. Mendoza. The gunman was reportedly wearing a dark hooded sweater and a dark-colored glove.
When asked to speak before the media, Armando Escandor tearfully uttered, “All I want is justice for my loving wife…” but he was overcome with emotion and couldn’t continue. “I want my son to talk about it.”
Armando Jr. narrated that his parents met in 1991, in Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands, and got married in 1994. He was born in 1995.
When asked why he loves his mother, Junior expressed: “Because she was my perfect mother; positivity in her life was infectious. She was always known as a very loving person, caring and empathetic, and never failed to leave a lasting impression on any person she had met including guests at her hotel. She would go out of her way even if it was not within her work description. We’re going to miss our mother because she never stopped smiling. Please help us catch the man. All I want to tell this man though is: Why did you have to go too far, so far as to take an amazing woman from this world and from the lives of our family?” His sister Analisa added: “I would like justice for my mother because I barely got any time to spend with her so I want justice for my mom.”
Also present during the press conference was Assistant Chief Elliot Kase from the Alhambra Police Department. “Alhambra City Leaders, the Alhambra Police Department, and our community,” he announced, “are saddened by this unprovoked act of violence against a defenseless victim. The City of Alhambra has committed a $10,000 reward for the identification, arrest, and prosecution of the suspect. We are confident that justice will ultimately prevail and bring some level of closure to the victim’s family, friends and loved ones.”
To incentivize witnesses to step forward, the City of Alhambra Mayor David Mejia, presented a $10,000 reward offer, for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Michelle Chen. In an act of humanitarianism and concern for the family, a $10,000 reward was also offered by Escandor’s employer, Primetime Shuttle.
A chilling video surveillance of the incident captured footage of the suspect as he was committing the robbery, confronting Michelle, asking “Do you want to die?” then shooting her and making his escape. The incident lasted only about 45 seconds, according to Lt. Mendoza. Detectives are seeking to identify the suspect in the video footage and gave media members video discs as well as pictures of the victim.
If anyone has information about the fatal shooting of Michelle Chen, please call Homicide Bureau Detectives Gary Sloan or Brandt House at (323) 890-5500; or anonymously at (800) 222-8477; or online at http://lacrimestoppers.org.father and son

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