Opinion & Community

Award-Winning Documentaries Set to Be Screened at Cinematografo International Film Festival









Searing documentaries that depict the stories of individuals and the society we live in. Watch these powerful chronicles of the human condition, created by filmmakers from the U.S. and from the Philippines, at the inaugural Cinematografo International Film Festival from November 9-12 at the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8 Theaters in San Francisco.



Sunshine de Leon, 2016, 52 mins

November 11, Saturday 5:15PM

Buy tickets here.

Starting with her migration to the Philippines in the 1930s, American centenarian Jessie Lichauco shares her vivid memories of her marriage with a Filipino lawyer and her insights on the cruelty of war, survival and strength of the human spirit. 



Ramona Diaz, 2012, 105 mins

November 10, Friday 8:30PM

Buy tickets here.

A testimony to YouTube’s cyberpower to discover musical talents, this documentary details how Arnel Pineda got fished out of obscurity and landed a gig that changed the course of his life – being the front man of the iconic American band Journey.



Ramona Diaz, 2003, 103 mins


Buy tickets here

“The people need a role model. They need a star, especially in the dark of the night.” Ramona Diaz’s debut film illustrates the life of Imelda Marcos as she ascends from being an impoverished child in the province to becoming the richest and most celebrated First Lady of the country.



Michael Collins and Marty Syjuco, 95 mins


Buy tickets here.

This documentary centers on the ensuing trial of Paco Larranaga, along with six other young men, accused of a murder case of two Filipino-Chinese girls. Filmmakers Michael Collins and Marty Syjuco probe the hostile delivery of justice and obstruction of truth brought about by an overly bureaucratic leadership, media sensationalism and racial profiling.



Ramona Diaz, 2017, 95 mins


Buy tickets here

For her fifth feature length documentary, director Ramona Diaz reinforces her niche in the industry as a driving force in documentary cinema. The film takes us into an almost claustrophobic yet intimate experience inside one of the world’s busiest maternity wards, Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila.



S. Leo Chiang and Johnny Symons, 2016, 75 mins


Buy tickets here.

Co-directed by S. Leo Chiang and Johnny Symons, the film captures a significant event in the history of Philippine politics when the world’s first and only LGBT political party called Ladlad, attempts to elect a transgender woman to the Philippine Congress.



Baby Ruth Villanueva, 2016, 95 mins


Buy tickets here.

Director Baby Ruth Villarama follows the lives of five Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong as they juggle between the harsh realities of their working situation and the sense of empowerment they get from joining beauty pageants on Sundays. 


The first annual Cinematografo International Film Festival and Industry Forum is a film exhibition series designed to elevate and showcase emerging Filipino and Filipino-American talent to the global stage.

Cinematografo International Film Festival aims to foster, nurture, and inspire filmmakers from the Filipino diaspora, giving them full support in any way possible.

Editorial: Will it ever end?

Another week, another mass killing.
This may be an exaggeration but it certainly feels like the awful truth. An unbearable truth.
This week proved yet again that the buying and owning of guns in this country has become too lax. Otherwise, how else could a deranged ex-Air Force man who had previously physically abused his wife and child, and escaped from a mental health facility, have had access to a firearm legally?
David Patrick Kelley joins the ever growing list of mentally unsound men who have gone on shooting sprees targeting innocent civilians. In his case, Kelley entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and shot to death 26 parishioners, including an unborn child. Another 10 remain in critical condition as of this writing.
This makes the massacre the deadliest in modern day Texas history.
Kelley committed the heinous act just like other mass murderers of recent years – with an assault rifle.
Everything about his history says that he should never have been allowed to own a gun, much less an assault rifle. Yet he owned the weapon that he used to murder the churchgoers legally.
With every mass murder that occurs in this country, calls to regulate gun ownership rise. The NRA, meanwhile, comes up with a generic statement that expresses sadness at the event, while insisting that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
This is a faulty argument, of course. It is highly improbable for Kelley to have killed so many people if he had been armed with an ordinary handgun, instead of an assault rifle that was designed solely for use by the military and the police.
We have never said that there should be an absolute ban on guns. Civilians should be allowed to own guns for sport, hunting, or self-defense. But there is no justification for any civilian to own an automatic or semi-automatic assault rifle.
What makes the Texas shooting so tragic is that it occurred in a peaceful, small town where violent incidents are rare. The tragedy resulted in four percent of the town’s population being killed.
President Trump refused to call the killing an act of terrorism, merely the actions of a sick mind. That does not change the obvious fact that Kelley should not have even owned a firearm in the first place.
When, we must ask, will our lawmakers see that there is now an urgent need for regulating the sale and ownership of guns? Specifically, why can’t the sale of assault rifles be controlled?
At best, if the NRA lobby proves too powerful, then maybe the sale and ownership of assault rifles can be limited to men and women who are proven to be of sound mind. Otherwise, we may as well allow even the most criminally insane or deranged person to enter any gun shop and buy the deadliest weapon he can afford.
Time and again we are reminded that there are too many firearms in the hands of mentally unstable people. Unless something is done about this, the unending series of mass murders with the use of assault rifles will never end.

‘It’s time to ask ourselves . . .’

More than a hundred years ago Dr. Jose P. Rizal in his first novel, the Noli Me Tangere, wrote about the social cancer that afflicted Philippine society. Dr. Rizal traced and attributed this social cancer that has shackled and impeded the progress of the Philippines from centuries of Spanish colonial rule.
He also vowed to expose this illness to the Filipino people through his works and writings and to do his best to find a “cure” for it. Dr. Rizal said:
“Desiring your well-being, which is our own, and searching for the best cure, I will do with you as the ancients of old did with their afflicted: expose them on the steps of the temple so that each one who would come to invoke the Divine, would propose a cure for them.”

Determination and conviction can be clearly traced in Dr. Rizal’s words. He vowed to faithfully explain and reproduce the conditions of oppression in his country the best he could. In 1886, he wrote the following in Europe: “I will lift part of the shroud that conceals your illness, sacrificing to the truth everything, even my own self-respect, for, as your son, I also suffer in your defects and failings.”
Noli Me Tangere was followed by a second novel, the “El Filibutersimo.” In the El Filibusterismo, again we saw some lines and words that still resonate and touch our condition as a people up to this time---
“Our ills we owe to ourselves alone, so let us blame no one.”

“With Spain or without Spain they would always be the same, and perhaps worse! Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.”

It’s sad that Dr. Rizal is long gone because we need more leaders like him who are not only willing to commit to sacrifice--- but who are also willing to think and make a principled stand for the Philippines’ best interest. In the Philippines, even the level of discourse about the state of affairs is at an all-time low as we speak. A cuss there, swearing here, a personal attack online is what we now call and refer to as a discourse. I wonder how this could be “meaningful.”
It’s good that some institutions and leaders are making and taking a principled stand against the EJKs and the way we Filipinos behave these days. Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president Socrates Villegas said the following during the “Forgive Us, and Heal Our Land” prayer rally recently:
“Bayan ng Diyos, bumalik na tayo sa Panginoon. Naligaw na tayo ng landas at pinili natin ang kadiliman kaysa liwanag. Bakit tayo pumapalakpak sa patayan? Pinili natin ang karahasan kaysa kapayapaan. Pinili natin ang magsinungaling kaysa katotohanan. Pinili natin ang pagtawanan ang malaswa sa halip na iwasto. Pinili nating manahimik kaysa makisangkot. Sa maling akalang ito na ang huling baraha, nasubukan na natin lahat ng uri ng pamumuno. . . kumapit na tayo sa patalim. Ang dating bayan ng mga bayani ay naging bayang walang pakiramdam at walang pakialam. Magsisi ang manhid.”

The bishop reminds us that society should not kill its own people because there is a costly retribution to such act. A “kill-kill-kill” philosophy is also tyrannical and is akin to the years when the Philippines was a colony of foreign powers or when it was under martial law. It sets us back to the painful past when institutions were destroyed or non-existent and when “only a few people” had the voice and the say about who lives and who dies. Remember the days when neighbors were forced to turn against their own neighbors to save themselves?
It’s time to ask ourselves why we applaud when people are killed; why we chose violence over peaceful and civilized solutions; and why we laugh and clap our hands when we hear obscene and oppressive words against others.
“Desiring your well-being, which is our own, and searching for the best cure” as Dr. Rizal said more than a hundred years ago is again relevant to the challenges that Filipinos face today. We are challenged to raise our consciousness to what is happening around so that genuine healing can begin.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.


From St James Catholic Church of Fremont

St James Catholic Church of Fremont, California recently held a community church based fund raising for the renovation of the church headed by their Parish Pastor.  Those who graced the occasion are (L-R) Daly City Planning Commissioner Ray Satorre; Fil-Am actress, Rebecca Quintana and Tessie Ricafort, co-chairman of the event at Fremont.


Our Unfinished Life Stories

And they shall call him Emmanuel, which means, God is with us—Matthew 1:23 
Do you sense an unfinished story between the way things are and the way they should be in your own life?  Do you feel that a crucial page has been suddenly and unfairly ripped away from your story?  Even if we finish another chapter, our life stories will still go unfinished.
The story of an unfinished life rings true of the struggle we face daily.  It puts its finger upon the emotional tug-of-war I am engaged in.  Yes, there is hope, but its reality is seen on the far horizon.  Hope’s coming promise slowly unfolds with each passing day. 
I often sense this unfinished story most with the people I love.  How I want to empower them to be all that God has made them to be.  But the truth is, I too am a broken human being living in a broken world, ministering— as best as I can—within my broken circumstances.  I need to learn to let go and trust that God will finish their stories as well as mine.
Why?  Because God also sees our unfinished lives and the way they should be.  He actively chose to be the solution, by sending Jesus into the world, not just to fix our lives, but to be with us, to give us a hopeful future, and to live in and through us by the power of his Spirit. 
Being made aware of our unfinished stories, we can celebrate life with so much hope.  Why do I say this?  As we experience the unending struggle, we can better understand just how great the gift of God is by being present to transform us—right there in the midst of our messy relationships.     



McCafé seasonal favorites return to McDonald’s

OAK BROOK, Ill. – It’s beginning to look like the holiday season with the return of the most festive beverages from McCafé: Peppermint Mocha and Peppermint Hot Chocolate. These popular, seasonal specialty beverages are available in participating U.S. restaurants nationwide starting November 1 for a limited time.

McCafé Peppermint Mocha: Made with espresso beans that are sustainably sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms and served with steamed U.S.-sourced whole or nonfat milk, and peppermint chocolate syrup. The drink is garnished with a whipped topping, which has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and a delicious chocolate drizzle.

McCafé Peppermint Hot Chocolate: Freshly brewed and silky smooth with a hint of mint chocolaty goodness and served with a whipped topping, which has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives along with a delicious chocolate drizzle.

McDonald’s has also added a splash of holiday cheer to its new McCafé cups. This year’s seasonal hot cups are red and feature glistening stars touting “Wonder in Every Sip”– meant to inspire the joy of the holiday season. The seasonal hot cups are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and available beginning November 6 through the holiday season or while supplies last. By 2020, McDonald’s is committed to sourcing 100 percent of its coffee around the world from sustainable sources and 100 percent of its fiber-based packaging from certified sustainable or recycled sources.

“These festive McCafé beverages deliver enticing flavors that are holiday favorites,” said Elina Veksler, senior director of McCafé Menu Innovation. “For many, nothing comes before coffee – even during the holidays, which is why our Peppermint Mocha is made with café-quality espresso made from 100 percent Arabica beans. Our customers are sure to enjoy our delicious Peppermint Mocha and our other seasonal favorite, Peppermint Hot Chocolate.”

For a limited time at participating restaurants, McDonald’s will be offering any small McCafé specialty beverage, including Peppermint Mocha and Peppermint Hot Chocolate, for $2.

In September, McDonald’s elevated the McCafé experience and introduced new café-quality espresso beverages to its McCafé lineup – Caramel Macchiato, Cappuccino and Americano – all part of the brand’s greater journey of raising the bar on everything. New coffee makers were also introduced to nearly all of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants earlier this year, helping prepare the espresso-based beverages with a consistent, flavorful taste.

For those looking to stay cozy inside, customers can get their favorite McCafé drinks delivered to them with McDelivery on UberEATS.

To determine which McDonald's locations in your area are participating in restaurant delivery, simply download the UberEATS app, input your delivery address, and you will see a list of participating McDonald's restaurants in your area (if McDelivery on UberEATS is available in your area). Changing the delivery address will also change the available McDonald's restaurants shown in the UberEATS app.


Duterte sets aside P500M for treatment, housing of injured soldiers

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has set aside P500 million for wounded and disabled soldiers, including those who fought in Marawi City.
Speaking to Philippine Marines on Tuesday, November 7, Duterte said he already ordered the release of the funds to build homes for the soldiers and pay for their treatment and recuperation.
"The other day, I told Defense Secretary Lorenzana that I’d be releasing P500 million for the wounded and disabled soldiers, just for them," he said.
The President ordered the National Housing Authority to build houses near cities where soldiers can stay as they recover from their injuries or adjust to their disability.
"I’ll build something like a convalescence village near urban cities, where the soldiers can have a better access to the hospitals and of course the training for the prosthesis," said Duterte.
Assuring soldiers "there is life after Marawi," the President cited the case of South African sprint runner Oscar Pistorius who competed in the Olympics despite having no legs below the knee.
Pistrorius has been dubbed "Blade Runner" since he uses blade-like carbon-fiber prosthetics to run. Pistorius also gained infamy for killing his girlfriend in 2013.
"I guarantee them that for those who are really wanting to stand again, the use of prosthesis and titanium – the best example is the Blade Runner who killed his lover, but he was a very good runner using titanium," said Duterte.
The President also repeated his promise to raise the salaries of law enforcers.
He vowed that by January, the military, police, and members of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and Bureau of Fire Protection would see an "almost double" increase in their salaries.
The speech did not end without Duterte again vowing his total support for the military and police.
"I love my soldiers and I love my police and you can be very sure that I am there when the moment needs me. 'Andiyan ako sa tabi ninyo (I am there, by your side)," said the Commander-in-Chief.
During an event earlier that day, Duterte also conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu, rank of Kampilan upon 5 soldiers wounded in Marawi. – Rappler.com


The world-at-large as viewed by Chinese President Xi Jinping

Who considers itself as the world's other superpower?
Not one that prepared lengthily for that role, of course.
Yes, concrete signals have been coming from Chinese President Xi Jinping who has been heard by world observers who had the same, apt descriptions akin to aggrandizement to the maximum, entailed by articulating new leaders on whom much has been decried.
Verbiage akin to petty aggrandizement to the maximum on the new POTUS has been exposed by China's press in articulating their own position as a world power, zeroing in on their myriad beliefs about their sound economy.
Chinese leaders have not hesitated in having signaled that China" sees itself, to get to a more precise description: "sees itself as the other super power, positioning itself as an alternative, if not rival to the United States."
In addition, the Chinese president was heard to declare: "China can do so, says as much about America's decline as it does China's rise."
Other news reports zeroing in on President Jinping have indicated very strongly: "In part China's new stance toward the world, and the way it has been received, are a result of the continued strength of the Chinese economy; the growing political confidence of the party under its chief leader."
Yet, voices that contradict say: "changes are occurring against the backdrop of the total collapse of political and moral authority of the United States in today's world."
Historians and economists sensibly indicate: "China has aggressively sought to improve its image in the world." To make this point in its full strength, facts and figures were ascribed to China's having spent "billions on foreign aid, promising trade, investment, and opening Confucius Institutes to promote Chinese culture."
In the face of China's aggressive spending, U.S. economic analysts have been very vocal. The aforesaid experts insist that their country must "look now to the rest of the world."
How the U.S. is politically paralyzed seems to be a given, as exemplified by noted Republicans against their Republican chief-of- state.
Citing its major inability: how America is 'unable to make major decisions against the background of a ballooning debt; its investments in education; infrastructure; science and technology, are but a few of the pressing needs that confront the 50 states of the Union.
Politics, a vast many an unpleasant talk, has been largely to blame, according to former U.S. leaders of note.
Never in the nation's recent history has politics emerged as a primary branch of reality TV, almost day-in-to-day-out insults, degradations, colored by bias and racial overtones.
International statements coming from principal nations all over, admit how America's historical leadership role in the globe has been rudely pushed away by what has been known over the recent past eleven months or so, as the most narrow and cramped ideology meant to completely debunk and erase all that took place in the past eight years under former President Obama.
Truth to tell, foreign policy has been rendered to the back burner as a wholly partisan ridiculous game, foremost of which can be told: the White House's breaking agreements, shifting course and reversing policy in its entirety just for the sake of scoring what might not even be considered "political points" across the length and breadth of the U.S. nation itself.
The East Asia Summit seems evident to appear on the scene at what has been described by neutral observers as: "the very end of a long trip to Asia that features a robust agenda, designed to be a full demonstration of Washington's commitment to the region" it can no longer ignore the way it's been going on since Trump took over on January 20, 2017.
All astute political analysts who have chosen to stick to principle strongly aver to the summit as the sole opportunity for the current president of the U.S, to sit down and collectively engage his Asia-Pacific counterparts on the main political and security issues of today's pressing needs belonging to the world.
Stronger voices have lent their say: "Trump will actually be in the Philippines, where the summit is being held, as it gets underway.
"Departing as it begins can only be viewed in no other way as a snub and will undermine whatever else Trump may have achieved in the previous 11 days."
The Summit will reveal what it's supposed to be its intent: to be on the front burner and to stay on the same burner for the sake of universal peace as economies are anticipated to globalize and the centralization of national governments will be at the vanguard of international credibility.


Medical Journal updates

Today, about 1.25 billion people smoke cigarettes, and one billion deaths from tobacco-related illness are expected this century, ten times more compared to the toll in the 20th century. The deadly habit accounts for one in five (or, 1.4 million)  cancer deaths all over the world annually. Each year, around the world, 10.9 million tobacco-related cancer of the lungs are diagnosed. This does not even include other pulmonary, gynecological and cardiovascular disabilities and death tolls as a consequence of smoking.

"We know with cancer, if we take action now, we can save 2 million lives a year by 2020 and 6.5 million by 2040," said Dr. Judith Mackay, a World Health Organization senior policy adviser.

*   *   *

New studies have shown that even light activities in and around the house, like daily mundane endeavors of daily living (climbing stairs, cleaning the house, cooking, running after the kids, garden works, etc) help prolong life. Especially the ones that make you perspire. Of course, daily regimented exercises will do a lot more. But simple household chores have a positive health effect on longevity as well.

“Elderly couch potatoes were much more likely to die within about six years than those whose lives included regular activity no more strenuous than washing dishes, vacuuming, gardening and climbing stairs”, according to the study of adults aged 72 to 80 published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

*   *   *

Macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in old age can be prevented by eating a diet rich in fish, according to two new studies in the US Archives of Ophthalmology. Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) abundant in fish are already proven to protect the heart and the brain, to reduce the risk of developing heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer’s.

“A study of 681 elderly American men showed that those who ate fish twice a week had a 36 percent lower risk of macular degeneration…In the other study, which followed 2,335 Australian men and women over five years, people who ate fish just once a week reduced their risk by 40 percent,” according to the report. The American study also revealed that smokers double their risk of developing macular degeneration and blindness. Those who do not like fish may take good quality fish oil capsules. Check with your physician if this is right for you.

*  *  *

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that “probiotic yogurt --Lactobacillus- and Bifidobacterium-containing yogurt (AB-yogurt) -- enhances the effectiveness of quadruple therapy for eradicating residual Helicobacter pylori (stomach) infection.” This bug is the cause of gastric ulcers, which used to be treated with surgery, but since the discovery that gastric ulcer is caused by Helicobacter pylori, it is now a medical disease, treated with pills. A big boon to better quality evidence-based patient care.

*   *   *

Exercise-induced muscle damage, which happens to most athletes, can be minimized to a great extent by drinking tart cherry juice, reports the British Journal of Sports Medicine. For those who exercise at home, drinking tart cherry juice will certainly not hurt. This is, indeed, a welcome new to those who  exercise. 

*   *   *

Soft drinks, which I call liquid candies, are toxic to the body, especially to children. All of them -- cola or uncola, regular or diet, caffeinated of decaffeinated -- increase the risk for metabolic diseases. The harm to our body does not manifest immediately; it takes years to develop. By then, the damages would have been done. Prevention is obviously the key.

*   *   *

To prevent cardiovascular illnesses, metabolic diseases and cancer, diet alone is not enough. Daily exercise, abstinence from tobacco and moderation in alcohol intake are a must. The American Heart Association has revised its former decades-old recommendation that stressed mainly healthy diet as the regimen to prevent these illnesses. 

"The previous recommendations mainly stressed the importance of a healthy diet; the new (revised) ones broaden that concept to include the importance of a healthy lifestyle pattern”, lead author and chair of the AHA's Nutrition Committee Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, from Tufts University in Boston, Mass, said in a news release. "The two go together — they should be inseparable."

A simple walk around the block (or brisk-walking if tolerated) for about 30 minutes does wonders to our cardiovascular, pulmonary, and immune systems, warding off not only cardiovascular and metabolic diseases but also deadly cancers.

Warning: Processed foods increase the risk for cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Sample of these are hot dogs, sausages and other deli meats, and other food items that have gone though processing. Fresh is better and healthier than processed food items.

The AHA 2006 detailed recommendations are as follows:

  • Consume an overall healthy diet. 
  • To maintain a healthy body weight, balance calories consumed with calories burned. 
  • Increase awareness of calorie content of foods for portions typically consumed and of daily caloric requirements. 
  • Set a goal of at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. 
  • Consume a diet rich in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables (not fruit juices), especially those that are deeply colored (spinach, carrots, peaches, and berries). 
  • Prepare fruits and vegetables, minimizing saturated fats from red meats and transfats.
  • Choose nuts and high-fiber foods. 
  • Consume 2 servings of fish, especially those relatively high in omega-3 fatty-acids (eg, salmon, trout, and herring) at least twice weekly. 
  • Children and pregnant women should follow Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for avoiding mercury-contaminated fish (eg, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish). 
  • Limit intake of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol by choosing lean meats, vegetable alternatives, and fat-free (skim) and low-fat (1% fat) dairy products and minimize intake of partially hydrogenated fats. 
  • Minimize intake of beverages and foods with added sugars. 
  • To consume NO more than 2300 mg of sodium daily, choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Middle-aged and older adults, African Americans, and those with hypertension should consume no more than 1500 mg of sodium daily. 
  • Limit alcohol intake to not more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men (1 drink = 12 oz of beer, 4 oz of wine, 1.5 oz of 80-proof distilled spirits, or 1 oz of 100-proof spirits). 
  • When eating out, be aware of portion size; select vegetables and fruits; and avoid foods prepared with added saturated or trans fat, salt, and sugar. Eating fruits first before the meal is better than eating them after the meal for physiologic reason.

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