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JULY 17, 2021  HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE  1

JULY 17, 2021

WHAT’S UP, ATTORNEY?

PERRYSCOPE

NEWS FEATURE

Right to Question Accuser Saying Marriage is Fake

Duterte Faces ICC investigation

FilAm Sienna Aczon Debuts First Solo Show, “Do You Speak?”

CANDID PERSPECTIVES

Branson’s Trip? Nothing Like My Father’s Journey from Ilocos to America


2 HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE JULY 17, 2021

EDITORIAL

Biden and Dems Must Deliver on Their Promise of College Student Debt Forgiveness

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t’s fair to say that Joe Biden is President today because a majority of the 166 million Millennials and Gen Z population voted for him overwhelmingly. With the exception of only five states, the youth and young adult votes went to Biden by large margins. Among Black young adults, the pro-Biden vote was as high as 87%. The Center for Information and Research on Civic and Learning Engagement at Tufts University showed the 18-29 age bracket of voters came out in force at 56% in 2020, compare that to the 28% of young vote in 2018. And high among Millennials and Gen Z priorities is higher education. According to Pew Research Center, higher education is one of the top issues Gen Z cares about. When compared to older peer groups, members of Gen Z are the least likely to drop out of high school and the most likely to go to college. Specifically in 2020, the promise of college student loan forgiveness was a huge motivation factor for young voters to go to the polls. College students with average student loan debts of $30,000, and considerably higher for graduate students, felt with the student debt being so astronomical right now, politicians are now ready and serious about doing something. What did Biden promise? Biden campaigned on forgiving all undergraduate tuition-related federal student loan debt for borrowers from public colleges and universities earning up to $125,000 per year, and from private Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions. That was one promise. The other promise was the cancellation of $10,000 in student debt per person. As of right now, Biden and Democrats have yet to deliver on either one of those promises. Placing college student debt forgiveness aside, but not off the table, is understandable for now considering that Biden’s only major legislative (Congress-approved) accomplishment since getting elected was COVID relief. There are arguably more pressing issues that also have been put on the backburner from healthcare to climate change. In Spring this year, Biden removed student loan forgiveness from his proposed blue print budget to Congress. While Biden says he would rather student federal loan debt forgiveness be taken up by Congress, he is serious about making good on his promise. Biden has instructed the Department of Education (DOE) and Justice Department to look into canceling federal student debt by executive order. So if Republicans plan to block any student forgiveness bill in Congress, Biden is willing to do at least a partial debt cancellation by executive order should the DOE and Justice Department’s findings show such cancellation is within scope of his executive powers. Legal experts already say this is possible through the Higher Education Act that provides the president authority to “compromise, waive, or release” a borrower’s student loan liability. Political analysts say if Biden will move on the $10,000 debt forgiveness, more than likely it will come late this year or sometime before next year’s midterm.

Reforming College Education The $10,000 debt forgiveness is a good start should it come (continue on page 3)

FROM THE PUBLISHER

T

he exorbitant cost of education is fast undermining the belief as Horace Mann coined in the 19th Century, that education is the “great equalizer of the conditions of men.” How can it be when millions of college students are saddled in often crippling debt upon graduation and higher education increasingly becomes unaffordable to many seeking vertical mobility. For our cover story this issue, associate editor Edwin Quinabo gives a comprehensive overview of college student federal loan forgiveness that was a major promise President Joe Biden and Democrats made to secure Millennials, Gen Z and their parents votes. Currently there are two possible actions in the work – universal federal student loan debt cancellation via Congress or partial debt forgiveness by way of executive action. The executive action of either $50,000 or $10,000 debt forgiveness appears to be the most realistic possibility at the current moment. The cover story also goes over existing loan forgiveness programs students and parents might not be aware of, the scope of loan forgiveness should it get enacted, and actions already taken by the Biden administration and Congress, including making any loan forgiveness (existing or future) tax-free until Dec. 31, 2025. Some members in the Filipino community give us their reasons why federal student debt forgiveness should be supported. But the most pressing situation regarding federal student loans is calls to extend the COVID-19 Student Loan Relief which comes to an end Sept. 30, 2021. An extension would postpone further federal student loan payments, keep interest rates at 0 %, and place on hold collection on federal student loans in default. Surveys found this pause has been critical to keeping afloat student loan holders during the pandemic and something that is premature to resume. Also this issue, we have an evocative article by HFC columnist Emil Guillmero, “Branson’s Trip? Nothing like My Father’s Journey from Ilocos to America,” a critique of the much glorified Branson space journey compared to the often underappreciated immigrant experience. It’s a fascinating juxtaposition. HFC editorial assistant Jim Bea Sampaga contributes a news feature on Hawaii’s very own Sienna Aczon who recently debuted her first solo film “Do You Speak?” at 59E59 Theaters’ East to Edinburgh Goes Virtual Film Festival in New York. It’s entertaining and speaks to much of what this newspaper is about, having pride in our culture, our people, and who we are. Please support this FilAm artist. In HFC news, read about the Keiki Food Support Program that could benefit your child. In international news, HFC columnist Perry Diaz writes about the International Criminal Court (ICC), an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal, scrutiny into Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s alleged crimes against humanity and extrajudicial killings in his anti-drug campaign. HFC columnist Elpidio Estioko writes about the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The general outlook is that COVID-19 is a problem of the past, nothing to worry about. We are not there yet. But it could be soon if we reach the vaccination level health experts say would stop the virus from spreading. Estioko’s headline for his article is succinctly on point: “Be Part of the Solution, Submit to Vaccination.” We hope you enjoy the many informative and interesting articles in this edition of the HFC. Remember to visit our website. Until the next issue, warmest Aloha and Mabuhay!

Publisher & Executive Editor Charlie Y. Sonido, M.D.

Publisher & Managing Editor

Chona A. Montesines-Sonido

Associate Editors

Edwin QuinaboDennis Galolo

Contributing Editor

Belinda Aquino, Ph.D.

Design

Junggoi Peralta

Photography Tim Llena

Administrative Assistant Lilia Capalad Shalimar Pagulayan

Editorial Assistant Jim Bea Sampaga

Columnists

Carlota Hufana Ader Elpidio R. Estioko Perry Diaz Emil Guillermo Melissa Martin, Ph.D. Seneca Moraleda-Puguan J.P. Orias Pacita Saludes Reuben S. Seguritan, Esq. Charlie Sonido, M.D. Emmanuel S. Tipon, Esq.

Contributing Writers

Clement Bautista Edna Bautista, Ed.D. Teresita Bernales, Ed.D. Sheryll Bonilla, Esq. Rose Churma Serafin Colmenares Jr., Ph.D. Linda Dela Cruz Carolyn Weygan-Hildebrand Amelia Jacang, M.D. Caroline Julian Raymond Ll. Liongson, Ph.D. Federico Magdalena, Ph.D. Matthew Mettias Maita Milallos Paul Melvin Palalay, M.D. Renelaine Bontol-Pfister Seneca Moraleda-Puguan Mark Lester Ranchez Jay Valdez, Psy.D. Glenn Wakai Amado Yoro

Philippine Correspondent: Greg Garcia

Neighbor Island Correspondents: Big Island (Hilo and Kona) Grace LarsonDitas Udani Kauai Millicent Wellington Maui Christine Sabado Big Island Distributors Grace LarsonDitas Udani Kauai Distributors Amylou Aguinaldo Nestor Aguinaldo Maui Distributors

Cecille PirosRey Piros Molokai Distributor Maria Watanabe Oahu Distributors Yoshimasa Kaneko Jonathan Pagulayan

Advertising / Marketing Director Chona A. Montesines-Sonido

Account Executives Carlota Hufana Ader JP Orias


JULY 17, 2021  HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE  3

EDITORIAL

You Might Not Think It; But A Rise In Diverse Populations Could Finally Lead to Racial Harmony in the US

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he 2020 Census has yet to be released, but newly released Census Bureau estimates compiled annually using a different methodology with information on housing and other demographic components reveal major changes between July 2010 and July 2020. What have they found? Since 2016, the nation’s white population dropped in size. In contrast, gains have been made in people of color from 2016 to 2020. Furthermore, as the white population ages, this trend is expected to continue where racial and ethnic diversity will be most common and the dominant feature of the US.

By the numbers The white population between 2016-2020 went down by more than 1 million. You see the loss became more significant by each year from this time period: 129,000; 252,000; 290,000; and 482,000. This is the first decade in US history that posted a decline in the nation’s white population. The new estimates show that between 2010 and 2020, the white share of the under-18

child population would have dropped from 53.7% to 49.6% On the flipside, nonwhite race and ethnic groups increased each year of the decade between 2010 to 2020. Latino or Hispanic Americans led all groups, with annual gains at or approaching 1 million a year. Asian Americans added between 300,000 to over 500,000 to their population each year, followed by Black Americans, persons identifying as two or more races, and American Indians and Alaska Natives. A large part of the shift in demographics is also a result of racial blending and the rise of mixed races where Americans identify with multiple races, which according to how Census data is categorized, automatically puts them in a nonwhite category. But the fallacy in this area is that many of these groups identity themselves mentally as being both white and non-white; and not necessarily completely nonwhite as the classification has them. Stats on intermarrying: Nearly three in 10 Asian, one in four Latino, and one in five Black newlyweds are married to a member of a different ethnic or racial group. More than three-quarters of these

(EDITORIAL:Biden....from page 2)

to fruition. Other Democrats believe the amount should be higher. But even if a higher amount is agreed upon, there is still so much more to be done. The cost of a college education is becoming increasingly out of reach for poor and middle-class Americans. This comes as the gap between the haves and have-nots widen, a disparity (inequality) at its highest in over 50 years. And education is key to vertical mobility, opportunity, and closing the inequality gap.

Debt-Free College Act What’s needed is visionary and bold reform. Hawaii’s Senator Brian Schatz has one

ambitious plan. Sen. Schatz reintroduced the “Debt-Free College Act” earlier this year that would enable college students to go debt free if passed. The bill would set up a state-federal partnership to help students graduate from college without worrying about student loan debt. Schatz’s bill takes the full cost of college into account, besides tuition, to include living expenses, meal plans, and books. “One of the distinctions between our bill and other bills is that we recognize that it’s not just tuition that puts people into debt. Tuition is roughly 40% of the total cost of attending college. It’s also books and software, and the

Why the optimism? Because racial blending ultito be proud of and harmoni- mately means our families are ous over – that our differences becoming multi-racial. This are what make us unique and mixing means we will have strong as independent smaller first-hand experiences of havcommunities and as one large ing an Asian, Latino, Black, White or other mixed family multicultural community. This openness and cele- member to learn from and unbratory expression of diversity derstand. Exposure to diversity has a lot to do with intermar- is the antidote to bigotry. This is why there should rying and the emergence of a be confidence of a brighter fularge mixed-race generation. This could be the future ture for our country. We just outlook for our nation as racial have to get through this transiunions are with a white partner. blending becomes more com- tion period as soon as possible. Forty percent of Americans mon and racial ethnic groups’ There is similar precewho say they are white also numbers rise. dence to this transition. Histowill claim a minority racial or rians point to about a 100 years But this is one course. ethnic identity. One in every The other course could be ago when some Nordic Amernine babies born in the U.S. where we are today where we icans said they were committoday will be raised in a mixed have racial polarization, ten- ting “race suicide” by letting minority-and-white family, sion and fear. The politics of in and intermarrying with the and this group is steadily grow- Trumpism is about exploiting millions of Eastern and Southing. These children have kin division between white and ern Europeans coming into networks—including grand- non-white. This divisive pol- our country. They called the parents, aunts and uncles, and itics preys on the idea of one inter-breeding as a form of decousins—that include both side winning and one side los- stroying national identity. white people and minorities. Today, there is no discord ing. The anxiety of the tradi(based on race alone) among tionally dominant white AmerImpact ica losing their control is based white European Americans. So there is hope. Rising So what do these changes on a winner-loser scenario. in demographics portend for But if anything, our cur- diversity is not something for the future of our nation polit- rent situation is really a tran- Americans to fear. Politicians ically, socially and culturally? sition period. We don’t know or community leaders preyThe optimistic outlook how long this transition will ing on those fears should be can be seen in our own com- last. But the final outcome ignored and just looked upon munities in Hawaii. It could most likely will look more like as fear-mongers. It might not be greater acceptance of multi- our true melting pot in Hawaii look like it at this moment, but culturalism and diversity. Not which is one of respect for di- inevitably Martin Luther King Jr’s vision of a racially harmojust acceptance, but something versity. nious America is our future. Just look to Hawaii as an exability to eat and pay your and states’ anemic treasury ample. rent along the way,” said Sen. could be reasons why. But the idea of debt-free college that Schatz. Schatz first introduced includes all aspects of colthis bill in 2018. At the time, lege debt besides tuition is a he also said, “we ought to unique policy idea that could cover the full cost of college be included in the overall for people who can’t afford future discussion of making it before we cover tuition for college education more acpeople who can.” cessible to a wider population The bill would be volun- of Americans. tary between states that sign President Biden must live on with the federal govern- up to his promise and provide ment. The estimated price at the very least some federal in 2018 was $80.1 billion for student loan debt forgiveness. the first year of federal-state Not doing so, would be a mapartnership and $95.4 billion jor political mistake not just to meet the goal of debt-free for him, but the Democratic college for all students. party. Millions of Americans There hasn’t been much (students and parents) and serious talk on Schatz’s am- our Filipino community are bitious bill at the Hill at the watching closely how this ismoment. Federal prioritizing sue plays out.


4 HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE JULY 17, 2021

COVER STORY

Federal Student Debt Cancellation Still A Possibility By Edwin Quinabo

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ver 44 million college graduates are saddled in student debt ranging from an average of $30,000 to as high as over $200,000 for professionals like medical students. Depending on a borrower’s plan for repayment, a $200,000 loan could take about 20-25 years to pay off. At some point, does the rising cost of education become too steep a burden for even average-income families to take on? This conundrum – widespread and beleaguering of a plum electorate – is an attractive political talking point for Democrats who promised student loan forgiveness. But almost two years into President Joe Biden’s administration, delivery on that promise has failed to materialize. Meanwhile the nation’s total student loan debt is at $1.7 trillion, and by 2022, it will be a staggering $2 trillion. With an average bill of $400 a month dedicated to student loans, new graduates entering a soft post COVID employment market are finding it harder to pay their bills, save Mason Aquino, Honolulu, a graduate from a private university in Oahu, is one of many Filipinos hoping for federal student loan forgiveness. His current student loan balance is $35,000; about 40% of it, around $14,000 is loaned by the federal government. He says he pays $400 a month that will run through 10 years. “I fully support federal college loan forgiveness because it is a huge step towards fixing our education system. It will not only help the current generation with their loan payments but also the future generations to come. It’s the government’s job to support its people. Student loan forgiveness would be such a huge help to millions of graduates in the country. I understand why some people would be against this, but at the same time, that’s just being selfishness right there,” said Aquino.

for their future, launch small businesses, and start families. For new graduates with low-paying jobs and high student debt (often those with majors outside of STEM), their debt load is crippling, and sometimes lead to loan default, bad credit, and years of financial hardship. 1 in 5 borrowers are in default. “There is a very long way to go to deliver on the promises for student loan borrowers, between what was promised and where we are,” said Seth Frotman, executive director of the Student Borrowers Protection Center (SBPC). “A lot of that is obviously because of how broken the system is and how many of the problems we’re facing are decades in the making.” While Biden has removed student debt cancellation from his budget blueprint released this Spring which focuses mostly on infrastructure, he said student loan forgiveness is not off the table. Political analysts say he hasn’t soured on the idea; but is prioritizing his platform and realistic of what can and cannot be done.

Like many other students, Aquino said he is currently paying his student loans with more loans, “it’s a never-ending loan cycle. And I know a lot of people are doing this too.” He’s hopeful that “at least there is talks of loan forgiveness.”

Possible Actions, Universal Student Loan Cancellation or Partial Student Loan Cancellation The current US Senate composition would make any Universal Student Loan Debt Cancellation a dead-on-arrival bill with Republicans against it. Universal student debt relief (excusing all federal loans, no matter the amount or area of study) is unlikely to pass both the House and the Senate, where Democrats have only small majorities. Universal Student Loan Debt Cancellation would take congressional action.

A more realistic goal but still poses an uphill challenge, political analysts say, is the passage of partial student loan forgiveness by way of executive order by the President. The amount and whether or not it is possible via executive order are being investigated. Democrat Progressives, now a formidable force within the party, are pushing for $50,000 federal student loan debt forgiveness; while Biden is leaning in favor of $10,000. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “Student loan debt is weighing down millions of families. We must do everything in our power to deliver real relief to the American people.” Schumer is in favor of forgiving $50,000. “I promise I’ll keep pushing the Biden administration to do it. With Joe Biden in the White House and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, the time is now to take action.”

There are three major actions in the work concerning federal student loans. Two are going to take a while to see progress if any: 1. wide-scale student federal loan cancellation via congressional action; and 2. partial student loan forgiveness via executive order; and a third (extending student loan relief brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic) could see action soon.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who also favors $50,000 debt relief said, “People need this. Our country needs this. And one of the best ways to create a 21st-century economy is by investing in people who have invested in their own education.”

student debt loans. President Biden asked the U.S. Department of Education to investigate if his executive authority gives him the ability to enact massive student loan forgiveness without congressional approval. He has also requested the Department of Education and the Justice Department craft a memo about the use of executive authority to cancel student loans.  Biden still would rather Congress to take up action on student loan forgiveness. Legal experts  have argued that the Higher Education Act provides the president with broad authority to “compromise, waive, or release” a borrower’s student loan liability.

$50,000 vs $10,000 debt forgiveness While forgiving $50,000 would not end the total federal student loan debt, it would eliminate an estimated 93% of borrowers debt and largely benefit middle to lower-wealth bracket families. A $10,000 blanket forgiveness would reduce outstanding federal student loan debt by $380 billion, but more than half of this relief would go toward families in the top 40 percent of income-earners, How would Federal Stuwhile the bottom 40 percent dent Loan Debt Forgiveness would receive just a quarter work? The exact details are not of the relief because lower-in(continue on page 5) come families take on larger


JULY 17, 2021  HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE  5

COVER STORY (Federal....from page 4)

clear yet for federal student loan forgiveness, but the amount determined by Biden or Congress, would apply only to loans held by the federal government, not private loans. There could be confusion since government loans are usually applied for at private banks. Some FFELP Loans and Perkins Loans aren’t owned by the federal government and would not be forgiven by the current one being worked on. But there could already be existing forgiveness on some Perkins Loans with regard to certain majors like education and whether teachers are teaching in certain school districts that serve lower-income communities. FFELP Loans were issued prior to 2010 mostly by banks and may be owned by financial institutions or third party investors. Perkins Loans are issued through colleges and universities. Student loan borrowers with FFELP Loans or Perkins Loans have largely been excluded from the student loan relief from the Cares Act, including paused student loan payments. Federal student loans such as Direct Loans, subsidized student loans and unsubsidized student loans are expected to be eligible. Experts say congressional action on student loans would be more encompassing than forgiveness by executive action due to possible legal limitations.

Loans that parents usually take out for their children’s education The two main types of loans parents take out to fund education are 1) private loans borrowed from a private lender and 2) Parent PLUS Loans offered through the federal government. There isn’t much discussion on private loans that parents take out so experts say they are unlikely to be included in any student loan cancellation. Parent PLUS Loans, which are owned by the federal government, likely would be included in federal loan

forgiveness. The latest student loan debt statistics show that there are approximately $100 billion Parent PLUS Loans outstanding. Parents who owe Parent PLUS Loans may be retired and therefore have limited income, even if they have higher net worth. Many of these retired parents have difficulty paying those loans. Tess Bernales, Kailua, said, “I am lucky that my son is fully assuming all his responsibility to pay off his student loan. This is not relinquishing our duty as parents but it is allowing your child to be a functioning independent and responsible individual. “I support complete forgiveness after a certain period of time.  I support the Federal college loan forgiveness program. Having student loan is part of the college experience and as well as the growing-up process into maturity with accountability and responsibility.  A student will have greater awareness to finish college if the student is paying for that education through loans and grants. However, a fresh graduate starting at the bottom of the salary scale and with loan repayment added to the expenses of living independently, finds a month to month existence untenable.  I feel that after 10 years he has already given enough time and money to repay his debt by following the specific loan forgiveness requirements.” Loreen Salvador-Takai, Moanalua, had two children who graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “Both my children specifically choose to attend school locally to save on their college education. My first child already paid off her student debt. My second one is getting caught up. “I have nieces and nephews who went to private universities on the mainland. Some have gone through graduate school and have major outstanding balances on their student loans. I have another niece who just started medical school. She just signed up for a loan of $250,000 to cover several years of her education. I don’t know the details, but I hope that loan is at least partly

federally owned. “I don’t think parents, especially before all these talks of federal loan forgiveness, would even pay attention to whether a loan is federally owned, part-federally owned or privately held. I think going forward, whether or not federal loan forgiveness is passed this time around, parents will be paying more attention and seek federally owned loans just in case the government does cancel federal student loan debt in the future. I know I would be conscious of this distinction if I had children entering or still in college,” said Salvador-Takai.

On privately held loans Since private loans are not expected to be included in the federal student loan forgiveness programs, loan experts are encouraging students and parents to look into possibly refinancing these type of loans with record low interest rates at this time. It’s possible to lower your interest rate, lower your monthly payment, and choose between a fixed or variable rate more suitable for your overall and current goals, student loan experts say. Existing loan forgiveness options Loan experts say there are already government programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) that can reduce or eliminate existing federal student loans after a certain amount of time. PSLF forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working fulltime for a qualifying employer. PSLF is available to government (public service workers) and qualifying nonprofit employees with federal student loans. Eligible borrowers can have their re-

“There is a very long way to go to deliver on the promises for student loan borrowers, between what was promised and where we are. A lot of that is obviously because of how broken the system is and how many of the problems we’re facing are decades in the making.” —Seth Frotman, Executive Director, Student Borrowers Protection Center (SBPC) maining loan balance  forgiven tax-free. They can have up to $17,500 in federal direct or Stafford loans forgiven. Critics of PSLF say this system is flawed and a great percentage of applicants are rejected. Biden also promised to reform PSLF, which is currently under changes. The new rules are expected to be in place by April 2022.

Extending COVID-19 Student Loan Relief While student debt cancellation via Congress or by executive order are being debated and worked on, the more immediate action of extending the relief provided by the CARES Act could come to an end soon. In one of his first moves as president, Biden, through executive order, extended loan forbearance for eight months. His executive order was a continuation of relief provided by the CARES Act passed in March 2020 that gave 42 million student loan borrowers a break from making payments and accruing interest during the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic relief included: no federal student loan payments due; interest rates on federal loans set to 0% temporarily; and no collection on federal student loans in default. The pandemic relief expires on Sept. 30, which means all payments must resume Oct. 1, 2021. Student Debt Crisis surveyed more than 23,000 borrowers across the U.S. between June 17 and June 22 and found 9 in 10 borrowers are not prepared to start paying off their loans again. The survey also found that the temporary pause in student loan collection has been critical to 75% of respondents’ financial well-being. Due to less money earned, respondents say 33% of their income will go toward paying off their debt if it goes into effect Oct. 1. The Congressional Budget Office recently predicted that the jobless rates for younger workers will be slower than the overall rate. The unemployment rate for those with an associate’s (continue on page 6)


6 HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE JULY 17, 2021

Rising Sea Levels By Sheryll Bonilla, Esq.

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y heart broke yesterday. I took my son out for a late afternoon drive along the North Shore, to enjoy the beautiful scenery on that ocean drive in the country. We’d done that drive many times this year, just to appreciate God’s gift to those of us lucky enough to live in Oahu. I always looked for my favorite beach so I could show him where I used to lie on the sand until I fell asleep for a warm afternoon nap, in the days before I became his mommy. Every ride, I didn’t see that beach and wondered if I was too focused on the pedestrians and drove by without noticing.

We stopped for a bathroom break and pulled into the parking lot, which had, thankfully, the most stalls I’d seen in one of these small beach park restrooms – seven, instead of the usual one or two. I walked to the sign hoping it would say what beach it was, but no name was on the blue marker. I told my son I wish I knew which beach this was. He answered, having heard all the people talking around him as he was photographing the sunset from the shore. “Sunset Beach”, he said. “Sunset Beach?” No, that can’t be, I shook my head. This can’t be Sunset Beach. Sunset Beach had been my go-to warm stretch of sand in my pre-kid days. The shore was much wider than the other beaches along the north portion of Kame-

OPINION

hameha Highway. It sloped from the road to the waterfront and formed a beautiful white crescent. That’s what I always looked for on those drives with my son – the huge white curve of sand. That’s what I kept not seeing, which left me asking, Where’s Sunset Beach? We drove on to Turtle Bay for a geocache hunt. While my son searched, I looked at the aerial geocache map of the North Shore. What I once loved and knew as Sunset Beach had become a narrow strip of sand, ordinary, not the super wide glistening crescent

descending into the ocean. That’s when my heart broke. I ran through my mind the episode weeks earlier about Malekahana. Let’s take photos from there, I told him. There’s a sandbar from the beach to the island and you can walk to the island on it. The sandbar comes right to the surface so that when you photograph, it looks like you’re walking on water. That’s such a cool shot. Camera in hand, we walked out to the beach from our car. Where is that sandbar? I kept asking, Where’s the close island? Is that the island? Are we in the right part of Malaekahana? We were, and that was the island. Before I had children, that island was as close as the length from my apartment to the end of the block – an easy walk on that sandbar, so short a distance that I wouldn’t be afraid of swimming to it.

Now that island was so far in the distance that you’d need a canoe to paddle to it. No sandbar, no cool shot of looking as if you were walking on the water. That’s not all. When I was little, I danced hula for the John Pilani Watkins troope. My mother drove me to the performances. The Sheraton Waikiki had a nice beach in front. You could walk from the hotel onto the Sheraton portion of Waikiki beach, so convenient for anyone visiting the hotel to enjoy the cool ocean in front, on sand left cool by the shadow of the round towers behind it. Now, the Sheraton has a seawall with the ocean coming right up to the hotel. There is no beach in front of the hotel anymore. Those of you who have old postcards of the Sheraton with the glorious beach in front – hang onto them. That

Opponents of an extension say the federal government is losing out on money owed to them, saying the pause has amounted to $5 billion per month of lost revenues. Political analysts say a political calculus could come into play in determining whether an extension is allowed, which is -- it’s difficult for the President to argue the economy is rebounding and doing well if student loan borrowers are given an extension due to a slow economy. Student advocates say politics should stay out of it and that it’s possible that both the economy is picking up and at the same time young, new graduates are still struggling.

policy that allowed for partial student loan cancellation for borrowers granted relief under the Borrower Defense to Repayment program, which cancels federal student loan debt for borrowers defrauded by their schools. The change would allow around 72,000 borrowers who were eligible for full Borrower Defense relief.) *$1.3 billion for 41,000 borrowers with total and/or permanent disabilities; and *$500 million for 18,000 students that were defrauded by ITT Technical Institute, also through borrower defense. “The department will continue doing its part to review and approve borrower defense claims quickly and fairly so that borrowers receive the relief that they need and deserve,” said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. The loan forgiveness on the Borrower Defense to Repayment program could go beyond $1 billion as more educational fraud cases are reviewed. But critics say these three actions amount to less than 0.002% of outstanding federal student loans and effect just

(continue on page 7)

(COVER STORY: Federal....from page 5)

degree was more than 5% in May, compared with 2.8% before the pandemic. Close to 3% of bachelor’s degree recipients remain jobless, up from around 2.2% pre-Covid. “During the campaign President Biden made a lot of big promises about how he’s going to fix the student-loan system,” said Persis Yu, the director of the Student Loan

Borrower Assistance Project at the National Consumer Law Center. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to turn the student-loan system back on before those fixes are there. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while the pause is in place to make those changes.”  Aquino said, “it is still too early to resume the loan payments. Many of us are still struggling to find a job and/or

pay our monthly bills that is more of a priority compared to student loans. I would rather pay my rent than my student loans right now. I think when the virus is fully under control, that would be a great time to fully bring back loan payments. But right now, we are truly far from that.” Bernales believes the resuming of federal student loans should be structured like the repayment after graduation, six months after being on the job. “Giving a specific date for the resumption of repayment appears to be unreasonable. Some people may be going back to their previous job, some may have to find a new job.  Each person’s circumstance is different.” Salvador-Takai says these loans will still need to be repaid. “Why cause extra burden on young adults who took the right track to get educated and become productive members in society? It shouldn’t hurt to give these students more time especially since so many of their working lives have been disrupted by the pandemic. If they’re not ready and don’t have jobs, having them default on loans is a worse scenario.”

Actions already taken on federal student loans Action on federal student loans hasn’t been entirely a wait-and-see situation. Besides the temporary COVID-19 CARES Act pause, the administration has so far cancelled $2.8 billion in student debt for about 131,000 borrowers in three ways: *$1 billion for 72,000 borrowers through borrower defense; (The Biden administration reversed a Trump-era

(continue on page 13)


JULY 17, 2021  HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE  7

WHAT’S UP, ATTORNEY?

Right to Question Accuser Saying Marriage is Fake By Emmanuel S. Tipon, Esq.

C

hing, a native of China but a citizen of the Philippines, lawfully entered the United States as a nonimmigrant visitor. She intended to stay for one month, but then began dating Fong, a U.S. citizen, whom she met on a dating website. They were married in two months. Fong filed a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative for Ching. Ching filed a Form I-485 application for adjustment of status to obtain permanent residence. Later Ching withdrew the adjustment application informing USCIS that she planned to divorce Fong. A year later, Fong and Ching divorced. The following month Ching married Joseph, a U.S. citizen. Joseph filed a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative on Ching’s behalf. After (OPINION: Rising....from page 6)

sight has years ago stopped existing. When Kailua residents used to complain about the ocean coming closer to their back yards, the City and County engineers used to attribute that to erosion. Rising sea levels now seem a much more accurate answer At the risk of raising political ire, I’m going to make the point that Mayors Blaisdell and Fasi were right – we needed rail and we needed it forty to fifty years ago when they first proposed it. Had it not been delayed by decades due to all those lawsuits; we’d be using public transportation instead of driving all these cars. Say what you want about Hawaii being so small that we wouldn’t make a dent in climate change. We could have at least done our part in not contributing to the air pollution caused by fossil fu-

their interview, USCIS issued a Notice of Intent to Deny, saying that USCIS officers had visited Fong who provided a sworn statement that he and Ching were married in California but that they “never had sex” and had “never lived together.” Fong claimed that “$32,000 was offered and $14,000 was paid in cash installments.” Fong said that he and Ching “did not marry for love” and “I regret in full marrying” Ching. Joseph and Ching responded with a sworn declaration from Ching describing her intimate relationship with Fong. She explained how their marriage deteriorated. She furnished photographs of the couple, joint utility bills, an apartment lease, and Fong’s letter that he and Ching “truly loved each other.” USCIS denied Joseph’s I-130 petition, stating that Ching’s first marriage was not entered into in good faith, but was a sham, entered for the sole purpose of evading immigration laws. USCIS found

the evidence submitted by Joseph to be “self-serving.” The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed. Joseph and Ching filed a complaint in U.S. District Court, claiming that USCIS acted arbitrarily and capriciously in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act and the Due Process Clause by denying Joseph’s I-130 petition without affording them the opportunity to cross-examine Fong regarding his statement. The District Court held that there is no statutory right to an adjudicatory hearing, that the opportunity to respond to Fong’s statement was sufficient for due process, that there was no protected liberty or property interest in the adjudication of Joseph’s I-130 petition, and that they failed to show prejudice. The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the District Court’s finding that there is no statutory right of cross-examination in I-130 visa adjudications. However, the Court agreed with Joseph’s and Ching’s

els if we had rail instead of tons of cars. As a Honolulu Advertiser article once pointed out, the cost in Blaisdell and Fasi’s time would have been far, far cheaper, and covered nearly all by federal funds. No 0.05% excise tax, no tax dollars wasted on lawsuits, no tax dollars on all these additional lanes for all the thousands of cars. Imagine how much impact it would be on the mainland if Big Oil – the richest corporations on the planet, no contest – had not prevented the federal government from investing in Amtrak. Many of you have Japan’s shinkansen, plunked down hundreds for the novelty of the Chunnel between England and France, or just enjoyed your Eurailpass. You know how convenient trains are. China invests in high-

speed rail so its rural residents can work in city factories and still live in the countryside. Investment in rail can make it possible to live outside the city but still work in the city. Big Oil wanted its profit from cars and rising sea levels are the consequence we now face. The University of Hawaii, in odd-numbered years, holds its SOEST science fair in the hard sciences quadrant – the buildings for the Marine Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, and Engineering. During what may have been our family’s SOEST outing, one of the features was a showing of the ABC News documentary on the vanishing island of Tuvalu. With a 6-year-old little girl in one hand and a 4-yearold little boy in the other hand, I took them to see the film. The professor looked at my two small children and

claim that the denial of Joseph’s I-130 visa petition violated their Fifth Amendment Due Process rights because they were not afforded the opportunity to cross examine Fong or the USCIS officer who took Fong’s statement. See Ching v. Mayorkas, No. 11-17041, 07/07/2013 (9th Cir. 2013). Where a petitioner of an immediate relative visa petition proves that his marriage meets the requirement for approval of an I-130, he is entitled, as of right, to the approval of his petition pursuant to INA Section 240(b). The denial of a visa implicates the constitutional rights of American citizens because they have “a protected liberty interest” in their marriage “that gives rise to a right to constitutionally adequate procedures in the adjudication” of the alien spouse’s visa application. The spouses demonstrated sufficient prejudice. Fong’s statement was accepted as true without the opportunity for cross-examination.

Recommendation: The alien’s lawyer should file a Freedom of Information Act request on behalf of the alien who has been accused of entering into a fake marriage. The lawyer should also write to USCIS requesting an opportunity to question the alien’s accuser. The lawyer should discuss the facts and the law. The letter should conclude with a statement that government officials should not allow themselves to become vehicles for venting the rage of people whose love has turned to hatred.

ATTY. TIPON has a Master of Laws degree from Yale Law School and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines. His current practice focuses on immigration law and appellate criminal defense. He has written books and legal articles for the world’s largest law book publishing company and writes legal articles for newspapers. Listen to The Tipon Report which he co-hosts with son Noel (senior partner of the Bilecki & Tipon Law Firm) on KNDI 1270 AM band every Thurs. at 8:00 a.m. Atty. Tipon was born in Laoag City, Philippines. Tel. (808) 800-7856. Cell Phone, (808) 225-2645. E-Mail: filamlaw@yahoo.com. Websites: https://www.tiponlaw.com.

The information provided in this article is not legal advice. Publication of this information is not intended to create, and receipt by you does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

kindly said they might not be interested, it’s above their level of understanding. As a lifelong environmentalist, faithfully recycling for years even before anyone paid us to return our bottles, I wanted to see the documentary.

My small ones watch in rapt attention as ABC News told the story of how climate change warmed the earth, causing glaciers and polar ice to melt, resulting in rising sea levels. Small, flat islands like (continue on page 10)

NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETING HONOLULU HARBOR 2050 MASTER PLAN Date: Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Time: 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm

Access: ʻŌlelo Cable Channel 49 and HawaiianTel Channel 1049 Online: www.olelo.org/49 and ʻŌlelo’s mobile app; and via Zoom Visit the honoluluharbormp.com website the week before the meeting for the Zoom link. The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT), Harbors Division, invites the community and interested parties to a public meeting to discuss the Honolulu Harbor 2050 Master Plan. The purpose of the meeting is to provide project information and to solicit public input on concepts being considered for Honolulu Harbor’s future use and development. The meeting is accessible for individuals with disabilities. To request language interpretation, an auxiliary aid or special services (e.g., sign language interpreter), please contact Mr.

Michael Dichner; HDOT, Harbors Division; 79 South Nimitz Highway; Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96813; phone: 808587-1885 or email: michael.l.dichner@hawaii.gov as soon as possible, preferably by July 21. If a response is received after July 21, HDOT Harbors Division will try to obtain the auxiliary aid/service or accommodation but cannot guarantee that the will be fulfilled. Upon request, this notice is available in alternate formats such as large print, Braille, or electronic copy. For more information, visit www.HonoluluHarborMP.com.


8 HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE JULY 17, 2021

PERRYSCOPE

Duterte Faces ICC investigation By Perry Diaz

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ack in 1989 when Rodrigo Duterte was Mayor of Davao City, he gave a shocking – and explosive – order to his death squad. That’s according to Arturo Lascanas, a retired police officer, who accused Duterte of masterminding a campaign of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) before the Senate in February 2017. “We were the first hit squad during his reign,” claims Lascanas, who went into hiding to escape the wrath of Duterte. There must be some truth to it because during his 22 years as mayor of Davao City, the city had come to be known as the “Murder Capital” of

the country and his hit squad earned the name “Davao Death Squad” (DDS). Then he ran for president in 2016 with the promise to rid the country of drugs and crime – kill every drug dealer and user – and to feed their corpses to the fish in Manila Bay. DDS took on a national face and it was changed to mean “Duterte Death Squad.” After more than four years in office, the EJKs continue with impunity. It’s estimated that more than 30,000 people have been murdered since Duterte took office. Last June 14, 2021, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that she concluded her preliminary examination in the Philippines and is seeking authorization from the ICC’s judges for a full investigation into crimes against humanity, torture

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte

and other inhumane acts committed in connection with the country’s “war on drugs” between November 1, 2011 March 16, 2019. Duterte is now in a fish bowl; the ICC is scrutinizing his every move. Meanwhile, Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said “The ICC’s intervention must end this cycle of impunity in the country and send a signal to the police and those with links to the police who continue to carry out or sanction these killings that they cannot escape being held accountable for the crimes they commit.” T h e s e include extrajudicial executions committed by police in “anti-drug operations” following incitement and encouragement by high-ranking officials, including the President. When the ICC launched a preliminary examination into possible crimes committed in the

country in February 2018, the following was revealed during the pre-Trial Chamber evaluation: 1. According to Vice President Leni Robredo, murder cases rose by 60% since Duterte took power; 2. Some 25 to 29.7 extra violent deaths occurred daily as a result of state-personnel and state-directed-vigilante EJKs; 3. 1,600 Filipinos died daily in 2017, on average, from all causes; 4. 22.3-27 average daily killings took place as a result of murders and occasional armed conflicts; 5. Under Duterte there were 27,832 traceable EJKs up to December of 2018. Duterte repeatedly admitted publicly to the murder of Filipinos. At one point, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said: “Killing a class of people known as ‘drug suspects’ is not a crime against humanity because they are not human.” Duterte and 11 other government officials including Aguirre, former PNP Director now Senator Bato dela Rosa, and Solicitor General Jose Calida were named by the ICC as defendants. The following month, Duterte announced that the Philippines would withdraw from the Court. Obviously, it was an attempt to avoid investigation. This withdrawal took effect a year later, on 17 March 2019, but did not remove the ICC’s power to investigate crimes in the country. Duterte, however, said he will not cooperate with the probe and rejected the ICC prosecutor’s findings.

What is the ICC? The ICC is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague, Netherlands. The ICC is the first and only permanent international court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

The intent is to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals. While the ICC lacks universal territorial jurisdiction, and may only investigate and prosecute crimes committed within member states, crimes committed by nationals of member states, or crimes in situations referred to the Court by the United Nations Security Council. Since Duterte withdrew the Philippines’ membership in the ICC – to avoid prosecution – the next Philippine president may have to request the United Nations Security Council to refer Duterte’s case to the ICC. However, if the next president belongs to the opposition party, there might be a chance that the next president would bow to pressure to prosecute Duterte. If Sara Duterte or Bongbong Marcos wins, then Duterte would presumably escape ICC prosecution. Surmise it to say, it might take years before the ICC completes its investigation. However, as is normally the case of people facing investigation before the ICC, an arrest warrant is issued once the case is underway. This means that Interpol could arrest Duterte if he steps out of the country. However, the ICC lacks the proper resources to enforce the laws prescribed by the Rome Statute. It is ineffective when issuing arrest warrants for individuals who have committed crimes against humanity. Duterte just might avoid prosecution. At worst, he’d be branded as a fugitive from justice, which would prevent him from traveling outside the Philippines, lest he’d be arrested and flown to Geneva where ICC is situated. 
 PERRY DIAZ is a writer, columnist and journalist who has been published in more than a dozen Filipino newspapers in five countries.


JULY 17, 2021  HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE  9

NEWS FEATURE

FilAm Sienna Aczon Debuts First Solo Show, “Do You Speak?” By Jim Bea Sampaga

H

awaii-born and raised Filipino American Sienna Aczon debuted her first solo show film “Do You Speak?” at 59E59 Theaters’ East to Edinburgh Goes Virtual Film Festival in New York on Thursday, July 15. Written, directed, and produced by Aczon, the short film is set in her own bedroom while the script is based off a phone conversation she had with her father.

Aczon’s short film is a love letter to Hawaii, New York, and the Philippines where she explores her heritage as Filipino American. The film is also a homage to her grandfather’s journey as an educator and immigrant. Ultimately, she uses the film as an opportunity to respond to the question: Do You Speak? When asked about the meaning behind the title, Aczon said it’s the shorter version of “Do you speak Filipino?” and the actual question she refers to in the film. She admits that answering this simple Yes-orNo question has been difficult for her because she can’t speak Filipino. “There’s more nuance to that ‘No’ – it comes with a bit of insecurity and embarrassment; it comes with regret for refusing to learn Ilocano or Tagalog when I was young; it comes with worry that I will need to defend my “Filipino-ness,” Aczon explained. (continue on page 10)


10 HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE JULY 17, 2021

AS I SEE IT

Be Part of the Solution, Submit to Vaccination By Elpidio R. Estioko

P

resident Joe Biden, on his 4th of July speech, told the American people that this 245th birthday of our country is a day of special celebration for us to do our part to end the COVID-19 pandemic once and for all. As I See It, our Independence Day, as envisioned by President Biden, is a unifying force for us to move forward under the present situation. He said that getting vaccinated is the “most patriotic thing you can do.” Biden also added: “So please if you haven’t gotten vaccinated, do it. Do it now… You know, that is how we’ll stay ahead of these variants and protect the hard-won progress we’ve made. So today, while the virus hasn’t been

vanquished, we know this: It no longer controls our lives. It no longer paralyzes our nation. And it is within our power to make sure it never does again.” The Delta variant has been attacking our fellow Americans in most of our states that are thinly vaccinated. Throughout his remarks, Biden sought to draw a sharp contrast between where the country was a year ago and today, praising the American people for helping to get the virus under control by rolling up their sleeves to get their vaccination shots – at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by July 4. Biden stressed the fight is not over yet, referencing the Delta variants of the virus that have concerned medical experts, as cases spike in areas with low vaccination rates. “Thanks to our heroic vaccine effort, we’ve gained the upper hand against this virus. We can live our lives, our kids

can go back to school, our economy is roaring back. Don’t get me wrong – COVID-19 has not been vanquished. We all know powerful variants have emerged like the Delta variant,” Biden said. Biden delivered a message of unity, urging the country to come together to continue to fight the virus and get back on track. “You know, history tells us, when we stand together, when we unite in common cause, when we see ourselves not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans, then there is simply no limit to what we can achieve. None. Today we see the results of the unity of purpose. The unity of purpose we are forging -we’re our nation,” Biden said. “For together we’re beating the virus,” he continued. “Together we’re breathing life into our economy. Together we will rescue our people from division and despair.”

The White House will be deploying response teams made up of officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency across the country to areas with a high spread of the Delta variant. The teams will conduct surge testing, provide therapeutics like monoclonal antibodies and deploy federal personnel to areas that need support staff for vaccinations. “Today we have the power of science. Thanks to our heroic vaccine effort, we’ve gained the upper hand against this virus. We can live our lives. Our kids can go back to school. Our economy is roaring back,” Biden added. I agree with West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice when he said: “If you’re not vaccinated, you’re part of the problem rather than part of the solution. You know, that’s all there is to it. If we had you vaccinated,

marized the major scientific points, almost word for word, using the technical phrases. Her attention and recall stunned the professor, but even I didn’t expect that from her. He was glad she came. She learned about climate change at a young age so she could carry the knowledge

with her through life. I thought it was flat, small islands like Tuvalu that were affected, not the larger, mountainous islands in the state where I live, irrational as that disconnect may be. Even Greenland is affected, the country President Trump expressed interest in buying. Greenland is three large portions of land all joined by ice. When that ice melts, not only will those land areas have to be connected otherwise, but all that extra water will

also join the ocean and cover shores near and far. I loved Sunset Beach, with the sound of its rustling palm trees, the crashing of the huge white waves, the feeling of comfort from being inside that sand-to-sea amphitheater, where we on the shore could watch people surfing and frolicking in the ocean. I loved sitting on that gorgeous, warm, very wide stretch of sand, cooled by the breezes and lulled by the relaxing sounds. I kept

less people would die. That’s all there is to it.” To drum up sustained enthusiasm, the White House came out with a theme for the holiday weekend: “America’s Back Together,” promoting the idea that much of the nation is returning to pre-pandemic lifestyles as Americans get vaccinated. I go for Biden’s confidence that if we work together, we can suppress the virus that has been bugging us for more than a year now. A unified action is the key to our problem. “We just have to remember who we are. We are the United States of America. And there is nothing – nothing we can’t do if we do it together,” Biden echoed. Again, if we don’t submit to vaccination, we are part of the problem. So, let’s be part of the solution, America!

wanting to share that with my son on those drives. Now I know why I kept missing it – the rising sea levels covered the ends of the crescent shape and narrowed that wide slope of sand. Rising sea levels brought on by the warmth of climate change have caught up with our beloved islands. Are you old enough to remember those beaches – in Waikiki, Kailua, the North Shore? Is your heart breaking, too?

ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist here in the U.S. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com).

(OPINION: Rising....from page 7)

Tuvalu, were being evacuated to nations like New Zealand because the ocean would soon cover the island, drowning its inhabitants. When it was over, the professor kindly bent down to my children and asked what they learned. Smiling, my daughter succinctly sum-

(NEWS FEATURE: FilAm Sienna....from page 9)

“Do You Speak?” fulfills two of Aczon’s longtime goals: to debut a solo show and celebrate her Filipino American heritage. She hopes that she can perform the short film live on stage as intended. Because of the pandemic, she had to adapt it into a short film as a hybrid theatre/film piece. Aczon humbly asks the Filipino community to support her short film, “Do You Speak?” “I am humbled and in-

spired by how resilient and hard-working the Filipino community is. My main hope is for you to be proud of who you are, and I believe that a key to achieving that is through understanding your roots. I encourage you all to have conversations with your parents, grandparents, titas and titos. Listen, really get to know them as people, and learn their stories by heart,” she said. “I hope others can watch “Do You Speak?” and

acknowledge that, while language is certainly important, it is not the only way you can honor your heritage and culture.” “Do You Speak?” is one of nine short films featured in East to Edinburgh Goes Virtual Festival. The short film is available to stream on-demand until July 25. Tickets are available on 59e59.org/shows/ show-detail/east-to-edinburgh-goes-virtual/.


JULY 17, 2021  HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE  11

CANDID PERSPECTIVES

Branson’s Trip? Nothing like My Father’s Journey from Ilocos to America By Emil Guillermo

I

t was just a coincidence, but for me, the date helped put things in perspective. On Sunday, July 11, 2021, Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson went a little more than 50 miles into the sky and made a bit of history. The democratization of space? Oh, please. It’s just the commercialization of space. And the tickets start at around $200,000 a seat. The impact on humanity? Well, it fulfilled a few high-tech dreams for a certain number of elites. But the American dream? Consider that on the same date, July 11, but in 1928, my father arrived in San Francisco after a 30-day trip on a steamship from the Philippines. His voyage was farther (more than 7,000 miles vs. Branson’s 50); took longer (30 days vs 2 hours); and the whole trip in steerage was just stranger and even more weird. Branson didn’t even orbit. My dad actually got to a “promised land.” Willie Guillermo was part of the first mass group of Filipinos to America (around 30,000 by 1930). Born under the U.S. flag in the Philippines, he was allowed to enter the mother country as a colonized American national. He just didn’t look like everyone else here. He got to San Francisco, and everyone was white. And spoke a different language. There was real animus toward him and the other Filipinos. They couldn’t intermarry. They couldn’t own land. They couldn’t vote. And for being friendly with the native white women, some Filipinos were even lynched and killed by jealous white males. The politics got so bad that in 1934, their status changed from nationals to aliens. What did Branson encounter? He spent a few billion to get to the edge of space. If you held a globe of the world, it’s

like travelling about an inch or two from the surface. That’s it. Enough to get a few minutes of weightlessness, a view to die for, and a platform to launch space tourism. I don’t want to disrespect Sir Richard. But my dad Willie and the vast majority of immigrants from Asia have contributed more to American history than Branson’s P.R. stunt ever will. Ask your parents or grandparents about their journey and see if their immigration success stories had greater col-

lective impacts on American society than whatever Branson did this weekend. But that’s why it was good to see that one of the newly minted civilian astronauts was Sirisha Bandla, 34, who immigrated with her family from India when her father, an academic, came to America. Bandla, a Purdue aeronautical engineer, an MBA, and the VP of Virgin’s government affairs and research operations, mentioned her mother and family whenever she could, thanking them profusely.

And then, after popping champagne corks like Super Bowl champs, Branson dove underneath Bandla to lift her up on his shoulders and carry her off the stage. (A Virgin H.R. moment?) To Branson’s credit, he did announce a charity called “Space for Humanity” for a chance to win two seats aboard a Virgin Galactic flight. “Just imagine a world where people of all ages, all backgrounds, from anywhere, of any gender, of any ethnicity, have equal access to space,

and they will in turn, I think, inspire us back here on Earth,” Branson said. “If you ever had a dream, now’s the time to make it come true.” Sure, if you get lucky with Branson’s charity. Or have $200,000 to spare. Still, it’s the good guy thing to say in a vanity moment to the extreme. All throughout, much was said about the so-called “overview effect,” the humbling shift in perspective when one gets a galactic glimpse of the earth. But Branson is already considered a better than average “good guy.” How much (continue on page 12)


12 HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE JULY 17, 2021

PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

Mompreneur: Managing a Business During the Pandemic By Seneca Moraleda-Puguan

“H

i Seneca! I want to invite you to a zoom presentation and share with you a wonderful business opportunity.” In the past months, I have received many messages from different people inviting me to learn about online business opportunities. Unlike many who are already allergic to the concept of network marketing and multilevel marketing, I am open to opportunities that come my way. As a housewife and a mother, I am al-

ways on the lookout for ways to help my husband bring in provision for our household. My husband’s job as a scientist and research professor sustains our family well but just enough to carry us from month to month. To be able to invest in other things like insurance and property, and be able to bless others, an extra source of income is definitely needed. At the moment, I wear a lot of hats. Aside from being a wife, mother, teacher to my homeschooling 5-year-old, playmate of my 2-year-old, house manager, writer, missionary, I added the role of being an entrepreneur.

(CANDID PERSPECTIVES: Branson’s Trip?....from page 11)

better will he be post-flight? If space is transformative, shouldn’t we be sending the climate deniers? The vaccine deniers? The people who still think Trump was robbed of victory last November and will be re-installed as president at any moment? The people who want to restrict voting rights that will impact all people of color? You know the type who deserves to be sent into space. Essentially, it’s the people who threaten our democracy. That’s how space can be democratizing. Send people threatening our democracy to the edge of space to get a better grip on humanity. These are the Americans in need of a perspective change. People for whom a bungee jump from

a tall canyon is not enough. Send them to the edge of the world for that “we are all one team” moment, with the hope they’ll return as kinder, more empathetic humans for the good of the country, if not the world. You know we need it when 4,100 attended CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) in Dallas on the same weekend, where Trump won a straw poll among attendees as their presidential choice for 2024. Does Branson sell oneway tickets? For the rest of us, if space is your thing, great. I know it’s hard to keep watching Star Trek re-runs and spin-offs. But for real perspective, I

But the pandemic expanded my inventory and honed my entrepreneurial skills. I buy used authentic luxury bags from Korean locals and sell them to the US via Facebook marketplace. I joined an international health and wellness company that uses drop shipping and network marketing strategies to compensate their associates. My every day is filled with I remember growing up writing ‘businesswoman’ as cleaning the house, playing the answer to the ‘what do you with and reading books for want to be when you grow up’ my children, taking pictures of question in a slam book or au- stuff and packing them in boxtograph book that was pretty es, and zoom meetings here popular among students when and there. It can be tiring but by God’s grace, I am enjoying I was young. Even before the pandemic it, especially when we see the happened, I already sold many fruits of our labor, being able of our used stuff at home to pay for our monthly dues. I am just one of the many like my children’s toys and mothers and women in the clothes, my bags and clothes. world who are working hard and taking on many hats to be still have the coincidence of able to support their husbands the date. July 11. Seven-Elev- and provide for their families. en. My dad’s lucky day. His I have met many single immigration in 1928 was like moms, working moms, fulltime a trip to outer space and no moms, single women who are less important in the practical rising up, expanding their terrischeme of things than any- tories, getting out of their comthing Branson did on Sunday. fort zones to prove that women Let’s face it. Branson got can do anything. I have a lot of his PR, but space is our na- mommy friends who are findtional distraction, the escap- ing ways to cater the needs of ists’ fantasy. Not the democ- the people around them. ratizing tool it’s thought to be. One very close friend Immigration, on the other hand – as we Filipinos know – now that’s the trip of a lifetime. EMIL​ GUILLERMO​ is a veteran journalist and commentator. He was a member of the Honolulu Advertiser editorial board. Listen to him on Apple Podcasts. Twitter @ emilamok.

of mine was able to create a solution that serves as a safe, less corrosive disinfectant and sanitizer and sells it in gallons. Another mommy friend resells manipulatives and materials for homeschooling families. A churchmate sews beautiful dresses for kids and taps local craftsmen to create nice leather shoes for little girls. These are just a few. Most mommies, if not all, in my circle are ‘supermoms’ juggling different roles and pursuing opportunities that will improve the present condition of their families. The pandemic may have shaken humanity in many ways, but it did push us to find ways to adapt to the changing environment and deal with the uncertainty we are faced with. It has opened many opportunities that have only been discovered because of this health crisis. This season has exposed facets of society and industries that can withstand pandemics and the changing landscape of the global market. Surely, the move to an online platform has taken over the world. And it has produced flourishing ‘mompreneurs’ that are impacting the world and helping lives change. I am proud to be one.


JULY 17, 2021  HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE  13

BOOK REVIEW

FILIPINO TATTOOS – Ancient to Modern By Rose Cruz Churma

T

his is the first study of ancient Filipino tattoos, a cultural practice connected with ancestral and spiritual beliefs. It is also an art form that has existed in other cultures and was reintroduced in the Western consciousness by people inhabiting the multitude of islands in the Pacific. The book describes the tools used in marking tattoos and explores the meaning of individual tattoo designs in context with its cultural setting. For certain tribes in the Philippines, the use of tattoos enhances attractiveness, promotes fertility, is a record of achievement and bestows honor to the individual. It is also considered as a “symbolic binding of the individual to their ancestors and posterity.” This publication contains

fascinating visuals and images of tattoo designs, photographs of individuals showing off their tattoos, sketches, drawings, and maps of both ancient as well as contemporary times. An interesting chapter is the section on modern Filipino tattooing. If the ancient perception of tattooing is on conformity, the modern one is on rebellion. Many parents can empathize with the shock of seeing one’s daughter of son marked with designs—some strange, others familiar. Apparently, the depiction of the Philippine flag is popular or variations of the flag’s sun and three stars. The sun in the Philippine flag has eight rays which represent the eight provinces that rebelled against Spain, and the three stars represent the three main island groups: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. As I was reading this book,

my daughter saw it at my desk and took immediate interest. And true to the observations of the author, she shared to friends how she plans to add the Philippine sun design to her tattoos – her way of showing pride of her Filipino roots! Another popular trend for Filipino Americans is the use of baybayin script, used during pre-Hispanic Philippines – usually used for commerce to

record transactions or for important historical events. In Mindoro, baybayin was also used for poetry or as a form of artistic expression. The most popular were the baybayin symbols for “ina” or mother and “ama” for father. Another popular tattoo emblem is the ling-ling-o which is a fertility symbol and represent the reproductive organs of the woman. Another contemporary form of the tattoo is the “tribal look” whose designs are based on indigenous designs from Polynesia, Micronesia and Southeast Asia. Apparently, this “tribal tattooing” has grown in popularity, but the author laments the fact that contemporary tattoo practitioners juxtapose the designs out of context since few understand the symbolism behind these designs. This publication is a collectible that should be trea-

sured. It is one of a kind and irreplaceable. It is obviously a labor of love for the author, as well as a spiritual journey to understand and appreciate his ancestry. Lane Wilcken comes from a family of eight children of mixed heritage. His mother is a native Ilocana from the Philippines, and his American father is of English and Scandinavian descent. He has been researching the indigenous past of the Philippines and the Pacific Islands for nearly two decades. His interest in tattooing was due to his desire to strengthen pride among Filipinos and “to reunite Filipinos symbolically and spiritually with their estranged ancestors.” ROSE CRUZ CHURMA is a former President of the FilCom Center. She is also the co-owner of Kalamansi Books and Things, an online bookstore promoting works by Filipino Americans. For inquiries, email her at kalamansibook@ gmail.com.

HAWAII-FILIPINO NEWS

Keiki Food Support Program Available for Kids Below Age 6

T

he Hawaii Department of Human Services (DHS) recently announced the Keiki Under 6 Food Support Program. Just like what the name suggests, children under the age of 6 years old will receive SNAP benefits at any time since October 1, 2020. The benefits are paid for

each month the child received SNAP benefits from October 2020 through May 2021. Benefits are loaded to the family’s Kokua EBT account starting June 24, 2021. There is no application needed for the Keiki Under 6 Food Support program. Eligible children are automatically enrolled in the program through

the SNAP participation verification system by the DHS. The benefits can be used to purchase SNAP-eligible food, such as groceries, frozen food items and snacks. The amount of benefits will depend on where the child lives and the maximum amount of benefit will cover the period of October 2020

loan servicers FedLoan which oversees the loans of 8.5 million student borrowers — said it would not renew its contract with the federal government when it ends later this year. The millions of borrowers whose loans are overseen by FedLoan will have to be moved to a new servicer, which means these borrowers could have a few more months before collection on loans resumes.

stimulus bill exempts forgiven student debt from any existing forgiveness program and any possible future one through December 31, 2025. “It’s good to know that this tax-free feature is already in place. Now we just need to get the help students and parents need with a federal college debt cancellation. Maybe right now is not the right time to talk about it, but if loan forgiveness happens in the near future, what about students in the far future. I think the whole college tuition cost needs to be looked at. It’s just too expensive,” said Salvador-Takai.

(COVER STORY: Federal....from page 6)

over 0.003 percent of borrowers. They also point out that Biden made a lot of promises to millennials and Gen Z on forgiving student loans. That’s one reason this group overwhelmingly supported his candidacy. It’s surprising that getting just some relief looks impossible to get. Some critics admit though, it is a little premature to conclude that the President abandoned them on this issue. There is still time.

FedLoan One of the federal government’s largest student

Tax Free Historically student loan debt cancellation has been considered taxable income. But a provision in the CARES

through May 2021. A letter will be mailed to the family’s address informing the actual amount the child will receive. Children residing in Hawaii Island, Lanai and Maui can receive a maximum amount of $1,144 while

Oahu will receive a maximum of $1,002. Kauai and Molokai children will receive a maximum of $931. To check on the current benefit status of the Keiki Under 6 Food Support Program, visit humanservices.hawaii.gov and click the P-EBT status banner.


14 HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE JULY 17, 2021

HAWAII-FILIPINO NEWS

if you suspect COVID-19 Community Groups Advocate for Care Homes During doin your home to the phone Gaylord said another probnumbers of companies that beds compared to about 4,492 COVID-19 Pandemic beds in Hawaii’s 47 nursing lem was that guidelines for in- would transport someone with

By Toy Arre

I

n the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wannette Gaylord would get at least 10 calls a day from concerned adult residential care homeowners. They didn’t know what to do if a resident was showing signs of the coronavirus and couldn’t find enough masks and other personal protective equipment. Gaylord, president of the Alliance of Residential Care Home Administrators in Hawaii and the owner of four adult residential care homes for kupuna in McCully, wanted to help, but she had the same questions and no answers.

“There was nothing to follow. They didn’t know what direction to take,” Gaylord said. “Initially, it was tremendously difficult.” So, Gaylord along with AARP Hawaii and other stakeholders teamed up to get answers on the best ways to help kupuna in their care and to help community care home operators get access to personal protective equipment and, eventually, vaccines. The more than 1,600 adult residential care homes and foster care homes scattered throughout the state are where the majority of kupuna in Hawaii get live-in long-term care. They provide more than 5,500

homes. The community care homes are also more affordable for families and save the state money in Medicaid payments. Audrey Suga-Nakagawa, AARP Hawaii’s advocacy director said advocates for the community care homes lobbied the state Legislature so that the care homes could access PPE purchased with federal CARES Act money.  Gaylord said eventually several care homes were able to get free masks, face shields and other PPE. That was very helpful, Gaylord said, especially since the prices for PPE had increased by more than 500% early last year.

fection control, visitation and other protocols were designed for larger facilities like hospitals and nursing homes and needed to address the needs of care homes with fewer staff and less space. It was confusing to figure out what they had to do, Gaylord said. Suga-Nakamura, with the help from the University of Hawaii Medical School, healthcare professionals, care home operators, the long-term care ombudsman and other stakeholders, developed protocols for care homes that could be printed out and put it into a binder. It included information on everything from what to

Summer Pandemic EBT Benefits to Roll Out in July

T

he Hawaii Department of Human Services and the Hawaii State Department of Education have announced the roll-out of the Summer Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT) benefits earlier this month. The benefits are allocated

to children who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, or attend a Community Eligibility Provision school during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, children under the age of 6 are eligible for benefits under the Keiki Under 6 Food Support Program as long as they receive

SNAP benefits at any time between June 1, 2021 and August 2, 2021. P-EBT is a food assistance program approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Nutrition Service and authorize by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The benefit amount is

around $400. There is no application needed to receive the Summer P-EBT benefits. Eligible children are automatically enrolled for the benefits program through verification depending on their age. However, if a child enrolled in a DOE school is in need of P-EBT benefits but not enrolled in a free or reduced-price lunch program, the family can apply through the EZMealApp.com by August 2, 2021. For children

COVID-19 to the hospital and medical appointments. When vaccines became available to kupuna, the advocates made sure care and foster home residents and staff got the same priority as nursing homes for the first doses of the vaccines. With the help of the state Department of Human Services, they were able to get local pharmacies to vaccinate residents, operators and their families in the home. “It was a very grassroots effort, and people were asking, ‘How can we help?’” Suga-Nakagawa said. “That’s the spirit of what we’ve seen during this time of crisis.”

attending a NSLP-participation Charter or Private school, please contact your school. Eligible students will have their benefits issued to their own Hawaii P-EBT cart of a Kokua EBT card. For newly eligible students, they will be mailed a Hawaii P-EBT card that has the name of the eligible student. To check your child’s eligibility status, please visit the humanservices.hawaii.gov and click the P-EBT status banner. 

PHILIPPINE NEWS

4.2 Million Pinoys Experience Hunger in Past 3 Months – SWS By Helen Flores Wednesday, July 14, 2021

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ANILA, Philippines — About 4.2 million Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months, the latest Social Weather Stations’ (SWS) survey showed. The poll, conducted from April 28 to May 2, found 16.8 percent or an estimated 4.2 million families who experienced involuntary hunger due to lack of food to eat. This was 0.8 points above the 16 percent or about four million families in November 2020 but 4.3 points below the 2020 annual average of 21.1 percent, the SWS said. The 16.8 percent hunger rate in May consisted of 14.1 percent (around 3.6 million families) who experienced mod(continue on page 15)


JULY 17, 2021  HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE  15

COMMUNITY CALENDAR 2021 PISTAHAN VIRTUAL PARADE AND FESTIVAL | The Filipino American Arts Exposition | August 14-15, 11am to 3pm | Celebrate Filipino heritage and culture with the theme “Renew, Recover and Rise Together.” | Livestream will be available on Kumu App (pistahanSF), Facebook.com/pistah-

anSF and Youtube.com/pistahanSF. VIVE LE CINEMA | Hawaii International Film Festival | July 8 to 18 | Virtual showcase | HIFF presents award-winning films from Cannes Film Festival to Hawaii. Tickets at HIFF.org.

Have your organization’s events listed in our community calendar. It’s recommended to submit press releases a month in advance of your organization’s event. Send information to filipinochronicle@gmail.com.

PHILIPPINE NEWS

Philippines Receives 1M More Sinovac Vaccine Doses By Gaea Katreena Cabico Wednesday, July 14, 2021

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ANILA, Philippines — The Philippines received a shipment of one million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Sinovac Biotech on Wednesday as supplies dwindle in the country. The arrival of the shipment comes as several local governments

(4.2 Million Pinoys....from page 14)

erate hunger and 2.7 percent (about 674,000 families) who experienced severe hunger. Moderate hunger refers to those who experienced hunger “only once” or “a few times” in the last three months, while severe hunger pertains to those who experienced it “often” or “always” in the last three months. Mindanao now has the highest incidence of hunger at 20.7 percent or an estimated 1.2 million families, followed by the Visayas at 16.3 percent (about 776,000 families),

million doses suspend the second were purchases dose vaccination of by the nationSinovac recipients al government, as supplies from the one million dosnational government es were donated run out. by Beijing, and The Chinese 900,000 doses pharmaceutical firm has so far shipped 13 million were procured by local governCoronaVac doses to the country ment units and the private sector. Additional 1.5 million Sinosince February. Of the total, 11.1

vac vaccine doses are expected to arrive on July 17. Last week, Sinovac submitted a request to allow its COVID-19 vaccine in children aged three to 17 in the country. Over 3.5 million people or 3.2% of the country’s 109 million population have completed vaccination since March. Meanwhile, more than 9.6 million—or 8.8%—of Filipinos have received the first of two doses. (www. philstar.com)

balance Luzon at 15.7 percent (around 1.8 million families) and Metro Manila in 14.7 percent (roughly 496,000 families). In November 2020, hunger was at 23.3 percent (about 780,000 families) in Metro Manila, 16 percent (around 909,000 families) in Mindanao, 14.4 percent (an estimated 1.6 million families) in balance Luzon and 14.3 percent (about 674,000 families) in the Visayas. In Metro Manila, moderate hunger and severe hunger were

In Mindanao, moderate hunger rose to 19 percent in May from 14.3 percent in November 2020, while severe hunger stayed at 1.7 percent. The country’s hunger rate was at 8.8 percent or about 2.1 million families in a SWS December 2019 survey, or before the COVID-19 pandemic, the pollster said. The survey used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults, 18 years old and above, nationwide. (www.philstar.com) 

at 12 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively, in May, compared to 16.7 percent and 6.7 percent in November 2020. In balance Luzon, moderate hunger rose to 12.3 percent in May from 11.6 percent in November last year. Severe hunger also went up to 3.3 percent from 2.8 percent. In the Visayas, moderate hunger increased to 14 percent from 10 percent, while severe hunger dropped to 2.3 percent from 4.3 percent.

(Sagot sa Krosword Blg. 7 | July 3, 2021)

CROSSWORD by Carlito Lalicon ACROSS

1. Academy Award 6. Pretentious or silly talk or writing 10. Not all 14. Ecological community 15. Coupler 16. Hibernia 17. Arising from an unknown cause (of disease) 19. Affectation 20. Fancy meatloaf 21. Journal 23. Trinitrotoluene 24. Itty-bitty 25. Of, relating to, or designed for use in grades 1 to 12

DOWN

1. Final notice 2. Border 3. Coconut fiber 4. Liquidate gradually 5. Adjust, as a brooch 6. Information unit 7. Circus cry 8. Slide 9. Type of ritual killing 10. Navy builder 11. Betelgeuse’s constellation

No. 7

28. Breathing aid 32. Capture 34. Act of gripping or chewing off with the teeth and jaws 35. Melodramatic cry 38. One who helps carry a stretcher 41. Consumed 42. For all to hear 43. Relating to or consisting of runes 44. Fearful 46. Bullfight bull 59. Set of confused and 47. Small talk meaningless 50. Cagayan de ___ statements 52. Calculus 61. ___ Bator 54. Builder 62. Way, way off 58. Supernatural life force 12. Some Surrealist works 13. Exalt to the skies 18. Architectural pier 22. Barker 25. She, in Italy 26. Baryshnikov, by birth 27. Bring on 29. Rarified fluid said to flow in the veins of the Gods 30. Watery discharge from the mucous membranes (especially from the

CLASSIFIED ADS CAREGIVER NEEDED FOR IMMEDIATE JOB 63. Bilked 64. Chipper 65. Tablet 66. Bothered

eyes or nose) 48. Papal vestment 31. Crush 49. Navigational aid 33. And more 51. Gaucho’s rope 35. Florentine flower 53. High fidelity sound 36. Successor system 37. With the bow, in music 54. Countess’s husband 39. Baloney 55. Drag 40. Dictator 56. Olive genus 44. Leaning 57. Lease 45. Quad building 60. Liquid unit 47. Stick together as if with (Ang sagot ay matutunghayan sa susunod na isyu ng Chronicle) gum

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