Hawaii Filipino Chronicle - September 17, 2022

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SEPTEMBER 17, 2022


Start with Permit Delays to Trim Homebuilding Red Tape




Filipino Cooking Priest Saves Families and the World Through Food


Women Against Marcos



College Debt Cancellation Is A Start, Real Discussion Should Be On Lowering Cost of Higher Education


resident Joe Biden’s federal student loan cancellation of up to $20,000 ($10,000 for those making under $125,000 and an additional $10,000 for Pell Grants loan holders) is much needed and welcomed for many college students-graduates and their parents. Loan forgiveness of any amount is a step in the right direction, but realistically for a vast majority of college loan debtors, $10,000 will only be a partial wiping away of their loan(s) total. The average loan of a college graduate is $30,000 with some incurring as high as $200,000-plus. Remember, in the first two years of the Biden administration, Democrats in Congress were in favor of canceling $50,000. But whether it was $10,000 or $50,000 proposed, either way, Republicans in Congress were not supportive of loan debt cancellation, period. For this reason, Biden should be commended for acting boldly using executive power to get something done, and while he’s on a winning streak soon after his Inflation Reduction Act passed. As instructed by Biden, in the past two years the Department of Education (DOE) and Justice Department were looking into the legal merits of debt cancellation by executive order. Clearly Congress passing a sweeping bill would have made debt cancellation set on a more solid legal footing; and now some experts believe there could be possible legal challenges to Biden’s executive action. Biden’s legal justification Biden explained the legal authority to cancel debt by executive order was by way of the Heroes Act, enacted during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. That law gives the Secretary of Education the power to “waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision applicable to the student financial assistance programs” during a national emergency if, among other reasons, the secretary believes that doing so is necessary to ensure that borrowers are “not placed in a worse position financially” because of that emergency. The Secretary of Education acted on Biden’s behalf and the “national emergency” required in the Heroes Act is the pandemic. The Secretary’s choice of words was specific in the context of the Heroes Act. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement, “Today, we’re delivering targeted relief that will help ensure borrowers are not placed in a worse position financially because of the pandemic, and restore trust in a system that should be creating opportunity, not a debt trap.” If Republicans will choose to challenge Biden’s popular (approved by a majority in the general public, surveys show) college loan cancellation, it certainly will come at a heavy political price. Remember these are college graduates who’ve worked hard to become outstanding contributors in society, did all the right moves expected of them, but happened to be paying too heavy a financial burden. Attempts at blocking Biden’s college loan cancellation would just look too anti-middle American and against the values of fairness and hard work. On top of this, as siding with debt collectors. Analysts say the potential threat could be at the right-wing



he cost of higher education has been rising at a faster rate than inflation and it now costs on average $40,000 to $85,000 (in-state, out-of-state) for tuition and fees for four years of schooling at a public college or university. For tuition and fees over four years at a private university, it could be typically about $160,000. These rates do not include living expenses. We’re all too aware of the struggle many students and parents are having to pay for college loans. Fortunately we have good news to report. For our cover story this issue, associate editor Edwin Quinabo reports on President Joe Biden’s recent executive order to cancel up to $20,000 on all loans held by the federal government. Clearly the outstanding college debt many have is a lot higher, but it’s a much welcomed policy, as some in our community have said in the cover story. Find out who can qualify for this new debt cancelation program, what loans will be forgiven. Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, said applications for cancelation should be available as early as October 2022. And once the borrower completes the application, they can expect relief within four to six months. Individuals can sign up on the Education Department website to be notified when the application is available. The Federal Student Aid office says individuals can review their loan documents or log into their account at studentaid.gov to check if their loan is federally or privately held. Applications will be accepted until Dec. 31, 2023. But if you want the cancelation applied to your loan before monthly loan payments to the federal government resumes in January 2023, federal administrators say to turn in your application as soon as possible. Clearly many in our Filipino community stand to benefit and we encourage everyone to spread the word of this news. Also in this issue, we have an interesting feature written by HFC contributor Edna Bautista, Ed.D. on Fr. Leo Patalinghug, who earned a global reputation as the “Filipino Cooking Priest.” In Fr. Leo’s book “Saving the Family: The Transformative Power of Sharing Meals with People You Love,” he suggests having regular family meals together strengthens family ties as well as provides positive outcomes for children. Fr. Leo is quite the culinary expert as he is famously known for beating famous celebrity chef Bobby Flay in “Iron Chef” – a rare occurrence. Speaking of food, Jasmine Sadang contributes “Generational Recipes Nourish and Strengthen Filipino Families and Communities,” an article on Filipino cuisine and bonding over food. COC is looking to fund health-related initiatives in Honolulu that are implementing meaningful public health education and research projects. Be sure to read HFC columnist Emil Guillermo’s “The Queen’s Passing, The Obama’s Portraits, and American Democracy,” HFC columnist Perry Diaz’s “Why Did Bongbong Abolish PACC?” and others. Also in this issue we present our annual Community and Women’s Health Supplement. In the supplement cover story we go over Monkeypox (what it is, its prevalence nationally and in Hawaii, available vaccination locations in Hawaii, and more) as well as the latest on COVID-19. We have a mix of interesting articles in the supplement including: What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Boosters, September is National Suicide Prevention, news on Free Preparation Guidance for Medicare Open Enrollment, Heart Attack vs Stroke, Confessions of a Surgeon New Mom, Teeth Sensitivity, Thyroid Health and Hormones, and more. We hope you enjoy this jam-packed issue. Thank you for supporting Hawaii’s most read Filipino newspaper. Until next issue, 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.


Junggoi Peralta

Photography Tim Llena

Administrative Assistant Lilia Capalad

Editorial & Production Assistant Jim Bea Sampaga


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 Pamela Gonsalves Shalimar / Jonathan Pagulayan

Advertising / Marketing Director Chona A. Montesines-Sonido

Account Executives Carlota Hufana Ader JP Orias

Supreme Court which could decide to hear the case and the issue of debt cancellation be greeted with legal skepticism. Whether the Biden administration is moving full speed ahead has something to do with potential challenges is unknown. Debt cancellation was announced late August. Processing of applications could be expected to begin in October. That is light speed as far as implementing new policy. (continue on page 3)



We’ve Learned from COVID-19, We Can Beat Monkeypox Early On


or only the seventh time in history, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared on July 23 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) – this time on the current monkeypox outbreak that is spreading around the world rapidly. Since 1970 monkeypox has been causing illness and death in large number for decades in Africa. But no deaths of monkeypox has been reported outside of Africa where there has been very little spread. But for a first time ever, this 2022 outbreak of monkeypox has spread globally and health experts are still uncertain why this is happening, and what changed. While death by monkeypox is considered rare, it happens regularly in Africa. It’s a serious infectious disease that can have severe symptoms, and in some cases, require hospitalization usually due to pain management. Since COVID-19, there also must be in consideration economic impact of infectious diseases. With monkeypox re-

quiring a 2-4 weeks period of recovery and most likely isolation, catching monkeypox potentially could have a serious financial impact; and in extreme circumstances could lead to job loss just for being unable to work for weeks. Should monkeypox spread anywhere near the numbers of a pandemic – which is unlikely based on what we know of it now, health expert say – clearly the economic impact could be profound.

Jumpstart at combatting monkeypox Hopefully with early awareness and from what we’ve already learned from COVID-19, public health experts and government should have a much more efficient and prepared response to monkeypox. There already are some advantages. Unlike at COVID19’s time of outbreak, there is currently available an antiviral drug. Because monkeypox belongs to the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox, the same vaccine used to treat smallpox is already available to treat

(College Debt....from page 2)

Doesn’t solve high cost of higher education One fair criticism that could be made is that a onetime debt cancellation does nothing in the way of curbing higher education costs or incentivizing college tuition to be affordable. In fact some experts have warned the plan might nudge up tuition prices at colleges. The argument is that debt cancellation could encourage higher tuition in the future, encouraging more borrowing, creating expectations of future debt forgiveness. It could also lead students and parents to be less sensitive to the cost of tuition, which could encourage colleges and universities to further hike tuition and fees. Free college tuition at public universities and colleges Perhaps the true issue being skirted is college has be-

come too unaffordable and should we be considering offering free or very affordable tuition at our public colleges and universities, much as it used to be in the 1970s through 80s in the U.S. Even today there are exceptionally successful models to refer to as in most of Western and Northern Europe where any citizen of the European Union can actually attend any public college or university for free. Western and Northern Europe also happen to have among the highest standards of living in the world. Why entertain this idea in the U.S.? Among the most credible reasons: 1) Equal opportunity for all in an increasingly income inequality society; 2) More students would attend college which creates a better educated workforce and enlightened society; 3) A more educated,

health funding. Even though resources are thin in this area, and that COVID-19 is still a major monkeypox infections. public health concern requirThe U.S. government has ing ongoing funding, polititwo stockpiled vaccines— cians and public experts clearJYNNEOS and ACAM2000— ly must realize how critical it that can prevent monkeypox in is to control monkeypox bepeople who are exposed to the fore it escalates and gets out virus. of hand. But the bad news is that Many have already critithese drugs are very short in cized the lax attention given supply which is one reason the to monkeypox and believe monkeypox vaccine is only the window has closed to stop available to select populations. community spread. The current targeted immuHealth experts say we can nization of groups most vul- learn from another infectious nerable and affected by mon- disease in AIDS. Like AIDS, keypox is a smart move until monkeypox at this onset is inventory improves for these mostly spread within the gay drugs (and other drugs in the community or men who have works). sex with other men. Also, like Another advantage of AIDS, monkeypox has mostthe monkeypox is that it is ly been found to be sexually not nearly as contagious as transmissible, even though COVID-19. And when people health experts say, sex is only have monkeypox, there most one way to get monkeypox. It likely are aware of it due to the can be spread by close nonsexsymptoms, specifically rash ual contact, by infected matethat will typically develop. rials or objects, and by large Health officials also have respiratory droplets during data tracking, case detection prolonged face-to-face conand contract tracing models tact. for infectious disease down Just sharing a bed with to a science in most commu- someone who is infected or nities because of COVID-19. by sharing items like towels or However, in order for these unwashed clothing could lead models to be applied to mon- to someone getting monkeykeypox, there must be public pox. So it’s technically easier to catch monkeypox than more skilled society is better AIDS. What can we learn from for the country’s competitiveness internationally and AIDS? Health experts say by makes for a stronger economy; 4) Government could save on reduced reliance of public assistance programs; 5) As crime has been found to be correlated to poverty and unemployment, a more educated society helps to reduce crime; 6) Higher educational attainment is also found to be related to higher levels of civic engagement and voting. In the mix of arguing for college debt cancelation now or in the future, there should also be included ways to get public colleges and universities to be more affordable and accessible. Otherwise what are we ultimately doing with debt cancelation, just enriching the “business” of higher education at the expense of both students and taxpayers.

not stigmatizing this transmissible disease as just a gay disease which could prevent people from getting the monkeypox vaccination. And clearly there is a potential for monkeypox to spread to other populations as what eventually occurred with AIDS. So the messaging should be the fact and science: anyone who has been in close contact with someone with monkeypox is at increased risk of infection, regardless of a person’s gender, sexual orientation, or travel history. Health experts say monkeypox is quickly spreading and evolving. At this very moment, the State of Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) said risk to most Hawaii residents remains low. Hawaii has done a phenomenal job relative to the rest of the nation in handling COVID-19. Local officials must do more of the same with regard to combatting monkeypox. Diagnostics, vaccines and treatment for monkeypox – we already have them. Local public health officials need to ensure that the limited supply of monkeypox vaccines we already have must be distributed equitably and efficiently. Those who can receive the monkeypox vaccination, should do so. Let’s work together on beating monkeypox early.



Biden Cancels Federal College Loans as High as $20,000 by Edwin Quinabo


illions of young adults and families will get a fresh start under a student loan forgiveness plan that many are already calling a big boost. No longer waiting for Congress to deliver a comprehensive loan forgiveness bill, President Joe Biden fulfilled an election promise via executive power by recently ordering the U.S. Department of Education to cancel up to $20,000 of federal student loan debt. “If all borrowers claim the relief that they’re entitled to, 43 million federal student loan borrowers will benefit,” the White House said in a press release. “And of those, 20 million will have their debt completely canceled.” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement, “Today, we’re delivering targeted relief that will help ensure borrowers are not placed in a worse position financially because of the pandemic, and restore trust in a system that should be creating opportunity, not a debt trap.”

Who qualifies and for how much

“In keeping with my campaign promise, my Administration is announcing a plan to give working and middle class families breathing room as they prepare to resume federal student loan payments in January 2023,” Biden said Policy experts say Biden’s loan cancelation program is geared to assist middle-class General Public Supports Loan Cancelation In June, an NPR/Ipsos Poll found a majority of the general public (55%) supported forgiving up to $10,000 of a person’s federal student loan debt. Forty-seven percent of all respondents said they supported forgiving up to $50,000 in debt, while 41% expressed support for wiping the slate completely clean for all borrowers. While there is considerable support for loan forgiveness, and some say it isn’t enough, there are others who want some kind of option for loan holders who already paid off some or all of their college loans.

and lower-incomed families. Under his plan, individuals who 1) meet income requirements will be eligible for up to $10,000 in debt cancellation. - Single borrowers are eligible for the relief if their adjusted gross income in 2020 or 2021 was less than $125,000. - Married couples and heads of households need an AGI below $250,000 to qualify. For current students who are dependents, eligibility will be based on the income of their parents. 2) Another $10,000 could be waived for some people who also received federal Pell Grants, which are awarded to students based on financial need. But they also must meet the income requirements. The White House said more than 60% of current federal student loan borrowers also received Pell Grants.

Mixed reaction

While many college graduates with loans expressed excitement and gratitude, others say more could have been done. Over 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. The average student loan payment is $400 a month. Other Democrat leaders earlier supported a $50,000 loan forgiveness instead of Biden’s $10,000. Senate Majority Leader Chuck

James Pagdilao, Hilo, HI, said “I think that Biden’s loan forgiveness program is a good option for those who have outstanding student loans, and as long as there is an option for those who have already paid towards their loans to get a reimbursement, then the program is fair.” He adds, “The amount proposed is fine, I am not sure of the exact math for this but everything comes at a cost, whether it’s directly from taxpayers or another part of the government’s budget.” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told CNN, “Assuming that 75% of folks who take us on, on the president’s student loan cancellation plan, and you look

at the average monetary cash flow on that, it’s going to be about $24 billion per year.” That’s below what other independent budget experts have forecast. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated the cost of the plan at about $500 billion over the next 10 years. Pagdilao took out both federal and private student loans totaling $24,000. He has about $9,000 left in federal student loans. “So far the loans have been quite difficult to pay off, due to interest having accumulated prior to the moratorium of interest and payments for these loans from COVID-19. I am still in the process of paying these loans

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,” he said Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) 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.” A $10,000 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, while the bottom 40 percent would receive just a quarter of the relief because lower-income families take on larger student debt loans. Republicans have rejected all attempts at student loan forgiveness. Sen. Richard Burr, the ranking Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released a statement saying that Biden is “asking taxpayers to subsidize debt held by some of America’s highest earners in order to court votes.”

off and the forgiveness will help with the Federal Portion of my loans.” Pagdilao aims to become a doctor. “So anything off of an estimated $200000+ loan helps,” he said. Raymond Soriano, Makakilo, said “Immediately when I heard of the news I contacted my two nieces who both recently finished their master’s degree on the mainland. I know they took out loans but don’t know if they’d qualify for Biden’s loan cancelation program. They both were excited to hear about it and said they’d definitely look into it.” Soriano said, “about two years ago when I heard Biden was contemplating forgiving

college loans, at the time my other niece was about to start medical school so I advised my sister to make sure she gets federal loans as much as possible, and that the originator of those loans are held by the federal government, and not just in name only because some private lenders like to use the word federal as a misleading trick. Now this niece should also be able to get some benefit with this debt cancelation.”

Types of Loans that Qualify Besides income requirements, student loan borrowers must look at the type of loans they have in order to qualify for Biden’s debt cancellation pro(continue on page 5)


COVER STORY (Biden Cancels....from page 4)

gram. The U.S. Department of Education says that all federal loans held by the department are eligible for forgiveness including undergraduate loans, graduate loans, spousal loans, and Parent PLUS and Grad PLUS loans. Parents who owe Parent PLUS Loans may be retired and therefore have limited income. The latest student loan debt statistics show that there are approximately $100 billion Parent PLUS Loans outstanding. Borrowers with FFEL or Perkins loans not owned by the Education Department could consolidate their loans into a Direct Consolidation loan. Loans from private lenders are not eligible for debt cancellation. Some Federal Family Education Loans and some federal Perkins loans — specifically those that originated with and are owned by a private bank, college or other entity — may not be eligible for cancellation. The Federal Student Aid office says individuals can review their loan documents or log into their account at studentaid.gov to check if their loan is federally or privately held. Loans that were made after June 30 this year are not eligible for cancellation.

How to apply for debt cancelation and time frame The application for cancellation should be available sometime in early October, said Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the White House National Economic Council. Individuals can sign up on the Education Department website to be notified when the application is available. “Once the borrower completes the application, they can expect relief within four to six weeks,” he said. He said applications will be accepted until Dec. 31, 2023, but administration officials are encouraging borrowers to apply before Nov. 15 of this year to ensure that they benefit from the debt cancellation before monthly loan payments restart in January. Mason Aquino, Honolu-

lu, a graduate from a private university in Oahu, is one of many Filipinos pleased with the 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’s the government’s job to support its people. Student loan forgiveness is 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. 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.”

Other actions on college loans Besides the debt cancelation, Biden also extends the COVID-19 pandemic-related pause on repaying federal student loan debt until Dec. 31. The pause, which included waiving interest as well as penalties and action on defaulted loans, began in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic. The president also has proposed capping monthly payments for current and future undergraduate loans at 5% of a borrower’s discretionary income, down from 10%. On a potential to affect inflation Inflation, or the Consumer Price Index, is 8.5% according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some critics question if the debt cancelation would raise inflation. George Selgin, senior fellow and director emeritus of the Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives at the Cato Institute, said the loan forgiveness plan would make inflation go up, but “not very much.” The Penn Wharton Bud-

get Model puts the inflation increase at 0.2 percentage points over the next six months to a year. “Nearly forgiving these loans isn’t quite the same as putting money in people’s pockets,” Selgin said in explaining why he thought the inflationary impact would be small relative to the amount of government spending involved. Those affected will have less debt and less reason to save money to pay off the debt, “but it hardly follows that they’re going to go on spending sprees. It’s not the same as getting a windfall in their bank accounts,” he said. Other economists, such as those at Goldman Sachs have said the inflationary impact would be essentially zero, because the resumption of student loan payments at the end of this year would offset increased spending by those who had part or all of their loans forgiven. Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, went the complete opposite saying Biden’s college debt policies will cause a net drop in inflation of 0.03 percentage points.

High cost of higher education is the real issue In the same NPR/Ipsos Poll, when asked to choose between debt forgiveness and addressing the high cost of college, an overwhelming majority — borrowers and non-borrowers alike — said addressing the rising cost of college was most important. According to ThinkImpact website, in the 20202021 school year, the average tuition and required fees for a year at a public college for an in-state student was $10,388 and

“The application for cancellation should be available sometime in early October. Individuals can sign up on the Education Department website to be notified when the application is available. Once the borrower completes the application, they can expect relief within four to six weeks. Applications will be accepted until Dec. 31, 2023, but administration officials are encouraging borrowers to apply before Nov. 15 of this year to ensure that they benefit from the debt cancellation before monthly loan payments restart in January.”

— Bharat Ramamurti

Deputy Director White House National Economic Council $22,698 for an out-of-state student. A typical undergraduate degree at a public college is upwards of $40,000 to $85,000. This does not include living expenses. The average cost of tuition and required fees for a year at private college for the 20202021 school year was $38,185. A typical undergraduate degree at a private college is about $160,000. This does not include living expenses. Soriano said the cost to get a college degree now is off the charts. “Tuition and fees alone are expensive and consider also that the cost of living has gone up. Most students today have to take out big loans plus work, and they’re not finishing their undergraduate degree in four

years, most of the time, which makes it more costly. “I think about how many smart kids who will not go on to college because they cannot afford it. In some other countries, higher education is either free or affordable. We talk about valuing education in this country. I question the truth of that. If we really did value education, we would find a way for college to be more affordable so that most kids can further their studies,” Soriano said. “Biden’s cancelation of some money to help out these young kids (and their parents) wanting to make a better life for themselves is a good start. The big picture is that education needs reforming,” Soriano said.



The Queen’s Passing, The Obama’s Portraits, and American Democracy By Emil Guillermo


n the same week Queen Elizabeth II died at age 96, Hawaii’s Barack Obama was back in the news. And it was fortuitous timing. Both he and his wife Michelle are reminders to not go overboard on the Queen. Have compassion for her as a human being, sure. But remain repulsed by all that the monarchy stood for. When she passed on September 8, the Queen was the nostalgic mascot of white superiority, where “I’m royal and you’re not” decides a lot. Granted, the Queen had no real “political” power. But she still had enormous influence in Great Britain and in the 15 countries in the commonwealth. She was a walking contradiction. A hood ornament but with none of the real might of the British Empire. She was just a living museum piece, a reminder of a repulsive imperial past. You want to honor the colonizer? We started a revolution over that in America. I don’t blame the Queen personally. I covered the Queen once when she visited San Francisco in 1983. Then as now, as the world mourns her death, I am gratefully reminded how in our American democracy there is no monarchy. I respect the Queen, of course, but I am still thinking about how in this country we do not have royalty. No, we have a president and first lady like Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. It’s BOMO. They were back in Washington for the unveiling of their official portraits this week. All President Biden had to say was “Welcome home,” and I could feel it instantly. Not just in the room, but I could feel it all the way through my skinny TV screen, with C-SPAN on in my 106-degree California. The good feelings of being American, the invincible audacity, the peppy mojo of it all,

BOMO brought it back – not just for Biden, but for everyone watching. You’ll recall the Obamas left the White House in that tense but peaceful inaugural transition in January 2017, the way it’s supposed to be. Governance has never been the same after America entered The Dark Years. How dark? Biden’s been fighting the darkness 24-7 ever since he took over in 2020. But as we know, the narcissistic drama of a twice impeached defeated president— No. 45—never ends. The Obamas were back in the White House the very day an exclusive Washington Post investigation exposed that the former disgraced President had documents containing the top secret nuclear capabilities of a foreign government, secrets so closely guarded only the president and a handful of officials were aware of their existence. Lives were at stake if the information fell into the wrong hands. All of that was found last month at Mar-a-Lago, secured with just a single padlock. There was perhaps no better time for a White House visit. More than ever, America needed No Drama Obama. And Obama rose to the occasion. He kept things light so we could remember those happier times. “Thanks for letting us invite a few friends to the White House,” Barack Obama said to Biden at the start. “We will try not to tear up the place.” A burst of laughter put people at ease. But maybe because we all know he couldn’t tear up the place any worse than President 45. Obama was funny and gracious and gave Biden his props, thanking him for his “decency” and “strength.” “Thanks to your faith in our democracy and the American people,” Obama said, “the country is better off than when you took office. And we should all be deeply grateful for that.” There were 10 seconds of applause. It could have lasted longer. The unveiling of official

Queen Elizabeth II

presidential portraits should always be a good time. It’s about history and art, more than policy. But Biden had set the tone by reminding us of the kind of presidency and country we had under Obama. “We weren’t sure we’d get anything done on ACA,” Biden said. “Think about the compromise. You refused. You went big, and now the Affordable Care Act is there permanently, and it’s even being improved on.” Of course, that’s not all. The Recovery Act brought America back from the Great Recession. Anyone with a house mortgage under water back then knows what Obama’s HAMP program did to make things right. And then he mentioned one thing that still matters to many Asian American Filipinos. “You stood up for hundreds of thousands of Dreamers,” Biden said. “Dreamers who only know America as their home.” These were among the Obama era polices that changed America for the good. And it came out of an administration that governed like we were all one family. “For eight years, we grew to be a family for each other,” Biden said. “A family from different backgrounds brought together by a shared value set.” It was a sentiment Jill Biden also shared when she spoke. Sure, those days weren’t always perfect, but those were good years for Filipino Americans. Don’t forget the victory over equity pay for Filipino Veterans of World War II after nearly six decades of fighting. Filipino Americans should never forget Obama got it done.

Michelle Obama’s Democracy Lesson

But for me, the day was Mi-

chelle Obama’s, as she connected all the dots at this unveiling of the portraits. This was a time for art, after all. Barack Obama’s portrait, a masterful bit of photorealism by Robert McCurdy, captured Obama poised for history, the first biracial African American from Hawaii ever to be president. He was a standout amid a background of white space. And there was Michelle Obama, in a Sharon Sprung portrait, full of life and color, a first lady like never before. Both Obamas individually were portrayed, artfully, more truthfully than any literal photo, with plenty of room for imagination, appreciation, and inspiration. Michelle Obama wearing braids was humbled to “see this big, beautiful painting staring back at me,” she said. “I never could have imagined that any of this would be part of my story.” She launched into the importance of presidential portraits, White House traditions, and why they are “absolutely necessary.” They matter for everyone participating in and watching our democracy, she said. Because people make their voices heard with their vote, and an inauguration is held to ensure a peaceful transition of power, she continued. “And once our time is up, we move on and all that remains in this hallowed place are our good efforts and these portraits.” That’s the way it’s supposed to be in a democracy. Then came more of the personal touch, about how this was happening to an African American woman who “wasn’t supposed to serve as First Lady.” Michelle Obama asked, “And who determines that?” “Too often in this country, people feel like they have to look a certain way or act a certain way to fit in,” Michelle Obama continued. “That they have to make a lot of money or come from a certain group, or class or faith in order to matter. But what we’re looking at today, a portrait of a biracial kid with an unusual name, and the

daughter of a water pump operator and a stay-at-home mom, what we are seeing is a reminder that there’s a place for everyone in this country.” It’s the important takeaway from this event. A democracy moment. “For every young kid who is doubting themselves, (they have) to believe that they can too,” Michelle Obama said. “That is what this country is about. It’s not about blood or pedigree or wealth. It’s a place where everyone should have a fair shot.” In a democracy, a president isn’t a king. In a monarchy, that takes blood and pedigree.. She added how division and discrimination might have dimmed the light in our country, but that what we share is “so much bigger than what we don’t. Our democracy is so much stronger than our differences.” It was a message that should speak to every Filipino American, young, and old. Immigrant, native born. And you can see it in the portraits. The art. Derived from the imagination, both portraits enabled us to better appreciate our memory of the past, and to envision the possibility of an even greater future for our democracy One wonders about the portrait of the 45th president. Perhaps one day, an orange-haired face with a large body will be on the walls, maybe after serving time for violations of the Espionage Act. But let’s stay positive. Can we imagine a portrait of an Asian American Filipino president someday? Someday in America. It will happen. Or at least, it can happen. You don’t have to be royalty to be a president or first lady. Not here. That’s the promise of a thriving democracy. EMIL GUILLERMO is a journalist and commentator. He writes a column for the Inquirer’s North American Bureau. He talks about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on www.amok.com.



Start with Permit Delays to Trim Homebuilding Red Tape By Keli‘i Akina


f you need proof that Hawaii’s housing shortage is related at some level to bureaucratic incompetence, look no further than the many examples of long permit delays. For years, auditors, researchers and members of the public have pointed out that inefficiencies and delays in the permitting process make it difficult to complete building and renovation projects in a timely manner. Honolulu County Council member Andria Tupola recently noticed that questions about permit delays come up fre-

quently at her public events, so she decided to investigate. At her request, the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting reported on its current permit backlog. The results, Tupola said, were “discouraging.” According to the department, more than 8,000 permit applications were mired in the swamp of DPP’s review process as of Aug. 11, 2022. Nearly half of those, 3,499, were in the pre-screening phase, while 4,780 were under review by DPP examiners. Only 1,113 permits had been approved and were waiting to be picked up. Dean Uchida, who served as director of the department until he resigned not long after that information was made public, acknowledged that the wait time for commercial or


residential permits can now be as long as two years. Those permit delays are more than just an annoyance. Uncertainty and lost time caused by the permit backlog translate into higher costs for homebuilders. As the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization noted in its recent study on regulatory burdens to housing, the average approval and permitting delay in Hawaii is more than three times the national mean. That excessive delay not only raises the price of building homes, it also disincentivizes homebuilding. To their credit, Hawaii policymakers recognize that the permit delays are a problem. However, the solutions that many of them have offered are merely attempts to solve bureaucracy with yet more bureaucracy. Some have suggested hiring more

Hawaii Residents to Receive Tax Refunds By October


he first round of refund distributions has been sent to 100,000 taxpayers through direct deposit or by mail around Sept 12. However, for those who are receiving refund checks by mail and who filed their tax returns by July 31, tax refunds will be sent by the end of October. “It is my hope that the $300 million in tax refunds being distributed so far, bring some relief to the hardworking people of the State of Hawaii who were hit hard by the pandemic,” Governor David Ige said. Currently, the Department of Tax-

ation are expecting additional check stock supplies to arrive to ramp up sending out paper refunds via mail to Hawaii residents. Once the check stock supply is received, paper refunds will increase to 90,000 per week from 2,000. Hawaii taxpayers who requested electronic direct deposit will receive their refund through the same bank account. For those who requested a paper check refund or owed additional taxes, they will receive refund by paper check. The method of refund is unchangeable.

Chamber of Commerce Hawaii is Now Accepting 2023 Public Health Fund Grant Applications


s a trustee of the Public Health Fund, the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii (COC) is now encouraging non-profit organizations to apply for its 2023 Public Health Fund Grants. COC is looking to fund health-related initiatives in Honolulu that are implementing meaningful public health education and research projects.

The application period for funding will end by December 15, 2022. Applications are encouraged to download an application form at cochawaii.org/public-healthfund.

workers, but that would only add more people to the departments that caused the permitting delays in the first place. Likewise, suggestions to buy better software or equipment are Band-Aid solutions that pour more money onto the problem without ever getting to the root cause. We don’t want or need a nominally more efficient bureaucracy. Rather, we should be looking at ways to dismantle the bureaucracy completely. Multiple stages of review contribute to the backlog, so why not dispense with the need for review or a permit in certain situations? For example, the county could issue “pre-approved” plans or changes that don’t require DPP approval. The government also could privatize some permitting functions, thereby allowing departments to reduce their efforts to the most essential and specialized areas.

An even better solution would be to embrace “by right” zoning and building. This approach, which has helped cities like Tokyo meet their housing needs without skyrocketing prices, allows any proposed construction that conforms to existing building and land-use codes to proceed without the need for permits or government permissions. Research shows that there is a strong correlation between government regulation and high home costs. The permit backlog in Hawaii has contributed to the slow growth of housing in Hawaii, thereby driving prices even higher. To help make our state affordable, the government needs to start eliminating the red tape and bureaucracy that surround homebuilding — starting with the permit delays.

KELI‘I AKINA is president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.



Generational Recipes Nourish and Strengthen Filipino Families and Communities

By Jasmine Sadang


a Hawaii Pacific University student from Ewa, is familiar with many of her family’s recipes that her parents and family usually cook every night or on special occasions. “Actually, [we] have a lot of generational foods in our family. There’s this one food [that’s] really rare because I’ve never met another Filipino who knows or ate it. It’s pronounced like ‘lak-dek’,” Ponce said. It’s a dish that Ponce’s mom classifies as the Ilocano version of sisig. She said, “You mince the pig ear, snout and other parts of the pig Then you want to boil them with a lot of garlic, pepper and bay leaf. It’s just like adobo where you stew it and get the fat to come out Ilocano Regional Cuisine naturally.” Renzelle J. Ponce, 20, Though Ponce faced ob-

ike important pieces of family heirlooms such as jewelry, antique furniture and homes, family recipes are invaluable treasures passed down from generation to generation. All families have bonded from the common activity of cooking; and sharing menus with others is always a treat. Filipino families are no exception, and both parents and children recall how the tradition of passing down family recipes from generation to generation not only provides nourishment for the body but also strengthens their relationships.

stacles with her parents because of cultural and language differences, cooking and family traditions kept their sense of togetherness and her own sense of culture. “Since it’s such a region-specific food and my grandpa cooked it, it really helps keep the Ilocano culture alive and the remembrance of my grandpa. All of my family eats together when it’s done,” she said. “We [usually] make a lot in one day and we just freezer batch it to eat for future food or add to pinakbet or any type of sinigang as a filler for meat.”

Bonding Over Bibingka Another family has a recipe cooking up its own generational tradition. Christina Jayne Bayani, 18, a University of Hawaii-Manoa college student from Waipahu, has a baking recipe that she shares with her mother, Angelyn. “My mom and I bond over

Renzelle Ponce often cooks her family’s Ilocano dish, lakdek.

a recipe for bibingka. It was a recipe that I watched my mom write in her recipe book, and then baked,” said Bayani. “I remember helping her with mixing and not too sure how old I was, but it was before I was 10 years old.” Bayani’s school and work schedule make it difficult for them to bond, but cooking is still their go-to leisurely activity. “I enjoy cooking with my daughter, but sometimes she gives me more work than

help,” Bayani’s mother said. “However, it gives us time to bond since she’s not home as much anymore.” Since bibingka is a recipe that her mom grew up making, the younger Bayani plans to pass down the recipe to her future children. “It’s already written down in my mom’s recipe book, so it’s something for the next generations to enjoy as well,” (continue on page 12)



Filipino Cooking Priest’s Mission is to Save Families and the World through Food “Filipino Cooking Priest “ Fr. Leo Patalinghug

By Edna Bautista, Ed.D.


he family is a strong cultural value for Filipinos. But in a hectic world filled with many distractions, the family unit all over the world is under the threat of becoming weak. Fr. Leo Patalinghug, who earned a global reputation as the “Filipino Cooking Priest,” is on a life mission “to bring families back to the dinner table – away from work, school, TV, games and many other things we get caught up in.” Famously known for beating “Iron Chef” Bobby Flay in a Food Network “throwdown” a decade ago, Fr. Leo seeks to save families through food. With his dynamic ministry, Plating Grace, formerly known as the Grace Before Meals movement, he aims “to bring

about a future of stronger families, closer relationships and a deeper understanding of Jesus as Food for our mind, body and soul.”

Family Success = Shared Meals Philippine-born Fr. Leo is the son of Fe and Dr. Carlos Patalinghug Sr. His father’s job as a physician moved the family to the United States (coincidentally, Maryland was appealing because it sounded like “Mary’s Land”). “I was born in Cataingan, Masbate, came to America when I was 2 and, ever since, Baltimore has been home. I am the youngest of five siblings, with one in heaven,” he said. As immigrants, his parents were far away from their support system in the Philippines and had to adapt to a new cul-

ture as well as raise four young children. It was a challenge, but Fr. Leo credited them for being able to create and maintain a tight-knit and loving family, even though he admits that they are not perfect. He realizes that not every family has the same experiences, and he has met many others who overcame even greater challenges to build happy, healthy families. He found that the common ingredient for success was simply sharing meals together.

A Divine And Delicious Destiny The path towards becoming a priest and professional chef was divinely directed, but there were slight detours along the way. Raised by devout Catho(continue on page 14)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: FAMILY MEAL THEORY “Filipino Cooking Priest” Fr. Leo Patalinghug proves that having regular family meals together strengthens family ties as well as provides positive outcomes for children: • Increases academic performance • Improves family communication • Lowers high-risk behaviors • Cultivates healthy eating habits • Improves emotional well-being Specific statistics and citations of research may be found in the preface of his book, “Saving the Family: The Transformative Power of Sharing Meals with People You Love” (2019).



Are Americans Workaholics? By Elpidio R. Estioko


n September 5, we celebrated a national holiday that was dear to our hearts… Labor Day! It’s a national holiday that always falls on the first Monday in September which gives workers a three-day weekend off from work often referred to as Labor Day Weekend (LDW). As I See It, it was a day, not only for workers but also for their families. It was a day of rest, a day of entertainment, a day of hope, a day of enjoyment, a day of shopping, a day of reflection, a day with the family, a bonding opportunity with relatives… and a day for Americans who have been working so hard on a day-today basis, for their families.

Most of the time, we refer to average Americans as workaholics because they work two to three jobs to put food on the table and keep both ends meet. They also are reported to take advantage of working overtime. So, does this mean America has more workaholics than any other nation? Is it true that America is home to more “workaholics” than any other country? That seems to be the case but according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international entity based in Paris with 38-member countries, the US is not No. 1 in terms of hours worked. The US ranks No. 12 in the world in terms of yearly hours worked by the average worker at 1,791 hours. No. 1 is Mexico at 2,128 hours; followed by Costa Rica at 2.073 hours. The rest of the top 10 are Columbia (1,964), Chile (1.916), Korea (1,915), Malta (1,882), Russia (1,874), Greece (1872),

Romania (1,838), and Croatia (1,835). As one of the most common paid holidays in the US, Business News Daily also found that “97% of employers provide time off to their employees in observance of Labor Day.” Typically, however, police and correctional officers, certain utilities workers and operators, air traffic controllers, registered nurses, firefighters, those in retail, and those in major transportation services don’t get the day off. They are frontliners that need to work even during Labor Day. The history of Labor Day in the United States and Can-

ada dates back to the late 19th century when the trade union and labor movements grew enormously and resultantly a variety of days were chosen by trade unionists as a day to celebrate labor. The holiday was first proposed in the 1880s by Matthew Maguire, a machinist, while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union of New York in 1882. In May 1882, Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor proposed Labor Day after witnessing the annual labor festival held in Toronto, Canada. Oregon was the first state of the United States to make it an official public holiday in 1887. In June 1894, during the Pullman Strike, which resulted in the deaths of workers at the hands of United States Army and United States Marshals Service, United States Congress unanimously voted to approve legislation to make Labor Day a national holiday and President Grover Cleve-

land signed it into law six days after the end of the strike. Traditionally, Labor Day was marked with a street parade to demonstrate to the public the strength and hardworking spirit of trade and labor organizations. This parade was followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations plus speeches by prominent men and women which were introduced later. Presently, Labor Day 2022 is a day of rest or the last chance for many workers to go on trips before the summer ends. For many students, it marks one of the last few days before school starts again. In some neighborhoods, people organize fireworks displays, barbecues and public arts or sports events (with the football season starting on or around Labor Day and many teams playing their first game of the year during Labor Day weekend). For most people, Labor Day means two things: a day off and a chance to say good(continue on page 15)



Why Did Bongbong Abolish PACC? By Perry Diaz


n day one of his presidency, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. issued Executive Order (EO) No. 1, which was to abolish the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) as well as the Office of Secretary. Marcos’ reason for the abolition was to achieve “simplicity, economy, and efficiency.” In his EO, Marcos stated that to achieve “simplicity, economy, and efficiency” in bureaucracy without affecting disruptions in internal management and general governance, “the administration shall streamline official processes and procedures.” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said there was no need to retain the PACC, saying that its powers and functions are “not in line with streamlining.” “First of all, its nature is investigative, which can also be conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman. So, usually, what they do is they gather evidence on presidential appointees and file the case with the Ombudsman,” she said. Also, lawyer Tony La Viña, former dean of the Ateneo School of Government, said Marcos’ decision to deactivate the PACC was needed, saying that its work “can be done by the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES).” Weaken fight against corruption But Greco Belgica, PACC head in 2021, disagreed with La Viña’s assessment. He warned that the move could weaken the fight against corruption. He said that PACC played a key role especially when the Deputy Secretary for Legal Affairs (DESLA) has its hands full of cases to investigate. “Without PACC,” Belgica said, “no one would know what is happening, most espe-

cially on corruption issues.” He reasoned that when people are not aware of corruption in the government because cases are not resolved, “corruption will proliferate because no one gets penalized.” Indeed, without the PACC, “DESLA shall make recommendations on matters requiring its action, to the executive secretary for approval, adoption or modification by the President,” Marcos’ EO No. 1 said, which doesn’t really streamline the process. On the contrary, it adds extra steps to the process. It adds another level of admin-

istration by including the DESLA to the equation. EO No.1 shall promulgate rules of procedure in administrative cases under its jurisdiction, provided that those promulgated by the PACC “shall remain in force.” But while DESLA works against corruption, it is also handling the “external and internal legal issues of the President. It then becomes a question of priority. The DESLA has to prioritize its workload – corruption investigation versus legal issues. Ultimately, the President would have to intervene, whether to put more effort in

fighting corruption or handling external and internal issues.

Justification In an attempt to justify the abolition of PACC, Cruz-Angeles said in a press briefing: “Basically the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission… is not in line with streamlining. First of all, its nature is investigative, which can also be conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman.” Cruz-Angeles said that the PACC gathers evidence on presidential appointees and then files a case with the Ombudsman. However, she pointed out

that a complaint could directly be filed with the Ombudsman even without the PACC. However, according to former PACC Commissioner Manuelito Luna, the PACC is not a mere duplicate of the Office of the Ombudsman because they have differing jurisdictions. He said there is coordination between them and the Ombudsman regarding the handling of cases. “If a presidential appointee with a salary grade 26 or up, the case is usually referred to the Ombudsman; otherwise, PACC handles the case,” Luna (continue on page 13)




Stories of Filipino and Filipino American Women Who Fought a Dictator By Rose Cruz Churma


t would be 50 years ago this month of September when then President Ferdinand Marcos would declare Martial Law in the Philippines. For most of us who came of age in the early 70s, September 21, 1972 would evoke memories, most of which we would rather forget. In the prologue, the author quotes Spanish philosopher George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Perhaps the same is true for those who choose to forget the past, or whose version of the past is distorted due to the prevalence of disinformation on social media – the medium of choice for most young people now. The author notes that it became her impetus to write this book as a reminder of the brutal repression under the Marcos dictatorship and the role of Filipinas and Filipino-American women in the

struggle to restore democracy in the Philippines. At the time this book was being prepped for publication in 2016, the dictator’s son was running for the vice presidency. He lost that election, but he won the presidency in 2022, and there is that unspoken fear that those years of brutality and repression may repeat itself. Thus, it is important to bring to light, works like this where women who were part of that struggle are given space to tell their stories. This was done using faceto-face interviews over the course of several years. The women were also actively involved in editing the drafts of their narratives, and some wrote parts of their stories. Aurora Javate De Dios organized demonstrations and worked in the underground for three years but was arrested and became a political prisoner in 1976. Aida Santos and her husband worked in the underground movement but were

eventually imprisoned and survived torture and sexual abuse while detained. Mila Aguilar, a journalist, became one of a few women who advocated for equality in the movement and was released from detention soon after the People Power revolution in 1986 which ended the dictatorship. The only religious in the group is Sister Mary John Mananzan, a tireless advocate for political prisoners, informal settlers and migrant workers, particularly women. The two Filipino-Amer-

ican women included are Geline Avila, who became a leader in the anti-dictatorship movement in the US. The other is Cindy Domingo of Seattle who led the effort to achieve justice for the murders of her brother, Silme Domingo and friend, Gene Viernes who were killed by Marcos’ hired goons in 1981. The book’s editor, Mila De Guzman and her sister Viol De Guzman also shared their stories. Viol De Guzman was living in New York City when Martial Law was declared. She went back home soon after, and for 20 years, from 1972 to 1992 became a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Mila De Guzman, who conceptualized this book, is a freelance writer who has organized movements around issues concerning Filipino immigrants, the LGBT community, and women in the US. She received her degree in writing from the University of San Francisco and has been awarded various writing residencies.

In the last segment titled “Epilogue” Sister Mary John Mananzan, who used to be the president of Saint Scholastica’s College in Manila writes: “Activism has deepened my religious beliefs and made me a better Christian… that social transformation is more rewarding because we are able to make a difference in people’s lives instead of simply aiming to save their souls so they can go to heaven… that everyone should respond to social issues and sacrifice present conveniences for the future good of everyone.” The narratives of these women are inspiring. They had fought to improve the quality of life for the Filipino people, wherever they may be, and the empowerment of women – and will do so again, should it become necessary.

ROSE CRUZ CHURMA established a career in architecture 40 years ago, specializing in judicial facilities planning. As a retired architect, she now has the time to do the things she always wanted to do: read books and write about them, as well as encourage others to write.

(FEATURE: Generational ....from page 9)

she said.

Filipino Cuisine for Communities Oftentimes, generational recipes are passed down to those who want to share their passion for cooking with everyone in their communities. Elena’s Restaurant, known for its tagline “Home of Finest Filipino Foods,” is a staple in the Waipahu community that dates back to 1974. “During this time, history was also being made in a small kitchen with a counter and six stools in the Nabarette Café in Waipahu where Elena and Theo Butayan founded Elena’s Restaurant,” owner Melissa Cedillo said. “The Butayan family immigrated from Dagupan City, Pangasinan, Philippines, in 1969 to

the island of Oahu. The sugar plantation town of Waipahu, Hawaii, is where Elena’s Restaurant opened its doors for business. Elena and Theo expanded Elena’s Restaurant to two lunch trucks, where it received additional accolades at food truck rallies and many local events.” The Filipino dishes served at Elena’s Restaurant are dishes that their family grew up loving together. “All the dishes at Elena’s are my mom and dad’s recipes,” Cedillo said. “My parents [have] retired since 2004. [Now] me, my brother and my husband are the owners, with 20 employees. The restaurant is an integral part of our lives. We live and breathe Elena’s,” she said.

Passion For Pinoy Food Filipino food truck chefs

and owners Motley Adovas and Danielle Soriano of Merienda Maui have a mission to carry out during their service to their community. “Filipino tradition plays into my passion for cooking by retaining my cultural identity. People from different cultural backgrounds eat different foods, and I believe that’s the beauty of our heritage as well. The areas in which our family lived and where our ancestors originated influenced the passion Chef Danielle and I have for our cuisine,” Adovas said. The two chefs had very different introductions to cooking and different paths to finding their passion. Chef Danielle Soriano grew up in a family that loved to eat and cook. “When I was young, I re(continue on page 15)



If Only…But! By Seneca Moraleda-Puguan


urrencies around the world are depreciating, causing economies to shake. Natural calamities are becoming more frequent and worse. Deadly viruses are wreaking havoc. Crimes are rising by the day. Wars are just waiting to begin. Bad news, one after another, bombard our waking days. Things are becoming more unbearable each day, aren’t they? The times are crazy and the earth has become a more challenging place to live in. Sometimes, there are only two words my heart wishes to convey but my mouth cannot utter. If only… If only life was easier. If only I can protect my children from the pains and aches that this world brings.

If only we can control the seasons. If only we can turn back time. If only we can prevent cruel and heartbreaking circumstances from happening. If only good exists and evil does not. If only death was escap- is used to indicate the possibility of anything other than able. what is being stated. If only. We may not have any These things can hap- control on circumstancpen in Hollywood and Ko- es coming our way and the rean dramas. But in real life, events happening around they simply can’t. We live in the world BUT Someone is! a broken, imperfect world. And He left us with countWe live in an era where di- less promises and encourvision, wickedness, injustice agements we can hold on to. Let me give you a rundown abound. of such wonderful truths we But… yes, but! Oh, ‘But’ is such a beau- can cling on to. John 16:33:“In this tiful word. world you will have trouble. According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘but’ is used to in- But take heart! I have overtroduce a phrase or a clause come the world.” In Matthew 19:26, it contrasting with what has says, Jesus looked at them already been mentioned. It

and said:“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Psalm 30:5:“For his anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may come for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Matthew 24:13:“But to the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Proverbs 10:12: “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs.” Matthew 24:35: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Psalm 3:3:“But you, Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” I can go on and on talking about the many promises of God but this page won’t suffice. In fact, ‘Fear not!’ or ‘Do not be afraid’ has been commanded in the Bible 365 times, one for each day of the year. Yes, we may have a lot of ‘If Onlys’, but it’s much fitting to dwell on the ‘Buts’.

Life may be difficult, and waves may be battering our souls BUT we are not to lose hope and be discouraged. We may sometimes feel alone and unnoticed BUT we are never forsaken and abandoned. We may feel unloved BUT know that we are loved and cared for. There are times we feel helpless and defeated BUT we can lift our heads because we are helped and rescued. Allow me to bring encouragement to your troubled soul with this song from Victory Worship. “When life is overwhelming and fear is all I feel, Your word that lives inside me reminds me You are here. My hope You restore, Your promise is sure, and I am convinced that You are faithful. All things are possible in Your name.” May our ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ be replaced with thoughts of faith and hope from this day forward, knowing that the things around us may seem too impossible to bear BUT all things are possible in His Name. Take heart!

(PERRYSCOPE: Why Did Bongbong....from page 11)

said. “However, the president retains the power to administratively deal with his own appointee. When it comes to presidential appointees, the president has the power to appoint as well as to remove or discipline.” And that’s where it becomes political. PACC workload Belgica said that from October 2017 to June 2022, the PACC addressed 13,000 complaints and that 154 criminal and administrative cases had been filed, 24 individuals were sent to prison and 800 government employees were removed from office. That’s a lot of workload and the results were impressive, which begs the question: Can the DESLA handle the workload without assigning additional personnel to handle them? I doubt it. And this could lead to further delays and backlog in investigating corruption case. It could then lead to a repeat of the old system be-

fore PACC was created: cases piled up from three administrations before President Duterte took over. It was only when Duterte created PACC on October 4, 2017, that the backlog eased and corruption cases were investigated. The PACC, which was created by Duterte’s EO No. 43 in 2017, had the mandate to “directly assist the President in investigating and/or hearing administrative cases primarily involving graft and corruption against all presidential appointees.” The EO stated, “there is a need to create a separate commission […] solely dedicated to providing assistance to the President in the investigation and hearing of administrative cases and complaints.” It likewise had the mandate to conduct lifestyle checks or fact-finding investigations concerning presidential appointees and other public officers allegedly involved in graft and corrupt practices.

Going back to old problem Belgica stressed that he respects the decision of Marcos, he said he is hoping that the government will strengthen the fight against corruption: “If DESLA will not get a boost, like enough staff, we will go back to the old problem.” “If the government will strengthen the Ombudsman, it’s better. Whatever it is that the government will boost, resources should be increased, jurisdiction should be widened, and there should be enough staff,” he said. Duterte’s EO provided that the PACC shall “have the power, on complaint or motu proprio (on its own), and concurrently with the Office of the Ombudsman, to hear,

investigate, receive, gather, and evaluate evidence, intelligence reports, and information.” It’s sad that Marcos had to abolish PACC, which had done a terrific job in pursuing corruption cases against presidential appointees. In effect, what Marcos did was to go back to the days when corrupt presidential appointees would remain untouchable only because of

a slow system of investigating corruption cases, which makes one wonder: Why did Bongbong abolish PACC? I can only surmise that he probably wanted his friends to know that happy days are here again. PERRY DIAZ is a writer, columnist and journalist who has been published in more than a dozen Filipino newspapers in five countries.


FEATURE (Filipino Cooking Priest ....from page 9)

lic parents, Fr. Leo had a firm foundation in his Filipino culture and faith. But as a teen, he was more interested in breakdancing and breaking boards in the martial arts than in breaking bread in mass. He had won awards for choreography and a gold medal in Arnis (Filipino full-contact stick fighting), but he felt lost in church. He often whined to his mother, “Church is so boring, I want to kill myself!” to which she replied, “Well, then you picked the right place to do it.” He also complained that the priest was boring, too, and his dad said, “Well…if you

can do a better job, then do it!” With such an attitude, Fr. Leo never thought God would call him to become a priest. But he did do it, after years of discernment, and his followers and fans feel that he is doing beyond a better job. He received a Catholic education at St. Rose of Lima School and Mt. St. Joseph college preparatory, then went on to major in journalism and political science at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. He also studied philosophy at the Catholic University of America and attended American University in Washington, D.C.

He entered the seminary at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy, and earned his degree in theology with a specialization in Mariology. Fr. Leo was ordained in 1999 and on his ordination card was the scripture passage: “Do you really love me? Then feed my sheep.” After a few years of serving as a diocesan priest back in Baltimore, he became a priest member of a community of consecrated life, Voluntas Dei (Latin for “The Will of God”).

Feeding The Sheep Fr. Leo literally followed the passage on his ordination card and his passion to cook for others. He first learned how to cook from his mother, a home economics teacher, to help her prepare meals for their family and friends. At seminary, his skills grew when he and his spiritual brothers had to take turns every week to prepare family-style meals for each other. He honed his craft by exchanging trade cooking secrets with Italian restaurant owners and taking culinary classes at Le Cordon Bleu in Perugia. He came home to America to preach and teach as well as to cook for fellow priests, parishioners and friends. Using the Internet as an evangelization tool, Fr. Leo started a website to share his faith and culinary experiences. His cooking webisodes were so popular that it caught the attention of a Food Network producer. That led to a cookoff in 2009 when he beat Bobby Flay with his recipe, “Funky Fusion Fajitas with Screamin’ Sour Cream and Holy Guacamole.” It was by the grace of God – and people praying the rosary at the event – that Fr. Leo won. But he joked, “I cheated. I put holy water in the marinade.” The winning recipe is in his first cookbook, “Grace Before Meals: Recipes and Inspiration for Family Meals and Family Life” (2007). The throwdown was an unforgettable experience and turning point in his mission.

The event brought the local community together to support and pray for him and gave Fr. Leo and the movement more exposure to the wider, secular audience. After the show aired on TV, his website crashed from more than two million hits. Doing his early webisodes also prepared him to host “Savoring Our Faith,” a cooking show on EWTN (Catholic media), now in its 11th season. Fr. Leo demonstrates how to make a variety of recipes while talking about the Church’s teachings, delivering the lessons in “bitesized” portions to leave people hungering for more and craving Christ. His “Theology of Food” is documented in his book, “Epic Food Fight: A Bite-Sized History of Salvation” (2014). Fr. Leo also wrote “Spicing Up Married Life: Satisfying Couple’s Hunger for True Love” (2012) and “Saving the Family: The Transformative Power of Sharing Meals with People You Love” (2019). He is co-authoring another cookbook with Dr. Michael Foley, a Baylor University professor who is a theologian and mixologist, entitled “Dining with the Saints: The Sinner’s Guide to a Righteous Feast,” due out next year. The content of his cookbooks and TV show reflects his travels, so his recipes are internationally inspired. As a proud Pinoy, Fr. Leo always includes Filipino dishes in his repertoire. Using food analogies from the Bible, he encourages everyone to cook, eat and spend quality time together. Besides writing books, starring in his cooking show and celebrating mass, Fr. Leo is also busy hosting podcasts (“Shoot the Shiitake”), leading pilgrimages through Select International Tours and doing live cooking demonstrations to spread the gospels. His life is ironically hectic, yet he always makes time to share meals with others to fulfill his mission of “feeding the sheep.” The tireless pastor revealed that his energy

comes from “prayer… and coffee!”

Include The Excluded “Extended” Family Fr. Leo knows that some people come from nontraditional and broken families and who face food insecurities and ostracism. Like Jesus, he wants to show them they are loved unconditionally. He invites them to eat with him as “there is always a place at the Lord’s table.” His compassion for serving the underserved led to the establishment of The Table Foundation (TTF). Some of the charitable nonprofit organization’s projects include helping the homeless, mentoring young chefs and celebrating an Olive Mass (to bless and honor hospitality industry workers). When he turned 50 a couple of years ago, he got his milestone birthday blessing: a food truck. According to the TTF website, “Plating Grace and Grub…is a dynamic ‘faith to fork’ experience, serving up delicious international comfort food with a meaningful message.” The food truck’s internship program provides job formation and training to returning citizens (formerly incarcerated), veterans and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Moreover, “the history and tradition of all religions have shown how the simple act of feeding people can promote peace and harmony and bring about the loving presence of God. This human reality, beautifully captured in the sacred traditions of Roman Catholic teaching, shows that food is the most universal language of all,” according to the TTF website. “The gift of food, along with eating the right food, can help sinners become saints! The Table Foundation is the place that will connect our families to build up our human race family.” Fr. Leo believes we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and one big, global family and he continues to do positive things to make the world a much better place…one meal at a time.



Hawaii Filipino Lions Club to Celebrate Induction of Officers By Jim Bea Sampaga


aunched in June, Hawaii Filipino Lions Club will be celebrating its newly-elected officers in an Induction Ceremony on October 1 from 5:30 to 9pm at Nani Mau Garden and Restaurant at 421 Makalika Street in Hilo, Hawaii. “I was motivated by the words of then- District Governor of Lions Club Hawaii Mitch Tam to start building the Filipino Lions Club,” said Grace Manipol-Larson, president of Hawaii Filipino Lions Club, in Hawaii’s Lions Club newsletter, Leo Liona. “I sent messages to my friends on Facebook. I asked them if they are interested to be the founding leaders of a new Lions Club that embraces the Filipino culture. The replies were overwhelming.” The Hawaii Filipino Lions Club goals are similar to the Lions Club International’s mission statement but with emphasis to celebrating and supporting the Filipino community in Hawaii. Manipol-Larson shares some

of the Hawaii Filipino Lions Club goals below: 1. To build a Filipino Community Center in the Big Island of Hawaii 2. To provide scholarships to graduating high school students with academic excellence who are having financial difficulties to pursue their college degree The Induction of Officers Ceremony will also feature a silent auction, dancing, and a souvenir book. A suggested donation for the dinner will be $55 per person. The list of Hawaii Filipino Lions Club officers are as follows: President: Grace Manipol- Larson 1st VP: Angie D. Santiago 2nd VP: Juliet Douglas Secretary: Rosalind V. Queja

Asst. Secretary: Michelle Tellio Treasurer: Teresita F. Hernando Asst. Treasurer: Espie Badua

Auditor: Erlinda Castle

Board of Director:

Assisted by:

Asst. Auditor:

Evelyn Isabelo

IPDG Mitch Tam

Gemma Moore

Membership Chairperson:

Lion Tamer: Danny Villamin

Perla V. Manahan

Tail Twister: Erlinda Bernardo Guiding Lion: Melissa Chong Board of Director (2 years): Chona Montesines-Sonido

For those interested in joining the Hawaii FilipiHonorary Member: no Lions Club or attending Marissa Kerns the Induction Ceremony on October 1, please reach Associate Member: out to President Grace MaSharlaine T. Gampon nipol-Larson by calling (808) Installation Officer: 640-1540 or emailing raven_ District Governor Gary Nip reuboni@yahoo.com.

(AS I SEE IT: Are Americans....from page 10)

bye to the summer. But why is it called Labor Day? Well, it is a day set aside to pay tribute to working men and women. It has been celebrated as a national holiday in the United States and Canada since 1894. However, like most cultural events, there is still some doubt over its origination although records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor working men and women. But many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday.

Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire proposed the holiday in 1882 What is clear, however, is that the Central Labor Union adopted the Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic. Records show that the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, based on the plans of the Central Labor Union. In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date.

Adovas said his passion for cooking began when he was an apprentice for a local chef in Maui. “A specific dish that I remember that began my passion for cooking is one that Chef Jojo [Vasquez] cooked for me when I was his apprentice back at the Plantation House restaurant in Kapalua,” Adovas shared. “It was Kauai prawn a la plancha with corn risotto and tomato salad. It was a simple dish, but it hit the soul. It’s the process and finished product that I enjoy most when in the kitchen. The orchestrated environment and seeing people happy when they eat the food that I cook for them.” This brings them here today with their popular food truck, Merienda Maui, where together they are sharing the joy and love for cooking and Filipino cuisine that they grew to love.

“The creation of Merienda is always rooted down to the food that Chef Danielle and I grew up eating. Just like Hawaii, it has its own similarity to the Philippines. It’s also a melting pot for diversified cultures and is heavily influenced by traditions. You have the pre-Spanish era and the southeast Asian cultures,” he said. “We want Merienda to be known and be the outlet here on Maui that showcases Filipino cuisine. Merienda and its philosophy through food is a glue for togetherness regardless of lifestyle differences. As for Chef Danielle and me, what we have in common is our lineage and we will continue STORE MANAGER to recreate and Direct store operations elevate dishes that we’ve Bachelor Degree experienced Ubae, LLC. 1284 Kalani St growing up.”  Ste D-107, Honolulu, HI 96744

The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country. The reality is that the average American work so hard, regardless of the rankings compared to other countries, to be able to put food on the table and pay their bills. They deserve a much-needed break! Let’s not forget, the workers are the backbone of the nation! Happy Labor Day, fellow Americans! ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com.

(FEATURE: Generational ....from page 12)

member a dish that we love to eat and cook as a family, and that is kare-kare. It is a thick savory peanut-based stew. I learned how to make it from scratch through my grandmother. This dish isn’t on our menu. But from time to time, we feature this dish in our specials, but with our own interpretation to it,” Soriano said. “Her grandparents were mainly the reasons why she was exposed to the kitchen and grew her love for food and cooking. Now that she’s in the culinary field, she wants to pay homage to her grandparents and introduce the food that was shared on the same table with them and recreate them for people [who] aren’t too familiar with Filipino cuisine yet,” Adovas explained. “On the other hand, I began when I was a mentor by a chef from Seattle while I was doing my senior project from high school. Chef Rod intro-

duced me to garde-manger who deals with cold food in a culinary term.” Although Adovas grew up with his family and eating foods that they cooked for the comfort of their family, his inspiration to become a chef himself comes mainly from the art of cooking that was demonstrated by other talented chefs around him. “Often times when you come across chefs and you ask them the same question, they would automatically tell you a whole story about their grandmother or mother. My mother was the head cook at our home, but mainly because of comfort. The food that she creates gives us comfort, but the art of cooking was adapted by the chefs that mentored me as well as the people that I’ve worked with for the past six years in the industry. I went to this field mainly to help people by providing soulful food,” he said.


SEPTEMBER 17, 2022