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Issue 22, December 2019

Bergenfield elects another FilAm mayor p3

More stories on the web @

Barretto sisters The privilege of behaving badly p6

The Band of Brothers: Then and now p10 Photo by Matt Riddell

Letter from the Editor


‘ Meri

hey are the beads on a rosary of memories. We hang on to these memories tenaciously. They are our remembrances of Christmases past. Every Filipino American has them. Many are poignant, some painful. But most of those memories are joyous moments in lockstep with the merriment of the season. For Filipinos who came to this country from the homeland half a world away, they could be the smell of Puto Bumbong in the chill of early morning as sleepy parishioners stagger home from Simbang Gabi. They could be the joy of opening presents or receiving cash. They could be the Christmas caroling at neighbors’ houses where you remember jesting and singing your lungs out, ‘Thank you, ang babarat ninyo, thank you.’ They could be the memories of all the holiday partying, a non-stop orgy of eating and gift-giving. Christmas Day is when we dress in our most festive and attend mass to welcome the birth of Christ. There is a ceasefire on personal animosities, and everyone is on good behavior. We carry all these memories we’ve kept in our hearts to our new homes in the United States. In suburbs where there is a Catholic Church, chances are there is a Filipino community organizing a Simbang Gabi. For some of us who hold two jobs, it’s tough attending the Simbang Gabi, but we persist because it is not Christmas without the nine nights of masses. The idea of coming together for worship and listening to the Filipino choir fill us with a deep sense of nostalgia. Christmas and the entire holidays spilling into the New Year is always special to us. We hold on to our memories of Pasko in the Motherland, and embrace


Painting by Fernando Racelis our improvised Christmas in America, even as the word ‘Christmas’ is slowly being erased by a society obsessed with political correctness. Happy holidays? It’s not quite the same but we say it to the mailman

Contributing Writers Tricia J. Capistrano Ludy AstraquilloOngkeko Joel David Mariel Padilla Wendell Gaa Maricar CP Lindy Rosales Hampton Danielle Vania Angelito Cabigao Bonus

Founding Editor Cristina DC Pastor Address P.O. Box 8071 New York, NY 10116

on the street, the kids waiting for their school bus, the clerk in the grocery store, to neighbors, co-workers, to every American we know. Among Filipinos, it will always be ‘Maligayang Pasko’ or as we say it back home, ‘Meri Krismas.’


The FilAm is a publication of A&V Editorial THE FILAM  | 


Once again, Bergenfield elects a FilAm mayor Councilman Arvin Amatorio was voted mayor of Bergenfield, the second Filipino American to hold the position. He garnered 2,803 votes over incumbent Republican Norman Schmelz’s 2637 votes. The Democrats swept the race with party members Salvador Deauna and Ora Kornbluth elected to the council.


matorio, an immigration lawyer, thanked friends, neighbors, supporters, and volunteers. He said, “Without your hard work and unwavering support, our win would not have been possible. This win belongs to you and the entire Bergenfield community. Let’s keep Bergenfield moving forward!” Politician Robert Rivas became the first FilAm mayor of New Jersey when he was elected in Bergenfield in 1999. Like Amatorio, he was a lawyer who first ran as a member of the council. As a councilman, he too headed the Finance Committee. Rivas lost his reelection in 2003. Mere days before the election, Mayor Schmelz lobbed a bombshell revelation against Amatorio. He accused Amatorio and his partners in his law firm of engaging in human trafficking of a Filipino physical therapist. He further charged Amatorio of misrepresentation, that as a lawyer, he is not licensed to practice in New Jersey. He urged Amatorio to withdraw his candidacy and resign from the Bergenfield Council. A blindsided Amatorio denounced the human trafficking allegation as a move “straight out of the playbook of U.S. President Donald Trump.” He slammed the accusation as “intentionally dishonest” and “salacious.” “Mayoral candidate Arvin Amatorio is condemning in the strongest possible terms a blatantly false, desperate attack launched on him at the 11th hour before Election Day by his opponent, Republican Mayor Norman Schmelz,” says a statement issued by Amatorio campaign spokesman Dan Knitzer. He said the candidate is preparing to countersue for defamation.

Mayor-elect Amatorio (3rd from right) with, from left, Councilman Tom Lodato, Councilman Salvador ‘Buddy’ Deauna, Councilman Hernando Rivera, Councilwoman Ora Kornbluth, and Councilman Rafael Marte. “Arvin is already drafting a $10 million defamation lawsuit and will file it against Norman Schmelz and his team of Ira Treuhaft, Mandy Suero and Wendy Lozinski as soon as possible. He will not allow Schmelz to drag him into the gutter and destroy his reputation with these outright lies,” says the statement. “The intentionally dishonest attack by Norman Schmelz is right out of the Trump Immigrant bashing Playbook and is nothing but a desperate attempt to defame Arvin Amatorio and distract from Schmelz’s failures as mayor in the final days of the campaign.” According to a report in Insider NJ, the physical therapist’s complaint was amended to include the name of Amatorio weeks before the elections on November 5. “I believe this is a sheer form of desperation from his opponents,” said incoming PAFCOM President Helen Castillo. THE FILAM  | 


The day after. Amatorio reads congratulatory tweets from family, friends, and supporters. Facebook photos.

Archbishop Auza’s peacebuilding mission continues in Spain


rchbishop Bernardito Cleopas Auza, the first Filipino to be appointed as the Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations, was recently named Apostolic Nuncio to Spain and Andorra. Archbishop Auza is proud that during his five-anda-half years as the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, many important global events had taken place. Foremost among them is the support for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted on September 25, 2015, calling for an end to poverty and hunger with a goal of providing education and health care for all. On that day, the Holy Father Pope Francis addressed the UN General Assembly. Another important development was the signing in 2016 of the Paris Agreement, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which was adopted in 2018, is another important milestone. It may not be a legally binding document, but it is a strong statement calling on member states to respect the fundamental rights of migrants. During his tenure, Archbishop Auza has delivered hundreds of statements before the UN, schools and institutions, on many global concerns. His Statement on the Rule of Law was well received. “The ultimate and essential goal of all law…(is) to promote and guarantee the dignity of the human person and the common good…our common responsibility (is) to protect people from all forms of unjust aggression,” he said. Born on June 10, 1959 in Talibon, Bohol (same hometown of President Carlos P. Garcia who is a relative) the Papal Nuncio is the eighth of 12 children. His father was a farmer and his mother a dressmaker; they were solid, respected citizens of their town. His two eldest brothers married two sisters whose family donated and helped build the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Tagbilaran City, where he and his younger brother studied high school. He stayed on and became a seminarian preparing for the priesthood, while his brother chose to study medicine specializing in Psychiatry. He went to the University of Santo Tomas to continue his formation as a Catholic priest under the tutelage of the Dominican friars, from 1977 to 1986. He graduated with a Licentiate in Philosophy, a Licentiate in Sacred Theology, and a Master’s in Education. In 1964, his eldest brother joined the U.S. Navy, followed by his second eldest brother in 1966, and the third in 1972. This paved the way for the Auza family to immigrate to the U.S. While he was incardinated in his home Diocese of Tagbilaran, his ordination happened at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Pittsburg, California on June 29, 1985. The Archbishop has nine siblings living in the U.S., as well as his parents until 2015. In 1986, he went to Rome for his doctoral studies and was recruited to join the Pontifical Ecclesias-

Filipino priests in New York and New Jersey bid goodbye at a send-off reception for Archbishop Auza. Photo by Joji Jalandoni tical Academy, the Vatican Diplomatic School in Rome. Besides his diplomatic and linguistic studies in Rome, Paris and Madrid, he obtained his Licentiate Degree in Canon Law and a Doctorate Degree in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas in Rome. In June 1990, he joined the diplomatic service of the Holy See with assignments in Madagascar (1990-93), Bulgaria (1993-96), Albania (1996-98), the Section for Relations with States at the Secretariat of State in the Vatican (1998-2006), then at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York City. After two years in New York, Pope Benedict XVI named him Titular Archbishop of Suacia and Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti in May 2008. On July 3, 2008, he was consecrated as a Bishop by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, then Secretary of State, at the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican. Because of his multilateral experience, Pope Francis appointed him Permanent Observer to the United Nations on July 1, 2014. Archbishop Auza told me that the highlight of his UN stint was welcoming Pope Francis to New York in September 2015. The Holy Father stayed for two days at the Apostolic Residence on East 72nd Street where the Archbishop has resided for almost seven and a half years. “Pope Francis is very personable, no airs and informal in his discourse. He has a good sense of THE FILAM  | 


With Pope Francis whom he welcomed to New York in 2015: ‘Good sense of humor, no airs.’ Photo: L'Osservatore Romano humor. We spoke in Italian and occasional Spanish,” he recalled. Archbishop Auza was able to have his parents, brothers and sisters and their spouses meet Pope Francis during that visit. He is well regarded, respected and loved among his peers at the United Nations and among the Filipino American communities in the New York Metropolitan Area and beyond. Since his new assignment was announced, invitations to despedidas or going-away parties were non-stop. He was scheduled to leave on November 15, 2019 to visit his parents, Meliton Garcia Auza and Magdalena Polestico Cleopas in Bohol, after which he would proceed to Madrid. His parents will celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary on January 28, 2020. His life can be summed up by his favorite motto: “Ut Diligatis Invincem,” translated to mean, “Love one another.”

Randomly, Mayor Isko Moreno By Angelito Cabigao

Esquire Magazine’s “Man at His Best” was an event filled with industry leaders from film, art, fashion, business, sports, music, and politics.


ne of the awardees was the very popular Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko’ Moreno Domagoso. Mayor Isko is known for his inspections around Manila to clean up the city and speaking engagements inviting the businesses to help in the rebuilding of the capital. It was my second time attending an event with a politician. The first was in 2008 when Barack Obama was campaigning for president in Jersey City. The things I remember the most during the Obama campaign were the random moments, such as the pictures he took with students before entering the building despite the security rushing him, and the fist bump he gave to a local security officer after he delivered his speech. The experience I had meeting with Mayor Isko was similar. I first glimpsed Mayor Isko while walking to the venue at The Fifth at Rockwell. An Italian gentleman ran past me and snuck in a selfie with the mayor who was putting on his mic for an interview. I looked around and noticed there were groups waiting to get a piece of his time. I had to decide quickly whether I should follow the crowd for a chance to talk to him or go to the other side where alcohol and food were readily available. I must admit that I was not too familiar with the mayor, but his Facebook feeds always catch my attention. Posts such as the mayor taking time to discuss sustainable projects with environmentalists, personally confronting individuals who are lighting up in no-smoking areas, and doing major street cleanups. Is this mayor for real? I believe it takes more than just a political title to act upon these bigger initiatives. I decided to take the chance of following the crowd to clear this curiosity. I followed him around for about 30 minutes along with others, but could not seem to catch a break for a bit of his time. Therefore, I decided to try to catch him after his award acceptance. I was by myself pigging out on some Nachos when I caught him eating alone in the back of the stage. I had to make sure this was not a mayor stunt double. It did not take long before the waiters took notice and approached him for selfies. Afterwards, I got my unexpected first opportunity to meet him, and asked him my question. “Can you sum up your definition of leadership in one sentence?” He replied, “Leadership is about staying focused and excelling despite the odds.”

The author gets a piece of Mayor Isko’s time.

It was indeed a definition that matched up with the actions he was doing as the 27th mayor of Manila. For example, it was hard to believe certain streets in Manila could be cleaned rather quickly, that his eco-friendly initiatives would apply to Manila Bay, that a no-smoking ban can be implemented in parts of the city. Despite the odds, he pushed through with actions. My second encounter with Mayor Isko that night was when my Filipino American buddy from California and I were talking and we saw him by the Foosball table next to us. We didn’t really have an idea of what we were going to talk about with him, so it ended up being a Tagalog lesson kind of chat. I put on my Facebook Live and had him wave to the viewers. But he went the extra step of greeting “Magandang gabi sa lahat” in English. Like myself, I’m sure many of the attendees did not think they would get time to have a picture with the mayor or talk to him, but they did. The selfies people took with him, the selfies he took with people’s cameras, the extra minutes he took to get to the elevator to get selfies with the cleaners and security guards, and the moments he made himself available for people to approach him and ask him questions – these were moments many didn’t expect he would do at the event. Mayor Isko showcased the quality that people look for in their leaders – those with ‘people first’ mindsets. In his award speech he said something that resonated: “If not for Manilans, I won’t have this award. I owe it to them.”

Mayor Isko (wearing a Barong) with fellow Esquire awardees, among them composer Ryan Cayabyab and artist BenCab. Esquire Photo THE FILAM  | 


Barretto sisters: The privilege of behaving badly


ince celebrity scandals observe the same cycle of fostering fatigue among the public after a period of intense engagement, don’t be surprised if the latest Barretto family intrigue has mellowed, if not dissipated, by the time you read this. Since Barretto’s a well-known drive in Subic, Gretchen Barretto did not feel the need to use another family name when she was launched as part of the second batch of Regal Babies. Unfortunately, the rival Viva Films studio had just launched its monstrously successful all-male Bagets batch, and Rey de la Cruz had an all-female troupe, the Softdrink Beauties, claiming whatever (frankly prurient) interest could be generated in good-looking women. So the Regal Babies II were destined for obscurity, with a bravely determined Gretchen languishing in supporting roles (barely noticeable in Lino Brocka’s Miguelito: Ang Batang Rebelde [1985], for example), banking on her classy features but limited by her narrow range as a performer. By the 1990s, she had shed enough of her premature flab and gained enough height to look alluring enough for male-gaze purposes. Robbie Tan, founder-manager of Seiko Films, correctly deduced that the public had tired of sex sirens who looked and behaved like they came from the wrong side of the tracks. He devised a series of projects that objectified seemingly unattainable porcelain beauties led by Gretchen, turned his outfit into a major player in the process, and made the first Barretto star. Another Barretto took Gretchen’s place as constant second-stringer: Claudine, her younger sister. Unlike her predecessor, Claudine handled her years of relative obscurity as an opportunity to hone her performative skills. Her walk in the sun had a healthier component to it, by conventional moralist standards: she came of age when romantic comedies succeeded in displacing all the other then-profitable local film genres: horror, action, comedy, even her elder sister’s soft-core melodramas, and managed to prove her mettle alongside the peak capability of Vilma Santos. An accident of fate propelled Claudine to a stature never attained by Gretchen.

By Joel David

From top Gretchen, Claudine, and Marjorie Barretto. Pretty sisters in an ugly dogfight. It was, unfortunately, a tragedy, the first indication that the Barrettos could only best thrive on the wings of bad news. Just as Gretchen became a star by shedding her clothes, Claudine captured the public imagination when she broke up with her illustrious boyfriend, Rico Yan, grandson of a former army chief and ambassador during the presidency of Ferdinand E. Marcos. The heartbroken beau repaired to a Palawan resort, where he failed to awaken on Easter Sunday of 2002, after a night of heavy drinking. This made of Claudine an even bigger star than her Ate Gretchen, and acrimonious vibes from the sisters’ perceived rivalry began getting airtime, with then-incipient social media paying due interest. Gretchen became the constant partner of businessman

and media mogul-aspirant Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco, while Claudine linked up and eventually married another alumnus of De La Salle University, Raymart Santiago (of the well-known brood fathered by producerdirector Pablo Santiago, preceded in showbiz by his brothers Rowell and Randy). Which brings us to the latest teapot tempest. The situation could not be more high-profile, with the country’s chief executive, a family friend, attending the wake of the Barretto patriarch. Gretchen and Claudine had patched up their differences, and Gretchen attended ostensibly to reconcile with her mother. A third Barretto showbiz aspirant, Marjorie, who never attained the same level of stardom as her younger sisters, refused President Duterte’s admonition to greet Gretchen, alleging that her niece, Nicole, was traumatized by Gretchen spiriting away a lover, businessman Atong Ang. In a sensational tell-all TV interview, Marjorie acknowledged that after the collapse of her own marriage to Dennis Padilla (actually Dencio Padilla Jr., son of a late comedian), she bore a love-child to a former mayor of Caloocan City; this was by way of pointing out that Ang was also very much married, and that Gretchen was thereby being unfaithful to Cojuangco, who similarly was married to someone else. Predictably, Gretchen denied any sexual relation between her and Ang. What conclusions can we draw from the situation? One is that the Barretto sisters are expert enough at making the most of media coverage, notwithstanding the occasional phone-cam recordings of slipups like Claudine’s fistfight with Mon Tulfo or the screams and hair-pulling (with the Presidential Security Group atypically befuddled) that occurred during the wake. Marjorie’s subsequent TV interview effectively erased an earlier scandal when her daughter, Julia, admitted boinking hunky star Gerald Anderson, who was supposedly committed to Bea Alonzo. Julia claimed that she had broken up with male starlet Joshua Garcia (just as Anderson’s relationship with Alonzo had ended), but also wound up denying that she was



the mistress of another rich elderly man, Ramon Ang. Another conclusion we can make is that males involved in any capacity in this scenario will be better off quiet. Atong Ang appeared in one of those obviously staged “ambush interviews” coddling his legal family while declaring he had never diddled any of the Barrettos. Assuming he was truth-telling, he was also effectively saying – awkwardly, at that – that some of the Barrettos were lying. Miguel Alvir Barretto, the family patriarch, was better off: even with Gretchen recapitulating her accusation that he had molested her, no one wants to speak ill of the dead. An even more significant conclusion echoed by social experts looking at the current Barretto flameout is that the scandal’s staying power derives from what it says about us, more than about the family itself. It’s women claiming for themselves what moral authorities used to say only men were entitled to: the privilege of behaving badly. The scope even has the trigenerational impact of classical Greek tragedy, from parents to children to children’s children. A fast-declining generation might even remember when a similar phenomenon used to command the attention of media and the public, not just in the Philippines but also overseas: the Marcos family saga, from the patriarch’s womanizing and his wife’s philistine overcompensation, through their rebellious daughter’s romance with an oppositionist scion, to their exile and triumphant return to a country that seemingly has not had enough of their excesses. Thankfully, the worst that the Barrettos can visit on themselves and their public will never be as malevolent as their high-profile media predecessors had been. Joel David is Professor for Cultural Studies at Inha University in Korea and was the recipient of the 2016 Gawad Lingap Sining (Art Nurturer Prize) of the Filipino Arts & Cinema International Festival in San Francisco, California. He holds a PhD in Cinema Studies at New York University and maintains an archival blog titled Ámauteurish! (at, which contains all his out-of-print books and articles on Philippine cinema, media, and culture.

The story of guerrilla fighter Felipa Felipa is a young Filipino girl who comes of age during World War II. She and her older brother, Joe, live hardworking yet carefree lives with their parents on a small farm in Luzon.


n December 8, 1941, rumors of war explode into reality with the bombing of Clark Field, setting into motion events that will tear their family apart. Their father, a former Philippine Scout, re-enlists, as their mother tearfully prepares for the arrival of the Japanese. News spreads from nearby villages that the Japanese are plundering and burning houses, and they arrive in the night, taking Felipa’s mother away. Brother Joe disappears and is thought to be dead. Felipa is left to fend for herself as the Japanese forces beat and kill many of her fellow villagers, forcing some to become collaborators. Her brother Joe returns, explaining that he has joined the guerrillas in the jungle. Joe recruits Felipa to act as an informant, sharing information and passing messages. These small acts require her to endanger her life at every turn. On one journey deep into the jungle, she discovers her mother is still alive. Having escaped the Japanese, she has been working at a resistance newspaper produced in jungle hideouts and distributed by a network of children. Felipa’s mother shares with her the grim realities of the occupation, including the horrors of the Bataan Death March and other atrocities. Armed with this knowledge, Felipa progresses from a reluctant recruit to an independent young freedom fighter. In the final months of occupation, she leads a team of guerrillas, spying on the Japanese, sharing intelligence with the Americans, freeing prisoners and destroying Japanese equipment. When the Americans finally stage their invasion, she acts as a scout for their troops and accepts the surrender of thousands of desperate Japanese

Filipinas training to defend their country. Photos: soldiers, starving and sick, from their jungle retreats. Eventually, she is recognized for her efforts and is granted American citizenship. Felipa moves to the United States, but her struggles do not end in America. Following the stories of her family and members of her crew, the difficulties faced by many Filipinos after the war are illustrated. These include frustrated efforts to obtain the recognition, benefits and American citizenship they had been promised. Despite this, Felipa makes a good life for herself as a nurse in this country, having learned much in her days in the field as a guerrilla. Her children, inspired by her story, fight alongside many others for veterans’ recognition through the decades. ‘Felipa’ is a graphic novel inspired by the story of Magdalena Leones and other Filipina freedom fighters like her who engaged in espionage during the war. It was published in the website, the first phase of an online project that aims to tell the story of Filipino World War II veterans. Duty to Country was produced by the Filipino Veterans Recognition & Education Project. Chairman Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret) said the online project seeks to raise awareness about FilVetREP’s mission to preserve the legacy of the 260,000 men and women who fought during World War II in the Philippines. THE FILAM  | 

A photograph of a young girl from Batangas, with a smile and a shotgun, taken in the early 1900s. Photographer unknown.

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At NaFFAA, we are family Thanksgiving is about giving and thanking. And there’s no other group that illustrates that like family.


s we forge on journeys away from our home country, not every Filipino is fortunate to be with their families at all times. Communities we find at work, in our neighborhood and in organizations become family to us, especially when we understand, listen to and care for each other’s needs. Where there is trust, love and concern, there is family. And at NaFFAA, and other gatherings towards a common mission and vision, we are family. This holiday and all days, let’s keep on helping, listening to and caring for each other. And don’t forget to care for YOU too. When you take care of yourself, you take care of family. Because YOU ARE FAMILY. And always and all days, we are #ThankfulForYou.

“The concept of ‘pasasalamat’ guides every aspect of our heritage and spirit.”





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The Band of Brothers: Then and now


hree siblings and a cousin. They make up The Band of Brothers, a durable Filipino boy band on the East Coast. Brothers Jose Lozano II (Pepe), 38; Gregorio Lozano Jr. (JJ), 34; and Juan Carlos Lozano (JC), 33; and cousin Nielson Manapat (Niel), 39, have been singing the songs from their parents’ generation for more than two decades now, starting from the time they were high school students at La Salle Greenhills in San Juan, Metro Manila. To this day, the quartet continues to bring to life the music of the Beatles, Elvis Presley, and Chuck Berry, among other rock and roll legends, to Filipino American communities’ summer parties, benefit dinners, and other gatherings. “Those times are genuinely gold mines,” mused Pepe, the lead guitarist and vocalist. Since they arrived in New York four years ago, The Band of Brothers have shared the stage with The Drifters in 2017, and the Gary Lewis and the Playboys in 2018 – both events hosted by Fiesta In America at Meadowlands Convention Center in Secaucus, N.J. Their music has a way of getting folks of a certain age to hit the dance floor with their children and grandchildren. “We get very positive responses even among the millennials,” said JJ, the musical director. “They think (our music) is something new and they dance to it.” Over the years, the boys continued their education and have grown into confident music makers. Pepe, the only married member of the band, is a dad to three children.

||The Bloomfields

During their days in La Salle Greenhills, Pepe and JJ co-founded The Bloomfields with three other friends and schoolmates. As The Bloomfields, they released two albums produced by EMI Philippines, and performed for a Gary Valenciano concert at the Araneta Coliseum in 2008. The group broke up over “creative differences,” and the Lozano brothers

By Maricar CP Hampton & Cristina DC Pastor

our trademark harmonies, mellow dramatic, jazzy, ballad which I composed,” revealed Pepe. They are also redoing vocal arrangements for some standards, like “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys.

||Mentored by his brother

TBB, from left, JJ Lozano, Pepe Lozano, JC Lozano, and their cousin Niel Manapat. Photo by Gregorio Ignacio Lozano

At Bandastiks, a night of nostalgia and music. became The Bloom Brothers, which later evolved into The Band of Brothers. It all began as a hobby, recalled Pepe. “All we wanted was to play music anywhere and play with other bands.” Pepe remembered growing up so in love with the guitar he was “excited to get callouses” on his fingertips. “I spent most of my time composing and ultimately recording. I felt so happy and just enjoyed making music at a young age.” They were drawn to the old rock and roll hits of the Dave Clark Five, THE FILAM  | 

The Rolling Stones, The Monkees, and others, because of their “rich and complex rhythms and harmonies,” said keyboardist and vocalist JC. “Music from that era really stands out.” The band is looking to try a different musical repertoire. They are currently working on original compositions in English and Tagalog that are influenced by the pop and rock tunes from the 60s. “We will feature some original songs like ‘Shoptalk,’ a danceable, snappy song, and ‘Nahanap na Damdamin,’ an Apo-ish sound with 10

JJ, the middle child who plays the guitar, keyboards, and harmonica, found himself warming up to back-up vocals, after being introduced to pop music by eldest brother, Pepe. “I had a band at 12 years old and JJ was 8. I made him my drummer. Hindi nga siya makita sa drums set in our first gig at a house party of my classmate because he was just a kid then,” Pepe shared. JC, the youngest Lozano, was persuaded to join the band after finishing a degree in Culinary Arts specializing in Pastry and Baking. Niel recalled toying with a pair of cymbals and snare drum before he could even walk. Who knew that the young boy’s ‘noise’ would turn into magical percussion as he got older? “I remember my parents waited until I grew a little bit in order for me to reach the drum pedals,” he said. “When I was around 4 years old, they made me go to formal schooling for drums.” All four were professionally trained at Yamaha and the Ramon Jacinto School of Music where they learned classical guitar, drums, music theory, and keyboards. The Band of Brothers is especially proud of their vocal harmony. “I make sure that the songs we play are fresh and executed authentically old-school,” JJ stressed. More than 10 years together and no major friction? Even Lennon and McCartney, who feuded over music and women, are said to have a love-hate relationship. “We always believe in good communication,” said Niel. “Nothing is impossible if you talk things over.” “It’s about adjusting to everyone and being patient,” Pepe chimed in. Keeping the band on track is their father Greg Lozano, who acts as the band manager.

“We actually pulled him out of retirement to help us with the business and administrative side of things,� Pepe said. Aside from Manila, the band has performed in Brunei, Hong Kong, Macau, and Thailand. In New York, they have played at the legendary Carnegie Hall and the Philippine Consulate. They have showcased their act at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore and at Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia. They are looking forward to their December event in Las Vegas with The Jets at Alexis Park Resort. This is their first-ever Vegas concert. The band believes in performing for a purpose. “We always want to help in a big way like be part of benefit concerts and charity foundation,� said Pepe. “Aside from helping raise funds, it is priceless when we are able to bring smiles and uplift people’s spirits through our music.�

‘Some millennials think our music is something new.’ Photo by Matt Riddell

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       THE FILAM  | 



||December 3


of Events

Congressional Gold Medal Award ceremony Philippine Center 556 Fifth Avenue, NYC

||December 7

A Gala Night: Honoring Excellent Filipino American Artists in Music & Arts Ramada Plaza Hotel 160A Frontage Rd, Newark, N.J.

||December 15

Hallmark Channel Presents: Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas The Garden 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, Manhattan, NYC

||December 16

Bryant Park Winter Village holiday shopping

||December 14

||December 16

Misa at Pasko: An album launch and Christmas concert featuring the San Lorenzo Ruiz Choir of New York Church of the Epiphany 375 Second Avenue NYC

||December 14

Christmas Celebrations by the Philippine Nurses Association of America Pasko sa Legacy Headquarters 1346 How Lane, North Brunswick, N.J.

||December 14

Christmas Party and Presentation of Candidates for Little Miss Valentine International 2020 of the Filipino Social Club of New York D’Haven 58-02 37th Ave, Woodside, NYC

Union Square Holiday Market

||December 16

Christmas at Rockefeller Center

||December 19

||December 15

Deadline to apply for the scholarship from the Columbia Journalism School & Nikkei for students who are residents of Asia and enrolled in the M.S. Data Journalism or the M.A. in the business and economics concentration. To apply, email: apply.journalism@

||December 15

Pananadem Workshop Series by Kinding Sindaw La Mama La Galleria 47 Great Jones Street, NYC

||December 15

Simbang Gabi Holy Trinity Church 34 Maple Avenue, Hackensack, N.J.

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker New York City Ballet 20 Lincoln Center, NYC

||December 20

Christmas Spectacular starring The Radio City Rockettes Radio City Music Hall 1260 Avenue of the Americas, NYC

||December 21 and 22 The Gift: A Christmas Special with Lea Salonga Newport Performing Arts Theater Resorts World Manila

||December 29

Celebration of Our La Purisima Conception: With Kirby Asunto and Fr. Jonas Mejares Brgy. Maljo, Inopacan, Leyte



||2020 January 3 to 13 Diskubre Tour Bicol, Philippines

||January 20

Catanduanes International Assn., Inc. 2020 Medical Mission Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines

||January 23

Musiko Autismo: Jamming with the Master Maybank Performing Arts Theater Bonifacio Global City Taguig, Philippines

||May 9

Introvoys 2020 Canada Tour Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

||July 15 to 18

FANHS National 18th Biennial Conference Waikiki Marriott Beach Resort & Spa, Hawaii

A hoarder in the family,

a collector of fraying memories By Cristina DC Pastor

I’ve been spending a bit of time with my elderly aunt who lives in an Upper West Side apartment


ita Erlinda is neighbors with the Lincoln Center, the Juilliard School of Music, the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Opera. She is right in the center of New York’s cultural mecca. On the rare times we’d get to chat on the phone, she would regale us with stories about the shows she’s been to. She invited us to the Neil Simon exhibit at the library and at one time asked, “Do you like Italian opera? There’s one at the Met next week, let’s go.” There’s something else you should know about my aunt: She is a hoarder. She lives in an apartment that has floor-to-ceiling clutter, and the first time she opened her apartment to her daughter (who lives in another state and came to check in on her), they could hardly open the door. She pushed away a few of the boxes, crouched underneath and walked through piles of paper, towels, suitcases, Playbills, blankets and clothes. The junk is astounding. My cousin was both shocked and angry. Shocked that her mom had accumulated so much mess that endangered her health and the safety of her neighbors, angry that she came too late to stop it. So there we were, wading through a mountain of casino giveaways, unopened bank statements, the takeout packets, the paper cups and napkins, the plastic bags, old books and magazines – all gathering dust and sprinkled with mice droppings.

The death of her mother in 1985 may have set off her collecting instinct. That’s how many of them begin, according to medical literature and the TV reality shows: Grief and the need to be surrounded by what is familiar and comforting. It developed into a compulsive habit that worsened because there was no immediate family telling her ‘no’ or ‘stop.’ My aunt remarried a tall, good-looking American gentleman, who by my cousin’s recollection, was somewhat of a pack rat. Together they would collect odd stuff they’d pick up at weekend flea markets; some may have value, others not, but my aunt would continue to hold on to them long after her husband’s death in 2000. It began with packets of sugar, napkins, and chopsticks from Chinese takeout restaurants. Today, she is one of nearly 3 million Americans We sorted out the junk and created brimmed hat around the David considered “compulsive piles labeled as GIFTS, OFFICIAL Rubinstein Atrium, she looks every hoarders” or suffering from “saver PAPERS and FOR DONATIONS. She inch the urban-loving Manhattanite syndrome.” With or without would rationalize that some of the – which she has been over the last professional help, they are torn on stuff would be given away as gifts, four decades. On nights she would what to do with their possessions. others as donations, but never got go out to the theater, she would put “I would talk to her on the phone around to doing it. Procrastination on a shimmery blouse and a pair and she would say that everything is is a classic hoarder’s trait. of showy earrings. She looks very fine,” said her daughter. When I came one morning, pretty with just a touch of lipstick. The fear is that she might lose her she was washing a plastic spoon My aunt is the “prototype,” apartment because of the condition after having a bowl of cereal for according to a professional it’s in. Some of her neighbors are breakfast. organizer we spoke to. She looks aware and admonished her to get “Tita, there’s more where that neatly put together masking the help while there’s still time. My came from; you can throw that hidden clutter in her life — in this aunt boils her tea with stacks of away,” I said gently. case, a two-bedroom apartment yellowing paper around her stove. “Sayang naman,” she said with a with a view of the sparkling Lincoln She knows hers has been a life laugh. Center at night and the former in decay, but like most hoarders, The carefree in her is usually in World Trade Center Towers from knowing when to get help is the jeans and loose top styled with a her living room. most difficult decision. colorful scarf or layers of beaded “I saw the towers collapse,” she “I know in my mind that I should necklaces. When she goes for her would say of her recollection of 9/11. do something,” she told me, “but it’s afternoon stroll wearing a wide“Horrible.” my heart I’m listening to.”





Albany hospital violates anti-trafficking law in hiring of Filipino RNs: union The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) filed a lawsuit on October 15 against Albany Medical Center (AMC) alleging violations of the human trafficking law in the hiring of Filipino nurses.


he federal complaint cites the Philippine Recruitment Program that AMC began in 2002. In the last 17 years, AMC has recruited almost 600 nurses from the Philippines. Each recruited nurse was required to sign a contract that contained clauses the nurses union contends are illegal, such as: • A penalty of up to $20,000 if the recruited nurse resigned from AMC before a three-year period ended. • The threat that if the nurse breached the contract, AMC would report the nurse to federal immigration authorities, which could result in deportation proceedings. Dr. Dennis McKenna, the CEO of Albany Medical Center, has denounced the union’s charges as “outrageous allegations.” “This is a groundless lawsuit being used to try to influence our negotiations for a nurses contract… It is a blatant mischaracterization of an excellent program,” he said in press reports, referring to the Philippine Recruitment Program. The NYSNA complaint cites the case of a Filipino nurse who wanted to leave AMC in Albany, where she earns $28.50 per hour, so she could work in a nursing home in Nanuet in Rockland County where she would be paid $35 per hour. In another case, an experienced

Filipino RNs are valued for being well trained health care professionals and fluent in English. AMC acknowledges this, according to court papers. Stock photo Filipina nurse wanted to leave AMC because she was only paid $27.80 per hour while American nurse colleague with an associate degree was paid $34 per hour on her first year. In both cases, it says, the nurses feared breaking their contracts because they couldn’t pay back the recruitment cost of $20,000 or incur the risk of deportation. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) prohibits the use of threats of serious harm; being physical, non-physical, psychological or financial, to obtain labor or services of a person, according to the complaint. It also prohibits abuse of the legal process to obtain labor or services of a person. The New York State Nurses Association is said to represent more than 42,000 members in New York State, calling itself New York’s largest union for registered nurses. Albany Medical Center, located in 43 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, New York, has recruited 582 nurses from 2002 through September 24, 2019 under the Philippine Recruitment Program. Albany Medical Center, located in 43 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, New York, has recruited 582 nurses from 2002 through September 24,

2019 under the Philippine Recruitment Program. AMC provides recruited nurses with temporary housing “the cost of which is deducted from their paychecks,” states the complaint. “There are two locations in Albany, one on Dana Avenue and the other on Morris Street, both of which are narrow row houses split into separate dwellings on the first and second floors…Due to security issues concerning the locations of these houses, AMC provided the nurses with whistles that they could blow in the event that they were attacked. Also due to the security concerns, AMC security personnel drove them to and from their shifts at AMC,” states the court papers. Continues the document, “If the registered nurse resigns (or is fired for cause) during the first 10 months of employment, the ‘$20,000 in placement fees will convert to a loaned amount of money and shall become due…’ If the nurse resigns during their 11th through 20th month of employment, $15,000 of the placement fees is converted to a loan and is immediately due. If the nurses resign during their 21st through 36th month of employment, THE FILAM  | 


At a Manhattan parade, Filipino nurses raise the NYSNA and Philippine flags with pride. Facebook photo $10,000 of the placement fees is converted to a loan and is immediately due. Only if the nurse works for 36 consecutive months does AMC discharge the debt (absent forgiveness for death or permanent disability).” The NYSNA complaint also points out how AMC appears to foist the Filipino sense of ‘utang na loob’ (or “debt of gratitude”) on the nurses. “The ‘debt of gratitude’ creates significant shame among debtors of Filipino culture who are not able to repay the creditor. In certain parts of the Philippines, and particularly in rural parts (where most of the recruited nurses are from), owing a debt creates a significant responsibility. Debtors often feel that failure to pay a debt will displease not only the creditor, but will also cause dishonor to the debtor and his or her family,” it says.

When stubborn elders resist safety concerns By Sarah Eden Wallace

My mother and I were chatting after I’d stopped by for tea (and to check on her — she still lives on her own at age 93). Then she made an announcement: “Did you know that June died?”


y jaw dropped. Not because my mother’s close friend had died. Because two weeks ago, I’d called and told her June had died. This is … 1. at first, weird. It could be an example of what I view as my mother’s aloofness. This, I know, is how first-generation Japanese-American parents do feelings. As in, they don’t do them. It could be relatively normal that June’s death hadn’t really 2. to be honest, wounding. Not recalling what I’d told her feels like yet another way she disregards most anything I say. A daughter is not an authority on any topic. Now, a son or grandson, that’s another 3. and, for sure, troubling. When I call my brother the Harvard- and MIT-educated molecular biologist, we agree Mom’s forgetfulness is worrisome. Does spacing out something as momentous as the death of a friend signify a slide toward dementia? Yet most days, she’s sharper than we are, attending university lectures, making art, clipping newspaper articles for her grandchildren. Ever the scientist, he hesitates. We need more.

||Snow on the roof

When my mom’s reactions confound me, it helps to talk to my cousin. Her father, now 89, is my mother’s youngest brother. Mom and my uncle grew up in a family of

six kids, the only Japanese in a tiny mountain-rimmed mining town in eastern Washington state. My grandfather said it reminded him of Japan. It’s the Asian thing, my cousin often says. They won’t admit they have a problem. They don’t want to impose or, God forbid, ask for help. They are off-the-charts stubborn. They were taught to endure. Japanese-Americans have gritted their way through a lot since my grandparents came to this country in the early 1900s: the Asian Exclusion Act of 1924, the Great Depression, World War II incarceration camps, not to mention thermonuclear devices used against civilian populations in Nagasaki and my family’s native Hiroshima. Their strength was called gaman in the camps – “the grace to endure the unbearable.” Stoicism-as-secret-weapon is well and good, but it doesn’t ease my obsession about another threat: floor coverings. Every aging-withdignity article says throw rugs are a no-no. They’re like booby trapping a senior’s living space. My mother lavishes them around her apartment. When I point out the danger, she insists “I like them” and changes the subject. THE FILAM  | 

Actually, this apparent lunacy might be in her DNA. Our family laughs now remembering how Grandpa, who worked on the railroads when he first came to America and lived to be 102, would shovel snow off the roof well into his 90s. After you’ve survived the death-trap conditions of dynamiting tunnels through mountains, climbing a ladder with a shovel in a snowstorm is no biggie.

||Prizing her perseverance

What to do? Do I lock the throw rugs away? Glue them down? Or leave her to any consequences? Social scientists use the term “mismatched goals” to describe this intergenerational conflict about safety versus autonomy, explains gerontologist Allison Heid in a recent New York Times article. Having a clinical label is little comfort when it comes to what alarms me most: my mother’s driving. Early this year, she ran a red light, hit two cars and totaled her car. Thankfully no one was hurt. The next morning, she went out and bought a new Prius. Experts warn that letting go of driving can be the 16

most fraught transition for seniors. My pleas that she give up her license were met with stony silence. I called my brother. “Sarah,” he said in his seen-it-all professor voice, “She’s going to do whatever she wants to do.” And I know he’s got a point. Even though she was born in America, my mother was banned because of her race from attending the University of Washington during World War II. That did not stop her from getting two master’s degrees and going on to work in the Asian art department at the world-renowned Cleveland Museum of Art. Perhaps when you’ve pushed back against prejudice your whole life handing over the car keys feels too much like admitting defeat. Gaman.

||What to carry

The rugs, the driving, the forgetting – it’s frustrating and, as I confess to my brother, frightening. But perhaps I can see this latest lapse as yet another lesson in our attempts to support an indomitable, independent, intelligent 93-year-old Nisei woman in the twilight years of her accomplished life. Maybe, instead of condemning her choices, I could honor my mother’s perseverance. I could hold it as the gift of an inner fortitude she’s passing to us at the end. Something to prize, not push back. Her strength is my strength. My cells come from her cells. She’s crossing a threshold into inevitable ebb and wants to go there on her own terms. By listening and not lecturing, I can help — and love — her the most. Sarah Eden Wallace is a Japanese American multimedia journalist who lives in Bellingham, Wash. She has no throw rugs and would rather ride a bike than drive a car any day. Her essay won first prize in the Asian American Journalists Association Caregiving Contest, with support from AARP.

Move over, adobo! Animal activism is now our favorite dish By Dash Nye

If you’ve shopped at H&M recently, you may have noticed that things are a little less…hairy than they used to be. That’s because the company said goodbye to mohair after PETA Asia showed executives the disturbing findings from its eyewitness investigation into the cruel industry. H&M immediately stopped sourcing the fiber values.” And thanks to her gorgeous designs, after learning that in order to obtain it, terrified they don’t have to. goats are dragged, thrown, picked up by their deliFilipino celebrities are models of compascate tails, cut into without receiving any pain relief sion. Vegan TV star Rafael Rosell showed that and even left to die of exposure. Other companies— being an angel to animals makes you gorgeous including Adidas, ASOS, Columbia, Forever 21, inside and out when he posed shirtless for a Gap,, Topshop, UNIQLO, Zappos. PETA Asia ad. Professional basketball players com and Zara—have followed suit. Chris Ross, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Alex That’s just one of the ways the Asian community Cabagnot have all gone vegan—and Ross is changing the world for animals. Compassionate reports, “I felt amazing.” He asks himself, “[W] people in the local and international Filipino com- hat took me so long to do this?” Clockwise from top: Astig Vegan’s RG Enriquez; Christy Cunanan, munity are rising up against all forms of cruelty, Being an animal advocate also means vegan ice cream maker; and Bianca Moran Parkes of Susi Studio. embracing humane lifestyles and changing hearts rolling up our sleeves to help those in need. Cunanan photo by Daily Bruin/UCLA and minds with their creative advocacy. Just take a walk down the streets of Makati, PETA Asia provides animals with vital which PETA Asia ranked as one of the top veterinary care, helping overworked 10 vegan-friendly cities in Asia. You’ll find and injured horses forced to give restaurants and grocery stores filled with tourists rides on the Philippines’s Taal vegan foods, including animal-friendly verVolcano as well as stray cats and dogs sions of traditional Pinoy dishes. Craving in Manila. Its spay/neuter program cruelty-free chicharon or sisig sans suffering? helps control the number of homeless Dig in! animals, and so do its campaigns New York-based pop-up Ube Kitchen is taking reminding people to adopt and never the city by storm with its veganized Pinoy flashop for animal companions. vors, including adobo pizza and dairy-free haloEven if we can’t travel to the Philhalo. Chef and vlogger RG Enriquez shows how ippines, each of us can make a huge easy it is to cook vegan versions of traditional difference for animals through our Pinoy foods with soul in her Tagalog-subtitled everyday choices—for instance, we can YouTube videos. eat vegan and shop compassionately. Christy Cunanan, founder of the vegan ice PETA’s #Never21 campaign is cream business Cheeri Cheeri, knows that the keeping the pressure on Forever only ones who should be drinking cow’s milk are 21 to stop selling wool, which our calves. “When we look at Filipino cuisine before the investigations have shown is stolen Spanish colonization, even the desserts use rice and from sheep who are beaten, violently coconut milk, which are … vegan,” she said. handled and mutilated without pain She’s continuing the tradition by creating relief. Please join us in urging Forever delectable ice cream with culture and tradi21 to do the right thing. tion mixed into the coconut base. Her decadent It’s super easy to make kind choices flavors, like ube, calamansi and champorado, for animals while celebrating Filipino are easing homesickness across California culture. For more ways to get involved, with every spoonful. please visit and Los Angeles-based Susi Studio, which specialDash Nye works in Los Angeles as izes in vegan shoes, is stomping all over the cruel PETA’s Asian American Strategist and environmentally devastating business of spreading vegan tips and animal rights leather. Founder Bianca Moran Parkes believes messages to communities of Asian that “women should never compromise their Pacific Islander heritage. PETA Asia’s spay/neuter program helps stray cats and dogs in the Philippines femininity or personal style in order to uphold their and provides veterinary care to overworked horses used for tourism. THE FILAM  | 



Denise Kara: Big voice, big dreams By Cristina DC Pastor


The ukulele strumming Kara. She wants to be a singer and a nurse when she grows up. enise Kara Almario, like Shirley Temple before her decades ago, started singing when she was 2 years old. When her family realized she had this nascent singing talent coming out of her voice, Kara’s parents did what Shirley Temple’s parents had done: They encouraged her to continue singing and enrolled her with a voice teacher. “I have singing lessons,” said Kara when interviewed by The FilAm via email. Shirley’s and Kara’s lives would fork into different paths. The American legend started doing films when her acting savvy became apparent at a young age. Our little Kara continues to sing before the Filipino American

community of New Jersey and New York, taking her singing with her at appearances on Makilala TV, Feinstein's/54 Below, and the Radio City Music Hall with TOFA performing artists, among many esteemed venues. She brings to her audiences a bundle of energy never before witnessed in the FilAm community since, probably, the breakthrough of singing sensation Banig Roberto from California in the early 1980s. At 9 years old, the youngest child of Dennis and Jenny Almario of Jersey City has the American Dream almost in her pocket.

||Bubbly, tiny singer

Kara is a fourth-grade student at Learning Community Charter School in Jersey City, which ranks higher than the New Jersey state average in THE FILAM  | 

Holidays with the Almarios: Dennis and Jenny with their children Denny and Kara. Math and Languages. Asian Americans comprise more than 24 percent of its ethnic enrollment. Here, Kara is known as the bubbly, tiny singer. “Singing is not affecting her schooling,” said her father Dennis who works at PC Richard & Son and is a part-time DJ. Dennis hails from Cavite. 18

Weekdays after school, she does her homework then goes to her voice, piano, or ukulele lessons, whatever is scheduled for the night. Friday nights are Family Nights, and the Almarios go to watch a movie or dine out. Dennis said rehearsals are usually on weekends, and sometimes

Her mom says Kara gets a ‘reward,’ such as a Sagoto bubble tea, when she does well in school.

they take all the way to midnight. If she’s not rehearsing, she is likely to be performing. “Saturdays and Sundays are mostly her gigs,” he said. She’s been fond of singing since she was about 2, said her mother Jenny, a native of Manila. “Mahilig na sya magkanta-kanta at sumayaw tapos daddy po nya DJ mahilig sa music. May videogames kami na ‘Just Dance’ kaya nakahiligan din nya sumayaw,” she said. Her first public appearance was the opening of a spa and physical therapy clinic at Hudson Mall in Jersey City. She was 6 years old. She represented the U.S. in the 23rd annual World Championships of Performing Arts 2019 in Long Beach, California, coming home with plaques and medals in the World Division, Junior Division,

Junior Vocal Self Accompaniment Division, Original Works Division, and the Junior Vocal Original Works Division. Recently she won first place in the Mid Atlantic Music Teachers Guild competition for students who are instrumentalists or vocalists. Kara has consistently reaped honors at MAMTG since 2017. “I realize I was a good singer when I was 5 years old,” said Kara, who unabashedly admitted that, yes, she could sing and that she was good enough to go public with what she’s got. As a guest performer at Makilala TV two years ago, she strode on stage and dove right into her song and dance number called ‘Friend in Me’ like a real trouper. It was like she was born to perform. There are two singers she idolizes: Angel Ram and Taylor Swift.

“Tita Angel is a great singer. She is my favorite singer in the community,” she said. “I did a duet with her.” Taylor’s songs she was vocalizing as a young girl.


Kara is currently being managed by entertainment producer Robert Blume. “May event po kami napuntahan na kumanta sya tapos meron po lumapit samin at gusto sya e-manage, si Robert Blume,” said Jenny. Robert liked Kara instantly. Kara has two siblings -- brother Denny Clark, 12, and elder sister Jennica, 19. “I like performing during Christmas,” said the girl who has a booked solid holiday calendar. “It makes me think about Jesus and Jesus’s birthday, and I like singing Christmas songs.”

When deportation becomes cruel


esperation can force people to make difficult decisions. There are few situations more desperate than poverty and abuse. This is exactly the scenario in which Eddie spent the first nine years of his life living in the Philippines with his mother and his abusive father. When Eddie’s mother fled her homeland, she sought safety for Eddie. Although Eddie’s mother went on to earn her U.S. citizenship, Eddie grew to adulthood with just legal residency or a green card. Unfortunately, his past, combined with his present circumstances, led him to make poor choices. Alcohol was an easy way to escape the painful memories of his childhood and the limited opportunities of his adulthood. He held jobs only temporarily. When Eddie was caught smoking marijuana, before it was legalized, he was arrested. As part of the Secure Communities Initiative, his fingerprints were checked through the Homeland Security Database. Because Eddie had a history of petty crimes, this was terrible news for him. With the passage of new and harsh immigration laws, one risks

By Attorney Johnson Lazaro

removal from the United States even if the person is a green card holder.

||The deportation trial

At his immigration trial, Eddie was remorseful, pleading with tears before the immigration judge. The judge knew that Eddie’s father had beaten him and abused the family. Eddie begged for the opportunity to undergo treatment for his alcohol addiction, but all this did not matter. The judge ordered him deported to the Philippines. Did Eddie deserve to be punished for his crimes? Of course. Did he deserve to receive what many consider tantamount to a death sentence? Absolutely not. Imagine being turned out onto the impoverished streets of Manila. The only person you know is the person you most fear, your abusive father. Eddie does not know the language or culture. He has no marketable skills because he lacked opportunity. The only thing that Eddie will take with him will be his addictions and his desperation. What do you think the life expectancy will be for this young man? THE FILAM  | 

||No second chance

For many immigrants, life is not simply black and white. These individuals have unique challenges, but how do we meet these challenges in constructive and compassionate ways? Is a human worthless because his path led him to a less than desirable place? He played the cards that life dealt him, and because of limited choices, he lost. Should we throw him away? There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to human beings. Everyone’s situation is different and requires discernment. What could Eddie have become in America if he had received rehab and job training? How many other young immigrants could he have mentored and saved from going down the path he went? We will never know. He was sent back to the very place his mother so desperately fled. It is easy to pass judgment when you have never been in a particular situation. Why are we not turning to the individuals who have experienced these challenges and asking them for advice? Those brave souls who have come to America from impoverished countries. They have worked hard and earned their citizenship. They want to help others like themselves. These 19

A green card does not guarantee a person’s continued stay in the U.S. are the people who should be helping to frame the laws concerning deportation. As it stands, the individuals who frame these laws have no point of reference for what life is like for young immigrants in America, with limited education and limited opportunities. This is why people are cast away like trash. There are hard questions that must be asked. There are hard choices that must be made so that America can truly become a great beacon of hope again for all. The article does not form an attorney-client relationship. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. For questions please call 866-237-9555 or Email:

Issue 22, DecĐľmber 2019


Going vegan

A family’s shame p13

Animal activism finds voices in the community p17

Denise Kara

Small kid, big voice p18

Profile for Mike Kurov

FILAM Dec 2019  

FILAM Dec 2019  

Profile for makf