Page 1

Issue 21, November 2019

More stories on the web @

Sports stars

We didn’t know are FilAm p16


Amalia Fuentes p3

Eric Bustamante At the helm of PNB N.Y., the oldest Filipino bank

Letter from the Editor

Young FilAms call attention to  the climate crisis


his summer, a tiny but motivated group of Filipinos are doing something about environmental awareness in a low-key kind of way. They are inviting young FilAms to the Queens Library in Woodside to watch films and make art to express their views about the complex issue of the global climate crisis. The project, called Tandaan Ang Ating Ugnayan/ Remember Y(our) Connection, was founded by community artist Cecilia Lim. Her objective: to inspire young Filipinos to get involved in grassroots advocacy for environmental justice, and hopefully inspire them to take leadership roles. Lim had the support of organizations, such as Damayan Migrant Workers Association, Kabataan Alliance, and Ugnayan Youth for Justice and Social Change, for the event. She believes the Philippines is one of the countries that would be seriously affected by the climate crisis. “The frequency of deadly storms and typhoons ravaging the Philippine coast, due to rising water temperatures surrounding the islands, makes it one of the most high-risk countries.” Filipinos in NYC and anywhere in the world remain connected to the

Noah Pasquarello enjoys being interviewed by his mom during the ‘Draw and Talk Story’ workshop. homeland. When our kababayan in the Philippines are experiencing unnatural disasters due to massive deforestation, mining, and unsustainable use of natural resources, overseas Filipinos hurt as well. Lim would like to see more Filipinos inspired to take action toward environmental justice, and not be discouraged

by the scale of the problem. She would like to make them “hopeful that they can be part of the solution.” In a recent library gathering was a segment called the “Draw and Talk Story” where the youngsters and the public interact with the exhibit through interviews and art work. Young students like Noah

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


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

Pasquarello and Julianne Josian participated. It was a promising start. Student Greta Thunberg, at age 15, protested all by herself before the steps of the Swedish Parliament calling attention to her government’s lack of action on climate change. (Read her story on page 14) Lim is right that the Philippines is especially vulnerable in the event of a climate catastrophe because most of the country’s 105 million people live in cities that sometimes are below sea level. In the Philippines, where malls, subdivisions, and golf courses are constructed willy-nilly, is the idea of an environmental impact study an alien concept? Old timers still recall when Taft Avenue never flooded. It began to be hit with regular floods when the Cultural Center and all the other properties built on reclaimed land along Roxas Blvd. blocked the natural drainage of water to Manila Bay. Young FilAms are pouring themselves into learning about the issue of global warming because their families back home will have to contend with the effects. The impact of rising seas is profound. The very real risk is that cities in New York or Manila or Cebu can literally drown.


When Manila manufactured its own Elizabeth Taylor


he Philippines in the 1950s exuded arts and culture. Perhaps, it was because the country had just begun to slowly recover from a horrible world war barely five years before. In Manila there were stage presentations galore in schools as well as by private drama groups such as the Barangay Theatre Guild organized by Lamberto and Daisy Avellana, the Manila Theatre Guild composed of amateur expatriates working and living in the city. Broadway musicals popular at the time were presented in Manila theatres. Having been in theatre since 11 years old during the Japanese Occupation and performing at the Metropolitan Theatre under the direction of Narciso Pimentel, Jr., founder of Dramatic Philippines, I was able to move around that circle of artists, musicians and writers. During the same period, Philippine movies were strongly influenced by Hollywood and the newly found beauties in Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner and Ava Gardner. With this pack came an excitingly new British actress who debuted in Hollywood via the 1944 movie “National Velvet.” Her name: Elizabeth Taylor. In the movie, she played Velvet Brown, a 12-year-old equestrian of a girl determined to enter her horse, Pie, in the Grand National Steeplechase. In the supporting role was another talented child actor Mickey Rooney who played the role of a former jockey who helps Velvet train Pie for the big race. At the last minute, Velvet herself has no choice but to ride Pie in the tournament but she had to cut her hair in order to pass as a male jockey. The movie played on the positive qualities that this young actress brought from London. Her distinctive quality was her striking beauty

By Tony Joaquin

The British American Elizabeth Taylor known for her striking beauty.

Amalia Fuentes as a blossoming star for Sampaguita Pictures.

especially the rare violet color of her eyes! At the time, a penchant among Filipino movie moguls was having a Filipino copycat of any American male or female actress breaking a box-office record. Thus, we came up with our own Elizabeth Taylor, who had garnered meaty roles as an accomplished actress in movies like “Butterfield 8,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” and her crowning piece de resistance, “Cleopatra.” Our very own Elizabeth Taylor was Amalia Muhlach Fuentes, a woman with strong European features and dark smoldering eyes. Sampaguita Pictures’s top boss Dr. Jose Perez – known as Doc Perez -- asserted that Amalia had a striking resemblance to Elizabeth Taylor, but Amalia admitted quite frankly that she never really liked the comparison, much less the manufactured title. By this token, the Philippine movie world had Barbara Perez as the Audrey Hepburn of the Philippines, a young actor who played a thug in

movies Berting Labra as the Mickey Rooney of the Philippines, Tessie Agana as the Shirley Temple of the Philippines, and so on. In the field of crooners we had Bert Nievera as the Johnny Mathis of the Philippines, and Diomedes Maturan as Perry Como of the Philippines. The story goes that Amalia’s strong resemblance to Taylor was strengthened when she watched one of the many shows featuring American singers at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in the late ‘50s. Vic Damone who was a top singing sensation was the performer. Amalia, not yet 18 years old, watched the show with her thenscreen sweetheart — and later husband — Romeo “Bobby” Vasquez, a famous character actor who some say could be the James Dean of the Philippines. The two would later have a daughter named Liezl. In one portion of the show, Damone on an impulse picked a random lady who would join him on stage so that he could sing to her. As luck would



have it, he chose Amalia. As Amalia recalled it, “I was not even properly made up and so I was hesitant and surprised of course.” The reason, she said, was that she did not like to attract undue attention. That evening she only wanted to watch and listen to this Italian American singer who sang beautiful love songs. In a matter of seconds, in front of the huge Filipino audience in the Rizal Memorial Stadium, Vic Damone took a second look at Amalia and remarked, “You look like Elizabeth Taylor!” And of course the audience went wild with cheers and applause, as if to confirm Vic’s statement. Indeed, a unique quality that Elizabeth Taylor had created thanks to excellent movie directorial and cinematographic work, was her truly captivating exquisiteness. Not only did she create a massive following among Filipinos especially in the area of dramatic acting, and left her indelible mark throughout the decades. Did the two beauties ever come face-to-face? It happened in the ‘80s when she was watching Elizabeth Taylor in the stage play “The Little Foxes” in London’s West End. Amalia happened to sport at the time a curly hairstyle reminiscent of one Elizabeth wore in one of her movies. After the show, Amalia went to the backstage entrance hoping to meet the beautiful actress and poised ready to ask Elizabeth to autograph her playbill. When Elizabeth finally emerged wearing three-inch heels, Amalia discovered that she towered over Elizabeth who was 5’3” tall. Amalia was 5‘5”. Elizabeth Taylor died on March 23, 2011 after a long illness. She was 79. Amalia Fuentes passed away on October 5, 2019 also at age 79. Her daughter Liezl, who dabbled in acting, died from breast cancer four years earlier.

In memory of my dear friend Nelson Navarro


“The pen is mightier than the sword.” ever is that maxim more true than in the life of our dear friend Nelson Navarro. We were all shocked upon hearing that Nelson passed away a few weeks ago! I am glad that his younger brother Genghis is here with us today. Nelson was just here in New York for a few days last Spring and stayed with his good friends Michael Dadap and Dr. Yeou-Cheng Ma. During our lunch at my apartment, he regaled us with stories about everything and anything under the sun. That was Nelson, who saw the world in a unique way and expressed it in words beyond compare. Let us thank his fraternity Alpha Phi Beta led by Lord Chancellors Alenn Nidea, Carlos Esguerra, and Christian Bautista for honoring him today with this beautiful Memorial Service. Let us also applaud the beautiful musical numbers presented by Aida Gamboa, Marc Tagle, Dr. Gloria Shih, Michael and Yeou-Cheng, especially “Huling Pagsamo,” Nelson’s favorite Kundiman. I first met Nelson at the University of the Philippines in 1965 when news came out that a young, impish looking sophomore, who was an Economics major from far-off Bukidnon, had won the Editor in Chief position at the Philippine Collegian, our equivalent of The New York Times, a newspaper that is erudite, liberal, and trustworthy. Although he belonged to the Alpha Phi Beta Fraternity and I was associated with the other fraternity in the UP College of Law, we had an arms-length regard and respect for each other. It was in New York that we developed a close friendship. In February 1972, my sister Mely Nicolas became the publisher of an underground newspaper in Manila that would be critical, in a witty, tongue-incheek sort of way, of President Ferdinand Marcos’s administration. Gerry Gil and Jimmy Ong, the masterminds, initially were deciding whether to call it “Ferdie’s Organ” or “Imelda’s Monthly.” Since nobody in their group was named Ferdinand, they settled on “Imelda’s Monthly” because Mely’s baptismal name was Imelda. Nelson Navarro was in New York as a graduate student at Columbia University at that time. I decided to print the U.S. edition of “Imelda’s Monthly” because it was poking fun at the mighty Marcos administration. It was Nelson Navarro who christened our newspaper “Ningas-Cogon,” because often, Filipinos’s enthusiasm for an advocacy peters out into nothing, like brush fire. It would also be a caution for ourselves not to be a brush fire. Naturally, Nelson became the editor of “NingasCogon.” His editorials skewered President Marcos and First Lady Imelda Marcos.

Members of UP’s Alpha Phi Beta Fraternity organized a memorial tribute for Brod Nelson. A few months later, on September 21, 1972, Marcos declared Martial Law. He shut down every newspaper, radio, and television station in the Philippines. “Ningas-Cogon” became the anti-martial law newsmagazine on the East Coast. Together with Philippine News, published by the late Alex Esclamado on the West Coast, we were the only Filipino American news media that dared to criticize the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and his regime. Nelson’s editorials became more pointed, sarcastic, and caustic so much so that all of us on the editorial board, including the writer of the social Tsismis column, Angie Cruz, were blacklisted by the government. We could not go home to our Mother Country. But that did not deter Nelson Navarro. Every month, from 1972 to 1978, he fired bombs and torpedoed on the shenanigans and violence perpetuated by the Marcos Regime through his mighty pen. In 1978, although my husband Reginald F. Lewis was willing to continue to finance “Ningas-Cogon,” which paid a stipend to Nelson Navarro, I had to stop publishing “Ningas-Cogon.” By then, Nelson had found a regular job with a Trenton, New Jersey daily newspaper. Also, at that time, I had won my discrimination case against the Immigration and Naturalization Service. I had to work full time. But that did not end our friendship. Nelson continued his journalistic work here, but I knew that his heart pined for our Inang Bayan, the Philippines. Especially when his mother died in Manila and he could not be there to bid her goodbye. In 1986 after the People Power Revolution in EDSA ended Martial Law, Nelson took the first plane out of New York to return to our Native Land. His pen gave him the means to express his unique, iconoclastic views about the political, economic, cultural and social situations in THE FILAM  | 


‘Raconteur par excellence, world traveler, unparalleled writer.’ the Philippines. Through his column, his TV shows, his books and his biographies, he became a household name. As a professional writer, Nelson always knew what he was doing. I can see him now with that same impish look that he had when I first saw him in the University of the Philippines. Nelson Navarro - raconteur par excellence, world traveler, unparalleled writer, author of books and of musical scores, but most of all, a faithful friend. We will always love you and admire your courage to tell it like you see it. Nelson, I will not say “Good-bye” but when my time comes, “Till we meet again.” The author delivered this eulogy on October 4 during a memorial service for Nelson Navarro organized by the Alpha Phi Beta Fraternity at the Philippine Consulate in New York.

Foodie Maricar Tangonan’s Best and Worst


By Cristina DC Pastor

omesickness drove Maricar Tangonan, a first-timer in New York in 2005, to food. Exploring restaurants for almost 15 years now has transformed her into a fervent food enthusiast. An Ilocana from Camiling, Tarlac, Maricar is a hardcore foodie. She eats out at least three times a week trying new restaurants and their specialty dishes. She is constantly keeping herself in-the-know on food trends. She follows the Michelin Guide religiously, hand-shakes the chefs whose food dazzle her, and posts reviews on Yelp where she is in the Elite club. On her Facebook, she describes a “passionate student of the world and her favorite specimen is food.” She remembers her first time at Big Wong on Mott Street, her initiation into New York-style Cantonese cooking. “On my first day in Manhattan, my auntie took me to Big Wong in Chinatown,” she recalled. “To this day, these Cantonese cooks are my friends who affectionately call me ‘Malical’ in their Chinese accents and let me order off-menu items.” Sharing meals on their 4 p.m. lunch breaks, she ate comfort food dishes eaten by the staff that are far different from the dishes on the menu. “I love those meals where our main bond was the enjoyment of food as the staff barely spoke English,” she said. One dining experience led to another and before she knew it, her taste repertoire has expanded beyond the Steak from Bistro St-Malo in Quebec City; Café China Ilocano flavors of Pinakbet, Insarabasab and Binubudan. noodles; and Fishballs tusok-tusok style. A craving for Spanish tapas brings her to the Michelin-starred Casa Mono by Union Square; Aquavit on 55th and ambience is what makes customers keep coming back, but to me it’s secondary.” Street for inventive Nordic food; Neue Gallery’s Café Cleanliness is not high up there in her decision to Sabarsky on Fifth Avenue’s Museum Mile is her go-to check out a restaurant. She said, “I have eaten in the place for a Viennese meal and some European art. For gutters of Vietnam and ate in the streets and countryside comfort food, it’s Nyonya for its Malaysian menu and of Thailand where food preparation won’t likely pass friendly staff or the Thai eateries Ayada Thai and Hug Esan in Queens for Issan cuisine. The Issan region along Western standards.” She eats from halal carts of NYC, the Thai-Lao-Cambodia border is noted for its use of fish too, so sanitation is “really not a key thing.” Recently she was ecstatic to try NYC places with hardsauce and hot chillies. “When I moved to New York City from the Philippines, to-get seats such as Rezdora in Gramercy, Don Angie in I dealt with my homesickness and culture shock through the Greenwich Village, and Frenchette in Tribeca. Maricar enjoys a variety of cuisine from Japanese, Chinese, getting to know other cultures,” she told The FilAm. and Issan Thai food. Italian cooking, especially from the “The easiest and most enjoyable way is by eating other regions of Tuscany and Ligurian, is also a favorite along people’s food.” with German, Korean, and Jamaican. Looking for a unique food experience, Maricar, a “I research a lot about cuisines, dishes and the chefs healthcare recruiter, prefers to dine solo or with a friend. – their food focus, inspiration, food aesthetics/philoso“Exploration is best with just one or two diners. To me a phy,” she said. “I read reputable culinary reviews.” great experience is when I go beyond what’s on the plate. “The worst are the restaurants in the Times Square or For example, if a dish inspires more research about its culture, people, history and creator, I feel more fulfilled.” some touristy area that are usually not consistent and unreasonably expensive because their target customers She scouts for restaurants that have either “authentic are moneyed tourists who aren’t coming back. I advise comfort food” or “chef-driven creative menus,” espefriends who are visiting NYC to stay away from these cially those kitchen lords conscious about selecting establishments and explore places where locals actually highest quality ingredients. Quality of food is first and eat,” she said. central to an experience, she said. “The combo of service THE FILAM  | 


Cookie shot from the Dominique Ansel Bakery, the Cronut creator.

With Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill of Pocantico Hills in Tarrytown, N.Y. His Blue Hill in Greenwich Village is one of Maricar’s favorites. How does Filipino food fare in her culinary expeditions? “The best one for me is Bad Saint in Washington, D.C. It reimagines Philippine cuisine using local ingredients without compromising its flavor and authenticity,” she said. She remembers lining up twice for this Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant in 2016, the first enduring more than three hours without successfully getting in because the line was too long. More determined and better prepared, she came back after a few months and was in line five hours before opening — in the cold of winter. “If there is one Filipino restaurant that may have a chance to get a Michelin Star, this should be it.” But that is not the longest she’s ever waited to be served. On the week that Jollibee opened in Queens in 2007, she held on to her spot for more than seven hours. A chuckle for the memory: “I had to eat dinner while in line to get a table.”

Fake website, genuine friendship By Cristina DC Pastor

Gary Abasolo for Jersey City Mayor. @abasoloformayor. Founded June 2014. Dedicated to Jersey City’s favorite son. 156 Likes.


othing about this Facebook page strikes the reader as amiss. But if you’re from Jersey City, you know that lawyer Gary Abasolo, 50, was never a candidate for mayor. Not in 2014 when the fan page was created, not in the years that followed. His name never appeared in the ballots, and there was never any flier showing his boyish face. The website is a fake. The only reason it has not been shut down by Facebook is because no one has complained. Not Gary, who is a civil case attorney, not his family, nor his clients. “Someone offered to make a donation to his campaign, but we did not do anything to encourage it or it would constitute fraud,” said Almor Dayoan, 38, an accountant at Booking. com, who created the site. More than the site’s creator, Almor is a friend of Gary for more than a dozen years. He created the site as a prank. As a matter of fact, he created it knowing Gary wouldn’t mind and would probably think it’s funny.

||How it started

In June of 2014, they were hanging out at a friend’s living room. Recalled Almor, “I’m a New Yorker and I like to make fun of New Jersey or Jersey City where Gary is from. He would sometimes get annoyed. I told him, since you’re so passionate about Jersey City, why don’t you run for mayor?” That same night, the “Gary Abasolo for Jersey City Mayor” fan page was born. “Initially, a lot of people thought it was real,” said Almor.

The website that began as a prank now has a life of its own. When he saw the page, Gary just gave a shrug. “If it bothered me, I would have asked Almor to close it down a long time ago,” he told The FilAm. The page would take on a life of its own, with people Liking it, asking how to make a donation or calling Gary “Mayor.” “Many of my friends nowadays actually call me Mayor Gary or sometimes as just Mayor, as basically a nickname, which I don’t mind at all,” said Gary. In fact, when one does a search for Gary Abasolo, the fan page comes up high in the ranking alongside his law practice. “Sometimes I think he enjoys it,” joked Almor. The friendship dates back to 2005 when the two crossed paths at the Jaycees International. Gary preceded Almor by three years. In 2006, he became vice president for recruitment services and Almor was named auditor. From that time on, the two became best buds as well as motivated JC officers. They would watch basketball together or go out for drinks after work. They make it a point to meet once a week. “We’re pretty close,” said Gary. “Almor is a laidback type of guy, easygoing. He is a jokester.” Almor likes that Gary is very passionate about sports and politics and does not take offense when he pokes fun at his opinions. “He knows


Almor Dayoan (left) and buddy Gary Abasolo share a love for smoothie drinks. it’s all in good fun, and we have a good laugh.” He continues to update the page with photos and videos of Gary. He plans to generate more Likes for the


page by offering to raffle off movie tickets. One thing he will never do is to embarrass his friend or ridicule him publicly. “I will not cross that line,” he said.

Remembering Mars Custodio, the ‘painting doctor’


ars Custodio was my closest friend when I was living in New Jersey. We went through the turbulent ‘70s and ‘80s together, often hanging out Friday nights at his house because he had been depressed by his oncology patients’ passing. At the time there was no cure for any type of cancer. All he could do was prolong lives. After his retirement in the early 2000s, he pursued his lifelong dream of being an artist and became known as the “painting doctor.” His works hang on the walls of many affluent Filipino and Caucasian houses, including the wall on the main staircase of the house owned by philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis. If we were to survey all our HS ‘59 LaSalle classmates, I’m very sure that Mars would emerge as one of the most respected, if not THE most respected classmate. He was a true doctor – a healer, a concerned friend, an advocate, a social facilitator for those who need help finding their bearings in social settings. He was there when I needed consoling during the trauma of my divorce from my first wife. He was there for his friend and med school classmate Bimbo Dolorico when Bimbo’s wife Vichy passed away in a house fire. He was there for the brother of my sister-in-law Ana Donato Lumba. No one loved and cared for his friends and patients more than Mars. The last communication that I had with Mars was in August, when he saw my post in Facebook about my illness. He messaged me, asking for particulars about my illness. I had no idea at the time that he himself was in any kind of danger. When he posted the picture of his release from a hospital following his own hospital stay, there was no indication that it was for something serious. He would not give any hint that he could be mere months from his own passing.

By Cesar Lumba

A true doctor, a healer, and a concerned friend. Facebook photo That was Mars. That was the guy we all palled around with at the Brown Derby in Quezon City, where we ate footlong hotdogs and listened to music on jukeboxes. I saw him fight Villavicencio on the driveway of Joji Ferraren’s house on Taft Avenue. Villavicencio was much bigger and stronger, but Mars fought a gallant fight. He got hit a few times with haymakers but he kept on fighting, wouldn’t quit. I don’t remember how the fight ended but I’m pretty sure it ended when some of our classmates decided to break it up. Mars would never quit. Mars consistently was in the top five students in our class. Along with THE FILAM  | 

Roberto Manalo, Louie Gamboa, Johnny Reyes and Dickie Gonzalez, he could have been our valedictorian. Those five were razor-thin close in academic achievement. Our class was one of the smartest classes in the history of La Salle. I don’t know if our record has been broken. In college, seven of our smartest classmates graduated Summa Cum Laude. That’s seven, my friends. Bombie Pleno, Boy Gamboa, Tony de los Reyes, Dickie Gonzalez, George Uy, Anthony Golamco and one other. I don’t know if any batch can lay claim to that record. Mars was not even one of them. He along with Johnny Reyes went to the 9

University of the Philippines where both Mars and Johnny were university scholars. There was the turbulent ‘80s. My first wife divorced me. Mars had a serious illness. Vichy Dolorico died in a fire. People Power in the Philippines. George Bunag got sick, a very serious case of COPD. He was in a coma and almost died. The La Salle Alumni Association in New York was formed. I was elected association president. We got the first Dream Game between La Salle and Ateneo basketball teams organized. Everybody who was anybody in the Filipino community (including the Consul General King Rodrigo) was there. Towards the end of my term everyone wanted to succeed me. I should not have run for reelection, but I did. The ‘90s. We got busy with our own careers. Mars had split from the medical partnership where he had been an important partner. He became chief oncologist in Christ Hospital in Jersey City and other hospitals. He got so rich he erected a mansion on a hill in Morris Plains. Bought a house on the shore of Lake Hopatcong, the biggest lake in New Jersey. Bought a condo on Park Avenue in New York. Traded the stethoscope for a brush and an easel. Gained fame in the U.S. and the Philippines as the Painting Doctor. Goodbye, friend. Cora and your children miss you the most, but we all do as well. Oncologist Marcelito Custodio passed away on November 2, 2017. He was 75. Cesar Lumba is a novelist, blogger and calls himself a “reluctant retiree.” He spent more than 25 years in the business world, first as a reporter for Dun & Bradstreet and later as a financial professional in various companies, such as Prudential Insurance and Pruco Securities. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada after living in the New York metropolitan area for 30 years.


The oldest Filipino bank in NYC has a new general manager By Cristina DC Pastor

Philippine National Bank, the oldest Filipino bank in New York at 102 years, just got a new general manager.


ric B. Bustamante is a battle-scarred Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company as banker known for his turnaround a Management Trainee and became Branch smarts as a manager. He managed Head in three years. Another round of staffing issues he inherited, and now promotion made him Cluster Sales Head, reports the New York office has seen where he assumed supervision over several a steady increase in remittance volume since he contiguous branches. took over in February 1, 2018. The invitation for a comeback came when a top executive of PNB offered him a position “Remittance services has been steadily to manage two offices in Manhattan and increasing over the years,” said Eric seeming to Queens. Eric welcomed the opportunity, downplay his role. “This is due to the increase convincing himself, “Once a banker always a in wages and income of FilAm communities in banker.” the U.S. where our sector has the highest gross It was tough start. He faced a severe annual income.” manpower shortage caused by circumstances The rise is also seen in home loans, he said. that have been there even before he joined “There’s this bigger desire of FilAms to purchase and invest in residential real estate properties in the Philippines through the Own a Philippine Home Loan (OPHL) program.” PNB has branches and remittance centers around the world. Eric had bid goodbye to his enduring yet fast-moving career as a banker when he came to the U.S. in 2012 to join the family business in Brooklyn. He worked for the tax consultancy company founded by his father and brothers. As a Professional Tax Consultant, he was eager to learn more. He eventually passed the forbidding Internal Revenue Service exam for Enrolled Agents and became a licensed agent of the IRS representing clients in tax-related cases. “I couldn’t say no to my family,” he said. In the Philippines, he got his start in financial services as a Loans Assistant at Far East Bank and Trust Company and was later promoted to Eric with wife Jedy, a registered nurse, and children Charles Jeric and Camille Erica. Loans Supervisor. He joined THE FILAM  | 


‘Once a banker always a banker,’ thought Eric Bustamante on accepting the PNB position. PNB. From 17, he inherited seven employees. “We were armed with tested managerial techniques and ably equipped with administrative skills,” he said. “I felt my career was put through a test.” The Cainta-born and raised Eric said he is the type of manager who is a positive thinker. This has allowed him to “triumph over trials and challenges.” He was able to find “efficient and capable” people from the ranks of fresh college graduates to staff his bank. “I coached, guided and molded the young team and transformed

them into a coherent and fighting team,” he said. “I instilled in their hearts and minds the mantra that in order to win a war, we have to stay together. We don’t win a war by fighting each other.” Today after more than a year, Eric is reporting that PNB New York has 12 people in its two branches, 10 of them working out of the Manhattan office located on Seventh Avenue. As Faith is important to him, he said he makes sure his employees always start the day with morning prayers. “Eric is a charismatic, passionate and extraordinary leader who puts his heart and soul into his job,” said one of his customers. Eric’s effort did not escape notice. PNB New York was awarded 2018’s Most Profitable Overseas Branch at PNB’s annual Gabi ng Parangal held in Manila last March 2019. PNB’s top management also conferred on Eric the PNB Service

Excellence Award both in the categories of Customer Service and Extraordinary Leadership this year. Just recently, on October 1, he was promoted Vice President of the entire organization. “It was truly a fitting recognition of our efforts and ‘never say die’ spirit in spite of all the challenges and obstacles,” he said. “A testimony that prayers and hard work pay off.” His dream is for PNB to become ‘bank of choice’ among FilAm communities in the United States, and to bring it closer to the people. Eric lives in Matawan, New Jersey with his wife Jedy, who works as a Registered Nurse, and their two children Charles Jeric and Camille Erica. “Everything has been truly a blessing, and we give back all the glory and thanksgiving to our Lord God,” he said.

Two Banking Management Excellence awards this year from Fiesta In America People's Ball and PACCAL.

Census needs half-million temp workers


he U.S. Census Bureau launched on October 22 a national recruitment effort to hire approximately 500,000 temporary workers to help conduct the 2020 Census. Nearly 4,000 local recruiting events are scheduled to take place this week in communities across the nation. “We need people to apply now so they can be considered for part-time census taker positions next spring,” said Timothy Olson, Census Bureau associate director for Field Operations. “Recent high school graduates, veterans, retirees, military spouses, seasonal workers and applicants who are bilingual are highly encouraged to apply. It’s important we hire people in every community in order to have a complete and accurate census.” During a news conference at its National Processing Center Paper Data Capture Center – West in Phoenix, the Census Bureau provided an update on the status of 2020 Census

operations and job opportunities available in Arizona and across the country. Officials explained how census forms are processed and demonstrated the technologies that are making the 2020 Census more accurate and efficient. Census takers will be hired to work in their communities and go door to door to collect responses from those who do not respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone or by mail. In certain remote areas like northern Maine and Alaska, census takers are the only way people can respond to the 2020 Census. These positions offer competitive pay, flexible hours, paid training and weekly paychecks. Pay rates vary depending on where the job is located, from $13.50 to $30.00 per hour. The selection process for census taker positions begins in January 2020, with paid training occurring in March and April. Actual enumeration of non-responding households throughout the nation begins in May through early July. Check out the THE FILAM  | 

2020 Census website for listings of available census taker and other jobs. “AARP knows that historically 50 percent of census takers are over the age of 50 and many are retirees,” said Dana Marie Kennedy, state director, AARP Arizona. “These folks tend to be reliable, dependable and they know their communities best. They bring with them years of experience and get the job done.” The 2020 Census officially starts counting people in January 2020 in remote Toksook Bay, Alaska. Most households in the nation will receive invitations in the mail to respond (online, by phone or by mail) in March 2020. The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be ‘The Census Taker’ by Norman Rockwell on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, 1940. conducted once every 10 years. Census data are used to determine congressional representation in infrastructure, including health the states and how billions of dollars clinics, schools, roads and emerin federal funds are distributed to gency services. For more inforstates and local communities every mation on the 2020 Census, visit year for critical public services and 11

A century in the life of veteran Justino de Lara


By Cristina DC Pastor

hen he turned a century old last year in April, Justino de Lara blew out the candles on a coffee cake with his good friend Celestino Almeda, who was 101 years old. How many centenarians would have the opportunity to celebrate that kind of milestone together? Theirs is a friendship that goes back more than seven years when they met in Washington D.C., shared an ardent advocacy, and began to walk the precarious path campaigning for recognition of Filipino World War II veterans. At 101 years old, ‘Mang Tino’ is one of the oldest veterans who have experienced life in all its highs and lows, the searing pain and ecstatic glory. He was one of thousands of Filipino veterans who received the Congressional Gold Medal for his service in World War II and has received compensation from the U.S. government. When the Trump Administration proposed to end the parole program for Filipino veterans, Justino was among those who was vehemently opposed. He joined the chorus of outrage and frustration that the U.S. government has once again failed to keep its promise – as in the 1940s when Truman did not honor the commitment of Roosevelt to recognize all Filipinos soldiers who served during the war. The Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program was approved under President Barack Obama authorizing qualified family members to be granted visas so they could perform the role of caregivers to the ageing, fading veterans. Justino came of age during the war. He was among the thousands of idealistic Filipinos inducted into the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) and fought the invading forces of the Imperial Japanese army. He survived the Death March. “It’s hard to became a prisoner of war. We ate only rice and boiled vegetables, and sometimes the Japanese soldiers gave us a hard time and beat us,” he said, speaking to The FilAm through his eldest daughter Lydia. Justino and his late wife, Adelaida Benedictos, have seven daughters who gave them four grandchildren. The extended de Lara family includes two great-grandchildren who are both boys. “My wife passed away already before she got her visa to come here in America,” he said. Finishing only Grade 6, he worked as a carpenter in Manila where he was born. He and his wife sought to raise their daughters on his meager income.

Justino clutching his Congressional Gold Medal from the U.S. government (left) and a PNB commemorative coin for being a loyal customer. In his later years, he was awarded U.S. citizenship for his role as an Army volunteer. “When I came to Washington D.C. in 1994, I was already a citizen,” he said. As far as he could remember, citizenship was granted because he fought under the banner of the USAFFE. He arrived in the U.S. at the age of 76, already a widower. His wife died of cardiac arrest years earlier. He petitioned his daughters one by one until five of them decided to make a life in the U.S. One daughter now lives in Qatar, and another in Italy. “I never worked in the U.S. I was already old when I came here,” he said. He shuttles between Washington D.C. where four of his daughters live, and Wheaton, Maryland, the home of another daughter. Although he lives in D.C., he banks at PNB in New York, where General Manager Eric Bustamante goes out of his way to welcome him every time he comes for a transaction. “There used to be a PNB in Maryland but it closed so I went to PNB New York,” he explained. His trips to NYC give him a chance to pass by the Statue of Liberty, a landmark that reminds him of THE FILAM  | 


The young carpenter from Manila. how he once dreamed of coming to America. The secret to his long life? An easy-going attitude and watching old movies. “He’s a happy person even when he was in the Philippines,” said Lydia. “I am happy around my daughters,” he said. “That’s why I didn’t get married again.”


of Events

||November 13

||December 8

‘Made in NY Talks’ on Advertising and Marketing in the Public Interest NYU, Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, 239 Greene Street, 8th Floor (between Washington Place and West 4th Street) NYC

The Splendor of Christmas Astoria World Manor 25-22 Astoria Blvd., Queens NYC Attire: Purple

||December 8

Paskong Pinoy 2019 at Gabi ng Parangal Hyatt Regency Princeton 102 Carnegie Ctr. Princeton N.J.

||November 15

Women and the Silent Film Era Hosted by The National Arts Club 15 Gramercy Park South, NYC

||December 1

4th Annual Brooklyn Nets Filipino Heritage Night Barclays Center 620 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn NYC

||December 3

Democrats & Immigration: Humanitarian Crisis & Worker Protection The Murphy Institute - CUNY School of Labor & Urban Studies 25 West 43rd St., 18th floor, NYC

||November 14

South Border: The Greatest Hits U.S. Tour Jersey City Ukrainian Community Center 90 Fleet St., Jersey City

||November 14

Asian Research Institute’s 18th Annual Gala Jing Fong Restaurant 20 Elizabeth St., Chinatown NYC

||December 6

||November 15

2019 Dr. Jose P. Rizal Awards for Excellence Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall

||November 17

2019 Fall Sayawan Na! Final Performance & Graduation St. Mary's Church, Dumont NJ 280 Washington Ave, Dumont, N.J.

Billy Joel - In Concert The Garden 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, Manhattan, NYC

||January 20

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

||May 9

||December 8

||July 15 to 18

Celebrate the Season & Skate with Santa! Warinanco Sports Center 1 Park Drive, Roselle, N.J.

||November 18

||November 22

Timeless: A Thanksgiving dinner show with Christopher de Leon, Edgar Mortiz, and Tirso Cruz III Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel Flushing, NYC


Diskubre Tour Bicol, Philippines

Nafcon National Conference 2019: Magkaisa at Kumilos Portland, Oregon

United States of Outrage (a comedy show) Caveat 21 A Clinton St, NYC

||November 15

||2020, January 3 to 13


Introvoys 2020 Canada Tour Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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

The shining example of Greta Thunberg By Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D.

‘We will never forgive you...’ Photo by Markus Spiske/Unsplash


The Climate Rebel. Photo: Ouest France website s a 15-year-old, Greta Thunberg was this awkward, eccentric girl known to protest all by herself before the steps of the Swedish Parliament calling attention to her government’s lack of action on climate change. What a difference a year makes! Today, Greta leads a global army of impassioned teenage environmental activists. She captivated global attention when she spoke before the recent United Nations assembly in New York. World leaders took notice. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all of you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” was her opening sentence as the delegates listened in awe to a 16-year-old telling them why the world is in a state of rapid decline. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you, and if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.” Greta came to the U.S. from England on a “zero emissions” yacht which is more environment-friendly than an airplane. Her sailing to New York drew limitless inspiration as she is now being called the “the climate heroine,” the rebel the world needs. Some are saying she has done more for climate change in one year than many world leaders and politicians who profess to address the issue. Although diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome, the condition has not stopped her from pursuing her continuous study of the climate and the warming of the planet. She refers to Asperger’s

as her “superpower,” the source of her incredible passion and focus. Climate scientists have praised Greta’s moral outrage over indifferent foreign governments and leaders as “entirely appropriate.” Citing facts they have studied, the scientists have declared, “The world has already lost over half the animals on Planet Earth since 1970.” Global warming is believed responsible for wildfires that are getting worse and becoming more frequent. Another tragedy is how many children in New Delhi were diagnosed with irreversible lung damage caused by air pollution from automobile emissions, chemicals from factories, and an assortment of toxic gases. What will be done in this decade will truly



matter for the future. One facet that has proven its worth: Science is real. Physics exists. Chemistry matters. A query that has come around since Greta addressed the UN: How can we look at the younger generation in the eye if we continue to ignore the continuing threat to the environment? The world that lies around us is worth keeping. There is the shining example of Greta Thunberg, so astonishingly focused on the kind of world the older generations will be leaving to their children. She is a child who has given “a face and a voice to the generation who will suffer.” Her alarmism is a call to action. Protection of the younger generation is the need of the hour.

‘C’mon, it’s a Bob Marley book!’ On the last year of his master’s program at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), John Jay Cabuay got an offer from his agent: “Bob Marley’s daughter, Cedella, is doing a children’s book and is really interested in your illustrations.”


espite his busy school schedule as a student and a teacher, and fatherhood, John Jay accepted. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity and took it up head on,” mused the artist. “I mean, c’mon! It’s a Bob Marley project!” Artist John Jay Cabuay does the illustration for the children’s book ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ written John Jay emigrated from Manila by Bob Marley’s daughter Cedella. when he was only 12 years old. His family settled in New Jersey but John wanted desperately to be in New York City. So, he moved in with some of his relatives in Queens where he attended high school and eventually art school at FIT. He eventually earned his bachelor’s degree, and more recently, his Master’s in Fine Arts in Illustration. So impressed were his instructors that they hired him to teach. “He’s a really good instructor and he loves to give us extra insights about working as a professional freelancer,” said one of his students, Ramon Gil, who is a comics books artist. Aside from teaching, John Jay has also done illustrations for clients around the world like Deloitte, GQ Japan, The Saturday John Jay’s whimsical portraits of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and journalist Anderson Cooper. Evening Post, The Observer, The



Washington Post, Backstage, Politico, and many more. He has illustrated numerous book jackets for major publications and magazine covers as well. He told Politico how he started out as a fashion illustrator until he realized he was more interested in “storytelling instead of just working with one pose and beautiful clothes.” His process is to begin by drawing people by hand and then applying colors digitally “still making sure they have an organic finish.” “Get Up, Stand Up” by Cedella Marley — based on Bob Marley’s song of the same name — was recently published by Chronicle Books and is getting great reviews. “Cabuay supports the lyrics with the kinetic flair of a music video in boldly colored, textural pencil and digital illustrations that convey the vitality and imperative force behind Bob Marley’s message,” writes Publishers Weekly. “The illustrations are bright and bold, and the characters display tons of energy and attitude. The bullying scenes are depicted in an easy-tounderstand way, while the reaction for the others includes standing up together. The diversity of characters makes it clear that this wonderful message is for everyone. There’s a sense of unity in every scene,” states an Amazon review. Now that the book has been published, John Jay is able to take a breather. He continues to teach, and do freelance work as an illustrator. “After two years dedicating my life to the book, it’s a relief to finally have the book out there. My daughter, my wife and I also appear in the book in little cameos,” he said. “Yeah, that’s cool.”

These great sports stars are FilAm

Chess champion Wesley So. Photo by Euku/Creative Commons

Mixed martial artist John Dodson is experienced in both the flyweight and bantamweight divisions.

he modern-day United States is a wonderful mix of nationalities and cultures, with the country physically and metaphorically shaped by the waves of immigration throughout its history. Each culture brings new foods, customs, traditions and expertise, helping to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Filipinos have been living on the land that now makes up the United States of America for more than 400 years, the first recorded landings in California dating back to 1587. There are more than 4 million Filipino Americans, and they are largely concentrated in the states of California, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Nevada. These numbers are also set to grow, as people from the Philippines are currently the 4th largest immigration group in the country. For these reasons, it is no surprise FilAms have had a significant effect on America and its successes. Approximately 250,000 Filipinos fought alongside American troops during the Second World War. They were also heavily involved in fighting for workers’ rights as part of the United Farm Workers movement in the 1960s, with activists like Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz leading the Delano Grape strike in 1965. Filipino Americans have continued to make great contributions, particularly in the arts. Musicians such as Allan Pineda Lindo (, movie actors like Vanessa Hudgens, and theater artists like Lea Salonga have made significant contributions to contemporary culture.

Filipino Americans have also had a significant impact on the American sporting landscape. Sports brings people together, no matter who they are or what the sport is. For Filipinos, however, both sports and sportsmanship play an important role in their culture and way of life. Filipino Americans have seen success in just about every imaginable sport, including basketball, fencing, football, soccer, tennis, and golf. Here is a look at some of them.


||Wesley So

Chess Grandmaster, Wesley So is a three-time Filipino chess champion, who became the U.S. Chess Champion in 2017, three years after moving to the country. So is currently ranked 14th in the FIDE Top Players list, with a current Elo rating of 2767. His all-time greatest score was 2822 in 2017 just after he became U.S. champion – which catapulted him to second place in the rankings. So is currently one of only 11 to have an Elo score above 2800; between 2008 and 2013 he was also the youngest ever player to have a score greater than 2600. After moving to the United States from the Philippines, So won the Millionaire Chess Tournament in 2014, Bilbao Chess Master in 2015, the Grand Chess Tour in 2016 and the Tata Steel Masters in 2017. He has since represented the United States at the 42nd Chess Olympiad, where he won gold in both the individual and team competitions.



Tedy Bruschi played in the NFL for 13 years. Photo by Euku

||John Dodson

John Dodson, whose mother is Filipina, is a mixed martial artist with experience of fighting in both the flyweight and bantamweight divisions. An eight-year veteran in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, he is currently ranked 12th in the official UFC Bantamweight rankings. First competing in December of 2011, Dodson very quickly made a name for himself in this first season when he reached the finals after delivering a second-round KO to Johnny Bedford, a feat that was later voted “Knockout of the Season” by UFC fans. In the finals, Dodson won with a technical knockout against TJ Dillashaw, making him the first ever winner of the bantamweight class of The Ultimate Fighter competition.

||Tedy Bruschi

Now retired, Tedy Bruschi was a football player who enjoyed a 13-season career as a linebacker for the New England Patriots. During this time, Bruschi contributed to three Super Bowl victories in 2001, 2003 and 2004, as well as the 2004 Pro Bowl. Having played college football for Arizona, he was picked in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft. His career at the Patriots has seen him entered into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, as well as winning a number of awards including the AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year and Best Comeback Athlete ESPY. Filipino Americans have helped to shape the country into what it is today. They continue to make great contributions, including in the field of sports.

Should the U.S. ban the entry of Leila de Lima’s jailers? A U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee proposal has made some Philippine officials anxious and very angry.


he proposal wants to deny entry to the U.S. of those responsible for the “politically motivated imprisonment” of Senator Leila de Lima. De Lima, a critic of President Duterte, has been detained since 2017 for alleged drug trafficking. The human rights community says she is a prisoner of conscience. Philippine officials led by Spokesman Sal Panelo decried the proposal offered by Senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy as “interference” and an “insult.” While it is truly “only a proposal” and needs the approval of both houses of the U.S. Congress, the passionate reaction among Filipinos in the U.S. and the Philippines got many thinking how far the motion would go. Six FilAms shared their opinions on the Senate committee proposal.

Clockwise from left: Johnson Lazaro, Lirio Covey, Medel Paguirigan, Victor Palmos, Ping Panlilio, and Nieva Burdick. party officials, suspected Nazis, criminals and these days, individuals from certain countries. This has been a long-standing practice by the U.S. government. Remember that Liza Maza was barred from entering the U.S. in 2015. The same thing applies to the current administration in the Philippines.

Nieva Burdick Chairman of the Board The Philippine Community Center Services for the Aging I am not in favor of the U.S. Senate proposal. Why? Because I believe that majority of Philippine politicians are corrupt, so is De Lima. She is no exception. One of her victims is a friend of mine. Lirio Covey Professor of Clinical Psychology, Columbia University President, Association for Adults with Autism PHL Yes, I am in favor. Senator De Lima’s detention, founded on falsified charges, is unjust and warrants condemnation. Prohibiting those officials who were complicit in the unjust and immoral jailing of a sitting duly elected senator is in my opinion appropriate. Freedom of action and travel, specifically in the U.S., which was withheld, even in her own country, from Senator De Lima, is a privilege deservedly withheld from the perpetrators of her detention. Atty. Johnson Lazaro Lazaro Law Group The culprits who may have conspired to frame Sen. De Lima acted out of arrogance and indiffer-

Victor Palmos Hairstylist & Makeup Artist Palmos Makeup I believe so because the law in the Philippines has not been fair to her. They hit her below the belt. They take away her soul. Walang respeto sa babae, they expose even her personal life. What justice do we have in the Philippines? Former Senator Leila de Lima has been called a Prisoner of Conscience by the human rights community. ence to the rule of law. To ban them from entering the U.S. is a rejection of corruption and lawlessness. It’s the right thing to do. Medel Paguirigan Senior Director of Nursing Education There have been precedents that the U.S. bans several political individuals like communist



Ping Panlilio Lifestyle Artist Ping Panlilio Antiques and Interiors I think the United States should not interfere with our issues. They should leave us alone. The problem with the U.S. is that it interferes with international issues especially in areas where their presence is at risk. They should put in their heads that we are not their colony anymore. We are independent and could stand on our own and make our own relevant decisions.


‘It truly takes a village to raise a child’


By Venessa Manzano

t was something my younger, American-born sister said that got me thinking. She said, “No offense, but why should I think about helping the Philippines if I feel like I have no connection to it?” I never forgot that statement. Working closely with the Filipino American community in New York and New Jersey the past 10 years, I have met so many college students and young professionals asking about Filipino language classes. Many would say their parents never spoke or taught them Tagalog for fear they would not be able to speak English fluently or have problems fitting into American culture. But as we’ve learned, and now know, learning a foreign language at an early age is highly recommended. It is known to build confidence in children, provide greater opportunities for college and careers, increase standardized test scores, maintain cultural connections, and provide a bigger view of the world. Being at that age where my friends and peers are settling down and having families of their own, I began to think of our children and what we can do in terms of educating them about our heritage. This brought back memories of my childhood, back when I was a From ‘Bulaklakan’ (Garland Dance) to martial arts, FilSchool kids wow their families. student at Iskwelahang Pilipino, the oldest Filipino cultural school in the U.S., based in Massachusetts, that recently celebrated its 43rd anniversary. I learned many things there — the folk dancing, history lessons, cooking classes, songs, rondalla music, arts and crafts. Realizing that there are so many Chinese, Korean, and French cultural schools for children, why aren’t there similar schools for us? If there are any, how come they are not reaching out to the many families who are looking for these types of programs? Just toying with the idea of having Families applaud the children’s performances. something like that here in the TriTHE FILAM  | 


Founder Venessa Manzano welcomes guests to the 10th anniversary of The Filipino School of New York & New Jersey on October 5. Photos by MPW Media Group. State area, I began talking to friends and colleagues. The support, excitement and need were there, and within a few years, The Filipino School of New York & New Jersey was born. Established in 2008, The Filipino School promotes the teaching of language and arts, and the understanding of Philippine culture, values and tradition to students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12. There are classes in Tagalog language, folk dance, storytelling and folklore, arts and crafts, cooking, and song and music. Our motto is: Our Heritage. Our Legacy. Our programs are available throughout the year. There is a set schedule which parents and anyone else interested in the classes can refer to. Existing programs and workshops other organizations offer are usually sporadic, where parents and their children miss out on the opportunity because of lack of awareness or not having enough time to plan ahead in their busy schedules. Our curriculum follows both the New York State Education Department’s Learning Standards for the Arts, and the State of New Jersey’s Core Curriculum Content Standards for Language Arts Literacy. The students are divided into age groups to ensure that the teaching styles for each lesson are age-appropriate. We started with a small class operating at the Pan American Concerned Citizens Action League’s Neighborhood Center in downtown Jersey City.

||Demographics and Statistics

- Over 350 students (children and adults) enrolled in our programs to date - Over 100 unique students (children and adults) enrolled in our programs each year - An additional +150 participants in our special workshops each year (50/50 in NJ vs. 60/40 in NY children vs. adults)

||Signature Programs and Activities

Students celebrate the anniversary’s barrio fiesta theme ‘Pagdiriwang.’ Some even want to volunteer their time as instructors. We’ve also had many other Filipino community organizations wanting to collaborate on projects. It’s just great to see how when it comes to educating children about our culture, everyone comes together

and offers to help. Which is how all things should be in the Filipino community where it truly takes a village to raise a child. Venessa Manzano is the founder and school director The Filipino School of New York & New Jersey. She can be reached at

- Ang Mundong Pilipino, Children’s Filipino Language and Cultural Program - Adult Filipino Language Program - Sayawan Na! Philippine Folk Dance Program - Annual Summer Potluck Picnic - Annual Parol-Making Workshop - Special Workshops: Art & History of Baybayin, Intro to Filipino Martial Arts, Intro to the Kulintang - Filipino Children’s Story Hour Programs (currently with the Bergenfield Public Library)

More stories on FILA




A class in New York opened soon after. Most of the students are in 3rd grade and have a basic knowledge of Tagalog. Their parents enrolled them in the program so that they will be able to learn more about the language and culture, meet other children, and also because sometimes they don’t have the time, or that children learn better from others who are not family members. The parents participate in class, helping the students with their vocabulary and writing, arts and crafts activity, and provide moral support. Some are able to learn something new that they never learned while growing up in the Philippines. It’s great to hear from the parents that the children are eager to come to class. And to hear the children repeat the words they learned in class is music to my ears. Word is slowly getting out that The Filipino School is here. Parents of young children are excited and look forward to when they are of age so they can go to school. Even non-parents, young professionals, are very supportive and are offering ways to help.



Issue 21, November 2019

Should the U.S.

Ban the entry of Leila de Lima’s jailers? p17

Maricar Tangonan

Foodie’s best and worst restaurants p5

Venessa Manzano

How her school has grown p18

Profile for Mike Kurov

FILAM Nov 2019  

FILAM Nov 2019  

Profile for makf