MARCH 2018


D.C. Fil-Am students, teachers sound off on school shootings

WASHINGTON, DC — While thousands of high school students in the metropolitan area were walking out of school and marching to Capitol Hill demanding changes in the nation’s gun laws, 16-year-old Filipino American Sydney Allison Avelino was walking in a packed auditorium at her own school in Oxon Hill, Maryland, listening to administrators and teachers talk about the need to keep places of education safe.

It was their way of observing National School Walkout Day and honoring the 17 shooting victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. There were 3,000 protest actions across the U.S. on March 14.

When the morning assembly at Oxon Hill High opened for comments, Sydney was the first to stand up. She recalled how horrified she was when she, as a 6th grader, learned of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting five years ago, how she kept thinking the government had to do something to prevent another tragedy.

“But there have been more than 15 school shootings since then, and more school children killed in only two months,” she told a hushed audience. “Do you know how ridiculous that is? I should not fear going to school. I should not even fear going to the movies. I should not fear for my little sister who goes to middle school.” Sydney’s sister, Shannon Ann, is an 8th grader.

Referring to the Parkland students who were killed, Sydney said she was heartbroken that “those freshmen who were killed are never going to experience the joy of being a senior. And those seniors will never experience what it is like to be a college student. And those students who could have been college students will never learn what their career or passion could be. There needs to be change. And I cannot wait for our generation to rise and become that change.”

(Read more "DC Fil-Am students sound off on school shootings")



Amidst snowstorm Chicagoans hear Sen. Trillanes' updates on PH EJKs

By Grace Garcia Szpytma
Pinoy Newsmagazine Special

CHICAGO - No fewer than 25 Filipino Americans braved 12 inches of snow on Feb. 9 to hear Senator Antonio Trillanes IV speak about "the more than 10,000 extrajudicial killings (EJKs) under President Duterte" at the Hana Center in this city.

The senator was in town to visit family but he took the opportunity to meet with the local Filipino community.

top left photo: Sen Trillanes discusses with a forum audience about EJKs in the Philippines at Hana Center, Chicago Feb. 9. (pinoy photo by grace garcia szpytma)

He has been a staunch critic of President Duterte’s response to the drug epidemic in the Philippines.

Forum facilitator, Jerry Clarito, told attendees, “Did you know that the senator is being targeted by President Duterte because he is his principal adversary?”

“President Duterte has ordered people to have me killed, but for some reason I’m still around and it may mean that I have a mission and a purpose to serve,” Trillanes shared.

“I’m here to give you an update about what’s happening in the Philippines. The EJKs are not about eliminating drug pushers. It is about him being able to control people,” the senator added.

“President Duterte is accountable for all of the deaths. He has used the Philippine police as a killing machine.”

(Read more "Chicagoans hear Sen. Trillanes' updates on PH EJKs")


Mortgage fraud conviction ends Fil-Am judge’s promising career

PINOY Newsmagazine

CHICAGO- A once promising judicial career has now ended for Filipino American Cook County circuit court Judge Jessica Arong O’Brien, who was convicted of a $1.4 million mortgage fraud scheme.

Judge Jessica Arong O’Brien. (Chicago Tribune photo, Phil Vasquez)

She was found guilty of mail fraud affecting a financial institution and bank fraud on Feb. 15 at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. The judge set her sentencing hearing for July 6.
O’Brien presided over a small claims court but was moved to non-judicial duties after her indictment by a federal grand jury on April 14 of last year. Her conviction removes her as a circuit court judge according to state law.

Around 2004, O’Brien purchased two investments properties in the 600 block West of 46th and 800 block of West 54th on Chicago’s South Side. She knowingly presented false information on loan mortgage and mortgage refinancing applications.

She failed to list her $250,000 home mortgage when she applied for a loan, according to a Chicago Sun Times report.

She was working part-time as a loan originator at AmronBank Mortgage where she met co-worker Maria Bartko. They conspired to lie about relevant facts from lenders such as Citibank, New Century Mortgage Corp. and First Magnus Financial Corp.

In 2007, she sold the properties to Bartko and a straw buyer, according to a Chicago Tribune report. The straw buyer was in default for not making the monthly payments and the property was foreclosed.

(Read more Mortgage fraud conviction ends Fil-Am judge's promising career...)


Scammed Fil-Am still awaiting money awarded by judge

By Grace Szpytma


Angela Arevalo-Eads (right). Amy Cheboub-Duplechin (left pic)

CHICAGO—Plaintiff Filipina American Amy Cheboub-Duplechin is still waiting to collect money from her judgment from Defendant Angela C. Arevalo-Eads. Cheboub-Duplechin said she was duped of her investment when she co-produced a concert with Arevalo-Eads, owner of Diamonds Production, LLC.

“I want to warn people so they do not make the same mistake I did,” said Chicago resident Cheboub-Duplechin.

“Arevalo-Eads told me she had produced many concerts before in Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey and the Philippines", Cheboub-Duplechin said.

Cheboub-Duplechin said she signed a co-producing contract in January 2016 with Arevalo-Eads for the Regine Velazquez “Timeless” Concert held on May 13, 2016. They planned to split their profits 50/50.

“Even though I won the lawsuit, I may never get a penny from Angela.”

(Read more Scammed Fil-Am still awaiting money awarded by judge)

MEET & Greet for new PH Consul General in the Midwest Gina A. Jamoralin Feb. 22 at the consular offices in Chicago. Among the attendees from left, Deputy Consul Romulo V. Israel Jr., Mariano “Anong” Santos, PACF’s Ruben Salazar and Francis Everett Icao—all members of the Knights of Rizal.


MARCH 2018 


Life surprises---Blue blood moon and…more

By Mariano "Anong" Santos

PINOY Publisher/Editor


I went home with a couple of specific tasks to do in the Philippines. First, to be able to report on the progress of the Gawad Kalinga (GK) Village in Tolosa, Leyte—a 40-house community made possible by generous donors appealed to by John and Josie Disterhoft, a couple who live at the Hyde Park area in the Chicago south side. This is in response to the urgent call made by GK right after super-typhoon Haiyan left massive destruction in 2013.

It’s a rainy Saturday morning when we visited the historic Balangiga in Samar. Background is the church where its bells were taken by U.S. soldiers as spoils of the Fil-Am War in 1901. (PINOY Photo)

Chicago area GK head Jun de Guia, GK U.S. executive director Maricel Villanueva and I went to the Chicago Village Feb. 1-3 to find ways to facilitate the installation of electrical and water services to houses that were already occupied. While there, we held a town hall meeting to be able to hear the concerns of the villagers. Aside for the utilities, they told us that they are ready to venture into different enterprises if only they can be assisted with the tools and seed money to get them going.

We did visit the local mayor and his staff and we lobbied for some municipal assistance for the villagers to have their light and water. The officials were receptive and even visited the village for the first time and made their commitment to help. Mayor Edwin Arcana praised the holistic and timely turnover of the houses to the recipients.


He added that the GK approach to the needs of the Haiyan victims is far superior compared to that of the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Philippine Red Cross. The NHA projects are mostly unoccupied and the jerry-built houses of the Red Cross are now abandoned and in disrepair.

The appreciation and hope expressed by the recipients of the houses are inspiring. These survivors do not dwell on their misfortune, instead they are ready to move on and make good in life. The local GK volunteers are also admirable for their determination to help these people who were left with nothing after the super storm.

These dedicated volunteers were full of stories of devastation and death but instead of despairing—they work overtime to reach out to the needy---often resulting in their own exhaustion and illness—or even traumatic accidents.

Haiyan is no longer in the headline or is fast being forgotten. But its after-effects have hardly been overcome. Due to the lack of proper response from authorities, residents reconstructed their shanties exactly where the deathly sea surge occurred. It’s a disaster waiting to happen again.

RARE phenomenon: Super Blue blood moon in the sky of Manila Jan. 31, 2018. Next appearance will be 2038. (Inquirer photo)

(Read more “Life surprises---Blue blood moon and…more"...)




MARCH 2018


Editorial Cartoon by Jym Andalis


Angels, zombies, truth-tellers, drunks



To defend the truth, we need more “angel stories,” more truth-telling warriors, fewer “zombie narratives,” less drunken language. That, in the proverbial nutshell, is one possible summary of the Democracy and Disinformation Conference, held at the Rockwell campus of Ateneo de Manila University in early February.

“Push back”

The conference was a gathering of scholars and students, journalists and bloggers, advertising executives and public relations professionals who shared a common concern about “fake news” and its impact on the democratic project. It came soon after the second hearing of the Senate committee inquiry into fake news, and just a week before Secretary Martin Andanar’s so-called grand information summit, the National Information Convention.

There was near-unanimity among the hundreds of participants that fake news must be understood as a species of disinformation, and an emerging consensus that fake news involves at least three elements: that it is manufactured, that it pretends to be news, and that it is meant to deceive.

There was also a healthy mix of proposed solutions to “push back” against it, from improving or creating new apps or extensions to track and block fake news to the coordinated conduct of news literacy campaigns across the country.

And there was, too, a growing sense that the Duterte administration must be held accountable for its role in propagating a culture of disinformation, starting from the President. The Vera Files video compilation presented at the start of the conference said it all: “The President as Source of Disinformation.”

(Read more "Angels, zombies, truth-tellers, drunks"...)


MARCH 2018

By Jon Melegrito

Letter from Washington


A fresh push for change

Until the Florida school shootings distracted the White House and Congress, our nation’s political leaders were trying to figure out how to pass a bipartisan bill that would protect DACA recipients, fund Trump’s Wall and reduce legal immigration at the same time.

Despite saying that his heart goes out to the Dreamers, Trump actually sabotaged a compromise bill that would have saved these DACA recipients. Despite the fact that 81 percent of Americans, including 68 percent of Republican voters, support a path to citizenship for the Dreamers, Trump and his Republican minions are obstructing a solution. Dreamers lose their protection first week of this month – thanks to Trump who set this all in motion.

top right photo: 12-year-old Joseph Abelardo Conaty

Meanwhile, Special Prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III has presented compelling evidence that Russian cyber-saboteurs interfered in the 2016 elections. Apparently, a group of paid Internet trolls worked hard to “sow discord in the U.S. political system.” The aim is to disparage Hillary Clinton and get Trump elected. What Trump used to call a “hoax” is not fake news anymore.

To top it all, there’s domestic abuse allegations by a White House top aide that were ignored, two cabinet secretaries caught charging taxpayers for luxury travel, and more revelations of Trump forcing himself on women, following reports of Trump’s extra-marital affairs with a porn star and a Playboy Playmate.

But the school shootings in Parkland, Fla. on Valentine’s Day, temporarily drew attention away from scandals roiling the White House. Perhaps this tragedy will spur a fresh push for gun control. We can only hope.
“Our country has taken too many bullets to our heart!”

This was a cry of anger and anguish, spoken by one of the survivors in the mass shooting. It was also a collective cry of outrage by young people across the nation who feel that their leaders –the adults – have failed them.

(Read more "A fresh push for change"...)


MARCH 2018


By Fr. Tirso Villaverde

Should we dwell on Jesus's crucifixion pain?

I once heard people say that they choose not to give any sort of focus on the aspects of Jesus’ life that deal with pain or suffering.

For example, they choose not to pray the Stations of the Cross during Lent or at any time of the year for that matter and they do not like the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. Instead, they choose to focus on the Resurrection of Jesus and his victory.

In some ways, this is a good approach to life because it helps us to see the impact that Jesus’ Resurrection has had on our lives. Instead of seeing our lives as depraved or even rotten, focusing on the Resurrection helps us to see the grace in our lives. It helps us to see hope when life becomes bleak. It helps us to remain positive when the world around us might be drowning in darkness.

In short, it becomes the difference between seeing a glass as “half empty” or “half full.” Certainly, it is central to the faith of any Christian to believe wholeheartedly in the truth that Jesus has risen from the dead. Ultimately, it is that triumph that has set all of humanity free from the powers of sin and evil.

However, we must never neglect the fact that the Resurrection of Jesus was only possible after experiencing a very gruesome and painful manner of dying. Jesus went through a physical and emotional ordeal of unimaginable proportions. His friends abandoned him. His own people angrily demanded his execution. He was tortured beyond our imagination. He hung nailed to a cross exposed and subject to humiliation.

He experienced such pain and loneliness that even he cried out “Father, why have you forsaken me?”

In short, the triumph of the Resurrection was only made real after much pain and sorrow. What does this say to us in this day?

(Read more "Should we dwell on Jesus's crucifixion pain?"...)



MARCH 2018

The saga of DACA

By Alberto Gonzales

Immigration Attorney

(708) 916-3077

Note: This article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to constitute legal advice. This article provides a general overview only and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with an immigration attorney.

In year 1998, Maria arrived in the U.S. from the Philippines as a toddler with her mother. Both were holding tourist visas. Maria’s mother decided to stay indefinitely in the U.S. with Maria, and their visas have expired. Maria has since graduated from high school and intends to attend college to eventually become a physician.

She does not have a criminal record. Is there any immigration relief available to Maria?

On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security, under President Obama, began a program called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) that benefitted young undocumented immigrants like Maria. DACA provided relief from removal/deportation and conferred work permits to DACA recipients for two years, subject to renewal. However, DACA is not a grant of lawful immigration status. The grant of DACA to an individual may also be rescinded at any time.

To have qualified for DACA, the applicant must:

(1) be younger than 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012;

(2) have arrived in the U.S. before turning age 16;

(3) have resided continuously in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 until the present;

(4) have been physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and when the DACA request was filed;

(5) have had no lawful immigration status as of June 15, 2012;

(6) be currently in school, have graduated or received a certificate of completion from high school or a GED certificate, or be an honorably discharged U.S. veteran;

(7) have not received conviction for a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or more than two other misdemeanors;

(8) not be a national security or public safety threat. Minor traffic violations are not considered “misdemeanors” for DACA purposes.

(Read more "The Saga of DACA...")





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