Lydia Solis

OVERVIEW
Chief Correspondent, Southern California

OVERVIEW - FilAm sworn in Mayor of Sierra Madre, CA

Text and photos by Lydia V. Solis 
 
 
State Treasurer John Chiang administers oath of office to Sierra Madre mayor. 
Photo by Lydia V. Solis
Sierra Madre, CA – Rachelle Sumagaysay-Pastor Arizmendi made history (again) as the first person of color to be sworn in mayor of this city, selected by the members of the Sierra Madre City Council during their April 25 meeting. An educator and veteran non-profit administrator, Arizmendi first held a city council seat here, as one of two winners and the first Asian, at the April 8, 2014 elections. The Sierra Madre City Council is comprised of five members elected to four-year terms, so Arizmendi is up for re-election next year. 
“It really is something to be humbled about, something to be honored about, that residents of Sierra Madre have enough faith in me to take this position,” Arizmendi stated. “It’s a badge of honor, at the same time it’s a responsibility – so I’m going to do my best to represent the Filipinos, whether it’s in our city or California or throughout the United States.”
 

Born in Carmel, CA, Rachelle is the daughter of Franklin Pastor from Laoag, Ilocos Norte, and Ofelia Sumagaysay-Pastor from Sta. Barbara, Iloilo. She’s a graduate of San Diego State University where she earned two Bachelor’s degrees prior to pursuing her Master’s degree at Eastern Illinois University. She continues to hold her Registered Dietitian designation and has taught Nutrition courses at Pasadena City College. She and her husband Fili, and their dog Madison, have resided in Sierra Madre, also known as ‘Village of the Foothills,’ for over 10 years. 

Sierra Madre, with a population of 11,000, nine percent of whom are Asians, is located in the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley below the southern edge of the Angeles National Forest. Pasadena and Altadena are to its west with Arcadia to its south and east. It is known as ‘Wisteria City,’ home of a 115 year-old wisteria vine. 
 “This is still a city where people say hello to each other on the streets,” she beamed with pride, “it’s still a city where you can walk at 10:30 at night and still feel safe; and still walk down to the local produce market and get food and people remember what you got the day before.” She’s determined to maintain the quality of life in their city, preserve what they have now and continue to keep her hometown safe and friendly.
Rachelle is the Vice-President and Chief Executive Officer of PACE (Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment), a non-profit community development organization that serves over 40,000 people every year in the areas of job training and employment, business development, early childhood education, financial education and asset building, energy and weatherization.
“It’s probably, I would say, where my heart is – serving the people,” she said. 
 She oversees a budget of close to $30 million and a staff of 300 employees. In her previous capacity at PACE, she held the position of Education Project Director for 16 years. She was also the Executive Director for 2-1-1 California (an affiliate organization of the United Ways of California). But Rachelle finds time to have fun – she enjoys traveling and outdoor activities, reading and country line-dancing.
At the last council meeting as Mayor Pro Tem, Rachelle thanked Mayor Gene Goss who in turn commended her for her professionalism. She also thanked her family and the community and noted that the coming year would be “challenging” as the council tackles various issues including budget cuts and water infrastructure. “I’m confident though,” assured the new mayor, “that with the leadership of our new city manager and our dedicated city staff, we will be able to persevere as they carry out the charge of the council.”

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How safe are dialysis treatment centers? Bill to protect patients and improve care advances in California Legislature

 

FilAms supporting reform to keep patients safe, from left: Isaac Lubag, Vicky Santos and Daisy Dizon Reyes. 

Patients and caregivers listen to a panel of speakers, from left: FilAm Cass Gualvez, Dr. Randall Maxey, Joan Allen, Megallan Handford, and Vince Gonzales.

Text and photos by Lydia V. Solis

 

COMMERCE, CA – Patients and caregivers (a large number of whom are Filipinos) support passage of SB 349, the Dialysis Patient Safety Act, introduced on February 14, by State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) to protect dialysis patients and improve care at 562 California dialysis clinics. The Senate Health Committee voted 7-2 in favor of the measure. 

“I was born with kidneys that make stones all the time which disintegrates my kidneys,” said Isaac Lubag, 42, when interviewed on May 4, at the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West office here. “Only 60 percent of my kidneys work, he continued, “and I fear that one day I will be a dialysis patient myself, and after hearing my father’s horror stories about mistakes committed at the dialysis facility where he works, I’m really worried, unless reform happens, and soon.” The former Navy corpsman from Bulacan, lives with his wife and two pre-teen kids in Hacienda Heights, CA,  He said his mother and grandmother have ‘polycystic kidney disease’ (an inherited disease that causes many cysts to form in the kidneys). “Only 20 percent of my mom’s kidneys work, said Lubag. “And the disease runs in the family – my tita’s, siblings, and cousins all have it.” Lubag receives care from Kaiser Permanente, regulating his blood pressure and blood sugar. “They remove stones every time I pass them,” he noted.

The problem: According to SEIU-UHW, the United States has one of the worst dialysis patient outcomes in the industrialized world. An American dialysis patient is three times as likely to die within the first year of starting dialysis as a patient in Japan or Europe. Only one in three American patients on dialysis survives for five years. 

The solution: To ensure enough patient care staff is available to warrant patient safety. SB 349 establishes minimum staffing ratios at dialysis clinics of one registered nurse per eight patients; one patient care technician per three patients; and one social worker per 75 patients. 

SB349 will improve safety and care for dialysis patients receiving treatment at outpatient clinics by requiring safe staffing levels; increasing the frequency of inspections; and requiring adequate time between patients to clean the dialysis machines, and allowing patients to rest after finishing treatment.

   Vicky Santos, a technician at DaVita clinic, one of two for-profit companies (the other is Fresenius), supports SB 349, “not only for patient safety,” she says, “but also for the worker. If SB 349 passes, technician-patient ratio will be one to three, unlike where I work… one to five.” Santos said she’s a School of Business graduate in Manila, “but ended up working for DaVita for 15 years now. We also need longer than 15 minutes between patients to clean and disinfect,” she added, “at least 45 minutes, so we don’t rush patients out when they are not stable yet, when they still feel woozy.” (SB 349 establishes a minimum 45 minute transition time after one patient finishes treatment and before the next patient begins treatment using the same dialysis equipment. The transition time includes the time that the previous patient rests and recovers in the dialysis chair after their treatment.) 

Almost three-quarters of California’s clinics are owned by DaVita and Fresenius, companies that earn billions of dollars in profits, according to SEIU-UHW, yet fail to invest in adequate staffing and quality care.  Patients have been exposed to TB and HIV, and many centers have been found with dried bloodstains, pests, and bed bugs. State Inspectors have found that some clinics reused bloodlines and tubing, which creates a serious infection risk for dialysis patients. Inspections are only required every six years. (SB 349 requires annual inspections of more than 562 dialysis clinics.) 

Registered Nurse Daisy Dizon Reyes works at DaVita Norco. An FEU graduate, she was a medical doctor in the Philippines, who decided to take up nursing. She and a few other physicians took the local nursing board exams given in Manila, and successfully passed.  

“I open the clinic at 4:30 a.m.,” said Reyes, “and already there are 15-18 patients waiting during the first hour before another nurse comes at 5:30 a.m. I’m not able to give all of them safe and quality care; at most, I can attend to 10 patients.” (SB 349 will establish minimum staffing ratios at dialysis clinics of one registered nurse per eight patients.)

SPEAKERS 

Audience members heard from the following speakers: Dr. Randall W. Maxey, nephrologist in private practice in Los Angeles, and past president of the National Medical Association; Cass Gualvez, daughter of Filipino immigrants, an SEIU-UHW organizing director who has, for the last 17 years, worked with staff and union members to organize 30,000 hospital workers into SEIU-UHW at various major chains; Joan Allen, SEIU-UHW government relations advocate, specializes in health care policy and advocates for legislation to improve California’s health care system for patients and healthcare workers; dialysis worker Megallan Handford, RN; and Vince Gonzales, a dialysis patient.

Both Cass Gualvez and Joan Allen expounded on healthcare justice for dialysis patients and workers. 

Dr. Randall Maxey feels there is a need for “more funding (from the government) for staff, and less money to take people’s oil.” His statement “nobody cares for the patient… very few people are interested in patient care” met opposition from Megallan Handford, a 15-year LAPD veteran-turned-nurse. “I care,” he asserted, “it’s not about pay, we know we deserve better. How many have to die before we say patients first.” There were testimonies from Handford and other workers that they care for their patients; that they have established a bond with their patients; that they are invited to patient family’s milestones; and that patients call their cell phones if they have questions. 

Handford admitted that workers had a hand in putting SB 349 together. “We drafted this collectively,” he said. They also have plans to unionize.

“Yes,” said Allen, “we’re open to unionize workers.” She feels that until workers have a voice and claim their power, changes won’t happen.  

The last speaker is a dialysis patient, who said he has seen “numerous things that need to be looked at. It’s a wake-up call,” said Vince Gonzales. He lamented that because of lack of staffing – “there were 16 patients, two technicians, and one nurse” in the treatment room when a patient collapsed. “He died,” added Gonzales, “but they left him there unattended while we continued our dialysis treatment.”

The Dialysis Patient Safety Act is sponsored by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, SEIU State Council, and United Nurses Associations of CA/Union of Health Care Professionals, which are supporting dialysis center workers who want to improve patient care.

“This legislation will improve patient care by holding these corporations (for profit companies) accountable to patients and workers – not just their oversized bottom line,” stated Handford.

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OVERVIEW: THE TALK WINS EMMY AWARD PRODUCED BY FILAM

Text and Photos by Lydia V. Solis

CBS ‘The Talk’ wins Daytime Emmy Award

Pasadena, CA – Marc Anthony Nicolas, 41, the only Filipino American producer of CBS The Talk, says he’s “beyond happy” after The Talk was awarded ‘Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host’ by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The 44th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards were held on April 30, at the Pasadena Civic Center here. Hosts of The Talk include Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Aisha Tyler, and Sheryl Underwood. They won over The View, The Wendy Williams Show, The Real, Harry Connick Jr. Show and Live with Kelly.
The Talk was also nominated for ‘Outstanding Talk Show/Entertainment’ which The Ellen DeGeneres Show won over The View, Maury, and Live with Kelly.
In 2016, during the 43rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites in Los Angeles, The Talk won its first Daytime Emmy in six years, ‘Outstanding Talk Show/Entertainment,’ beating The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and others.
ACADEMY
The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is a professional service organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of television and the promotion of creative leadership for artistic, educational and technical achievements within the television industry. It recognizes excellence in television with the coveted Emmy Award not only for Daytime Entertainment and Daytime Creative Arts & Entertainment, but also for Public & Community Service, Technology & Engineering, News & Documentary, and Sports.
FLASHBACK
Flashback to April 1, at the Eriels Café in Artesia, CA.
It was Marc’s birthday celebration, but instead of opening presents, he was handing out gifts to family and friends who attended his 41st birthday party. As a bonus, he made a special announcement that the TV show ‘The Talk at CBS,’ which he produces, had received an Emmy nomination.
“This is my sixth Emmy nomination,” he gushed. “Hopefully,” he added, “I could bring a second Emmy home.” (And he did!)
FAMILY
“I feel my birthday today is a very special one,” Marc told his guests, “because I’m so blessed with my family. I couldn’t ask for more. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I feel like a king!”
Marc has fond memories of his mom, Teresita Rodrigo Nicolas, who died in 2009, after battling breast cancer.
“I’m mama’s boy,” he asserts, “and she’s my life.” He remembers how difficult it was for him to wake up in the morning for school, “so rather than be late, my mom would put my school clothes at night so I’m ready for school in the morning.”
Marc admits he was very shy as a child. “I only came out of my shell in college,” he admitted, “because I love making people smile and I love making them happy.” In fact, his wish for the next 5 to 10 years is “to make everyone happy.”
He used to work as a waiter in Olive Garden and BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse where “they have cheap penny tips,” he quipped, “so now I tip up to 25 percent. I’ve learned from my past and have grown from there.”
“My son is amazing,” says his dad Marianito Nicolas from Bulacan. “He’s down to earth, that’s why people love him. He has charisma,” he continued. “He doesn’t say no (to friends in need) and always has a smile for everyone. Mahal na mahal siya ng CBS family niya at ng boss niyang si Julie Chen. (The latter’s husband is CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves.)
“He’s very thoughtful, caring, respectful,” noted his step mom Ruby. “At hindi mayabang,” added sister Dona.

ENTERTAINERS
Entertaining guests at Marc’s birthday party were singers Ranella Ferrer and American Idol runner-up Jessica Sanchez. Vocalist Ranelle was in demand singing national anthems at sports events in different states as well as guest singer at community functions, but her singing career came to a halt after she gained weight. This prompted her to be a participant in ‘Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian,’ which documents participants transforming their lives physically, emotionally and mentally with the help of Hollywood’s best trainers, stylists and “Kardashian's own ‘glam squad’ in preparation for a big reveal.”
Ranella’s singing career seems to be picking up again. “I want to prove,” she said, “that not only can I hit a high note, but I can also reach new heights in self-confidence.” The future looks bright for her.
Meanwhile, Jessica continues to pursue her musical career creating albums. A runner up at the 11th season of American Idol, she came back during the finale of the 15th season and performed Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli’s ‘The Prayer.’ Her performance was claimed as the “best performance and stand out” of the night. On July 28, 2016, Jessica’s song ‘Stronger Together’ written by Carole Bayer Sager, Bruce Roberts and Kenneth Edmonds was played after Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
PNEWS MOST INFLUENTIAL
Marc had worked for FOX, MTV, and ‘The Tyra Banks Show’ in New York, where he moved in 2007, receiving a nomination the same year for Daytime Emmy Award for The Tyra Banks Show ‘Outstanding InformativeTalk Show.’ In 2008, he won the Daytime Emmy Award for the Tyra Banks Show ‘Outstanding Informative Talk Show,’ duplicated in 2009. Since then he has honed his craft and has produced engaging television shows while working with the likes of Beyonce and Rihanna. He’s also a radio personality for station AM1300 WMEL in Florida. In 2013, he was named ‘Most Influential Filipino American’ by Philippine News.
Marc Anthony Rodrigo Nicolas not only works behind the scene (The Talk), but now he has moved in front of the camera, interviewing Hollywood celebrities as he produces and hosts his own ‘On Your Marc!’ show which debuted in 2014, and televised on The Filipino Channel’s Lifestyle Network.

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FILAM JOINS CAST OF 14 IN 'WHY DREAM IN INGLEWOOD' PLAY

Fil Am actor Paterno, center, plays multiple roles including a corrupt headmaster made to kiss the rear of persons he wronged.

Text by PNews Contributor Louinn Lota
Photo by Lydia V. Solis
(Part 1 of 2)

INGLEWOOD, CA. – Audience members walked with a cast of 14 actors, actresses and a violinist as they strutted, marched and danced through Edward Vincent Jr. Park here, in the first installment of a four-act play based on the 18th-century Chinese novel “Dream of the Red Chamber.”
In a nice natural green-setting kick-off to Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, Filipino American actor Robert Paterno, a Houston, Texas transplant to Los Angeles, played a corrupt headmaster at an all-boys’ school made to lick the boots and kiss the rear of the persons he wronged. It was just one of multiple roles by Paterno, born in the United States, but whose parents are from Davao City, Philippines. Paterno also plays a Taoist priest in Act I of the traveling-stage play.
“I think this is a really epic and relatable story and we have such a wonderful opportunity to tell it with a group of actors that really represents the diversity of Los Angeles,” Paterno said. The actor also has had recurring roles on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” and “Vampire Diaries.”
The 18th century “rom-com,” by Ts’ao Hsueh Ch’in, is a moral fable of manners between two cousins who were born, not with silver spoons in their mouths, but jade pendants. It weaves supernatural entities who appear in dreams, and it details the decline of the once-noble Chia family during the Ching Dynasty.
Playwright and Director Henry Ong adapted the comedic romance into the four-act, six-hour play, “Why Dream in Inglewood?” as part of the Inglewood Growing Artists Performed Projects Initiative Artist’s Grant awarded to Ong. Violinist Longo Chu added live music to the performance on-the-move. Chu had to carry his instrument and music stand as the actors turned green lawns into palaces and schools and surreal rooms filled with magical happenings.
“I am excited to finally work with Henry Ong,” Paterno added. Paterno, who received his bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from Texas A&M, was also a Forensic Science teacher with Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth.
Acts I-II, the first installment of “Why Dream in Inglewood,” with a lunchtime intermission, will next pick up the story on Saturday, May 20, with Acts III-IV. On Saturday, May 27, the classic story of star-crossed lovers will have a marathon show of Acts I-IV, with three intermissions outdoors at the Inglewood Amphitheatre, Edward Vincent Jr. Park, 714 Warren Lane, Inglewood.
“Telling stories that bridge cultures and communities is so important, and we can’t wait to share this experience with the Inglewood community,” said Paterno, who earned his MFA from Southern Methodist University in Texas.
“It’s free admission,” said Ong. “Wear comfortable shoes, for walking with the traveling cast and bring brown bag lunch. For more information: Inglewood Parks and Recreation (310) 412-8750.
Or visit https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=why%20dream%20in%20inglewood

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First 5 LA launches awareness campaign

LOS ANGELES – First 5 LA, a leading public grantmaker and early childhood advocacy organization, launched a new, innovative Family Strengthening Public Awareness Campaign and Parenting website on July 7 at the City Terrace Park here. The first phase of the multiyear campaign focuses on raising awareness and understanding of parenting challenges, helping parents and caregivers in Los Angeles County build social connections. Caregivers will be encouraged to implement positive changes in their day-to-day interactions with their child, social networks and community.
First 5 LA (www.first5la.org) was created in 1998, by California voters to invest Proposition 10 tobacco tax revenues in L.A. County.

In partnership with others, First 5 LA strengthens families, communities, and systems of services and supports so that all children in L.A. County enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life. The organization believes that the first five years of life establish the foundation for the future success of our children. First 5 LA has invested more than $1.2 billion in efforts aimed at providing the best start for children from prenatal to age 5 and their families.
“Parents and caregivers are at the heart of a child’s development,” said First 5 LA executive director Kim Belshé, “and we want them to know that they are not alone in their efforts.” The campaign, she added, is built on research about what type of resources the parents and caregivers of L.A. County would find beneficial and would support the positive outcomes we all want for L.A.’s kids.
The new parenting website (www.First5LA.org/Parenting), also launched July 7, was built with mobile users in mind, making all of the features accessible and easy to use on smartphones and tablets. (Most parents use smartphones far more frequently than laptops, desktops or tablets to receive information.)

The site is an online resource hub designed for parents and caregivers. It features a calendar with free and low-cost family-friendly events, exclusive coupons for kid-friendly venues such as the L.A. Zoo and California ScienCenter, and originally-written and researched articles on a variety of early childhood development topics. The website also offers an “Ask a Parent Coach” feature where parents and caregivers can submit questions and get advice tailored to their needs on 20 topics.
“All parents and caregivers want information they can trust and depend on,” stated First 5 LA Board of Commissioners vice chair Judy Abdo. “We also know young parents look to the internet and social media for guidance and support. This campaign offers information parents can trust and its mobile-friendly version makes it even more accessible.” She asserted that reaching younger parents is a critical part of their work and “the launch of this campaign and website is an important step for us.”
Research shows that parents and caregivers rely on both personal sources such as friends, family, pediatricians and digital sources such as parenting sites, sites sponsored by trusted organizations, and Facebook to receive information about parenting. Parents learn about reliable digital sources from

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