Chief Correspondent, Southern California
LOS ANGELES – Senior Pastor Rev. Glenn Oyan of the Los Angeles Filipino Baptist Church is heeding the appeal from Florida Governor Rick Scott for prayers as Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida on Sunday, Sept. 10.
According to the National Weather Service, the first landfall occurred at 9 a.m. at Cudjoe Key (southwest of Miami), followed by a second landfall in Marco Island (southwest Florida), at 3:35 p.m., with damaging wind gust of 130 mph, accompanied by heavy rains and flooding. There could also be tornadoes, according to forecasters. The hurricane center warned that Irma is expected to “move near or over the west coast of the Florida Peninsula through Monday morning.”
Joey Omilla from Tampa, Fla., reported that they expect Hurricane Irma to hit Tampa, ‘between midnight and 3 a.m. Monday.’ Joey, a former Bayanihan dancer, hopes that the ‘storm stoppers’ they installed will protect their house. “To all our family and friends, who pray for us here in Florida, thank you. We need all the prayers we can get. Please continue to pray for us. Thank you and love you all!”
“Join us at our church to pray for our brothers and sisters,” Pastor Glenn invites the faithful, “if you are looking for a place to worship, join us on Sundays, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.” The church is located at 837 South Park View Street Los Angeles, CA 90057.
“We have been serving the Lord, first as a mission since 1971, and in 1975, as an organized church,” added Pastor Glenn. “Our Church is small, located in the heart of Los Angeles. Our members are mostly Filipinos but all ethnic groups are welcome to join us. We would like to embrace all people who love and want to serve the Lord Jesus and we will welcome you as part of our church’s personal family.” The church, a member of the Filipino Southern Baptist Missions, has given birth to new missions and churches, according to Pastor Glenn, in California cities such as Glendale, Carson, North Hollywood, Pasadena, Lancaster, Palmdale, Long Beach, Oxnard, Fullerton, and La Puente.
“As our church expanded, several pastors have been ordained and commissioned to new missions,” he stated. God has been good to us these last couple of years. We have dedicated babies to the Lord and baptized people who accepted the Lord Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. We are blessed that the men and women who led this Church exemplified strong moral and spiritual standards; standards that shaped our values, minds, spirits, and hearts. Our aim is to live and maintain the preaching and passion to the next generation.”
The Los Angeles Baptist Church distributes food at Rosewood Gardens, 504 N. Berendo St., Los Angeles, CA 90004, on the first Friday of the month at 3:30 p.m. “It’s absolutely free,” announced Pastor Glenn, “it is as easy as meeting the eligible income limits. Only one food ticket per individual/family will be accepted, and picking up food for someone else is not allowed. Sign-ups begin at 1:30 p.m., so please arrive early in order to sign in and receive a food ticket.” The Baptist Church thanks the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, United States Department of Agriculture, Feeding America, and Los Angeles Housing Partnership, celebrating its 28 years, for making the food distribution possible. For information, contact Pastor Glenn at
LOS ANGELES – The Los AngelesPolice Relief and Assistance Foundation’s Blue Ribbon Trust Fund has requestedthe Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union here to open a donation account in supportof seven-year LAPD veteran Matthew Medina, 40.
Matthew, who is deployed in the Gang Unit of the Los Angeles PoliceDept. Harbor Division, visited his doctor in March, because of a rash and foundout he was suffering from a rare blood disorder known as aplastic anemia. He wastold his bone marrow had stopped working and a transplant is crucial for him tosurvive. In the meantime, blood transfusions keep Matthew alive, according toDr. Len Farol, a bone marrow transplant specialist at City of Hope NationalMedical Center in Duarte, CA.
Helping Matthew find amatch is the Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches, a nonprofit organization, whichfocuses on recruiting marrow donors and diversifying the ‘Be The Match Registry,’which is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, another nonprofitorganization dedicated to creating an opportunity for all patients to receivethe bone marrow they need. The Be The Match is the largest and most diversedonor registry in the world. Its partnership with international and cooperativeregistries provides doctors with access to nearly 27 million potential donorsand more than 680,000 cord blood units worldwide. It is the connection betweenpatients searching for a cure and life-saving bone marrow donors.
There is a higherpercentage of finding a match when patient and donor come from the same ethnicbackground so Matthew needs a donor who shares his Filipino heritage; but accordingto A3M, Filipinos make up only half percent of registered potential donors. Themajority of the 25 million registered donors nationwide are white. The search for a match continues.
Matthew and his wifeAngelee Jader Medina, who reside in Bellflower, CA, with their two daughters, are overwhelmed with all the support they are gettingthroughout Southern California. Matthew can’t attend all the bone marrow drivesthough because of his weakened immune system. Exposure to a common virus couldkill him.
An FB message fromMatthew posted in July (the latest) reads in part: “I just wanted to take thistime to give a brief update on my condition. What’s been approximately 4 monthssince diagnosis has felt like an eternity. Truth be told, the only reason I wasable to stay sane and positive throughout this entire ordeal was due to theoverwhelming support, prayers and love I received from everyone… To everyonewho has supported my family to make sure we were comfortable in this time ofneed, I will be eternally grateful. If I were to list everyone individually, Idon’t think the names would fit on this page, but nevertheless, you know whoyou are and I owe you a debt of gratitude. I’d also like to thank the LordJesus Christ because without him, none of this would have been possible… TheMatch4Matt campaign has been amazing, to say the least, thanks to the effortsof the A3M team, volunteers and hosts… Thiscampaign is probably one of the busiest they’ve had to take on in a long time…two people have found their match and have gone through their marrowtransplant. Even if they never find a match for me, I can say that thiscampaign has been a success since it has already helped save the lives of atleast two people (so far)…
“As for me, thetreatments that I went through since being diagnosed are showing positiveresults so far. My blood cell counts have gradually increased and we are hopingthat the upward trend continues towards remission. I am not out of the woodsyet and there is still a long road to recovery ahead, but the proverbial lightat the end of the tunnel is definitely getting brighter. At the very least, Iam hoping it helps me to recover to live a ‘normal’ life again….”
Credit Union members may donate online through PATROL Online Banking, or by phone using CODE 3 phone system at 877-MY-LAPFCU (877-695-2732). Enter account number 2080491 S4.11 and LOS (the first three letters of the account name).
Donors may also mail in their donation, payable to “Blue Ribbon Trust for Matthew Medina,” and send it to: Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union, Attn: Blue Ribbon Matthew Medina, P.O. Box 10188, Van Nuys, CA 91410.
Rosemed, CA – “Queng leon queng tigre ecu tatacut, queca pa?” That’s how Mercy Tolentino Steenwyk, a petite native from Lubao, Pampanga, got everyone’s attention when she spoke before a group of young professionals on July 24, at the Southern California Edison employee lounge here during the Asian American Professional Association’s ‘Create Your Own Future’ Speaker Session #3. Pampanga warriors’ motto means ‘I fear neither lions nor tigers, why should I be afraid of you?’
Mercy shared her lessons in courage, after facing numerous rejections; perseverance, after doors closed on her and nay-sayers confronted her; and lessons in humility. She shared five critical strategies to create your own future: (1) Know who you are, your deep driving desire, your passion, and purpose. (2) Focus on the big picture, which holds everything together. (3) Never stop learning and embrace a growth mindset that helps you to meet each challenge and keep going. (4) Surround yourself with inspiring people. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And (5) Have faith in yourself and believe in your purpose.
Born in Lubao, ‘a sleepy town in the Philippines,’ Mercy earned her degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines. She wrote art reviews for the local paper before traveling throughout South East Asia, and came to the United States as a young professional. Though her career in art journalism morphed into PR and, later, an entrepreneurial venture, “my love for the arts remains,” she noted.
She says she draws inspiration from her home country. “The bright and vivid colors along with tribal aesthetics reference not only my Filipino heritage but the history of my culture as a whole.” Her work intertwines portraits with bold abstract shapes to explore the notion of time and the human condition. Drawn to tell the story of those who may not be allowed to speak for themselves, Mercy’s work looks to give a voice to those without one.
Mercy Tolentino Steenwyk, 3rd from left, with AAPA Program Director Lia Andika and Program Manager Freya Nishimura; daughter Emily Steenwyk, sister Daisy Walworth and AAPA president Francis Cheung; back row: Steve Walworth and Howard Steenwyk. Photo by Lydia V. Solis.
In the early 1990’s Mercy was determined to create her own future against very low probability: she’s not an engineer; she’s not a lawyer; and she doesn’t even have a business degree. She had no capital and had a young family to support; and her friends discouraged her from starting a business, advising her: “You’re a minority woman in a male-dominated industry.”
But Mercy believed in herself. “I had the passion and purpose, and faith,” she asserted, “and I welcomed the challenge, remained resilient and had a growth mindset.” She went on to build one of the leading expert and consulting service companies in the nation.
Mercy Tolentino Steenwyk is the founder, president and CEO of ForensisGroup. The adjective forensic, according to vocabulary.com, comes from the Latin word forensis, which means ‘in open court’ or ‘public.’ “I founded the California expert resource group in 1991, with just ten engineers,” she narrated. “Today, the firm boasts over 3,000 consultants and experts in hundreds of technical and scientific disciplines.” ForensisGroup’s mission, Mercy expounded, is “to bring the best minds together to uncover the truth when something has gone wrong and then, ultimately improving people’s lives and making the world a safer and better place.” She has grown her nationwide expert and consulting firm into a multi-million dollar business, earning close to $10 million in sales in 2016. Such success has been noticed by private and public firms across the nation, including 98 of the top 100 law firms in Los Angeles, having all contacted ForensisGroup for its particular brand of quality, service, and expertise.
ForensisGroup has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Women-Owned Businesses and Top Minority-Owned Businesses in Los Angeles for the past several years. While the company has made Los Angeles its home for more than two decades, its services now stretch far beyond the city and it serves over 15,000 clients in 20,000 litigation cases nationwide.
But it’s not all business for Mercy, who was one of the top Five Finalists in Women Making a Difference in Los Angeles. The success of ForensisGroup has provided opportunities with which Mercy and her company help the community. She serves on the board of directors for the American Red Cross in the San Gabriel Pomona Valley Chapter and is a Community Boardmember of Youth Business Alliance. “My mission,” she declared, “is to educate as many children as possible and to challenge business leaders to drive their companies with a higher purpose. The daughter of educators from Davao, who believes that the best gift for children is education, runs the ForensisGroup Give Back Program which through Empowerment through Education provides scholarships to 50 students and “we have graduated teachers, engineers, and vocational people through the years.” The program also provides meals to malnourished children two times a week in the Philippines and supports other causes. “We’re partners with the American Red Cross,” she added, “and we raised close to $30,000 for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan by matching various donations.
“She inspires me everyday,” says daughter Emily, who is a teacher. “She’s a loving mother and I trust her as my mentor. She’s always pushing me to give back for the greater good. More than ever, I’m inspired to create my own future.”
The Asian American Professional Association (AAPA) is a non-profit organization committed to addressing the diverse talent challenge in corporate America. AAPA focuses on inspiring, developing and promoting Asian American professionals and minorities to maximize their leadership potential. For over 17 years, according to Freya Cruz-Nishimura, more than 75 passionate AAPA mentors have delivered the award- winning AAPA mentoring program to over 1100 mentees. AAPA’s programs include one-on-one mentoring and effective leadership and management training through speaker sessions, workshops, and special networking events.
By Lydia V. Solis
West Covina, CA – “It’s the warmest welcome I've received,” announced L.A.’s Consul General Adelio Angelito S. Cruz on July 25, at the City Hall courtyard here.
Effectively planned by Atty. Abraham Limand former West Covina Mayor, Council member James Toma, the Filipino AmericanChamber of Commerce Tri-County (Los Angeles, Riverside and San BernardinoCounties) coordinated the tribute for Congen Cruz. Lim is an FACC Tri-County board member and also the legal counsel; president is Merwynn Montenegro.
The visit of Congen Cruz to West Covina coincided with the commemoration of the 17th anniversary of ManilaWay, a street on Azusa Ave., north of Amar Rd., which connects the east and west malls populated by predominantly Filipino-American businesses.
In 1998, the Filipino American Chamber ofCommerce San Gabriel Valley founded by financial adviser Linda S. Cruz in the mid-90s, petitioned the city to name a street Manila Way. On July 11, 2000, the City Council approved a resolution naming Manila Way and the traffic sign was put up three months later. It made Santos very happy although she was actually pushing then to have the Amar/Azusa corridor designated as Little Manila. She’s optimistic though thatLittle Manila will still happen.
Prior to the evening reception, Congen Cruz was invited to meet with City officials and the community at Seafood CitySupermarket for photo ops in front of the store where the bust of Dr. Jose P.Rizal is displayed. The original plan was to have the photo ops at the ManilaWay site, but safety concerns dictated that another site be chosen. The commemorative bust of the Philippine national hero and martyr was installed onJune 6, 1998, in commemoration of the ‘First Centennial of the Declaration ofPhilippine Independence on June 12, 1898, in Kawit, Cavite.’ The patriotic gesture was made possible through the combined efforts and resources of thePhilippine Centennial Commission, the Philippine Consulate General, LosAngeles, and Seafood City Supermarket, in cooperation with the FilAm Chamber ofCommerce San Gabriel Valley, the FilAm West Covina community, Chow King and RedRibbon.
City officials, including Assembly member Blanca Rubio (48th District) and her sister Susan Rubio, Baldwin Park Mayor Pro Tem, and a few friends kept Congen Cruz company during the tour of the northeast mall, visiting various businesses.He was seen being measured for a barong at Nostalgia, the Barong TagalogShoppe and having refreshments, according to Atty. Lim, at the Victory EliteAuto Connect and the Philippine National Bank hosted by Rick Ramos on behalf ofFACC Tri County Chamber treasurer Ricky Villacisneros, L.A.’s PNB RemittanceManager.
Consul General Adel Cruz couldn’t have asked for a warmer reception at the City Hall courtyard where more than 100people were waiting for him. After an invocation by Chamber secretary Ed Cansino, president Merwynn Montenegro introduced Councilman Toma who in turn introducedMayor Pro Tem Spence. The latter acknowledged the presence of Council members Lloyd Johnson and Tony Wu, as well as the other dignitaries present: WC City Manager Chris Freeland and Assistant City Manager/Community Services Director Nikole Resciani; WC Commissioner Phil Kaufman, Los Angeles City Colleges District TrusteeMike Eng, Monica Farias, President/CEO, Greater West Covina Business Association; and long-missed community advocate, Marissa Castro Salvati, Public Affairs Region Manager, SouthernCalifornia Edison. Also in attendance were former PH DOT acting director Manny Ilagan and his wife Meg; former Walnut Mayor Tony Cartagena, and a big delegation from the West Covina Masonic Lodge, among many others.
Former PH DOT Director Annie Cuevas-Lim introduced Congen Cruz, who expressed deep appreciation to the City of WestCovina, its officials and the community. After the city’s presentation of a certificate to officially welcome Congen Cruz, another presentation, on a lighter side, was done by Raoul Pascual, member of FACC Tri-County. It was a caricature which drew a comment from the Consul General, “I look younger! You can be sure that this is the first thing people will see when they enter the consulate.”
Closing remarks were delivered by FACCTC board member Abe Pagtama and the program closed with a cultural presentation directed by yet another Chamber board member, Jo Solomonson. The Vessel of Mary Liturgical and Cultural DanceGroup, founded in 2010, consists of parishioners from Holy Name of Mary Parish in San Dimas and San Lorenzo Ruiz in Walnut, and former students from St.Joseph School in Pomona. “Its purpose,” said Solomonson, “is to support and provide parish and civic organizations at their events and encourage young people to use their talents positively. VOM has performed at Religious EdCongress at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, several Sinulog events at many churches, Simbang Gabi and many others,” she said.
While watching performers dance Cariñosa, Binislakan (Pangasinan) and Subli (Batangas) guests savored the appetizing spread, prepared by FACCTC board members Wilma Orendain of Epicure Catering & FoodDistribution and her sister Myrna Ramos.
By Lydia V. Solis
Chief Correspondent, Southern California
MONTEREY PARK, CA – Homicide Capt. Christopher Bergner announced a $20,000 reward on July 11, during an emotional press conference at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept. here to influence the public to come forward with information about a suspect who shot and killed motel employee Michelle Chen, 45, during a robbery at the Ambassador Inn in the 2700 block of West Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, CA. The crime happened before 11 p.m., half hour before Michelle's shift ended on June 2. She had lived in Alhambra for 16 years and was married to Armando Escandor for 25. They have two children: 21-year-old Armando Jr. and Analisa, 12.
“Homicide bureau investigators are working diligently to solve the murder of Michelle Chen,” Capt. Bergner stated. “She was a steadfast member of the Alhambra community, a treasured wife and beloved mother of two. We ask the public for their assistance to help bring the suspect to justice, for her sake and to offer some sense of peace to her family.”
Lt. Joe Mendoza explained the details of the crime. “On the night of the murder, Miss Chen, who was affectionately known as Michelle, was working the night shift at an Alhambra motel where she had worked for the past six years. The suspect entered the lobby and pointed a handgun on Michelle. He demanded money, reached over the counter and shot her as she stood behind the counter. Michelle was fatally wounded.” Lt. Mendoza added that “she was a wife and mother, who enjoyed cooking, attending church, and spending time with her family.”
The masked suspect, described as a male adult, standing between 5 feet 6 inches and 6 feet tall with medium build, fled the location on foot while Michelle lay on the floor dying, shot in the abdomen, and later pronounced dead at the scene. Nothing was taken, according to Lt. Mendoza. The gunman was reportedly wearing a dark hooded sweater and a dark-colored glove.
When asked to speak before the media, Armando Escandor tearfully uttered, “All I want is justice for my loving wife…” but he was overcome with emotion and couldn’t continue. “I want my son to talk about it.”
Armando Jr. narrated that his parents met in 1991, in Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands, and got married in 1994. He was born in 1995.
When asked why he loves his mother, Junior expressed: “Because she was my perfect mother; positivity in her life was infectious. She was always known as a very loving person, caring and empathetic, and never failed to leave a lasting impression on any person she had met including guests at her hotel. She would go out of her way even if it was not within her work description. We’re going to miss our mother because she never stopped smiling. Please help us catch the man. All I want to tell this man though is: Why did you have to go too far, so far as to take an amazing woman from this world and from the lives of our family?” His sister Analisa added: “I would like justice for my mother because I barely got any time to spend with her so I want justice for my mom.”
Also present during the press conference was Assistant Chief Elliot Kase from the Alhambra Police Department. “Alhambra City Leaders, the Alhambra Police Department, and our community,” he announced, “are saddened by this unprovoked act of violence against a defenseless victim. The City of Alhambra has committed a $10,000 reward for the identification, arrest, and prosecution of the suspect. We are confident that justice will ultimately prevail and bring some level of closure to the victim’s family, friends and loved ones.”
To incentivize witnesses to step forward, the City of Alhambra Mayor David Mejia, presented a $10,000 reward offer, for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Michelle Chen. In an act of humanitarianism and concern for the family, a $10,000 reward was also offered by Escandor’s employer, Primetime Shuttle.
A chilling video surveillance of the incident captured footage of the suspect as he was committing the robbery, confronting Michelle, asking “Do you want to die?” then shooting her and making his escape. The incident lasted only about 45 seconds, according to Lt. Mendoza. Detectives are seeking to identify the suspect in the video footage and gave media members video discs as well as pictures of the victim.
If anyone has information about the fatal shooting of Michelle Chen, please call Homicide Bureau Detectives Gary Sloan or Brandt House at (323) 890-5500; or anonymously at (800) 222-8477; or online at http://lacrimestoppers.org.
By Lydia V. Solis
LOS ANGELES – FilAm basketball celebrity Kobe Paras will play for the Matadors starting with the 2018-2019 season.
“I’m so excited to be a part of the CSUN (California State University Northridge) family,” said Paras. “This is going to be a great move for me and I am really happy to be part of a great basketball program. Thank you, CSUN,” he added, “for making me feel like family from the very beginning. Go Matadors!”
“I’m excited to coach Kobe and mentor him both on and off the court,” stated Reggie Theus, who was both an NBA All Star and NCAA All American. “I’m thrilled to have him part of the Matadors family,” he added. “He’s a super athlete, with a great motor and high character, that has the ability to score in several different ways. I think he has the potential to be one of the best student-athletes in the Big West Conference and I’m expecting big things out of him on the floor.
CSUN is in the Big West Conference featuring schools like CalPoly, CalState Fullerton, CalState Long Beach, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, and University of Hawai’i at Manoa.
Paras prepped at Cathedral High School here before playing his senior year at Middlebrooks Academy, both schools about 30 minutes from CSUN. At Cathedral, he averaged 15 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.5 steals as a junior and was an All-State nominee, First Team All-Del Rey League and ranked the 24th best player in California by CalHiSports. He helped lead Cathedral to the Regional Championship game and the team finished ranked #9 in the state and #1 in Division 3A of the California Interscholastic Federation.
At Middlebrooks Academy he earned a McDonald’s All-American Game nomination and the PEC-6 Conference MVP Award and helped lead Middlebrooks to the regular season PEC-6 Conference Championship.
In high school, according to a CSUN spokesperson, he was an honor roll student, a member of the National Honor Society, a Star Scholar Honoree and a summa cum laude graduate. He was rated as a four-star prospect by Scout and a three-star rating by 247 Sports, Rivals and ESPN. A four-star rating is awarded to a prospect that is considered one of the next 250 best players, ranked No. 51 to 300.
Paras competed for the Philippine National Team in the FIBA 3x3 U-138 World Championships in 2013 and 2015, where he emerged as the event’s back-to-back champion in the Slam Dunk competition. He also played for the Philippine National Team in 2014 at the FIBA Asia U-18 Men’s Championship.
The 6-foot 6-guard 200-pound athlete from Manila, initially signed with UCLA, but withdrew in June 2016. Late in July 2016, he joined the Bluejays of Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., where he played sparingly in 15 games of Creighton U’s 35 games. Paras totaled 20 points and 15 rebounds in 70 total minutes on the floor. He scored a season-high six points in 12 minutes of action against Longwood Lancers (Longwood University in Farmville, Va.) He also appeared in Creighton’s NCAA opening round contest against the Rhode Island Rams where he scored three points and collected a rebound in two minutes.
After one season Paras made a ‘critical decision’ to return to California, and has joined the Matadors of CSUN. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he will sit out this season.
By Lydia Solis
Chief Correspondent, Southern California
Second of 2 parts
INGLEWOOD, CA – Two Lydias appeared onstage atop a grassy knoll together, and someone lost her head, in the closing acts of a four-part play based on the centuries-old Chinese novel “The Dream of the Red Chamber,” mostly acted outside at the sunny Edward Vincent Jr. Park here.
I played Maid No. 1 in Act III of director Henry Ong’s staging of the18th century star-crossed lovers’ romance by Cao Xueqin. I delivered my one-liner robustly: “A present for you, Mistress Phoenix.” Meantime, actress Lydia Look was doing the heavy lifting in the closing acts of the second installment of “Why Dream in Inglewood?” on Saturday, May 20.
Chopped head landed at author’s feet.
My daughter played Maid No. 2, and she had the same line I did, while Fil Am actor Robert Paterno settled into his usual multiple roles, including as another maid, Cherry, who was asked by her lord to be his concubine. “I’d rather be a nun,” Paterno indignantly replied. Later, Paterno played a singer in the court of Mistress Phoenix, and he almost was beheaded.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Since it was my birthday on May 19, Henry Ong led the cast and audience in a rousing rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song. My daughter and I rehearsed our lines while the cast of 14 did a run-through of the staged reading, which took place outdoors for Act III and indoors, after a lunch intermission, at the Willie Agee Community Playhouse theater for the final Act IV.
Many of the lines for Acts III-IV had to do with actors, such as: “But being an actor, I’m not very rich;” or “We actors are an insecure lot”; or the line that got a good laugh, “Actors are not to be trusted.” The lines, “Do you have more than one head singer? Then keep the one you have!” was directed toward Paterno as he was playing a court minstrel.
Well, that proved to be a foreshadowing.
Near the end of Act III, a maid who betrayed the trust of one of the noble families got her head chopped off by a sword. No, it wasn’t Cherry played by Paterno. The realistic chopped head rolled along the grassy stage, but later it ended up on the floor next to me inside the Agee theater.
Robert Paterno and Lydia Look play multiple roles.
It was a relief, then, that Lydia Look kept her head in the finale of the play when the star-crossed lover, Black Jade, dies of tuberculosis. Chinese was spoken for the funeral and it was a nice touch to end the moral fable of manners between two cousins who were born, not with silver spoons in their mouths, but jade pendants. The play wove ghostly appearances as it detailed the decline of the once-noble Chia family during the Ching Dynasty.
On Saturday, May 27, the play on late imperial Chinese culture had a marathon show of Acts I-IV, with three intermissions. The play kicked off outdoors with Acts I-II on Earth Day, .
Playwright and Director Henry Ong adapted the 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 violin and music stand as the actors turned green lawns into palaces and schools and surreal rooms filled with magical happenings. For the final act, he got to sit down in the middle of the stage to play his cello.
And my acting? It was a nice dream, while it lasted.
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.
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 , 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 ,” said Reyes, “and already there are 15-18 patients waiting during the first hour before another nurse comes at 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.)
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.
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.
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 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!)
“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.
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.
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
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