‘Taste of Filipino Christmas’

Christmas for most immigrants is the time when they think about friends and family from the old country. The season also reminds many immigrants of the Christmas tradition and culture of their homeland including the many delicious foods that go with the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Many Filipino immigrants claim that they dreamed of celebrating “White Christmas” while still in the Philippines but after experiencing it, they have a “change of heart” and they now say that they miss Christmas in the Philippines. This explains why many Filipinos around the world travel to the Philippines during the month of December.
Here in the United States, we see an extraordinary number of “balikbayans” with their balikbayan boxes that are full of goodies lining at the check-in counters of airlines when Christmas time approaches. In airports, we often overhear many balikbayan travelers talking about how they will spend their Christmas vacation in the Philippines including conversations about the Filipino foods and delicacies that they crave and desire to have while in the Philippines.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the annual Parol Lantern Festival and Parade in San Francisco brought back the “Taste of Filipino Christmas” (also known as “Patikim ng Pagkaing Pampasko”) last year after the Patikim was shelved some years ago.
It is a brilliant idea to do a parol festival and the Taste of Filipino Christmas at the same time.
First, we as a people have a long held tradition of making parol lanterns and holiday Christmas decorations. Parol lanterns remind us of the Philippines including its Christmas culture and tradition. On the other hand, the Taste of Filipino Christmas is a food showcase where traditional Philippine Christmas foods are served to help reconnect overseas Filipinos to the Philippines and to their rural and agricultural roots. The Patikim also introduces non-Filipinos to our culture and our rich culinary tradition.
I still remember when the parol festival was first started in 2003 at the Yerba Buena Gardens. Filipino delicacies like suman, puto-kutsina, bibingka, arroz-caldo, and many other rice-based “kakanins” were served.
Most of these delicacies for Christmas are made from rice and agricultural produce like ube, coconut, taro root, yams, and cassava. From there, I started appreciating the connection between Filipino Christmas and agriculture and how a bountiful harvest contributes to the richness and blessings of the Filipino Christmas table. This connection is more visible in Philippine rural areas where agricultural is the main industry and livelihood.
Following what Pope Francis said that Christmas has been “taken hostage” by dazzling materialism and that it blinds many of us to the needs of the hungry, the migrants and the war weary, we should also realize the value and contributions of other people in our lives and in our livelihood including the community of farmers who produce the food that we eat daily.
In the Philippines, the “mall culture” of consumerism and conversion of agriculture lands into subdivisions and mall development real estate is putting agriculture in peril and jeopardy. What will happen if agriculture is totally neglected in the country?
Christmas then should also bring the message of loving and taking care of our farms and our farmers. It should inspire and influence young people to take interest in natural and sustainable agriculture and to advocate for its growth and protection. Christmas and our Christmas food table can also play a big part part in educating us and our loved ones to “go back to the basics” and to embrace healthy living and healthy foods as we celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ.
Come to think of it, even before slow-food and slow-food preparation became popular and acceptable worldwide as healthy alternatives to fast food, our ancestors and elders in the Philippines have been slow-cooking their food for many years. For starters, just think about how ube halaya and kalamay are made!
So please if you have time, come join us at the social hall of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church (on Mission Street between 3rd and 4th Street) this Saturday, December 9, 2017 between 3-5PM for the Taste of Filipino Christmas. The parol and lantern parade will follow immediately after the conclusion of the Taste of Filipino Christmas.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.


Child Custody & Visitation Basics

A client who did not have an attorney during her divorce last year focused her intent in getting sole legal and physical custody of their very young child. In essence, she waived her rights to a much higher child and spousal support along with community asset division and in exchange she would have sole custody. Moreover, in the Judgment which was prepared by her husband’s attorney, it set forth that custody can not be modified unless there are two conditions: domestic violence or imminent danger/risk to the child.

However, she was not advised that notwithstanding the narrow conditions custody can be modified, she did not know that the court always retains jurisdiction of custody matters so long as the child is a minor. I am now representing her since the father now wants to modify the custody/visitation issues even though the two conditions do not exist. She wants to live abroad in Europe but father disagrees to this request.

In making a child custody order between parents, the court must also grant the other (noncustodial parent) “reasonable visitation rights” unless it is shown that visitation would be “detrimental to the best interest of the child” [CA. Family Code (FC) § 3100(a)]

Because of the importance placed on “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents, an order withholding a parent’s visitation privileges can only be issued upon a finding that any form of visitation would be detrimental to the child.
The court has broad discretion in defining a parent’s “reasonable visitation” rights and establishing a visitation schedule. Subject to a few statutory limitations, the basic tenet is the child’s best interest.

In all cases, the clear policy is to assure the child’s health, safety and welfare and to the extent possible for “frequent and continuing contact with both parents.” The continuing contact can be restrained by looking at factors cited in CA. FC 3011. Aside from this, the court considers the practical facts of the case, child’s age, maturity, special needs, the parent’s proximity to the each other and if appropriate, the child’s preference.

Visitation is not tied to payment of child support. Parent visitation rights must be tried independently of other issues before the court. A visitation order may not be tied to or conditioned upon the payment of child support and has no bearing on whether parental contact would be detrimental to the child.

A parent’s absence or relocation from the family residence cannot be considered in determining visitation (or custody) provided it was in short duration and during that time, the parent showed interest in maintaining custody or visitation. Additionally, the court will review whether the parent made reasonable efforts to have regular contact with the child and demonstrated no intent to abandon the child.

Visitation rights cannot be restricted solely on the basis of a parent’s “unconventional lifestyle,” the parties’ “opposing moral positions” or “outright condemnation of one parent’s beliefs by the other parent’s religion unless there is evidence these factors are detrimental to the child.

The right to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing is with the parent who is granted legal custody. The decision-making powers do not shift between parents during visitation periods unless they have “joint” legal custody. [FC §3006 for sole and FC§3003 for joint legal custody]

Implementing a visitation order depends upon the custodial parent’s ability to make the child available for visitation. During a child’s younger years, the custodial parent has sufficient control to compel the child to visit the other parent pursuant to the court order. The parent’s failure to do so could be punishable by contempt.
But the rule is different with teenagers. Technically, teenage children remain under their parent’s control. However, if a teenage child refuses to visit with the noncustodial parent, that parent is left without a remedy. In Coursey v. Superior Court (1987) 194 Cal.App.3d 147 – court erred in holding mother in contempt for violation of visitation regarding a 14 year old child because there was no showing that mother had the ability to compel child to visit.

Custody and visitation are very emotional issues and presenting a clear and concise argument for the court is critical. If you have any questions, feel free to call my office at 310-601-7144 or email me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Article originally published in: http://attycastaneda.com/child-custody-visitation-basics/


‘It’s time to ask ourselves . . .’

More than a hundred years ago Dr. Jose P. Rizal in his first novel, the Noli Me Tangere, wrote about the social cancer that afflicted Philippine society. Dr. Rizal traced and attributed this social cancer that has shackled and impeded the progress of the Philippines from centuries of Spanish colonial rule.
He also vowed to expose this illness to the Filipino people through his works and writings and to do his best to find a “cure” for it. Dr. Rizal said:
“Desiring your well-being, which is our own, and searching for the best cure, I will do with you as the ancients of old did with their afflicted: expose them on the steps of the temple so that each one who would come to invoke the Divine, would propose a cure for them.”

Determination and conviction can be clearly traced in Dr. Rizal’s words. He vowed to faithfully explain and reproduce the conditions of oppression in his country the best he could. In 1886, he wrote the following in Europe: “I will lift part of the shroud that conceals your illness, sacrificing to the truth everything, even my own self-respect, for, as your son, I also suffer in your defects and failings.”
Noli Me Tangere was followed by a second novel, the “El Filibutersimo.” In the El Filibusterismo, again we saw some lines and words that still resonate and touch our condition as a people up to this time---
“Our ills we owe to ourselves alone, so let us blame no one.”

“With Spain or without Spain they would always be the same, and perhaps worse! Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.”

It’s sad that Dr. Rizal is long gone because we need more leaders like him who are not only willing to commit to sacrifice--- but who are also willing to think and make a principled stand for the Philippines’ best interest. In the Philippines, even the level of discourse about the state of affairs is at an all-time low as we speak. A cuss there, swearing here, a personal attack online is what we now call and refer to as a discourse. I wonder how this could be “meaningful.”
It’s good that some institutions and leaders are making and taking a principled stand against the EJKs and the way we Filipinos behave these days. Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president Socrates Villegas said the following during the “Forgive Us, and Heal Our Land” prayer rally recently:
“Bayan ng Diyos, bumalik na tayo sa Panginoon. Naligaw na tayo ng landas at pinili natin ang kadiliman kaysa liwanag. Bakit tayo pumapalakpak sa patayan? Pinili natin ang karahasan kaysa kapayapaan. Pinili natin ang magsinungaling kaysa katotohanan. Pinili natin ang pagtawanan ang malaswa sa halip na iwasto. Pinili nating manahimik kaysa makisangkot. Sa maling akalang ito na ang huling baraha, nasubukan na natin lahat ng uri ng pamumuno. . . kumapit na tayo sa patalim. Ang dating bayan ng mga bayani ay naging bayang walang pakiramdam at walang pakialam. Magsisi ang manhid.”

The bishop reminds us that society should not kill its own people because there is a costly retribution to such act. A “kill-kill-kill” philosophy is also tyrannical and is akin to the years when the Philippines was a colony of foreign powers or when it was under martial law. It sets us back to the painful past when institutions were destroyed or non-existent and when “only a few people” had the voice and the say about who lives and who dies. Remember the days when neighbors were forced to turn against their own neighbors to save themselves?
It’s time to ask ourselves why we applaud when people are killed; why we chose violence over peaceful and civilized solutions; and why we laugh and clap our hands when we hear obscene and oppressive words against others.
“Desiring your well-being, which is our own, and searching for the best cure” as Dr. Rizal said more than a hundred years ago is again relevant to the challenges that Filipinos face today. We are challenged to raise our consciousness to what is happening around so that genuine healing can begin.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.


Family members accompanying or following to join beneficiary of immigration petition

How does the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) treat the spouse and child (under 21) of the beneficiary of an immigration petition? What status and benefits does the INA give them?

When a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident files a petition for a relative (called “beneficiary” in Form I-130) who is eligible for a preference visa allocation under INA § 203(a), (b), or (c), the spouse or child of such beneficiary shall be entitled to the same status, and the same order of consideration provided under the same subsections, if “accompanying or following to join” the beneficiary. See  INA § 203(d). 

The beneficiary who has a spouse or child is called the “principal alien” meaning an alien from whom another alien derives a privilege or status under the law or regulations. 22 CFR § 40.1(q). The spouse or child is called a “derivative beneficiary”


The law is very specific – in order to be eligible for the same status as the principal alien, the derivative beneficiary must be “accompanying or following to join” the principal alien. “Accompanying or accompanied by” means not only an alien in the physical company of a principal alien but also an alien who is issued an immigrant visa within 6 months of: 

(1) the date of issuance of a visa to the principal alien; 

(2) the date of adjustment of status in the United State of the principal alien; or

(3) the date on which the principal alien personally appears and registers before a consular officer abroad to confer alternate foreign state chargeability or immigrant status upon a spouse or child. See 22 CFR § 40.1(a)(1). 

After 6 months, the spouse or child is not “accompanying” the principal alien but is “following to join” such principal alien. 


An “accompanying” relative may not precede the principal alien to the United States. 22 CFR § 40.1(a)(2). 

A U.S. citizen filed a petition for his married daughter (principal alien) and her husband, Santiago (derivative beneficiary), both Filipinos. Santiago traveled to the U.S. ahead of his wife so that Santiago could earn enough to pay for his wife’s ticket. An immigration officer admitted Santiago in San Francisco without asking where his wife was. When Santiago had saved enough money, he asked his wife to come to the U.S. but his wife’s visa had expired. Santiago then petitioned for her and their children as relatives of a lawful permanent resident. The legality of Santiago’s presence in the U.S. was challenged. The INS determined that Santiago was excludable at entry, and ordered him to voluntarily leave the country or be deported because his visa was invalid since he was not “accompanying or following to join” his wife but had come ahead of his wife. The Court of Appeals affirmed the INS’s decision. Santiago v INS, 526 F.2d 488 (9th Cir. 1975).

The cases of Paglinawan and Catam (both derivative beneficiaries) are similar to Santiago. Their wives were the principal aliens. They were admitted to the U.S. at Honolulu without their wives. The court upheld the INS determination that they were excludable at entry because they were not  “accompanying or following to join” their spouses. Santiago v INS, 526 F.2d 488 (9th Cir. 1975).

A Pakistani (principal alien)  had a visa as the brother of a U.S. citizen His child, who was also given a visa as a derivative beneficiary, traveled to the United States ahead of his father in order to beat the deadline because the child was turning 21. He told the immigration officer that his father had remained in Pakistan. However, his father had died while he was enroute to the U.S., although the child did not know about the death until he was admitted to the U.S. The Board of Immigration Appeals held that the child was deportable because his immigrant visa was not valid for admission because he was not “accompanying or following to join” his father, but had preceded his father. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The court explained that the term “accompany” according to Webster’s Dictionary means “to go along with” and “to go with or attend as a companion or associate”. Matter of Khan, 14 I&N Dec 122 (BIA 1972); Santiago v INS, 526 F.2d 488 (9th Cir. 1975). 

In all these four cases which were consolidated as one before the Court of Appeals, the court rejected the aliens’ argument that the Government should be estopped from asserting their excludability, holding that there was no affirmative misconduct on the part of the immigration officials.

However, there is an exception to the “accompanying” rule. Naulu, a married alien woman, was admitted to the U.S. as a nonimmigrant visitor and did not depart when her authorized period of stay expired. She was ordered deported. Subsequently, her husband gained lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. Naulu sought to reopen the deportation proceedings so that she could apply for adjustment of status. The Board ordered the case reopened, holding that once the principal alien gains permanent residence, his spouse or child already in the U.S. as nonimmigrants can adjust status as a person “accompanying or following to join” the principal even though the spouse or child preceded the principal alien to this country as a nonimmigrant. Matter of Naulu, 19 I&N Dec 351 (BIA 1986). 

CAUTION: The relationship between the principal alien and the derivative beneficiary must exist before the principal alien gains permanent resident status as well as at the time the derivative beneficiary seeks entry as an immigrant or applies for adjustment of status. A spouse or child of an alien who is classified as an immediate relative is not eligible for benefits under the “accompanying or following to join” rule but must file a separate visa petition. See Matter of Naulu, 19 I&N Dec 351 (BIA 1986). 

RECOMMENDATION: A principal alien should travel to the United States immediately (on the same day if possible) upon receiving an immigrant visa. Damn the expense. Death could overcome you. Woe unto your derivative beneficiaries if you die. You can always go back to the Philippines after your derivative beneficiaries arrive in order to “take care” of the things you were unable to do. 

(Atty. Tipon has a Master of Laws degree from Yale Law School where he specialized in Constitutional Law. He has also a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines. He placed third in the Philippine Bar Examination in 1956. His current practice focuses on immigration law and criminal defense. He writes law books for the world’s largest law book publishing company and writes legal articles for newspapers. He has a radio show in Honolulu, Hawaii with his son Noel, senior partner of the Bilecki & Tipon law firm, where they discuss legal and political issues. Office: American Savings Bank Tower, 1001 Bishop Street, Suite 2305, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A. 96813. Tel. (808) 225-2645. E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Website: www.bileckilawgroup.com. He served as a U.S. Immigration Officer. He is co-author with former Judge Artemio S. Tipon of the best-seller “Winning by Knowing Your Election Laws” and co-author of “Immigration Law Service, 1st ed.,” an 8-volume practice guide for immigration officers and lawyers. Atty. Tipon has personally experienced the entire immigration cycle by entering the United States on a non-immigrant working visa to write law books, adjusting his status to that of a lawful permanent resident, and becoming a naturalized United States citizen.)


‘Trolls and fake news don’t rock’

I have noticed the proliferation of fake news and trolls these days. This is a development that I find very disappointing and threatening. It should bother all of us.
We are witnessing change that is not good. It does not make us better as a people because fake news and trolls have lowered the standard and level of discourse. The inflammatory words have no use in a civilized debate. The lies do not only mislead but also destroy people and democratic institutions.
The standard of a democratic governance, the principle of check and balance among the branches of government, the level of “civilized discourse,” and of course the credibility of instutions are facing their strongest threats so far because fake news and trolls influence not only the press and the media but also public opinion.
I just hope that what history has taught us--- that strong democracy can overcome even the worst political cancer and enemies--- still remains true.
Remember how the United States survived the Watergate Scandal? Watergate reminds us about the danger and potential of the executive branch (the presidency) to abuse its power on a vast scale.
Then President Richard Nixon used the instruments of the government to destroy political opponents and although he was reelected with a large margin over his Democratic rival, the American people saw and heard enough to conclude that he had to go.
The Filipino people have the same experience during the regime of then President Ferdinand E. Marcos. Marcos was the first president of the Philippines to be reelected in 1969 but two four-year terms for him were not enough to satisfy his greed and itching for power.
Marcos wanted more and he wanted vast powers which led him to destroy the already weak democratic institutions in the Philippines by declaring martial law and imposing an authoritarian rule in the country and on the Filipino people.
His regime perpetrated a political system that concentrated all the government’s power in his hands. Marcos was not accountable and responsible to the constitutionally-created institutions of his country. He exercised power and made decisions arbitrarily and without regard to existing laws through the many proclamations and presidential decrees that he issued.
Fast forward to 2017. I hope that presidents Donald Trump of the U.S. and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines will not follow the tracks and the roads that Nixon and Marcos took by continuing to attack the mainstream media and labelling them as sources of fake news and alternative facts.
There are more than enough fake news sources and trolls in cyberspace that we do not need more. People need to learn and hear the truth so that important issues and concerns can be properly tackled and discussed.
Civilized discourse which is essential to genuine democracy doesn’t need trolls who sow discord and quarrels by upsetting and provoking people with inflammatory words and threats.
Trolls and fake news have no use in a productive society. If we allow trolls, fake news, and hate groups to dominate the discourse, our democratic institutions are in peril. And it can be much worse in developing countries where dictators and autocrats have a history of keeping private armies and vigilantes who perpetrate extrajudicial killings, murders, disappearances, and human rights violations and abuses.
Truth should always prevail and it must be available, not only to promote healthy and productive discourse but also to inform the citizenry about the affairs and concerns that affect their present and their future--- including their choice of leaders and elected officials.
Let us begin with the affirmation that there is nothing cool, acceptable, and awesome with trolls and fake news. Distorting truth and propagating lies is not cool. Sowing divisiveness instead of meaningful discourse is not acceptable either.
In short, trolls and fake news don’t rock!

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.


Modifying Your Child Support

I have a client that resides in Illinois while mom and children (only 1 remaining minor) presently all live in Israel. Mother requested the Los Angeles County Department of Child Support (DCSS) to enforce a private divorce order. The issues are a request for a modification of child support and determination of arrearages brought forth by the mother.

I will narrow down the issue of modifying child support as to childcare expenses only in this article and will follow-up up concealment of minors and its impact on arrears, if any at a subsequent article.

In re Marriage of Tavares, the father appeals the trial court’s order determining his child support arrears for his son, C., who was 16. The father contends that the trial court should have modified his arrears to account for period that the mother allegedly concealed the boy and/or incurred no childcare expenses. The appeals court held that his arguments failed as a matter of law.

The Court held that the alleged concealment, even if true, is not an obstacle to collection of arrears because the overdue child support payments will still benefit the child during his minority. Thus, entitling him to his father’s support. The Court further found that there are ample authority that establishes a parent who has failed to modify a support order may not undermine accrued arrears by later contesting expenses.

My case is similar in that there were periods of “concealment” by the mother of the two children. The Tavares case is also on point as to the factual similarity that my client failed to modify the childcare add-on support. Thus, DCSS continues to calculate child support arrears with the childcare expenses and both are accruing at the legal interest rate of 10%.

The Legislature has established a bright-line rule that accrued child support vests and may not be adjusted up or down. If a parent feels the amount ordered is too high or too low, he/she must seek prospective modification immediately. While the family court is a court of equity and it might seem unfair that a parent continues to be responsible for childcare expenses is no longer incurring childcare expenses.
The remedy as the Tavares case and statutes clearly point out--do not “sleep on your rights.”

The appropriate remedy is to immediately file a modification of the current child support order and seek the assistance of the court to ascertain if the childcare expenses should still be add-on child support. Failure to do so could be very costly and the only remedy left would be to hire an experienced attorney and negotiate with the custodial parent for a waiver of non-welfare arrears.

Moreover, any discrepancy in payments should be litigated. But without proper documentation (i.e. cancelled checks) it becomes a he said/she said scenario and the law is clear, the obligor has the burden of proof to show payments.

If you have outstanding arrears and want to talk to me about what you can do about this debt, call my office at 310-601-7144 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To receive updates on legal matters, please like our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/attycarinacastaneda/ or follow us on Twitter: @AttyCastaneda and Instagram: @atty.castaneda. You may also visit our website at attycastaneda.com.

Original Article Published at: http://attycastaneda.com/modifying-child-support/


Destabilization, then and now

There’s been a lot of news from the Philippines lately in both mainstream and social media about the claim of President Rodrigo Duterte that there are groups who are engaged in acts aimed to “destabilize” the government and who are plotting for his ouster.
Should the Filipino people worry? One has to ask this question and take it seriously because whether the threat to the government is real or not, people should not forget the early 70s when President Ferdinand E. Marcos spoke about very similar threats to the government.
Destabilization is the process of upsetting the stability of a system or a government wherein plotters or those engaged in it perform and do acts so the government loses its power or control. Such acts of destabilization also have a huge impact in the nation’s economy and in the confidence of investors to invest in the economy.
President Rodrigo Duterte talked about destabilization when he said the following statement recently--- “Pag ang destabilization ninyo patagilid na at medyo magulo na (Once your destabilization is already creating chaos), I will not hesitate to declare a revolutionary government until the end of my term, and I will arrest all of you, and we can go to a full-scale war against the Reds”?
The claim of a communist takeover and looming chaos were made by President Ferdinand Marcos when he declared martial law in the Philippines on September 23, 1972. Marcos cited the intensified communist insurgency, violent protests and demonstrations in the streets, the series of bombings, and the “assassination attempt” on his then defense secretary (Juan Ponce Enrile) as the reasons supporting his martial law. Known as Proclamation 1081, Marcos stated that “There is no doubt in everybody’s mind that a state rebellion exists in the Philippines.”
Marcos was clever and cunning. He manufactured and “cooked” the news, conditioned the minds of the public, planned the fake “assassination-attempt” on Enrile, and created the political situation where people were led to believe that only him and his leadership could save the Philippines.
What was in Marcos’ mind during those days? From his own account on September 14, 1972, he wrote the following in his diary:
“After golf, at 9:00 at my room at Pangarap while taking breakfast, I told the SND, C of S, Major Service Commanders (Gen. Ramos, PC, Gen. Zagala, PA, Romando, PAF and Commodore Ruiz, PN) Gen. Ver and Gen. Paranis that I intend to declare martial law to liquidate the communist apparatus, reform our government and society, then have the Concon ratify our acts and the people can confirm it by plebiscite and return to constitutional processes; but that I needed at least one year and two months; that this would be a legitimate exercise of my emergency powers under the constitution as clarified by the Habeas Corpus case by the Supreme Court last January.”
Going back to President Duterte, it appears that he is favoring a “revolutionary government” instead of declaring martial law. “Martial law, re-report report pa ako sa Congress. Mag-declare ako ng revolutionary government, period (With martial law, I will have to do reporting before Congress. I will declare a revolutionary government, period),” he said.
The difference between the situation now compared to Marcos’ time in 1972 is that President Duterte’s own defense secretary and the current leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines have stated that they see “no major threat to the administration.” When Marcos declared martial law, his defense secretary and the military establishment went along with Marcos’ claim that there was a “threat to national security” and that martial law was necessary.
It was also easier to control the spread of news, to have censorship, and for the government to have a news blackout in 1972 compared to the present.
Whether the destabilization claim of the president is real or unreal, people should take the statement of the president seriously. Let us not forget our history and what happened during the time of Marcos. Before we can move forward, we have to acknowledge the importance of our past in our present, including the painful experiences and lessons that should never happen again.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.


Attorney’s Fees in Family Law

All too often in family law parties “stonewall” one another. They make frivolous request. They inundate the other side with faxes, emails, messages, letters, useless interrogatories, and more. They refuse to accept a reasonable settlement offer.

What can a spouse do? California Family Code, Section 271 basically states that if “the other side doesn’t play ball or play nice,” the court can make them pay the other side’s attorney’s fees. It applies even to a pro per spouse.

The text of Section 271 (a): Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, the court may base an award of attorney’s fees and costs on the extent to which the conduct of each party or attorney furthers or frustrates the policy of the law to promote settlement of litigation and, where possible, to reduce the cost of litigation by encouraging cooperation between the parties and attorneys.

As I already indicated in my prior article about attorney’s fees in family law, the court seeks to ensure that each party has equal access to legal representation to each party’s rights. Family Code 2030 is the conduit for such an award.

A party may be entitled to attorney’s fees in an action to enforce an award of child and/or spousal support. This means that a party who fails to pay a court ordered child or spousal support may be ordered to pay the attorney’s fees for the other party in an enforcement action.

A party may be entitled to attorney’s fees where the opposing party misuses or abuses the discovery process. For example, a misuse of the discovery process can occur where a party fails to confer with the opposing party to resolve a discovery dispute, makes an evasive response to a discovery request or uses a discovery method to harass, annoy or burden the opposing party.

Discovery laws in relation to awarding of attorney’s fees in discovery misconduct can be complicated. The assistance of an experienced family law litigation attorney is often helpful to ensure that you comply with discovery laws as well as to protect your rights throughout the discovery process.

In my office, I understand that legal representation can be costly and are prepared to help you to protect your rights to legal fees as well as defend you against an unlawful claim to attorney’s fees from the opposing party.

Can that sanction be for 100% of the innocent spouse’s fees? That usually depends on the violating spouse’s ability to pay and whether the sanctions amount would cause an undue hardship. This statute still intends to be fair to both sides by inflicting a punishment but not to the extent that it would cripple one party.

California Code of Civil Procedure section 128.7 allows a spouse to seek attorney’s fees against the other spouses’ lawyer when that lawyer files a motion or other document with the Court that is completely frivolous and without merit. Section 128.7 has specific provisions that limit its effect to most egregious of cases and should not be used on every case where there is a disagreement. However, this can act as a powerful deterrent. Using sanctions to stop frivolous acts by an opposing party must be used carefully and an experienced attorney should be able to determine if it is necessary. Feel free to call my office at 310-601-7144 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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tty. Castañeda Concluded a Three-Week Trial and Successfully Argued for Her Client, Among Other Things, Attorney Fees and Sanctions

Atty. Castañeda concluded a three-week trial and successfully argued for her client, among other things, attorney fees and sanctions. Due to the international aspects of the divorce (i.e. business transactions in the Middle East, Asia and California), tracing financial information was a challenge.

Atty. Castañeda strategically and comprehensively proved to the Court that the litigation conduct of the other party prolonged and delayed resolution. Moreover, the bad faith conduct of the other party necessitated extensive and expensive forensic experts fees and costs for her client.

The Court unequivocally found that Atty. Castañeda and her client acted in good faith in proposing multiple global settlement offers that would have prevented several court hearings and the trial itself.

The Court specifically cited the case of Feldman and underscored inherent and broad authority of the trial court to order sanctions and the payment of attorney fees for breach of a party’s fiduciary duty of disclosure and for conduct that frustrates the policy of promoting settlement.

Asked how she felt about the current “win,” Atty. Castañeda simply states, “I am exhausted and now I need to focus on my other cases and prepare for another trial –this one involving child custody. Asked how she will celebrate, “I will go for a walk with my dogs and go to a yoga class.”



Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to organize US opposition to Marcos

I have crossed the Golden Gate Bridge more than 100 times in the 46 years that I have lived in San Francisco but my most memorable crossing occurred 45 years ago this past week when I rode in a 4-car convoy for a weekend retreat at Camp Arequipa, a girl scout camp in Fairfax, Marin County. There were about 20 of us, young Filipino activists from all over the U.S. who were attending a conference of correspondents and distributors of the Kalayaan International, a radical monthly community newspaper which I started in my tiny room ($50 a month) at the International Hotel in San Francisco's Manilatown in May of 1971.
One of the members of our Kalayaan Collective, Cynthia Maglaya, a veteran of the First Quarter Storm (FQS) of activism in the Philippines, suggested the conference to “consolidate the progressive forces” among Filipinos in the US. While our radical paper drew support from "movement" activists who had immigrated to the US, it also attracted Filipino Americans who had never even visited the Philippines and could not speak Tagalog or Ilocano but who were finding their Filipino identity consciousness within the broader Third World and Asian American movements sweeping the country.
We initially planned our conference for April 1972 but this was postponed to June 1972 and finally to September 1972.
Among those flying in, or driving up, to San Francisco for the Kalayaan conference were: Eddie Escultura from Chicago, Greg Santillan from Philadelphia, Jaime Geaga and Esther Soriano from Los Angeles, Paul Bagnas and Felix Tuyay from San Diego, Terry Bautista and Sylvia Savellano from Oakland, John Foz and Joe Tolero from Daly City, John Silva, Tessie Zaragoza and Bruce Occena from Berkeley, Cathi Tactaquin from Salinas, Emil de Guzman, Bill Sorro, Gil Mangaoang, Estella Habal and Gil Carillo from San Francisco.
We were crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and joyfully basking in the warm glow of a glorious sunset when suddenly the news blared out over the radio that Ferdinand Marcos had just declared martial law. We were all shocked but not entirely surprised by the news as we had been predicting it for months. We were saddened by the thought that thousands of our compatriots in the Philippines were being arrested, tortured or killed resisting martial law. We imagined the closure of democratic institutions like the courts, the press and the Congress.
When we arrived at the girl scout camp that night, we quietly gathered together at the main cabin and decided to scrap all our painstaking plans for the growth of Kalayaan-International as the events in the Philippines had overtaken us. We would now have to focus on how we were going to respond to the challenge of martial law.
We decided to form a national organization and establish chapters all over the US. We called our group the National Committee for the Restoration of Civil Liberties in the Philippines (NCRCLP). When Sen. Raul Manglapus later formed his own national group in Washington DC in 1973, he had the right idea. Movement for a Free Philippines (MFP), short and sweet.
We laid out plans to organize a National Day of Protest on October 6 to show the world that Filipinos in America were opposed to the Marcos dictatorship. We set up pickets in front of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC and in front of Philippine Consulates throughout the US. In San Francisco, I invited the students in my Philippine History class to join me in the picket line. All but one did.
It was pure coincidence that our conference fell on the weekend martial law was declared as it would have taken us months to plan and organize a national conference to deal with martial law. It was serendipity.
We analyzed that Marcos would not have declared martial law without the consent and approval of the United States so we believed that key to ending martial law was to lobby the US Congress to cut off military and economic aid to the Marcos Dictatorship.That would be our national strategy.
We created an NCRCLP Research Committee which met regularly in the basement of the Berkeley home of Lydia Araneta and Nilo Sarmiento, with Craig Scharlin and Lilia Villanueva, Mike and Elena Swanson, and Lydia’s “kids,” Christine and Anna Tess. We would later establish contact with Dr. Ellen Snow, the foreign policy adviser of California Sen. Alan Cranston, regularly providing her with information about martial law. collage2
The information we provided Dr. Snow inspired Sen. Cranston to deliver a speech on the floor of the US Senate on April 12, 1973, which include this gem: “Foreign dictators seem to feel that all they have to do is proclaim their anti-communism and we will rush to their side with dollars and guns. A few of them, such as President Marcos, even pretend that they are strengthening democracy.”
Two young activists who were arrested and imprisoned in the Philippines during martial law were then deported to the US because they were US citizens. When Melinda Paras and Deanie Bocobo arrived in San Francisco, we met with them and arranged for them to go on a national speaking tour.
Another American who was deported from the Philippines was Fr. Bruno Hicks, a Franciscan priest who spent 10 years in Negros Occidental province organizing farmers cooperatives, before he was arrested by Marcos soldiers, imprisoned and deported back to San Francisco. In the speaking tour we arranged for him, Fr. Hicks described “simple and conscientious peasants forming their own political opinions, expressing them, beginning to vote independently of their landlords and their employers. Could this have been the reason martial law was declared because democracy was actually beginning to work, because the grievances of the masses were finally getting organized, getting aired, and bringing pressure to bear on the political institutions?”
The NCRCLP Bay Area Cultural Group was formed where the members sang patriotic Filipino songs like “Ang Bayan Ko” and performed skits depicting the effects of martial law in the Philippines and exposing the US role in the declaration of martial law. We held our public forums and cultural events at the Glide Memorial Methodist Church in downtown San Francisco as the Rev. Cecil Williams was an early suporter.
In October of 1972, the Philippine Consul-General in Los Angeles, Ruperto Baliao, privately informed NCRCLP members of his reservations about martial law. He joked that he may even be joining us soon. On May 18, 1973, Consul Baliao held a press conference in L.A. to announce his defection from Marcos whom he called “the new Hitler”. He read his cable to Secretary of Foreign Affairs Carlos P. Romulo, Consul Baliao where he said: “after many sleepless nights of soul-searching, I have finally decided that I cannot in good conscience continue serving your administration which is dedicated to the perpetuation of Pres. Marcos despotic rule and the continued suppression of our people’s civil liberties.”
Consul-General Baliao revealed a telegram dated April 25, 1973 which he received from the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) containing a list of over 100 Filipinos in the United States whose activities were considered “detrimental to the national interest.” He was given instructions not to renew or extend the Philippine passports of those in the “blacklist”.
Consul-General Baliao accepted our offer to go on a nationwide speaking tour to denounce Marcos and martial law. In Washington DC on June 9, 1973, he even led a demonstration in front of the Philippine Embassy where he was joined by Raoul Beloso, the former chairman of the Small Farmers Commission of the Philippines.   
Wherever Imelda Marcos traveled in the US, she was met with NCRCLP pickets. On one occasion, when we learned that she was passing through San Francisco, we rushed to the San Francisco International Airport to picket her. But when we got there, airport security stopped us from setting up our picket line. So I went to the white courtesy telephone and requested the airport announcer to please page a certain individual. As Imelda Marcos was walking through the lobby of the airport, she could hear this loudspeaker announcement “Calling Miss Ibagsak C. Marcos, Miss Ibagsak C. Marcos, please come to the white courtesy telephone.”
In April of 1973, the Methodist Church offered us free offices at the UNITAS House in Berkeley. Next door to our office was the group fighting the Brazilian Dictatorship. When I asked them how long they had been organizing in the US against the Brazilian generals, a member responded “since 1964”. That was 9 years at the time and I told him that the Marcos Dictatorship would not last that long. “The Filipino people will never accept it. We will topple Marcos very soon and civil liberties will be restored in the Philippines,” I said confidently.
How wrong I was. Martial law in the Philippines would last for nearly 14 years from 1972 through 1986.
But unfortunately, NCRCLP would not last anywhere nearly as long. After we published our 36-page newsmagazine, Silayan, in July of 1973, the NCRCLP, as a national organization, ceased to exist.
Melinda Paras, who had gone on a speaking tour all over the US after she was deported from the Philippines, forged a political alliance with Bruce Occena of our Kalayaan Collective and together they initiated intense discussions among our NCRCLP members about the need to create a “cadre” organization to surpass the “mass” organization that was the NCRCLP.
The result of their efforts was the formal organization of the Katipunan ng mga Demokratikong Pilipino (KDP) – which was formed in Berkeley, California in July of 1973. Elected as the national chair was Melinda Paras who insisted, despite my pleas, that NCRCLP must be dissolved in order for the KDP to thrive.     
One by one, the NCRCLP chapters around the US dissolved, all except for the Los Angeles chapter under Esther Soriano, Lilian Tamoria, and Eric Lachica. That last NCRCLP chapter, which would later be led by UCLA Prof. Enrique De La Cruz and Atty. Prosy Abarquez De La Cruz, would resolutely continue the NCRCLP until the end of martial law in February of 1986.
So ended what began with the convoy crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge in September of 1972.
(The author taught Philippine History at San Francisco State University when martial law was declared and would later serve as Secretary-General of the NCRCLP. Send comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mail them to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 or call ).

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