Monday, May 20, 2013

Clips, clips, clips!

Dear All,

Thanks for reading my blog so far! I'm going to take a break in posting, to post some clips from some publications that I have written for in the past. (I haven't quite figured out how to post them on my main web site yet).

The first two clips below were published in the fall of 2008 in the Fil-Asian Bulletin, a Jersey City-based newspaper, now out of business.

The first clip is about then-Vice President of the Philippines Noli De Castro's visit to the Philippine Consulate in New York City:


By: Maureen Roble

Vice President Noli De Castro received a warm welcome on Wednesday, October 3rd at the Philippine Consulate in New York City. Despite Consulate hopes for an "intimate affair," Kalayaan Hall was bursting with Filipinos from the Tri-State area, as well as Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Many from the crowd hailed from the Vice President's native Mindoro. Other visitors, young and old, came out of curiosity. If there were any skeptics in the crowd, no one showed it. Upon entering the hall, the former Magandang Gabi, Bayan host was mobbed for photographs by excited visitors. There was much speculation surrounding the motive for the Vice President's visit, although Consulate staff maintained that De Castro simply wanted to meet members of the Filipino community, not boost public relations. De Castro's main purpose for being in New York was official business. He delivered the Philippine government's Statement on Interreligious and Intercultural Cooperation at the High Level Dialogue for Interreligious and Intercultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace at the United Nations.

The theme of the night appeared to be development of the Philippines. In her welcome address, Consul General Cecilia Rebong highlighted the generosity and achievements of Fil-Ams. According to Consul General Rebong, Fil-Ams are "more Filipino than Filipinos in the Philippines" because of the work they do to alleviate poverty in the Philippines. She cited examples such as medical missions run by Filipino doctors and nurses, schools built by Fil-Ams for Filipino students, and the swiftness of Fil-Am organizations to gather funds in times of natural disasters. Along the same vein, Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations Hilario Davide called the audience "angels" and the Vice President an angel as well. The Ambassador declared that the President and Vice President's visits (GMA was at the Consulate a week prior) were a sign of their love for the Filipino people, as well as an urging to Fil-Ams to return to the Philippines and help.

Vice President De Castro began his speech with the hot-button issues of the day: the ZTE Broadband scandal and former-President Estrada. He assured the crowd that the ZTE Broadband scandal was under investigation. He believes the Filipino people have reached a "political maturity" that will allow them to make their own judgements once the investigation is over. In Estrada's case, the Vice President asked the President to consider presidential pardon. However, the focus of De Castro's speech was the development of the Philippines, a topic he feels does not receive enough exposure.

The Vice President outlined the recent economic achievements of the Philippines.

-High economic performance in the second quarter, exceeding government forecasters' expectations. Gross Domestic Product was up 7.5%, Gross National Product was up 8.3%

-A budget surplus of 13.9 billion pesos (due largely in part to remittances by Overseas Filipino Workers).

-The strong peso (43 pesos to one dollar exchange rate).

-Interest rates going down. The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), the agency of which De Castro is Chairman, has lowered interest rates for housing down to 6% or 7%, making housing more accessible to the poor.

-Concentration on building infrastructure. Agriculture in North Luzon and Mindanao, tourism in the central Philippines, and trade and industry in Metro Manila. The construction of the North and South Luzon Railway, which will run from Pampanga to Laguna. 36,000 squatters were "relocated" as a result of this project.

In spite of the good news, the Vice President emphasized that there are ways Filipinos in America can still help. "Keep the money flowing" was the Vice President's message. De Castro suggested Fil-Ams become tourists, invest in the Philippine stock market, or donate money to build a home for those displaced by the North and South Luzon Railway. At the end of his speech, De Castro implored the Fil-Am community to work with Filipinos in the Philippines to create a brighter future. "Together build a strong and progressive Philippines, not only for ourselves, but our loved ones, the ones we left in the Philippines." He quoted a popular saying from the University of the Philippines, "Kung hindi tayo, sino ba? Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?"

The applause for De Castro's speech was cut off when Potri Ranka Manis, a Maranao princess and founder of Kinding Sindaw, a performance ensemble dedicated to preserving indigenous performance, asked about Mindanao. The Vice President hastily added that the Philippines was involved in the High Level Dialogue for Interreligious and Intercultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace at the United Nations. De Castro quickly left the stage, and Secretary Jesus Dureza, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process took his place. He spoke very briefly about Philippine participation in the Dialogue.

In a meeting with the press after the speech, the Vice President was coy about his plans for 2010. In response to an ABS-CBN reporter's question on whether or not De Castro would be running, De Castro replied, "Malayo pa. Let's talk of the present." If he does run, Vice President De Castro has at least one vote. When asked by the Bulletin if she would vote for a Presidential candidate De Castro, a MindoreƱa from the crowd answered with gusto, "Of course!"

The second clip is from a column I used to write about local business people:


By Maureen Roble

He barely looks old enough to be running his own business, let alone be married with two kids. But 27 year old Orvin Sibug is doing both successfully. His wireless services store, G- Wire, located at 578 West Side Avenue, rarely sees a dull moment. In the morning and evening Orvin is taking care of people’s cell phone needs. The after school crowd brings kids looking to update their ringtones. “I can’t complain” Orvin says with a smile, when FAB asks how sales are doing. This year, Orvin is really excited about the new Boost plan, which is $55/month for unlimited calling. The Nokia N95 is also a popular item lately, perhaps because of the oncoming holiday rush.

Despite his apparent happiness with his current position, Orvin was not always a businessman. In his past existence, Orvin followed the path many young Filipinos followed-he was a nurse. However, his own desire to be in business, as well as a chance encounter with a good friend made him the proprietor of his own shop. His advice to Pinoy and Pinay youth considering their own paths? “Go to school, do what you like. If you want to do business…plan, plan, plan.” A large dose of hard work is needed as well. Orvin describes his work as “grueling” and there are days he is in the store 12 hours.

For Orvin, the chance to serve the community makes it all worthwhile. He prides himself on being the local cellphone shop with the heart of gold. “I don’t want people to have to go far for their cellphones. Just cross the street, and you’re here…being able to offer the best price while still staying afloat-that’s my goal.” When it comes to making it in a competitive industry, such as the cellphone industry, Orvin holds true to a basic principle. “Fair price. That’s it.”


578 West Side Avenue

Open M-Sat. 11AM-7PM


The next clip about the Filipino-American health crisis was published online on the web site, BakitWhy, a web magazine that discusses Filipino-American lifestyle. It was also published in 2008. Although the web magazine still exists, the link to my article is no longer functional. Please read the clip below:

It’s rare to hear about Asian American health in the news, outside the context of the miraculous healing powers of green tea, meditation, and eating lots of fish—the evening news takes Asian Americans to be one homogeneous group that has excellent health. Not only is this false, but buying into the stereotype can be deadly. The fact of the matter is Filipino Americans are facing a silent health crisis, and your 50-year-old Tito Alfredo is not the only one who should be worrying. Young men between the ages of 18 and 49, and women need to increase their health awareness, as well. Heart disease, hypertension, cancer, and diabetes are big problems in the community. Here are the alarming statistics:

Heart disease claims the lives of a third the Filipino American population…About a third of Filipino men between the ages of 18 and 49 suffer from uncontrolled hypertension. The rate increases to 51% for those over the age of 50. The corresponding rate is 61% for Filipino women of the same age range, a figure that is 1.7 times higher than whites and 1.4 times the rate for black women.

(Italics added for emphasis. Taken from NYU Langone Medical Center News Releases Website, March 27, 2006. Accessed 9/24/08)

This information may come as a big surprise considering that most Fil-Ams, male or female are petite in size. But don’t let looks deceive, cautions Dr. Mariano Jose Rey, Director at the NYU Institute of Community Health and Research. He told the Asian Journal, “Filipinos die in their 30s or 40s of heart attack and strokes even though they’re thin. They’re one of two or three populations in the entire planet who while being thin, develop severe heart and brain disease.”

(Posted on, 11/17/2007, Accessed 9/24/08)

Heart disease is not the only problem. According to a 1993 study by the Northern California Cancer Center, Filipino women had the lowest breast cancer survival rate among several racial/ethnic groups (white, African American, Chinese, Japanese) except African Americans. (“Health and Health Care of Filipino American Elders”, Accessed 9/24/2008)


What is the cause of poor Fil-Am health, and what can one do about it? Health professionals believe several factors are to blame: high fat, high cholesterol, high sodium diet (patis with your pork fat, anyone?), a scarcity of culturally and linguistically appropriate medical screening and educational materials, a high-stress environment at the workplace, and cheap and accessible processed foods.


Unfortunately, there’s no other way around tried and true diet and exercise. Thankfully, “diet” and “exercise” don’t have to be unpleasant things. The autumn has not only brought the east coast cooler weather, but a fresh harvest as well. Visit your local farmer’s market and see the difference fresh ingredients make on the taste of your cooked meals (you’ll be less likely to overdo the patis this way). Try eating less meat and more fish and vegetables, and when you do, go easy on the frying. Bring your own heart-healthy baon (lunch) to work. Hot dogs with rice don’t count! Walk, bike, or skate more, drive less. Your wallet and heart will thank you. Finally, get regular medical check-ups with a doctor who is open to discussing your health concerns and questions, and encourage your loved ones to do so as well. Beware of doctors who buy into the stereotype that all Asians drink green tea and eat seaweed! They might overlook important medical tests that can save your life or the life of a relative.

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