PIWC Kickoff: Philippine Independence Week Committee officers pose Jan. 13 during their kickoff party in Niles. Photo includes Edwin Pineda (2nd fr L), incoming PIWC Chair; Lourdes Livas; and Faye Mendiola, new Board of Trustee Chair. Not in photo is Lourdes Mon, current Chair. (PINOY Photo)

..."Chicagoans hear Sen. Trillanes' updates on PH EJKs"

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forum moderators joseph lariosa and marlon pacson with senator antonio trillanes iv feb. 9 in chicago.

Clarito then asked, “The president has recently admitted that he is a dictator. What will happen in the next coming months?”

“What we have is a creeping dictatorship,” Trillanes answered.

”Duterte’s ultimate agenda is to set up a totalitarian regime. This is how he ruled Davao and this is how he would want to rule the Philippines.”

He made it clear that despite all of the president’s efforts, people are speaking up.
“His survey numbers will go down because at some point, Duterte will cross a red line with the Filipinos. He will be politically demasculated. Politicians will jump to the other fence and invest some goodwill for the next administration. We will not give up this fight for the rights of our kababayans.“

The next step would be to file crimes against humanity with the ICC, said Trillanes. They will study the allegations and then investigate. Then they can indict him.
Recently, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it would perform a preliminary investigation on President Duterte’s EJKs based on numerous complaints.

Trillanes had some advice for Pinoys in the U.S. “You need to tell the truth and influence the people who can still be influenced. We are gaining ground.”

A forum guest said, “My friends ask why you are so against Duterte, and they said that you wanted to be his Vice President and that he rejected you.”

Sen. Trillanes responded, “I met to talk with Grace Poe and Rodrigo Duterte individually when I was interested in finding a running mate as a vice president.

“When I met with Duterte, he bragged about how many people he executed. I was not impressed. I thought to myself that this person should never become president.”

“Why is he doing this? Because he is sick. His mental assessment shows that he is psychologically imbalanced.”

On the question--Should Senator Trillanes find a way to collaborate with the president in finding a solution to the drug problem?

“He has already committed many deaths that he has to be responsible for and to pay for. We need to continue checking his abuses. Criticizing him is what I am doing for the country,” Trillanes answered.

“I am in the opposition but I was never an obstructionist. I supported his budget,” he said.

Eric and Amy drove to snow-bound city from outlying Naperville to support their former classmate, the senator.

"We believe in what [Sen. Trillanes] says. We’ve known him before he was a senator," Eric said.

Al Cabagnot, president of the Filipino American Grandparents Association of Chicago (FAGPAC), said that he wanted to know the other side of the story.

“I heard about my nephew who was caught with drugs and all of his barkada were killed except for him because his father was a police officer,” Cabagnot explained.
Having been often a lonely fiscalizer of the regime, the senator appreciated these encouraging comments.

A formal Naval officer who graduated from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), Sen. Trillanes has authored, co-sponsored and filed more bills than any other senator thus far.

In 2003, he was incarcerated for seven years for protesting with his PMA officers against the corruption of the former Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration.

He was eventually granted pardon by Former President Benigno Aquino III.
He successfully ran for senator and won from his jail cell.

Hosted by the Filipino American Human Rights Advocate (FAHRA), the forum was moderated by Joseph Lariosa of JGL Global Link, Marlon Tecson, conference coordinator and Jerry Clarito, community organizer.

..."Chicago Fil-Ams mourn death of 7 medical missionaries in Cebu"

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Dr. Nunilo Rubio was a former PMAC president and was voted by his PMAC peers for their group’s and his alumni association’s, Far Eastern University Medical Association, “Most Outstanding Physician of the Year.”

The diabetes pavilion of the St. Mary Hospital in the west side of Chicago is named after him—just to name of the numerous accolades bestowed upon Dr.Rubio. He and his wife, Elenita had been medical lecturers. Elenita is the incoming PMAC president.

The Philippine American Cultural Foundation voted them recently as “Model Family” along with their three sons—Nunilo Jr., Noel—both medical doctors-- and Nate, a physical therapist.

All three sons enplaned to Cebu a day after the accident to be with their mother and to make funeral arrangements for their father. The Rubios were originally from Bacoor, Cavite.

above photo: Reynaldo & Diana Pascual of White Plaines, N.Y. were guest PMAC missionaries but became two of the seven victims of the tragedy. (Facebook photo)

Like the Rubios, Fred and Nora Tsai never let up with the community endowments despite being past their retirement age. Fred was a partner in the noted engineering firm, Sargent & Lundy in Chicago.

They have been participants in the PMAC medical missions over a period of many years. Nora is a registered nurse. The Tsais invited the Huangs to join them this year but the Huangs and Berniti Rojas did not survived the trip.

Aurora had two children with her husband Tito Gagni. Though a nurse by profession, flower arrangement was her avocation—that earned her a wide clientele for the many social gatherings in the area. She was on her sixth year of being a medical missionary with the PMAC. Reynaldo J. and Diane Pascual joined this year’s mission through her invitation.

Originally from Tibao, La Union, her family has not made final funeral arrangements as of press time for Aurora. When contacted, her husband, Tito, had begged off giving any comments.

The PMAC has been sponsoring these medical missions early in every year for about four decades now. They treat an average of one to two thousands indigent patients each time. They bring with them dozens of balikbayan boxes of medical supplies and medicine.

Dalisay Villalon, a nurse and a past president of the PMAC Auxialiary, said in an interview, "The death of these seven volunteers shocks me to no end…I have to double check what I read online…Sadly, it shows the volatility of man’s life… but our desire to serve the poor and the sick should continue as it will be this year for the PMAC despite this tragedy. The missionaries will continue healing even as we mourn those who passed on.”

Community news publisher, Yoly Tubalina,l who considers the Rubios close friends posted a statement online that she and her fellow church members pray for the families of those who died and also for the healing for those injured—just like what many in this grieving community are doing.

“This reminds us all that life is so fragile. It's important to cherish our loved ones while they are around… in flesh because we'll never know when they will be taken away from us,” wrote Mrs. Tubalinal.

A memorial service was held for the departed medical missionaries by the Philippine Medical Association of Chicago (PMAC) & its Auxiliary on Jan. 28 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois.


..."Two Pinoys were youngest victims of the 1993 ‘Brown’s Chicken Massacre’

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Police checked her son’s workplace and found Maldonado’s vehicle still in the restaurant parking lot. Police entered the building through a back door that was left ajar.

Though the case would remain cold for nine years, a forensic investigator, Jane Homeyer, had the foresight to pluck out left-over chicken bones from a trash can at the murder scene on the day of the massacre.

Homeyer, who described her move as inspired by “divine providence,” kept the potential evidence in the police freezer. In 2002, a half-eaten piece of chicken was analyzed to contain the DNA of Juan Luna who would confess to the crime.

“Something big”

Luna used to be an employee of the restaurant but was later let go. He apparently knew the ins and outs of the place. On the night of the killing spree, Luna and Degorski even ordered four pieces of chicken, leaving some in the trash can that led to their conviction.

The former Brown’s Chicken Restaurant of Palatine, Illinois: A day after the massacre. It was razed in 2001. A Chase Bank stands in its place. The franchise was adversely impacted by the killings with 100 restaurants in Chicago area would close. (AP Photo)

It was also in 2002 when Ann Lockett, the former girlfriend of Degorski, had told the investigator that on the night of the murders her then-boyfriend boasted to her that he and his friend and former high school classmate had done “something big” and would later admit to her that they were behind the massacre.

The two criminals had separate jury trials. Luna was convicted in 2007 to a life sentence. Degorski would also get the same with no chance of parole. Both were eligible for the death sentence but one Luna juror and two Degorski jurors held off to capital punishment.

Rob Hart, reporter for a local CBS radio affiliate, wrote recently that Michael Castro’s parents continue to visit their son’s grave and offer mass on his death anniversary.

His mother, Epifania, said the services give her comfort, “because then I know that they’re praying for him…My faith saved us from all this; you know, to keep us sane.”

Final judgment

The Castros also have a shrine in their living room in memory of Michael who would have been 41 yearsold last January 8. The mother said she prays at six o’clock every morning and evening.

She admits that early on, “I wanted to do something to hurt (my son’s killers). She is now resigned to her fate and thoughts of getting even are gone. She has forgiven them. “I am leaving that to Jesus for their final judgment,” she added.

The daughter of the restaurant’s slain owners, Joy Ehlenfeldt, addressed Luna in her victim impact statement in 2007. “You are responsible for your own family’s suffering. Your family will now join ours in the circle of grief,” she said.

A number of things have changed in the years since the murders. The 1993 incident saw a 35 percent decline in the sales of the Brown’s Chicken franchise that would see the closing of 100 restaurants in the Chicago area.

The building in Palatine was demolished in April 2001 and briefly converted to a dry cleaning shop. A Chase Bank was later built on the empty lot.

In an ironic twist, Degorski was awarded $451,000 in compensation and punitive damages for the injuries he sustained after he was beaten in jail by a county sheriff in May 2002 after he was arrested. The sheriff was fired.

A judge ordered a reduction of the amount to $120,000 and the Illinois Department demanded that it receive the money to pay for the upkeep cost of Degorski— moves both opposed by his lawyer who sees the money as her legal fees.

However, no claims against the award were reported by any of the families of the seven murder victims.

Chicago welcomes new Consul General Dr. Gina Jamoralin

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Consul Jamoralin initiated the proposal of "The Sakada Day Bill," which was unanimously passed into law on April 9, 2016 to acknowledge the first 15 Filipino plantation farmers in Hawaii.

Ambassador Gina Jamoralin

The consul also initiated a program to encourage future generations of Filipinos to learn to speak Filipino. The Ilocano Language Acquisition and Immerson for the Next Generation (iLAING) project graduated 20 students in 2014. This prepared five students for a ten-day immersion trip to the Philippines in July 2015.

Consul Generoso Calonge’s consular outreach grew to a large extent, resulting in more former Filipino nationals electing to be dual citizens of the Philippines. Under his tenure and compared to other Philippine posts, his had the highest turnout in the Philippine elections. He held his final monthly dialogue with the community “Pagkikita Ika Na Konsulado 31” on Jan. 12.








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