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

By Mariano A. Santos


CHICAGO—The shock of a tragic crash of a tour van in Alegria, Cebu on January 20 continues to reverberate in the Filipino community in this city-- eliciting disbelief and prayers from grieving residents on the sudden death of seven health care workers on their way to their annual medical missions in Camiguin, an island near Cebu.

left photo: Prominent Chicago physician Nunilo Rubio died Jan. 20 when a van they were riding in hit a roadside tree. His wife, Dr. Elenita Rubio, is in critical condition. (Photo by Dr. G. Guzman) right photo: Aurora Gagni (r), a nurse from Orland Park, Il. also died on the scene. (Gagni Facebook photo).

Reported killed when a speeding Toyota Grandia van hit a roadside mahogany tree include prominent area physician, Dr. Nunilo Rubio, 74, of Chicago; Mrs. Aurora M. Gagni, 63, a registered nurse from Orland Park, Illinois; husband and wife—Reynaldo J. and Diane I. Pascual-- of White Plaines, New York; Joseph and Juvela Huang and Berniti Rojas.

Taken to various local hospitals with serious injuries are Dr. Elenita Rubio, wife of Nunilo and husband and wife—Fred and Nora Tsai of Chicago. They are 10 of the four-dozen volunteers of this year’s medical mission organized by the Philippine Medical Association of Chicago (PMAC) and its Women’s Auxiliary that is expected to start Monday, January 22 in the Camiguin Island.

The driver, Gilbert dela Cruz, 24, survived the accident with minor injuries. In a Cebu Daily News report, Alegria chief of Police, Efren Diaz, said that dela Cruz admitted dozing off on the wheel but denied using drugs. The officer also said that the driver admitted getting only an hour’s sleep before he started his fateful trip with the out-of-towners early that Saturday.

Further, Diaz declared that the driver is now in custody pending charges against him for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and physical injuries. Report has it, the group was on the way to spend the rest of day at the Kawasa Falls in Badian when the mishap happened after spending the morning whale shark-watching in Oslob—an area in the southwest of Cebu.

The Rubios and the Tsais are both couples respected by many in the area for their professional achievements and their philanthropic endeavors. 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.

(Read more Chicago Fil-Ams mourn death of 7 medical missionaries in Cebu...)


 A meeting arranged by FACC director Lourdes Livas and facilitated by director Jerry Clarito, specifically gave support to the “Sentro Rizal” cultural project of the Philippine government in partnership with the FACC. Standing from left are Jimmy Alban, Mae Lant, Bobby Luna, Jerry Clarito and Dennis Cruz.

Congress gives 1-yr martial law extension in Mindanao

AFTER more than four hours of debate, Congress overwhelmingly granted President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in the whole of Mindanao for a period of one year – from January 1, 2018 up to December 31, 2018.

Voting 240-27 with no abstention during the special joint session on Dec. 13 , Congress authorized the extension of martial rule in the southern region for the second time.
The Senate voted 14-4 while the House of Representatives voted 226-23 in favor of the martial law extension.

Last May 23, Mr. Duterte imposed martial law in Mindanao through Proclamation 216 after the Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorist group attacked Marawi City and attempted to establish a caliphate there. Correspondingly, the presidential directive suspended the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.

Almost two months later, Congress granted President Duterte’s request to extend martial rule in Mindanao until December 31, 2017.

Then on December 11, or 20 days before the initial extension expires, Mr. Duterte once again asked Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year, citing persistent threats of terrorism and rebellion in the region. (By Pathricia Ann V. Roxas INQUIRER.net)


DFA warns Filipinos in US east coast of explosive snowstorm

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has alerted 340,000 Filipinos based in the northeastern part of the United States of a “bomb cyclone,” or an explosive snowstorm that was expected to hit Thursday.

DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano issued a statement on Thursday advising US-based Filipinos to monitor weather reports and evacuate when necessary upon the orders of authorities.

The DFA said that a “bomb cyclone”—a meteorological phenomenon called “bombogenesis” or area of rapidly declining low pressure, could affect as many as 340,000 Filipinos residing in the US east coast.

The bomb cyclone was expected to bring hurricane-force winter winds and from six to 12 inches of snow in New England states and from three to six inches of snow in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut areas, the DFA said.

Volunteers under the warden system of the Philippine Consulate General in New York has been alerted to monitor the situation and report any emergency, the DFA said.

Most of the US was battling arctic weather conditions since late December while parts of usually warmer regions like the Southeast are experiencing historic low temperature ranges, freezing rain, and snow, the department said.

'Vinta' death toll rises to 160; evacuees monitored

Inquirer News Service

UNHEEDED warnings to evacuate cost the lives of people living along riverbanks, coastlines and other danger zones when Tropical Storm “Vinta” (international name: Tembin) pummeled Mindanao on Dec. 21 and 22.

Mudslides swallowed homes and swollen rivers swept away dwellings, killing more than 160 people as Vinta dumped heavy rains on the island.

One mountain village was obliterated, buried in mudslides.

“We’ve repeatedly pleaded with villagers near coastlines and riverbanks to evacuate but they refused,” said Vice Mayor Jesus Lim of Salug town in Zamboanga del Norte.

No one died in Cagayan de Oro City, where hundreds perished from flash floods in 2011, because residents heeded the order to evacuate when Vinta made landfall on Dec. 21, Mayor Oscar Moreno said on Dec. 22.

In Lanao del Norte, 62 people died in the floods, according to the authorities. In Salvador, an official said 41 people had been confirmed dead in the flash floods that hit the town’s 15 villages on Dec. 22.

As of Dec. 23, only 23 bodies had been recovered as rains were starting to pour anew, said Rodel Maghinay, head of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO).

About 57,000 individuals were being monitored by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the evacuation areas in Mindanao as response operations continue in the wake of Typhoon “Vinta.”

Dir. Felino Castro, Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau of DSWD, said Dec. 24 that there are more than 200 evacuation centers catering to the affected individuals.


What tax reform means for you

By Noel Lorenzano, CPA

Email: info@lorenzanatax.com


TAX REFORM has passed the U.S. Congress and has been signed by President Trump. These are the most drastic changes to the IRS Tax Code since the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

A great number of taxpayers will no longer itemize deductions in 2018 due to the doubling of the standard deduction ($24,000 for married couples). Even if you will still itemize your deductions in 2018, the deduction for real estate and income taxes will be capped at $10,000.
Here are some highlights of the Tax Reform that likely affects you:

Income Tax Rates Reduced

The new reduced individual income tax rates are 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%. The bill retains seven tax brackets, while reducing the top tax rates to 37% from 39.6%.

Standard Deduction Doubles

The current standard deduction amounts for 2018 are $6,500 for individuals, $9,550 for heads of household, and $13,000 for married couples filing jointly. The new bill increases the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals, $18,000 for heads of household, and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly.

Personal Exemption Suspended

The current $4,050 personal exemption for individuals, their spouse, and each of their dependents is completely eliminated.

Medical Expense Deduction Expanded

Qualified medical expenses as itemized deductions have been retained. The bill also reduces the threshold for deduction of medical expenses to 7.5% of your adjusted gross income for 2017 and 2018. Afterwards, the threshold would return to the current 10% adjusted gross income limitation.

Home Equity & Mortgage Interest

The bill would modify the home mortgage interest deduction, reducing the limit on “new” mortgages to $750,000, from the current $1 million. Existing mortgages will not be affected. The home equity loan interest deduction would be eliminated through 2025.

Income & Property Tax Deduction Capped

The bill preserves the state and local tax deduction for anyone who itemizes their deductions, but individuals would only be allowed to deduct up to $10,000 in state and local income or property taxes. Previously, there was no limitation.

(Read more "What tax reform means for you"...)


AFIRE Chicago Citizenship Application Workshop in February

The ALLIANCE of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE) Chicago is holding a Citizenship Application Workshop in February 2018. Licensed attorneys and trained volunteers are available to help. Registration is first-come, first serve. For more information, call 773-580-1025.


118,335 overseas voters register

MORE than 118,000 Filipinos based abroad have been registered by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as overseas absentee voters in the last 10 months.

Commissioner Arthur Lim said the poll body’s regional election registration boards (RERB) had approved the applications for registration of 118,335 overseas Filipino voters as of Sept. 30.
“Additional applications for registration [are] being readied for the next round of RERB hearings,” said Lim, who heads the Office for Overseas Voting.

The Comelec resumed its overseas voters’ registration for the May 2019 midterm polls on Dec. 1, 2016. It will end on Sept. 30, 2018.

So far, the Comelec has recorded 1,376,067 overseas absentee voters in the May 2016 national and local elections.

Filipino citizens who are abroad during the 30-day absentee voting period may register as overseas absentee voters. (Inquirer News Service)


Filipina Greek competing to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Judo Team

By Grace Garcia Szpytma

Waukegan, Illinois—Nefeli Papadakis, 19, a five-time U.S. Women’s Judo Champion, is competing to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and hopes to be the first Filipina representing the U.S. to bag an Olympic gold medal.

Nefeli is ranked #1 among the top three athletes in the US in the 78 kilo (Middle Weight) division. If she qualifie, she knows who she is up against.

left pic: Judoka Nefeli Papadakis

“[If I qualify for the games], my hardest opponent would be Brazilian Mayra Aguiar, 26, a two-time World Champion and two-time bronze medalist. It is her experience that will challenge me most as the top women in my division are all at least 5-6 years older than me.

Since then, she has excelled in the sport eventually qualifying for national and world team competitions.

Her mother, Lillibeth Alamon Papadakis, from Iloilo, Cebu and her father Stavros, from Akron, Greece support her dream.

High caliber

“We want Filipinos to know that there is a Filipina who will compete in the upcoming Olympics to represent not only herself and the US, but also the Filipinos,” Stavros explained.

Qualifying for the Olympics requires ranking among the top 22 athletes in the world and medaling at a senior international event.

She would attain this by earning enough points in the two upcoming senior events at the Grand Prix Competitions to be held in Mexico in June 2018 and in Croatia in July 2018.
She says she has yet to compete in a senior event.

“She will compete against ‘high caliber athletes’,” Stavros said. “If she places among the top, she will earn enough points to qualify for the Olympics. Then the Olympic organization will fund her future competition and training travel fees up until the start of the Olympics.”

The most points she can earn is 1000 if she wins either of the Grand Prix competitions, he added.

Nefeli has remained undefeated until age 11.

(Read more "Filipina Greek competing to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Judo Team"...)

(More stories on COMMUNITY NEWS PAGE)




That was 2017 in images!

By Mariano "Anong" Santos

PINOY Publisher/Editor



2017 WILL BE remembered for its ironies and reckonings. It is the year when women took to the streets and asserted themselves. The surprise election of Trump who was caught on record saying that he groped women by their genitals and, still, be able to worm himself into the White House undoubtedly emboldened women to come out and declare—enough! TIME Magazine made them its person(s) of the year—just right after Donald Trump who got the accolade the year before.

pics from L-R: 2016 TIME Person of the Year President Trump, 2017 Person of the Year the Sounders, Leila de Lima, Ombudsman Conchita Morales

ONE BY ONE—moguls, media persons, actors, legislators, and judges--were put in a reckoning mode along with their tattered careers. It’s #MeToo reverberating. But then again, male leaders in the Philippines don’t get it—still asserting their piggish dominance.

Early on in February, Digong’s allies jailed his most vocal female nemesis, Leila de Lima. Then, Duterte’s trollers incessantly fed fake news on Vice President Leni Robredo, Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, and Ombudsman Conchita Morales…all respected Filipinas who don’t blindly kowtow to the regime’s whims. Not even Gina Lopez could pass through his bootlickers’ approval in Congress.

Evidently, women folks back home have a lot of catching up to reach true gender equality. The macho society prevails. But in Chicago, it is a woman interloper who put the community in a spin. The problem at Filipino American Council of Chicago is beyond irony. (Try getting serious in one’s commitment to a common goal. Unity and success will follow.)

left pic: gina lopez

(Read more “That was 2017 in images!’"...)



Editorial Cartoon by Jym Andalis


Trump's bankruptcy past shows through in GOP's tax bill

USA Today
By Jonathan C. Lipson & Andrea Monroe

DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS, Congress passed the bill formerly known as the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” with the support of 278 House and Senate Republicans. At any other time, it would be hard to imagine that congressional Republicans could support major tax legislation drafted in such haste and with so little regard for distributional consequences. It is even harder to imagine that Republican deficit hawks would support such a fiscally reckless and unprincipled bill. Yet almost every Republican member of Congress did precisely that, taking a lesson from President Trump’s playbook: Buy extravagantly today, and leave someone else to foot the bill tomorrow.

Future generations

If this sounds familiar, it should: this is how the president ran his infamous Atlantic City casinos through a record four bankruptcies. We know how that story ended — Trump’s casinos were shuttered after years of losses. While the United States cannot, technically, declare bankruptcy, the GOP tax bill promises to saddle the nation with unsustainable debt based on implausible promises.

The GOP tax bill is immensely unpopular with the American public, and for good reason. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), a nonpartisan committee of the U.S. Congress, this legislation will cost approximately $1 trillion over the next decade, even after accounting for economic growth. This “tax reform” will not pay for itself; rather, future generations will pay for today’s tax cuts through higher payments on the national debt.


Debt is where the analogy to Trump’s bankruptcies begins. Before he became president, he ran three casinos in Atlantic City: the Plaza, Marina and Taj Mahal. In the 1990s and early 2000s, these casinos borrowed heavily and performed worse than their competitors, requiring four trips through federal bankruptcy court — more than any other large business in the last 30 years.

(Read more "Trump's bankruptcy past shows through in GOP's tax bill"...)



By Jon Melegrito

Letter from Washington




Arceli Cristobal Suley directs her message to Trump during the Women’s March in January. (JON MELEGRITO)

Fil-Am women rising in the year of Trump

SEVENTY-ONE-YEAR-OLD Araceli Cristobal Suley of Silver Spring, Maryland was mad that a misogynist is currently occupying the White House. But rather than sink into despair, she rose up early one Saturday morning and took the Metro to downtown DC, along with husband David and daughter Pauline.

They were among the more than 1 million people who marched and rallied in the nation’s capital on January 21, 2016 to protest Trump’s inauguration the day before. Carrying a hand-made sign, her message was simple and direct: “Now You’ve Pissed off Grandma!”

“I have two grand daughters,” Araceli said. “I don’t want them to grow up in a country that disrespects women, minorities and immigrants.”

The Suleys, my wife Elvie and I and hundreds of Filipino Americans from the community gathered at the National Mall for the Women’s March that cold day in January. But we were soon overwhelmed by the passion of sisters and brothers chanting and waving placards that read “Stand with Immigrants,” “SAY NO to RACISM,” and “Rise Up and Resist!” Similar demonstrations were also held in major cities across the U.S.

Two weeks later, after Trump issued his controversial travel ban, Suley and daughter Pauline were out on the streets again. They joined a large crowd of protesters in front of the White House to denounce the order, which discriminated against Muslims.

At the Dulles International Airport, Filipino American lawyer Francey Lim Youngberg organized other volunteer lawyers to help arriving travelers who got caught in Trump’s directive. Coordinated by ACLU, the lawyers provided legal assistance and challenged the order in the courts.

Mass action.“I was a child growing up under martial law in the Philippines and it felt terrifying,” Youngberg said. “It’s starting to feel that way now in my adopted country. So, whatever skills we have, we must rise up to defend the America we love.”

(Read more "Fil-Am women rising in the year of Trump"...)




By Fr. Tirso Villaverde

How blessed are we?

WE HAVE COME once again to a new calendar year. Some of us—as many people are accustomed to do—spend the start of a new year recalling the many ways we believe that we have been blessed by God in the past year. Many also spend the first few days of the New Year praying that those blessings will continue well into the future. As good as this practice and discipline of reflection might be, we may overlook a simple truth.

This past Thanksgiving Day, I shared a reflection on what it truly means to be blessed and know that we are blessed. In the time of Jesus, the prevailing belief was that the test of knowing how blessed you were by God is to look at how much material wealth you possessed. The wealthier you were meant the greater God had blessed you. The more well off you were or the higher your status in society all indicated that God loved you and because of that has showered you with so many gifts.

On the reverse side, if you were poor and destitute, it meant that the favor of God was not on you. If you were seriously ill for a good part of your life, it indicated that you or your ancestors had done something to anger God and, therefore, was seen as a punishment. Furthermore, if you were born into poverty, you raised a great deal of suspicion if all of a sudden your luck changed. The added belief of the time was that all the material wealth had already been distributed and preordained. If you did not have anything, you were out of luck and pretty much had to depend on the generosity of others.

(Read more "How blessed are we?"...)




Life after entry without inspection (Part 5)

By Alberto Gonzales

Immigration Attorney

(708) 916-3077

Note: This article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to constitute legal advice. This article provides a general overview only and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with an immigration attorney.

TWENTY YEARS AGO, Maria, as an undocumented immigrant from the Philippines, crossed the border into the U.S. from Canada without presenting herself to a U.S. immigration officer. This entry is called “entry without inspection” (EWI). Then, on April 20, 2001, Maria’s U.S. citizen brother filed an I-130 Immigrant Petition for her. Now, Maria has recently married Jose, who is a U.S. lawful permanent resident (“green card” holder). Is there any immigration relief available to Maria?

Adjustment of status (AOS) is the process in which one applies for a green card without leaving the U.S. The alternative to AOS is to apply for an immigrant visa before a U.S. consulate abroad. However, if such person has been unlawfully present in the U.S. for over 180 days, departing the U.S. may cause that person to be barred from returning for many years. Thus, AOS is often the preferred way of obtaining green card status.

According to Section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), only a person who has been “inspected and admitted” or “paroled” or a Violence Against Women Act approved self-petitioner may apply for AOS. EWI is not considered being inspected and admitted or paroled. Fortunately, Section 245(i) of the INA allows certain undocumented immigrants, like Maria, to apply for AOS, despite being EWI.

(Read more "Life after entry without inspection, Part 5")





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