JUNE 2017


Fil-Am actor, Jose Llana, underscores the relevance of “The King and I” to modern theater-goers

By Mariano “Anong” Santos
PINOY Newsmagazine Special

CHICAGO—“The King and I” made its Broadway debut in 1951 and 66 years later, it remains one of the most enduring musicals in the annals of American stage history. It continues to enchant audiences with its melodious songs and, to the surprise of no one, its story is even more relevant today in the Age of Trump, and much more, to Filipino Americans, in the Time of Duterte.

This is a view shared by Jose Llana, who is playing the title role in a much acclaimed revival of the beloved Rodger-Hammerstein classic that is currently in this city’s roadshow engagement until July 2. “The message resonates louder in the present political climate,” said Llana in a recent telephone interview with PINOY. 

“The King and I” is based on the memoir of a British schoolteacher, Anna Leonowens, who was hired by King Mongkut of Siam (Thailand) in the 1860s to educate his children and wives with western culture and teach them to speak English.

RIGHT PIC: Jose Llana receives critical acclaims for his role as the King of Siam in the revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein, “The King and I.” (LA Times photo/G. Coronado)

But the problems of colonialism, tyranny, anti-intellectualism,  sexism, misogyny, slavery and feminism-- all noted in Anna’s diary during the time of Queen Victoria—alas, rear their ugly heads today, giving the revival of this musical its contemporary relevance.

Llana, who won critical reviews playing Ferdinand Marcos in David Byrne’s “Here Lies Love” when it premiered in New York three years ago, was interviewed by PINOY shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao.

(continued on Community News Page)

Honoring Our Heroes

FilVetREP Chairman Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret.) tells the story of Corporal Magdalena Estoista Leones, a Filipina guerrilla who was awarded the Silver Star for her “tenacity, determination and uncommon courage. ”(Photo by FilVetREP).


By Jon Melegrito

Washington, D.C--. “Today, we remember with gratitude the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who have served this country bravely in all of America’s past wars,” says Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), FilVetREP Chairman. “We also honor their families who lost their loved ones in the hard battles of war. They made the ultimate sacrifice fighting for the freedoms we enjoy today.”

One way to honor them on Memorial Day, Taguba adds, is to “tell their stories, and remember their courageous acts and uncommon valor.”

At the American Historical Foundation’s Soldier Experience event on May 25, which featured Asian American and Pacific Islanders who served in the U.S. Military, Taguba shared the story of Corporal Magdalena Estoista Leones. Leones was an intelligence agent under the command of U.S. Army Col. Russell Volckmann, who led guerrilla forces in Northern Philippines from 1943 to 1945.

“All too often, we present men who were recognized for gallantry and intrepidity in the face of the enemy,” Taguba said. “This woman is clearly extraordinary, a soldier with a distinguished record of service fighting the Japanese Imperial Forces in the Philippines.”

Leones was born to a religious family in the Mountain Province of Northern Luzon.

(continued on Community News page)


Fil-Am home health care CEO sues Medicare auditor and Health Sec. Price

By Mariano A. Santos
PINOY Newsmagazine Special

CHICAGO—Rizaldy Villasenor is proud that his Tinley Park-based agency, MedPro Health Provider LLC, was named by the Chicago Tribune as one of the top workplaces in the area—not once but twice in a row. He founded his company with well-vetted partners in 2011, using his experience with the giant health care corporation and Ohio-based Cardinal Health.

left pic: ceo rizaldy villasenor of MedPro Health Provider was recognized again last november by the chicago tribune as one of the 100 top workplaces.

A week after being recognized again by the Tribune last November, a Medicare subcontractor, AdvanceMed, slapped his company with an audit and determined improper payments had been made and Villasenor’s firm would no longer receive Medicare reimbursement.

The negative impact on his heath care business was immediate. Many of his patients had to be discharged before the end of 2016. Most of his employees were laid off by early January this year. His company is surviving with a skeleton staff – only due to his foresight in accepting managed care patients — those not dependent on Medicare payments.

Boilerplate response

AdvanceMed, a Medicare auditor known as a Zone Program Integrity Contractor (ZPIC), told Villasenor, CEO of MedPro, that he would have a chance to respond to the allegations of overpayments. He responded quickly. He rushed to submit a nearly 100-page rebuttal statement, highlighting patients that were used as examples by the auditors. He also included supplemental documents from his MedPro doctors.

AdvanceMed quickly responded later in December. “It was a ‘general boilerplate’ response,” said Villasenor who doubted whether the ZPIC had actually reviewed the documents.

Villasenor noted the short turnaround and lack of specificity in the response. In a later teleconference with auditors of AdvanceMed, Villasenor specifically asked if they reviewed his rebuttal, and the curt response was, “Why should we?” Villasenor believes that is a violation of due process—an important feature of this country’s jurisprudence.

(continued on Community News page...)


At 101, this WWII Veteran keeps getting surprises

by Mariano santos

CHICAGO—Virginia Axibal received a text from her sister Carmelita from an Olive Garden Restaurant in San Antonio, Texas where their father, Dominador L. Soriano, was being given a treat to mark his 101th year birthday on May 3. Mr. Soriano stays with his daughter Virginia and her family during the warmer months of the year in Chicago where weather in the 40 degrees in May is still common. But her two sisters, Leah Brickman and Carmelita Haverly, who live with their families in San Antonio, take over the care of their father during the cold season.

right pic: an anonymous diner paid the bill for the whole party in appreciation of Mr. dominador Soriano’s service to his country.

The widowed centenarian has 11 children. He is one of the few surviving veterans of World War II. In 1938, Mr. Soriano joined the Philippine Army under the USAFFE command of General Douglas MacArthur. In 1942, he was captured and tortured by the Japanese Imperial Army in Cebu. When he was released he joined the guerrillas. His war exploits were duly documented and he is one of the few holders of the Purple Heart Award.

Even the San Antonio City Council took notice of his war service and came out with a certificate of citation on his 101th birthday. Seven members of his family were with him at the celebration at Olive Garden. The day was particularly special for all of them because his son in the Philippines recently informed his sisters here that their dad will be a recipient of a P100,000 Centenarian gift check from Mayor Erap Estrada’s Office of Senior Citizens in Manila.

But wait there’s some more. When his daughter was ready to pay the evening’s meal tab, the waiter informed them that an anonymous diner paid the bill for the whole party in appreciation of Mr. Soriano’s service to his country.

(continued on Community News page...)

Calambenos Second Grand Reunion

The main objectives of this second USA grand reunion being hosted by the Calamba Association of Illinois are to foster closer ties with town mates, keep the Filipino culture alive, and satisfy the longing to meet and enjoy the company of other "kababayans". This is a 3-day activity from Friday, July 14 to Sunday, July 16. The first USA reunion was hosted by the Calamba Association of Southern California in November 14-16, 2014 in Norwalk, CA. The chairpersons for this second reunion are Ed Tolentino (630-788-6499) and Wally Rizal (773-592-3718).

The reunion will begin with a welcome dinner at 6:30 PM at the Belvedere Events & Banquets, 1170 W. Devon Ave. in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. Its farewell activity will be a picnic on July 16 at the Richard E. John's Park, 2101 Central Rd, Glenview, IL Reservations for hotel accommodations can be made at the adjacent Belvedere Hotel (847-985-0101).

The formation of the Calamba Association of Illinois was inspired by the fact that Calambenos are town mates of the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Though members of the Association are thousands of miles from home and scattered throughout the U.S., they still cherish their Calambeno heritage.

The officers of the Calamba Association, its tireless, immediate past president, Liza Villanueva and a core group composed of Ron and Liza Villanueva, Cedes Montoya, Jun and Fides Sabado, Rolly and Grace Pizarro, Mer and Ellen Tan, Joe and Rose Ong, Wally and Susan Rizal, Ed and Linda Tolentino and the family of Rey T. Elazegui have worked to make this event possible.

The schedule of activities are as follows:
July 14 (Friday) - Welcome Dinner at 6:30 PM at the Belvedere Events & Banquets. Welcome address will be by Reny T. Elazegui. Attire is Business casual.
July 15 (Saturday) -Dinner/Dance at Belvedere Banquets at 6:30 PM. Speaker is Leah Tan Montoya, System VP for Care Management Services, Ingalls Health System in Illinois. Attire is Formal.
July 16 (Sunday) - Picnic & Farewell at 11:30 AM at the Richard E. John’s Park in Glenview. Attire is Casual.

For more info call: Ed Tolentino at 630-788-6499, Wally Rizal at 773-592-3718, Grace Pizarro at 847-312-1628, Fides Sabado at 847-275-9593, Liza Villanueva at 847-204-4816 Lindy Tan 847-506-0811. (By Rey T. Elazegui)

(More stories on Community News Page)


JUNE 2017 


 Rizal: “I’m out of here!”

By Mariano "Anong" Santos

PINOY Publisher/Editor


“There can be no tyrants where there are no slaves.”

- Jose Rizal

On June 16, 2015 when the bust of the Philippine National Hero, Jose Rizal, was reported stolen from the front yard of the headquarters of the Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago (FACGC), 1336 W. Irving Park, I told the council president, Dr. Rufino Crisostomo, to double check before he makes a police report.

ABOVE PIC: Dr. Ramon Lopez (left) , a descendant of Dr. Rizal is pictured with Dr. Crisostomo June 16, 2015, when the bust of Rizal went missing in front of the FACGC Headquarters in Chicago.

“For all we know, Dr. Rizal finally walked away…with all the existing problems in your building and with your organization, perhaps, the hero just wants to disassociate from you guys,” I jokingly told Crisostomo, whose name, ironically, is also the name of Rizal’s main character in his influential novel, “Noli Me Tangere (Touch me not).”

Crisostomo is also a member of the Chicago Chapter of the Knights of Rizal (KOR).

The FACGC HQ carries the name, Jose Rizal Heritage Center, or popularly called “Rizal Center.” Through the years, the KORs labored to create a Rizal Library and Museum. Former FACGC vice president Rudy Tapalla, a KOR, bequeathed his personal Filipiniana book collection to the library.

Wilfredo Red Buhay, another KOR and former member of the board of FAGC directors, curated the museum. He is a descendant of Rizal as is Dr. Ramon Lopez, a great grand nephew of Rizal’s only brother, Paciano. Dr. Lopez and his family endowed the Paciano room where another bust of Rizal is displayed.

Integrity and Honor

With the stolen bust returned and Carlos Go of Seafood City donating a bust last year, there are now three busts of the National Hero housed in the Center and along with the Rizaliana library and museum, these could have been testaments to the community’s small concession for being able to use the name of Dr. Jose Rizal for its Center. Rizal exudes more than just goodwill and a bankable name recognition. Rizal connotes integrity and honor.

Why would I tell Crisostomo that Rizal could just very well walk away from the FACGC headquarters two years ago? What are the problems I was alluding to?

At that time, the FACGC was again in court spending its scarce funds on legal costs to evict a tenant which should not have been let inside the Center in the first place.

(Read more "Rizal: “I’m out of here!”...")


JUNE 2017


Trump's invitation to Duterte: A gift to Filipinos



Editorial Cartoon by Jym Andalis

I’ve seen at least two petitions calling on President Trump to rescind his White House invitation to President Duterte. One condemned the “human rights violator and genocidal killer president of the Philippines.”

I am sympathetic to the spirit of these campaigns. But welcoming Duterte to Washington may also turn out to be a gift from Trump to Filipinos.

Here’s why: A high-profile Duterte visit to the U.S. would turn an even bigger spotlight on the Duterte Slaughter and perhaps even help efforts to put a stop to the carnage.

The Duterte Slaughter has already received intense international media attention. Coverage of the mass killing even helped the New York Times win yet another Pulitzer Prize.

But a Trump-Duterte meeting would draw even more attention to the inhumane campaign. That’s probably why Duterte seemed hesitant to accept Trump’s invitation. Why would he want to draw even more attention to the bloodshed under his watch? And would he really want to be associated with an increasingly unpopular American president accused of abusing his power?

The global spotlight has been pretty harsh on the Philippine president and his murderous regime.


Take Duterte’s inclusion in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People. That should have been a proud moment.

(Read more "Trump's invitation to Duterte: A gift to Filipinos"...)


JUNE 2017

By Jon Melegrito

Letter from Washington



Of checks and balances

President Trump’s proclamation of May 2017 as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month encouraged all Americans “to learn more about our Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander heritage, and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.”

Days before issuing the proclamation, Trump spoke by phone to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and invited him to come to Washington. Maybe it’s Trump’s way of learning more about Filipinos.

bottom right pic: The circus folded after its final show May 21 in New York.

Recall that as a candidate he alarmed a lot of Filipinos when he thought the Philippines was a Muslim country and considered including it in a travel ban.

A White House visit from a “strong leader,” he may have figured, might be an appropriate activity for someone who has a penchant for strongmen, like Duterte. As the Washington Post noted, “Trump seems to have a genuine affinity for men of action who brook little dissent.”

Maybe Trump wants to learn from this tough-talking former city mayor how he gets away with firing disloyal subordinates or anyone who gets in his way. Trump once bragged he could shoot anyone in a crowded New York street and not lose any of his supporters. Duterte, on the other hand, admits to actually killing people and jailing political opponents, and still enjoy high approval ratings. Trump so far is getting only headaches, and more headaches, for firing the FBI chief.

Upon learning of the two leaders’ tete-a-tete, as accurately reported by mainstream media (definitely not “fake news”), human rights groups immediately pounced on the invitation. They basically said it would send the wrong signal, and may even embolden Duterte in his alleged abuses.

But Duterte’s coming to the White House may not be as easy. “If Duterte were not immune as head of state, he would be barred from admission into the United States,” noted John Sifton, Asia director of Human Rights Watch. “The invitation is an abomination … and although his personality traits would seem to make it impossible, Trump should be ashamed of himself. By effectively endorsing Duterte's murderous 'war on drugs,' Trump has made himself morally complicit in future killings.”

(Read more "Of checks and balances"...)




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