MAY 2017



Free screening of “Mercury is Mine” by Jason Laxamana at Chicago Cultural Center, June 7

The Consulate General of the Philippines would like to inform the community that an indie movie titled Mercury is Mine by Director Jason Paul Laxamana is the Philippines’ official entry to the 14th Annual International Screenings Program at the Chicago Cultural Center.

The free screening of Mercury is Mine on Wednesday, June 7, 6:30 PM, at the Claudia Cassidy Theater of the Chicago Cultural Center located at 78 E. Washington St., Chicago, IL 60602.

The weekly film series which will run from May 31-Oct 4 showcases 18 films from around the world that are not widely available in the U.S. This year’s Annual International Screenings Program theme of “A Taste of Cinema” aims to offer films that showcase culinary traditions from around the world.

Mercury is Mine is a story of Carmen, the owner of a struggling eatery, who dreams of starring in her own cooking show. When Mercury, a blonde American teenager, shows up at her door, things start to heat up. Carmen takes him in as her apprentice, teaching him how to make (and pronounce) the local delicacies, and his looks and charm attract new customers. The two, in desperate need of each other, develop a close relationship, but each has simmering secrets and obsessions that threaten to boil over.

For more information, contact the Consulate General’s Cultural Officer, Anna Liza F. Alcantara, at (312) 583-0621 ext. 13 or email the Consulate at


First elected Fil-Am judge in Illinois pleads 'not guilty' to mortgage fraud


By Mariano “Anong” Santos
PINOY Newsmagazine Special

 CHICAGO—The first Filipino American elected judge in Illinois pleaded not guilty April 26 and she wants a speedy trial.

Judge Jessica Arong O’Brien appeared at the Federal Courthouse to be arraigned by U.S Judge Sheila Finnegan.

LEFT PIC: Judge Jessica Arong O’Brien leaves the dirksen federal courthouse in chicago after her arraignment april 26. (chicago Sun-times photo)

O’Brien also allowed herself to be photographed, fingerprinted and swabbed for DNA by authorities, according to her lawyer, Ricardo Meza who referred to his client as “a respected member of her community.”

She was indicted by a federal grand jury for mortgage fraud April 12. The news hit the local community like a thunderbolt.

A celebrated and much-admired civic leader, Jessica Arong O’Brien, 49, was removed from the Cook County First Circuit Court as a judge for the small-claims court and was transferred to non-judicial work like officiating on marriages.

An executive review board headed by Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans with 17 Cook County judges as members, will later decide if O’Brien be removed as a judge.

O’Brien, who was elected unopposed in 2012, is married to Atty. Brendan O’Brien who was also elected unopposed as Cook County judge in the last November elections. The couple has three daughters.

O’Brien’s rags-to-riches life story became a staple for media coverages, earning her accolades and awards from prestigious organizations. She also turned, for a while, into the mini-celebrity to be invited to deliver inspirational talks before professional and educational institutions.

(Read more "First elected Fil-Am judge in IL pleads 'not guilty' to mortgage fraud)

State of IL celebrates May as Older Americans Month

Springfield – The Illinois Department on Aging on May 8 recognized more than 2 million older adults statewide in honor of Older Americans Month, a national observance taking place every May. Governor Bruce Rauner also proclaimed May 2017 as Older Americans Month in Illinois.

“Older adults are the backbone of our society. The contributions they’ve made have been imprinted on our history forever. Older Americans Month is an opportunity for us all to recognize those accomplishments and contributions,” says Jean Bohnhoff, Director of the Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA). The Department, together with its network partners, will host the 19th Annual Central Illinois Senior Celebration on May 17, Orr Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. The event features free health screenings, information, exhibitors, prizes and entertainment and is co-hosted by the Area Agency on Aging for Lincolnland.

For more information about senior programs and services in IL, log on to website or call the Department on Aging at 800-252-8966 or 1-888-206-1327 (for hearing impaired).


Goodman Theatre's “King of the Yees” deserves an encore

above photo: a scene from King of the Yees with Daniel Smith, Stephenie Soohyun Park (Lauren) and Francis Jue (Larry). king of the yees production photo.

It’s a pity that the world premier run of Lauren Yee’s “King of the Yees” ended April 30 at the Goodman Theater just when May has set in. May of course is the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Yee’s play could have been the perfect event to celebrate this annual commemoration. It is funny, engaging and relevant not only for the Chinese community but also for various Asian groups in the U.S.

The play is somewhat autobiographical-- exploring the generational divide common among the first wave of immigrants and their children. Cultural issues that parents and their Americanized children face in their goal to be an important part of their adopted country.

I came to see the play thinking of the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Flower Drum Song”—the musical about San Francisco’s Chinatown. That’s where Yee’s play is set as well but it’s more focused on one family’s long’s journey of getting integrated into the mainstream of the American way of life.

The play is also a kind of work in progress, the playwright Stephanie S. Park (Lauren) playing the main part with her dad (Francis Jue as Larry Yee) as the counterpoint. Their repartee is always lively and often humorous. The self–deprecating jokes get a pass in this time of political correctness.

The narrative particularly resonates for this writer considering the current turmoil brewing at the Rizal Heritage Center where older generations feel disrespected by younger leaders who seem to be clueless about their heritage.

The centerpiece in the play’s set is a red door and the symbolism is not difficult to fathom. Lauren Yee, educated at an Ivy League School, ultimately discovers that the key to gain passage through the doorway is to look back and understand the struggle and dreams that her father and those that came before him have brought in here.

I am hopeful that an encore run will be considered. “King of the Yees” has that important message for all of us—immigrants and their children, most especially during these challenging times in this nation. It's a serious message yet hilariously entertaining. (Mariano A. Santos)


PIWC 2017 essay writing contest, May 27

The Philippine Independence Week Committee (PIWC) 2017 is conducting an essay writing contest in celebration of Phillippine Independence Day on Sat., May 27 at the EBG Systems, 3525 W. Peterson Ave. Ste. 324, Chicago, IL 60659.

The contest is open to Filipino/American high school students. Cash prizes ($300, $200, $150, $100, $50) will be awarded to the top five winners of the contest during the PIWC Gala Night June 17 at the Marriott O'Hare, 8535 Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631. All participating essayists will receive $20 each on the contest day.

To register for the PIWC 2017 essay writing contest or for questions please email Josefina Wee Sit ( the following information: Participant’s name, Address, Date of birth, Telephone Number, Email address, Parent/guardian name, School, Grade/year level, and if they have a laptop or if they need a laptop provided by the PIWC. The deadline for registration is May 7. She can be reached at 708-389-7135.


Christian school teacher charged with grooming; Out on $100,000 bond

By Mariano “Anong” Santos/PINOY Newsmagazine Special

CHICAGO--A science teacher at Trinity Christian School is out on $100,000 bond after he was charged April 14 with one felony count of grooming.

Grooming is a felony crime in which someone uses electronic means to solicit sexual activity from a minor.

left photo: Lemuel Elechicon (Courtesy of Will County Sheriff's Department)

Lemuel Elechicon of Crest Hill, Illinois posted $10,000 and was released from Will County Jail a day after he was charged of inappropriately texting a 13-year old school girl.

The parents of the students alerted the Shorewood Police Department to the alarming texts Elechicon had sent to their daughter since January. A parent of another student informed the couple of the texts.

According to his web site, Elechicon is a volunteer worker with the youth at Ridgewood Baptist Church in Joliet, which is about 45 miles southwest of Chicago.

Elechicon, 51, came from the Philippines when he was 12 years old. The “Joliet Patch” reported that he taught science class with a curriculum revolving around the Biblical-based creationism.

He was graduated from a Bible school in Iowa and has been teaching for 26 years—with the past 12 years at Trinity Christian school. The school board chairman, Frederick Alexander announced that Elechicon was placed on administrative leave pending resolution of his case.

His teacher’s website is reported to have posted, among other things--“By faith, Christ saved me from my sins when I was in high school,” Elechicon said on his page.

On what he teaches: “You will learn a solid creation-based worldview and that, contrary to popular belief, operational science runs counter to the idea of evolution and ‘millions of years,’” Elechicon says of his creationism curriculum. “The facts of nature, rightly interpreted, provide an irrefutable case for the accuracy and trustworthiness of the book that claims to be the inspired word of the Creator Himself!"


Centenarians increasing in number; Benefits await those born in PH

By Grace Garcia

CHICAGO --Worldwide there were nearly half a million centenarians in 2015, according to the Pew Research Center. The most number of centenarians comes from the United States.

“We see centenarians every couple of months. We have seen a noticeable number of those aged mid-90s to 100 within the last couple of years,” said Devin Bezy, an associate at Haben Funeral Home & Crematory in Chicago.

Alternately, Simkins Funeral Home in Morton Grove has had only a couple of centenarian wakes within the last two years, with the recent one being 104, according to owner Richard Simkins.

Accelerate globally

A Pew Research report said that the population of ages 80 and older have grown rapidly since 1990. The US centenarian population has grown 65.8 percent over the past three decades, according to U.S. News and World Report. Females are more likely to live to be centenarians --with an estimate of 61.9 percent compared to only 20.7 percent for males, the report said.

(Read more "Centenarians increasing in number; Benefits await those born in PH")



Filipino American chef says NO to


by Mariano Santos

CHICAGO—Angela Dimayuga is a Filipino American chef from San Jose, California and she is making a name for herself in New York in well beyond her celebrated feats in the kitchen. Now with her kababayans in the Midwest, she is now a hot item—thanks to NPR (National Public Radio) which broadcasted an interview with her May 2.

A James Beard Award-nominee, Chef Dimayuga, 31, was asked for a “non-political interview” by a writer of IvankaTrump.Com last month. Surprised and puzzled by the request, she asked to give her time to think about it.  She eventually turned down the request, and what she wrote on Instagram went viral, Trump’s fans slammed her.

above pic: Angela Dimayuga (2nd from L) with her parents and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. (Photo courtesy of Angela Dimayuga)

The April 14 edition of the New York Daily News quoted her posted response and reported, thus:

"Thank you for thinking of me. I'm glad you are a fan of my work so much that you want to provide more visibility for my career to inspire 'other working women,' "the Brooklyn resident began her message to the freelance reporter.

(Dimayuga) then turned up the heat, saying she didn't believe the writer's claim that is a "non-political platform."

"So long as the name Trump is involved, it is political and frankly, an option for the business to make a profit," she wrote.

"I don't see anything empowering about defunding Planned Parenthood, barring asylum from women refugees, rolling back safeguards for equal pay, and treating POC/LGBT and the communities that support these groups like second class citizens," she argued.

"As a queer person of color and daughter of immigrant parents, I am not interested in being profiled as an aspirational figure for those that support a brand and a President that slyly disparages female empowerment," she said.

(Read more Filipino American chef says NO to



Fil-Am Guzman concedes Aurora, IL mayoral race

By Mariano “Anong" Santos

Fil-Am mayoral candidate Richard “Rick” Guzman (right) expresses his appreciation for the endorsement of immediate past Aurora, Illinois Mayor Tom Weisner to his candidacy in the April 4 elections. Guzman has conceded the race. (CONTRIBUED)

CHICAGO—The Filipino American mayoral candidate in the second largest city in Illinois graciously conceded the April 4th election with the unoffficial vote count showing his African American opponent edging him with a mere 170 votes.

Rick Guzman has 7,404 votes and incumbent alderman, Richard Irvin, received 7,574---making him the first African American mayor in the City of Aurora, located 40 miles southwest of Chicago.

Acccording to local press reports, Guzman made the concession early Friday evening of April 7 in an email to supporters, despite the fact, he said on election night, that the Aurora and DuPage County election commissions had not yet counted outstanding ballots for him to concede at that time.

He said his campaign was promised information on the number of outstanding ballots within 48 hours of election night by the DuPage and Aurora election commissions. In particular, he said he was assured "that an unknown number of new ballots from DuPage County would be tabulated and posted online by 4:30 p.m." Friday, April 7.

"Unfortunately, at the end of the week, neither of these events has come to pass," Guzman said in his email. "However, as I do not wish to be a hindrance to any transition planning, late this afternoon I called Richard Irvin to concede the election and congratulate him on his victory."

(Read more "‘Fil-Am Guzman concedes Aurora, Illinois mayoral race"

(More Community News ...)


MAY 2017 


 An Embarrassing Day to Remember at Rizal Center

By Mariano "Anong" Santos

PINOY Publisher/Editor



Every once in a while in our life we are plunged into an uneasy situation when a predator or a wild animal sneaks into our house. The unwelcome creature just takes over your household. A boa constrictor or a skunk takes residence under your living room’s sofa. Before you know it, you and your family are under its mercy. You find yourselves out in the cold trying to figure out how to get rid of the invader.

above photo: Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago (FACGC) Director Jerry Clarito (front) urges April 22 his fellow officers and members to unite against the violation of the FACGC’s Constitution by the Executive Director, Elaine Lehman.

That picture closely resembles what happened at the Jose Rizal Heritage Center in Chicago on a bright sunny Saturday morning on April 22 to the members of the community who have been involved one way or another in the affairs of the Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago (FACGC) which is headquartered at the Rizal Center.

FACG officers, Rizal Center tenants with their clients and guests plus the usual seniors who consider the center as their second home where they usually can play Saturday bingo or learn ballroom dancing on weekends—all found themselves shabbily pushed out from their community home since 1974.

How did this scandal come to pass?

A cunning interloper fooled the Chicago Police with her false complaints about “trespassers” entering her private domain. In no time, burly officers from seven police squad cars started to forcibly eject tenants, senior citizens and FACGC officers and members from the Center—ignoring the protestations of no fewer than 50 persons that they were legally entitled to be at the Center at that particular time.

The videos taken at the incident went viral. They instantly caused an outrage in the community. The most posted question online was—who is this Elaine Lehman and how did she get all this raw power and why is she doing this to the community?

(Read more "An Embarrassing Day to Remember at Rizal Center...")


MAY 2017


Crucial agreement on child abuse and human trafficking




Editorial Cartoon by Jym Andalis

Amid the shifting conditions of the historic bond shared by the Philippines and the United States, they signed an agreement that is absolutely crucial.

The two countries signed on April 11 the Child Protection Compact (CPC), which is aimed at reinforcing the battle against child abuse and trafficking. Under the agreement, the United States will provide $3.5 million (P175 million) and the Philippines’ Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (Iacat) P40 million for programs and organizations with the intention of improving the investigation, prosecution, identification and monitoring of those involved in online sex abuse and trafficking.

As horrific as it is to imagine, child pornography and trafficking have been amplified by the vast reach of the internet, and fighting these crimes now requires greater resources and attention such as provided by the CPC . “Let us not leave no stone unturned in our avowed purpose to protect our children. Let us send a message, a strong one at that. Hurt our children, and we will come after you. And you will not like it,” Justice Secretary and Iacat chair Vitaliano Aguirre II said at the signing ceremony. “Let us invest in our children. They are our hope. They are our future… Anything that debases or [dehumanizes] the dignity of a person is an abomination that must end,” said US Chargé d’Affaires Michael S. Klecheski.

Common criminal practice

The two countries have assisted each other in the recent past to end at least one child porn and trafficking operation in Dasmariñas, Cavite. In what has become the common criminal practice, the sisters Elvie and Arlene Aringo made children engage in sex, filmed them, and distributed the videos online to foreign clients for up to $100. Some of the clients reportedly even came to the country to engage in actual sex with the children for at least P10,000. Based on information shared by US sources, the National Bureau of Investigation arrested the sisters in March, shut down the operation, and rescued 13 minors.

(Read more "Crucial agreement on child abuse and human trafficking"...)


MAY 2017

By Jon Melegrito

Letter from Washington


Honoring Filipino World War II soldiers

This year’s celebration of “Araw ng Kagitingan” or Day of Valor is especially significant because it’s the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March, where thousands of American and Filipino soldiers died during a 65-mile tortuous trek to a prison camp . The three month battle that preceded their surrender to invading Japanese forces is part of an often-forgotten history of the Philippines’ role in World War II.

right pic: Ronnie Nieva is on a mission to share stories about her father, a World War II soldier and guerrilla fighter. (PINOYphoto courtesty of Jon Melegrito)

Every year, members of the Filipino American community and the Philippine Embassy here in Washington DC hold a wreath-laying ceremony at the World War II Memorial, followed by a program honoring the fallen and surviving veterans.

It was a cold and windy Friday afternoon when we gathered at the Memorial. Before the ceremony started, I happened to be standing by the wreath to keep it from being blown away. Tourists milled around the area taking pictures of the wreath and asking what it was for. Not very many knew about Bataan, let alone the role of Filipino soldiers in winning the war. As I went on to share stories of bravery and sacrifice to the few who stayed around, it occurred to me how crucial it is to educate the American public and keep these stories alive.

I was also disheartened to learn that many of those who participated in the March 19 Bataan Memorial Death March in New Mexico didn’t know there were more Filipino prisoners who died (9,000), compared to 1,000 American POWs. With greater Filipino American presence in this national event, including opportunities for educational programs, we hope to raise broader awareness about Filipinos who served as guerillas, Philippine Scouts and soldiers in the US Army Forces of the Far East (USAFFE).


In December, then President Obama signed legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Filipino and Filipino-American veterans of World War II. This award, at least, enshrines in American history Filipino contributions to the war effort – an heroic feat that was not recognized for more than 70 years.

(Read more "Honoring Filipino World War II Soldiers"...)




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Piyesta Pinoy Festival, Bolingbrook, June 10

CHICAGO –The Piyesta Pinoy in Bolingbrook will be held on June 10 from 11 AM -10 PM at the Bolingbrook Performing Arts Center, 375 W. Briarcliff Rd. in Bolingbrook. It will feature a performance by TFC celebrity Jericho Rosales.

Philippine Special guest TFC celebrity Jericho "Echo" Rosales will be performing at piyesta pinoy in bolingbrook, IL. He is known for his acting roles in Pangako Sa 'Yo with Kristine Hermosa and the drama series Esperanza.



Donate books to underprivileged schoolchildren, May 20

The Midwest chapter of FACES (Filipino-American Communication Employees of AT&T) is partnering with MEANS (Mission East Asian National Support) for their READ-to-GROW Project which will benefit FF Gonzaga School Reading Center in Bacolod, Negros Occidental, a reading center for underprivileged children.

On Sat., May 20 from 11am-1 pm only, they are collecting new or gently used books for babies/toddlers up to age 10 at their office on 930 National Pkwy. in Schaumburg.

If you would like to help FACES Midwest to cover the shipping fee per box, kindly bring cash or check (payable to FACES Midwest). For questions, email FACES Midwest at


Illinois celebrates May as Older Americans Month

Springfield – The Illinois Department on Aging May 8 recognized more than 2 million older adults statewide in honor of Older Americans Month, a national observance taking place every May. Governor Bruce Rauner also proclaimed May 2017 as Older Americans Month in Illinois.

The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) together with its network partners, will host the 19th Annual Central Illinois Senior Celebration on May 17, Orr Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. The event features free health screenings, information, exhibitors, prizes and entertainment and is co-hosted by the Area Agency on Aging for Lincolnland.

For more information about senior programs and services in IL, log on to website or call the Department on Aging at 800-252-8966 or 1-888-206-1327 (for hearing impaired).


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