First Fil-Am judge elected in IL indicted for mortgage fraud
By Mariano “Anong” Santos
PINOY Newsmagazine Special
CHICAGO—The first Filipino American elected judge in Illinois was indicted by a federal grand jury for mortgage fraud April 12. The news hit the local community like a thunderbolt.
left pic: judge jessica arong o'brien
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.
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.
Her indictment, which was carried by major news outlets, stated that O'Brien and a fellow defendant, Maria Bartko, 49, allegedly concealed relevant facts from lenders including Citibank, New Century Mortgage Corp. and First Magnus Financial Corp. to obtain more than $1.4 million in mortgages on two investment properties in Chicago that she and Bartko had purchased in 2004 and sold in 2007.
Ika-24 na Pagkikita sa Konsulado, April 12
In continuation of the monthly Filipino Community meet-up, the Consulate General of the Philippines, in partnership with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), invites the community to its "Ika-24 na Pagkikita sa Konsulado" on Thursday, April 20, 5:30 PM at the Consulate’s Kalayaan Hall, 122 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1600, Chicago, IL 60603.
We have as special guests, Bryan Christian, Deputy District Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Chicago Field Office, and Manda Walters, Public Information Officer of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to provide updates on immigration issues particularly the Executive Orders issued by President Trump.
It will then be followed by the launching of the 11th Ambassadors Tour to the Philippines which will run from 11-16 July 2017, with Manila and Davao as destinations. It is organized by Rajah Tours Philippines, supported by the Tourism and Promotions Board (TPB) of the Department of Tourism and the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington DC. The Tour is inviting participants who seek to reconnect with their Filipino roots through an experiential, fun-filled travel adventure.
For confirmation of attendance, email email@example.com or call 312-583-0621 ext 13.
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."
Fil-Ams mark Bataan Death March Memorial & Historical Milestones
Consul General Generoso D.G. Calonge on March 6 called on U.S. Representative Steven Joseph Chabot at his congressional district office in downtown Cincinnati to discuss US-PH bilateral ties in general and the Philippines’ relations with the Midwest.
Rep. Chabot, a member of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Committee on Small Business, and Consul General Calonge shared their views and insights on the enduring bond between the U.S. and the Philippines as defense treaty allies and as strong trade and investment partners.
above pic: Sean Taguba (L) joins his father, Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba and family members of Filipino WWII Vets to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March. (Photo by Jon Melegrito)
They both noted the presence of US companies in the Philippines, such as the Cincinnati-based Convergys, and ongoing defense and security cooperation that point to their countries’ enduring bond.
As Ohio is home to more than 30,000 Filipino Americans who share the values, norms and democratic way of life of their adopted country, Consul General Calonge thanked Congressman Chabot for his continued effective representation and invited him to consider joining the PH-US Friendship Caucus for the 115th U.S. Congress.
Surviving FACGC/ Rizal Center
By Mariano "Anong" Santos
It’s common knowledge that the Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago (FACGC) along with the Jose Rizal Heritage Center (Rizal Center), the building in which the organization is housed, are both experiencing difficult times, to put it mildly.
Right pic: Ari Lehman (L) & Dr. Rufino Crisostomo
FACGC is the oldest federation of community associations in the area. It used to have no fewer than 200 member-groups—mostly clubs of various ethnic groups from the Philippines, professional, political, religious, sports and cultural associations.
Disunity caused mainly by allegations of cheating in elections and in financial matters resulted in divisions. Numerous members walked out of the federation. The remaining six groups left of the once vibrant FACGC are now embroiled in serious turmoil that might yet finally put an end to its existence.
The aging building at 1332 W. Irving Park Avenue in the Chicago North side is saddled with major repairs. Its boiler is broken and its inadequate electrical system sees short circuits often enough to declare the building inhabitable. Its lack of parking has gained the unsavory reputation as the destination to be avoided. The old timers have opposed the proposal to sell the building and to move on to better facilities attuned to the contemporary needs of the community.
Bad management, various lawsuits and lack of business acumen led to its financial drain. The FACGC just doesn’t have the resources to properly maintain the Rizal Center. Enter persons with “good intentions.“
(Read more "‘Surviving FACGC/ Rizal Center...")
INQUIRER NEWS SERVICE
Editorial Cartoon by Mariano Santos
That social media has become a morass of lies and dirty tricks is vividly illustrated by a group of bloggers calling itself “We Are Collective.” It has come up with the so-called “NagaLeaks” that questions the political ascent of the late, lamented Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, strongly suggests his links to illegal drugs and the illegal numbers game jueteng, and claims that he lobbied for his Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service. The RM Award Foundation, which conferred the honor in 2000 on the longtime mayor of Naga City, has swiftly issued a statement to dispute the claim.
Others have rushed to Jesse Robredo’s defense, outraged that such dirty tricks could be employed to denigrate this man of sterling record.
Such posts speak of the toxic atmosphere released by the anonymity inherent in the Net, an unfair advantage maximized by parties whose main objective is to wreak havoc on civilized and rational discourse. With no accountability because of their hidden identity, online trolls destroy reputations, bully the vulnerable, and propagate lies.
Consider how, during last year’s election campaign period, trolls regularly threatened with bodily harm, including rape, those who did not share their political views.
(Read more "Fighting back"...)
By Jon Melegrito
Letter from Washington
Filipinos participate in historic Bataan Memorial Death March
90-year-old Filipino World War II veteran Rey Cabacar (center) leads a contingent of Filipino American supporters at the kick-off ceremony for the Bataan Memorial Death March in White Sands, New Mexico. (PINOY photo by Jon Melegrito)
For the first time in the 28th year history of the Bataan Memorial Death March, held each year at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, the Philippine flag was prominently displayed and the Philippine national anthem was vocally rendered during the opening ceremonies that kicked off the event March 19.
Also, for the first time, Filipino American participation was notably significant not only in the march, but in several educational events held the day before. It was, after all, the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March. Filipino veterans’ families and supporters signed up en masse to honor their fathers, uncles, grandfathers and those relatives who were forced to participate in the Bataan Death March.
The Washington DC-based Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP) had an educational booth and made two presentations at the Post Theater about the Congressional Gold Medal Award, which recognizes the service of Filipino World War II veterans. After the presentations, several Filipino World War II veterans’ families from all over the country came forward to get more information about the National Registry. It is expected that 20,000 surviving Filipino and Americans veterans or families of deceased veterans will each be given a bronze replica, for free. That’s the reason FilVetREP is raising $1 million to cover the cost.
FilVetREP Chairman Major Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), who has participated in the memorial march since 2005, led the Filipino American contingent. At the opening ceremony, he recounted what his father, a death march survivor, went through and what it meant to him.