Friday, December 1, 2006

Sen. Akaka authors legislation to provide special immigrant status to sons and daughters of Filipino WW II veterans

Vows priority for S. 4070 in next Congress

U.S.Senator Daniel Akaka, principal author of the legislation to amend the Senate immigration bill to provide special immigrant status to sons and daughters of Filipino WW II veterans, greets Commander Amador Montero of the Seattle-based Filipino War Veterans of Washington (FWVW) and other Filipino WW II veterans. He was main spreaker with U.S. Rep. Bob Filner at the planning conference hosted by the Philippine Embassy and the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA) in Washington D.C. Looking on are Ambassador Will Gaa, FWVW Historian Greg Garcia, and IDIC Executive Director and veterans' advocate Sluggo Rigor.

WWII Maj. Albert Bacani (ret.), 96, of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, greets Sen. Daniel Akaka, incoming chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee as Ms. Loida Nicolas-Lewis looks on.

Veterans at the planning conference pose with U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, author of S. 4070 (seated center). ACFV veterans led by Pat Ganio, 86, Franco Arcebal, 83, Amador Montero, 89, are shown with with NaFFAA leaders Ernie Ramos, National Chair Alma Kern, Armando Heredia and Philippine Ambassador Willy Gaa. (E. Lachica photo)

WWII vets: Regino Nacua (SF), Joaquin Tejada (DC) and Simplicio Yoma (SF) and Loida Nicolas-Lewis prepare to meet with Sen. Charles Schumer's aide in his Hart Senate office to discuss the Family Reunification and Equity bills.

ACFV Photos from the Dec. 6, 2006 Embassy-NaFFAA Planning Conference


New books for Dolores Elementary School in Abra

School children of the Dolores Elementary School happily hold up the books that were donated to by Minnesota couple Joy and Don Martodam through the assistance of Seattle-based educator Dolly Castillo and Dolores, Abra civic leaders Jay and Susan Timbreza. In the back are school Principal Pedrito Testado and a classsroom teacher who helped distribute the books.


Veterans Agonize Over Long Wait

Veterans’ Survey Completes 1st Leg

The state-funded survey of Filipino World War II veterans who are appealing for their families to rejoin them in the U.S. completes this month the first segment of data-gathering with a total of fifty-three (53) aging respondents submitting information and data to a Survey Task Force based in South Seattle. Initially designed to count the number of Filipino WW II veterans who have filed immigration petitions for their families, the survey—begun in August---also intends to determine the veterans’ living conditions, service credentials, the number of petitioned kin and their professions, if any, and their provincial or regional origins. The 53 veterans have pending petitions for 323 dependents that are living in the Philippines.

Respondents sought out by the survey are specifically Filipino veterans and recognized guerillas who were awarded U.S. citizenship through the 1990 Immigration Reform Act signed into law by then President George H. Bush. Arriving in the U.S. in the mid 1990s, the veterans were already in their 70s, mostly unemployable, and without their spouses or children. It is believed that there were about 14,000 veterans who availed of the citizenship offer and came to live in the U.S. Majority of them landed in Hawaii and California. In Washington State, about 250 are reported to have arrived as early as 1992. Many have had to file formal petitions so that their spouses could rejoin them. For spouses, it took an average of 2 to 5 years’ wait. But petitions for married children, due to a quota system imposed on visas issued for countries like the Philippines, waiting time is from 15 to 18 years.

Photo: Seattle, San Francisco, and Houston veterans, their spouses, and advocates visited the National WWII Memorial in Washington DC on December 8, 2006, the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. The Filipino War Veterans of Washington (FWVW) were led by Commander Amador M. Montero and wife Proserpina; FWVW Historian Greg Garcia and wife Rosita; IDIC Executive Director Sluggo Rigor and wife Marivic; while Major (ret.) Urbano Quijance and Ms. Fanny Sumaoang represented the Seattle-based Bataan-Corregidor Surviviors Association (BCSA).The San Francisco veterans were Regino Nacua and Simplicio Yoma. Joe Gonzales represented the Houston ACFV chapter. Philippine Embassy VA head, Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, and ACFV Executive Director Eric Lachica escorted the delegation.

Of the total 53 Filipino veterans surveyed, all have petitioned their adult children and grandchildren. On average, they have been waiting for more than ten years. Some have been waiting for as long as 14 years.

Among the significant findings of the survey are that the veterans’ dependents are professionally able and ready to transition into the U.S. Forty-one percent of the respondents in Washington State live on supplemental income. All are in their mid or late 80s.

Unprecedented in scope, the survey of Filipino WW II veterans was managed and administered by the International Drop-In Center (IDIC) in close collaboration with the Filipino War Veterans of Washington (FWVW), a 14-year old organization of veterans who had come to live in the State in the wake of the 1990 Immigration Act. Twenty-two community organizations all over the state were asked to assist as Survey Information Points (SIPs) with student-volunteers from the University of Washington helping in the gathering and compiling of survey data. An independent public affairs outfit, Lachman & Laing Associates, was appointed as counsel to the survey.

The project is supported by State Governor Christine Gregoire, State Senator Margarita Prentice, Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (CAPAA) Executive Director Ellen Abellera, Department of Veterans Affairs Director John Lee, Washington D.C.-based American Coalition of Filipino Veterans (ACFV), and Filipino veterans’ organizations and socio-civic groups in the local community.

“The survey will be the basis for studying possible community-based programs that will be in place when the U.S. Congress finally passes the Family Reunification Bill in the 110th Congress as committed by Senators Daniel Akaka, Daniel Inouye, Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, Rep. Bob Filner, and scores of other leading supporters in Washington D.C.,” FWVW Commander Amador Montero shared.

The 89-year old veteran leader referred to the plan drawn up two years ago by his group and veterans’ advocates in the state asking Olympia to extend support to an integrated Filipino WW II Veterans Family Resettlement Program that will include workable transport of families from the Philippines, acculturation courses, transitional housing, schooling and job search. The program would be the first of its kind in the U.S. and would be an ideal format for similar undertakings in other states, Montero added.

From an original 200 members of the Seattle-based Filipino War Veterans of Washington (FWVW) in 1994, membership has dwindled to less than one-half. Thirty-one veterans residing in Washington State have filed petitions for their adult children and grand children. Those who have not yet filed have not done so because of the increased cost of filing fees. Commander Montero had expressed concern over expensive fees during courtesy calls made to the offices of Hawaii Senators Akaka, Inouye, Washington State Senators Cantwell and Murray in Washington D.C. earlier this month.

In a letter to the Bulletin, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell wrote in part: “Please be assured that as the 110th Congress begins in January 2007, I will work with my colleagues on behalf of Filipino World War II veterans to ensure that their families may join them in the United States.” She is a co-sponsor of the legislation introduced on November 16th by Sen. Akaka, S. 4070, that would expedite the family-sponsored immigrant visa for adult children of Filipino WW II veterans who wish to be reunited with their parents.

“Because there is overwhelming support in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate on the passage of a justifiable, do-able and affordable legislation like Family Reunification, it is widely anticipated that S. 4070 will be processed faster on committee levels and voted on the floor earlier than other bills regarding Filipino war veterans,” veteran Greg Garcia of the FWVW disclosed. This optimism was also shared by officials of the Arlington-based ACFV whose lobbying experience in Washington D.C. spans more than 12 years.

“These positive developments are reasons why we in Washington State are excited and ready to move on to the next level to extend much-needed, time-sensitive help to our gallant WW II Filipino soldiers. Any issue about family togetherness is critical and we are blessed to have the support and understanding of our Governor and the State Legislature,” CAPAA Executive Director Ellen Abellera added. It was the CAPAA chief who had flown to Washington D.C. in May to personally push for the Family Reunification Bill. That provision was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate for inclusion in the controversial Immigration Reform Act. Early last year, Ms. Abellera had also hand-carried a personal note from Governor Gregoire to President Gloria M. Arroyo to appraise the Philippine President about the Veterans Family Reunification initiatives being undertaken in Washington State.

Together with veterans’ advocates from all over the U.S. and staff members of leading U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators, Ms. Abellera is reported to be actively assisting in the early re-introduction and passage in the next Congress of Sen. Akaka’s “stand-alone bill,” S. 4070.


Christmas Cheer

The singing, jolly Donut Boys livened up the Third Annual Christmas Choral Concert held at the Filipino Community Center in South Seattle on December 4th. The group, directed and accompanied on the electric guitar by Tacoma-based musician Eddie Artugue, is noted for their cheerful and bouncy tunes. They are shown here rendering one of their fun numbers in their smart blue jackets.

Choral singers composed of youngsters from various Church groups rendered lilting Christmas carols at the Third Annual Christmas Choral Concert December 4th at the Filipino Community Center in South Seattle. The group was led by community advocate John Araucto who sang with the group. Also conducting was Realtor Vallie Pavino.


Movements & Currents: Snowbound

by Greg Castilla

Christmas songs have slowly filled the air. Christmas shoppers have started their yearly ritual of looking for the best buy. Our neighbors have started to decorate their homes with colorful and blinking lights. Christmas cards have started coming in. Best of all, my daughter Mutya, who is studying at Regis University in Denver, will be home for the holidays in two weeks. Our family will be complete this Christmas.

But despite the festive mood that’s beginning to blanket my surroundings, the recent death of James Kim has not gotten off my mind yet. And I did not even know the man. It must be the circumstances of his death. It must be that we both have two daughters. It must be that at 35, he was too young to die. I think of how his wife Kati and their two young daughters Penelope, 4, and Sabine, 7 months, will be spending the Christmas season.

Kim was the San Francisco native who, in a desperate attempt to save his family trapped in snowy Oregon Mountains, left his family in their car to look for help one week after being stranded.

Two days after Kim left his family, rescuers found Kati and the children.

Four days after Kim’s Herculean trek in search for help, his lifeless body was found not far from where he had left his family. A victim of hypothermia.

The Kims spent Thanksgiving in Seattle and were on their way back to San Francisco when they missed the turnoff and ended in a slightly traveled road amidst heavy snow. To keep warm, they ran the engine of their car to power the heater. When they ran out of gas, they burned the tires. When the little food they had was gone, Kati breastfed her two children.

The discovery of Kim’s body marked the end of a saga that was closely followed by the print and broadcast media in the Pacific Northwest. Now the media hardly mention the Kims. The “news” is over. But not for me.

No doubt, James’ only intention was to protect and save his family. People have commented that had he not left his family, he would have been still alive today. That’s true. But life is not a 20/20 vision. We don’t live by hindsight. We make decisions based on what we perceive is the right thing to do at the moment.

I still think of the Kim family. I wonder if Christmas means anything to Kati and the two daughters. At 7 months old, Sabine probably does not have much recollection of her dad. But what about Penelope? Is she going to be happy this Christmas? I wonder if Kati is even thinking of buying a Christmas tree. She will probably buy gifts for her children, but deep in her heart someone is missing in her life. Christmas is supposed to be joyous. I doubt if Kati is in the mood to celebrate.

When my family and relatives gather on Christmas Eve to exchange gifts, sing carols, and partake in the traditional “Noche Buena,” Penelope and Sabine will probably also be opening gifts and enjoying a sumptuous dinner prepared by their mom.

Sad but true, this Christmas will be poignant for the Kims. That so many of us in the Pacific Northwest have been touched by the heroism displayed by James should give the family solace and renewed hope.


Carpe Diem – 2006 Person of the Year

by Bob Friedlander

Time magazine since 1927 has been choosing the Person of the Year usually a figure who for good or evil dominates the world news. It is an event closely watched by the world. Good guys like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman , Martin Luther King, Jack Kennedy, and Cory Aquino are some of the good persons selected. On the other hand fanatics and tyrants like Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Ayatollah Khomeini also made it. One thing they all had in common is, they dominated the world stage for better or for worse for that year.

Congratulations to YOU as Time has chosen for 2006 all of us individually and collectively as persons who dominated the world and will continue to do so because of the wired world web. It is pure People Power once again demonstrated in the world. The explosive influence and growth of the information age has shown that we can make the difference for change for better or for worse. The world has shrunk as you can communicate and help influence events instantly. First you had email, then the websites, followed by blogs, my space and lately the Youtube generation. If you are not familiar with these cyberspace semantics it is time for you to talk to your teenage sons and daughters. News is even faster than the traditional media we have been accustomed to. Just to illustrate the power of Youtube, a Presidential timber for the Republican Party was shredded to a Presidential toothpick with an expose’ of his Makaka remark, a racially offensive term. It was not the traditional media who caught this it was a person who used the power of the web to show one and all the hypocrisy of some candidates. Disturbing emails of a gay Congressman from Florida had his political career ended. It is claimed that the reason why the Republicans lost Congress and the Senate is the power of the youth who came out in droves to vote for the Democratic Party candidates with fresh images of the Iraq war contradicting the we are winning the war claim of the Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld trio and similar incidents mentioned earlier.

On a personal note my high school class of Ateneo and Army brats who lived in the former Fort McKinley set up it own yahoo groups. Lo and behold boyhood friends of forty, fifty years ago instantly renew memories and friendship as if the missing years did not interrupt the relationship. Our reunion was a smashing success because of the power of the internet.

In marketing we have seen how Amazon and EBay have become great Channels of distribution and source of sales in many industries. Travel, car sales, membership clubs and a growing number of industries are using the internet for commerce. Even sports are great adventure in the internet. In the last Pacquiao fight I was unwilling to dish out $55 for the fight. A young daughter of mind told me to connect to a certain website and to my pleasant surprise I watched the fight live and saw Manny knockout El Terrible. The quality of the video was not excellent but fair enough to enjoy the exciting match. Movies are heavily promoted in the internet

The trend is the same for fund raising activities. Even the dreaded Al Qaeda has become an astute user of the web using it for propaganda and a tool for terror as well as recruitment of followers.

The advent of this powerful technology has given the individuals a tool for change. What do we do about it? Shall we ignore this development, be indifferent or embrace and use it for the good of society. It is our choice to be different, to be man for others or to be used for the aggrandizement of self. This is your choice. Seize the moment!


Letter from New York: Citizenship Test

by Mart Martell

DECEMBER EVENTS -- December 7, 1941: At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time [10 p.m. Manila time], a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II. We in Manila received the news on morning of December 8, a Monday. I remember my first reaction, was that (whoopee!) we didn’t have to go to school. And since the Japanese, according to my father’s American friends, won’t last a week in a war against America, we might as well enjoy this unexpected vacation. A month later, these same Americans were internees in the Santo Tomas University – for the next 3 years.

*** December 8, 1980: John Lennon is killed by an obsessed fan in New York City. The 40-year-old Beatle was entering his luxury Manhattan apartment building when Mark David Chapman shot him four times at close range with a .38-caliber revolver. Lennon, bleeding profusely, was rushed to the hospital but died en route. Chapman had received an autograph from Lennon earlier in the day and voluntarily remained at the scene of the shooting until he was arrested by police. Lennon was considered the intellectual Beatle and was the most outspoken of the four. He caused a major controversy in 1966 when he declared that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus," prompting mass burnings of Beatles' records in the American Bible Belt. Which perhaps shouldn’t be surprising: it’s been reported that there were more voters for the American Idol show than for the last presidential elections here.

*** December 10, 1898: In France, the Treaty of Paris is signed, formally ending the Spanish-American War and granting the United States its first overseas empire. Which meant that the American colonization of the Philippines began. Filipinos who thought that the Americans were there to help them against the Spaniards turned their guns against the new occupiers, and 10 times more U.S. troops died suppressing the Philippines than in defeating Spain. The Americans paid 20-million dollars to Spain as part of the Philippine sale. Cuba, Guam and Puerto Rico were also part of the settlement.

*** December 24, 1865: In Pulaski, Tennessee, a group of Confederate veterans meets to form a secret society that they christen the "Ku Klux Klan." The KKK rapidly grew from a secret social fraternity to a paramilitary force bent on reversing the federal government's progressive Reconstruction Era activities in the South, especially policies that elevated the rights of the local African-American population. The Klan employed violence as a means of pushing back Reconstruction and its enfranchisement of African- Americans. And if you think this claim to racial superiority has already disappeared in these United States, just read or watch the local news.

*** December 25, 4 A.D.: This day is supposed to be the day that Jesus Christ was born, although few in the first two Christian centuries claimed any knowledge of the exact day or year in which he was born. The oldest existing record of a Christmas celebration is found in a Roman almanac that tells of a Christ's Nativity festival led by the church of Rome in 336 A.D. The precise reason why Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25 remains obscure, but most researchers believe that Christmas originated as a Christian substitute for pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. In the early fourth century, church leaders had to contend with a popular Roman pagan holiday commemorating the "birthday of the unconquered sun" (natalis solis invicti)--the Roman name for the winter solstice. To rationalize the celebration of Jesus’s birthday in late December, church leaders may have argued that since the world was allegedly created on the spring equinox (late March), so too would Jesus have been conceived by God on that date. The Virgin Mary, pregnant with the Son of God, would therefore have given birth to Jesus nine months later on the winter solstice.

*** December 30, 1898: Jose Rizal is executed in what is now Luneta. This begs a question: Have we had any real heroes since then? Men and women who fought, lived and died for a vision or an ideal that would inspire Filipinos to action and sacrifice? And looking at the situation in the Philippines today: There’s a lot of criticism and hue and cry about Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. But the question is: Sino naman ang ipapalit sa kanya? If this were a basketball team, it seems we don’t have a very deep bench. Or maybe there’s no bench at all.

GENUINE CUISINE? – You are vacationing in Rome, having a delicious dinner of “authentic” Italian cuisine -- a delicious dinner of pasta with meat sauce and grated Parmesan. Add a salad of fresh mozzarella and Roman tomatoes sprinkled with Tuscan olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Maybe you'll wash it down with some Amaretto liqueur. All those Italian names. But there's a catch: none of this food was actually made in Italy. Foods that look or sound Italian but are produced elsewhere amount to $66 billion in annual sales — nearly half the $135.5 billion worth of real Italian food that is sold worldwide in a year, says Coldiretti, Italy's farmers association. This situation is quite pervasive and actually misleading. I am reminded of some Pinoy eateries that call themselves PampangueƱo in their advertising but actually are not; they just trade on the reputation of Pampango cuisine as delicious. I am amused and resentful of this, as a PampangueƱo on my mother’s side. I once went to eat in a so-called Pampanga restaurant; and when I tried to engage the folks there in Kapampangan, nobody knew the language. Anyway, in this day and age, is there anything like genuine regional Pinoy cooking? Like pinakbet, papait, or kari-kari or sinugba? And I wonder if the second-generation younger Pinoys here in the States care one way or the other.

THE ALL-IMPORTANT REMOTE -- The police in Mussidan in Aquitaine, France said that while a retired man was at their station reporting the theft of his television, the thief returned to the man’s house, where alert neighbors tipped them off and they caught him red-handed. “He came back to take the remote control,” a police spokesman said.

CITIZENSHIP TESTS – Those of our kababayans who applied for citzenship will remember the tests they had to prepare for. They had to know the answers to “How many stripes are there in the flag?”; “What color are the stripes on the flag?”; '”What do the stripes on the flag represent?” and the obvious, '”What are the colors of our flag?” Not anymore. The federal government rolled out a new citizenship test Thursday to replace an exam that critics say has encouraged prospective Americans simply to memorize facts, rather than fully understand the principles of a democracy. There will be 144 questions on civics and history, including 57 rephrased questions from the current exam. [All the questions are available on the agency's Web site,]. I guess this will be something like the difference between a True-False test where you can bluff and guess your way around, and an essay test. [No more guessing!] The new test will include questions like: Name one important idea found in the Declaration of Independence. What type of economic system does the United States have? Why do we have three branches of government? Name one example of checks and balances. It also occurs to me that if you asked some Americans these same questions they wouldn’t know the answers. And I’d dare say that there’s still many of them who couldn’t sing the Star-Spangled Banner correctly and completely, if at all.


Between the Lines: December 2006

We’re at the tail-end of another year. As we look back on the calendar, there have been many developments in our community that should make us happy and thankful. Adding a dimension of cheer is that it is Christmastime again, too. Several issues come to mind: the heightened sense of community in our Seattle village has re-awakened us against injustices done to our aging WW II veterans and their families, the reported unfair practices of local employers, and the goodwill and compassion that continue to be exhibited by donors to worthy causes. It has largely been a year of virtues, vigilance, productive endeavors and good cheer. Let’s sustain that momentum for the coming year.

We were in Washington DC recently with several WW II veterans to attend an invitational planning conference organized by the Philippine Embassy and NaFFAA. Conference speakers included Philippine Secretary of Local Government Ronnie Puno and Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) officials from Manila. But the high point of the conference was easily the inspired speeches delivered by American legislators, Senator Daniel Akaka (HI-D) and Rep. Bob Filner (CA-D). The two are staunch supporters of the aging Filipino warriors who have long been waging an uphill battle. Now there is hope, they told the veterans and their advocates. The two have been designated Chairmen in their respective branches’ Veterans’ Affairs Committees. During the conference, fellow-advocate Perry Diaz asked permission to borrow our coined words “gathering of warriors” and “Debt March” in his next write-up regarding the conference. Indeed, as Perry and most of the delegates had observed, it was a historic gathering at the seat of power in the Free World’s most powerful nation. Throughout the three-day get-together, there was an unmistakable air of tension mixed with high expectations amongst conference delegates. Maybe Washington DC generates such a feeling? Veterans Franco Arcebal and Pat Ganio, who were quite outspoken about issues close to their hearts, were joined by their comrades from Seattle, Amador Montero, Greg Garcia, retired Maj. Urbano Quijance, about twenty-five other WW II veterans-leaders from Texas, Hawaii, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey. Banded together, a majority were there as affiliates of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans (ACFV) led by long-time Arlington-based lobbyist, former journalist and veteran’s son Eric Lachica.

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Senator Akaka’s impassioned speech focused on the bill he had filed a few days before the conference, S. 4070. This is a bill that would speed up the coming of the veterans’ children and grandchildren to America. The Hawaiian legislator demonstrated his deep understanding of family and what that means to every aging veteran deprived of this important support system. He revealed that two of his children are married to Filipinos and he is aware how closely-knit Filipinos are as family units. The aging veterans stood up, clapped and cheered lustily at every sentence he spoke on his determination to push and re-file S.4070 as “a priority bill” when the next session of Congress opens next month. To the veterans assembled at the conference, this was the best Christmas gift ever in a long, long while. There is hope at last. It is great, exciting news that they can tell their children on this season of grace.

At the conclusion of the conference there was an agreement reached by all following some emotional episodes, that there would be a single-minded resolution to push only for the long-pending, nearly seven decades-old Filipino Veterans Equity Bill. As a compromise move, a separate resolution would be made for the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification bill. In the conference’s last hour, gathered on center-stage to whip up “appropriate language” for the final resolution, were NaFFAA’s indefatigable chief Alma Kern, Jon Melegrito, and Ernie Ramos on one side; the Embassy’s amicable General Delfin Lorenzana like a referee in the middle; and ACFV’s hard-working Eric Lachica, veterans Pat Ganio, and the fiery Frank Arcebal on the opposing side. It was a picture to behold: the nation’s key Filipino community leaders, the aging soldiers and their advocates deeply immersed in a moment of impassioned discussion. The scene revealed how important and desperate an issue the Filipino WW II veterans’ cause had become. Participation from the engaged floor included opinions voiced out by veterans Maj. Quijance, Commander Amador Montero, Greg Garcia, Capt. Joe Gonzales formerly from Honolulu and now Houston, former Philippine Constabulary (PC) officer Col. Monteyro of San Diego, union organizer Gloria Caoile and other veterans’ advocates and supporters including this writer.

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There is word circulating about the possible re-opening of the Philippine Consulate in Seattle. This is a most welcome development if it happens. We are, however, a bit skeptical after learning that the move would be coursed via legislation introduced in the Philippine Congress by some congressmen-businessmen who came a-visiting to the U.S. Reason why we’re doubtful is that diplomatic service is a government function that is under the Executive branch. Correct us if we’re wrong, but if that is not so and legislation will work, then we are all for that. Washington State is such a vital place where world-caliber corporations abound. Its ports are the closest to the region where the homeland is and we are puzzled at the indifference displayed by the Philippine government when it shut down in 1990 the Philippine Consulate General in Seattle. Ironically, the reason given then was economics.


Thank You

Greg S. Castilla

I started writing for the Filipino-American Bulletin November of 1989. If my math is correct, it’s seventeen years of writing this November of 2006. Previous to that, I regularly contributed articles to The International Examiner for five years. Over a year ago, I started writing for the Bayanihan News in Sydney. My articles vary from sports to politics, from overly critical to honestly neutral, and from serious to not too serious.

I don’t know how many read my articles. But I do know people read them because I continue to get some feedback from the readers. They read my articles to get a different view of life, to know how I think on certain issues, to take a glimpse at the latest outrage or bias in my mind, to acquire new insights, to get some information to throw back at me, to reinforce their opinions, and probably because they have nothing else to read.

While I’m essentially a thoughtful person, not once have I publicly thanked these readers. Some of them might not like what I write. Others might have been offended by my frankness. But they deserve my thanks for taking a few minutes of their time to know what my perspectives are.

No matter if my articles are criticized, admired, agreed with, dissected, as long as they are read, the efforts of these readers are very much appreciated.

I spend a few precious hours writing articles. The prep work includes a lot of reflection. Sometimes it helps if I’m familiar with the topic I want to write about. At times, I look for topics to write about in newspapers, in casual conversations with friends, in talking to my wife, in what I observe around me or in watching TV. If I’m inspired, ideas come out freely and it does not take that long to sit in front of my computer and come out with a decent article. But unlike many professional writers, writing for me is ninety percent perspiration and ten percent inspiration. Inspiration sometimes comes in the form of a reminder from my editor (thanks to you, too).

It would be very disappointing if my effort is ignored and does not impact the readers whether negatively or positively. Certainly, the worst that could happen is if I find out that no one reads me anymore. Thus, special thanks to those who go out of their way to give me feedback.

I would be negligent if I thank my readers but fail to be grateful for the many blessings that have come my way this year. Despite pulling my hamstring for two consecutive Sundays while playing basketball, I remain relatively healthy. To be 57 years old and still be able to play competitive basketball, with no major illness, is a gift that is worth thanking for.

I’m eternally grateful to my wife, daughters, relatives and friends who are always there for me. They continue to be my sources of inspiration, strength, comfort and support. Just like my readers, they’ve tried to understand my views. But unlike my readers, they’ve wished me nothing but the best. Thank you to all of you on this Thanksgiving Day!