Pinoy Abroad

Filipino buffet in Beijing offers rare taste of Philippines in capital

It’s been 36 years since diplomatic ties were established between the Philippines and China, and to celebrate, the lovely folks at the Pinoy Embassy here in Beijing teamed up with Chefs Gene and Gino Gonzalez of the Asian Centre for Culinary Studies to bring regional cuisine to the capital. Read more

The Inefficiency of POEA

This wasn’t the first time I saw this complaint on my twitter stream.  Apparently, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration makes it very difficult for Filipinos to leave the country.  @saritaonline described OFWs looking like puppies begging for signatures.  Here’s a sample:

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Perhaps a better system needs to take place?

Have you guys experienced something similar?  Hit the comments, and lets make it known to government what needs to get done.


Photo credit: scion_cho, some rights reserved.

Jose Antonio Vargas talks about his life as an undocumented immigrant in the United States

What’s it like to go to school in America, to work at the Washington Post, and still be an undocumented immigrant?

Jose Antonio Vargas came to the United States when he was 12 years old.  That was in 1993.  His Grandfather paid for his trip, essentially having someone smuggle Vargas to the United States.  Years later,  Vargas came out and openly admitted he was a homosexual.  That wasn’t the biggest secret he was carrying.  When he approached the Department of Motor vehicles on his 16th birthday, he was rejected for carrying a fake green card.  So he asked his grandfather, if it was true? Yes, it was.

Since then he has lived in fear.  Vargas couldn’t travel outside the U.S.  He couldn’t take all expense paid trips.  He took risks applying for scholarships, and work.  He paid his taxes, and did what citizens normally did.  He did so, constantly fearing to get caught.

Jose Antonio Vargas worked recently for the Huffington Post.  His documentary series on HIV/AIDS was turned into a documentary film called, “The Other City”.  The film opened at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2010.  It was broadcast on Showtime.  Vargas has landed a writing assignment to profile Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg for The New Yorker.  Oh, and Mr. Vargas shared a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings.

All throughout the years, Mr. Vargas credits his support system of family and friends the have helped him to get this far.

On 22 June 2011, The New York Times Magazine published, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant“, and Mr. Vargas admitted he didn’t know what consequences would transpire with his revelation.  Eighteen years after he has last seen his mother, Jose Antonio Vargas has decided to come out and own up to his immigrant status.  He reached out to former bosses, and employers and apologized for misleading them.  Vargas said it was “a mix of humiliation and liberation”.  Vargas has talked with his friends and family, and is working with legal counsel with regard to his situation.


hat tip: @pedropizano and @thegreatest

Photo credit: The New York Times

Filipino-American Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra

Miami Heat fans might want to read this feature by ESPN on Erik Spoelstra. Here’s an excerpt:

At the podium, Spoelstra comes across as a hero in an Aaron Sorkin play. There isn’t a trace of defensiveness in his remarks. He’s strong in his conviction that these conflicts are essential to the process. Verbiage that can be easily dismissed as transparent spin instead convey a strength rooted not in self-delusion but in self-confidence. The atmosphere is diffused by the weight of a man who knows he’s in the right, no matter what the NBA’s chattering class is saying.

Spoelstra has traveled about as far an NBA lifer can — from The Dungeon to the first chair on the most scrutinized sideline in recent NBA history. But in many respects, his temperament hasn’t really changed. The office might be cushier and he’s no longer chasing cargo planes in the middle of the night, but he’s still fundamentally the same guy with the same habits.

“We never seen him out anywhere,” James said. “Dinner? Never. We never see Spo.”

Where is he?

“He’s probably breaking down the next game, or breaking down the game we just got done playing,” James says. “He’s preparing. He’s always prepared.”

Wade, who knows him as well as anyone, has another theory.

“He’s like Batman,” Wade said. “He goes into his cave. Nobody sees him.”

Great read.

Hat tip @felicitytan

7 Pinoys: Suspect in million dollar Istanbul diamond emerald necklace robbery

Seven Filipinos have been suspected of stealing a diamond emerald necklace with an estimated worth of US$1 million in Istanbul, Turkey, reports ABS-CBN News. Citing the news site Today’s Zaman, ABS-CBN reports that the suspects allegedly stole the necklace from the Zela Jeweler booth at the 32nd Istanbul Jewelry Expo last month.

The suspects reportedly flew to Dubai after the heist and went back to the Philippines. Six of them were identified through security camera footage: Janice Apostol, Armando Fajardo, Edgardo Ramos, Cesar Galvez, Rosita Panlilio and Herbie Cruz.

Read the full story at Yahoo PH.

Image via Diamond Rocks

Hat tip to @kabayan2010

Filipino receives the Jefferson Awards

The Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco is pleased to announce that Filipino community leader Mr. George G. Gange is the latest recipient of the Jeffersons Awards on a local level.

Mr. Gange has been serving the Filipino community in the Bay area for almost a decade through his rondalla music, fundraising efforts, and voluntary service for the Filipino American WWII veterans. Recently, he and his group, the Fil-Am Veterans Rondalla, were able to raise more than $2,000 to assist rehabilitation efforts in the Philippines for the victims of typhoon Ondoy. Through his leadership, the FilAm Veterans Rondalla was also able to raise funds for student scholarships, memorial services with full military honors for Filipino American WWII veterans, other disaster relief efforts, and rondalla musical training, among others.

Read the Full Article at the Asian Journal

The Azkals show the benefits of migration

Earlier this year, a video on Youtube of Prof Winnie Monsod delivering her traditional and much awaited last lecture for the semester went viral. In it, she appealed to her students at the University of the Philippines, my alma mater, to remain in the country after graduating.

Recently, I came across a bunch of fresh migrants to South Australia, my home since 2005. I came here on a spouse visa because of my wife a Filipina whose family migrated here back in the mid-80s. Unlike me, these recent arrivals came here on a skilled or employer sponsored visa. Some of them, ironically were contemporaries of mine at college, but I only made their acquaintance here through mutual friends.

Having been former students of hers, Prof Monsod’s video inevitably came up in conversation. We concluded that perhaps after paying our dues during the early part of our working lives, the country had benefited enough from our toil and talents. Many of us would have preferred to stay, but in order to provide a better environment for our kids, we reluctantly decided to make the move.

The experience of immigration can be a bit harrowing and lonely. Not only do people back home look at you differently when you return, but you also feel a bit left out among the locals of your host country. The irony is that despite having lived in two countries, you end up never really fitting in in either one.

Prof Monsod’s lecture spurred a debate within the global Filipino community about the merits of migration. Many supported her sentiments about staying home. Some say that those who leave the country permanently are turning their backs on it and have lost their sense of patriotism.

Yet, the Philippine national football squad, appropriately named The Azkals, demonstrate the benefits of such migration. Of the 22 athletes that comprise this team, eight of them or more than a third, are of mixed national origin (mongrels in other words as their name suggests which means street dogs in tagalog).

You have the five players of Filipino-English descent: the Younghusbands, Phil (aged 23) and James (aged 24) who play forward and midfielder respectively; Neil Etheridge (aged 20) the goalkeeper who plays for English Premier League club Fulham (all three of them trained in the Chelsea Football Academy, Phil being the leading goalscorer of the youth squad); midfielder Christopher Greatwich (aged 27) who as a youth played for Brighton and Hove Albion and now coaches under-20s in the US; and lastly, Rob Gier (aged 30), a defender, plays for Ascot United in the Hellenic Football League.

Apart from them, there is  the defender Ray Anthony Jonsson (aged 31) who is Islandic-Filipino and plays for Grinavik in the Icelandic Premier League; midfielder Mark Drinkuth (aged 19) who plays for Agon Dusseldorf; and midfielder Jason De Jong (aged 20) who plays in the Eerste Divisie club Veendam in the Netherlands.

Having triumphed in a stunning upset over defending champion Vietnam at the Suzuki AFF Cup during the group stage, these players and the rest of the Philippine squad have captured the imagination of the nation. The Philippines had at one point languished at the bottom of the FIFA world rankings. It was at 195th place out of 200 countries as recently as 2006. With the stellar performance of the team, we are now placed at 150.

There is much to be desired in the development of football as a national sport in the Philippines. The fact that the remainder of the team came predominantly from the Philippine Air Force or Army shows the lack of support from the public towards the formation of a commercially viable football league.  The lack of a stadium to host a semi-final match with Indonesia demonstrates our inadequate sports infrastructure. Then there is the absence of a grassroots youth development program.

Despite all these infirmities, the nation has woken up to the possibility that these young boys represent. Through their dedication and passion not only for the game, but also for the country in which they did not grow up in, but nevertheless have an attachment to as a result of their ancestry and upbringing, these players are proving to be the anti-thesis of Prof Monsod’s argument.

It shows that Filipinos everywhere can still make a contribution to the nation by exploring opportunities that would otherwise not exist for them back home. It demonstrates the capacity of our nation to learn from the experiences and mixed heritage of Filipinos overseas. These athletes are proving to be worthy ambassadors not only of the sport, but of the country. If this is a sign of things to come, then we have every reason to be confident about their future and ours.

Monster behind the monster: the story beyond the IDFA-nominated Pinoy documentary “Kano”

Filipina filmmaker Monster Jimenez’s documentary debut “Kano: An American and his Harem” premiered to the world last Saturday in Amsterdam, and is one of the 16 finalists in the First Appearance Category of the International Documentary Film Fest Amsterdam(IDFA), the largest non-fiction film festival in the world with more than 300 entrants. I sat among the sold-out audience of the 80-minute film where Monster unveiled the story of a monster, or is he simply a broken human being?

Update: “Kano” has been shortlisted and is one of three (out of the 16) vying for the First Appearance Category award. Congratulations!

Read more

Eat really good Filipino food, send young Pinoys to university

The UP Alumni Association of Singapore, in partnership with the Filipinas Heritage Library (of Ayala Foundation) and Mama Sita’s (yumm!), are launching a Pinoy cuisine recipe book to benefit Filipino students. The proceeds from the sponsorships and sales of the book will go to the Endowment Fund of the UPAAS scholarship, which currently supports four students embarking on a full-time, four-year degree program.

The University of the Philippines Alumni Association Singapore, in partnership with Filipinas Heritage Library (a division of the Ayala Foundation, Inc), and Mama Sita’s Holding Co., Inc., warmly invites you to the Philippine launch of Metro Cuisine: Cosmopolitan Finger Foods.

When : Tuesday, 16th November 2010 at 6PM
Where: Nielson Tower – Makati Avenue, Makati City 1224

Please RSVP to:

Philippines – Ms. Ciela Cayton (+632) 892 1801 loc 13
Singapore – Ms. Sherren Manaois (+65) 8420 8186

About Metro Cuisine:

The Metro Cuisine: Cosmopolitan Finger Foods is a unique recipe book that reflects the present-day cosmopolitan Filipino migrant who retains his cultural roots while embracing influences brought by other cultures. This recipe book, which was more than two years in the making, features more than 60 finger food recipes contributed by UP alumni members, Filipino dignitaries, Filipino Muslim converts, and overseas domestic Filipino workers in Singapore.

The proceeds from the sponsorships and sales of the book will be dedicated to the Endowment Fund of the UPAAS scholarship. The UPAAS scholarship currently supports four students embarking on a full-time, four-year degree program.

The Endowment Fund aims to support four UP students on any UP campus at any given time. This is in line with the UPAAS objective of supporting the University of the Philippines’ vital role in the development of the Philippine society and the Filipino nation while contributing to sustainable poverty alleviation initiatives in our country.

Speech from the Singapore launch