Monday, August 29, 2016

Achieving Diversity Step by Step

By Oliver Oliveros, Editor-In-Chief

“Diversity is all about us, and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together.” – Jacqueline Woodson 

In the city that never sleeps, people in various cultures embrace diversity, inclusion, and equality, which makes everyone feel welcome without trying to change their true selves. Building a world that gives importance to diversity doesn’t happen overnight though. It takes a paradigm shift that may take place at a snail’s pace in order to claim its well-deserved triumphant ending.

That’s why stories of diversity and inclusion in the workplace or in the media—small or huge—merit our attention, especially when you’re among the ethnic minority groups, Fil-Ams included.

Take for instance the recent groundbreaking news that took Broadway by storm: Approaching its 30th year on the Great White Way, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” has cast Fil-Am actress Ali Ewoldt, the first person of color to play the coveted role of Christine Daae, together with Jordan Donica, the first person of color to play Christine’s childhood sweetheart, Raoul. Yes, that took nearly 30 long years!

Prior to this enormous feat, Ali, a Yale University alumna, whose mother was originally from the Philippines, made her Broadway debut as Cosette in “Les Miserables” exactly 10 years ago. In “Les Miserables,” She starred opposite Fil-Am actor Adam Jacobs’s Marius. Subsequently—we’re also glad to report that—Adam went on to star in two of Disney’s biggest shows on Broadway: “Lion King” and “Aladdin.”

In the field of public service, another young Fil-Am is taking up the challenge to smash the glass ceiling. He’s Steven Raga, who’s running for an official seat in the Democratic Party in Queens Country, where a lot of Fil-Ams reside such as in Woodside, Jackson Heights, and East Elmhurst. “I find this work of serving others fun and this transition [from community activism to public service] helps me bridge together the Fil-Am community and government agencies in New York,” Steven said.

Steven is seeking public office to give voice to the “greater minority.” And Steven needs our help. Read more on pages 10-12.

In diversity, there is strength in oneness.

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

About Lifelong Learning

By Oliver Oliveros, Editor-In-Chief

In the fairly recent white papers released by the Department of Education and Science in Dublin and the Commission of the European Communities, lifelong learning, a concept introduced in Denmark in the early '70s, pertains to the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons.” These studies also state that lifelong learning, which could be in the form of e-learning in front of your computer or continuing education at a traditional school, “not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development, but also self-sustainability, as well as competitiveness and employability.”

I couldn't agree more. I myself advocate for lifelong learning for both personal and professional development. In this fast moving world, things change in a blink of an eye! In class at New York University (NYU), I've learned that years before the rise of the Internet and social media, manufacturing companies such as Nestle, Procter & Gamble, and Johnson & Johnson marketed their brands to their customers based on the former's own agendas and ideologies. However, with the wide influence and effect of social media, tables are turned. Nowadays, it's the customers on social media that are molding the image of many brands. A single tweet from an angry customer, for instance, could go viral and may hurt the brand's image if handled inefficiently and lacked empathy from the brand owners.

As you go through life, you'll realize that there's so much you still don't understand; such could set a precedent for future or lifelong learning.

NYU nurse educator Laura Garcia, who graces our cover in this issue, exemplifies how lifelong learning is important in someone's personal life and career. “Education makes a difference,” Laura explains. “For many years, researchers, practice leaders, and policymakers have recognized that the quality of education makes a significant difference in the level of proficiency in the nursing practice. Nursing education is also associated with patient safety and quality of care.” Read more on pages 10-12.

In this issue, we'd also like to give a fitting send-off to our beloved Consul General Mario De Leon Jr. who has announced that he will end his tour of duty at the Philippine Consulate General New York (PCGNY) on June 30, 2016. ConGen Mario, we're truly grateful for your commitment and dedication to encouraging various Filipino-American (Fil-Am) organizations in the New York Tri-State to leave their indifferences, stubbornness at the door in order to work more harmoniously together.

Thank you, as well, for your unflagging support to our publishers at Fil-Am Who's Who and to all other Fil-Am media groups.

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Happy Third Anniversary, Fil-Am Who's Who!

By Oliver Oliveros, Editor-in-Chief

From small beginnings come great things.

To veer away from the typical tale of murder, political corruption, and celebrity scandal that is commonly found in tabloids, mainstream TV news, and the Internet, the germ of an idea to publish a magazine, Fil-Am Who's Who, that would instead feature refreshingly uplifting and inspiring life stories of Filipino Americans was born three years ago.

Behind that small beginning, which has branched out to other great things, such as the inception of a full-service media company and a two-city tour of renowned fashion designer Renee Salud's “TatakSalud” last year, were the inimitable husband and wife team of Rolan and Myrna Gutierrez, current Philippine Independence Day Council Inc. (PIDCI) President Dr. Prospero Lim, and the quintessential fashionista Ollie David.

Kudos to you (Rolan, Myrna, Doc. Pros, and Ollie) for being so positive, hardworking, and consistently persistent, which helped us survive the last three challenging years!

Special thanks should also go to our business partners and avid readers in the Filipino-American communities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Without the former's financial aid and moral support and the latter's good word of mouth about our magazine, we could go no farther.

Remarkably, our family of contributing writers is also growing fast! Over the last three years, we've been honored with article submissions from esteemed writers such as Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas, Maricar CP Hampton, Rachel Kelly Davis, Dennis Clemente, and Ria Serrano, among others.

 As Fil-Am Who's Who enters its fourth year, we couldn't be happier.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. (Melody Beattie)

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Proud Filipino Nurses

By Oliver Oliveros, Editor-In-Chief

Filipino nurses in New York are a dime a dozen, but contrary to the “lackluster value” that the idiomatic expression “a dime a dozen” connotes, these selfless caregivers’ service to their patients is invaluable.

Filipino nurses working abroad, especially in Manhattan and its nearby boroughs, are proud Filipino nurses. Shouldn’t we be proud as Filipinos like them?

On my second year as a graduate student at New York University (NYU), back in 2012, I found myself at one of the clinics at the NYU Health Center on 726 Broadway for my annual physical examination. As a Filipino nurse was about to administer a flu vaccine to me, she asked me (curiously), “Are you a Filipino?” I answered, “I could be easily mistaken for a Thai or a Vietnamese, but I’m proud to be a Filipino!” The nurse’s face lit up, because according to her, it’s seldom that Filipino students at NYU admit that they’re Filipinos.

“They seem to be embarrassed to reveal they’re Filipinos,” she said.

“Not me,” I told her. “And I’m very happy that a Filipino nurse is attending to my needs.”

Accordingly, I’m also very grateful that three superPinay nurses are also gracing our cover in this special Christmas issue of Fil-Am Who’s Who: Sally Nunez, Maria Lea Batomalaque, and Florida Lucas of RN Express Staffing Registry. Sally, Lea, and Florida first worked together at the Amsterdam Nursing Home in Manhattan during their first few years into their nursing careers. They’ve been inseparable friends and business partners since, learning further from each other, as well as drawing strength and inspiration from each other.

“[Filipino nurses] being naturally hard working, caring, hospitable, helpful, and generous set us apart from the others,” said Lea in our cover story. Read more on pages 8-9.

A FRIENDLY REMINDER: We celebrate Christmas to rejoice greatly the birth of Jesus Christ. This Christmas season, let’s avoid too much commercialism; let’s put back Christ in Christmas instead! 

Fil-Am Who’s Who encourages its readers to contribute articles, letters, comments, or pictures. Email submissions at


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Hallmarks of Great Leadership

By Oliver Oliveros, Editor-In-Chief

In various Filipino-American (Fil-Am) organizations, we’ve seen and occasionally worked with leaders with different leadership styles: some are autocratic; some are didactic while some are comfortable delegating tasks to their team members, which is a form of empowerment, especially to those who are sharing their time and talents as volunteers.

“Great leaders are aware of their own style and make the effort to learn how their style actually comes across to their team. They learn to flex their leadership style to individual team members so that they communicate and behave in ways that motivate and inspire,” said Michael Burke of MSR Communications.

Exemplary character traits make an effective leader.

Among those good traits, right off my head, are transparency (being honest), strategic thinking (knowing where you are now, and knowing where you are going), passion (living and breathing your raison d’ĂȘtre), and respect and trust in the workplace.

Our cover subject for the month, Ma. Consuelo “Connie” Almonte, president of PAGASA Social Foundation Inc. (PAGASAsfi), a nonprofit for Fil-Am seniors, is one conscientious leader who is competent, dutiful, and self-disciplined.

But above all, Connie is not greedy for power: she delegates tasks to her nonprofit’s volunteers whom she considers the lifeblood of the organization, and she knows when it’s time to pass the baton of leadership to her worthy successor.

“The greatest challenge is to get everyone to work together in the most efficient and harmonious way,” Connie said in our cover story.

“Leadership is all about being able to inspire and communicate to people and to make them understand what your objectives are.”

Connie, kudos for all your tireless work for Fil-Am seniors.

You are an awesomely courageous woman!

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Saturday, September 05, 2015

Finding Own Voice, Reinstilling Pride

By Oliver Oliveros, Editor-In-Chief

There are two recurring themes in this issue of Fil-Am Who’s Who: (1) Finding your own voice in a cultural landscape that is so diverse—so that you will be heard and can make a ripple effect; and (2) Reinstilling pride in the Filipino people, especially in those who live, work, or study in the United States—no matter how clichĂ© it is.

Besides the repeated mention, “finding your own voice” and “reinstilling pride in Filipinos” also share an important causal relationship:

Knowing your unique cultural identity sets you apart from the rest, which can make you become more familiar with yourself. “You can only love something that is familiar to you,” Doris Magsaysay Ho, Asia Society Philippines chair, pointed out to me in a recent interview. Essentially, that love for what is familiar can lead to nurturing a sense of pride and belonging.

The ongoing exhibition at Asia Society Museum dubbed as “Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms” works exactly in the same manner:

By piquing interest and creating awareness that early Filipinos were relatively affluent, sophisticated people, contrary to what history teachers taught us, creates a new familiarity; and by displaying nearly 120 jaw-dropping pieces of gold work from the 10th to 13th -century Philippines, a sense of great pride is being restored.

For four months, this groundbreaking exhibition is on display for the first time in the United States. I strongly urge you, please check it out. Expose yourself to historical art gold pieces that beam early Filipino ingenuity and rich culture.

All that glitters is “gold” in this show.

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