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 cliché 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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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Mama Renee's Living Legacy

By Oliver Oliveros, Editor-In-Chief

Ollie David, who was the overall chair of Philippine fashion icon Renee Salud’s recent smash hit fashion shows held at Double Tree Newark Hotel in New Jersey and at the Philippine Center, the building that houses the Philippine Consulate General in New York, pinned down in her opening remarks that Mama Renee, a moniker for the well-loved fashion designer, who rose to fame in the ‘80s, has been “at the forefront of creating intricate masterpieces that weave native piña (pineapple fiber), abaca, and the Maguindanaon’s inaul, among others, even way before other Filipino and non-Filipino fashion designers started to claim that same exact design process.”

“Mama Renee’s original intent and his still ever-burning passion to promote only the Philippines’ indigenous fabrics in his fashion pieces makes him even more relevant till this very day,” Ollie added.

For Mama Renee, he did it—and still doing it—to show his enduring love for the Philippines and the Filipino people. He also believes our native fabrics and meticulous beadwork and embroidery should be seen all over the world.

So it’s not at all (or hardly) surprising to meet a brood of young fashion designers today who have been following the footsteps of Mama Renee. One of these promising young designers is San Francisco-based Anthony Cruz Legarda, whom I had the pleasure of meeting with at San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel in Manhattan a few years ago. Legarda incorporates authentic hand-woven fabrics especially that of the piña, into unique American wear. In fact, Mama Renee and Legarda, alongside fellow Filipino fashion designers Patis Tesoro and Dita Sandico Ong, not too long ago collaborated on a fashion-trade show called “Fibre Filippine,” which features high-fashion pieces made from local fabrics abaca, banana, salago, maguey, buri and, of course, piña, held in Rome.

In the same league as Mama Renee and Legarda is Betina Ocampo, one of this year’s recipients of The Outstanding Filipino-Americans In New York (TOFA-NY) awards. Also inspired by the complex handmade fashion pieces of tribal communities in the Philippines, Ocampo launched a luxury t-shirt line, Betina, in 2012, while finishing her studies at Parsons School of Design in Manhattan. To her credit, her designs have been featured in premier fashion magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan.

And the list goes on.

Bottom line is that what Mama Renee, together with a few fashion designers, started several decades ago has continued to grow in the safe hands of our new generation of Filipino couturiers.

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Friday, August 07, 2015

Know Your Rights as a Landlord

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If you’re a landlord, there’s this high probability of encountering problems with your tenants every once in a while. Fundamentally, to solve any problem between you and your tenants, you have to know your basic rights, including the dos and the don’ts, as a landlord.

To help you further, we’ve listed some of these rights you have in your hands as a lessor:

Choosing a Tenant 

As a landlord, one of your major rights is to choose your tenants. You can do that by asking for income and credit information, rental history, and guarantees. You may also want to be picky about accepting tenants, but you can’t refuse a tenant based on one’s race, place of origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, religion, and disability.

If you want to make sure you’re choosing the right tenants, work hard on the inspection process and take time to know them personally before you accept them.

Collecting Deposit and Rent 

Before your tenants move in to your property, you have the right to collect a rent deposit. When you both sign the lease tenancy agreement, you may collect the rent deposit in full. The agreement should state the amount of the rent deposit and when it is due.

As for increasing the rent, you have the right to do so but only once in a 12-month period and depending on your lease tenancy agreement. If you’re to raise the rent, make sure the new amount is justifiable and can be compared to similar properties in your neighborhood. 

Entering the Premises 

Landlords can only enter the property in case of emergency and for the purposes of inspecting the premises, cleaning, and making repairs and improvements. You can also enter the premises to show the property to prospective buyer or tenant. However, you’re not allowed to enter the premises impromptu. If you would like to inspect the property, you should give prior notice to the tenants.

In case of a tenant’s extended absence, which is seven days or more, you can enter the property to inspect for damages that may need repairs.

Maintaining the Property 

Maintaining the property can be more like a responsibility than a right. However, it’s not just you who’s responsible for the maintenance but also your tenants. They should also take care of your property during their stay, and you have the right to charge them for any damages. If the tenants refuse to pay for the cost of the repair, you can make a deduction from the tenants’ damage deposit. 

However, you can’t charge your tenants right away. You should be able to show a proof that the damage was caused while your property was occupied by them. Therefore, it’s wise to take detailed photos of the entire property before your tenants move in, so any “future damages” can be spotted quickly.

By the way, you can’t charge the repair of normal wear and tear of furnishings, e.g. carpets and furniture, to your tenants.

Evicting Tenants 

If your tenants didn’t pay for a long period and no solution was offered, you have the right to evict them. Make sure to give them notice first. You can’t harass your tenants in any way so inform them in the most proper way.

If they remain in your property at the end of the notice, you can apply for a possession order; if they don’t comply, you can then apply for an eviction warrant—in such a situation, only the police can evict tenants under court order.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

5 Great Reasons To Invest In Home Automation

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Home automation is the process of controlling basic home features remotely and automatically. Using smart devices such as a smartphone or a tablet, you can easily automate and schedule operation of security, heating, and airconditioning systems; water sprinkling and lighting equipment; and even different appliances at home.

Below, we’ve listed some of the ways on how home automation can make your life a lot easier.

Safety & Security 

One of the myriad reasons why people opt for home automation is because of safety and security. Since you’re able to control lighting and appliance functions, for instance, you can ensure your home will be safe from any wear out caused by electronic devices. By simply tapping your finger on your device, you can control all the lights in your house and make sure they are turned off when you’re away at night. You may also turn them on anytime you want.

What’s more, you can ensure security inside your home through security cameras and automated door locks. Wherever you are—just as long you’re close to your smart device—you can easily see if someone is entering or trying to enter your home, thus increasing the safety of your house and family.


Having a home automation system is truly convenient. Whether you’re away or just relaxing at home, you don’t need to check on everything from time to time because everything is scheduled and automated. Additionally, when you’re on vacation or at work, you can easily control things the way you want it. You don’t’ have to call someone inside the house to do a thing for you because you’ll be able to do it yourself.

Time Management

Home automation is very ideal for busy people. In the morning, you don’t have to rush to check out and set things and worry about being late for work. Also, when something is left turned on inside your home, you don’t need to stop by or call people to check on it. Now, those time saved can be devoted to more meaningful and important tasks for the day.

Peace of Mind 

When you have an automation system at home, you’re certain that everything and everyone is safe, which can give you peace of mind. You don’t have to call your children and check if they turned everything off before going to school, for instance—HINT: that is sometimes irritating to the kids. 

Energy/Cost Efficiency

Lastly, when you’re controlling your electronic devices and appliances at home, you’re also controlling energy, which can help you lower your utility bills, thus saving money. By automating your home, you’re also only using resources and energy that you actually need. Therefore, you’re not only helping yourself, but you’re also protecting the environment. Home automation systems are expensive though, but in the end it will be all worth it, especially with all these sound benefits.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Why 35 is the Ideal Age to Buy a House

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Everybody dreams of having their own home. But have you ever wondered about the perfect time to buy a house? Truth is, the perfect time depends on you. Recent studies say the ideal age to invest in a house is 35 though. While buying a house at a younger age is wonderful, doing it at 35 is still encouraged.

Here are the reasons why:

Financial Stability 

Typically, 35 is the average age when people become financially stable. Mostly in your 20’s, you’re still struggling to find a steady and profitable job that can help you save enough money for future investments. Additionally, if you’re in your 20’s, there are many things that divide your attention such as holiday travels, parties, and romantic dates, among others. In this stage, you’re still having fun; investing in something big isn’t on your mind yet.

In your early 30’s, on the other hand, you’re likely to have a stable job; but this stage could only be the beginning of you realizing to save some of your hard earned money and exercise financial wisdom.

When you reach 35, you should be ready to invest in bigger things because you already learned enough from past financial mistakes. This is also the peak time when you would want to achieve something noteworthy for yourself and reap the hard work you’ve done over the years. 


After college some people are reluctant to find a job right away; some even study further—after all, education is important. However, studying continuously can be a financially tough time. You may be learning a lot, but you’re also spending a lot on education while not earning any income.

If you’re one of those people who prioritizes education, it will be difficult to save money and invest in big things. However, once you’re finished with school, you’ll be able to start earning and saving more for future investments. This usually happens around 35, when you’re already successful in both your scholarly and professional undertakings.

Relationship Status 

Your relationship status can be a factor for buying a house or not. Buying a house while you’re still single may be far from your mind. If you’re single and independent, you can live alone and rent an apartment. However, if you’re in a long-term relationship, you may eventually think about settling down.

People settle down at different ages; however, 35 is the average age when people have met their partners and had their babies. At the age of 35, investing your savings on your dream house can be the perfect gift you can give yourself and your family. 

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Five Ways To Survive An Earthquake

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Recently, there has been an alarming rise in seismic activity in the Philippines. In the last month alone, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS) recorded 305 earthquakes, in which two quakes were strong, six were mid-strong, and 441 quakes were weak.

The recent earthquake in Nepal, which killed more than 8,000 and injured more than 23,000 people alarmed not only Filipinos but also everyone else in the world.

Now the question is, “are we prepared for a strong earthquake?” Is the simple “drop, cover, and hold on” enough to keep us safe?

Here are some safety tips to follow before, during, and after an earthquake. 

Know What to Prepare 

Earthquakes are inevitable so you have to prepare yourself before it arrives. In emergency situations, such as earthquakes, you’ll likely need a first aid kit, flashlight, fire extinguisher, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries. Make sure you have all of these life-saving items. 

Stay Calm and Alert 

When inside your home, stay calm and make sure to stay away from the doors and windows. Crawl under the table or stand against a wall. When you’re out, stay away from buildings or from anything that may fall. If you’re in a car, don’t get off. Stay inside until the quake stops. When near the shore, drop, cover, and hold on until the quake stops.

However, if the shaking lasts for more than 20 seconds, get to a high ground.

Drop, Cover and Hold On 

During an earthquake, it’s important to drop, cover, and hold on, which increases your chance for survival. Simply drop onto your hands and knees; cover your neck and head; and hold on to your shelter until the quake stops. By doing this, you will be able to move if necessary to protect you from falling objects.

Things You Shouldn’t Do 

While knowing what you should you in an earthquake, it’s also important to know what to avoid. For one, you shouldn’t run outside or to other rooms while the ground is shaking. Do not move as much as possible. If you’re in a building, don’t use the elevator because it may get stuck. If you’re trapped in a room, don’t use candles, matches, or any flames.

Surviving the Aftershock 

Just because the shaking stops it doesn’t mean you’re already safe. Earthquakes have aftershocks. After an earthquake, check yourself and others for injuries. If there’s anyone injured, provide the person first aid.

Check gas, water, and electric lines for damages. Keep away from damaged buildings and neigborhoods.

Listen to news on the radio.

Lastly, don’t go near the beach because an aftershock could create a tsunami.

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