January 30, 2017

President Donald J. Trump Statement Regarding Recent Executive Order Concerning Extreme Vetting

“America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave. We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say. My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror. To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion - this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days. I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria. My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering.” (29 Jan 2017)

January 28, 2017

Governor Cuomo Announces the Launch of a Multi-Agency Minimum Wage Enforcement and Outreach Unit to Ensure New Yorkers Receive Fair Pay


New Worker Protection Web Tool Launched to Determine the Minimum Wage in Your Area: ny.gov/MyWage  

Workers Who Have Not Received Proper Pay Are Urged to Call the Minimum Wage Hotline at 1-888-4-NYSDOL

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced the launch of a 200-member multi-agency Minimum Wage Enforcement and Outreach Unit charged with ensuring that all minimum wage workers are paid the proper rate. The Enforcement and Outreach Unit, a first-of-its-kind in the nation, will also help businesses understand their responsibilities and workers understand their rights under the new wage regulations. 

Governor Cuomo earlier signed landmark legislation making New York the first state in the nation to enact a $15 minimum wage. On December 31, 2016, the first benchmark of the phase-in schedule for the minimum wage increase went into effect.

"New York led the way and became the first state in the nation to enact a $15 minimum wage, because no one who works full-time should be condemned to a life of poverty," Governor Cuomo said. "With the first increase in the minimum wage now in effect, this new enforcement unit will ensure that workers are being paid what they earned, and employers who flaunt the law will be held accountable. I urge any minimum wage worker who does not receive their increase to call the Department of Labor Hotline (1-888-4-NYSDOL) to ensure they receive a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work."

“With the launch of this new Enforcement and Outreach Unit, we are supporting the Governor’s historic legislation and efforts to ensure all New Yorkers receive the wages they deserve,” said Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon.“No one who works full time should be forced to live in poverty and I applaud Governor Cuomo for establishing the minimum wage hotline, creating a worker protection web tool, and provide the investigators necessary to enforce the minimum wage increase. New York was founded by hard-working men and women and we will do everything in our power to make sure they are paid a fair day's pay for a fair day's work."

"This new enforcement unit will ensure that workers are being paid what they earned, and employers who flaunt the law will be held accountable." - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo 

The Enforcement and Outreach Unit:

  • Multi-Agency Approach: The Unit will include specially trained staff from a number of state agencies, including the Department of Labor, Department of Taxation, Workers Compensation Board and the Department of State. Trained staff will educate both workers and businesses on specific requirements included under the new minimum wage rates. In addition, a worker protection web tool and hotline have launched for both businesses and workers to utilize to ensure all New Yorker’s receive proper pay. 
  • Enforcement: Led by the New York State Department of Labor, state investigators will enforce the new minimum wage law by ensuring businesses are held accountable, responding to complaints by workers, and conducting proactive investigations. Approximately 200 investigators from state agencies will prioritize minimum wage education and enforcement activities. Employers are subject to a fine of $3 for every hour that they fail to pay the proper minimum wage to an employee. They must also pay back wages plus 100 percent of liquidated damages, in addition to 100 percent civil penalties. The Department of Labor can conduct an audit of an employer's entire workforce and the wages paid.
  • Outreach: The Unit will offer minimum wage regulation training sessions and webinars to key stakeholders across the state to help businesses identify pay rates for their employees. The Unit will work with regional chambers of commerce and businesses improvement districts; immigrant small businesses; labor unions; industry groups and worker advocacy groups. Assistance will be available to both workers and businesses, including those for whom English is not their first language.
  • Advocacy: New promotional and educational materials will be created and distributed to workers and businesses to help them understand their rights and responsibilities under the new law. Last week, the state launched a public awareness campaign to remind New Yorkers about the wage increase and inform them about the hotline. The public service announcements are available on YouTube here and here; and in TV quality (h264, mp4) here. The public service announcement is also available in Spanish on YouTube here.

New Minimum Wage Web Tool

A new worker protection web tool is available at ny.gov/MyWage. This web tool will help individuals determine the minimum wage they should be paid by their employer under the new wage rates. Minimum wage can be affected by the date, the location of employment and any tips that may be received.

The tool may not cover additional aspects of the minimum wage law that could result in further adjustments to pay. Additional questions may be submitted using the Minimum Wage Hotline.

New Minimum Wage Hotline

Every worker complaint that is reported to the state will be investigated by the Enforcement and Outreach Unit. The Unit strongly urges any worker who has not been paid the proper wages, or anyone concerned that they are not receiving fair pay, to contact the Minimum Wage Hotline at 1-888-4-NYSDOL (6-9-7-3-6-5).

Trained investigators will both proactively investigate potential minimum wage violations and respond to complaints received through the minimum wage hotline and worker protection website. The Unit will be supported by investigators who speak multiple languages. Additionally, state agencies have comprehensive language access services available to employees and customers to help address every complaint.

In April 2016, the Governor championed the nation-leading legislation to require 12 weeks paid family leave and $15 minimum wage for all New York State workers. The new minimum wage, set to be phased in across the state through 2020, in addition to paid family leave, were made possible by the millions of New Yorkers who supported the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Justice to achieve fair and decent pay for the working class. The increase in minimum wage will impact 2.3 million New Yorkers – about a quarter of the total workforce. These workers will experience higher pay, increasing spending power by more than $15.7 billion.

The launch of the state’s Enforcement and Outreach Unit builds on Governor Cuomo’s comprehensive efforts over the past six years to protect worker’s rights. In May 2015, the Governor announced a task force to tackle abuse in the nail salon industry, and in July 2015, the Governor signed legislation to protect and support nail salon workers, while also launching a multi-agency task force to combat workers exploitation and abuse in 14 industries including day laborers, farm, domestic, restaurant, and car wash workers.

$15 Minimum Wage Phase-in

The $15 minimum wage legislation was passed as part of the 2016-17 state budget, and marks a major accomplishment in the Governor’s efforts to restore economic justice and fairness to working families in New York State. The phase-in schedule on a regional basis is as follows:

  • For workers in New York City employed by large businesses (those with at least 11 employees), the minimum wage will rise to $11 at the end of 2016, then another $2 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2018.
  • For workers in New York City employed by small businesses (those with 10 employees or fewer), the minimum wage will rise to $10.50 by the end of 2016, then another $1.50 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2019.
  • For workers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties, the minimum wage will increase to $10 at the end of 2016, then $1 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2021.
  • For workers in the rest of the state, the minimum wage will increase to $9.70 at the end of 2016, then another .70 each year after until reaching $12.50 on 12/31/2020 – after which the minimum wage will continue to increase to $15 on an indexed schedule to be set by the Director of the Division of Budget in consultation with the Department of Labor.

It is estimated that more than 2 million people will be affected by the increases in the minimum wage. A regional breakdown of the number of workers earning below $15 is available below:

RegionTotal Earning Below $15

Capital Region 134,319; Central NY 91,790; Finger Lakes 154,765; Hudson Valley 261,452; Long Island 355,514; Mohawk Valley 50,929; North Country 40,387; Southern Tier 71,888; Western NY 174,101; New York City 861,895; Total: 2,197,040

More information is available at www.ny.gov/minimumwage.

Statement from Mayor Bill de Blasio on Presidential Executive Order Regarding Refugees and Immigration

“As an American and the grandson of immigrants I am profoundly saddened by the President’s Executive Order on immigration issued today. The United States has been a beacon of hope to the world. We are a country founded on the belief of religious pluralism and equality. Today the President sent a shamefully different message. He has temporarily suspended nearly all refugee admissions, indefinitely banned refugee admissions from Syria, and imposed a 90-day ban on all immigration from a number of Muslim-majority countries. These policies do not reflect the values of the United States or of New York City. We must continue to embrace refugees in need who are victims of terror, not terrorists. We must protect and celebrate religious pluralism. In this great city of immigrants we will remain true to our values and always welcome all who yearn to breathe free.” (27 Jan 2017)

January 14, 2017

Fashion Arts Autism Benefit (FAAB) Launched in New York


Anthony Legarda, Designer; Atty. Carol Tanjutco; Julien Borromeo; Executive Director Thomas Natale; Volunteers: Sonia, Liza, Julie and Cultural Officer Olive Magpile. (seated) Autism Hearts Foundation President/ Founder Erlinda Borromeo and Consul General Tess de Vega. (Photo:Lambert Parong/ Kababayan Media)

New York – The Autism Hearts Foundation, Inc. with the support of the Philippine Consulate General in New York, recently launched the 2017 Fashion Arts Autism Benefit (FAAB) which will take place at the Philippine Center in New York on 07 April 2017 with Philippine Department of Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial as Guest of Honor.

Autism Hearts Foundation President and Founder Erlinda Borromeo, Foundation Executive Director Thomas Natale, and California-based Fashion Designer Anthony Legarda attended the launch with Consul General Theresa Dizon-de Vega and representatives of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations.

The Fashion Arts Autism Benefit will feature art works by autistic children done on piña fabric which will be used for fashion pieces designed by Patis Tesoro and Anthony Legarda. Sample piña wraps and shawls were presented during the event launch.

The Fashion Benefit is part of Autism Hearts Foundation’s advocacy in raising awareness of autism, greater integration of those with the condition in mainstream society, and providing opportunities for persons with autism to maximize their full potential.

The Fashion Benefit will be preceded by an exhibit of the works of the autistic children at the United Nations Headquarters and a special art workshop where the children will be mentored by Filipino and Filipino-American artists based in New York.

In her Welcome Remarks, Consul General Dizon-de Vega stated that support for the project is part of the Philippine Government’s efforts to raise awareness on advocacy programs initiated by members of the Filipino-American Community and also as part of the Consulate General’s contributions to the Philippine Government’s National Strategy on Managing Autism.

Also in attendance at the event launch were members of the Filipino-American media, volunteers from the Filipino Community in the US Northeast and California, Ms. Carol Tanjutco, a New York Financial Advisor and Journalist as well as a volunteer for the event and the 18-year old Julien Borromeo who is one of the featured artists in the exhibit and benefit
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Autism Hearts Foundation is a 501c (3) registered organization and is a partner of Autism Speaks. The Foundation continues to collaborate with the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Health (DOH) on various autism advocacy programs in the Philippines. 

January 9, 2017

60th Anniversary Production of 'Noli Me Tangere, The Opera' Premieres Jan. 28 at The Cultural Center of The Philippines


Manila, Philippines--The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and J&S Productions Inc. will co-present the Philippines' first full-length opera, Noli Me Tangere, The Opera. The opera, which premiered at the Far Eastern University in 1957 and made its CCP debut in 1987, will mark its 60th anniversary with a limited six-performance run at the CCP's Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo from January 28 (gala premiere) to February 3, 2017.

Based on Dr. Jose Rizal's classic novel of the same name, Noli Me Tangere, The Opera was written by National Artist for Music Felipe de Leon (“Payapang Daigdig,” “Sarong Banggi”) and was set to a libretto by National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Tolentino.

This production, which earlier had critically-acclaimed engagements in New York, Washington D.C., and at the Resorts World Manila, will feature a brand-new staging under the directorial reins of debuting stage director Jerry Sibal, a sought-after event designer in New York City, who is also designing new sets and costumes.  

Sibal, who was born and raised in Binondo, Manila, revisits his hometown, albeit centuries earlier, as his inspiration for the show's overall production design.

“Imagine people from all walks of life: Spanish government officials, Chinese merchants, scholars, and the locals converging together at the Old Binondo canal, which is rather filthy, chaotic as precisely depicted in the first chapter of the novel by Rizal (written from 1884-1887).

“The show's sets, which, according to the CCP, are the largest it has ever had for an opera, and my overall directorial concept are very faithful to Rizal's book. Nature-inspired and rustic textures envelop the floor-to-ceiling, multifunctional set pieces on stage. It's like you've found yourself wandering inside the Metropolitan Opera House or a century-old Broadway Theatre in the middle of a busy day in Old Manila. I will also stress more on the violent class struggles of the society at that time,” said Sibal.

The show's score and orchestrations, arranged in the Western operatic tradition with overflow passages reminiscent of Mozart, Puccini, and Wagner, and sung in Tagalog, will be played by the newly formed 52-piece Noli Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Herminigildo Ranera.

At a recent pocket press conference in Quezon City, lead cast members Bianca Camille Lopez (Maria Clara) and Mari Yapjoco (Basilio) performed songs from the opera, “Kay Tamis ng Buhay” and “Gising Na, O Inang Ko,” respectively. Accompanied by pianist Marvin Dizon, Nerissa de Juan (Maria Clara understudy) and Renz Nataniel Cruz (male ensemble member) also performed classic kundiman songs. (The complete cast will be presented to the Philippine media in early January 2017.)

An opera in three acts, Noli Me Tangere, The Opera follows the story of Juan Crisostomo Ibarra, who returns to the Philippines after pursuing scholarly studies in Europe. He plans to open up a school and marry Maria Clara, his betrothed. However, parish priest Padre Damaso, the archenemy of the Ibarras, is out to hinder Crisostomo’s plans, which creates a dramatic storyline of forbidden love, betrayal, and revenge.

Both the novel and the opera depict the abuses suffered by the native Indios at the hands of Spanish tyrants. Both forms also paint a clear picture of the so-called “social cancer” such as the rotten system of governance, the illicit ways of the church, and the unfavorable trade of the privileged class. 

For tickets to the 60th-anniversary production of Noli Me Tangere, The Opera, contact J&S Productions Inc. (63926) 038 0548, (63921) 890 3816, (632) 998 2356, or the CCP Box Office (632) 832 3704/06 or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.

Filipino Youth Activists Skeptical of Megachurch Construction In Woodside, Queens


Woodside, NY On the cold evening of January 5th underneath the 7 train, Anakbayan New York, the Coalition to Defend Little Manila and members of the Woodside community held a speak out and rally against the construction of a megachurch in the heart of the Filipino Community. The proposed structure of The Universal Church on 69th Street and Roosevelt Avenue would stand 70 feet high, taller than any surrounding building.  Not only would it be out of context to the community, but it would also break a New York City building code that limits height of building construction.

Community members have expressed serious concern over the construction, saying that it would increase traffic, cause air and noise pollution, and blocked sunlight, which would affect the quality of life, especially for residents who live behind the church.

“As Anakbayan NY members engaged with Woodside residents, specifically those living right behind the megachurch on the expansion project, it was clear that many residents were not even aware of the development proposal. This lack of transparency shows that there clearly was no regard for the residents of Woodside,” said Anakbayan NY in a statement.

“The proposed structure would threaten the livelihood of Filipino businesses and small businesses on Roosevelt Avenue. The loss of small businesses would provide a gateway for giant corporations to take over Roosevelt Avenue. This could lead to increased rents and eventual displacement of working class Woodside residents,” said Tanya Villalobos, Vice Chairperson of Anakbayan NY.

“There is no legitimate grounds for the displacement, disenfranchisement of working class families of color.  [This] development is not growth. This development is not sustainable because it is not led by the community,” said Anakbayan NY Chairperson Danica Pagulayan, emphasizing community control over development.  “We are not here to pander towards the government or developers to protect our community.  The only people that can protect this community are the people who live here, the people who work here, the people who moved here for their survival,” continued Danica.

Filipino Youth Protest In Woodside, Queens Against Megachurch Construction in the Community

Melanie Dulfo, representing the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, spoke about the issues of migrant communities, including displacement, and connected them to the struggles happening in their home countries.  “Across our migrant communities… we experience forced migration - when we are forced to leave our countries and look for jobs abroad to survive.  Our economies are in constant crisis because we [have] unequal relationships with first world countries such as the U.S.  So whether you are from Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, your country is experiencing the same thing.”  Even when we form our communities here, we are still displaced.  We are still forced to leave our communities.   It is our duty as migrants to band together and resist displacement.”

Community Board 2, representing the Woodside, Sunnyside, and Long Island City neighborhoods, held its regular meeting on January 5.  On its original agenda, CB2 was supposed to vote on the development of the megachurch, however the vote was postponed to a later date.  Anakbayan New York mobilized its members alongside the Woodside community emphasized that it is the community, who will decide what will happen to the Woodside community.

About Anakbayan
Anakbayan-New York is a community-based organization that fights for the rights and welfare of the Filipino youth and community in New York City. We aim to build unity among Filipino youth -- immigrant, US-born/raised, student, working, LGBTQI, women, artists, etc -- striving for genuine freedom and democracy and for the promotion of cultural awareness and the advancement of rights, welfare, and social justice.

January 3, 2017

Minimum Wage Increase Now in Effect Across New York

Commissioner Lorelei Salas and Representatives from DCA & SBS speaking with a local business owner about key City laws that apply to his store. Photo: NYC DCA 

Last December the Department of Consumer Affairs Visited Businesses Citywide to Remind Employers that Minimum Wage Increase takes effect on December 31, 2016 

City Inspectors Issue Advice, Not Violations, to Local Businesses Across the City

NEW YORK — Commissioner Lorelei Salas of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and members of her staff, as well as representatives from the City Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) and Small Business Services (SBS), visited businesses in all five boroughs this past December to educate businesses about the increase in the state minimum wage.

Throughout the day, teams visited businesses in East Harlem, Flatbush, Parkchester, Sunnyside and Westerleigh/Castleton to distribute postcards (BengaliChinese, Haitian-CreoleKoreanRussian and Spanish) reminding local businesses that the New York State minimum wage goes up for all workers regardless of status on December 31, 2016. DCA also mailed the postcard to 325,000 New York City employers. Staff and inspectors also provided businesses with information about how to comply with key workplace, consumer protection, and licensing laws that the Agency enforces—without issuing violations.

Commissioner Lorelei Salas speaks with a local business owner about workplace, consumer protection, and licensing laws that apply to his business—handing out key publications and not violations. Photo: NYC DCA

“Proactively educating employers about how to comply with the law is a key component of the work that our Office of Labor Policy and Standards does and essential to all of DCA’s work to create a culture of compliance. With only two weeks left to go before the minimum wage goes up, it is vital that employers are planning for the increase,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “This increase, which is the largest percentage increase low-wage workers have seen in New York in 60 years, is going to be good for workers, for businesses, and for all of our city’s neighborhoods.”

Last December 31, 2016, the minimum wage increase in New York State took effect for all workers regardless of status.

The wage varies depending on the size and type of the business (see chart below). For additional information or to file a complaint, visit New York State Department of Labor’s website at labor.ny.gov or call 1-888-4-NYSDOL (1-888-469-7365).

Number of Employees Type/ New York State Minimum Wage
11 or more/ $11.00 per hour
10 or less/ $10.50 per hour
Fast Food/ $12.00 per hour

An increase in the minimum wage is critical to helping hardworking New Yorkers make ends meet. According to the Economic Policy Institute, more than a third of the workers impacted are raising at least one child, and the wage hike will help almost 75 percent of people living below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. Several large employers around the country have already started raising wages to better recruit and retain workers, and to improve customer service. Higher wages can also benefit smaller or lower-margin businesses in sectors such as retail and food service, which can grow even while paying decent wages.

Minimum wage increases have been found to benefit larger and smaller businesses alike. In an op-ed in Forbes earlier this year, Bill Phelps, the CEO of Wetzel’s Pretzels, a national chain, reported a doubling of same-store sales in California following each of two minimum wage increases there since 2014. Here in New York City, home-grown coffee shop chain Café Grumpy pays most of its employees at least $14 an hour and has continued to grow since it opened its first store in 2005. In January, it is set to open its eighth location in the city.

Business Education Day team proudly hold up the purple postcard that alerts NYC that the minimum wage is going up on December 31, 2016. Photo: NYC DCA

This is DCA’s eighth Business Education Day this year, during which the Agency has visited approximately 600 business to provide them with tools to comply with the law without issuing violations. Teams distributed relevant compliance materials in multiple languages including DCA’s easy-to-read Inspection Checklists to provide businesses with a detailed list of what DCA inspectors look for during an inspection. Putting these checklists directly into the hands of business owners will enable them to know exactly how to comply with laws and rules before they are visited by an inspector – this means fewer violations and fewer fines

The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCA licenses more than 81,000 businesses in more than 50 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more. By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCA protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance. Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCA empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCA also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities. For more information about DCA and its work, call 311 or visit DCA at nyc.gov/dca or on its social media sites, TwitterFacebookInstagram and YouTube.