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Saturday, December 28, 2019

PCG New York, FilVetREP Honor Filipino WWII Veterans Anew

Philippine Consul General to New York Claro Cristobal (5th from left) and FilVetREP Chairman MGen. Antonio Taguba (8th from left) join the 10 next of kins of WW2 veterans honored during a US Congressional Gold Medal Award Ceremony in New York. (Photo courtesy of Carol Tanjutco).

New York – The Philippine Consulate General in New York, working in close partnership with the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP) presented the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) to ten Filipino World War II veterans in a ceremony held at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center in New York on 03 December 2019.

The ten veterans who were honored were Capt. Juan R. Bacani, Carlos C. Calub, Isidro G. Dela Torre, Pelagio A. Fariñas, Benjamin F. Gonzales, Sr., Capt. Enrique S.D. Manaois, Arcadio R. Nepomuceno, Cirilo F. Ofilada, Basilio T. Toledo, and Johnson S. Villanueva. Of the ten awardees, Mr. Nepomuceno is the only one who is still alive, but because of his advanced age, could not attend the ceremony. Family members represented all the veterans and received the medals on their behalf.

The Congressional Gold Medal recognizes the valor and sacrifice of the Filipino soldiers and recognized guerillas who fought alongside American troops during that war. The grant of the medal was the result of many years of lobbying by the veterans and their supporters. The law granting the award was passed in 2015, 70 years after the end of the war.

In his speech during the ceremony, MGen (ret.) Antonio Taguba, FilVetREP Chairman, recounted the struggle of his father, also a World War II veteran, who, after enlistment and after having fought in the war was given his pay of $22.80. This unfairness is what drove Gen. Taguba to work tirelessly to make sure that the veterans are recognized, no matter how many years have passed.

Gen. Taguba travels all over the United States, working closely with the Filipino community and the Philippine Consulates to find opportunities to present the award to Filipino Veterans. Gen. Taguba emphasized that, with the march of time, it is also imperative to preserve the stories of the bravery and struggles of the veterans, before they all pass and in order for present generations not to forget their sacrifices.

Philippine Consul General to New York Claro S. Cristobal thanked the family members of the veterans for “braving the cold brought by the first snowfall” and expressed hope that the “patriotic acts of those veterans being honored tonight will bring a sense of warmth and camaraderie to those who are present.” Citing that the CGM award ceremony is the second time being held during his term, Consul General Cristobalsaid that “we will further reach out to those who have yet to be honored.”

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Friday, December 27, 2019

Commemoration of the 123rd Martyrdom of Dr. Jose P. Rizal

Consul General Claro S. Cristobal (7th from left, 2nd row) with Court of Appeals Associate Justice Sir Elihu A. Ybanez, KGCR Supreme Commander, KOR IHQ with the Knights of Rizal. (Photo by PCGNY)

New York City – The Philippine Consulate General in New York, in partnership with the Knights of Rizal-New York Chapter, held a commemorative event on 19 December 2019 at the Philippine Center on the occasion of the 123rd Death Anniversary of Dr. Jose P. Rizal with the theme “Jose Rizal: Huwaran ng Pilipino sa Ikadalawampu’t Isang Siglo.”

The event was highlighted by a discussion of Court of Appeals Associate Justice Sir Elihu A. Ybanez, KGCR, Supreme Commander of the Knights of Rizal, IHQ on the crimes committed by the Spaniards during the Spanish era in the Philippines.

New Knights of Rizal New York Chapter members including Sir Consul Ricarte B. Abejuela III (Leftmost). (Photo by PCGNY)

Justice Elihu Ibanez said that “it has been the heroism of Rizal in the face of death that inspire many to be concerned about living for the Filipinos, giving them the decent life and giving strength and individual freedom.”

Hence, he pointed out that “the question is not about how Rizal died, but how he lived.” Instead of enumerating all his well-known qualities and achievements, Justice Ibanez said that he “advocates the renewed pledge of devotion to the ideas and ideals espoused by Rizal.”

Discussion on the Crimes committed by the Spaniards during the Spanish era in the Philippines by Sir Justice Elihu A. Ybanez, KGCR, Supreme Commander, Knights of Rizal IHQ . (Photo by PCGNY)

The program included a Knighting Ceremony of three new members of the Knights of Rizal New York Chapter including Consul Ricarte B. Abejuela III of the Philippine Consulate General in New York and the elevation of other members to the second degree of knighthood. The Knighting ceremony was presided by Sir Justice Elihu A. Ybanez. Chapter heads and members of other areas in the US Northeast were present to witness the solemn ceremony.

Newly-elected Mayor of Bergenfield, New Jersey, Sir Arvin Amatorio, Esq., KCR delivers his appreciation speech. (Photo by PCGNY) 

The program also featured a dramatic Tableau of Jose Rizal’s execution, staged by the New York Chapter, laying of flowers, and video presentation. New York Chapter Commander Sir Mariano Aquino Jr., KCR thanked Consul General Claro S. Cristobal for organizing the annual commemoration with the KOR.

Consul Arman R. Talbo receives citation for his contributions to the Fil-Am community. (Photo by PCGNY)

A citation was given by the Supreme Commander to newly-elected Mayor of Bergenfield, New Jersey, Sir Arvin Amatorio, Esq., KCR and Sir Consul Arman R. Talbo, KCR for his contributions to the Filipino-American community.

Tableau of Rizal’s execution. (Photo by PCGNY)

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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Vision Zero: De Blasio Administration Announces New Crackdown on Dangerous Driving During the Holidays and Lower Speed Limit on Two of Brooklyn's Busiest Streets

NYC DOT Facebook Page Photo

NEW YORK—On Monday December 23, de Blasio Administration officials came together in Queens to announce increased traffic enforcement during the holiday season, and that the City will lower the speed limit from 30 MPH to 25 MPH along Third and Hamilton Avenues in Brooklyn starting next month. The period around Christmas and New Year’s Day, the darkest days of the year, has also generally been among the deadliest of the year on city streets. Officials also issued an update on traffic fatality trends for 2019: despite setbacks, this year is on track to conclude as the second-safest in New York City’s recorded history.

“While we’ve made tremendous progress over the past six years with Vision Zero, there is still undoubtedly more work to do to make our streets safer,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The recent traffic fatalities have made us even more determined to keep Vision Zero moving forward. We’re increasing our traffic enforcement efforts and lowering the speed limit on two of Brooklyn’s busiest streets to ensure that all New Yorkers arrive home safely for the holidays.”

“Any life lost is a tragedy, and while we continue to build off the progress from Vision Zero, this year’s challenges reminded us of the work still to be done,” said Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin. “During this final week of 2019, which has historically proven to be one of the most dangerous times of the year, we will be cracking down on dangerous drivers so that everyone can get home to their families for the holidays.”

The Administration, in response to the recent 6 traffic fatalities, announced expanded enforcement efforts, both via the NYPD and through automated enforcement.

Dusk and Darkness, cont’d: The period between Christmas and New Year’s Day, among the darkest weeks of the year, is also usually among the deadliest of the year for pedestrians.  In 2018, five people – including four pedestrians—were killed from December 23 to 31. This coming week, as part of its Dusk and Darkness campaign, NYPD will be expanding their enforcement efforts to ensure the streets are safe for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

Expanded Truck Enforcement: With increasing number of crashes in 2019 involving cyclists and pedestrians being struck by trucks, the NYPD has increased enforcement against commercial trucks to ensure these vehicles are following all traffic laws.

A Safer 25 MPH speed limit on Third Avenue and Hamilton Avenue in Brooklyn: Following 6 fatalities in 2019, DOT will lower the speed limit from 30 MPH to 25 MPH along Third Avenue from Prospect Ave to 62nd St (2.3 miles), and Hamilton Ave from Luquer St to 18th St (1.9 miles), in January 2020.

More life-saving speed cameras: After a new and stronger speed camera law was enacted in Albany and took effect on July 11th, DOT has continued its unprecedented expansion of cameras.  As 2019 ends, DOT has 364 camera zones now in operation, up from 140 at the beginning of 2019, and will expand cameras at a pace of 60 zones per month in the coming year. The agency is on pace to meet the Mayor’s goal of reaching each of the law’s maximum 750 school zones by next summer.

“We had a difficult and challenging year under Vision Zero, and as 2019 comes to a close, we want to make sure that this holiday season is a joyous and safe one for all New Yorkers,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We have grieved at the loss of life on our streets this year, particularly along Third Avenue, which has seen six fatalities this year as opposed to two in 2018. The Mayor has asked DOT and NYPD to take aggressive action on this corridor with its challenging mix of residential and industrial uses and heavy traffic on and off the Gowanus Expressway. We believe that lowering the speed limit along Third and Hamilton Avenues, coupled with strong enforcement, will help calm traffic in the burgeoning neighborhoods of Gowanus, Red Hook and Sunset Park.  In 2020, DOT will also install additional roadway engineering and capital improvements to help make this challenging corridor even safer.”

“As the start of 2020 approaches, the NYPD renews its commitment to protecting all New Yorkers from dangerous driving behaviors,” said NYPD Chief of Transportation William Morris. “The vision of New York as a city where all members of the community, and particularly bicyclists and pedestrians, can use roads safely without the threat of death or injury remains as compelling as ever.  We will continue to work closely with our Vision Zero partners to ensure the successful implementation of the Green Wave Plan.”
Administration officials today also noted the notable Vision Zero trends of 2019:

Traffic fatalities increased for first time since Vision Zero began in 2014, but 2019 will likely be New York City’s second safest year: As of December 22, traffic fatalities are now at 215, more than the 203 recorded in all of 2018, New York City’s safest-ever year – with a year-to-year rise in fatalities of below 10 percent.  Under current trends, 2019 is likely to end as the second-safest year in the City’s recorded history.  Six of the seven safest years for traffic fatalities have occurred since New York City became the first American city to institute Vision Zero in 2014.

Pedestrian deaths in NYC continue to hold steady, but more SUVs/light trucks on the road create challenges: After a dramatic decline in pedestrian fatalities two years ago (when fatalities fell from 148 in 2016 to 108 in 2017), NYC pedestrian fatalities have remained at about the same level: 117 as of December 22 compared to 115 in all of 2018.  Nationally, pedestrian fatalities have risen every year for the last decade, a change that has been partially attributed to the increased share of SUVs/light trucks, which are deadlier to pedestrians and cyclists in crashes.  This year, DOT released new data showing that the share of deadly crashes involving SUVs/light trucks rose from 40% in 2013-17 to 46% since the start of 2018.

Cyclist deaths were up, but motorcyclist deaths were down: After a record-low year for bicycle fatalities in 2018 (10 fatalities), bicycling deaths in New York City increased in 2019 by the largest margin of any travel mode.  To date this year, 28 cyclists have been killed, the most of any year since 1999.  Meanwhile, motorcyclist fatalities have declined from 40 last year to 25 so far this year.

Sharp increase in Brooklyn cyclist fatalities: Of the 28 cyclist deaths in 2019, 17 happened in Brooklyn.  In 2018, Brooklyn saw only 2 cyclist fatalities.

Borough breakdown: safest-year ever in the Bronx: The Bronx saw the safest year in its recorded history, with 27 fatalities thus far in 2019, compared to 38 last year. (Its previous record low was 32 in 2007.) Staten Island, which had its safest-ever year last year (with 7 fatalities) has seen its second-safest year in 2019 with 8 fatalities thus far.  In Manhattan and Queens, fatality trends were largely unchanged, with only Brooklyn seeing a notable increase.

Agency officials also pointed today to a number of major initiatives undertaken by Vision Zero Task Force agencies in 2019:

Major projects for pedestrians: Noting the increased fatalities of the last few weeks, DOT has committed to studying and addressing immediate safety fixes along corridors and at intersections where those traffic fatalities occurred. Other streets have been identified for major safety upgrades in the next year are Northern Boulevard and Queens Boulevard, both identified for safety upgrades in the updated Borough Pedestrian Safety Action Plans, released by the Mayor last February. Meanwhile, the new Glacier Rock Pedestrian Space in Long Island City is among dozens of projects that DOT undertook in 2019 that offer safety benefits to pedestrians. Other major successful projects in 2019, some in partnership with NYPD, included new-shared streets in downtown Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan; the expansion of pedestrian space along 8th Avenue in Midtown and the increased pedestrian space around Rockefeller Center for the holiday season.

Green Wave, making cycling safer: In July, in response to the upturn in cyclist fatalities, the de Blasio Administration released its Green Wave plan to dramatically expand cycling infrastructure.  DOT crews had installed 21.4 miles of new protected bike lanes (PBLs) for 2019, including the Administration’s 100th PBL mile along Fountain Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn. Under the Green Wave and with the enactment of the Safe Streets Master Plan, DOT expects to install 60 additional miles of protected bike lanes by the end of 2021 (30 miles in each of the next two years) – increasing the size of New York City’s on-street protected bike lane network by 60%.  Among major protected bike lane projects completed in 2019: Central Park West, 11th Avenue, 52nd and 55th Streets in Manhattan; 4th Avenue and 7th Avenue in Brooklyn; and Willis Avenue in the Bronx.  For the first time during UN General Assembly week in September, the NYPD and DOT also partnered to maintain uninterrupted PBL access along First and Second Avenues.

Better Buses: As part of the Administration’s Better Buses plan, DOT made street improvements that improve bus speeds, but those changes have also been shown to increase safety for all street users.  Among the major projects undertaken in 2019 were Manhattan’s 14th Street busway, as well as Brooklyn’s Church Avenue and Fresh Pond Road in Queens, congested streets where new bus lanes were added.

Safe Fleet Transition Plan: DCAS is purchasing vehicles with improved safety features, including automatic braking, back-up cameras, driver alerts, designs that improve driver visibility, heated mirrors, and other technologies that monitor speeding and instances of reckless driving. DCAS also leads the country in installing side-guards, barriers that prevent vehicles and cyclists from sliding under large trucks during side-impact collisions. To date, 2,700 vehicles have been equipped with side-guards and more are being added every day.

TLC: The TLC connected drivers and bicyclists in its first Bike Ride and Discussion event this June. Drivers rode on Citi Bikes through Brooklyn with cyclist advocates, followed by a discussion of the experience, challenges they encountered, and safe ways to share the road. In addition, the TLC distributed over 32,000 "Look for Cyclist" stickers to driver centers across the city. Our annual Honor Roll this year recognized 433 drivers, of which 101 were repeat honorees. Over 11,000 drivers received Vision Zero education in 2019, and the TLC has held a total of 661 driver outreach meetings since 2014.  The TLC also increased its enforcement in 2019 around unsafe driving behaviors, such as illegal street hails, speeding, failure to yield, and stop sign violations.

Commercial Waste Collection Reform: In past years, progress on Vision Zero has been hindered by the continued high number of fatalities caused by collisions with private carting trucks -- including eight such deaths in 2019.  The plan enacted by the City Council in 2019 will dramatically reduce the number of vehicle-miles traveled by these trucks, and also gives the Business Integrity Commission (BIC) new regulatory powers -- including requirements for safer driving practices among carting drivers.

New Mayoral Vision Zero website: This week, the Mayor’s Office of Operations has unveiled a new and improved website that will help track and measure progress of Vision Zero initiatives.  Please see

About Vision Zero:
Vision Zero is the de Blasio administration’s initiative to use every tool at its disposal to end traffic deaths and injuries on New York City streets. Since the program’s inaugural year in 2014, when New York City became the first American city to adopt Vision Zero, the city’s traffic fatalities have declined more than 30 percent — bucking national fatality trends, which have increased 15 percent over the same period.

For more information about the de Blasio Administration’s Vision Zero initiative, please see

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Philippine Consulate General in New York Begins Registration for Overseas Voters

A Filipino applicant registering as an overseas voter at the Philippine Consulate General. Photo by NYPCG.

NEW YORK –The Philippine Consulate General in New York commenced overseas voter registration on 16 December for the 2022 Philippine National elections.

A total of twenty (20) overseas voters registered at the Consulate General: 14 were first time registrants, 4 were transfers, 2 were reactivations. Of these registrants, five (5) were from those who newly reacquired their Philippine citizenship.

A Filipino applicant registering as an overseas voter at the Philippine Consulate General. Photo by NYPCG.

The Consulate opened overseas registration to the public and will continue to do so until end of registration in 2021. The Consulate will also include OV registration during its weekend consular outreach missions, to cater to the needs of kababayans who c
annot go to the Consulate on weekdays.

contributed 191219pcgny

Monday, December 23, 2019

Protecting Young New Yorkers: De Blasio Signs Ban of Flavored E-Cigarettes Into Law

NY City Hall Press Office Photo

NEW YORK— Building on previous efforts to curb the use of tobacco among young New Yorkers, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed Intro. 1362-A by Council Member Mark Levine today banning the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes and flavored e-liquids in New York City, including mint, menthol, and wintergreen e-cigarettes and e-liquids. The ban takes effect July 1, 2020.

"Big tobacco, take note: New York City will not stand for your cynical attempts to hook children on a potentially lethal, lifelong nicotine addiction," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "By signing this legislation, we are standing up for our kids, the health of our city, and taking the action that is necessary to curb tobacco use once and for all."

Intro 1362-A bans the sale of flavored e-cigs and flavored e-liquids in New York City, including mint, menthol and wintergreen e-cigarettes. The bill would also ban the use of "concept flavors", like Rainbow Road or Polar Breeze, which attempt to circumvent flavor bans. Additionally, the legislation requires the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to conduct an awareness campaign to educate the public about the availability of smoking-cessation resources. This goes into effect in 90 days.

The City has taken extensive action to prevent and discourage the use of e-cigarettes among minors. Retailers are prohibited from selling e-cigarettes and related products to those younger than 21 years old. Additionally, a separate license is required to sell e-cigarettes, and use of e-cigarettes is prohibited in all places where smoking is prohibited, including schools, parks, and many workplaces. Additionally, pharmacies are no longer allowed to sell any tobacco or e-cigarette products.

Literacy and education of the dangers of e-cigarettes has been a key component of the City's prevention efforts. In October, The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene launched a bilingual, multi-platform digital media campaign—including Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, Hulu, Facebook, and Google search—to educate teens about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

Last year, as part of the de Blasio administration's comprehensive approach to reducing the retail availability of tobacco, the city banned the use of tobacco products in pharmacies. In August 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a package of bills into law to reduce tobacco use, which also included raising the minimum prices for all tobacco products; capping the number of tobacco retailers citywide; creating a retail license for e-cigarettes that was not open to pharmacies, effectively banning e-cigarettes from pharmacies; capping the number of e-cigarette retailers; and promoting smoke-free spaces in residential settings.

"New York City celebrates a victory for public health and shows the way for other cities with the signing of this legislation to ban flavored e-cigarettes," said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Raul Perea-Henze. "This historic step helps to protect young New Yorkers, who are most vulnerable to the threat of nicotine addiction, and builds on the innovative work of our Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to make all our communities aware of the ongoing dangers of tobacco and e-cigarette use."

"Big Tobacco built a deadly industry off of the health of teens—getting them hooked young and keeping them addicted to e-cigarettes with flavors like bubble gum," said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. "E-cigarette executives are using the same playbook they used with menthol but we will not let history repeat itself. By stopping the e-cigarette industry from peddling flavors attractive to kids we are protecting a new generation from nicotine addiction."

"New York City is now taking assertive action to address a public health crisis which has been mounting for years, while our federal government continues to be frozen in inaction. The resurgence of nicotine use by young adults has given us no choice but to act," said City Council Health Committee Chair Mark Levine. "With the signing of this groundbreaking bill, New York City is finally taking direct aim at the fruity, minty, candy-like flavors of e-cigarettes which were clearly designed to appeal to young people in the first place. As a city, our highest obligation has to be to protect young people. I am proud that we have worked together to prevent yet another generation of young people from falling into the grips of a lifetime of addiction to flavored nicotine products."

Elated by SEA Games success, President Duterte vows full support to Filipino athletes

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte poses for posterity with the 2019 Southeast Asian Games medalists at the Malacañan Palace on December 18, 2019. KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has promised to fully support Filipino athletes following their successful campaign in the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

In a speech during the recognition of the SEA Games medalists in Malacañang Wednesday, the President said the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) pledged P100 million for the training of athletes who will participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Chief Executive said he will talk to lawmakers to give the athletes additonal benefits particularly the grant of allowances while training.

“So I have another 100 million para… But ‘yan lang, I’m very strict about money and I am very strict about money and kailangan talaga — must be accounted up to the last centavo,” he said of Pagcor’s commitment.

“Wala akong ibigay ‘yang pera. Hindi man atin ‘yan eh. Hindi akin ‘yan. So ibigay ko ‘yan. And for the good and the interest of our country.”

The President said he is proud of the Filipino athletes, praising them for reigning over their neighbors in Southeast Asia.

“The blood, sweat and tears that you have shed to earn this prestigious recognition is truly inspiring,” he noted.

“I thus take this opportunity to congratulate everyone who played an integral part in its success. This outcome serves as a testament to the great things we can achieve when we work together.”

The President is hopeful that the milestone lights the torch for the nation’s renaissance in athletic glory encouraging everyone to continue supporting Filipino athletes who embody excellence, superiority and teamwork.

And through the distinct brand of Filipino resilience and determination to succeed, the diligence of the country’s organizing committee officials and partners, technical teams and the athletes, the hosting the 30th SEA Games became a success, according to the President.

The Philippines won 149 golds, 117 silvers, and 121 bronzes to claim the overall title in the biennial tournament held in the country for the fourth time.

Almost P79-milion cash incentives were also given to SEA Games medalists. According to RA 10699, a gold medalist athlete will receive P300, 000, P150, 000 for silver medalist and P60,000 for bronze.

President Duterte was assisted by Executive Salvador Medialdea, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Cong. Bambol Tolentino, Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) Chairman and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go during the distribution of cash incentives.

Filipino Scientists and Researchers Hold Saliksikan 2019 at Harvard University

Consul Arman R. Talbo (standing, 11th from the left) join the young Filipino scientists and researchers based in Massachusetts who held a flash talk on their research and expertise at Harvard. (Photo by NYPCG)

Cambridge, Massachusetts- Filipino scientists and researchers mostly from Harvard and MIT held a flash talk of their current research projects and fields of expertise on 14 December 2019 at Harvard.  The event was dubbed Saliksikan 2019 and was attended by more than 30 participants.

Program hosts Glen Andrew de Vera, PhD; Erlyn Macarayan, PhD; and Joann Arce, PhD, said that the event was aimed at providing the participants an overview of the research projects of Filipinos in Massachusetts and to build camaraderie and strengthen ties among them. 

At the event, thirteen young scientists, doctors, and researchers took turns in presenting their work and research.  After the presentations, the participants took the opportunity to network.  The flash talk was followed by the group's Christmas party celebration and the culmination of their “Tabang Mindanao” fundraising project to provide support to the families affected by the earthquakes in Mindanao.

The Philippine Consulate General in New York was represented by Consul Arman R. Talbo who encouraged them to participate in the Balik Scientist Program. Some of them indicated their interest to participate in the Program next year.  The Consulate will continue to coordinate with them and extend assistance in facilitating their application.  Consul Talbo likewise encouraged the scientists and researchers to volunteer as mentors in the P-Grad program of the Consulate where they can mentor fresh grad Fil-Ams who are in the same field or profession.

contributed 191219pcgny

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Mayor de Blasio Announces Plan That Will End Long-Term Street Homelessness in New York City

NY City Hall Press Photo

NEW YORK—The de Blasio Administration announced on December 17 Tuesday, its first-in-the nation, 6- Point Action Plan to end long-term street homelessness in New York City over the next five years. The plan will increase housing, mental health and medical services for unsheltered individuals, and enhance outreach resources to deliver more urgent and rapid responses to unsheltered individuals in need.

“Homeless New Yorkers are just like us—they deserve our love and compassion and a commitment to go as far as we can to help,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “So here’s our promise: we will help every last person experiencing long-term homelessness off our streets and we will do more than we ever thought possible to bring them home.”

Current strategies have helped more than 2,450 individuals off the streets and into transitional and permanent settings since the launch of HOME-STAT in April 2016.
By marshaling new and critical resources, the first-in-the-nation six-point Action Plan, unveiled will:

1. Increase Safe Haven capacity by opening 1,000 new Safe Haven beds

2. Create 1,000 new low-barrier permanent apartments by working with partners across the housing and social services sectors

3. Deliver new health resources to people where they are, providing treatment through street medical care and behavioral health care, and build the trust needed for clients to come inside

4. Provide coordinated rapid outreach response through the Street Homelessness Joint Command Center

5. Leverage state-of-the-art outreach technology to better connect clients to the services they need to transition into housing

6. Expand Diversion and Outreach in our subway system

Create Paths to Permanency Through New Housing Resources

Through this Action Plan, the City will expand the number of beds designed to support New Yorkers who’ve lived on the streets with specialized services. These 1,000 new ‘safe haven’ and ‘stabilization’ will increase the total number of beds dedicated to serving street homeless individuals by 64 percent citywide to 2,800. Today, there are approximately 1,800 such beds available across the five boroughs—triple the number available in 2014.

To address urgent housing needs, the City will also create 1,000 permanent housing units for New Yorkers experiencing street homelessness, working in collaboration with housing and social services nonprofit providers. In partnership with HPD, the City will work to identify privately-owned properties throughout the City with a large share of vacancies that can be converted into safe, secure permanent housing. These new units could be immediately occupied by eligible households, including some who are formerly unsheltered individuals.

The plan will also improve access to rental assistance for unsheltered individuals, and make it clear that a shelter stay is not a requirement for unsheltered individuals working with outreach teams to qualify for rental assistance. For unsheltered individuals who do choose to utilize rental assistance, the City will work to expedite rehousing placements. Additionally, the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) will enhance the supportive housing placement process, including through the launch of a new eligibility and tracking database system during 2020.

Provide Coordinated Medical and Behavioral Health Care

To strengthen the provision of medical and behavioral health care directly to unsheltered New Yorkers where they are, the City will expand the Street Medicine approach developed by HOME-STAT outreach providers to all five boroughs, delivering rapid response care on the streets and in the subways with services such as: risk assessments, wound care, referrals to medical and mental health providers, medication assistance, administration of antibiotics and blood pressure and diabetes screening. Currently, the Street Medicine program operates in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

The City will also work across Agencies, bringing all relevant experience and expertise to the table, to ensure unsheltered New Yorkers with the most serious mental health challenges are closely connected to care, referred to care coordination, and/or engaged by mobile treatment teams, which provide psychosocial and psychiatric assessment, medication management, care coordination, peer support, and housing placement assistance to people where they are. Additionally, teams offer specialized treatment interventions for trauma and substance use, taking a harm reduction approach.

NYC Health + Hospitals participates in interagency coordination meetings to ensure smooth transition between homeless outreach, removal to the hospital for emergency services, and discharge back to the community. Further, there will be hospital coordination with DHS to improve discharge planning for patients returning to shelter. The NYC Health + Hospital Central Office will coordinate with city agency partners, outreach teams, and hospitals to ensure ongoing communication.

ICYMI: Status Updates on City’s New Approaches

Street Homelessness Joint Command Center–

DHS and NYPD lead a 24/7/365 Street Homelessness Joint Command Center that conducts interagency rapid outreach deployment from a central location using precision mapping, client information, and rapid response to incoming notifications.

To address the most challenging cases of unsheltered homelessness involving high-needs clients—who often face the most significant, overlapping needs, including mental health and substance misuse—the Joint Command Center also develops tailored interventions on a case-by-case basis to work towards a breakthrough to encourage these individuals to finally accept services and transition off the streets and out of the subways. Individual plans are created in close collaboration with partners including DOHMH, H+H, FDNY Emergency Medical Services, and contracted outreach providers

Diversion– The Subway Diversion Project is a citywide initiative reforming Police Officers’ approach to engaging and offering services to unsheltered New Yorkers underground, with a focus on diverting individuals from the criminal justice system towards outreach services and supportive programs.  Participants who opt into the program complete an assessment with an outreach team, receive a referral to shelter and/or other services, and have their summonses cleared, ultimately diverting them towards shelter away from unnecessary formal court processes and helping more people come inside and out of the subways. The City is expanding the program across Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens

Unprecedented Investments Show Progress – Since 2014, the City has redoubled outreach efforts, dedicating unprecedented new resources to street outreach programs and providers:

Quintupling the City’s investment in street homeless programs, increasing from approximately $45M in 2013 to more than $240M

Tripling the number of outreach staff canvassing the streets engaging New Yorkers 24/7/365 since 2014, from fewer than 200 to more than 550, with those dedicated staff canvassing the streets every day, building relationships over weeks and months through regular contact and concerted engagement with homeless New Yorkers focused on encouraging them to accept services and transition off the streets.

More than quadrupling the number of emergency ‘safe haven’ and ‘stabilization’ beds dedicated to serving street homeless New Yorkers citywide since 2014, with hundreds of beds opened during this Administration, bringing the total up from 600 to more than 1,800 today, and hundreds more set to open in the coming years. Today’s announcement of 1,000 new beds will ultimately increase the citywide total by 654 percent, to approximately 2,800 beds dedicated to serving street homeless individuals and available to HOME-STAT outreach teams in their citywide outreach efforts.

Building the City’s first-ever by-name list of individuals known to be homeless and residing on the streets to improve delivery of services, with outreach teams now knowing approximately 1,300 street homeless individuals by name and actively engaging another 2,400 individuals encountered on the streets to determine whether they are homeless.

Increasing joint outreach operations to engage more New Yorkers and offer more supports, including expanding joint outreach operations with partner Agencies such as DOHMH, Parks Department, Department of Sanitation, NYPD, and the MTA to address conditions as they occur and provide alternative pathways to permanence.

“The de Blasio administration is rising to meet the moral challenge of street homelessness with a bold plan the likes of which our country has never seen,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Raul Perea-Henze. “This action plan to end long-term street homelessness is rooted in lessons we have learned about the power of persistent outreach and coordinated care for the whole person wherever they are in their journey. We call on all New Yorkers to help us bring family members, friends and neighbors back home from the streets.”

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Philippine Consulate in New York Leads Filipino Christmas Tradition in the Big Apple

Consul General Claro S. Cristobal gives his closing remarks during the last night of the Simbang Gabi. (Photo by Ray M. Maranan)

New York City – Filipino traditions of celebrating Christmas continue to warm the spirits of the Filipino-American community in New York and amaze the hundreds of thousands of Americans and tourists passing by the Philippine Center along the busy Fifth Avenue of Manhattan.

The glass windows of the Philippine Center are adorned with lights, sinamay, red poinsettia, and colorful parol from Pampanga. Giant LED screens continuously play scenes of Christmas celebrations and natural wonders all across the island, invitingpassers-by to just pack a bag, book a flight, and celebrate Christmas the Filipino way, far from the biting winter cold. The display is an in-house joint undertaking of the Philippine Consulate, Department of Tourism- New York, and the Philippine Center.

Fil-Am community attending the last night of Simbang Gabi at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center. (Photo by Ray M. Maranan)

The lobby is decorated with bright Christmas lights and colorful capiz parol from different provinces in the Philippines. Nine unique lanterns made by the Fil-Am community during the parol-making workshop organized by the Consulate and the Filipino School of New York and New Jersey last 23 November 2019 are also displayed, each representing unique Filipino values and aspirations: kapayapaan, pagkakaisa, pagmamahalan, pamilya, pakikipagkapwa-tao, kasaganahan, pagpapatawad, pasasalamat, and pananampalataya. Every night, one parol was lighted beginning on5 December 2019 which is the start of the traditional Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado until all the parols were lighted during the culmination of the nine-day mass last 13 December 2019.

Simbang Gabi Sa Konsulado is a popular Filipino Christmas tradition in New York now on its 31styear.  It is a solemn celebration that brings together different members of the Fil-Am community: priests, partner organizations, choirs, volunteers and Filipinos who want to experience Pasko away from home.  This year, 84 Fil-Am organizations partnered with the Consulate in organizing the Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado.  In the spirit of the season and in solidarity with our kababayan in Mindanao, the community earmarked the donations and contributions collected in the nine nights of the Simbang Gabi for the benefit of the victims of the earthquakes in the region.

Volunteers from our Filipino community reenact the “Panunuluyan.” (Photo by Ray M. Maranan)

Each Simbang Gabi was followed by a salu-salo where partner organizations and Filipino caterers served Filipino food like lumpia, pansit, lugaw, putobumbong, and kutsinta to the delight of the attendees.  Free raffles added to the fun and spirit of camaraderie of the community.

Consul General Claro S. Cristobal thanked the community organization partners and the attendees of the Simbang Gabi, many of whom completed the nine masses.  He said that the tradition did not only serve as venue for celebrating Christmas the Filipino way but also provided an opportunity for fellowship for Fil-Ams in the area.

With these colorful displays and meaningful celebrations at the Philippine Center, Pinoy Christmas tradition is alive and vibrant in the heart of the Big Apple.

The display runs until 6 January 2020 when the holiday season officially ends in the Philippines with the celebration of the Feast of the Three Kings.

contributed 191219pcgny

Philippines Extends Assistance to the Bahamas Post-Hurricane Dorian

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez (right) with Ambassador Sidney Collie (left) during the ceremonial turnover of financial assistance held at the Embassy of The Bahamas on 16 December 2019.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez led a ceremonial turnover of the financial assistance from the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to the Government and People of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, represented by Ambassador Sidney S. Collie, on 16 December 2019 at the Embassy of The Bahamas in the United States. 

The assistance amounting to USD 97,643.42, will contribute to relief efforts in The Bahamas, which was struck by Hurricane Dorian last September. Hurricane Dorian was the strongest tropical cyclone on record to strike the Bahamas and is considered as the costliest disaster in the country’s history. 

“As a nation that is no stranger to natural calamities, the Philippines would like to express its strong solidarity with the Bahamian people who have shown admirable resilience and courage during these difficult times,” said Ambassador Romualdez. 

The Philippine Embassy in Washington DC led by Consul General Renato Pedro Villa and Labor Attaché Angela Trinidad visited The Bahamas on 26 September – 01 October 2019 to extend consular and labor services to more than 500 Filipinos as well as deliver financial assistance to some 330 Filipinos adversely affected by category 5 Hurricane Dorian.

“Nearly two thousand Filipinos call The Bahamas their second home and it is in this spirit of community that we demonstrate our support to the Bahamians,” he added. 

On 25 September-01 October 2019, an Embassy team provided relief and consular assistance to Filipinos affected by Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas. The team, led by Consul General Renato Villa, also met with officials of the Bahamian Government to discuss recovery and reconstruction initiatives as well as the welfare of the migrant worker population.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Mayor de Blasio and New York State Nurses Association Announce Contract Agreement

New York State Nurses Association Facebook Page November 2019 Photo.

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday December 14, that the City of New York has reached a contract agreement with the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), which represents more than 8,500 nurses across the NYC Health + Hospitals system (H+H) and City Agencies.

The agreement includes compounded wage increases of 2.00%, 2.25%, 0.25%, and 3.00% over nearly 45 months, is retroactive to June 6, 2019, and expires on March 2, 2023.

"Nurses are vital to the health and well-being of our city," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "With our agreement with the New York State Nurses Association, we’re paying a fair wage and addressing longstanding issues of recruitment and retention to ensure these nurses have the support they need to continue to provide excellent care to all New Yorkers."

"Nurses are the heart of our mission to care for all New Yorkers without exception. Their professionalism and compassion exemplify the values of our organization," said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. "The care of our patients and the people who care for them are a priority in the City’s public health system, and NYSNA and their members are critical in that effort."

"We are thrilled to have reached an agreement with our partners at NYSNA that’s good for nurses, our health system and the million-plus patients we serve," said Chief Nurse Executive for NYC Health + Hospitals Natalia Cineas, DNP, RN, NEA-BC. "As a part of our transformation we have hired a significant number of new nurses and look forward to adding to our team as we make our system more attractive for nurses with a passion for excellence and our mission."

"Throughout this negotiation, Mayor de Blasio and his representatives in the contract negotiation demonstrated a fundamental commitment to the people of New York City.  They listened intently to the nurses and others speak about conditions in the public hospitals and the contract reflects what they heard and learned. ­­ We thank the Mayor for the respect he showed us and for a contract that supports nurses and patients and the many communities we serve.  The respect is very much mutual," said Jill Furillo, RN, NYSNA Executive Director.

"This is a great win for the nurses of NYC H+H and Mayorals, and the patients we care for.  With this contract and its many important provisions, including nurse-to-patient ratios, we can raise the level of patient care. That’s the real winner. Thanks to my fellow NYSNA nurses for their extraordinarily hard work and devotion to the people of New York City. We greatly appreciate NYC H+H President and CEO Dr. Mitchell Katz for his dedication to the public's health. We are so proud to be a part of a system that stands for healthcare as a human right," said Judith Cutchin, RN, NYSNA Board Member and President, NYSNA's NYC H+H/Mayoral Executive Council.

The City has agreed to collaboratively address nurse-to-patient staffing ratios with NYSNA and establish an escalation process including non-binding mediation.

To address recruitment and retention issues, H+H and NYSNA have agreed to changes in certain salaries and differentials for specific subsets of the bargaining unit which have experienced severe recruitment and retention problems in recent years, such as Nurse Practitioners, and Nurses in certain targeted specialty areas and/or with specific levels of education.

The parties have also collaborated to enhance the employee experience by adding and modifying contract language relating to workplace violence prevention, disaster relief leave, nurse practice councils, floating assignments, safe patient handling and posting and filling of vacancies. In addition, NYSNA will have the right to opt into the NYS Paid Family Leave Program during the term of the contract.

This agreement has been ratified by NYSNA membership.

The total cost of the NYSNA settlement through Fiscal Year 2023 is $336 million, which is covered by existing resources.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Governor Cuomo Reminds New Yorkers to Get Vaccinated as Flu Cases Increase in New York State

Governor Cuomo received his flu shot in October. Governor's Press Office Photo.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday December 12, reminded all New Yorkers to get a flu shot as new numbers released today show sharp inclines in laboratory confirmed cases of influenza. The Governor also directed the Department of Health to work with state agencies and authorities on ways to encourage flu vaccinations among state workers and their families. The flu season usually begins in October and runs through May, and this year the Governor received his flu shot in October.

"As flu cases continue to climb across the state, I am urging New Yorkers to protect themselves and their loved ones against this dangerous virus by getting vaccinated," Governor Cuomo said. "The flu shot is still the best way to stay healthy during this season, and New Yorkers should take advantage of the expanded access to the flu vaccine and help prevent the spread of this virus."

The latest increase in flu cases comes after State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker last week declared influenza prevalent in New York State. The announcement put into effect a regulation requiring that healthcare workers who are not vaccinated against influenza wear surgical or procedure masks in areas where patients are typically present. Last week, 1,839 laboratory confirmed influenza cases were reported to the State Department of Health, a 60 percent increase in cases from the week prior. There have been 4,989 laboratory confirmed cases reported to the Department this flu season.  The number of weekly hospitalizations has also increased, with 328 New Yorkers hospitalized for lab confirmed influenza, up 32 percent from the previous report.  So far this season in New York, 1,040 flu-related hospitalizations and one flu-associated pediatric death have been reported.

NYS Dept of Health Facebook Page Photo.

New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Vaccination is the best way to protect against flu and is especially important for the most vulnerable to influenza, such as the elderly and very young.  I encourage all New Yorkers older than six months to get their influenza shot as soon as possible."

Influenza activity data is available on the New York State Flu Tracker. The Flu Tracker is a dashboard on the New York State Health Connector that provides timely information about local, regional and statewide influenza activity. Click here for a video demonstration of how you can use New York State Flu Tracker.

The State Health Department recommends that everyone six months of age or older receive an influenza vaccination. The vaccine is especially important for people at high risk for complications from influenza, including children under age 2, pregnant women and adults over age 65. People with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma and heart disease, are also at greater risk, as are individuals with weakened immune systems due to disease or medications such as chemotherapy or chronic steroid use. Since influenza virus can spread easily by coughing or sneezing, it is also important that family members and people in regular contact with high risk individuals get an influenza vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conduct studies each year to determine how effective that year's vaccine is at protecting against influenza-related illness. While the effectiveness can vary from year to year, studies show that the vaccine remains the most effective way to protect public health. Additionally, studies show that the influenza vaccine can make the illness milder in certain cases where an individual was vaccinated but still contracted influenza.

Most health insurance plans cover influenza vaccines. Individuals and families without health insurance should check with their county health department to find out if local clinics will be held to provide free or low-cost vaccinations. Children two years of age and older and adults may also be able to get their influenza vaccine at a local pharmacy.

For additional information about influenza, including how it is monitored in New York State, visit the Department of Health web page.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

In Photos: International Human Rights Day in New York; Forum on Political Prisoners and the Human Rights Crisis in the Philippines

About 35 participants attended an International Human Rights Day commemoration in New York; Forum on Political Prisoners and the Human Rights Crisis in the Philippines by the Malaya Movement, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, US Pinoys for Good Governance and the Migrant Center of New York. December 10, 2019. New York. Photos by Lambert Parong © Kababayan Media 2019.

Lawyer Lara Gregory for US Pinoys for Good Governance

Julie Jamora for Malaya Movement

Kym Villamer for Malaya Movement Northeast

Atty. Lara Gregory

Sharon Cabusao for Gabriela Philippines and a former Political Prisoner via Live video 

Marivir Montebon, Filipino American Press Club of New York

Gary Labao, Migrante USA

Julie Jamora

Brandon Lee via pre-recorded video

Photos by Lambert Parong © Kababayan Media 2019

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Damayan Migrant Workers Association 2019 Holiday Party & Fundraiser, Dec 14

Damayan Facebook Event Page Photo

The Damayan Migrant Workers Association gladly invites everyone to rise up, celebrate, and stop the hate at the Damayan 2019 Holiday Party and Fundraiser on Saturday December 14 from 6PM - 10PM at the Metro Baptist Church on 410 W 40th St New York, NY 10018.

The Holidays is a time for celebration and Damayan has a lot to celebrate. Together with trafficking survivors and members, our fight against labor trafficking, wage theft and unjust immigration enforcement is getting stronger everyday.

Damayan Migrant Workers Association thanks  everyone for their contributions that make their work possible and for supporting the fight of Filipino migrant workers across the US for justice and dignity.

Tickets will be $30 for Workers $50 for Allies $10 for Youth and free for youth under 11 years old. Please do not hesitate to contact Damayan with questions about ticketing or the event in general.

There will also be an optional white elephant gift exchange- Minimum of $25.

Tickets available online at:

Tickets may also be reserved by confirming on the facebook event page here and can be paid for at the door. Cash and card will be accepted.