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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

2019 'Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado' in New York City, Dec 5-13

The Philippine Consulate General and partner Filipino American Community groups and organizations announce this year's Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado to be held at the Philippine Center from 5-13 December 2019.

Members of the community are invited to come and join this annual Filipino tradition.

31st Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado Schedule:

December 5 -13, 2019

6pm during Weekdays
3pm on Saturday and Sunday

Kalayaan Hall, Philippine Center
556 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10036

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza Announce Record High 48,782 New York City Students Enrolling in College

NY City Hall Press Office Photo

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza recently announced that a record-high 48,782 students in the Class of 2018 enrolled in college, up approximately 8,000 students since the start of the administration and approximately 3,600 students compared to the year prior. College enrollment is at its highest ever – 62 percent of New York City’s Class of 2018 (students entering 9th grade in Fall 2014) enrolled in a two- or four-year college, vocational program, or public service program after graduation, up 3 percentage points from the previous year and up 11 percentage points from the Class of 2013.

“Our schools launch our kids to successful futures, and now more students than ever are enrolled in college and taking another step toward fulfilling their potential. We are making sure our students know college isn’t just for a select few and that zip code no longer determines who gets to go,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“The numbers are in and the results are clear: in New York City, more students are enrolling in college and on a path to success. Our schools are assisting at every turn by building college and career-ready cultures, eliminating barriers such as application fees, and helping students directly apply. This is Equity and Excellence in action, and I’m so proud of students, educators and families,” said Chancellor Richard A. Carranza.

The Equity and Excellence for All agenda has improved outcomes for students year after year, ensuring every high school has resources for students to graduate with a college and career plan and every middle school is providing students with early exposure to college campuses and school-based events promoting the pursuit of higher education. Measures of college readiness for the Class of 2018 also improved – 51 percent of all students in the Class of 2018 graduated college ready, defined as graduating high school on time and meeting CUNY’s standards for college readiness in English and Math. The graduation rate for the Class of 2018 reached a record-high of 75.9 percent.

Through College Access for All, more students are completing key milestones and directly applying to college: they are visiting a college campus with their high school, taking the SAT, applying to college, applying for financial aid, and enrolling in college and postsecondary programs. The initiative has also removed financial obstacles for students. In the Class of 2018, 44,944 students redeemed fee waivers through CUNY, allowing them to apply for free. That same school year, 80 percent of juniors participated in SAT school day, taking the exam in school free of charge.

As a result, more students are enrolling in programs at CUNY, SUNY, New York State private colleges and out of state colleges. In addition to increases in college enrollment and college readiness, the 2018-19 School Quality Reports, released today, give families a clear, concise picture of the quality of each school, and the School Quality Guide provides more detailed information intended for schools to use to inform their planning efforts.

The School Quality Reports are available on the DOE and individual school websites Executive Superintendents and Superintendents are able to use data and information from the Reports to make informed decisions about which targeted supports will be most useful to schools.

The School Quality Snapshot is available as a searchable web-based and mobile-ready tool, so families can easily search for schools and information, including from their phones. The tool is available in more than 100 languages through Google Translate, and has screen-reader compatibility making it more accessible for individuals with disabilities.

School Quality Report data is also included on the School Performance Dashboard, an interactive data tool that shows data for each school over time. The School Quality Reports were updated in 2015 to align to the Framework for Great Schools, the DOE’s research-based approach to school improvement, and continue to be refined based on feedback from school leaders and communities as well as analysis conducted internally and by external researchers. Schools with strong 2018 Framework ratings were nine times more likely to substantially improve student achievement in 2019, demonstrating that schools with a focus on improving the elements of the Framework are more likely to see improvement in student achievement.

Mayor de Blasio’s Equity and Excellence for All initiatives are promoting increased college readiness and access to postsecondary options across all five boroughs. This specifically includes the College Access for All, AP for All, Algebra for All, and Single Shepherd initiatives.

Together, the Equity and Excellence for All initiatives are building a pathway to success in college and careers for all students. Our schools are starting earlier – free, full-day, high-quality education for three-year-olds and four-year-olds through 3-K for All and Pre-K for All. They are strengthening foundational skills and instruction earlier – Universal Literacy so that every student is reading on grade level by the end of 2nd grade; and Algebra for All to improve elementary- and middle-school math instruction and ensure that all 8th graders have access to algebra. They are offering students more challenging, hands-on, college and career-aligned coursework – Computer Science for All brings 21st-century computer science instruction to every school, and AP for All will give all high school students access to at least five Advanced Placement courses. Along the way, they are giving students and families additional support through College Access for All, Single Shepherd, and investment in Community Schools. Efforts to create more diverse and inclusive classrooms, including Equity & Excellence for All: Diversity in New York City Public Schools are central to this pathway.

More information about the School Quality Reports, including reports for individual schools, training materials, and a link to the School Performance Dashboard, is available online.

World-renowned Artist Manuel Baldemor’s Luzviminda Launched at the Philippine Center

(L-R) Consul Arman Talbo, Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Kira Christianne Azucena, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez,world-renowed artist Manuel Baldemor and Consul General Claro S. Cristobal cut the ribbon during the opening reception of Luzviminda. (Photo by PCGNY)

New York – The solo exhibit of the world-renowned artist Manuel Baldemor is on display from 15 to 29 November 2019 at the Lobby Gallery of the Philippine Center New York.

Inspired by the rich heritage of the Philippines, Luzviminda illustrates the daily lives and celebrations from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao: from the life and rituals of the highland people, rice terraces and thanksgiving rituals of good harvest of Luzon, the vibrant Sinulog Festival honoring the Sto. Nino of Cebu of the Visayas region, to the legendary bird Sarimanok, famous dance called “Singkil,” vintas, and mosques in Mindanao.

Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez delivers his remarks. (Photo BY PCGNY)

Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez led the ribbon cutting at the opening reception on 15 November 2019 where he congratulated Baldemor for a successful exhibit as well as the Philippine Center for celebrating its 45th Anniversary. The Ambassador was joined by Consul General Claro S. Cristobal, Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Kira Christianne Azucena, Consul and Manager Arman Talbo and Mr. Baldemor in cutting the ribbon.

Manuel Baldemor during his speech at the opening reception of his exhibit Luzviminda. (Photo by PCGNY)

Manny thanked the Philippine Center Management Board headed by Ambassador Romualdez, and the Philippine Consulate General for organizing the exhibit. Luzviminda follows Baldemor’s last exhibit at the Center in May 2016.

Art enthusiasts and guests enjoy the evening with the artist. (Photo by PCGNY)

Manuel Baldemor hopes that through his works, our kababayans living and working abroad would remember the beauty of the Philippines.

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Sunday, November 24, 2019

Mike Bloomberg Announces 2020 Democratic Presidential Campaign

Mike Bloomberg Facebook Page Photo

NEW YORK, NY – Today, Michael R. Bloomberg announced that he will pursue the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, saying “I’m running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America. We cannot afford four more years of President Trump’s reckless and unethical actions. He represents an existential threat to our country and our values. If he wins another term in office, we may never recover from the damage. The stakes could not be higher. We must win this election. And we must begin rebuilding America. I believe my unique set of experiences in business, government, and philanthropy will enable me to win and lead.”

From the moment that President Trump emerged as the Republican nominee in 2016, Mike has been singularly focused on defeating him and stopping his dangerous ideas. Mike spoke out against Trump as a candidate at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 and helped win 21 Democratic Congressional seats in the 2018 midterm election to win back the House. Just last cycle, Mike helped Democrats flip the Virginia House and Senate, giving them full control of state government for the first time in a generation.

An entrepreneur, mayor, and philanthropist, Mike has built a career following data, bringing people together, and putting progress over partisanship. He’s a proven leader with an unbeatable track record in creating jobs and implementing progressive policies that make a difference in people’s lives. Mike is currently leading multiple national efforts to tackle the biggest challenges facing America, including gun safety, climate change, and public health. He founded Everytown for Gun Safety, the broadest and most impactful coalition of Americans fighting for common-sense gun laws, and recently launched Beyond Carbon, the most comprehensive climate change initiative in United States history. Mike has given away $10 billion to charitable causes, and Bloomberg Philanthropies works in 510 cities and 129 countries across the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people.

Mike will not accept donations and will self-fund his campaign, as he did for all three of his successful mayoral runs.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Exhibit Featuring “Artistic Traditions of Southern Mindanao” Captivates Washigton DC Audience

Ribbon cutting ceremony of the exhibit, “Of Sacred Mountains and Ancestral Plains: Artistic Traditions of Southern Mindanao – The Tboli, Blaan, and Maguindanao” held at the Philippine Embassy on 29 October 2019. Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez (2nd from left) led the ceremony together with (from left) Prima Hower, Craig Diamond, and Rowena Randman. (PH Embassy WDC Photo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In observance of National Indigenous People’s Month and as part of its Filipino American History Month celebration this past October, Sentro Rizal Washington DC, in partnership with SoCSKSarGen USA Inc., mounted the exhibit, “Of Sacred Mountains and Ancestral Plains: Artistic Traditions of Southern Mindanao – The Tboli, Blaan, and Maguindanao” at the 2nd floor of the Philippine Embassy Chancery Annex.

“The Philippine Embassy, through Sentro Rizal Washington DC, is honored and delighted to partner with SoCSKSarGen USA Inc. in highlighting the rich cultural heritage of indigenous peoples in the Southern Philippines, as we commemorate National Indigenous People’s Month in the Philippines and Filipino-American History Month in the United States,” said Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez in his opening remarks.

(PH Embassy WDC Photo)

“Through this special exhibition of precious items from Mindanao, we hope to inspire pride in the artistry and resilience of Philippine indigenous peoples and raise awareness of their important role in the building of a strong, cohesive, and progressive Filipino nation,” the Ambassador further stated.

“Our purpose for this exhibit is to raise awareness of their existence, promote cultural literacy, and introduce to the world intricate arts and crafts of our indigenous people,” Ms. Rowena Mejia Randman, President of SoCSKSarGen USA Inc. told the audience in her remarks during the brief program.

(PH Embassy WDC Photo)

Sharing their very important and beautiful collections to the exhibit are power couples Craig and Marie Anne Diamond, and Alvin and Prima Hower who were instrumental in making the special exhibition possible.

Craig Diamond first lived in South Cotabato, Mindanao, Philippines – the home of the Tboli and Blaan – as a Rotary exchange student in 1984, and over the years has built a collection of art and artifacts of the indigenous peoples of Southern Mindanao. Alvin Hower, on the other hand, was a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1969 to 1974, who also served in South Cotabato. He preserved the Tboli’s way of life through his photographs, which also decorated the walls of the 2nd floor of the Chancery Annex as part of the display.

Handcrafted beadworks, hand-woven fabrics, embroidery, and brass works likewise filled the entire exhibit floor.

(PH Embassy WDC Photo)

During the program, Allan Palacios-Chan, Jr. and Rane Rose performed heartfelt renditions of the Philippine and US national anthems, respectively, while Kinding Sindaw, a nonprofit dance theater troupe, did a short ritual dance based on the T’boli epic Lemlunay, followed by the ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Ambassador Romualdez, Craig Diamond, Prima Hower, and Rowena Randman.

A T’boli prayer was also offered for the people of SoCSKSarGen, which has been experiencing a series of strong earthquakes since early this month.

A sumptuous Filipino reception commenced after the brief program and ribbon cutting ceremony, while guests had the chance to view and examine the exhibition displays.

Craig Diamond gives Ambassador Romualdez a copy of the November 1913 issue of The National Geographic Magazine containing illustrations of “The Non-Christian Peoples of the Philippine Islands.” (PH Embassy WDC Photo)

Ms. Prima Guipo Hower spearheaded the production committee of the exhibit together with other SoCSKarGen leaders, including Lulut Palacios-Chan, Darlene Dilangalen, Roma Johnson, Julius Veneracion, Jobert Tiongson Tan, and SoCSKSarGen President Rowena Mejia Randman.

SoCSKSarGenUSA, Inc. is a United States-based non-profit organization represented by former residents of the Philippines’ region covering South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos City.

Southern Mindanao is home to a wide array of indigenous peoples renowned for their skills as artists and artisans – among these are the Tboli, Blaan, and Maguindanao. The Tboli people are known as “Dreamweavers” for their unique weaving patterns, while the Blaan embroidery has long been recognized as one of the finest in all of the Philippines.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Philippine Consulate General in New York Conducts Final Consulate Saturday for 2019

Oath Taking of dual citizenship applicants during the 4th Consulate Saturday (Photo by PCGNY)

NEW YORK CITY  – The Philippine Consulate General in New York conducted its last Consulate Saturday of 2019 on 09 November 2019. 75 Filipinos from all over the Consulate’s jurisdiction availed themselves of the services offered by the Consulate, ranging from passports to notarial and legalization services to dual citizenship and civil registration.

Many of the clients expressed their appreciation to the Consulate for being open on a weekend, as they would otherwise take a weekday off to do their transactions. Some had travelled from outside of the tri-state area, taking advantage of the weekend schedule to apply for the Consulate’s services. 

The Philippine Consulate General in New York began its Consulate Saturday in 2017, in recognition of the fact that many Filipinos had been requesting for weekend service, as they could not take time out from critical weekday responsibilities. Since the introduction of the Consulate Saturdays, Filipino community members have integrated them into their schedules, and have planned their visits to New York City accordingly.

The Consulate Saturdays are held quarterly, with earlier episodes held in February, May and August.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Philippines' Premyo Bonds Discussion Via PH Embassy in US Facebook Page, Nov 22

The Philippine Embassy in the United States will have a Facebook Live discussion on the Premyo (Prize) Bonds program of the Philippines' Bureau of the Treasury this coming Friday 22 November, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM EST featuring Mr. Mark Hong.

Learn how to purchase bonds for as low as Php 500 per unit and get a chance to be one of at least 61 winners of cash prizes in each quarterly draw.

Tune in on Friday at

President Duterte Clarifies VP Robredo’s Role as ICAD Co-chair

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a press conference at the Malacañan Palace on November 19, 2019. TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday said Vice President Leni Robredo would remain as Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) co-chair but would have limited access to classified information in the fight against the proliferation of illegal narcotics.

“Need to know lang siya. If she asks something, then you give her…you give her half of it. The other half, if it’s a classified information, there is no need for her to know,” President Duterte said during a press conference in Malacañang.

President Duterte said he can’t give Robredo a Cabinet position because she belongs to the opposition and may jeopardize government interest if she is given access to sensitive information.

The information is state secrets, the President said, which include everything from sensitive matters with the Philippines’ relations with other countries like China and the United States.

“I am not keeping her. She is there. I appointed her. She is working. As a matter of fact, she’s been issuing statements every day,” he said.

“Sinabi ko lang, I am just saying the parameters. But she is there. I do not have to fire her. She is there. She is working.”

The Vice President should understand that her role is to give direction and guidance and to instruct law enforcement agencies to make the fight against illegal drugs more transparent to the public, according to the President.

The President expressed his displeasure over Robredo’s actions, adding that after her appointment, she began talking with the Human Rights Commission, the United Nations, and with the Europeans.

“Kung ganun sabi ko, I cannot appoint her as a Cabinet member. If that is the way her mouth behaves, there can never be a position for her,” he said.

“Kasi kung Cabinet member sana siya you know upon the authority because she would be an alter ego of me.”

Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Allowing Adoptees to Receive a Certified Birth Certificate at Age 18

Gov Cuomo Flickr Page. Photo by Mike Groll.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently signed legislation allowing adoptees for the first time to receive a certified copy of their birth certificate when they turn 18-years-old. This measure (S3419/A5494) helps ensures that all adult New York adoptees will have the same unimpeded right to information about their birth and biological parents.

"Where you came from informs who you are, and every New Yorker deserves access to the same birth records - it's a basic human right," Governor Cuomo said. "For too many years, adoptees have been wrongly denied access to this information and I am proud to sign this legislation into law and correct this inequity once and for all."

This legislation removes the right of government agencies to restrict the type of information made available to adopted persons and removes the previous barriers to receive information about biological parents to identify medical data that can prevent preventable diseases or untimely death. Under this new law, the adopted person's lawful representative or their descendants will also be able to get access the birth certificate if the adoptee is deceased.   

Mayor de Blasio Appoints Dr. Raul Perea-Henze as Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services

Dr. Perea-Henze with Mayor de Blasio. NY City Hall Press Office Photo. 

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced the appointment of Dr. Raul Perea-Henze as Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services.

“It’s an honor to welcome Dr. Perea-Henze back home. Over the course of a career spanning three decades in both senior levels of government and the private sector, Dr. Perea-Henze has established himself as a genuine change-maker committed to improving the lives of vulnerable people everywhere,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “From confronting the early AIDS epidemic to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with President Obama in the historic fight to end veteran’s homelessness, Dr. Henze has shown the very best of what government can do. I am proud to welcome him to the helm of Health and Human Services.”

“New York City has my heart. It is my home. The opportunity to serve the people of New York City as a Deputy Mayor is a tremendous honor, particularly with this Administration, which has built on a foundation of equity and social justice that speaks the values that have motivated my work my entire life. It is a responsibility and privilege I cherish, and I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for this incredible opportunity," said Raul Perea-Henze.

Dr. Henze is a public health physician who started his career caring for the health and mental health of New Yorkers. With three decades of work across local and federal government and the private sector, Dr. Henze will be tasked with deepening the city’s approach to addressing homelessness across the five boroughs, coordinating across the City’s public health care system, improving access to social services for all New Yorkers, and ensuring Agencies that oversee the City’s most vulnerable populations, such as seniors, children and victims of domestic violence, are run in the most efficient and caring manner. 

From 2010 through 2013, Dr. Henze was Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, where he helped drive the effort to end veteran homelessness across the United States.  Previously, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget at the U.S. Department of Commerce from 1999 through 2001. His professional career began in New York City government as Chief of Staff and Associate Commissioner at the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, where he developed the Division of Infectious Diseases at the largest municipal health care system in the United States and coordinated early response efforts to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The son of health professionals, he grew up in Mexico where he graduated from medical school at 21 and later completed his training in Public Health at Yale University. At 28, he was one of the youngest elected Fellows at the New York Academy of Medicine And in 2010, he was confirmed by the Senate as the first openly gay Latino to become a Sub-Cabinet Secretary in the history of our country.

Dr. Henze has served on numerous boards for global and local organizations in health, mental health, Latino and veterans affairs and national service. He has traveled and worked with physicians in 145 countries as a member of the World Medical Association and is fluent in four languages.

Special Viewing of Doctrina Christiana, 1st Book Printed in the Philippines, Held at US Library of Congress

Guests examine the Doctrina Christiana – first book printed in the Philippines – at a special viewing event held at the US Library of Congress (LOC) on 28 October 2019. (PHOTO: US-Philippines Society)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Philippine Embassy, Principalia sa Bulalacao, and US-Philippines Society organized a special viewing of the Doctrina Christiana, a Philippine rare book held by the Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection of the United States Library of Congress (LOC), at the LOC Whittall Pavilion in Washington, D.C. on 28 October 2019.

Consisting of seventy-four pages of text in Spanish, Tagalog transliterated into roman letters, and Tagalog in original Baybayin script, the Doctrina Christiana was printed in the Philippines in 1593 to assist in the conversion of Filipinos into Christianity. It contains some of the basic prayers such as the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, and the Salve Regina, as well as the Ten Commandments, and the Sacraments of the Holy Church.

The Doctrina Christiana is not only one of the earliest books printed in the Philippines. It has seminal significance to the Christianity of the Philippines, and to the faith that marks a huge majority of Filipinos. Apart from the LOC copy, there are no other known copies of Doctrina Christiana in existence today.

Dr. Stephanie Stillo, Curator of the LOC Lessing J. Rosenwald Rare Books Collection, delivered a short lecture on the Doctrina Christiana at the special viewing event held on 28 October 2019.

“It was clearly instrumental in the ‘conversion and instruction’ of Filipinos, to use the words of Governor Dasmariñas in his 1593 letter to King Philip II,” noted Minister Jose Victor V. Chan-Gonzaga who represented the Embassy, in brief remarks during the event.

“The use of the ancient Baybayin script in some parts of the book likewise reminds all of us of the existence of pre-colonial Philippine culture. It bears witness to the narrative of a Philippine community that existed even prior to the arrival of the Spanish colonizers,” he added.

Dr. Stephanie Stillo, Curator of the LOC Lessing J. Rosenwald Rare Books Collection, delivered a short lecture on the Doctrina Christiana and how “the constellation of fortunate events” preserved the precious volume over the centuries, and through wars and natural disasters, with the surviving copy eventually finding a home at the Library of Congress.

Dr. Stillo and Rocky Andal Brito, Founder & Executive Director of the Principalia sa Bulalacao, then engaged the audience in a lively question and answer discussion on the history and significance of the Doctrina.

“The Doctrina Christiana includes translations of Christian catechism and hymns from Spanish to Old Tagalog and Baybayin, an indigenous writing script of the Philippines. Thus, it offers a glimpse to the precolonial heritage of the Filipino people. It is a book on human values published during the Age of Discovery and is very much applicable to our modern society to teach us about kindness, generosity, humility and a plethora of principles on humanism. Perhaps, it is worth looking back to the teachings of the past and enter a new age —the Age of Rediscovery, for the betterment of the future and our posterity,” said Mr. Brito who was the one that conceptualized the special viewing.

(L-R) Rev. Monsignor Dennis Kuruppassery; US-Philippines Society Executive Director Hank Hendrickson; Philippine Embassy Economic Minister Jose Victor Chan-Gonzaga; US-Philippines Society President Ambassador John Maisto; Founder & Executive Director of the Principalia sa Bulalacao Rocky Andal Brito; and Curator of the LOC Lessing J. Rosenwald Rare Books Collection Dr. Stephanie Stillo. (PHOTO: US-Philippines Society)

After the discussion, the guests at the special viewing, including Rev. Monsignor Dennis Kuruppassery who represented the Holy See, were able to closely examine the Doctrina Christiana displayed on a table at the back of the pavilion.

“The presentation of the Doctrina Christiana was a uniquely informative event. First, the famed document stands as a rare example of 16th century innovations in print technology, fully deserving a place in the Library’s rare books collection. Second, the Doctrina provides insights into how Filipinos were introduced to the basic Christian texts. And third, the script confirms an advanced use of the written word in the Philippines’ pre-Hispanic period,” US-Philippines Society President Ambassador (ret.) John Maisto said in a statement after the forum.

“We thank the Library of Congress, especially the Rare Book & Special Collections Division, for this timely celebration of Philippine history and culture. The library of the American people and their representatives could not be a more fitting venue for the commemoration of October as Filipino American History Month, and which also happens to be National Indigenous Peoples Month in the Philippines,” Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez also said in a statement.

Principalia sa Bulalacao is a cultural and heritage organization that seeks to promote the rich culture, heritage and traditions of precolonial Filipinos and utilize cultural and historical links for positivity, empowerment, progress and understanding.

The US-Philippines Society is a bi-national organization dedicated to the mission of raising the profile of today’s Philippines in the United States through programs on business, governance, culture, shared history, education and strategic issues.

President Duterte Orders Suspension of Rice Importations

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a press conference at the Malacañan Palace on November 19, 2019. VALERIE ESCALERA/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said Tuesday the government would temporarily halt rice importations during the local palay harvest season to protect the livelihood of the Filipino farmers from the entry of the imported staple.

In the press conference on Tuesday night in Malacanang, President Duterte said he has directed Agriculture Secretary William Dar to suspend rice importations to shield the livelihood of Filipino farmers.

Although the government will temporarily stop rice importations, the President said he can’t scrap the Rice Tariffication Law altogether because the country needs imported rice to fill its stock and to fend off corruption.

“Ang problema, itong kumakain, marami masyado na itong si producer, ang tanim niya kulang up until harvest time. Magkulang talaga ang supply. So kung panahon kung wala na, kung hindi ako mag-import kagaya nung nangyari, wala na,” President Duterte said.

“Ngayon, sabi ko ‘pag harvest time, huwag, tutal seasonal naman talaga ‘yan. Ang problema hindi ka kasi makaasa dito sa mga producers.”

Palay production nowadays, he said, becomes problematic, which has been exacerbated by climate change that posed more challenges to farmers.

“Pero hindi mo alam ang sitwasyon ng mundo mo lalo na sa climate change ngayon na ang tanim mo baka aabot talaga ng harvest time o ‘yung tanim mo warakin ng mga bagyo,” he added.

Despite the stumbling blocks, President Duterte expressed his administration’s willingness to assist domestic rice producers reiterating his proposal to buy all locally produced palay for the benefit of Filipino farmers.

“Ang simple niyan. Ganito. Kung gusto talaga natin walang problema, bilihin lahat ng produce ng producer — farmers. Bilihin. Ngayon, mahal. Farmgate nila.”

“Babawi sila. Hindi na bale. Gagastos tayo bilyon? Bilihin natin. Tapos wala, palugi tayo para ‘yung mga farmers may resulta sa pawis nila. Sinong nalugi? Wala. Tayong Pilipino. Bilihin natin lahat ‘yan tapos dagdagan natin kasi kulang talaga,” he argued.

He called on Congress to allocate money for the National Food Authority’s (NFA) palay procurements.

Electronic cigarettes ban

Meanwhile, President Duterte ordered a ban on the use and importation of electronic cigarettes or vapes in the country citing its threat to public health. He instructed concerned government agencies to arrest people who will violate the ban.

“Because it is toxic. And the government has the power to issue measures to protect public health and public interest,” he said of the reason for carrying out the ban.

“You know, ang cigarette, they confirm chemical there that’s not good for humans. It’s deadly, it’s nicotine. It’s a…induces a habit…and it is toxic, and it kills people.”

Recently, the Department of Health confirmed that a 16-year-old girl from Visayas was reported to have the first case of electronic cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI) in the country after using vape for six months.

E-cigarettes, he said, are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and equally dangerous as smoking.

“And if you are smoking now, you will be arrested. I am banning the importation so Customs, you listen to it. You… I’m banning it altogether,” he reiterated.

The Chief Executive said he would issue an executive order as soon as possible but he does not need one in the meantime for the ban to take effect immediately.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

New York City Special Screening of STONEWALL OUTLOUD, Nov 20

YouTube Originals and World of Wonder Productions presents a special screening of the documentary film STONEWALL OUTLOUD, directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. 

Wednesday, November 20th at 7 pm

The Stonewall Inn
53 Christopher St,
New York, NY 10014

Friday, November 15, 2019

US Congressional Gold Medal Award Ceremony for Filipino World War II Veterans, Next of Kin, Dec 3 in New York

The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetRep) and the Philippine Consulate General in New York wish to inform all qualified Filipino World War II Veterans or their next of kin to apply for the Congressional Gold Medal Award Ceremony to be held on Tuesday, 3 December 2019, 6:30pm to 8:30 pm at the Philippine Center.

For more information, please click: 

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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Mayor de Blasio Announces Major Expansion of Mental Health Services, Additional Programs for City Veterans at Veterans Day Breakfast

NY City Hall Press Office Photo

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner of Department of Veterans Services James Hendon announced this past Monday, November 11, a major expansion of programs offered through the Department of Veterans Services (DVS) that will help the City make huge strides forward in its mental health outreach, and treatment efforts for veterans citywide. The Mayor made the announcement at a Gracie Mansion breakfast reception in honor of Veterans Day.

The announcement includes a suite of programs that will revamp the City’s mental health efforts for veterans and touches on a wide variety of mental health components, ranging from peer support and training for mental health professionals to holistic mental health treatments and legal services. Included in the announcement is Service2Service, a joint DVS-NYC Service mentorship program that connects veterans and AmeriCorps alumni with mentors in City government to help them find careers as civil servants.

“As the son of a World War II veteran, I know the men and women who serve our country can carry a tremendous pain that is still felt years or decades later,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “As the only city with our own Department of Veterans Services, New York City is here to help its veterans shoulder the load, and today that means providing them with new tools to look after their mental health. I’m proud of the successes DVS has achieved so far, and I know this announcement will lead to further victories for our city’s veterans in years to come.”

“Far too many veterans struggle to transition back into civilian life following their service, and it's our duty to make sure they feel our support when they return from active duty,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. ”Our heroes deserve nothing less and through partnerships with ThriveNYC as well as local and federal agencies, we will continue to address the stigma around veteran’s mental health by providing them with more of the tools they need for long-term health and success.”

"Properly observing Veterans Day means not only thanking our veterans for their service today, but committing ourselves to have their backs the other three hundred and sixty-four days of the year," said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor of Strategic Policy Initiatives. "Today's announcement makes clear that whether it comes to addressing the crisis of veterans homelessness or ensuring our veterans have appropriate tools to address their mental health needs, New York City and the Department of Veterans Services stands with its veterans every single day."

"Too many of the tragedies that befall our veterans after coming home -- whether it's a struggle with addiction or the crisis of veteran homelessness -- are linked to the lack of appropriate tools to address their mental health challenges. So I can think of nothing better we can give our veterans on this important day than a full toolbox to help ensure their needs are taken care of," said Lt. Col. James Hendon, Commissioner of the Department of Veterans Affairs. "DVS stands ready to help our City's brothers and sisters who have served in the armed forces take care of their mental health needs as they return to civilian life."

Several new mental health programs were part of today’s announcement, including:

Mental Health Support: DVS will recruit more vetted mental health partners to its VetConnectNYC referral service. This will allow the department to scale up all its mental health initiatives, including the VetsThriveNYC Core 4 whole health model, a community and peer-based approach that engages veterans both in clinical settings and through lower-stigma methods such as peer support and cultural engagement.

Legal Services: The City will help provide grants to legal services organizations that will help veterans challenge their discharge status, including LGBTQIA+ veterans given less than honorable discharges due to their orientation or gender identity. With an honorable discharge status, more veterans will be able to receive VA services previously denied to them, including mental health care.

PTSD Treatment: In collaboration with the Research & Recognition Project, a national leader in reconsolidation of traumatic memory (RTM) protocol, the City will recruit licensed mental health professionals for training in RTM, a PTSD treatment method created through working with 9/11 survivors.

Holistic Services: Through public-private partnerships, the City will support veteran-specific holistic treatments, including service animals, meditation training, yoga, and expressive therapy. Through coordinated partnerships with VA medical centers and veterans services organizations, DVS will encourage veterans and their families to seek out additional therapies to complement their mental health care treatment.

Peer Support: Thanks to a $300,000 State grant, the City will create a peer-to-peer program for Veterans facing the challenges of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. The program will be administered through the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Project.

Interagency Mental Health Task Force: The City will join a new Mental Health Advisory Council with local, state, federal and private partners through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Additionally, the Mayor and Commissioner Hendon this morning unveiled Service2Service, a new joint City mentorship initiative through DVS and NYC Service. Service2Service will aid NYC veterans and AmeriCorps alumni by connecting them with City employee mentors. The program aims to build relationships between service-minded New Yorkers and empower mentees with the network, knowledge, and resources to continue a legacy of service with the City. The inaugural class of Service2Service participants will include 40 City employees, 20 veterans, and 20 AmeriCorps alumni for a six-month mentorship program.

“Veterans and AmeriCorps alumni share a deep commitment to our communities,” said NYC Chief Service Officer Anusha Venkataraman. “NYC Service is so proud to partner with DVS on Service2Service to create a space where these civic leaders can make connections, develop professionally, and discover the next step in their legacy of service.”

Today’s announcements came at a breakfast reception in honor of Veterans Day at Gracie Mansion, where Colonel Ivan Monclova, combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Commander of the 1st Marine Corps District in Garden City, NY, was the keynote speaker. The Mayor continued his observance of Veterans Day by speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the Veterans Day Parade.


The New York City Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) strives to improve the lives of all veterans and their families, regardless of discharge status. DVS operates as a centralized hub able to put veterans at the center of all its efforts, coordinating services with a range of agencies at the City, state, and federal level, as well as through public-private partnerships. Its mission is straightforward: to foster purpose-driven lives for NYC service members, veterans, and their families through effective connections with the NYC community; targeted advocacy at the local, state, and national level; compassionate service, ensuring that it is easier for veterans to access services and benefits they’ve earned. DVS believes veterans are civic assets whose strength and demonstrated commitment to public service help NYC thrive.

Parol-Making Workshop and Contest in New York, Nov 23

Celebrate Pasko 2019 and kick-off the annual Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado. 

The Philippine Consulate General in New York, in partnership with The Filipino School of New York and New Jersey, invites all Fil-Am families in the annual Parol-Making Workshop and Contest  on 23 November 2019 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Philippine Center in 556 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10036.

Space is limited so register now at  

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Philippine Consulate Hosts Carbo-loading for Pinoy Runners at the 2019 NYC Marathon

Consul General Claro S. Cristobal giving his welcome remarks. (Photo by PCGNY)

New York – The Philippine Consulate General in New York hosted a carbo-loading reception for Filipino runners who participated in the 49th New York City Marathon on 1 November 2019 at the Philippine Center. The 2019 New York Marathon, the largest and most popular in the world with more than 53,625 finishers this year, was held on 3 November.

Consul General Claro S. Cristobal and Mrs. Marilou Cristobal joins our Filipino runners during the Carbo-loading even at the Philippine Centert. (photo by PCGNY)

More than 200 runners and guests from all over the world participated in the highly anticipated event which served as venue for networking and sharing of marathon experiences among the runners. Expert runners shared marathon tips with beginners while everyone was loading with carbohydrates and enjoying pansit, spaghetti, empanada, cassava cake, and of course, New York pizza and bottles of soda.

Runners fill up on carbs before Sunday’s big race. (Photo by PCGNY)

Consul General Claro S. Cristobal welcomed the runners to New York and wished them a safe and fun marathon. The Consulate distributed Philippine flag stickers with the hotline number of the Consulate and he encouraged them to place a sticker on their marathon bib to facilitate identification and communication in case of emergency.

All smiles for the camera during the carbo-loading event. (Photo by PCGNY)

Games and music provided by Fil-Am DJs added to the energy and excitement of the participants. Mr. TJ Isla, a trail runner based in the Philippines, thanked the Consulate General and its partners on behalf of the runners for organizing the event. Mr. Paul Casino who has completed several NYC Marathons, gave advice on how to finish the marathon. He said emphasized the importance of running safely while enjoying the experience. Fr. Patrick Longalong, Filipino priest based in Queens, led the prayer for the safety of the runners.

Runners from all over the world make their turn for the final miles. (Photo by PCGNY)

The event was held in partnership with the Philippine department of Tourism in New York, Fil-Am Triathlon Club, JCI Philippine-New York, and Balut Patrol, with the support of GMA Pinoy TV, Pinoy Runners Global, Pinoy Runners USA, Papa's Kitchen and International Women Artists.

Consulate staff and members of the Filipino community cheer on the runners as they approach the final 3-mile stretch. (Photo by PCGNY)

Consul Arman R. Talbo and New York-based marathoner Bel Molina served as the event's emcees.

Filipino runner Florian Cabuyao waves to the cheering Filipino crowd. (Photo by PCGNY)

The Consulate and different Fil-Am groups set up cheering areas along the marathon route, encouraging Filipino runners and giving them water and food, if needed. Based on data from the New York Road Runners, the event organizer, there are 197 runners (101 men, 96 women) who identified themselves as runners from the Philippines. There are other Filipino runners who chose to be listed under their country of residence. Mr. Mark Deligero is the top finisher from the Philippines with a time of 2:50:28, followed by Juan Francisco Balagtas with a time of 3:11:22. The oldest Filipino who completed the event is Josephine Villanueva, 66 years old from Quezon City. She finished the marathon with an official time of 7:24:40.

Raising it high and proud for some Filipino pride. (Photo by PCGNY)

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