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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Metro DC Filipino-American Community Honors Bataan Death March Heroes in Memorial March

Philippine Embassy and FilVetREP representatives walk together in honor of those who suffered in the Bataan Death March. (PH Embassy DC Photo)

— “The Philippine Embassy in the United States is honored to have been able to participate in the 2021 virtual edition of the Bataan Memorial Death March as Filipinos and Americans commemorate the bravery and heroism of all those who suffered through the Bataan Death March seventy nine years ago.”

Thus said Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez in a statement on the occasion of the 32nd Bataan Memorial Death March hosted virtually by the White Sands Missile Range for the first time in the annual event’s history.

Consul General Jose Victor V. Chan-Gonzaga and Public Diplomacy Officer Darell Ann R. Artates led a small band of Embassy personnel in doing the Bataan Memorial Death March on 17 April 2021. The memorial march took place on a 14.2 mile route on the Mount Vernon Hiking and Biking Trail along the Potomac River. 

Normally taking place in New Mexico, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the annual commemoration of the Bataan Death March a virtual event and so anyone could do it, anywhere, and any time between 9 and 18 April 2021. 

Philippine Embassy contingent meets up with the team led by FilVetREP Regional Director and Executive Committee Member Sonny Busa at the half-way mark of the marching course. After the "salubong," the two groups finish the remaining 7.5 miles together. (PH Embassy DC Photo)

The Embassy group joined the contingent of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP) led by Chairman Major General (ret.) Tony Taguba, Regional Director Sonny Busa, and Executive Secretary Jon Melegrito, together with a few other community organizations.

Aside from Consul General Chan-Gonzaga and Ms. Artates, the Embassy team was also composed of representatives from the Consular Section (Bess Assidao, Mylo Fausto, Chester Semaña), Political Section (Renz Tabil), Economic Section (Avela Semaña), Defense & Armed Forces Attache’s Office (IS1 Oliver Carbonell, T/Sgt. John Adam Florino), and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Assistant Labor Attaché Marie Josephine Borromeo, Eliza Lucido, Meriam Nicolas, Jeane Reyes-Mendoza).

“It was truly an honor for us who serve in the frontlines of Philippine diplomacy to take each and every step today in remembering and celebrating all those who sacrificed so much for our freedom during World War II,” Consul General Chan-Gonzaga said after the event.

“It was an honor and privilege to march with the Philippine Embassy contingent. The ‘salubong’ with the local Filipino-American team was symbolic on many levels. The ties between the United States and the Philippines are strong, and will always be owing to dedicated professionals assigned at the Embassy here in the Nation’s capital,” Director Sonny Busa also said in a statement on Facebook after the event.

FilVetREP Regional Director Sonny Busa (left) and Consul General Jose Victor Chan-Gonzaga (right) lead their contingents during the Bataan Memorial Death March on 17 April 2021. (PH Embassy Photo)

Other Embassy personnel who were unable to join the march likewise participated in the cause through generous donations by sponsoring a specific number of miles walked by the marching team in remembering and celebrating those who were in the death march. All donations will go to the FilVetREP in support of its efforts to continue raising awareness and obtaining national recognition of the wartime services of Filipino World War II soldiers to the United States and the Philippines. 

“We couldn’t have done it at a more meaningful time than the 75th year of PH-US relations, and with better company than with Filipino American community leaders who do so much for kababayans, including our veterans,” Consul General Chan-Gonzaga also said, noting that the Philippines and the United States are celebrating in 2021 the 75th anniversary of the establishment of formal bilateral diplomatic relations with the theme Philippines-United States Thriving at 75.

Ma-Yi Theater Company, in Association with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, Presents Ralph B. Peña's 'Vancouver' on April 30

Following the 2020 opening of Ma-Yi Studios, a digital streaming center and live capture studio, Ma-Yi Theater Company, in association with The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, is proud to present the online premiere of Vancouver, a puppet play centered on a mixed-race family who relocate from Japan to the Pacific Northwest. Written and directed by Ma-Yi Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña and created in collaboration with puppetry director Tom Lee, Vancouver confronts anti-Asian aggressions through the experiences of one family hoping to find more stability. Or, maybe, acceptance? But where is home exactly?


Vancouver will debut on April 30 at 7 PM ET at, the streaming platform for Ma-Yi’s 2020-2021 season. While the production is available at no cost, audiences are encouraged to consider a donation by following the directions at the Vancouver website. The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival website,, will also offer a free link to the production. Vancouver is intended for audiences 13 and older.

Vancouver was shot in September 2020 on location in a rustic barn in Wisconsin. The setting provided a controlled environment that allowed all participants to follow strict social distancing and safety guidelines during the creative process.

Vancouver was a gut-level response to the pandemic and the shuttering of live theater,” says Ralph B. Peña. “We had to find a way to work safely, so I thought of puppets, and knew immediately that I wanted to work with Tom Lee. From there, my mind quickly moved to tell the story of a mixed-race Asian American family dealing with racial aggressions.”

“When Ralph approached me about telling a contemporary Asian American story with puppetry, I leaped at the chance to collaborate with him,” said Tom Lee. “Throughout the process, we were dealing with the pandemic and also the painful and ongoing reckoning in the country about racism. We saw elected leaders openly espouse racist rhetoric and split the country into us and them. Vancouver is not only about trying to make a beautiful piece of art in challenging times. It is about portraying a story of a mixed-race Asian American family navigating the fraught environment of our country. Telling this story is especially crucial at this moment."


Vancouver features puppeteers Mark BlashfordTom Lee, and K.T. Shivak along with the vocal talents of Cindy Cheung as Amy, Daniel K. Isaacas Lucky, Shannon Tyo as Ashley, and James Yaegashi as Hiro.


The additional creative team for Vancouver includes Alec Styborski (editor), Francisco Aliwalas (director of photography), Fabian Obispo(composer), Jaerin Son (lead scenic design), Chicago Puppet Studio (production design), K.T. Shivak (puppet design), Blair Thomas (puppetry consultant), Aaron Herschlag (grip), Eric Roediger (motion graphics), Jesse Jae Hoon (titles), Paul Lieber (sound design) and Three Crown Studios (sound mastering).


Since its founding in 1989, Ma-Yi Theater Company has distinguished itself as one of the country’s leading incubators of new work shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today.


Please visit for more information.


About the artists


Ralph B. Peña (writer and director) has been Ma-Yi Theater’s Artistic Director since 1996 and has been instrumental in establishing Ma-Yi Theater Company as the country’s leading incubator of new works by Asian American playwrights, reaping numerous Obie and Drama Desk Awards, a Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical (KPOP), and the 2018 Ross Wetzsteon Obie Award. Directing credits include The Wong KidsMicrocrisis,Among The DeadThe Chinese Lady, and Felix Starro. Apart from Ma-Yi Theater, Peña’s work has been seen on the stages of The Public Theater, Long Wharf Theater, Laguna Playhouse, Victory Gardens, LaMama ETC, The Children’s Theater Company, Vineyard Theater, among others.


Born in Seoul, Korea and raised in Mililani, Hawai’i, Tom Lee (Puppetry Director) is a director, designer and puppet artist based in New York & Chicago. Lee began his career at La MaMa Experimental Theater in New York with the encouragement of Ellen Stewart and, later, the St. Ann’s Warehouse Puppet Lab. His original puppet theater work includes Shank’s Mare (La MaMa, Japan Tour), Hoplite Diary (St. Ann’s, La MaMa), Punch of the Dead (St. Ann’s Puppet Lab) Odysseus and Ajax (La MaMa) and Ko’olau (La MaMa/Hawai’i tour). Lee has directed & designed puppetry for Giants Are Small with the New York Philharmonic, the Prototype Festival production of The Scarlet Ibis by Stefan Weisman and David Cote and for the National Asian American Theatre Company, among others. He collaborated with director Stephen Earnhart on a multimedia staging of Haruki Murakami’s The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, for which he designed the scenery, puppetry and projected puppet miniatures. This production was featured at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2011 and the Singapore Arts Festival in 2012.

About Ma-Yi Theater Company

Founded in 1989, Ma-Yi Theater Company is a Drama Desk, Lortel, and Obie Award-winning, Off-Broadway not-for-profit organization whose primary mission is to develop and produce new and innovative plays by Asian American writers. 

Its numerous acclaimed productions include Mike Lew’s Teenage Dick and Bike America, Qui Nguyen's The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent Gand Soul Samurai (with Vampire Cowboys), and Hansol Jung’s Among The Dead. Other productions include: Rescue Me by Michi Barall, Lloyd Suh's The Chinese Lady and Lonnie Carter’s The Romance of Magno Rubio.

The Ma-Yi Writers Lab, a signature program founded in 2004, is the largest resident company of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled. The Lab emboldens a new generation of Asian American artists to voice their experiences, while developing a steady stream of quality new works by Asian American playwrights for Ma-Yi’s own performing repertory. New works developed at the Writers Lab have gone on to successful productions around the country, at such theaters as Victory Gardens, Laguna Playhouse, Long Wharf Theater, Woolly Mammoth and the Actors Theater of Louisville, to name a few.

Ma-Yi’s productions have earned 10 Obie Awards, 5 Henry Hewes Award nominations, a Drama Desk nomination for Best Play and the Special Drama Desk Award for “more than two decades of excellence and for nurturing Asian-American voices in stylistically varied and engaging theater.”

Ma-Yi Theater is under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña.


About the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival

Founded in 2014 by master puppeteer Blair Thomas, the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is a non-profit organization with a mission to establish Chicago as a prominent center for the art of puppetry and advance the form. To date, the festival has presented three multi-week, citywide festivals in 2015, 2017 and 2019. Chicago’s puppet festival has quickly grown to be the largest of its kind in North America, attracting as many as 14,000 audience members biannually to dozens of Chicago venues large and small to enjoy an entertaining and eclectic array of puppet styles from around the world.

In addition to planning the fourth Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival (dates to be announced), Chicago Puppet Fest programs include its new Pop-Up Puppet-Gram delivery service, educational programs for novices to professional puppeteers, an ongoing series of Free Neighborhood Tours, and the Chicago Puppet Studio, the festival’s in-house puppet design and fabrication workshop. 

Fittingly, the offices of the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival and the Chicago Puppet Studio are located in the Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Avenue, where, many argue was the birthplace of contemporary puppetry more than 100 years ago. The festival is led by founder and Artistic Director Blair Thomas, Managing Director Sandy Gerding, an Advisory Board and a dedicated volunteer Board of Directors. 

Please visit for more information.

“On the Frontlines: Filipino/Filipinx Healthcare Workers”--How the Pandemic Has Affected Frontline Workers in U.S. and the Philippines, May 4 Webinar

New York University will host “On the Front Lines: Filipino/Filipinx Healthcare Workers,” a webinar that will analyze the challenges facing Filipino/Filipinx frontline healthcare workers in the U.S. and in the Philippines during the pandemic, on Tues., May 4, 7-8:15 p.m. EDT (May 5, 7-8:15 a.m. in Manila).

Nearly a third of the nurses who have died of coronavirus in the U.S. are Filipino, according to National Nurses United, even though Filipino nurses make up just 4.5 percent of the nursing workforce nationwide (approximately 25 percent of Filipinos in the New York City metropolitan area work in healthcare). In the Philippines, frontline healthcare workers have been targeted for harassment and, experts say, have received inadequate levels of support from the government.

Event speakers:

  • Emerson Ea, assistant dean, NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing

  • Kym Villamer, clinical nurse manager

  • Gideon Lasco, MD, the University of the Philippines Diliman

  • John Gershman, clinical professor of public service, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service (moderator)

  • Carolyn Dinshaw, NYU’s Dean for the Humanities and professor of English and Social and Cultural Analysis (introduction)

To register for this Zoom webinar, please visit the event page

The event is co-sponsored by Sulo: Philippine Studies Initiative at NYU, NYU’s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, NYU’s Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation, and the New York Southeast Asia Network.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Philippines and United States Celebrate 75 years of Diplomatic Relations

(L-R) U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Ambassador Sung Kim; Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez; and U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Ambassador Atul Keshap at the launch of the yearlong celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Philippines and the United States on 26 March 2021 at the Philippine Embassy in the United States, Washington, D.C. (@PHinUSA Photo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez and U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Ambassador Sung Kim officially launched on March 26 a bilateral campaign to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America.

“Some say 75 years is indeed a long time to stay as friends, partners, and allies, but I believe this is an undeniable testament to the depth and quality of the bilateral relationship. Our ties have withstood the test of time and have served both our countries and peoples well,” Ambassador Romualdez said during a program held on the grounds of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. 

The Philippines and the United States established formal diplomatic relations on July 4, 1946 – the same day that the Philippines gained its status as an independent and sovereign republic. Since then, the two countries have expanded and deepened bilateral cooperation in many areas, most notably defense and security, trade and commerce, and culture and education.  This year, the two countries are also marking the 70th anniversary of the Mutual Defense Treaty that formalized our treaty alliance, which enables close security cooperation that enhances mutual peace and security.  The Philippines is the United States’ oldest treaty ally in Asia. 

“As you know, I served as Ambassador to the Philippines just recently and it’s a true privilege to see firsthand the strength of the bond between our two countries. Starting with the unbreakable friendship between Americans and Filipinos, of course, the robust military partnership that we have, and an equally strong economic partnership. I think what really impressed me the most was the potential for us to develop the relationship even further, even deeper, and again, I think that starts with the warmth, affection, and mutual respect between our two countries,” said Ambassador Sung Kim.

Central to the anniversary celebration are the unbreakable bonds between the Filipino and American people, who continue to strengthen bilateral relations.  There are over four million U.S. citizens of Philippine ancestry in the United States, and under normal circumstances, more than 350,000 U.S. citizens living and traveling in the Philippines at any given time, with an estimated 650,000 U.S. citizens visiting the Philippines each year.   

“Certainly, what truly binds our two countries together are our peoples, and it is for them that we are celebrating this momentous occasion. It also provides an opportunity for the Philippines and the United States to not just take stock of what we have achieved together throughout the years, but also to reaffirm our commitment to more robust ties and to a relationship that remains relevant in a world that will continue to face new and continuing challenges,” Ambassador Romualdez further stated. 

The launch event marks the start of a yearlong commemoration through various activities and initiatives by the Philippine Embassy and Consulates General in the United States, and the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. 

U.S. Embassy in the Philippines Chargé d’Affaires John Law joined the celebration by video link, stating “Over these decades, our countries have accomplished so much together, and moving forward, we will accomplish even more thanks to the friendship, cooperation, and mutual support between Americans and Filipinos.”

The official logo of the 75th anniversary celebration highlights the common colors of the Philippine and American flags, which symbolize the two countries’ shared history, and the sun, stars, and stripes that represent hope for the future of this deep relationship.

Vaccine for All: NYC Launches New Mobile Vaccination Effort and Expands Walk-In for Seniors

Mayor de Blasio Facebook Page Screenshot

— With the goal of making the vaccine more accessible to priority populations, Mayor Bill de Blasio on April 6, announced the launch of mobile vaccinations, with mobile vaccine vans and buses reaching some of the hardest-to-reach New Yorkers with COVID-19 vaccines. The City will also expand the number of walk-in vaccine sites for New Yorkers 75 and older at City-run vaccine sites citywide.

“We’re doing all we can to get as many shots in arms as possible,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “With over 4.6 million doses now administered, we’re going above and beyond to reach every New Yorker, deploying mobile vans and expanding walk-ins to help our city recover one dose at a time.”

Made possible by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the mobile vaccination effort will include a fleet of vaccine vehicles, including vans and buses equipped with four to six vaccinators each, delivering the COVID-19 vaccine directly to communities most in need, whether priority populations or neighborhoods identified by the City’s Task Force for Racial Inclusion and Equity as being hardest-hit by the virus and histories of socio-economic disparity.

At these locations, the van will offer approximately 200 vaccine doses per day, for a range of one to three days. Local community-based organizations will help New Yorkers schedule vaccination appointments with the vaccine fleet ahead of time. The fleet will also accept walk-up appointments when available. 

On April 6, the fleet launched with its first bus, taking vaccines on the road with a focus on reaching restaurant workers and delivery workers. Promobile Kitchen will operate this first bus, Daybreak Health will administer vaccine doses, and Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants (ROAR) will lead outreach efforts to restaurant workers, helping them sign up for appointments ahead of time and on site. Additionally, the City will assist with outreach to the community, helping to coordinate with local community-based organizations, elected officials, and industry groups to canvass and engage communities, post flyers, promote these opportunities, and fill these appointments. Vans will have live interpretation on site and vaccine materials in 12 languages.

Restaurant workers and restaurant delivery workers can schedule appointments by emailing, or by calling 1-833-ROAR-NYC (1-833-762-7692). Details about additional mobile vaccine sites, including hours and days of operation, will be announced in the coming weeks.

The City will expand its walk-up appointment pilot for New Yorkers over the age of 75 at City-run sites, with a full list below. Additional, site specific information can be found on


  1. Bushwick Educational Campus 
  2. Canarsie HS 
  3. Brooklyn Army Terminal  
  4. Starrett City - Spring Creek Towers  
  5. Teachers Prep  
  6. Flatbush YMCA
  7. City Point             
  8. Coney Island YMCA (opens 4/8)


  1. South Bronx Educational Campus 
  2. Bronx High School of Science 
  3. Co-Op City 
  4. Bathgate 
  5. West Bronx Gymnasium 


  1. Beach Channel Educational Campus 
  2. Long Island City 
  3. Korean Community Services
  4. CitiField 
  5. Martin Van Buren Highschool 

Staten Island

  1. Ocean Breeze Athletic  
  2. Empire Outlets 


  1. Essex Crossing 
  2. City College  
  3. Abyssinian Baptist Church
  4. Ford Foundation (opens 4/7)
  5. Yeshiva University (opens 4/7)
  6. Fulton Community Center (opens 4/7)

“New York City has hit an incredible stride in our vaccine rollout, reaching millions of New Yorkers over the past several months with more than 4.6 million doses administered to date,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and 

Human Services Melanie Hartzog. “This is vital progress – but we know there’s more to do and more New Yorkers in need to vaccinate. Through our mobile vaccine fleet launching today, equipped with vans and buses, we intend to take these efforts on the road, delivering vaccines directly to populations and communities hardest-hit by the pandemic, like restaurant workers and delivery workers who’ve been on the frontlines feeding our City since the outset of this crisis. With this additional resource, we’re continuing to adapt and expand our efforts – and addressing hesitancy by making the vaccine as accessible as possible.”


“The new mobile vaccination fleet and walk-up service build on our efforts to reach the New Yorkers most in need with life-saving vaccine as we race against the virus,” said Dr. Ted Long, Executive Director of the NYC Test & Trace Corps and Senior Vice President for Ambulatory Care and Population Health at NYC Health + Hospitals. “With these growing options for our priority communities, we are tearing down barriers to make vaccinations for all a reality in New York City.”