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Monday, December 13, 2021

Opinion: Joyful Leni Caravan on a Joyful Day in New Jersey | On My Watch By Manuel Caballero

On My Watch

By Manuel Caballero

Joyful Leni Caravan on a Joyful Day in New Jersey

As the Christian world lighted the pink candle of Joy of Advent on Dec. 12, Filipino Americans in New Jersey, many wearing pink, gathered and held a joyful caravan of more than 100 cars in support of VP Leni Robredo in a section of Jersey City most inhabited by Filipinos.

"I see hope in Leni," said one of the participants who told this writer she was originally from Zamboanga City.

Dr. Tricia Robredo: "This fight is larger than my family's. This is our fight, the fight of Filipinos

I'm one of the few men in the less than 10-person organizing committee dominated by women, led by Nida Gonzales-Chan , Jujo Conol and Angelita Pena . Kudos to this group for the successful Caravan.

Let me share some of the 'Pink Caravan for Leni" highlights:

1. The motorcade was preceeded by a group picture taking by the multi-awarded Fil Am photo journalist Reena Rose Sibayan , chief photographer of Jersey Journal and owner of Reena Rose Photography. Reena is member of the Caravan's Media and Public Relations Committee. She covered the motorcade from start to end, together with videographers Lambert Parong and Felimon Taino. We will post separately photos and videos once they become available.

Dr. Tricia Robredo

2. Dr. Tricia Robredo, one of three daughters of VP Leni, graced the occasion together with her aunt from NJ who is sister of her late Daddy Jesse Robredo. Doc Tricia proved to be a good extemporaneous speaker. Both in her talk and interview with Fil Am journalists Don Tagala of ABS-CBN and Momar G. Visaya of Asian Journal, the possibly first-daughter emphasized the importance of the 2022 elections in the PH. She also said her mother's fight is the fight of every Filipino in and outside of the Philippines. Thanks to Roger and Jo Bimeda Santos for giving a ride to Doc Tricia to and from NJ.

3. Loida Nicolas Lewis , Jersey City Councilman Rolando Lavarro Jr. . and Hudson County 
Commissioner Bill O'Dea spoke during the post Caravan program in the park emceed ably by Amira Allahh .

4. Tear-jerker songs during the two programs were: A) Bayan Ko; 😎 Pambansang Awit ng Pilipinas, and C) Di Nyo Ba Naririnig (sang by Broadway star Lora N. Olaes).

5. Thank you Fernando Mendez and Laura Garcia for the free and nice Leni posters.

Dr. Tricia Robredo with On My Watch columnist Manuel Caballero

As my FB friend Eduardo Dela Cruz , the now confirmed "Lugaw ni Leni King of NJ," always says in his posts, "history na ito" (the Pink Caravan For Leni in NJ).

After concluding this column, I saw on TV news the horrific and tragic effects of tornadoes in Kentucky and Illinois the other night. At least, 34 were reported killed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the suffering survivors and their families.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Mayor de Blasio Announces Vaccine Mandate for Private Sector Workers, and Major Expansions to Nation-Leading "Key to NYC" Program

Mayor de Blasio: "Vaccination is the central weapon in this war against Covid"

—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced major expansions to the “Key to NYC” program, the first-in-nation vaccination mandate for workers and customers at indoor dining, fitness, entertainment and performance venues. Starting December 14th, the program will require children aged 5-11 to show proof of one vaccination dose for those venues. Starting December 27th, New Yorkers aged 12 and older will be required to show proof of two vaccine doses, instead of one, except for those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The mayor also announced a first-in-the-nation vaccine mandate for private-sector workers. The mandate, which will take effect on December 27th, will apply to roughly 184,000 businesses.

Finally, the mayor announced 5-11-year-old children will be required to get vaccinated to participate in high-risk extracurricular activities. These activities include sports, band, orchestra, and dance. This requirement for the initial vaccine dose will take effect on December 14th.

“New York City will not give a single inch in the fight against COVID-19. Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic, and these are bold, first-in-the-nation measures to encourage New Yorkers to keep themselves and their communities safe,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “From workplace mandates, to $100 incentives, to mobile and at-home vaccination offerings, no place in the nation has done more to end the COVID era. And if you have not taken this step yet: there’s no better day than today to stand up for your city.”

“There’s no higher priority than keeping New Yorkers healthy and ending this pandemic once and for all. The most important step we can all take is to take the free, safe, and effective COVID-19 vaccine,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Melanie Hartzog. “With these bold new measures, New York City will continue to lead the way in moving past this virus and building a recovery for all of us.”

“Vaccination is the best tool we have to keep New Yorkers healthy and ensure a robust economic recovery for all. These important measures will help to broaden the coverage of the vaccines even further,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been.

“New York City has led the nation when it comes to decisive action on COVID-19,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “We have to be more relentless than the virus, and I know that our vaccine policies will save lives and help prevent unnecessary suffering.”

The City will issue additional enforcement and reasonable accommodation guidance on December 15th, along with additional resources to support small businesses with implementation.

Acceptable proof of vaccination includes a CDC issued vaccination card, the New York State Excelsior Pass, the Clear Health Pass, and the NYC COVID Safe App.

Today’s expansions follow recently announced vaccination mandates for City employees, childcare providers, and non-public school employees. Ninety-four percent of the City workforce is vaccinated.

New York City has administered over 12.5 million vaccination doses. Nearly 6.5 million New Yorkers – including 89% of adults – have received at least one dose. More than 125,000 children aged 5-11 have already received at least one dose.

New Jersey Filipinos to hold 'Pink Caravan for Leni' Dec. 12

Written by Manuel Caballero

JERSEY CITY, NJ - Filipinos in the State of New Jersey, home to over 100,000 Filipinos, according to the latest US census, are getting excited as they prepare to hold a Pink Caravan For Vice President Leni Robredo in Jersey City  on Dec.  12, 2021. Robredo is running for president of the Philippines in its May 2022 elections.

It is being organized by Leni supporters under United  Filipinos of North America USA-New Jersey and 1SAMBAYAN USA-NJ Chapter

Two Bicolano organizations in NJ are actively supporting the Leni Caravan.

According to Edwin Josue, Loida Nicolas Lewis, originally from Sorsogon and regarded as "Mother of Filipinos in America" due to her long-time involvement in Fil Am community activities, will attend the pro Leni event. She is an ardent Robredo supporter. In fact, Loida is co-founder of Global Filipinos For Leni (GFFL) with members from over 30 countries.

We also learned that Jillian Robredo, daughter of VP Leni who is studying for a college degree in New York is being invited to attend. Her aunt lives in NJ.

Anyone who wishes to join the Caravan may proceed to Lincoln Park by Duncan Avenue side starting at 8 A.M on Dec. 12. Caravan starts at 10:00 A.M. There will be group photo op and registration for the unregistered participants before the start. Fellowship will follow at same park at the end of motorcade. 

Those who will join may bring food. They are requested to wear pink and decorate their cars with pink, but not with balloons (balloons are not allowed in Jersey City public activities like motorcades).

According to Google, weather forecast in Jersey City on Dec 12, day of Pink Leni Caravan, will be Sunny,  High of 45 deg., Low of 33 deg.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Mayor de Blasio Announces Holiday Plans for Pedestrian Space Around Rockefeller Center

Lambert Parong/ Balitang New York

NEW YORK— As visitors return to Manhattan this holiday season, Mayor de Blasio, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and New York City Police Department (NYPD) recently announced the return of temporarily expanded pedestrian space on the streets around Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall. With crowds this year expected to be the largest since the start of the pandemic, the Mayor and City officials strongly encourage New Yorkers to use public transportation.

“No place on earth is more magical than midtown during the holidays, and New Yorkers and visitors alike will get to enjoy the neighborhood with more pedestrian space than ever,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Public transit is the best way to get to the neighborhood, and these pedestrianized streets will create a safe, spacious, and welcoming environment for everyone who enjoys the holiday season.”

Lambert Parong/ Balitang New York

“Traffic safety and security are paramount all year round in New York City, and particularly as the winter holidays approach,” said NYPD Chief of Transportation Kim Royster. “This year, as in years past, our NYPD officers will be working around the clock along with our government partners to ensure a safe and fun holiday season for all who wish to visit the sights and stroll in Midtown Manhattan with their friends and loved ones.”

“We expect that as New York City continues to recover from the pandemic, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will once again be a major destination for New Yorkers and of course for the tourists once again flocking to our city,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “Creating more space for pedestrians around Rockefeller Center will keep people safe while ensuring minimal disruption to the rest of the life of the city. New Yorkers can of course do their part by avoiding unnecessary driving in Midtown during the holiday season.”


Lambert Parong/ Balitang New York

This past Friday, the City has pedestrianized the streets surrounding Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall, using movable barriers to institute full or partial street closures to alleviate swelling foot traffic along sidewalks. Changes include:


  • Pedestrian-Only Side Streets: 49th and 50th Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues will be open only to pedestrians during the most congested hours.
    • The City will close these streets to vehicle traffic between 11 a.m. and midnight daily.

  • 5th Avenue: Movable barriers will be placed on the east and west sides of 5th Avenue between 48th and 52nd Streets, eliminating a lane of traffic on each side of the avenue to create more pedestrian space. Additionally, there will be no turns allowed onto 47th, 49th, or 51st Streets.

  • 6th Avenue: Movable barriers will be placed on the east side of 6th Avenue between 48th and 52nd Streets, eliminating one lane of traffic to create more pedestrian space.

  • Buses: MTA buses will bypass all stops between 48th to 52nd Streets, and all crosstown buses will be re-routed around Rockefeller Center during pedestrian-only hours. 


Lambert Parong/ Balitang New York

NYPD will conduct round-the-clock monitoring of the area to adjust the barriers if needed during times of unusual pedestrian activity or extreme weather. Closing streets to vehicle traffic will protect pedestrians while ensuring minimal disruptions to transit and police operations, allowing the City to permit the flow of many morning commuters while protecting pedestrians at peak times.

“I am thankful that we will have an expanded pedestrian space around Rockefeller Center for the holiday season,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I am excited to light the tree and close the streets to cars! The pandemic has shown the benefits that streets oriented around pedestrians and not cars bring to New Yorkers. Expanding pedestrian space to allow New Yorkers and tourists to finally return to this beloved holiday experience is the perfect way to welcome visitors back to our City as it continues to reopen. Thank you to Councilmember Powers and the Mayor for working with me to get this done.”

“The Rockefeller Center pedestrianization pilot was a major success in 2019,” said Council Member Keith Powers. “I am glad that it is being brought back this year, with much holiday cheer, while we are still recovering from the pandemic and making efforts to continue to stay safe. Thank you Borough President Brewer and Mayor de Blasio for your partnership.”

Lambert Parong/ Balitang New York

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Governor Kathy Hochul Announces Actions to Increase Access to Food Assistance for Older Adults and Disabled New Yorkers

Gov. Hochul Facebook Page

Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced changes aimed at encouraging more food-insecure older adults and disabled individuals to enroll in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The changes include simplifying the SNAP application, extending the duration these households can receive benefits before needing to recertify, and eliminating the need for them to complete an interview during the recertification process.


"New York's senior and disabled communities were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to food insecurity in some cases and exacerbating it in others," Governor Hochul said. "Allowing easier access to SNAP benefits for these groups will help alleviate this stress. No one should have to wonder when their next meal will be and I am proud to take these steps to remove barriers that prevented older adults and disabled individuals on fixed incomes from accessing the food benefits that can help them to put food on the table."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which administers SNAP in New York, to offer a simplified application. This shortened application form can be used for both applying and recertifying for SNAP—easing and simplifying the process for qualified older and disabled adults. Households need only to complete a single sheet application, front and back, which greatly reduces the amount of time and effort required to apply or recertify for benefits.


Starting in December, eligible older New Yorkers can also now recertify their benefits for 36 months—12 months longer than the previous timeline for recertification. Additionally, applicants will no longer be required to complete an interview to recertify their benefits—frequently one of the greatest impediments to successful recertification.


Although New York leads the nation in SNAP participation among adults age 60 or older, the rate is still lower than the state's overall average. About 70 percent of eligible older adults and disabled individuals are enrolled to receive benefits, which is significantly lower than the statewide participation rate estimate of roughly 89 percent.


One leading reason proposed for this lower participation is the length and complexity of the form to apply for SNAP. The regular application includes nine pages of questions and information geared at determining a household's eligibility. Because many older individuals and disabled individuals live on fixed incomes and generally experience far fewer household changes, much less information is required to verify their eligibility and calculate benefits.


Additionally, studies show that providing SNAP benefits for those 65 and older results in better health outcomes. There is a direct link between SNAP and decreased long term care placement, health costs, and emergency visits. Receiving SNAP benefits also enables those aged 65 and older to focus their limited resources on paying for other basic needs such as prescriptions and rent.

Office of Temporary and Disability Executive Deputy Commissioner Barbara C. Guinn said, "By making it easier to apply for and maintain their SNAP benefits, we can encourage a greater number of vulnerable New Yorkers put healthy, nutritious food on the table. I applaud Governor Hochul's leadership in continuing to help even more households in the state access critical SNAP benefits." 

Office for the Aging Director Greg Olsen said, "For older adults, food insecurity is associated with worsening chronic disease, illness, and debility, which is why nutrition has been a core focus of our pandemic response effort. Under the leadership of Governor Hochul, we've greatly expanded home-delivered models to overcome food access barriers. The Governor has also been a leader in maximizing SNAP benefits and supplemental emergency assistance for all New Yorkers facing hunger. The pandemic continues to demand that we remain nimble in getting help to those who need it most. I am proud to join Governor Hochul in delivering these important program changes to simplify the application process and ensure continuity of food assistance for older adults.