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Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Celebrating 125 Years of Philippine Independence: Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC Hosts Diplomatic Reception with NSA Jake Sullivan as Special Guest

Ambassador Romualdez (left) and NSA Sullivan (right) cut the cake in celebration of the 125th anniversary of Philippine Independence and Nationhood.


WASHINGTON, D.C.
 – The Embassy of the Philippines hosted U.S. National Security Advisor (NSA) Jake Sullivan and members of U.S. government agencies as well as the Diplomatic Corps at a reception on June 9 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Proclamation of Independence of the Republic of the Philippines.

In his remarks, Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez highlighted the hard-fought freedom won by Filipinos 125 years ago and the continued fight to maintain the Philippines as a free, independent and sovereign nation. He stated that the Philippines today is a vibrant, dynamic country with bright economic prospects as a result of structural economic reforms implemented by successive administrations, including the current government under the leadership of President Marcos. 


Ambassador Romualdez delivers his remarks and welcomes the crowd to the Embassy’s reception celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Proclamation of Independence of the Republic of the Philippines.


Ambassador Romualdez noted that with the Philippines being fully integrated into the global community of nations, it puts value in the friendships and partnerships it has made in the international community. “Now, more than ever, we appreciate the value of being a friend and a partner to all countries and an enemy to none, especially as we address current and emerging challenges that are truly transnational and cannot be resolved by one country alone,” said the Ambassador. He added that “there is no doubt that the United States is one of our most important friends and partners, aside from being our only defense and security ally.” With intensified official, business, and people-to-people engagements across all sectors in the past few years, Ambassador Romualdez expressed confidence and optimism that relations between the two countries will remain strong in the foreseeable future. 


Ambassador Romualdez (left) and NSA Sullivan (right) share a toast towards a strong and prosperous PH-US bilateral relations.


In response, NSA Sullivan stated that the strong and good relations currently enjoyed by the United States and the Philippines are the result of the hard work of people, not just from the government, but from all sectors of both countries. He said that 72 years ago, when the historic Mutual Defense Treaty was signed between the Philippines and the United States, then President Truman said to President Quirino: “We have demonstrated that two peoples can work together in common welfare if they have the same belief in democracy and the same faith in freedom.” NSA Sullivan added that in the years since then, “our faith has grown stronger and our partnership has grown stronger with it.”


NSA Sullivan noted that in almost all areas of cooperation, from climate change to food security, space and technology, the United States and the Philippines “are working in lock-step on almost every major challenge that we face today.” He said that during President Marcos’ visit last month, President Biden announced new initiatives to further strengthen the alliance, including establishing an OpenRAN 5G lab in the Philippines, having a Presidential Trade and Investment Mission, and establishing new sites to enhance the defense cooperation agreement, among others. He concluded by recounting once more what President Truman pledged to President Quirino 72 years ago, that “ we shall always be your friend.” NSA Sullivan then said: “In the years to come, the United States will continue to make good on that pledge.”



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Mayor Adams Ends 90-Day Rule for all Populations, Expands Eligibility to City-Funded Rental Assistance for all New Yorkers in Shelter


NEW YORK
– New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Friday, June 16, issued emergency rules eliminating the 90-day length-of-stay requirement for New Yorkers in shelter to be eligible for City Family Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement (CityFHEPS) housing vouchers — the largest city-funded rental assistance program in the nation — vastly expanding the number of New Yorkers in shelter who will now be able to access city-funded rental assistance. Effective immediately, families as well as individuals in shelter will have expanded access to city-funded rental assistance and expedited connections to permanent housing. With New York City continuing to manage the unprecedented asylum seeker crisis largely on its own, this emergency rule will build on progress to quickly move New Yorkers out of shelter and into permanent housing.

“(Today,) we’re taking our efforts to house more New Yorkers to the next level — building on our work expanding voucher eligibility, cutting red tape, and reducing bureaucracy that we’ve focused on since day one,” said Mayor Adams. “By removing the 90-day length of stay requirement for our CityFHEPS rental assistance program for individuals and families in shelter, we’ll help more people exit shelter for permanent housing faster. To really build the housing New Yorkers need, the state Legislature must pass a 421-a replacement, allow more office conversions, and lift the cap on housing in Midtown Manhattan. We’ll continue to advocate for those changes and use every tool available to move New Yorkers into homes.”


The announcement builds on last year’s robust package of CityFHEPS reforms Mayor Adams implemented to help New Yorkers exit the shelter system and move more quickly into permanent affordable housing. The New York City Department of Social Services (DSS) has also made numerous technology, staffing, process, and training improvements over the past year to expedite shelter move-outs. These improvements have resulted in an overall increase in exits from shelter to permanent housing across all shelter populations during the first four months of Fiscal Year 2023, with the largest increase in placements moving New Yorkers into subsidized housing and contributing to a more than 40 percent increase in placements for single adults residing in shelter.


“The changes announced will help us more efficiently provide families and individuals with the services and housing supports they need,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “This new tool will help us to connect New Yorkers experiencing homelessness with more permanent housing.”


“From day one, the Adams administration has put New Yorkers, especially those experiencing homelessness, at the center of our city’s housing policy and committed to slashing through the red tape and dysfunction that keeps a safe, dignified home out of reach for too many of our neighbors,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “CityFHEPS vouchers have proven themselves to be an effective tool for getting our fellow New Yorkers into stable, long-term housing options and we are thrilled to expand this opportunity to more families and individuals.”


The program established under the CityFHEPS rule allows individuals and families to rent apartments at competitive market-rate rents based on the annual New York City Housing Authority Section 8 Payment Standards. By eliminating the length of stay requirements in shelters through these emergency rules, additional households will be eligible to move out of shelter and into permanent housing.


With a vacancy rate for affordable housing ranging between one and five percent, many New Yorkers have a difficult time finding an apartment even after receiving a voucher. To address this issue, the Adams administration has focused on accelerating production of new housing and advancing development projects in neighborhoods around the city. Mayor Adams also continues to call on the state to take action on a new affordable housing incentive program — easing conversion of vacant offices to housing and eliminating the cap on housing in Midtown Manhattan.


Since the implementation of city-funded rental assistance in 2014, nearly 150,000 New Yorkers in 63,000 households have been helped to move into permanent housing or remain stably housed. So far this fiscal year, from July 2022 through April 2023, DSS has connected a record number of households to CityFHEPS vouchers, and is on track outpace the number of households connected to CityFHEPS in prior years. Currently, the CityFHEPS program alone supports 30,000 households by providing a rental subsidy.



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Saturday, June 24, 2023

Opinion: Former PH VP Leni Robredo and Calgary Consul General Zaldy Patron Among UP Grads to Receive Distinguished Alumni Awards; President Marcos Must Listen to 24 PH D's from UP about Maharlika Investment Fund; PAFCOM Parade in Jersey City on June 25 By Manuel L. Caballero


ON MY WATCH
BY MANUEL L. CABALLERO


FORMER PH VP LENI ROBREDO AND CALGARY CON GEN ZALDY PATRON AMONG UP GRADS TO RECEIVE DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARDS; PRES. MARCOS, JR. MUST LISTEN TO 24 PH Ds FROM UP ABOUT MAHARLIKA INVESTMENT FUND; PAFCOM PARADE IN JERSEY CITY ON JUNE 25


I'm writing this on the eve of my birthday . Pardon me. We will let our readers who may be interested to know my age do a little math. I was born 11 months and 18 days after the United States restored  Philippine independence on July 4, 1946. Restored, because the PH had been an independent country since June 12, 1898 when Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and his army ousted the Spaniards from their over 3 centuries grip on the PH.


As I observe my birthday, I feel happy and blessed because of three reasons: 1. Because my  five good-looking young 'apos' , all boys, are showing signs that, in the future, they can be what they want to be. Seth  finished his home school kindergarten year with grades of both A in Kinder Literacy and Kinder Math. In percentage, Seth received 99% each in both subjects. See his grades from the school posted below; 2. Because of my responsible and thoughtful children and children-in-laws; 3. Because of my age, I am now permanently exempted from jury duty by virtue of a Statute by the NJ State Assembly.


Thank you Lord for your blessings.


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Congratulations to Former PH VP Leni Robredo and Calgary, Canada PH Consul General Zaldy Patron. The two are among the University of the Philippines Alumni Association Awardees for 2023. Well-deserved awards.


Atty. Maria Leonor Gerona Robredo is one of two awardees for Most Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus.


ConGen Patron will receive Most Distinguished Alumnus Award in Foreign Service.


The ex-VP graduated from Diliman, while the ConGen, from UP Los Banos.

With humility, I cannot help recalling a similar award accorded to yours truly by the UP Alumni Association in America some years back as Distinguished Alumnus in Journalism. I graduated with BA in Political Science from UP Diliman.


***


The UP School of Economics came out with a  discussion paper about Maharlika Investment Fund, authored by 24 PhDs and a lawyer from UP. Title of the paper: Maharlika Investment Fund: Still Beyond Repair


Sharing the group's finding:


We find that the MIF violates fundamental principles of economics and finance and poses serious risks to the economy and the public sector — notwithstanding its proponents’ good intentions.


● First, the raison d’ĂȘtre of the Maharlika Investment Fund remains unclear even as it has already hurdled both houses of Congress.

● Second, due to its confused goals, the MIF bill does not adequately articulate and take account of several implications of the fund’s dual-bottom line objective.

● Third, the manner of funding the Maharlika Investment Fund poses huge risks to our already strained public coffers and is vulnerable to moral hazard.

● Fourth, red flags abound in the MIC’s governance structure.

● Fifth, with elevated global economic headwinds and uncertainties, it is unlikely that MIF will be able to “crowd-in” investments and eke out returns that are large enough for the fund to grow substantially to finance development projects.

● Sixth, the preoccupation with this defective proposal has diverted attention from more vital and urgent national agenda that the administration itself has rightly identified, notably the need to reform the retirement and pension system for military and uniformed personnel.


In view of the foregoing, we call upon President Marcos to seriously reconsider the final approval of the Maharlika Investment Fund bill, and present before the public a clear and solid rationale for setting it up in the first place. 


Read the full paper here: https://econ.upd.edu.ph/.../ind.../dp/article/view/1551/1035


My commentary: For the sake of the native country and its people, Pres. Marcos, Jr. should seriously consider the above position paper before signing the MIF into law because if he does not and MIF fails or gets corrupted, the Filipino people themselves may likely cut their patience again and act, like what they did to his father and his family, in 1986.


In my family, we have only 2 PH Ds. But, when they speak on something controversial, we listen most of the time. This study from UP is authored by 24 PH Ds! The President better open his ears.


***


On Sunday, June 25, will be the much-awaIted annual PAFCOM Parade and Cultural Program at West Side Avenue and Lincoln Park in Jersey City.


Come on down!



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Philippine Consulate New York Participates in the Philippine Flag Raising Ceremony in New Jersey

The Philippine flag is unfurled and displayed in front of the Jersey City Hall. (Philippine Consulate General Photo by Ruth Galiza).

The Proclamation signed by Mayor Steven M. Fulop reads, "as Mayor of the City of Jersey City, I hereby proclaim... we honor the 125th Anniversary of Philippine Independence in Jersey City... and urge all residents to celebrate with the appropriate ceremonies and festivities." (Philippine Consulate General Photo by Ruth Galiza).


"Today marks an important day," Deputy Consul General Cruz remarked, "for we are taking part in the raising of the Philippine and American flags, a testimony of the especially close relations between the Philippines and America." (Philippine Consulate General Photo by Ruth Galiza)


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Filipinos Call for Genuine Sovereignty at NYC Philippine Independence Day Parade

Lambert Parong/ Kababayan Media

New York — More than 300 Filipino immigrants, Filipino Americans, and allies marched as the Northeast Coalition to Advance Genuine Democracy in the Philippines (NECAGDP) in the annual Philippine Independence Day Parade on June 4, 2023 in Manhattan, New York.

This year marked the 125th anniversary of Philippine independence from Spanish colonial rule. But as members of the NECAGDP noted, the Philippines under the current Marcos-Duterte regime is far from free. The diverse contingent marched in unison behind a banner that read “Atin ang Pinas! Magkaisa para sa Karapatan, Soberanya, at Tunay na Kaunlaran!,” or “The Philippines is Ours! Unite for Rights, Sovereignty, and Genuine Development!”


Lambert Parong/ Kababayan Media
During the May 2022 Philippines elections, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) organized an International Observers Mission to investigate and document human rights violations. ICHRP discovered that during the elections process, there were extensive problems regarding the “electronic voting system, vote-buying, red-tagging of all opposition candidates, and acts of violence against certain partylists and their supporters.” Despite this, both Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. — the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. — and Sara Duterte, the daughter of outgoing president Rodrigo Duterte assumed their positions of President and Vice-President of the Philippines.


Cailin Lansang of Kabataan Alliance Northeast and Andrea Cagurangan of Kabataan Alliance DMV reflected on their experiences as Filipino youth in the United States. Cagurangan told the crowd, “We are victims of a society that has forced us to assimilate [and] forget our roots. But through learning the true history of Philippine society, we know that it is one of resistance that stems from Andres Bonifacio — whom we represent today as he led the revolt against Spain by uniting the entire country as one force.”


Joms Salvador, Secretary-General of GABRIELA Philippines, roused the crowd in Tagalog about why Filipinos have left the Philippines to find new homes all over the world. “My countrymen, who are migrants, children, and descendants of Filipino migrants searched for a better future and life for our familiesIn spite of this, we are brought together under one struggle for the freedom of our Motherland because we know that there is [neither] true freedom [nor] independence when most of our fellow countrymen are still in poverty.”

“When there is still no land, no rights for our countrymen, no livable wages, no decent and regular jobs in our Motherland,” Salvador continued, “the Filipino people are still being led by not those in the government, one that is not for the people but only for the few — the local oligarchs, foreign capitalists, and foreign powers like the American government who exports war [to] our country.”


Lambert Parong/ Kababayan Media

Nina Macapinlac, Secretary-General of BAYAN-USA, explained how new efforts from the Philippines Department of Tourism are reinforcing the Labor Export Policy, a legacy of Marcos, Sr. that formalizes and streamlines Filipino migration to fill economic and labor gaps in foreign countries. “The Philippines Department of Tourism released a new slogan called ‘We Give the World our Best,’ which is supposed to commemorate Overseas Filipino Workers’ contributions. But whose best is that to give away? Is it not our right to keep what is ours?”


She continued, “[Marcos, Jr.] is participating in ‘free-trade forums’ like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Meanwhile, the Philippine government is peddling corruption scams like the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF).” The MIF sovereign wealth fund (SWF) was recently passed in the Congress of the Philippines, where seed money — P50 billion from the Land Bank of the Philippines; P25 billion from the Development Bank of the Philippines; P50 billion from the Philippine government; and another P125 billion from the Philippine government, Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs), and Government Financial Institutions (GFIs) — were collated to “invest national funds and coordinat[e] and strengthen the investment activities” of these GOCCs and GFIs “to promote economic growth and social development.”


Critics argue that the MIF will be plundered by high-level government officials — and that the Philippines cannot afford to have a SWF because not only does the country not have surplus wealth, but they also have staggering debts and fiscal deficit — additional relics from Marcos, Sr. “Will APEC give us our economic sovereignty? No! Will foreign investment give us our economic sovereignty? No!” Macapinlac concluded, “All of us here — activists [and] protestors — pour our heart and soul out into organizing and mobilizing our communities. We are here because we love the Philippines! We are not paid off! We are fed up!”


After the march, participants walked to Madison Square Park and received lunch donations from businesses and community members from across New York and New Jersey and attended “Piyesta in the Park,” a program filled with music, singing, dancing, pageantry, and guerilla theater. The steady attendance and positive reception at the parade and park also points to support and aspiration for a free Philippines. The NECAGDP represents a broad unity of Filipinos across the Northeast United States that aspires for a truly democratic Philippines.



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Mayor Adams, DCWP Commissioner Mayuga Announce Nation's First Minimum pay Rate for App-Based Restaurant Delivery Workers


NEW YORK –
New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga on Sunday, June 11, announced that the City of New York has set a first-of-its-kind minimum pay rate for app-based restaurant delivery workers. When fully implemented, the city’s more than 60,000 delivery workers — who currently earn $7.09/hour on average — will earn at least $19.96/hour. Restaurant delivery apps will also have flexibility in how they pay delivery workers the new minimum rate.

“‘Getting Stuff Done’ for working people is what this administration is all about, and that includes some of the hardest working New Yorkers: our delivery workers,” said Mayor Adams. “Our delivery workers have consistently delivered for us — now, we are delivering for them. This new minimum pay rate, up by almost $13.00/hour, will guarantee these workers and their families can earn a living, access greater economic stability, and help keep our city’s legendary restaurant industry thriving.”


“Delivery workers have kept New Yorkers nourished through the most perilous of conditions, delivering food right to our doors throughout the pandemic and unprecedented weather conditions in the past,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development, and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer. “Thanks to the diligent work of the Adams administration and the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, we are delivering on the mayor’s working people's agenda and improving the lives and economic potential of more than 60,000 New Yorkers.”


“Today is a historic win for New York City’s delivery workers, who have done so much for all of us through rain, snow, and throughout the pandemic,” said DCWP Commissioner Mayuga. “When the rate takes full effect, workers will make three times as much as they do now. I am proud that our city has fulfilled its promise to provide more stability and protections for 60,000 workers and get them a dignified pay rate.”


“Today we’re celebrating another major victory in our fight to deliver justice for the city’s delivery workers: raising their minimum wage to at least $19.96/hour,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer. “Deliveristas are the American dream, working hard to deliver for themselves and their families. Thank you to Ligia Guallpa and Gustavo Ache from Deliveristas Unidos, Mayor Adams, DCWP Commissioner Mayuga, and other elected officials who helped in this fight to organize. Si se puede!”


DCWP closely considered all comments submitted during the public comment period and established a final rate that will greatly increase workers’ incomes, while also being responsive to industry and worker feedback. The final rate also takes into account that, as independent contractors, delivery workers pay out-of-pocket for their expenses and do not have access to workers’ compensation insurance, or paid time off, and must pay more in Medicare and Social Security contributions.


The pay rate will be $17.96 when it takes effect on July 12, 2023, and will increase to $19.96 when it is fully phased-in on April 1, 2025. The rate will also be adjusted annually for inflation. Apps have the option to pay delivery workers per trip, per hour worked, or develop their own formulas, as long as their workers make the minimum pay rate of $19.96, on average. Apps that pay workers for all the time a worker is connected to the app (the time waiting for trip offers and trip time) must pay at least $17.96 per hour in 2023, which is approximately $0.30 per minute, not including tips. Apps that only pay for trip time (the time from accepting a delivery offer to dropping off the delivery) must pay at least approximately $0.50 per minute of trip time in 2023, not including tips.


DCWP found that workers spend approximately 60 percent of their working time engaged in trips and 40 percent on-call. For example, on a given day, a worker may be on-call awaiting trip offers for four hours and making deliveries for six hours. If that worker’s app only pays for trip time, the worker would make $179.60 based on the trip time rate when the rate takes effect in 2023. If, instead, the worker’s app pays for both trip time and on-call time, the worker will still make $179.60. These per-minute rates are approximate. Apps would have to calculate exact pay in accordance with the rule.


In September 2021, the New York City Council passed Local Law 115, requiring DCWP to study the pay and working conditions of app-based restaurant delivery workers and to establish a minimum pay rate for their work based on the study results. DCWP published its study last year, which drew from data obtained from restaurant delivery apps, including DoorDash, GrubHub, UberEats, and Relay; surveys distributed to delivery workers and restaurants; testimony; extensive discussions with stakeholders on all sides; and publicly available data. Members of the public, delivery workers, and restaurant delivery apps submitted thousands of comments on the proposed minimum pay rule, which DCWP carefully considered in developing the final rule.


DCWP will be conducting worker outreach and education about the new minimum pay rate and all rights under the city’s delivery worker laws. Delivery workers, apps, restaurants, and consumers can visit DCWP's website for information about the minimum pay rate, multilingual resources, and information about the city’s delivery worker laws. Workers can also call 311 and ask for “delivery worker” or visit DCWP’s worker page to request more information or to file a complaint.


This minimum pay rate is just one part of the city’s holistic approach to improving working conditions for delivery workers. Announced in 2022, the Adams administration is working with Los Deliveristas Unidos to convert vacant newsstands into hubs to provide a place for delivery workers to seek shelter from the elements, as well as charge electric bicycles and phones.



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Thursday, June 15, 2023

Makilala TV Celebrates 10 Years as a Platform for the Filipino-American Voice

A Makilala TV episode on the topic of Dementia with guests Dr. Mary Joy Garcia-Dia and Anna Maria Manalo.


New York - Makilala TV, the first and longest-running Filipino-American TV talk show in the NY Metro area, celebrated its 10th-year anniversary as a platform for showcasing the rich culture, stories, and voices of the Filipino-American community.

Makilala hosts (from left) Rachelle Peraz Ocampo, Jen Furer and Cristina Pastor. 


An intimate reception was held on June 10 at the Sheraton La Guardia in East Flushing, attended by about 50 guests who previously appeared on the show. They were led by Consul General Senen Mangalile, Commissioner Anne del Castillo of the New York City Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment; and Ambassador Mario de Leon, former consul general. Also joining the celebration was Zenaida Mendez, director of Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) El Barrio Firehouse Community Media Center, and the production staff. 


Consul General Senen Mangalile delivers remarks on the importance of journalists to society.


In his remarks, Mangalile paid tribute to the press and journalists commonly known as the Fourth Estate. He said his hope is that Makilala, which is “not supported by big economic interests,” will continue to represent the “true struggles of the common person” and be the voice of the community in New York.

Throughout its history, Makilala TV has covered a wide range of topics that speak to the Filipino American community: Gun violence, entrepreneurship, aging,  sex and intimacy, Filipino lesbians and burlesque artists, climate change, COVID frontliners, Black Lives Matter and more. They recently did an interview with two young girls aged 7 and 8, on the topic of school safety.


“These are topics not commonly discussed in our community and that’s why we love talking about them,” said co-founder Cristina Pastor who shared how they initially fashioned themselves ala Barbara Walters’s The View. “We wanted it known that Filipinos are not a silent community.”


Makilala was founded by Pastor and former public access producer for QPTV and filmmaker Maricor Fernandez. It is co-hosted by author and fitness coach Jen Furer, public health professional Rachelle Peraz Ocampo, and Pastor who publishes The FilAm newspaper.


Makilala hosts with (from 2nd from left) Manhattan Neighborhood Network Director Zenaida Mendez;  production & studio manager Fredy Pinto; and technical crew Tiffany Hill Rock and Carla Robles.


Produced in partnership with MNN, Makilala TV reaches a wide audience through its broadcasts on MNN every other Thursday, Bronxnet TV every Wednesday, and globally on Kapatid International every Sunday. The show has been hailed as an exemplary source of information, inspiration, and entertainment for viewers. 


Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Makilala TV remained committed to its viewers by producing one episode per month, never missing a single show. The tapings shifted to a virtual format during COVID before resuming in-studio once the MNN studio reopened. Co-host Furer said the show aired at least 125 episodes and had the pleasure of hosting a staggering 601 guests! 


As Makilala TV embarks on its 11th season, it will continue to delve into relevant topics, according to Co-host Ocampo.  Episodes focusing on "Caring for Loved Ones with Dementia: Navigating the Journey" and "Filipinos in Staten Island" are in the pipeline for airing.  The dedicated team of Makilala and the unwavering support of MNN are excitedly looking forward to the next decade, committed to amplifying the Filipino voice, she said. 

 

For more information about Makilala TV and its upcoming episodes, please visit www.makilalatv.com or follow them on social media platforms.


Photos by Matthew and Maricel Edel.


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