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Thursday, August 31, 2023

Mayor Adams, NYPD Commissioner Caban Take Historic Step to Embrace Adhan, Muslim Call to Prayer Citywide

Under New Legal Guidance, Mosques and Masjids Can Broadcast Call to Prayer Every Friday and Throughout Ramadan

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Edward A. Caban on Tuesday, August 29, launched a new NYPD initiative to support and facilitate the Islamic call to public prayer at regularly prescribed times each Friday and during the holy month of Ramadan. The effort represents a historic step forward in Mayor Adams’ continued efforts to foster a city that respects all faiths and allows people to practice their traditions safely and free from harassment.

“For too long, there has been a feeling that our communities were not allowed to amplify their calls to prayer,” said Mayor Adams. “Today, we are cutting red tape and saying clearly that mosques and houses of worship are free to amplify their call to prayer on Fridays and during Ramadan without a permit necessary. We want our brothers and sisters of Muslim faith to know that they are free to live their faith in New York City because, under the law, we will all be treated equally. Our administration is proud to finally get this done.”

“This important work, being led by our NYPD Community Affairs Bureau, is a fundamental service to the ideas of religious freedom, understanding, and sustained peace and prosperity for all,” said NYPD Commissioner Caban. “Our hardworking police officers know that our diversity — our rich blend of varying backgrounds and experiences — is what often makes us stronger. The NYPD’s proud embrace of this idea is at the heart of our robust community outreach, our crime-fighting efforts, and our ongoing public safety mission.”

The Adhan, also spelled Azan, is a succinct message — usually broadcast publicly over the speakers or public address system of a house of worship — summoning members of the Muslim faith for prayer. The NYPD’s new legal guidance clarifies for mosques and masjids that the call to prayer is allowed in New York City and not prohibited despite sound restrictions in city neighborhoods.

Under the new guidance, a mosque or masjid can broadcast the call to prayer every Friday between 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM as well as during the sunset prayers every evening during Ramadan — a holy, month-long period of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community observance that arrives in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

The NYPD Community Affairs Bureau and Muslim faith leaders will work collaboratively in every neighborhood with mosques and masjids to communicate the new plans for Adhan to local community leaders and stakeholders. They will work to ensure that any sound device used to broadcast an Adhan is set at appropriate decibel levels and in accordance with the rules of the noise code within the city’s administrative code.

“As someone who grew up in Egypt and hearing the call of prayer my entire life, I truly missed its beauty and peaceful reminder to take a moment and appreciate what you have,” said Imam Abdullah Salem, Muslim Community Center of Brooklyn. “I am so grateful to be able to hear it again here in my own city.”

“As a principal of an Islamic school, I see my students struggling to maintain their identity as a Muslim. Many are afraid to share it, and the rest are hesitant,” said Somaia Ferozi, principal, Ideal Islamic School. “For them to hear the call of prayer in public during our holiest days will affirm to them that this is their city, and they have the right to worship like everyone else.”


Tuesday, August 29, 2023

UN General Assembly Adopts Philippine - Initiated Resolution on World Basketball Day

Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Antonio M. Lagdameo (holding a basketball) poses with co-sponsors of the Philippine-initiated UN General Assembly World Basketball Day resolution on 25 August 2023 at the U.N. Headquarters in New York. (Photo credit: Philippine Mission to the U.N.)

UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK — The United Nations General Assembly adopted today by consensus the Philippine-initiated resolution on World Basketball Day during its plenary meeting on 25 August 2023 at the UN headquarters in New York. Acknowledging the global presence of basketball and its impact in and across global spheres of commerce, peace and diplomacy, the resolution decided to proclaim 21 December as World Basketball Day.

With the historic resolution, which was led by the Philippines, Indonesia, Nicaragua and Peru and co-sponsored by 77 countries, basketball became the first team sport to be recognized by the UN General Assembly with its own international day. 

Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Antonio M. Lagdameo delivers the introductory remarks before the adoption of the UN General Assembly of the Philippine-initiated World Basketball Day resolution on 25 August 2023 at the UN headquarters in New York. (Photo credit: Philippine Mission to the U.N.)

In his introductory speech before the UN General Assembly, Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations Antonio M. Lagdameo stated that “as a globally recognized sport, basketball transcends borders, cultures, and languages. It serves as a unifying force where people from different backgrounds can come together, bond and communicate with each other, creating connections and breaking down barriers, and thereby contributing to peace.”

“The adoption of the resolution is very timely, as the 2023 FIBA World Cup of Basketball has just started today, 25 August, in three major cities in Asia – Manila, Jakarta, and Tokyo. It is an honor for my own country, the Philippines, to host this global competition because basketball is in our national DNA,” Ambassador Lagdameo said.

In an earlier statement before FIBA officials, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. stressed that the FIBA World Cup is “going to have a very enthusiastic, knowledgeable, loud, passionate crowd for every single day.”

“Basketball plays a role in promoting health, mental well-being, and community engagement, as it contributes to global health goals. It is a powerful tool for promoting the values of discipline, respect for rules, team spirit, inclusivity, as well as women empowerment,” Ambassador said in his statement. 

Ambassador Lagdameo noted that the Philippines has “more basketball courts per capita than anywhere in the world. In 2019, the Philippines had the highest basketball popularity index score globally. In 1975, the Philippines established Asia’s first and oldest professional basketball league, the Philippine Basketball Association, which remains active and competitive to this day.” 

Basketball was played for the first time on 21 December 1891 at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, after Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian physical education instructor, developed the game to keep his students active during the winter months. 

Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Antonio M. Lagdameo (holding a basketball) poses with main co-sponsors Indonesia, Nicaragua and Peru, and other co-sponsors of the Philippine-initiated UN General Assembly World Basketball Day resolution on 25 August 2023 at the U.N. Headquarters in New York. (Photo credit: Philippine Mission to the U.N.)

The resolution invited all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, other international and regional organizations, the private sector and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, individuals and other relevant stakeholders to observe World Basketball Day in an appropriate manner and in accordance with national priorities, and to disseminate the advantages of basketball for all, including through educational and public awareness-raising activities.

Basketball has grown to become one of the most popular and widely played sports in the world, with at least 450 million people worldwide playing basketball today according to FIBA figures. Basketball has also been a part of the Olympic program since its introduction at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and enjoys a strong presence in North America, especially the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa and other regions.

The resolution also commended the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia, for hosting the International Basketball Federation Basketball World Cup 2023, and encouraged the relevant authorities to exert every effort to ensure that the Basketball World Cup 2023 will leave a lasting legacy for peace and development around the world.


Opinion: Philippine Policy in Respect of Communist China is Dysfunctional; UP President will be Interesting Speaker at UPAAA GRC; Reader's Reaction to the Robredos By Manuel L Caballero




The foreign policy of the Philippines in respect of Communist China is dysfunctional. It deviates from the norms of international or even regional relations between  or among nations. In a big way, it can be regarded as bad.

The PH has a Mutual Defense Treaty with the US since 1951. But, Manila is sending its military officers to China for training . (Thank you, Mr. Duterte). While, at the same time, China continues to bully PH Coast Guard vessels and personnel in its own territory in the West Philippine Sea. The same bullying is done against Filipino fishermen in the same maritime area. At the same time, China continues to ignore the Arbitration Court's decision  in The Hague in favor of the PH.

All these are happening because of two reasons: 1) Ex-Pres. Duterte's personal pro- China policy during  his presidency; and 2) Domestic politics.  Being political allies, Pres. Bongbong Marcos cannot just break away from Mr. Duterte's implemented pro China policies  despite his manifested close ties with the US as shown during BBM's official visit to Washington earlier this year.

At the rate the PH is going, it's like a woman who wants to maintain two boyfriends simultaneously. We know it's not only wrong, it is also bad policy.

Now that Rodrigo Duterte is no longer president,  Philippine leaders should accept the fact that they need allied help, especially US and Japan, and even Europe, to retain their nation’s territorial integrity, and its sovereign rights and privileges under public international law.


Like other UP alumni, I am  looking forward to meeting University of the Philippines President Angelo A. JIMENEZ. at the UPAAA  Grand Reunion and Convention on Oct. 19-22, 2023 in New Jersey.

I read a write-up on him in Wikipedia. He is a lawyer with extensive experience in labor relations.  It was Atty. Jimenez who observed  from his first-hand experience in the post-Sadam Iraq, that there will be chaos when institutions of government stop functioning, or are not functioning well.

I would say that observation is akin  to what's happening in the PH today, where Congress and the Supreme Court are  said to be extremely loyal to the head of the Executive branch, thus, their decisions are almost always suspects. To us, that's not true democracy. We hope the UP President will deal on this topic in his speech.

Another good mention about Pres. Jimenez was when he made a difficult decision to allow a group of medical doctors interns from PGH to graduate despite being disqualified due to  supposed "lack of moral standards." Pres. Jimenez reportedly questioned the imposition of moral standards by an institution. Interesting!

We cannot wait to listen to UP Pres. Jimenez when he speaks during the UPAAA Grand Reunion and Convention (GRC) on Oct. 19-22, 2023 at Hyatt Regency New Brunswick Hotel in New Brunswick,  NJ.


As writer of this column, I receive reactions from readers. I'd like to share one I received from Dr. JOY CELO, UPAAA GRC Vice Chair. She reacted to my earlier FB post about the late husband of former VP Leni Robredo, Sec. Jesse Robredo.

Here is Dr. CELO's:

"I love your posts...I especially got teary-eyed with "Remembering Jesse Robredo".  We sometimes forget that she is a widow and a mother, first and foremost, and she is keeping his memory and ideals alive by being in public service.  She could have just as easily gone into private practice as a lawyer.  She is truly a National Treasure!"

Thank you, Dr. CELO.  I'm looking forward to meeting you during the UPAAA GRC in October.


I don't usually do this, but I'd like to greet a bright woman accountant from Bacolod and NY, whose dear mother passed recently. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Kathleen on August 23rd.


Again, CONGRATULATIONS to Former VP Leni Gerona Robredo and Consul General Zaldy Patron  (Calgary, Canada). Both are among the 2023 UP Distinguished Alumni Awardees who received their awards in Diliman last August 19.


Saturday, August 26, 2023

LEGO Creates Minifigures To Mark Philippine Milestone

Consul General Senen T. Mangalile officially received the commemorative pieces at LEGO Flagship Store at 5th Avenue, New York, Thursday, 17 September 2023. (Photo by Nikka Arenal)

The iconic toy brand, LEGO, upon the initiative of the Philippine Consulate General in New York and Sentro Rizal New York, created limited LEGO Minifigures capturing the imagery of the 125th Anniversary of the Declaration of Philippine Independence. On Thursday, 17 August 2023, Consul General Senen T. Mangalile officiallyb received the commemorative pieces at the LEGO Flagship Store at 5th Avenue, New York. The Philippine-themed Minifigures were turned over by store manager Jeffrey McAndrew and Filipino-American supervisor, Michael Jazmin.

Consul General Senen T. Mangalile, accompanied by Vice Consul Tanya Faye O. Ramiro and Nikka Arenal, officially received the commemorative pieces at LEGO Flagship Store at 5th Avenue, New York, Thursday, 17 September 2023. (Photo by Nikka Arenal)

“As part of our continuing commemoration of our 125th Anniversary as a nation, we are happy that LEGO is paying homage to this Philippine milestone, thereby honoring the global Filipino,” said Consul General Senen T. Mangalile.   

With its commitment to promote diversity and inclusivity, LEGO provided the unique opportunity to celebrate this landmark occasion.  

While these Minifigures are not available to the public, kababayan are invited to visit the LEGO Minifigure Factory at Fifth Avenue to create their own Philippine-inspired Minifigures.   

The LEGO Minifigures shall be displayed at Sentro Rizal New York.


Governor Hochul Calls on President Biden to Direct the Federal Government to Provide Work Authorizations, Support, and Shelter For More Than 100,000 Asylum Seekers in New York State

Governor Urges White House to Provide Expedited Work Authorization for Asylum Seekers, Financial Assistance for the City and State, the Use of Federal Lands and Facilities, and Reimbursement for Nearly 2,000 New York National Guard Members

Governor Also Announces Plan to Connect Asylum Seekers to Employers with Job Openings Throughout New York State

Governor's Ongoing Response to Asylum Seeker Arrivals Includes $1.5 Billion in Aid in FY 2024 Budget, Mobilization of Nearly 2,000 National Guard Members, and Providing State-Owned Sites to House Asylum Seekers

Governor Hochul's Letter to President Biden Can be Viewed Here

Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday, August 24, called on President Biden to take executive action and direct additional federal resources to the State of New York as it manages the unprecedented influx of asylum seekers arriving in New York. In a formal request sent to the White House this morning, Governor Hochul outlined specific, outstanding requests, including expedited work authorizations for asylum seekers, financial assistance for New York City and New York State, the use of federal land and facilities for temporary shelter sites, and Title 32 designation to provide federal funding for the nearly 2,000 New York National Guard members currently providing logistical and operational support across the State.   

“For over a year, I have called for federal assistance and support for New York as we manage the unprecedented number of asylum seekers arriving in our state,” Governor Hochul said. “New York cannot continue to do this on its own. It is past time for President Biden to take action and provide New York with the aid needed to continue managing this ongoing crisis.” 

Governor Hochul also announced a program that will greatly expand the State’s ability to help asylum seekers quickly gain lawful employment. Governor Hochul directed the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) to help connect asylum seekers to employment opportunities so they can begin working immediately after obtaining federal work authorization. All asylum seekers with work authorization in New York can now register for assistance here. DOL career experts will work with individuals to assess skills, work history, education, career interests and more, and connect them with employers across the State. Additionally, the New York State Department of Labor launched a portal enabling businesses to inform the State that they would welcome newly-authorized individuals into their workforce.  

Today's actions are Governor Hochul's latest efforts to address the arrival of asylum seekers and migrants in New York. Earlier this week, Governor Hochul announced a $20 million investment to help expedite the casework filing process for more than 30,000 asylum seekers. This investment builds on the $1.5 billion the State already committed to support New York City by providing funding for health care, shelter costs, National Guard personnel, legal services, and voluntary relocation programs. The State has also loaned New York City sites to use as temporary shelters which currently house more than 2,000 asylum seekers every day.


Thursday, August 24, 2023

First Filipino Member of UN Body on Law of the Sea Wraps Up Session in New York

NAMRIA Deputy Administrator Efren P. Carandang hands over the signed copy of the solemn declaration to Mr. Vladimir Jares, Director of the Division for Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs at the commencement of the session of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

Filipino expert Efren P. Carandang, as the first Filipino member of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), concluded his participation in the fifty-eighth session of the CLCS from 5 July to 22 August 2023 held in-person at the United Nations Headquarters. 

This is the first session of the sixth term of office of the CLCS following the election of its members at the thirty-second Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in June 2022.

Mr. Carandang is Deputy Administrator of the National Mapping and Resource Information Agency (NAMRIA), the Philippines’ primary government agency for geospatial information management and services. Elected in June 2022, Mr. Carandang will serve the CLCS until 2028. He won a seat in the Asia-Pacific Group of the CLCS for the term 2023-2028.  He is among the 19 members currently serving their term of office of five years.

The CLCS is composed of 21 experts in the field of geology, geophysics or hydrography.  They serve in their personal capacities.  Members of CLCS are elected for a term of five years by the Meeting of States Parties to the Convention from among their nationals having due regard to the need to ensure equitable geographical representation.  Not fewer than three members shall be elected from each geographical region.

Established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the CLCS makes recommendations to coastal States on matters related to the establishment of the outer limits of their continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured, based on information submitted to it by coastal States.  These recommendations are based on the scientific and technical data and other material provided by States consistent with UNCLOS.


Sentro Rizal WDC, UNIFFIED Maryland Chapter Successfully Conclude 2023 Silid Aralan sa Embahada

Basket Weaving Dance performed by the Migrant Heritage Fil-Am Dance Ensemble.

– In celebration of Buwan ng Wika or National Language Month of the Philippines this August, Sentro Rizal of the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. together with United Federation of FilAm Educators (UNIFFIED) Maryland Chapter successfully hosted this year’s Silid Aralan sa Embahada virtually from 14 to 18 August 2023. The culminating activity was held both in-person and virtually on 19 August 2023 at the Philippine Embassy’s Quezon Hall. 

Silid Aralan sa Embahada is an annual project of the Embassy in partnership with the UNIFFIED Maryland Chapter, wherein Filipino-American students between the ages of 4 to 18 years old learn about Philippine history and culture for a week in August.  This year’s theme “Katutubong Pamana: Gabay sa Pagpapatupad ng Matatag at Inklusibong Lipunan” focuses on the importance of the protection, promotion, and preservation of the rights of the Indigenous people. 

Participants and UNIFFIED Maryland Chapter teachers during the 2023 Silid Aralan sa Embahada culminating activity with Charge d’Affaires a.i. Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon, Jr. (second row eight from the left).

For the 2023 Silid Aralan sa Embahada, UNIFFIED Maryland Chapter has introduced a new module that aims to provide Filipino American learners with a deeper understanding about their Filipino identity, which includes the following topics: 1) Philippine History/Geography, and National Symbols; 2) The Filipino Identity: “What is being a Filipino?; 3) Getting to Know the Ifugaos in Baguio (Northern Luzon); 4) Getting to Know the Atis in Antique (Visayas); and 5) Getting to Know the T’bolis in Cotabato (Mindanao). 

During the online sessions, special guests from the various Indigenous groups in the Philippines shared their insights about their culture and traditions namely, Spokesperson of Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Youth Organization Ms. Bae Anna Jessa Mae Crisostomo, Film Actor Mr. Hilliard Paul Puguon, and Mr. Michael Yambok and Ms. Nenita S. Kinan from the Municipality of Lake Sebu South Cotabato.

Filipino American students and their families enjoying Filipino food courtesy of Jollibee.

In his  opening remarks, ChargĂ© d’Affaires a.i. Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon, Jr. underscored the importance of understanding the values of Filipino Indigenous peoples.  He exhorted the students to  “keep with you and take to heart the invaluable lessons offered this year. The respect for nature, the spirit of unity, and the preservation of cultural identity are principles deeply embedded in our heritage. By integrating these principles into our modern endeavors, we pave the way for a society that celebrates its past while progressing confidently into the future.” 

This was supported by National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Chairperson Allen A. Capuyan in  his recorded remarks as he said “Let us pay tribute to the tapestry of our past and the wisdom imparted by those who came before us… It is a gift that propels us forward, building a stronger, more inclusive society.”  

Representatives from the students, parents, and teachers also shared their experiences as the 2023 Silid Aralan sa Embahada comes to an end, including Philip Samuel Leosala along with his father Edgar Leosala, Keir Velarde with his mother Elsayolly Alegado, and volunteer teacher Ms. Dominga Bella Takinan. This was followed by the awarding of certificates to the participants.

The program was made even more livelier thanks to the cultural performances by the Migrant Heritage Fil-Am Dance Ensemble, and a community singing of Ata Song. The Filipino American learners and their families also got the chance to savor Filipino flavors through food packs courtesy of Jollibee.