NOV. 17, 2018


Mabuhay to the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle on its 25th Year Anniversary

Words have always mattered. When a then rising political star in the U.S. Senate addressed the nation at the DNC Convention in 2004, that memorable speech and his call for unity and hope struck a chord that propelled him to the presidency four years later. On the flipside, the most cunning marketer in our generation Donald Trump also used masterful messaging to win over a large segment of the country in 2016.

Life itself is living out stories and storytelling. An evocative take on reality: How would we know that we’ve even existed if not for the stories we tell?

When it comes to the media, it has the ability to harness the power of words and storytelling unlike any force. It’s influence – unbounded; it’s reach – global. The array of issues covered can lead to pure potentiality. First an idea sparks; then connects with an audience; then materializes. An example of this sequence: it’s no surprise that the fear, xenophobia, and hate espoused by the President led to the recent killings at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. The media, particularly right-wing media, contributed to the thick, pervasive fear that led to this horrific end. Remember: not all media is the same.

It is within this framework and mindset that the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle was born – that words and storytelling are immensely powerful; that words and storytelling must come with responsibility; that words and storytelling can be used not only to advocate for but materialize a greater good.

Specifically, over the span of 25 years, the Chronicle has been an enterprise empowering the Filipino community through ethical, professional journalism. And the collaborative partners through those years have been the community itself.

Examples of hand-in-hand collaboration between the Filipino Chronicle and community are endless. We were there to affect the historical win of former governor Ben Cayetano, twice. We were there to see the dream of the Filipino Community Center become reality. We were alongside the community to experience growing pains which have led to it becoming the force it is in our state. And today, we are fighting with every once of resource and intellect to protect immigrants in what is arguably one of the country’s darkest times in modern history for immigrants.

Is the ethnic media, is the Filipino Chronicle still relevant today as it were 25 years ago? The answer is a resounding yes. For what reasons? While the mainstream media is effective, the Filipino Chronicle is best fit to tell our community’s stories because we have their shared values. We have a shared historical identity with our community which makes the paper’s delivery culturally sensitive. We negotiate and present conflicts and issues in a way relatable to our people. We break stereotypes. We feature outstanding role models who illuminate to our children our best selves.

Where else would we read a story about the plight of street children in the Philippines and ways to adopt them locally in Hawaii? This is potentially lifechanging work.

Where else would we read about Filipino labor leaders and Filipino workers struggling to survive in a waning post-labor Hawaii. This articulates a very specific, reality that often has been ignored or generalized by the mainstream press.

Both of these are just two examples that highlight the Filipino Chronicle’s invaluable work.

The unique ability of cultural sensitive reporting in ethnic media is its greatest strength. While mainstream media struggle financially; and many enterprises find themselves on life-support in the age of digital media -- the ethnic media continues to expand and do well.

A study shows nearly 60 million Americans get their news and information regularly from ethnic media.

In New York alone, a Ford Foundation report that circulation to the four Chinese dailies have grown from about 170,000 in 1990 to more than half a million. The Hispanic media in the U.S. is a multi-billion dollars industry.

At the same time, ethnic markets are not homogenous. Some ethnic communities are more supportive of their ethnic media than others. Nationally, Filipino newspapers are well represented in major urban cities where large pockets of Filipinos reside. But their staying power could be better relative to the Chinese and Hispanic media. Filipino Americans are close in number to Chinese Americans in the United States and there should be no reason why Filipino American media in the U.S. dwarfs in comparison to the Chinese American media.

The Hawaii Filipino Chronicle’s longevity is among the most accomplished in Filipino American media nationally. Its longevity speaks volumes of the commitment by its owners -- Dr. Charlie Sonido and Chona Montesines-Sonido – who have kept the newspaper thriving. Their sacrifice and hard work are commendable. The HFC staff, some who’ve been with the Chronicle for decades, also played large roles in the newspaper’s success. And Hawaii’s Filipino community have been the legs that have kept the newspaper moving forward.

Lasting twenty-five years is a remarkable feat for any business or organization. The Filipino Chronicle, as facilitators of important news over such a long span of time, has been a movement of sorts – a genuine grassroots movement in our state. The newspaper’s editorials, topics, people featured are collective yet paradoxically diverse voices of this movement perpetually unfolding.

The owners and staff of the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle are deeply grateful for the support we’ve received from the community. We hope that we can continue this movement and be in service to our community for many years to come. Mabuhay to our Filipino community! Mabuhay to the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle.


Changing the 14th Amendment, Eliminating Birthright Citizenship, Is a Dangerous Precedent

How strange that President Donald Trump’s messaging centers on telling a nation of immigrants, a nation built by immigrants, to now fear immigrants.

It seems every three months, President Donald Trump announces another big bomb that proposes to change the nation’s immigration laws.

For those not up-to-date with the president’s anti-immigrant stance, some of the major proposals include: building a “symbolic” southern wall, limiting legal immigration of guest-worker visas, implementing a travel ban on mostly Muslim countries, ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), separating children from families at the border (zero-tolerance policy), discontinuing the diversity visa lottery, supersizing ICE and adopting inhumane raids, restricting asylum seekers and refugees, disqualifying legal green-card holders who receive government assistance from becoming U.S. citizens, and canceling temporary protective status of select countries.

The most potentially harmful are Trump’s proposal to reduce legal immigration by half by adopting a new biased merit-based system that would eliminate family-based immigration; and the widespread stripping away of select natural-born American citizenship (denaturalization traditionally has been a very rare occurrence).

Ending Birthright Citizenship

As if any one or all of these proposals were not enough to potentially harm tens of millions of immigrants or would-be immigrants, the most anti-immigrant President in modern American history adds another proposal to this list: he wants to put an end to birthright citizenship, a 150-year old constitutional right to citizenship for anyone born on American soil.

What’s even more absurd is that this president is making the argument that he could strike down this right granted under the 14th amendment by a mere “executive order.” Talk about a hell-bent authoritarian inclination, that a president believes he alone could strike down a constitutional amendment.

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is very clear. It says: “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

This time-tested, embedded 14th Amendment, among other things, led to all African-Americans becoming citizens of the United States. Messing with the Amendment could potentially open the door to all kinds of abuse and cherry picking.

Trump wants ending birthright citizenship to specifically apply to “anchor babies” – illegal immigrants who have their children be born in the U.S. to become U.S. citizens.

But a danger of precedent could be set to target other populations of Americans born in the U.S. That determination could be arbitrary and based off the current political weather.

Imagine how divisive this would be that Americans begin to call into question other Americans’ legal status based on historical origin and that even having been born in the U.S. would simply not be enough. Americans of color and Americans from certain countries more than likely would be targets of suspicion.

Ending birthright citizenship would open a “pandora’s box.” How far back generationally would this go back? Where will the burden of proof lie? Are records of legal immigration adequately stored? How would due process be handled and deportation proceedings for this set of the population? The questions are endless: and at what cost?

This Trump proposal is yet another divisive ploy that further drives a wedge among Americans. How selfish, and frankly sinister, that this president continues to tear apart national cohesion just to solidify support from his xenophobic base. What more is this president willing to do to keep power?

No need for such a dramatic change

The facts show Trump’s rhetoric is just fear-mongering. Unauthorized immigrants have been steadily in decline. Unauthorized immigrants having babies in the U.S. have also been in decline. The net value of both legal and illegal immigration is a positive one in terms of necessary labor and contributions to the economy.

The facts show there is no drastic need to change the Constitution on this issue of ending birthright citizenship. This is not to say that old-aged constitutional amendments should be untouched. There are times when certain constitutional laws warrant updating such as how the country elects its president, which is grossly archaic.

Procedures must be followed

But before constitutional amendments are changed there must be overwhelming proof of “need.” There is none with regard to the 14th Amendment.

Even if there were, a lengthy process must commence that involves a supermajority in the U.S. Congress and supermajority of states in the union willing to ratify a constitutional change. This is how it works.

Not what Trump is proposing via executive order which would be challenged and later decided by the U.S. Supreme Court (which currently is conservative heavy). This is the way of dictators who prefer short cuts and immediate results; and clearly undermines the rule of law and procedure.

Congress must be involved. States must be involved on constitutional amendments. If Trump and his handpicked Supreme Court (he appointed two justices in just two years) can get away with procedure, what other bedrock constitutional amendments can be struck down so easily – your freedom of speech!

Americans, even if you are hawkish on immigration, see the danger of what changing the 14th Amendment so capriciously as Trump would want will do in the long term

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