NOV. 17, 2018


Fil-Am Recognized for Perfect ACT Score

By Sheri Kajiwara

A Filipino-American high schooler in Carson, California was recently recognized for earning a top score on the ACT college entrance exam.

Gerrick T. Cardenas, a senior at Bishop Montgomery High School, earned the highest possible ACT composite score of 36.

On average, only around one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score. In the U.S. high school graduating class of 2017, only 2,760 out of more than 2 million graduates who took the ACT earned a composite score of 36.?

The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science, each scored on a scale of 1–36. A student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores. The score for ACT’s optional writing test is reported separately and is not included within the ACT composite score.

The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement exam that measures what students have learned in school. Students who earn a 36 composite score have likely mastered all of the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed in first-year college courses in the core subject areas.

ACT scores are accepted by all major four-year colleges and universities across the U.S.

On November 7, the City Council of Carson highlighted Cardenas for his feat during its meeting. Joined by his parents Gerrick Cardenas and Sharon Tatel, Cardenas received a plaque from Mayor Albert Robles, Mayor Pro Tempore Jawane Hilton, and councilmembers Elito Santarina, Lula Davis-Holmes, and Cedric L. Hicks, Sr.?(www.asianjournal.com)


Filipinos Still Trust US the Most, Distrust China — Poll’

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the Duterte administration’s efforts to move closer to China, Filipinos still trust long-time ally United States the most, according to the latest Social Weather Stations survey.

The poll showed that among five specific countries tested for public trust in September, the US scored a “very good” rating, “moderate” for Japan, Malaysia and Israel, while China obtained a “poor” score.

The US obtained a net trust rating of +59, which is six points lower than its +65 score in June. Washington has always scored a positive trust rating since the first survey in December 1994, the poll firm said.

Japan obtained a net trust rating of +28 while Malaysia and Israel registered +15 and +13, respectively.

China, meanwhile, posted a net trust score of -16 in September, an improvement from its -35 rating in June.

The survey also showed that distrust was higher among those who were aware of West Philippine Sea issues before the survey was conducted.

Net trust rating was a poor -22 among those aware that Chinese coast guard personnel have been taking away the catch of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.

“Distrust in China was higher among those who already knew that the Philippines is unable to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the West Philippine Sea before the survey, compared to the neutral -3 among those who just learned about it,” SWS said.

Distrust was also higher among those aware that Beijing has transformed Manila-claimed features in the Spratly Islands into military outposts.

SWS considers net trust ratings of +70 and above as “excellent,” +50 to +69 “very good,” +30 to +49 “good,” +10 to +19 “moderate,” +9 to -9 “neutral,” -10 to -29 “poor,” -30 to -49 “bad,” -50 to -69 “very bad,” and -70 and below “execrable.”

The survey was conducted from September 15 to 23 using face-to-face interviews among 1,500 adults nationwide with sampling error margins of ±3 percent for national percentages.

“The Social Weather Survey items on people’s opinion about the West Philippine Sea conflict were non-commissioned. They were included on SWS’s own initiative and released as a public service,” the survey firm said. (www.philstar.com)


Filipino Arts & Cinema International Honors TFC and Presents Cinematografo Filmfest

The Filipino Arts & Cinema International (FACINE) and its director, Mauro Feria Tumbocon, Jr, honored TFC for their support of Filipino cinema.

Cinematografo Festival & Exhibitions Director Miguel Sevilla received the certificate on behalf of TFC. Other honorees are the Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc. (PAWA) and inquirer.net. TFC supports and shares FACINE’s mission of empowering emerging artists to create films that speak about Filipino communities globally and promoting cinema as a social document of Filipino culture and heritage, and as medium of artistic expression.


FACINE held its second Cinematografo International Film Festival from November 8-11, 2018 at the AMC Kabuki 8 in Japantown in San Francisco.

The festival’s theme this year is “Breaking Down Walls,” which refers to breaking through barriers in film and story whether in terms of subject matter, representation and cultural limitations.

Cinematografo’s opening film on November 8th is Signal Rock from the Philippines, from renowned Filipino auteur Chito Roño. This official Filipino submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the upcoming Academy Awards® tells the story of Intoy (Christian Bables) who is left to care for his parents when his sister moved out to work overseas. The only way he could contact his sister and the outside world is by taking his cellular phone and going up the strange rock formation known as “signal rock”.

The closing film is A Land Imagined from Singapore’s Siew Hua Yeo, winner of the top prize in this year’s Locarno International Film Festival. This gripping thriller shows the dark side of the city-state of seedy underground of the working class.


Fil-Am Chef Introduces Menu Inspired by Travels, Global Cultures at Montage Beverly Hills?

IT’S no secret that Filipino-American chefs have made their marks on restaurants across Southern California.?

The latest discovery (for me) is The Restaurant at the Montage Beverly Hills, where Fil-Am Monica Olaes has been chef de cuisine since the summer.

As an avid traveler, it may be easy to gloss over a hotel restaurant in favor of more locals spots — especially in my own hometown — but The Restaurant can arguably become a frequent dining haunt.?

The Restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating, exuding a sophisticated, yet unpretentious ambiance that is refreshing in a city like Beverly Hills. In having a meal there, it’s a momentary pause, almost like transporting you elsewhere on a European vacation.?

Now onto the food, Olaes has crafted an modern American menu with global influences from Italian to Japanese.

An immigrant from the Philippines, Olaes went on to attend California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena and has experience in LA kitchens, such as Cooks County, Fig & Olive, and Georgie, which occupied the space at the Montage before The Restaurant.

Olaes told the Asian Journal that, “During the creation of this menu, I aim to highlight seasonal ingredients in modern American cuisine.? My hope is to bring our guests on an adventurous journey while dining in our restaurant.? I often find inspiration through my travels and while interacting with people of different cultures.”

A few items on the menu have also been inspired by trips Olaes has taken like hiking deep in Arches National Park, Utah that introduced her to “prickly pear,” which is used in the kampachi crudo dish. Or a recent trip to the Philippines where her mother made ube halaya using the root vegetable found in their family farm. As ube has made its way to the palates of non-Filipinos, it has a place on the menu as well in the purple sweet potato gnocchi dish.?

During a recent meal at The Restaurant, our table indulged in several dishes considered highlights of the menu. For starters, the spicy lobster on crispy rice (lobster, smoked trout roe, harissa aioli) and deviled eggs (free range eggs, tuna, capers, calabrian chiles, smoked paprika, puffed amaranth) are musts.?

The meal then followed with ricotta dumplings (spinach, lemon, shaved parmesan) and spaghetti arrabbiata, which delivered a kick of spice to it. Ribeye may be typically found on menus across the city, but when it’s cut, seasoned and cooked well, it’s something to write home about. Here, the meats come with a choice of three sauces, from chimichurri to red wine jus, and would pair well with a side, like the three cheese mac & cheese (fontina, gruyere, parmesan, leeks, panko crust).

While everything listed above was exquisite, there was one sharable dish that I continue to remember — the frybread topped with proscuitto, juniper taragon goddess and serrano chilis. Upon first glance, the presentation of the frybread dish is almost too beautiful to cut apart. It’s a mix of textures and tastes, from spice from the chilis to the honey drizzle.

In the creation of this, Olaes explained, “One of our new dishes, Fry Bread, was derived from a backpacking trip to the Supai Native American Indian reservation at Havasupai, Grand Canyon, Arizona which I took with my ‘tropa’ Filipino hiking group.”

After the meal, you can linger at the The Bar at the Montage Beverly Hills — where there is a standard cocktail list and desserts, like the Campfire Tradition (Remy Martin XO, White & Dark Chocolate Liquor, Graham Crackers, Egg White, Marshmallow Low Roasted Tableside, Gourmet True S’mores). There’s also £10, a lounge on the second floor if you are into whisky.

Helming the restaurant of a Beverly Hills hotel is something to take pride in and Olaes hopes that it will inspire those looking to break it into the culinary industry as well.?

“As a Filipina chef, I hope to show young aspiring chefs, of any background, that as long as you believe in your dreams and work hard to achieve them, the American dream does exist,” Olaes said. (www.asianjournal.com)


COLA Rates Increase for Veterans

Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) has been increased by 2.8 percent for veterans. Co-authored by Senator Mazie Hirono, the new law (COLA Act of 2018) was signed by President Donald Trump. It provides a Cost-of-Living Adjustment for the rates of veterans’ disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children.

“VA disability compensation and other benefits earned through their service, provide a critical lifeline for millions of veterans and their families around the country, including thousands in Hawaii,” Senator Hirono said. “The much needed COLA increase made possible by the Veterans’ COLA Adjustment Act helps fulfill our duty to provide the men and women who served our nation in uniform with compensation that keeps pace with a rising cost of living.”

“Many Hawaii veterans and their families rely on their disability compensation and other earned VA benefits to make ends meet,” said Ron Han, Director of the State of Hawaii Office of Veterans Services. “Much appreciation to Senator Hirono for her dedicated work and advocacy in enacting this long-overdue cost-of-living adjustment.”

The new rates is the largest increase since 2012 and consistent with the 2019 COLA increase for Social Security. For a veteran receiving $1,500 a month in benefits payments, the COLA increase equates to an additional $500 over the course of the year. According to the VA, there were over 27,000 disability compensation recipients in Hawaii during Fiscal Year 2017.


New Law Gives Additional Sick Leave for Veterans

Introduced by Mazie Hirono, the Veterans Providing Healthcare Transition Improvement Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump. The new law ensures veterans with a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability rating of 30% or higher who are hired by the VA in critical medical positions can access additional paid sick leave during their first year on the job.

“This newly signed law will ensure the VA’s disabled veteran employees receive the same additional paid sick leave that is available to other federal agency employees,” Senator Hirono said. “The VA is a critical agency and this law will encourage disabled veterans to continue their service to our country by helping to fill tens of thousands of vacancies at its medical facilities in Hawaii and across the country.”


Filipino Community in NorCal Displaced After Deadliest Fire in US History in a Century

THE Camp Fire in Northern California became the deadliest wildfire in U.S. history in a century, burning through 141,000 acres and leaving about 9,700 homes destroyed as of Friday, November 16.

As of Friday, more than 600 people were reported missing as the death toll rose to 63, making it also the deadliest and most destructive in state’s history, according to various sources.

In the now consumed wood town of Paradise and the half scorched town of Magalia, a close-knit community of roughly 30 Filipino families remain without homes and face challenges of finding new places to stay and figuring out what their future holds in the town.

“They are all over the place,” Gemma Clow, vice president of a community-formed group of Fil-Am families in Paradise, told the Asian Journal.

On the group’s Facebook page, a post notifies the community that its 28th annual Christmas party has been cancelled due to the fire, and will resume during the holidays next year.

Clow, who has lived in the Paradise and Magalia area for 16 years and whose house was among the very few spared, is currently staying in Folsom—a roughly two hour drive away—while evacuations are still in order. Before that, her family stayed with a family friend in Chico for five days.

Many of her friends have been in the area for over 20 years, and are now finding themselves in evacuation centers and in nearby cities of Chico, Gridley, Orland, and Oroville. Others have gone farther to cities like Manteca, and even out of state.

The community group’s president, Eric Junio, was among those that lost their home.

“Almost everyone lost everything as there wasn’t enough time to pack, there was no warning of the fire,” said Clow.

Clow learned about the fire the morning it started burning, but it wasn’t immediately clear how much damage it would create.

She was driving along Paradise’s Skyway road to take her son to school and noticed the sky was dark and smokey, but like others, proceeded to go on with her day and went to work. She works at the partly damaged Adventist Health Feather River hospital—the same hospital where a nurse made headlines after driving through the city to help evacuate patients.

A couple hours later, she heard knocking on her office door and someone yelling that everyone needed to be evacuated. She immediately called her son and picked him up at Paradise High School. Together, they got home and her family began to pack despite their neighborhood not being under evacuation.

The following day, the evacuation order came for Clow’s family and they decided to make way to Chico.

“On the way to Chico, we saw lots of houses already burned in Magalia. It got worse when we got to Paradise,” said Clow, adding that her son filmed the entire drive.

“We were driving with fires on both sides of the road still going—small fires here and there, electric wires hanging, sparkling,” said Clow. “The drive to Chico seemed forever, and it was the scariest I have ever experienced in my entire life.”

Roughly 27,000 residents made up the town of Paradise, and as much of the town lies in ashes, there’s no telling yet how many will return.

Clow thinks it will take months, if not years before the power is restored. She said that while her family’s home didn’t burn, the entire area remains without electricity and water, and it’s still unclear when they can return.

She added that some people are choosing not to rebuild their homes.

“Some already bought homes in Chico and surrounding areas,” said Clow. “Recovering will take a long time.”

The Filipino community first started growing 28 years ago by a group of friends who have since passed on duties to new Filipinos in the area.

The number of guests who come to the Filipino group’s annual Christmas has gotten so big that they began renting venues to host the parties about 10 years ago.

On the current situation of the community, Clow said that they are devastated with happened to the fellow kababayans in the entire Paradise, Magalia, Concaw, and Pulga community.

“What happened to us is unfathomable,” said Clow. “The worst part is losing everything that we have worked for and all the memories that can never be replaced. My heart goes out to all the people that were affected by the Camp Fire.”

She did stay positive, saying that their presence in the town wouldn’t be gone for good.

“We will be back and will rebuild,” said Clow. “Paradise will be ‘Paradise’ again. It may take years, but we will do it one day at a time.” (www.asianjournal.com)

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