Thursday, May 31, 2012


WASHINGTON D.C. A Sinatra ditty promised that if you can make it in New York “you can make it anywhere” – a standard the Philippine National Police (PNP) will be testing as it forges a first-ever alliance with the New York Police Department (NYPD).

PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome is flying to the “Big Apple” on June 14 to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NYPD chief Joseph Esposito.

“When that was conceptualized, the PNP wanted close coordination with the US police agencies to stop terrorist activities,” explained retired police Director Renato Heredia, a former police attaché in Washington DC.

The agreement will allow the NYPD to open a satellite office in the Philippines, mostly likely to be located within the PNP headquarters at Camp Crame. The PNP can also open a similar office in New York although this has to be threshed out when Bartolome meets his American counterparts because of the PNP’s limited funds.

Chief Supt. Armando Ramolete, police attaché, revealed that the MOU was years in the making. “There will be an exchange of information and training opportunities,” he said, adding that it could provide a mechanism for the PNP to modernize its crime-fighting tools.

The NYPD was established in 1845 and is considered the largest police force and 2nd largest law enforcement agency in the US.

They have broad capabilities ranging from an Emergency Services unit to a Harbor Patrol to public transportation. The New York City Transit Police and New York City Housing Authority Police Department were merged with the NYPD in 1995.

The NYPD also has one of the most sophisticated anti-crime computer network with an immense data warehouse.

“There have been many agreements between the Philippine and US police but this is significant because of the level of coordination as the NYPD will actually have an office at PNP headquarters,” Heredia told the Manila Mail.

“This will open a lot of opportunities for our personnel to develop their skills here in the US and vice-versa. This is a big thing for the PNP because we all know we have a lot of policemen who need training,” he stressed.


WASHINGTON D.C.  Ward 8 Councilman and former DC Mayor Marion Barry has agreed to meet with Filipino nurses next month after he appeared to express remorse in a Las Vegas emergency room where he was treated by Filipino staff members.

“We’re trying to tell the people and the community that we’re here because we want to serve the community, we’re not here to take their jobs but because they need nurses. That’s why we’re here,” Marissa Usman, president of the Philippine Nurses Association of Metropolitan DC (PNAMDC) told the Manila Mail.

Usman revealed they are scheduled to meet with Barry on June 6.

She said they will press Barry for an apology for his remarks that singled out Filipino nurses for seemingly stealing American jobs.

He was quoted as saying, “If you go to the hospital now, you’ll find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines, and no offense, but let’s grow our own teachers, let’s grow our own nurses, and so that we don’t have to go scrounging in our community clinics and other kinds of places, having to hire people from somewhere else.”

That drew immediate condemnation from Asian Americans, especially Filipinos who felt Barry’s statement, apparently directed at his constituents, nevertheless, fanned the already heated immigration debate.   

“There is already an anti-immigrant sentiment so he should know better than to speak with xenophobic sentiments like I said, he is a civil rights champion but being too long in politics maybe it’s time for him to retire,” rued fellow street parliamentarian Jon Melegrito, spokesman for the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).

“Councilmember Barry’s penchant for blaming Asians, who only want to work for their American dream, fuels racism, discrimination, and violence,” Philippine Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. protested.

“Such rhetoric does nothing but harm relations among community members, when the times call for developing relationships and finding solutions to common challenges. He owes Filipino nurses an apology for his recent tirade,” the envoy stressed.

Barry initially refused to apologize but when he was rushed to a Las Vegas hospital, where he was attended by Filipino nurses, and appeared to have his epiphany. 

In a message posted to Twitter, Barry thanked the “outstanding medical staff, incl. kind professional Filipino staff.”

"I stand corrected," he tweeted, "I truly didn't mean 2 hurt or offend."
The PNAMDC said they want to reach out to Barry and DC Mayor Vincent Gray because they feel city officials are not fully aware of what they do or why they work in district hospitals.

“We feel like he doesn’t know what Filipino nurses do here,” said the group’s spokesman Joy Arellano, who works at the Georgetown University Hospital.  “I think he just needs more enlightenment on what we can do for DC.”

“We can help in the nursing shortage because that was the purpose of his speech in UDC (University of District of Columbia). He’s trying to make DC the source we can help with our experience, we can help plan with him to solve the nursing shortage,” chimed Nora Mendoza, the incoming president of the PNAMDC.

“We are professionals. We have the skills. We have the compassion and the passion to be nurses,” Usman stressed to the Manila Mail.

There are hundreds of Filipino nurses spread out in the Metro DC region. Usman concedes they don’t have an exact number (the PNAMDC has about 200 active members) because they are recruited from various places.

And like Usman, who says she’s lived in the US for more than 30 years, many of these nurses have already acquired American citizenship and have resided in the area for decades, further complicating any attempt to inventory their ranks.

They argued that Filipinos are just part of the foreign nurses community in the Metro DC region. “It’s not just us kaya lang when you go to all these hospitals all you see are Filipinos – and we’re proud of that. We’re proud to be part of the community and the hospital where we serve,” Usman said.

“He (Barry) is lucky that Washington DC is one of the areas where we serve,” she declared, only partly in jest.

The nurses said that while they still want an apology from Barry, they will not insist if he does not want to.  “If he doesn’t want to apologize that is his prerogative but in the dialogue we want to show him why we are here. We don’t want to be involved in their politics,” Usman averred.

She said their overriding wish for the meeting is to put closure on the controversy. To put the hurts behind them, the nurses explained, and move on. “Maybe he can gain something from what we can offer. If he needs some support from us, we’re here. We’re here to help them,” Usman stressed. (rjj)


ALEXANDRIA, Virginia. A local Filipino-American all-girls band made it through another popular TV talent competition and will be competing before a nationwide audience in the wake of compatriot Jessica Sanchez historic run on “American Idol”.
They made it past the 1st round of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” after winning the nod of judges Sharon Osbourne, Howie Mendel and Howard Stern, and move on to Las Vegas where they will compete for the $1 million cash prize and the chance to headline a show in any of Las Vegas’ renown casino stages.
“Ivy Rose” has been a familiar fixture in Filipino and Asian American events in the Metro DC region. The band is composed of sisters Isabelle, Sarah and Kristine de Leon, and vocalist Martina San Diego (aside from their love of music, they are bound by another strand of trivia – their mothers hail from Cebu).
“The girls are playing better than ever and with much more energy,” Ivy Rose manager Tito de Leon told ABS-CBN News. He also happens to be the father of Isabelle, Sarah and Kristine.
Ivy Rose is basically a family affair. The band was born over 3 years ago in the basement of the De Leon home in Maryland. Tito is an engineer by training but now works almost full-time with the band (his wife Lynn is the group’s marketing agent). You will usually see him setting up and testing equipment just before the girls go up on stage.
It's just been a lot of work lately for them and for me, and making sure things are on the right track,” Tito averred.
Vocalist Marti (who also plays the rhythm guitar) is a high school senior and consistent honor student; she has been performing in front of audiences since she was 5.
Drummer Isabelle is going to her senior year at the University of Maryland where she is pursuing an odd combination of Pre-Medicine and Jazz Drums Performance, and has been consistently in Dean’s List. She was one of the featured performers last April at the Smithsonian National American History Museum celebrating women in jazz. She also received the Stanley Kay scholarship to join the New York Summer Festival for Jazz last year.
Lead guitarist Sarah is an incoming freshman at the University of Maryland where she wants to pursue a double major in electrical engineering and what else, jazz guitar (she graduated cum laude from high school). She has been playing the guitar since she was 7.
Bass guitarist Kristine is a senior at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC where she a pursuing a major in architecture; she is also one of the leaders of CUA’s Filipino organization (she is actually the designated historian of the group).
De Leon noted the recent surge of Filipino talent on top American TV competitions, including Roshon Fegan (his mother is Filipino) who finished 6th in ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars”.
“I think Filipinos are just simply talented and just need a bit of nurturing – and more importantly, exposure,” he argued. 


WASHINGTON D.C. A ranking Philippine Navy official stressed they will need more and bigger ships to protect the nation’s maritime borders miles away from one of the longest coastlines in the world.

Rear Admiral Jose Luis Alano, Philippine Fleet (PhilFleet) commander, said the country has no choice but to acquire ships like the US Coast Guard’s Hamilton-class cutters because of seasonal changes in the South China Sea that make it treacherous to smaller vessels about half of the time each year.

Alano and Armed Forces chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa formally accepted delivery of the USCGC Dallas, the 378-foot, 3,250-ton sister ship of the Hamilton that was turned over to the Philippine last year and rechristened the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, during formal rites in Charleston, South Carolina May 22.

Bigger ships, especially like the high-endurance, all-weather Hamilton-class cutters, can sail through huge waves and stay longer at sea, he explained.

He downplayed reports that like the Hamilton, the US had stripped the Dallas of its advanced weapons and electronic equipment despite a request from Philippine officials last January to keep them. They retained the 76mm Oto Melara but removed the 2 Mark 38 25mm cannons and the more sophisticated sensors.

Alano told the Manila Mail that since the Dallas underwent its last major retrofit in 1988, many of the machinery and equipment aboard needed replacement anyway.

He added that the Philippine Navy is buying its own Mark 38 “Bushmaster” chain guns that can spew 200 rounds per minute to distances of as far as 6 kilometers. One will be installed on the Dallas (to be rechristened BRP Ramon Alcaraz) and the 2nd will be installed on the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, after the Dallas arrives in Manila sometime in November.

Alano revealed they are also putting in new surveillance and command & control equipment. “This is part of arrangements when the vessel’s capabilities will be upgraded,” he explained. The equipment is being procured on “cash basis” under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

But he admitted their bigger concern is how to sustain the naval modernization after decades of neglect. He said the development of a private-sector defense industry is crucial to the military’s long-term plans to build a credible defensive deterrent.

That is why they are excited about an ongoing acquisitions of Philippine-made 65-foot Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts (MPACs). A local company is constructing them, borrowing technology from Taiwan and Sweden. The MPACs have a top speed of 48 knots.

Although they are not exactly the “big ships” the Philippine needs to operate in the disputed parts of the South China Sea, Alano said the deal can kick-start a modest but home-bred naval defense industry. In the US, he noted, private companies – not the military – are the most active proponents of military modernization and are not timid about lobbying the Pentagon and Capitol Hill for funding.

A domestic defense industry would also help create demand for workers that have the skills needed for staffing a modern military. Alano explained that unlike ground forces, the Philippine Navy will need to recruit and train additional sailors who can operate the electronics and complex gadgets standard to most new warships.

He said they plan to buy up to 40 MPACs but most of them will go to replacing older patrol crafts that have become too expensive to maintain.

Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the government will award 138 contracts worth about P70 billion (about $1.2 billion) before July to boost military modernization. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012


China’s growing belligerence in disputed waters of the South China Sea will only grow and worsen, according to testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“China has a coherent multi-dimensional approach to global competition which also includes the domination of sea-lanes and civil airspace in East Asia. This is one of Beijing’s top strategic goals, not just for economic and military advantage, but also for domestic political legitimacy and regional diplomatic propaganda,” said John Tkacik Jr., Director of the Future Asia Project.

The Future Asia Project is part of the Washington DC-think tank International Strategy and Assessment Center that specializes on American security issues.
“China’s increasingly adamantine territorial sea claims in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait and the East China Sea is certain to be resolved only one of two ways: either China gets what it wants or it will use armed conflict to enforce its so-called ‘core interests’,” Tkacik told the congressional panel last March.
“China’s military has systematically garrisoned several chains of submerged coral shoals in the Spratlys west of the southern Philippine island of Palawan, secretly emplacing huge caissons of concrete in their shallow water and constructing massive platforms and anchorages. The Chinese forcefully ejected Philippines troops from Mischief Reef in 1995, and the Philippines has been complaining about it ever since,” he testified.
Tkacik said China was tightening its strategic presence in the South China Sea. He quoted China’s East Fleet deputy commander Admiral Zhang Huachen’s explanation: “With the expansion of the country's economic interests, the navy wants to better protect the country's transportation routes and the safety of our major sea lanes.”
He listed recent incidents involving China and other countries.
April 2001 – Chinese fighter jet collides with an American “Orion” patrol plane off Hainan Island.
June 11, 2009 – Chinese submarine cuts the sonar array cable being towed by the USS John McCain about 140 miles northwest of Subic Bay.
August 2011 – Chinese ships challenged an Indian Navy ship transiting two Vietnamese ports.
February 2012 – Chinese vessels prevented Vietnamese fishing boats from seeking storm refuge in the Paracel Islands
A month after Tkacik’s testimony, Chinese ships stopped the Philippines from arresting Chinese fishermen caught harvesting endangered and protected marine life in Scarborough Shoal, about a hundred miles off the main Philippine island of Luzon.
The stand-off has triggered protests in Manila as well as from Filipinos who picketed Chinese consular offices in major US cities.
In March 2010, Tkacik said, Chinese assistant foreign minister Cui Tianki told US officials that its claim to the South China Sea was at par with its claims to Tibet and Taiwan.
“Thereafter, Chinese diplomats proclaimed a ‘core interest’ in the South China Sea to progressively more senior Americans – and Southeast Asians as well. In tandem, Chinese security scholars declared in the official media that “by adding the South China Sea to its core interests, China has shown its determination to secure its maritime resources and strategic waters,” he explained.
State Secretary Hillary Clinton responded shortly after by declaring “The United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation, open access to Asia's maritime commons and respect for international law in the South China Sea.”
Following the Scarborough Shoal stand-off, China abruptly rejected banana exports from the Philippines and discouraged Chinese tourists from visiting the country.
Tkacik observed China resorts to “economic punishment” of Southeast Asian neighbors that “have the temerity to challenge new Chinese assertions of territorial sovereignty in South China Sea waters.”
A September 2010 flare-up in the Japanese Senkaku islands that China also claims as hers led to the arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain who rammed a Japanese coast guard cutter, Tkacik recounted.
“This was followed by three weeks of steadily escalating diplomatic demarches, protests and threats culminating in a de facto Chinese embargo on exports of Chinese rare-earths oxides (essential in the manufacture of advanced electronic 23 devices) to Japan,” he said.
“Is China’s expanding security footprint in the South China Sea a problem for the US as well as Southeast Asia?,” Tkacik asked, “As former Asia policy aide to President George W. Bush, Michael Green, put it: ‘The Chinese are elbowing, seeing how far they can go before the referee blows the whistle on them and they get a yellow card . . . This is also a [Chinese] signal to Vietnam, the Philippines, and the smaller countries in the region, that ‘look, if we can do this to the Americans, what chance do you think you have?’”


Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle – one of the youngest cleric to ever hold the important post and a man CNN described as a future papal candidate – will celebrate Holy Mass at the historic St. Matthew Cathedral on May 28 and at the St. Stephen Church the next day.

This will be his 1st pastoral visit to a place that he is very familiar with. He spent over 4 years earning his Doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Catholic University of America, finishing summa cum laude in 1991. He also has a brother, realtor and businessman Manny Tagle, living in Northern Virginia.

Groups helping organize the prelate’s visit, led by the Philippine Ambassador’s wife Vicky Cuisia, are scheduling meetings with the Fil-Am community, especially the youth. 

Jesuit-trained Msgr. Tagle is widely known for his conservatism and is a staunch opponent of the Reproductive Health Bill that has been languishing in the Philippine Congress, mainly because of stiff resistance from Catholic bishops.

He was chosen to head the Archdiocese of Manila last October, replacing Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales who retired.

Different Fil-Am groups here have been lobbying Capitol Hill as well as the White House to stop funding certain health aid programs for the Philippines that they say promotes abortion and forced sterilizations especially in the countrysides.

At a recent forum in Manila, Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and one-time contender to head the World Bank, said Philippine fertility rates were too high and made it difficult to curb poverty.

“The Philippines of course is a very complicated country. It’s very crowded. The population has increased more than four times since 1950. The fertility rates remain quite high in this country, I think too high, actually, because most places that have really made the breakthrough -- sustained economic growth, more social inclusion -- had their fertility rates coming down voluntarily to the replacement level, two children per household,” he said at an interview with BusinessWorld.

In a blog posting, CNN Senior Vatican analyst John Allen Jr. described Msgr. Tagle as “theologically and politically balanced”.

“He’s taken strong positions against a proposed ‘Reproductive Health’ bill in the Philippines, which includes promotion of birth control. Yet his towering social concern is defense of the poor, and he’s also got a strong environmental streak,” Allen said.

He is known to Pope Benedict XVI who when he was still known as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, introduced the young Fr. Tagle to Pope John Paul II as a member of the International Theological Commission (1997-2002).

 “He drew rave reviews for his performance at a 2008 International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec, where observers say he brought an entire stadium to tears,” CNN’s Allen wrote.

“Vatican-watchers also rated him among the most impressive contributors to both the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist and the 2008 Synod on the Word of God. He’s also a very 21st century prelate—he hosts a program on YouTube and he’s got his own Facebook page,” Allen added.

Msgr. Tagle, who taught theology at Ateneo University, is currently Chairman for the Episcopal Commission.

“Back in the Philippines,” Allen continued, “it would be a gross understatement to say that Tagle, who goes by the nickname ‘Chito’, is simply well-liked. In truth, most Filipino Catholics I know love the guy — for his warmth and humor, for his simplicity (he routinely eschews clerical dress), for his ability to express complex ideas in attractive and understandable argot, for his balance and openness, and for his lack of ego.”

The May 28 Mass to be officiated by Archibishop Tagle will start at 9:00 AM. The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle is located along 1725 Rhode Island NW, just a few blocks away from the Philippine Embassy.

The May 29 Mass is set at 6:30 PM at the St. Stephen the Martyr Church on 2436 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. (rjj)


Filipino-Americans at the St. Rose de Lima parish have been celebrating the Flores de Mayo for nearly 2 decades – making it the longest-running Santacruzan festival in Montgomery County.

“We were the first to do the Misang Pilipino,” revealed Cezarina Cornejo Alzona, adding “the Flores de Mayo is a big celebration in Montgomery county because we invite other parishes not only St. Rose de Lima and we’ve been doing this for 18 years now.”

The county hosts the large Fil-Am communities in Rockville and Gaithersburg, among others.

“I started talking to the church in 1993, with the Catholic multi-cultural committee and they agreed because we have a lot of Filipinos who were very active in this church and its different ministries,” Alzona told the Manila Mail.

“They opened their arms to us,” she stressed.

The Santacruzan at St. Rose de Lima has become a spring fixture in the county. For many, it’s a way to bring a part of the mother country to their new home in America.

Introduced by Spain in 1867, the Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May) is a popular festival honoring the Virgin Mary. Over the years, it melded with the Santacruzan, a village-based religious-historical beauty pageant that depicts the finding of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena, mother of Constantine the Great.

Matthew Aninzo, 27, has been teaching kids Filipino folk dance since his family moved into the Montgomery area in 1995. Born in Pensacola, Florida, his family had an opportunity to return to the Philippines when his father – a US Navy corpsman – was assigned there.

“It was the time of coup d’etats,” he recalled. They flew back to the US in 1994 and settled in the area, primarily because of the proximity to Bethesda Naval Hospital. His years living in the Philippines provided Aninzo with a greater appreciation of his roots.

“I’m doing this because I love my Filipino heritage,” he explained.

He also discovered that many young Fil-Ams were curious about their roots and realized he could help quench this thirst for the culture of their forefathers.

“I now see it as a personal duty to stick around and teach them,” Aninzo averred.   

This year’s Reina Emperatris is 17-year-old Irene Fletemeyer who immigrated from Calbayog, Samar 4 years ago.

“It’s an honor to be one of the ‘reynas’,” she enthused, intimating that this was actually her 2nd time to join the Santacruzan but her first as a queen.

Back home, the town elders choose the pretties girls to be the “reynas” of the Santacruzan. They are dressed in the best, more colorful and regal gowns and walk with consorts holding flower-covered arches.

Alzona said the Fil-Am community has grown through the years. “We’re not as large as Oxon Hill but Montgomery County has grown tremendously because of the hospitals. Bethesda Naval Hospital (which has its own Fil-Am organization) draws a lot of people, Filipinos who’ve moved into this community,” she explained.

And with that rapid expansion Filipinos find the urge to keep the old traditions alive. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Filipinos across Metro DC, in Maryland and Virginia help celebrate Asia Pacific Heritage Month starting this week.

The Smithsonian Institution is holding a Family Day at the Kogod Courtyard of the National Portrait Gallery along F Street NW on May 6.

The US Navy is also celebrating outstanding Asian Americans in the service, including the only Filipino in the US Navy to be decorated with the Medal of Honor.

Filipino students in Virginia Tech actually had jump start marking the annual event. The Filipino American Student Association held the 24th Culture Night with the theme “Ang Aming Sakripisyo” (Our Sacrifice) at the Blacksburg campus Burruss Hall Auditorium.

This has traditionally been the association’s biggest event of the school year, featuring more than 100 participants performing Filipino dances, skits and a fashion show.

Students from the Filipino Cultural Association of George Mason University and volunteers from the Virginia-based Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) will show off native Philippine dances and a demonstration of the Eskrima martial arts at the Smithsonian event.

They Filipino segment begins at about 2:00 PM.

US Navy Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Personnel, Vice Adm. Scott R. Van Buskirk paid homage to sailors of Asian and Pacific heritage which include 9 flag officers, 11 members of the senior executive service and 191 master chief petty officers.

He noted that Asians and Pacific Islanders of various nationalities and ancestry, including Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Southeast Asian, Asian Indian and Polynesian have served with the US Navy since the early 19th century.

They included Fireman 2nd Class Telesforo Trinidad, the only Filipino in the US Navy to be awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the US government for “conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty”.

“In the wake of the Spanish-American War, Trinidad was aboard armored cruiser No. 6 when an obstructed tube in one of the ship’s boilers gave way, setting off a chain reaction of explosions,” the US Navy cable stated.

“Risking his own life and personal safety, Trinidad rescued several crewmates and led them to safety. Trinidad survived the ordeal.”

“All commands are strongly encouraged to engage their sailors in embracing the contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans to the Navy through programs, exhibits, publications and events celebrating Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month,” Adm. Buskirk’s message read.

Asian-Pacific Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill. In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week.

The following month, Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration.

Twelve years later, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.

California Rep. Judy Chu, who also chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) sponsored House Resolution 621 that recognizes the significance of Asian Pacific Heritage Month.

The story of the Asian Pacific American is inextricably linked to that of the United States, the resolution noted. It pointed out that there are presently 41 members of Congress who have Asian Pacific roots.

“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are serving in State legislatures across the Nation, in States as diverse as Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Utah, and Washington,” the resolution read.

The Chu resolution said “much remains to be done to ensure that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have access to resources, a voice in the United States Government and and continue to advance in the Nation's political landscape”.


The Philippines is one of three Asian countries poised for an economic “breakout” according to a new book written by Morgan Stanley emerging market guru Ruchir Sharma.

He suggested that focusing too much on the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – the stars of emerging markets in the last decade, is old news.

Sharma, head of emerging market equities and global macro at Morgan Stanley predicts that the next countries investors will flock to are Poland and the Czech Republic in Europe and the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka in Asia.

Sharma urges investors to look closely at “break-out” nations.

“As an era of easy money and easy growth comes to a close, China in particular will cool down,” the book description says.

“Other major players including Brazil, Russia, and India face their own daunting challenges and inflated expectations. The new ‘breakout nations’ will probably spring from the margins,” he predicts in his new book, "Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles” (Norton Books, 288 pages) that was released earlier this month.

Sharma says Poland and the Czech Republic are the "sweet spots" in Europe.

His "breakout nations" picks in Asia are the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. All three suffered a lot in the 1990s when China devalued its currency and took away a lot of their manufacturing base.

"Now the opposite is happening. China's currency is appreciating a lot and Chinese wage inflation is picking up. These economies can benefit from the fact that their currencies are quite competitive and we could see some manufacturing return to these economies, which are also well run now," Sharma explained.

According to Kirkus Review, Sharma “offers informed speculation on why Russia’s Putin may have outlived his usefulness, why Sri Lanka, the Philippines, even Nigeria may finally be headed in the right direction, why Mexico continues to underperform, why the coming slowdown in China will feel like a recession and why Indonesia’s new “efficient corruption” counts as an improvement over the old way of doing business. 

It’s a must-read for “investors looking to place their bets and for general readers looking to understand the global economic landscape in the wake of the Great Recession,” the critic continued. 


After what it feels like a long drought, DC sports fans appear to finally have a reason to cheer as the Washington Capitals fight for a play-off berth in the Stanley Cup. And spectators who might notice that bundle of beauty and energy called the Red Rockers – the Cap’s official cheerleading squad – probably didn’t know one of them has Filipino roots.

Michelle Dee is the only Filipina in the 16-woman National Hockey League Cheerleaders Squad. But more remarkable perhaps, she holds a double Master’s degree in Public Policy and International Development and actually has a full-time day job as a government budget analyst.

She’s always loved the competition, according to her mother Ellen Dee, originally from Ilocos Norte (her father Wilson is Chinese). Michelle is an only child.

“She was always an active participant in her school musicals and was one of her middle school’s best defense players on their lacrosse team,” she confided to the Manila Mail, adding that Michelle joined her first cheerleading team in high school.

Born in Manila, she has lived in the United States since she was 10 years old.

Michelle has lived in London, Toronto and Washington DC. After graduating from a private high school in Alexandria, Va., she pursued an undergraduate degree in Political Science and went on to the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) for a graduate degree in International Development.

Immediately after graduating from the LSE, she pursued another Master's -- this time a Public Policy degree from University of Toronto.

Michelle’s passion for sports, from cheerleading to lacrosse and ice hockey, intensified during her college days in Canada where ice hockey is a big sport, her mother explained.

“When Michelle returned to the DC area, she decided to audition for the Red Rockers,” Ellen says. From a pool of over a hundred contenders, Michelle was among those elected to join the squad last July.

"I just love cheering for the Caps. They are a great team who not only works hard on the ice, but also cares deeply about their fans. I'm proud to represent them on and off the ice", Michelle stressed.

“The first thing that my husband and I worried about was how she would allocate her time. Will she have enough time on her hands to juggle between work, practices, and the actual games? We were confident about her tackling the ice, as she is a very good ice skater, but we worried about work overload,” Ellen said.

Their concern turned out to be baseless. “Michelle got them all under control and even created some time for leisure,” the mother says amusedly.

As of press time, the Caps are in the midst of a campaign to oust top-seeded New York Rangers after knocking out the defending champion Boston Bruins.  
“Michelle is an over-achiever, which I’m still not sure if it’s good or bad,” Ellen told the Manila Mail.
But like a typical parent, she says she sees her daughter “very successful” in her government career and “having a happy family of her own although her love for sports and cheerleading will still be there.”
But Michelle’s mother added, “She could still be with the Red Rockers but maybe then as a mentor to new recruits.”


They were once “colegialas” – girls from nun-run schools who developed their own language and redefined the image of uppity pre-Facebook Filipina teens. Some – alums of St. Paul College – are getting together in Tyson’s Corner next month to help the nuns who helped mold them.

This is the first time “Paulinians” from all over the United States, Philippines and other countries are mounting a global, fund-raising reunion in the Metro DC region.

Gather former school chums – wiser and perhaps mellowed by the years – under one roof (in this case, the Marriott of Tyson’s Corner, Virginia) and you’re almost guaranteed a rambunctious party

But Virna Lisa Mananzan, a Northern Virginia resident who’s perhaps best known as the voice behind “Magkaisa” – that banner song of the 1986 People Power revolt – adds it’s also for a worthy cause.

“The main objective is to lend financial support to the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres Vigil House in Bgy. Tikling, Taytay in Rizal Province,” she explained.

“This is where our ailing nuns spend the remaining years of their lives.  We hope that through these reunions, we are able to regularly provide for the sick and retired nuns and give them the quality of life they so richly deserve,” Mananzan stressed.

The various St. Paul’s all-girl schools in the Philippines are run by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres established in France in 1696. The group’s ministry revolves around education and caring for the sick and elderly.

The Sisters of St. Paul have been in the Philippines for over a hundred years, first arriving in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental in October 1904. Today, more than 500 Filipino nuns help run 39 schools, 11 health care facilities, 10 pastoral centers and 9 houses.

Mananzan (St. Paul’s College-Quezon City ’82) said ex-classmates approached Soledad Ilagan (SPC-Manila ’65) in 2007 to enlist her support for raising funds for the nuns’ retirement home. Ilagan had earlier established the Paulinian Global Foundation Inc.

“It’s always a wondrous thing to breeze down memory lane and reminisce about the good times. What makes this reunion twice as wonderful is we not only get the chance to re-live our salad days with people who helped shape who we are today but we also extend a helping hand to them and give back,” she averred.

Mananzan recalled her “best years” as a senior.  “I was elected to be the President of Himig Club – that’s our Glee club – and I remember having activities almost every month,” she enthused.

“The most memorable was when we represented our school in an inter-collegiate competition that happened at the PICC and we won first place in the female division,” she told the Manila Mail.

It was also a time when she worked with classmates, some of whom would branch into the entertainment world. 

“The rehearsals were fun, the competition was fun.  Rica Arambulo played the grand piano and she was the only one who didn’t have any sheet music up. 

“Also in our batch were Milette Francia-Belmonte, May-Ann Casal who sings with Gary Valenciano in his concerts, Suzette Hahn-Lopez, Stella Abesamis-Jaleco, Pat-P Daza, Mylene Abiva, Leah de Leon-Lorenzo, Leah Alberto-Nuyda and Judge Joy Sundiang-Dilig.”

The St. Paul’s reunion will be held May 25-26.


To help assuage fears of growing militarization of the South China Sea, the United States Navy is mounting a high-profile humanitarian mission in the region that will involve at least two nations locked in a territorial dispute with China.

The US Pacific Fleet is mounting Pacific Partnership 2012 – that it described as the “largest annual humanitarian and civic assistance mission in the Asia-Pacific region, designed to strengthen regional relationships and increase interoperability between the United States, partner nations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations.”

The blog site “The Hill” claimed that the Pentagon was looking at the feasibility of coordinating the Medical Civic Action Program (MEDCAP) with special operations units already in the Philippines.

The 2012 mission platform will be the USNS Mercy (T-AH 19). The Military Sealift Command hospital ship will leave its San Diego homeport May 1 to visit Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia. The US will be joined by 12 partner nations including Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Thailand.

The Pacific Partnership will also be joined by a number of NGOs and agencies including the East-West Center, Global Grins, Hope Worldwide, LDS Charities, Project Handclasp, Project Hope, UC San Diego Pre-Dental Society, University of Hawaii, World Vets; as well as, USAID, Dept of Justice, NOAA, and joint partners – the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps. A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) vessel will visit the Philippines and Vietnam, along with complete medical teams, helicopters, and Japanese volunteer organizations.

Navy medical specialists plan to carry out humanitarian support operations alongside their military and civilian counterparts in each country, mission commander Capt. James Morgan said.

Those operations will include setting up medical treatment centers inland and bringing locals aboard the USNS Mercy for more complicated medical procedures, he explained.

In addition to the medical aspect of the mission, Pacific Partnership includes engineering projects as well as conferences and classes with local officials. Morgan stressed that the Pacific Partnership was “wholly separate" from the Balikatan war games held in Palawan.

Pacific Partnership was created in response to the terrible tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people in 2004. But the Pentagon admitted the 4-month humanitarian operation is part of the shift of American military focus from the Middle East to the Pacific.

That shift was a key part in the White House's new national security strategy rolled out in February by President Obama. The ship is expected to return to San Diego in mid-September.


The Philippines is putting its best foot forward at the International Festival in Memphis, Tennessee – only the 2nd time that the Philippines has been featured as a nation in a major US festival (the last one happened in the 1980s). The Philippine extravaganza actually kicked off today as Filipino architect Augusto Villalon addressed the Architects of the World series at the University Club in Memphis. A distinguished architect and expert in heritage conservation, Villalon most recently served as the Philippine representative to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Paris, France among other distinguished posts. Philippine Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia is also scheduled to address the International Business Council luncheon at the Hilton Hotel on May 5. His talk is part of a seminar on “Doing Business in the Philippines.” Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) President and CEO Aurelio Montinola III will speak at the Economic Club of Memphis on May 9 at the Clark Tower. The reception and dinner is by reservation. Montinola is also president of the Bankers Association of the Philippines. The Philippine Embassy listed the exhibits:
“Revolution Revisited” at the National Civil Rights Museum. A photography exhibit by Kim Komenich that captures the historic “people power” revolt in the Philippines and brought an end to the regime of President Ferdinand E. Marcos, sweeping Corazon C. Aquino into power. During the period leading to the People Power Revolution, Komenich was a photographer for the San Francisco Examiner and this assignment garnered him the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography. “The Corregidor Island Story” at the Mississippi River Museum at Mud Island. This historical and informative exhibit will outline the importance the island played during World War II. The exhibit will include artifacts from life on the island during the key time periods and influential battles. Here, you will be able to explore the history of Corregidor, Malinta Tunnel, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the remarkable determination of Filipino and American soldiers. “Floating Warps and Guiding Heddles” at the Brooks Museum of Art. An exhibition of Philippine textiles from the Museo Ilocos Norte will offer a rare opportunity to see these fragile weavings. Long famous for their fine cotton textiles, particularly their damasks made with the floating warp technique or those woven with multiple heddles, they are remarkable for their rich coloring and bold designs and are an important part of Philippine cultural heritage.
“An Untold Triumph” at the Blount Auditorium (Buckman Hall), Rhodes College. In this documentary, Director Noel M. Izon captures the stories of Filipino Americans who volunteered their services to the U.S. Army and helped liberate their homeland from Japanese occupation during World War II, through the voices of the veterans themselves...and delivers touching personal accounts of the men's contributions and sacrifices during the war. The film won Best Documentary at its world premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival and has aired on PBS. A brief demonstration of Filipino martial arts shall precede the screening. Flora de Filipinas at the Memphis Botanic Garden. Featuring some of the best Filipino painters of the 19th century, beautiful and important fine prints from the groundbreaking book on Philippine botany, Flora de Filipinas, will be illustrated with exquisite detail and beauty. The exhibit will take place at a gallery in the Memphis Botanic Garden, a 96-acre campus of sweeping vistas, with lakes, woodlands and display gardens.