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By Cherie M. Querol Moreno

Not that she had it all figured out when she first filed for candidacy minus experience and a campaign plan 12 years ago or prior. 


"I wasn't really an achiever in school, remember," she nudged a former classmate from what was then named Maryknoll (now Miriam), a liberal college founded by progressive American nuns.


College ended abruptly after sophomore year when Joanne del Rosario eloped with the boyfriend who could not get her parents' approval. They were married for 13 years that brought her greatest joy with the birth of her son, giving hope her domestic issues would pass.  


Returning to New York, the youngest daughter of privilege got certified as an executive assistant, took two jobs, kept house, and mothered her child.  She took duty to heart, aching to make hers an ideal home by being perfect at everything.


She knows better now.


Her life started over with her move to Colma.  By then she had left her first marriage and found love in Rene Malimban, in whom she felt safe, respected, and encouraged to grow.


A reunion with a former classmate organizing a domestic violence event in 2007 sparked an epiphany.  She had never told anyone of her experience that she learned only then could help others find their voices and their freedom:  She was ready to share.  


Long before #metoo and Time's Up, del Rosario stood before strangers to remind them that anyone can end up in an abusive relationship if they get involved with someone who is abusive.  No education, wealth or power immunizes anyone who does not recognize signs for abusive behavior from walking into conflict.  


“Survivors keep their situation secret for fear of being blamed for their partners’ behavior.  They start believing the perpetrator’s constant criticism and accusations.  Their self-esteem is crushed,” del Rosario took a page from her own story.


In 2010, the Kumares & Kumpares or members of the all-volunteer nonprofit ALLICE Alliance for Community Empowerment  elected her president.  She drew from her influential network to engage Seton Medical Center, Lucky Chances and Moonstar to sponsor the nonprofit's twice yearly events to promote healthy interaction.  Her advocacy has resulted in the first Intimate Partner Violence Workshop commissioned by a town when Colma invited ALLICE clinical director and then- Equity & Diversity program director for the San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services Dr. Jei Africa to facilitate.


"Joanne has raised the bar for commitment to our mission the same way she elevates public service," said ALLICE founding president Bettina Santos Yap.


Once again, Colma collaborated with ALLICE to stage the team's 14th annual Free From Violence Presentation and Resource Fair 5-7:30 pm, Friday, Oct. 12, at the Colma Community Center in collaboration with the Philippine Consulate General and AARS Healthright 360.


Philippine News, Philippines Today, Positively Filipino,, Holy Child & St. Martin Episcopal Church, Lucky Chances, Moonstar, Cafe Savini, Noah's Bagels, Hapag Filipino, Kuya's Asian Cuisine, Guy Guerrero, Philippine Association of University Women, Francis Espiritu, Kumare Elsa Agasid, Baby & Boy   Pastries, Kumare Ofie Albrecht, Bernard Simon Jr., Becca Schatz, Joaquin & Matias Moreno donated resources to stage the event free and open to the public.


"Knowing where to get help is key," said del Rosario, a recipient of District 5 Supervisor David Canepa's 2018 Outstanding Citizens for her efforts to prevent intimate partnership violence.  "That is why ALLICE invites resource providers to our events.  We collaborate with every sector of the community to support one another.  That's the heart of our mission."   



Columnist Cherie Querol Moreno is founder-executive director of ALLICE.  For information visit

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Upside welcomes following conclusion of guest column in advance of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

By Nellie Hizon



ALLICE 2018 president Nellie Hizon and 2018 secretary Allen Capalla reach out for healthier interaction at recent Colma PD National Night Out with volunteer Noel Mulato and friends. 


As a Kumare, I gave shelter to my friend Tomoko in her attempt to be free from her abusive husband.  But he filed a missing person report, naming me as harboring her, requiring me and Tomoko to present ourselves to the police station.  We were cleared.  Apparently, the police had to contact the station where the husband made the report to confirm that Tomoko had been located and was no longer missing. 


No sooner had we returned to my home when we heard loud knocking on the door:  the husband, with their child crying, was at the door.  Her husband's voice terrified Tomoko, who dived under the dining table and went into fetal position. I called 911 and the security guard.  The 911 operator guided us while assuring the police was on their way.  I was afraid that the husband could break.

Upon police arrival, I opened the door and have them speak with Tomoko.  The police was the intermediary, conveying the husband’s messages.

The husband threatened her to go home with him that night or she would never see their child again.  That conversation was outside the house but in the presence of the police.

Tomoko agonized.  Bitterly crying and heartbroken, she decided to go with him that night.  

I never heard back from her again, my phone number must have been blocked.  Even years later, on social media, her name does not come up.  I hope she is alive.


These days, in the widely reported sexual abuse by the clergy, the hearts and souls of the faithful cry out with grief.  How can a person of trust betray us?  We grieve.  Yes, prayers and penance will cleanse us as a community of believers.  

But, now more than ever, education on how to recognize abuse early on, what to do, where to go, what resources are available, are essential to the healing process.

Our knowledge, attitudes and behaviors are shaped by the environment in which we were raised. Newcomers in this country come from a culture so different; some may be accustomed to being subservient, until it sinks in that equality is the norm in the adopted country.  

While equality is the law, inequality prevails in many places, even at home where a perpetrator wields total power and control at the expense of the comfort and safety of other members.

ALLICE has, for 15 years, been an advocate, helping educate the community on maintaining healthy relationships, preventing abuse and violence by instilling the dynamics of healthy interaction.  Our group of professionals, civic leaders, resource providers is dedicated to addressing an illness in society.

Our team is supported by longtime donor allies Philippine News, Philippines Today, Positively Filipino,, Holy Child & St. Martin Episcopal Church, Lucky Chances, Moonstar, Cafe Savini, Noah's Bagels, Hapag Filipino, Kuya's Asian Cuisine, Guy Guerrero, Ray Satorre, Francis Espiritu, Kumare Elsa Agasid,Boy & Baby's Pastries, Kumare Ofie Albrecht, Bernard Simon, Jr., Becca Schatz, Joaquin & Matias Moreno instaging the Oct. 12 program.

Join us at our free and open to the public event.   Arming ourselves with information is the first step to protecting our homes and neighborhoods.  


Nellie Hizon is 2018 President of ALLICE founded by Upside columnist Cherie M. Querol Moreno,.  For more information visit

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BEGINNING this week, the federal health insurance system headlines a series of presentations at Doelger Senior Center in Daly City.


Now more than ever, Medicare, the 53-year-old benefit for U.S. workers and people with disability, has riveted the attention not just of those imminently eligible but the nation at large. 


While politicians and pundits debate the future of the system launched by Pres. Lyndon Johnson in 1965, Americans get older and closer to the age when health care dictates the quality and length of life. 


Every day, 10,000 people in this country turn 65, the age people are generally eligible for Medicare.  Or about to retire long after celebrating their 65th birthday.  Or they may be way under the age of 65 and have been disabled for 2 years.  If they do not know when and how to enroll, they would be missing out on a valuable gift or incur late penalties.  


For them, their families or their representatives, the private nonprofit Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program or HICAP (pronounced high-cap) exists.


Following is the schedule of free and unbiased presentations at Doelger Center at 101 Lake Merced Blvd. in the Westlake area for everyone who are on or will be or is helping someone on Medicare:



No-cost nationwide counseling, advocacy

10:30 - 11:30 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018



Protect yourself from scams

11 a.m. - 12 noon, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018

Sponsored by the Office of SMC Supervisor David Canepa with welcome remarks from the Supervisor



Know how health care plans coordinate

10 a.m. - 12 noon, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018



Part C & Part D changes in 2019

10 a.m. - 12 noon, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018


HICAP guides Medicare beneficiaries in making choices for health care coverage.  It is not a government agency nor is it affiliated with the insurance industry.  Sponsored by the state through federal funds, the program is supported by state-registered volunteers at offices in every county in the U.S.  Counselors provide free, accurate, unbiased and confidential information.  They do not represent or endorse private firms or professionals nor do they sell or recommend health or insurance plans or medical equipment.


HICAP is the only private nonprofit authorized to discuss Medicare by the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


In San Mateo County, HICAP is administered by Self-Help for the Elderly, a nonprofit multiservice agency headquartered in San Francisco.  Under the direction of program manager Christina Dimas-Kahn, HICAP SM provides the following services, always free and objective:


-          One-on-one counseling by appointment in 24 sites in accessible locations from Daly City and Pacifica in the North County to South San Francisco, Foster City, San Mateo and Belmont in Central County, San Carlos, Redwood City, Menlo Part and Palo Alto in South County and Half Moon Bay down the coast;

-          Information & Assistance by telephone;

-          Long-term care insurance counseling;

-          Referrals to coordinating local and state agencies;

-          Community Education through presentations before groups and participation in health, private and public fairs, and

-          Training for counselor registration with the California Department of Aging.


The program provides assistance and counseling in Tagalog, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese, German and Arabic.


Medicare recipients or their loved ones are encouraged to call HICAP at 650-627-9350 for more information or to schedule a free appointment or presentation.


(PNews Editor at Large Cherie M. Querol Moreno coordinates community outreach for HICAP San Mateo.)


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BAKING is Act 2 for seasoned IT marketing pro Bettina Santos Yap, who designed ‘Pinoy Pride’ (inset) for her graduation from hospitality and culinary classes.  (Photo by Megan Wong)


Pioneer Philippine restaurateur Honorata Fajardo, founder of the iconic Bungalow, Luau and Pulupandan in Manila, would have been proud to witness her eldest granddaughter become a professional pastry chef last month, thus honoring the traditional family enterprise.

Bettina Santos Yap would have wowed her grandmother with her final presentation to culminate Baking and Pastry studies at the City College of San Francisco Culinary Arts & Hospitality Program. She touted a triple-deck masterpiece fashioned from fondant on faux cake to celebrate her Philippine heritage. The top is encrusted in capiz “shells” reminiscent of the rich marine life sustaining the archipelago. The bottom replicates the “banig” or mat woven from palm fronds, for the land’s lush vegetation.

Perched majestically at the center layer is the piece de resistance, a Sarimanok, legendary bird of the Maranao people of Mindanao that has become emblematic of pre-colonial Philippines, its bold colors and graceful curls evoking both the strength and whimsy of the culture. Dangling from its beak is a fish, symbolizing resourcefulness and abundance.

“We were assigned to pick a motif for a ‘celebration cake’ to showcase our competency with fondant,” Santos Yap told Positively Filipino of the final test utilizing icing made of sugar, water, gelatin, butter, and glycerol. “I felt at home with the medium because as a child I loved working with clay.”

Her theme choice embodies the persona of an artist who is also a community advocate, whose Tagalog proficiency remains undiminished because of her frequent visits to the Philippines with her mother Mila “Baby” Gozum-Santos and bonding with her former classmates from St. Scholastica in Marikina City and the University of the Philippines in Diliman.


“I looked at photos of previous fondant designs and noticed that majority were floral,” she said. Most striking to her was that though many of her predecessors were Filipino, no Philippine images were depicted, informing her next move.

“I really wanted to do something Filipino,” she stressed, finding the three-layer assignment perfectly suited to represent Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. She calls her sculpture “Pinoy Pride” and offered it to the Philippine consulate as a gift for the 120th anniversary of Philippine Independence.  Consul Carlyn Monasterial expressed excitement to feature the cake at the June 9 gala reception.

This June auspiciously  opens Santos Yap’s Act 2 when she dons the toque at the renowned San Francisco Baking Institute established by French boulanger Michael Suas, ex-pastry chef of a Michelin three-starred restaurant in Tours, France, and consultant for Acme, La Brea, Grace Baking Co and Boudin in the Bay Area.

The oven fired up Santos Yap a little later than her “Lola Ata” would have preferred. In school she was more enamored with theater, contemplating broadcast news. Later she discovered the computer as the convenient tool to concretize her ideas after graduating from Golden Gate University in 1989. Ironically her new profession demands pure human effort in each production.

“Driven” is how the seasoned marketing professional described herself once.

The trait emerges wherever she commits herself.
It shows at Mater Dolorosa Catholic Church, where the longtime parish council member produced and co-emceed a series of Christmas concerts to raise funds for church repairs. It surfaces at meetings and especially nearing major free public events of ALLICE Alliance for a Community Empowerment, the 15-year-old volunteer group she co-founded to prevent intimate partner and elder abuse.

Her peregrine focus marked the 25 years she rose from freelance consultant for mostly tech companies to full-time senior marketing manager of a telecommunications firm that jetted her around the world to stage events she conceived.

That resolve arose when she decided time had come for change.

This time last year Santos Yap gave up her lucrative day job to earn a certificate of completion of studies in the science of cooking in prolonged heat.

You could say cooking is in her DNA. Her aunt Annabel Santos Wisniewski with her husband and sons own Raintree Hospitality, a network of several restaurants in Manila including M cafe at the Ayala Museum. A cousin, Geraldine Fajardo, was a manager at the Starbucks San Francisco corporate office.

As a child, Santos Yap reveled in visits at her grandmother’s dining palaces, cocooning herself in the air-conditioned comfort of the cake shop, marveling as the sheets of sponge and chiffon transformed into eye-popping edible art, watching customers line up to collect their orders.

As a techie, she found creative refuge in the kitchen making confections for co-workers and friends. A colleague noticed her more-than-passing enthusiasm to concoct goodies and proposed that she produce the favors for one of their company events.

She accepted the challenge, whipping up sweets of nuts and fudge that earned compliments, further fueling her desire to elevate her baking skills.

Easily she found one-day classes on the internet that led to the 9-month CCSF program under Chef Betsy Riehle.

Her husband Voltaire Yap, a marketing director at Oracle, their son Justin, an analyst at Amazon, and daughter Monica, a consumer service rep at Academy of Art University, encouraged her to follow her dream.

“I wanted formal education and got to learn valuable techniques,” she explained her motivation to enroll in August. The course was free but not without intangible cost.

“I woke up at 4:30 every morning five days a week to be in class by 6 am,” said the South San Francisco resident. She had homework and toiled in math while learning costing.

Not once did she miss a meeting of her volunteer commitments despite having to make dinner and turn in early to rise before dawn the following school day. In fact she relishes sharing her products with fellow volunteers.

She surprises friends with a baguette one day, lemon mousse or strawberry banana loaf at another. She has impressed her aunt Annabel with her version of chat longue, or lengua de gato, as the buttery fingers are known to Europhiles in Manila.

Fans may have to wait in line for their sweet treats when she unveils her bakery named Baby & Boy after her parents. Should be soon, given her proven determination. And when that happens, she will surely topbill pastries popular in the Philippines, keeping her grandmother’s spirit alive.


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Author's note: Following was written, first published in spring 2008 and reprinted around April 20, the day author lost her mother. 

“Leave it to the Lord.”


Was that what she said when her father was captured for having aided guerrilla fighters, compelling her to find employment to help support the family? Did she say it when she arrived from a press trip to find her mother had died while she was in Germany? When my Dad received death threats for exposing corrupt government officials? Perhaps when he was diagnosed with lung cancer?


Of this I'm sure: She uttered those words many times because of me. And yet, my mother always made me feel special, loved. How many moms bothered getting an autographed picture of the Beatles while the Fab Four were in Manila?


Or returned from a US trip with the factory-fresh Woodstock soundtrack? She conspired with my father to indulge my caprices. She herself, however, was selfless. To this day, I have no recollection of my mother coveting anything other than the company of her beloved grandchildren.


While my father disciplined by military mode, my mom is gentle and compassionate, raising neither her voice nor hand to me. She gave refuge from my father's fury, her warm caress clear affirming her love and understanding.


I'm not certain who drew strength from whom, but I finally realized my mother's fortitude in my father's terminal illness. He refused to hire a nurse, letting only my mother, my sister and our longtime nanny to attend to him. She devoted herself to him, uplifting everyone around her as she protected Dad's dignity.


After my father's death, my mother came to live with my husband and son in Northern California, gifting us the family we craved. In the winter she'd fly back to Manila and return when the mercury hit the sky. She treasured her independence, traveling alone, until age 84.


One morning we expected her to arrive later that night when the phone rang: It was mom. She had been waiting patiently for us to pick her up and where were we? So she asked a fellow passenger to please call us and let us know she was already here.


Grace under pressure, she had heaps.


We worried how she would cope with loneliness when on top of her daily TV Mass, her novenas, the Chronicle, "I Love Lucy" reruns, needlework, TV Patrol, and her journal, she devoured stacks of novels she would recommend for our next read.


We became pals, sharing Cabernet with dinner, nature-tripping, sharing our jewelry, perfume – our wardrobe. We discovered each other.


In December 2006, she joined me in receiving the Philippine Presidential Award for Overseas Filipino Organizations and Individuals conferred on our domestic violence prevention outreach group, of which she was a volunteer. A few months earlier, the UST Thomasians USA named her an outstanding alumna and our family honored her for being a model of virtue, integrity and grace.


I long to see my mother’s eyes open, feel her touch, listen to her play the piano, show her the orchids blooming in the kitchen, take her on our weekly shopping expeditions, and beg her to please, please stay with us, but in my heart I know what she would say: Leave it to the Lord.


Rosario M. Querol Jr. grew up as Cherie Querol Moreno, San Francisco Bay Area-based journalist, community educator and volunteer. Above was first published in spring 2008 and reprinted annually as a Mother’s Day feature around April 20, the day author lost her mother.  


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