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MANILA COUNCILOR Edward Maceda (center) with mother Manay Ichu Vera Perez Maceda and friends.

At right is actor and Manila Councilor Yul Servo. Maceda and Servo are running for congressman in Manila.


Next time you visit Manila, you may have an active actor and a scion of a movie family as congressmen of the city.

They are Yul Servo, Edward Maceda and Don Bagatsing who are all serving their third and last terms as councilor the city.

Servo, who is known for his role as a villain in local movies, is running for congressman in Manila's third district while Maceda, whose mother is Marichu Vera Perez, is running in the fourth district.


Councilor Edward Vera Perez Maceda is following the footsteps of his father, former Senator and Executive Secretary Ernesto Maceda. The elder Maceda also served as a young councillor of Manila during the time of Mayor Arsenio Lacson.


Maceda’s district is composed of the largely residential and educational center Sampaloc, home of the University of Sto. Tomas and several universities.


He is running to replace outgoing Rep. Ma. Trisha Bonoan David, a former councillor and lawyer who is serving out her third and final term as congresswoman of the district which produced illustrious leaders like the late Senator Arturo Tolentino, Mayor Ramon Bagatsing and Sergio Loyola,  

Bagatsing's grandson, incumbent Manila Councilor Don Juan "DJ" Bagatsing, is running against Maceda. The younger Bagatsing is son of former fourth district Congressman Ramon "Dondon" Bagatsing Jr. whose brother Raymond, who is Ramon Bagatsing III in real life, is an actor in the Philippines.


The young Bagatsing's under, fifth district Congressman Amado Bagatsing, is running for mayor in Manila and surveys showed he is leading his rivals, Mayor Joseph Estrada and former Mayor Alfredo Lim. Manilans are reportedly worried with alleged corruption and abuses by Mayor Estrada such as the imposition of fees in city hospitals, increase of taxes, demolition of city public markets and giving them to private contractors some of whom are allegedly not qualified, privatization of Manila Zoo, destruction of the century-old Army Navy Club building which is a city property and a historical building of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, among others.


Other Manilans are reportedly resisting the return of Lim having left City Hall with some P3 billion in debts, non-payment of IRA to the barangays, non-remittance of City workers' premiums to GSIS, Pag-Ibig Fund and Philhealth, withholding some P600 million subsidy to the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, among others.


Yul is John Marvin C. Nieto in real life, 32, is the number one councilor in the six districts of Manila, having won with the most number of votes.


His victory in his district which covers Sta. Cruz, Quiapo, San Nicolas and Binondo would be a plus factor for his quest to become the first actor-congressman in the district.


Add to that his success in the movies, having become an indie icon and hs won a slew of Best Actor awards here and abroad, for his work in such films as Batang West Side, Laman, Naglalayag, Torotot, Brutos and Ilusyon.


Servo became a household word when he was cast against the great Nora Aunor in Naglalayag, playing a taxi driver having an affair with a judge (played by Aunor).


The superstar has now come forward in support of his congressional bid.

As a councilor, he has been busy with humanitarian projects such as medical and dental missions, reaching out to out-of-school youth, and tapping the artistic potential of street kids, especially from his district.


Councilor Servo grew up in Binondo, Manila, the second eldest in a large family of four boys and four girls. His father, Martin Romano, graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in architecture but decided to become a tailor instead due to brighter prospects for the business.


Later the family went into billboard advertising and became even more well-off, although John modestly estimates they were just “slightly above middle” income.


The actor councilor started appearing in school- and church-based plays in the district of San Nicolas).

Yul actually finished criminology at the Philippine College of Criminology and was all set to become a policeman.


His fate changed when an uncle, Willy Cruz, an engineer who knew some actors and directors, saw his nephew’s potential to become a professional actor and introduced him to director Maryo J. de los Reyes.


Nieto, the budding stage play actor, later adopted the name Yul Servo after Yul Brynner who was his uncle’s favorite actor and Servo the name of the head waiter in the restaurant which the director frequented, Alex III.


He began his career in theater. De los Reyes made him undergo intensive workshops at PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association) and Gantimpala Theater. His most memorable role was as the lead actor of Mass, the Tanghalang Pilipino adaptation of National Artist F. Sionil Jose’s novel, where Servo played Pepe Samson, a provinciano who journeys to Manila, becomes involved with colorful and shady characters, and finally joins the underground.

Superstar Nora Aunor has pledged to Yul Servo that she will join in her campaign, for which the outgoing councillor is thankful.


He recalled that during his first campaign, residents of the district were familiar with him because of his movie with the superstar. “Talagang sinuportahan ako ng Noranians sa distrito namin. Kaya nakakatuwa. Eh, nu’ng first kong takbo, ’yung patay na pinuntahan namin sa Quiapo, umiiyak siya dahil nagpakamatay ang anak niya.
“Pero nang makita na niya ako at ipakilala sa kanya, napatalon siya sa tuwa, eh! Nagtaka naman ako. ’Yun pala, fan siya ni Ate Guy. Napanood niya ’yung Nagla-layag,” said the young councillor.

Like other politicians, Yul Servo said he wants to become a senator or president someday.


“Eh, libre namang mangarap, eh. So taasan mo na ang pangarap mo! Ha! Ha! Ha! Pero alam kong mabigat na responsibilidad na ’yon. ’Yung senador lang mahirap na gaya ng tatakbuhan ni Vice Mayor Isko (Moreno). Parang ang hirap ng ginagawa niya. Ang laki ng mapa ng Pilipinas!” he said.


Celebrating FilAm History Month without FilAm history

Published in Prism

San Franciscans who celebrated Filipino American History Month at the stately City Hall rotunda on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 at the invitation of the City's first Asian American mayor, Edwin Lee, were regaled by performances of Philippine traditional dance and music, treated to sumptuous Filipino food and "lambanog" liquor,  and warmly welcomed by the local Philippine Consul-General, Henry Bensurto. The event offered everything one would expect from a Filipino American History Month celebration except “Filipino American History”.


Apparently, when Mayor Lee created his committee of local Filipino American officials to organize what has become an annual event, no one on his committee bothered to learn the purpose of celebrating Filipino American History Month. The members could have been informed that on September 25, 2009, the state of California officially declared October as “Filipino American History Month” to honor the first Filipinos to set foot in California on October 18, 1587.


They could also have learned that the U.S. House of Representatives on September 29, 2010 and the U.S. Senate on October 5, 2011 passed concurrent bipartisan resolutions to officially celebrate October as Filipino American History Month in the United States to promote the study of Filipino American history "as a time to renew efforts toward the research and examination of history and culture in order to provide an opportunity for all people in the United States to learn and appreciate more about Filipino Americans and their historic contributions to the Nation."


They could have read the letter of President Barack Obama which was delivered recently on October 2, 2015 at the official White House celebration of Filipino American History Month where he expressly recognized the “struggles and victories of the many Filipino Americans who have helped shape our Nation” - the Filipinos who fought in World War II and the farm workers in Delano.


“Their legacy speaks to the extraordinary spirit of common purpose — of unity forged through the ideals that bind us together as one people — that has always been central to our Nation,” Pres. Obama said.


The October 28 San Francisco City Hall celebration was emceed by the Filipino American “Hype Man” of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, Franco Finn, who unfortunately failed to use his sports cred to advocate for the induction of San Francisco-born Vicki Manalo Draves, who won two gold medals in platform diving in the 1948 London Olympics, into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (BASHOF). The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) Region 8, led by Rudy Asercion, is pushing for the inclusion of  Vicki Manalo Draves into BASHOF after 26 years of having been snubbed and not considered worthy of inclusion in its revered list of 160 local sports heroes.


The Mayor’s Committee could have honored the last surviving Filipino community leaders who set up a food drive in San Francisco 50 years ago to support the Delano Grape Strike of September 8, 1965 when 1500 Filipino farmworkers led by Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz walked out of their farm labor jobs to demand higher wages. That historic strike led to the formation of the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) and, according to writer Rick Tejada-Flores, “(brought) an end to the abusive system of labor contracting. Instead, jobs would be assigned by a hiring hall, with guaranteed seniority and hiring rights. The contracts protected workers from exposure to the dangerous pesticides that are widely used in agriculture. There was an immediate rise in wages, and fresh water and toilets provided in the fields. The contracts provided for a medical plan, and clinics were built in Delano, Salinas and Coachella.”



The Filipino farmworkers needed food to sustain their strike and the 1965 "Food Caravan"- led by San Francisco-based Philippine News Publisher Alex Esclamado - provided that sustenance and forged the unity of Filipino farmworkers from the rural agricultural areas who immigrated to the US in the 1930s and the Filipino professionals from the cities who immigrated to the US in the 1960s. That unity led to the formation of the Filipino American Political Association (FAPA) with chapters in 38 cities throughout the U.S. which advocated for the political empowerment of the Filipino American community.


The few remaining Filipino community leaders who organized that Food Caravan who are still around could have been honored at the City Hall event and finally recognized by their city for their generous act of solidarity with the Filipino farmworkers of Delano, an act that would be emulated and expanded in later years to help Filipinos in the Philippines devastated by natural calamities.  


The Committee also missed San Francisco's golden opportunity to commemorate the 420th anniversary of the landing of about 20 Filipino sailors in Drake's Bay in Marin County, just 30 miles from San Francisco, on November 6, 1595. The Filipino sailors, called "indios Luzones" at the time, were part of the crew of a Manila Galleon ship, the San Agustin, commanded by Capt. Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeño, which left Manila in July of 1595 laden with a rich cargo of 130 tons of Ming Dynasty porcelain, silk, and other trade goods from China bound for Europe.


 After an arduous voyage of four months crossing the Pacific Ocean, Capt. Cermeño finally sighted land and docked his ship in what is now Point Reyes and christened the horseshoe-shaped bay the “La Bahia de San Francisco”, the name that would later be given to a larger bay just 30 miles north of where they landed.


The Spanish soldiers on board his ship urged Capt. Cermeño to quickly resume the voyage to Acapulco but he rejected their pleas as he wanted to explore the land that was not on any of their charts. As he set down to explore the land, he made contact with the local natives, the Coast Miwoks, who lived in about six villages in the area. He gave them cloths and other gifts while the Miwoks reciprocated with tokens of seeds and a banner of black feathers.


At Capt. Cermeño’s direction, the Filipino sailors assembled a small launch on the beach, a "vicoro", a dugout canoe with planks on each side, which was used to explore the shallow waters nearby. Unlike the Filipinos with Capt. Unamuno who explored Morro Bay in 1587 for just two days, the Filipinos with Capt. Cermeño stayed at the "Bahia de San Francisco" for about three weeks. They would have stayed longer but unfortunately, a storm came, which pulled up the ship’s anchor and propelled the ship to the rocks, killing a dozen men, including a priest. Unlike Morro Bay, there is no record that any of the Filipino sailors were among the fatalities.


Capt. Cermeño built a larger launch from the vicoro and sailed it out to Acapulco, which he reached without losing a man. The crew reported, however, that they had to eat their dog to survive.


As to what happened to the precious cargo of the San Agustin, according to Carl Nolte ("400th Anniversary of Spanish Shipwreck”, San Francisco Chronicle, November 14, 1995), “the Miwoks picked up the cargo, slept on the silk meant for the royalty of Europe, ate from the priceless blue porcelain of the Wan Li period of the Ming Dynasty”.


A new documentary film entitled “The San Agustin: California Shipwreck” by independent filmmaker George Thelen was aired on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in January of 2014 awakening new interest in the fate of the second ship to land in California with a Filipino crew.


Unfortunately, the 420th anniversary of this historic event was not recognized by the organizers of this year’s San Francisco's Filipino American History Month celebration.


Perhaps next year, Mayor Lee's City Hall event should simply be called "Philippine Culture Day" so attendees will not expect to learn anything about Filipino American History and will not leave disappointed.


(Rodel Rodis taught Filipino American History at San Francisco State University. He is a former trustee of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) and a former president of the San Francisco Community College Board. Please send your comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or mail them to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 or call 415.334-7800.)

(Photo from

WASHINGTON/MOSCOW  As United States President Barack Obama heads to the Philippines and Malaysia on Nov. 18-22, the US Navy's Pacific Command chief announced that Washington will continue its military patrols in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.


Last week, China strongly criticized the United States after the naval destroyer USS Lassen sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly archipelago in waters claimed by several regional powers, including the Philippines and China. Washington responded that the maneuver was not in violation of international law.


"By matching our words and our diplomacy with routine freedom of navigation operations, we’re making it clear that the United States continues to favor peaceful resolutions to ongoing disputes and that our military will continue to fly, sail and operate whenever and wherever international law allows," Adm. Harry B. Harris said at Peking University in Beijing, as quoted by The Wall Street Journal.


He stressed that the South China Sea "is not, and will not, be an exception."


According to media reports, the US Navy intends to patrol the area twice per year quarter.


Over the past few months, Beijing has been constructing artificial islands, some with defense facilities, on the coral reefs of the Spratly Islands — a group of more than 750 islands and reefs. China claims sovereignty over the land and the 12 nautical mile zone surrounding the islands.


The United States does not recognize the Chinese claims of sovereignty over the man-made islands, and has repeatedly raised concerns over Beijing’s activities in the region.


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said after the incident that China considered the passing of a US warship within 12 nautical miles of the artificially created islands to be illegal and a violation of China’s sovereignty.


An international tribunal in the Netherlands has determined it has jurisdiction over an arbitration case filed by the Philippines against China over the two countries' territorial dispute in the South China Sea.


In its 151-page decision, the five-member court, constituted under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, ruled it has jurisdiction over seven of the 15 issues that the Philippines submitted for arbitration, while that for eight others will be decided later.


"The tribunal will convene a further hearing on the merits of the Philippines' claims," the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said in a press statement. "The Tribunal expects that it will render its award on the merits and remaining jurisdictional issues in 2016."


The court is composed of judges from Ghana, France, Poland, the Netherlands and Germany.


Welcoming the decision, Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose said, "We look forward to the tribunal's further hearing on the merits of the case."

The development comes as tension in the South China Sea has risen after a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed within what China claims as its territorial waters there earlier this week.


China has been conducting massive reclamation projects in the waters, where it claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, amid opposition from other claimants including the Philippines.


The Philippines filed the arbitration case in January 2013 to seek a ruling on maritime entitlements in the South China Sea amid China's claims to "historic rights" with its "nine-dash line" over the resources-rich body of water.


Among the disputed features mentioned by the Philippines in its submissions to the court are the Scarborough Shoal, Mischief Reef, Second Thomas Shoal, Subi Reef, Gaven Reef, McKennan Reef (including Hughes Reef), Johnson Reef, Cuarteron Reef and Fiery Cross Reef.


The Philippines is also seeking rulings on whether some Chinese activities in the South China Sea are in violation of the U.N. convention, particularly China's alleged interfering with the Philippines' sovereign rights and freedoms, and construction and fishing activities that have damaged the environment.


The two countries are among the 166 parties to the 1982 convention.


While China has refused to participate in the court proceedings as it insists on resolving the matter bilaterally, the court said that does not deprive it of jurisdiction over the case.


Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has said the final outcome of the arbitration "will contribute to the peaceful and long-term resolution of overlapping maritime jurisdictions in the South China Sea."


China started to assert its claims aggressively over almost the entire 3.5 million square kilometer body of water in 2011 when it barred a Philippine energy exploration team at the Reed Bank in the Spratly Islands.


A year later, China also effectively took control of the Scarborough Shoal, which the Philippines says is within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.


Aside from actual confrontations with Philippine authorities and fishermen in the disputed waters, China also went on to reclaim and fortify some of the contested features in the South China Sea, drawing criticisms from the international community including the United States and Japan.


In Tokyo, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan will "keep a close eye" on the arbitration court's moves as respecting freedom of navigation and rule of law at sea are of "great interest to the international community."


The South China Sea is a crucial shipping lane, abundant in marine resources, and is believed to hold substantial oil and gas resources.

Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims with the Philippines and China in the area. 

US treaty includes Scarborough Shoal in PHL map

Published in Latest News


PHL AMBASSADOR. Consul General Generoso D.G. Calonge introduces Philippine Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. (seated left) at the 12th Pagkikita sa Konsulado. Also in photo are Deputy Consul General Romulo Victor M. Israel Jr. (standing) and members of the Philippine community (right). (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)  


WASHINGTON (JGL) – A little-known Washington Treaty of 1900 that amends the 1898 Treaty of Paris could be one of the documents that may be presented by the Philippine government when the hearing on the merits of the case before the arbitral tribunal of the United Nations in the Hague starts on Nov. 23, 2015.


This was disclosed in Chicago on Oct. 30 by Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. during the 12th Pagkikita sa Konsulado (12th Meeting at the Philippine Consulate) at the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago, Illinois initiated by Consul General Generoso D.G. Calonge.


The Washington Treaty of 1900 included the Scarborough Shoals as part of the Philippines after it was discovered that the map of the Treaty of Paris of 1898 left out the Scarborough Shoal. 


The Treaty of Paris of Dec. 10, 1898 ceded the whole Philippines from the Spain to the United States after a payment of $20-M, making the Philippines a territory of the U.S. following the defeat of Spain from the U.S. and Philippine Independence fighters, notably theKatipuneros. The U.S. later granted the Philippine Commonwealth its independence on July 4, 1946.


Last Thursday (Friday, Manila time), the arbitral tribunal gave due course to the petition of the Philippines to assume jurisdiction of the case even after China has refused to take part in the maritime dispute, contending that China’s massive territorial claims in the mineral-rich waters do not conform with the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea where both the Philippines and China are signatories.


“The decision was unanimous in favor of the Philippines,” a jubilant Cuisia told the Philippine community members. Although “China will not accept it but the tribunal still went ahead with the hearing, a clear victory for the Philippine government officials, Foreign Affairs Sec. Albert del Rosario, Solicitor General (Florin T. Hillbay), team of legal experts, who did a great job, with so many comments online about that decision of the tribunal.”


Mr. Cuisia credited Philippine Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio for invoking the Washington Treaty of 1900 in his speaking engagements before the Philippine communities in Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco early this year.


“I hope we can arrange next year for Justice Carpio to speak before you here in Chicago and in Los Angeles, California,” Mr. Cuisia said as he described Mr. Carpio’s research on the matter as the “most comprehensive and best research on the issue.”


Cuisia said by reclaiming 17 reefs in the disputed waters, China inflicted environmental damages that reclaimed 103,000 acres (417 Sq./Kilometers, more than half the size of Metro Manila) conservatively damaging $280-M.


In his third visit in Chicago, Ambassador Cuisia, accompanied by his wife, Vicky, who is on her second visit to Windy City, welcomed no-holds-barred questions from the public.


He debunked the claims of China that the Philippines never settled bilaterally the Philippine Western Sea (South China Sea) issue with China, saying that at every start of the 50 meetings prior, China would claim, “We have indisputable sovereignty over South China Sea and the meeting would only last less than five minutes each time.”


Despite the aggression of China, Mr. Cuisia believes the U.S. can no longer return to the Philippines in a “basing” agreement but on a “rotating” set up under the Visiting Forces Agreement or under EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement). EDCA is being challenged before the Philippine Supreme Court.


He added the Philippines can never be beholden to China because the “Philippines has been borrowing from international markets in U.S., Europe and Asia (not from China). China buys lots of treasury notes, bills and a big creditor of U.S. treasury bills (but does not buy treasury bills from the Philippines). Our (securities) treasury bills are only offered to local market and we are not a debtor to China. We have been invited by (China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) AIIB. It is also our banks that are very helpful for financing our infrastructures. Our business is very liquid. That’s why we are leading to lot of infrastructure projects. Eventually, we still have to borrow from international capital market and we can get it from Asia, U.S., Japan, Europe. China is the largest trading partner in 2014 (of the Philippines despite the South China Sea dispute).”


He also disclosed the successful roadshow led by economic team led by Dr. Bernardo Villegas, who  travelled to Seattle, (Washington State), Dallas/Fort Worth (Texas) and Pittsburg, Pennsylvania to invite U.S. economic investors to the Philippines that continues to “have at 6.3% GDP growth rate the last five years despite the slowdown in other trading partners and under spending by the government on infrastructure programs.”


Cuisia said as the No. 1 call center in the world with 1.3 million employees and $25-B revenue, this Philippine sector might even exceed in three to five years the annual remittance of OFW’s, which was placed at $28-B this year.


Mr. Cuisia also appealed to overseas Filipino voters to go out and vote during the presidential elections in May next year in the Philippines.


If they are also voters in the November 2016 presidential elections in the U.S., Mr. Cuisia said, they should also go out and vote.


Quoting Mr. Engelbert Camasura, Partner at Ward Howell International Consulting Firm, Mr. Cuisia said the Philippines would be among the Southeast Asian countries, which will benefit with the increase of wages up to 14.9% in China that will prompt Chinese businesses to relocate to the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam.

When asked by this reporter how the Philippine government could protect tourists from being kidnapped in many of the Philippines tourist resorts, Mr. Cuisia suggested that “no country can guarantee that you will not be mugged, even right here in Chicago, which has the highest number of crimes. But some of them go where they are not supposed to be despite advisories not only from American embassy but also from embassies of other nationalities. Even Filipinos are also at risk. This is why the Philippines and U.S. do not want to pay ransom. If they do, they will only encourage more kidnappings.”


As to the request for Temporary Protective status for relatives of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) victims, Mr. Cuisia said, “We submitted, but we are told Philippines does not need it. And they (U.S. government) take liberal attitude, and authorities are only deporting criminals with criminal record not just foreigners. No official response yet. Informally, I was told no need for TPS for Filipinos." (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )



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