Sunday, March 28, 2010

Philippine Chamber of Commerce in Toronto Mini-Trade Show

The PCCT officers pose with Consul-General Minerva Falcon (CENTER WITH FLOWERS) at the mini-trade show.

The PCCT held a mini-trade show at the Quiapo Quiapo hall last March 27. it was a sign of things to come for the Mabuhay festival.

Filipino Newspaper War in Toronto getting Dirty

With the war between the group of PPCO officers of Ace Alvarez, Tenny Soriano, and Mon Datol against Eddie Lee and Frank Luna getting nasty, there have been reports of newspapers being picked up by mystery person or person from stores never to be seen again. This paper-napping is a serious breakdown of events. We call each other names but we leave the newspapers alone. The latest report has it that Mon Datol, publisher of Philippine Courier has had his paper - well - paper-napped. Datol knows it. He has the details. It was relayed to him by another big publisher. We hope that this doesn't end up in a St. Valentine's massacre. The St. Valentine's massacre was planned by Al Capone in Chicago in the 1920's. The rival gang was rounded by men wearing police uniform, brought to a garage, made to face the wall and machine-gunned to death. This is getting nasty. it won't be long before we see delivery trucks with men standing on the sideboard with machine guns.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Incoming Consul-General defends awarding of award to non-Filipino journalist


Member, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)

TORONTO -- The controversy was far from being resolved. Accusations as sharp as the swords of war were being hurled by the protagonists. As it appears now, the row over a Philippine government citation of a non-Filipino journalist for his reportage of hapless Filipino caregivers in Canada was the last straw. Charges of favoritism, official neglect, arrogance and contempt of the locals by the Philippine labor official are some of the root causes of the four-month-old dispute. Majority of the journalists in Toronto’s 14 Filipino newspapers are watching in the sidelines, some in amusement, some in awe and some in utter disbelief. In the meantime, another Consulate official justified the citation awarded to the reporter.

TORONTO -- Acussations, denials, claims and counter-claims bordering on the personal -- that best sums up the still-simmering feud between a Philippine labor attache here and Filipino journalists who are up in arms for being allegedly referred to as “morons”.

The spark that prompted the controversy -- a citation given by Philippine Ambassador to Canada Jose S. Brillantes to a mainstream newspaper reporter, apparently on the strength of the recommendation of the beleaguered labor official -- now seems to have become a secondary issue.

From accounts by the journalists themselves, it wasn’t the award that they resent as much as the pomp and circumstance when it was handed down. They claimed they were invited without being told that they would become mere witnesses to the event.

“We were used as props,” said Ramon Datol, publisher of Philippine Courier. That sentiment is shared by Tenny Soriano, a columnist of Balita newspaper and incumbent president of Philippine Press Club Ontario, and Ace Alvarez, editor of Manila Media Monitor.

Datol and Alvarez had elevated their complaint against labor attache Frank Luna to newly-installed Consul General Minerva Falcon, saying his conduct belied his position as a diplomat, during her first press conference early this month at a restaurant in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough.

Luna, a lawyer who had renounced his Canadian citizenship to occupy his current post at the consulate, had called an unidentified press club officer “a moron” for suggesting that the citation be awarded instead to Filipinos advocating for caregivers.

Consul Edna May G. Lazaro justified the recognition conferred on Dale Brazao, reporter of Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper, stating his articles “contributed in large measure to the reforms in the Live-in Caregiver Program”. Canada is home to a huge number of Filipinos engaged in caregiving.

“The citation,” explains Lazaro, “was conferred by Philippine Ambassador to Canada Jose S. Brillantes and attested to by Consul General Alejandro B. Mosquera and Philippine Labor Attaché Frank Luna. The conferment of said citation was made upon discussion among and with the consensus of Amb. Brillantes, Con Gen Mosquera and Mr. Luna.” Mosquera has since been replaced by Consul General Falcon.

Eddie Lee, publisher of Atin Ito newspaper, who at one point was being endorsed for recognition for his own set of stories, balked at his colleagues’ protestations.

In fact, he belittled them: “Does anybody in the PPCO, or the whole PPCO itself, or any individual, or group in our Filipino/Canadian community for that matter, honestly say they possess the necessary political muscle or clout to move the government officials to act on the workers’ abuses, as Brazao and the Star did? Personally, I do not think so. The PPCO itself could not even convince other Filipino/Canadian publications to join it.”

These and Luna’s descriptive slur had further inflamed the journalists.

“It’s clear he (Luna) used the word moron on an unnamed PPCO official. He was referring to Mon (Datol) and Faye Arellano,” Soriano said in an interview. He described Luna as “arrogant”.

Datol has been so agitated by Luna’s remark, saying it does not befit his position. “Somebody like Luna should not be called a diplomat. Besides, how did he get that position when he’s not a career diplomat,” Datol said.

Arellano, a freelance journalist and advocate for Filipino caregivers, has shrugged it off, not wanting to exacerbate the already strained situation. She said she had emailed Luna to call attention to his “insulting” and “insensitive” language to no avail.

In an email message to this reporter, Luna denied calling the journalists morons. “As you will note,” Luna explained, “I did not call Tenny Soriano and Mon Datol as morons – it is their word, not mine.”

Luna suggested that Soriano and Datol were trying to sow intrigue and to villify him. By a strange coincidence, Lee (who is reportedly a good friend of Luna), said the same thing in response to this reporter.

“Intriga ito nina Tenny Soriano at Mon Datol. Sila ay nasaktan. Sa aking pananaw, ginagamit lang nila ang dyaryo nila para sa pansariling hangarin kahit makasira ng ibang tao. Wala akong reklamo kay Mr. Luna,” Lee said in Tagalog.

(Rough translation: Tenny Soriano and Mon Datol are sowing intrigue. They were hurt. In my view, they are using their newspapers for their personal ends even if that would ruin other people. I have no complaint against Mr. Luna).

Lee, a popular real estate agent in Toronto, also accused the two journalists of “using” this reporter. He says in Tagalog: “Upang maunawaan mo ang buntot at ulo ng intriga,” referrencing his article in his paper’s January issue. “Dito mo makikita ang paggamit din nila sa iyo.”

When asked how he reached that conclusion and why he made the assumption that this reporter was allowing himself to be used, Lee did not reply.

His Tagalog statement was a significant departure from the flowing response (headlined “Corrigenda’) he claimed he had written which, by its language, structure, attribution, length and presentation, must have originated from a lawyer.

Lee’s “Dito mo makikita ang paggamit din nila sa iyo” was illustrative of his dramatic transformation from one so serious a writer to a reckless amateur.

Knowledgeable individuals interviewed for this story said Lee has never been a card-carrying journalist and his Atin Ito newspaper merely serves as the unofficial mouthpiece of whoever occupies the presidential palace in Manila. Its beginning was closely intertwined with the ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Did Filipino publisher Mon Datol prove Labor Attache' Frank Luna Right?

BACKGROUND: The Philippine government, through it's embassy and consulate, with the ambassador, consul-general and labor attache's signatures, awards Toronto Star writer Dale Brazao for his articles about caregivers. Afterwards, Canada enacts new laws protecting them. Filipino media led by Ace Alvarez, Tenny Soriano and Mon Datol, all members of the Philippine Press Club of Ontario (PPCO), protests, saying publisher Eddie Lee - a non-member of the PPCO - has written more about caregivers than Brazao. Eddie Lee is surprised. He did not complain and has no plan to file one. PPCO accuse Labor Attache' Frank Luna of giving more information about caregivers to Brazao than to PPCO members. LA Frank Luna allegedly called one PPCO official a "moron" for making a crazy allegations in an email. Luna cannot name the person because the PPCO official did not leave his or her name when the allegation was made.

When the new Consul-General, Minerva Falcon had a breakfast with the Filipino community as an introduction to the Filipino community, Datol, Soriano and Alvarez turned it into a mini-forum. However, Falcon was briefed on the background of the issue and was ready. "When Datol's turn came, he loudly told the Consul General that Luna had called local reporters "morons", sparking laughter among the crowd. At one point, an angry Datol, his voice cracking, said it was the consensus of local media to have Luna declared "persona non grata" so he can be expelled from Canada. Falcon coolly told him that only Canada can declare Luna a PNG and explained it to him.

It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. -Mark Twain

Apparently, my friend Mon Datol did not know about Mark Twain's words to live by. Mon should learn that shooting from the mouth only kills reputations. In this case, his. Asking a Philippine Consulate to declare a Filipino "national" as "persona non grata" only proved Frank Luna right. "Persona non grata" can only be declared by a government against a foreign national. In this case, both are Philippine entities. Mon Datol should have researched this before demanding it. As for my friend Tenny Soriano using Eddie Lee as a "witness," it does not look like a good idea. In a court of law, if you only have one non-appearing, un-cooperating witness, the judge will only tolerate so many postponement before he dismisses your case. I am not a lawyer but I think that's how it works, hindi ba? Maybe, Soriano cited Lee because Lee is not a member of the Philippine Press Club of Ontario. But there is still that issue of Luna calling the PPCO official a "moron." Members of the diplomatic corp are supposed to conduct themselves with finesse. If it was in writing, it was in poor taste and bad judgement on his part. If it was verbal, then , it becomes an issue of he said, they said and he can get away with it. It is a comment made only within a circle of friends.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I will be honest. What few pages this newspaper has, I put photos of my advertisers first sa mga events. They pay for my bread and butter. It is annoying when you are arranging a photo-op with VIP’s and your advertisers, may susulpot na strangers sa picture-taking ninyo. I repeat - STRANGERS, meaning, I don’t know you. It is OK if they are on the side- madaling tanggalin. Mahirap kapag nasa gitna sila. Mahirap i-photoshop. The more people there are in the picture, the less the faces become. If it was up to me, I’d tell the photo-op-stranger-crashers to get out of the picture.” But the problem may arise if they claim they are friends with one of my advertisers. Let me be clear. I am only referring to arranged photo-ops - not the ones where I take candid photos na nandiyan na lahat.

Enrile claimed Villar tried to bribe him. He turned it down. Now, Enrile is telling Villar that “not everyone can be bought.” Baka may continuation iyong sentence na iyon. Maybe, the continuation is “at that price. Taasan mo pa” Ehe, susmaryosep. This is shocking. Imagine this - “Enrile” and the phrase “not everyone can be bought” in one sentence. Shocking, hindi po ba? By the way, why is he revealing this now when the supposed offer happened “sometime last year.” I love it when people making accusations are vague about time and date. The conversation daw happened at a Japanese restaurant in Makati.

A friend of mine said that marriage should have an expiration date. Then, I read that a Philippine senator proposed that. Well, the upside is that if the kids are asked, they can just say “they did not renew their contract,” instead of saying that they got divorced. Interesting...hmmm...If Warren Beatty hears this, he will be outside the kulambo. Warren Beatty used to believe that when a woman reaches 40, he should be able to exchange them for two twenty’s.

When I told Dr. Solon Guzman I cannot shake his hands because because I was having “stomach” problems and I might infect him, he dismissed it with “Sanay na kami diyan.” He told me he and his wife Dr. Josephine were just in the Philipppines and she also suffered from it caused by iced tea from a restaurant. Dr. Vicky Santiago then told them of a friend who went home with her also and she told it nanchalantly. “E di ayon, dalawampung beses bumalik hanggang sa mawala.” Their comment reminded me of the good old days when you don’t expect a pill to cure your problem in a split second. noong nasa Pilipinas pa tayo, if you had diarrhea, you just go pabalik-balik sa CR. No pills hanggang sa tumigil. Nowadays, we expect Imodium or whatever pill to cure it in a split of a second. Pero sometimes, even the best medicine take time to take effect. Kung minsan, hindi ko alam kung nagwo-work. Kapag nawala, you assume the medicine did it’s job.

I was watching the news about a couple and their baby who followed their GPS when it said that they can cut 40 miles if they used a “back road.” They ended up stuck in the snow in their SUV for 12 hours and they can’t get a cell signal. If they decided to use a back road, couldn’t they tell before they went further that the road was “unplowed?” Or did they think that their SUV is the solution to all snow problems? If I saw that a back road had more snow than the highway, I’d turn around before going further and go back to the highway. I don’t care about what the GPS is saying. After all, the GPS cannot see what I am seeing.

Incoming Consul General Minerva Falcon with the Philippine Consulate here barely warmed up to her seat when she was caught in a war between Labor Attache Frank Luna and the Filipino media. It reminds me when the camp of then Finance Minister Paul Martin pushed Prime Minister Jean Chretien out of office and the advertising scandal broke out putting newly-installed Prime Minister Paul Martin on the spot. Had they waited a year or two, the scandal would have happened under Chretien. Martin's term was uneventful, lackluster and forgettable. As finance minister, Martin was brilliant under Chretien. As prime minister, Martin floundered. Now, back to our consulate. Nobody pushed former Congen Mosquera out. His term was finished. It's just that Falcon's supposed introduction to the community was supposed to be just a love-in. Instead, it turned out to be parachuted peace-keeping mission in the middle of a word war.

Apparently, the reason is that the consulate gave an "award" to the Toronto Star reporter for his article about Live-In Caregivers. Afterwards, the Canadian government made new laws protecting them. Everyone assumed that it was the Star articles that compelled them even though articles were already being written by the Filipino media before that. Why bother giving an ward? That is as exciting as receiving the Gusi award. You've never heard of the Gusi award? Me too.

Diplomat's Insulting Remark Triggers Media Uproar in Toronto

Philippine Consul General Minerva Falcon gestures as she explains the difference between a recall and a "persona non grata" declaration in response to questions during a press conference on Saturday (March 6) at Quiapo! Quiapo! restaurant in Toronto. (Copyright March 2010, photo by Romy Marquez)

PHILIPPINE VILLAGE VOICE - Redefining Community News
Currents & Breaking News
Volume 4, Issue No. 1 / News That Fears None, Views That Favor Nobody /

. . . . . A community service of Philippine Village Voice ( for the information and understanding of Filipinos and the diverse communities in North America . . . . . .

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The News UpFront: (TOP STORY) as of Sunday, March 7, 2010

~ Either they're too onion-skinned or they were really disrespected. The Filipino media in Toronto took umbrage at what they perceive as a slight against them by a ranking Department of Labor official attached to the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto. Now the controversy has taken an official air as the hostility reached the top Philippine diplomat in Canada's largest city. There are talks to ask Manila to recall him to the head office.

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Member, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE)
and Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)

TORONTO -- A press conference on Saturday (March 6) called by newly-named Consul General Minerva Falcon turned into an emotional three-hour grievance forum against a Filipino labor official attached with the Philippine Consulate here.

The Philippine diplomat, facing her first press conference with the locals, has barely warmed her seat, having planed in ten days ago from Manila as a replacement for Alejandro Mosquera whose six-year tenure as consul-general ended in January.

Media complaints surfaced as soon as the 63-year-old lawyer and former ambassador to Germany and Switzerland had delivered her remarks about having cordial relations with the Filipino community in Toronto, Canada's largest city where most of the estimated 250,000 Filipinos live.

Falcon lent her ear as two of the most vociferous publishers and editors from among the more than a dozen newspapers here grumbled about being called "morons" -- a tag they claimed was labeled on them by Philippine labor attache Frank Luna.

Luna was not present at the press conference. Neither was he immediately available for comment. Questions e-mailed to his office by this reporter are still awaiting answers as of this writing.

Falcon, who was apparently briefed earlier about the growing animosity between Luna and the media, kept her cool when confronted by a barrage of questions from Ace Alvarez, managing editor of Manila Media Monitor; Ramon Datol, publisher and editor of Philippine Courier, and other media persons.

The press conference at first sounded like a police interrogation and Falcon played along well with Alvarez's line of questioning. When Datol's turn came, he loudly told the Consul General that Luna had called local reporters "morons", sparking laughter among the crowd.

Tenny Soriano, president of the Philippine Press Club based in Toronto, Ontario had described Luna in his story as the "odd man out of the diplomatic mission."

At one point, an angry Datol, his voice cracking, said it was the consensus of local media to have Luna declared "persona non grata" so he can be expelled from Canada.

Falcon, however, explained that it was the host country (Canada) that can do that, not the home country (Philippines) and had to be done on a reciprocal basis.

Absent that option, she said the media can seek relief by asking the department concerned to recall the person in question.

Falcon stressed, however, that she was not advocating nor suggesting the recall of Luna from his post as labor attache.

She said the process is far more complicated than just submitting a petition to authorities in Manila.

Luna got the ire of local media after he gave an award to a reporter of Toronto Star, one of Canada's biggest newspapers, in recognition of his series of stories about Filipino caregivers.

The articles had prompted Canadian authorities to enact a new law protecting the caregiving community.

Soriano said the award to the mainstream reporter was a big "slap on the face" of Filipino media because it portrayed them as not having done anything to Filipino caregivers.

But the fact was that another Filipino, Eduardo Lee, publisher of Atin Ito newspaper, had written extensively about the recurring issue long before the Star reporter came out with his first article. Lee was not recognized.

(This Currents & Breaking News may be posted online, broadcast or reprinted, on condition that the author and the publication be properly credited. By Romeo P. Marquez, Editor, Philippine Village Voice, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Volume 4, Issue no.1, March 7, 2010).