PILIPINAS E-Newsletter

Issue: 3

Feeling festive as Rizal Day entices larger attendance

By Arcie Gemino and Maria Amy Risvold, RN

Rizal Day had long been celebrated before the 70’s way before most of us were involved in this annual event. The tradition of honoring Dr. Jose Rizal’s memory has kept growing on a much larger scale since then. In more recent years, it had drawn the interest of even the young generations of various universities who had teamed up with the Filamcco member organizations in staging the celebration.

Every year on December 30, Filipinos across the globe celebrate Rizal Day. The historical significance of this day cannot be overstated. Through his political writings and activism, Dr. Jose P. Rizal inspired the revolution of our ancestors, which ultimately led to the independence our native country deserved. His two literary masterpieces, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, had a profound effect on Philippine society by creating a unified national identity and denouncing colonization. But this revolution did not come without a steep price, as Dr. Rizal bravely died for his country.

This year’s Rizal Day had proven to be more spirited, zestful, and high powered as evidenced by the caliber of preparations put together by the tireless team spearheaded by the duo-team co-chairs Ellen Dioso and Amy Risvold under the overall auspices of the organization’s driven leader Ryan Rosario. The sold-out event is attempting to welcome a bit more guest attendance to accommodate the growing requests of the community to partake in this huge celebration.

Dr. Rizal’s heroism is what Filipino American Community Council (FILAMCCO) aims to highlight and exemplify through our work in the community. It is our mission to advocate for projects, legislation, and activities that promote opportunities for Filipino-Americans to succeed. Filamcco specifically seeks opportunities for youth engagement. We are leaning on our younger generation of Filipino-Americans to continue the legacy of Dr. Rizal, and to lead our work in the future.

Rizal Day 2022 promises to add more novelty and other attractive programming segments to the festivities which remain to be seen until the day of the big event. A sneak preview we can divulge so far are the festive songs and dances to be performed and probably a sentimental memorialization of a dear departed fellow board member who would have taken the lead role in this year’s celebration

With your generous support, our organization can continue to do great work in our communities. On December 17 at Larsa Palace Banquet and Restaurant in Sterling Heights, Filamcco is inviting the community to join for a celebration of the life and death of Dr. Rizal Day. With much excitement, we have big plans to make this evening a night to remember – a unique experience unlike any other! We rejoice in showing the rich history of our native country and the freedom we get to experience because of heroes like Dr. Jose Rizal.

There’s a lot in store for the guests and co-chairs Amy Risvold and Ellen Dioso are simply ecstatic at the prospect of seeing this celebration take off with a big bang! #

Seniors foster fellowship & community service with N.A.N.A.Y.

By Joseph Paul Pacis Javier

Every month, the halls of the Philippine American Cultural Center of Michigan are filled with the laughter, singing, and dancing of the members of our local chapter of the National Alliance to Nurture the Aged and the Youth. This organization, lovingly called N.A.N.A.Y for short, first started way back in 1994. From its first chapter in Florida, N.A.N.A.Y has since grown and started chapters across the country. The Michigan chapter of N.A.N.A.Y, started by Rebecca Tungol, celebrates a decade of joy and philanthropy serving our local community and the lives of those in need back in the Philippines.

“What inspired me to form this group was its mission and vision. During the time I was taking care of my home-bound mother, I came across the N.A.N.A.Y. organization and I was impressed by what the members do,” said Tungol, who serves as Michigan’s chapter president of N.A.N.A.Y.

The vision of N.A.N.A.Y. is to foster a self-sufficient performance-driven organization that empowers, transforms, and improves the lives of low- and moderate-income, minority and disadvantaged individuals and communities.

To accomplish this, N.A.N.A.Y. chapters strive to improve the personal, health and home environment of elders and youth, promote the involvement of elders and youth in community, arts, and cultural affairs, to increase the self-confidence and social interaction of elders and youth, while also reducing the loneliness and isolation of elders and providing job assistance to elders and youth.

N.A.N.A.Y. provides elderly people with cultural and recreational activities, center-based socialization, special transport services, counseling, soft-stretching exercises, shopping assistance, outdoor walking exercises, and caregiver training and support. Computer classes (beginner, intermediate, advanced) are provided on a regular basis. In addition, we provide workshops on caregiving for the elderly.

“Since 2012, our Michigan N.A.N.A.Y. chapter and its members have served people in need, like donating medical equipment with the collaboration of World Medical Relief. We also helped a child in the Philippines who needed an operation,” adds Tungol “N.A.N.A.Y. has so many more heartwarming stories and we hope more from our Filipino community join us.”

Reflections on the emerging concepts of beauty pageantries

By Arcie Gemino

Beauty pageants are principally deemed for their spectacle, pomp, and glamor. That was then. In recent years the concept has moved to different levels of expression and acceptance. The return of the long-awaited Mrs. Philippines Pageant of MI sponsored by Filipino American Community Council (FILAMCCO) on October 15, 2022, reflected some of these novelties. For one, the entry status that used to accommodate only married women now welcomes divorced and widowed. Filamcco had moved to accept this trend. And yet, to go beyond that, even transgenders have also been welcomed with open arms as evidenced by past major  national and international beauty contests. Filamcco has yet to meet this challenge should it arise.

Evident in Filamcco’s recently held pageant was the participation of a pregnant mother who felt undeterred in her condition to be part of a competition she felt she had a chance to win. And sure enough she did! Who would have thought a woman in her physical stature would garner the honors? Not only did she win the coveted title but also earned the trophy for the Best in Talent. And to top it all, the grand prize money of $2,000.00. This year’s winner of Mrs. Philippines of MI is Liz Lemmer Solodon, who’s not entirely new to pageantry. She had joined the Miss Philippines Pageant before. Times have changed and with these modern reforms, we learn to embrace those that fit our own purposes as long as they’re within accepted norms .

The Mrs. Philippines Pageant of MI 2022 was one of the best beauty pageants Filamcco has had in years. For one, after the six-year hiatus brought by the pandemic and other deterring circumstances, it came back with a resounding success with six beautiful, intelligent, and unique candidates, a sold-out event and an enthusiastic crowd that rocked the night’s festivities. The candidates were Mary Jean Bowen, Liz Santos, Aya Ko, Arlene Moore, Liz Solodon, and Joy Wilkins. Runner-up winner Joy Wilkins walked away with the Best in Gown and Best in Swimsuit trophies and a $500.00 in prize money. Aya Ko was awarded the Best in National Costume while Arlene Moore received the Most Photogenic trophy.

The lovely candidates came from diverse backgrounds and wealth of experiences in their personal fields of involvement as portrayed in their individual profiles published in the program book . This batch was able to achieve tremendous tasks in so short a period that lasted only with 5 scheduled activities that included  meetings, dance practices, photo shoots, run walk sprees and a dress rehearsal. Who pulls off so much work to do in so short a time? These ladies did.

Success would not have been achieved if it were not for the diligence and devotion of the committee that staged this wonderful production. Heartfelt congratulations to the team of Ryan Rosario, Menchu Concepcion, Rose Caoagas, Arcie Gemino, Rob Dionisio, Becky Tungol, Tony Kho, Jeff Vedua, Amy Risvold, Boots Gabarda, Ceasar Sumanting ,Carryle Zaldariaga Hall and Dan Carrasco. #

Community-wide Filipino American History Month commemorated

By Arcie Gemino

Filipino History month is celebrated in the US during the month of October since 1992. October was chosen to commemorate the visitation of the first Filipinos who landed as slaves, prisoners, and crew aboard Novohispanic ships in what is now Morro Bay, CA on October 18, 1587. Many Filipino organizations in several states often initiate their own independent celebration of the event.

In Michigan, on October 16, 2022, a first big scale celebration of this historical event was put together under the auspices of two organizational presidents, Aurora Harris of the Filipino American National Historical society (FANHS) and Amy Risvold of the National Federation of Filipino American Association (NaFFAA) with the event chairmanship of NaFFAA P.R.O., Arcie Gemino.  Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, Senators Paul Wojno, Stephanie Chang, and Michael Mac Donald signed and sent a State of Michigan Special Tribute for the occasion. Senator Stephanie Chang and several Asian and Filipino community leaders came to say  their personal greetings on the celebration. A hearty spread of food and refreshments were served and a special cultural presentation by Tony Martinez’s dance team entertained the enthusiastic guests.

This year’s theme “Reparative Approaches for Now and the Future” led to the invitation of some Fil-Am veterans with the help of Tess Tchou. Associate Professor Ricky Punzalan from the University of Michigan presented a project on Reconnect/Recollect Reparative Connections to Philippine Collections housed at U of M. According to Punzalan, words in collection catalogues matter because they can perpetuate false historical narratives and endorse oppressive language and glorify colonization. He and Dr. Deirdre dela Cruz are spearheading efforts to revisit the catalogs and findings for inaccurate, offensive and harmful terminologies that are used to describe Philippine materials in the university’s extensive collections.

Filipino American History Month is a significant event to celebrate annually. Hopefully this year’s wider observance that drew more attendance will pave the way for greater recognition of the importance of this event in the years to come. #

In the spirit of Dios mabalos: helping Palawan’s fishing families recover

By Tess Tchou

Almost a year ago, in December 2021, Typhoon Odette/Rea hurtled through Northern Palawan, stripping  close to 300  indigenous fishing families of Tagbanuas and Batacs of their homes and livelihood.  In response to Bishop Broderick Pabillo’s plea for help, the chair of a non-governmental organization (NGO) from Albay known as Dios Mabalos Po Foundation (DMPF), stepped forward and together with the writer formed the Project Sagwan (Boat): Grace on Board.  Funds were quickly raised and a cooperative semi-legal document was drafted to enable pairs of pre-screened families to sign up and share in the building of a boat, its use, maintenance, and earnings.  At the same time, two pre-owned larger vessels with a 20-person capacity each, were purchased to operate as sea ambulances to ferry food and other urgent relief supplies to stranded and dispossessed families.

Project Sagwan officially launched on March 19, 2022, the feast of St. Joseph, distributing funds for materials to build 40 new boats. In the six months since its launch, the project has faced considerable challenges, contending with setbacks both existing and unforeseen, including COVID, the war in Ukraine, unreliable power and communication lines, disruptive weather outbreaks, and insufficient funding resources. But tenacity and resilience have prevailed. This coming Thanksgiving, some 50 families would have completed and sailed their boats, able to provide for their families as well as help neighbors in less provident circumstances. The sea ambulance Chari, which has undergone renovations for larger capacity, will again, with the other emergency vehicle, E-Star of the Sea, ply the Sulu Sea reaching hitherto almost inaccessible island villages.

The writer wishes to thank members of the Michigan community whose donations have made it possible for Project Sagwan to launch and continue to assist the indigenous populations (IPs) of Palawan.  Quietly undergirding Project Sagwan’s mission, they have demonstrated the same spirit that motivated DMPF’s founding – “Giving Out of Gratefulness.” Gratefulness, as expressed in “Dios mabalos po,” is a familiar and frequently used alternative to thank you or salamat in the Bicol region.  Literally, it means God will return the favor but in at least one fishing family’s perspective, the favor returned doesn’t stop at the giver. As the patriarch of the Pajelagu family puts it most succinctly in Tagalog – “Sana po maraming pagpapala ang ibalik ng Panginoon sa inyo para marami pa kayong matulungan.” (May you be blessed so others could be.)

To donate towards a boat or fishing equipment, please contact Tess Tchou (313) 533-3085 or e-mail raytesstchou@sbcglobal.net. #

Fil-Am graphic designer’s work makes its way to Pope Francis

By Dan Moen

Pope Francis admires Akram Kareem, a highly admired global philanthropist, award certificate and gala program book, designed by Dan Moen, a Filipino-American graphic designer and Brand and Content Coordinator at the Chaldean Community Foundation. The Chaldean Community Foundation held its 4th Annual Awards Gala on September 29, 2022, where Akram Kareem was awarded the Lifetime Humanitarian award.

Dan Moen works at the Chaldean Community Foundation (CCF) in Sterling Heights, off 15 mile and Ryan Road, as a Brand and Content Coordinator. The Chaldean Community Foundation is a non-profit that serves the greater community regardless of race, gender, religion, sex, etc. and provides social services from immigration, citizenship, English as a Second Language (ESL), programming for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, a preschool program, career services, and mental health services. The CCF is the non-profit arm of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce. Moen is very honored to serve and get to know the Chaldean community through his word which he puts passion in every piece. Moen also loves sharing his culture with his colleagues.

Moen’s role includes advertising, marketing, social media, graphic design, video production, and animations that help promote CCF. He and his incredible team, the Outreach Team, help promote CCF and their programming as well as community events such as Town Halls, educational events, and his manager, Stacy Bahri, provides Cultural Competency training which educates the history and culture of the Chaldean community. 

Moen was approached to create a certificate to honor Akram Kareem after the CCF 4th Annual Gala in addition to the program book. Moen was very happy and when he found out that Akram wanted to take the design to Pope Francis, and that made him very honored and humbled. His incredible team had done such an amazing job with the gala. Akram Kareem brought the certificate to Pope Francis.

To learn more about his story, visit www.chaldeannews.com. To learn more about the Chaldean Community Foundation and their services, visit www.chaldeanfoundation.org or call 586-722-7253. The links below will bring you to the stories about breakfast of nations and CCF celebration. #



An open letter for support to the Troy High School book drive team

By Junha Park and Avram Joshua Tarun

Hello! We are a group of incoming juniors from Troy High School who want to support early learning through the power of reading.  In 2021, we founded the Troy High School Book Drive team under the leadership of Avram Joshua Tarun and with teacher sponsor, Mr. Joey Verhelle.  To date, we have collected more than 5000 children’s books donated by numerous institutions and other generous members of our community. 

We have just successfully completed our pilot project, the Cavite Book Drive, with the Queens Row Elementary School (QRES) as the recipient.  The books were donated to QRES in two batches.  The first batch was endorsed in December 2021 and consisted of 260 preschool books. The second batch, received in early August 2022, included four balikbayan boxes with over 2100 books. QRES, which only had 1200 books available in the library to the 8000 students enrolled in school year 2021-2022, is now able to implement a mini library for each classroom. This enables easy accessibility of books for all the students in support of Operation Brigada Pagbasa.

For our next project, the Cabagan Book Drive, we have collaborated with Mr. Noel de Luna and the River Rock Church in California for the initial batch of books shipped to Pilig Abajo Elementary School (PAES) in Isabela.  With these books, the PAES Reading Center has been revived. They are also planning to launch the “Books on Cart” initiative to make the books available even to out-of-school youth.  We are currently preparing to ship a total of four more balikbayan boxes to PAES and Cabagan Science Elementary School. 

We hope to help more kids gain more access to books through our projects. We welcome any support, both financial and collaborative, that you can extend. You may contact us at cavitebookdrive@gmail.com or in our Instagram @thecavitebookdrive.

We are looking forward to working with you in this endeavor. #

At your service,

Troy High School Book Drive Team

DTE Energy links with the community through LED light bulb distribution program

By Sofia E. Bole, RN

DTE Energy partnered with the Philippine American Community Center of Michigan (PACCM) through its LED light bulb services, making the PACCM its anchor station in Oakland County. Sometime in October 2022, DTE Energy delivered several LED light bulbs for distribution in the community. DTE Energy’s objectives with this community outreach program are the following:

  1. Provide free LED light bulbs to Michigan Fil-Am community and charitable organizations;
  2. Help transition to a more efficient light vs. the outdated light bulbs; and
  3. Promote DTE’s goodwill toward our community through LED donations, thus making people aware and learn the advantages of LED lights.

Historical background

DTE stands for data terminal equipment, is an end instrument that converts user information into signals or reconverts received signals.

DTE began in 1849 when Lemuel Davis, a gas engineer took on the challenge of organizing a company and securing local financing. A new gas plant was built in Detroit, later renamed the Detroit Gas Light Company. In 1851, fifty-three gas streetlamps were erected on Woodward, Woodbridge, and Jefferson Avenues to light Detroit for the first time. As years went by, the gas lights business flourished. In 1879, the invention of Thomas Alva Edison of the incandescent light bulb, and in 1883, the incandescent light bulbs made their first Detroit appearance at the Metcalf Brothers dry goods store. In 1886, the Edison Illuminating Company of Detroit was organized and thus began serving its first customers.

DTE Energy operating units include an electric company, serving 2.3 million customers in Southeast Michigan and a natural gas company serving 1.3 million customers. DTE Energy, formerly Detroit Edison until 1996, is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services in the US and Canada.

Michigan has a unique geology, hence creating an abundant supply of natural gas. DTE can store up to 130 billion cubic feet of gas in naturally occurring underground rock formation.

 Community Relations

DTE Energy is committed to building strong relationships with people in the community “where we live and serve.” These connections extend beyond just business operations. They believe that it is their responsibility to help protect and shape a prosperous future for the communities. Their services also provide critical support for health, quality of life, comfort, and convenience. Also, to engage the community in economic development efforts, charitable giving, and volunteering. The philanthropic arm of DTE is the DTE Energy Foundation.

 What is LED?

LED stands for Light-Emitting Diode. LED bulbs produce photons (the basic unit of light) by passing electric current through the diode, a semi conducting material. LED lighting produces light up to 90% more efficiently than incandescent bulbs or fluorescent lamps.

 Lumens and Watts

Lumens tell you exactly how bright the bulb will be. The higher the lumens, the brighter the light. Watts indicates how much energy the bulb will consume to get that light.

 Advantages of LED lights

Long life span, energy efficiency, improved environment al performance, ability to operate in cold conditions, no heat or UV emissions, design flexibility, instant lighting and the ability to withstand frequent switching, low voltage operation, and reliability are some of the advantages of the LED lights.

Lighting accounts for 20% of a typical electric bill. Some LED brand light bulbs use up to 90% less energy and last 15 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. LED bulbs emit light in a specific direction, making them more efficient for recessed downlights, task lighting and for lighting kitchen countertops. LED bulbs run cool and last longer, making it ideal for creative as well as functional uses. LED bulbs do not contain toxic materials like mercury or other metals dangerous for the environment, and they are 100% recyclable.

As science progresses through discoveries and inventions, the ease of modern convenience in terms of light bulbs in today’s time is LED lighting. How much time do we have till a new lighting system comes up? #

Tambuli (Community Announcements)
Simbang Gabi - East Side
Click Here
Simbang Gabi - West Side
Click Here
Rizal Day
Click Here
PACCM Toy Drive
Click Here
Filipino American Widow/Widower Grief Support
Click Here
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