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Feb 03rd
Home Sections MiscellaNEWS To Get Ahead in the U.S., Stand Up to Bullies and Form Alliances
To Get Ahead in the U.S., Stand Up to Bullies and Form Alliances PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 01 November 2012 19:38




(© 2012 Journal Group Link International)

C HICAGO (jGLi) – Florencio “Flo” Villegas, a native of Tarlac province in the Philippines, came to the United States in 1947. His pioneering father told him and his brother two things to get ahead with their lives.


First, prepare mentally and physically.  And second, they were told, “regardless of what you do, as long as you do an honest job, accept any job, which was what I did as my first job.”


Mr. Villegas, now a senior citizen and Precinct 34 Committeeman of the Bloomingdale Township Democratic Organization in Du Page County, recalled their father telling him and his brother, “Kayong magkapatid (my sons), practice your boxing skills because in America there are full of bullies and you will be discriminated against.


“In my first day at Hyde Park High School (now Hyde Park Career Academy in the Woodlawn neighborhood on the southside of Chicago, Illinois), that exactly happened. I was just having lunch, when a white American came and started kicking me and so I took care of the problem. And so, I always have that mentality.”


Mr. Villegas was among the resource speakers at the House Party, Open House, Open Space, Open Possibilities co-sponsored by the Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights & Empowerment (AFIRE) and Center for Immigrant Resources & Community Arts (CIRCA-PINTIG) held last Saturday, Oct. 20, at AFIRE’s new office, beside CIRCA-PINTIG office, at 7315 North Western Avenue in Chicago’s northside.


Mr. Villegas was making an inspirational talk at one of the programs offered by the two groups – the introduction of the maiden edition of a pamphlet, “Gabayan” (Tagalog for “to guide”), a mentoring program that makes the transition and integration of new immigrants in America.


The program, according to AFIRE staff, Al Cabagnot, in charge of Senior Community Service Employment, aims to provide a productive environment to new immigrants by focusing on job hunting, unbundling immigration and citizenship issues, making economic choices matter and finding job opportunities.




M r. Villegas, representative of the suburban Philippine American Cultural Foundation, urged the Filipino community to get involved in “Gabayan,” saying that “if you want to benefit from this program, in order to get the benefits, you have to get involved. If you are not involved, you have not earned the right to have these benefits.” He also congratulated Jerry B. Clarito, executive director of AFIRE, for hosting such program.


He said he is also a candidate for trusteeship in Bloomingdale Township under the Democratic Party, which encouraged him to run. He will file his candidacy for one of the two full six-year term, for the position on Dec. 17, 2012. Mr. Villegas’ pet legislation is the elimination of problems that block someone from reaching the glass ceiling.


“Gabayan” also helps immigrants become U.S. Citizens so they can vote in elections. It gathered statistics, showing Z.I.P. codes with preponderance of Filipino Americans. There are now 2,555,923 Filipinos in the U.S., 114,724 of them in Illinois based on the 2010 U.S. Census.


For her part, Angela “Ging” Mascarenes, Ph. D., AFIRE and CIRCA-Pintig Board President, said, “If you want to go fast, do it alone. If you want to go further, involve others.”


Dr. Mascarenas appealed to several dozens of community members, who were in attendance, to volunteer their time to the organizations or contribute to the fund that will keep the groups’ missions going.


She said, “We need a volunteer, an hour a week or an hour month.  We will let them  make big impact in the community. We need funds. We need at least $12 a month contributor for the whole year to support our programs; $25 a month donor, who will help us pay allowances or honoraria for our organizers. We already have three $25-a-month donors; we still need nine more.”




F ilipino-American Clarita Santos of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois said her health-insurance agency extended a $35,000 grant to AFIRE because “there are not a lot of information on heart disease for the Filipino community. She had a lot of uncles or aunts, who were suffering from heart disease but there was no information in Tagalog or in Kapampangan about the disease.”


She wants AFIRE to spread the word on how the community will avoid incurring heart disease by urging the community to attend AFIRE’s Healthy Heart, Healthy Family (HHHF) Training Workshops that address heart disease, the leading cause of death among Filipino Americans.


The other features of the Open House were the overview of the first ever survey on "A day in the life of a Filipino American senior;" the painting of the "Filipino American History in Illinois" from the eyes of Filipino-American youth; and an excerpt from "Allos", a play about the life of Carlos Bulosan.


Among the guests at the event were James Yoo - from the office of U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley (D-5th-IL); Tran Nguyen - from the office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL); Dary Mien of the Cambodian Americans of Illinois; Dale Asis, Lhakpa Tsering, and Mauricio Roman of the Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European, and Latino Immigrant of Illinois (CAAAELII); Rene Abella of the Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago; Pilar Escontrias of the Field Museum of Natural History;  Officers and members of Filipino American Grandparents Association of Chicago and the American Legion FilAm Post 509; Francis Calpotura of Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research and Action (TIGRA).


Other guests came from the student community of De Paul University Asian Cultural Exchange and Kapwa of Loyola University; Butch Odulio of Philippine National Bank Remittance Inc.; Lito Pineda of Progress Press Inc.; and Officers and member of CIRCA-Pintig.


Presenters included Tess Gutierrez and Sally Velasco -Healthy Heart, Healthy Family, Healthy Community; Stacy Delvo shared “A Day in the life of our Lolas and Lolos,” an overview of the initial survey of the life experience of Filipino Americans of Chicago; Connie Triggiano and Al Cabagnot presented Gabayan, an immigrant guide and resource directory. Francis Calpotura -Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research and Action (TIGRA), Kristina Tendilla and Stephanie Camba explained AFIRE’s New American’s Initiative and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); Kristina Mascarenas - Rock the Balut; and Angela Mascarenas - Program coordinator; and Atty. Roy John Basa, Jr., who is also extending assistance in the legal staff of AFIRE.


Alon ng Dagat (Wave of the Sea). Ningas ng Apoy (Spark of the Fire) at Puso ng Tao (Human Heart)” were paintings created by Nasstasha Camba, Ray Espiritu, Raven Guerrero, Crystle Dino, Josh Ong, Carlos Ledesma and Stephanie Camba. # # #


Watch out for the upcoming media-outlet oriented, subscription-based website of Journal Group Link International that guarantees originally sourced stories, features, photos, audios and videos and multi-media contents.)


Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at: (


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Last Updated on Thursday, 08 November 2012 14:37

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