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Home Sections NaFFAAgate NaFFAA Cofounder Tells Ruling Clique Members to “Jump Off the Golden Gate Bridge”
NaFFAA Cofounder Tells Ruling Clique Members to “Jump Off the Golden Gate Bridge” PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 13 August 2009 11:13

The News UpFront: (TOP STORY) as of Thursday, August 13, 2009

 

T he honorable way out of the scandal that a NaFFAA top official has suddenly found himself in is being suggested by well-meaning individuals: resign or jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. Perhaps the idea was thrown in in a moment of pique. Slowly, however, more allegations of improprieties are unfolding even as the NaFFAA chair – instead of explaining why a $300,000 grant from Wells Fargo Bank was not accounted properly – demands proof that he got the money. Another $50,000 was also unreported by NaFFAA, according to a respected community leader. Who are the members of a "secret gang" responsible for bleeding the federation which is supposed to be the "voice" of Filipinos in the United States?

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

 

RESIGN OR JUMP OFF GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE: NaFFAA in Disarray Over the Unreported $.3-M Grant from Bank

 

By ROMEO P. MARQUEZ

 

 

The author is a member of the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and Asian-American Journalists Association (AAJA)

 

 

S AN DIEGO – The news that the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA) is in deep financial trouble sparked more accusations of irregularities and suggestions for its top officials to resign or jump off San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge.

 

The paper-giant sought to calm frayed nerves after the Philippine Village Voice published an online story revealing the near-bankrupt status of what was supposed to be the top umbrella federation of Filipino organizations in the United States.

 

NaFFAA chair Greg Macabenta has denied receiving more than a quarter-million dollars from Wells Fargo Bank, calling such allegations as an "outright lie". He also demanded to see evidence of the deal.

 

Macabenta privately asked journalist Joseph G. Lariosa of Chicago "to get to the bottom of this". 

 

"If they (meaning, this reporter and Los Angeles-based journalist Bobby Reyes) cannot prove their accusations, can I also ask you to reprove them publicly and ask them to apologize or retract? x x x I hope you will rise up to this occasion," Macabenta told Lariosa.

 

But Reyes said Macabenta is again "caught lying" by his own words. He suggested to Macabenta to resign, saying he "cannot be effective if he is under a cloud of suspicion".

 

R eyes referred Macabenta to the financial statements (Form 990) that NaFFAA had submitted for the fiscal year 2002 to the Internal Revenue Service, which reported the $300,000 that Wells Fargo Bank had granted NaFFAA when Macabenta was still a national executive officer. But apparently the NaFFAA could not account how it spent the grant.

 

"x x x the Wells Fargo Foundation gave the NaFFAA $300,000 in 2002. The grant was secured by Greg Macabenta, x x x whose company, the Minority Media, was paid commissions that were not reflected in the NaFFAA financial statement for 2002," Reyes said. 

 

Asked by this reporter if he had used part of that money to acquire Filipinas Magazine and put up his own "Ang Panahon" newspaper in San Francisco, assuming he took the money plus commissions, Macabenta did not respond.

 

Dr. Joy Bruce, a former NaFFAA regional chair in Florida, questioned Macabenta on another $50,000 that community organizer Ben Menor had allocated for the NaFFAA conference in San Jose in Northern California.

 

Menor had pleaded no contest – the effect is the same as a guilty plea – to a felony charge of filing a false-financial statement. He also entered the same plea to another charge that he overstated his work hours at a senior housing program in San Jose.

 

Menor agreed to pay restitution totaling $51,000 to the city of San Jose, paving the way for the dropping of two grand-theft felony charges.

 

Said Dr. Bruce in an email: "I know that the $50K (from Ben Menor's nonprofit entity) that was spent for NaFFAA's conference in 2004(?) and which became one of the issues in the San Jose scandal – was not reported in NaFFAA's financials (I saw all the records and could not reconcile). But NaFFAA decided to keep mum on this because they did not want to go against Ben."

 

Macabenta's advertising solicitor for his magazine, Lorna Dietz, who says she's NaFFAA online coordinator, berated the well-respected Dr. Bruce for her comments. "Joy,' Dietz said, "you might think you are doing the right thing – but you are not."

 

Dietz warned her to "cease and desist" from any discussions about NaFFAA, saying "these discussions are very subjective, one-sided, and untrue. Please take these discussions off-line."

 

P hiladelphia-based NaFFAA co-founder Ernesto Gange felt offended by Dietz tirades against Dr. Bruce, calling her behavior "despicable."

 

"You have exhibited gross disrespect to Dr. Joy Bruce," Gange yelled back, "and I will not allow you or anybody in NaFFAA to abuse Joy or anybody for that matter, do you understand?"

 

"You have no right to tell Joy, Ernie Ramos and me to shut up, you are nobody, and I will not allow any of you to tell me what to say or write in this forum," Gange said.

 

"You are all beholden to Ben Menor, and you must be ashamed of yourselves. It was Ben Menor and your secret gang that destroyed NaFFAA. How long can you keep the secret on Ben Menor and everybody is aware of it," Gange said.

 

He suggested to Dietz and the "secret gang" in the NaFFAA: "Why don't you jump off the Golden Gate Bridge?"

 

Dietz said the earlier PhilVoiceNews story was "very damaging". She also demanded proof that Macabenta indeed received the money and got commissions from the transaction.

 

"If this were true," Dietz wrote in her 'cease and desist' email, "then NaFFAA wouldn't have had any financial problems and neither would Filipinas Magazine."

 

In previous stories about NaFFAA, no mention was made of Filipinas Magazine, the San Francisco-based monthly publication previously owned by Mona Lisa Yuchengco and bought by Macabenta for an undisclosed sum. Why Dietz referenced it in the discussion was not clear.

 

"I want both Romy Marquez and Bobby Reyes to give proof about their accusation because what they do online reeks of them (are they called pseudo-journalists?) trying to get high Google rankings for their attacks on NaFFAA," Dietz said.

 

"If there's no proof," she continued, "Bobby Reyes and Romy Marquez need to retract their op-eds and apologize – and make sure that every Internet article bearing this retraction gets the high Google rankings. Is this clear?"

 

PHILIPPINE VILLAGE VOICE - Redefining Community News

BREAKING NEWS -  Exclusive

Volume 3, Issue No. 15 / News Without Fear or Favor

 

. . . A community service of San Diego's Philippine Village Voice (PhilVoiceNews@aol.com or at 619.265.0611) for the information and better understanding of the public . . .

 

This Breaking News is credited to Romeo P. Marquez, editor, Philippine Village Voice, San Diego, California. Mailing address: P.O. Box 2118, La Jolla, CA. 92038.

 

 

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Last Updated on Thursday, 13 August 2009 11:35
 
Comments (8)
1 Thursday, 13 August 2009 13:16
In a message dated 8/13/2009 10:04:36 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it writes:

For the best interests of NaFFAA, it is only professional and appropriate not to discuss any perceived "dirty laundry" in a public domain. What you write and what you forward to "trolls" who have maligned NaFFAA in the past are inappropriate. This is why I am stepping into the picture, especially since these conversations are online and can be misconstrued.

As a professional courtesy, it is only appropriate for you to call me up and take this matter off-line.

Putting Dr. Joy Bruce's attention to her remarks about what has been happening within NaFFAA, especially since the leadership has worked very hard in the last four years to evolve as a professional organization was the appropriate and right thing to do.

Forgive me if you think that I insulted Dr. Joy Bruce but my comments were for clarity and guidance. I appreciate Joy for her apology. We move forward in the direction toward professional conduct and good governance.

Be well, Ernie.

Sincerely,

Lorna
NaFFAA Online Coordinator
415 508-5326
2 Friday, 14 August 2009 11:51
Kudos, Romy Marquez for your excellent and fearless investigative series of stories. We, Fil-Ams need to hear who the crooks and the thieves are in our Fil-Am community. They have to be exposed. And they must account for their crimes.

More power to you.

Jesse Jose
Seattle, WA
3 Saturday, 15 August 2009 15:10
-----Original Message-----
From: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
To: EJN0115 <>
Sent: Fri, Aug 14, 2009 8:13 pm
Subject: Re: Wait a minute....Re: No Subject - correction


ED,
I have asked Joseph Lariosa to get to the bottom of these allegations in order to get to the truth. My only stand is that neither I nor my company received $300,000 from Wells Fargo Bank for or on behalf of NaFFAA and neither I nor my company received any commissions for such an alleged transaction. I hope this clarifies your own doubts.

I have asked you, Joy, Ernie and others to demand proof from Reyes and Marquez. They have simply responded with more accusations, hoping to erode your confidence and that of others in me and the organization. By the tenor of your email, it appears to be working on you.

Let me repeat: I NEVER RECEIVED $300,000 FROM WELLS FARGO BANK FOR OR ON BEHALF OF NAFFAA AT ANY TIME IN NAFFA'A'S EXISTENCE AND MY AD AGENCY NEVER RECEIVED COMMISSIONS FROM THAT ALLEGED PAYMENT. ANYONE WHO ACCUSES ME HAD BETTER BE PREPARED TO PROVIDE PROOF. INNUENDOES ARE NOT ENOUGH. AND IF REYES APPEARS IN CHICAGO FOR YOUR CONFERENCE, I WILL DEMAND THAT HE SHOW PROOF. OTHERWISE, HE HAD BETTER NOT GO,

In this regard, I would like to reiterate my request that you folks demand proof from the accusers. Right now, Marquez and Reyes are even using my "denials" as "proof of guilt." These idiots have no intention to listen to reason - but at the very least, reasonable people like you will.

Thank you.
Greg B. Macabenta
National Chair, NaFFAA
4 Saturday, 15 August 2009 15:12
In a message dated 8/13/2009 11:13:39 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, EJN0115 writes:

I thought I saw a spreadsheet from Joy Bruce the other day stating that NaFFAA received a grant of $300,000 from Wells Fargo. in 2002, where did that come from? I am sure Joy got it from the audited reports.

Re Nony's comments, well, some of us cannot be silenced - look at what happened to Lorna when she issued that note - it was "controlling" indeed and we are not even a police state yet. It is so demoralizing to read the allegations of impropriety and it is difficult to move forward, especially right now that we are at the throes of mounting a regional conference next month.

Now I am curious as to what Ian Purganan has to say to all of us adults.

Ed Navarra .
5 Saturday, 15 August 2009 15:15
From: Lourdes M. Esclamado
To: RozitaLee <>
Sent: Thu, Aug 13, 2009 7:58 pm
Subject: Re: No Subject - correction


There has never been a $300.000 grant to NaFFAA. I know. I was there from the beginning. Is it not enough that decent people like our auditors have vouched for the correctness of our financial statements? what more do our detractors want? Blood?

I told myself I would not get involved. But if that is what it takes to stop these innuendos and stop people from trying to destroy our efforts in the last 12 years, then count me in.

Thank you Rozita for giving a message that is on such a high level. I am sorry. I do not think I can be as charitable as you are..

Luly Esclamado
6 Saturday, 15 August 2009 15:17
From: RozitaLee
To: lornadietzfinancial<>
Sent: Thursday, August 13, 2009 7:02 PM
Subject: Re: No Subject - correction


Hello Dear Friends,

I'm sorry I used an incorrect word in my previous message. "Bickering" is not what I should have used.

I would offer that we must stop wild accusations. Accusations should be supported by evidence rather than just plain dirt throwing, di ba?

The target by the two major critics in recent writings has been our National Chair and I'm sticking my neck out in support of Greg. If Wells Fargo provided a grant to NaFFAA of $300,000 given during the beginning years of NaFFAA under it's first Chair, Alex Esclamado, surely the detractors can investigate and find out facts rather than make all kinds of insinuations about Greg regarding this grant. End of story.

I too am getting tired of all this. Let us respect one another.

Thank you,
Rozita V. Lee
National Vice Chair, NaFFAA
(702)732.3631
7 Saturday, 22 August 2009 18:18
In a message dated 8/15/2009 2:40:42 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, JONMELE writes:

Dear Romy,

On your other question regarding “the $300,000,” please be informed that there was never a payment or even a pass through of $300,000 from Wells Fargo Bank to Greg Macabenta on behalf of NaFFAA. Minority Media Services, the agency owned by Mr. Macabenta, never received the alleged commissions for the alleged payment. I am requesting that you include this statement in the story you plan to write.

Thank you.

Jon Melegrito
NaFFAA Communications Director
8 Friday, 12 November 2010 07:54
Since it is a non-profit organization, just request to show the annual Form 990 for each year. This way it is out in the open. Well, unless there is something to hide. It's a non-profit organization and the people should be informed. If you are truly non-profit, then show it and don't hide it. Don't ask someone to show you proof. Just show them the document. Maybe just ask the IRS for a copy. Any Filipino should be a member of NaFFAA so they should have the right to know. That way the document will stop all the finger pointing.

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