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Feb 07th
Home Sections NaFFAAgate Support for the NaFFAA and its Officers at a Dismal Low, Manifesto Shows
Support for the NaFFAA and its Officers at a Dismal Low, Manifesto Shows PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 04 September 2009 10:11

The News UpFront: (TOP STORY) as of Friday, September 4, 2009 

T he figures were all provided by NaFFAA. Up to this writing, 97 people have authorized their names to be included in a precedent-setting manifesto intended to show support for the NaFFAA and its current leaders. If the NaFFAA's claimed membership of 500 is correct, then 97 – assuming they represent organizations and not individual members – is dismally low. It represents a little less than 20-percent. That could mean a big thumbs-down for the leadership headed by Greg B. Macabenta. Twenty-percent is hardly a mandate. It could be a symptom that something's really ailing in the organization that appoints itself as the "voice" for Filipinos and Filipino Americans. In these times of dwindling funds and shrinking membership, the numbers are easily a warning to NaFFAA to be more open, accountable and inclusive. 



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Support for NaFFAA and its Officers at a Dismal Low, Manifesto Shows






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



S AN DIEGO – A manifesto intended to show wide support for the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) and its leaders appears to give very little encouragement as its allies and members across the United States either withheld or hesitated to express their confidence in its missions and the people who would implement them.


NaFFAA's top leadership, in an unprecedented move that practically amounted to a referendum, had sought approval amidst accusations of high-level improprieties involving money grants estimated at between $450,000 to over one-million dollars.


"The Manifesto is intended to be an expression of confidence in this mission of NaFFAA and in the leaders who x x x have been unfairly and falsely accused by critics of alleged financial irregularities," declared Jon Melegrito, NaFFAA's communications director.


The number of signatories to the manifesto has so far been only 97, according to Melegrito, since it was issued on August 27 after a board meeting through teleconference, to counter the growing unfavorable publicity generated by the release of NaFFAA financial statements which had been kept secret for seven years.


The financial report, among others, showed that NaFFAA had paid the couple Alex Esclamado (founding chair and now retired) and Lourdes M. Esclamado (incumbent assistant national treasurer) a total of $103,500 representing stipends, commissions, compensations and reimbursements.


The same report also indicated that the advertising company owned by Greg Macabenta, incumbent chair, had been paid by NaFFAA at least $1,000 for services -- apparently belying Macabenta's earlier claim that he had not received any amount from the organization.


The 97 signatories, when pitted against a claimed membership of more than 500, is dismally low -- less than 20 percent -- and could be an indication that Macabenta and his group do not enjoy popular support.


Editor’s Note: The Los-Angeles basin is home to the biggest Filipino community in the world – outside of the Philippines. According to Bobby Reyes, “there are more remaining fingers and toes in a double amputee than the number of Filipino-American associations in Los Angeles that has joined the NaFFAA.”


L os Angeles-based journalist Bobby Reyes, NaFFAA's arch critic and whistleblower, has suggested that Macabenta quit the organization because of widespread allegations of wrongdoing, which Macabenta has vigorously denied.


"The(se) accusations have been proven false," said Melegrito, citing statements previously reported in the Philippine Village Voice's Breaking News, which practically cleared Macabenta of any links with the $300,000 money grant from Wells Fargo Bank and Wells Fargo Foundation.


Melegrito said Macabenta's business dealings with Wells Fargo antedated his involvement with NaFFAA by two years. Such dealings earned for Macabenta a tidy sum, which he did not disclose, though he made a big boast of it.


In the 12 years of NaFFAA's existence, the issuance of a manifesto as an instrument to express members' sentiments was a first. That could indicate how badly public and corporate support has eroded in more than a decade.


Melegrito explained it differently, however. He said: "The Manifesto has reenergized the NaFFAA leadership and membership and has strengthened their resolve to continue pursuing NaFFAA's mission in spite of unfair and unfounded criticism and attacks".


Macabenta has earlier warned NaFFAA members of the dire predicament it is in. "Our funds have begun to run very low for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the scarcity of corporate funds," he stressed.


NaFFAA's self-appointed role was to be the "voice" for the entire Filipino community in the United States. It maintains an office in Washington, DC, to support its lobbying efforts.


"More than anything, the Manifesto is intended to refocus our resources and energies on the mission of the NaFFAA and the many tasks at hand that need to be addressed by the NaFFAA, its leaders and its members," Melegrito added. # # #



This “Breaking News” was sent by Romeo P. Marquez, editor, Philippine Village Voice, San Diego, California. Mailing address: P.O. Box 2118, La Jolla, CA 92038.


PHILIPPINE VILLAGE VOICE - Redefining Community News
BREAKING NEWS -  Exclusive

Volume 3, Issue No. 22 / News Without Fear or Favor /

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


Newer news items:
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Last Updated on Friday, 04 September 2009 10:18
Comments (4)
1 Friday, 04 September 2009 11:54
This "Breaking Wind" news reminds me of the time Metro Manila Governor Imelda Marcos was asked to comment on the fact that 3 million people went out on the streets to join the funeral march for Ninoy Aquino. Her reply: "There are 13 million Filipinos who live in Metro Manila. Only 3 million went out for Ninoy. That means 9 million Filipinos did not." Romy's logic is Imeldific.

Rodel Rodis
San Francisco, CA
2 Friday, 04 September 2009 17:36
For the life of me I just don't understand Attorney Rodel's analogy. Who is Ninoy Aquino in Romy's breaking news article? I think a better analogy is that Perry invited 200 people to his videoke party and only 97 showed up. that is a dismal percentage . . . when more than 50% of members do not want to be recognized as members.

3 Friday, 04 September 2009 17:46
Dear Romy, Ladies and Gentlemen in this distribution:

The Devil is in the Headlines!

I spoke too soon in praising this “investigative reporter” for working with Jon Melegrito in what I thought was a “civilized manner.” I mistakenly thought that he was accepting my appeal for a truce, and for the return to civility and sobriety. I take back all the nice things that I said about this man whose words and motives are hard to trust. Just look at how he continues to distort and twist the facts with screaming 14-point bold headlines, according to his hopelessly subjective motives and huge chips on the shoulder:

Romy, your headline said: “Support for NaFFAA and its Officers at a Dismal Low, Manifesto Shows; Only 97 members signed.”

My response: That is a classic example of a non-sequitor. The conclusion does not follow the facts. Obviously you do not know the players, and do not care to know them as you show no respect for them. The first 97 who signed are just the regional leaders. Many of them, like the ones in Texas, represent an entire Federation of organizations. Their chosen leader is authorized to sign for all of their members. As we speak there are about 200 now, so your “breaking news” is very quickly a stale fish. If you would care to update your “breaking news” you will be doing it everyday as the number of signatures grow exponentially. Following your twisted logic, do you want signatures? I will give you 1,000 signatures! You know I can do it. You even published the story of the “Texas 10” in your Veritas paper, along with 1,000 signatures on an appeal to the President, and I thanked you for it. All I ask of you is some objectivity and fairness.

Prior to this, you submitted another “Breaking News” which some unwary on-line publishers printed. And, falsely and inaccurately, you again presented a misleading headline as your foregone conclusion:

Your Headline said: “Naffaa’s Greg Macabenta Admits to Making Money from Wells Fargo Bank While Sitting as a Ranking NaFFAA Official”

My Response: This article appeared as-is in and probably other unsuspecting media vehicles. Fortunately, not many publishers saw fit to publish it. The Filipino Reporter quickly asked for the other side of the story by interviewing NaFFAA officials. Nonoy Mendoza, who was with us that entire weekend, told me that he did not even notice how the headline was worded as he was busy night and day preparing for the 2009 TOFA ceremonies, and Nonoy promised to also publish the rebuttal statements. But everybody knows that when this “Breaking News” was released, Greg had already been cleared on this charge by the president of Wells Fargo Bank and by the independent auditors. You know and everybody knows that this headline is patently false, inaccurate and misleading. Did you correct yourself, in all fairness to your readers? If you at least issued a clarification or a rejoinder, as any responsible reporter would do, we did not see it. Instead, you continued to send out the same false and misleading article. Where is “responsible journalism” there? Note: This is not in defense of Greg necessarily, as it is in defense of truth, fair play and the true essence of responsible journalism.

A responsible journalist who investigates all sides of a question, just presents the facts as he gathers them, and lets the readers make their own conclusion, instead of slanting the news with subjective headlines, making them appear as “Breaking News.” This is disgusting and an affront to serious journalists. You are either an objective newsman or an opinionated pundit. You should not mistake one for the other, because your colleagues in the fourth estate are insulted by it. Many of them have e-mailed me one-on-one, expressing their own sentiments and why they don’t want to join in the fray. Believe me, the comments from many responsible Filipino journalists are not very flattering.

My last advice to everyone who is just as fed up with this never-ending Chinese opera as I am: In spite of our repeated appeals for civility and sobriety, some of the bottom-crawlers will continue their mudfest. I heard that another salvo of pure dirt is being prepared probing deeper into the personal lives of the protagonists, complete with dirty photographs. Do you really want to see all these?

No matter how evil their intentions, their postings (to a limit allowable by law) are protected by the First Amendment. But you also have the right not to be subjected to a barrage of filth, as we have been in recent past weeks.

For as long as there are readers obliging them, these characters will not stop destroying and humiliating themselves publicly, and dragging you down to the gutter where they love to play. You can stop them three ways:

Formally request them to take your email addresses off their list, as many have already done. If they refuse to take you off, there is a way to ask their servers to shut them down as purveyors of offensive material.

Block them from your servers, which would either screen them off completely, or relegate them to your Junk Mail folders.

Bad germs are sometimes hard to kill. If their postings still infiltrate your defenses, you always have the last resort – the omnipresent and always reliable DELETE key. Push it! As an unwilling participant in this, If I get deleted in the process, I am okay with it.


Gus Mercado
Dallas, Texas
4 Friday, 04 September 2009 17:50
Gus Mercado writes: (Snipped) I mistakenly thought that he was accepting my appeal for a truce, and for the return to civility and sobriety. I take back all the nice things that I said about this man whose words and motives are hard to trust. (Snipped)

Hi Gus,

I thank you for your honesty. You're free to take back whatever you have said about me and my work. I thought you very well understood that I am not a member of NaFFAA in any capacity. I am also not a member of any group fighting against NaFFAA.

I am an independent journalist. I am not bound by whatever agreement you have brokered with the parties involved in this brouhaha. I may or may not choose to write any story that I encounter.

To agree to your truce is 1) to accept prior restraint by the affected parties; 2) to surrender my rights as a journalist; 3) to implicitly admit that I am partaking a biased role; 4) to acquiesce that NaFFAA has jurisdiction over me, and therefore, can control me.

It is not me that you should rein in, it is the demonic kibitzers in the gallery like Ben Menor and Rodel Rodis, the attention-grabbers like the incompetent Perry Diaz and Lorna Dietz, the clowns like Salsalbaho and quite a number of other characters who never said anything edifying about the email exchanges.

I believe your proposed "return to civility and sobriety" can only be realized if those people I mention in the preceding paragraph observe your caution. This is not a one-way street, never should be.

May I emphasize here. I am not their shock-absorber that when they feel like assaulting me I would just cower in fear and run away. Nor am I their pinata that they can hit for their entertainment. Like all of us, I have the right to defend myself, whether I am journalist or not. Please keep that in mind.

I will not allow anyone to abuse me, verbally or physically, without any corresponding retaliation. I am far from being a saint but I can be civil if they wiill be civil. Respect begets respect.

You should not cast any suspicion on my words and motives because I have already laid them out in the open. There should be no doubting that I only want to practice mainstream investigative journalism and not the kind of journalism that's prevalent in the Filipino community. I'm not into "praise journalism". I'm very much into adversarial journalism, which to me is the best way to flush out the truth.

I feel sorry that you are disappointed. Well, I wasn't trying to please everyone. I have certain editorial prerogatives that nobody can contest. If you do not agree with my headlines, with my contents, with my interpretation, with my analysis and with my judgement, you are free to write your thoughts and share them with readers.

I have stopped being emotional about this whole issue from the time I was being waylaid by no less than the top leaders of NaFFAA. I know that they have been long used to dictating to some editors and reporters what to write and what not to write. That's not me.

May I remind you also that I have given the subjects of my stories sufficient time to answer my queries. So far, the only responsive person is Jon Melegrito who, bless him, took the time and opportunity to exchange ideas with me on an equal footing. It's true that we were cordial and civil, which was quite refreshing coming fron a NaFFAA official.

With all things said and done, for or against, good or bad, you still have my respect. Thanks and best regards,

Romy Marquez

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