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Home Columns Op-Ed Page Today Is the 18th Anniversary of the Philippine Scandal at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses
Today Is the 18th Anniversary of the Philippine Scandal at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Op-Ed Page
Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Friday, 01 January 2010 10:02


(Number of Anniversary is 19th, as updated on Jan. 1, 2016.) 

First of a Series on “Combating Corruption in the Community”

 

It was on Jan. 1, 1997, that the Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT) fielded two floats at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade (PTRP). The PDOT fielded two more floats on Jan. 1, 1998, at the same parade, which was Part II of the scandal. This writer was the first to call the PDOT officials and the officers of the United States-Philippines Tourism Advisory Council (USPTAC) as “crooks” for raising donations from the public supposedly to pay for the floats and refusing to make an accounting of the proceeds.

 

At that time, Ms. Mina Gabor was the Secretary of the PDOT while Atty. Orestes “Rusty” Ricaforte was the director of the Philippine Tourism Office in Los Angeles, California. Mrs. Lourdes A. Ongkeko chaired the Los Angeles chapter of the USPTAC and at the same time, she was a cofounder of National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA), which was organized also in 1997. She became the first chairperson of the Southern California-Southern Nevada chapter of the NaFFAA that year. She involved the NaFFAA in raising more funds for the Filipino floats at the 1998 Pasadena Tournament of Roses and in fact, she hired the firm of Greg Macabenta to do more fundraising schemes and public-relations campaigns.

 

The exposé about the turning of the Filipino floats at Pasadena into “milking cows” eventually demonstrated the Filipino “power of the pen”, if not the “power of the keyboard” in America. It proved that a solitary writer determined to expose anomalies in the community could prevail and earn the respect of his peers and the public at large at the end.

 

Poet-pundit Fred Burce Bunao wrote allegedly new lyrics to a song that Elton John popularized and dedicated to the "Rose of England." Mr. Bunao called the Philippine floats at the PTRP as “Scandle in the Wind” and dedicated his song to the "Filipino Rose of Pasadena." Readers may read Mr. Bunao’s humorous comments about the Philippine Scandal at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and the other advocacies spearheaded by Bobby Reyes in these articles:

 

Acrimonious Acronyms Display Filipino-American Wit and Humor

 

“Dietzcoveries:” Sex, Lies and NaFFAAgate


 

This writer and Mrs. Ongkeko had been adversaries since 1991 at the now-moribund “Filipino-American Press Club of Los Angeles” (FAPCLA), details of which can be read at this link,

The "War of the Proses (sic)" – Its Beginning

 

This writer’s allegation against the corruption being committed by some of the PDOT and USPTAC officers was not the first time that he ran after a scam that supposedly involved Lourdes Ongkeko, et all. In 1991, he exposed the efforts of the so-called “Southern California Devotees of Santo Niño” to build a two-million dollar shrine in a mountain of Tehachapi, California, which Lourdes Ongkeko, et al, spearheaded. The same group was building also a resort and retirement site in an adjacent area in Tehachapi at the same time. The resort project managed to entice more than 600 Filipino-American buyers to plunk in deposits for membership shares at the resort valued at $7,500 each. Eventually both the Santo Niño shrine and the resort were not built. The projects were abandoned and no refund was made to the donors and the buyers of the resort’s proprietary shares. The corporation that was building the resort sought the protection of the bankruptcy court.

 

W ebmaster’s Note: Bobby M. Reyes denies vehemently that Mrs. Ongkeko is the lady described in his article,

A Parable of the Filipino Ph.D. in Beverly Hills

 

Lourdes Ongkeko eventually accepted the dare of this writer for her and the USPTAC officers and the PDOT officials to sue him for libel. However, only the husband of Mrs. Ongkeko joined her in suing this writer for libel in September 2000, some details of the trial could be found in this article,

Filipino Fun Facts (Part 8): Monkey Tails, oops, Tales

 

The “War of the Proses” between the feuding writers’ camps of Reyes and Ongkeko escalated not only from the press-club meetings but also it reached the Superior Court of Los Angeles, California, for the jury trial of the libel case that ended in August 2002 and the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA), which Mrs. Ongkeko cofounded. This writer had been hounding the NaFFAA national executive officers (NEOs) and the USPTAC for their failure to comply with his ATIC slogan. ATIC, as in accountability, transparency, integrity and credibility. The exposés about the NaFFAA scams are documented in this section,

http://www.mabuhayradio.com/sections/naffaagate.html

 

All the four Filipino floats fielded in 1997 and 1998 at the Pasadena parade were actually paid by the Philippine government and, therefore, it was not necessary to raise donations from the Filipino-American communities and American friends of the Philippines. – Lolo Bobby M. Reyes

 

V ery few members of the Filipino-American press covered the Ongkeko vs. Reyes libel case and the NaFFAA exposés, as many of the Filipino-American publishers either did not have the guts to print stories about the case or they feared the wrath of the plaintiff and/or they could not risk losing the ads of the PDOT, the Philippine Airlines, the Philippine National Bank and government agencies such as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

 

If ever there was any coverage, it was slanted in favor of Mrs. Ongkeko and the NaFFAA NEOs. Bobby Reyes later wrote about the bias of the Philippine News, where the plaintiff wrote a column. Eventually, this writer mocked the firing of its editor in these articles:

 

Firing of Philippine News' Editor Is Poetic Justice

 

Latest Developments in the Philippine-News Brouhaha

 

Fielding the Philippine Floats at the Tournament of Roses Was Indeed a Big Scandal

 

S uing Bobby Reyes was actually a big blunder on the part of Mrs. Ongkeko. It enabled him to subpoena the financial documents that Mrs. Ongkeko and her USPTAC refused to release to the public.

 

The subpoenaed USPTAC financial documents confirmed the reports that some Deep Throats fed Bobby Reyes about the Philippine “Scandle in the Wind” at Pasadena. Among them were:

 

1.     All the four floats were actually paid by the Philippine government and, therefore, it was not necessary to raise donations from the Filipino-American communities and American friends of the Philippines.

 

2.     Mrs. Ongkeko testified during the jury trial that the USPTAC accepted only check donations and there was only one twenty-dollar bill that was received from the public. She denied that collection boxes were placed at Filipino-American stores, offices and associations, where Overseas Filipinos dropped paper money and coins.

 

3.     When Bobby Reyes, who defended himself in Propria Persona during the 18 pre-trial hearings and the one-week jury trial, cross-examined Mrs. Ongkeko, she admitted having raised funds in San Diego County. However, she insisted that after almost one year of fundraising, she and the USPTAC received in checks only less-than five-hundred ($500) dollars in donations. And San Diego County had more-than 100,000 Filipino-American residents at that time (and more in the past decade).

 

4.     The USPTAC and Mrs. Ongkeko did not have any financial report on the proceeds from the sale of the Filipino floats’ memorabilia such as T-shirts, sweat shirts, caps and jackets. Despite being shown a photo of a USPTAC booth selling the said memorabilia items, where she and her husband posed with the booth volunteers, she said she did not know if any item was sold.

 

5.     Mrs. Ongkeko admitted having gone to the Philippines to raise money for the Filipino floats at the PTRP. She admitted only receiving donations from then Manila Bulletin publisher Emilio Yap and from a Col. Rex Reyes. And she denied the report that during her fundraising trips to the Philippines, she bought in cash a condominium unit in Manila.

 

B ut there is poetic justice in this world. Tourism Director Ricaforte and his wife, Yolanda, fled the Philippines and became fugitives from justice in the United States – after he became an Undersecretary of  the PDOT and his wife the “bag lady” of then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada. The Ongkekos moved from Beverly Hills to Nevada to escape supposedly their being ostracized by Filipino Americans in Southern California. The Philippine News editor was fired. More on these angles and developments will be discussed in Part II of this series.

 

(To be continued . . .)

 




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Last Updated on Friday, 01 January 2016 08:04
 
Comments (2)
1 Friday, 01 January 2010 22:21
Dear Dr. Eddie:

Thank you for your e-mail. I am glad that you also are not giving up on your follow up of the NaFFAAgate and scandals.

The attached hyperlinks and URLs are no longer working. In any case, I invite you and your mailing lists (including the members of the various e-newsgroups that you belong to), to read the First of a Series on “Combating Corruption in the Community”

Today Is the 13th Anniversary of the Philippine Scandal at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses

URL: http://www.mabuhayradio.com/columns/op-ed-page/5041-today-is-the-philippine-scandals-13th-anniversary-at-the-pasadena-tournament-of-roses.html

The series deals on the corruption of some NaFFAA founders, cofounders and national executive officers.

Hopefully I will be able to file this month with the California Attorney General my complaint for the final prosecution of the NaFFAA crooks and finally end the online soap opera, "NaFFAA-ka-lungkot, Kuya Eddie (AAA Calderon)."

Happy reading and have a Happier New Year,

Mabuhay,

Bobby M. Reyes
Editor
www.mabuhayradio.com


In a message dated 1/1/2010 6:34:26 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it writes:
I found this article in my list of e-mails to be sent three years ago.

Eddie

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Placido Calderon
To: jotigue@, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Sent: Fri, January 1, 2010 2:53:54 PM
Subject: [botomo] Fwd: Correction on website for Lawsuit and News [1 Attachment]


[Attachment(s) from Placido Calderon included below]

Attachment(s) from Placido Calderon

1 of 1 File(s)

Aug2006_CoverStory.pdf

I got the attachment and downloaded it. It is about 8 pages. They show the pictures of Filipinos who are alleged to have cause monetary anomalies and their stories.

Nakakahiya po ito sa atin. Many of us in the USA and our adopted countries have been honest but this news whether they are substantiated or not will cause people to further commit discrimination towards us alleging that some of us are a bunch of crooks and therefore can't be trusted.

Eddie


jo tigue wrote:
From: "jo tigue"
To: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Subject: Correction on website for Lawsuit and News
Date: Wed, 06 Sep 2006 15:05:41 -0500

Attachment is only the news article by QuestEM.

One must go to www.QuestEM.com to see the lawsuit.
2 Saturday, 02 January 2010 18:34
Bro Ramon:

It is actually Bobby Reyes at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it who has been in the forefront on this issue. He, however, is not alone on the issue of Filipino integrity in the USA. Romy Marquez bearing the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it e-mail (address), to one other countrymate in this crusade, is also involved in promoting integrity and accountability for Filipinos in this country.

Eddie

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: ramon gonzales
To: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Cc: jotigue; mariolsr; citagrc; totocausing; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; doczapanta
Sent: Sat, January 2, 2010 1:55:13 PM
Subject: RE: Correction on website for Lawsuit (2)

Bro Eddie,

Please carry on with your advocacy concerning the above-captioned lawsuit in the USA. Mabuhay!

Ramon

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