LAST week, together with some fellow Pinoys in the community, I attended an eye-opener conference on modern slavery and human trafficking held at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York City.

Likewise, I also attended a musical concert by acclaimed Filipina soprano Tata Kay Habana at our Lady of Pompeii Catholic Church in Lower Manhattan.

Both were worth attending.

The UN Conference stressed the importance that the global public be made aware of the crimes on human trafficking and modern slavery.

The three-hour meeting was conducted with four different panels composed of respected, concerned and outstanding citizens from around the world led by the President of the United Nations Mogens Lykketoft.

Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino, an avid anti-human trafficking advocate since 2009 spoke as one of the panelists.

A female former human trafficking victim shared her experiences as a former “slave” (as prostitute) by human traffickers.

Ambassador Lourdes O. Yparraguirre, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the UN with the author, Manny Caballero, in a Filipino Reporter file photo.

Vivian Talambiras-Cruz, one of the Filipinos who attended, was apparently affected that made her write the following in her Facebook, “There’s a need to raise awareness about this global problem which many ignore. There were powerful statements especially from a lady who was a victim with horrific stories and inspite of it made something of herself. She has unbelievable faith and is now a Pastor and helping others...”

Two outstanding Filipinos are giving the Philippines a good name at the United Nations.

One is Boholano Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, and to the Organization of American States.

The other is Ambassador Lourdes O. Yparraguirre, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the UN.

Both of those Filipinos played big roles in the highly-informative panel discussions.

Archbishop Auza moderated the conference.

His Holy See Mission, as well as a group called Santa Marta, organized the conference pursuant to one of the causes being advocated by Pope Francis, who described human trafficking as an “open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ.”

Fil-Ams who attended the UN Conference.

The Pope added, “It is a crime against humanity.”

In a letter addressed to the conferees and read by Archbishop Auza, the Pope expressed gratitude to the organizers and attendees.

Pope Francis wrote in part, “I extend greetings to you and to all those gathered to discuss the grave issue of modern slavery and human trafficking, which continues to be a scourge throughout the world today. I am grateful to you and the members of the ‘Santa Marta Group’ for your efforts in organizing this conference...”

The Pope continued, “As you reflect on the multifaceted issues which contribute to modern slavery and human trafficking, I encourage you to strengthen the bonds of cooperation and communication which are essential to ending the suffering of many men, women and children who today are enslaved and sold as if they were a mere commodity.”

“In this way, solutions and preventative measures can be promoted which will allow this evil to be addressed at every level of society...I offer the promise of my prayers that Almighty God may bless and guide your efforts,” the church prelate concluded.

It could be read between the lines how passionate Pope Francis is on these two issues of human trafficking and modern slavery.  

Ambassador Yparraguirre, as one of the panelists, informed the attendees of the various steps and accomplishments that the Philippines has been taking and has done to combat the crime of human trafficking.

I’d like to mention some of the concerned Filipino-Americans who attended on behalf of their organizations: Roger Santos, Rollie Balanza, Lumen Castañeda, Juliet Payabyab, Vivian Talambiras-Cruz and Ave Pimo.


Singing sensation Kay Habana performing at Our Lady of Pompeii Church in New York on April 10.  (Photo by Lambert Parong for Kababayan Media / Filipino Reporter)

Tata Kay Habana

Two hundred and seven people, about 80 percent of whom were Filipinos, trooped to Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Lower Manhattan one cold evening last weekend to listen to acclaimed Filipina soprano Kay Habana.

Kay was the featured soloist in a concert dubbed as “With All My Love.”

She sang Tagalog, English, Italian, French and Spanish classic love songs.

At the end, Kay received a standing ovation from her appreciative audience.

For encore, she sang a heart-rending rendition of “Memories.”

That was Ms. Habana’s second big concert.

The first was in 2014 at the famous and historic Carnegie Hall, also in New York City.


VP candidates in PH

Let’s end this with politics.

A respected political observer in Manila gave a flattering assessment of vice presidential candidates in the May 9 polls in the Philippines.

According to the observer, any of the vice presidential candidates can be elected as president.

Does it mean, it’s not the case for the five presidential candidates?

Maybe, it’s not.

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