Traditionally, women has been my preferred subjects in this column since inception in 1989.

Since, it’s International Women’s Day on March 8, we have come up with a personal observation list of women in the Filipino-American community in New York and New Jersey, who have courageously asserted their equal rights in mainstream America and have broken the ceiling in their respective endeavors.

But, before we do that, let’s write about a “few good men” in Manila.

Flip-flopping spree

After flip-flopping with the Philippines policy towards the United States (largely because of his boss’ flip-flopping tongue), ex-Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay lost his job after the Filipino senators who were supposed to approve his appointment kicked him out of the job for flip-flopping on his citizenship.

Simple questions which were answerable by yes or no during his confirmation hearings were made complicated.

(But, then, isn’t it that yes and no answers are only for lovers?)

Atty. Yasay, who is, perhaps, popular among old-timer Pinoys in New York than in Manila, is now out of his DFA job.

He has been temporarily replaced by a seasoned career foreign service person, Ambassador Enrique Manalo, to the “delight” of the other career people in the Department.

Mr. Yasay is the second cabinet member of President Duterte who visited New York recently who lost his job.

The first was “Apostle” Martin Andanar, the former presidential spokesperson, who made unfounded and irresponsible bribery accusations against media people covering the Senate of the Philippines.

Apostle Andanar was also the one who announced an unverified accusation without evidence that there were Filipinos in New York who planned to oust President Duterte last January.

Funny, he did it twice.

Like that dessert and weird-sounding name in Philippine social media (with a first name of Mocha; I forgot the last name) whose Twitter account was suspended due, apparently, to security risk reason, Apostle Andanar was blocked from using the Malacañang microphones due apparently, to irresponsible and controversial statements.

He is, evidently, back to a desk job in his department, which will soon be reverted to Press Office.

Incidentally, it’s one observation in Manila that it was during the appearance of Andanar and Mocha in local political scene, together with their idol, that fake news or propaganda was born in the Philippines.

True or not, we don’t know.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte has fast become an island by himself.

He has practically lost respect and credibility outside the Philippines after the reports of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the U.S. State Department on extrajudicial killings in the native country in the last seven months were released.

This situation is troubling and shameful to Filipinos everywhere.

There are indications that have come from Mr. Duterte himself, that killing poor people without due process of law is right.

That suspected criminals “have no humanity and deserve to be killed.”

More than 8,000 poor people, suspected of either being drug users or pushers, had been reportedly killed since he assumed office on June 30, 2016.


Filipino women break the glass ceiling


Let’s leave those men behind.

We can go back to women.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 every year.

It commemorates the movement for women’s rights.

The earliest Women’s Day observance was held on Feb. 28, 1909 in New York and organized by the Socialist Party of America.

According to Wikipedia, on March 8, 1917, in the capital of the Russian Empire, Petrograd, a demonstration of women textile workers began, covering the whole city.

This was the beginning of the Russian Revolution.

Seven days later, the Emperor of Russia Nicholas II abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.

March 8 was declared a national holiday in Soviet Russia in 1917.

The day was predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.

As women in America assert and practice their rights, especially in the workplace and in their respective endeavors, they have started to break the “glass ceiling.”

The United States Federal Glass Ceiling Commission defines the glass ceiling as “the unseen, yet unbreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements.”

Among Filipina women in mainstream America, we have countless who have broken the glass ceiling in their respective endeavors.

Even if she cannot be considered Filipino-American because she is purely Filipina and is in New York to represent the interests of the Philippines and the Filipinos in her jurisdiction, New York Consul General Maria Theresa B. Dizon-de Vega can be mentioned at the head of our list.

Dr. Linda R. Pelayo, Associate Publisher of the Filipino Reporter, has helped steer FR for the last 45 years in serving the Filipino-American community in the East Coast of the United States.

She also joins the annual medical and humanitarian missions to the Philippines together with leaders and members of Friends Indeed USA, Inc.

Loida Nicolas Lewis, businesswoman and quiet philanthropist who, despite her New York City lifestyle, has not forgotten her native Philippines, and has always been in the forefront of community activities that promote the interests of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans.

It is worth mentioning that together with Vice President Leni Robredo, she has been unfairly and falsely accused of hatching a plot to oust President Duterte.

As proof that the accusation is false, Mr. Duterte is still in office and the accuser is now out of his former job.

She has also broken the glass ceiling of mainstream Democratic Party politics by being able to establish friendship with the Clintons.

We will include in our list Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach because she lived in New York City for almost a year and attended some Filipino-American events in the Big Apple.

Lea Salonga can also be counted as one Filipina in America who succeeded in Broadway for her lead role in “Miss Saigon” for a number of years.

Furthermore, Kylie Verzosa was crowned Binibining Pilipinas International 2016 and Miss International 2016.

For the first time in many years, a play, Florentino Capili’s “The One Way Road,” was successfully staged at the Philippine Consulate in New York City last November with three Filipinas in the lead: Amira Allahh (pictured below), Danez Belanzal and Debbi Lefort.

In the field of health care, we have countless doctors and nurses.

We cannot name all of them here.

In media, we have Jenjen Furer, Cristina DC Pastor and Rachelle Peraz Ocampo, hosts of the New York TV magazine “Makilala TV.”

MAKILALA TV: From left, Cristina DC Pastor, Jenjen Furer and Rachelle Peraz Ocampo.

We also have Monette Rivera of The Filipino Channel (TFC).

There’s Sheila Coronel, Dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

In commercial photography, we have Reena Rose Sibayan of The Jersey Journal and Loren San Diego of Bébé Chérie Photography, both of New Jersey.



In 2016, three outstanding Filipinas were selected by the Philippine Consulate in New York on IWD, an accomplished ballerina (Stella Abrera); an online marketing pioneer (Sheila Lirio Marcelo); and a human rights lawyer (Carmelyn Malalis, Esq.).




In the vocal musical field, we will mention Kirby Asunto, Kay Habana, Michelle Michelle and Angel Ram.





In calamity response and medical missions, we have Nelsie Parrado of Handang Tumulong Foundation and Josie Santos of CFC ANCOP USA.



There are many other kind-hearted Filipinas in the community who do this kind of volunteer work.

Finally, we can’t name the numerous Filipinas who lead various Fil-Am and non-Fil-Am organizations like Jaycees; Joycelyn Sanchez Aligarbes; organizations from New York & New Jersey; and organizations from Connecticut.

Ria Serrano, National Vice President at The United States Junior Chamber.


We are proud of them all.

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Group of New York & New Jersey Filipinas.

Connecticut Filipinas.

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