SIZZLING HOT: 39.7 DEGREES IN ISABELA

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) recorded the hottest temperature in the country so far this year at 39.7 degrees Celsius on Thursday, with a warning that it could get hotter in the coming days. The warmest temperature was recorded in Enchague, Isabela on May 15 at 3 p.m. In Metro Manila, the temperature hit 35.6 degrees Celsius at 1:50 p.m. yesterday. This year the hottest temperature in the capital was 36.5 degrees Celsius, recorded on May 11. PAGASA weather division chief Robert Sawi said the temperature in the metropolis could hit 37 degrees Celsius this month. Meanwhile, Filipinos can enjoy the beaches this weekend as generally fair and warm weather will prevail in most parts of the country in the next days. READ MORE...

ALSO: Rotating brownouts to hit Metro Manila, nearby provinces

Some cities in Metro Manila and parts of Luzon are to experience rotating brownouts following the abrupt shutdown of two major coal power plants, Malacañang yesterday said. In order to cope with a 288-megawatt deficiency, Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, in a text message, said there will be a tentative one-hour a day rotational brownout. “(Energy) Secretary (Jericho) Petilla’s initial estimate (is) at least one hour,” he added. Petilla said there was a short supply of of energy of an estimated 288 megawatts. He warned that the brownout could affect some 84,000 consumers. “Approximately, 2 percent of customers are affected or 84,000. Bulk is residential at 78,000,” Petilla said. He added most of those who would be affected by the brownout are Metro Manila-based businessmen.
“Commercial at 5,690 and industrial, 169,” Petilla said. Petilla said the particular areas to be hit by brownouts are portions of Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan, Malabon, and Navotas in Metro Manila, and Marilao, Meycauayan, San Jose del Monte in Bulacan. In a statement, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said it issued a “red alert” notice to its Luzon grid customers Friday due to insufficient power supply brought about by the unexpected outages of certain power plants. “Rotating brownouts in Luzon are expected today because of the generation-related deficiency. The specific affected areas and the duration and schedule of brownouts per area will be determined by the local distribution utility,” the NGCP said. “Red alert” refers to the system condition when the contingency reserve is zero or a generation deficiency exists, while a “yellow alert” is a system condition wherein the total of all reserves is less than the capacity of the largest plant online, which for the Luzon grid, is 647 megawatts (MW).READ  MORE...

ALSO: Water, Power in peril

MAJOR dams in Luzon continue to lose water due to the long dry season, with the water level at La Mesa Dam in Quezon City falling to a new low of 78 meters as of Saturday morning. The Manila Water reported that as of 8 a.m., La Mesa Dam’s water level had fallen to 77.96 meters, down from 78.07 meters as of Friday morning. The dam, which is part of the system supplying water to Metro Manila, has a normal water level of 80.15 meters. This developed as the government assured the public that it was working to ensure continued water and power supply. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interviews that the National Power Corp. is actively watching the dams’ water levels. Valte added that the Napocor has also partnered with other agencies in undertaking cloud seeding operations to induce rain, especially for the onset of El Nino in the coming months. The Agriculture Department and the Department of Science and Technology have been conducting cloud seedings in different areas to produce rain for the agriculture sector. As for the energy problem, the Department of Energy had reported that the Sual plant is running and the Pagbilao plant, which is undergoing repair, will be operational after a week. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aging power plants causing emergency shutdowns

The problem of aging power plants is causing the growing incidence of emergency and extended maintenance shutdowns among the country’s power plants, highlighting the need for new power facilities, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said. “The plants are old. Some are older than I am,” said the 51-year-old government executive. Petilla said it is unavoidable that some units of the existing plants are conking out. This week will be critical for the Luzon grid, as it would again be placed on yellow alert today and with the highest demand expected to be recorded in the last two weeks of the month at 8,654 megawatts. A red alert means there is severe power deficiency while a yellow alert means that contingency reserves are below the minimum level set by the regulator but does not necessarily mean power outages or blackouts. A white alert means the situation is back to normal. As of last Friday, six power plants were off the grid, some since last year due to varied reasons such as scheduled maintenance, extended maintenance or equipment damage. The power plants included the Unit 2 of the Calaca Power Plant in Batangas with the capacity of 330 megawatts. The plant has been out since last December on scheduled maintenance. Another is the Sta. Rita module 40 (263 MW) in Batangas, which has been out since last February and on extended shutdown due to problem encountered with its generator transformer and still being investigated by its consultants.

ALSO: Tacloban sari-sari stores back in business

In the middle of a tent community, Analyn Jamora’s store stands out, her merchandise hanging on a colorful stall. From a mere table that served as her makeshift stall, the new and painted kiosk now gives her a sense of pride and security for her merchandise, months after the city was devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda. At the nearby Palo Public Market, Gemma Cajodo tends a store owned by her cousin that was also previously destroyed by Yolanda. “It’s a good thing we were able to stand once again,” Cajodo told visiting Manila-based journalists. Jamora and Cajodo are among the beneficiaries of “Project Hope Stores” a project of Procter & Gamble Philippines to rebuild and restock sari-sari stores in Yolanda-devastated areas. P&G country communications leader Clint Navales said they believe sari-sari storeowners have the least victim mindset after a tragedy. “The spirit of entrepreneurship is what’s pushing them to get back on their feet,” he said. “The sari-sari store owners would be one of the prime movers of rebuilding.” Navales said the kiosks were to help storeowners make their merchandise more presentable. READ MORE...

ALSO: OFW’s housing woes

To own a house is a big deal for every OFW family because that would remind them of the fruits of their labor overseas. Juanillo “Jun” Martinez, a foreman for the past seven years in a construction company in Saudi Arabia, and his wife, Ning, have been looking forward to finally moving into their own house. Unfortunately, they fear they have been victimized by a bogus developer. They related that an agent had shown them an attractive brochure and encouraged them to buy a house and lot being developed by AJEM Properties and Development Corporation. Elmer Mallorca is the president of the company which lists its office address as Unit E, 2/F Orange Building, 310 Zabarte Road, Brgy. Kaligayahan, Novaliches, Quezon City. The couple checked the pictures of AJEM projects on Facebook and chose a house and lot with a contract price of P1.35 million located at Mystical Rosa Villa in Brixtonville, Camarin, Caloocan City. They paid a reservation fee of P20,000 on April 2012 and paid P10,000 monthly from May to September 2012. They paid another P10,000 on November 2012 and P15,000 last January 2013. On February 2013, the Martinez couple visited the site and were surprised that AJEM, contrary to their agreement, had not constructed any house on the site. They decided to back out from their deal and asked the company to give them back the money they had paid out. AJEM president Elmer Mallorca reportedly promised to return the amount of P55,000. The couple even agreed to forget the reservation fee. They said Mallorca had promised to repay them last May 2013 but nothing came of it. Still, he assured them they would get their money back. Last November 2013, the couple visited the site again and noted no houses had been constructed. They noted the office of AJEM in Novaliches, Quezon City has already closed. READ MORE...

ALSO: Amerasians in Leyte chase fading dreams

PALO, LEYTE --Jaime Noveda, an elderly Amerasian from typhoon-stricken Palo town in Leyte province, is resigned to his fate that he may never make it to the United States. They call him “Amerikano (the American).” With his good looks and legs of pure muscle, women prefer Ronnie Philips Ulbrichts to be their pedicab driver when they go around town. But despite his obvious appeal to passengers, the 48-year-old Amerasian plies his lowly trade every day with an inner pain. “I’ve always wanted to be with my father in America ever since I was small. Obviously, that has not happened,” Ronnie said in Waray-waray. Ronnie and his older brothers—Ernest, 50, and Patrick, 57—are the products of an illegitimate union between their mother, Consolacion Fuentes, a native of Gacao village in this town, and Rudy Carl Ulbrichts, a US Air Force serviceman assigned to the then Clark Air Base in Angeles City, Pampanga province, in the late 1950s. Ronnie, Ernest and Patrick are just three of the estimated 20 Amerasians in this town and part of the 52,000 more in the country who are chasing lifelong dreams of joining their fathers in America and leading better lives. But even with American blood in them, they continue to be discriminated against and denied the chance to live in America.READ MORE...


Read Full Stories here:

Sizzling hot: 39.7 degrees in Isabela

MANILA, MAY 19, 2014 (INQUIRER) By Helen Flores - The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) recorded the hottest temperature in the country so far this year at 39.7 degrees Celsius on Thursday, with a warning that it could get hotter in the coming days.

The warmest temperature was recorded in Enchague, Isabela on May 15 at 3 p.m.

In Metro Manila, the temperature hit 35.6 degrees Celsius at 1:50 p.m. yesterday. This year the hottest temperature in the capital was 36.5 degrees Celsius, recorded on May 11.

PAGASA weather division chief Robert Sawi said the temperature in the metropolis could hit 37 degrees Celsius this month.

Meanwhile, Filipinos can enjoy the beaches this weekend as generally fair and warm weather will prevail in most parts of the country in the next days.

PAGASA said the ridge of high pressure area will bring partly cloudy to cloudy skies over the country.

However, isolated thunderstorms are possible in the afternoon or evening.

No tropical cyclone was expected to affect the country until Sunday, the weather bureau said.

PAGASA said the coastal waters throughout the archipelago will be slight to moderate.

Earlier, PAGASA climatologist Rusy Abastillas said a low-pressure area may form off the West Philippine Sea in the middle of next week that may trigger the onset of the rainy season.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Rotating brownouts to hit Metro Manila, nearby provinces
Written by Tribune Saturday, 17 May 2014 00:00


PHOTO COURTESY OF THE INQUIRER

Some cities in Metro Manila and parts of Luzon are to experience rotating brownouts following the abrupt shutdown of two major coal power plants, Malacañang yesterday said.

In order to cope with a 288-megawatt deficiency, Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, in a text message, said there will be a tentative one-hour a day rotational brownout.

“(Energy) Secretary (Jericho) Petilla’s initial estimate (is) at least one hour,” he added.

Petilla said there was a short supply of of energy of an estimated 288 megawatts.

He warned that the brownout could affect some 84,000 consumers.

“Approximately, 2 percent of customers are affected or 84,000. Bulk is residential at 78,000,” Petilla said.

He added most of those who would be affected by the brownout are Metro Manila-based businessmen.

“Commercial at 5,690 and industrial, 169,” Petilla said.

Petilla said the particular areas to be hit by brownouts are portions of Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan, Malabon, and Navotas in Metro Manila, and Marilao, Meycauayan, San Jose del Monte in Bulacan.

In a statement, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said it issued a “red alert” notice to its Luzon grid customers Friday due to insufficient power supply brought about by the unexpected outages of certain power plants.

“Rotating brownouts in Luzon are expected today because of the generation-related deficiency. The specific affected areas and the duration and schedule of brownouts per area will be determined by the local distribution utility,” the NGCP said.

“Red alert” refers to the system condition when the contingency reserve is zero or a generation deficiency exists, while a “yellow alert” is a system condition wherein the total of all reserves is less than the capacity of the largest plant online, which for the Luzon grid, is 647 megawatts (MW).

When system reserves are more than sufficient to meet the requirements of the grid, the system is considered to be under normal condition.

The system alert, and the corresponding power curtailment, if any, is lifted once demand recedes or once there is enough available capacity coming into the grid from the power plants.

The supply situation is expected to normalize once the unavailable capacities or the plants on shutdown or running on limited capabilities are back and synchronized to the grid, or once the demand recedes.

Among the plants that went offline is one of the Sual coal plant’s 647-MW units in Pangasinan. The facility was shut down last Tuesday for repair works.

Also, one of the Pagbilao coal plant’s two 367.5-MW generating facilities was placed on emergency shutdown at 2:28 p.m. today due to technical problems.

The Sual plant is expected to be back online by Sunday while the Pagbilao facility may take up to five to six days to be fully operational. Paul Atienza

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Water, Power in peril By Rio N. Araja, Ferdie Domingo | May. 18, 2014 at 12:01am

MAJOR dams in Luzon continue to lose water due to the long dry season, with the water level at La Mesa Dam in Quezon City falling to a new low of 78 meters as of Saturday morning.

The Manila Water reported that as of 8 a.m., La Mesa Dam’s water level had fallen to 77.96 meters, down from 78.07 meters as of Friday morning.

The dam, which is part of the system supplying water to Metro Manila, has a normal water level of 80.15 meters.

This developed as the government assured the public that it was working to ensure continued water and power supply.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interviews that the National Power Corp. is actively watching the dams’ water levels.

Valte added that the Napocor has also partnered with other agencies in undertaking cloud seeding operations to induce rain, especially for the onset of El Nino in the coming months.

The Agriculture Department and the Department of Science and Technology have been conducting cloud seedings in different areas to produce rain for the agriculture sector.

As for the energy problem, the Department of Energy had reported that the Sual plant is running and the Pagbilao plant, which is undergoing repair, will be operational after a week.

Valte also said that since the power demand for electricity last Friday night was not as high and they also expect a lower demand this weekend.

“So hopefully, based on these projections it looks like there will be no more power interruptions as long as there would not be any breakdowns in other power plants,” she said.

Manila Water, meanwhile, said water levels at Angat Dam had also gone down and was 178.53 meters as of 8 a.m. Saturday, down from 178.88 meters as reported by PAGASA on Friday.

Manila Water also said that Ipo Dam’s water level was at 99.45 meters as of 8 a.m. Saturday, slightly higher than the 99.42 meters Friday report by PAGASA.

In Pampanga, the National Irrigation Administration’s Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems has cut off water supply to some 100,000 hectares of agricultural lands in Central Luzon irrigated by the giant Pantabangan Dam.

As of Saturday noon, the water level at Pantabangan was at 182.06 meters, higher by 0.8 meters two weeks ago.

Officials here said the water level is still way above the critical level of 171.5 meters and the critical level for power of 177 meters.

Engineer Josephine B Salazar, NIA- UPRIIS Department manager, said they cut off supply since the dry cropping season has already ended.

She said they will resume supplying irrigation by June 1 at the onset of the wet cropping season.

Salazar also downplayed concerns over the appearance of the church in the old Pantabangan township, saying that at an elevation of 181 meters, it is a normal occurrence for the structure to re-surface.

Last April 29, the water level at the dam was at 181.44 meters, lower compared to the 187.05 meters recorded over the same period last year.

Saturday’s level was still way below the spilling level of 221.

Salazar attributed the dip in the dam’s water level to climate change, high temperature and additional area programmed for irrigation.

She said that for this year, they have programmed for irrigation 114,026 hectares, up by 2,772 hectares from last year’s 111, 254 hectares.

UPRIIS is the country’s largest national irrigation systems administratively supervised by NIA.

It operates the World Bank-funded Pantabangan Dam which irrigates farmlands in Nueva Ecija, San Miguel and San Ildefonso in Bulacan and Arayat in Pampanga.

Meanwhile, radio dzBB reported water concessionaires in Metro Manila area are preparing for possible contingency measures as the water level at Angat Dam continued to fall.

Maynilad Water, which services the west zone of Metro Manila, said there could be water interruptions in its service area.

But Manila Water spokesman Jeric Sevilla said their water supply remained normal as of Friday but said that they are ready to implement “contingencies” if water supply falls. With PNA

FROM PHILSTAR

‘Aging power plants causing emergency shutdowns’ By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 19, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The problem of aging power plants is causing the growing incidence of emergency and extended maintenance shutdowns among the country’s power plants, highlighting the need for new power facilities, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said.

“The plants are old. Some are older than I am,” said the 51-year-old government executive.

Petilla said it is unavoidable that some units of the existing plants are conking out.

This week will be critical for the Luzon grid, as it would again be placed on yellow alert today and with the highest demand expected to be recorded in the last two weeks of the month at 8,654 megawatts.

A red alert means there is severe power deficiency while a yellow alert means that contingency reserves are below the minimum level set by the regulator but does not necessarily mean power outages or blackouts. A white alert means the situation is back to normal.

As of last Friday, six power plants were off the grid, some since last year due to varied reasons such as scheduled maintenance, extended maintenance or equipment damage.

The power plants included the Unit 2 of the Calaca Power Plant in Batangas with the capacity of 330 megawatts. The plant has been out since last December on scheduled maintenance.

Another is the Sta. Rita module 40 (263 MW) in Batangas, which has been out since last February and on extended shutdown due to problem encountered with its generator transformer and still being investigated by its consultants.

The Unit 1 of the Malaya Thermal Power Plant in Rizal (300 MW), which has been out since March due to high turbine vibration; Unit 6 of the Limay plant (60 MW) in Bataan, which has been out since March due to high turbine vibration; Limay 7 and 8 (170 MW), out since April, due to still undetermined cause; and Therma Mobile’s diesel generator 1 (9 MW) of the Aboitiz Group, which has been out since May 4, due to a rotor problem.

Had the government-owned Malaya Plant been called to run in November and December when the Malampaya gas to power facility was on maintenance shutdown last year, Petilla said both units may have conked out by now and would not have been available this summer.

The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), the government corporation tasked to manage state-owned power assets including Malaya, said the plant’s second unit has been running and providing support since March.

“Malaya has been running as a must-run unit since the last week of March,” PSALM president Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. said.

To help mitigate the critical power situation, the Department of Energy (DOE) will hold talks with retail electricity suppliers (RES) as part of efforts to look for additional sources of power for the country, which is currently facing rising power demand and inadequate supply.

Petilla said the RES can provide additional power when needed or when the grids are placed on red alert.

He said DOE director Mylene Capongcol of the department’s Electric Power Industry Management Bureau would be meeting with generation companies that have RES entities to discuss ways on how they can help when power supply is tight.

RES refers to any entity authorized by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to sell, broker, market or aggregate electricity to the contestable market which consists of a group of end-users who have an average peak demand of 1 MW for 12 months.

“The DOE will be talking to these RES. Malls and other industrial users get their power supply from RES,” Petilla said.

Petilla said the DOE would be meeting the Retail Electricity Suppliers Association (RESA) to discuss ways on how they can participate in addressing the power situation.

This is similar to the case of the so-called Interruptible Load Program (ILP) for Luzon, which was created to provide back-up capacity when power supply is low.

However, Petilla said the more permanent solution is for the private sector to build more power plants.

“That’s why we really need new power plants,” he said.

On the other hand, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) assured the public that its transmission lines are stable enough to bring power to the Luzon grid.

Lilibeth Gaydowen, NGCP corporate communications and public affairs officer, said the scheduled power interruptions were to give way to regular maintenance work, including replacement of worn-out transmission and facilities.

She said this is to ensure that their transmission facilities are more than capable to deliver the needed power from various power sources such as coal, geothermal and hydro plants to electric cooperatives.

“Unlike in Mindanao, we have many sources of power that is why we still transmit stable power for our consumers,” she said.

Over the week, some parts of Luzon, including Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela and Ifugao, have experienced 10-hour power outages as well as momentarily power disruptions.

“These temporary power interruptions resulted in transforming our power facilities and equipment into a stable condition, thereby ensuring sufficient and continuous flow of power,” Gaydowen said. – With Charlie Lagasca

Tacloban sari-sari stores back in business By Reinir Padua (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 18, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Photo shows one of the sari-sari stores built under 'Project Hope Stores’ in Tacloban City. REINIR PADUA

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -– In the middle of a tent community, Analyn Jamora’s store stands out, her merchandise hanging on a colorful stall.

From a mere table that served as her makeshift stall, the new and painted kiosk now gives her a sense of pride and security for her merchandise, months after the city was devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

At the nearby Palo Public Market, Gemma Cajodo tends a store owned by her cousin that was also previously destroyed by Yolanda.

“It’s a good thing we were able to stand once again,” Cajodo told visiting Manila-based journalists.

Jamora and Cajodo are among the beneficiaries of “Project Hope Stores” a project of Procter & Gamble Philippines to rebuild and restock sari-sari stores in Yolanda-devastated areas.

P&G country communications leader Clint Navales said they believe sari-sari storeowners have the least victim mindset after a tragedy.

“The spirit of entrepreneurship is what’s pushing them to get back on their feet,” he said.

“The sari-sari store owners would be one of the prime movers of rebuilding.”

Navales said the kiosks were to help storeowners make their merchandise more presentable.

At least 861 stores were rebuilt by the end of December 2013 at the cost of around P8 million under the first two phases of the project.

Navales said the third phase of the project would cost more than P20 million and cover more than 1,000 stores in Samar and Leyte.

The project covers 3,000 stores across northern Cebu, Tac- loban City, Ormoc City, Samar, Eastern Samar, Biliran, Iloilo, Capiz, Antique and Aklan.

P&G said these store owners could be considered community heroes as they help in recovery efforts by breaking the dependence on relief, jumpstarting the economy and restoring a sense of control among community members.

FROM THE INQUIRER

OFW’s housing woes By Susan K Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:15 am | Sunday, May 18th, 2014

To own a house is a big deal for every OFW family because that would remind them of the fruits of their labor overseas.

Juanillo “Jun” Martinez, a foreman for the past seven years in a construction company in Saudi Arabia, and his wife, Ning, have been looking forward to finally moving into their own house. Unfortunately, they fear they have been victimized by a bogus developer.

They related that an agent had shown them an attractive brochure and encouraged them to buy a house and lot being developed by AJEM Properties and Development Corporation. Elmer Mallorca is the president of the company which lists its office address as Unit E, 2/F Orange Building, 310 Zabarte Road, Brgy. Kaligayahan, Novaliches, Quezon City.

The couple checked the pictures of AJEM projects on Facebook and chose a house and lot with a contract price of P1.35 million located at Mystical Rosa Villa in Brixtonville, Camarin, Caloocan City.

They paid a reservation fee of P20,000 on April 2012 and paid P10,000 monthly from May to September 2012. They paid another P10,000 on November 2012 and P15,000 last January 2013.

On February 2013, the Martinez couple visited the site and were surprised that AJEM, contrary to their agreement, had not constructed any house on the site. They decided to back out from their deal and asked the company to give them back the money they had paid out.

AJEM president Elmer Mallorca reportedly promised to return the amount of P55,000. The couple even agreed to forget the reservation fee. They said Mallorca had promised to repay them last May 2013 but nothing came of it. Still, he assured them they would get their money back.

Last November 2013, the couple visited the site again and noted no houses had been constructed. They noted the office of AJEM in Novaliches, Quezon City has already closed.

This March 2014, Bantay OCW sent a text message to Mallorca. We asked him to fulfill his promise and return the money to the Martinez couple. His reply on March 21 at 2:15 p.m. was “Ok copy, I will refund her money once my fund is released, that I expect this coming second week of April.”

We asked in another message for an exact date in April. He responded on April 8: “After Holy Week pa.” Bantay OCW asked him again for an exact date. He replied: “April 30.”

It turned out, it was an empty promise.

Mallorca insisted he was not deceiving anyone and was not afraid of facing the Martinez couple’s complaints.

But if Mallorca did not fool anyone, then why do we have complainants? Why didn’t he comply with his promise of constructing a house? Why was he asked to return the money? Why can’t he pay back even such a small amount? Where is the AJEM office? Why did it close? Office numbers when dialed said it was not yet in service (4191625) and that the number 4177255 is incorrect. What is the correct number, Mr. Mallorca?

Bantay OCW immediately brought this case to the attention of Vice President Jejomar Binay, the housing czar and also presidential adviser on OFW concerns. Binay promised he would conduct the necessary investigation. He also instructed the couple to file a formal complaint with the office of Atty. Tony Bernardo, CEO of Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).

Others with similar complaints may be wise to also file complaints with this office.

Susan Andes, also known as Susan K., can be heard over Radyo Inquirer dzIQ 990 AM, Monday to Friday, 10:30 am-12:00 noon. Audio/video live streaming is at www.ustream.tv/channel/dziq. Helpline: 0927-6499870
E-mail: bantayocwfoundation@yahoo.com/ susankbantayocw@yahoo.com

Amerasians in Leyte chase fading dreams By Danny Petilla Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:36 am | Monday, March 10th, 2014


WISHING FOR AMERICA. Jaime Noveda, an elderly Amerasian from typhoon-stricken Palo town in Leyte province, is resigned to his fate that he may never make it to the United States. DANNY PETILLA/CONTRIBUTOR

PALO, Leyte—They call him “Amerikano (the American).” With his good looks and legs of pure muscle, women prefer Ronnie Philips Ulbrichts to be their pedicab driver when they go around town.

But despite his obvious appeal to passengers, the 48-year-old Amerasian plies his lowly trade every day with an inner pain.

“I’ve always wanted to be with my father in America ever since I was small. Obviously, that has not happened,” Ronnie said in Waray-waray.

Ronnie and his older brothers—Ernest, 50, and Patrick, 57—are the products of an illegitimate union between their mother, Consolacion Fuentes, a native of Gacao village in this town, and Rudy Carl Ulbrichts, a US Air Force serviceman assigned to the then Clark Air Base in Angeles City, Pampanga province, in the late 1950s.

Ronnie, Ernest and Patrick are just three of the estimated 20 Amerasians in this town and part of the 52,000 more in the country who are chasing lifelong dreams of joining their fathers in America and leading better lives.

But even with American blood in them, they continue to be discriminated against and denied the chance to live in America.

US law

In a Catholic country that stigmatizes illegitimacy, Amerasians also bear the burden of dealing with something beyond their control.

Their wishes of becoming Americans have been largely frustrated by a US law that bars Filipinos of American parentage from becoming US citizens. That law is the Amerasian Immigration Act of 1982, which welcomes Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Cambodian and Laotian Amerasians to come to America to join their fathers.

The law excludes Filipinos and Japanese.

March 4 is International Amerasian Day. Its observance last week dramatized the neglect suffered by the abandoned children of broken Filipino-American families with the end of the United States’ 94-year military presence in the Philippines in 1992.

Broken families

The word Amerasian was popularized by American author Pearl S. Buck to describe children born to American soldiers and Asian mothers.

Half a world away in the United States, Ronnie’s 83-year-old American father, Rudy, sits at BrightStar Care’s nursing home in Minneapolis, Minnesota, waiting for any news about his three sons from this town.

In the 1960s, as Rudy roamed the world fighting for America, Consolacion decided to go home to this town and raise their sons here. Consolacion, who died in 2000, never had the chance to join Rudy in the United States.

Baguio interlude

“My father is a good-looking man. I respected him,” Ronnie said, describing the time he spent with his father during a family outing in Baguio City in the 1970s.

“He showed me his car and told me: Ronnie, I want you to have a car like this,” Ronnie recounted.

Contacted in his room by phone in Minnesota, the elder Ulbrichts was informed about his sons’ wishes to join him there.

He seemed confused about the sudden phone call and said: “There’s a lot of crap going on. I need receipts.”

His mistrust of people has a basis. According to his son, Ernest, their father was mugged and left for dead in his hometown of Seattle, Washington, three years ago before he decided to relocate and retire in Minneapolis.

Son accepted

His white skin darkened by exposure to the searing tropical heat while driving a pedicab every day, Ronnie has come to accept that he might not have the chance to join his father in the United States—ever.

“I know I’m getting old. But what is important is that he has come to accept me as his own son,” Ronnie said.

Although he did not finish his education, Ronnie is happy being a pedicab driver, which has allowed him to support his wife, Judith, 41, and three children—Julie Fay, 13, Ronnie Jr., 12, and Rhea Joy, 3.

Rudy thought of bringing his three sons to the United States but he never took the first step of filing paternity petitions before they turned 18 years old, as required by the 1982 law, virtually eliminating any chance for them of joining him in America.

Dream still alive

“Despite our father being absent all our lives, he sent us money and helped us build our house,” Ernest said. “Some of the fault is ours. We could have pressed him early on to bring us to America but we did not.”

But thanks to the global attention to this town brought by Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) and the “pivot to Asia” policy of US President Barack Obama calling for increased military presence in the region, that dream may be open again to Filipino Amerasians in the Philippines.

“I know my father is dead. But it would be nice to touch base with my brothers and sisters, if I have any, in America,” said Jaime Noveda, a 67-year-old retiree and son of James Branson, an African-American soldier of the US Army who lived in the US capital of Washington, DC.

No regrets

Noveda was born a few weeks after his father left his mother, Presentacion Noveda, to go back to the United States following the end of World War II. Despite America’s door being slammed shut on him because of his age, he has no regrets.

“My mother told me a little bit about my father. To me, that is enough. I am honored to have known him, even though I did not get to see him in person,” Noveda said.

There have been efforts in US Congress to correct the 1982 Amerasian Act to include Filipino and Japanese Amerasians.

But the chief sponsor, US Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, died in December 2012, leaving no leader in Congress to advance their cause.

Writing in The New York Times on May 27, 2013, Christopher Lapinig, a Filipino-American law student at Yale University, urged the American government to revive the cause of the Filipino-Amerasians, noting that Obama was about to make his “pivot to Asia” policy.

“The United States has an opportunity for redemption—to make sure that Filipino-Amerasians are not left behind by the ship again,” Lapinig wrote.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE