Category Archives: news

Emil Guillermo: L’Amande bakery owners flee country, say to lawyers they won’t defend suit, then say to me they will.

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If you’ve been following my reporting on the  civil lawsuit alleging trafficking and labor violations against the L’Amande bakeries, owned by the scion of one of the Philippines elite families, then you’ll want to see the new twists in the case.
The lawyers of bakery owner Ana Moitinho de Almeida have told the lawyers for the 11 former workers suing Almeida, that the owners have fled the country and would no longer be defending the suit.

But this is inconsistent with what Ms.Almeida communicated to me.

Is it just a ploy?   This comes after the plaintiffs failed to attach the Almeidas’ assets, which have been re-positioned to seemingly be out of reach of the court.  The first court date had been set for late September.

See my story in the Philippine Inquirer here.

Emil Guillermo: Winner of the 2015 Dr. Suzanne Ahn Award for Civil Rights and Social Justice

Humbled and honored at this year’s 15th Asian American Journalists Association national convention.

 


Twenty years of column writing and reporting on Asian American issues, the last five at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s site, http://www.aaldef.org/blog

Emil Guillermo: Why I do what I do as an Asian American journalist

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I was young when I knew I would be a writer, or somehow be in the media. At five, I was already practicing my standups.

So is it a surprise I’m still a member of AAJA?

At the 15th Asian American Journalists Association convention being held in San Francisco:

I saw a woman I met at a previous AAJA who told me she was taking a leave to have a baby. With her female partner.

I saw a person with his wife and two young kids, making it a family vacation. Last I heard, he was not regularly employed.

I saw old friends who  were recently laid off or forcibly retired.

I saw a guy who could have been my boss had he taken a job ten years ago, but who is now happy as a stay-at-home-dad.

I saw an old agent, who is now a “producer.”

I saw a former colleague still trying to make the transition to digital.

And then there was a guy who showed me his gold watch after 25 years in one place. And another guy who told me his company didn’t give out gold watches. Not even after close to 40 years.  The paycheck was enough.

Lots of stories at AAJA about the evolution of the media and the media worker.

And as tough as some tales were, there were signs of hope too.

Young guys still climbing the market ladder getting air-time coming up to me saying they saw an old tape of mine, thanking me for showing the way. Another guy getting a national shot as a fill-in on a big time show.

We’re all still there because  AAJA always felt like a safe place to gather once a year and reassess why we still do what we do.

It’s a smaller gathering these days. Many have left the business, burned out, bitter, bummed. Or becoming lawyers. Involved in some other way with life.

But many of us,  after all these years are still here. Because the paycheck alone never defined us.

This is what we do.

See my piece on “Why I Write…” on the blog of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

 

Emil Guillermo: Owner of closed Filipino bakeries in LA speaks about the shutdown, and on the lawsuit that has rocked her business and family life.

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In a direct communication with Emil Guillermo Media, Ana Moitinho de Almeida,the daughter of Juan B. Santos, and the co-owner with her husband Gonzalo Moitinho de Almeida of two recently closed California bakeries, admitted that millions of their joint assets were sold recently—not to protect or hide assets—but to fund their expensive legal battle against 11 former employees.

The Almeidas were socked this spring with a $1 million dollar civil suit alleging labor trafficking, labor rules violations, and immigration violations at their L’Amande bakeries in Beverly Hills and Torrance.

But in the last few months, the Almeidas have been liquidating and re-positioning assets, including their bakeries,real estate investments, and Los Angeles area home.

“We needed to find funding somewhere,” Almeida answered in response to my questions via e-mail. “Closure of the bakeries? How can a business survive when …charges, augmented by aggressive press, has descended without mercy, or fair investigation?”

It is the first time the Almeidas have made direct public comments on their asset situation.

Almeida insisted it wasn’t to hide or keep money from the suit, but an attempt to fight what she calls are unfair charges being made by E-2 visa workers whom she sponsored in an “investor visa program.”

Almeida has been posting pictures of her former employees showing that the workers’ allegations are trumped up charges and don’t reflect how they were being treated while working for the Almeida bakeries.

When I asked her why she has been quiet on the matter, she said: “How could I not have declined at that time when the mother load of a lawsuit just hit us? We are a small bakery. We did not have lawyers standing by to help us.”

I’ll have more from Almeida. In the meantime, here’s my  piece on the Almeida’s sale of assets, as I first reported  in the Philippine Inquirer, Manila’s top daily.

See my latest columns on the AALDEF blog.