Tag Archives: Philippines

Emil Guillermo: China goes Spratly; Filipinos take note, so now must the U.S.

The U.S. has tried for years to keep the Spratly  Island situation from being the small thing that becomes the big thing in world affairs.

But now it seems, China is ready to go all in on the little islands that from a satellite cam look like little amoeba.

spratlysFieryCrossReef

Last week, a U.S. surveillance plane  operation was sternly warned for  flying over the area. This week, China released a  new White Paper, letting all the world know that China is in fact  beefing up its Navy and is ready  to attack if attacked upon.

So now it’s not just the Philippines getting bullied.  How does the U.S. respond?

First things first. Get to know your Spratlys.

Read more in my column at www.aaldef.org/blog.

Emil Guillermo: Sensitive Filipinos criticize my reporting on the Beverly Hills Bakery lawsuit filed by 11 employees against owner Analiza Moitinho de Almeida.

anamoitinhodealmeida

Just saw the hit piece another Filipino columnist wrote criticizing my reporting on the lawsuit against Beverly Hills Bakery owner, Ana Moitinho de Almeida, her husband, Goncarlo, and their corporate entities.

Just want to point out, that my reporting included three of the principals  involved, the people who filed the suit and their stories. I didn’t pass judgment. That’s what the courts are for.

But the critic puts much weight on the fact that these former employees who are suing are much closer to the family. So that puts them in a different class? Or makes them easier to manipulate and to be taken advantage of?

The critic also makes it sound like I made up the stories.

It’s all public record in the lawsuit. I just humanized the story by actually reaching out to talk to real people–on both sides.

The Moitinho de Almeidas were contacted and declined an interview.

The critic seems to make a lot about these former employees  gambling and going on trips in the U.S., as if that alone proves anything besides their personal preferences. They weren’t free to leave the country or their jobs  by their visa, and they did talk about real threats to their families back home.

But the bottom line seems to be the critic’s concern that I invoked the name of Juan B. Santos, the head of the Social Security System in the Philippines, and the former head of Nestle in the Philippines.

He’s the father of Ana, the baker. He also had some financial involvement with the bakeries of his daughter. No charges are against him, but the actions of his daughter, and their relationship is newsworthy.

If Ana is as innocent as the critic claims, what difference does it make to mention Santos, who was one  of the Hyatt 10 who pressed for honest government during the Arroyo era.

We know what happened in the Arroyo era. It was Marcos Lite.  So Santos should be a hero, somewhat.

I can’t fault the critic for wanting to defend his friend.  But my reporting is sound. Other U.S. news organizations reported the story. The facts are all there. If they omitted Santos’ name it’s because they are U.S. based media and not Philippine-based as was my original column for Inquirer.net.

I took an extra step by talking to the employees who sued, who told me their stories. But I also gave the Moitinho de Almeidas a chance to respond.

The subsequent story is even more telling, that the Moitinho de Almeidas are in a second legal battle about the bakery with their own relatives. The relatives say its intimidation. The Moitinho de Almeidas once again declined to comment.

I reported this last week, based on legal docs that  are public record. But my offer stands: I would love to tell the  Moitinho de Almeida’s story objectively and without the bias shown by my critic.

My interests are only in the truth.

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Emil Guillermo: Religious Freedom Restoration Act? Why it’s to protect things like people crucifying themselves like they do in the Philippines. Right, Gov. Mike Pence? To prove it, he should stage a special Good Friday at the state capitol.

In the Philippines, they crucify people on Holy Week.

Really.

enajecrucifixion

In fact, the guy who has done it 28 years running would like to retire. But this year, the town council can’t find a suitable replacement.

So he’s sticking to his nails. Because he’s a believer.

Now that’s an example of religious freedom!

And, if Gov. Mike Pence were serious about that Religious Freedom Restoration Act of his –as being for real and not just some legislation handcrafted at the local Hobby Lobby to keep liberal folk from dictating stuff like gay marriage and abortion into their conservative lives–then I’d say the Philippines, America’s First Colony, may have inspired  a simple solution.

On Good Friday, Pence should stage a public crucifixion at the Indiana State House.

You know, an Indy Golgotha kind of thing.

And Pence can be the penitent.

Really show off his faith in his bad law. Go hog wild. Maybe even have a big concert or a DJ giving it a whole rave kind of flavor.

Invite gays, all the minorities in Indiana,  make it a real party.

Then maybe we can take Pence  at his word, that the law is no license to discriminate but rather a license to practice religion, however extreme.

And he’s the example.

And think of the business. You know, those crucifixions in the Philippines draw thousands.  More than an Easter Egg hunt.

If he did that on Friday, I’d be ready for the Final Four by the weekend.

But I got to see Pence willing to, as they say, get his nails done.

Until then, I’m not buying anything Pence is saying about that bad law.

And after today, he doesn’t even have the “April Fool” excuse.

Don’t know if he’s really got a better option–beyond ripping up the law and forgetting it ever happened.

He’s already shown he’s willing to commit political suicide in the name of  conservative anti-gay religious zealots.

Let’s give him a chance to redeem himself on a the cross.

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Emil Guillermo: Crimes by Filipinos against Filipinos in the US? 11 E2 visa holders allege exploitation, fraud by L’Amande Bakery in Los Angeles owned by Analiza Moitinho de Almeida and her husband, Goncalo. (Find lawsuit here).

filipinolawsuit

The civil suit filed in Los Angles cites a long list of complaints ranging from human trafficking, racketeering, discrimination, and  retaliation to wage and labor violations.  It asks specifically for a million dollars in unpaid wages, overtime, penalties and damages.

The 11 plaintiffs are all poor Filipino workers who  were allegedly lured to America  by the bakery owner,  a previous employer in the Philippines.  They trusted her when they were promised  an E2 Visa and $2,000 a month to leave their families and come to America.

But that’s not what they got when they arrived in Los Angeles.

One woman told me she felt like a “slave,” doing forced manual labor. It wasn’t what she signed up for. And when the workers threatened to leave, the powerful bakery owner allegedly threatened the workers and their families in the Philippines. The significance here is that the bakery owner is the daughter of a Philippine official, Juan B. Santos, who is chair of the Social Security Commission, and a wealthy former CEO of Nestle.

I’ll have much more in a later post.

I talked to several workers and I hope to talk to the bakery owners.

(Suit filed by attorneys at  Latham/Watkins in Los Angeles and the Asian American Advancing Justice-Los Angeles).
The complaint is here:  20150318 Complaint-filed
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