Tag Archives: Filipino politics

UPDATES FOR STEPHEN GUILLERMO CASE: The power of a diploma as a symbol of justice, 6/20/14; Today we get a little sense of justice at Stephen’s posthumous graduation ceremony, 6/19/14; Graduation info on Stephen at SFSU, and a cool disco pic of me! 6/13/14; After election day, a silent vigil for Stephen, a month after his shooting; Petitions for justice to be delivered to DA, 6/4; One month after his shooting death, it’s Election Day in California, 6/3/14; Stephen Guillermo is now an SFPD crime stat that decries the PR of low homicide numbers in the city; Updated 5/3/ 11:52 a.m., with confirmation of suspect arrest. UPDATED 5/7/14 SUSPECT RELEASED…UPDATED 5/8, 5/9,5/10, 5/12, 5/13,5/14,5/15 funeral day, 5-17 with info on 5-19 eulogy, 5/20 SF State to give degree, 5/21 DA meets with family,5/23 San Francisco Chronicle Op-Ed piece runs as SFSU graduation weekend begins; 6/3 Election day in CA, are you voting for a DA in your county? #justiceforstephen

Amisi Kachepa, released suspect in shooting death of Stephen Guillermo


Stephen officially is a graduated member of San Francisco State University’s class of 2014.

Thanks to the school, and to the head of the International Relations Department, Dr. Sophie Clavier. When I contacted her in May, graduation was just a few weeks away. But she knew the importance of a posthumous degree and  cut through the red-tape to make it all possible.

Fitting that the event was in the Oakes Room, named for Richard Oakes, a Mohawk activist who reclaimed Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay for native peoples and occupied it from 1969-1971. He was instrumental in changing how the U.S. government dealt with Native Americans, and he helped establish Native American studies at SFSU. But the ultimate coincidence is that Oakes was also gunned down in an altercation.

It’s funny how few people know of Oakes today. I wrote about Oakes and Stephen here.

The ceremony began with a little “Pomp and Circumstance.” Stephen should have been able to hear that song and march along. He didn’t get that privilege in life. So we had to play it on our portable speaker. The cousins made some great photo boards, and Stephen’s sister Sharmaine assembled a very touching video tribute.

It was a great event.


But the big deal was the paper. And here it is.



He may not need it where he is now. And yes, the ceremony was as much for the living as it was for Stephen.

But the paper still acknowledges his life was far from wasted. In his short life,  he has achieved a great and valuable thing.

And now we are left to wonder what an International Relations degree with his enormous smile and heart  could have accomplished.



The day has come. At 2pm, the posthumous graduation of Stephen Guillermo will take place in the Oakes Multi-Cultural Room in the Chavez Center at San Francisco State, 1600 Holloway in San Francisco.

Check out my column here on the blog of the magazine,  Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

As I mentioned, Stephen worked too hard for that degree and the dream it represented, to have it taken from him when he was shot to death.

Stephen doesn’t need the degree nor the credits where he is now.

But this, the last of the expected ceremonies—spiritual and secular—is needed by all those who were close to Stephen.

We may not get the justice we want for him. Not now, maybe not ever.

But we did get him his  diploma.

Higher ed was the most important goal in his young life, and it turned out to be his ultimate achievement.

It’s got to be worth something even now, if it’s worth anything at all.

The living need to know and affirm that Stephen did not die in vain.

UPDATE, FRIDAY,JUNE 13,2014, 12noon

Stephen will be graduating on June 19th. SF State will grant him a posthumous degree. If you want to attend,  email me at emil@amok.com.

Too many deaths have taken place since Stephen made the news. Seattle? Oregon? Vegas? Santa Barbara? Not one more? #TooMany.

Obama’s statement this week about his frustration is disappointing. When the commander-in-chief can’t tell people to lay down their arms, we’ve got a problem.

Father’s Day coming up. Stephen was a surrogate dad to his younger siblings.

See my Father’s Day tribute at aaldef.org/blog. Includes a cool pic of me during the Disco Days!




A petition with more than 1,000 signatures will be presented to the DA, urging his office to continue its investigation that will lead to charges against Stephen’s killer.

A day after the election day, we want our public servants in the District Attorney’s office to know that there are voters out there that are watching this case, and care about justice.

We will also announce the date of Stephen’s graduation from San Francisco State, when he will receive a posthumous degree in International Relations.

 TUESDAY, JUNE 3, 2014,  7am

Today is election day in California, Asian America’s most populous state.

Go ahead. Make my day. Go out and vote.

If you’re voting for a DA, make sure your vote goes to someone who has some guts and courage. One who will put justice above self-interest. 

DAs have more discretion than they let on. But they play the percentages, like any politician.

They also tend to seek higher office, and we need to remind them that what can seem like safe decisions now can come back to haunt them tomorrow.

So vote today. Show your strength.

Most people won’t, but this is Democracy’s day. Don’t be silent.

STEPHEN, a month later: We have passed the one month marker since Stephen’s death.

We will hold a silent vigil at the San Francisco Hall of Justice on Wednesday, June 4 at lunchtime.

We will also announce the commencement ceremony for Stephen who will be given a posthumous degree from

San Francisco State University.



Stephen Guillermo would be preparing to graduate had he lived. But SFSU has stepped up and granted his degree in International Relations. The ceremony won’t be this weekend but next.

Now that the school has moved toward academic justice, will the San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon?

Read my opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle:



WE MET WITH THE DA: SF Asst. DA David Merin met with Stephen’s family Tuesday night in San Francisco. I’m not sure it was better than prayer, but it did help us understand where things were in the investigation.

Merin is open minded  and is still looking for and at evidence. We want him to take his time.

If you know anything about the case or the people involved, please call the SF DA at 415.553.1751.

Read  more about the meeting and my impressions on www.aaldef.org/blog and on www.facebook.com/emilguillermomedia  #justiceforstephen



UPDATE TUESDAY, 5/20/14 1pm

Stephen was a legal immigrant. But he was undocumented in one respect. He didn’t have his bachelor’s degree. He was to get it from SF State this year in May. Now the International Relations Department has granted him his degree. The first in his immediate family to achieve the goal and a great example to his younger siblings and relatives.  Ceremony won’t be this Saturday, but in a special event this summer. Stay tuned.  It’s a small bit of justice. Now it’s the San Francisco District Attorney’s turn to value Stephen’s life and bring his killer to justice.



Thanks to all the people who attended my public eulogy for Stephen. If you missed it you can still fill out a survey to help the Rockefeller Aspen Diaspora project find ways to provide philanthropic help to the Philippines.




Stephen’s body was buried, but he is not forgotten.

I will talk about the case and Stephen’s role in the timeline of Filipino history, touching on immigration and the Diaspora. Stephen was part of an historical legacy of injustice that makes his death even more tragic.

Date: Monday, May 19, 6pm

Place: Philippine Consulate, 447 Sutter , SF

It’s free. Sponsored by the Rockefeller Aspen Diaspora program.

Even if you can’t make it. Please fill out this survey:




We bury Stephen Guillermo today.

He will be wearing his Giants jersey.

For photos of the wake go to the facebook page at Emil Guillermo Media.





THE PHILIPPINE DIASPORA is evident in my family as relatives from Canada and Europe have come for Stephen’s funeral.

At the viewing, I noticed Stephen will be buried in his Giants jersey.

Public viewing is tonight at Duggan’s in Daly City. The funeral is on Thursday.

Still, nothing from the SF District Attorney. The case is still open, but sources say charges against Kachepa are highly unlikely.  On Tuesday, I waited over four hours to give a two minute urging to the Board of Supervisors to let the DA know that there is enough to charge Kachepa. Read my piece at www.aaldef.org/blog to see the questions I’ve raised. If Kachepa let in or could see Stephen through the peephole, why couldn’t he simply tell Stephen he had come to the wrong door? Kachepa, a former security guard knew he could use his gun. This law overprotects gun owners, and underprotects the innocents who get killed by accident. As I told the board on Tuesday, why is a Montana DA challenging a similar type “Castle” case, but the DA in liberal San Francisco? He can and should do the right thing. Charge Mr. Kachepa in the death of Stephen Guillermo.

Stephen Guillermo, half the size of Kachepa, unathletic, and  ineffective after a night of drinking, simply  posed no threat to any reasonable person.


I will be speaking about the murder and how it connects to  the Philippine Diaspora on Monday, May 19, 6pm at the Philippine Consulate at 447 Sutter in San Francisco.

It’s free, and there will be food. It’s sponsored by the Rockefeller Aspen Diaspora program.

If you’re interested in helping Filipinos, please fill out this survey:




Thanks to the SF Giants for putting up what essentially is a scoreboard tombstone for my cousin at yesterday’s game.  Stephen loved the Giants, and attended the Padre series the week of his murder. He would have been at the Giants’ Filipino Heritage night.


The Giants won, Tim Lincecum struck out 11 and had his best game of the year, and afterwards in the clubhouse expressed his sorrow about Stephen’s murder.

Lincecum, part Filipino is a community hero, and was a favorite of Stephen’s.

Now it’s time for the DA to step up to the plate. How can the DA in Montana  challenge the Castle laws in that gun-friendly state , but not in San Francisco?

Let’s hope the DA takes the time to reconsider the matter for the sake of justice.

UPDATE: MONDAY, 5/12/14, 8AM

After a mournful Mother’s Day, the family prepares to bury Stephen.

We hope the SF DA George Gascon will take the time to go over the police investigation and consider charging the released suspect.

We ask that people who support the family send a message to the DAs office at 415.553.1751  and let them know Stephen deserves justice. The shooter needs to explain his action, was deadly force justifiable? Why not let a jury decide?


PUBLIC TALK ABOUT THE CASE:  I will be speaking about the case next Monday, May 19, 6pm at the Philippine Consulate of San Francisco. It’s free.

I will be talking about the murder and how it plays into the Philippine Diaspora.  Just fill out the survey here to come to the talk. Or just fill out the survey:




THE FAMILY’S MOURNING BEGINS: it has now been a week since the murder  of Stephen Guillermo, the San Francisco DA’s Office has been given the file from the SF Police Dept. 

A mass will be said Saturday, May 10.

Where: St. Patrick’s Church at 1:30 p.m.

Address: 756 Mission St., San Francisco

Let’s hope that as the family begins its mourning time, the SF District Attorney’s Office will begin to look at the facts in earnest. Since the suspect was already release, the DA has no deadline and can leisurely look at the case. The DA has full discretion. Cases have been charged and convicted on less than what he has. Let’s hope he has the courage to do the right thing for Stephen Guillermo.

See more at: http://www.aaldef.org/blog/justiceforstephen-the-guillermo-family-continues-to-hope.html





SFPD has sent “reinvestigated” file back to SF District Attorney George Gascon, and now DA has a second chance to do the right thing. Let’s hope he considers the witness who indicates this was not a break-in nor home invasion, and that Amisi Kachepa was wrong to use deadly force against a small, unarmed, non-threatening, inebriated Stephen Guillermo who was merely in the wrong apartment.

We are gathering for another lunchtime vigil at 11:30 at the SF Hall of Justice to remind the DA there’s a way to find justice in this senseless tragedy.   see www.facebook.com/emilguillermomedia


UPDATE: 5/8/14 go to 




Hard to believe that in a city that takes a stand on everything from nuclear power to immigration, there is not the political will to take on the gun lobby in a meaningful way. The DA had a time limit of 48 hours, not four days, as I was told originally by a court clerk. And as I tried to speak the truth in two-minutes before the board, I was running out of time.  By late afternoon, the police report was going to the board, and by 6pm if the decision was made there would not be enough to charge, the suspect would be let go.

That was DA Gascon’s choice.

Why? There was enough to charge and hold. Now the man is back in the same apartment building where he shot Stephen.

We are outraged. But controlled. We want the justice system to be outraged for us.

Despite our efforts of the family at the Board of Supervisors, it didn’t matter. The standard of the  DA was much higher to risk his win/loss record, I guess.

That’s what having zero “political will,” means. I guess he doesn’t think Filipino Americans or Asian Americans vote in San Francisco.

But the family has will.  And the fight continues for #justiceforStephen. There will be a vigil at the Hall of Justice today, 850 Bryant around the lunch hour.

We will also be at the Police Commission meeting at SF CITY HALL today at 5:30.

As I said, we are outraged, but controlled. We will raise real questions today.



SFPD Chief Greg Suhr boasted this week about a low homicide rate for the first quarter.  Personally, the Guillermo family murder stats in SF are  up by an infinite amount

Homicides at an all-time low in the history of San Francisco? Tell that to my family.

My cousin Stephen Guillermo, 26, was gunned down last night in the city.

My relatives tell me, he came home and mistakenly tried to enter the wrong apartment. Stephen lived on the fifth floor.  He mistakenly tried to enter the same apartment on the 3rd floor.

The resident of the third floor apartment was armed and is alleged to have shot Stephen, whom he might have mistaken for an intruder.

The older resident apparently felt he needed a gun to live in his urban apartment on Mission and 5th Street. 

This is how safe the city is when one only feels secure when armed and dangerous. 

That’s the situation that leaves an innocent 26-year old  dead.

My cousin, who took the journey my dad had taken 70 years before him, came to San Francisco from the Philippines and was living his American life. Stephan had some time off work and was officially on his  “long weekend.” He was planning a mini-road trip. I saw he went to see the Giants this week. I was going to give him my tickets to the next home stand.

I never got to see him again.

Sorry, SFPD Chief Greg Suhr.  

Boast all you want about how the city has had just four homicides in the city to date, compared to 12 in the same time last year.

Numbers don’t mean a thing.

Especially on an individual basis. The Guillermo family had no murders last quarter. None last year. None ever. And I’m a native San Franciscan with a long history in the city.

But we had one last night.  Do the math. Since you can’t divide by zero, that put our percentage increase at INFINITY.

That’s how ridiculous crime stats are. They don’t tell how safe the city is, nor how safe people feel in the city. 

City crime stats surely can’t explain the sad logic of my cousin’s senseless death.

UPDATE 11:52 a.m. 5/3/2014  FROM SFPD:

At approximately 1:40 AM this morning, San Francisco Police responded to an apartment building on the 900 block of Mission Street for a report of a shooting.  Officers arrived on scene and located a shooting victim, male 26 years old, in an apartment.  The victim was pronounced dead at the scene by medical personnel.  The suspect in this incident was located at the scene, arrested and booked into San Francisco County jail.  He is identified as Amisi Sudi Kachepa, 68 years old, San Francisco resident.  He was booked into county jail on a homicide charge.  His booking photo will not be released at this time


UPDATE: 11:07

I just got this statement  from SFPD–


At approximately 1:40 AM this morning, San Francisco Police responded to an apartment building on the 900 block of Mission Street for a report of a shooting.  Officers arrived on scene and located a shooting victim in an apartment.  The victim was pronounced dead at the scene by medical personnel.  Homicide investigators are actively investigating the incident.  Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call San Francisco Police.
 SFPD:  415-553-0123


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Pacquiao-Marquez V? Count on it.

After the Pacquiao Bradley debacle, I stayed true to my word. Not another pay-per-view dollar from me. Pacquiao Marquez IV to me seemed like Manny’s “Groundhog Day.” Haven’t we been through that before?

But indeed, there was a new scene we didn’t expect.

Manny Pacquiao lying face down on the canvas.

It’s an image we rarely saw–until Saturday.

He stayed down a long time.

But within minutes our champion was back up, on his feet. Just like the Frank Sinatra song, “That’s Life.”

In one of the post-fight interviews in the ring, almost immediately after (the one I saw was with ESPN) Pacquiao was asked the simple question: Was he ready for another?

Pacquiao didn’t flinch. “Why not,” said the Filipino champion. “My job is to fight.”

And with those words, I think I finally saw the truth.

I don’t think he was punch-drunk. Mind you, I was one of those who for the last three Pacquiao fights have suggested that Manny retire with his brains intact.  What can I say, I’m an ardent fan of boxing, but I value a man’s brains.

I also recognized the charismatic power of Pacquiao and saw him four years ago as someone who could rally the Philippines and maybe even spark the country with a massive dose of the pride that comes from being a world champion.

Isn’t that a bigger challenge than fisting a boastful Floyd Mayweather into submission?

Beyond the ring, there’s real life. Manny Pacquiao could be the leader of the Philippines.

That idea first came to me when I noticed the power of Manny’s charisma rising at the same time another politician was acting like an international rock star—Barack Obama.

Based on charisma and appeal, I even called him the Philippines’ Obama.

That may have been my dream. And maybe it was Manny’s too, for a brief second, as he did run and win a congressional seat in his Philippine district.

But I don’t think it’s Manny’s dream after his fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez.

Pacquiao-Marquez IV has totally changed my view.

Manny Pacquiao is not the savior of Philippine politics. He is not the statesman, the diplomat, the political leader. He’s not the future of Philippine politics or governance.

He’s a fighter. He’s a guy who works in  satin underwear with his name on it.

And hearing him talk from the weigh-in to the post-fight interviews has made me see that all too clearly.

It’s like the knockout blow from Juan Manuel Marquez knocked fans like me to their senses.

I also think it knocked a little reality into Pacquiao’s life.

Pac-man’s passion, his life, and his future is in the ring. Not in the Philippine legislature. Not in Malacanang.

It’s not in movies, nor music, either.

Pacquiao said it himself, repeatedly, even after the most vicious punishment any human could take in a sanctioned athletic event.

“I’m a fighter,” he told ESPN repeatedly. “It’s my job. I’m willing to fight.”

What did we expect after that fight? A cowering Manny? No way.

“I never expected that punch,” Manny said about the right-hand smash from Marquez that Manny walked into squarely in the 6th round. “He got me (with) a good one.”

And then the question came again. Do you want another fight, a rematch?

“Why not?” he answered.

The questioner came back, “Do you want it?”

“Of course,” Manny said. And then he repeated himself, “I’m a fighter. My job is to fight.”

It would have been nice had Manny broken into a bit of diplomatic rhetoric.  A line about “what a great champion Marquez is…” would have worked there, too. Marquez, in his post-fight interview talked about celebrating the victory for Mexicans around the world. Maybe Manny could have responded with a message to all the global Filipinos out there, that despite the defeat, they should all keep their chins up. Surely, there should have been some kind of message to those Filipinos ravaged by the recent typhoon in Mindinao. Now that was a knockout blow.

At the weigh-in, even HBO’s Larry Merchant threw Pacquiao  a softball on the typhoon to give Manny a chance to enlarge his scope beyond boxing.

Manny showed his concern, but it just wasn’t that  rhetorical flourish akin to a jab-straight-hook combo. That’s not who Manny is. But he can do wonders in the ring.

Even after the knockout blow, in his interview Manny knew his business. His true calling.

And you could sense he wanted another round.

Reports indicate that the brutal blow from Marquez may have given Pacquiao a concussion.

But when you are a boxer, concussions are as natural as blood, sweat and spittle. Those punches aren’t love taps to the head.

It’s all part of the world in which Manny belongs and is paid well for being part of. Where else is he going to get a $26 million dollar pay day just for showing up to work. That’s dollars, not pesos. His pay-per-view share, undoubtedly in the millions, is all extra. (You can watch it free this Saturday on HBO).

So I will give up my crusade insisting that Manny quit to save his brains and take on the mantle of being the Philippines’ rock star political leader.

Manny’s role goes beyond politics. He’s above all that. People go from movies and TV to politics all the time. But boxing champions are different.

They are our mythical warriors, cultural heroes. Manny doesn’t need Malacanang. He’s already head datu to Filipinos everywhere. That’s enough burden for one man. He doesn’t need the pettiness of politics. Pacquiao leads from the ring. And when he’s done, he’ll take his role as national folk hero, buddy, and humanitarian. National spirit lifter.

He doesn’t have to be Joseph Estrada.

But why rush things.

Manny turns just 34 on Dec. 17th. He’ll have a good birthday. And I’m sure an even better Christmas.

And, besides, you heard him indicate, he’s not done.

He’s a fighter. So maybe for a change we’ll really see him train like his life depended on it. And dedicate himself to showing the world that the champion can get back up and answer the bell again.

That’s what Pacquiao-Marquez IV has spawned.

Forget Mayweather. Forget the others. The franchise is set and so is the need—for Pacquiao-Marquez V.

What you need to know about the May10 presidential election in the Philippines

 “Anti-Marcos” used to be the phrase that defined overseas Filipinos’ political involvement.

You were either for or against the legendary dictator. But then came Cory Aquino and “People Power” to wipe the slate clean.  Only she really didn’t. 

She only gave new, formerly shut out oligarchs the opportunity to take their turn playing Marcos, only less brazenly, less openly. They were “anti-Marcos” in their own way, sure.  But for some it was just the style in which they sought their favors . They were “under-the-radar” corrupt. They figured out how to get all they wanted from the people of the Philippines without resorting to dictatorship.  In essence, the era after Marcos has been a time for all the self-serving corruption, but none of the excesses. 

The political style of choice is “Marcos Lite.”

I first used  the phrase to describe President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whom I affectionately call PGMA.  Comparing  current Philippine leaders to Marcos is a helpful  good measure of political progress in the Philippines.  But now PGMA is in a realm all her own. Having declared a “partial” martial law after the Maguindanao massacre (where political families gunned down opponents and journalists) and with a double digit negative approval rating, PGMA’s place in history is already assured. She will be known as the worst president ever in the short history of Filipino democracy.  Worse than the dictator.

And she did it all with a smile. And the support of both Bush and Obama.

That’s how it is when your style is “Marcos Lite.”  No one can tell just how bad you are because you are having such a good time at the public’s expense.

So with the May 10 presidential election in the Philippines around the corner, it’s time to declare who among the current presidential candidates is skillful and stylish enough to mask their corruption and  wear the sash with the phrase “Marcos Lite.”

It’s tough because of the presence of one Joseph Estrada, the ex-Philippine president whose fondness for numbers running  earned him a conviction in 2007 (that was followed by a pardon soon after; The oligarchs protect their own).  Now in 2010, Estrada feels entitled to his old job and has  poll numbers reportedly close to  20 percent.  That’s a lot of people to pay off.  The conviction remains a problem. Marcos would have found a way to avoid it all in the first place.

Then there’s Noynoy Aquino, a favorite of those sentimental for “People Power.” A lot of people like Aquino. But he doesn’t even belong on the list for “Marcos Lite.” Are you kidding?  Sure, he’s an oligarch with ties and connections among the patricians. But compared to his fellow candidates, Aquino’s  too nice, too ethical, too soft-spoken. No one says anything bad about him, except that he’s a soft-spoken bachelor who tries to do the right thing.

You wouldn’t  really want someone like that to be the  president of the Philippines, would you?

Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad. But then what you are hoping to see on May 10 is the absolute turnaround of the Philippine democracy.  It could happen, but I think the country is too used to self-serving, money-hungry, egotistical, corrupt oligarchs.

Given the taste for that kind of leader, is there a better person to be declared Marcos Lite than Manny Villar?

Villar likes to play poor kid from Tondo. (My mom was from Tondo, I’ve been to the cockfights in Tondo). But Villar is as they say in America, “dumb like a fox.”  He’s a shrewd businessman/politician who has used his influence to build a massive real estate empire. Some of his deals have been based on the illegal conversion of prime rice lands, and the use of those lands to raise billions of pesos in government loans. Vilar’s questionable deals are well documented among the journalists who refused to be cowed or paid-off by Villar. But there are not many of them.

Villar is spending billions of pesos on his campaign. He is the Meg Whitman in terms of campaign spending. Given that much of his money came from the public trough in the first place, he’s recycling.

Early this year, when I suggested the Philippines needed someone like a Manny Pacquiao, the famous champion boxer who is running for Congress,  to unite the Philippines, I did so half-tongue-in-cheek.  I do think the country needs someone out of norm for a Filipino politician, an  honest, non-politician may have been what the Philippines needed as an inspirational choice, as a real man of the people.  Alas, Pacquiao,who has successfully beaten off world champions, has succumbed to the charm of Villar.

Unfortunately, the record shows that by normal standards of democracy, Villar appears to be the wrong Manny for the job.

Villar does, however, seem perfect for the sobriquet, “Marcos Lite.”

And that’s too bad for the Philippines.