In the Media

FBANC Board Member Pelayo Llamas is featured in this article, Filipino Veterans Seek Formal Recognition for WWII Roles.  Happy Veterans Day FBANC!

Pedro Llamas

FBANC Member Rodney Villazori in the News:

FBANC recently made the front page of Philippine News for its great work fundraising for law students and honoring it's community partners, Sedgwick LLP, API Legal Outreach, Philippine News, and PG&E!

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Kababayans get free legal help from Pinoy workers advocates


San Francisco Public Defender and FBANC's very own President, Abigail Rivamonte, successfully defends man wrongfully accused of abusing his 8 lb. chihuahua

For a video on the case, please see the following link:

Rich Pio Roda

San Leandro City Council Appoints Former FBANC President and Current Advisory Board Member, Richard Pio Roda as City Attorney of San Leandro

CONTACT:  Office of the Mayor
April 2, 2013

Mayor Stephen Cassidy announced that last night the San Leandro City Council voted unanimously to appoint Assistant City Attorney Richard D. Pio Roda to be City Attorney,effective April 8, 2013.  He takes over this position from Jayne Williams, who has served as San Leandro’s City Attorney for nine years and will continue to provide legal services to the City as an assistant to the City Attorney.

“Richard Pio Roda has demonstrated superior judgment and professionalism as our Assistant City Attorney and we are confident he will continue to do so as our City Attorney,” said Mayor Stephen Cassidy. “We are grateful to Jayne Williams for helping us resolve two significant legal disputes over the past year, and for her dedication and service to our City for the past nine years.  We are pleased that she will continue to assist the City.”

Pio Roda has served as San Leandro’s Assistant City Attorney for the past five years and was counsel to the City’s Board of Zoning Adjustments, and Planning Commission
“I am thrilled to serve in the important and exciting position of City Attorney for the City of San Leandro,” stated Pio Roda.The City does an excellent job serving its citizens and I am grateful to be a part of the City’s team.”

Pio Roda is a Principal with the law firm of Meyers Nave and practices in the areas of municipal and special district law, public contracts and construction, land use, real estate, and education law. He also routinely advises on risk and litigation management.
From 2004 to 2007, he served as the Assistant City Attorney for the cities of Milpitas and Oakley.  Pio Roda is frequently requested as a trainer and speaker on government ethics, conflicts of interest, public contracting, construction, and public procurement.  Along with his legal profession, Pio Roda is a professional auctioneer and fundraiser, raising money for various organizations, charities, foundations, and nonprofits throughout the world.

“I have been honored to serve the City of San Leandro as its City Attorney for the past nine years,” said Jayne Williams, former City Attorney.  “The City Council has chosen well with the selection of Richard as my successor.”


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On April 12, 2013 the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California hosted its annual "Evening with Filipino American Lawyers"
This year’s theme was “Reaching Monumental Heights as a Filipino-American Attorney.” The panel spoke on following topics: (1) Climbing the ladder as a Filipino American attorney; (2) Mentorship; and (3) Landing the “Right Job” in a tough job market.

This year’s event was with an All-Star panel of attorneys who have achieved success in their respective fields and will share their journeys as Filipino-American trailblazers:Bill Tamayo, Regional Attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (Government/Civil Rights Litigation); Ben Reyes, Partner at Meyers Nave (Law Firm/Municipal/Public Agency Law); Mayor Ray Buenaventura, City of Daly City (Government/Politics); Billy Chan, Principal at Law Offices of Billy Chan (Solo Practitioner/Transactional); and Chris Chavez, Senior Counsel at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP (Law Firm/Transactional).

The panel was moderated by FBANC President, David Mesa, who is an associate at Sedgwick LLP (Law Firm/Products Liability Litigation).

Comments from attendees:61578_938310072002_1585473775_n

Thank you for being so candid during the panel. As a first-year law student, I really appreciated hearing from leaders in the Filipino community.

Great panel! Thank you for the helpful advice!!

I am so impressed by the distinguished panel of speakers and our ever-so-eloquent moderator!

WOW! I have to say that I've been to a lot of panels and this group of panelists was one of the most informative (and truly honest) I've ever seen.

FBANC EVP, Robert Uy received 15 awards on behalf of the ALLICE Kumares and Kumpares and made the front page of Philippine News.


You can read the full article at


FBANC EVP – Robert Uy, receiving the 2013 Thomasians Unity Award from the Thomasians USA, along with awards from State Senator Mark Leno, State Senator, Jerry Hill, State Assemblyman Phil Ting, Supervisor Adrian Tissier,  San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, US Senator Nancy Pelosi, US Representative Jackie Speier, US Representative Anna Eshoo, the City of Daly City, the City of South San Francisco, and the City of Palo Alto, on behalf of the ALLICE Kumares and Kumpares, for their work addressing domestic violence in the Filipino community. Robert is currently President of ALLICE.

Congratulations to FBANC Advisory Board Member Marina Sarmiento Feehan, FBANC Lifetime Member, Charles Jung, and FBANC External Vice President Robert Uy, for being elected Directors at Large for the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area. Congratulations to all for your good work and we look forward to you representing the Filipino American Legal Community in the Bar Association.









President Benigno S. Aquino III exchanges pleasantries with Filipino-American Daly City Mayor Raymond Buenaventura (FBANC Board Member) during the Courtesy Call at the Music Room, Malacañan Palace on Wednesday (January 30, 2013). (Photo by: Benhur Arcayan / Malacañang Photo Bureau).

FBANC's Vice President, Robert Uy, sworn in as President of ALLICE Kumares and Kumpares, a Filipino Anti-Domestic Violence Group.

Sen. Hill administers oath of office for 2013 officers Susan Roxas,
Jeannette Trajano, Jose Antonio and Robert Uy (with future kumpare Logan Uy).


By Cherie M. Querol Moreno
Editor at Large, Philippine News

MILLBRAE, Calif. – A lawyer, a banker, a nurse and an accountant swore in Dec. 11 to lead the lone known Northern California Filipino American team of volunteer violence prevention educators in their tenth year of promoting health and safety in communities.

Before newly installed state Senator Jerry Hill (D-13th Dist.), 2013 officers of ALLICE or Alliance for Community Empowerment vowed to take their nonprofit, nonpolitical, nonpartisan all-volunteer team to “new heights” in the coming year.

Robert Uy, a partner in the Oakland-based Law Offices of Lien Uy, headed by his wife, Uy, is the first lawyer and the youngest president to lead the group that named itself after community leader Alice Bulos, its honorary chair. He is also vice president of the Filipino American Bar of Northern California. “I hope to continue engaging the Filipino American community in the campaign to end domestic violence,” said Uy. “My background as a domestic violence attorney, in the immigration, elder abuse, and family law fields will allow me to broaden members’ knowledge on the legal options for survivors of domestic violence. With the support of the Kumares and Kumpares, I hope to bring our efforts to great success toward ending domestic violence in our

“Congratulations and best wishes on your fine work,” said Hill, a longtime ALLICE ally and favorite keynote speaker. “I’ve witnessed family violence occur in my neighborhood as a young boy. I’m glad I was able to speak to my father about my feelings regarding what I saw. I learned right then the importance of resources, of children being able to express their fears, ask questions and empower themselves through education.

“For families, understanding the dynamics of healthy and unhealthy interaction is essential to deterring violence,” Hill concluded. “Your work truly is critical.”

In their final meeting for 2012 at the residence of 2012 president San Francisco PD Lt. Randy Caturay, the Kumares and Kumpares, as members of the organization are known, celebrated the year’s accomplishments.

For the first time, they focused on Elder Care and Adult Abuse Prevention in their traditional spring seminar and resource fair.

They staged their 6th Annual Our Family, Our Future April 28 at St. Robert’s Church in San Bruno in partnership with The Fil-Am Group of St. Robert.

San Mateo Supervisor Adrienne Tissier, board liaison to the County Commission on Aging, keynoted the event and led the call to action to protect the elderly through policy, engagement and education.

Adult Protective Services manager Chris Rodriguez and social worker Roland Valladares emphasized the need for awareness of what constitutes abuse, particularly in a county with diverse populations.

Deputy Consul General Ramon Ascalon offered continued support for ALLICE’s “laudable mission to promote healthy, happy, and harmonious family-living, especially among the Filipino American community.”

ALLICE allies Lloyd Lacuesta and Frances Dinglasan co-emceed again, the fourth for LaCuesta, now retired as South Bay Bureau Chief of KTVU Channel 2 News, and the third for Dinglasan, traffic reporter-meteorologist with ABC7 News.

In October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, ALLICE focused on law enforcement and domestic violence to culminate the presidency of Caturay.

In another first, Free from Violence guest speaker Daly City Police Chief Manny Martinez brought all his Filipino American sworn officers and administrative workers along with his ranking officers in a show of solidarity with the movement to prevent and end intimate partner and family violence in general.

Martinez told at the Oct. 4 event how he accidentally discovered his ex-wife’s abusive partner and explained to her about the pattern of behavior where the perpetrator apologizes profusely only to repeat the violence.

FBANC Internal Vice President Abigail Rivamonte acquits innocent man

SF Dad Cleared of Battery After Spending Month in Jail

December 28th, 2012 | Category: Press Releases

San Francisco, CA — A San Francisco father who spent more than a month behind bars for battery was acquitted after a jury determined he acted in self-defense, Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.

Jurors deliberated only 45 minutes Thursday before finding Duane Chatman Jr., 24, not guilty of one count of misdemeanor battery against the mother of his 1-year-old son, said his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Abigail Rivamonte.

Chatman, who had no criminal history, was arrested Thanksgiving Day following an altercation with his son’s mother at San Francisco General Hospital. Chatman had brought his son to the emergency room as a precaution after the boy fell off the bed while playing with other children. The boy was not injured in the fall.

When the boy’s mother arrived at the hospital, she became extremely upset and blamed Chatman for the accident. The pair argued and she threatened to take Chatman’s son from him, Rivamonte said. In a fit of rage, she began punching and shoving Chatman in the chest multiple times, ignoring his protests for her to stop. Finally, Chatman grabbed the woman and pushed her away from him. A nurse who briefly walked into the room during the fight witnessed the shove.

The complaining witness told police that Chatman punched her in the neck and tried to hit her in the face. Police testified that the woman suffered no injuries or bruising and declined medical attention.

During the weeklong trial, Rivamonte warned jurors against letting stereotypes about men and women invade the courtroom.

“Just because Mr. Chatman is a man and his attacker is a woman doesn’t mean he has to give up his dignity and take the beating,” Rivamonte said. “The law allows him to use reasonable force to defend himself, and that’s exactly what he did. He simply pushed her away to get her to stop hurting him.”

The complaining witness’ history of anger problems was revealed during the trial, including a recent vandalism conviction for slashing the tires of another former boyfriend’s car, jumping on the roof and hood and breaking the windshield by stabbing it with a knife.

That former boyfriend testified that the complaining witness attacked his car after he refused to open his door when she came armed with a knife to retrieve her belongings. The man’s neighbor also took the stand, testifying that the woman had the knife hidden behind her back while ringing her ex-boyfriend’s doorbell and appeared extremely aggressive.

The woman admitted on the stand that she was jealous of Chatman’s new relationship. Chatman’s family testified that the woman kept her son from Chatman on Father’s Day and the boy’s first birthday. The estranged parents are also embroiled in a custody battle, giving the boy’s mother a motive to lie about the hospital attack, Rivamonte argued.

Chatman’s former high school teacher and mentor, whom he has known for 10 years, testified to Chatman’s honesty and peaceful nature, saying that of the hundreds of students she has taught, Chatman remains one of her favorites.

“In the end, jurors did not find the complaining witness credible. They believed she acted in a fit of rage that day and that Mr. Chatman’s lack of criminal history and the honest way he testified showed that he was the one attacked,” Rivamonte said.

Chatman broke down in tears when the not guilty verdict was read, Rivamonte said.

Adachi praised the jury for carefully examining the facts in the case.

“The evidence showed that Mr. Chatman was the victim, not the aggressor,” Adachi said. “After spending the holidays in jail, he can now enjoy the New Year with his family.”

Billy Chan, former FBANC President – Awarded as the YFPA Individual of the Decade

Young FilAms mark 10 years as service group
Dec 7, 04:24 AM

SAN FRANCISCO — This past Friday night, The Young Filipino Professionals Association (YFPA) commemorated ten years of connecting, educating and serving in the San Francisco Bay Area at Four Seas Restaurant in San Francisco’s historic Chinatown. The theme of the evening was “YFPA X: A Decade of a Real Life Social Network”, a nod to the present cultural practice of solely relying on social media as the medium to connect, while YFPA was at the forefront of face-to-face, one-on-one, immediate social networking back in 2002.

The night was topped with an introduction by the president Regina Finuliar, noting that this night was a celebration for those who have strongly supported YFPA over the years. She remarked that YFPA was and still remains as a “forum for Filipino American professionals in the San Francisco Bay to connect, collaborate and support professional networking, educational and community service activities.”

YFPA Founders Neil Baquiran, Greg Montemayor and Rochelle Rapadas all made the event and warmly welcomed attendees, recounting how they initially began the group because they felt the need to connect in some way, but did not know how since back then they were still budding University of San Francisco graduates looking to get into the work world and at the brink of their individual careers. They saw the need and filled it by creating the group simply by sending an Evite to the very first mixer at Metropol. Neil Baquiran recalled that they, “had no idea that evening we would have nearly 90 people come that night…we were overwhelmed by the support”.

Recognition was given that night to honorees that have supported YFPA greatly during the decade. The gala awards celebration honorees were: Corporate Award of the Decade – 2012 World Series Champions, San Francisco Giants received by Cameron Lotche; Non-profit Award of the Decade – The National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) picked-up by Christopher Do and the NAAAP Board; Individual of the Decade – awarded to Billy Chan, serving as general counsel to YFPA; Member of the Decade, given to three current YFPA members and past board officers; Gary Gonzalez, past architect to overhaul YFPA’s web presence; Marlene Mira, acting as treasurer, handling the budget expenditures; and Eleanore Fernandez, who spearheaded their marketing efforts, community outreach efforts, and event preparation.

The evening’s highlight was the keynote speech, given by recently retired, legendary KTVU Channel 2, South Bay Bureau news journalist, Lloyd Lacuesta. He said that as a retiree, he is now “no longer young and now that I am retired, no longer a professional…”, but he,”still is and always will be Filipino American.”

Lacuesta recounted how even growing up, he had read the works of Filipino writers so he did not see himself as just a “brown boy,” He shared that one of his favorite Pinoy authors was Carlos Bulosan and retold one of his favorite short stories from Bulosan’s most notable literary masterpiece, “America is in the Heart.” Lacuesta also emphasized the story’s point was that in between the busy business of work, getting ahead, and career climbing, it is important to always remember to cherish those small, special times that are unseen, not highlighted nor rewarded at all. He emphasized that those unseen meaningful memories are what truly capture and hold weight in all of our daily lives and are, therefore, a universal message that speaks to all, especially towards important relationships with loved ones and family.

Other key, memorable moments towards the end of the evening, was a Filipino martial arts demonstration by the expert team of Eskabo Daan, musical performances by the rockers LUMAYA, smooth, island jams by The Mango Kingz, and dance music DJ’ed by West Coast Jamz.

For information on The Young Filipino Professionals Association and to learn more about their mission and causes, go to For additional details contact Carlo Almendral –(415) 205-3575.


FBANC Operations Director Ray Buenaventura elected to Mayor of Daly City

Dec 3, 2012







FBANC President David Mesa receives Diversity Award

October 19, 2012, 3:56 p.m. ET

Sedgwick Announces Winners of Diversity Awards








Sedgwick LLP named the winners of its first annual Diversity Awards at the firm's 2012 Diversity Symposium in New York on Oct. 17, 2012. Los Angeles Office Managing Partner Craig Barnes and Ft. Lauderdale Associate Sherylle Gordon were recognized for their long standing commitment and determined efforts in promoting diversity. Sedgwick's Diversity Award is presented to individuals within the firm who have demonstrated a noteworthy commitment to ethnic, LGBT and/or gender diversity through recruiting, retaining, and mentoring, and/or being an accomplished diversity leader in the firm or in the greater legal community. In addition to the awards given to Barnes and Gordon, five other Sedgwick attorneys received Certificates of Appreciation for their diversity efforts: James Holmes (Partner, Los Angeles), Tanya Lawson (Partner, Ft. Lauderdale), David Mesa (Associate, San Francisco), Jessika Moon (Partner, New York), and Denise Trani-Morris (Special Counsel, San Francisco).

"People from diverse backgrounds who are empowered to voice new and different perspectives generate a remarkable array of solutions for our clients," said Firm Chair Michael Tanenbaum. "There is no doubt that a more diverse firm is a better firm and Craig's and Sherylle's efforts have helped make our firm and the legal profession better."

Craig Barnes is an active trial lawyer who practices in the areas of complex business litigation, toxic torts, products liability and general liability. Barnes was the driving force behind the establishment of Sedgwick's African American Lawyers Forum in 2002, and he remains the chair of that group. He co-chairs the firm's Inclusion and Diversity Committee and is actively involved in pipeline and mentoring activities. His work with the Los Angeles County Bar's Subcommittee on Diversity in the Profession involves local high school students, the Posse Foundation and SAGE (Summer Associate Girls Inc. Externship). Barnes is also the co-chair of the Programs Committee for the California Minority Counsel Program and active in the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.

Sherylle Gordon defends major corporations in commercial litigation, premises liability, general civil litigation and products liability matters, including multiparty mass tort litigation. Gordon is a member of the Inclusion and Diversity Committee and is the local inclusion and diversity chair of Sedgwick's Ft. Lauderdale office. She successfully started the POP Program, a pipeline program with the University of Miami, and oversaw the selection and mentoring of the intern for that program. Gordon also is actively engaged with the Caribbean Bar Association.

Sedgwick's Inclusion and Diversity Committee works with the firm's division leaders, practice group leaders and office managing partners to continually support the recruitment, retention and advancement of diverse attorneys. Sedgwick's inclusion and diversity initiatives have included: — Diversity Symposium – This event gathers attorneys and clients, academics, attorneys from minority-owned firms, law students, and members of the media for an insightful discussion of the issues and opportunities surrounding diversity. Sedgwick has received numerous accolades in 2012 as a result of the creative approach the firm has taken to address the need for greater diversity within the legal profession. In September, the firm was named the 2012 recipient of the Drucilla Stender Ramey Majority-Owned Law Firm Award by the California Minority Counsel Program. In August, the firm received the State Bar of California's 2012 Diversity Award. Sedgwick was also named by The American Lawyer as one of the "Top 40 Firms for Diversity," achieved a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index for the fourth consecutive year, and attained Gold Standard Certification from the Women in Law Empowerment Forum for the second year in a row.

The international trial firm of Sedgwick LLP provides trial, appellate, litigation management, counseling, risk management and transactional legal services to the world's leading companies. With more than 370 attorneys in offices in Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, London, Los Angeles, New York, Newark, Orange County (California), Paris, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C., and an affiliated office in Bermuda, Sedgwick's collective experience spans the globe and virtually every industry. For more information about Sedgwick, its attorneys and services, visit

Former FBANC President Billy Chan receives the Young Filipino Professionals Association – Individual Member of the DecadeAward – at YFPA 10 Year Gala – X: A Decade of a Real Life Social Network

November 16, 2012








Former FBANC President Mark Punzalan Receives Minority Board Coalition United Award

November 13, 2012:  Congrats to FBANC immediate past president Mark Punzalan for receiving the MBC Unity Award for his tireless dedication to FBANC and promoting diversity in the legal profession! Thanks for all your hard work!








FBANC Social Chair, Ben Uy, named to the BASF Barristers Club 2013 Board of Directors.

BASF's New Attorney Division – The Barristers Club – Announces 2013 Board of Directors
Barristers Club Names Sebastian Kaplan of Fenwick & West as President

October 25, 2012 – San Francisco – The Barristers Club, BASF’s new attorney division, recently announced the officers for the 2013 Board of Directors.

Sebastian Kaplan, Fenwick & West, will serve as president; Eric Toscano, attorney at law, will serve as vice president; David Abella, Hanson Bridgett, will serve as treasurer and Robert Esposito, Bryan Cave, will serve as secretary.

Also slated to join the board of directors are candidates Manuel Alvarez, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Mark Conrad, U.S. Attorney’s Office; Anna Gehriger, Phillips, Spallas & Angstadt; Jeanne Sheahan, Davis Wright Tremaine; Kimberly Taylor, Carr McClellan Ingersoll Thompson & Horn; Benjamin Uy, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman; and Heather Wong, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein. These new directors will be confirmed November 6.

Outgoing officers are 2012 President Janelle Sahouria, Paul Hastings; Vice President Carolyn Lee, Abkin Law; Treasurer Alica Del Valle,; and Secretary Reno Fernandez, Macdonald Fernandez.
Outgoing directors are Matt Gouaux, Trucker Huss, A.P.C.; Jaime Touchstone, Futterman Dupree Dodd Croley Maier and Rachel Langston, Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center.

Continuing board members are Shirley Huey, Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld and Adam Maldonado, Alameda County District Attorney's Office.

The new officers and directors will start their terms January 1, 2012. They will be installed at The Bar Association of San Francisco’s Annual Membership Luncheon on December 11, 2012, to be held at The Marriott Marquis Hotel. To register for the annual luncheon, visit






Robert Uy, FBANC EVP and (2013 ALLICE President) with the ALLICE Kumares and Kumpares at their eighth, Free From Violence community event fighting the problem of Domestic Violence in the Filipino community.






Man Acquitted of Vehicle Tampering

October 11th, 2012 | Category: Press Releases

San Francisco, CA — A mechanic who took a $3 part from what he believed was a junked car was acquitted of vehicle tampering, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.

Jurors in the trial of Ben Velez, 51, deliberated approximately two hours Wednesday afternoon before finding him not guilty of the single misdemeanor count, said Velez’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Abigail Rivamonte.

Velez, a longtime San Francisco mechanic and truck driver, was awakened Oct. 24, 2011, to the sound of metal hitting metal. Velez followed the noise to the back fence of his Little Hollywood home, where he saw a man parked 30 feet away, working under the hood of a 2001 Mercedes. Velez identified himself as a mechanic and offered the man help. In return, the man told Velez that his car was junk and would be towed tomorrow, offering, “Take what you want.”

Velez, who frequently visited junk yards and recycled auto part lots, told the stranger he was on his way to work but would take him up on his offer later. Velez returned home at 8 p.m., and approached the car with his tools.

He noticed that the car’s interior was completely stripped and assumed that most of the parts had already been given away, Velez testified during the two day trial.  Velez salvaged a valve stem cover and put it in his pocket. Police on patrol spotted him, handcuffed him, and told him the vehicle had been involved in a carjacking.

Fearing he would be wrongly connected to a carjacking, Velez did not tell the officers about his conversation with the man earlier in the day. Instead, he tried to distance himself by telling them only that, “if anything, I was maybe going to take brake pads.”

On the stand and with nothing to fear, however, Velez told jurors the whole story.

“It was clear that Mr. Velez believed he had consent from the car’s rightful owner,” Rivamonte said. “To believe a law abiding man would try to dismantle a car and steal its parts while parked just feet from his home at 8 p.m. is ludicrous.”

Velez’s employer of 30 years testified as a character witness during the trial, stating that Velez was an honest, trustworthy man.

Velez was in jail for three days before being released on his own recognizance. He faced up to a year behind bars if convicted.

Adachi applauded the jury’s decision.

“Mr. Velez was truly in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Adachi said. “Jurors carefully weighed the evidence and testimony and determined he had done nothing wrong.”


Applause for Daly City Vice Mayor 

Unbound/Opinion, Philippine News

July 23, 2012

By Cherie M. Querol Moreno

Ray Buenaventura did not lose time making his presence felt on the city council of Daly City.

The first-termer elected a little over six months ago made a move to fill what many Filipino American leaders and organizers say has been conspicuously absent:  Recognition of the Filipino presence in Daly City.

Daly City has been called New Manila USA, Adoboland, or Pinoy Capital, the title of 2009 book by Benito Vergara Jr.

Unofficially, of course.

There are streets named after Lapulapu and Mabini in San Francisco, where a park was named in 2006 in honor of Victoria Manalo Draves, the first FilAm Olympic gold medalist diver.

Los Angeles has its Historic Filipino town, endearingly called “Hi-Fi” or “P-Town.”

Across the country, Jersey City in New Jersey has Manila Avenue and Filipinos make up only 7 percent of the population.

No one questions the astounding numerical superiority of Filipinos in the Northern California coastal town – nearly 40 percent by unofficial estimates of the 102,000 residents.  Out-of-state FilAms relieve their nostalgia here, where anything from Philippines – food, clothes, news – may be savored any given time.

Considering that one cent of every dollar spent in its shops and businesses goes to its coffers, imagine how much Filipinos pour into the Daly City economy?

Buenaventura knows his math and tested his diplomatic chops in his call for a city council “study session” on Monday, July 16.

A “study session” brings the five members of the town’s governing body together to hear a project proposal.  The public is welcome to attend, listen and watch but not comment.  That comes later in the process.

The 48-year-old lawyer proposed designating an area in Daly City as its “Filipinotown.”  That would recognize Filipinos as its “majority minority,” he said, and acknowledge their contributions to the city.  He offered three sites:  The Top of the Hill section that leads to or from San Francisco; the Serramonte area lorded by the popular Serramonte Center; and St. Francis Square, a pocket of commerce in a predominantly residential neighborhood.

Council members Carol Klatt, David Canepa, Mike Guingona and Mayor Sal Torres welcomed the proposal and ultimately concurred that St. Francis Square was the ideal candidate for a potential Filipinotown.  Or whatever name the proposed site would have.

The two other districts do have large Filipinos populations but not quite as concentrated as St. Francis Square bordering St. Francis Boulevard and Southgate Avenue, they agreed.  And the commercial center is privately owned by Filipinos, who should be the first to embrace such a project.

No word on that yet.

Torres recommended forming a committee with Buenaventura to continuing “study” on the proposal, which would include checking the city’s temperature on the matter.  Down the road the public will be invited to weigh in.  That’s a challenge, because truth be told, Filipinos have not been known to attend council meetings even when an issue involves their neighborhoods.  The indifference often is attributed to lack – of time, of awareness in their power to participate, or of trust in their elected officials.  This is one issue notoriously disunited Daly City FilAms can get behind.

Buenaventura won’t say for sure if his concept will materialize.  What he is definite will happen is he will reach out to everyone who has a stake in the project.  He’s an optimist and also a realist.  So he’s mustering his troops to go out and spread the word, get folks to buy in on the idea, honor their community at last.  If there’s someone who can get the job done, it’s this newbie official.  He’s a consensus builder, who has learned to look back and acknowledge those who helped him get to where he is today.   Perla Ibarrientos, one of his “Titas,” as he calls his female advisers, considers Buenaventura’s entry into elected office as a gift to community organizers.  Filipinos have always had a “connection” with the city and the council, said Ibarrientos, a 34-year resident of Daly City, and Buenaventura will hasten fulfillment of FilAm objectives because he is an advocate for the community.

Buenaventura prefers to applaud his colleagues on the council for their positive response to his proposal, hailing seniormost member Carol Klatt for consistently supporting FilAm issues.

Now if only he could learn to speak Tagalog.



 Philippine News – June 22, 2012


Filipino Examiner – May 23, 2012

Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC) Hosts Asian Judges Panel

by Rowena Penalba, SF Bay Area Filipino Examiner

On April 25, 2012, the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC) partnered with Sedgwick’s Asian Pacific Islanders Lawyers Forum to host the event “An Evening With Asian-American Judges” at Sedgwick’s San Francisco office. More than 60 FBANC members and supporters gathered to hear from a panel of Asian-American judges who shared their experiences on the bench and provided practical advice for attorneys.

The panel included the Honorable Ronald Quidachay of San Francisco Superior Court, the Honorable Stuart Hing of Alameda County Superior Court and the Honorable Eleanor Nisperos, Administrative Law Judge of the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (Ret.). Incoming FBANC president, David Mesa, gave welcome remarks and Mark Punzalan, current FBANC president, was panel moderator. The panel shared obstacles they faced as Asian-Americans and provided useful insight into the paths they took to land on the bench.

FBANC, founded in 1981, supports, educates, encourages and empowers its members to excel and succeed in their educational and professional endeavors. FBANC’s primary mission is to guard against injustices targeting the Filipino community. Its goal for 2012 has been to develop a game plan to get more Filipino-Americans and minorities on the bench. The Judges Panel was one of many steps the organization has been taking to reach its goal.

Notably, the Filipino-American legal community has been taking large strides by recently landing several prominent judicial roles. In January of 2011, the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, was sworn in as the first Filipino-American to serve on California’s highest court. More recently, on April 25th – the same day as FBANC’s Judges Panel – President Barack Obama nominated Attorney Lorna Schofield to serve as a federal district court judge for the Southern District of New York. Upon confirmation, she will be the very first Filipino-American to serve as an Article III federal judge.

Incoming FBANC President Mesa commented: “It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Filipino-American legal community and FBANC proudly supports our Filipino-American judges. However, with 1.2 million Filipinos in California making up over 3% of all Californians, we’d definitely like to see more Filipino-Americans on the bench in this great state.”

FBANC will celebrate its 32nd Annual Installation Dinner on June 11, 2012 in San Francisco. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye will be giving welcome remarks and holding a brief meet and greet. As a Filipino-American journalist, I am proud to watch this motivated group of Filipino-American attorneys and judges continue to grow and succeed. For more information about FBANC’s Annual Dinner and sponsorship opportunities, please visit FBANC’s website at