Vargas, millionairess-in-waiting and the Top 10 stories for 2011
The year 2011 has been an exciting one for Filipinos in New York. Although TheFilAm.net came by only in March, we were with you for most of the year and reported on the milestones of our lives as a community.
Here is our list of Top 10 stories. Purely from a journalistic perspective, these are the events that gave us pause, got us thinking and talking, and moved us to action.
ONE. In June, Pulitzer Award-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas of the Washington Post revealed himself to be an undocumented immigrant. His story stunned the nation, the usually calm FilAm community and the media world. Vargas has since founded Define American immigration movement and is a spokesman for the DREAM Act.
TWO. Like winning the lottery, private nurse Hadassah Peri became the recipient of $34 million in inheritance from a millionairess who has been in her care for 20 years. However, there is a legal challenge to Huguette Clark’s last will and testament, and while awaiting the decision of the probate court, the nurse remains a millionaire-in-waiting.
THREE. Just as the year was coming to a close, the Archdiocese of New York declared “no more Simbang Gabi” at the consulate building. The community was up arms. The archdiocese would later relent on enforcing that ruling this year because of all the preparations already made, but next year is another potential battle.
FOUR. A Filipina was the main character of a successful off-Broadway play written by “The Social Network’s” Jesse Eisenberg. “Asuncion” – with Camille Mana in the lead – played for about two months at Cherry Lane Theater in Greenwich Village and had an extended run.
FIVE. Dennis Josue was the first Filipino to get married under New York’s historic Marriage Equality Act. Dennis and his long-time partner Dan Mackey said their ‘I dos’ on July 24 at City Hall with about 50 other same-sex couples. The pair was picked out of a lottery.
SIX. Nonito Donaire made his boxing debut at the Madison Square Garden and defended his world bantamweight title against Omar Narvaez of Argentina. It was a boring match with Narvaez constantly covering his face not wanting to exchange punches. A disappointed crowd booed as they headed toward the exit by Round 10.
SEVEN. Rolando Lavarro Jr. became councilman-at-large in Jersey City, the first Filipino and Asian to hold the position. Only 18 percent showed up to vote in this low-turnout election with some wondering if Lavarro won providentially because many FilAms chose to stay home.
EIGHT. Loida Nicolas-Lewis and the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance organized a rally against China’s intrusions into the Philippines’ territorial waters in the South China Sea. Chants of “China is a bully” echoed around the Chinese consulate building on 12th Avenue.
NINE. Twelve outstanding FilAms were honored in the first-ever TOFA-NY awards ceremonies, where honorees were chosen via an explosion of Facebook voting. The winners — led by former fashion model Bessie Badilla and U.S. Marshalls spokesman Roland Ubaldo – were hailed by Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Andrew Cuomo for “contributing to the city’s amazing energy and spirit.”
TEN. The human trafficking case against former diplomat Lauro Baja was finally settled. No one is talking about the details of the civil case – how and how much – but if complainant Marichu Baoanan is satisfied with the terms, then so be it. Baja is not going to jail.
There you have it, our stories for the year. I’m sure there are others we may not have covered or written about, but the harvest of news has mostly been positive and upbeat. Despite the grind in the economy, it has for the most part been a very good year.