Keeping Families Together is The Heart of US Immigration

Dr. Marshall Duke, a professor of psychology at Emory University, has this theory that the “people who know a lot about their families tend to be more resilient when facing life’s challenges.” Immigration Attorney Nicolas “Nick” Caraquel, one of the top Attorneys of North America-2018-2019 edition of The Who’s Who Directories, personifies that theory and adds further, “that the unconditional love for family will complete anyone’s life journey.”

An industrial engineer earlier in his career, Atty. Caraquel, Immigration Attorney of US Immigration Law Office of Nicolas Caraquel (83-15 Queens Blvd, 2nd Floor Elmhurst, New York), obtained his New York State license to practice law in 2012. Since practicing law, he’s been helping various clients all over the world to secure their immigrant US visas as a first step in achieving their American Dream, whose original idea has been evolving, according to him. “I used to hear the concept of the ‘American Dream’ was being able to buy a house in the US. As an immigration attorney, my clients have redefined the ‘American Dream’ as being able to bring their family here and share the blessings of ‘America’ with them,” Atty. Caraquel told Fil-Am Who’s Who in an interview.

“No matter how big the house you buy, if you live by yourself, there’s no joy in living in it,” he added.

Although he grew up in a poor family in Davao City—a breadwinner for the family who sold sweetened saba bananas to famished passengers at a bus terminal at the tender age of nine—his love for his family never waned, even an instance. To immigrate his own family in the US, to spend more time with them remains his “American Dream.”

An immigrant himself, Atty. Caraquel understands the challenges and the complexity of going through the US immigration process. He entered the US originally as a tourist in 2007. He was hired as an industrial engineer three weeks after his arrival and obtained his multinational executive visa in four weeks. He became a green card holder in 2008 and now holds a dual Filipino-American citizenship.

Although he’s been a legal counsel for US immigration in under a decade only, he’s considered a seasoned practitioner among his peers and a rapidly growing roster of clients, whose misconceptions about the US immigration law have been recurring. He explained, “The immigration law is not anti-illegal immigrants. As a matter of fact, some provisions and regulations provided better guidance on how to help illegal immigrants to find solutions to their problematic immigration status. All they need to do is consult the right people and get help from the right sources.”

If you choose to work with Atty. Caraquel, his well-grounded industrial engineering skills, besides his expertise in the US immigration law, will help you find practical and quicker solutions to your immigration concerns. “My industrial engineering skills made it easier for me to navigate through the employment and entrepreneur-based petitions. Business models, re-organizations, financial management, strategic planning, etc. come in handy as I explore employment and investment-based petitions. My industrial engineering training gives me an advantage in solving even the most complicated immigration problems. Also, my strong problem-solving skills give me the instinct to offer ‘options’ to my clients on their immigration concerns.”

“Being an engineer has molded my ‘can do,’ ‘there’s a better way,’ ‘we’ll find ways’ attitude. That’s why I’m winning my immigration cases,” he said.

Atty. Caraquel is an alumnus of Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan)- Bachelor of Laws, and Ateneo de Davao University-Bachelor of Science. He’s a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, New York State Bar Association, and Integrated Bar of the Philippines. He received the Empowerment Awardee: Excellence in Legal Profession from the Fiesta in America, 2017, The National Advocates’ Top 40 Under 40 from the The National Advocates, 2017, and the Client’s Choice from Avvo, 2013-2016.

In addition to his legal office in New York, Atty. Caraquel has a satellite office in his hometown, Davao City.

For more information, visit his website IDream-America.com.

Profile: Saint Paul Manila Alumnae USA

Established in 2015, the Saint Paul Manila Alumnae USA (SPMA USA) is a 501c3 alumni organization based in the United States. It aims to connect with Paulinians, build a national alumni community, and support Saint Paul University in the Philippines. Its membership encompasses all Saint Paul University campuses back home and all class batches.

As a member, you can expand your network of Paulinians and friends of Saint Paul; bond together in social meetings; align with your business interests, and grow your social media numbers. Additionally, the alumnae can share news about Paulinians and friends of Saint Paul; provide personal and professional development tips; receive discounts from business and community partners, and participate in various SPMA USA programs and events. You can also support the educational programs of Saint Paul University and SPMAF, and other community projects in the Philippines through the SPMA’s Fleur De Lis Fund.

The SPMA’s Fleur de Lis Fund aids projects such as the scholarships for deserving Saint Paul students–from senior high school to college programs in education, nursing, business, information technology, and computer science—and the Saint Paul Music Therapy Center in Manila, which is providing the special needs of the youth and children. The Fund also helps various SPMAFI projects that assist women in correctional facilities and the elderly nuns at the Mere Monique Homes in Iloilo, Philippines.

For more information, email spmausa@gmail.com, or visit www.facebook.com/spmausa/ or www.spma-usa-inc.org. – Marilyn Abalos

Meet Our Hardworking Vice Consul

New to the Philippine Consulate General family and a fresh face in the New York Filipino community is Vice Consul Tanya Faye O. Ramiro, who assumed her first diplomatic posting for the Philippine Foreign Service in the Big Apple last September 2017, has been concurrently serving as the Administrative Officer of the Consulate, Administering Officer of the Resident Election Registration Board for Overseas Absentee Voters, and the Assistant Manager of the Philippine Center.

Her responsibilities seem enormous for a new arrival, yet Vice Consul Tanya is no doubt confident she will deliver the exemplary public service for which the Consulate is known for throughout the community. “As head of our core consular services, my primary responsibility is to achieve operational efficiency in consular operations this being the frontline service of the Philippine Consulate General in New York,” she explains, “this requires me to supervise the performance of the personnel on a daily basis and resolve issues that are escalated to me. Executing frontline service operations is very dynamic because you also deal with unpredictable and novel challenges. My role is not only to achieve efficiency in public service but to also improve problem-solving practices.”

As Administrative Officer, she manages administrative processes involving staffing, finance, and property issues. “Implicit also in being an administrative manager is playing the role of cheerleader of the personnel – I want to help everyone achieve job motivation by encouraging them, listening to their problems, and advising them as best as I could,” she says.

Lastly, as Assistant Manager of the Philippine Center, she is the second-in-command with respect to maintaining the New York Philippine Center, which mostly everyone in the community knows as the Philippine Government-owned building along Fifth Avenue that primarily houses both the Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the Philippine Consulate General, aside from other government agency representatives, such as the Philippine Trade and Investment Center, the Philippine Department of Tourism. and Pag-IBIG Fund.

Born to a father hailing from Ilocos and a mother from La Union, she attended Miriam College (formerly Maryknoll) in Quezon City from nursery all the way to her high school years. She then went on to attend Ateneo de Manila University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with honors. Immediately thereafter, she enrolled at the Ateneo de Manila College of Law in Rockwell, Makati City where she earned a Juris Doctor Degree and made the dean’s list. Accordingly, she took the Philippine Bar and signed the Philippine Roll of Attorneys at the Supreme Court in May 2010.

Having already familiarized herself with several Filipino-American community leaders throughout the Tri-State region, Vice Consul Tanya’s primary goal on her New York posting is to change the perception of Philippine “public service” that some overseas Filipinos may have. “Each day at work is, therefore, an opportunity to prove that the Philippine Foreign Service could be as efficient and as professional as any other foreign government agency,” she remarks. She goes on to remind that among the newer services that the Consulate is offering is the “Passport Release Tracking System,” which the Consulate has launched last January 2018, wherein applicants need to simply log into the Consulate’s official website www.newyorkpcg.org to monitor the status of their respective passports, instead of calling or emailing the Consulate. “Hopefully, initiatives such as this could help shift the mindset beyond the stereotype most have of Philippine public service,” she comments.

As far as what she feels is her greatest achievement in her new posting, her only remarks are: “I already consider it an achievement whenever a kababayan would take time to call or send me a greeting card to say how thankful they are for the assistance we have provided. It gives me a sense of fulfillment to know that our work in the foreign service helps people in concrete ways.”

Although she has been in New York for just seven months as a Consulate officer, Vice Consul Tanya is no stranger to the urban delights of this great city. “Since I was in high school, my mother, Gloria Jean Ongogan Ramiro, who used to work here in NYC, would save up money to bring all her four children to NYC to spend time with her. Mommy was our official tour guide and photographer. She introduced us to the basics of NYC. Mommy paved the way for us in America”, she recalls. “Now that I am here as Vice Consul, I am hoping to take this opportunity as well to immerse myself in the local culture.”

As for her personal message to the Fil-Am community, she only has to say– “Maraming salamat po sa inyong mainit na pagtanggap sa akin, at sa inyong patuloy na pagsuporta. Sisikapin ko pong pagbutihin ang aking trabaho bilang inyong Vice Consul.

“In more ways than one, you are all ‘ambassadors’ of the Philippines. Let us continue to show the world what makes Filipinos truly world-class. Mabuhay!” — Wendell Gaa

Christine Allado Joins The Original London Cast Of ‘Hamilton’

Filipino actress and singer Christine Allado has joined the original London cast of the hit Broadway show “Hamilton: An American Musical” as Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds. The show opened last December at the Victoria Palace Theatre.

“…As a self-professed ‘Hamilfan’ since listening to the cast recording and having seen the show, I don’t think words could really encapsulate how thrilled, grateful, and incredulous I am at the fact that I will be playing such a cool part in the original West End production of ‘Hamilton: An American Musical.’ A quote from ‘Wicked’ always comes to mind when amazing things like this happen: ‘Well, what do you do when your dreams come true?’ Golly, I don’t know Ga– I mean Glinda, but I most certainly ‘couldn’t be happier’,” says Christine.

Christine is an emerging musical talent, who made a name for herself as a uniquely proficient artist that has a voice that fuses her classical soprano roots with a contemporary spin of pop and jazz. She is a triple threat; a truly all-rounder who has appeared on stages and broadcasts all over Asia as well as the UK.

Her roles have included Vanessa “In The Heights” (2016) at the King’s Cross Theatre; Maria “West Side Story” (2016) for the BBC 60th anniversary documentary;  Ursula, “Sweet Charity” (2016) at the Royal Exchange Theatre; Understudy Lorene “From Here to Eternity” (2013) at the Shaftesbury Theatre, and Understudy Imelda Marcos “Here Lies Love” (2014) at the National Theatre.

She has previously toured with beloved classical tenor Andrea Bocelli in his “Cinema: World Tour,” which led her to perform for several tens of thousands of people in arenas and stadiums across the world. She is also an original member of the girl band “Zyrah,” a classical crossover group with an epic cinematic influence. Christine trained at the Royal Academy of Music, where she received a post-graduate degree in Music Theatre.

She has many outside interests and loves makeup and skincare, especially for non-western skins, as she understands what works for Asian faces and features.  She is very sporty and loves windsurfing, jet skiing, and kayaking, and also embraces fitness and healthy eating. She is also a self-confessed budget travel lover!

Her parents and sister are both very musical and artistic. Unusually her grandfather, one of the people in legal team for the Philippine Stock Exchange and whenever people talk about him they say he is a true blue blood. Sadly he never got much credit–just like Hamilton didn’t’!

Follow Christine on Twitter: @ChristineAllado –Photo: Jory Rivera

Meet Pia Hamilton (Disney’s ‘The Lion King’)

Besides the Filipino-American (Fil-Am) Broadway actors that never fail to bring the audience to their feet in “Miss Saigon,” Fil-Am Broadway dancer Pia Hamilton (Gazelle Wheel, Ensemble Dancer) in “The Lion King,” together with the show’s vibrant full company, is keeping the show fresh—and the audience engaged—after all these years.

Pia, who starred in the children’s TV series “Barney and Friends” when she was nine, first joined “The Lion King,” the 1998 Tony Award recipient for Best Musical, in August 2014.  “This show [her Broadway debut] has always been my dream show! After performing in ‘The Lion King’ for over three and a half years, I still feel challenged and motivated as a performer,” she told Fil-Am Whos Who in an exclusive interview.

“I really love the storyline, the dancing, and my castmates—they make going to work a joy!” she said. Prior to her stint in the “The Lion King,” Pia also appeared in the productions of “A Chorus Line” as Connie, “Aida,” and “The Radio City Christmas Spectacular.”

She also runs a dance studio in Chicago called Intrigue Dance and Performing Arts Center whose students benefit a lot from Pia’s professional experience on Broadway. “It has taught me to ‘give’ even when I feel like I have nothing left to give.  After a week-long run of rehearsals and shows, when we were tired and our bodies were sore, we still give a true and authentic show at the end of the week. Our resident director once said, ‘Every show, there is someone in the audience that will see their very first show and someone that will see their very last show.’ That really stuck with me, and helps me perform my best each day.”

“I try to instill this drive and passion in my students at Intrigue Dance and Performing Arts Center.  Anyone can learn how to dance, but how to make dance come alive is what makes an artist,” shared Pia, whose musical theater influences include Tony winners Lea Salonga, Sutton Foster, and Julie Taymor, “The Lion King’s” visionary director who blends the use of masks, puppetry, and dance to bring the giraffes, the birds, and the gazelles in Africa’s Serengeti come to life on stage every night in “The Lion King.”

“This show is timeless. It speaks to everyone in all walks of life—every race, every age, every person,” Pia said when we asked why should people come out and see their show. She said further, “We can all relate to the story, the actors make you feel the story, and you walk out of the theatre with a love for the experience of live musical theater.”

A spectacular visual feast, “The Lion King” is the stage adaptation of Disney’s 1994 animated full-length feature film, which follows the story of Simba and his epic journey from a wide-eyed cub to his ascent to kinghood of the Pridelands, an expansive African grassland where most African lions live.

“The Lion King” plays eight times a week at the Minskoff Theatre (200 West 45th Street). To buy tickets, visit LionKing.com.

Willing To Help In Any Way

“You don’t have to be someone special to help.” – Elsa Mole-Lambert

A short conversation with Elsa Mole-Lambert will leave anyone excited and inspired to take part in her community and get involved in local projects. For her, being involved is an opportunity to help others.

“I’m willing to help in any way I could. You don’t have to be someone (special) to help,” she told Fil-Am Who’s Who. Elsa, an active member of the Filipino community in the Tri-State Area, has been investing both her time and resources to different organizations since 1997.

“If you attend an event at an organization, find out what it does and see if the people are doing a good job. If there are some needs within the organization, that’s when I come in and help.” Elsa is known to give simply out of the goodness of her heart and without any expectations. She supports the Pilipino American Association of Connecticut (PAAC), Philippine American Friendship Committee (PAFCOM), and National Federation of Filipino American Association (NaFFAA).

She holds NaFFAA in high regard though, “It’s a very good organization,“ she said. “It was the very first organization I joined. I was involved in the youth leadership training.” Elsa, who lives a comfortable life in Connecticut, also shares her blessings to the less fortunate.

“For the past two years, I’ve been doing humanitarian works. I’ve been giving school supplies, reading glasses, toothpaste, and slippers. My husband and I do that on our own,” she said. The response was overwhelming that she decided to put up her own foundation, The Calvar Foundation, which she eventually plans to register as a nonprofit organization. The foundation’s first projects were an adoration chapel built in her hometown of Hinundayan Southern Leyte and a feeding program benefitting more than 200 people. She also plans to start a scholarship fund for deserving but financially challenged students. She’s now set to go back to the Philippines to assist with the medical missions and feeding programs for children. “Any small act will bring joy and fulfillment to someone’s life,” she said.

Her efforts are starting to pay off. She was recently recognized by Pan American Concerned Citizens’ Action League, Inc. (PACCAL) for Excellence in Community Service during the International
Women’s History Month celebration. Last year, Elsa won the 2017 Mrs. Philippines USA, a fundraising event sponsored by the Filipino Social Club of New York, where she received a roundtrip ticket to the Philippines, a portion of the event’s ticket sales, and the 25 percent of the event’s profit to be awarded to a charity of her own choice.

“It’s like a pageant but in terms of fundraising, the organizers raise money so they can do their charity and civic projects in the Philippines.”

Further, her genuine desire to help others extends to her profession as a caregiver, which has been good to her. “One of the reasons I’m helping others is because some people also helped me when I first set foot in the United States. I was so blessed. I had employers who were so generous, so now I’m giving back.”

There’s no doubt Elsa is a busy woman but she loves spending time with her family: Fritzroy Lambert, her second husband, her children from her first marriage, Aileen and Melvin Mole, and her three grandchildren.–Maricar CP Hampton

Preparing For And Enjoying The Golden Years

Aging is not about loneliness and giving up. It’s a continuing life of fun, diversity, and spin. One must seek it. Philippine Community Center Services For The Aging is here for you.

The Philippine Community Center Services For The Aging (PCCSA), a non-profit organization, has established its headquarters to provide the healthcare support to our senior citizens, especially the Filipino elderly who are largely neglected– to break the barriers of isolation, fear and loneliness, untreated health problems, and low self-esteem.

PCCSA, composed of highly educated and well-trained advocates, also envisions seniors and other elderly immigrants having access to culturally sensitive and competent healthcare services and/or therapies, government benefits, fair housing practices, technological literacy, and financial independence. We encourage everyone to build strength for themselves, their families and communities through art, dance, theater, literature, and many other expressive forms of culture.

To interact socially with their peers and collaborate with younger people, which helps keep our Filipino traditions alive, are also fostered.

Further, we support the active seniors who open their own homes to serve as living spaces for fixed-income seniors or as alternative interactive spaces where the elderly and young immigrants participate in documenting their family and social histories of living in Queens, New York or in the other boroughs.

As an essential communication tool, “Mano Po,” a newsletter that tells our members’ life story successes and their various expertise and professional experiences, is about to be launched. It will also serve as an important source material for community news and classifieds and numerous practical tips.

Headed by Consuelo Almonte, founder and president, and Nieva Burdick, board chair, PCCSA is under the umbrella of The Nursing Office, a group of nurses who aims to take care of their fellow nurses and their respective communities.

PCCSA is currently run by volunteers who donate their time and invaluable resources.

For more information, contact us at (347) 488-9386 or (917) 553- 5124. You may also visit TheNursingOffice.com.

Bridging Our Second Generation Fil-Am Youth

Vice Consul Khrystina Corpuz Popov

To many people throughout the Northeast U.S. Fil-Am community, Vice Consul Corpuz has been a mainstay throughout the nearly past over five years as one of the most highly visible officers of the Philippine Consulate General in New York. As director of the Passport/Visa Section, as well as the Consulate’s director for public and community affairs, “VC Khrys,” as we all know her, has tremendously assisted in hosting several events that promote Philippine culture to the Tri-State region. She has also been a focal officer in overseeing activities geared towards developing stronger ties between the Consulate and second generation Fil-Ams, and thereby helping to strengthen the social, cultural, and educational links between the Fil-Am youth and their cultural homeland.

A graduate of Quezon City Science High School, VC Corpuz went on to attend the University of the Philippines-Diliman where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Tourism, and afterward studied at De La Salle University-Manila where she obtained her Master of Business Administration degree. She soon found her career calling in the diplomatic corps and passed the distinguished Foreign Service Officers’ Examination. After serving in the Home Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs, her very first diplomatic assignment came in the form of none other than the Big Apple, where she officially assumed her diplomatic posting in December 2012. On her very first day at office, she was welcomed by the Consulate staff led by then Deputy Consul General, and now N.Y. Consul General, Ma. Theresa Dizon-De Vega.

VC Corpuz was immediately tasked to assist then Consul General Mario De Leon Jr. with the arduous challenges of the Consular Section, ensuring the efficient daily functions of the passport, visa, and legal services of the Consulate. The pressures of assisting the various cases of clientele both within the office and at periodic weekend consular outreach throughout the region were surely there, but thanks to her persistence, patience, and diligence, along with the reliable help of the Consulate staff, she has effectively been carrying out the necessary services to the community.

VC Corpuz’s responsibilities would soon expand to taking charge of the Consulate’s public diplomacy programs, particularly in promoting the cultural and Second Generation Fil-Am Youth initiatives to the entire community. Having been trained in promoting Philippine tourism and having a knack for working with young people (being a young officer herself), this job came quite naturally for her! She has used her coordination and networking abilities to such finesse when the Consulate hosted events such as the Young Professionals Reception for Fil-Am History Month every October, and the Leadership and Mentoring Seminar Series in New York, Yale University, Boston College, and Rowan University to empower the Second Generation Fil-Ams. Among the annual events, together with the youth leaders, she founded the Philippine Graduation in New York in 2013 hosted by the Consulate at the Philippine Center every June where Fil-Am graduates of bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees are honored by the community, as well as the colorful and entertaining “Battle of the Barrios” where competing Fil-Am collegiate youth get to display their musical and theatrical talent.

The community has further witnessed the warm stage presence of VC Corpuz at numerous milestone functions, not the least was the memorable 2016 N.Y. Gala commemorating the 118th Philippine Independence Day Anniversary and the 70th Anniversary of Philippine-US diplomatic relations held at Midtown Manhattan’s famed Cipriani. Hosted by outgoing Consul General Mario De Leon Jr., the grand event was also attended by 350 members of the community, with the guest of honor, outgoing Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose L. Cuisia Jr. Together with New Jersey Fil-Am Councilman Jonathan Wong, VC Corpuz served  as Master of Ceremonies (MC) for the entire program, and ably pulling off the affair ranks as one of the proudest moments yet in her young diplomatic career.

On a personal note, VC Corpuz had also served as MC during my father’s (the late Ambassador Willy Gaa) memorial evening tribute, which the Consulate hosted in early 2016 when the entire community paid their respects and shared their fondest memories of my father when he served as Philippine N.Y. Consul General during the late 1990s. I shall always be grateful to VC Khrys for having taken up this role during a somber period for my family.

Having been happily married to her Ukrainian husband for more than a year now, VC Corpuz’s diplomatic tour of duty is expected to come to a bittersweet end by December 2018 when her six-year assignment will expire. Whatever destiny has in store for her upon the completion of her N.Y. posting, the positive impact she has left upon the whole community will undoubtedly remain.–Wendell Gaa