By: Elsie Sy-Niebar


*CHICAGO, second largest city in AMERICA to have its first African American Woman and openly gay Mayor: the Hon. Mayor LORI LIGHTFOOT! She will take her oath of office on May 20th.

*‘Day of Valor’ held at the Nation’s Capital, Honors Bataan & Corregidor Heroes

*CHICAGO COMMUNITY TRUST, sponsor of the annual ‘On the Table Conversation’ picks ‘Memo to the Mayor’ (Lightfoot) as its theme

*Preview of the Philippine Independence Day Committee (PIWC) Beauty Queens who will be crowned at the PIWC GALA on Saturday, June 15; Edwin Pineda, Chair

MABUHAY! The Filipino congratulatory greetings which means “LONG LIVE”, to our new Mayor of Chicago: The Hon. MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT! Very early the following Wednesday morning after the April 2 Tuesday election, the newly-elected first African American Lady Mayor Lori Lightfoot went to the Clark and Lake CTA station to do the protocol “meet-and-greet” Thank you to the general public and to share her resounding Victory as the new Mayor of Chicago! Realistically, before the nitty-gritty campaigns started, she was almost an unknown person to the majority. Her victory over the 20+ mayoral candidates who included a member of the Mayors Daley Clan – WILLIAM “Bill” Daley – came as a big surprise to many particularly those who are not inclined to politics. It was only when she declared her candidacy that the general public learned she was a former US prosecutor!

A very touching scenario of Mayor Lightfoot’s campaign was that – in the dead of winter, she stood up at street corners distributing her flyers and greeting the voters. She humbled herself to the voters. An act which WE hope she would keep as our mayor.

Typical among politicians, in spite of the bitter atmosphere between her and her very close opponent, another African American Lady, current president of the Cook County Board, Toni Preckwinkle: as the saying goes, “all’s well that ends well” between the two at a unity breakfast the following morning after the election, prepared by the Rev. Jesse Jackson at the Rainbow PUSH headquarters. Jackson urged the two ladies to join forces and work together and to have a productive working relationship.

Preckwinkle told the press: “We talked about strengthening our public schools and addressing the challenges of police and community relations. I pledged to work with her to address all of those goals.”

Lightfoot’s response: “She (Preckwinkle) and I share many of the same policy goals of criminal justice reform and equitable investment in our neighborhoods. While this was a spirited campaign, those shared values will serve well as we go forward for the good of the city and the good of the County.”

Let’s keep our fingers crossed, folks. Most promises are made to be broken when POWER pitches in. Incoming Chicago Lady Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be officially “inducted” to office on Monday, May 20.

APRIL 10, “DAY OF VALOR”CELEBRATION IN WASHINGTON, D.C. April 10, 2019. “I can think of no other place I would rather be today than at this ceremony, remembering with you the courage and sacrifices, the resilience and the strength of the Defenders of Corregidor and Bataan,” said guest speaker U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David H. Huntoon (Ret), at the National World War II Memorial where community leaders, diplomats, veterans, families, and veteran advocates gathered to mark the 77th anniversary of the Fall of Bataan and Corregidor. On April 9 and May 6, 1942, over 72,000 Filipino and American soldiers surrendered to Japanese Imperial Forces and were forced to march for over 65 miles to prison camps. In the infamous Bataan Death March, approximately 10,000 Filipino and 700 American soldiers died.

“Here at this national shrine of service, we pause to reflect on their service, to remember their courage, and their resilience in the face of death,” Huntoon added. “Learning about and teaching others the stories of these heroic soldiers from the U.S. and from the Philippines matters. In doing so, we are reminded of our common values, of our purposeful lives, and of our mutual respect and compassion for each other that transcends and, in time, can surmount the pain and suffering of war.”

From this columnist: As then a Little Girl, I remember on that very day, April 9, 1942, my mother, the late Mrs. Iluminada Sy Villanueva was going through labor pain delivering my sister Vilma. After she delivered the baby, my mother and Baby Vilma were put on a hammock carried by two men to an underground “air raid shelter” for safety from the cruelty of the Japanese Army. Praise God! WE barrio folks survived!

*Preview of the Philippine Independence Day Committee (PIWC) Beauty Queens who will be crowned at the PIWC GALA on Saturday, June 15, at the Holiday Inn Northshore, 5300 W. Touhy, Skokie, Illinois. Guest speaker is IL Governor JB Pritzker. If you are their friends, or friends of our Filipino American community, please extend your support by attending the Gala. Proceeds will go to several non-profit recipients in the Philippines and locally. Here they are:

MRS. NEILA LAUREL LADLD, PIWC 2019 “Mrs. PIWC 2019”, is a successful business woman, married to Dr. Eduardo Ladlad. She is the Mom of Arica and Allister Laurel, the “jewels: in her crown. She puts God first above everything.

Dr. Vicky Fertig, PIWC “MRS. PHILIPPINES 2019” is a practicing dentist in Manila, and a faculty member at the University of the East. In Chicago, she worked at the dental office of Dr. Sherwin Strauss until her recent retirement. She’s happily married to Phil Fertig.

JULIANA VARGAS, PIWC 2019 “MISS TEEN PHILIPPINES” is currently a freshman at Niles West High School; daughter of Anthony and Jocelyn Vargas. Her great-grandparents are Myrna and Remo Cordero.

Abigael Marie Vergara, PIWC “Mrs. Illinois 2019” is happily married to Ron Vergara; blessed with two children, Victor Angelo and Nicole Andrea. She works as a realtor at Vista Group Real Estate Inc. and as a lead Esthetician and Laser.

Camille Ortega, PIWC “Miss Illinois 2019”, from Riverside, IL, works as a senior Banker. She loves traveling, hanging out with friends and loves to eat sweet.

Eva Marie Ruiz Combe, “PIWC Mrs. Chicago 2019,” is the devoted wife to Philippine-based urologist/general surgeon, Dr. Reynaldo D. Combe, proud Mom to two achievers, Ralph Mikhail and Faustin Ingrid. She is a retired anesthesiologist and former chairman of the Department of Anesthesia in the Philippines.

Abigael Turija, “MISS PIWC 2019” is a sophomore at Plainfield Central HS. Her parents are Rene Jun and Jo Anne Turija. She is involved in various cultural and as a member of Chicago Nightingales Young Ambassador, etc.;

Cheenee Miranda, PIWC “Miss Philippines” is the daughter of Nannette and Ronaldo Miranda. An honor student, she enjoys photography, music, and film. Cheenee dreams of one day — traveling around the world for new experiences.

Charlize Ann Miranda PIWC “Little Miss Philippines 2019” is the daughter of Richard and Annie Miranda. As a very vibrant six-year-old, she loves to dance, sing, and act.

Lastly, Chloe Belle “PIWC Little Miss PIWC”, is the oldest child of Peter and Marjorie Lachica. She loves traveling and going out with friends and family. She loves shopping, acting and playing video games. She dreams of becoming a professional you-tuber.

Neriza Pineda, PIWC 2019 BEAUTY PAGEANT Committee is Overall Chairperson. (Personal: She is a Financial Accountant at the Municipal Employees Annuity and Benefit Fund for 16 years; 2019 Secretary of the Chicago Magnificent Lions; and was “MRS. PIWC 2013”.

EDWIN PINEDA, PIWC 2019 EXECUTIVE CHAIRPERSON. (Personal: Corporate Senior Financial Accountant at Hill/Mechanical Group for 33 years; 1st Vice President, Chicago Magnificent Lions Club and Treasurer for PIWC 2017 with Lourdes Livas as Executive Chair.

Congratulations to EVERYONE especially to the parents of the Youth Muses. Let’s give them a round of applause!!!

“On the Table” conversation, an annual project of CHICAGO COMMUNITY TRUST will be held next month, May 14, all over Chicago, in the restaurants or in private places or at the home of the Host. I am hosting one at home. Below is brief information sent to me by Lenni Nolan, CCT “On the Table” Coordinator “On the Table is May 14th, 2019. She wrote:

“You are welcome to host your conversation at any time of day or evening. This year, we are encouraging all On the Table hosts to complete a Memo to the Mayor with their guests at the conclusion of their conversation. We will share with you a template of how this memo can look and you can complete that digitally or if you need a printed version, please let me know in advance. Then, we will collect all the memos from all the tables and put them together and send them to Chicago’s new mayor. We hope that she will respond to these memos with commitments to help us improve our city per our suggestions! We know that we can harness our collective voices using On the Table to get the new administration to understand what is important to all of us and that’s what we intend to do.

We are working on creating some helpful host documents. so please sit tight and I will get back to you with some copies of those. In the meantime, our website is the best place for the most up to date information: Thank you, Elsie.”

“On the Table” is not only fun but exciting as we freely exchange ideas how to improve human relationship not only with one another but to reach out into the community. My topic this year is about “Immigrant Community Equity”.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG! Hallelujah! Cold but beautiful as our perennial flowers start to wake up to enjoy the Sunshine! (30)


ONLY IN CHICAGO: First time in America’s political MAYOR al history when Two African America Women — TONI PRECKWINKLE and LORI LIGHTFOOT — “hurl” at each other to grab the Powerful Political Gavel! AND THE WINNER IS: LORI LIGHTFOOT! (at right).


Amb. Jose Manuel Romualdez leads the wreath-laying ceremony at the National World War II Memorial last April 10, 2019. PHOTO by BING BRANIGIN.


Attending the commemoration of BATAAN DAY which included a wreath-laying ceremony, were two Filipino World War II Veterans: 101-year-old Celestino Almeda of Gaithersburg, MD. and 91-year-old Rey Cabacar of Ft. Washington, MD. They are two of only four living veterans residing in the Washington, D.C. area. “Ten years ago, there were more than a dozen of us who were still around,” Cabacar recalls. “I miss my friends especially on occasions like this.” Cabacar keeps himself busy by volunteering with the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other community service projects. Despite his age, Almeda is still able to attend public events. With a strong and forceful voice, he always has something to say. At the end of the ceremony, he spoke about his passionate love of country and democracy. Quoting lines from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, he wondered if the nation he fought for had “a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, will perish from the earth?” He reminded the audience: “We did our best to fight for democracy in the Philippines. But today, it’s going nowhere. Are we going to allow it to perish from the earth? That is the great task remaining before the Filipino so that shose who died shall not have died in vain. Please rise to maintain democracy in the Philippines.” Photo by Bing Branigin

PIWC Beauty Queens


Veronica Fertig

Mrs. Philippines PIWC 2019


Eva Marie Ruiz-Combe

Mrs. Chicago PIWC 2019


Nelia Laurel Ladlad

Mrs. PIWC 2019


Abigael Marie  Vergara

Mrs. Illinois PIWC 2019


Camille Ortega

Miss Illinois PIWC


Cheenie Miranda

Miss Philippines PIWC


Juliana Vargas

Miss Teen Philippines PIWC


Chloe Lachica

Little Miss PIWC 2019


Abigael Turija

Miss PIWC 2019


Cha Cha Miranda

Miss Little Philippines 2019



The Roarrring Dancing Lions at the fun and successful “Dancing with the Lions” event headed by Lion Ben and Lion Yoly Zoleta. Seated from left are JR Roque, Edwin Pineda and Dr. Manny Escalona, Jr. Standing from left are unidentified couple, Nerizza Pineda, JetJet Gruezo, Dalisay Villalon, unidentified, Julie Chavez and Danny Salonga. (Photo by Ben Zoleta)


Outgoing “LION KING & QUEEN” 2018 Ralph and Jovie Sirianni, crown their successors King Ben and Queen Yoly Zoleta as KING & QUEEN 2019 of the CHICAGO FILIPINO AMERICAN LIONS CLUB. The crown turnover was held last April 6 during their “Dancing with the Lions & Leader Dog” dinner dance. Photo by Dr. Manny Escalona, Jr.


“Dancing with the Lions” (except Elsie) from left: former Lions prexy Lourdes Livas, Dr. Remy Escalona, Gemma Cruz, your columnist, and PIWC “Mrs. Philippines 2019” Vicky Fertig. (Photo courtesy of Doc Manny Escalona)


Non-dancing with WATCHFUL EYES Lions: Ella Basilio, Carmen Estacio, non-Lions VT columnist Elsie and Lion Remy Escalona. (photo by Dr. Manny Escalona)

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