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2018 Chicago Filipino Asian American Hall of Famers


Det, Ronald Bongat is the current president of the Asian American Law Enforcement Association. Because of his involvement with the Asian community, he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from IL Governor Rauner and the Illinois Department of Human Rights. He has been a keynote speaker for several events hosted by the Governor and the Department of Homeland Security.

Robert H. (Bob) Boyer, Emeritus Professor of English, St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin. His research, travel, and explorations resulted in a number of books spanning about forty years, complementing Professor Boyer’s teaching. Prior to THE MAGIC NECKLACE OF AL-ANDALUS, his most recent book was SUNDAYS IN MANILA (2012), a travel memoir based on his experiences in the Philippines. That country and the many friends and acquaintances he has met there keep drawing him back.

Dionalane M. (Jane) Cannon is the founder and president of JDC Rainbow Foundation from 2012 to 2018. Her husband, David Cannon and daughter, Cherie Sajul are her co-founders. Its mission is to help communities in the Philippines in improving the lives of its people, especially underprivileged children. Her daughters, Chingfin and Catherine, son, Nathaniel and granddaughter, Cassandra Nicole are JDCRF Coordinators in the Philippines.

Elena de Jesus founded the Philippine Nurses Association of Northwest Indiana (PNA NWIN) in 2013 and became its founding President from 2013-2016. As a chapter President, Elena was selected by colleagues to be the Circle of Presidents Regional Representative (COPRR) twice in 2010-2011 and 2014-2015. This paved the way to her election in 2016 as the Regional Vice President (RVP) of the North Central Region (NCR) and served in such position during the 2016-2018 term. As PNAA’S NCR RVP she headed the NCR Executive Board comprised of the Circle of Presidents from the ten (10) chapters of the Midwestern part of the country which includes Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri and Illinois.

Aptly labeled by her throng of fans as “Nightingale with a Magnetic Voice,” Marilou Dichosa’s singing voice magnetizes, mesmerizes, and enchants anyone who hears her sing. The feathers in her cap as far as U.S. singing competitions are concerned are the following: Champion of Chicago Star Quest, first runner-up of Hollywood, CA Star Quest, and second-prize winner of $2,000 sponsored by Seafood City Chicago in 2017.
Atty. Wilma “Amy” T. Eisma is a seasoned lawyer with over 23 years of experience in both government service and the private sector. Prior to her appointment as SBMA administrator and chief executive officer, she was the corporate, government and regulatory affairs, community and farmer relations, and diversity and inclusion manager of the Philippine affiliate of Philip Morris International (PMI), PMFTC, Inc. and Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing, Inc. (PMPMI) for 15 years. Atty. Eisma is much at home in the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

Mayor Ron Falconi began his term as Mayor of Brunswick in 2014 and was re-elected to a second term in 2017. Before he became mayor, he was appointed to a Brunswick Council at Large seat in 2008 among a group of 14 applicants. He is the first Filipino-American mayor in the State of Ohio. He was most recently picked as one of ten Asian American Leaders from across the entire country to travel to Japan as a guest of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss politics, culture, business and international relations.
Geraldine Gaden has worked as a nurse in various hospitals in Chicago and the suburbs and has clinical nursing expertise in Coronary and Intensive Care. She currently manages Rainbow Home Health Care Services as the administrator and clinical supervisor, simultaneously holding a position for four years in the Association of Certified Home Health of Illinois and the Philippine Nurses of Illinois as a board member. She is currently a co-chair for the Social and Ways and Means Committee for the Philippine Nurses Association of America. She believes in giving back to the community, frequently hosting charity and community events. In 2017, she was crowned Mrs. Philippines of Philippine Independence Week Committee (PIWC).

Geraldine Guidote Hernandez founded Butter Bella LLC, a gourmet cookie company, in February of 2006. Today, her cookies can be found in 29 stores in the Chicagoland area, 6 states and 12 cities across the U.S. In 2015, she founded Be Good Baking Co., developing a healthy granola until she was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in June. During chemotherapy treatments, she and her sister, Jenny, developed an empanada concept which we know today as Savory Crust Gourmet Empanadas in Morton Grove which has been recognized by ABC Channel 7 as the the Best Empanadas in the region by Hungry Hound’s Steve Dolinsky and WGN’s Chicago’s Best as the Best Argentinian Empanada.. In addition to opening up a restaurant in January of 2017, Geri founded Honor Global Partners, a retained search firm, focusing on hard-to-fill positions for the pharmaceutical industry.

Jerry Joyce is a Chicago South Side native whose personal and professional commitment to his community has led Jerry to run for Mayor of Chicago. In his youth, Jerry attended St. Cajetan Elementary School then Marist High School before attending Yale University, where he played varsity football and captained the varsity wresting team. While at Yale, Jerry met his wife, Jannine, a Fil-Am, who also attended Yale. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science, Jerry went on to earn his Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Attorney Winnalynn (“Winnie”) Nacu Kantaris is a banking and finance attorney who has worked at law firms, banks, and financial companies for over 15 years. Currently, she is Director and Associate General Counsel for Cortland Capital Market Services LLC. Winnie is currently President of the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago (“FALA”), a group she helped reboot in 2012. Under her leadership, FALA became a licensed Continuing Legal Education provider, achieved record fund raising amounts, participated in voter registration drives, awarded multiple law student scholarships, and it continues to partner with other bar organizations to raise awareness about immigration and hate-crime issues. In addition, Winnie is a founding member of the National Filipino American Lawyers Association (“NFALA”) and served as the organization’s first Central Regional Governor.

Being an educator and a health care advocate, Gloria Espinoza Key devotes her time to various socio-civic and religious activities. She has the passion in involving herself in the service of the Lord with the end in view of involving others to be instruments of God’s Love. She leads the Divine Mercy Crusade in the Enthronement of the Image of the Divine Mercy. She has shown her devotion and commitment to the Catholic Church by being one of the lay leaders performing diverse pastoral activities. She often served as leader, organizer and motivator of various church groups. She has served as the President for the Divine Mercy Crusade of Illinois doing Home Enthronement since 2010.

Ginalene Lopez embodies beauty, intelligence, grace, and talent. She’s a nurse by profession, business woman, a community volunteer, beauty queen, fashion model, multi-awarded, loving wife and devoted mom. Gin is the President and owner of DGL Express Delivery, currently manages and is the Administrator/Part Owner of All Wellness Home Health Care. She used to work as a case manager of Active Home Health and Modell Home and Preferred since 1994. After being crowned as Mrs. Philippines in PIWC in 2005, she gained a great degree of social prominence in the Filipino American community of Chicago.

Jennifer Santos Roan, CPA, is one of the Founding Partners of Adelfia LLC. Adelfia LLC is a minority and women-owned business enterprise that provides assurance, advisory, accounting, tax, and information technology review/audit services. Since 11/11/11, with Jennifer as one of its 3 founders, the firm has grown to its current 7 partners (all of whom happens to be Filipina!) with 35 full-time employees. Jennifer is the current President of the Philippine CPAs of Greater Chicago and one of the founding officers of ISFFA-Chicago Chapter. She also coordinates Adelfia’s participation in the ICPAS annual CPA Day of Service, which is a flexible opportunity for accountants to help the community by volunteering.

Rowena’s wide range of previous experiences have been instrumental in her current business endeavors, as well as fueling her passion and active involvement within non-profit organizations. Currently, Rowena is the co-owner of the historic Hotel Baker located on the banks of the Fox River which she and her husband, Joe Salas, acquired in 2003. Since then, it has grown into a thriving family business between her husband and two sons, and it shines as a popular downtown spot for the community of St. Charles and the surrounding communities.

Joel Sebag is now president of Spine and Sports Rehab based in Arkansas and has been voted among thirty other clinics in the area as the Best Rehab in Northwest Arkansas for year 2016 and 2017. Prior to this, he was then president of Mountaincrest Rehab, Arkansas in 2000-2010. He is currently the President of the Tommy Sebag Foundation established in 2012 and serving the community in US and abroad for outreach program for children and conducting medical missions. Joel’s generosity and hard work did not go unnoticed though. He was recognized as the Genny Lopez Bayaning Pilipino ABS-CBN Awardee in 2004 and the Distinguished Alumni Awardee during the Cebu Doctors University 25th Founding Anniversary in 2017. He was also the recipient of the 2018 Cebu Doctors University Grand Homecoming 2018.

Dr. Harold Sy completed a cornea fellowship in Atlanta, GA where he honed his skills in cataract surgery, LASIK and corneal transplantation. Once his training was complete, Dr. Sy joined the Chicago Eye Institute as a cataract and cornea specialist, and still works there to this day. He attended the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign where he went on to graduate with honors with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. From there, he earned his medical degree at Rush University in Chicago. he was an ophthalmology resident at Cook County/ Stroger Hospital in Chicago.Dr. Sy is happy to have come full circle, as he now works at Illinois Masonic Hospital, the same hospital in which he was born.

Recently nominated by the PMPC’s 9th Star Awards For Music (Grammy’s / Philippine Movie Press Club)as one of top 7 (out of 196 hopefuls/newbies), top 3 on the list, as Best New Male Recording Artist Of The Year 2017,technically landed second place, Mr. Nick Vera Perez flew for one week to grace the invitation, bringing Chicago’s Fil-Am community back on Entertainment map in the Philippines and now around the world. He is the tenure host of VDance Fever as well as our very own Hall Of Fame which will both take place hand in hand a month apart.

Salina Vest’s search for a new and more creative challenge brought her to the Motion Picture Film industry in 2008 managing Product Productions, Inc. and its sister company Space Stage Studios that lease equipment, studio facilities, construct production sets and providing technical staffing, writers, directors, and producers, as well as produce various projects. When the opportunity arose for Salina to purchase the companies in 2011 she jumped at the chance and became the sole owner and CEO. Her purchase made Product Productions and Space Stage Studios one of the few, if not the only female-minority owned film production business in Chicago.
Rommel has been recognized as highly esteemed exceptional nurse leader. He is currently employed as a House Nursing Supervisor at Sinai Health Holy Cross Hospital at Chicago, Illinois and at Amita Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center Elk Grove Village, He is an Emergency Room Registered Nurse at Loretto Hospital and, most recently, he has qualified and given the opportunity to be the new Hospital Operations Administrator of Rush University Medical Center. A philanthropist by heart, he has initiated and founded SEEDS OF HOPE 2016, a non-profit service organization that is geared towards supporting the children in need, disseminating health education, and inspiring the youth of today to achieve their dreams.

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