Will Dix, Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) Donate Over 2,400 Books for Library

(left to right); Kyle Craven, Dale Asis (Bayanihan Foundation), Karen Foley, and Willard Dix of Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) donate over 2,400 books to the ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive (August 2018)

My partner, Willard Dix, and his employer, Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) donated over 2,400 children’s books to the Bayanihan Foundation’s ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive. The generous book donation of Will and JPA will hopefully motivate others to donate and support the Bayanihan Foundation’s goal of education and long-term sustainability.

Willard Dix rescued the books from imminent landfill and donated them instead to the ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive (August 2018)

Will’s employer, Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) received an unexpected donation of thousands of children’s books. However, they were not able to use them. So Will took the opportunity and donated the books to Bayanihan Foundation for the ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive. The books will be used by thousands of school children in the Philippines and not being dumped in an eminent landfill.

Willard Dix of Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) helped shipped the books in balikbayan boxes to the Philippines (August 2018)




The thousands of book titles will be shipped to Giporlos, Samar and Iligan City and will be used to build libraries there.  JPA Intern Kyle Craven helped packed the books in balikbayan boxes. Willard Dix’s mother, Barbara, provided a generous donation for the shipment of the books to the Philippines.



In addition, the Bayanihan Foundation will  host two house party fundraisers in Chicago, IL and in Los Angeles, CA. The Chicago house party fundraiser brunch will be held on August 25, 2018 – 10 AM at the home of Dr. Maria Ferrera and Dr. Adam Avrushin in Oak Park, IL. The Los Angeles house party fundraiser will be held on August 26,2018 – 12 noon at the home of Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal and Fred Rosenthal.

NEXTGEN 2018 Fellow Camillo Geaga will travel to the Philippines and help build school libraries in the Philippines (August 2018)

The fundraisers will also celebrate NEXTGEN 2018 Fellow Camillo Geaga as he travels  to build these libraries in the Philippines. Camillo will also co-host the Los Angeles fundraiser. Please RSVP by calling Bayanihan Foundation (773) 273-9793 or email at dale@fdbayanihan.org if you’re interested in supporting the foundation’s educational efforts and enjoy delicious Filipino foods. You can also support this book drive by donating securely online at http://www.fdnbayanihan.org through PayPal or through Facebook: https://bit.ly/2MEdsu1

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FilAm Kids Kick Off ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive Building Libraries in Philippines

Filipino American children put together mini-balikbayan boxes for ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive. They are part of MG Bertulfo Kuwento! Filipino Story and Language Camp (photo courtesy of MG Bertulfo August 2018)

On August 7, 2018,  MG Bertulfo and the Kuwento! Filipino Story and Language Camp in Oak Park, IL launched the Bayanihan Foundation’s  NEXTGEN ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive. 12 excited Filipino American children put together ‘mini balikbayan boxes’ full of books and school supplies, as part of a  week-long ‘Kuwento (Stories) Camp. The mini-boxes kicked off the foundation’s plans to send 3,000 books to Giporlos, Samar and Iligan City and build libraries there. The kids’ enthusiasm to build the mini-balikbayan boxes hopefully spur others to donate,  help build the libraries and support the Bayanihan Foundation’s goal of education and long-term sustainability.

(standing left to right Dr. Maria Ferrera and Dale Asis) sharing stories about bayanihan, balikbayan and other Filipino values to Filipino American children in Oak Park, IL (photo courtesy of MG Bertulfo)

Bayanihan Foundation board member Dr. Maria Ferrera of DePaul University and I joined renowned artist and writer MG Bertulfo as she spearheaded a successful Kuwento! Filipino Story and Language camp in Oak Park, IL. MG inspired the Filipino American kids to learn about their Filipino heritage at the same time they learned on how they could share beyond themselves.

Filipino American children learn Filipino culture and values including Bayanihan, Balikbayan and Pasalubong (photo courtesy of MG Bertulfo August 2018)



The Bayanihan Foundation will host two house party fundraisers in Chicago, IL and in Los Angeles, CA. The Chicago house party fundraiser will be held on August 25, 2018 at the home of Dr. Maria Ferrera and Dr. Adam Avrushin in Oak Park, IL. The Los Angeles house party fundraiser will be held on August 26,2018 at the home of Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal and Fred Rosenthal. NEXTGEN 2018 Fellow Camillo Geaga will also co-host the Los Angeles fundraiser. Please RSVP by calling Bayanihan Foundation (773) 273-9793 or email at dale@fdbayanihan.org if you’re interested in supporting the foundation’s educational efforts and enjoy delicious Filipino foods.


Your donation will also support the NEXTGEN 2018 Program that promotes young Filipino Americans to know more about their culture & heritage and develop sustainable projects. Your donation can also be directed to support the Jolynne Andal Biljetina Scholarship Fund.

(standing far left) Iligan Central Elementary School librarian Idamarie Navarro receives donated books for library from Bayanihan Foundation Evelyn Castillo (second to the right) and Dale Asis (standing far right) (August 2015)

You can donate securely online at http://www.fdnbayanihan.org through PayPal or through Facebook. Bayanihan Foundation is an US registered 501c3 public charity and has donated over $350,000 in charitable giving locally and globally to the Philippines through individual donors. 95% of donations go directly to programming. http://www.fdnbayanihan.org

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Filipino Cuisine – the joy of stinky food

Portions of this blog entry came from Eating While Immigrant: The Bitter Taste of Assimilation and the Joy of ‘Stinky’ Food by Joseph Hernandez, Chicago Tribune, August 1, 2018

Chicken adobo (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Ever since I remember, my brother always liked chicken adobo. Almost every weekend, he would always asked my Mom if she would make it. My mother would always indulge him and make him his favorite dish. The house would smell of garlic, vinegar and soy sauce. My brother would relish the last bits of brown, soy sauce and smear it over white rice. The adobo smell seemed to stick to the kitchen walls as the aroma permeated our tiny kitchen for days. I asked my brother once, “Do you make chicken adobo at your house?”

“No, I don’t like it to stink up my house,” he said.

Was my brother ashamed of my mother’s cooking? Was he ashamed of being Filipino?  Was my brother trying so hard to look, act, and, yes, eat like an American? We certainly didn’t grow up eating grilled cheese sandwiches or chicken nuggets. Or was he just getting used to peanut butter sandwiches, Lunchables, and cups of diced peaches drowning in high-fructose corn syrup for lunch?

Filipino food is not stinky or weird. It’s comforting. It was how I experienced the world, both old and new. Food is how I knew I was loved.

Fast forward to 2018, Filipino cuisine — and Korean, and Sichuan, and Thai — is trendy. Restaurants around the country, run by white chefs, have “elevated” the foods of my mother and my people, of other immigrants, having profited off stacks of lumpia, bowls of pancit and adobo, and bottles of house-made fermented vinegars, without so much as a nod to the brown kitchens and people from which these foods originated (The Joys of ‘Stinky Cuisine’: Hernandez, Chicago Tribune, August 1, 2018)

It’s a little bittersweet hurt to see my people’s food celebrated now as the new “it” girl of cuisine. To know that for years, my brother and countless others needlessly felt embarrassment and shame for loving the food of our mothers. To know that my mom just wanted us to fit in, as much as our brown skin stood out. There’s also the simultaneous joy in sharing, in the invitation of a meal — “come, get to know me, to know us, to know our food. There’s plenty of knowledge (and rice) to go around (The Joys of ‘Stinky Cuisine’: Hernandez, Chicago Tribune, August 1, 2018).

Nowadays, when I bring a tray of pancit to work my Latinx coworkers would gobble it up in a heartbeat. No more comments of “that smells weird” or “what’s that?” They would heap their plates with my Mom’s noodles and said, “Hey this is good. Can you bring some more next time?”

At the age of six, I had, for the first time, a friend from school over for a play date. At that time, my family and I were living in a suburban town that was predominantly white. My playmate, Linda, was white. As it is customary, my mom provided us with a snack. Instead of crackers and juice or cookies and milk, she decided to put out a plate of rice and pork chop adobo. I was mortified. As Linda stared at the plate seemingly confused, I protested to mom, “She does not eat rice!” 

Excerpt from Glimpses into the Indigenous: Cultural Portals and the Ethnic Identity Development among Second Generation Filipino Americans by Maria Ferrera, 2013


My Mom’s Chicken Adobo Recipe

1 whole chicken, cut up in pieces

1/4 cup Marca Pina brand soy sauce

1/4 cup Marca Pina brand vinegar

1 whole garlic, chopped

3 bay leaves

10 to 12 whole peppercorns

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Cut up whole chicken to pieces. Mix the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves and peppercorn as marinade. Pour over chicken. Marinate the chicken overnight.

Take chicken from marinade. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry chicken pieces until golden brown on both sides.  Add marinade back to chicken. Bring to boil then simmer until the chicken is tender and cooked through for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with white rice.

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Filipino Bajaus Evolved Biologically For A Life At Sea

This blog entry came from the “Bodies Remodeled for A Life at Sea” (New York Times, April 2019) and “Group of People With An Amphibious Life Have Evolved With Traits to Match: Meet the Bajau” (The Economist, April 2018).

For thousands of years, the Sama-Bajau or Bajau, an indigenous group in Southern Philippines have spread out in nearby islands of Borneo and Indonesia. The Bajaus have been a nomadic, seafaring people, living off the sea by trading and subsistence fishing.[20] The boat-dwelling Sama-Bajau see themselves as non-aggressive people and successfully resisted assimilation from colonizers including the Spaniards, the Dutch, and the Americans.

The Bajaus have always been known to be excellent divers but recently they have been discovered that this indigenous groups have evolved biologically to have larger spleens to carry out the physiological feat of diving down to 200 feet in a blink of an eye. As scientists peer deeper into our genes, are we discovering instances of human evolution in just the past few thousand years?

The Bajaus are known for their excellent swimming and diving capabilities. They survive on a diet composed almost entirely of seafood. And to gather this they spend 60% of their working day underwater. They sometimes descend more than 200 feet, and can stay submerged for up to five minutes, using nothing more than a set of weights to reduce buoyancy and a pair of wooden goggles fitted with lenses fashioned from scrap glass that are resistant to distortion by the pressure at such depth — a physiological marvel.

A diver with a traditional wooden mask. Some researchers suspect the Bajau only began diving when Chinese demand for sea cucumbers rose in the 1600s. Other experts believe the Bajau began earlier, at the end of the last Ice Age, when rising sea levels turned the region into islands. CreditMelissa Ilardo and the New York Times

On April 2018, the magazine Cell featured the Bajaus and that they excelled in diving not just through skill and practice. They also have developed genetically to have larger spleens to adapt to life underwater. Their spleen scans showed that the Bajaus are 50% larger than those of the control group of another nearby indigenous group, Saluan—a difference unconnected with whether an individual was a prolific diver or one who spent most of his time working above the waves on a boat.  Larger spleens helps marine mammals dive deeper. As it turns out, seals with bigger spleens can dive deepest. An enlarged spleen seems to function like a bigger scuba tank and larger spleens of the Bajaus helped them adapt and hunt fish in the ocean better.

This suggests that it is Bajau lineage, rather than the real activity of diving, which is responsible for a larger spleen. Since the Bajau have lived like this for a long time (historical evidence suggests at least 1,000 years), many researchers have speculated that they carry genetic traits which adapt them to their remarkable lifestyle.

The Bajaus are a group who literally are born to dive and have evolved into better divers. Whether that evolution was driven by the failure of those who could not dive well to collect enough food to sustain a large family, or rather, of their dying in the attempt to do so, remains to be determined. It is a new kind of adaptation — not to air or to food, but to the ocean.

“They are simply a stranger to the land,” said Rodney C. Jubilado, a University of Hawaii anthropologist who studies the Bajau but was not involved in the new study.

The Bajau people number in the hundreds of thousands and live in houseboats and houses on stilts scattered across Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.Credit: Melissa Ilardo and the New York Times

In 2015, Melissa Ilardo, then a graduate student in genetics at the University of Copenhagen, heard about the Bajau. She wondered if centuries of diving could have led to the evolution of traits that made the task easier for them. Her first step was to travel to Sulawesi, Indonesia, and then to a coral reef island where she reached a Bajau village. After she proposed her study, they agreed to the plan. She returned a few months later, this time with a portable ultrasound machine to measure the size of the Bajau people’s spleens.

Dr. Melissa Ilardo taking an ultrasound scan of a Bajau diver’s spleen. Scientists have found that marine mammals with larger spleens can dive deeper — the enlarged spleen acts much like a bigger scuba tank.CreditPeter Damgaar and the New York Times

When Dr. Ilardo compared scans from the Bajaus and the nearby group, Saluan, she found a stark difference. The Bajau had spleens about 50 percent bigger on average than those of the Saluan. Yet even such a remarkable difference might not be the result of evolution. Diving itself might somehow enlarge the spleen. There are plenty of examples of experience changing the body, from calloused feet to bulging biceps.

Only some Bajau are full-time divers. Others, such as teachers and shopkeepers, have never dived. But they, too, had large spleens, Dr. Ilardo found. It was likely the Bajau are born that way, thanks to their genes.

Bajau homes built on stilts. Only some Bajau are full-time divers, while others are teachers and shopkeepers, but Dr. Ilardo found that all Bajau had enlarged spleens.CreditMelissa Ilardo and the New York Times

The only plausible way for this to happen is natural selection: the Bajau with those variants had more descendants than those who lacked them. For her own part, Dr. Ilardo suspects that natural selection favored the Bajau variant of PDE10A because deep diving is so risky. “I would think, as morbid as it is, that if they didn’t have this, it would kill them,” she said.

François-Xavier Ricaut, an anthropologist at the University of Toulouse who was not involved in the study, said that it wasn’t clear yet how quickly this evolutionary change happened.

Some researchers suspect the Bajau only began diving to great depths when a market for sea cucumbers opened up in China in the 1600s. Or perhaps the adaptation began thousands of years earlier, at the end of the Ice Age, when rising sea levels turned the region around Indonesia into islands.“This study acts as a cornerstone for exciting questions to follow,” said Dr. Ricaut, co-researcher and collaborator of Dr. Ilardo.

We are the products of evolution, and not just evolution that occurred billions of years ago. As scientists peer deeper into our genes, they are discovering instances of human evolution in just the past few thousand years.

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The Philippines Promotes ‘Balik’ (Return) Scientist Program

Philippines ‘BALIK’ (Return) Scientist Program (July 2018)

The Bayanihan Foundation have always encouraged ‘pagbabalik’ or coming home as part of its long-term vision. The NEXTGEN Program encourages young Filipino Americans to return to the Philippines and uphold both US and Filipino traditions and cultures. In June 2018, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the ‘Balik’ (Return) Scientist Program, which seeks to provide incentives to Filipino scientists living in the US and around the world to return to the Philippines and share their knowledge and expertise (GMA News Online, June 2018).

Kaluluwa Kolectivo and NEXTGEN Fellows enjoy Maria Cristina Falls in Iligan City, Philippines (2015)

The consequences of ‘brain drain’, the emigration and flight of talented individuals to developed countries including the US is real and has negative, long-term consequences. On the other hand, programs like ‘Balik’ Scientist Program and the Bayanihan Foundation’s NEXTGEN Program might help reverse that trend. Besides remittances, return migration can have a positive impact on democratization and the quality of political institutions in the country of origin.

Signed into law on June 2018, the Philippines Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is actively recruiting Filipino scientists in the US to return to the Philippines to fill in the gaps in scientific and technological expertise in the country.

“The program shall aim to strengthen the scientific and technological human resources of the academy, public and private institutions, including locally registered enterprises in order to promote knowledge sharing and accelerate the flow of new technologies into the country,” the law read.

Returning scientists will be given an engagement ranging from 15 days to six months, while the medium-term program ranges from six months to one year. Returning scientists will be offered airfare for one round trip ticket, as well as a tax-exempt daily allowance as they take part in grants-in-aid (GIA) research.

The ‘Balik’ Scientist Program is supposed to encourage scientist to stay for a few weeks to one to three years, with airfare for one round trip for the awardees, their spouses, and minor dependents. Recipients will also receive special relocation benefits, participation in GIA research, and funding for the establishment and development of a facility or laboratory. Are you interested in coming back home and share your expertise? Additional info and application is found online at this LINK. The ‘Balik’ Scientist Program might help reverse the trend of brain drain into brain gain.

Posted in Diaspora Giving, Overseas workers, Philippines, Volunteerism, Youth leadership development | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

‘Padala’ (Remittances): Top Seven Facts You Need To Know

The following blog entry is an excerpt from the World Economic Forum “How Migrants Who Send Money Home Have Become a Global Economic Force” (June 2018)

‘Padala’ (remittance) is a transfer of money by a foreign worker to an individual in their home country. These remittances have been recognized as an important developmental vehicle associated with migration. Since the 1990s, these financial remittance flows have steadily increased in volume. In 2017, migrants sent an estimated $466 billion to families in developing countries. Here’s the top seven facts you need to know:

  1. The Philippines shot to the no. 3 spot sending $29.9 billion, surpassing Mexico for remittances sent back home.

Top remittance receivers in 2016
Image: IMF and World Bank

2. Remittances from Filipinos in the diaspora saved the Philippines from economic malaise during the last great economic recession (CIA Factbook, 2018). “The economy has been relatively resilient to global economic shocks due to less exposure to troubled international securities, lower dependence on exports, relatively resilient domestic consumption, and the large remittances from about 10 million overseas Filipino workers and migrants.”

An immigrant’s mother in San Francisco Bay Area fills out the shipment invoice for the boxes she is sending to her loved ones in the Philippines (Philippine Inquirer July 2018)

3. Remittance flows for migrant families can be economic lifelines at the individual and community levels. These remittances not only include ‘padala’ (financial remittances) but also these balikbayan boxes full of goodies sent to families back home. An estimated 800 million people worldwide are directly supported by remittances from relatives and loved ones abroad, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Remittances lift families out of poverty, improve health and nutrition conditions, increase education opportunities for children, improve housing and sanitation, promote entrepreneurship and reduce inequality.

4. Money sent home from abroad is shown to be more stable than both private debt and portfolio equity flows, and several times larger than any international development aid.

5. ‘Social remittances’, apart from financial remittances, contributed to the flow and positive exchange from migrants living abroad. Transnational communities also contribute by way of ‘social remittances’ – the flow of skills, knowledge, ideas and values that migrants send home. For example, the impact of social remittances was most strongly felt in areas such as education, health, employment, business and aspects of governance, found a study conducted by IOM in Tanzania in 2014. There is also a broader development effect, as the recipients of social remittances extend beyond the migrants’ immediate circle of relatives and friends to the wider community beyond.

6. Immigrants abroad bring positive effects and should address the overwhelmingly negative narrative about migration. We need to look at migrants as agents of change in their home countries who can contribute directly to human development at a grassroots level. The need to engage Diasporas effectively is becoming more and more expedient.

7. Financial and social remittances have an important role to play in the achievement of individual family goals, community and national development priorities. There is still work to be done but donations from the diaspora like the Bayanihan Foundation play a role in moving the needle for equity and sustainability locally and globally.

Posted in Diaspora Donors, Diaspora Giving, Overseas workers, Philippines, Remittances | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Awarding A Scholarship in Honor of Jolynne’s Spirit of Helping Others

the late Dr. Jolynne Andal, PhD – a social justice fighter for children’s rights, a mother of two children, and a friend

In 2017, my friend Jolynne Andal Biljetina PhD passed away peacefully at her home after a courageous battle with mesothelioma. The Bayanihan Foundation honors her indefatigable spirit by assisting in awarding a community scholarship award in her honor. On April 2018, her friends and family set up the Jolynne Andal Biljetina Community Leadership Award and Scholarship  The scholarship award honors Jolynne’s commitment to children and her community. On July 2018, the scholarship committee selected a scholarship recipient honoring Jolynne’s spirit by making this world a better place and her indefatigable spirit to help.

(left to right); Dale Asis, Bayanihan Foundation; Jocelyn Azada, Scholarship Committee Co-Chair: and Kristy Liu, recipient of the 2017 Jolynne Andal Biljetina Community Scholarship Award (July 2018)

On July 14, 2018, the selection committee awarded the Jolynne Andal Biljetina Community Award Scholarship to Kristy Liu. She was selected from a competitive list of applicants. Kristy embodied the community spirit of Jolynne and her dedication to help others. Kristy Liu recently graduated from Whitney Young High School in Chicago; she will be an incoming freshman and will be studying nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

(left to right): Dale Asis, Bayanihan Foundation; Jocelyn Azada, scholarship committee Co-Chair; Pastor Glenn Aguiree; and Pastor David Kokiong of Hinsdale Fil-Am Seventh Day Adventist Church (July 2018)

The scholarship awards ceremony was held at the Hinsdale Fil-Am Seventh Day Adventist Church where Jolynne was an active member of this vibrant faith community. Jocelyn Azada (pictured above second from left) heads as Co-Chair of the Jolynne Andal Biljetina Awards Committee. Other members of the committee include Ellen Wu; Jen Beach Zielinski; Celina Chatman- Nelsen, PhD; and Bayanihan Foundation board member Maria Ferrera, PhD. The Bayanihan Foundation is honored to play a small and critical role to make this scholarship award come true.

(left to right): Linda Andal, mother of the late Jolynne Andal Biljetina; Kristy Liu, recipient of the scholarship award; and Shirley Pintado looking on (July 2018)

Jolynne’s mother, Linda Andal (pictured right) also attended the ceremonies. Eric Biljetina, Jolynne’s husband and her two children also were at hand during the scholarship award ceremonies. The Jolynne Andal Biljetina Scholarship Award embodies the Bayanihan Foundation spirit of giving and the spirit of helping others.

I miss my friend Jolynne Andal Biljetina. In awarding this scholarship her spirit lives on. The Bayanihan Foundation hopes to continue supporting this scholarship award so it could continue helping young people pursuing their dreams of higher education in psychology, community health,  or a related field. It will also continue Jolynne’s spirit of helping others.

To learn more about the scholarship, click HERE.

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