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April 18 - 24, 2005 | Volume 19 No. 16

For the past 17 years, The Filipino Express has provided the Filipino American community the best news, arts and entertainment coverage from around the United States and the Philippines.

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FILIPINO MUGGED BY GANG MEMBERS
By Anthony D. Advincula

Jersey City, NEW JERSEY, April 14, 2005 --- A 26-year-old Filipino man walking home was attacked by five unidentified men believed to be members of a gang about 10 p.m. on Wednesday, and robbed of his wallet and apartment keys.

Ryan Tamunday, of Fairmount Street, said that as soon as he got off the No. 80 bus on April 6, after visiting his girlfriend in Country Village, he saw two black men walking close to him.

When they reached on the corner of Orchard Street and Maiden Lane, the two men, without saying a word, punched him on the face, he said.

“Bumagsak ako. Kinuha nila ang wallet ko, may $300 doon. Tapos, kinakapa ko ang cell phone, at tumawag ako ng 911. (I fell to the ground. They took my wallet, which contained $300, then they ran away. I groped for my cell phone in my pocket and called 911 for help),” said Tamunday, who is a nursing student at Hudson Community College.

While waiting for the rescue, he walked to Summit Avenue and called his girlfriend.

“Punong-puno ng dugo ang mukha ko. Dumating ang ambulansya, mga half an hour pagkatapos kong tumawag sa 911 (My face was smothered with blood. The ambulance came half an hour after my 911 call).”

In a copy of a police report showed by Tamunday to this reporter, the attackers were described as “two black males, one was 5’6 in height, wearing a white shirt and blue baggy jeans, and the other was 5’10, wearing blue shirt and blue baggy jeans.

But a witness, according to Tamunday, saw five black men running away after he was attacked.

Tamunday was brought to Jersey City Medical Hospital and treated with a broken jaw and injuries on his face.

“Di ko alam kung may ginamit silang panuntok, kasi di ko nakita dahil galing sila sa likod ko. Pero di naman mababasag ang panga ko kung wala silang ginamit (I don’t know whether they used something to punch me, because I didn’t see them as they came from my back. But my jaw will not be broken if they didn’t use anything),” he said.

With wires placed in between his teeth to fix his jaw, Tamunday can only have liquid in-takes nowadays. He said that the doctors advised him not to carry heavy things.

Joel Tamunday, Ryan’s father, said that another Filipino man was also mugged by a group of black men and was in the same hospital while Ryan was getting his treatment.

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Fil-Am Marine killed in Iraq

Helena Rimes, the niece of Marine Cpl. Garry Wesley Rimes, places his photo on a shrine Tuesday honoring her uncle in the family's Santa Maria home.

NEW YORK, April 14, 2005 --- He was born and grew up in the Philippines, but he always wanted to follow the footsteps of his father, that is to join the US Marines.

Cpl. Garry Wesley Tan Rimes fulfilled that dream when he enlisted in the US Marine Corp. a year after he arrived in the United States.

But on Friday, Rimes, was killed in Iraq after being hit by a bomb and attacked by gunfire from Iraqi insurgents, the US Embassy in Manila reported.

Reports said Rimes, 30, was killed while protecting another Marine during the attack.

After a diesel truck drove into a building and exploded, an injured Marine crawled from the rubble. Rimes was among the Marines who responded to the scene but was fatally caught in a hail of gunfire from insurgents.

Rimes, an anti-tank gunner, had been in Iraq less than a month when he was killed in Ramadi.

US Embassy spokeswoman Karen Kelley said the family had been notified and the remains would remain in the United States.

“The burial will take place in California. The next of kin have been notified,” Kelley said.

Rimes immigrated to the United States in 1996 and joined the Marines in 1997, hoping the military would help him become a US citizen.

“Ever since he was a kid, he wanted to be a Marine,” his younger sister, Patty Rimes of Santa Maria, said. “He wanted to be in the (US) military.”

“Cpl. Rimes is our hero,” another sister, Danica Love of Baytown, Texas, said. “My whole family feels a deep gratitude to him.”

According to Patty, her brother re-enlisted and was sent to Iraq.

“He told me he was going to leave, and I said, ëI better see you again,í and he told me “I’ll see you in seven months,” Rimes’ cousin, Michelle Felix, said.

The 30-year-old Rimes has been awarded several honors including the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal.

In addition to a sister, Rimes is survived by his wife who lives in the Philippines, and his mother who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The US military has provided only sketchy reports on the incident saying it is still under investigation. No other details were provided.

As of April 5, at least 1,542 members of the US military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003.

Rimes is among the five Filipino-Americans who have been killed during the war.

The other Filipino-American soldiers who were killed in action are Capt. Dennis Pintor, Sgt. Joselito Villanueva, Sgt. Niño Livaudais, Spc. Edgar Daclan Jr. and Spc. Rel Ravago IV.

No member of the Philippine contingent in Iraq became involved in frontline operations even before they were pulled out following the abduction of Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz in 2004.

The Philippine government imposed a travel ban on Filipino workers going to Iraq after the safe release of De la Cruz.

Another Filipino worker, Roberto Tarongoy, is still being held captive by insurgents in Iraq.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said the Philippine government is not lifting the travel ban, fearing this might further endanger the lives of the remaining Filipino workers servicing the US military in Baghdad.

Philippine government negotiators led by Undersecretary for Special Concerns Rafael Seguis are currently in Baghdad working out the release of Tarongoy.

Tarongoy, along with American Roy Hallums and four others, were snatched by insurgents after storming their office in Baghdad in November last year.

The kidnappers are reportedly demanding a $22 million ransom in exchange for Tarongoy and Hallums. -- with reports from MNS

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Council hopeful seeks Fil-Am support
By Anthony D. Advincula


Gregorio "Greg" V. Racelis

Jersey City, NEW JERSEY, April 14, 2005 --- As Filipino population in Hudson County has continued to grow over the years, Gregorio “Greg” V. Racelis said this is the right time to be unified and have a Filipino representative in the Jersey City Council.

Racelis, an active leader in the Filipino community, is running for City Council in Ward B. The election is set for May 10.

“I thought I have retired, but for the sake of the Filipino community, I just want to make a difference, particularly among the contituents of Ward B,” Racelis said. “I would like to utilize my experience and apply my acquired knowledge for the common good of the community.”

The areas of Ward B includes the west part of Bergen Avenue, West side Avenue, and from Broadman Parkway to Route 440 to Broadway Avenue.

“We always say that there must be a Filipino representative in the council, but we really have to make it happen. Otherwise, we will be taken for granted,” Racelis said.

Four years ago, he ran for councilor in the same ward, but lost.

A former commissioner and chairman for the Jersey City Housing Authority, and former commissioner, chairman and treasurer for the Jersey City Parking Authority, Racelis hopes to carry out his seven major plans, if elected to a four-year term.

He said he wants to achieve the following:
  1. Stable taxes;
  2. Improve the quality of life in Jersey City by utilizing the public schoools for evening recreation;
  3. Monitor education and administrative performance;
  4. Hold the City more accountable by administrating Jersey City employment and training programs;
  5. Safer neighborhoods with more Police Foot Patrol -- West side Avenue, Mallory Avenue and the Marion Section;
  6. Encourage our youth to work with the Youth Build Program; and
  7. Work on creating more City street lighting along side streets.
Racelis is also the former president for the Garden Filipino American Association, former deputy commander for the Knights of Rizal, and former director of Economic Opportunity Jersey City.

Married to Cita Eleazar, and have three professional children and five grandchildren, Racelis is currently the owner and broker for Racelis Realty, Inc. Also, he is the Ege Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard Chairman for the Boyd Court and Boyd Avenue Homeowners Association, and technical adviser for the Philippine American Friendship Committee, Inc. (PAFCOM).

“Let us be one and help one another to achieve our goals in strengthening our own Filipino community,” Racelis said.

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US vets group wants to return Balangiga Bells to RP
By Joseph G. Lariosa

Chicago, ILLINOIS, April 14, 2005 --- The Wyoming Veterans’ Commission, a staunch oppositionist for the return of Balangiga Bells, has reversed course and has now favored the return of the Filipino American War relics back to where they belong — to the Philippines.

Word of the landmark decision was leaked to this reporter by British author Bob Couttie, quoting the Casper Star Tribune, a Cheyenne, Wyoming daily newspaper.

Bells’ return advocates Jean Wall and Sonny Sampayan also alerted Eastern Samar Bishop Leonardo Medroso about the development but efforts to get Medroso’s comments were unsuccessful.

According to Tribune writer Joan Barron, who wrote a piece on the decision published over the weekend, “The Wyoming Veterans’ Commission recently reversed itself and passed a resolution in favor of returning the Bells of Balanggiga to the Philippines.”

On Thursday, however, Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal informed a Veterans of Foreign Wars representative that he disagreed with the commission and opposes returning the bells.

The veterans group have been reluctant to return the bells to Balangiga, Eastern Samar because it reminded them of the treachery associated with the bells as it believes that the pealing of the bells were the signal to attack the American soldiers manning the garrison in the seaside town of Balangiga on the early hours of Sunday on Sept. 28, 1901.

The Balangiga incident itself occurred in the middle of the the Philippine War of Independence following the refusal of then-president William McKinley to recognize Philippine independence.

Townspeople in Balangiga attacked and defeated a garrison of the 9th Infantry, killing two thirds of the American soldiers. Later the town was burned and the commander of US forces on the island ordered the killing of everyone over the age of ten.

A month later the bells were looted by members of the 11th Infantry who took them to Wyoming. The town priest had opposed the attack on the garrison but was ignored

Two of the bells are on display at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, while a third bell is with the 9th U.S. Infantry Regiment at its base in South Korea.

Filipinos have since lobbied for return of the bells, a move that has been strongly opposed by U.S. veterans organizations.

Robert Palmer of Cheyenne, chairman of the Wyoming Veterans’ Commission, said Thursday evening that a majority of the commission members voted to return the bells. Palmer declined to reveal the vote count, other than to say it was a split vote.

Couttie , author of the new book, “Hang the Dogs: The True Tragic History of the Balangiga Massacre,” said the Wyoming Veterans Commission has voted 7-4 to return the Balangiga Bells and “there are attempts to undermine the recommendation.”

Quoting one of the Commission members, Joe Sestak, once the leader to the opposition of the bells’ return, Couttie said: “To my knowledge, theVeterans’ Commission had not had a prior stand on the bells. The real story, as we know it, was that we followed a lengthy process of getting support from the major veterans’ service organizations and received no opposition and in most cases support for the return of the bells.

“Prior to being able to communicate with the Governor, it appears that someone spoke to him and convinced him to oppose the return of the bells. This was even before his own veterans’ commission had an opportunity to talk to him.

“It was the intent of the Commission to follow an orderly process and not provide any publicity until the issue was resolved. Someone thought otherwise. After the Governor either supported or opposed the transfer of the bells, we would have felt comfortable to coordinate a news release with the parties concerned. The story will now cause a raft of emotional outbursts from people that do not know the whole story.

“They will no know that returning the bells is the right thing to do given the international climate and the fact that many nations are returning war booties to the homeland from which they came. Instances of returned artifacts include those from Okinawa, Hungary, Philippines, and even from the US. I honestly tried to do the right thing through the right channels. I will continue to work on the issue and keep myself and everyone concerned as informed as possible.”

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