Category: Narrative

Can Zuckerberg Bring Down the Great Firewalls of China?


A modified version of an academic essay. . .

Can Zuckerberg Bring Down “the Great Firewalls” of China?

In this very competitive age, when the Internet rules and a handful of technologies are available to the most of us, operating globally—is never an impossible task—especially, for a  successful networking Website like Facebook (herein referred to as “FB”). However, for a communist country like China, those digital possibilities are still challenged by distance,  also by the robust culture embedded to the Chinese people and their “ways” of doing business–and as reflected by their nation’s economy, and as critically and politically imposed by their government. Although it’s truly challenging, multinational companies like FB should never give up innovating ways to penetrate the globe and maximize their potentials.

Currently, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are banned in China. Although there are local social networking Sites, those three including Google, are struggling to get in.

On a personal note, I am not a huge fan of FB, neither of its thirty-one-year-old founder, Mark Zuckerberg. But being away from my families and friends: I could not help using FB to stay in touch with them.  I am not completely into it, because of the many issues of privacy (as too much personal information is collected from us, users) and safety (against identity theft, predatory marketing and selling). Last, but not least, FB is over populated. In fact, according to the author of International Management, Helen Deresky,” . . .if Facebook is a country, it is the third largest nation (first is China; and, second is Russia).”

With the latter being said, and as an aspiring global manager: I understand why Zuckerberg seems relentless in his pursuit to “nail” his success as a Cyber mogul. Because I believe that his business agenda, is to ensure that every citizen of the Earth is truly connected globally, and that FB is accessible anywhere.

Is it bad, or too ambitious? Well, it depends to his critics’ opinions (and as influenced by their culture). But isn’t that’s the most rational business move for any multinational company; “. . .to approach global expansion; and to specifically address such approach,” (Randall 2015) by simply tailoring or customizing FB’s accessibility and overall presentation specifically suited for every nation and in accordance to culture and society?

In regards to tactics, one of Zuckerberg’s approaches is building relationships by making the site available in different languages. He also actively attends events, ceremonies and speaks before the Chinese audience.  Furthermore, he (through FB) has been closely monitoring quality of media shared by anyone in the Site, so as not to offend anybody. And I believe, he’s really doing it right.

Because in reality, we do not know the exact circumstances of any of those disagreements between nations. And many wars and conflicts, are culturally rooted by religion and language. Perhaps if we are able to speak in the same “succinct” and simple language of the World Wide Web; and, at the same time, we can comprehend beyond our fellows’ words, perhaps we have good potentials to be better communicators. For whether we admit or not, many of us are somehow CQ (cultural intelligence) impoverished and/or insensitive–because it’s really not that easy. In fact, I used to be one. Although I learned the hard ways, I am glad I am now enlightened. For corrective steps are doable, and all that is needed, is conviction manifested by a strong will.

Nevertheless, and going back to FB, to improve its chance to penetrate China, Zuckerberg and his business managers should engage to the Five-Steps of the Negotiation Process:

  1. Preparation
  2. Relationship Building
  3. Exchange of Task-Related Information
  4. Persuasion
  5. Concessions and Agreements

Moreover, FB should consider the issues that led to “Cultural Misunderstanding-The Danone-Wahaha Joint Venture in China Splits After Years,” of Legal Dispute,” (Deresky 2014). He should also pay attention to all cross-cultural negotiation variables (listed at page 156 of our textbook).

Indeed,  Zuckerberg is truly ambitious, but as one of his critics, I appreciate his fierce beginning. I wish I have his valiant guts. I think it’s very humbling (not just lucrative) to be able to connect the world–for the culture and the language that enabled us to thrive, are the very same reasons behind most of the misunderstandings among nations and races. And FB are addressing all these burdens by continuously innovating ways in bridging cultural gaps

Finally, according to an academic article, Zuckerberg started “FB when he was 19, but because of his extraordinary beginning, everyone tends to underrate the role he has gone on to play,” says Silicon Valley eminence Peter Thiel, who himself has had an outsize role in the tech revolution. ‘Keeping the company relentlessly focused on the long-term future, he is the opposite of a quarter-to-quarter Wall Street CEO, and that’s why he deserves to be recognized as a great leader.’ We couldn’t have said it better ourselves,” (Colvin). All he has to add (to what he’s already doing), is to thoroughly and continuously create cultural profiles of the United States and China (to make a comprehensive side-by-side comparison) and enhance the likelihood of his success in bringing down the “great” firewalls of the latter. In addition, he should really persevere because Microsoft succeeded in getting in. The multinational company of Bill Gates “won” the Chinese by just customizing Bing.
To end, let’s reflect on the role of culture in the blogosphere. As blogging is not different to any global businesses–for we are speaking here, dealing here, and interacting here with our blogging friends coming from different cultures. But amid all challenges, this is our great chance to live more meaningful lives (and I can’t stress that enough). As this Web, is enabling us to give our views, to share our passions, but just as we have to be welcoming and respectful of those of others. A win-win situation is never far-fetch for anyone who has the will and would dare do it. Most importantly, it’s not so hard to listen or read deeper beyond the person’s words. For isn’t it ideal that we responsibly assess first our surroundings (and be considerate of everyone) by using all of our senses, before we even speak of our interpretation (that could sound more of a bias judgment)? Although we may not be able to touch in this virtual world, we still can talk with and listen to one another with compassion.

Colvin, G., & Volcker, P. (2015). Intrepid Guides for a Messy World. Fortune, 171(5), 75-95.

Deresky, Helen. International Management, 8th Edition. 2015

International Business. T, (0004, June). Google, Facebook and YouTube Outshine Others in Web Globalization. International Business Times.

Randall, Linda. Discussion Question 2: Facebook in China. 2015

Social Nets Engage in Global Expansion, Struggle. (Hotlines) (Brief article). (2007). AdWeek 48(36), 4.



































The Challenges of Social Networking

social-marketing-twitter-vs-facebookSocial networking sites are one of the most in demand online destinations on the World Wide Web. In the United States of America, Facebook and Twitter top the list of the most popular Web Sites. The question is which among the two meets users’ social networking needs? Should social networking be limited to the people they know? Regardless, social networking sites should serve their utmost purpose in enabling their users connect with their families and friends–to enjoy the freedom of expression–by letting them express their individualities in their respective pages and sites without compromising their welfare and the confidentiality of their information. On the other hand, user should likewise consider the risks in posting and sharing information online. For the Internet and social networking have their challenges too–they have advantages, but they have given disadvantages as well. To be mindful of both, will lessen the likelihood of anyone getting into troubles. To be neglectful of both could be very pricey (tangibly and intangibly speaking), and the damages to one’s being could be beyond repair. Therefore, caution is highly encouraged.

In the world of social networking, geared with wide array of collaborated activities, wherein users can interact with one another, Facebook beats all sites. And to Mark Zuckerberg’s delight, its younger sister Site, Instagram is not so far behind. However, many users of Facebook have cancelled their accounts and has moved to Twitter, and their unanimous concern was the plague of hackers, identity thieves, and con artists. However, are users really safe on Twitter?

Currently, Twitter users enjoy the site’s micro-blogging (posting in brief) features. It is widely used by public figures; politicians, entertainment personalities, and athletes. Twitters can “tweet” or send or post messages of 140 characters. The concept of instant messaging is what Twitter is selling. And it is nearly the same thing as Facebook’s Status, wherein users can post about 200 characters on their respective wall (Web page). If the messages exceed more than the allowed characters, the site will direct users to its note page that looks like a blog or a journal.

On privacy, in an article featured at Issues & Controversies, Twitter’s inability to secure private information was exposed. The article further stated that “there have been other incidents where people’s tweets have gotten them in serious troubles and major controversies” (1). Just like what happened to Octavia Nasr (editor of Mideast Affairs of CNN). In 2010, she tweeted an expression of sadness over the death of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Faddlah, a Muslim cleric thought to have close ties with an Islamic militant group. (2)

In the same year, Facebook automatically reset all privacy settings for all their users’ profiles, as sighted in that same article at Issues & Controversies. (3) Despite this development, Facebook users still complain about heavy marketing and advertisements, that many believe pose great risks to all its users, as they collect private information. The New York Times editorial once wrote in 2010, that Facebook allow its users to share their “tastes” and interests so freely with their families and friends, but at the same time it collects information and provide them to advertisers along with users’ other preferences. (4) In that same article, Zuckerberg defended FB; claiming its features and services, were simply the glowing trend of the Internet age.

Personally, I agree with Zuckerberg, and that’s the toughest challenge of the Internet and social networking. And it is the very reason too, why I cancelled my accounts on both Facebook and Twitter. Because I am simply tired hearing nutty excuses from a lousy businessman like Zuckerberg. I am simply tired of his alibis for not doing good business amidst raking billions; and yet he still inconsiderately disregard everyone’s safety. I don’t think he and the rest are really doing their best to make it safe for all of us. Yes, this is the Internet age, however, shouldn’t they (owners and operators of social networking Sites) have the responsibilities to keep us safe? For although they’re Sites are free, but there are risks that can ruin our credit scores, our reputation, our names, who knows, even our lives. Therefore businessmen like Zuckerberg and all other networking site owners and operators who are making fortune out of our enthusiasm and interests, should really have that sense of responsibility in ensuring our safety, or at least our information’s security by strictly upholding confidentiality and protecting our privacy. Moreover, to date, there is no law; no international law that can bring any cyber crime to justice. For though there are laws in place in every country, they are all weak and they have so many loopholes, and they are never applicable to cyber criminals operating outside their jurisdictions.

Worse, Site owners and operators like Zuckerberg refuse to be regulated.

And because they refuse to be regulated, they are making the Net a wilderness of this Digital Age. Because by simply being neglectful, they are letting various “species” of predators infiltrate the World Wide Web–and in so doing, they are compromising our privacy. And although, we are thankful for the knowledge, the revolution and the empowerment that comes with it, we just can’t disregard the daunting reality, that we are getting so prone to notorious modus operandis operating globally; and whose crimes are getting meaner and more sophisticated just as innovation of technologies inevitably spur in every bit of a second.

In this regard, it is best to keep in mind: We, indeed, have responsibilities to ourselves; and, that is to be safe and stay safer by being vigilant in safeguarding our information online.

In a research study, entitled Clash of the Titans, written by Malhotra Gunjan, Maheshwari Aditya, and Raju Abin G, for the Institute of Management Technology of India, the scholars stated that most privacy risks at Facebook exist because users carelessly post their personal information on their Websites. (5) “Facebook members reveal a lot of information about themselves and are not very aware of privacy options or who can actually view their profile” (6).

The truth is no social networking Wesbite is free from the disadvantages and limitations of the Internet. Because the “bad geeks;” hackers, identity thieves and con artists are too smart and too diligent to find ways of doing their evil works. And the self professed “good geeks” like Zuckerberg are too stupid, too lazy, and too greedy to just collect billions of dollars out of our accounts, trust, and vulnerabilities–so sad, but very true, and pretty scary!

Therefore we should own the responsibility of securing our information. For it will never hurt, to be mindful of both advantages and disadvantages of both Internet and social networking (and blogging should not be an exemption). For when we post private information in a public domain, they are of course free to the general public (which include the bad geeks). For when we post private information to a public domain, we are apparently waiving our rights to privacy.

On a more personal note, yes, I used to have accounts on both Twitter and Facebook. On Facebook, I did used it to connect with my families and friends. I used it to play cyber games. I did used Facebook to post my progress in academics and to share them to my family. On Twitter, I used it to promote my blogs, my posts, and my blogger friends’ blogs and posts. However, allow me to reiterate: They are closed already–and I have no regret. Because I realized I would never be safe on any of them. Moreover, both accounts were hacked–and some bad geeks used my accounts to send messages on my behalf and without my consent–I was so embarrassed, but I couldn’t blame anyone except myself–for in social networking caveat emptor (buyer’s beware) applies. And I should have known better.

Finally, when one chooses a social networking Site, one must first identify the purpose, because it could narrow down the selection criteria. Some people use those Sites to sell something; to announce or promote a product or an event, or an organization, but some just want to connect. Regardless, it is a must to know the purpose in opening an account for one to maximize and enjoy their services and be safe at the same time. Most importantly, one should keep in mind, that the Internet has limitations and risks. For being online, our private information are never safe– the “bad geeks” have their ways, so we should always be cautious .

In conclusion, connecting with families and friends, or to the World Wide Web should not be so troublesome. It should not be troublesome only if everyone of us would behave ethically; and we would e-deal responsibly. For regardless, if one chooses Twitter over Facebook, or any networking Sites like WordPress, extra caution is a must when posting information anywhere on the Web. Let us not give the bad geeks, neither the lousy businessmen “easy money” by letting them take advantage of our vulnerabilities–let us stop being vulnerable by imposing regulations among ourselves. Yes, we are in the Digital Age, and this age is not going anywhere. But this is something we are now sharing with our kids; something we will leave for the next generations to rely on. It is too late to act now, for our kids and our kids’ kids.  Because for all we know, the “bad geeks” aren’t humans. Yes, they are not aliens, but they could be bots (short for robots)–heartless; ruthless, and definitely, shameless.  Beware!

Writing Stamp:

Academically written by: Sabiniana Balagtas Baliba
Submitted to: George Garneau, Ph.D.
For: English 100,
As required by: University of Hawaii,
Kapiolani Community College
On: 27 February 2012
In: Modern Language Association format
Edited and published as posted.

The Needed Regard


LIFE is one of the most powerful words connecting us all. Defined by Encarta as the existence in physical world—life, in its simplest term is the force and spirit behind our and all other living things’ existence.

Watching several documentary films and researching about the holocaust and Auschwitz led me to write this narrative–a sentiment as to why we, humans are creating our own destructions? There are countless of them, but the three worst, demonic kinds destructions of wars, illegal drugs, and genocides, are all man-made and caused by greed.

Such anthropogenic took not just hundred millions (maybe even billions) of lives, but also the hopes and dreams of their victims and even their faith. What was worse, perpetrators showed no remorse, and not the slightest of it.


Defined as a period of hostile relations between countries, states, or factions that leads to fighting between armed forces, especially in land, air, or sea battles, wars, as of press time, approximately reached a hundred-twenty-seven count by occurence. The worst of them all, is World War II (1939–1945)—as its death toll reached roughly seventy-eight millions of people from all over the world. (Wikipedia)


Another mean and deadly (and not to mention addicting) man-made destruction, is also known as ice, shabu and meth–methamphetamine is an illegal drug used as a stimulant.

It massively proliferated in several third world countries of Columbia, Mexico, even in Hongkong, Taiwan and in mainland China.

According to Jeannine Stein of Los Angeles Times, there are approximately“200 million people around the world” so hooked on illegal drugs every year. In third world countries, kids and women are even utilized as couriers and workers in “cooking labs” of triads and all other drug rings or syndicates.

Photo courtesy of Sanja Gjenero
Photo courtesy of Sanja Gjenero


Another notorious anthropogenic is genocide—the systematic killing of all the people from a national, ethnic, or religious group (Encarta). The worst genocide ever recorded is the holocaust. From 1941 to 1945, there are about seventeen millions of Jews and all others (from Germany, Poland, and all over Europe) died in the satanic reign of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi chain of command.

Personally, I can’t tell you enough how hard I cried reading and watching films about the sufferings of the victims and the cruelty of perpetrators. I still can’t believe such evil people existed in this world, as I really have zero tolerance for violence. What pierces and tears my heart the most, women and kids, and elders and people with disabilities were the defenseless victims of holocaust. For those are the type of people I work with at Legal Aid Society of Hawaii (every tax season).

Nowadays, atomic war is posing threats (North Korea is ridiculously contemplating). While genocides are reportedly still happening in many parts of the world like Cambodia, China, and the Middle East. And the continued massive proliferation of meth is unstoppable.

In this regard, maybe we can’t do anything drastic on our ends, to stop and completely eradicate such crimes against humanity. However, please be reminded that we are now empowered by the Internet–and we can all use this medium to voice out our stance and be vigilant in upholding and safeguarding life. And mind you, no voice is too little, when one speaks of truth, especially if it is for a cause.

Finally, life and love are the strongest “dots” connecting us all. For if we can just put love on everything we do, perhaps Michael Jackson’s dream to Heal the World isn’t too impossible to achieve. However, if it’s too hard for one to give love, at least, one should respect and value life—for by simply respecting and honoring our differences on our mentality, religions and beliefs, and even on our cultural values, we truly can make this world a better place. Besides, reality is, we are co-existing with one another, so we must work out those differences. Maybe not in the most compassionate ways, or all the time. However, nothing is impossible if there’s a will. Moreover, anything logical could be doable. After all, we are in this very civilized age, and civility nowadays, is simply, but a common sense.

PS (Something borrowed from Lyrics, Sentiments and Me):

Below is a video from my favorite musicians these days–the PianoGuys giving a very wonderful treat to the elderly–such an awesome treat to celebrate life!

The Lights at the Corners of Our Minds

Sabiniana Balagtas Baliba

George Garneau, Ph.D.

27 February 2013

English 200

The Lights at the Corners of Our Minds

Memory is life.” Pierre Nora

For the role of memory in our lives is so humongous, truly immeasurable, as most things we do are all memory based. From the time we get up in the morning, until we lay ourselves in bed at night, we do things depending on how we program ourselves. Thus, our survival largely depends on memory.

In fact, a neuroanatomical study states that without memory “we cannot learn from the past,” as it really gives us our identity and individuality, and is an elementary part of our consciousness” (Garcia-Lazaro et al).

My personal attestation to this: Sometime this semester, I faced academic challenges. I nearly lost my sense of individuality, and not to mention, self-esteem. However, when we start memorizing dialogues written by William Shakespeare, and I knew I memorized them well (as I think I delivered them decently too), things changed. My ability to memorize those lines helped me regain my sense of individuality and self-esteem.

Another benefit of having a good memory, it can also bring us to greater heights. How can I miss that benefit? When up to now, I still remember the amazing story of a sixty-six-year-old man, named Herminigildo Bardolasa. His memorization of six sets of alien card numbers, six sets of alpha-numeric passport numbers, six birthdays and six dates of migration to the United States of his entire household, along with all other important dates in his life, led him to the fulfillment of his life-long dream of American citizenship. (Roig)

I met and interviewed Bardolasa on May 31, 2008, during the Citizenship Fair at Honolulu Community College. I was one of the volunteer paralegals for Na Loio (now Honolulu Immigrant Justice Center, of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii) and the office of the then Rep. Neil Abercrombie. Paired with a well-known Honolulu immigration attorney, Gary Singh, I assisted Bardolasa filling up his application form for naturalization. Singh and I were so impressed by Bardolasa’s keen memory, as he answered all our questions so spontaneously. We were entertained too with how Bardolasa recounted those dates, as if he were saying a litany that we ended up chuckling, which caught the reporters’ attention that led us being featured in the Honolulu Advertiser the following morning—thanks to Bardolasa’s exceptional memory! (Roig)

126428440_HowtoDevelopaGoodMemory In the professional world, many jobs these days require a great deal of memorization. For example, in medical science, doctors and nurses have to undergo “battery” memorization to diagnose and treat medical conditions. According to one of my cousin, who is a registered nurse, at school, when they have an exam, it is critical that they memorize medical terms. If there are computations involve, they must memorize the rules how to compute solutions, and they would surely get the answers. Likewise, in law, students could only answer essay questions if they memorize legal terms, citations, rules, and procedures. If they do not memorize, they would surely flunk and not graduate. Because the way they should reason out in most essay questions must always be supported by citations, rules, and procedures. Truly, most legal skills require “heavy” memorization too.

In the very in-demand field of information and technology, professionals and students must memorize coding and encryption to program and operate computers, softwares, and hardwares. For even these modern days, the computers still need us, humans, but only those who have good memory to operate them appropriately. Moreover, the built-in memory we have in our system can’t be compared to computer memory, for even without a memory chip neither, any programming (be technical or mechanical), we can memorize and remember things through our basic senses alone.

In arts, one actress even directly links her talent with her good memory: Marilu Henner, known for her role in the 1980 TV series Taxi, claimed the invaluable role of memory in her professional life. Henner gave credit to her memorization ability that could easily invoke emotions in her that she could effortlessly cry or laugh as required in the roles she portrayed. (Sukel)

Even in politics, there is a “screaming” notion that politicians are more convincing and believable, when they talk and give speeches without reading. Moreover, they must remember names of their volunteers, campaign leaders, and benefactors, or it could cause them serious consequences that could jeopardize their political future.

In rhetoric, it is quite tough for one to persuade either orally or written without a solid knowledge and memorization of (basic concept) any subject matter. The best example to this, is the “oops” moment of Republican presidential candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry. During the GOP’s presidential debate, on November 9, 2011, where he lost the race and a chance to represent the GOP over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, due to an embarrassing memory lapse.6a00d8341bf7f753ef014e8701e793970d-800wi

For regardless, if it was a memory lapse or a lucid interval (as some critics labeled it), it was very embarrassing for a political candidate to be on a debate, arguing for people’s votes and he missed his lines completely and struggled so hard to regain his memory in front of the crowd and his opponents. My mother even said, “Perry didn’t do his assignment! He didn’t memorize!”

In most offices, regardless of what types of business, from filing of documents and all other administrative work, even in matters of ethics, a good memory is required. For without memory, organization is simply impossible.

In accounting, which is my major, we ought to remember the T rule or the debit-credit rule to handle and ensure the sanctity of a company’s general ledger. In addition, we have to memorize the nature of every account (if it is an asset or a liability, or a revenue or an expense), or else, we might end up paying an account receivable and collect from accounts payable. Even in payroll, we have to remember every employee’s pay rate and terms (payday); otherwise, the company could get in trouble with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Even in our day-to-day task, for example in driving, as commute and transportation are important routines of our lives. Driving requires a great deal of memorization as well. For no one could secure a license without memorizing some traffic laws, traffic signs, and all rules of the road.

Finally, “memory is indeed life,” for we are surviving in this world through the invaluable help of our built-in memory. From the time we rise in the morning, until we retire at night, we do almost everything based from our memory. We even identify things and people based from our recollection. In fact, we cannot even identify ourselves without it. Moreover, in most fields or professions, good memory is even required. Therefore, it is not even a question of intelligence anymore. Rather, it is survival. Because losing memory, is worst than losing an arm, or a foot. For when we lose memory, we lose our minds, and losing mind signals losing life. For when we start losing memory, our system is signaling our health is deteriorating. For memory loss could be an indication of a life-threatening conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia. Indeed, memories—the lights at the corners of our minds—are invaluable! Indeed, “memory is life” (Nora)!

Work Cited

Allen, Frederick E. “Perry’s Epic Fail: Much Worse Than Just ‘Oops!’.” Forbes.Com (2011):17. Business Source Premier. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

Frank Rösler, et al. “Memory-Based Decision-Making with Heuristics: Evidence For AControlled Activation of Memory Representations.” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience23.11 (2011): 3540-3554. Academic Search Premier. Web. 25 Feb. 2013.

Garcia-Lazaro, Haydee G., et al. “Neuroanatomy Of Episodic And Semantic Memory InHumans: A Brief Review of Neuroimaging Studies.” Neurology India 60.6 (2012): 613-617. Academic Search Premier. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.

Lilian Milnitsky Stein, et al. “Passwords Usage and Human Memory Limitations: A SurveyAcross Age And Educational Background.” Plos ONE 7.12 (2012): 1-7. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 Feb. 2013

Nora, Pierre. “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire.” Department of History, University of California, Santa Barbara. University of California, Santa Barbara. 1989. PDF file. Web. 27 Feb. 2013

Roig, Suzanne. “Immigrants Find Guidance Path to Citizenship.” Honolulu Advertiser.Honolulu Advertiser, 1 June 2008. Web. 26 Feb. 2013

Sukel, Kayt. “The Amazing Memory Marvels. (Cover Story).” New Scientist 215.2878(2012): 34-37. Academic Search Premier. Web. 26 Feb. 2013

Tai, Hue-Tam Ho. “Remember Realms: Pierre Nora And French National Memory.” American Historical Review 106.3 (2001): 906-922. Academic Search Premier.Web. 27 Feb. 2013.


The Glory of Giving


-A narrative expository essay.-

Previously published at the Last Quarter issue of the Hawaii Paralegal Reporter in 2008.

The Glory of Giving

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” -John Wesley

It was four days before the Honolulu Citizenship Fair 2008, when Evelyn Gomez of the Hawaii State Bar Association (HSBA) confirmed me  I was “in” for the said event. Ms. E as I fondly called her, always inspired me of her big heart and generosity. I met her in 2007, for my legal training with HSBA. She introduced me to Anne Basham, coordinator for the Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii, who just like Ms. Evelyn was so warm and friendly.

So came the day of May 31, 2008, of my first pro bono project, I came in late. Since it was my first, and that no one told me, I never knew volunteers have to be there an hour early. Rushing to the elevator, I met Anne anew, and that gave me an opportunity to fast chit-chat with her, as I eased myself from tensions of coming in late. We sneaked in the room where the briefing already started, and found Pat McManaman of Na Loio, speaking before volunteer attorneys and paralegals.

Our goal was to assist three applicants each partner of one attorney and paralegal. Attorneys will execute the interview and the paralegals have to enter the data on the adobe (pdf) form that was already pre-set and ready for our use on every computer in the four allocated rooms, at the Building 5 of the Honolulu Community College.


I was so lucky being partnered to one well-known Honolulu immigration attorney, Mr. Gary Singh (my partner in every fair, for five straight years now). Our first applicant was a fellow middle-aged Filipina, who had been in the State of Aloha for quite awhile. She was initially nervous, but Atty. Singh’ sense of humor eased her eventually.

Our second was Mr. Herminigildo Bardolasa, a 66-year old, Filipino immigrant who had been here for three decades now. During the interview, the three of us, often burst laughing on how candid and funny Mr. Bardolasa answered our questions. He amazed us of how keen his memory on important dates; The date of his wedding, of his migration to the United States, his and his entire household’s alien numbers and birthdays, without a codico (cheat sheet), as he smartly answered all questions with ease and so spontaneously.


Suddenly, the then congressman, Neil Abercrombie, now Hawaii governor, appeared out of nowhere and joined our light moment. As a result, all the reporters and photographers came rushing to our side. Abercrombie went his way to meet all the applicants as well, and assured them that along with Na Loio, the realization of their American dream. The governor hugged and kissed (Hawaiian customary gestures) all volunteers too, and he thanked us.

The Advantages of the Fair

According to the applicants themselves, the fair was such a great project. It just didn’t assured them of getting the citizenship, but likewise, they were confident they did things correctly and lawfully.

My participation in the fair, more than the administrative side of it, was the privilege of helping fellow Filipinos understand some critical terminologies of American civic and history required in the application of citizenship and naturalization. I translated Oath of Allegiance; What are the needs to bear arms for our nation and when, and the importance along with the benefits of being lawful citizens of the United States of America.

The Priceless Joy20130127-152534.jpg

When I got home, I felt I was floating in the air. It wasn’t because, I was carrying a hefty bento. But for the joy of knowing, I came handy to fellow Pinoys.

I felt privileged shaking the hands of my fellows, who were brave enough to leave our native country, because they all want the best for their families. Their smiles and “thank yous” were precious–I will always cherish them for the rest of my life.

I am proud of my HPA (Hawaii Paralegal Association) colleagues Elton Johnson, Juanita Warren, Joel Murukami, and Cheryl Anne Satterfield, who always volunteered to most pro bono opportunities here in Hawaii. Most of us still do the Honolulu Citizenship Fair, yearly, every May, and the fair is now managed by the Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center and the Office of Honolulu Representative, Cong. Colleen Hanabusa.

The Epiphany

To me, intelligence is something that can be acquired, or cultivated. But our attitude; our hearts, or how we deal in life, how we treat others and how we unselfishly give ourselves to things that we literally won’t have returns, are things that only come by nature. For when we give, we should never expect reciprocity. The person you help might not thank you for your efforts, but what matters is that you are happy that you are able to give, for not all can. Take good deeds as deposits to your heaven’s accounts. For GOD is alive and HE sees us all. HE returns good deed in hundred folds.

Most will say Pro Bono is just for those who have so much to give. Some may say, they can only give, if they have a spare to share. But what truly is nobler, is to give despite limited means, and in not so well conditions. Because it shows, regardless of what we have on our “plates” and how we barely we have in our hands, we can still do good deeds and spread good deeds.

So brace the challenges of volunteering; give back to the community even just a portion of what you have been blessed. For an ample minute of your time, or a pinch of your blessings, could surely go along way to the lives of the needy ones you’d touch and help.


Write What Matters


An informal, narrative-process essay required in academia.

Sabiniana Balagtas Baliba

George Garneau, Ph.D.

23 January 2013

Write What Matters

Do you know “who are you writing for?” Because according to William Zinsser, for every writer, “Who am I writing for,” is such a “fundamental question,” that should have an equally “fundamental answer.” Honestly, before reading Zinsser’s On Writing Well, I thought, we, writers should just think of our readers to come up with a meaningful writing. But on Chapter 5, he wrote, “There is no such audience. . .” Now don’t be alarmed; Don’t take it literal! Nor react to “who” instead of “whom.” Of course, he didn’t mean that our readers don’t exist neither, no one would read our writings. Rather, just as every one is different from one another, Zinsser emphasized, “Every reader is different too.”
For in reality, it is impossible to know what “exactly” our readers would love to read. Moreover, it is easier, doable and attainable to write for ourselves. Because having that mentality, encourages us to fearlessly write and express our thoughts, in the distinct tone of our respective voice, style and individuality, for those should always be present each time we write.


Just like in academics, our English teachers always encourage us to write on topics that matter to us. Because to come up with a meaningful writing, we have to write about things that we are passionate of; issues that truly matter to us. For that is the strongest foundation of it all—Write what matters—Write what matters to you!

For when we write what matter to us, we would write, just as how we normally converse. Even if we don’t see our readers face-to-face, we should write as if we are talking to them in person, that they are right in front of us; all eyes, all ears listening, so we talk or write from the heart. And when we do write from the heart; in the most sincere and succinct ways, though we may not hear applause, or get a handshake, our readers will know, and they will appreciate that. So, write what matters, and write what matters to you!