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- 2013 Inside Delano
Villaruz family named Grand Marshals for Philippine Weekend
The Villaruz family has been selected Grand Marshals of the 38th annual Philippine Weekend which takes place July 28 and 29. Juanita Quiocho Villaruz has two daughters, Suzanne Villaruz and Arleen Villaruz-Gonzales, and a son, Lounito.
Juanita came to the states in 1958 after marrying Louie V. Villaruz. Born in Rancho, Santa, Ilocos Sur in 1934, her education was interrupted by World War II, but she graduated from Ilocos Sur High School and briefly attended Philippine Christian College, Manilla, before immigrating to the U.S.
She worked in the fields upon arrival in Delano. Her late husband was active in UFW’s efforts to change conditions and wages for farm laborers. She did her part working in offices of UFW and later with Larry Itliong supporting the UFW newsletters, “El Malcriado.” During this time they had their family, Suzanne, Arleen, and Lounito.
In 1969 she began school/training to become a psychiatric technician at then Porterville State Hospital. She chose that rather than nursing because it provided a stipend during training. That decision helped keep her family sustained when her husband passed in 1970. She worked at Porterville until her retirement in 1995. A part of the hospital’s affirmative action program for several years, she has traveled since retirement, to Washington D.C., Mt. Rushmore, the Bahamas, Australia, Ireland, and the Holy Land.
She was a charter member of the Filipino-American Educational and Cultural association, and its president in 1976-77. She is a member of Filipino-Catholic Association, Legionarios del Trabajo, Filipino Community of Delano, and Sons of Santa of which she is president. She was secretary of the now defunct Filipino-American Political Association. Her service and participation were passed on to her children as they all graduated from Delano High School and then from college.
Suzanne attended Bakersfield College and UCLA and completed her education at CSU Bakersfield. A registered nurse, she has been a credentialed school nurse for more than 20 years in McFarland schools. She was certificated Employee of the Year in 2011. In 1955 she initiated Delano’s Junior Miss Program--now Distinguished Young Women of Delano. She has volunteered for many organizations and finds volunteering with schools her most rewarding activity.
At Delano High, Suzanne has chaired the School Site Council. She served several years as a director for Joshua Tree Council for Girl Scouts and Junior League of Bakersfield and is currently a Sustainer. She has been a Kiwanis Club of Delano member since 2001, twice as president, and has advised junior high cheerleaders. She taught a citizenship class for Earlimart 4-H for two years, was school nurse mentor for CSU Fresno and a R.O.S.E. mentor. She helped the DHS renovation project in the 1990’s, has helped with Miss Kern County/Miss American, state Junior Miss, and is on Delano’s Community Law Enforcement liaison board. She volunteers with Distinguished Young Women of California, serving meals to participants and volunteers. Suzanne has been an officer of Fil-Am and Filipino Community of Delano. She has chaired, co-chaired and continued as a program coordinator for many years for Philippine Weekend. She enjoys designing and sewing costumes for Filipino cultural events and sci-fi Anime events. She was Woman of the Year for Delano Chamber of Commerce and Community Volunteer of the Year chosen by Latin-American Citizens Association. Her most cherished roles are that of mother to Nicole Ailina Villaruz and a partner to Arnold Morrison.
Arleen graduated from CSU Bakersfield with a BA in liberal studies with a multiple subjects teaching credential. She and husband Anthony Gonzales have been married more than 30 years and have a son, Aaron, and daughter, Aubree. Arleen has worked at Fremont, Del Vista, and Princeton schools in the local elementary school district. She was Teacher of the Year at Princeton and in 1994 was named to the Hall of Fame as Outstanding Teacher. She has been student council advisor, oral language coach, in-line hockey coach, math team coach, and yearbook advisor. She has had several nominations to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and received an award as Outstanding Teacher from Paramount.
Her community involvement has included backstage director of Distinguished Young Women of Delano, Harvest Holidays, and Cinco de Mayo queen shows and 15 years as backstage director for Miss Philippine Weekend pageants before Miss and Mr. were combined.
She has helped California’s Distinguished Young Women program backstage and prepared meals for girls and volunteers and was parent liaison and led fundraising for Delano High’s Theater Percussion Ensemble when indoor percussion was popular in local competitions. She was a USA camp counselor, AYSO commissioner/coach and a Girls Scout troop leader. She has held offices in Fil-Am Educational and Cultural Association. She has joined with Suzanne in creating percussion costumes for Final Fantasy, Xenosaga, and in the Nightmare before Christmas. The family has also joined to prepare and serve meals to Bakersfield Symphony orchestra the four years they performed in Delano.
The two sisters also were in consecutive years Miss Philippine Weekend pageant winners.
For this lady the shop is the star
By Bob Cane
For Josephine Audap, who just finished her last week as a full-on Delano Regional Medical Center “Pink Lady,” the hospital’s gift shop should have been the “star” of a recent newspaper interview, not her. She kept trying to bring her interviewer’s attention back to a news release she had recently brought into the Delano Record office, and asking if we could say this, or that.
But for many years this sweet-faced Bakersfield native and mother of nine, and a few other long-time members of the DRMC Auxiliary, have been the public face of shop, which has helped bring some $800,000 worth of machines and services to the hospital.
Audap, 91, has been something of a spokesperson for the unofficial side of the hospital, a function in which she plans to continue to serve, as she writes publicity pieces for the Auxiliary, participates in its scholarship program, and fulfills other responsibilities. But last week was her last full-time week.
She began volunteering in the 1980s, when the auxiliary, itself, was not very old, and was operating out of a trailer on the hospital parking lot. The trailer was being used while some offices, in the shop’s current location, just to the right of the main entrance, were being remodeled.
Audap was a substitute teacher at the time, and had become familiar with the auxiliary while helping with her mother-in-law, a DRMC skilled nursing patient. Her family was mostly on its own, by then, and her husband had passed away, so she was looking for something to do.
“It was an outlet, and I liked being out here,” Audap said.
She started working evenings, mostly in the gift shop.
Audap started teaching at the old St. Mary’s school, and then spent about eight years substituting in area elementary and high schools. She had never gotten a teaching credential, and “didn’t really want to get into the system that much,” but was offered a long term subbing job after her husband’s death.
Things were different when she started volunteering. And not just because the shop is more than double the size the one she started working in.
It’s harder to find people willing to become volunteers, now. Audap that might be reflective of one of today’s pressing social problems. For various reasons, a lot of older women, who used to volunteer, are now busy raising their grand-children.
Once the shop’s main customers were hospital staff, but, like everyone else, are suffering in these tight financial times.
That’s why she wanted to remind people that the shop is there, Audap said.
On the more pisitive side, Audap commented that there were mostly hand-made items, when she started. Now there is a large selection of stuffed animals of various sizes, a large variety of crosses and other religious items, tote bags, baby gifts and practical items, such as nail clippers and combs, as well as fresh flowers. And, of course, balloons.
Not too long ago the shop became a regular part of the DRMC operations, with the hospital handling all the bookkeeping. As mentioned above, it –and the vending machines posted around the hospital—have been major fundraisers for the facility. By the way, Audap said, the machines raise more than the shop.
The funds have paid for a wide range of amenities, including books for children in the surgery unit, to a washer-drier for the hospital childrens section, to stretch machines, to ultra sounds “so you don’t have to go to Bakersfield to see your newly developing baby, any more.”
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Utilities meeting good first step, some say
By Bob Cane
A Tuesday evening workshop on what city officials say is a needed utilities rate increase may have seemed like something of a shouting match to some, but was a positive first step in communicating with the public to two Delano City Council members representing the city on a committee to come up with rate proposals.
The real problem, both Joe Aguirre and Ricardo Chavez said, Thursday, is that the council and city staff are trying to kick- start a public information and rate increase discussion that should have been started long ago, possibly under previous city managers. Why that didn’t happen, they don’t know, both Aguirre and Chavez said, in separate interviews.
“There was a resolution passed in 2008, signed by the council, to increase the rates every five years; it never happened,” said Aguirre. He said Abdel Salem, city manager at the time, never executed it.
“There is some history showing a lack of leadership. I want to make sure to address the issue” of rate deficiency, and make sure the public is aware of it,” he said.
“For whatever reason, they simply weren’t addressed,” Chavez said, of growing rate problems. “We can speculate all we want” about who dropped the ball, or why Salem might not have acted to raise rates, but that would not be useful.
There are “checks and balances” in running of city government, and “enough blame” for not increasing rates as necessary, or dealing with other, related, problems, “to go around.,” Chavez said. It’s the council’s responsibility to do something, if the city manager is not following instructions, Chavez said.
The two council members commented while expressing reactions to a loud public meeting, at the Ellington Center, that started off with problems, including the need for people to carry their chairs from the Ellington Senior Center to the Ellington gym, and became a roughly two-hour long, mostly Spanish language, venting session, with people expressing anger about various issues, some not related to utilities or utility bills.
These included supposedly lazy or unresponsive public employees, poor street lighting, complaints that the city had been offering tainted drinking water, and that residents were having to pay extra high water bills because city employees were too lazy or uncaring to be sure all water users were being billed.
Often speaking over whistles and boos, Aguirre and City Manager Maribel Reyna essentially repeated what they said in a newspaper interview the previous day: that a sharp increase in water rates was called for because of the need to expand the city wastewater collection and treatment system and install new drinking water wells due to toughened governmental drinking water purity rules.
They also attempted to point out increases in the costs of street sweeping and other services included in utility bills.
“If we all come together, one way or another we are going to find a solution to this situation,” Lupe Martinez, another member of the citizens committee, told the crowd, after people moved into the gym from the senior center. He told them that a committee had been formed to come up with a proposal to make to take to the council.
Recommendations for solutions to rate increase problems “have been coming from the community already,” he said.
Reyna followed, telling the crowd that the staff and council were trying to “provide an explanation” of the rate situation, and the choices the council now faces.
“We’re really at a point where we have no choice except to propose that the council raise the rates,” she told the audience.
From roughly that point, all attempts to conduct the meeting in English or provide translations ceased. But several speakers, in Spanish, apparently complained about the taste of the city drinking water, and the fact that people have been told the city was up-grading its well system to meet a federal reduction of the amount of arsenic allowed to naturally seep into the drinking water wells.
The well replacement and improvement project will terminate on Dec.31, after which they will not have to buy water because of the poor taste, Reyna said.
The council started talking about the “water situation” in Delano a year ago, Aguirre told the crowd, but the water problem had already “been around” for a long time.
“We were already concerned,” and in the red, he said. The city started this fiscal year’s budget “without the money to pay our employees at the end of the year.” Street sweeping services, and other utilities having nothing to do with water, have not been improved for several years, Aguirre told the group.
The officials also explained that earlier estimates that some 500 homes and businesses had not been paying their utility bills was incorrect. City staff has said other customers were paying for uncollected water bills.
In an interview the previous Monday, Reyna told The Record the city has been sending out some 300 “phantom bills” addressed to residents and businesses no longer receiving city water. She said that has been cut to about 200, well within normal for a city the size of Delano.
In the same interview, before the Tuesday meeting, Chavez had told the newspaper the enterprise funds, from which the city pays for infrastructure improvements and expansions, was in deficit, because the city has not been charging adequate utility rates. Therefore, he said, the city general fund was supplementing the enterprise funds.
That may have been what a woman was referring to, the following evening, when she spoke of hitting the deficit, which was “the root of the situation.”
“How did we get in the situation of deficit? What happened to get us into this situation?” and what guarantee is there that the city won’t fall back into the deficit situation again?
“This problem has been around for a good 20 years,” Aguirre told the group. “Council, after council, after council has put this off, and not wanted to deal with the situation we have right here,” he told the gathering. “We are the messengers, having to deal with this situation.”
Aguirre told the crowd he recently spoke to a retired city water department employee who told him “if we had increased the water rate by 15 cents 20 years ago, we would not be in the situation we are in today. “
From somewhere around that point, talk turned to graffiti elimination, city employee responses to calls, and other matters., with one woman citing “public apathy” for the problems about which people were complaining.
The public shouldn’t blame the council , because the utility rate problem “has been with us for years,” she said. Citizens need to be responsible, and speak up, at city council meetings, she said.
“I think people need to be aware of what is going on and the harsh realities” of the city financial situation,” Chavez said, Thursday. He called the Tuesday workshop “a good start.” It was “good for the city to finally take a step, and see what the people are going through.”
But it will take more public meetings and workshop. The council is trying to do a better outreach and trying to be as forthcoming with the public as possible,” Chavez said.
And Aguirre said the workshop created “an opportunity for the community to vent their frustration” without the formality and restrictions of a city council meeting. “These meetings are outside the box, they don’t have a quorum” and rules, he said.
He “saw a lot of good” in the workshop, Aguirre said. “We need to do this process, this is long overdue.”
“I believe that this process that we’re doing will begin the healing process” for people to can’t make it to council meetings or don’t feel comfortable trying to address public bodies, Aguirre said.