Prior to Election CEO cries “Hindi ninyo ako maililibing ng buhay”! (translation: You can’t bury me alive!)


More controversial issues plagued the three levels of a government funded society prior to a July 28th, 2018 vote to elect new Board of Directors.

Protests against the Multicultural Helping House Society was raised by “Concerned Friends of MHHS” when the son of the founder of MHHS and current CEO Thomas Avendano was announced as a candidate for the upcoming election for the MHHS Board of Directors.

Currently there are already two members of the Avendano family on the Board of Directors – CEO Thomas Avendano and his brother Demetrio Avendano. Both were voted in by members of the MHHS in the previous election and both are running again.

In a Facebook post by the “Concerned Friends of MHHS” titled “Time to clean up the helping house!” they write “It’s a Kamag-anak Inc., pure and simple.”

“Ang Multicultural is open para sagutin ang lahat ng mga concern. Kayo… kung magtatago lang kayo at mag-ano ano kayo behind the back.” – Tatay Tom

Founder and CEO Thomas Avendano, also known as “Tatay Tom” was outraged by the email and Facebook page attacking him of building a family dynasty. Even with himself, his brother and his son running, they all still need to be voted in by members of the society.

MVI News tried to reach the Concerned Friends of MHHS to further discuss their worries but did not respond as of this writing.

On July 25, Wednesday, MVI News and Simply The Best TV host Luisa Marshall discussed the concerns with Tatay Tom in an interview.

Another controversy was added to Tatay Tom’s woes when a former MHHS president Concepcion Colobong, also known as “Ching”, demanded for the expulsion of two members of the board and for their disqualification from running again in the current election 3 months prior the 2018 election. “My only concern is the nomination of Marilou Yodogawa and Demi Avendano.”

Colobong served as MHHS president in 2014 after Tatay Tom stepped aside to focus on the MHHS Foundation. But in the following election, Colobong failed to even garner enough votes to secure a spot on the Board of Directors.

Colobong’s letter dated April 21, 2018 complains that Yodogawa (the current Secretary of the MHHS Board of Directors) was not qualified to run in the 2016 election because she was an employee of the MHHS. Colobong complains that Yodogawa was paid for doing her work at the MHHS the day of the previous election on July 2, 2016,

Tatay Tom confirmed during the interview with MVI News that the society’s directors are volunteers and do not get wages.

Colobong told MVI News that Tatay Tom as CEO of MHHS has the power to make a resolution that Yodogawa and his brother Demi step down.

Tatay Tom clarified however that he will not over step the nomination committee. “Demi and Marilou passed through the nomination committee. That means they are qualified and they are not bad people as they pictured them.”

“Well sana bago kayo mag-form ng inyong idea at to pass judgement, mag-imbistiga muna kayo and we are here to answer your questions.” – Tatay Tom

In a letter response dated on July 18th, Tatay Tom wrote to Ching Colobong “After a thorough discussion with the Board during a meeting on May 15, 2018, we, therefore, acknowledge that there was a mistake. The mistake was committed but it was done in good faith. The board is rectifying these mistakes by amending the MHHS constitutions to make provisions that would be clear and transparent such as increasing the number of directors from 7 to 11 members.”

MVI News asked Colobong if she accepts the apology of Tatay Tom. “It’s hard for me to forgive. He should be, as president, step in”.

In a Facebook post, Colobong stated, “Tatay Tom admits mistake in keeping me out of MHHS board. For the last two years or so, I have been fighting to claim my rightful seat at the board of the Multicultural Helping House Society (MHHS). Because of reasons that I have not found satisfactory, I have been kept out of the MHHS board, contrary to the group’s constitution and bylaws.”

Colobong claimed that she never stopped giving her service and loyalty to the society. She continues to participate in the seniors programs, workshops, meetings to discuss concerns and issues of staff and membership. She expressed her frustration and heartaches furthermore, “I want to make a difference this time in MHHS. What I hear in the community, we are going down. I will fight for the society.”

Tatay Tom and Ching Colobong on Simply the Best – The Luisa Marshall Show

Simply The Best tv show interviewed both Tatay Tom and Colobong in 2014. LINK HERE

Avendano and Colobong have been community advocates and volunteers for 22 years since the start in 1996.

With the election coming up on Saturday, July 28, 2018, Colobong as one of the 23 candidates aiming for the board seat says, “If I lose, it’s fine. But nakaka-awa ang society.” She told MVI News that she was worried that the society might fall into the wrong hands.

As 2014 Recipient for Lifetime Achievement for Multiculturalism – Paul Yuzyk Award Tatay Tom Avendano donated $20,000 to the MHHS and another $14,000 that was fundraised at his and his wife Nanay Biring’s Golden Wedding Anniversary.

Tatay Tom expressed his sadness and appeals to the community, “Well sana bago kayo mag-form ng inyong idea at to pass judgement, mag-imbistiga muna kayo and we are here to answer your questions. Ang Multicultural is open para sagutin ang lahat ng mga concern. Kayo… kung magtatago lang kayo at mag-ano ano kayo behind the back. And in order to bury me alive, so mali kayo sapagkat hindi ninyo ako maililibing na buhay. Ang panginoon lang ang makagagawa nyan.”

Election for the Multicultural Helping House Society Board of Directors will be held Saturday, July 28 at 10am to 3pm at the Multipurpose Room of the MHHS building, 4802 Fraser Street, Vancouver, BC.

All 7 members of the current Board of Directors are seeking re-election including Tatay Tom and his brother Demi. The number of Board of Directors will increase from 7 to 11 members.

In a Facebook post by the “Concerned Friends of MHHS” titled “Time to clean up the helping house!” they write “It is astounding how the Avendano family can even contemplate to run three candidates when everyone know that there are other qualified individuals who can faithfully serve on the board.”

Candidates include:

  • Tomas “Tatay Tom” Avendano: Founder, and current President and CEO of the Multicultural Helping House Society for over 20 years.
  • Demetrio Avendano: Current elected member of the Board of Directors.
  • Benedicto Avendano: son of the founder and current CEO of the Multicultural Helping House Society and running to be elected on the Board of Directors.
  • Joel Castillo: President of UFCABC who was recently featured in MetroVan Independent News after a founding member of the UFCABC organization questioned his ability to be president and asked him “You called the organization UNITED Filipino Canadian Association in BC, but how are you planning to unite the members???? UNITE YOUR MEMBERS against one person to BULLY???” Article Link
  • Rey Fortaleza: Vice President of UFCABC and Owner of The Reyfort Media Group, Philippine Asian News Today and Philippine Showbiz Today. MetroVan Independent News featured an Opinion Article “Transparency remains an issue in ethnic Filipino-Canadian media” that called into question Reyfort Media Group’s claim to print 10,000 newspaper copies per issue and boasting to be “the largest newspaper circulation”. Rey Fortaleza was challenged to show certified print amounts to MVI and his own sponsors, but did not respond. The writer of the article took a picture of the PNT newspaper pallet at their printers and only counted 3,500 copies on Dec 10, 2015. The next issue, PNT newspaper added a text on their front page that read “10,000 copies printed guaranteed 24 issues a year.” It was noticed that suddenly a huge amount of PNT papers appeared everywhere. That print is no longer on their front page as of writing. Article Link
  • Concepcion Colobong: Adviser of UFCABC and longtime volunteer and former president at MHHS. 
  • Michael Cayetano: Current Vice President of the MHHS.
  • Marilou Yodogawa: Current Secretary of the MHHS.
  • Pocholo Insua: Current Treasurer of the MHHS.
  • Rebecca Delos Reyes: Current member of the Board of Directors.
  • Limbania Lau: Current member of the Board of Directors.

To see ALL the candidates for the MHHS Board of Directors: CLICK HERE

To find out more about MHHS – Multicultural Helping House Society: CLICK HERE


About the Writer

MetroVan Independent News Team

The MetroVan Independent News team is a group of talented individuals uniting to serve their community through the power of words. They strive for accuracy, fairness, transparency and accountability aiming to engage, inform and entertain their readers. The team's secret weapon is courage and integrity... with a hint of adobo.

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