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 DARIEN, Illinois (FAXX/jGLi) – Herminio “Ka Miniong” Rillo Poblete, who is credited for inviting prominent Filipino and Filipino American government celebrities to grace the Kasarinlan, the Independence celebration once sponsored by the Filipino American Community of Greater Chicago (FACC), died of lung cancer last July 12. He is 79.


Mr. Poblete, president of FACC from 2000 to 2006, was responsible for inviting Sen. Loren Legarda and her husband former Batangas Gov. J. Antonio Leviste to attend the Kasarinlan Gala Night in 2003; Filipino American U.S. Representative Jeff Unson Coleman of Pennsylvania (60th District, Republican) in 2004 and Herman M. Montenegro, who came as a stand-in for his son-in-law and “First Son” Congressman Juan Miguel “Mikey” Macapagal Arroyo (Pampanga, Second District), who was not able to make it in 2005 as his presence was needed to testify before the Philippine Senate where he was accused of receiving “600,000 pesos (US$14,285) a month as jueteng payola.”

Poblete, a graduate of business administration (commerce) degree from Manila’s Far Eastern University, was a native of Naic, Cavite in the Philippines. He told this reporter that he once worked in Philippine Congress as an aide in the office Cavite Congressman Montano before immigrating to United States in 1985.

But he first worked as property custodian at Andres Bonifacio Memorial Hospital in Trece Martires, Cavite, where he met his future wife, Luzviminda Flores, a Registered Nurse, who survived him. Other survivors include their two children Cristina (Rowel Plata) and Cecilia (Ramon) Almendralo and five grandchildren, Zach, Cassie, Jacob, Jayden and Isabel; and his siblings Leticia, Mely, Tony and Emmanuel.

In Chicago, Mr. Poblete worked as an office manager of a doctor’s clinic until his retirement in 2006. It was also that year that he cut short his hold-over presidency of the FACC following an election protest of the 2004 disputed presidential quadrennial election whose winner was to hold office until 2008.

Although he had retired from FACC politics, Mr. Poblete still took the time to visit the Rizal Center, the home of the FACC, in the north side of Chicago, Illinois from time to time. It was in one of his visits at the Rizal Center in April of 2008, when he was asked to witness the purported trust and will prepared by his colleague, Atty. Alfonso S. Bascos, the legal adviser and officer of the FACC, for Marshall F. Davies, a retired Chicago City Hall engineer. The will and trust would benefit Mr. Bascos, the Rizal Center, and some of the Center’s programs, and Mr. Davies’ caregiver, Carmelita Pasamba.

Mr. Bascos at the time told this reporter he committed no wrongdoing because the benefits would only inure (be given away) once Mr. Davies dies. Bascos clarified that the FACC programs have not received anything from Mr. Davies’ trust.
Unbeknown to Mr. Bascos, Carmelita Pasamba used the special power of attorney, the trust and will Mr. Bascos prepared to steal “nearly US$900,000” from Mr. Davies.

When Chicago’s Channel TV 2 News broke the story of the arrest of Pasamba, this reporter emailed Mr. Poblete for comment because he was one of the three witnesses to the will and trust. Another witness, Mr. Mauro Larracas, had later died.

In an email to this reporter on April 1, 2012, Mr. Poblete said, “Hi Joseph,
“I am here in Manila since February and I don't have any knowledge re: news from channel 2 and I don't know those people you mentioned nor I can remember any such name. Re: Ms. (Corazon)  Sopena's info. I do not have it with me here in Manila. I will call you when I COME BACK HOME ON May 15. Thanks and regards,                       Miniong.”


Mr. Poblete, however, never called back this reporter.

Mr. Poblete’s wife, Minda, told this reporter, Tuesday (July 16) that her husband told her, “Pinapirma lang naman nila ako, di pumirma ako.” (I was merely asked to sign, so I signed.)

With Messrs. Larracas and Poblete both gone, only Ms. Sopena is the surviving witness to the trust and will of Mr. Davies that is the subject of a probate, criminal court and disbarment proceeding against Attorney Bascos and others.

When asked about Mr. Poblete’s legacy, Mrs. Poblete said, “Marahil ang pagiging presidente niya sa FACC at ang pagtulong niya sa community.” (Perhaps, his being a president of FACC and his service to the community.)

She added the big turnout of community members at the wake and funeral of her husband only meant one thing: “He was loved by the community. And I thank the community for that.”

During the viewing of Mr. Poblete’s remains at Modell Funeral Homes in suburban Darien, Illinois, the Knights of Rizal Chicago Chapter led by Atty. Bascos and Mr. Rene Abella, the incumbent FACC president (2006-present), paid tribute to Mr. Poblete’s “fidelity, dedication to the Knights of Rizal, the Code, and as lifetime member of the Chicago KGOR.”

Mr. Abella recalled it was “Ka Miniong, who first approached him in 1998 to become his vice president of the FACC. Huwag mo akong hi-hindian (don’t turn me down) as he held my hand.”

Abella said, “I learned a lot from Ka Miniong. He does not talk a lot. Matipid siya sa salita. But he was concerned of the Filipinos of Chicago, especially the FACC as he built his life throughout.”

For his part, Mr. Bascos said, Mr. Poblete was a “good president of the FACC, a friendly man. But he was only friendly to some, not to all. He is selective in his friendship, a simple and humble man. He is a great, sincere friend. I surely would miss him. I will miss his commanding presence and his strong personality.” He quoted a letter of Benjamin Franklin to console a relative on the death of a brother, which said, “a man is not completely born until he is dead.”

While Knights of Rizal sang Amazing Grace, a KOR, Manny Belbis, sang “Ave Maria” in Italian during the memorial. ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

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