Unaccounted Funds – Olaes Silent
Fifth of a series
For three weeks Olaes and Adrian Lecaros have been hiding from public comment. Umayam is not shedding light on disposition of alleged P1 million donation to Gawad Kalinga-USA.
By Joel Bander and Rene Villaroman, with PWD Investigative Team
Tony Olaes, the elusive enigmatic ‘Chairman’ of Gawad Kalinga USA (GW USA), burst onto the Los Angeles Fil-Am fundraising scene on Saturday, July 28, 2012, at Darna Umayam’s controversial “100 Outstanding Fil-Ams” Dinner event with the surprise announcement that GW USA would be accepting Umayam’s alleged charitable contribution in place of ABS CBN’s Bantay Banta, the original beneficiary.
This report will detail PinoyWatchDog.com’s investigation of these events that we know up to this point, along with a separate accompanying story regarding Mr. Olaes’ failure to perform any due diligence before being convinced by event volunteer Adrian Lecaros to step into Darna Umayam’s hornet’s nest.
ABS CBN Bantay Bata Pulled Out – Gawad Kalinga USA Substitutes In
For many months Umayam had represented to the community that she had a formal agreement with Bantay Bata for sponsorship of her event. But ABS CBN Foundation International president Robbie Fabian had advised PinoyWatchDog.com that he was not even aware of Umayam’s misrepresentation until PWD’s original Award Show Expose’ appeared on June 23, 2012. Thereafter, a cascading series of events, culminating with Umayam’s anti-Semitic- laced attack and false criminal allegation emails, along with an endorsement of newspaper theft, led to ABS CBN Foundation International’s withdrawal, causing an emergency vacuum for Umayam and her dinner organizing cohorts, Press Photographers of the Philippines—USA, to save face.
PinoyWatchDog has learned that Umayam and her trusted aide de camp, failed California Assembly candidate and Pinoy Insider newspaper promoterAdrian Lecaros, immediately reached out to the unsuspecting and seemingly trusting Olaes, enticing him with an alleged one million peso contribution.
PWD has received reports from individuals in or close to both ABS CBN and the Umayam camp that Umayam and Lecaros told Olaes that the PinoyWatchDog.com detailed stories about Umayam’s long history of corrupt practices were merely ‘rumors’ and based on a personal vendetta between Umayam and Mr. Bander. However, in numerous emails from Umayam to Bander she admitted that they have no prior dealings and that she was surprised being a constant target of PWD’s inquiries. Indeed, on a live internet radio interview with Diversity News on Saturday, August 4, 2012, Umayam again admitted that there was nothing personal between her and Bander. However, Olaes was told a different, misleading story by both Umayam and Lecaros, which he failed to validate before agreeing to participate in her event.
Sources have told PWD that Olaes was enticed by the large contribution, and scurried to participate, with only one business day to prepare. As discussed in greater detail in the accompanying story, PWD has also learned that Olaes did not perform the necessary due diligence regarding Lecaros’ credibility, being persuaded by this smooth talking Lecaros and the pleading, sometimes crying, Umayam,
Lecaros and Umayam were able to obtain Olaes’ pledge that an announcement could be made to send the latter’s personal funds to Bantay Bata in the place of the awardee’s refused contribution. In a confidential email obtained by PinoyWatchDog.com sent to Umayam from Olaes, the Gawad Kalinga top executive stated he was ‘shocked’ that another charity would reject the contribution from a professed anti-Semite, and was happy to use his charity to end run Bantay Bata’s principled refusal to accept these funds.
However, PinoyWatchDog.com has learned that Olaes has never sent any funds on behalf of the honorees to Bantay Bata as he publicly promised at the July 28, 2012, dinner attended by almost 1000 people.
Olaes has refused to comment in any way in three weeks, including whether he was aware that Umayam had falsely represented for years that she graduated cum laude from University Santo Tomas, or that she had actually taken the Philippine Consulate’s 2009 Independence Day dinner charity as her own.
“How can you stand before almost a thousand people,” PWD Executive Editor Al Aquino asked, “and state you are making a contribution and then not make the contribution at all? What’s the game here?”
Adrian Lecaros refused to provide any comment on his activities to PinoyWatchDog.com and his activities are discussed in the accompanying article.
Three Weeks and No Real Check Has Ever Been Displayed
For three weeks Olaes has refused to provide any proof that any charity funds whatsoever have been tendered or negotiated. At the dinner event a large facsimile check of one million pesos was exhibited, which included the PPP–USA name. However, all observers agree that the tender of any money would not be in pesos, but obviously in dollars.
More importantly, the pictures from the event itself reveal that only an envelope and a piece of paper were ever publicly exchanged (see accompanying photographs). No actual check was ever shown to the public at the event, or now, three weeks later.
“How can you have transparency,” Executive Editor Aquino asked “if you do not show the actual check or some proof that funds have been transmitted. It is not as if Umayam’s words alone can be trusted.”
Repeated emails and telephone calls to Olaes have also gone unanswered.
Gawad Kalinga in Disarray After Manila Floods
PinoyWatchDog.com’s investigative team has learned that Olaes has never made any tender of funds to Bantay Bata as promised. Sources close to ABS-CBN are doubtful that any contribution from Olaes would ever be accepted considering the anti-Semitic issues surrounding the entire Umayam event.
PWD has also learned that Olaes had no understanding of the anti-Semitic issues involved before the event, and still has little appreciation of their enormity even afterwards. “Tony is well meaning and not a scammer,” one source told PWD, “but he just does not understand anti-Semitism.” PWD’s investigation of Olaes has revealed a successful businessman never before seeking the limelight for either his business or philanthropic activities.
PinoyWatchDog.com’s investigative team has also learned that a seemingly indecisive Olaes sent an email to Darna Umayam on Tuesday, August 9, 2012, requesting that the ‘honorees’ approve to “reallocate $10,000 of the $25,000 funds that you’ve raised for Gawad Kalinga homes through the ‘100 Outstanding Filipinos’ event.” One leading fundraiser requesting that their identity not be disclosed stated that the request was “bizarre and strange. Why are they asking these honorees about anything? There was no indication that there were any strings attached to this donation. They should be using the floods as an opportunity to raise new funds, telling Umayam’s group it is time to step up again, right now, with more money, no dinner — no awards. That’s how fundraising works. As soon as someone gives money, ask for more. Sadly, a catastrophe is a great fundraising tool. Olaes is squandering an opportunity to raise more money. Not reallocating money from new home building.”
Editor Aquino commented, “are the three hostesses, the videographer, and choreographer [last minute awardees because there were so many cancellations] part of Olaes’ decision making circle now? Is he actually asking Umayam for an opinion on use of funds? That’s crazy.” The fundraiser agreed, “why is he asking the awardees to do anything, this makes no sense at all.”
However, after this last email disclosure on PinoyWatchDog.com after the awards event it has been learned that Olaes and others scolded Umayam to stop releasing emails to any third parties, and a full lack of any transparency has been accomplished.
“Its three weeks since this very controversial event and absolutely no evidence that any money has been given to any charity has been made. Such a sad reflection on our community,” Aquino said.
Do you have information about any of these events? Please contact PWD at email@example.com or contact anyone you know on staff.