Wednesday, February 1, 2017

White House’s Fil-Am assistant press secretary comes from humble beginnings in Bicol
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, Feb. 1 (PNA)-- Newly-appointed White House Assistant Press Secretary Ninio Fetalvo, 23, whose parents hail from Camarines Sur, comes from humble beginnings here with grandparents who raised Ninio’s father and three siblings on blue collar jobs so they could finish college.

Marylyn Fetalvo Balares, 52, dean of the College of Criminology of the Naga Foundation College and a sister of Ninio’s father, Nelson, said Nelson, who is now 54, finished Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology at the Bicol College of Arts and Trade.

“Ninio’s mother Minerva Hilario is a nurse from Calabanga town, about 19 kilometers from this city,” said Balares.

Balares said their mother, now 82, used to have a small eatery while their father, who is now deceased, had worked as an auto mechanic.

She said Ninio’s family visited them in Bicol when he was 16 years old, which was seven years ago, although at that time she had no inkling what the future would hold for her nephew.

Balares said Ninio was a “shy guy but smart” and close to her daughter Herlynn, 26, now a lawyer at the Public Attorney’s Office.

She said Ninio was born premature in 1993 in Florida, like his only other sibling, Tina Marie, the younger one.

Balares said she was able to chat with Ninio to congratulate him after his appointment to the White House position and had teased him that “this is the right time to visit the US.” She said he only thanked her as response.

She said her brother Nelson had called her up and instructed her not to highlight the achievement of his son because the family wanted to maintain a low profile.

Balares said her brother told her that he had cried with joy when Ninio surprised the family on January 9, to tell the news that that he was appointed assistant press secretary.

“Being an aunt to Ninio, I am of course very proud of his achievement and the honor he has brought to our family name,” she said.

Balares said it was unbelievable how her nephew was able to make it this far in the most powerful nation on earth.

“He is so young and he will go a long way,” she said.

Balares said Nelson also confessed that before the US presidential elections, wherein Ninio was already part of the Republican campaign machinery, the Fetalvo family was anxious on what future Ninio might face should Donald Trump lost.

She said it was a blessing for the family that Trump won.

Balares said her sister-in-law had been working in Florida as a nurse before she even married her brother. Nelson migrated to the US in 1992 and Ninio was born the following year.

She said the Fetalvo family was supposed to visit Naga City in April to attend the wedding of their eldest nephew but she is not sure now if they could with the appointment of Ninio as part of Trump’s official family.

Balares said her lawyer-daughter has inspired Ninio to pursue the law profession and major in political communications at George Washington University in Washington D.C.

“My daughter and Ninio are in constant contact until now,” she said.

The Asian Journal Dateline USA said Ninio became an intern with the Republican National Committee (RNC) when he was in his senior year in college because “he realized he wanted to pursue a career in politics.”

The RNC website reported that with Ninio’s appointment as “APA press secretary” he was involved in issuing statements “on the Republican’s agenda on “Asian American and Pacific Islander community.”

He was deeply involved in the campaign so that on Jan. 8, 2016 Ninio and Director APA Engagement Jason Chung “released a memo highlighting Hilary Clinton and the Democrats’ hypocrisy toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” said the website.

Ninio also went around the US during the elections and had appeared on television in behalf of the Republicans. (PNA) FPV/GVR/JME/CBD