Bicolano White House Fil-Am ass’t press secretary comes from humble beginnings



NAGA CITY---Newly-appointed White House Assistant Press Secretary Ninio Fetalvo, 23, whose parents hailed from Camarines Sur, comes from humble beginnings with grandparents doing blue-collar jobs for their four children to finish college.

Marylyn Fetalvo Balares, 52, dean of the College of Criminology of the Naga Foundation College, narrated her borther and Ninio’s father Nelson, 54, having completed his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology at the Bicol College of Arts and Trade (now Bicol State College of Applied Sciences and Technology) here in Naga City while his mother Minerva Hilario, was a nurse from Calabanga town, about 19 km from this city.

“My mother, now 82, had small eatery then, while my father, already deceased, was a humble mechanic,” Balares revealed.

She said Ninio’s family visited them when he was 16 years old, seven years ago, though she has no inkling what the future White House assistant secretary was up to.

Balares finds Ninio to be shy but smart and he was close to her daughter Herlynn, 26, now a government lawyer at the Public Attorney’s Office.

She said Ninio was born prematurely in 1993 in Florida, so was her younger sibling, Tina Marie. Her brother and sister-in-law bore only two kids and Ninio is the older one.

Balares said she chatted with Ninio after his appointment to congratulate and tease him that “this is the right time to visit the U.S.” She said he only thanked her as a response.

She said Nelson called her up and instructed her not highlight the achievement of his son when interviewed because the family wanted to remain low profile.

Balares was told by her brother that he cried with joy when Ninio surprised the family on Jan. 9 that her nephew was appointed assistant press secretary.

“Being an aunt to Ninio, I am of course very proud of his achievement and he is bringing honor to our family surname. It is unbelievable he made there 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 in which Ninio was already part of the Republican campaign machinery, the Fetalvo family was anxious on what future her nephew 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 nurse before she even married her brother and it was in 1992 that he also immigrated to the US. The following year, Ninio was born.

She said the Fetalvo family was supposed to come to Naga City in April this year for the wedding of their eldest nephew but she is not sure now because of Ninio’s appointment as part of the Trump official family. Balares said her lawyer-daughter has inspired Ninio to pursue the law profession, who majored in political communications at George Washington University in Washington DC. “My daughter and Ninio are in constant contact until now,” she said.

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

The RNC website showed that Ninio was appointed APA press secretary in which he was involved in issuance of statements regarding the Republican’s agenda on Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

He was deeply involved in the campaign that on Jan. 8, 2016 he and Director APA Engagement Jason Chung “released a memo highlighting Hilary Clinton and the Democrats’ hypocrisy toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.” He was also going around the US during the elections and appeared on television in behalf of the Republicans.