2017 PABA Officers and Board of Governors



Philip Lim Nulud, President


Philip is an Attorney in Buchalter’s Los Angeles office and a member of the Intellectual Property and Corporate Practice Groups. His practice focuses on counseling clients in the apparel and textile, and technology industries in developing, protecting and licensing their valuable ideas. He has extensive experience in international enforcement and prosecution and has assisted many companies in obtaining their trademarks overseas.

He  earned his J.D. at Loyola Law School and his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering, with a minor in Political Science (concentrating in Law and Public Policy) from the University of Southern California.  Mr. Nulud also previously clerked for the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office: Consumer Protection Division.

Zathrina Zasell G. Perez, President-Elect

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Zathrina is an associate attorney practicing in the Litigation Department of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.  In 2005, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a major in International Economics and a minor in Political Science.  She received her Juris Doctor degree magna cum laude in 2009 from Georgetown University Law Center.

John Ryan De La Merced, Treasurer

Stubbs Alderton & Markiles, LLP

John Ryan De La Merced is an associate at Stubbs Alderton & Markiles LLP and a member of the firm’s Business Litigation Group.  John’s practice focuses on business litigation, which includes commercial and intellectual property disputes.  His experience encompasses all aspects of the litigation process, including drafting operative pleadings and responses, law and motion practice, discovery, mediation, client counseling, and assisting in trial.

John attained his B.A., cum laude, from UC Riverside and his J.D. from UCLA School of Law.  During law school, John served as a judicial extern at the Los Angeles Superior Court to the Honorable R. Bruce Minto and at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to the Honorable S. James Otero.  John also served as articles editor and chief articles editor for the Asian Pacific American Law Journal, one of only two law journals in the United States that focuses exclusively on legal issues affecting Asian Pacific American communities.

Alexander P. Sario, Secretary

Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender

Alex is a felony trial attorney for the Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender’s Office.  His current practice includes serious felonies and homicides at the Pomona Courthouse.  He also practiced public criminal defense in Riverside County and business litigation in downtown Los Angeles.  He received his B.A. from the University of California, San Diego, and his J.D. from Loyola Law School.

Citadelle Priagula, Chair of the Board

Musick, Peeler & Garrett

Citadelle Priagula is an associate at Musick, Peeler & Garrett, specializing in labor and employment litigation. Her past experience includes an internship with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. While in law school at UCLA, Citadelle was a staff member for the Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs, and her student comment was published in UCLA’s Asian Pacific American Law Journal. She was a recipient of a Philippine American Bar Association Scholarship and has served on PABA board since she was a student board member.



Mark W. Allen

Werksman Jackson Hathaway & Quinn LLP

Mark Allen is an associate attorney at the criminal defense firm Werksman Jackson Hathaway & Quinn LLP.  His practice focuses on drafting writs and appeals and on representing accused students in Title IX disciplinary proceedings on college campuses. He earned his B.S. with honors in economics from the University of Oregon, and his J.D. from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.  During law school, he served as an extern for the Honorable Margaret M. Morrow.  He also served and as a law clerk for the United States Attorney’s Office and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

Marlon B. Baldomero

Law Offices of Marlon B. Baldomero

Marlon B. Baldomero obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law and his undergraduate Bachelor’s degree from the Ateneo de Manila University. Upon migrating to the United States, he took up and earned a Master of Laws degree from Whittier Law School with a focus on the US legal system for foreign-trained lawyers. Because of his background, Mr. Baldomero is very sensitive to the needs of southern California’s immigrant communities, particularly in the area of Immigration law. He has helped countless of immigrants obtain legal permanent resident status and US citizenship. He has appeared before Immigration judges in behalf of clients in removal proceedings and has successfully argued to terminate their deportation cases. He currently practices as a solo attorney with offices in Glendale and Torrance, California.

Josephine Ann Brosas

Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP

Josephine Ann Brosas is a Partner at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP (www.lbbslaw.com; brosas@lbbslaw.com). She is a registered patent attorney and focuses her practice in the areas of Intellectual Property and Technology. She earned her B.S. in Biochemistry from UCLA and her J.D. from Southwestern Law School. She is fluent in Tagalog.

Melanie K. Buccat

Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office

Melanie K. Buccat is a Deputy District Attorney for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. She is assigned to Pasadena in the Victim Impact Program (VIP) where she vertically prosecutes elder abuse cases, sex crimes, stalking cases, and family violence. In 2012, her legislative proposal to amend California Vehicle Code section 27317 was passed by both the assembly and senate. She received her BA in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and JD from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge.

Tristan S. Bufete

O’Melveny & Myers LLP

Tristan Bufete is a litigation associate in the Los Angeles office of O’Melveny & Myers LLP.  Tristan’s practice includes general commercial litigation matters, as well as class action and insurance coverage litigation.  Tristan dedicates significant time to pro bono work, representing clients in political asylum and adoption proceedings.  He is also a volunteer with the Los Angeles County Teen Court Program at Gardena High School and the Trial Advocacy Prosecution Program with the Redondo Beach City Attorney’s Office.

Tristan received his J.D. in 2014 from UCLA School of Law.  He earned his B.A., summa cum laude, from California State University, Fresno in 2008.  While in law school, Tristan participated in the UCLA Supreme Court Clinic and served as associate editor of the UCLA Law Review. Prior to attending law school, Tristan worked as a paralegal at Public Counsel Law Center, the nation’s largest pro bono law firm.

Cherisse H. Cleofe

Kiesel Law LLP

Cherisse H. Cleofe is an associate at Kiesel Law LLP. Her practice focuses on mass tort litigation against pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Cleofe was involved in practice development at JAMS. She was also a volunteer attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Orange County.  Ms. Cleofe received her B.S. in Management Science from the University of California, San Diego and her J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law. She is currently on the LACBA Barristers Executive Committee and serves as the Chair of the Recruiting Taskforce for the USF School of Law Board of Governors.

Mercedes A. Cook

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP

Mercedes A. Cook is an associate in the Business Trials Practice Group in Sheppard Mullin’s Los Angeles Office.  She represents clients in a variety of civil litigation matters including disputes involving claims for breach of contract, fraud, unfair competition, and violations of environmental regulations.  Mercedes is also an active member of Sheppard Mullin’s Pro Bono Program, where she serves as the firm’s coordinator for the Public Counsel Adoptions Project.  She earned her J.D. from UCLA School of Law, and her B.A. from the University of Southern California.

Jonathan Cruz

Los Angeles County Public Defender

Jonathan is a trial attorney for the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office where he represents indigent defendants in matters that range from public intoxication to homicide.  He received his B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Music from the University of California, Santa Barbara and J.D. from Loyola Law School.

Marissa B. Dagdagan

National Labor Relations Board, Region 31

Marissa is a Field Attorney with the National Labor Relations Board, where she investigates and litigates unfair labor practices under the National Labor Relations Act.   Marissa has dedicated her career to the pursuit of social justice.  Before law school, she worked as a national policy advocate on behalf of battered immigrant and trafficked women and children.  Prior to the NLRB, she worked at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) and California Rural Legal Assistance in Delano, CA.  She earned her J.D. from UCLA School of Law with a specialization in Public Interest Law and Policy and her B.A. at the University of California, Berkeley.  She is a proud past recipient of the PABA Bar Scholarship and is honored to serve her fifth term on the PABA Board of Governors.

Edward P. Dailo

Law Offices of Stephen A. Shapiro

Edward P. Dailo is an associate attorney with the Law Offices of Stephen A. Shapiro, a law division of Safeway Insurance Company. Mr. Dailo earned his B.A. in International Relations from the University of Southern California and his J.D. from the University of La Verne-College of Law. He enjoys basketball, soccer, dancing, hiking, traveling, and Broadway musicals.

Christine J. Gonong

Law Office of Minh T. Nguyen 

Christine is an attorney at the Law Office of Minh T. Nguyen.  She clerked for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the Supreme Court of Hawaii, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  She was also a litigation associate at the Los Angeles office of Jones Day.  In 2008, Super Lawyers recognized Christine as a Southern California Rising Star.

A member of PABA’s Board of Governors since 2008, Christine served as PABA President in 2015.  She frequently judges UCLA Law moot court competitions and sits on the scholarship committees for the UCLA College Honors Program and the UCLA Pilipino Alumni Association.   Christine, along with Serafin Tagarao and Edward Dailo, co-authored an article entitled “Filipinos on the Bench – Challenges and Solutions for Today and Tomorrow’s Generations,” which will be published in the 2017 Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession Review and the 22nd Volume of the Asian Pacific American Law Journal.

Christine received her J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law.  While in law school, she served as a Managing and Notes Editor of the Hastings Law Journal.  Christine received her B.A. from UCLA, where she graduated magna cum laude.  Christine enjoys dancing, photography, traveling, musicals, and hiking.

Benjamin J. Hofileña, Jr.

Twentieth Century Fox

Ben Hofileña is in-house counsel at Twentieth Century Fox where he works as a production attorney in feature films.  For twelve years prior to joining Fox, Ben worked at the global law firms of McDermott, Will & Emery LLP and Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe LLP where his practice focused on intellectual property matters.  Ben served as President of the Philippine American Bar Association in 2007-2008 and is the Immediate Past President of the PABA Foundation.  Throughout his career, Ben has been committed to his pro bono work on behalf of children and domestic violence victims primarily working with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), The Alliance for Children’s Rights, and Public Counsel.  Ben earned his B.S. in Physiological Science at UCLA and his J.D. from Loyola Law School.  While in law school, Ben won the national championship for the Giles Sutherland Rich IP Moot Court Competition sponsored by the AIPLA and was a judicial extern to the the Honorable Stephen R. Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Ben loves all things UCLA, underwater photography and is a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor.

Carlos Lazatin

O’Melveny & Myers LLP

Carlos Lazatin is a partner in the Los Angeles office of O’Melveny & Myers LLP.  He defends clients in high-stakes class action and products liability litigation in a range of industries including food, apparel, automobile, and medical devices and pharmaceuticals.  Carlos was named a “Rising Star” in Consumer Protection Law by Law360 (2014), and has been recognized as a Southern California “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers (2013).

Carlos has worked as a volunteer criminal prosecutor for the City of Redondo Beach, and has taught UCLA Law School’s Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic, representing indigent clients facing deportation.  He serves on the Executive Committee of the Litigation Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA), and was recently named a Fellow on the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), an organization dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession.

Carlos received his J.D., cum laude, in 2003 from Harvard Law School.  He earned his A.B., magna cum laude, from Princeton University in 1999.

Ernie A. Ocampo

Reed Smith LLP

Ernie is Counsel in the Entertainment & Media Industry Group of Reed Smith LLP.  He advises clients in various stages of development – from start-ups to mature companies – in a broad range of transactions with an emphasis on entertainment and real estate.  Ernie advises entertainment clients in connection with investments, joint ventures and business launches, and advises real estate clients on acquisitions and development of renewable energy facilities and commercial properties.

In addition to serving on the PABA Board of Governors, Ernie is on the Board of Directors of Los Angeles-Makati Sister City and serves as pro bono counsel for Search to Involve Pilipino Americans.  Ernie is also on the Scholarship Committee of the USC Asian Pacific Alumni Association and co-hosts an annual welcome reception for first-year students who come to USC from the Philippines.

Ernie earned his J.D. at UC Berkeley and his B.S. in Public Policy, with a minor Business, from the University of Southern California.

Maria Emmanor M. Rigonan

US Tax Shield

Emmanor is a Tax Attorney at US Tax Shield, where she assists taxpayers in resolving outstanding tax balances with the IRS and state departments of revenue.  Emmanor also has several years of experience as an accountant.  She earned her B.S. degree, cum laude, in Business Administration-Accounting from California State University, Los Angeles and her J.D. from Southwestern Law School.  She is fluent in Tagalog, and enjoys live escape games, scuba diving, and traveling.

Serafin H. Tagarao

Gordon & Rees Scully Mansukhani

Serafin H. Tagarao is a labor and employment associate at Gordon & Rees. His practice includes defending individual and class action employment litigation on alleged claims for wage and hour violations, wrongful termination, federal and state leave laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Serafin also counsels clients in all aspects of workplace compliance. He serves as Chair of the Media Committee and member of the Board of Governors for PABA.  Serafin, along with Christine Gonong and Edward Dailo, co-authored an article entitled “Filipinos on the Bench – Challenges and Solutions for Today and Tomorrow’s Generations” slated to be published by The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession in 2017.

Michelle van Oppen

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

Michelle van Oppen is a litigation associate at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.  Ms. Van Oppen focuses her practice on complex commercial litigation.  Ms. van Oppen has represented clients in cases involving breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, administrative appeals, securities class actions, and general commercial disputes.  Ms. van Oppen attained her B.A. at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her J.D. from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.

Abigail Zelenski

Jaurigue Law Group

Abigail Zelenski (born Abigail Tapang) is a Shareholder and Managing Counsel at the Jaurigue Law Group (“JLG”) (abigail@jlglawyers.com).  JLG services small businesses and consumers in a wide variety of practice areas, including litigation, tax issues,  bankruptcy, family law, and estate planning.  Throughout her career, Abigail has focused extensively on individual and class-action wage-and-hour cases involving violations under the California Labor Code and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Over the past thirteen years, Abigail has worked to settle over forty class actions and mass actions, recovering millions on behalf of employees in various industries, including those in the motion-picture, security, healthcare, food, retail, and banking industries.

Abigail earned her J.D. at the UCLA School of Law in 2003 and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Southern California in 2000, magna cum laude.  Abigail was the past Vice President of the Board of the Filipino American Library and Filipino American Heritage Institute, where she dedicated seven years of community service. In October 2012, Abigail was elected to the Governing Board of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, where she served her term through April 2014.



Jeck Dizon

Jeck Dizon is a fourth year evening student at Southwestern Law School. He graduated from the University of California Riverside in 2008 with a B.A. in Political Science/Law & Society. He was a member of the Trial Advocacy Honors Program at Southwestern and competed in two national competitions. He has externed at the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office Hardcore Gang Division. While in law school, he has been working as a law clerk for the Products Liability/Mass Tort Environmental Group at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP and is a licensed real estate agent. In his spare time, he is a personal trainer and enjoys running marathons.

Alexander Manglinong

Alexander Manglinong is a first year law student at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. He graduated summa cum laude from UCLA in 2014 with a B.A. in Political Science.  Prior to attending law school, he worked as a legal assistant at a law firm specializing in disability and employment law.  He enjoys boxing and cooking in his spare time.

Diana Martinez

Diana Martinez is a second year J.D. candidate at Loyola Law School. She graduated from McMaster University in 2014, where she majored in Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behavior and specialized in music cognition. She is currently a research assistant at Loyola Law School, staff editor on the Loyola Law Review, mentor for the Young Lawyers Program, and has volunteered with Advancing Justice LA.

Erwin Nepomuceno

Erwin Nepomuceno is a third year law student at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California. Erwin received his B.A. in Philosophy/Law and Society at the University of California, Riverside in 2010, and worked as a California workers’ compensation claims examiner for two years before attending law school.  Erwin is a southern California native of half Filipino and half Mexican descent and loves playing and watching ice hockey.

Bettina Tiangco

Bettina Tiangco is a first year law student at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.  She graduated from Stanford University in 2013 with a degree and honors in Anthropology.  In her first semester of law school, she worked as a Tagalog interpreter with her school’s International Human Rights Clinic.  This summer, she will be working at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.  She enjoys social dancing and singing in her spare time.