Tag Archives: Cynthia de Castro

Remittances: Our Nation’s Lifeblood

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
The past three decades have seen the most dramatic number of Filipinos migrating to other countries to work as overseas contract workers. There are now more than 11 million overseas Filipinos worldwide, equivalent to about 11% of the total population of the Philippines. These overseas Filipinos often work as doctors, nurses, accountants, IT professionals, engineers, architects, entertainers, technicians, teachers, military servicemen, students, caregivers, and domestic helpers. Many of them eventually become permanent residents of other countries.

Money sent by the overseas Filipinos back to the Philippines thru remittances has made a significant and considerable contribution to the Philippine economy. By providing a steady stream of dollars in the market, remittances have helped stabilize the peso and boost the economy through consumption and investments. Last year in 2007, the OFWs remitted around US $14.45 billion, up from $13 Billion in 2006 and more than $10 billion in 2005.

Because of the role that they play in propping up the economy through the money they send home, the migrant Filipino workers abroad have been referred to as the Philippines’ modern-day heroes.

The Philippine Central Bank announced a few days ago that remittances from Filipino workers overseas grew 24.6 percent in July to US$1.366 billion — the fourth month in a row that money sent home from abroad posted double-digit growth. The July inflows brought remittances for January to July 08 to US$9.608 billion, up 18.2 percent from the same period last year. The strong inflows boost the likelihood that remittances for 2008 will hit US$15.7 billion as projected.

The bulk of remittances from January to July 2008 came from the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In a study by Stella P. Go (2002) who studies the behavior of the remittances of migratory workers, it shows that there is no direct relation between the quantity of remittances and the geographical concentration of these workers. For example, Saudi Arabia, which is the major destination of overseas workers, only represents 5.4 % of total remittances; the United States, to the contrary, which has less than 1% of the migrant Philippine workers is the origin of 42.5 % of total remittances to the Philippines.

Perhaps, Filipinos who immigrate to the US earn more or have more income left over to send abroad than those OFWs from Middle East and Asian countries.

Karamihan kasi ng mga immigrants dito sa US, nasa health care industry, at kumikita ng mas malaki kaysa sa mga OFWs sa ibang bansa. And the health care industry is not much affected by economic recession,” said John, a resident intern in an LA hospital.

How do the families of OFWs spend the remittances? According to a study by the United Nations (INSTRAW study 2008), remittances are used to cover first the households’ basic consumption (food, clothes, electricity, etc.), education and health. When remittances are sent regularly, they can also serve to pay a domestic worker or a person who will be in charge of dependent persons. For migrant parents, it is a priority to provide education to the children who remain in Philippines, while for migrant sons and daughters, to provide care for elderly parents is a priority in a context where public services are very poor.

When remittances are more than enough to pay the bills, the families invest for the future. In the same UN study, it was reported that after women succeed to cover basic consumption needs, education and health, they invest in a house or in land for agriculture. Men are inclined to invest in consumption goods, assets, or property. 

Without a doubt, the economic gains are the most tangible positive effect of labor migration for both the family and Philippine society. Foreign remittances have improved the quality of life for the average Filipino family. Within a short period of time, families and household have been able to buy appliances, improve their houses or buy new ones, finance the education of their children or siblings and for some, start a small business. Because of these economic gains of labor migration, thousands of Filipinos continue to leave the country everyday to work overseas.

The Central Bank sees the trend rising even higher in the coming months and years. For example, from January to July 2008, nearly 762,000 Filipinos left the country to work abroad, up by 28.2 percent than in the same period of 2007. “This reflected foreign employers’ preference for Filipino workers who remain competitive due to their skills and proficiency in the English language,” said the Central Bank.

Central Bank Governor Tetangco said workers’ deployment abroad may rise further as a result of the recently concluded arrangement among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including the Philippines, to standardize and regulate professional standards for accountants, dentists and medical workers. The arrangement will facilitate professionals’ mobility in the region, he added. Discussions continue between the Philippines and prospective employers in France, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Norway and Finland for possible deployment of more professionals from the nursing, information technology, and engineering fields, he said.

The remittance boom is partly a product of a period of very rapid global growth that increased both demand for Filipino migrant labor and the earnings of the huge Filipino community in the US, the largest single source of remittances. However, there are some fears that this rise in remittances from the US might not continue for long, specially with the looming US recession.

This was belied, however, by a Western Union agent interviewed by Asian Journal. “Our regular customers have not decreased their remittances to the Philippines,” said Fae, who works in a Western Union remittance agent store in Eagle Rock. “Many of the Filipinos who come here send money weekly or bi-monthly to their families. Even when the gas prices went up, the remittances were not affected,” she reported.

This is certainly good news for the Philippines. First, spurred by remittances, the peso’s increased value has raised people’s confidence in the currency and overseas Filipinos have begun to remit their earnings and savings, not just for basic necessities, but for investments as well. Secondly, the higher the peso, the more dollars have to be remitted to meet the school, food and other peso bills of families back in the Philippines. Thirdly, remittances are expected to continue to increase from the oil-rich states of the Gulf, the second largest source of money from abroad.  And fourthly, East Asian demand for Filipino labor remains high; so the exodus of OFWs, and with it, foreign remittances are expected to continue to grow even more considerably in the near future.  (www.asianjournal.com)

 

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The Anatomy of A Balikbayan Box

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
The “ber” months have started and with September comes that special holiday feeling. In the Philippines, which is known to have the longest celebration of Christmas, malls and department stores have already started playing Christmas songs and selling holiday decors and gifts. In the countries where millions of Filipinos have immigrated or are working, the demand for balikbayan boxes has started to increase as families begin shopping for their holiday gifts to be sent back to relatives and friends in the homeland.

For Filipinos in the US, sending balikbayan boxes to families back in the Philippines has become a major part of our lifestyle. Those who have children, parents or siblings left in the Philippines send boxes regularly, either on a monthly or quarterly basis. But, at Christmas time, many FilAms double their usual padala, adding special gifts and holiday treats to the usual staple items.

One Filipina nurse, Nany, who sends boxes to her parents and siblings in Quezon City at least every 2 months, said she’s always on the look-out for special sale items when she goes malling. “I always have a balikbayan box in the house where I store things to send back home. I love going to malls and stores when it’s sale season to look for things I can send to my family in Manila. Whether it’s just in the regular supermarket nearby, in Costco or in the outlet stores in Camarillo or Ontario, I enjoy hunting for clothes, shoes, bags or food items that are on sale. I then keep them in the box until it’s full. Once I send it home, I have a new box to fill up. Ang sarap ng feeling pag nakapagpadala ka ng box,” Nany said.

So, what’s in those balikbayan boxes? What are the most popular items that get sent back home to excited family members? What are the most requested items?

“We usually send the basic items which our children need such as canned goods and bath items,” admitted Yoly, a caregiver in Orange County. “Kasi, ang mamahal na din ng mga grocery items sa Pinas kaya I make sure I send them these things monthly. Para yung padala kong pera, sa mgahousehold bills na lang,” she added.

After asking quite a number of Pinoys who regularly send boxes, we discovered that the anatomy of a balikbayan box is very similar in content. The top 15 items that Pinoys usually send back home are: 1) Spam, 2) Hereford Corned Beef, 3) Centrum Multi-vitamins, 4) Chocolates (top on everyone’s list: Hershey’s, Kisses, Ferrero Rocher, M&Ms, Nestle Crunch, Cadbury & Toblerone), 5. Bath soaps (Dove, Ivory, & Irish Spring are the preferred brands), 6. Shampoo & Conditioner (Pantene, followed by Head & Shoulders, Neutrogena, & Kirkland ), 7) Colgate toothpaste, 8) Coffee (Folgers,Taster’s Choice and Maxwell are favorite brands) and hot chocolate drinks (Swiss Miss and Nestle), 9) Quaker Oatmeal and Breakfast Cereals (Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes and Choco Puffs), 10. Cookies (Famous Amos, Oreos, and Chips Ahoy), and Chips (Pringles, Doritos and Nachos), 11) T-shirts (Old Navy and Gap are favorites), 12) Towels, 13) Bath and Body Works and Victoria Secret products, 14) Rubber Shoes (Nike is the preferred brand), and 15) Sugar substitutes such as Splenda and Sweet N’ Low.

Other items that didn’t make it to the top 15 items but are still in a lot of balikbayan boxes are colognes, pants, sandals, flip-flops, shoes, bags, wallets, and magazines. Favorite shopping places for balikbayan box items are Wal-Mart, Target, 99 Cents, Ross and Costco.

For the holiday seasons, our kababayans usually add another box to complement the usual regular items. Inside the holiday gift boxes are clothes, shoes and accessories bought from outlet stores and malls such as Forever 21, Banana Republic, Abercrombie & Fitch, Old Navy, Nike, Adidas, Gap and Hollister.

“I make sure I get a gift for everyone in the family –sa lahat ng pamangkin, pinsan, katulong etc.,” said Rita who works in the garment district in downtown. “I know that it’s not really just the gift that they treasure, it’s the thought that you remembered them and took the time to shop and send Christmas gifts to them. That’s what really counts,” she said.

Yes, balikbayan boxes are not just filled with goods, they’re filled with love, affection and devotion. And for Filipinos abroad, they can’t seem to send too much of those back home.  (www.asianjournal.com)

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Metrolink Crash updates

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
The Sept. 12 deadly Metrolink crash that has killed at least 25 people and left 135 more injured was the worst Southern California train wreck in more than 50 years. Last Monday, Sept. 15, the first workday after the train collision in Chatsworth, there was understandably less people who took the Metrolink.

Lillian Ford, a supervisor for Los Angeles County’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said “People are probably still in shock, staying home from work. We were expecting more people, but there isn’t. It’s very calm.”

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined commuters early Monday morning at the Chatsworth train station to try to reassure people about taking the train and that safety is Metrolink’s first priority. The LA Mayor said, “I want to dispel any fears about taking the train. Safety has to be our No. 1 concern. Taking the train is still the safest option for commuters.”

To help Metrolink passengers, MTA buses began shuttling commuters from the Moorpark Metrolink station to Simi Valley and Chatsworth while clean-up continues at the site of the Metrolink commuter train crash in Chatsworth. The MTA southbound service leaving from Moorpark begins at 5:07 am, and the last northbound MTA bus leaving Chatsworth is at 7:44 pm. The MTA provided eight buses for commuters, and had four more standing by. They will operate this bus bridge until full rail service is restored to the Metrolink line.

Some of the buses were half-full, but the commuters who did take the Metrolink to work last Sept. 15 said they wanted to overcome their fears after the crash. Those who boarded the temporary shuttle buses said they were shaken up, but still felt riding the train was a safer alternative to taking the freeways.

Volunteers from American Red Cross of Ventura County handed out leaflets to passengers boarding the bus, offering phone numbers that people could call for mental health counseling to help deal with the crash.

Last Saturday, Sept. 13, Villaraigosa ordered all city flags lowered to half-staff in honor of the victims of the Metrolink commuter train and freight train crash. He also asked local clergy to observe a moment of silence in Sunday prayer services to honor the victims and to pray for their families and for healing for all injured.

In a related development, Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell resigned after she was criticized that she spoke prematurely in saying the crash was caused by an engineer’s mistake. Tyrrell said Metrolink’s chief executive, David Solow, gave her the authority to make statements to the media Saturday about the cause of the crash. Thus, the statement that Metrolink board Chairman Ron Roberts made to The Times on Sunday––that her statement Saturday was premature––and that he made to the Wall Street Journal that she was not authorized to make a statement blaming the engineer, upset Tyrrell. “I felt the damage to my reputation is so great, I could not work for these people anymore,” she said.

Meanwhile, Villaraigosa called on Angelenos to donate blood in a special City Hall blood drive set up by the American Red Cross on Wednesday, September 17, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm at the City Hall, 200 N. Spring St. Los Angeles, CA 90012. For more information, readers may call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE and 1-800-448-3543.  (www.asianjournal.com)

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GALING PINOY: The Prince of Heroes

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
People, young and old alike, love comic book heroes. They enjoy stories of courageous men and women who battle evil and overcome the odds. They dream of being mighty, strong and powerful like superheroes Batman and Superman. The past years, there have been new comic book heroes for the new generation. You see them in the very popular Neotopia series, the Courageous Princess, the Battle Girlz, DragonPro and DinoWars. Behind these famous comic heroes is a Filipino comics creator, writer and illustrator, Rod Espinosa.
Born in the Philippines but based in Texas since 2001, Espinosa has been recognized in the American comic book industry for his outstanding work. Rod’s work on “The Courageous Princess” got him on the nomination list for “Promising New Talent” and also “Best Artist” for the 2000 Ignatz Awards and the 2002 Will Eisner Award nomination list for “Best Title for Younger Readers”. The Ignatz Award recognizes outstanding achievements in comics and cartooning while the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are considered the “Oscars” of the comic book industry. 

Rod graduated from the Don Bosco Technical College with a certificate in architectural drafting and got a degree in advertising art from University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila. He worked for seven years in various companies in the fields of advertising, software entertainment and film before deciding to pursue a career in the comic book industry. He came to San Antonio, Texas in 2001 to work full-time as a comic book editor and illustrator.

“I like being an illustrator because I get to keep my own hours,” said Rod.  “Actually, I work more hours than normal, but I get to decide when and where, which is a good trade-off. That’s probably the nice thing about being a comic book artist. I can get my projects done early if I work extra hours during the week. It also makes me feel like I’m not part of the rat race. I count myself lucky I don’t have the daily commute or the clockwork hours some people have,” he explained.

As both writer and artist, Rod has also authored theNeotopia series which was published in graphic novel form. In 2006,  Novotopia, the German edition of Neotopia, got a nomination for the Max und Moritz Prize in the category ‘Bester Comic für Kinder’ (best comic book for younger audience). Rod’s comic books include the Battle Girlz series, a Alice in Wonderland, The Alamo, DinoWars, and Metadocs. 

He has also written and conceptualized popular Antarctic Press titles such as  Hunt Monsters, and Herc and Thor.

Aside from comic books, Espinosa has also written and illustrated non-fiction works such as a series of American History comic books dealing with the subjects of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Lewis and Clark, The Boston Tea Party, The Alamo, Jackie Robinson, The Underground Railroad, Abraham Lincoln, Patrick Henry, Cesar Chavez, The American Revolution, the Transcontinental Railroad, and Clara Barton. 

He has also created graphic classic novels such as: Around the World in Eighty Days,  Moby-Dick, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

Writing and illustrating non-fiction books has been a new experience for Rod. He described it as ” outside the usual realm of the direct market”. Rod said,” Writing and drawing non-fiction has trained me further in doing realistic people. I have learned a lot. Artistically, I’m glad I improved. I am having fun drawing the characters as I based their likenesses on people I know.” 

Espinosa takes great pride in his newest work, the Prince of Heroes, which is an online graphic novel. “It has scenes never before seen in any other format. You get new excitement and entertainment! A treat for online readers,” said Rod. Readers can enjoy Espinosa’s newest work at http://www.princeofheroes.com.

Like any accomplished man will tell you, it takes a lot of hard work to be successful. Rod Espinosa has worked hard to be where he is right now, and all his labor has paid off well. “My work does require a lot of discipline as we are our own task managers, but in the end, it’s worth it,” admitted the “Prince of comic heroes”.   (www.asianjournal.com)

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To be loved . . . by the King of Love Songs

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
“Balatkayo lahat ang buhay sa mundo Nakangiti kahit hindi totoo Magandang bulaklak ang s’yang katulad mo Nguni’t paglapit ko’y walang bango.”
The lines above are from the classic love song entitled Balatkayo composed by the Philippines’ King of Love Songs, Anthony Castelo . The song laments how his lover has turned out to be a phony. So, he grieves that most people live life pretending; putting on an act; faking love or happiness; being balatkayo.

Fortunately, the multi-awarded singer/composer is exactly the opposite of being a balatkayo. A truly accomplished international artist, Anthony is a genuinely caring and loving human being who has lived to make a difference in the world he lives in. Despite a long list of gold records, sold-out concerts and outstanding performances for world dignitaries like US President George W. Bush, Saudi King Fahd, Moroccan King Hassan II, Princess Margaret of England, Premier Suzuki of Japan, and Pope John Paul II, he has not been dazzled by show business. He has always had an innate charitable interest in others; looking for ways to extend help, show kindness and give support.

Born in the Philippines, Anthony has a unique Eurasian mix of Filipino and Portuguese/Spanish ancestry. He studied in Los Angeles and it was there, while in his teens that he began his music career, joining the world-famous choral group The Young Americans.

Later, while still a student at the University of the Philippines, Castelo joined the Gentle Rain—a group led by well-known songwriter/producer Nonong Pedero. The quartet, whose members included Boy Camara and Rody Picar, developed an amazing quick and faithful following among the collegians. Later, Anthony was discovered by famous recording producers and OPM pioneers Vic del Rosario, Tony Ocampo, Orly Ilacad and Tito Sotto. A marvelous singer and performer gifted with a soulful baritone or tenor voice, he instantly gained the respect of his audiences everywhere.

Anthony’s success as a solo artist has been nothing short of remarkable. His songs such as Hahanapin Ko, Panaginip, Ibig Kong Ibigin Ka, Nang Dahil sa Pag-Ibig, and numerous others quickly hit the charts and Castelo was dubbed as the “Philippines’ King of Love Songs.” He has earned numerous awards for his music; among them were the ALIW and CECIL Awards (the Philippines’ version of the Grammy Awards).

In addition to music, Anthony has also starred in several hit movies together with the Philippines’ finest actors such as Christopher De Leon, Dindo Fernando, Vilma Santos, and Lorna Tolentino. His 1982 Movie of the Year Pakawalan Mo Ako, garnered him a nomination for the FAMAS (the Oscars of the Philippines).

While many would be contented with a successful career in the arts, Anthony did not rest on his laurels to give more contributions which are significant to the society. He had served as a councilor of Quezon City for which he received the BANTAYOG Award for the “Most Outstanding Quezon City Councilor” in 1999 and 2000 given by the Quezon City Press Club.

Several years ago, Castelo immigrated to the States, making his home in Los Angeles with his family. While continuing his career as a performer, Anthony also used his talent to help organizations such as the International Red Cross, the March of Dimes and other humanitarian institutions. In one occasion in Las Vegas, Anthony performed for the Sammy Davis Memorial Concert, which was held in honor of the late entertainer for the benefit of the March of Dimes Foundation.

After the 911 terrorists’ attack, Castelo composed the song, Long Live America, which he himself presented to President George W. Bush during his visit to the White House in 2002. The song soon became a best-selling hit and for this patriotic composition, the State of Maryland House of Delegates, the City of Los Angeles, and the San Diego, California Congressional District honored Castelo with special awards of artistic recognition.

“Through the years, our people have always been my inspiration in everything I do. It was through music that I’ve learned how to love God, our people and our country, and my role as a public servant is the articulation of that song of love,” Castelo said.

In 2004, through his established non-profit organization Long Live America Foundation, the singer helped secure for Engracia Gutierrez a humanitarian visa to come to the United States. Engracia is the sister and only living next-of-kin to US Lance Corporal Jose Gutierrez, an immigrant from Guatemala who died in Iraq. Likewise, with the help of city officials from Lomita and Carson, Castelo organized a 2004 Fourth of July event honoring Gutierrez and another immigrant soldier, Philippine-native US Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Menusa, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their adopted country.

All of Castelo’s philanthropy and help for the needy has recently earned him his most cherished award and recognition. Last April 2008, he received the prestigious “President’s Volunteer Service Award” during ceremonies at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. The award was issued by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, a committee formed by President George W. Bush in 2003 by Executive Order. It recognizes outstanding efforts of individuals and organizations towards their community and country.

“On behalf of Long Live America Foundation, it is a privilege for me to receive this recognition and I share this honor with all Filipinos around the globe,” he said. “Through the years, America has shared its blessings of freedom and prosperity with the nations of the world. As a thankful immigrant whose native Philippines has been liberated by the United States in World War II, it is truly an honor to be of service to this great country.”

Albert Einstein once said that “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” Anthony Castelo has truly made his life worthwhile by making a difference in the lives of others. (www.asianjournal.com)

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Elita Loresca: Sunny Skies for America’s Sexiest Weather Anchor

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
Television newscasters belong to the crème de la crème; a select elite of men and women possessing an extraordinary combination of beauty and brains. They must look good at all times; even if their stressful days start in the wee hours of the morning or very late at night. Not only must newscasters have a pleasant voice, good timing, excellent pronunciation, and correct English usage; they’re also expected to be well-informed about a variety of things as they are expected to “ad-lib” during the show.
Considering all these, Filipinos are mighty proud that several of their kababayans are among the select elite of beautiful and intelligent newscasters admired in American TV today.

One beautiful newscaster that stands out in American TV today is Elita Loresca. Viewers of KNBC know Elita as the pretty weather anchor in Today in LA and the Midday Report. Her past coverage of hurricanes Frances, Katrina, Rita and Wilma when she was with WSVN (FOX) in Miami, Florida have made her quite famous with American viewers.

But since October 2006, Elita is not just known as a weather anchor. She is also known as “America’s Sexiest Newscaster”, a title conferred upon her by readers of FHM Magazine, which featured her in its October 2006 issue.

Born in the Philippines, Elita Loresca moved to Southern California when she was 10 months old and grew up in both downtown Los Angeles and Chino. She took up Broadcast Journalism at Cal State Fullerton and earned the Certificate of Broadcast Meteorology at Mississippi State University.

“That is where my interest and passion for the news industry started. It wasn’t until my internship at the Orange County News Channel that I wanted to pursue a career on-air as a weather anchor. I was working with my mentor, Maria Quiban (currently an anchor and meteorologist at KCOP, Ch. 13) at the time and she inspired me to follow my dreams. I know it sounds so cliche’, but it was because of her encouragement that I wanted to get into the business and knew that I could do it. I wanted to be just like her!” she said.

Loresca began her career as a news associate at KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she was responsible for the assembly of scripts and teleprompter operation during the newscasts. Then, she worked as the noon weather anchor and assignment editor for Bakersfield, California from January 2001 to August 2002. She then moved to KGPE-TV in Fresno, California, as the morning and noon weather anchor. From 2004 to 2006, she was with WSVN (FOX) in Miami, Florida until she joined  KNBC.

In an earlier interview with Asian Journal regarding her being voted “America’s Sexiest Newscaster, Loresca admitted being wowed upon learning about the news.  ““I was elated! It’s a national magazine! I was flattered by the nomination alone, but to actually win the poll, I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “When I found out in June that I won, I made sure that my parents knew exactly what type of magazine this was and the demographics this catered to. I didn’t want them to be caught off guard.”

Elita’s Filipino parents were happy for their daughter. She related, “My parents are awesome! They are super supportive of the pictorial and couldn’t be prouder. My dad is so proud. He loves to brag about all his daughters and our accomplishments. He has called all of his friends from the US to the Philippines, so that they go out and buy a copy. My parents are the best!”

Her friends, including her boyfriend have been quite supportive as well. “Overall, I have gotten nothing but support from my friends and my boyfriend. I  am very blessed,” she said.

In order to further hone her skills, Loresca pursued further studies in her field. She wanted to  be a meteorologist so she took up a 3-year distance course on broadcast meteorology.

The news muse admitted that she’s not fluent in Tagalog, having moved to the US when she was just a baby.  “My tagalog is not bad. But, I can understand Tagalog much better than I can speak it,” she said. But the sexy and smart weather anchor proudly stated that she can cook Filipino food.  “I can make lumpia, chicken adobo, fried tilapia and a few of my other favorites. I try not to cook the fried stuff too often,though, ” she added.

To keep her body in shape, Elita goes for kickboxing and cycling. And to keep her spirit strong, Loresca reaches out to help the underprivileged, being actively involved as a volunteer for for Humanity and The National Alliance to Nurture the Aged and the Youth (NANAY), a non-profit Filipino organization.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Denise Dador: A Healthy Career

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
She’s been described as the health specialist with no medical training. But Eyewitness News Health Specialist Denise Dador has been helping Americans live healthier lives since she joined ABC-7 Eyewitness News in July 1998. Her Healthy Living features has been airing regularly on the 4pm and 5pm editions of Eyewitness News, as well as other newscasts for many years.

Along with her health reporting duties, Denise has also covered major breaking news stories. These include the February 2001 Seattle Earthquake and an exclusive interview with the President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regarding terrorist activities in the Philippines.

Denise grew up in San Francisco and attended Lowell High School. She graduated from Mills College where she majored in Communications with a minor in Comparative Government. Dador started her broadcasting career while at Mills College in the Bay Area, when she hosted Manila Manila, a FilAm TV talk show.

After graduating, Denise took a position at Fox’s KMPH-TV in Fresno, California. Initially a general assignment reporter, Denise was appointed South Valley bureau chief, and then was promoted to main anchor of the station’s weeknight 10 o’clock news.

In 1993, Denise joined the ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV in Detroit, Michigan as their health reporter. She was quickly promoted to the station’s weekend anchor. Public interest in her daily reports resulted in a weekly news program on healthy living.

“I was the only Asian American person in Detroit for the longest time,” she recalled. “For years, I was the only one. I think when I left they hired another one.”

Denise has received numerous journalism and community service awards. She is a recipient of the Emmy for outstanding news feature reporting, best news feature from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and the “Outstanding Health Reporting” award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She has also received the Profiles in Progress award from the American Cancer Society for her series on breast cancer. The Filipino American Library, SIPA and various other notable Filipino American groups have granted her numerous honors for her commitment to community involvement. She has also been honored by the American Heart Association, the March of Dimes and the Sjogren’s Foundation.  (www.asianjournal.com)

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Tapping Good Business: Yardhouse’s formidable trio does the ‘right thing’

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
In 2007, after eleven very successful years, the Yard House chain of restaurants was ready for a giant boost. Founder and CEO Steele Platt, along with partners Harald Herrmann, Yard House President and Chief Operating Officer; and Carlito Jocson, Corporate Executive Chef, were poised for significant growth. They were on the lookout for a strategic corporate partner that will help make Yard House a national brand.

Meanwhile, TSG Consumer Partners is ever watchful for high-growth companies to invest in. The recognized leader in building and investing in high-growth companies since 1987, TSG knows how to tap into a good business investment. And so, it offered to buy shares of Yard House, leveraging TSG’s 2 decades of experience in building some of America’s most trusted brands. Thus, a merger was born.

Acquiring a 70-percent interest in Yard House, TSG enthusiastically lauded the Yard House team’s success and announced that there will be no changes in its management.

TSG Managing Director Hadley Mullin said, “Founder and CEO Steele Platt and his team have developed a successful and exciting concept in the restaurant field. They have grown Yard House at a compounded rate of over 30% per year over the past five years, and we are highly enthusiastic about the Company’s future growth prospects.”

Platt is equally excited about the new partnership. “I believe that TSG will be an ideal strategic partner for Yard House. TSG will assist us in growing and building the brand as we continue to move forward,” said Platt. “We are very excited about beginning this next chapter in Yard House’s evolution and making it a national brand. My executive management team and I continue to own a meaningful portion of the company, and we will remain actively involved in the growth of the business for many years to come.”

The concept of Yard House came from Platt who opened a restaurant called “Boiler Room” in Denver, Colorado offering a wide selection of beers. After several years, Platt sold his restaurant and moved to San Diego, California. There, he spied a deserted warehouse building in the waterfront in Shoreline Village in Long Beach Yard. He decided to put up another upscale pub and eatery in that spot, using his original concept. One of the smartest moves Platt made was forming a partnership with Harald Herrmann and giving him carte blanche to run the restaurant his way. Herrmann in turn signed up Carlito Jocson who had worked with him in Chez Panache and made him executive chef.

From the trio’s combined efforts came Yard House, an upscale-casual eatery that can serve up to two hundred different kinds of beer on tap and a menu of eclectic gourmet food. Yard House’s name is derived from the time of the “Wild, Wild West” when stagecoach drivers only had a quick minute to get a cooling drink before hitting the trail once again. A “yard of ale”, which is a three -foot drinking glass, was handed to the drivers without having them getting off their mounts.

Yard House launched its first restaurant in 1996 in Long Beach with the largest selection of draft beers people have seen; as much as 250 tap handles – when other beer pubs were struggling to produce a dozen kinds.  The beer attracted the crowd but the 100-plus mouth-watering dishes on the menu kept the people coming back for more and more. Yard House soon gained a huge following for its upscale-style fusion cuisine, classic-rock soundtrack and of course, its self-proclaimed offering of the world’s largest selection of draft beers.

Over the last 12 years, Yard House expanded exponentially. Now with 20 restaurants and 5 more in the works, the chain has restaurants in Long Beach, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Rancho Mirage, San Diego, Pasadena, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, Newport Beach, and  Brea, all in California; in Colorado; Illinois; Kansas; Phoenix,Arizona; Scottsdale, Arizona; Glendale Arizona; Waikiki, Hawaii;  Las Vegas, Nevada; and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

With an average unit volume of $8.5 million per store and cumulatively estimated at close to $200 million annually in sales, Yard House is the recipient of many accolades and awards, including the Hot Concept! award by Nation’s Restaurant News, and the Best Chain Overall Beverage Program as voted by Cheers Magazine. The company was also ranked among the Top 50 Fastest Growing Full Service Chains by Restaurant Hospitality (which also featured the Yard House as a Concept of Tomorrow), and among the Top 100 Independent Grossing Restaurant in the United States according to Restaurants & Institutions Magazine.

Yard House is the first restaurant brand in TSG’s portfolio, whose other food-related investments include Famous Amos, Terra Chips, Garden of Eatin’ snacks, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts and Smart Balance. Managing about $1.5 billion in invested capital, TSG, together with partners Platt, Hermann and Jocson, have been developing a short- and long-term strategic growth program to make Yard House a national brand.

“We have as much capital as we need to grow, but our performance will lead our growth,” said Platt. “Yard House could parlay its growth momentum into a billion-dollar company, but it’s not about speed, it’s about doing things the right way, “ he added.

And doing things the right way, they have certainly done. So much so that Chef Jocson disclosed that Yard House is poised to go public with the company within the next five years; which is something smart investors should look forward to. After all, Yard House has proven it’s not only a good place to tap in for fun; it’s a great place to tap into good business, too.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Ingredients for Success

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
In any recipe, picking the right ingredients is perhaps the most crucial — one that would determine the flavors of the dish. Carlito Jocson’s recipe for business success has the following key ingredients which every aspiring businessman might find useful and inspiring.
First, know your strengths and your passion. What work do you love to do? If you like what you’re doing, then you wouldn’t mind doing it for long hours, maybe even for the rest of your life. Knowing what you want to do in life is like knowing how to pick the finest components in making your stew.

Knowing is half the battle. The next thing you need to do is to hone your skills in order to master your craft well. Carlito said that while other kids his age were playing, he and his brothers were helping their mother prepare food in the kitchen. Even while he was still in high school, Carlito worked part-time to improve his culinary skills.

The third ingredient is hard work and going the extra mile. As they say, no pain, no gain. While he no longer advocates this stressful work schedule, Jocson’s work ethics clearly shows that he makes sure the work is done, and done excellently.

The final ingredient in his recipe is having creativity and an adventurous spirit. One has to be a dreamer, a visionary who can think up of ways and means to offer people something new.  Yard House regulars say that they keep coming back for the extensive food selection –and not just for the beer and the music. Being the restaurant chain’s corporate executive chef, Carlito makes sure there is something for everyone at the Yard House –from the basic to the exotic.

Jocson kept these elements for success in mind wherever he worked. And he was given due recognition for his hardwork when Harald Herrmann finally gave him the biggest break of his life and said “The only guy I want to handle the food is you.”

Summing up what’s needed for a Pinoy to succeed in America, Carlito simply stated that God created us to work for excellence and not for mediocrity. “Just do your best in everything you do,” Jocson advised.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Groups Lambast New Gender Law

By Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – SB 777, a new law recently signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been getting criticisms from various sectors of California.

The new law requires textbooks, instructional materials, and school-sponsored activities to positively portray cross-dressing, sex-change operations, homosexual “marriages,” and all aspects of homosexuality and bisexuality, including so-called “gay history.” Silence on these sexual lifestyles will not be allowed.

Conservatives are worried that this new law will turn every government school into a sexual indoctrination center. It bans “discriminatory bias” against homosexuals and others with alternative sexual lifestyles. Some groups are already issuing calls to parents to get their children out of California’s public school system.

Authored by Senator Sheila Kuehl, a self-admitted lesbian, SB 777 amends the definition of “gender” to the Education Code: “Gender” means sex, and includes a person’s gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.

SB 777 also deletes the true definition of “sex” from the Education Code. Currently, sex is defined as the “biological condition or quality of being a male or female human being.”

Because of the bill’s wide-open definition of “sexual orientation,” homosexual “marriages” and all aspects of homosexuality and bisexuality would be positively portrayed to children as young as kindergarten. SB 777 will teach these highly-controversial sexual subjects without parental permission.

The new mandate would be enforced by the attorneys of the California Department of Education, which would sue school districts that don’t comply.

One news article translated the new law into simpler terms. It bans the use of “Mom and Dad” and “husband and wife.” Also, a boy can go into the girls’ restroom if he pleases if that’s how he defines his gender. Consequently, a girl can also use the boys’ restroom for the same reason. High school Homecoming Kings and Queens may now both be either male or female, depending on how the person defines his/her gender.

“Parents are angry at the Democrats for passing this school sexual indoctrination bill and frustrated that Republicans did little to fight it,” said Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families (CCF), a leading California-based pro-family organization.

“The notion of forcing children to support controversial sexual lifestyles is shocking and appalling to millions of fathers and mothers. Parents don’t want their children taught to become homosexual or bisexual or to wonder whether they need a sex-change operation. SB 777 will shatter the academic purpose of education by turning every government school into a sexual indoctrination center,” he said.

Thomasson is calling upon every California parent to pull their child out of California’s public school system.

“The so-called ‘public schools’ are no longer a safe emotional environment for children. Under the new law, schoolchildren as young as kindergarten will be sexually indoctrinated and introduced to homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexuality, over the protests of parents, teachers and even school districts,” he said.

Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed similar bills last year when he was running for re-election, conservative groups noted. Surprisingly, he signed the bill three weeks ago without any comment.

Supporters said the new law is supposed to eliminate “confusion” about the State’s responsibility to ensure that all school programs, textbooks, instructional materials and activities are free from unlawful discrimination.

Schwarzenegger also signed a bill allowing domestic partners and married couples equal opportunity to change their surnames upon marriage or domestic partnership registration. Specifically, the bill would require that marriage license forms contain spaces for either party to indicate a change in his or her last name to his or her spouse’s last name.

Parents from all across California and the nation have been flooding concerned agencies  with calls and e-mails, completely stunned that Gov. Schwarzenegger would sign the bill.

One plan filed with Attorney General Jerry Brown last week to stop the signed law from taking into effect is calling for a referendum. Once it is given a title and documentation, supporters will have only 90 days to collect enough signatures – an estimated 434,000 – to qualify the referendum for an election ballot.

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