Daily Archives: May 6, 2008

Diversity is Our Strength – Assemblyman Furutani

by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com

IRWINDALE  –  “Our strength is our diversity. But that strength is also our fundamental weakness,” declared State Assemblyman Warren Furutani at the 3rd Annual Asian Pacific Heritage Month Celebration at the Southern California Edison (SCE) Customer Technology Application Center on Friday, May 2.

Furutani was the keynote speaker at the event where SCE  recognized community and business leaders and organizations.

“Unless we integrate, unless we diversify truly, in every shape, fashion and form, then all that strength in diversity will not be brought to bear,” Furutani said. “That is still a challenge that we have to deal with.”

SCE presented the Corporate Award to Lee Kum Kee, USA Inc., an Asian-owned business that has proven its commitment to the success of Asian American businesses and made significant contributions to the community. The Community Service Award was given to the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) for its commitment to justice and equality and Rafu Shimpo, a bi-lingual newspaper, for continued dedication serving the Asian Pacific American communities.

The Community Leadership Award was presented to Yul Kwon, winner of the reality TV show Survivor, for helping to change the media representation of Asian American men.

“It is a wonderful at Southern California Edison to celebrate and honor our corporate and community partners who contribute so much to our diverse communities,” said Frank Quevedo, SCE vice president of equal opportunity. “This event and others like it increase the awareness of the many and important contributions of Asian Pacific Americans.”

Furutani,  a member of the California Assembly’s Wildlife, Parks and Utilities Committee, said that the business world has understood that the API community is no longer a minorities’ minority. “The API community is a dynamic powerhouse, an engine of the economy that is critical to the United States,” Furutani said. “Now we are regular people. We are in different commercials for cars. We are consumers; that’s who we are. They acknowledge our existence.”

On the political front, Furutani said he is not so sure whether the API community wields sufficient political clout. “I don’t know if you noticed, but there are twice as many Asian Pacific Islanders in the State of California than there are African Americans. And the only reason I referenced that is there will be a proverbial political power generated from these communities,” he said. “Clearly the Latino community is right there.”

“The API community is the fastest growing community in the State of California and in the United States. Our numbers have reached a point, where as voters, registration shows weakness for us. But even with this weakness in capacity, we are about 1.1 million voters in the State of California.” he added. “There are more than 3 million Latinos, and there’s about 500,000 African Americans. So relative for the state, that shows that we are on the incline to a certain degree. But relative to political power, it is clear that there is so much still to be learned from the African American community.”

“As a member of the California Assembly, I have in front of me a green button and a red button. And with the green button and the red button, I can protect the smelt in the waterways of Northern California to a point that it is going to really upset farmers that grow the food that you and I eat by pressing the red or green button,” Furutani revealed.  “It is not that we all eat rice. It’s not the color of our skin. It’s not the texture of our hair. It fundamentally comes down to what we believe in, what our values are, what we stand for as an emerging community. If we are going to use the word civic, then let’s just be Asian Americans.”

Yul Kwon, a Korean American entrepreneur who wanted to change the way Asian men are portrayed in films and in television, said, “Asian men are being portrayed as kung fu masters who could kick ass, but couldn’t speak English,” he said. “At first I didn’t want to do it (join the Survivor cast) because I could embarrass myself and compromise my career. But opportunities like these don’t come often to Asians to try to educate the larger American mainstream that we are not alike.”

“It is very important to remember that we are not better or smarter than those who came ahead of us. We just have better opportunities,” said APALC founder Stuart Kwoh.


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Football Star Tim Tebow Helps Circumcise Pinoy Kids

By Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – Florida Gators quarterback Timothy Richard “Tim” Tebow has achieved so much at his young age of 21.

He became the only person ever in NCAA history to score 20 touchdowns rushing and 20 touchdowns passing in the same season. Tim’s spectacular season earned him the Maxwell Award as the nation’s top player and the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s best quarterback in 2007. He was also awarded the 2007 Heisman Trophy, given to the most outstanding college football player of the year.

Recently, Tim Tebow did another first for a football superstar. The Orlando Sentinel in Florida reported that he helped circumcise Filipino boys during a missionary trip in General Santos City in Mindanao.

On the recent weeklong trip to the orphanage his father’s ministry runs in Southeast Asia, Tim assisted in the care of more than 250 Filipinos who underwent medical and dental procedures, including circumcision.

Tim’s original task was to preach to the hundreds of people waiting in line before they had their teeth pulled or cysts removed. But as the day progressed, he looked for more active ways to help the three Filipino doctors. By the end of an exhausting day, he was wearing gloves and a mask, wielding surgical scissors, and helping the doctors in the circumcision of boys, finishing off stitches with a snip.

Tim Tebow was born on August 14, 1987 in the Philippines to Bob and Pam Tebow who were serving as Christian missionaries, They also ran an orphanage in Southern Philippines. While pregnant with Tim, Pam got infected with a pathogenic amoeba and an abortion was recommended by her doctors.

Tim was homeschooled by his  mother, who worked to instill the family’s deep Christian beliefs in her children. In 1996, legislation was passed in Florida allowing homeschooled students to compete in local high school sporting events. The Tebows lived at that time in Duval County and Tim played linebacker and tight end for Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville for one season, but his dream was to play quarterback.

Eventually, Tim and his mother moved in to an apartment near Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida so he would be eligible to play there. His performance as a quarterback soon began to turn some heads. He became a Division I-A recruit and ranked among the top quarterback prospects in the nation. The 6’3”, 225 lb quarterback led the Nease Panthers to a state title, earning All-State honors. He was named Florida’s Mr. Football and a Parade All-American.  Tebow finished his high school career with 9,810 passing yards, 3,186 rushing yards, 95 passing touchdowns and 62 rushing touchdowns.

After much consideration, he chose to attend the University of Florida. His contribution as a key reserve helped the Gators win college football’s national championship game for the first time since 1996.

Tebow’s good looks and magnetic personality have given birth to “Tebowmania”. Fans launched Web sites and printed T-shirts (Tim Tebow is My Homeboy!). One article said mothers pray their daughters will bring him home for pot roast night; fathers pray their sons will grow up to be like him; and linebackers pray he won’t connect with that stiffarm.

Tebow merely shrugs the fame and makes no big deal out of it. It is said that it takes him five times as long as his teammates to get from the practice field to the locker room because of all the autograph seekers, but he signs nearly every football, T-shirt or hat thrust at him and he poses for every picture.

Considered one of the nation’s top recruits, Tim was the subject of an ESPN Faces in Sports documentary. The segment was titled Tim Tebow: The Chosen One, and focused on Tim’s homeschooling and missionary work in the Philippines, as well as his exploits on the field of play and the college recruiting process.

Tim has worked and preached at his parents’ orphanage since he was 15. A very devout Christian, he regularly speaks at schools and delivered his message of faith at a prison in Florida earlier this year.


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RP Affected by Dollar’s Decline – LA Times

by Cynthia de Castro/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that the Philippines is feeling the pinch as the US dollar declines. The article said that the dollar’s slide against the peso has forced millions of Filipinos who rely on dollar remittances from relatives working abroad to lower their standards of living. The dollar’s decline has not only crippled the economy but has crimped lifestyles, said LA Times.

There are over 10 million Filipinos working overseas to provide for an even greater number of dependents in the Philippines. Three years ago, one dollar brought 56 Philippine pesos. It has gone down steadily to P49.00 last year to around P41 this year.

The LA Times reported that the money overseas Filipinos send home each year accounts for more than 12% of the Philippine economy, often sustaining several extended-family members, some of whom don’t work. For years, these dollars have paid private school fees for children and younger siblings and bought small condos for aging parents.

One negative effect of the weakening of the dollar is that many Filipino families can no longer afford private education for their children and siblings.

Many private school owners say their enrollments have gone down because families are transferring their children to public schools. This is confirmed by reports that Manila’s public schools are now being swamped with new admissions, according to LA Times. Though one other factor for this is the rising Filipino birthrate, countless families of OFWs have admitted that they can no longer afford private school education for their kids since the sharp drop in the dollar’s value.


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New Book Documents Undocumented Students

By Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – “A couple months after my father’s death, my grandmother passed away as well. There was no way we could have gone to the Philippines during this time, no matter how much we longed to. My mother was still in the process of attaining her permanent residency, and I was still undocumented.”

The above work is from a passage titled “A Downward Spiral” by a Filipino undocumented student. The author of the story is John Carlo, a pseudonym, but it could be anybody living in this country illegally.

Carlo’s story is not atypical of the predicament of the 12 million undocumented people in this country. Torn between their homeland and their adopted one,  Carlo’s story is just one of the many stories in the book Underground Undergrads about the plight of undocumented college students. These are their stories  told through the eyes of the youth about their family’s ordeal.

One day before the May 1 immigration rally that brought thousands of immigrant groups and activists together, the UCLA student group IDEAS (Improving Dreams Equality Access and Success) held a book launch, promoting Underground Undergrads at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center.

The book is one-third narrative stories, one-third legislative history affecting undocumented students, and one-third advocacy. There are eight narrative stories from students of different backgrounds – one is a FilAm fighting for the rights of the undocumented, others are undocumented students from Korea, Philippines, Mexico, El Salvador, Vietnam and Argentina.

“It’s a way for people to understand what we are going through,” said Stephanie, an undocumented UCLA student from the Philippines. Stephanie was born in the Philippines and brought over to the US by her parents at the age of three.

According to UCLA Center for Labor Research & Education, there are approximately 65,000 undocumented students that graduate from US high schools each year.

UCLA Professor Kent Wong said that more than 100 undocumented students attend UCLA as AB 540 students.

“There is really no way to count how many undocumented students there are,” he said. “This book is historic because it explores the lives of these [undocumented] students.”

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Stephanie said that the book is a good way for undocumented high school students to know they are not alone.

“This is something to use like a tool,” said Stephanie, who admits she had a hard time accepting her undocumented status when she left high school. “It’s not until I met others like me in my situation that there is a possibility. A possibility for me to go to school, go to a college and succeed.”

She also said that this book is the only real way to bring out the immigration discussion especially in the Filipino/ FilAm community.

Last year, Stephanie began her advocacy,  a task she admits took a little time to deal with.

“Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s a threat. I admit I was scared of speaking out at first,” she said. “But it’s even scarier if we don’t talk about it. The only real power is to speak out. We need to teach ourselves, about ourselves, and about our issues [affecting the Filipino community].”


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Singaporean Jailed for Beating Filipina Domestic Helper

by Cynthia de Castro/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – It started out like any regular day for Irene Israel Miguel, a Filipina domestic helper in Singapore.

She was working in the kitchen of the home of Xing Likun, an engineer. Xing’s elder child then asked Irene for a Vitagen, a cultured milk drink. As the child started drinking the Vitagen, Xing’s wife came in. She got mad, scolded Irene and then told her to take the child to the playground.

Xing followed Irene and told her to return to the flat. She was told to go to the kitchen and face the wall. Angrily berating her for making him mad, Xing then took a wooden rolling pin and hit Irene again and again, on the back and on the right calf. Even when Irene fell to the floor, Xing’s assault did not stop as he then began to kick her.

Last week, justice was finally served as Xing Likun was sentenced to jail for the assault on Irene Miguel, Singapore’s The Straits Times reported. The engineer had admitted to hitting Miguel with the rolling pin and kicking her on her knee.

According to The Straits, District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said he would have given Xing a higher sentence if not for Xing’s impaired judgment and impulse control. Xing could have been jailed for up to 18 months and fined up to $1,500 for hurting Irene. He was given until July 7 to start his sentence as he is in the midst of a project, The Straits reported.


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