Daily Archives: May 15, 2008

San Francisco Rediscovers Cebu

by Joseph Peralta/Asianjournal.com

SAN FRANCISCO – A jampacked Social Hall at the Philippine Center Building in downtown San Francisco on May 13 witnessed the United States launch of “Cebu, Pride of Place,” a coffee table book celebrating the province’s beauty, its people and the many things that make Cebu one of the most distinctive islands in the Philippine archipelago.

Cebu, Pride of Place, published by Marissa Fernan and Elvira Luym, is a collaborative effort of the Arts Council of Cebu Foundation, Inc., the Camera Club of the Philippines’ 2005 Master Photographer E. Billy Mondonedo, editor Thelma Sioson San Juan, writer Alya B. Honasan and art director Norinno C. Hernandez.

The book’s US launch will only cover one other city after the Bay Area event, which is New York.

Consul General Marciano Paynor, a self-confessed adopted Cebuano, welcomed the huge crowd who came to the Social Hall. He described himself as a Cebuano not by birth but by choice, and disclosed that his fondness for the province is borne by a very good experience that he had while in Cebu.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia was the evening’s keynote speaker. The two-term governor, who established a record margin of victory in the last gubernatorial elections in Cebu, is credited with spearheading the incredible transformation of the province. She is currently in the US to help launch the book, and also has scheduled visits to Washington, D.C. and San Diego, California.

In her speech, Gov. Garcia disclosed that “pride of place” is one of Cebu’s defining traits, and is one of the things that make Cebuanos tick.

She added, “[This book] invites you to a small, beautiful island which has an interesting story to tell. It gives you a chance to not only discover what travelers see, but invites you to do more… to convert seeing what’s in the book to a memory.”

When asked by the Asian Journal what she hoped the book would do for overseas Filipinos, Gov. Garcia said she would like FilAms to “leaf through the pages of the book and understand why Cebuanos are very proud of Cebu… I invite the community to come and experience for themselves why Cebu is the number one province in the Philippines.”

Fernan, for her part, feels that Cebu, Pride of Place has successfully captured the spirit of Cebu, and credits photographer Billy Mondonedo, who used only Leica equipment, with having a special eye for capturing the images used in the book.

“This whole process took about five years,” she revealed to the Asian Journal. “It took time to interview people and find the right time. I am extremely proud of this book because it is a labor of love.”

Asked if another book or perhaps a sequel is in the works, Fernan said that although the Department of Tourism has asked them to make another book, she is giving this a lot of thought since “we are not book publishers. I was very passionate about this book…maybe if I find another subject where Cebu is concerned.”

Cebu City First Lady Margot Osmena, meanwhile, gave her take on why Cebu is a premiere destination for many Filipinos, and why she believes Cebu is second to none.

“Cebu is a very good place to be in,” she said. “The quality of life is very good. Cebu has a very good balance and feel of a hometown and a big city. Where else can you be where you can still go home for lunch? You don’t have to rush all the time. I don’t really have to convince people to come to Cebu.”

Mrs. Osmena also said that aside from Cebu’s prime location and its people’s ingenuity and resourcefulness, what makes Cebuanos extraordinary is their devotion to the Santo Niño, which is celebrated annually via the Sinulog which takes place in January.

Released just last December 2007 and with only an initial print of 2,500 copies, Cebu, Pride of Place has found instant acceptance and success in local and international circles.

According to Fernan, the book has been nominated for book awards both in the US and in the Philippines. Cebu, Pride of Place is also being included by its printer, Singaporean-based Tien Wah Press, in its worldwide catalog.

Even Tourism Secretary Ace Durano has given Cebu, Pride of Place the thumbs-up. In a video shown at the launch, Durano described the 7-lb. book as “the only coffee table book that captures the different faces and facets of Cebu, and is a welcome addition to the tourism materials available on the province of Cebu.”

The San Francisco launch attracted a cross-section of the Filipino American community, including many Cebuanos who have made the Bay Area their new home. According to a release sent to the Asian Journal, dignitaries from the province of Cebu and outside of the Bay Area also flew thousands of miles to attend the event, including photographer Billy Mondonedo and his wife Marlene, Mrs. Teresin Mendezona, Mrs. Annie Aboitiz, Mrs. Annette Osmena, Mrs. Chary Aboitiz, Mrs. Noni Uy, Mr. Jaime Chua, Mr. Manny Fernan, Mrs. Anita Mercado (and children Tony and Christine), Cherie Mae Onate and husband Tracy, and Mica Granthom from Wyoming.


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Charice Brings Down the House on Oprah

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – She may have sang Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing, but Filipino singing sensation Charice Pempengco seems to have everything going her way.

Charice brought down the house as she performed on the Oprah Winfrey Show last Monday. The episode featured the world’s smartest and most gifted kids with Charice joining nine other wunderkinds on the stage.

Once Charice came up to perform, her rendition of I Have Nothing made the audience rise from their seats giving her a standing ovation mid-way through the performance. The crowd also gave her another standing O after the performance

As Charice hit the song’s crescendo, the camera panned to Oprah, who stood mouthing, “wow, wow, wow” to a stagehand and shook her head in disbelief at the power of Pempengco’s voice.

“What a blow-away moment!” said Oprah after the performance.

Oprah said she first heard about Charice from producer/songwriter David Foster, who is famous for working with singers like Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and Barbara Streisand.

“He says you’re a force to be reckoned with,” said Oprah to Charice. “Your voice is something deeper in itself.”

With tears in her eyes, Charice said appearing on Oprah is a dream come true.

“I can’t believe I’m here standing with you,” said Charice. “I can’t believe I’m hugging you!”

Backstage on Oprah

This year has been a whirlwind ride around the world for the Filipino diva. Since her Youtube appearance last year generated millions of hits, slowly but surely the world has taken notice.

So far, she has appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show in December. She went to Korea to perform on Star King then came back home for more performances in the Philippines to spend Christmas and New Year. Charice also appeared in one of London’s most popular show Paul O’Grady before gracing the Oprah Winfrey Show.

It was her first trip to the windy city, and Charice made the most of it when she appeared on Oprah.

Charice said she did not meet Oprah prior to her performance but wanted to impress the famous daytime host.

Again just like on Ellen, she felt overwhelmed by the reaction from the crowd after her performance.

“First of all I’m shocked,” said Charice in a phone call to the Asian Journal after she saw the show for the first time. She did the taping more than a month ago but had to keep mum about it until it aired nationally. “I saw some people cry [during the performance].”

She spoke briefly to Oprah backstage.

“She’s very pretty and kind,” said Charice. “She’s a true person like Ellen. I love them both.”

Charice said she enjoyed meeting some of the other kids backstage especially 8-year-old Quincy Eaton, the dancing actor in one of McDonald’s most popular commercials.

“We were dancing together after the show but it was edited out,” said Charice.

What’s next.

So far, more shows are already in Charice’s schedule. At the moment, she’s just grateful of the support from everyone.

“I don’t know what’s next,” she added. “I want to be surprised.”

Charice also mentioned that her album is available on the iTunes store.


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