Daily Archives: June 20, 2008

Julaton Prepares Two Fights in Ten Days

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – The yellow hand wrap is packed on tight. Her hair is rolled up. Her manager/trainer Angelo Reyes pulls the blue 12-ounce gloves on her hands. She walks menacingly inside the ring. She stares at her opponent across from her. She squints and opens her mouth like a lion ready to roar.

FilAm female professional boxer Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton is ready to pounce on any one in her way.

Julaton arrived at the Wildcard Boxing Club early this month to begin training for one of her toughest challenges.

The former San Francisco Gold Glove Champion, US Nationals silver medalist and current undefeated professional with a record of 3-0 Julaton has a daunting task ahead of her, one with great risk but even better rewards.

In the next coming weeks, Julaton not only has to train for one fight but two bouts, ten days apart.

Julaton faces Salina Jordan at The Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore on Thursday, June 26. A week later, she’ll face undefeated Johanna Mendez of Texas in a Top Rank Promotions event at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on July 5.

If Julaton does well in her next two bouts, a top-flight promotional contract and a championship match could be waiting ahead.

For the past few months, Julaton’s management has been in “serious” talks with Top Rank President Bob Arum. Arum is one of the few boxing promoters willing to sign female boxers. He used to promote Muhammad Ali’s daughter Laila Ali, and popular female boxer Mia St. John.

“The big plan for Ana is to fight [Mexican] Jackie Nava, who is considered one of the best pound for pound female boxer in the world,” said Reyes. “Arum has already guaranteed that when Ana is ready to fight for the title, she’ll sign with Top Rank.”

But first, Julaton has to show her worth in these next crucial bouts.

Trainer Freddie Roach said that Julaton is ready to take that next step. Two fights in ten days shouldn’t be hard, he said.

“It’s the best blessing in the world for a fighter,” said Roach. “I once fought three fights in thirty days. It helps the fighter stay in shape. You don’t have to worry about sparring or running. You don’t get lazy. Activity is really the best thing in the world for any fighter.”

“Let’s do it,” said Julaton. “It’s exciting. I think the challenges are a good preparation for the future. I’m just glad I have the opportunity. My trainer Freddie has a good schedule for fighters to keep them sharp so I got to go with what the boss says.”

“We’ve been preparing for things like this,” she added. “I’m used to having a sparring schedule back to back and even three, four, five days straight so I know how it feels to fight when fatigued.”

To help elevate her game, Roach has Julaton’s sparring with some of the top female boxers to prepare her. So far, Julaton has sparred with WBC minimum weight champion Carina Moreno, a five-time US National Champion Elizabeth Quevedo, and the 2008 US Nationals Champion Amaris Quintana.

If Julaton is able to come out on top in the next few weeks, there might be a golden opportunity at the end of the rainbow.


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Hogging the Limelight

by Rene Villaroman/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – Every year a delegation from the Philippines’ swine breeding industry travel to Iowa to attend the annual World Hog Expo held every May. At least that’s the delegation’s stated mission. But, some members of that same group are representatives of the Philippines’ game-fowl breeding industry who, after the Iowa expo, traveled to Southern states, like Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, to look for ways to improve the health and fighting ability of game cocks used in the country’s number one sport, cock-fighting, a sport that is legal in the Philippines.

This year, Manny Berbano, publisher and editor of Pit Games, a glossy magazine dedicated to cock-fighting in the Philippines, Dr. Eulalio Lorenzo, DVM, a veterinarian and game-fowl breeder, and Lancy de la Torre, owner of one of the country’s largest game fowl breeding farms in Bacolod . They stayed at the Los Angeles home of fellow cockfighting aficionado Loy Seison.

A P500-billion national sport, according to Berbano, with eight to ten percent of the total 84 million population of the Philippines is involved in cockfighting. For instance, the twice-a-year Slasher’s Cup held in the giant Araneta Coliseum in January and May, offers a top purse of P10 million. The Candelaria Derby, which honors the Nuestra Senora de Candelaria, in the Visayan city of Iloilo, is the second largest, according to Berbano. The sport is so popular that the Philippine government had to throw its support to it. “It is not a culture of gambling, as it is commonly believed,” says Berbano.

“As a sport, it has surpassed basketball in receipts and attendance,” Berbano revealed. “It is held every day in tupadas (illegal cockfights),” Berbano said. To regulate the sport, the local governments are now empowered to issue permits to barangays (government units) to regulate cockfighting in the villages. The upsurge in the popularity of the sport benefits a lot more than the aficionados. The game-fowl feed, medicine, and the construction industries are also benefiting from the windfall. “The lumber industry benefits because of the number of cockpits being constructed around the country,” Berbano noted. Of the 114 cities in the nation, only two have not built cockpits: Baguio City (summer capital) and Manila, the nation’s capital. Out of the nation’s 1,491 municipalities (towns), 1,000 already have cockpits. Zamboanga City, in Mindanao, has the most: five cockpits.

Berbano told Asian Journal that the country is very thankful to Paul Watson, a Los Angeles Times and Time Magazine writer, who attended a Slasher’s Derby at the Araneta Coliseum two years ago. Berbano recalls with relish how Watson was shocked to discover that cockfighting indeed transcends a very wide spectrum of Philippine society. “When we arrived at the Coliseum, Peping Cojuangco and Nene Araneta were already there,” Berbano relates. “There were so many photographers covering the derby; it looked like a scene in Hollywood, with paparazzi chasing celebrities around,” Berbano said. “Paul sat next to me and he noticed the giant billboard that announced the “Thrilla’ in Manila,” the historic heavyweight fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in the early 1970s, and he was doubly surprised. After that experience, all of Watson’s biases against the sport were debunked.

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This year, the National Bakbakan Derby will be held simultaneously, where it is expected to attract more than 2000 entries in 25 cockpits across the Philippines. The prizes will top P20 million and the best of the unbeaten game cocks will be fighting at the Araneta Colisuem. Then there is the National Ten Stag Bakbakan Derby being promoted by the National Federation of Game-fowl Breeders headed by Ricardo Palmares, Jr. At present, the NFGB has a membership of 29 breeders. The creation of the National Game-fowl Training Center is also stressing the training of all aficionados and professionalizing the sport.

Lancy de la Torre is one the country’s top breeders with 3000 heads of gamefowl in his Bacolod City farm. One of his champion game-fowls has beaten one of Larry Ronero’s (of Louisiana) gamefowls in the 70s. De la Torre said that Ronero had refused his invitation to come and compete again in the Philippines again. Ronero said that he did not want to come to the Philippines to be beaten by Filipino cock-fighters.

The breeding of a champion game-fowl takes many arcane approaches, according to de la Torre.”Our Filipino handlers and feeders are one of the best in the world,” De la Torre said. “Although Filipino breeders import materials from the U.S., they are good breeders that can mix one bloodline with another to improve the health and ability of game-fowl and transform them into brave and champion fighting cocks,” De la Torre said. “I don’t know why other international breeders (mostly Americans and Asians) still come to the Philippines even though they are losing there,” De la Torre asked. “For instance Larry Ronero used to come to the Philippines during the 1970s, but he lost there most of the time,” De la Torre recalls.

De la Torre began his career as a handler/gaffer in 1977. He started breeding in 1990. “As a handler, you must be focused to your job,” he advised. “And you must be open to ideas and suggestions.” He said that breeders should understand the complexity of mixing bloodlines in order to improve the fighting ability of game-fowls and to understand the early stages of a disease. He said that his province is an ideal place to breed game-fowls because it hardly ever experience violent storms that bring too much water that soak up the ground. The island of Negros is made up of sandy loam, which does not become sticky when it gets rained on; the water is flushed down immediately. Thus bacteria do not thrive.

“In the Philippines, cock-fighting is a venerable sport,” defines Berbano. The champions are on the cover of magazines and are considered as celebrities in their own right,” Berbano said. “If you are a politician, cock-fighting can put you in office because there are many cock-fighting aficionados.”

“It represents the true meaning of the Filipinos’ honesty, integrity and fair play. That’s the name of the game,” Berbano explained. “The passion of Filipinos for the national pastime is incomparable anywhere in the world because this is where you can rub shoulders with the high and mighty of society and the lowly people of the barrio.”


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Flash[back] Photography (Second of Two Parts)

by Rene Villaroman/AJPress

Joe Cobilla, Larry Pelayo and Sid Guerrero Come Together

During the mid-1990s, more community newspapers were being published, adding to an already burgeoning list of FilAm publications. Aside from the weekly California Examiner, Asian Journal, Philippines News, TM Herald, and TM Herald’s Weekend Magazine, Balita (originally owned by former Malacañang photographer Jolly Riofrir) and the monthly Manila-US Times, owned and edited by Johnny Pecayo, were also in the mix. Joe Cobilla, who was shooting part time for some of these publications, got together with Larry Pelayo, then the editor of Los Angeles Monitor. They met regularly at Sun Fah Restaurant on Sunset Blvd., in LA’s Echo Park section. To the strain of karaoke songs, the two hatched a press photographers group in anticipation of the Fil-Am community’s upcoming participation in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Joe reasoned that it was time to organize a press photographers’ organization in order beef up the coverage of the annual parade. In a few days, a third co-founder, Sid Guerrero, an avid amateur photographer and a prodigious collector of photographic equipment, would join Cobilla and Pelayo. In short order, the Philippine Press Photographers (PPP) was born. Joe claimed the title of founder and president, but on registering the PPP as a non-profit organization, it was Guerrero’s name that was listed as agent-in-process. So, technically, Guerrero “owned” the corporation. Joe had been fighting to regain rightful ownership of the PPP name, as well as the Miss PPP franchise. But so far, he had been unsuccessful in wresting the ownership from Guerrero. The PPP is still operating without a constitution and by-laws, more than a decade after it was founded.

The PPP forged ahead, picking up members days after it was organized. Scorpio was invited to join in 1997, in time to cover the PPP’s first Miss Press Photography Pageant held in the Bonaventure Hotel in L.A.that year. Cobilla was president, and because the club did not have a constitution and by-laws, he continued to serve in that position for five years. That tradition would be continued by Guerrero, who took over the helm of the PPP from Cobilla. He too would reign for five years. Scorpio, meanwhile, had been elected a second vice president, together with Dan Baltazar, a former Malacanang Palace Press Office cameraman, and presently a practicing commercial photographer, who was elected first vice president.

Scorpio, then already an experienced journalist and photographer, ascended to the presidency of PPP in October 2005, beating rival Baltazar by a large margin.

Historically, that election was a break in tradition, having been the first ever held in its almost ten-year existence. In September 2007, after nearly two years of a tumultuous administration, Scorpio announced that he would not seek another term, giving Baltazar an unimpeded quest for the presidency.

After irreconciliable differences with other PPP members, Scorpio decided to leave the PPP for good. When he asked Lamdagan his thoughts on how to stop the persistent mutation of FilAm photography clubs, he said: “I think – in my own personal perspective – there should be always a core, almost like the apostles. They will always be there. The second tier of membership – they are mostly going in and out, but the core group must stick to the mission,’ Lamdagan said. “If the organization knows clearly what its mission is; what we are meeting for here as colleagues; if we stick with that, then we will remain together,” Lamdagan said. “When we start deviating; that’s not our mission; that’s not why we get together,” Lamdagan added.

As recent as two weeks ago, there were overtures from PPP members to try to repair the split between the PPP and Photo-Reporters Guild, Inc., the organization founded by Scorpio at a historic meeting held at Tribal Café on December 29, 2007. Scorpio had informed the PPP leadership that his organization was willing to co-exist with the PPP and put a stop to the rivalry. “We are for reconciliation, but you can’t expect us to rejoin PPP,” Scorpio told PPP member Jimmy Hernandez and FAMEGATE Publisher and editor Thelma Calabio, who called a peace powwow the other week to try to patch things up between the two clubs.


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Flash[back] Photography (Part 1)

by Rene Villaroman/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – Scorpio had been a member of the Press Photographers Philippines,a ten-year organization comprised mostly of community newspaper photographers, but after he was delegated the assignment of writing a story about the history of FilAm photographers in Los Angeles, he had to do his homework extensively to consider the photographers’ groups organized before he arrived in California in the ‘80s.

Scorpio called Andy Tecson, a long-time Los Angeles resident and one of the most visible and well-known special events photographers in LA. Tecson had been one of the stalwarts of a core group of photographers that established Salamin Filipino-American Photographers Association. Salamin means glass in English. Tecson touched base with a Salamin colleague, Pete Lamdagan, a semi-retired former Federal government employee who was one of the club’s neophyte members during its existence from mid-1970’s until its slow demise in the early ‘80s.

Scorpio made a call to Pete Lamdagan.“You could write a book about the FilAm photographers in Los Angeles,” Lamdagan said over the phone. “There is a wealth of information about them,” he added.

A meeting in Bahay Kubo led to the establishment of new friendships. Bahay Kubo Natin Restaurant remains the meeting place of choice for Press Photographers Philippines – USA. Scorpio also called Larry Pelayo, a community journalist and former editor of the now defunct LA Monitor. He was instrumental in co-founding the PPP in the mid-1990s.

Salamin – a collegial group

“There was only one umbrella (organization) then,” remembers Lamdagan. “But you know what? it was always on the boat. If Gil (Garin) was there, you know we were on the same boat.”

Garin was a renowned consummate photographic craftsman during that time. He hired professional models and 15 to 20 Salamin members would shoot almost non-stop on certain weekends. “It was not a small group,” Lamdagan said. “It had at least 15 to 20 all Filipino photographers, some were professionals, and they shot weddings and photos for the local newspapers at the time,” Lamdagan added.

At one point, Rolly Ecarma, a member of the core group, suggested establishing portfolios. “One day, we would gather and try to evaluate each other’s works. I was just shooting a variety of subjects in color and in black-and-white,” Lamdagan recalls. “It was very collegial. And I thought – from my perspective as a non-professional – these guys treat their photography as a serious hobby. They were aiming for master craftsmanship.” After they had put together their portfolios, Ecarma awarded them certificates.

Andy Tecson, who was Salamin’s first president, remembers how Salamin members threw themselves into every project. He said that during the celebration of Independence Day, the group put up a slide show of images provided by the Philippines’ Department of Tourism. “We would show these slides with the accompaniment of music to a FilAm audience, and city officials would let us set up the show at a park behind the Los Angeles City Hall. The shows were sponsored by a car dealership manager in Glendora.”

A souvenir program loaned to this writer showed that Salamin Association was formed in 1977, and listed a total membership of 23. Eric Furbeyre was Vice President, Cyril Cabison, Secretary, and Cris Redondiez, Treasurer. Eric Lachica was also a member before he moved to Washington to establish a coalition that’s working for Filipino World War II veterans

The club embarked on “A Day in the Life of…” project in which they spent a day photographing people at work and at play during a weekend at Redondo Beach.The members attempted to make their avocation or careers to incorporate the life of the Filipino community within the Southern California area by focusing all their efforts on them. “I thought the response was good. I thought we were going to have the pictures published in a book,” he said. The club also participated in the celebration in May of the Asian Pacific Islanders American Heritage Month by holding exhibitions at the MacArthur Park in the Westlake district of Lon Angeles.Once a month, Salamin would invite photography experts to lecture on different topics. “At one time we invited an American photographer who lectured on the use of different trick filters,” Andy recalls. “This was not a neophyte organization; there was always a core group that members could count on,” Lamdagan said. “We wanted to show that we had credentials approved by our own peer group, and that made us credible rather than fly-by-night. That’s the impression I got,” Lamdagan said proudly.

Rolly Ecarma and Jerry Tabije

At around 1991, Scorpio met Rolly Ecarma and Jerry Tabije who were friends. Together with Scorpio, Ding Carreon, and Bobby Saddul, they explored the formation of another photographers’ group. They met at the newly opened Edgardo’s Restaurant in a strip mall at the corner of Fountain Avenue and Vine St. in Hollywood. Scorpio knew little about Ecarma and Tabije except for the fact that they were former members of Salamin. Scorpio also learned from charter member Bobby Saddul that Ecarma attended the prestigious Art Center College in Pasadena and had worked at a large camera store in the Westside as a sales associate. Scorpio, who worked as a photojournalist and writer with the San Miguel Corporation Public Relations Division, had known Saddul since the late 1970s. They bumped into each other in LA in 1987.

Ecarma and Tabije would assume the roles of co-founders of what would be called Association of Filipino Photographers (AFP). Scorpio remembers some of the charter members: they were—apart from Saddul—Ding Carreon, Ernie Cheng, Irwin Jazmines, Zac Fernandez and himself. Jazmines and Fernan dez were former members of the world-class photography association, Camera Club of the Philippines. The AFP, under the tenuous leadership of Ecarma and Tabije, tried to replicate Salamin’s ideals. Ecarma, with the support of Tabije, Saddul and Scorpio advocated the preparation of individual portfolios as a prerequisite to full-time membership of everyone. The idea did not sit well with some neophyte members, and it never got off the ground. When the core group began pushing for the creation of a constitution and by-laws, the process of deliberation took even longer, and the project died in infancy. There were other reasons why AFP failed to sustain itself. Bickering and petty jealousies were rampant, and tempers were short. AFP did not live to celebrate its first year’s anniversary.  (To be continued).


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