Monthly Archives: July 2008

SIPA: Pinoys United in LA

by Gayle Gatchalian/AJPress
Amid the bustle of Historic Filipinotown stands a quiet guardian of the Filipino-American’s best interests—SIPA, or Search to Involve Pilipino Americans. This 36-year-old organization has taken the mission of service to heart, unselfishly providing for the diverse, multi-ethnic youth and families residing in the area as well as Filipino Americans all over Los Angeles County.

Generations upon generations of Filipino migrants have made Historic Filipinotown the place to start their new lives. However, hope and a promise of a better tomorrow is tempered by hardships like poverty, inadequate housing, insufficient childcare and substandard schools. There was an urgent need to provide a space where helping his fellow countrymen is but a footstep away. So in 1972, SIPA was born.

The name SIPA was actually taken from a two-day conference held in Camp Oak Grove, San Bernardino nearly forty years ago. The conference sought to incite conversation about the issues that face the substantial Filipino-American community in the United States. “A diverse cross section of groups and individuals founded SIPA,” shared current SIPA Executive Director, Joel Jacinto. In addition, the Filipino Christian Church was instrumental to the birth of SIPA, as well as “Uncle” Roy Morales, Al Mendoza, activists, scholars, university professors, parents and the youth themselves.

A passionate determination to advocate health, welfare, and political and cultural empowerment in the community fuel the spirited staff of SIPA. Mr. Jacinto has been with SIPA for 17 years. “To me and the people that work here, it’s not a job. It’s stewardship.” They all share a sense of “contributing to the greater good of the Filipino-American community” which Mr. Jacinto admits is a “tremendous responsibility”. Nevertheless, it comes with a “tremendous fulfillment and satisfaction” that keeps him and the crew coming to work every day.

And with their every day comes a step forward in achieving superb quality of life for the Filipino. “We try to work with the youth and families in a holistic manner, because we realize that family is a great part of the young person’s life” noted Mr. Jacinto, alluding to the strong family ties characteristic of the Filipino. A continuous stream of health and human services, community economic development and arts/cultural programs steadily work to achieve their noble objectives. Their efforts are aided by strong community relationships and partnerships with established Asian American and Filipino groups in the area, governmental and corporate sponsorships.

Their goal is clear: “to provide innovative programs that will inspire and empower youth to make smart choices, bring families together, and ultimately, revitalize the community.” SIPA promotes education, leadership and cultural and financial self-reliance in order to make an active, vibrant community with empowered individuals as its members.

The health and human services aspect of SIPA focus on the personal well-being of the Filipino-American. They have counseling for individuals, families and groups, case management, community education and after-school enrichment activities for the children. All these services contribute to a realizing a capable self within each and every person, enabling them to take charge of the good future they aspire to.

The Economic Development services address the more practical needs of the struggling Filipino-American. “We’ve ventured more into the types of services that deal with economic self-sufficiency,” revealed Mr. Jacinto. SIPA’s projects include affordable family housing projects and small business development programs. It is their belief that one of the best ways to help families is to teach them to do the best they can with their resources. But of course, they also try to provide a platform upon which these families can make their new beginning. As of last count, three housing projects have provided 138 units of affordable housing.

One of their most impressive, on-going successes is the Temple Gateway Youth & Community Center. SIPA converted the 5,000 square foot area it owned and built a structure that now houses a multi-purpose auditorium featuring an indoor theater; two youth activity rooms; two multi-use athletic courts for basketball, volleyball and other sports; a weight-training room; and more.

Currently, SIPA is undergoing one of the biggest projects they have ever undertaken. In alliance with several government agencies and corporate business interests, SIPA is building a “mixed use-mixed income” project on an old dairy site. 20,000 square feet of abandoned space will become a vibrant destination site for Filipinos. This project combines community and retail in one area, with housing atop commercial. The City of Los Angeles is espousing this type of construction and city council president Eric Garcetti has thrown his full support behind this project. It was also through Mr. Garcetti that Historic Filipinotown was officially designated in 2002 and has been a “consistent enabler to the Filipino community”, says Mr. Jacinto.

Something is always brewing in SIPA. From March to June of 2008, SIPA offered KELP or Kultural Enrichment and Language Program, an intensive program for children in the first to third grade. Teaching Filipino language, arts and culture was the central theme of this program, one that followed the curriculum standards adopted by the California State Board of Education. But its purpose was multilateral- aside form obtaining a “deeper awareness and understanding of cultural heritage” and “strengthening one’s own identity as Fiipino Americans”, this program was designed to stimulate the child’s curiosity in learning about the world around him or her. Exposure to a culture that is different from what they face everyday, the KELP effect is enlivening a desire in the children to go beyond what is immediate and accessible. Mr. Jacinto described this program as “transformative”, because children can engage and be participants in the Filipino culture.

Sessions @ SIPA is another one of the timely and needs-sensitive programs offered by this organization. Synthetic music production and song experimentation enjoys a sure rise in popularity through the prevalence of hip-hop, rap and dance music. Tapping into this widespread youth interest demonstrates SIPA’s vigilance of what concerns the young today, and their uncanny ability to capitalize on it. Every Monday, from 6 to 8PM, instructors are available to teach scratching, mixing and making beats to all those interested.

And if one’s interest lies along the lines of computers and the World Wide Web, the Community Arts and Technology Center can step up to answer the call. The Center boasts free internet access and use of word processing and media arts software to the savvy and classes, workshops and even one-on-one tutorials to the novice.  It opens its doors every Monday to Friday, from 10AM to 2PM.

After the music and the websurfing, what else can we expect from SIPA? Well, in line with the Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month comes the Music LA program. It is an 8-week course that introduces the bamboo instrument Angklung. Participants will learn how to play this piece of percussion while learning about Pilipino music through the ages and all throughout the archipelago.

Why such a focus on the youth? “As the generations go, we will be forced to answer the question what, if any Filipino culture will be retained at all,” said Mr. Jacinto. Many of the KELP attendees spoke little to no Tagalog and had very little exposure to Filipino culture. SIPA is here to champion cultural preservation and empowerment for all.


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Antonio Miranda Rodriquez: A Historical Mystery

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
Did he or didn’t he? Was he or wasn’t he? The name of Antonio Miranda Rodriguez has become controversial among LA historians because it raises a lot of questions. Some historians claim that he is one of the founders of the city of Los Angeles. If so, why isn’t his name found in the plaque honoring the 11 founders of the City of Los Angeles at the El Pueblo Historical Monument, nor in the marker that was put up by the Los Angeles Historical Commission? Another mystery that is of great interest to Filipinos is Antonio Rodriguez’ ancestry. Many say he is Filipino; one historian said he is a “Chino” (Although Miranda and Rodriguez don’t actually sound Chinese); others say he is of Spanish descent.
“When you google “founders of Los Angeles”, the first site you’ll see is from which says “ On September 4, 1781, El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles was founded by 44 pobladores from New Spain, now called Mexico. The heads of the eleven founding families were Antonio Clemente Villavicencio, a Spaniard; Antonio Mesa, a Negro; Jose Fernando Lara, a Spaniard, Jose Vanegas, an Indian; Pablo Rodriquez, an Indian; Manuel Camero, a Mulatto; Jose Antonio Navarro, a Mestizo; Jose Moreno, a Mulatto; Basillio Rosas, an Indian; Alejandro Rosas, an Indian; and Luis Quintero, a Negro.”

No mention of Rodriguez. But if you go to, the site of the Los Angeles Almanac, you will find, at the bottom of the list of the 11 LA founders and their families, this very interesting paragraph.

“A twelfth settler, Antonio Miranda Rodriguez, a 50-year-old Filipino, and his 11 year-old daughter were also slated to settle in the new pueblo. They set out with the rest of the pobladores in early 1781 en route to their new home. While in Baja California, however, they were among those who fell ill to smallpox and remained there for an extended time to recuperate. When they finally arrived in Alta California (the present-day State of California), it was discovered that Miranda Rodriguez was a skilled gunsmith. He was subsequently reassigned to the Santa Barbara Presidio in 1782 to be an armorer.”

This story about a Filipino being among the original founders from Mexico is also mentioned by other historians. Among the sources where we can find that Antonio Miranda Rodriguez was indeed of Filipino ancestry and made it to found Los Angeles after a brief delay from smallpox are the following:

William Mason, curator, History Division, Los Angeles County Museum

Americans of Filipino Descent – FAQs  by Eloisa Gomez Borah. Reference Librarian, UCLA

Los Angeles Almanac, edited by Gary Thornton

Cultural Diversity in the United States, by Larry Naylor

Eric Garcetti’s  Our Pacific Destiny

Author Eloisa Gomez Borah wrote a chronology of Filipinos in America Pre-1898 to talk about that time when Filipinos first came to America. She mentioned that Filipinos, often referred to as Luzon Indians or Manila Men then, were on sailing ships on the world’s seas and oceans from the earliest of times, even before the Manila Galleon Trade years of 1565-1815.  Borah gave the following examples of Filipinos who went to America prior to 1898,when the Philippines was still under Spain.

– Indios Luzones landing in Morro Bay, California in 1587

– Filipinos shipwrecked near San Francisco Bay in 1595

– a village of Manila Men on the ourskirts of New Orleans, Louisiana in 1763

– Filipinos with Fr. Junipero Serra at the founding of the mission at Monterey in 1779

– Antonio Miranda Rodriquez among those chosen to settle in Los Angeles in 1781

Another source confirming Rodriguez’ Filipino ancestry and significant part in the founding of Los Angeles is Eric Garcetti’s Our Pacific Destiny, where he wrote,

“Our city’s links with Asia are deep and old-as old as the city itself. Our region’s first residents were Asian immigrants, most likely from Siberia. In 1781, a Spanish subject of Filipino heritage, Antonio Miranda Rodriguez, joined 43 other pobladores to trek to the area that became El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora, la Reina de los Angeles.”

In the book, From the Mountains to the Sea by John Steven McGroarty, copyright 1921,Volume I, page 30, we also find this listing of the founders of LA: “Josede Lara, Spaniard, 50 years of age, wife Indian, 3 children; Jose Antonio Navarro, mestizo, 42 years, wife mulattress, 3 children; Basilio Rosas, Indian, 68 years, wife mulattress, 6 children; Antonio Mesa, negro, 38 years, wife a mulattress, 2 children; Antonio (Felix) Vilavicencio,Spaniard, 30 years, wife Indian; Jose Vanegas, Indian, 28 years, wife Indian, 1 child; Alejandro Rosas, Indian, 19 years, wife coyote (Indian); Pablo Rodriguez, Indian, 25 years, wife Indian, 1 child; Mamuel Camero, mulatto, 30 years, wife mulatress; Luis Quintero, negro, 55 years, wife mulattress, 5 children; Jose Moreno, mulatto, 22 years, wife mulattress; Antonio Miranda, chino, 50 years, 1 child.” McGroarty wrote this about Miranda- “ historians dispute among themselves as to whether Antonio Miranda, who was listed as a ‘chino’ was a Chinaman.”

William Mason, curator of the History Division, Los Angeles County Museum, also did a research on this topic and wrote the following: 1781- Antonio Miranda Rodriguez, 50-year old, born in Sonora, Mexico, a descendant of a “Manila Man,” and his daughter, Juana Maria, age 11, were among the founding settlers of the city of Los Angeles, California. He later became the ironsmith of the Santa Barbara Mission in California where he lived until his death. He is buried in the Santa Barbara Mission church.

Based on the above sources, there is really the huge probability that one of the founders of Los Angeles is a true-blooded Pinoy. Already, there have been some people who cited the need to give Antonio Miranda Rodriguez his long-overdue place in official history. But proof may not be that easy to get, unless Mexico has centuries-old archives that can attest to Rodriguez being a part of the original group which set out for Los Angeles.


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The Enclave of our Roots

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
FilAm Jonathan Lorenzo, an administrator for the Filipino-American Library (FAL), gets tremendous satisfaction from the faces of those he educates about Historic Filipinotown. Three times a year, Lorenzo shuttles and acts as a tour guide to eager people wanting to know more about the 2.1-square-mile area designated as Historic Filipinotown.
“There’s the most popular site which is the 100-foot mural on Beverly and Union that depicts about 4,000 years of Filipino and FilAm history including pictures of Jose Rizal, the EDSA Revolution and labor leaders like Philip Vera Cruz; Remy’s on Temple [art gallery], and the [World War II] Filipino Veterans’ Memorial.”

“All the Filipinos who go on the tour usually say ‘I never knew all these Filipino places were in Historic Filipinotown,’” he added. “And the non Filipinos say to me that they never knew [that] there is such a rich Filipino history in Los Angeles. It makes me feel good. It makes me want to do more of these tours.”

For the past two years, Lorenzo and the FAL have been trying there best to gather more Filipinos and FilAms to learn about their very own geographic and cultural district.

Despite the Filipino murals and landmarks, the number one question Lorenzo always hears  is what’s so Filipino about Historic Filipinotown?

Since its designation in 2002, Historic Filipinotown which comprises the 101 Hollywood Freeway to the North, Hoover St. to the West, Glendale Blvd. to the East, and Beverly Blvd. to the South; has received a lot of criticisms for not having a large Filipino population base. With a dominant Hispanic population in the area, Filipinos seem to be non-existent in an area named after them, only making up about 10 percent of the areas population.

But in reality, there are a lot of things Filipino about Historic Filipinotown, according to Lorenzo.

It’s the reason why FAL offers the free bus tours.

“We want to educate everybody about our rich history here,” said Lorenzo.

Early Beginnings

The Historic Filipinotown area has had a rich history dating from the early 1940’s when the first ever Filipino-American service organization was created and later built. The Filipino American Community of Los Angeles also known as FACLA, has been serving the community since the early migrants decided to make Los Angeles their home away from home.

It was created by a dedicated group of settled Filipinos wanting to help their kababayans.

“That was their hub,” said Susan Dilkes, the executive director of Filipino American Service Group Inc. (FASGI). “The Filipinos who were here already had a spirit to help the new Filipino immigrants. These Filipino immigrants were mostly young, fresh, hardworking and very ambitious. They would come to this area and FACLA would help them get adjusted.”

FACLA was a safe haven for these immigrants. During a time with severe prejudice and lack of cultural assimilation, these Filipino immigrants would rely on each other for help.

“The discrimination was very clear,” said Dilkes. “They had to work together.”

In fact, the original Filipinotown “Little Manila” where Filipinos first settled (many of them farmers) was in the Downtown Los Angeles areas of Bunker Hill and Little Tokyo before they were forced out and moved west due to city bureaucracy to what is now the Historic Filipinotown area.

Most of the early Filipino immigrants that lived in Historic Filipinotown worked in low wage jobs as bus boys or servers in restaurants.

In the 1960’s to the 1980’s more Filipinos continued to migrate to the US due to the 1965 US Immigration Act and the need for workers, said Lorenzo.

As the area continued to flourish with more Filipinos, Filipino businesses, schools and service groups were created. Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA) was founded in 1972 to serve the FilAm youth. The late Valente G. Ramos and his wife Cecile founded Burlington Nursery School and Kindergarten in 1974. The Filipino Christian Church moved to its location in Historic Filipinotown from Downtown. FASGI was founded in 1981.

Many of those organizations today are still prominent and set up headquarters in Historic Filipinotown.

There was a point that the area was 60 or 70 percent Filipino, says Jocelyn Geaga-Rosenthal.

“There are books written about the area,” said Geaga-Rosenthal, owner of Remy’s on Temple Gallery. “Our very own Filipino Author Carlos Bulosan used to frequent places here in Historic Filipinotown.”

“But that changed overtime,” she added. “The influx of new immigrants and the upward mobility of Filipinos, many moved out into other areas of Los Angeles.”

The core organizations remained. And according to Geaga-Rosenthal, that’s when the idea of a Historic Filipinotown designation for the area began.

Historic Filipinotown

Her memory is a little bit hazy but Dilkes of FASGI remembers when Los Angeles Councilman Eric Garcetti proposed the idea of designating an area of Los Angeles Historic Filipinotown.

“I remember we had a FilVote forum for the city council,” she remembers. “He said he was going to support Historic Filipinotown [if] he wins [his council seat].”

Garcetti kept his word. When he won in early 2000, his deputy organized the leaders of the Filipino community at FASGI. Garcetti created a study and found the need for a Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles.

On August 22, 2002, Garcetti flanked by leaders of the Filipino community lifted the first ever Historic Filipinotown sign.

“There’s Little Tokyo, Thai Town, Chinatown, the Asian map was not complete in the area,” said Dilkes who was part of that ceremony in 2002. “The missing piece was Historic Filipinotown. We got our designation but it was way overdue.”

Geaga-Rosenthal was also part of that ceremony. She remembers it quite well. She was one of the first speakers to thank the members of the Los Angeles City Council for their unanimous motion of support.

“It was exciting and rewarding,” she said. “It was also nostalgic for me. My mom was very active in this area until her death in 1997. She would have been very joyful had she been around. This is a realization of her dreams and many others. It was truly a remarkable moment and moving experience for me.”

Geaga-Rosenthall added that it’s important to give the large Filipino population in Los Angeles an area they can call their own.

“The proclamation of this area is an acknowledgement of our history,” she said. “There are still more work to be done but the area is a living cultural monument [of] our contributions of this great land.”


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The Asian Journal meets Giuliani in Makati

MAKATI – Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani keynoted the first Leadership Conference Series last July 23 at the Rizal Ballroom of the Makati Shangri-La. It was the first in a set of lectures aimed at allowing Philippine leaders from the business, government and non-government sectors to learn from the experiences and expertise of global leaders. The event was presented by the JC Binay Foundation of Makati, with the Philippine Star and De La Salle University as co-presentors. The major sponsors were GLOBE Telecom, San Miguel Corporation, the Lopez Group Foundation and Metrobank.

The Asian Journal, which has a weekly New York/New Jersey edition attended the “strictly by invitation only” press conference with Mayor Giuliani together with a few selected members of the media, including AJ publisher Roger Lagmay Oriel, who was a personal guest of Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay.  Mr. Oriel talked briefly with Mr. Giuliani after the press conference regarding the forthcoming Republican Party convention in August.  The Asian Journal was the only Filipino-American newspaper invited to the exclusive press conference where Mr. Giuliani said, “Ronald Reagan is my hero.”

Distinguished for his handling of the post-World Trade Center attacks, Giuliani delivered a talk on Leadership in Times of Crisis.  For his efforts during and after the 9-11 attacks, he was named “Person of the Year” by Time Magazine in 2001, knighted by the Queen of England, dubbed “Rudy the Rock” by French President Jacquest Chirac and presented with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Freedom Award by former first lady Nancy Reagan.

Mayor Giuliani was also credited with cutting the murder rate in New York City by 66% and the overall crime index dipped by 56%, making New York City—once considered the crime capital of the country—the safest among the largest cities in America, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  New York City’s law enforcement strategy has become a model for other cities around the world.

He also implemented the largest and most successful welfare-to-work initiative in the country, turning welfare offices into Job Centers and reducing welfare rolls by 640,000—nearly 60%.

Aside from Mayor Giuliani’ lecture, the forum was highlighted as well by a roundtable discussion from the key Philippine leaders of government, business and foreign service. Discussants were Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, British Ambassador Peter Beckingham, Ms. Loida Nicolas-Lewis, Chief Executive Officer of TLC Beatrice, Mr. Miguel Belmonte, Philippine Star publisher, Bro. Armin Luistro, De La Salle-Manila president and general manager of James Lafferty, Procter & Gamble Philippines.

Also delivering addresses were Mr. Oscar Lopez, chairman and CEO of First Philippines Holdings Inc., and Benpres Holdings Inc.; Butch Jimenez, senior VP of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.; and Ces Drilon, broadcast journalist of ABS-CBN.

Former President Joseph Estrada also attended the event.

The event was also mounted in partnership with ANC, Business Mirror, Business World, Manila Bulletin, Manila Broadcasting Company and Philippine Daily Inquirer.


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Charice’s answered prayer

by Carmie O. Carpio/AJPress
IT’S not all the time that someone gets to sing on stage with a celebrated operatic pop tenor and classical crossover singer as Andrea Bocelli, especially on his birthday concert. But on the night of July 20, Sunday, a young Filipina with a big voice and a big heart stepped into the stagelights with Bocelli himself. Charice, the first from her homeland to perform a duet with the world-famous Bocelli, who is turning 50 on September 22, effortlessly dazzled the European crowd that filled the Teatro del Silenzio (Theater of Silence) in Tuscany, Italy, Bocelli’s hometown.
Dubbed The Cinema Tribute, Chariced joined international performers Nicolla Piovani, Roberto Bolle and Noa in the line-up.

Spellbinding is not enough to describe the moment Charice and Bocelli sang The Prayer together. Bocelli’s countrymen were so impressed with the harmonious blend of two powerful voices that a round of applause wasn’t enough. They felt they had to do a standing ovation as well.

Apart from The Prayer, she rendered a solo performance in front of Bocelli’s friends and countrymen‹a medley of The Bodyguard soundtracks which she also sang at the star-studded ³ David Foster and Friends² in Mandalay in Las Vegas only last May. Bocelli was also part of that lustrous affair.

From the outside, it seemed that Charice’s renditions were confident and collected. But unknown to many, the young girl was brimming with excitement and delight deep down. The duet was one unforgettable moment for Charice, something that she will never forget in her lifetime.

“Very special po sa akin itong concert kasi si Mr. Andrea Bocelli ang first big star na nakaduet ko. Pinangarap ko po talaga ito so dream come true talaga. Tsaka favorite ko rin yung song na kinanta namin. Matagal ko po itong hinintay, and proud po ako bilang the first Filipino na nakaduet siya,” she told the Asian Journal in a long-distance interview.

Charice reportedly drew pictures of herself performing with Bocelli when she was younger. Thus, after her dream-come-true concert, the young diva could barely contain her joy in sharing how it went.

“Sa lahat ng nagperform, ako lang po ang may standing ovation.” There was a hint of giddiness in her voice.

And even though she faced yet another type of audience, she was very pleased with their profuse praises over her performance.

“They (Italians) gave me a warm welcome, tsaka nakita kong inaappreciate nila ang talent ng mga Pinoy,” Charice added.

How Charice landed in another performance with a big international star was not a stroke of luck. It was something that was bound to happen.

During the Mandalay Bay Las Vegas event, Bocelli had just finished his performance at the Mandalay Bay Las Vegas event, and was in his dressing room, when he heard Charice sing.  Bocelli asked his assistants to bring him backstage, so he could be among the first ones to congratulate Charice.  After he told Charice  how moved he was by her performance, Atty. Gurfinkel (who secured Charice’s working visa for the US show) said to Bocelli, “It would be nice if you could  do a duet of The Prayer together.” Bocelli welcomed the idea. Bocelli’s manager handed over his business card to Gurfinkel, asking that he be contacted to discuss details. and voila! Charice was invited to Tuscany , to be the first Filipino to ever sing with Bocelli.

And the rest is history

With Charice, it is easy to expect more world-class performances and more“pinch-me” moments. for herself. The Filipina wunderkind sure knows how to make her prayers and dreams come true, and there’s no stopping her. The best thing, through all her experiences, is that she’s always proud to say that she’s Filipino.  Her kababayans are equally proud of her as well. (

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Dolphy!: The drama behind the laughter, or otherwise

by Anna Krisna Bautista/AJPress
From being the theater’s peanut boy to becoming the country’s king of comedy, Dolphy Quizon may as well be the Andress Bonifacio of Philippine entertainment industry gifting his field with revolutionary satires which generated laughter from the audience. Among those who raved watching his works were heralded actors, politicians, professionals, among other celebrities who were also present during the launch of his tell-all book Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-isa at the tent in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig on July 23.
Penned by writer-actress Bibeth Orteza with foreword by UP professor Randy David, Hindi Ko Ito Narating is the brainchild of the Comedy King’s son Eric Quizon who is also the book’s publisher.

Truly never alone, the event was peppered with grace by his contemporaries including Barbara Perez, Daisy Romualdez, Eddie Gutierrez, Gloria Romero, Susan Roces, Eddie Garcia and Mother Lily. “Malaki ang papel nila sa buhay ko… Siguro pati tayo, pinapanganak tayo, ’di dahil gusto nating magtrabaho, gusto nating yumaman, kung hindi, magmahal, mahalin ng pamilya, kaibigan at mga kasama sa trabaho,” he said.

A comic by heart, after enumerating his siblings, he quipped, “At tungkol naman sa aking mga inibig, eh ’wag na po muna nating isa-isahin baka tayo’y magka-hindik.”

After expressing regrets for having hurt so many of those he had loved, he relayed how hard it is to have relationships with several women at the same time. “Ang pinaka mahirap diyan an, ’pag birthday mo, ’yung Pasko tsaka Bagong Taon. Paborito mong ulam kare-kare. Ang unang bahay na pupuntahan mo kare-kare. Pangalawang bahay na pupuntahan mo kare-kare nanaman. Pangatlong bahay kare-kare pa din. ’Pag uwi ko sa bahay ko kare-kare nanaman, pagtulog ko panaginip ko kare-kare pa din. Mahirap talaga,” he said.

Having the name of his first love start with an “A” and his last partner’s (hopefully) name start with a “Z,” Dolphy joked, “Aba, kumpleto ko na ang alphabet!”

His children from the many women in his life including Manny Boy, Salud, Dolphy Junior, Freddie, Edgar, Rory, Kit, John, Gino, Edwin, Rolly, Erick, Dan, Eppie, Rommel, Vandolph, Nicole, and Zia were present during the launch.

The night became a meteor shower of stars as actors from different generations were spotted including Gary Valenciano and Angeli Pangilinan, Dawn Zulueta, Cherry Pie Picache, Ricky Davao, Giselle Sanchez, Eula Valdez, Raymond Gutierrez, Sheryl Cruz, Angelou De Leon, among other stars.

Young comedians Giselle Sanchez, Randy Santiago, Willie Revillame, were also present to show support to their idol’s future best-selling piece.

Senators Manny Villar, Mar Roxas, Bong Revilla Jr., and Cheese Escudero, and Ilocos Norte Representative Imee Marcos also dotted the venue.

Medical doctors and couple Manny and Pie Calayan, who have also watched a number of Dolphy’s films, were also present and sponsored the biography’s launch.

ABS-CBN president Charo Santos-Concio and senior correspondent Korina Sanchez, Carlito and Armida Siguion Reyna, Anabelle Rama and Lolit Solis also hailed the host.

Though Dolphy Quizon’s life has been well-exposed even before his reign as the Comedy King, the book is expected to thrill and touch readers. “Maybe my dad’s life has been most talked about but it never came from the horse’s mouth—it never came from him,” Eric said.

But with all the praises and each artist’s own version of their Dolphy encounter [directly or indirectly], life goes on for the 80-year-old King of Comedy.

Dolphy, the Comedy King, will be performing at the Shrine Auditorium on October 11, 2008, Saturday, at 7 pm. Titled Dolphy The Legend at 80, the show is produced by NuVision Worldwide Media in association with Mcfadden&McFadden, The Asian Journal and Creative Concepts in cooperation with ABS-CBN, Calyan, Cibo, Smart and Bench.  For details of the concert, contact 1–866–995–2795, (562) 921–8450, (213) 792–7468 and 1–888–886–7889. (

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Keeping Hope Alive: FilAm’s Song To Showcase in Upcoming film

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – Is it serendipity or mere coincidence?

When Director Mark Pellington met FilAm singer/ songwriter Ron Irizarry for the first time earlier this week he noticed a tattoo on Irizarry’s arm that read “La Esperanza Muera Ultima.”

“What does it mean?” Pellington asked.

“Hope dies last,” said Irizarry.

The tattoo came as a surprise to Pellington, according to Irizarry recalling the event. Pellington had just finished a movie Henry Poole is Here about a man [Luke Wilson] who had lost hope only to find it again from the people he lived with in suburbia.

For Irizarry, the tattoo was just a reminder to never give up on his career.

So it came as no surprise that when Irizarry arrived to Los Angeles as the winner of the Henry Poole Is Here movie theme song contest, Pellington knew he found the right man and the right song to fit the movie.

“It’s like everything is fitting together,” said Irizarry to the Asian Journal. Irizarry was in Los Angeles shooting the music video [directed by Pellington] of the song. “It’s like I’m supposed to be here.”

Henry Poole is Here the movie is set to be released later this summer or possibly fall. It was an official Sundance selection.

Last week, after a month and about 3,500 submissions nationwide Myspace Music, Overture Films, Lakeshore Entertainment, and Pellington, chose Irizarry’s song “Henry Poole is Here” as the official theme song of the movie.

“It’s amazing how you captured the movie just by watching the trailer,” said Pellington, who announced the winner of the contest on movie’s official post.

“We [Irizarry and co-writer Joel Wild] wanted to take it from the darkest places we both experienced and try to tap in to that,” said Irizarry to Pellington. “That’s what [the trailer] looked like a place of desperation and wanting to find hope and breaking through that desperation.”

For Irizarry the song has an even more special meaning. Winning the contest was not only a way to be recognized by the mainstream but also possibly the start of a career breakthrough.

Dark times are nothing new for an artist trying to break through the ultra competitive music industry. The song is apropos for the movie but even more fitting for the 36-year-old Orlando native who has had his shares of ups and down.

“I just identified with the main character [Henry Poole],” said Irizarry. “The images in the trailer when I saw [Wilson’s] face look down and out; when I saw that and when I saw his face; I could identify those times in my life.”

In the late 1990’s when he began his career, he thought his career was on the rise. For two years, he toured with and opened for mega boy band NSYNC. He also opened for Jordan Knight, Pink, Sisqo, and Mandy Moore.

Hanging out with Justin Timberlake and the other artists had a profound impact on Irizarry. He thought he could branch off on his own but he soon found that individual success was harder to come by.

“I got turned down by a lot of record labels,” he said. “Add that to personal things and it just collided and made a perfect storm of negativity and I fed into it.”

He said about five or six years ago, he sat inside his living room depressed contemplating about where his career was heading when an interesting news program turned on. The program featured an author who wrote a book about keeping hope alive.

The author was Studs Turkel and his Hope Dies Last book struck a chord in Irizarry. He immediately bought the book. The first page he turned to read “La Esperanza Muera Ultima” or “Hope dies last.”

“I got that tattoo on my arm,” he said. “It’s for whenever I need something to look at, I know there’s hope and this is all about hope.”

From then on, Irizarry said he rebounded from that negative experience and kept a positive outlook.

Music has been his career since he could remember – his dad took him to a concert at the age of 13 where he knew this was his career passion – and giving it up was too unfathomable.

He began to tour the college circuit nationwide and for two years from 2003 to 2005, he received the “best solo artist” award in the college scene.

“It’s always good to be recognized,” he said.

He also partnered with Joel Wild to write and produce music for other bands.

One of the music bands he wrote for in 2007 was The Clark Brothers, who won the Fox Networks talent competition The Next Great American Band.

At the same time, he continued to open up for acts including One Republic, Jimmy Eat World, Erykah Badu, Nas, J. Holiday, and many more.

Although Irizarry admits he has not “received that level of success yet,” he hopes to headline his own show one of these days.

“You know there’s a saying that anything with value easy to obtain is not worth doing,” he said. “If you did it with ease, you won’t have that same amount of appreciation for the value of it. There are always challenges and what I found is that there’s no formula for success. If there’s any kind of formula, it’s to learn as much as you can until something pops. It’s very challenging but if you get some of kind of payoff it’s really rewarding.”

He said that winning the contest might give him that chance he’d been hoping for.

For more information about Henry Poole is Here the movie or Irizarry’s official theme song please check out


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Getng d msg acros thru txtng: Pinoys send 1 billion text messages

by Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/AJPress
If you can’t understand the title, then probably you’re not one of the hundreds of millions of “texters.”
If you can’t understand the title, then probably you’re not one of the hundreds of millions of “texters.”

Back in the 1990s, I had my first mobile phone.  It was a heavy piece of contraption that can only support phone calls.  Years later, SMS, or text messaging was introduced and since then, the mobile communication industry has never looked back.

Recently, industry data showed that Filipinos doubled the number of text messages they sent last year to an average of 1 billion daily, from a subscriber base of just 50 million.  This was a staggering number, which showed how prolific text messaging is to the Philippines.

Text capital of the world

In 2005, the Philippines achieved the distinction of being the “SMS capital of the world.”  That year, Filipinos sent an average of 250 million text messages a day, according to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

Nobody in the industry probably saw text messaging to fly off in this magnitude.  Much of it at the start was seen as a craze, a cultural trend that mostly tapped young people.  But as technology moved, so did texting.  What was once considered as popularity is now somehow a necessity.

Sending messages does not require making a call.  Just by typing in a message and the recipient’s phone number, then sending it, the message goes to the operator’s message center, and finally forwards it to the recipient.

The art of text messaging

The art of texting is at the start, quite a challenge.  For a beginner, it is an irritating skill to master, because of the idea of putting in all 26 letters of the alphabet (plus punctuation and other symbols) are all combined with only ten buttons.  But in time and with a lot of practice, one will get used to it, as most texters now can type in messages in a matter of seconds.

Also, people have developed a shorthand, or their own set of vocabulary words, somewhat similar to what is used in Internet chat rooms.  “WRU” is a three-letter acronym for “Where are you,” or “C U LTR” is “See you later.”

More than just messages

Much has been studied and researched about the text wave in the Philippines, and was found out that texting has become so popular because of a number of factors.  One is affordability.  At about 2 cents a message, the price is right for the cash-strapped youth.

Two of the biggest mobile service providers in the country – Globe and Smart – also have a lock on the market, which reaches to more than 40 million subscribers.  Aside from this, both networks have distinct marketing and promotions to offer more affordable and innovative products and services, including cheaper phone units, pre-paid and post-paid lines and features like mobile banking and payments services. It also has set up conveniences like texting friends and relatives anywhere in the world, at a lower rate.

Just to do the math, the cost of one text message sent is about P 1, if sent to someone with the same carrier.  Times that to 1 billion, multiply again with 365 days in a year, it amounts to P 365 billion, or $8.2 billion (based on a P44 exchange rate).  That’s about more than 50 percent of the OFW remittances expected this year.

Truly texting has become a vehicle to more than just plain message sending to friends, family or colleagues.  It has been a carrier of gossip, political campaigns, and was even credited with helping overthrow a government and a president.

There is no doubt that text messaging will continue in the next years.  If innovation and technology steps up with something different, better and affordable, then maybe a little dip in the numbers will be seen.  Still, until that time comes, texting is here to stay.  (

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Three Pinoy Fighters to Showcase Skills in Vegas

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
LAS VEGAS – Three Filipino fighters will be showcased in different bouts in Las Vegas this Saturday, July 26.
FilAm Muay Thai fighters Michael Mananquil and Christine Toledo will co-headline a World Championship Muay Thai event at the Las Vegas Hilton. At the same time, Boxer Bernabe Concepcion will be featured in the undercard of the Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito championship bout at the MGM Grand Las Vegas.

Mananquil from the San Francisco Bay area is defending his World Boxing Council (WBC) Intercontinental Muay Thai belt against an opponent to be announced. The 26-year-old welterweight said it’s frustrating that the promoters have changed his opponent on him three times.

“I really don’t know whom I’m fighting,” he said to the Asian Journal. “I’m just going to come prepared.”

Mananquil is known as a balanced Muay Thai fighter. His last match in Las Vegas ended in a knockout. Mananquil said he knocked his opponent out with a sharp elbow.

Unlike Mananquil, Toledo knows whom she is fighting against.

Ruth Ashdown is the current International Kickboxing Federation (IKF) British Flyweight Champion. She is considered one of the best fighters in the United Kingdom.

“I have my work cut out for me,” said Toledo, who holds the World Kickboxing Association US (WKA) and the Muay Thai International Association (MTIA) World Title. “I’m really expecting her to give me her best. Everyone in England is counting her to win. She’s the top female fighter in Britain but I’m going bring my best game too.”

The 115-pound Toledo said she expects Ashdown to be aggressive and put a lot of pressure on her.

“She’s a forward fighter,” said Toledo. “I like those fighters because I get to play around with my strategy more. I’m going to try and throw her off guard and throw a lot of angles and combinations at her.”

The 30-year-old Las Vegas native is coming off an impressive win at the Roseland Ballroom in New York just a month ago. Toledo defeated Emily Bearden by majority decision.

Bernabe Concepcion of Rizal, Philippines is the reigning NABF and WBC youth superbantamweight champion. He’ll be featured against Adam Carrera in the pay-per-view undercard of the Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito championship bout.

The 20-year-old Concepcion holds a 25-1-1 14 KO record. In his last match, he defeated Torrence Daniels by technical knockout in the second round in Mexico.

The knockout performance is something his trainer Freddie Roach expects to see more.

“He’s a real good puncher and I expect him to knock people out with his great power,” said Roach in a phone interview with the Asian Journal. “This opponent [Carrera] is someone we are supposed to beat but we can’t take anybody lightly. Bernabe needs to rise to the occasion.”

Roach said that among all the boxers coming out of the Philippines, Concepcion might be the best of them all.

“I really think he’s a great prospect probably the best young prospect coming out of the Philippines. I really believe that,” he said.

Roach said that he and Concepcion would leave to Las Vegas Wednesday night or Thursday morning. (


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Art Education 101

by Gayle Gatchalian/AJPress
Art should grow with you,” declares Mark Slavkin, VP for Education at the Music Center – Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County. He heads the education programs offered by the Music Center that reach about 300 schools yearly. Pushing to bring art to the fore of general education, the music center programs are an integral part of restoring the arts to the core curriculum of schools in Los Angeles County.
Music Center programs focus on three main areas of education: to strengthen arts education in their partner schools, provide leadership to advance the field of arts education and engage children, youth and families at the Music Center. Ultimately, they aim to instill a sense of belongingness in the arts, in the hearts of the young. By making it fun and free, thereby accessible, they hope to plant the seeds of a relationship with the arts that will grow as the child grows.

“We design, create and sustain the programs, but we do not make it for the schools.” The music center provides training, consultation, awards, festivals and various other services the schools can use and build on to bring arts into the school-wide curriculum. These building blocks can make art education a standard for all students, replacing random luck of time and place with a widely and equally available program, “What makes us happiest is when the schools invest resources and make arts a part of their instructional program.”

Why should people care about bringing the arts into the classroom?  “All of the arts- music, theater, dance and visual, are an enormous part of the human civilization,” answers a passionate Slavkin. “We communicate through these media and have done so since the first cave man drew a wall… there is no way we would have known about it had it not been for art. Dance and music can evoke emotion no words can express. We believe a person illiterate of the arts is missing out on an essential part of the human experience.”

The arts are also empowering to the individual, providing a platform to learn skills and discipline. Being involved in the arts means gaining communication skills, ways to express oneself in innovative and creative ways. “Some people believe that twice a year of art is enough for the students. It’s not. The world we live in today is calling for people who look at the world creatively. Memorization doesn’t get you that.”

Music Center programs are readily available to those schools that wish use their services. Because there is a fee, the initial investment must come from the school or the parents, however once this first step is taken, the whole wide world opens.

“Even just a bit of context or prior knowledge goes a long way. Take something like opera. 9 out of 10 people on the street wouldn’t care for it, mostly because they don’t or never had the chance to access it. If we don’t give kids access, they’ll say ‘no, I don’t know it, I don’t like it.’ That’s why our crusade is to take arts out of the margins and into the mainstream of primary and secondary education all over LA County.”

The Center also has programs for adults. Called Active Arts, these are oriented towards engaging those 18+, to spark or reignite the arts in their life by allowing them to be part of the art, not just a spectator. Programs like Sing Along where anyone can come up and sing Broadway showtunes on the Music Center Plaza and be among professionals and peers. Have fun and perform. People love it because they’re given the chance to participate in an event mandated by a premier cultural institution, an enterprise traditionally closed to amateurs.

Despite having an educational background in politics and governance (Mark Slavkin has graduate and undergraduate degrees in Political Science from USC), a serendipitous job with the Getty Trust moved him to the cause of art education, and has been doing it for the Music Center for 7 years. What keeps him going? “It’s joyful work, fulfilling.” He recounts a recent event he attended at the Canyon School in Santa Monica. Artist Olivier Tarpaga from West Africa came and talked to kindergartners about where he came from and the drum he brought for them to play. He then told the children to act out and animal and freeze when the drum stops. “To see these little kids crawl around saying ‘I’m a lion’ or ‘I’m a tiger’ and taking it real seriously is just,” Slavkin stops, searching for words. “It’s the intrinsic power of the arts.”


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