Daily Archives: July 3, 2008

A Day of Gaiety

by Joseph Peralta/AJPress

SAN FRANCISCO – One of the biggest annual events in the San Francisco calendar took place last weekend when the 2008 San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Celebration grabbed the spotlight in the downtown area.

I was able to catch the Gay Pride parade and walk on the festival grounds on the second day of the two-day festivities, which has become one of the most well-attended celebrations in the city during the summer.

The parade, which featured more than 160 contingents, guests and floats, certainly reflected this year’s theme of “United by Pride, Bound for Equality” as many of the contingents chose to celebrate the opportunity recently presented to same-sex couples: gay marriage.

Whether it was a lesbian couple with a “Just Married” sign on their motorbike riding with Dykes on Bikes, who opened the Gay Pride parade, or a gay couple exchanging vows on a float in front of their friends and relatives, or couples carrying placards saying “Married” or “Newly-Married,” parade participants brought home to watchers the message that they are ecstatic with the way recent events have gone, and that they are happy to be treated as equals when it comes to the issues of marriage, spousal rights and family.

The Gay Pride parade also featured the usual suspects: city officials and politicians (led by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom who is credited with getting gay marriage on track again), community groups and grassroots organizations, major corporations like Wells Fargo, Virgin America, Air New Zealand and Smirnoff, celebrity guests (Cyndi Lauper, Charo, Stuart Milk and Leslie Jordan), parade grand marshals, and contingents representing the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender communities.

Of course, what would the Gay Pride parade be without the usual scantily-clad dancers and risqué costumes worn by some parade participants. Or the colors of the gay flag reflected in the floats and outfits of the different contingents. (No, no, you won’t see those pictures here, but you can do an internet search if you want to know what I’m talking about.)

Along the sides of the parade route, I saw people genuinely enjoying the parade which featured the weird, the touching, the funny, the serious, and whathaveyou.

I also a few things. The wellprepared came in early with a battle plan: find the best spots that can offer a shade once the sun starts blazing down. The multi-taskers had their own agenda: watch a little bit or all of the parade, and head into the malls afterwards to do some shopping. And the enterprising? They hawked gay paraphernalia (beads, rainblow flags, whistles, hats), food and/or drinks, and other merchandise to the willing.

Next year, I will have to remember to come in early so I can have a better view. Otherwise, I will have to be content with trying to find open spots where people are smaller than I am so I can shoot over their heads, as was the case this year.

It was not all love though at the parade. Where one normally takes the cable car at Powell Street, the religious right and so-called “haters” had their placards up. They were largely ignored by the majority of attendees who seemed to enjoy the parade.

At the festival grounds, I came across people of all shapes and sizes, and all orientations. I was happy to see fellow Pinoys enjoying the entertainment spread throughout the grounds (one main stage, and six smaller stages), particularly in the Asian & Pacific Islander stage which featured Tita Aida, R&B/pop/jazz singer Melissa Reyes, and a few Filipino female impersonators.

Actually, the San Francisco Gay Pride Celebration, which reportedly attracts an estimated 200,000 visitors from outside the Bay Area, is not only for the LGBT group. I saw a lot of straight people at the festivities which just shows what a long way tolerance for each other has come in this day and age.

One thing is for sure – if you have reservations about seeing people who are scantily clad, then the SF Gay Pride Celebration is not your cup of tea. This goes for parents who don’t want to have their children exposed to the gay culture – at least, not until they are of age.

But if you have a Sunday to spare and want to have some fun, then attending Gay Pride can be worth it… just bring your baon, your sunblock, your chairs and an open mind.


Leave a comment

Filed under Feature

Rockin’ the Rain: PAFCOM event pushes through in spite of weather

by Momar Visaya/AJPress

JERSEY CITY – Everyone was just having a grand time, enjoying the food, the music and the company. Until the unexpected, uninvited and unwelcome guest arrived.

For about five minutes the guest wreaked havoc on the festival site, blew away tents, chairs and whatever the various booths were giving out. Then, the heavy downpour, which left a lot of people sulking wet.

When the dark skies cleared a few minutes later, people started to head home. There were torn tents, plastic bags, papers everywhere. It was like a scene from a movie where tornados happen.

Even Mig Ayesa, one of the event’s guest performers, was not spared. He too was wet.

Efforts were exerted in order for the show to go on but the efforts were all for naught as mild rains poured intermittently.

Not wanting to disappoint his fans who trooped to the event, Ayesa stepped on a table and performed two songs, including ‘We Will Rock You’ a capella. The handful of people who stayed formed a semi-circle around him. It was a very intimate performance.

“Thank you for coming and being here in the first place. If you went home, I hope you are safe and dry. I’m sulking wet right now so you’re probably smarter than me because you went home,” Ayesa told the Asian Journal as he delivered his message to fans who came to see him.

This is the 18th year of PAFCOM (Philippine-American Friendship Committee), a nonprofit organization that was born out of an initiative from Filipino American community leaders to empower the Filipino community.

The PAFCOM parade and festival is one of the largest annual events among Filipino Americans in the tri-state area. Marching bands and floats participated in the parade that began from the Jersey City Armory and ended at Exchange Place area where the cultural program was held. This year’s theme is “Filipino Americans working towards unity and success”.

Consul General Cecilia Rebong thanked the community for supporting events like this that promote Filipino culture. Rebong also congratulated Rosalinda Rupel, PAFCOM’s chairperson and Gerry Austria, this year’s grand marshal for their efforts. (www.asianjournal.com)

Leave a comment

Filed under FilAm News

GALING PINOY: A Woman of Faith

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – WE all receive letters from people, but when a Filipina receives letters from US President George W. Bush and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, praising her for her contribution to the United States, then she’s certainly one great Filipina. She’s Faith Bautista, founder of the non-profit organization in San Diego, Mabuhay Alliance.

Here’s what President Bush wrote Faith on the occasion of Mabuhay Alliance’s Annual Economic Development Conference last year. “I appreciate the Mabuhay Alliance (MA) for its commitment to promoting and enhancing minority businesses. Your efforts advance prosperity for all our citizens and help make our Nation stronger,” wrote the President.

Meanwhile, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sent his own message to Faith saying, “Your organi zation’s work with Pacific American Islanders and Filipino Americans expand their knowledge on home-buying and financial planning, improving their abilities to successfully support their children and families. I thank Mabuhay Alliance for its tremendous contributions to building a brighter future for the people of the State of California. Your continued work helps keep California’s economy strong and productive”.

Faith Bautista, owner of the 20-yearold San Diego Advertising Specialties, is an outstanding businesswoman. She is the recipient of many awards for her business success in San Diego, namely; Outstanding Business in the Filipino Community (Handog Award 1990); Excellence Award given by Congressmen Bob Filner and Duke Cunningham and Mayor Susan Golding (1990), Business Woman of the Year Finalist (2001-Greater San Diego Supplier Development Council), Outstanding Business Person of the Year (TOBY -1998), Nawbo Award (Asian Business Association (1996-1998), Subcontractor of the Year (GDE Systems -1995), Most Enterprising Award Finalist (Bank of America -1995), Quality and Excellence Award (San Diego Gas & Electric 1993-1994), Top Businesswoman (California Legislative Assembly 1993), Working Mother Leadership Award (Filipino American Chamber of Commerce San Diego 1993), and Minority Woman-Owned Business Awardee (1992 -voted by major corporations in San Diego).

Despite her excellent business acumen, Faith Bautista’s main claim to fame is for the other company she founded in San Diego, Mabuhay Alliance. A non-profit organization founded with the purpose of enhancing the quality of life of Filipino-Americans, Mabuhay Alliance has provided thousands of FilAms and other Asian Pacific community members with networking opportunities and access to resources that are not attainable as a single entity. Since 2004, Mabuhay Alliance has worked towards greater representation of minority groups, provision of stable funding, and the development of great relationships with corporate partners and good alliances by providing programs that empower them.

A marketing graduate of the Philippine School of Business Administration (PSBA), Faith was born and raised in Manila. She immigrated to San Francisco in the 1980s where she worked in the software administration division of Hewlett Packard. In 1986, Faith moved from San Francisco to San Diego and that’s when she decided it was time to start her own company.

Faith related what led to her decision. “When I was in 4th grade in the Philippines, I sold yema candies. By selling to classmates and schoolmates, I was able to buy things for our house – like curtains for our living and dining rooms. So, even at that early age, I knew I had talent in sales. Since that time, I’ve always wanted to have my own business,” Faith said.

Faith set up San Diego Advertising Specialties in 1987, selling different promotional products. “In the first year, I went knocking from door to door,” admitted Faith. “It was very, very difficult – walking in the heat and carrying the heavy catalogues. The rejections were frustrating. But I was determined. I paced myself. I had good self-esteem so I never took the rejections personally. I believed I was good and I could do it,” she said.

The breakthrough came when Faith got her first corporate client, Goodrich, which ordered $500,000 worth of promo products. Other corporate clients soon followed and in a few years, Faith’s client list consisted of top American companies.

Having her own business, Faith saw the need to network. She joined Filipino clubs, the local chamber of commerce, business associations, and attended trade shows. Faith’s excellent personality and leadership qualities quickly got her elected to key positions in many organizations in San Diego.

She was elected President of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce, San Diego County (1993-1996); Vice President of the Coalition of Filipino American Chambers of Commerce of California (1995-1997); Board of Director of Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce (1995-1997), United Way of San Diego (1995-1997), Asian Business Association (1996-2000), and Southwest Center for Asian Pacific American Law (2001-2003);Vice President of the Philippine American Chambers of Commerce of US (1996-1998); Chairperson of the Philippine Tourism Advisory Council (1996-2001); and President of the Asian Business Association, San Diego (2000-2001).

In her various key positions in the Filipino American community, she saw the need to empower the Filipino Americans and enhance their quality of life, which inspired her to put up Mabuhay Alliance.

“I started Mabuhay because I realized the value of the Filipino community and I wanted to help improve their life and their businesses. I know the resources that I have access to. I was working with many Fortune 500 corporations and I wanted to take advantage of what’s in front of me. I saw the opportunities that are before me. It was up to me to make the most of it, so I rose up to the challenge and established Mabuhay Alliance,” explained the woman of faith.

Mabuhay Alliance programs include Micro-Business Technical Assistance, Business and Social Networking, Alternative Micro-Lending, Supplier Diversity, Financial Literacy Seminars, Volunteer Income Tax Preparation, Foreclosure Prevention, First-Time Home-buying Program, and many more programs designed to help low- to moderate-income minority communities, specially Filipino American families.

“I wanted mainstream America to be familiar with a Tagalog word so I called it Mabuhay. Now, we’re recognized by the top management of big companies and financial institutions. Politicians not only know about us; they are impressed with the programs of the organization and we enjoy their support,” she said.

For her contributions to the minority community, Faith has been awarded by the Council for Supplier Diversity and the National Association of Women Business Owners as the Advocate of the Year (2007), and the Community Leader of the Year for 2006 in the Asian Heritage Awards and very recently, the Big Heart Award for 2008 by the Greenlining Institute.

“Mabuhay is a faith-based organization, meaning, I initially work with Christian organizations like churches. Since I am born again, it’s so easy for me to work with pastors,” Faith said. Her company offers the programs to churches and the information spreads from there to other communities.

Faith stresses that it is her faith in God that gave her success. “If you believe in your dream, God will give you the passion and all the help you need. You shouldn’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. Many people told me there’s no way to unite the Filipino American community, but we were able to do it, with God’s help,” she said.

“Filipinos are awesome. Everyone is great; no one is mediocre. We all have our own strengths. If we all do the best we can in whatever our strength is, we will conquer,” Faith added.


Leave a comment

Filed under Galing Pinoy

What Empowers “The PACMAN”

by Rene Villaroman/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – Manny Pacquiao won the fight with David Diaz not only because he a is a better, more experienced fighter, but also because of the overwhelming support of his fans. This was evident in the number of Filipino fans that filled the Mandalay Bay Event Center, outnumbering the Mexicans by a ratio of 8 to 2.

“It’s a matter of FiIipino pride,” declared Vince Gozon, who flew down from San Francisco with two friends. “Pacquiao is part of our country, and he’s gonna knock him (Diaz) out in Round 5,” Gozon told Asian Journal prior to the bout.

“I was here also during his last fight,” said Allan Pineda, (Apl.de.Ap), who came to watch the fight with Black-Eyed Peas co-founder Will.I.Am. “Because my friend here told me I should support Pacquiao,” Will.I.Am said. “He’s a Filipino that has a dream and he is a representative of the Philippines, so we support him,” he added.

The buzz about the 59

Philippine Congressmen coming to Las Vegas to watch the fight did not materialize. Apart from house Speaker Prospero Nogales of Iloilo, the only other politician that we encountered at the Event Center was former Senator Robert Jaworski. “I haven’t seen any of them (Congressmen), so I doubt that they would be here,” Jaworski said. “I guess they are out on a mission in Washington (DC), so I haven’t seen any of them.”

When I asked him to describe Manny Pacquiao, Senator Jaworski said, “Well, first of all, I believe that Manny has become a symbol of unity and hope for the Philippines. I hope and pray that he wins, particularly with the very serious accident (ferry sunk by storm) that happened recently.” The senator said that the storm cost so many lives in the cuntry. “I feel that he (Pacquiao) could somehow uplift so many who are in deep sorrow because of that fateful accident.”

Agnes Briones of Jollibee also came with three colleagues to support the fighter from General Santos City. “We have to support our kababayan,” Briones said. “We also want to promote our brand to the many Filipinos who came here for the fight. We have a branch at South Maryland Parkway.”

Three very close friends of the boxer would not miss the fight for the world. “Siyempre, kaibigan namin si Manny,” said Lito Camo, songwriter-composer, who writes the entrance songs for Pacquiao and for Willie Revillame of the Philippine television show, Wowowee. “Hindi lang kami Team Pacquiao, kami ay solid na magkakaibigan. Everytime na me laban si Manny, kahit saan pa yan, talagang pumupunta kami, at pinipilit naming dumating para mabuo ang Team Pacquiao,” Camo said.

Ruben Mijos, originally from Bohol province and a bus driver at McCarran International Airport, came with two friends. He brought a customized Philippine flag with the name of the champion pugilist emblazoned across the bottom of the flag. “Fan ako ni Pacquiao; talagang diehard,” he said. “One hundred per cent na panalo in nine to 10 rounds,” he assured.

Pacquiao, on the other hand, has remained humble even after his historic win in four weight divisions. “I’m so happy that I won by knockout. I’m grateful for a fantastic victory tonight,” he told journalists and fans at the after-the-fight press conference. He also thanked members of the Boston Celtics — his favorite basketball team — for watching the fight and supporting him. “I did not expect to win the fourth title tonight. I thank Top rank, Bob Arum, the media, and Mandalay Bay for this fight.”

Looking none the worse for wear, Pacquiao said, “I feel he (Diaz) hurt me once. He is strong, and I am lucky that I won tonight.” Says his trainer, Freddie Roach, “It’s always a scare when you cut your weight. Manny worked out in the gym everyday, and he knew that he could out-speed Diaz. At 135 (lbs.), he looks great. I’m proud of his right hand tonight.”

“I’m just a fighter. My job is to prepare and fight,” Pacquiao said. “Idini-dedicate ko ito sa mga kababayan at mga biktima ng typhoon. Gagawa ako ng paraan para makatulong sa kanila,” Pacquiao promised. Responding to a sportswriter, Pacquiao declared, “I do not want to compare myself with other fighters. I just want to go out there and do my job and make people happy.”

Promoter Bob Arum told Diaz: “You are a great fighter; you are a great young man. Boxing needs more men like you.” Diaz, whose face sustained several cuts, arrived at the conference first and thanked supporters. “You’re gonna win; you’re gonna lose, and tonight we’re here not to offer excuses,” Diaz said. “It’s the speed that got me. My respect goes for him (Pacquaio). Tomorrow, we’ll get back and fight again. It’s all in good fun. I had fun tonight.”


Leave a comment

Filed under Feature

Pacquiao’s Speed No Match for Slower Diaz

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

LAS VEGAS – “If you guys give me the license plate of the truck that hit me, I’d appreciate it.”

The crowd in the media room laughed but it wasn’t funny. It was a reality.

The quote was David Diaz’s sarcastic opening statement in the post fight press conference. His pale face bruised blue and battered red. He had a large black gash from the coagulated blood over his right eye that required stitches, another one above his nose and a swollen left lip the size of a quarter. In fact, just minutes before, Diaz was laid out face fi rst on the canvas like a truck really did come in and hit him.

But this truck’s name was Manny Pacquiao and he even stopped and offered him a hand.

“Today, was the day we lost, no excuses,” said Diaz. “That [expletive] was fast. He came in pretty good. He’s a champion. He’s a good fighter; my respect and my hats off to him.”

The Super Featherweight Champion Pacquiao, the fighting pride of the Philippines, came out fast and strong demolishing the Mexican American Diaz for nine solid rounds in front of 8,362 mostly Filipino crowds at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, last Saturday night.

Pacquiao captured Diaz’s World Boxing Council’s [WBC] Lightweight title, making him the first Asian and Filipino to win four world titles in four different weight divisions. He also continued his streak of besting Mexican opponents.

After starting his career at the age of 16 as a 106-pound strawweight, there were reservations whether Pacquiao would be able to stand up to the former Olympian Diaz at 135 pounds. Last Saturday, those who doubted were obviously wrong.

“I feel very comfortable in that weight,” said Pacquiao. “I feel stronger at 135.” And it showed.

If Pacquiao were a truck, he would have finished Diaz off with one swift punch. It was too bad for Diaz. Pacquiao’s not a truck and Diaz took a pounding all nightlong.

It was a beautiful massacre for those who follow the sweet science. At times, painful to watch but artistically well performed.

From the opening bell, Pacquiao danced and threw combinations while eluding Diaz’s looping left hooks. Right, right jab, left cross, in-and-out, Pacquiao moved. He swayed left. He swayed right. Pacquiao might as well have been doing the waltz.

Towards the end of the first round, blood was already dripping from the top of Diaz’s nose.

It was a sign of things to come.

By the mid-rounds, Pacquiao continued to land his combinations at a ferocious rate. He parried Diaz’s attacks. His counter right hands were accurately timed. He showed poised and patience. He danced like a butterfly around Diaz, and stung like a bee ala Muhammed Ali.

As a result, Diaz’s face was flush red. His white trunks were soaked pink from the dripping blood. Diaz had a cut above his nose, a gash above his right eye, black eye in his left, and a swollen left lip. The cut above Diaz’s right eye was so serious it required a number of mid-round doctor stoppages.

It was truly a bloody mess, a one-sided affair.

The crowd wondered when referee Vic Drakulich would stop the fight.

Pacquiao admits he wondered about that too.

“There was one round [when] I told the referee, ‘look at this guy, he has a bad cut. You need to stop this fight.’ The referee told me no and to continue.”

The Chicago native son, Diaz continued to fight on. It was a resilient Rocky I performance. He trudged towards Pacquiao lunging punches but to no avail.

Finally, the 32-year-old succumbed to the beating. Pacquiao’s speed was just too much for the slower Diaz.

In the 2:24th minute of the ninth round, Pacquiao landed a perfectly timed left hook to Diaz’s iron jaw. Diaz face planted the canvas before rolling over on his back. Referee Drakulich didn’t bother to count and waved the fight off immediately. As a sign of good faith, Pacquiao on his way to the corner tried to help the ailing Diaz before celebrating.

“He’s so fast. I had no idea,” said Diaz. “Fast, fast, fast. Amazingly, fast. He’s just faster than I expected. I got tricked by his speed.”

“Manny’s best performance of his life,” said Trainer Freddie Roach. “We fought a great fight. We had a great game plan… this was the best Pacquiao yet. At 135 pounds, he looks great.” Roach said coming into the fight, he was cautious of the stronger Diaz.

“We knew Diaz is a strong guy,” he added. “If we stood there and traded with him, we knew it would give him a chance to win the fight. It was better to hit him then step off to the side before landing a combination. And it worked perfectly.”

The 29-year-old Filipino improves his record to (47-3-2, 35 KOs).

Pacquiao said that this fight meant more to him not just because he made boxing history but wanted to win for his kababayans at home.

“I’m just so happy that I made history,” said Pacquiao. “I’m really glad I won this fight. I dedicate this [win] to my countrymen that suffered from the typhoon [Fengshen]. I’m just really happy that I won tonight.”


Leave a comment

Filed under News

The LEGENDARY Manny Pacquiao

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

Manny Pacquiao is the best boxer in the world right now. Period.

If there were any doubts that he isn’t the pound-forpound best, according to Ring Magazine, just watch a replay of the David Diaz match on HBO this Thursday and Saturday night.

Pacquiao drilled and destroyed Diaz with determined will. He showed excellent hand speed and power from both hands.

It was like a cat playing with a ball of yarn. He pounced on him. He jabbed Diaz left and right. And at the night after nine merciless rounds, Pacquiao unraveled Diaz to a piece of string lying on the floor.

“I gave him an A+ for his performance,” said Trainer Freddie Roach. “I’ve never given anybody that kind of grade ever in my life.”

That’s saying a lot since Roach has trained the likes of former champions Mike Tyson, Michael Moore, James Toney and Johnny Tapia.

However, the most impressive part of Pacquiao’s performance was not his annihilating win over Diaz but what he did afterwards that will speak volumes.

It happened only for a second.

After Pacquiao finally put the striking left blow that dropped Diaz to the canvas. And after referee Vic Drakulich immediately signaled off the fight, Pacquiao tried to help his fallen comrade off the ground.

As a beaten and bruised Diaz lay on the canvas with his arms raised as if he was on his own deathbed, Pacquiao bent down with both arms and tried to help the 32-year-old up.

Pacquiao didn’t thump his chest immediately, climb the corner ropes and celebrate his win or was carried off with arms triumphant

That would wait.

Rather he made the classiest gesture – one of goodwill and good sportsmanship.

“My first concern was for Diaz,” said Pacquiao. “I was praying he was all right.”

I stood in my seat along the media row confounded. It’s the type of gesture that doesn’t hit you right away until you think about it.

In an age of showmanship and “I’m better than you” or “show me the money” attitude especially in sports, Pacquiao defied logic when he tried to help up Diaz. When he actually cared more about his opponent than his own triumphant win.

It was genuine a gesture. One that I hope will reverberate in the community.

For the past several years, Filipinos have looked up to Pacquiao.

Their way of life has revolved around his boxing matches. Crime doesn’t occur during Pacquiao fights.

They shadow boxed in front of the TV when he fought.

When he won, the Filipino people won. When he lost, they’d feel the pain.

There’s a saying that real winners are those who know how to persevere and behave with dignity whether they win or lose.

The small gesture showed Pacquiao’s complete respect towards Diaz.

It was a heroic move. It was an act of class. It was an act of being a Good Samaritan. It was an act of good sportsmanship.


Leave a comment

Filed under News