Daily Archives: July 14, 2008

Where the Wild Things Are: Dino Ignacio’s fecund imagination

by Nickee De Leon/AJPress

In an alternate universe, there exists an adroit creature called Dino Ignacio. Here, beings that we’ve known and loved had alter egos-Bert is evil, droids did not have artificial intelligence and the Superfriends are not super friendly.

This seemingly dark microcosm is all in Dino’s head. I have been meaning to write an article about ‘Ser Dino’ (a name that I’ve coined, perhaps both out of respect and endearment) for the longest time, but circumstances have prevented me from doing so. I finally had a chance to do some catching up with him over the phone a few days ago. Dino finally cleared the cobweb of hearsay and revealed truths about himself that have eluded me all these years.

Dino and I met during our college years in UP. We were both students in the College of Fine Arts and both ran for office in the student council. He was (for a lack of a better word) an enigma -a phantom who sporadically appeared and vanished from view.

Almost ten years after he left the Philippines, we got reacquainted in San Francisco. At that time, he was finishing a course in Computer Arts at the famous Academy of Art. It seemed that the Dino that I saw was different from the Dino that I first knew. Something about him seemed less elusive and more grounded this time around.

The last time I saw ‘ Ser Dino’ was during the Myx launch party at the Henry Ford Theater in Hollywood in 2006. Back then, he was still working in ABS-CBN as creative director for Myx. He has since moved to Electronic Arts, a leading independent developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software. Dino works as a user interface designer. He is currently working on a game called Dead Space, due for an October release.

The Tower of Misunderstanding

Our conversation eventually veered towards reminiscent thoughts. Dino almost became an elusive entity after he dropped out of his Fine Arts course in UP in 1996 (a decision he made for very valid reasons). He remained a prominent figure in the art scene and made appearances here and there, especially since he got published for a children’s book called The Tower of Misunderstanding in 1997.

Dino spoke about the source of his muse for writing the book. He was coming to terms with his cousin’s death at that time. “It was a time for me to let go of understanding and accept things,” Dino recounted. A former girlfriend’s little sister would always ask him to tell her a story before going to bed. Usually he had one or two prepared, but that particular night he had none. He decided to weave one as they went along and realized that in doing so, he felt a sense of comfort and healing.

A new frontier

The Internet was still in its infancy during the late 90s, but Dino was quick to claim new territory. Fascinated by kilobytes and html’s, he formed a tri-media design studio called Binary Soup with a few friends. “It was a lucrative time to break in the industry,” he said. The business was actually groundbreaking at that time. They were able to market their services to clients over a few drinks and a lot of chika.

Bert is Evil

This newfound media became Dino’s new canvass for his wild ideas. The controversial Bert is Evil was born in 1998. Armed with a crazy concept and some Photoshop skills, Dino juxtaposed visuals of Bert (from Sesame Street) with infamous personalities as Adolf Hitler and Jerry Springer and tragic events in history as the JFK assassination.

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Bertisevil.tv states, “We have reason to believe that Bert of Sesame Street is evil and you should keep your children away from him.” Here in these pages are collected incriminating images and documents that prove that Bert is not the lovable harmless geek he so successfully makes us think he is.”

Bert is Evil

became a phenomenon among humorists and earned Dino, along with Wout J Reinders and Jasper Hulshoff Pol, a Webby Award and the People’s Voice Award for Best Weird website at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco that same year.

However, Bert is Evil was treading on dangerous ground. Because of its raging popularity, maintaining the Bert is Evil site became too costly for Dino. Instead of shutting the website, Dino allowed it to be mirrored. It gave other humorists a chance to create their own images, linking Bert to “current and historical atrocities.”

After 9/11, while in his junior year at the Academy of Art, Dino got a phone call from Reuters and various news agencies. Reuters called to verify the authenticity of an undoctored photograph that they published. The photo showed a rally of Bin Laden supporters in Bangladesh with a banner of Bin Laden showing a small image of Bert over his shoulder in the background. The Bert-Bin Laden image was posted in a Bert is Evil mirror site in 1998 and was not of Dino’s doing.

Dino got a kind letter from the Children’s Television Workshop, creator of Sesame Street, requesting that he take down the Bert is Evil site. With a statement saying that “I am doing this because I feel this has gotten too close to reality and I choose to be responsible enough to stop it right here,” Dino permanently removed the site from his server.

However, Dino was powerless over mirror sites.

Apparently, a mirror site maintained by Dennis Pozniak was the cause of the ruckus. He continued where Dino left off, creating new “evidence of Bert’s evilness.” Pozniak posted an image of Bert with Bin Laden that was made by a contributor only known as J-roen in 1998. After the controversial photograph was released, Pozniak was pummeled with questions by the media which led him to eventually shut down his mirror site as well.

Maritess vs The Superfriends

“I’m just cooking fish! I’m so sorry Aquaman!’” is perhaps the most popular line from Maritess vs The Superfriends. It’s funny, ironic and self-deprecating all at the same time.

The 2002 debut of this Rex Navarrete-Dino Ignacio collaboration brought as much hype as Bert is Evil – with more positive and enduring results. Maritess vs The Superfriends is not only laugh-out loud funny, it also brought socio-economic issues and issues on equality and gender into the forefront for Filipinos all over the world to digest.

Maritess vs The Superfriends

is about the confessions of Maritess, a Filipina housekeeper who works for the Superfriends in the Hall of Justice. Because of extreme poverty, Maritess was drawn to a job ad in the paper. Whisked by Wonderwoman in her invisible jet, Maritess flew from her native Zamboanga to the United States to work for the Superfriends where her (mis)adventures unfolded.

Dino met Rex Navarette, the man (yes, that’s his voice) behind Maritess, in 1999 at a film screening in San Francisco. For six months, Dino and Rex worked together closely on the project.

Among Dino’s other well-received projects were Mongodroids and the Weng Weng sticker campaign. Dino is a well of whacky ideas that will never run dry. His legacy of wild, irreverent concepts continue to fascinate millions.

He is now happily married to to Nina de Torres Ignacio and lives in San Jose in northern California.


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FRANKLY, my dear, Bill Gates gives a damn

by Lito Ocampo Cruz/AJPress

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gives a cool P22.8 million ($500,000) donation for RP’s typhoon Frank relief efforts.

He set our worlds on fire and changed the way we live – and give – forever.

His last day at the office had a Hollywood ending to it.

On June 27, 2008, the credits rolled and an era was over. Bill Gates walked into a standing ovation, and into the sunset. There was a crowd of 800 in the Redmond Conference Center as thousands of other employees watched the man and the moment online.

That 70’s gang from Seattle gave him a bound scrapbook of photos and mementos of the company he founded with Paul Allen in 1975. After all, what else can you give a man who has everything, including Microsoft?

Barely two weeks after Bill Gates retired, his legacy showed its soft spot again. Just last Wednesday, July 9, the Microsoft founder and the world’s third richest man, donated $500,000 – equivalent to P22.8 million as of Wednesday’s exchange rate – for the victims of typhoon “Frank” in the Philippines.

The United States-based Catholic Relief Services (CRS) country representative Michael Frank said that the funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would be coursed through the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace. Frank also said that the foundation responded to the call for donations issued by the CRS.

The funds would be use to buy emergency assistance packages for families left homeless and displaced by the calamity in the Panay region and Cotabato City.

Gates is one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution. In the later stages of his career, Gates has pursued a number of philanthropic endeavors, donating large amounts of money to various charitable organizations and scientific research programs through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, established in 2000.

For Bill Gates and the typhoon Frank victims, “tomorrow is another day.” (www.asianjournal.com)

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Filipino Ice Skater Goes for Gold

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

SHE may be one of the Philippines best hopes for a gold medal in the 2010 or 2014 Winter Olympics or a possible future Miss Philippines contender, but Anna Isabel “Issai” Villafuerte will try to do the unthinkable as she works her way up the amateur ice skating totem pole.

Having a Filipino in the winter Olympics may sound like an oxymoron given that the Philippines is known more for it’s tropical climate than frigid weather. However, from skating on slushy, chopped ice in the Philippines to a pristine, spotless surface in the US, the 13-year-old Issai will look to become an Olympic hopeful for the Philippines come the next Winter Olympics slated for Vancouver, Canada in 2010 or Sochi, Russia in 2014.

And she’s well on her way.

Last year, Issai became the first Philippine-born ice skater to qualify to compete in the United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA) sanctioned competitive events. She qualified last year after undergoing a series of rigorous tests conducted by the USFSA.

Most ice skaters in the Philippines compete on a recreational level. The US and world has a stricter standard. An ice skater looking to compete in an Olympic/or USFSA event must pass a stringent test to compete in qualifying competitions. Issai performed well enough to pass.

This year was her first year of competitive events and she surprised many when she arrived to the US in June and nearly swept the competition during her very first USFSA event.

Issai bagged three gold, a silver and bronze medal at the Broadmoor Open in Colorado Springs, Colorado last June 24-28. She topped the seven other competitors in freestyle, artistic, and spin events, according to her US Ice Skating Coach Ted Domingo. “We were all surprised,” said Fe Villafuerte, the mother. “We didn’t expect it.” Domingo did.

“I’m not surprised,” he said.

“We had two good weeks of training [leading] up to the event. We’ve been preparing and practicing for five to six hours a day.” Issai said that she too was surprised since prior to the Broadmoor Open, she didn’t perform very well in a different recreational competition.

“It [the Broadmoor Open] supposed to be the hardest and most important one,” she said. “I was competing against seven people. It was really tough. They were all so good and they landed everything. I was so nervous but I’m glad I did well.”

Ice Princess

Issai hails from Bicol, Philippines and is the granddaughter of Camarines Sur Congressman Luis Villafuerte. She currently attends a British School in Manila, according to Fe.

Issai learned how to ice skate at the age of 8. Accompanying her mother to SM Mega Mall in Manila, Issai grew tired of walking from store to store as her mother shopped. She found solace in the Mall’s ice skating rink – one of a few places on the island to have such a venue.

“It just started out as a hobby,” said Issai. “Something to do.” Pretty soon, she couldn’t get enough of the ice.

“She was begging me to go shopping so she could skate,” said Fe.

Fe started to take her to local mall competitions. In 2003, Issai picked up her first medal, a bronze, at an SM Southmall sponsored event. She momentarily quit to focus on school but picked up her skates again three years later.

In 2006, Issai’s seriousness of the sport began to grow. She was among the 1,000 competitors from 25 different countries and one of 200 from the Philippines to compete in the Skate Asia event at the World Ice Arena in Shenzhen, China.

At that event, Issai captured four gold medals, one silver medal and two bronzes.

Momentum began to build. She continued to rack up medals in other ice skating events in Guangdong, China, and in Bandung, Indonesia and she placed second runner up in an Ice Princess 2006 competition in the Philippines.

The next year, Issai picked up eight gold medals in her skill level at the 2007 Ice Skating Institute (ISI) Skate Beijing competition.

The only time she didn’t medal in a competition was when she first arrived to the US for the ISI World Recreational championship held in Chicago, IL. Issai had a difficult time adjusting to the ice surface.

“In Manila, the skating rink has a lot of bumps and sometimes holes,” she said. “They only clean it every three or four hours. But when I got here, they clean it every hour. I couldn’t believe how nice the ice looked.”

The ice was so pristine in Chicago that initially, Issai was apprehensive to skate fearing that the ice was too slick and her skates were too sharp, according to her mother.

“You have to go to the Philippines to understand,” said Fe, jokingly.

Fe added that it’s been a surprising two years. She never expected her youngest daughter of eight to be a competitive ice skater. She has accompanied Fe in all of her ice skating tournaments and she has not only seen her grow in experience on the ice but also physically grow “three to four inches.”

“I want her to win a Miss Philippines title,” said Fe. “She has the height and looks.”

That’ll have to wait.

Now standing with a svelte 5’7″ frame, Issai and her coaches know tat she still has a long way to go before being the first Filipino born ice skater to compete in a winter Olympics.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Albert Aguilar, Issai’s ice skating coach in the Philippines. “We can do it probably in 2014 Olympics. We really have to work hard for it but with her determination and support from her mom and family, maybe we can achieve it.”

If not, she could always try Miss Philippines.


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They’re Here! InvAsian

by Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/AJPress

LAS VEGAS – In the past years, the growth of the Asian populations has rapidly change. In California alone, the number of Asians has the largest, reaching 4.8 million in July 2004 and the largest numerical increase of 123,000 since July 2003, according to the US Census Bureau.

But the wave of Asian migration has turn to a surprising twist, as growing numbers of Asian Americans are beginning to leave from areas that have long been their main gateways — California and Washington. In a report by Steve Marcus for USA Today, it stated that “Asian Americans are moving to spots in the West they hope will produce better lifestyles.” The aralso explained the reasons – crushing home prices, poor schools, jammed freeways and persistent crime. These factors have sent millions of other Californians to pack their bags and move to the West, namely Las Vegas and Phoenix.

A growth in business and the community

According to the Census Bureau’s 2007 estimate, the number of Asians and Pacific Islanders in Nevada jumped 174 percent in the 1990s and 67 percent this decade. They now make up about 8.2 percent of the 2.6 million population.

Another proof on how big the Asian community has grown is the rapid development of Las Vegas’ Chinatown. Less than three blocks long 10 years ago, Chinatown now stretches almost four miles along Spring Mountain Boulevard. “Although it’s officially called Chinatown, it’s really ‘Asiatown’ said John Fukuda, founding president of the Asian Real Estate Association of America in USA Today. The association just opened its Las Vegas chapter last year.

Other visible signs of growth in the Asian American community are apparent – the construction of Asia Town Center, a 180,000 square foot shopping center and real estate agents are now offering prospective buyers with “fly and buys” for Californians to check out properties.

However, the Filipinos, not the Chinese or Japanese are the largest contingent, constituting more than 40 percent of the group’s local population.

This surge of Filipino immigration to Nevada began later than any other states. Mostly living in the Las Vegas Clark County area, the Filipinos have built a community that is centered to serve the growing population. It has Little Manila, accommodating Philippine favorites like Goldilocks Bakeshop, a mini mall-type Seafood City supermarket, housing other Filipino businesses like Jollibee, Chow King, Red Ribbon, Valerio’s and Philippine National Bank. It is also now a focal point of Filipino tourists and immigrants and is served by Philippine Airlines, which provides easy access when traveling between the Philippines and Nevada.

Development and progress in the area translates into more employment for the locals, something that is welcomed by the both job-seekers and employers.

The lights and sounds are indeed luring more people – not just Asians – from other states. Soon enough, the population will be more diverse – something that will make Las Vegas more interesting aside from its hotels and casinos.


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ADOBO: A History of the Country’s National Dish

By Cynthia De Castro & Rene Villaroman/AJPress

The Filipinos imbibed, imitated and improved the cooking styles of their colonial masters. Thus, Filipino cuisine reflects its culture and history. As the local saying goes, Philippine food was prepared by Malay settlers, spiced by the Chinese, stewed by the Spanish and hamburgerized by the Americans.


is the result of the eclectic influences, both regional and historical, that come together in many Filipino dishes. ‘’Philippine cooking probably reflects history more than a national cuisine,’’ says Cecilia Florencio, a nutrition professor at the University of the Philippines in Manila.

Even before the Spaniards came, early Filipinos cooked their food minimally by roasting, steaming or boiling. To keep it fresh longer, food was often cooked by immersion in vinegar and salt. Thus, early Filipinos could have been cooking its meat in vinegar, which is the basic process in making adobo.

From the Chinese traders came soy sauce and thus this ingredient found its way into the meat being cooked in vinegar. Salt was slowly taken out from the recipe and replaced with soy sauce. However, there are adobo purists who continue to use salt in their adobo marinade.

The colonization of the Philippines had a big impact on the evolution of Philippine food, and adobo was one of those Spanish-inspired recipes, along with others like morcon, paella, embotido, pochero and caldereta, that have not only survived hundreds of years of popularity but have undergone infusions of other ingredients.

The Spanish influenced our local cooking with their marinades and sauces. Some say that adobo is related, albeit distantly, to adobado, a tasty Spanish concoction that consists of pork loin cured for weeks in olive oil, vinegar and spices and simmered for several hours. But the recipe is quite different.

The Spanish word adobo means seasoning or marinade, according to Wikipedia. The noun form is used to describe the actual marinade or seasoning mix, and the term used for meat or poultry that has been marinated or seasoned with the adobo marinade is referred to as having been adobada. For the grammarians, this is a first-person singular present indicative form of adobar, a verb meaning to marinate.

The old Spanish word adobar could be where the early Filipinos got the word for their most famous dish. In Spanish cuisine, however, adobo refers to a pickling sauce made with olive oil, vinegar, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, oregano, paprika and salt. The word adobo is also used in Mexican and Caribbean cuisine. The Mexican adobo refers to a piquant red sauce made from ground chilies, herbs and vinegar sold canned or jarred. The Caribbean adobo usually refers to a dry rub of garlic, onion, oregano, salt and pepper.

But the Filipinos’ adobo is the most famous the world over. Filipinos selected their favorite condiments and spices — vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves — used them to stew chicken and/or pork, and gave it a Spanish name.

This just goes to show that no matter how many cultures may add to the Filipinos’ range of food cuisine, you can’t keep their culinary identity down.


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Bay Area Boxer Julaton Battles to a Draw

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

LAS VEGAS – All FilAm female boxer Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton wanted for her birthday was a win by knockout.

Unfortunately, some birthday wishes don’t come true.

Last July 5, the now 28-year-old Julaton battled undefeated Johanna Mendez to a draw in a bantamweight match during the undercard of the Ricardo Torres vs. Kendall Holt championship bout at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.

It was Julaton’s second fight in ten days and one has to wonder if that had something to do in her less than stellar performance. Julaton’s last fight against Salana Jordan in Lemoore ended in 37 seconds of the first round. Mendez proved to be a tougher opponent with the match lasting all six rounds.

The 18-year-old Mendez confounded the Filipino with her slippery style. Julaton was the aggressive fighter throughout the match, while Mendez sat back and waited to counterpunch.

The style proved to be effective against the stronger Julaton. Early in the bout, Julaton landed a few overhand rights that snapped Mendez’s head back. It appeared Julaton would dominate the smaller fighter.

However, Mendez adjusted in the mid-rounds. Mendez waited for Julaton to come in and attack before catching Julaton with a few blows of her own. Every time Julaton came in, Mendez would throw a punch, clinch or move to the left or right.

In the fourth round, Julaton suffered a gash over her right eye from an incidental headbutt.

With blood flowing down from one side of her face, Julaton appeared frustrated with Mendez’s style. Julaton chased the quicker Mendez around the ring and would land the stronger and more effective punches, however, not enough to sustain a considerable attack.

Mendez did not land any significant blows but threw and landed enough punches to convince some of the judges that she won a few rounds.

Ringside judge Richard Ocasio scored the bout 58-56 for Mendez. Judge Bill Graham had it 55-59 Julaton. Judge Paul Smith scored it 57-57 even.

After the match, Julaton was clearly disappointed with her performance.

“I would have been happy with the win but a draw – it’s not a win, it’s not a lost so I’m still considered undefeated,” said Julaton. “But I look at it differently, coming in everybody knows I have Manny Pacquiao’s trainer [Freddie Roach] in the corner and we wanted to win. I can’t blame the judges… I just have to get back to work.”

Roach said they have a lot of work to do. Mendez exposed a part of Julaton’s game that future opponents might try to capitalize on against her, according to Roach.

“It was a very close fight,” he said. “She [Mendez] had a very difficult style. She sort of just waited and counterpunched. I thought Ana was the aggressor. I thought Ana made the fight happen. If it weren’t for her there wouldn’t be a fight…but it’s a learning experience and Ana will learn from it.”

“Mendez had a very difficult style,” he added. “She waited and counterpunched. The girl set precedence on how they fight Ana now. We’ll have to change that up. We’ll jab a little bit more, use feints. It’s a work in progress.”

Other Undercard Matches

Glen Gonzalez of North Cotabato, Philippines won a unanimous decision against Robert DaLuz in the same undercard of the Holt vs. Torres championship bout. The 22-year-old southpaw outpointed the slower DaLuz in their six-round match.

Holt vs. Pacquiao?

Kendall Holt made a statement with his impressive first round knockout win against Ricard Torres for the WBO Junior Welterweight Championship belt. With Pacquiao possibly moving up in weight again to 140 pounds, Holt wants his piece against the Filipino champion.

“Everybody keeps saying ‘Ricky Hatton against Pacquiao’, but how about me,” said Holt to the Asian Journal after the match.

Pacquiao’s camp has expressed his desire to fight British people’s champion Ricky Hatton, if Pacquiao ever moves up to the 140-pound junior welterweight division.


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