Daily Archives: July 23, 2008

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.  (www.asianjournal.com)

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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. (www.asianjournal.com)


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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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A Melting Pot

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
When singer Lea Salonga kicked off the first ever Global Pop Series at the Walt Disney Concert Hall two weeks ago, it was a spectacular performance by a great Philippine artist for the Filipino community for many. But for the execs of The Music Center, it was the culmination of a long-awaited experimental project.
The Music Center’s Vice President of Programming and Planning Josephine Ramirez had waited four years for the Global Pop Series to come into fruition.  The idea was to attract immigrant communities to watch their country’s top artists and more importantly, the funds from the shows would go directly to the Music Center’s non-profit Active Arts programs.

Ramirez and Music Center President Steven Roundtree had long wanted to bring in popular foreign artist to perform at the famed Music Center’s houses including the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

“We wanted to do something new for Los Angeles that would be both attractive to us as an institution and give immigrant communities in LA to come and have a great time,” she said to the Asian Journal. “We wanted to start building up a revenue-generating concert series that whatever profit goes to fund a free program we started four years ago.”

Active Arts at the Music Center provides over 55 to 65 free or low cost events a year. Some of the Active Arts free events include Dance Downtown, where attendees could dance the night away under the moonlight, Drum Downtown, Get Your Chops Back, and Friday Night Sing-a-longs.

“We needed to find a way to fund it besides donated income,” she said.

But with limited resources and lack of aptitude of the given culture for the planned Global Pop Series, Ramirez had to take a systematic approach.

After getting grants from the James Irvine Foundation, Ramirez spent a few years commissioning research on the largest immigrant groups, their financial power and the communities concert market. They conducted demographic and market research before narrowing the ethnic groups. The last step was researching on their pop stars.

The report found that the Latin market had the vast audience and market appeal. But for the inaugural Global Pop Series, Ramirez said they to wanted to reach out and target other ethnic groups not known for visiting the Music Center venues.

Ramirez said, generally speaking, that there is a perception among many ethnic groups that believe the Music Center is only for the elite and high-class residents of Los Angeles.

However, that shouldn’t be the case.

“The answer is complicated it could stem from physical barriers because of the amount of traffic to get to downtown, to emotional barriers,” she said. “A lot of people think of the old music center [as having] to pay a lot of money to watch a show– but that’s not true either. Many are just not aware of the Center’s free activity. We want to change people’s perception…we want them to know this is their music center as well.”

Ramirez said that Filipino community was among the six or seven ethnic groups that they had chosen for the inaugural Global Pop Series.

To further cement their choice, they brought in advisors from the Filipino community.

Search to Involve Pilipino American (SIPA) Joel Jacinto and Public Relations Executive Winston Emano were among the consultants.

“We’ve known Joel Jacinto for centuries,” she said. “We wanted to get in touch with them and not only host them and other leaders of the Filipino community but they were brought in a way so we could go through this hand and hand.”

They chose Lea Salonga because “it was a no-brainer.”

“She’s a huge star in the Philippines and a Broadway star,” said Ramirez. “Her selection was not as scary.”

The final piece of the puzzle arrived when the Blue Ribbon, a philanthropic group of women, made a substantial financial contribution to sponsor the event.

With the first performance being a hit, Ramirez hopes to continue the Global Pop Series and bring in other Filipino artist to perform at a Music Center venue.

She said that after the Salonga performance, attendees were given a survey to fill out and asking for people’s advice.

“We’re interested in looking to see whom they wrote down as the next Filipino star to perform here,” she said.

About Active Arts

Here is a list of upcoming free events available at the Music Center:

August 8 – Dance Downtown Zydeco featuring TLou and his Superhot Zydeco Band

August 9 – Drum Downtown

August 15 – Friday Night Sing-A-Long 80’s Night

August 22 – Dance Downtown Cha Cha & Salsa

For more information about upcoming events or to contribute to the Music Center and Active Arts please go to http://www.musiccenter.org


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Stephen Rountree’s Passion for the Arts

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
The Music Center of Los Angeles County is one of America’s three largest performing arts centers and Los Angeles’ premier cultural destination, welcoming over 2 million visitors annually. Centrally located in downtown Los Angeles along Grand Avenue, the Music Center is composed of four venues – Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theater and Mark Taper Forum. But, in total program space, it includes Grand Avenue itself, Disney Hall’s entrance steps, two performance spaces and park area on an upper patio, and even the main plaza with its fountain – as well as outdoor theaters, plazas, and gardens. And the main man in charge of it all is Music Center President Stephen D. Rountree.

A native Angeleño and fourth-generation Californian, Rountree is a graduate of Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he was formerly director of personnel and assistant executive vice president. He received a master’s degree in management from Claremont Graduate School.

Before Music Center, Rountree was with J.Paul Getty Trust for over two decades.  He started there in 1980 as deputy director of the Getty Museum. In 1984, he was appointed director of the Getty Center Building Program, with responsibility for managing all aspects of project development, design, and construction of the Getty Center in Los Angeles. In 1989, Mr. Rountree assumed additional responsibility for planning and management oversight of central administrative and operations functions. He was named Vice President of the Trust in August 1997 and the following year, served as executive vice president and chief operating officer till he joined the Music Center in 2002.

“I’m passionate about music and theater, but my background is actually in leadership and management within the non-profit arts sphere,” said Rountree.

Besides fundraising and managing Music Center’s annual operating budget of $50 million — derived from county funds and private donations — Rountree oversees the day-to-day business of planning, publicizing and putting on Music Center performances.

More than 1,000 performances take place at the four theaters every year. In addition, some 3,000 events are held, from the story telling and World City outdoor concerts in Disney Hall’s garden, to crafts projects to a Friday night dance series on the Plaza and occasional wedding parties.

Education programs, free for the most part, draw big crowds. The Very Special Arts Festival attract some 18,000 students, teachers and caregivers. Pillow Theatre for tots are also drawing big participants and World City’s demonstrations of various international cultures are always full.

“During the 1960s and ‘70s, Downtown was not a place to be,” the native Angeleño admitted. “Now, however, we use all possible venues to bring people Downtown.”

Rountree has said that his goals as president of Music Center include providing more diverse and engaging performances while creating enough momentum to draw an audience from around the world. Considering that the Music Center now draws around 2 million visitors yearly, Rountree seems to have achieved his goals.

The Music Center’s contribution to the city –and to the world-has not gone unnoticed.

“The Music Center is a tremendous cultural and educational asset for all Angeleños, young and old,” said Gary L. Toebben, president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The programs held at the Music Center enhance and inspire creativity, which is one of LA’s most significant assets,” Toebben said. “The Center’s expanding series of programs also brings people Downtown to experience the new vibrancy in residential housing, restaurants and retail. We are fortunate to have this world-class venue in LA.”

People with money also recognize Music Center’s significance. For several years now, additional grants coming from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Parsons Foundation, and other companies and individuals have been substantially donated to the Music Center.

As funds have increased, improvements have been done to make the 40-year old complex more modern and attractive, beginning with the major renovation of Mark Taper Forum, the 745-seat theater that holds newer works and is programmed by Center Theatre Group.

The $30 million project includes a major expansion of the back of house area that has been a crowded jumble of dressing rooms with costume and property storage.

The Taper backstage “has been too small, although the artists like performing there because the audience is so accessible,” Rountree said. Dressing rooms will be added on a second level to be reached by new elevators. New restrooms and a lounge will be constructed for the theater in the parking garage below. The theater is a designated historic site, so the exterior will be unchanged, Rountree said. The Taper will reopen in September.

A second phase major improvement being planned is the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

“The building is 44 years old and needs upgrading. There have been many innovations in technical equipment, lights and sound, since it opened,” Rountree said.

Planning for what is expected to be a substantial project will take five to seven years, Rountree said, estimating that the building will be closed for the 2012-13 season.

He said the renovation will cost more than $100 million, which has yet to be raised. The pavilion will retain its historic 1960s look, but the interior will be ‘freshened up,’ and the acoustics and backstage facilities will be updated.”

“Dorothy Chandler’s vision was to create a cultural center that would always remain relevant to the city,” Rountree said. “The Center is a living, breathing artistic entity that has remained a mirror of Los Angeles’ cultural diversity over its 40-year history, and we continue keeping pace with the city, making great strides in providing culturally-rich programs that speak the universal language of creativity.”


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The Heart of Art

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress

TIME Magazine praised it as “perhaps the most impressive display of virtuoso money-raising and civic citizenship in the history of US womanhood.” Newspapers around the world acclaim it as altering the cultural trajectory of Los Angeles. They’re referring to the exemplary efforts of Dorothy Buffum Chandler in giving birth to the Music Center of Los Angeles County.

As the wife of Norman Chandler, whose family published The Los Angeles Times since 1883, Dorothy Buffum Chandler became active in Los Angeles cultural circles. Seeing the importance of building a home for the arts in Los Angeles, Dorothy Chandler forever changed the city when she agreed in 1955 to head a citizen’s committee to build a permanent home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Chandler championed the cause and expanded the goal to include a performing arts center.

On March 17, 1955, Chandler, along with Mrs. Henry Salvatori and Mrs. Lemuel Bancroft, co-chaired a benefit concert at the Ambassador Hotel featuring Dinah Shore, Danny Kaye and Jack Benny. Known as the famous El Dorado party (named for the Cadillac El Dorado which was auctioned at the soiree), the $1,000-per person event raised $400,000, launching Mrs. Chandler’s historic Music Center fundraising crusade. This fundraiser began a nine-year crusade that raised some $20 million of the estimated $35 million total cost; the remainder was paid through private bond sales.

“Chandler… almost single handedly raised a staggering $18.5 million to build the Music Center, and organized a company to float another $13.7 million in bonds to finish the job,” TIME magazine reported when it featured Mrs. Chandler on the cover of its December 18, 1964 issue.

The County of Los Angeles provided the site and architect Welton Becket designed  the original complex. Construction began March 12,1962.

Chandler realized that one building would not be enough for the Center to showcase a rich array of performing genres. She determined the complex would be more culturally-relevant if it housed space not only for symphonic music and opera, but chamber music, and traditional and experimental theater. She soon found many donors for her expanded goal, among them Mark Taper who made the first $1 million donation in November 11, 1962 and Howard Ahmanson and the Ahmanson Foundation, the donors of $1.5 million in December 28, 1965.

The Los Angeles Music Center was dedicated on September 27, 1964 as “A Living Memorial to Peace,” becoming one of the most significant cultural accomplishments in the post-World War II history of Los Angeles.  It held its first performance on December 6, 1964.

The complex was completed in 1967, comprising three venues: the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Mark Taper Forum and the Ahmanson Theatre. The Chandler Pavilion served as the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 39 years, from 1964 until 2003. In that year, the Music Center celebrated another historic milestone: the debut of its fourth hall, the $274-million Walt Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry. This became the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Through the years, the Music Center has become an international performing arts venue and tourist destination. Today, more than forty years since its birth, the Center continues to celebrate its position as one of the world’s leading, iconic cultural centers for the performing arts.

The Resident Companies

Centrally located in downtown Los Angeles along Grand Avenue, the Music Center is home to four internationally acclaimed Resident Companies: The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Center Theatre Group, LA Opera and Los Angeles Master Chorale. Additionally, the Music Center offers the largest presentation of dance in Los Angeles, tours of all four venues, participatory arts activities, exciting programming for children and families throughout the year and nationally-recognized school education programs.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic

Founded in 1919, the Los Angeles Philharmonic is led by Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen (since 1992) and President Deborah Borda (since 2000). Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel was recently appointed to become Music Director in 2009.

The Philharmonic has won two Grammy awards and other honors.

Nearly 10 million people have been served by the Philharmonic’s educational and community programming. Each year 85,000 students and teachers participate in activities including the School Partners Program, the Kent Kresa Symphonies for Schools, Toyota Symphonies for Youth and Summer Sounds: Music for Kids at the Hollywood Bowl. In addition, the Philharmonic Association presents and produces more than 100 non-classical concerts at both venues, including jazz, world music, holiday concerts, and numerous others.

Center Theatre Group (CTG)

The CTG is one of the largest and most active theatre companies in the nation, programming year-round to a total audience exceeding 750,000 yearly at the Mark Taper Forum, and the Ahmanson Theatre, and also at the new 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.

Founded in 1967, it is led by Artistic Director Michael Ritchie (since 2005) and Managing Director Charles Dillingham (since 1991). Gordon Davidson is the Founding Artistic Director.

CTG has won 34 Tony Awards and three Pulitzer Prizes, and numerous other local and national honors. A leader in the development of new plays and new voices in theatre, CTG has served more than one million Los Angeles County residents with programs for students and teachers. P.L.A.Y. (Performing for Los Angeles Youth) reaches more than 35,000 Los Angeles County students annually.

Los Angeles Opera

The Los Angeles Opera was established in 1986 and since then has become a world-renowned company with a repertoire of perennial favorites and rare masterpieces in innovative productions, starring internationally established performers and promising new artists. Celebrated tenor Plácido Domingo is the Eli and Edythe Broad General Director (since 2003) -and regularly performs with the Opera as both singer and conductor – and James Conlon is Music Director (since 2006). Most recently, Los Angeles Master Chorale Director Grant Gershon was named LA Opera’s new Associate Conductor / Chorus Master.

The company has served nearly one million students, senior citizens, and other audiences through its internationally recognized Education and Community Programs and maintains a talented roster of Resident Artists – young singers who perform regularly in main stage productions as well as the Company’s community programs.

The Los Angeles Master Chorale

Founded in 1964 by the legendary Roger Wagner, the Los Angeles Master Chorale is led by Music Director Grant Gershon (since 2001) and Executive Director Terry Knowles (since 2000). One of the nation’s largest independent choral organizations, the company is in residence at the Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall and has released five recordings. The Chorale has presented educational programs to more than 700,000 Los Angeles County residents. Each year 14,000 students and teachers collaborate in educational programs including the High School Choir Festival, Master Chorale Chamber Singers performances Voices Within, and artists-in-residency songwriting program for fifth-grade classes.

Recognized as one of Los Angeles’ cultural treasures, the Chorale has received accolades for its innovative programming and its commitment to commissioning new works. In June 2003, the Master Chorale received the prestigious ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming. The Master Chorale performs about fifteen times per year in its own season, as well as appearing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic from time to time.

Supporting The Arts

As a privately-funded, non-profit institution, the Music Center relies on the generosity of individuals, corporations and foundations to sustain its goal of providing the most diverse cultural experiences to the widest possible audience. There are various ways one can support the arts thru Music Center.

Individual Gifts

Individual gifts support the Music Center’s efforts to present educational and cultural programming of the highest quality. Unrestricted gifts are among the most valuable to the Music Center, because they allow the Center to allocate funds wherever the need is greatest. Designated gifts allow donors to direct their gift to a specific program or priority area that is personally meaningful to them.

Corporate Gifts

Corporate giving provides valuable support to Southern California’s premier cultural organization and includes many valuable benefits that businesses can pass on to their employees.

Planned Gifts

A planned gift, such as a trust or charitable gift annuity, helps to ensure the continued prosperity of the Music Center while providing donors with significant tax benefits.

Commemorative Gifts

A commemorative gift to the Music Center is a wonderful way to honor a family member or loved one.

Matching Gifts

The Matching Gift programs allow supporters to double or even triple their gift to the Music Center. They simply send their gift along with a completed matching gift form.

Gifts by Mail

Contributions may also be sent by check to The Music Center, 35 North Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

To remain at the forefront of artistic excellence, the Music Center continuously looks for innovative ways that are culturally relevant to the community. Perhaps Dorothy Chandler said it best in a 1964 Los Angeles Times article: “The Music Center will stand forever as a symbol of what creative man can accomplish when he sets high his standards and has a vision far beyond our present horizons.”


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Green AIDS walk

by Miko Santos/AJPress
SAN FRANCISCO – More than 25,000 people (and dogs!) marched through Golden Gate Park Sunday, June 20, 2008 in the 22nd annual AIDS Walk San Francisco and helped raise $4.5 million, a few thousand shy of the event’s fundraising record last year.

AIDS Walk San Francisco has never been so important,” said Mark Cloutier, Chief Executive Officer of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “Each year, the AIDS Walk brings together the best out of our diverse communities and shows the world that the Bay Area remains at the forefront in combating this disease.”

He cited the fact that more people in the Bay Area are living with HIV than ever before, including nearly 19,000 in San Francisco alone. Nonetheless, almost all local AIDS service organizations are facing cuts in government funding at all levels.

The 6-mile walk from Sharon Meadow to the park’s western corner and back featured appearances by Loretta Devine, Roger Reese, former American Idol contestants and cast members from the broadway musical “A Chorus Line.”

The theme of this year’s walk was thoroughly green, and it included composting, better recycling and the introduction of Green Walkers, who opted not to receive any printed or mailed materials.

“With the Foundation’s focus on the overall health of our community, as well as our commitment to preventing new HIV infections, ‘greening’ AIDS Walk made great sense,” said Cloutier. “Every person who participates will walk towards a future where people and our shared environment are both healthier.”

Since 1987, AIDS Walk San Francisco has raised over $65 million for HIV /AIDS programs and services in the SF Bay Area. In 2007 alone, 25,000 participants, many of whom were members of more than 800 corporate and community teams,  raised a record sum of $4.6 million for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and more than 40 Bay Area HIV/AIDS organizations.

Funds generated from AIDS Walk San Francisco benefit the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF). For 26 years, SFAF has provided direct services to thousands of people living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS.  (www.asianjournal.com)

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A winning shot for Filipino Hospitality

SAN FRANCISCO – Last Thursday, July 17, The New York Times published an article, A Filipino Embrace, about NBA and Washington Wizard franchise player, Gilbert Arenas’ recent Adidas tour to the Philippines.
Most of us would think that the article couldn’t really be that significant, with the number of more important issues happening.   Also, the Philippines already had a number of NBA stars flocking for exhibition games and product endorsement tours. But this piece made the hoop, as the 26-year-old Arenas spoke somewhat affectionately about his whole experience, as well as his appreciation for the Filipinos.

A treatment fit for a president

Being the Washington Wizards’ franchise player, he often jokes about being “the black president.” Of course, he hasn’t realized the magnitude of his popularity in the Philippines, one that gave him the taste of presidential life.

Just as he landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the media followed him until he left three days after.  Booked at the elegant and opulent presidential suite of The Peninsula Manila, Arenas even took pictures of his room to prove he was there.

His store visits and press conferences is a strategic process, short of bringing the Secret Service – police escorts, bomb-sniffing dogs, brawny Adidas-clad security guards with earpieces, to make sure he was safe from the crushing clamor of his fans.

“It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and I’ve seen crazy fans all over the world,” according to his NBA.com blog.  But the most touching line in The New York Times was when he gave this advice to his fellow NBA players, “If you’re having a bad day or you’re having a bad career, go to Manila.  They’ll bring your spirits up.”

The basketball hoopla

Arenas and other foreign basketball players may be surprised how fanatic Filipinos can be about the sport, but it is a well-known fact to sportswear companies.  In the past years, big brands like Adidas and Nike have been sending American stars to Manila.  Aside from Arenas, Tracy McGrady of the Houston Rockets (also for Adidas) and LA Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (endorsing for Nike), have been to Manila twice in the past year.

Being among the world’s first basket-playing nations, as well as avid followers of the sport, big companies like Nike and Adidas have been competing on who gets the bigger share of the court.  Thus, the bigger star they can bring to the fans, the bigger noise (and revenues) they can possibly get.

In fact, even the local Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) enjoys almost the same popularity. Asia’s first professional basketball league, the PBA has helped shape the history of Philippine basketball. Another factor that really defined the relationship. Even competing teams are now supported by non-athletic companies with corporate-themed names like the Sta. Lucia Realtors, San Miguel Beermen and Magnolia Beverage Masters.

The competition also extends to local Filipino players and imports – either foreign, part Filipino, or US-born Filipinos, paving the way for great players like Norman Black (who used to play for San Miguel), Billy Ray Bates (Ginebra), Michael Hackett (Ginebra), and FilAms Vince Hizon, Mark Caguioa (Ginebra) and Danny Seigle (San Miguel).

However the ball rolls, both NBA and PBA (and even the Philippine Basketball League and college basketball teams) can be assured that Filipinos will continue to watch their games, support their teams and accept them warmly any time in Manila. (www.asianjournal.com)

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The New York Public Library honors Jose Garcia Villa’s works

by Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/AJPress
NEW YORK – Filipino poet, literary critic, short story writer and painter Jose Garcia Villa is the only Asian poet among a group of modern literary giants in 1940’s New York that included E. E. Cummings, Mark Van Doren, W.H. Auden, Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal. Known as the “Pope of Greenwich Village,” Villa stepped past his ethnicity and became a global poet.

Villa introduced the “reversed consonance rime scheme” in writing poetry, as well as the extensive use of punctuation marks – especially commas, which made him known as the Comma Poet.

On August 6, 2008, Doveglion, a collection of poetry, including rare and previously unpublished material, will be presented at the Jefferson Market Branch of The New York Library as part of Penguin Classic Centennial Celebration. Doveglion is Villa’s penname (derived from “Dove, Eagle, Lion”), based on the characters he derived from himself.  These animals were also explored by E. E. Cummings in Doveglion, Adventures in Value, a poem dedicated to Villa.

Born on August 5, 1908 in Manila, Villa first took medicine and then pre-law before realizing his passion for the arts.  Considered as the leader of Filipino “artsakists,” a group of writers believe that art should be “for art’s sake.”

His tart poetic style was considered too aggressive in his time that in 1929, he was fined for obscenity when he published Man Songs, a series of erotic poems.  He later on won Best Story of the Year from Philippine Press Magazine, and then migrated for the US using his prize money.

Granted a Guggenheim Fellowship in creative writing by American writer Conrad Aiken, wherein literature, Villa was also awarded s a fellowship from  Bollingen Foundation. He was also bestowed an Academy Award for Literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1943.  A National Artist for Literature in the Philippines, Villa’s brilliant pieces had lifted the standards of Filipino writers.  He is still considered as a powerful literary in the Philippines throughout much of the 20th century, although he has lived most of his life in the US.

Jose Garcia Villa died in 1997, at the age of 88 in New York – but his words, his poems continue  to live on. (www.asianjournal.com)

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Police identifies suspect in hit-and-run killing of Filipino family

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
TEMECULA, CA – California Highway Patrol officers have identified the driver, who allegedly fled the scene of a hit-and-run crash that left a Filipino family of three dead.

Officials on Monday identified that 30-year-old Chad Isaac Huber allegedly drove his GMC pickup truck on the wrong side of the road before crashing head-on into the Malibu sedan driven by 48-year-old Andres San Agustin. Andres and his wife 36-year-old Maribeth San Agustin died at the scene. Their four-year-old son Angelo passed away a few hours later at a local medical hospital.

Huber fled the scene and remains at large.

“The subject is still at large,” said CHP Spokesperson Ron Thatcher to the Asian Journal. “He may be North or South of the border. Investigators are still following leads to his possible whereabouts.”

Thatcher said that officers have detained 23-year-old Jarred Benjamin Abatti, who allegedly helped Huber flee the scene after the crash.

Police arrested Abatti on July 1, three days after the crash. He is currently being held at the Riverside Sheriff departments Southwest Justice Center. Police have charged him with felony vehicle hit-and-run that caused death, accessory, and battery with serious bodily injury. His bail is set at $200,00, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

“He’s waiting for a preliminary trial scheduled for August,” he said.

In an interview with the Asian Journal, Maribeth’s brother, Ariel Pagaspas, said he was informed that after the fatal car crash the alleged suspects fled to a nearby gas station. The two suspects were seen on a surveillance video removing the get away car’s license plate, according to Pagaspas.

“We received word from a CHP investigator that they have the driver of the get away vehicle,” said Pagaspas before flying with the bodies of his sister’s family to be buried in the Philippines. “I really don’t know all the details yet. This is just stuff I’ve been hearing.”

Thatcher said that witness statements and physical evidence from the crime scene lead to Abatti’s capture.

Last week, the Navy held a memorial service for Andres San Agustin, a former Navy hospital corpsman. Pagaspas said the bodies are being buried in the family plot in Rizal, Philippines.

Thatcher is asking for the public’s help in locating Huber. If you have any information on Huber’s whereabouts, please call the CHP Temecula office at (951) 506-2000. (www.asianjournal.com)

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