Daily Archives: August 3, 2008

Concepcion is the Real Deal: KOs Foe

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
LAS VEGAS – Bernabe “The Real Deal” Concepcion lived up to his nickname.

During the undercard of the Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito championship match, Concepcion kicked off the televised pay-per-view match with an impressive knock out against Adam Carrera in the third round of their scheduled ten rounder.

The 20-year-old Concepcion of Rizal, Philippines showed great footwork, hand speed and power to overwhelm the 25-year-old Carrera of Cathedral City, CA.

In the third round, Concepcion slipped under a Carrera jab and countered with a hard right cross to the head of Carrera for the first knockdown. Once Carrera got back up, Concepcion quickly pounced on him. Concepcion finished off Carrera with a right uppercut that landed flush to the left side of Carrera’s head. It was Concepcion’s ninth power shot in the round.

Referee Joe Cortez waved the fight off in the 2:14 minute in round 3.

Trainer Freddie Roach, who had hailed Concepcion as the Philippines top boxing prospect, said he was impressed with Concepcion’s performance.

“Bernabe’s a great puncher,” said Roach to the Asian Journal. “He had great head movement, he was very good defensively. Overall, he had the complete package.”

Roach said that he wished that Carrera could have given Concepcion more rounds to work.

“I expected more of a challenge,” he said. “I wanted Bernabe to fight more rounds. He needs to work behind the jab a little bit more and learn to keep his distance.”

The win brings Concepcion’s record to 26-1-1 15 KO’s and a possible title match.

There has been talk that Concepcion’s latest win would set him up with a championship bout against 25-year-old WBO Super Bantamweight Champion Juan Manuel Lopez of Puerto Rico. Lopez quickly deposed of Daniel Ponce De Leon early in June for the title.

However, Roach is cautious of that opportunity for now.

With Concepcion knocking out five of his last seven opponents, Concepcion needs more seasoning before fighting an established champion like the undefeated Lopez, according to Roach.

“He needs somebody that’s going to push him for all ten rounds,” he said. “I don’t think he’s ready for a guy like Lopez. He needs more rounds. What’s going to happen when someone takes him to deep water?”

Roach said he’s going to take Concepcion back to the Wildcard gym to perfect his game.

“His overall game is nearly perfect,” said Roach. “He doesn’t have any bad habits. He’s a pretty solid fighter.”


Leave a comment

Filed under FilAm News

Gawad Kalinga targets FilAm Youth

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
LA PUENTE – When FilAm Knowa Lazarus first visited the Philippines last November he couldn’t believe the extreme poverty the country is facing.

The 28-year-old Lazarus was born in New York City. Throughout his life he had heard stories about the poverty in the Philippines and how blessed he should be for growing up in the US but he never believed it. He had to see it with his own eyes.

“I was like ‘this is for real,’” he said about his trip.

And now he’s doing something to help them.

Lazarus wearing a white shirt with “GK 777” was among the many young FilAms spreading the word about the work of Gawad Kalinga, the Philippine-based community development foundation aimed at building homes for the poor in the Philippines.

“I’m here to work with GK to unite the community,” he said during a Gawad Kalinga luncheon at the Max’s Restaurant in La Puente. “We need to come together especially the younger [FilAm] generation to succeed and uplift the poorest of the nation and give them basic needs and restore their dignity.”

President and Founder of GK Tony Meloto said that GK is starting a new organization called “GK 1MB” or “Gawad Kalinga one million builders” aimed at the young FilAms.

“It’s important to invite the second and third generation [FilAm] to the GK cause,” said Meloto to a group of FilAm students. “It’s the same massive poverty today that forced many of your parents to flee the country…As long as your parent’s county remains a third world, you’ll never be able to be proud of being a Filipino.”

“We have the numbers,” added Meloto. “But we are not united. Use GK as a vehicle for uniting and nation building.”

Since founding GK, the organization has helped build more than 1,700 villages and helped 200,000 families in the Philippines, according to Meloto.

But there’s more work to be done.

Meloto said that their new goal is build homes for five million families, the number of people in the Philippines who consider themselves poor.

“I have no doubt it can be done,” he said.

Last year, his son-in-law Dylan Wilk drove with his family more than 25,000 miles across the US, visiting 82 cities in a three-month span to spread the word about GK.

Meloto said the object is to set up branches of GK all across the US.

He understands that the one of the best way is to tap the FilAm youth and college market.

California State University, Fullerton FilAm student Christopher Cerame said it’s important for his peers to give back to their roots.

“It’s their culture whether they admit it or not,” he said. “When you get older you start realizing these are your people that need help.”


Leave a comment

Filed under FilAm News

The Untold Story of ‘Singgalot’

by Gayle Gatchalian/AJPress
Little has been made of the extraordinary story behind Filipinos in America. With Historic Filipinotown’s annual festival, a celebration of the rich culture of one of America’s largest migrant communities fast approaching, the Smithsonian Institution’s Singgalot: The Ties that Bind arrives in Los Angeles to tell the tale that has, until now remained unspoken, yet not forgotten.
Singgalot traces the remarkable history of the Philippine-US relationship over hundreds of years. From trade missions from Manila to Acapulco in the 16th century to the 1965 Immigration Act, this 30 panel exhibit narrates how the Filipino came to be American through rare photographs and well-researched text. Significant turning points highlighted in this long relationship include the Spanish cessation of the Philippines in the Spanish-American War, migration of workers to West Coast farms, Hawaiian plantations and Alaskan canneries and of course, the bravery of the Filipinos in signing up for the World War II effort.

Dr. Dean Alegado of the University of Hawaii’s Department of Ethnic Studies and Dr. Franklin Odo, director of the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Program created this historical exhibit. Members of the Filipino American Heritage Network (FAHN) attended its initial 2006 exhibition in the University of Hawaii. This group was attending festivities related to the centennial celebration of the Fil-Am migration and after seeing the exhibit, dreamed of one day bringing it to Los Angeles. Singgalot was displayed in the Smithsonian in 2006 then in the Bishop Museum in Hawaii. Finally, it came time to begin its three year national tour.

Prosy dela Cruz and Carol Kimbrough were among the members of FAHN who saw the exhibit in Hawaii. They contacted Jocelyn Geaga-Rosenthal, owner of Remy’s on Temple Art Gallery and pitched the Singgalot exhibit. Rosenthal agreed and headed the planning committee that coordinated with the Smithsonian to ensure the arrival of Singgalot to Los Angeles. “The Smithsonian has very strict standards,” says Rosenthal of the application procedure. “There were a lot of hurdles and hoops we had to jump through, but the reward is, it’s here.”

The timing could not have been better. The exhibit officially opens on August 2nd, just as the Historic Filipinotown (HF) festival kicks off. “It’s a real synergy of different events,” Rosenthal describes and proudly professes her excitement at her gallery’s participation in the event. By and large, Singgalot at Remy’s on Temple was financed by charitable contributions from members of the community. While Singgalot has a national corporate sponsor, Farmer’s Insurance, local communities have to put in a significant investment in order to bring the exhibit to their town.

“It’s an astonishing exhibition and I hope that the Filipino communities will take advantage of it,” continues Rosenthal. “The Smithosnian put the resources to curate and develop this magnificent education tool and it would be a tragedy if communities didn’t take the opportunity to take this exhibit out there.”

Singgalot will be in Remy’s on Temple, its first public exhibitor, from August 2nd to October 26th. On August 1st there will be a private viewing for those interested in making a donation. Several luminaries of the community have been invited, including Carson council man Elito Santrina. Dr. Alegado has since moved to the Philippines, hence will be unable to attend, but co-creator of the exhibit Dr. Franklin Odo will also be present to speak to the party.

The Filipino American Library will be conducting tours of the gallery and the exhibit during the HF festival. Remy’s on Temply expects a minimum of 150 visitors on opening day alone. About 100 additional tickets will be available to festival-goers, as the gallery is only three blocks away from the festival grounds.

Ms. Rosenthal stressed the importance of this exhibit to Filipino-Americans. “It’s important to know your roots,” she held. Despite the ease of integration most Filipinos experience when migrating, the generations that come after “have a hunger to know about their history, one they can impart to their children as well.”  She hopes that this exhibit will be a “first step in one day having a museum dedicated to Filipino-Americans”, just as the Japanese, Latinos and the like currently have.

The Singgalot planning committee hopes to involve schools in the area as part of the exhibit’s program. By teaching the curriculum available through the Smithsonian, teachers and students can work to have a more meaningful experience of the exhibit.

Remy’s on Temple Art Gallery is a community arts gallery in Historic Filipinotown. It was named after Rosenthal’s mother, Remy who passed in 1997 yet left her a legacy of community involvement. Rosenthal has been active in the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) for several years and opened the gallery in 2005 as a way to host a focal point for young people to gather.

The exhibit will be open to the public on August 2nd from 6pm to 8pm. Those who wish to attend the private viewing can RSVP attendance to Jocelyn  Geaga-Rosenthal or curator Jonathan Yap at 213-484-2884 or 213-453-3418, for $100. Those who wish more information or to view the public opening can RSVP at the same number, as only 50 people per hour can be accommodated by the site.


Leave a comment

Filed under FilAm News

Vic Ching and the Rotary Club of Historic Filipinotown: A Passion for Goodwill

by Rene Villaroman/AJPress
Vic Ching has spent most of his professional life helping others. He has a genuine feeling for it. A certified public accountant, Ching has worked with Paramount Pictures for thirty years, starting in New York City, then moving to the Los Angeles office in early 1990s.
Ching has served as President of the Filipino American Service Group (FASGI) for seven years, and in 2006, egged by a desire to help his less fortunate countrymen, he joined a small group of private citizens, businessmen, civic leaders, members of the Philippine diplomatic corps and government representatives, to come up with projects that could address urgent needs in the Philippines: advancement of literacy in far-flung barrios in some provinces in the Visayas region and concerns about the improving sources of potable drinking water in some rural areas.

That seminal group included then Deputy Consul General Hellen Barber, Philippine Tourism Authority Director Annie Cuevas and her deputy, Manny Ilagan; Cecille Ramos of Historic Filipinotown Neighborhood Council; social worker and Remy’s on Temple owner Jocelyn Geaga-Rosenthal, and financial consultant Sonny Gancayco, among others.

That network became the core group that propelled the formation and chartering of the Historic Filipinotown Rotary Club. Because of the nature of their jobs, Barber, Cuevas and Ilagan did not become charter members of the HiFi Rotary Club, but their initial participation and encouragement became the seeds for organizing the first all-Filipino HiFi Rotary Club.

“The Rotary (idea) was not even there,” says Ching. “I didn’t realize that there was already that network; we had Hellen Barber, and she was very involved to see that we could do something like a project by UNICEF, which is called A School in a Box because one of the biggest issues was illiteracy of children growing up in the barrios that had no schools,” Ching relates. “The other thing that came up was drinking water: water wells; these communities were getting their water from rivers and open wells, which could be dangerous because they could be contaminated,” he said. “That was the starting point.”

During the last quarter of 2006, with the help of (another) Rotary Club official, David Maxwell, the core group decided to meet every week and worked on how it could get matching grants to cover the Philippine projects. “Everyone became impassioned with the projects,” recalls Ching. “We decided we were going to charter; we drafted the articles of incorporation and by-laws.”

On February 12, 2007 the charter was approved by Rotary International, and the charter members decided to call themselves Historic Filipinotown Rotary Club. Ching was automatically named Charter President, and Sonny Gancayco was President-elect. Rotary Clubs put emphasis on its members’ total and selfless involvement. “That area is very important,” says Ching. “Every member has to be actively involved; they have to love the project that they want to do and have the support of the other members,” Ching emphasized.

HiFi Rotary Club is immersed in its literacy program in the Philippines, and it is currently sending used books donated by a former Pasadena librarian to Rosario, Batangas. The members were so enthused by the project that they chipped in to have the books as soon as possible. The club also has recently sent relief goods — used clothes, canned goods, and useable second-hand items — to the typhoon victims in Aklan and Iloilo through the Rotary clubs in those affected provinces. “The really amazing thing is that people — old friends — come out and put money up front,” says Ching.

Rotary clubs are unique in at least one aspect. No one applies to be a member. “He has to be invited to become a member; and most of the time, for me, personally, I invite only the people I know is passionate about serving the community,” Ching said. “The main, key ingredient of the Rotary Clubs is you have to decide to help others. Once you have that starting point, and you are serious about it and you have consistency on that, then you become a Rotarian; and that’s how you get the best candidates.”

Ching added that inter-relationships are very important in a Rotary club because a lot of people are needed to push a project to completion. It is a very difficult path to navigate because of the complexities of relating to other members. “This is the reason why we invite potential members to attend our weekly meetings to get a feeling of the other members,” Ching said. “You have to have the right feeling for it; to to do more and help others,” Ching said. “That’s what we call the Rotary moment.”

HiFi Rotary Club meets every Thursday.


Leave a comment

Filed under FilAm News

The Hi Fi Neighborhood Council and Chamber of Commerce: Committed to an Economic Renaissance

by Rene Villaroman/AJPress
Things are looking up for Historic Filipinotown more than ever six years since Los Angeles Council President Gil Garcetti proposed its creation in a resolution he presented to the LA City Council on August 2, 2002. Hi Fi is a district of Los Angeles that lies within the communities of Echo Park and Westlake. Geographically, it is bounded by the 101 Freeway to the north, Beverly Boulevard to the south, Hoover Street to the west, and Glendale Boulevard to the east.
And if Hi Fi Neighborhood Council Treasurer Leo Pandac’s vision is to be followed, these geographical boundaries would be extended farther west of Hoover Street and father south of Beverly Boulevard. With the incorporation this month of the Historic Filipinotown Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Leo Pandac, treasurer, suggests extending the boundaries of Hi Fi by including the area along the north-south stretch of Vermont, from Third to Sixth Streets. “There are a lot of Filipino-owned businesses along that stretch,” Dr. Pandac said. He believes that including them would be beneficial for the growth that he anticipates would happen to Hi Fi during the coming decade.

One of the largest real estate developers and landholders in the Philippines, has expressed its interest in the district, according to Hi Fi Neighborhood Council President and Burlington School owner Cecille Ramos. “But the problem is that there are no more suitably-sized lots available in this district,” laments Ramos. That would mean that whichever company decides to develop here in a grand scale, that company would have to buy up existing and decrepit properties and redevelop them.

It is no coincidence that a handful of FilAm visionaries — the likes of Dr. Pandac, Jocelyn Geaga-Rosenthal, and Cecille Ramos — are still embracing hopes of an economic renaissance in this district. The Geagas had lived here during most of the 50s until the 70s, moved to another section of Los Angeles, but had the prescience to keep their Filipinotown property.  She now owns Remy’s on Temple, a gallery-boutique on Temple Street, near the corner of Alvarado St.  Although he now lives in Long Beach, Dr. Pandac retains his offices here. And Ramos, runs Burlington School, just a couple of hundred yards behind the FACLA Building. Jorge Prado, a Cuban-American who has lived here for thirty years, represents some of the Latinos who live and have business here. He is an officer of the neighborhood council.

These entrepreneurs and a handful of other FilAm volunteers are behind the annual Historic Filipinotown Festival, which will be celebrated on August 2. And this time around, the newly chartered Hi Fi Chamber of Commerce will be in the thick of the celebration.

Dr. Pandac has more on his mind. Together with provisional officers Ramos, and  Geaga-Rosenthal, they would like to attract more businessmen to this district. First off, they would like to make the district business-friendly by improving the parking situation here. Pandac said they would like to emulate Chinatown’s lead in attracting business. Secondly, the Chamber would like to construct an archway at the corner of Temple Street at Glendale Boulevard to mark the East portal of the Hi Fi district. And thirdly, Cecille Ramos reported, they would like to push through a Hi Fi NC project to hang parols (Christmas lanterns) along the length of Temple Street from Glendale Boulevard to Hoover Street beginning this coming Thanksgiving Day.

“We would like other Californians to think that this district is also a tourist destination, not just a business district,” Ramos said. This beautification and tourism-inspired project would complement HFNC’s Parol-Making Contest that it holds every Christmas season.


Leave a comment

Filed under FilAm News

FASGI: Empowering the FilAm community

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
The Filipino American Service Group Inc. (FASGI) has helped the Filipino and Filipino American community with social services since its inception in 1981.

Founded by Remedios “Remy” Geaga, the purpose of FASGI is to help the underrepresented and underserved of the community through social service, education and social action.

Executive Director Susan Espiritu-Dilkes now heads the non-profit organization centrally located in the heart of Historic Filipinotown. The organization is one of the oldest service groups in the area.

Among the activities FASGI coordinates includes transitional housing, food distribution, provides mental and physical health, and independent living skills.

Besides social services, FASGI also plays a vital role in organizing the community in education and outreach services.

Last year, the organization sponsored a Philippine National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) cultural performance Something to Crow About at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

Earlier this year, FASGI joined forces with ABS-CBN’s Balitang America news program FilVote 2008 campaign. The campaign’s purpose is to get out the Filipino vote and participation in the upcoming Presidential election.

In a previous interview with the Asian Journal, Dilkes said it’s important for the community to come out and vote.

“This is the only way to get our issues heard,” said Dilkes.

FASGI created the FilVote campaign in 1996, according to Dilkes. The program came about after a 1996 LA Times article wrote about the happy life of of FilAms in the US but criticized their lack of united voice and political empowerment.

“Almost three-quarters of those [Filipinos] surveyed said they do not belong to a mainstream American political group. Eighty-four percent said they do not belong to a Filipino political organization,” according to the LA Times story Filipinos Happy With Life in the US but Lack United Voice.

However, that’s changed.

Since its inception, FASGI’s FilVote campaign has mobilized and registered over 25,000 FilAm voters in the Greater Los Angeles County, held non-partisan candidate forums and conducted voter trend marketing research.

FASGI is also the temporary home of the Filipino American Library (FAL). The research library has one of the largest collections of literature about the Philippines and from notable Filipino authors like Carlos Bulosan. The books are not available for check out. However, people are free to peruse the shelves for the wealth of literature.

FASGI’s help also enables FAL to conduct a bus tour of Historic Filipinotown.

FASGI plans to expand their social services. According to Jonathan Lorenzo, an administrator for the FAL, FASGI will open a geriatric clinic that would support a range of medical conditions and support services in nutrition and physical fitness.


Leave a comment

Filed under FilAm News

FACLA: Strength in Unity

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
Filipino Americans today cannot imagine how difficult life was for the early Filipinos in America. Those earlier Filipino immigrants overcame many discriminatory obstacles which included laws against marriage to non-Filipinos, college degrees that did not lead to career jobs, and sadly, even unwelcome signs that stated “Positively No Filipinos Allowed.” It is their struggles for a better life for themselves and for their families that have made it easier for the rest of us.
Because of the Filipinos’ relative proficiency in English and familiarity with American popular culture, they can integrate into the mainstream in a relatively short period of time. Unlike other minority groups, Filipino Americans have not tended to congregate in self-contained communities. Our ability to blend easily into mainstream American communities has been an advantage and a disadvantage as well. Filipinos have become part of the “invisible minority”, failing to have a dominant voice in the economic, social and political arena of America.

As far back as in the 1930s, a group of Filipino Americans in Los Angeles have seen this need for FilAms to band together for more empowerment. Believing that in unity there is strength, these group of Pinoys in Los Angeles used to meet at a small Filipino restaurant on San Pedro St. (now part of Little Tokyo).  They met to discuss ways of organizing themselves to be a voice in the city. World War II,however, delayed their plans.

But right after the war, on April 26, 1945, the group registered with the State of California as the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA). It is the first, and thus, the oldest Filipino-American association recognized by the Federal government.

Since then, for more than 60 years, FACLA has served the Filipino American community in Los Angeles. Its home at 1740 West Temple St., Los Angeles 90026, inaugurated in 1965, has been the favorite venue for meetings and special occasions of the Pinoy community, such as the annual Filipino-American Veterans’ Day.

On the walls of the FACLA Social Hall is an odd dozen framed photographs of past FACLA presidents. Unfortunately, a fire in the late 1970s had destroyed most of the records of FACLA, including a complete record of its past presidents and members. Among the past presidents, however, a couple of names that stand out are those of Ben Manibog and Mrs. Remedios Geaga. A four-term FACLA president  (1974 to 1977), Geaga is best known in FACLA for launching the senior citizen nutrition program.

“In my search for FACLA records and copies of documents, I asked friends and even the children of the past presidents to help,” reported Bobby Reyes, FACLA’s current Secretary-General. This effort proved futile, prompting Reyes to think that coming up with a book about FACLA that will also tell the history of Filipinos in Los Angeles from the 1940s might be a worthwhile project. Hopefully, the project would push in the immediate future for the 60 year history of the oldest organization of Filipino Americans in Los Angeles would surely benefit not only the organization but the total FilAm community as well.

Leave a comment

Filed under FilAm News