Monthly Archives: October 2008

The Global Pinoy: The Modern Day Heroes

by Nickee De Leon/AJPress

With the onset of technological advancements and the birth of new industries, the hardworking Juan has learned to broaden his horizons and has become a citizen of the world — a global Pinoy.

There are two kinds of global Pinoys — the immigrants, who have found permanent residence in another country and possibly have become naturalized citizens of the country that they’ve migrated to, and the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) or expatriates. OFWs or expatriates are Pinoys who work with multi-national companies abroad on a temporary (and oftentimes,contractual) basis.

Family always comes first in Filipino culture. This trait does not only apply to immediate family members, but extends to relatives, even relations through affinity as well.

Traveling long distances to work abroad or reside permanently in another country does not make the global Pinoy forget — in fact, it makes him long for home and his family even more. In the midst of homesickness and loneliness, he strives hard to meet his financial goals and provide a better life for his loved ones.

In the beginning of his arduous journey to financial success, he comes across a familiar face, a kababayan, who would help him go through the rudiments of starting a new life in a foreign land.

With his newfound support group, the concepts of family and kababayan become synonymous and synergized for the global Pinoy. He finds reprieve and pays the kindness he receives forward. If his ventures become lucrative enough, he may even be willing to make patriotic investments on the Philippines, either through retirement or business endeavors.

Filipinos never forget their roots and will always find means to visit their home country– thus, the moniker balikbayan (balik means to return and bayan means country). After all, a Pinoy will always remain a Pinoy at heart, no matter what citizenship he has acquired or what new culture he has adapted to.


Every year, a considerable population of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) or expatriates seek greener pastures by working in different industries abroad. The spectrum is expanding further, with Pinoy professionals in different fields now working in developing Asian countries as Vietnam, Indonesia and China.

In a 2007 survey conducted by, the report stated that “the number of OFWs who worked abroad at anytime during the period April to September 2007 was registered at 1.75 million. This represents an increase of 15.3 percent over the estimated 1.52 million OFWs in April to September 2006. Out of the total OFWs during the period April to September 2007, 92.4 percent (1.61 million) were Overseas Contract Workers (OCW) or those with existing work-contact abroad. The number of OCWs in April to September 2007 went up by 16.6 percent over the 1.38 million OCWs estimated for the same months in 2006.”

In the same survey, it was elaborated that “OFWs sent a total remittance of Php110 billion for the period April to September 2007, an increase of Php8 billion (7.7%) from the estimated remittance of Php102 billion for the same months in 2006. Included in the total remittances are cash sent (74.6%) cash brought home (20.7%) and remittances in kind (4.7%). Of the total cash remittance sent for the period April to September 2007, 76.8 percent were sent through the bank, 14 percent were sent through door-to-door and the rest (9.2%) were sent through the agency and or local office, friends or co-workers and other means. OFWs working in Asia, comprising 78.1 percent of all OFWs, sent the biggest cash remittance of Php57.7 billion. Among occupation groups, OFWs working as laborers or unskilled workers posted the highest cash remittance of Php17.6 billion.”

With his intelligence, ingenuity and industry, the Pinoy expatriate has elevated his country’s stature and competence in the global job market. The stigma that was once associated with OFWs has now become a myth. The OFW is no longer deterred nor disheartened by derogatory perceptions, because his sacrifices prove beneficial not only to his family and loved ones, but to his beloved country as well.

The Pinoy immigrant

Filipino immigrants are a common sight around the world — countries as the United States, Canada and Australia are fast-becoming new settlements for migrating Pinoys. In the United States alone, there is already a significant population of Filipino-Americans who have found their place and have adapted to the ways of American culture. The numbers continue to increase, especially with the continuing high demand for medical professionals. Times are changing and opportunities are rising for nurses, physical therapists and doctors.

In an article by Aaron Terrazas from the Migration Policy Institute, it was reported that “the number of Filipino immigrants in the United States tripled between 1980 and 2006, from 501, 440 to 1.6 million, making them the second largest immigrant group in the United States after Mexican immigrants and ahead of the Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese foreign-born.

“Over two-thirds of all Filipino immigrants resided in just five states, although their numbers are growing in places like Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas.”

Other notable facts in include: (1) “There were 1.6 million foreign-born from the Philippines residing in the US in 2006. The 1960 census counted 104,843 Filipino immigrants, a number that increased 15.6 times to 1,638,413 Filipino immigrants in 2006. The Filipino-born were the second-largest foreign-born group in the US in 2006 after immigrants from Mexico. (2) Filipino immigrants made up 4.4 percent of all immigrants in 2006. In 1960, Filipino immigrants composed 1.1 percent of all foreign-born in the United States. That share more than tripled to 3.6 percent in 1980 and increased to 4.6 percent in 1990 but decreased slightly to 4.4 percent in 2006.”

From balikbayan to balikbayani

According to,the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced in October 2007, through a study that was released in Washington DC, that the Philippines ranked fourth in dollar remittances among developing countries with $13.7 billion of global remittance flows in 2006.

In these trying times, The Philippines has found refuge in the new income-generating global Pinoy — the foremost contributor in revving up dollar revenues and boosting the Philippines’ economy. They have become a new breed of heroes – the balikbayanis, instigators of an economic revolution that counters poverty. Global Pinoy Power has become the new People Power, a teeming source of economic stability and empowerment.

Specialized needs

Global Pinoys have become a formidable force to reckon with — a potential market with unique needs. These unique needs necessitated the inception of a new industry — one solely dedicated to ensuring that their exigencies are met with ease and convenience. Remittance centers, balikbayan box companies and travel agencies are all part of this singular group.

Their specialized services have made this industry an indispensable part of global Pinoy culture. They may even be considered as balikbayanis themselves. They are the mediators that turn the global Pinoy’s dreams into reality through balikbayad (remittances), the balikbayan box and of course, the balikbayan.

The balikbayani ecosystem operates with such efficiency and symbiosis. Remittances to the Philippines provide our economy with much needed dollar revenues. Balikbayan boxes sent to the Philippines not only bring the global Pinoy’s parcel of love home but also generate jobs and added income for our kababayans. Reasonable airfare rates and travel packages attract millions of global Pinoys to come home every year, thus increasing income for the country further through tourism.

Indeed, it’s always a win-win situation in the balikbayani ecosystem — a manifestation of Pinoy’s ingenuity and adaptability wherever in the world he may be. (

Leave a comment

Filed under Feature

Maestro Robert Shroder: Extraordinary Pinoy

by Cynthia De Castro/AJPress

By his name and appearance, Californian musical conductor Robert Shroder seems to be as American as apple pie. But once you start talking to this very talented musical director, you’ll learn that he is as Pinoy as kare-kare and adobo. You can’t help but be taken aback when you first meet this very Caucasian-looking American talking in straight Tagalog –with the right Pinoy accent.

“Pinoy na Pinoy ako!” Shroder proudly says. “I was born in Kawit, Cavite and didn’t immigrate to the US [until] 1991. My father, Jerald Vincent Shroder, was with the US Military stationed at Sangley Point. That’s where he met my mom, Rosalinda Enriquez Samaniego.”

The founding conductor of the Boyle Heights Youth Symphony, Shroder is also the first Filipino-American in the symphony which was founded in 2002.  A favorite symphony of the Office of the Mayor, Shroder and his team frequently perform in government social and community.

Shroder is also a freelance musician and a member of the Local 47, the American Federation of Musicians. He plays to a mixed audience for special events, but his favorite, of course, is performing for the Filipino-American community events.

Music Conductors came into vogue with the rise of Ensemble Music – with so many musicians playing together it became necessary for there to be someone to ‘lead’ them, to indicate when certain passages were to be played and by which section, and the tempo required. It is the conductor’s interpretation of the music that brings overwhelming success or the opposite to a concert.

Shroder’s masterful conducting has made him a favorite of several Filipino artists, like Joey Albert and Pilita Corrales, who know that with Shroder as musical director of their concerts, they are assured success. As a conductor, Robert has impeccably sensitive ears, as well as a rhythmic and interpretative sense. He is skillfully acquainted with every instrument of the orchestra, and is an outstanding flutist. He not only makes sure entries are made at the right time and that there is a unified beat;  Robert sets the tempo, executes clear preparations and beats, listens critically and shapes the sound of the ensemble.

Shroder grew up in Cavite and studied at Emilio Aguinaldo Elementary School, Kawit High School and San Sebastian High School. He then took up Music Conducting at the University of the Philippines Conservatory of Music, with Flute as his major instrument.

Shroder admits his passion and talent for music are in his genes. “My lolo, the father of my mom, Augusto Samaniego, was a member of the Philippine Constabulary Band. He was a conductor and played the saxophone under Col Walter Loving. They participated in the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition in Treasure Island in San Francisco. He was also the conductor of the Magdalo Concert Band. He took me to rehearsals, fiestas, and to the different engagements of the band, so I grew up in that milieu. I inherited the conductorship of the band when he died. As conductor of the Magdalo Concert Band from 1984-1991, we performed classical music, overtures and marches during fiestas, wakes and other such community affairs,” he recalled.

Robert won the Grand Prize in the National Music Competition for Young Artists in 1982, which was sponsored by Imelda Marcos. He was hired to be the principal flutist of the Manila Symphony Orchestra, the oldest symphony orchestra in Asia. He did some solo engagements in different areas in the Philippines and was a part of the Manila Chamber Orchestra. Shroder also taught flute and chamber music in UP and did recordings for pop music and the Pinoy movie industry. He immigrated in 1991 and first stayed in San Diego where his parents lived.

Robert and wife Amy have four children, Katrina, Timothy, Vanessa and Andrew. Vanessa is a flutist like her dad while Andrew is a singer. Since migrating to the States, Robert makes sure he and his family maintain close ties with the homeland. “We go back at least every other year to the Philippines. I am always in touch with friends and associates in the Philippines,” he said.

These days, Shroder is extraordinarily excited at the prospect of seeing one of his long-cherished dream come true. “Filipino orchestra musicians here in Southern California have long dreamed of founding a Filipino symphony orchestra not only for the Filipino community but for everybody who appreciate music. Wala pang ganito so Filipino musicians have joined orchestras of other races.We learned that there are 3 Filipino orchestra members of the Korean orchestra. There are also Chinese symphony orchestras, Japanese, Jewish –but no Filipino orchestra yet. It doesn’t mean the orchestra will only have Filipino members. So long as we have a core group of Filipinos, we can get musician of other races. The problem has been the lack of a management team to run the business and take care of the administrative side. Matagal na naming gustong mag-start ng symphony group but it’s hard kung puro lang kami musicians at walang management back-up. We don’t have any lack for Filipino talents here; we can form a 55-120 man orchestra with strings -violin, cello, double bass- and wind – flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombones. Well, now, mukhang matutuloy na ang aming pangarap na ito. Thank God for Asian Journal chairman Roger Oriel who caught our vision and has enthusiastically agreed to make our dream come true by founding the first Filipino symphony orchestra in America. Watch out for that very soon!” Robert said excitedly.

Yes, the very first Filipino symphony orchestra in America is now being organized and will soon be another “pride of the Philippines”. And there’s no better musical conductor to lead it than the maestro from Cavite — Robert Shroder.  (

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Moms need a break too

by Jherlyn Meneses/AJPress

If you’re a working mom, and you’re juggling the three hectic roles of  being a wife, a mother and an employee at the same time, it’s time to hold your chin high, give yourself a nice pat in the back and tell yourself that: “Woman, you rock!”

Why not? Being a mom, for one, is already a gargantuan task. This may sound too cliché but carrying a child in your womb for nine months, with all the sickness and weight issues that accompany pregnancy, could be a totally punishing experience for the weak of heart.

The arduous task of nursing and caring for the baby, also, could be vigorously extraneous to the inexperienced.

Achieving the “American Dream” is difficult indeed for working moms like me. Moms, sadly, have to wear different hats, two or three at times, to keep up with the enormous responsibilities on their hands.

Daily, you are faced with several tasks of working, raising your kid and addressing an endless list of domestic chores. How’s that for a challenge?

Any person with feeble health might suffer a stroke when confronted with this anxiety-provoking lifestyle. Although oftentimes you feel you’re on the verge, getting sick is absolutely not an option.

Back in the Philippines where there is a multitude of help, child care and keeping one’s household spic-and-span are not so complicated. Either you have relatives to assist you, or hire a housekeeper / babysitter at your beck and call.

Here in the US, you’re on your own. If you can afford to pay a sitter or a house help, you are blessed! A sitter’s fee is equivalent to a full month’s salary of a minimum wage earner, nowadays. Whew!

In a recent survey made by the US Census Bureau, it was reported that 7 out of 10 mothers are in the labor force. Working moms account for almost a fifth of all employed individuals and nearly a quarter of employed mothers usually work full-time.

Aside from working full-time, these mothers also spend more than 2 hours each day performing active childcare, cleaning the house and preparing meals.

“The situation they face is not just simply employment, but combining employment with motherhood & housekeeping. Since women continue to be the principal caretakers of children, how do they combine work and family roles over the course of their lives?” the survey asked.

There are a lot of reasons why Pinay moms work. Most women work to augment the family’s income; others, to become self-sufficient; still some work to simply attain a certain form of personal fulfillment or a higher self-esteem.

For many women, it’s empowering especially if you bring home another paycheck. It is also a way for self-improvement. Some perks such as the healthcare and retirement benefits entice women to hold on to their jobs. However, the demands and the pressures on mothers these days are not commensurable, still, to whatever gratifications they receive.

A lot of us try to be the best mom, an excellent wife and a proficient worker. To women, nothing could be better than having a happy home and a successful career.

But we must also give ourselves a break. Let’s pause and take stock. After all, we’re only human beings.

Hats off to all working moms out there!   (

Leave a comment

Filed under Feature

The Divine Comedian: Dolphy

by Nickee de Leon/AJPress

Sinasabing magaling daw sa drama ang mga comedian. Hindi ko alam kung bakit, wala akong teorya diyan. Basta from my end, naranasan ko na kasi ang lahat — hirap, gutom, ang mga anak na perwisyo’t may bisyo, ang ma-inlove, at ang mahiwalay. Napagdaanan ko na’ng lahat, kaya nasasakyan ko kapag ginagampanan ko na.”

There was no better way to celebrate and immortalize the 80 wonderful years of Dolphy’s life.

Dolphy: Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-isa is the heartfelt unfolding of the life of Rodolfo Vera Quizon, better known onscreen as Dolphy, the King of Comedy. The actor celebrated his 80th birthday on July 25 this year and son Eric Quizon, a noted actor and director himself, wanted to mark this milestone in his dad’s life and make it memorable by collaborating with Bibeth Orteza in putting up a fitting biography.

From the title of the book itself, one would already prefigure that the story would be bigger than the subject. It’s probably inconceivable to think that a biography of someone as legendary and magnanimous as Dolphy could be so humbling and unassuming.

Yet, there has never been a more refreshing approach to storytelling. The beauty of Dolphy’s narrative lies in its candid simplicity and sincerity.

It’s also not surprising to find that the book teeming in self-deprecating, tongue-in-cheek humor. The last time I laughed this hard while reading (and seemed, every inch like a fool to unknowing bystanders) was when I was in high school, skimming through the pages of Pol Medina Jr.’s Pugad Baboy Series. Dolphy’s inherent wit and comic sensibilities are sharper than ever, and not even the written word could deter him from showcasing this God-given talent.

But beyond the funnies, Dolphy: Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-isa is a bold, poignant and compelling memoir that serves as Dolphy’s indelible and enduring legacy.

In a foreword by Randy David, a professor in the department of sociology in the University of the Philippines, he referred to the book as a script, a screenplay of Mang Dolphy’s life.

“Narito ang kaniyang iskrip — makulay, masalimuot, buong-buo, bukas. Eto si Dolphy ng pelikula’t telebisyon, mapagbiro at masaya. Pero, sa likod nang komedyanteng singkit na nagpatawa sa halos tatlong henerasyon , narito rin ang isang taong matamang lumingon sa kanyang pinagdaanan, inuulit-ulit sa sarili ang mga aral na kanyang natutunan. Walang kimkim na galit o sama ng loob, walang panghihinayang, walang panghuhusga, walang pagyayabang.”

Dolphy: Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-isa is indeed, a piece of history told by one of the most celebrated actors from an ordinary man’s perspective. Written in Tagalog, the book captures the flavor of a tumultuous era and the quintessence of being Dolphy — his humble beginnings, his love for family, his first sexual awakening, a hardy life during WWII, his colorful experiences as an OFW in Hong Kong, the numerous women in his life and the struggles he went through in fathering 18 children.

And it wasn’t only Dolphy that made this memoir robust and meaningful. Former wives and lovers, friends, colleagues, and of course, his children, also shared their testimonials and encompassed Dolphy with their gratitude, love and support. Everyone he holds dear, even those who’ve been privy all these years, gave a piece of themselves in words and pictures.

As aptly put by Butch Dalisay, Palanca Hall of Fame awardee and UP Professor in English and Creative Writing, “I haven’t read a biography like this, ever, and the uncensored unmediated first-person accounts strike home with a power and a poignancy you’d be hard put to find in any screen drama.” If Dolphy’s story would be translated into film (or perhaps, a telenovela), it would definitely be a project of epic proportions (and lots and lots of Kleenex).

And speaking of film, here’s what film director Peque Gallaga had to say about the book: “The delight that comes from reading this book is that it nails down a fascinating character who is all at once a baffling combination of grace and dignity, contrariness and mischievous rascality; of one blessed with a gift for careless irreverence and absurdity in the face of adversity, who triumphs over misfortunes and who accepts what can’t be changed. One is never sure if it is the portrait of Dolphy of the Filipino people. Ang problema lang sa libro, pagkatapos mong basahin ay parang gusto mo sana, mas mahaba pa ito.”

My sentiments, exactly. (

Leave a comment

Filed under Feature

Ayala Foundation-USA: Creating Better Opportunities to Serve Others

by Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/AJPress

The emergence of a ‘new golden age of philanthropy’ has pushed the number foundations all over the world.  According to a study Asian-American Philanthropy:  Expanding Knowledge, Increasing Possibilities done by Andrew Ho for The Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership, the number of foundations in the United States has grown from 22,000 in the early 1980s to over 65,000 in 2004.

However, the boom in the number of foundations and their assets has also involved the issue of diversity in philanthropy – like how it is (or isn’t) a factor in giving, how ethnic and racial groups exhibit different styles, etc.  With the growth of Asian American population, there has also been an increase in diaspora philanthropy, or philanthropic giving from citizens and residents of the US to their countries of origin.

This is the thrust of Ayala Foundation-USA — to inform, motivate and inspire others to be generous in support of social development programs in the Philippines.  Established in 2000, AF-USA has become a bridge between US-based Filipino individuals and communities, and Philippine-based social development institutions.

“If Filipinos don’t help their fellow-Filipinos, who will?”  said Vicky Garchitorena, President of AF-USA and added, “Fortunately, our experience at AF-USA is that most FilAms do want to help their kababayans back home.”

However, Ms. Garchitorena also explained that often, FilAms have not helped because they do not know what the problems are, the solutions or how to give their support.  This is why AF-USA creates opportunities for Filipinos in the US to help the Philippines.  Although it does not undertake programs on its own, AF-USA encourages a number of strategic initiatives that has shown a track record of success in implementing programs that can have a long-term positive impact on its beneficiaries.

One of these projects is the Gearing up Internet Literacy and Access for Students, or GILAS.  A program implemented in cooperation with both the Philippine national and local government officials, it aims to put computer labs with Internet access in all 6,350 public high schools in the country.

“As of the end of September 2008, GILAS has connected 2,000 public high schools, thereby benefiting about 1 million underprivileged youths from Batanes to Basilan,” said Ms. Garchitorena and added, “It has a tremendous impact on the ability of our youth to find jobs when they leave school, as computer and Internet literacy skills are now basic requirements for any type of employment, whether they stay in the Philippines or go abroad.”

AF-USA gets help from their Philippine counterpart, Ayala Foundation, in encouraging local non-government organizations (NGOs) to apply for accreditation as a grantee institution.  These organizations are then evaluated and presented to the Board for approval.

But of course, there are always challenges, said Ms. Garchitorena.  “One big challenge is the fact that the FilAms are scattered all over the US.

While there are pockets of concentrations, the size of the country makes it difficult for us to reach them all.”  For this reason, AF-USA rely on other committed and dedicated FilAm network volunteers in identifying community and business leaders in cities and states.

Another challenge she says is the need to capture the attention of second or third generation FilAms who might no longer be emotionally connected to their homeland, unlike their parents or grandparents.

Still, Ms. Garchitorena explained that they have seen an increased interest among FilAms to help their hometowns, alma maters, parishes or personal charities.  For this, she invites all FilAms as well as Americans with strong ties to the Philippines to join AF-USA in helping underprivileged Filipinos in the Philippines.  She is also appealing others all over the US to join as volunteers.

“Our country still suffers from many problems related to poverty – illiteracy, homelessness, abuse, environmental degradation, and an inadequate public sector infrastructure.  The government does not have enough resources to address all our problems.  We cannot wait for the perfect time and place.”

For more information on AF-USA and how you can help Filipinos back home, you can contact their office at 255 Shoreline Dr., Suite 428 Redwood City, CA 94065 or call(650) 598-3126.  You can also log on to   (

Leave a comment

Filed under Feature

Madonna tells Palin: Get off my street

NEW YORK – After kicking off the North America leg of her Sticky & Sweet tour in New Jersey over the weekend, Madonna crossed the Hudson and performed two nights in a row to sold-out audiences at the Madison Square Garden.

And what would a Madonna concert be without her political commentary?

The 50-year-old singer continued to slam the Republican bet for vice president, Sarah Palin at The Garden when she sang her hit I Love New York, which had a line that goes ‘Get off my street!’

“You know who can get off of my street? Sarah Palin! I’m gonna kick her ass if she don’t get off of my street!” Madonna said as the crowd, which included P. Diddy, Rosie O’Donnell and designer Michael Kors, screamed in approval.

Madonna began her tirade against Palin during her show Saturday at the Izod Center. “Sarah Palin can’t come to my party. Sarah Palin can’t come to my show. It’s nothing personal,” the New York Post quoted her as saying.

That was not the only time when the singer showed her political color.

Halfway through the show, a montage of images that juxtaposed Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain with Adolf Hitler and Kim Jong Il was shown on the giant screens onstage. Sen. McCain’s campaign reportedly said Madonna’s actions were “outrageous, unacceptable and crudely divisive all at the same time.”

On the same montage, Sen. Barack Obama’s images were interspersed with photos of Oprah, Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa and Bono.

Politics aside, the show was, as expected, a visual spectacle.

The singer emerged onstage sitting on a queenly throne accompanied by the sound of her song Candy Shop.  The audience, just like in her two previous concert tours I watched, just stood up and started dancing. Most of them remained standing throughout the duration of the show.

“I love New York! It’s good to be home,” Madonna screamed as the audience roared. The Garden was just pulsating with high-strung energy.

The spectacle continued when a sparkling white Rolls Royce emerged onstage as a giant prop, one that Madonna maximized well and when she left the stage, a boxing ring manifested. The dizzying screens were also transformed into various sizes while green laser and almost blinding lights filled The Garden, making it New York City’s biggest club for the night.

The two-hour show featured Madonna in various stages of undress as she showed the world that she could be the fittest 50-year-old woman in the business. She danced and sprinted. She even skipped rope and strutted the catwalk.

It was more than just physical, however, as she breathed new life to some of her most memorable hits such as Like a Prayer, La Isla Bonita, Ray of Light, Borderline and Vogue. She could have called this The Reinvention Tour, Part 2 and the fans would have gobbled the tickets just the same.

My personal favorite?

It has to be her heart-felt performance of  You Must Love Me, which she did while strumming her guitar. It was so spotless and you can really feel the sincerity in her voice. There was no tight choreography, no vocal calisthenics, just pure, raw emotion.

Madonna had a grand time interacting with the audience as she performed for them and with them.

At one point in the show, she jammed with the crowd as she performed Lucky Star, which was requested by some placard-carrying members of the audience.

She also pointed out the few people who were sitting down while everyone was up on their feet clapping. “Are you bored?” she asked a couple of middle-aged men, before she politely asked them to stand up. “Come on, this is not a Barbra Streisand show,” she barked.

Her energy level was way up there and this was willingly matched by the very appreciative audience. Madonna was really having fun and it showed.

Her adoring fans couldn’t be happier. (

Leave a comment

Filed under Feature

The Reign of Sarah

by Rochelle Pangilinan/AJPress

With a box-office hit (the recent A Very Special Love), a series of successful concerts and a new album (featuring the lead single I’ll Be There, where she duets with Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough) to boot, all at the young age of 20, Sarah Geronimo is primed to rule show business.

And with her latest hit album Just Me… Sarah to promote, Sarah donned Burberry—complete with dramatic eye makeup and sophisticated slick back hair—in the October issue of Preview magazine, Sarah may yet add another title to her credit: fashion icon, something her young fans would definitely welcome.

Sarah is aware of her many young fans, one reason why she declined to shoot a kissing scene with leading man John Lloyd Cruz in A Very Special Love, where she played the Polyanna-like, fresh- out-of-college girl (armed only with colorful post-its, a fashion sense that resembles Rainbow Brite and a bright smile) thrown into the jungle-like world of men’s magazine publishing, with John Lloyd as the powerful but emotionally vacant editor-in-chief.

“A lot of young people look up to me. It would not be a good example if they saw their Ate Sarah in a kissing scene,” Sarah tells Preview magazine. She is also proudly boyfriend-less as well, as she’d rather focus her attention on her burgeoning career at the moment, but this has not stopped her many male admirers from trying to woo her.

Some admirers, however, are all just for her wonderful singing talent. Among them, international star Howie Dorough, who had no second thoughts on recording with Sarah on a track for Just Me… Sarah. I’ll Be There is produced by Christian de Walden of Hollywood and was composed by Al Taveel and Pamela Philips-Oland, the same team behind one of the most successful duets in pop music history, Too Much, Too Little, Too Late by Johnny Mathis and Denise Williams.

“I liked Sarah instantly,” says Howie. “She seems to be very sweet and humble and she did a good job with the song.”

And unlike many young stars who gain fame and fortune all too fast, “sweet and humble” are still words often associated with Sarah even after all the success she’s amassed. Since winning the grand title in Star For A Night for her rendition of the Celine Dion pop hit To Love You More at the tender age of 14, Sarah has continuously made her presence felt in the biz. And from the looks of things, Sarah is far from slowing down. Among her next projects include a follow-up movie with John Lloyd to be released early next year. By November, Sarah will be holding a major solo concert at the Araneta Coliseum and will be releasing her first-ever Christmas album, to be produced by Ryan Cayabyab, in December.

The reign of Sarah is indeed upon us.  (

Leave a comment

Filed under Feature

SOLID VOTING BLOCK OR SWING VOTE: Asian Americans could decide presidential race

by Momar Visaya/AJPress

NEW YORK – Asian American voters prefer Sen. Barack Obama, 41 percent to 24 percent nationally, over Sen. John McCain, according to a new national survey on Asian Americans released Monday, Oct. 6.

But that’s not the entire story.

According to the study, a high portion, or 34 percent of those surveyed, remains undecided. For the researchers, this is a key finding and a development that could set the stage for Asian Americans to play a pivotal role in the outcome of the November election.

The numbers could make a difference especially in battleground states where there is a growing Asian American population. Among the general population, national polls conducted since the major party conventions show that undecided voters are approximately 8 percent of the electorate.

The study shows that Filipino American voters support Obama, 35 percent over McCain, 29 percent. 34 percent remains undecided.

“A very large number of Asian Americans are non-partisan. The Asian American vote is very much up for grabs: Non-partisans who see either the Democratic or Republican party as closer to them on issues that matter to them are much likelier to vote for that party’s candidate,” UC Berkeley associate professor of political science Taeku Lee explained.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, an associate professor of political science at UC Riverside, agreed that with such a high proportion of undecided voters, “Asian Americans are a critical source of potential votes for either candidate in the final weeks of the campaign”

This groundbreaking study, released at a Washington, DC, press conference last October 6, was conducted by researchers from four leading universities: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley); University of California, Riverside (UC Riverside); and University of Southern California (USC).

The researchers’ 2008 National Asian American Survey (NAAS) shows that 41 percent of Asian Americans are likely to favor Obama, while 24 percent support John McCain. In battleground states, where either candidate could win on Election Day, Obama leads with 43 percent of Asian Americans supporting him and 22 percent favoring McCain.

The multi-ethnic, multi-lingual survey of more than 4,000 Asian Americans likely to vote in the election was conducted from Aug. 18 to Sept. 26. It is the most comprehensive survey to date of the political views of Asian Americans, with interviews conducted in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

“Most national polls cannot report the preferences of these likely voters because they do not interview in multiple languages, and the number of interviews they conduct among Asian Americans is very small,” said Janelle Wong, an associate professor of political science at USC.

By drawing on the knowledge of political scientists with expertise in survey research and ethnic politics, and with support from several foundations, the NAAS data provide insight about Asian Americans as a whole, the researchers say, as well as about their six largest ethnic subgroups: Asian Indians, Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese.


Asian Americans make up a significant proportion of the total population in states such as Hawaii (56 percent), California (13 percent), New Jersey (8 percent), Washington (8 percent), and New York (7 percent).

The population is also growing rapidly beyond the “traditional gateways.”  Between the 1990 and 2000 censuses, the Asian American population has more than doubled in 19 states. In fact, the electoral battleground states of Nevada, New Hampshire, Florida, and Georgia are home to some of the fastest growing Asian American populations in the country.

The study also shows that more Asian Americans identify as Democrats than as Republicans by a wide margin of 32 percent to 14 percent and a significant proportion identify as Independents, 19 percent.

Of the Filipinos surveyed, 35 percent identified themselves as Democrats while 19 percent responded Republicans. 28 percent said they were non-partisan and 18 percent said they were Independent.

Among the communities surveyed, Asian Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Filipinos have more Democrats than Republicans. Vietnamese Americans identify with the Republican Party over the Democratic Party by nearly a two-to-one ratio

The issues

About 80 percent of likely voters surveyed list the economy as one of the most important problems the nation faces, followed by the war in Iraq. On both issues, there are strongly divided opinions between Obama and McCain supporters.

“Even as the Iraq war has receded from the headlines as concerns about the economy have become more prominent, the war still plays a powerful role in the Asian American choice for president” says Jane Junn, an associate professor of political science at Rutgers.

Respondents also said that oil prices, job/unemployment and immigration are among the issues that they think are the most important problems facing the United States today.

Next to Latinos, Asian Americans are the fastest growing community on the US today. Currently, they comprise 5 percent of the population and, according to the researchers, will likely play a significant role in battleground states such as Virginia, Nevada and Washington, where they account for 5 percent or more of the population.

Even in states such as Colorado, Ohio and Florida, where they are less numerous, Asian Americans may provide the margin of victory, the researchers added.

Home country politics

There are some media accounts and scholarly articles that suggest that Asian Americans are less likely to participate in American politics because of their focus on the politics of their home countries.  The survey included questions on whether respondents send money to their countries of origin, whether they have been in contact with friends and family, and whether they have participated in the politics of that country.

Nearly three quarters (74 percent) of respondents have been in contact with friends and family and one third (33 percent) have sent money to people in their home country.  However, only 4 percent have participated in the politics of their home country.  The figures are similar when looking only at adult citizens in our survey: 69 percent have been in contact with friends and family, 31 percent have sent money to people, and only 4 percent have been involved in the politics of their countries of origin.

“Most importantly, those who participate in the politics of their home countries are actually more likely to vote in the United States than those who do not (73 percent versus 67 percent). Thus, participation in home country politics is not a deterrent to participation in the United States,” the report said.


1 Comment

Filed under News

Pacquiao, De La Hoya wrap up promo tour in LA

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

EAST LOS ANGELES – The final leg of the Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya publicity tour started with a shot and a big chug.

A Tequila Cazadores official kicked off the press conference by opening a large bottle of tequila, poured himself a shot and downed the alcoholic beverage in front of a large pro-Mexican crowd in East Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Mexican-American comedian George Lopez, who served as the emcee, grabbed the bottle and downed it akin to a scene in the Animal House.

After going around on a six city tour of the US for the past week-in-a-half, many members of the De La Hoya and Pacquiao camps needed a drink to relieve them of all their travels.

“All I can say is that it’s good to finally be back home,” said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer.

“I was glad to see all the Filipinos from everywhere,” added Pacquiao. “It makes me feel good knowing that all those Filipinos I met are all supporting me.”

“I am home,” said De La Hoya. “This is where it all started for me.”

“We visited all the historic monuments across the US —the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Space Needle in Houston, the Alamo in San Antonio, and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco but here, East LA, this is our monument,” added De La Hoya to the pro-Mexican crowd.
On a sweltering hot day, Mexicans and a small number of Filipino fans gathered underneath the Whittier Arch, the gateway to East LA, to watch two of the most popular stars in boxing announce their upcoming match on December 6 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The fight titled The Dream Match is expected to be one of the highest grossing fights in the history of boxing, possibly even surpassing last year’s multi-million dollar mega match between De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Cheerleaders from Oscar De La Hoya Charter High School waved their blue and yellow pom-poms, a red-suited mariachi band blasted its traditional music, and people were literally on the roof and climbed up windowsills trying to catch a glimpse of boxing’s pound-4-pound great Pacquiao and boxing’s biggest box office draw De La Hoya.

Filipino Jeff Sacro of Carson arrived to the press conference early.

“I’m here to support Manny,” said Sacro, who was flanked by jeering Mexican fans. “I’m always there for all of his fights in Las Vegas.”

FilAm Jason V., who did not want to use his last name because he skipped work to attend the event, said he’s also here to support Pacquiao.

“He’s No. 1,” said Jason.

Sacro said that Pacquiao’s match against De La Hoya would be his toughest because of the Mexican’s long reach advantage.

“I just want Manny to fight until the end,” said Sacro, who originally hails from Cavite, Philippines. “Don’t quit. De La Hoya is big but Manny’s quick. We love Manny.”

Biggest fight of career

Roach said that he’s happy that the publicity tour is over because it’s time for him and Pacquiao to go back to work at the Wildcard Boxing Club.

Roach admits this is the biggest fight of not only Pacquiao’s career but his as well.

“After this, no more small fights,” said Roach. “All mega fights from here on out – Ricky Hatton or even Floyd Mayweather Jr. if he comes back.”

The Hall of Fame boxing trainer said that Pacquiao’s like a son to him. He wants to make sure Pacquiao is prepared and gives maximum effort.

“I’m 90 percent sure that Pacquiao will win this fight,” said Roach to the Asian Journal. “I don’t think Oscar can stay with Manny’s pace. Manny’s too fast for him.”

To combat Pacquiao’s speed, De La Hoya has hired Pacquiao’s nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez’s trainer Ignacio Beristain to help prepare for this fight.

Beristain has already warned De La Hoya of Pacquiao’s ring speed.

“He told to me watch out for Pacquiao and prepare for 12-rounds of boxing,” said De La Hoya. “He’s fast but he has to look for my right hand.”

Pacquiao, who has been plagued with distractions in several of his fights, said that this fight he’s more focused and determined.

“This time I’m really focused,” he said. “No more visitors at house. I’m just going to stay in the gym and head home. This fight won’t have any distractions.”

This fight is also of importance to Pacquiao not because he’s facing the Golden Boy but that this might be one of his last fights.

“I think maybe one or two more fights after this,” he said.   (

1 Comment

Filed under News

CHP writes thousands of tickets for hands-free driving law violations

by Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/AJPress

SAN BRUNO, CA — “They still don’t get it,” says California Highway Patrol spokesman Tom Marshall.  He was, of course, referring to the more than 20,000 tickets CHP has issued over the past three months to drivers breaking the by using a hands-free cell phone law.

The California driving law imposes as fine of $20 for a first-time offense and a $50 fine for each additional offense.  Exceptions however are allowed, like calls to law enforcement agencies for emergency purposes or emergency services personnel while operating an authorized emergency vehicle.

According to a Harvard study in 2002, 5 percent of all traffic accidents are caused by distracted cell phone users.  CHP statistics also show that cell phone use is the top cause of accidents triggered by distracted drivers going all the way back to 2001.  (

1 Comment

Filed under News