Category Archives: Galing Pinoy

Galing Pinoy showcases the triumph of the Filipino spirit — the Filipino’s innate perseverance to rise above. A double entendre, Galing Pinoy literally translates to both coming from (or brought to you by) the Filipino and Filipino ingenuity.

GALING PINOY: The Prince of Heroes

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
People, young and old alike, love comic book heroes. They enjoy stories of courageous men and women who battle evil and overcome the odds. They dream of being mighty, strong and powerful like superheroes Batman and Superman. The past years, there have been new comic book heroes for the new generation. You see them in the very popular Neotopia series, the Courageous Princess, the Battle Girlz, DragonPro and DinoWars. Behind these famous comic heroes is a Filipino comics creator, writer and illustrator, Rod Espinosa.
Born in the Philippines but based in Texas since 2001, Espinosa has been recognized in the American comic book industry for his outstanding work. Rod’s work on “The Courageous Princess” got him on the nomination list for “Promising New Talent” and also “Best Artist” for the 2000 Ignatz Awards and the 2002 Will Eisner Award nomination list for “Best Title for Younger Readers”. The Ignatz Award recognizes outstanding achievements in comics and cartooning while the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are considered the “Oscars” of the comic book industry. 

Rod graduated from the Don Bosco Technical College with a certificate in architectural drafting and got a degree in advertising art from University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila. He worked for seven years in various companies in the fields of advertising, software entertainment and film before deciding to pursue a career in the comic book industry. He came to San Antonio, Texas in 2001 to work full-time as a comic book editor and illustrator.

“I like being an illustrator because I get to keep my own hours,” said Rod.  “Actually, I work more hours than normal, but I get to decide when and where, which is a good trade-off. That’s probably the nice thing about being a comic book artist. I can get my projects done early if I work extra hours during the week. It also makes me feel like I’m not part of the rat race. I count myself lucky I don’t have the daily commute or the clockwork hours some people have,” he explained.

As both writer and artist, Rod has also authored theNeotopia series which was published in graphic novel form. In 2006,  Novotopia, the German edition of Neotopia, got a nomination for the Max und Moritz Prize in the category ‘Bester Comic für Kinder’ (best comic book for younger audience). Rod’s comic books include the Battle Girlz series, a Alice in Wonderland, The Alamo, DinoWars, and Metadocs. 

He has also written and conceptualized popular Antarctic Press titles such as  Hunt Monsters, and Herc and Thor.

Aside from comic books, Espinosa has also written and illustrated non-fiction works such as a series of American History comic books dealing with the subjects of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Lewis and Clark, The Boston Tea Party, The Alamo, Jackie Robinson, The Underground Railroad, Abraham Lincoln, Patrick Henry, Cesar Chavez, The American Revolution, the Transcontinental Railroad, and Clara Barton. 

He has also created graphic classic novels such as: Around the World in Eighty Days,  Moby-Dick, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

Writing and illustrating non-fiction books has been a new experience for Rod. He described it as ” outside the usual realm of the direct market”. Rod said,” Writing and drawing non-fiction has trained me further in doing realistic people. I have learned a lot. Artistically, I’m glad I improved. I am having fun drawing the characters as I based their likenesses on people I know.” 

Espinosa takes great pride in his newest work, the Prince of Heroes, which is an online graphic novel. “It has scenes never before seen in any other format. You get new excitement and entertainment! A treat for online readers,” said Rod. Readers can enjoy Espinosa’s newest work at

Like any accomplished man will tell you, it takes a lot of hard work to be successful. Rod Espinosa has worked hard to be where he is right now, and all his labor has paid off well. “My work does require a lot of discipline as we are our own task managers, but in the end, it’s worth it,” admitted the “Prince of comic heroes”.   (

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Galing Pinoys: Filipino Athletes Going for Gold in Olympics

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
WHEN pound-4-pound boxing great Manny Pacquiao waves the Philippine flag to the sound of Lupang Hinirang at the Olympics opening ceremony, he’ll be introducing the Philippines best athletes to the world.

For the next three weeks all eyes will be on Beijing, China as it host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. There are 15 athletes from the Philippines competing in the world’s grandest stage against the best the world has to offer.

Despite the fact that no Philippine athlete in 80 years has ever won Olympic gold, it’s not going to dissuade any of this year’s representatives from trying. As an incentive, it’s been reported that the Philippine government along with business leaders and other groups has offered a 15 million pesos ($340,000) cash prize to any Philippine Olympic athlete who receives a gold medal.

The last time the Philippines won a medal was in the Atlanta games in 1996. Light flyweight Mansueto Velasco captured the silver medal in boxing.

In total, the Philippines have won two silver and seven bronzes for a total of nine Olympic medals in its history. By far, the Philippines best sport is boxing, capturing five of its nine medals.

This year, the country’s best chance of a gold medal lies in the feats of these stellar athletes.

With the cash prize so lucrative and a chance for Olympic glory high, here is a list and brief bio of the Pinoy athletes going for gold in their respective event:


Mark Javier: This is the first Olympic games for the 27-year-old from Dumaguete City, Philippines. He earned an Olympic berth after placing first in the Asian Continental competition in Xian, China. He’s a 2005 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medalist and won a bronze medal in the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand.


Harry Tañamor: Tañamor is the country’s best chance for an Olympic medal perhaps even a gold, according to Sports Illustrated Olympic edition. This is Tañamor’s second Olympic berth. The 29-year-old southpaw boxer from Zamboanga City is competing in the Light Flyweight (48 kg) division. He placed ninth in the 2004 Olympics.


Rexel Ryan Fabriga: Fabriga is a 23-year-old diver from Zamboanga City. He qualified for the Beijing, Olympics after placing fourth in the 10-meter platform event at the FINA Diving World Cup competition in China. He’s a former SEA game gold medalist at the 10-meter platform event.

Sheila Mae Perez: This is the third time Perez has qualified for the Olympics. After placing 32nd in the 2000 Australia games, she qualified but did not compete in the 2004 Athens Olympics. She’s won a gold and a silver medal in the 2007 SEA games and is considered by many as one of the best divers in Southeast Asia.


Ryan Arabejo: The 19-year-old swimmer from Makati City overcame an asthmatic condition early in his life to become an Olympic athlete. Arabejo holds the Philippine record in the 400-meter freestyle (3:58.51) and the 50m backstroke (28.29). Arabejo earned a slot in the 2008 Beijing Olympics by finishing six seconds faster than the Olympic qualifying standard time of 15:45.12, according an report.

Daniel Coakley: Coakley is a 19-year-old FilAm hailing from Hawaii. He holds the Philippine Record in the 50m freestyle (23.08 seconds) and the SEA Games Record in the same event (22.80 sec.). It’s been reported that Coakley is the grand nephew of the late Teofilo Yldefonso, who is considered by many as the greatest Philippine swimmer. Yldefonso won the Philippines first Olympic medal (bronze) in the 200m-breaststroke event at the 1928 Amsterdam Games.

Miguel Molina: This is the second Olympic berth for the former FilAm Cal Berkeley graduate. Molina is competing in the men’s 200m breaststroke and men’s 200m individual Medley. During the last Olympic, he posted a 2:05.28 time in the 200m individual medley.

Christel Simms: Simms is a 17-year-old FilAm also from Hawaii. Born and raised in the US, she almost did not have a chance to represent the Philippines but the Court of Arbitration of Sports (CAS) upheld her petition to represent her parent’s home country. She qualified for the Olympics after posting 57.17 seconds, the qualifying standard for the 100m freestyle swimming events, at the USA Junior National Swimming Championships.

J.B. Walsh: The 22-year-old University of Florida graduate is another FilAm swimmer competing for the Philippines in his second straight Olympics. In Athens, he finished 37th in the 200m butterfly. He’ll be hoping to do better this time around when he competes in that same event. He’s also the Philippine record holder clocking 2:00.42.


Tshomlee Go: Besides Tañamor, the 27-year-old Go is also considered by many as one of the country’s best contenders for a gold medal in the Beijing Olympic games. The Taekwando jin made it to the Beijing Games via the World qualifying after beating six opponents in the 58-kg (127-pounds), the first Olympic weight category, according to the report. It is Go’s second Olympic games. He competed in Athens but fell in the preliminary rounds.

Mary Antoinette Rivero: Rivero is also another gold medal hopeful. The 20-year-old student at Ateneo de Manila University nearly captured a silver medal four years ago in Athens. In the semifinals, she faced off against Greece’s Elizavet Mystakidou losing a close 2-3 decision. A win would have guaranteed Rivero a silver medal and a shot at gold. She got neither and lost the bronze medal match.


Henry Dagmil: The 27-year-old South Cotabato resident will compete in the long jump. He holds the Philippine long jump record at 7.99 meters. He’s a 2007 SEA games gold medalist.

Marestella Torres: Torres is a 27-year-old competing in the women’s long jump. She captured the gold medal at the 2005 SEA and 2007 SEA Games. The Philippine Track and Field Association (PATAFA) selected Torres to represent the country at the Beijing Games.


Eric Ang: At 37-years-old, Ang is the oldest athlete representing the Philippines. He earned a wildcard berth after posting convincing performances in the trap events of two international competitions, according to GMA-7.


Heidilyn Diaz: The 17-year-old Diaz is the youngest competitor for the Philippines. The Zamboanga City resident is also the first Filipino to compete in a weightlifting event. She earned a wild-card slot from the International Weightlifting Federation. She’ll compete in the 58-kilogram class (127 pounds).



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Natalie Coughlin: Like Fish to Olympic Waters

by Momar Visaya/AJPress
There are a few celebrities in sports whose presence at the upcoming 2008 Olympics in Beijing is both widely and wildly anticipated. Natalie Coughlin is one of them.

Her path to Olympic fame and glory began when she was just a young kid swimming in her parents’ backyard pool. Her dad Jim, a Vallejo police officer and mom Zennie, a Kaiser paralegal, also enrolled Natalie and her sister Megan in swimming classes.

This path however was not paved with the proverbial gold. She was a swimming prodigy at 15, and at the age of 17, she missed, by two seconds, the last spot for the swim team then, which was set to compete at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Instead of sulking, Natalie began her rehabilitation plan and trained harder than usual. Four short years later, she reaped her rewards.

Natalie was propelled to superstardom when she won five medals at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. Then 21 years old, she won golds in the 100-meter backstroke and the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, silvers in the 4×100 freestyle and medley relays and a bronze medal in the 100-meter freestyle.

In 2006, Natalie wrote a book with Sports Illustrated’s Michael Silver entitled, Golden Girl: How Natalie Coughlin Fought Back, Challenged Conventional Wisdom, and Became America’s Olympic Champion.

A psychology graduate from UC Berkeley, Coughlin (pronounced cog-lin) will be one of 10,500 athletes to compete in 302 events in 28 sports during the Olympics.

In an exclusive interview with the Asian Journal, Natalie shared her training regimen, her lola’s chicken adobo and her wish to learn Tagalog in the future.

Asked to describe herself in three words, Natalie responded: “Perfectionist, realist, stubborn.”

Here are excerpts from the interview.

Asian Journal (AJ): How is your training regimen these days? Do you have a pre-competition routine?

Natalie Coughlin (NC): My daily routine is really no different than it usually is. I still maintain my swimming, weights, and Pilates schedule. Since I’m in training camp, there is a lot more rest time (a.k.a. nothing to do). My pre-competition routine is always the same and it involves a lot of stretching and a little bit of swimming.

AJ: You are looked upon as a role model by the youth, what is your message to them?

NC: Be active! Get involved in some sort of sport or other activity and have fun with it. H2O Audio’s waterproof mp3 case is a way to make sports more fun by allowing you to swim, surf or run while listening to your favorite music.

(Editor’s Note: Natalie is one of the endorsers of H20 Audio, the leading brand of waterproof and ruggedized sports accessories. She is also the company’s swim gear design and development advisor.)

AJ: Not a lot of people know that you have Filipino blood. How many percent Filipino are you?

NC: I’m a quarter-Filipino.

AJ: Did you grow up eating Filipino food? Do you still eat Filipino food? What are your favorites?

NC: Yes, I grew up eating a lot of Filipino food. My family blends Filipino food and American food at all of our gatherings.  Halo-halo is one of my favorite treats. And I’m sure everyone says this, but my grandma’s Chicken Adobo is by far the best I have ever tasted.

AJ: Have you been to the Philippines?

NC: Unfortunately I haven’t been there yet. My family is from Cavite.

AJ: Did your lola (grandmother) teach you how to speak tagalog?

NC: Although my family speaks Tagalog amongst themselves, I was never taught. I am using a computer program called Rosetta Stone that is helping me learn Tagalog…maybe now I’ll know what my family is saying about me!

AJ: How is your diet like these days? What are your favorite foods?

NC: I eat a lot of organic fruits and vegetables. I try to fill my plate mostly with vegetables in a variety of different colors. My favorite foods are Vietnamese and Peruvian.

AJ: What is the best thing about swimming?

NC: I love being in the sun and in the fresh air. I am passionate about swimming and thrilled to have the opportunity to help people throughout the swimming community experience the fun of listening to quality music while enjoying a swim or participating in other water sports.

AJ: What is your favorite event? How many events will you be competing in?

NC: My favorite event is probably the 100 back. I will compete in up to six events in Beijing, including relays. My individual events are the 100 back, 200 IM and 100 free.

(Editor’s Note: Natalie is the American record-holder in four events on the Olympic schedule.)

AJ: You now lead the 58 club, how did you prepare for that?

NC: Lots of hard training!

(Natalie broke the 59-second mark with a time of 58.97 seconds. She was also the first woman to break the one minute mark in the 100-meter backstroke.)

AJ: What do you do when you are not swimming?

NC: I really enjoy cooking and eating.

AJ: What are your other favorite sports?

NC: I enjoy watching track & field, I personally like to surf and run for cross-training.

AJ: Who was your role model as a child growing up? Has that changed?

NC: I didn’t really have any specific role models. However, I did enjoy watching Summer Sanders and Janet Evans.

AJ: What’s your favorite song to listen to underwater?

NC:  Any Jack Johnson song.

AJ: What is the best part about swimming with music?

NC: It puts me in tune with both the music and the water.

AJ: What’s your advice to the next generation of world record swimmers?

NC: Don’t take anything too seriously.

AJ: If you weren’t an Olympic swimmer what would you be?

NC:  A professional dancer but I have no experience.

(Special thanks to Tom Harvey of H20 Audio for facilitating the interview. For more information about the Natalie Coughlin Signature Series, visit


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Filipino Fireballer: FilAm Baseball Player Espineli

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
FILAM Eugene “Geno” Macalalag Espineli is a Giant in more than one way. Standing 6’ 4” the 25-year-old pitching reliever for the San Francisco Giants baseball team is tall for a Filipino, whose average heights are almost a feet short. With that height, you’d think he’s better off as a shooting guard or small forward in a basketball league.

“I was never good in basketball,” he said to the Asian Journal as the Giants were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles.

The tan skin Giant is one of the few Major League Baseball players with Filipino heritage. Along with teammate starting pitcher Tim Lincecum, who is half Pinoy, Chris Aguila formerly of the New York Mets, and Jason Bartlett of the Tampa Bay Rays, there aren’t a lot of Filipinos playing in America’s past time.

It’s a reason why Espineli takes a certain pride of being a full Filipino in the Major Leagues.

“Since I’ve been here, I realized how great it is to be a different culture and different race it just shows that all cultures can play this sport and any sport,” said Espineli.

Baseball’s done a great job of reaching out to all the different cultures, added Lincecum, who dedicated a game to his Filipino grandfather after his passing last year.

“It’s great that baseball’s expanding their horizons and they are all over the world,” he said.

Both Espineli’s parents are from the Philippines. His mother is originally from Lumban, Laguna. He said he’s been to the home country a few times, the last time being when he was 13-years-old.

“I remember the scenery and small villages in the mountains, and the trees and that it was pretty hot when I was there,” he said.

Espineli was born and bred in Houston, Texas. Espineli said he was only one of two Filipinos in his High School. Growing up, baseball was the game the kids played in his neighborhood so naturally he gravitated towards the sport and dreamt about playing professionally in the Major Leagues.

And about two weeks ago, his dream came true.

“This is something that I’ve been working for my whole life,” he said about being called up to play for the Giants.

After playing college baseball for the University of Texas and Texas Christian University, the San Francisco Giants drafted the left-handed pitcher in the 14th round of the 2004 draft.

According to, Espineli’s scouting report that year compared him to ex-major league pitcher John Candeleria, a former 20 game-winner and World Series champion. Espineli’s “tall, lanky” frame, side arm delivery and three-pitch combination – a sinking fastball clocked at 89 miles-per-hour, a backdoor curveball and sinking changeup – made him a good draft choice for the Giants.

“My pitching style is about trying to fool the hitter,” said Espineli. “I like to confuse the hitters with what I throw. I don’t throw really fast; my pitches are usually in the high 80’s. I just try to get it [the ball] to sink or slide.”

After a few years in the Minor Leagues as a reliever and starting pitcher, the Giants called up Espineli in mid-July after he posted a 2.06 earned run average with 43 strikeouts in 34 games for the teams Triple A affiliate in Fresno. During his time in Fresno, Espineli also was a Pacific Coast League All-Star and named to the Olympic USA baseball team.

Espineli said he was surprised about being named to the Olympics but opted to stay in the majors to help the Giants playoff run in a wide-open National League West division.

“That opportunity came out of nowhere,” he said about the Olympics. “I would have been definitely proud to represent this country but now I’m in the majors and I’m hoping to stay here as long as possible.”

Now that he’s on the Giants, he’s hoping to contribute to the pitching staff in anyway he can even if it means humiliatingly carrying a Barbie backpack to the bullpen in front of thousands of people to appease the veterans on the team.

Hazing is what veteran’s do to rookies, and Espineli knows it’s not over.

“I know it’s going to get a lot worse in September,” he said.

So far Espineli has played in five games as a reliever for the Giants. He’s pitched 5.2 innings striking out four hitters and allowing two walks. He’s also given up four earned runs but to Espineli, it’s a learning experience.

“Every time I’m out there it’s nerve racking,” he said. “You’re in front of thousands of fans. Everyone back home is going to watch it. It’s exciting but it’s also nervous at the same time.”

He also knows there’s a little added pressure on him being a full Filipino playing in front of a team with a large Filipino fan base.

“It’s great that we have a built in audience especially in the Bay area,” he said. “There’s a lot of Filipinos there. Especially for a country not known to produce a lot of baseball players, it just adds more fans to the sport.”

Espineli said he hopes to stay in the majors for a long time. He also mentioned that one of his goals is to increase the popularity of baseball by hosting baseball camps in the Philippines.

“I definitely plan on going back soon and that’s definitely something I would check out,” he said. “I know it’s not one of the bigger sports there so anything to get a sport like baseball going to a country will be a big deal and something I would definitely look into.”

He advises young FilAms and Filipinos pursuing a career in major league baseball to “keep working on it and eventually you’ll get to the top.”


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Keeping Hope Alive: FilAm’s Song To Showcase in Upcoming film

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – Is it serendipity or mere coincidence?

When Director Mark Pellington met FilAm singer/ songwriter Ron Irizarry for the first time earlier this week he noticed a tattoo on Irizarry’s arm that read “La Esperanza Muera Ultima.”

“What does it mean?” Pellington asked.

“Hope dies last,” said Irizarry.

The tattoo came as a surprise to Pellington, according to Irizarry recalling the event. Pellington had just finished a movie Henry Poole is Here about a man [Luke Wilson] who had lost hope only to find it again from the people he lived with in suburbia.

For Irizarry, the tattoo was just a reminder to never give up on his career.

So it came as no surprise that when Irizarry arrived to Los Angeles as the winner of the Henry Poole Is Here movie theme song contest, Pellington knew he found the right man and the right song to fit the movie.

“It’s like everything is fitting together,” said Irizarry to the Asian Journal. Irizarry was in Los Angeles shooting the music video [directed by Pellington] of the song. “It’s like I’m supposed to be here.”

Henry Poole is Here the movie is set to be released later this summer or possibly fall. It was an official Sundance selection.

Last week, after a month and about 3,500 submissions nationwide Myspace Music, Overture Films, Lakeshore Entertainment, and Pellington, chose Irizarry’s song “Henry Poole is Here” as the official theme song of the movie.

“It’s amazing how you captured the movie just by watching the trailer,” said Pellington, who announced the winner of the contest on movie’s official post.

“We [Irizarry and co-writer Joel Wild] wanted to take it from the darkest places we both experienced and try to tap in to that,” said Irizarry to Pellington. “That’s what [the trailer] looked like a place of desperation and wanting to find hope and breaking through that desperation.”

For Irizarry the song has an even more special meaning. Winning the contest was not only a way to be recognized by the mainstream but also possibly the start of a career breakthrough.

Dark times are nothing new for an artist trying to break through the ultra competitive music industry. The song is apropos for the movie but even more fitting for the 36-year-old Orlando native who has had his shares of ups and down.

“I just identified with the main character [Henry Poole],” said Irizarry. “The images in the trailer when I saw [Wilson’s] face look down and out; when I saw that and when I saw his face; I could identify those times in my life.”

In the late 1990’s when he began his career, he thought his career was on the rise. For two years, he toured with and opened for mega boy band NSYNC. He also opened for Jordan Knight, Pink, Sisqo, and Mandy Moore.

Hanging out with Justin Timberlake and the other artists had a profound impact on Irizarry. He thought he could branch off on his own but he soon found that individual success was harder to come by.

“I got turned down by a lot of record labels,” he said. “Add that to personal things and it just collided and made a perfect storm of negativity and I fed into it.”

He said about five or six years ago, he sat inside his living room depressed contemplating about where his career was heading when an interesting news program turned on. The program featured an author who wrote a book about keeping hope alive.

The author was Studs Turkel and his Hope Dies Last book struck a chord in Irizarry. He immediately bought the book. The first page he turned to read “La Esperanza Muera Ultima” or “Hope dies last.”

“I got that tattoo on my arm,” he said. “It’s for whenever I need something to look at, I know there’s hope and this is all about hope.”

From then on, Irizarry said he rebounded from that negative experience and kept a positive outlook.

Music has been his career since he could remember – his dad took him to a concert at the age of 13 where he knew this was his career passion – and giving it up was too unfathomable.

He began to tour the college circuit nationwide and for two years from 2003 to 2005, he received the “best solo artist” award in the college scene.

“It’s always good to be recognized,” he said.

He also partnered with Joel Wild to write and produce music for other bands.

One of the music bands he wrote for in 2007 was The Clark Brothers, who won the Fox Networks talent competition The Next Great American Band.

At the same time, he continued to open up for acts including One Republic, Jimmy Eat World, Erykah Badu, Nas, J. Holiday, and many more.

Although Irizarry admits he has not “received that level of success yet,” he hopes to headline his own show one of these days.

“You know there’s a saying that anything with value easy to obtain is not worth doing,” he said. “If you did it with ease, you won’t have that same amount of appreciation for the value of it. There are always challenges and what I found is that there’s no formula for success. If there’s any kind of formula, it’s to learn as much as you can until something pops. It’s very challenging but if you get some of kind of payoff it’s really rewarding.”

He said that winning the contest might give him that chance he’d been hoping for.

For more information about Henry Poole is Here the movie or Irizarry’s official theme song please check out


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GALING PINOY: A Woman of Faith

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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GALING PINOY: Pinoy Flexes His Muscles

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – He is a Filipino Hulk.

Last week, Ternida became the first Filipino Middle Weight Division Champion at 172-pounds and captured the Overall Championship in the US Musclemania Universe competition in Miami.

“It’s an overwhelming feeling,” said Ternida to the Asian Journal. “I’ve trained hard for the past six months. I came off an injury and won this [competition] making me the first Filipino to capture the overall Musclemania championship.”

Musclemania is one of the more prestigious competitions for professional bodybuilders. The bodybuilding organization holds two events a year – the Musclemania Universe competition event in June and Musclemania World Championships in November.

Ternida became the very first Filipino to win a US bodybuilding championship when he captured the Musclemania Lightweight Championship at 148-pounds in November 2003. Ironically, it was the same time boxer Manny Pacquiao defeated Marco Antonio Barrera, starting his streak of besting Mexican boxing opponents.

Like Pacquiao, Ternida is considered to be the very best in his sport.

For the past several years, Ternida has built up an impressive bodybuilding resume. He’s a six-time Mr. Philippines title-holder, a Musclemania World and Universe champion, a Battle of the Philippines champion and has numerous second place finishes in the Superbody International competition.

The most remarkable part of this is that he’s usually the lone Filipino competitor in these major bodybuilding competitions. “There’s only a few of us [Filipinos],” he said. “There are maybe two or three FilAms and one Filipino from Kuwait.”

According to Ternida, the recent Musclemania Universe championship was his fifth bodybuilding title this year. Earlier this year, he racked up victories in Asia and the Philippines.”

Despite all the accolades, he said the victory in Miami was his most memorable title. After being stuck in an airplane for two days just traveling to Miami, the airline lost his luggage, which had important vitamin supplements.

“Luckily, I got everything in time,” he said. “The crowd even cheered for me because they knew what I was going through and what I had to overcome to win.”

He said he felt fortunate just to even be able to compete again this year.

At 37-years-old, he’s not necessarily at the peak of his career. Ternida, whose nickname is also mass of muscle, had considered retirement last year after suffering an almost career ending injury. Trying to pick up a 600-pound weight during a deadlift exercise, Ternida tore his left bicep muscle. He was unable to lift weights for eight months and seriously pondered retirement.

“I really did consider retiring,” he said. “My whole [left] arm was blue. I [remembered] hearing a crack in my muscle. It was really sore. I really thought my career was over.”

Despite the injury, Ternida persevered. He sat out most of last year just trying to rehabilitate his arm. He said the injury was a blessing.

“It made me focus on my exercises more,” he said. “It was starting over again, back to the basics. Before when I did a bench press exercise, I let the bar bounce on my chest and used the momentum to pick it up. Now, I use smaller weights. It’s about controlled movement. I train smarter now. Now, I’m contracting the muscle more.”

Although the torn bicep injury was painful, he’s used to persevering through long odds.

Growing up in the Philippines he had an asthmatic condition that prevented him from exercising regularly. An injury to his left thigh from a misplaced doctor’s needle almost prevented him from walking again.

But at the age of 21, Ternida who then weighed less than a 100 pounds found his love in bodybuilding.

He said exercising made him overcome his asthmatic condition. Bodybuilding for Ternida, lead to a healthier lifestyle. He also liked how his ripped body looked.

But if you think it’s easy, Ternida said bodybuilding requires a lot of discipline.

During the competition season, he has a strict diet – sirloin, plain chicken breast, no carbohydrates, no sugar, no salt, and lots of vitamin and protein supplements. “Basically, anything that tastes good I can’t eat,” he said.

For competitions, he works out six days a week isolating each muscle. He eats or takes a supplement 10 times a day.

Ternida, who also serves as a personal trainer in the off-season, said the championship trophies are well worth the strict lifestyle it demands.

When asked what he does with all those trophies, he said he keeps it in his gym (Gymcore Hardcore Gym) in the Philippines as motivation for his clients.

With all of his accomplishments, there is still more to be done, he said.

He’s hoping one day that the Olympics consider bodybuilding as a sport.

“I want to win a Gold medal for the Philippines,” he said.


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Galing Pinoy: FilAm Tennis Ace Leads UCLA to First Championship

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – FilAm UCLA college student Riza Zalameda double dipped during the NCAA National Tennis tournament held at the Tulsa’s Michael D. Case Tennis Center last May 26.

The 22-year-old senior clinched UCLA’s first ever women’s Team Tennis Championship and also captured the NCAA Doubles Championship with partner Tracy Lin.

“Before I hit that last overhead, everything culminated at that last moment,” said Zalameda on the UCLA Tennis website. “It was a moment that I have been dreaming of. I’m speechless.”

Zalameda clinched the team championship when she defeated Susie Babos of UC Berkeley, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. The win gave the lady Bruins a 4-0 series sweep against the Bears of Berkeley and earned Zalameda the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.

In the same tournament, Zalameda and Lin captured the NCAA Tennis Doubles Championship after defeating CSU Fresno State’s Melanie Gloria and Tinesta Rowe in three-sets, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

“It was a very exciting win,” said Zalameda at the post match press conference. “We just came into it pretty confident in our skills. We’ve been playing for two weeks and our shots are pretty refined. All we had to do was execute. We knew they were a great team because I saw them earlier this year and we were expecting them to come out big. They did come out big on certain points, but we just toughed it out. We had more experience, more skill today and more will, but they were a great team.”

Both wins are a culmination of Zalameda’s stellar UCLA tennis career. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) named Zalameda as the Senior Player of the Year award, becoming only the second UCLA player to ever earn the prestigious award. She also earned the Pac-10 Player of the Year award.

The only thing that Zalameda didn’t do during the tournament was to win the Singles Championship. She reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Singles draw. Before entering the tournament, she had won the Pac-10 Singles title.

According to UCLA, Zalameda is just one of six four-time All-Americans in UCLA history.


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DREAM COME TRUE: Charice Set to Conquer Oprah on May 12

by Momar Visaya/

MAKATI CITY – Mark your calendars.

On May 12, young diva Charice Pempengco’s quest for international stardom gets a much-needed boost as her dream of being a guest at The Oprah Winfrey Show becomes a reality.

After traveling thousands of miles from Manila, Charice joined some of the world’s most talented, amazing kids take the Oprah stage. The Oprah Winfrey Show is the longest-running and highest-rated daytime television talk show in America today.

The young diva blew the audience away with her performance of Whitney Houston’s song I Have Nothing. After her fantastic performance, an emotional Charice told Oprah, “I’m always dreaming that someday I can be a part of your show. I can’t believe I’m here standing with you. This is my dream come true.”

Asian Journal sat down with Charice and her mom Raquel in Manila a day before they flew to Honolulu to ask her about her Oprah experience, how they have been trailblazing and jetsetting.

“Nung una po, parang hindi ako makapaniwala. Kasi Oprah yan eh, napapanood ko lang sa TV. Tita Millie (Gurfinkel) called my mom and sabi niya na mag ge-guest ako sa Oprah Winfrey Show. Si mommy, parang walang reaction, parang okay lang. Tapos after nilang mag-usap, sinabi ni mommy sa akin na gusto akong mai-guest sa Oprah so napasigaw ako sa tuwa,”

Charice said as she recalled the day when she found out about the guesting.

Indeed, it was a dream come true, considering that only weeks earlier, she and her mom have been talking about the good breaks she has been getting.

“Nagulat lang kami kasi napagkuwentuhan lang namin ni Mommy. Nasabi ko na after Ellen, tapos yung sa London, parang nag-wish lang ako na sana next time Oprah na. Kaya nagulat ako nung tumawag na si Tita Millie,” Charice shared.

It was a whirlwind from there. Mother and daughter flew to Chicago to come face to face with one of the most powerful women in media, Oprah Winfrey herself.

“Parang ang bilis ng mga nangyari. Pagdating namin dun, nag rest kami kasi kinabukasan rehearsal na. Dinala kami ng staff sa studio. Hindi ako makapaniwalang nakatayo na ako dun sa stage ng Oprah. Napapanood ko lang ito sa TV. Sabi nila, iyan yung stage mo bukas.

“Ito yung show na talagang pinakakinabahan ako, kasi siyempre Oprah ito. Tapos kinabukasan nakita ko yung mga kasama ko sa show, ang gagaling din nila,” Charice recalled.

“Iba ang talent ng Pinoy, kailangan kong ipakita yun. Matindi yung kaba ko nun talaga. Nung ako na, sabi ko, “This is it”. Kinanta ko yung “I Have Nothing” ni Whitney. Nag start siya chorus na kaya mabigat. Idinedicate ko yung performance kay Oprah,” she added.

After her performance, Charice recalled Oprah joining her on centerstage, asking her so many things.

“Saan daw galing yung boses ko, sino daw ako. Na-shock daw siya sa talent ko. Tapos niyakap na niya ako at napaiyak na siya. Napaiyak na din ako nun, tapos si mommy nakita ko umiiyak na din. Sinabi nila ako yung first Filipina sa show. I felt very, very proud,” Charice said.

It was a memorable scene that she kept on playing in her mind days, even weeks after the performance.

She felt happy after her song. She felt proud. She was ecstatic. A lot of things were going through her mind. “Na impress ko kaya siya? Nagustuhan kaya ng audience? Tama ba yung pagkakanta ko? Ang daming tumatakbo sa utak ko pagkatapos nun,” she related.

She didn’t have to worry. Oprah Winfrey loved her performance.

“Na-feel ko na special ako sa kanila. Ipinaramdam nila sa akin na special ako. Dun sa closing ng show, kasama na lahat, hindi napansin ni Oprah na ksama na ako sa group. Hinanap pa niya talaga ako. “Where’s Charice?” sabi niya.

“Nung umpisa, after ng Little Big Star, naisip ko lang na okay siguro kung magkaroon ako ng exposure sa Philippine TV. Tapos nag-start na yung sa Korea, then napanood ni Ellen. Nag tuloy-tuloy na,” she said.

Charice admitted that all these would not have been possible without the help of her fan known as the False Voice. Most of all, Charice thanks her US immigration lawyer, Atty. Michael Gurfinkel, who facilitated the issuance of Charice’s proper work visa that allowed her to appear on TV, to meet the show’s deadlines.

Also, Charice and mother’s passports were stolen recently and Atty. Gurfinkel helped with the re-issuance of their US visas that normally takes months – Gurfinkel did it 3 days.

“Kung wala si Atty. Gurfinkel, kahit may invitation ang Oprah show, di pwedeng mag perform si Charice dahil sa konting panahon na ibinigay para sa visa applications. Di siya makikita sa US television at all, kung di nakuha ni Atty. Gurfinkel ang kanilang mga visas,”

Charice’s mom revealed.

Ellen de Generes saw her videos and invited Charice to be a guest on her show. Last December, Charice performed And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going) on The Ellen de Generes Show and got a standing ovation from the audience. Then came London’s Paul O’Grady.

And now, it’s Oprah.

“Nangarap po ako ng malaki. Pero hindi maiiwasan yung mga challenges, mga problema. Kailangan lang ng tiyaga. Pagsisikap lang talaga. Ito yung gusto kong marating. Kahit anong challenge, go lang ng go. Di ba nga may kasabihan tayong mga Pilipino na kapag may tiyaga, may nilaga?”

Charice said.

Other kids featured in the program include; seven-year-old ballroom dancers, an eight-year-old guitarist, a three-year-old drummer, a seven-year-old pianist, a ten-year-old who plays the accordion, the youngest film director in history, a two-and-a-half-year-old pint-size prodigy who can identify more than 100 countries on a map and a fourteen-year-old international best-selling author. Also, a nine-year-old dancing phenomenon nicknamed “happy feet” teaches Oprah how to do the Cha-Cha slide.

Abigail Breslin and Willow Smith, daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, will join the show via satellite to discuss their upcoming film project An American Girl. (

(Catch Charice on The Oprah Winfrey Show on Monday, May 12, 2008 – check your local listing)

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Galing Pinoy: Chito Atienza, New York Teacher of the Year 2008

by Cynthia de Castro/

LOS ANGELES – Sonam, a new immigrant in New York from far Tibet, could hardly speak English. To help her adjust to her new environment, she enrolled in a class called ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) offered in the community.

Sonam was lonely and uneasy in the concrete jungle of New York, a world apart from her native Lhasa with its snow-peaked mountains and rivers. Her ESOL teacher, Chito Atienza, noticed Sonam’s sad demeanor in class. A naturally warm and caring person, Chito sat down beside Sonam and engaged her in small talk to put her at ease. He asked her about her family in Lhasa and suddenly, tears filled Sonam’s eyes. The kind teacher affectionately tried to lift up Sonam’s spirits and soon, another Chinese student, Gui Feng, also emphatized with Sonam. Sonam looked up with hope in her eyes and told her teacher and classmate that she’s okay.

For his outstanding work teaching English to new immigrants in New York for more than 20 years, Feliciano Jaime “Chito” Atienza was honored recently by The New York Times Community Affairs Department and the Knowledge Network with the 2008 New York Times ESOL Teacher of the Year Award.

Diane McNulty, executive director for community affairs and media relations of The New York Times, said that “The New York Times is delighted to recognize Mr. Atienza” and all ESOL teachers. “Thanks to their commitment, new immigrants are being given the tools they need to build better lives for themselves and their families, continuing New York’s legacy as the city where everyone has a shot at the American dream,” said McNulty.

Atienza was chosen by a selection committee of distinguished ESOL advocates from The New York Public Library, Queens Library, City University of New York, Brooklyn Public Library and the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education. Now in its second year, the program recognizes ESOL instructors who have consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty to help students learn English and develop the skills needed to create successful new lives in the United States.

A Filipino immigrant, Atienza has worked as an ESOL Teacher with the Queens Library’s Adult Learner–ESOL Program for more than 10 years, and with the YMCA International ELESAIR (English Language & Employment Services for Adult Immigrants and Refugees) Project for 22 years.

He is a compassionate teacher whose classroom is characterized by a healing and empowering concept of “skinship” and trust. He possesses a cheerful “can do” attitude and time-tested skills as a teacher trainor, mentor, test giver and facilitator.

Chito told his story to Asian Journal:

I used to live in Sta. Cruz, Manila before I came to the US. I went to college at the De La Salle University in Manila. I have always been a teacher, working at different Catholic schools in Manila and at Adamson University. My interest in language teaching started with the foreign born students at Adamson. They’re from Thailand, Taiwan, Jordan and some other middle Eastern countries. Then it became more formalized as a skill and a career at the Philippine Refugee Processing Center in Bataan, Philippines. The place became the birthplace of ESL (English as a Second Language).

I came to New York for the first time in 1985 before the EDSA revolution. Since I was already trained at the refugee camp, I applied for a new program under the YMCA, the ELESAIR Project. I’ve been working with the program for more than 20 years. The great thing about my job is that I’ve been a witness to the flow of immigrants to this wonderful city. Refugees from Africa, Russia, Afghanistan, Eastern Europe, and now the Latinos of South America and the Chinese.

One doesn’t feel alienated in a city where most of the residents are from other countries or another state. Everybody comes to work harmoniously with people of different backgrounds, national origin, and other differences. There is some kind of tolerance that permeates in the air that we breathe. And people are happy to share the commonalities that they have.

An admitted workaholic, Chito regrets having forgotten parts of his life in his first five years in New York. “I just kept on working in the late 80’s for five years without a social life and a religious life. It’s like ‘Chito is dead and he’s now living in NY’. Then, I told myself ‘hey…take it easy.. bond once again with family and friends…which I did and yes, even with my spiritual life.”

Bonding with his family means going home regularly to the Philippines because his whole family lives there. “I am the only one here. I usually go back to the islands every year. I often visit my parents’ hometown in Lumban, Laguna. Last year I went to Boracay with family and friends— it was fantastic. Shopping is fabulous. We have the best shopping malls in the whole world- Market, Market, Mall of Asia, Tiendesitas, SM, National Bookstore!”

Chito can’t stop gushing about the pleasures of going home to the Philippines. “Foods to die for – pandesal with quesong puti or adobo, fried hito and adobo wrapped in banana leaves. Oh, the cuisine of Manila is something else! “

When in New York, Chito loves to hang out at Barnes and Noble bookstore, in Central Park, Vinieros in the East Village and Cafe de la Artiste in the West Village.

“Or, sometimes I just sit down on a nice day at Washington Square, read a good book and wait for Anna Bayle to go out of her apartment and admire her legendary cat walk. Lots of places you can hang out here,” Chito said.

Atienza admits that he learns a lot from his students too. “My personal hope for peace and goodwill are played out in my classroom everyday. Roles are often reversed. My students become my teachers. They teach me that hope springs eternal, even on political humanitarian issues that even the UN can’t resolve,” he says.

With the ESOL award came fame, as Chito has been deluged with interviews from media. But he is careful to take it all in stride and give the glory to God. He stressed to Asian Journal, “I am the ESOL of 2008 but there is a greater Teacher of all times. And from Him I draw my most important teaching and learning methodologies. His name is Jesus. For me, this great Teacher is the embodiment of hope, trust, and above all of love and compassion. I thank Him for being my role model. He said in John 4:34. ‘My food is to do the will of the One who sent me and to finish His work.’ And that has guided me as a teacher. “

Atienza now looks forward to do something for his homeland. “My future plan is to create projects with the Department of Education in the Philippines that would foster teacher exchange or perhaps student exchange as well to promote immersion in language and culture. I still have to sit and write some kind of a proposal about this,” he stated.

Chito believes teaching is his purpose for being.”I will always be a teacher, an ESOL Teacher. Long after my reign as the NY Times ESOL Teacher of the Year, you will still find me in the safe haven of my immigrant dream, doing the will of the Great Teacher who sent me to continue His work among the New Americans in NYC,” said New York’s Best ESOL Teacher.



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