Tag Archives: Joseph Pimentel

Up close and personal with KC

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
Concepcion sits flushed inside a dressing room beneath the Glendale Alex Theatre. It’s been a whirlwind ride for the past few hours for her. Since the opening of For the First Time, KC has met, hugged and photographed with hundreds of gushing fans. Her right arm is tired from signing autographs. Her eyes are blurry from the countless flash photos. Yet she remained radiant. Her smile is bright and her attitude is as perky as ever.

Asian Journal sat down with KC to chat about her movie premiere, her budding singing and acting career, overcoming her parents’ looming shadow and her future in show business.

AJ: Are you surprised by the overwhelming reception that you got today?

KC: Well, yeah. I still can’t see right now because of all the flash bulbs but it was really, really nice to see everybody.Hindi ko inexpect na ganito karaming tao, ganito karaming Pinoy ang dadating. And siyempre, it was really, really nice to see everybody was so excited about the movie and was so welcoming of me. It was worth the whole journey, my whole trip over here.

AJ: Let’s get this question out of the way. Everyone seems to always mention a possible [boyfriend-girlfriend] relationship between you and your co-star Richard Gutierrez. So let’s just make this clear. What can you tell us about your relationship with Richard?

KC: My relationship with Richard? Hey, hey, hey. You be careful how you ask questions. [laughing]

AJ: Hey, there are different kinds of relationships.

KC: [laughing] Yeah, I know. Richard is a very, very good guy. He’s a lot of fun to be around. He’s very adventurous. It’s nice to travel with him. So it [the movie] was really the perfect chance for us to get to know each other and to go to Greece and to film there, and we’re doing an international premiere in Austria, too. So we’re really excited to be traveling together, but more than that we’re good working partners. We work well together. We’re very supportive of each other. It worked out well. Naging komportable kami sa isa’t isa. Mabuti siyang tao, masaya siyang kasama. We take it day by day like he always says.

AJ: You two are also set to star in an upcoming film When I Met You by GMA Films slated for release on Valentine’s Day next year. Could you perhaps give us a teaser about the upcoming film that you two will be working together on?

KC: [Asks manager for permission to talk about the film] Siyempre nag-umpisa kami ni Chard dito sa Star Cinemakaya maganda ‘yung launching ‘ng partnership namin sa pelikula, and for that we’re very thankful sa [ABS-CBN] Star Cinema, kina Tita Charo, kina Tita Malou Santos dahil binigyan nila kami ng napakagandang experience for the first time. So for the second time, we’re really excited also to be doing a different story, a different kind of film maybe but still offering sort of the same things na nahanap nila at nakita nila dito sa pelikulang ito [For the First Time]. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone, to seeing the support of everyone hopefully again [when the movie comes out]. ‘Yung ilang buwan din na tinatrabaho namin ‘yung pelikula, worth it ‘pag nakita naming maraming nagbibigay ng dalawang oras nila at nagtatabi ng kaunting pera para i-spend para panoorin ‘yung pelikula namin.

AJ: Every time I talk to somebody about you, they always bring up your parents Gabby Concepcion, of course, and Sharon Cuneta. Is that a big shadow for you to overcome?

KC: You know what, honestly, it is. Honestly, there are a lot of comparisons that go on all the time with everything that I do and sometimes it makes me think if that’s a good thing or bad thing. But at the end of the day I’m just proud to have parents like [them] and it’s an honor to be their daughter. But [you know], it’s also a different generation now. Hopefully, people are more welcoming of what’s to come now. It’s always nice na maalaala natin ‘yung past, maalala rin natin kung ano ‘yung mga nagawa nila at nagustuhan natin sa kanila, pero siguro maganda rin nai-welcome yung bago and i-welcome kung ano ‘yung mayroon ngayon.

AJ: Did they push you into acting?

KC: Oh no. Not at all. I was very hesitant in the beginning. But at the end of the day, you find meaning and you meet people who you work with that you actually enjoy working with and learn a lot from and you learn to love the work. And when you find the kind of work that doesn’t feel like work to you, then you know you’re on the right track.

AJ: Now, you also have a budding singing career. Can you tell us about that?

KC: I have fun with music. With that album I was able to work with some of my favorite musicians. Each song is different and the album has about 11 tracks. It was a really nice, experimental thing. I never really had expectations when I came out with it. And with every performance siyempre, natututo rin ako and mas lalo akong nage-enjoy sa bawat performance na ginagawa koMay mga pagkakamali, pero meron ding mga masasayang times, lalo na pag ‘yung audience sumasabay sa kanta.

AJ: So are you planning to do both singing and acting? Or do you just want to focus on one?

KC: I think in this day and age, they work together, ‘di ba? Like ‘yung mga pelikula, I sang the track in For the First Time and it’s included in my a.k.a. Cassandra CD. So yeah, it works. Music and movies tie up together.

AJ: We all know you have an upcoming film with Richard Gutierrez, but can you tell us what else you have planned in the near future?

KC: Before that, we have a few surprises for our viewers and for the audience out there. Watch out for that, I’ll be working with different people.

AJ: Can you elaborate on who those people are?

KC: Not yet. [laughing] But meron akong iba’t ibang tao na makakatrabaho na sana mahalin n’yo rin in the same wayna minahal n’yo si Richard. Gagawin namin ang lahat-lahat para mapasaya kayo sa iba’t ibang paraan so sana abangan n’yo ‘yun. Marami kaming mga sorpresang magaganda.

AJ: How about doing a film with your dad or your mom or both?

KC: Naku, ewan ko kung iluluto yun one of these days, pero kung mangyayari ‘yun, sobrang saya siguro nun kasi, it’s like a family business (laughs). But you know, siyempre there are personal things rin that we have to think about. But of course, it’s always going to be a dream to be able to do that either together or separately. Most probably separately. You know, we’ll see.

AJ: Have you ever thought about perhaps venturing into mainstream US films?

KC: I think it’s every actor’s dream to do that only because they make such great quality films here [in the US] and the time that you give to acting and the energy and yung pagkatao mo na binibigay mo sa acting, deserves that kind of quality. But I’m just happy doing what I’m doing now. I really respect the Filipino movie industry, and it’s just such an honor to be part of it. So I’m just taking things day by day.

AJ: Last question, what do you want to say to all of your fans?

KC: Sa lahat ng mga Kapamilya, (pati na rin siguro mga Kapuso) thank you sa lahat-lahat, thank you sa suporta ninyo. Talagang napakasaya ko po talaga, nagugulat ako sa suportang pinapakita ninyo at sa mga kuwento nyo when I was signing autographs kanina. Ang daming nagkukuwentuhan, ang daming mga bumabati sa iba’t iba kong kamag-anak, andami ko palang kakilala dito. It was really, really nice to see na lahat ng Pilipino sa buong mundo, lahat ng mga kababayan nagsasama-sama at lumilipad kung saan-saan. Nagda-drive from Las Vegas, dumadating galing Hawaii, galing San Diego, galing Seattle, galing Chicago, galing kung saan-saan. Salamat po talaga sa panahong ibinibigay nyo sa akin para sa pelikulang ito. Salamat sa lahat-lahat. Mayroong mga tao na nagbibigay ng regalo din. To everybody who gave us gifts, thank you for being so thoughtful. You really didn’t have to do that, but ginagawa pa rin nila ‘yun kaya napakalaking bagay sa amin ‘yun. And all the more we want to do things for you, now and in the future. You know, just hope to be inspired by you continuously and hope that you continue to be inspired by the things we do too.  (www.asianjournal.com)

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Elder care employment agency indicted for hiring illegal aliens

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
SANTA ANA—A federal grand jury indicted a Filipino man and his former wife on allegations that they knowingly hired illegal aliens, primarily from the Philippines, to fill the jobs. An office manager for the couple was also indicted.

Filipino natives Wilfredo Ngo, 51, and his ex-wife, Teresa Ngo, 49, owners of A-Plus Senior Planning Services, Inc., were named in a four-count indictment handed down in August charging them with inducing aliens to reside in the United States; knowingly employing illegal aliens; knowingly harboring illegal aliens; and counseling persons to engage in marriage fraud. Gicela Sarabia, 43, office manager for A-Plus Senior Planning Services, was also charged with inducing aliens to reside in the US and with knowingly hiring illegal aliens. 

A-Plus Senior Planning Services is an employment agency firm that provides caregivers to at least 10 major elder care facilities in Orange County as well as workers for individual in-home care, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. 

US Magistrate Judge Marc L. Goldman arraigned the Ngo’s and Sarabia on August 25.

If convicted of all the charges, the Ngos face a maximum sentence of more than 15 years in prison. 

“The allegations in this case are disturbing when you consider that the illegal alien workers hired by these defendants were entrusted with caring for the infirm and elderly,” said Robert Schoch, special agent in charge for the ICE office of investigations in Los Angeles. “People who enter the United States on visitor visas do not undergo the same degree of scrutiny as individuals who are coming into the country as legal foreign workers or immigrants.”

ICE began to investigate A-Plus Planning Services last December 2007 after it received tips that at least 40 of the agency’s workers were in the US illegally.

Most of them arrived as visitors and overstayed their visas, said ICE officials.

According to court documents, the Ngos counseled their illegal workers to enter into fraudulent marriages with US citizens so they could remain in the country legally.  The defendants allegedly told their employees to seek out potential spouses at Leisure World and on eHarmony.com, according to ICE officials.

The three defendants are currently free on bond.  (www.asianjournal.com)

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Police apprehend Filipino sexual assault suspect

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco Police Department arrested a Filipino sexual assault suspect after he turned himself in last Sept. 5, Friday.

For about two weeks, police officers had been searching for FilAm Horacio Candia Jr., who was wanted for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman near 16th Street and Carolina in the Potrero District in San Francisco on Aug. 22. The victim managed to escape from his vehicle and called the police.

According to reports, Candia was arrested in his attorney’s office last Friday.

Candia is a former San Francisco Fire Department firefighter. After nine years, he was terminated in 2000 for refusing a drug test, according to reports.

Police alleged that Candia shows his badge to facilitate his encounters with women. He then sexually assaults them, using physical violence, according to SF Police officials.

“He lured a woman into a false sense of security,” police Inspector Elaine Economus said to the San Francisco Chronicle. “He said, ‘I’m a firefighter, everybody loves us, you can trust me.’”

The 38-year-old Candia is charged with three counts of forced oral copulation, one count of sexual battery, one count of making terrorist threats, and one count of false imprisonment.  (www.asianjournal.com)

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Pinay nurse fighting extradition

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
SAN DIEGO – Lawyers for a 72-year-old Filipina nurse is calling for the US Secretary of State Condolezza Rice to stop the extradition charges of their client to Mexico.
For the past two years, Eufemia Alamo Ramirez, a US citizen from San Diego has been detained at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility awaiting extradition to stand trial on charges of being involved in a human trafficking scheme.

“She has remained [in the detention center] for the past two years, denied bail and denied any hearing on the merits of the Mexican charges,” said Shanlon Wu of Wheat Wu Law.

According to Wu, Mexico claims that in 1998 Ramirez engaged in human trafficking when she was on the same bus as four Filipino nurses, who lacked proper Mexican immigration papers.

Wu said his client had nothing to do with how the nurses entered Mexico and had no reason to believe anything was wrong with their paperwork.

“She was let go by the Mexican police after her arrest and heard nothing about the matter for the next eight years,” he said.

However, in 2006, US Marshalls arrested Ramirez at her home in San Diego.

The Marshals informed Ramirez that Mexico had issued an extradition request for her and arrested her. Ramirez is currently being detained in an ICE detention center.

Wu believes his client is innocent “but she will never be able to prove it now—nearly 10 years after the fact.”

Wu said at her extradition hearing, the law prevented Ramirez even from trying to refute Mexico’s charges.

Her legal appeals are running out. Her family is asking for the Secretary of State to exercise her power and protect this outstanding American citizen, added Wu.   (www.asianjournal.com)

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Jane Monreal: The eye in the sky

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
She provides the most important information for any Southland driver.
Everyday FilAm Jane Monreal provides millions of drivers their traffic updates. If there’s a big rig on fire on the 60 West Pomona freeways, Monreal is there. If there’s a traffic jam on the 10 West heading to Santa Monica, Monreal gives the up-to-the-minute update.

Since 2004 when Monreal started working for KABC 7 Eyewitness News This Morning team, Monreal has seen countless of accidents and traffic jams as well as providing the much-needed information for commuters.

Monreal began her reporting career in 1994 delivering weekend, overnight traffic reports and eventually became the lead afternoon traffic reporter for all-news radio station KFWB, according to the KABC website.

Her work on the afternoon news team earned her a Golden Mike award, an annual award given by the Radio and Television News Association.

She has also served as an airborne traffic reporter at KFWB, covered the North Hollywood attempted bank heist shootout in 1997, and the brush fires in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. She also served as a broadcaster on 94.7 the Wave for five years.

A University of Miami graduate, Monreal was a former Miss Asian-America Florida. She served as captain of the university’s dance team and is still active in dance.  (www.asianjournal.com)

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Pacquiao vs. De La Hoya Talks Stall: Golden Boy CEO says 75% Sure Fight will Happen

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
LOS ANGELES – Three key issues are stalling the proposed Manny Pacquiao vs. Oscar De La Hoya mega match up, according to Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaeffer.

Schaeffer said he met with Top Rank President Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, for two hours Wednesday but both sides could not come up with a consensus agreement about the deals of the fight which would be slated for December 6 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The three issues stalling the deal are the size of the boxing gloves, De La Hoya’s weight limit, and the financial split.

“Oscar hasn’t made 147 pounds in almost ten years,” said Schaeffer to the Asian Journal during the Shane Mosley vs. Ricardo Mayorga press conference. “And we know from experience that a boxer could lose the match on the scales. The size of the gloves is also an issue. Oscar is used to wearing 10 ounce gloves while Manny usually wears 8 ounce gloves in his fights.”

“[And] the financial split is what it is,” he said. “Every time I negotiate a De La Hoya fight it’s the same thing. Suddenly the opponent feels they should make Oscar [big] money and I feel certain people have a market value.”

He declined to discuss the specifics of the proposed fight purse and other financial aspects, adding, “we guarantee a record purse for Manny Pacquiao, multiple times more than he has ever made so far. We think it’s a fair deal.”

Since winning his match against Steve Forbes in May, the Golden Boy De La Hoya has been looking for a grand finale fight before he rides off to the retirement sunset. A proposed re-match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. was rebuffed when Mayweather abruptly retired. Mexican counterpart Antonio Margarito lies waiting in the wings but after impressively thrashing Puerto Rican champion Miguel Cotto to a bloody pulp, De La Hoya would be best served to stay away from him.

Meanwhile, Pacquiao has also been looking for an opponent since his dominating performance against Mexican American David Diaz. That night, Pacquiao became the first Asian to capture four world titles in four different weight classes. The 29-year-old WBC Lightweight Champion’s first opponent choice was British contender Ricky Hatton at 140 pounds, but Hatton is already slated to fight New York champion Paulie Malignaggi in November.

Pacquiao’s other possible fights: a rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez would be out the door, Venezuelan knockout artist Edwin Valero is having a hard time getting medical clearance in Nevada and Humberto Soto lost his most recent match albeit by a technicality.

At first, a possible Pacquiao vs. De La Hoya bout was a only a pipe dream of fans and boxing enthusiasts wondering “what if” match ups but the idea began to pick up steam when Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said Pacquiao could fight at 147 pounds, the welterweight class. In his last two matches, Pacquiao has weighed in the night of the fight at 146 and 147 pounds, respectively.

Schaeffer said that he’s confident that a Pacquiao vs. De La Hoya deal could be done.

“We have to do a lot of work on those three issues: the size of gloves, the weight – either at 149 or 150 pounds and financial split,” said Schaeffer. “I’ll say I’m cautiously optimistic. If I were to use percentages, I would say there’s a 75 percent chance a deal will be done in the next few weeks. I’ll be sitting down with Oscar next week. Arum will discuss this with Manny [when he gets back from the Olympics] and I’m sure in a few weeks everybody will know the outcome.”


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FilAm Vets Celebrate Leyte Landing

By Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES — On a warm sunny day, Filipino WWII veterans and their supporters came out in full force celebrated the 63rd anniversary of the Leyte Landing at the Los Angeles National Cemetery last October 20.

Filipino WWII soldiers stood on hollowed grounds where more than 86,000 patriots were buried. They listened to the national anthem, the sound of the bugler’s trumpets playing Taps, and watched the ceremonial folding of the flag.

“This program is a salute to the greatest generation of soldiers of all time, those who liberated us from tyranny and oppression,” said Filipino Veterans Foundation Executive Director Dr. Jenny Batongmalaque.

On Oct. 20, 1944 Gen. Douglas MacArthur along with US troops landed in three beaches in Leyte, Philippines – San Jose, Dulag and Himayangan. The landing marks the spot where MacArthur and US troops returned after a two-year layoff. It also heralded the offensive campaign against the Imperial Japanese Army, the beginning of the end of Japanese rule in the country.

It was reported that upon landing on the beach, MacArthur famously cried out, “People of the Philippines, I have returned!”

US Air Force Honor Guards, members of the US Navy, the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society, and a large number of Filipino WWII veterans, widows, and their supporters, were among those who joined in the one-hour celebration.

The occasion also honored two WWII soldiers who recently passed away – US Navy Officer William Homer House and WWII Philippine Scout Mariano Loria. House passed away last September 13 at the age of 81. Loria, also in his 80’s, passed away last October 3.

Batongmalaque said the two veterans epitomized the sacrifice American and Filipino soldiers did to liberate the Philippines.

“They fought side by side to redeem the Philippines for freedom and democracy,” she said.

House was only 18 years old when he joined the US Navy. He was among several troops who landed in Leyte. As part of the US Navy Construction Battalion unit during WWII, he helped build airstrips and command posts for the Armed Forces in Central Luzon. After the war, he stayed in the Philippines and learned to speak Tagalog.

“He never forgot the times he spent in the Philippines,” said Batongmalaque, who was a close family friend of House.

“The Filipino veterans loved him because he could speak Tagalog. House never opened up to his family about his experiences in WWII but he did open up when he was with Filipino WWII veterans. He [House] fought for their cause and believed they should have their benefits,” she added.

Loria was part of a guerrilla unit during WWII in the Philippines. He joined the Philippine Scout and continued his service in the Philippine Air Force. After the war, he and his family immigrated to the US. He also fought for the passage of the FilVet Equity Bill until he succumbed to a brain hemorrhage.

Batongmalaque said Americans and Filipinos share a common lineage.

“This event elevates the awareness of American families that their fathers and grandfathers in their youth were among those who went to the Philippines and fought alongside Filipino veterans in the war,” she added.

House’s relatives were present. US Navy Capt. Greg Akers handed the folded flag to Brad House.

Fighting for Recognition

Sixty-three years after the war ended, Filipino WWII veterans are still fighting. This time it’s for their recognition and contribution in WWII.

“This is another reason why we celebrate this event,” said Batongmalaque. “We want our Filipino veterans to be part of the entire veteran’s world. When you know them one-on-one it personalizes their stories.”

“The bottom line is, both nations (the Philippines and US) were of one mind, one heart, and one soul in fighting for the same cause, which is freedom and democracy,” added Dr. Rico Jose, a visiting professor from the University of the Philippines. “This bond resonates even today, and long after every single one of those who fought in WWII are gone. It is fitting that we keep these historical events in our minds to remind us of the sacrifice they made.”

Rep. Filner Updates

In a taped video shown during the luncheon after the ceremony, Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) issued a statement on the significance of the Leyte landing and updated the progress of the Filipino Veterans Equity Act bill in Congress.

“This is a salute to the greatest generation, the liberators of freedom and democracy,” said Filner.

Filner announce that he is continuing to work with Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) to bring the Filipino Veterans Equity bill to the House of Representatives and the Senate for debate “as soon as possible.”

“This is the closest to our goal since we’ve introduced this bill in Congress and the many, many years we’ve been fighting for equity,” he added. “The wheels are in motion and both [Senate Veterans’ Committee] Chairman Akaka and I are fully committed to the passage of this bill.”

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US Senate Rejects DREAM Act

By Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – The US Senate made an immigration clean sweep when they voted against advancing a bill that would have provided children of illegal immigrants a chance to gain legal status last October 24.

The Senate voted 52-44, well short of the 60 required to advance the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors). The bill would have granted children of illegal immigrants living in the US conditional status if they graduated from high school, have no criminal record, planned to attend college or join the military. After five years, they could apply for their citizenship papers.

Last June, the Senate also did not advance the broader comprehensive immigration reform bill, a larger bill where the DREAM Act was part of. That bill would have legalized more than 12 million undocumented immigrants and increased border security.

According to the US Bureau of Census in year 2000, there were about 2.5 million undocumented youth under age 18 who were living in the US.  A Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis at USC reported that each year, over 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high schools nationwide.
Senate Immigration supporters were hoping that the smaller DREAM Act bill would pass.

“Children should not be penalized for the actions of their parents,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to the Associated Press.

“What crime did these children commit?” added Sen. Dick Durbin, (D-Ill.) “They committed the crime of obeying their parents and following their parents to this country. Do you think there was a vote in the household about their future? I don’t think so.”

Republican leaders saw the bill as a first step to amnesty.

“I do not believe we should reward illegal behavior,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

“This would be the wrong direction,” added Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala). “This would be signal that once again we’re focused on rewarding illegality rather than taking the steps necessary to create a lawful system.”

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) said he saw grave reservations about seeing a part of comprehensive immigration reform going forward, “because it weakens our position to get a comprehensive bill.”

After the bill did not advance in the Senate, the White House issued a statement.

“We continue to believe that the best way to address this issue is through a comprehensive bill, one that would put border security and interior security first, and that creates a temporary worker program and helps immigrants assimilate into our society,” said White House Press Secretary Dana Perino.

“You may recall in the immigration debate [that] we supported an alternative to the DREAM Act, in the context of overall comprehensive immigration reform. That’s obviously what is not being considered now, and we will review it. But I would note that the President has not supported it as a standalone measure in the past,” Perino added.

Local Reaction

In Los Angeles, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) expressed its extreme disappointment in the failure of the Senate to pass the DREAM Act.

APALC had been at the forefront of seeing the bill pass into law.

For the past two weeks, APALC had been urging Asian American community members to voice their support for the DREAM Act and on behalf of Tam Tran. The  24-year-old undocumented Vietnamese activist’s entire family was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents last week, three days after she spoke in favor of the DREAM Act in USA Today.

“Tam Tran’s voice was compromised,” said Daniel Huang, APALC policy advocate.  “The Asian American community did not want her voice to be silenced.”

“The DREAM Act would benefit thousands of innocent students, including many Asian Americans,” added Karin Wang, APALC Vice President of Programs.

“We thank Senators Feinstein and Boxer for their support of the DREAM Act, but we need Asian Americans in other states to raise their voices for this bill to pass,” she added.

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FilAms and the SoCal Wildfires

By Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

WILD Fire: There were 15 major fires this past week in Southern California. The areas affected were in Castaic, Stevenson Ranch, Agua Dulce (Santa Clarita), Malibu, Martin Ranch (San Bernardino), Devore, Grass Valley (Lake Arrowhead), Green Valley Lake, Santiago (East Orange County), Ammo/ Horno (Camp Pendleton Marine Base), Rosa (Temecula), Rice (Fallbrook), Mt. Palomar (San Diego), Witch (Poway) and Harris (San Diego).

Damage: More than 485,000 acres were burned and 4,400 homes or structures lost as of press time. So far, the fires left more than $1 billion in damages. More than 500,000 people had to be evacuated. Seven people have been reported died although only a couple of the fatalities were killed directly by the fires.

Tax Relief: The Franchise Tax Board announced several relief measures to the victims of wildfires in seven Southern California Counties. The FTB will allow victims to receive additional tax refunds this year by immediately reporting their disaster losses through amended 2006 returns. For more information, go to FTB’s website http://www.ftb.ca.gov.

Reaching Out: The Los Angeles Philippine Consulate General has opened an emergency line for Filipino Nationals affected by the Southern California wild fires.

Filipino nationals  who are affected and need assistance can call (213) 268-9990.

Orange County Hotline: The Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAPOC) is also working with local emergency responders to help the victims of Orange County’s wild fire. Members of the Asian Pacific Islander community who are affected by the wild fires can call (800) 660-4232.

San Diego Hotline: Former Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of San Diego President Carmelita “C. L.” Larrabaster-Vinson has opened her home and office in Chula Vista to those who have evacuated their homes. She can be reached at (619) 948-2459.

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Sal Gatdula Talks About ‘Finishing the Game’

By Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

Despite not getting recognition for roles that he produces in his films, Gatdula still plays a most important part.

“I’m like Mr. Everything [on the set],” he said. “Whatever they need me to do I’ll do. I make sure that everything is taken care of,” he said.

The 35-year-old Gatdula is a producer for Trailing Johnson Production. Justin Lin, an Asian-American director, is the founder of Trailing Johnson Production. Lin is best known for his films, Better Luck Tomorrow and The Fast and the Furious.

This weekend, Lin and Gatdula’s latest work Finishing the Game will play with limited release at the Landmark Nuart Theatre in Santa Monica. The movie is a 1970’s period comedy that centers on the casting process for Bruce Lee’s replacement after the actor and martial arts expert passed away unexpectedly while shooting the Game of Death.

“Everyone always wonders who took over Bruce Lee [after his death],” said Gatdula. “We thought it would be funny to make a movie about it.”

The film also examined the role of Asian Americans in film. With a large minority cast of Korean, Chinese, Filipino and other Asian ethnicities, Finishing the Game aimed to study the Asian American identity and how it is related to the entertainment industry.

“I love the film,” he said. “It doesn’t take itself too seriously and I think it makes a statement. It’s about [Asian American] visibility and our struggle to be seen especially in front of the camera,” Gatdula added.

Lack of recognition

Gatdula is all too familiar with the lack of recognition for Asian Americans in the entertainment industry.  It was the reason why he did not pursue a career in the entertainment business after he graduated from UCLA.

Gatdula was fortunate enough that he used to be Lin’s former UCLA college roommate.

“Six guys in a three bedroom wasn’t too pretty,” he recalled. “But [it was] a lot of fun. Justin [Lin] was the most passionate person. You knew that if he didn’t make it, Asian Americans would have a hard time.”

But sharing a room with Lin proved to be more than just mere luck. Gatdula admitted that while growing up, it has always been his dream to be involved in the entertainment industry.

“My parents always told me to be an engineer, or a doctor. Something stable, ” Gatdula shared.

Gatdula graduated with a degree in Applied Mathematics and worked for a small consulting firm. He kept in close contact with Lin. When Lin got his first big break with Better Luck Tomorrow, Gatdula helped him in anyway he could. “From there, when Justin started his company he asked me to join him and I did,” he said.

After five years of working in the entertainment industry, hobnobbing with famous celebrities, Gatdula realized that the entertainment industry was only glitz and glamor on the outside. Inside, it was rugged and harsh  – especially if you’re an Asian American man or woman trying to become a mainstream actor.

“I would say the entertainment industry is one of the toughest industries to break,” he admitted. “It might be easier for an Asian woman to get a part [than a man] but her part [would be] stereotypical.”

Gatdula said that during the pre-production of Finishing the Game, Lin had to go to marketing meetings with the distributors.

“Basically, it’s a room full of people and they had a pie-chart of all the different slices of people who would watch the movie,” he said. “There was a Caucasian slice, a Hispanic [slice], and an African-American slice but there was no Asian category. They basically said that Asians have the same buying habits as Caucasians.”

“We [Asian Americans] are invisible in the heads of business people,” he added.

Asked how long before this is going to change, Gatdala said he wished he knew.

“Ten, maybe 15 years,” he said. “I don’t know. It took African Americans a long time to break in the industry. We see the Hispanics making their movies now. As for Asian Americans, it starts with support.”

“It needs to start in our [Filipino] community then spread it into the different Asian markets. The problem with Asians is that there are so many of us, it’s so broad, that we all can’t unite,” Gatdula further said.

Finishing the Game opens this Friday, October 26.

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