Friday, October 31, 2014

Fil-Am History Month: The Legacy of the 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair

The sign calls them the Samal Moros from the island of Mindinao. 
ONE-HUNDRED ten years ago this summer, Filipinos made their first impression on America at the St. Louis Worlds Fair of 1904. Unfortunately, it wasn't a good one. Filipino Americans today are still living with the repercussions of the myths and images of that initial meeting. 

This month, Filipino-American History Month, it is fitting we take a look back at that dark chapter in American history because its legacy still haunts Filipinos in America.

One of the most popular exhibits of the fair was the entry from the Philippines which featured villages from various parts of the country. There were Muslims (Moros, Tagalogs, Visayans and Igorot tribal people.
UPDATE: This post was named the 2nd most viewed article in 2015 for AsAm News.
For most of the fair visitors, this was their first glimpse of the people from America's Pacific colony with whom the U.S. fought the Philippine-American War. The U.S. media called it a insurrection, but from the Filipino point of view, it was a war for independence. The U.S. government spent $1.5 million to transport 1,300 Filipinos for the display. 

The Spanish-American War had just ended and the government wanted to show the American public why it was necessary for the U.S. to civilize the "Little Brown Brothers" from the Philippines. Colonialism was still in flower among the European powers and the U.S. didn't want to be left out of the action. The Europeans and Americans carved up the world and the people living in those colonized countries had no say. The European/U.S. cabal tried to justify their imperialism best exemplified in Rudyard Kipling's notorious poem, "The White Man's Burden," which claimed that Caucasians were the protectors of the world under God and that it was their duty to lead others towards the light of democracy and Christianity and, oh, by the way, give us your gold, silver and other resources in compensation.
RELATED: Truth be told - the story of betrayal that followed the original Philippine Independence Day
The St. Louis Fair, besides the Philippines, had exhibits from other countries that had been colonized. But, far and away, the Philippine exhibit was the most popular.

In advertising for the fair, the Igorots were called the "savages," the "head-hunters" and the "dog-eaters." Unfortunately, for some people, those images of Filipinos still linger in American culture today.

The St. Louis exhibit inspired Dr. Truman Hunt to start his own show the following year at Luna Park on Coney Island. He brought Bontoc Igorots for his "exhibit." When he began taking the Filpinos on tour, he stole from them and treated them badly. The conman was arrested for his crimes for stealing $9,600 in wages and using physical force to exploit the Igorots.
"The Igorrotes were miners and agricultural workers at home, renowned for their highly skilled irrigation and cultivation techniques, which enabled them to transform even the steepest mountainside into thriving rice terraces. There was no room for rice terraces or mines at Luna Park, so Truman had them erect a copper-smelting pant across from the medicine man's hut, which the Igorrotes would use to make their smoking pipes, along with jewelry and other trinkets to sell to their visitors." Excerpted from "The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunterss, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century" (Amazon Publishing/New Harvest) by Clair Prentice. 
As might be expected -- as Filipinos do today in the Middle East, in Europe and here in America -- they adapted. And, like today's far-flung Filipinos, not all of them returned to the Philippines. Their descendants are still with with us. They, reportedly, still suffer shame and guilt from the abuse their ancestors' had to endure. 

UPDATED (OCT. 18, 2015):
One researcher, Robert Galloway, in his article "Rediscovering the 1904 Worlds Fair: Human Bites Human," debunked the stories of exploitation but as he explained some of the actions of the fairgoers, he also falls into the trap of seeing the tribes people as objects instead of real live human beings.

One Ohio man, who has Igorot roots, wants to exorcise those demons by constructing an Ifugao Igorot house in St. Louis. He raised money for his project on the Internet and even though he fell short of the $20,000 he needed, he is beginning his project anyway.

The next time you see the old classic movie "Meet In St. Louis" and Judy Garland sings the title song, when she sings "We'll dance the hootchy kootchy," think about what might have inspired those lyrics.

The transplanted Igorots performed a dance for onlookers.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Filipino American rapper gets national attention

                     Ruby Ibarra featuring Bambu - Dance (The Movement)

HUFFINGTON POST posted an article titled "8 Asian entertainers making a name for themselves in the states."

While it is great that Asian Americans are getting some attention, the headline makes us sound like foreigners again. Win some, lose some.

Ruby Ibarra
Curiously, the article doesn't have a byline, but it reads like someone who is writing from outside of the U.S. 

One of the artists on the list is young rapper Ruby Ibarra, a Fililpino/American based in San Francisco. 

You won't see her singing "Dahil Sa Iyo" or dancing the tinkling, but you're more likely to find her in the alleys and avenues of San Francisco's SoMa or Daly City.

What I like about her work is that she places her heritage front and center in her work. She doesn't pussyfoot around. Her work shouts out: "I am Filipino and it is part of what makes ME." Listen closely to her work. Her lyrics of "The Movement," could have come out of the 1960s Asian/American movement on college campuses or from the People Power movement that toppled the Marcos regime.


I have to admit, I don't closely follow rap, an art form born out of the pent-up anger bubbling in the African/American urban ghettoes of Watts, Oakland, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago and New York. I strongly disagree with a lot of the mysognist lyrics, but I appreciate the source of their anger and a lot of what they express about American society and race relations.

Ruby has taken the art form and added a Filipino twist, often switching to Tagalog, then back to English. She has quite a following in the Bay Area clubs but she may be on the verge of breaking through to the big time. Listen and watch more of her performances here or on Youtube

Can she be the voice of young Filipino Americans? She may be too edgy for the kids who are more worried about their grades or social life than making the world a better place. Let's just say she is "one" of the voices representing our youth, but what a voice -- talking about injustice, revolution and being brown -- with lots of attitude!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New 'Marco Polo' TV series will feature a lot of Asian actors, sorcery, swordplay & sex

OH MY GOSH! This looks exciting, sexy, intriguing.

Netflix will be airing a new series "Marco Polo" starting this December 12. This gives us something to do on those cold, wet winter months when we're cooped up with no desire to expose ourselves to the elements.

In my earlier post about fall TV series featuring Asian characters, this one skipped by me. What an oversight, but that's what happens when blogging is only a hobby, not a job. My apologies!

San Francisco's own Joan Chen.
The fictionalized account of the real-life explorer Marco Polo will also place Asia (China specifically, but who knows where it will go?) in America's living rooms. It will also give a lot of work for Asian actors, most of whom are unknown to American' viewers.

The great thing about a series like this is that it gives time to develop the characters beyond the one-dimensional characterizations given to most Asian characters. What it means is that American audiences will actually have a chance to "care" for or understand the motivations of people who might not look like them.

Billed as another "Game of Thrones," it stars Lorenzo Richelmy in the title role. Expect it to be heavy on the swordplay, drugs and sex. 

Marco Polo is played by Lorenzo Richelmy in a scene from the Netflix swashbuckler. 

"Marco, the blood of an adventurer courses through your veins," Marco is told in one scene. Speaking of blood, plenty of it appears to be getting spilled in the series," writes the Hollywood Reporter. 

In a world replete with greed, betrayal, sexual intrigue and rivalry, "Marco Polo" is based on the famed explorer's adventures in Kublai Khan's court in 13th century China.

Created by John Fusco, Marco Polo also features Benedict Wong (Prometheus), Joan Chen (Twin Peaks) and Chin Han (Arrow).

The show is produced by Netflix and The Weinstein Company.

At a cost of $90 million for the first ten episodes this is a BIG production. It is being filmed in Italy, Kazakhstan and Malaysia.

If the teaser trailer and if producer Fusco's resume of "Homeland" and "Game of Thrones," is any indication of what to expect, I can't wait!

Monday, October 27, 2014

World Series: The Asian-American angle

Zelda and Cody Williams watch their brother Zak throw out the first pitch of Game 5 of the
2014 World Series in San Francisco at AT&T Park.

THE CHILDREN of the late Robin Williams threw out the first pitch of Game 5 of the 2014 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants.

The comedian was a big Giants fan since he lived in the Bay Area and was often seen at the ball park with his good friend, fellow comedian Billy Crystal.

Williams second wife, Marsha Garces, was Filipino American, with whom he had two children, Zelda and Cody.

Crystal caught the ball thrown by Cody Williams while his brother and sister watched.

After Crystal caught the ball, he directed the fans' attention to the scoreboard where a video of Williams shouting out the iconic, "Pl-a-a-ay Ball!" to start the game.

The tribute ended with the final video images of Williams, chanting "Let's Go Giants!" while 
twirling an orange towel then hugging mascot Lou Seal. 

A file photo of the late comedian Robin Williams and his family.

10/26/14: The Giants honor Robin Williams as his children Zelda, Zak and Cody take part in the first pitch with Billy Crystal before Game 5

Saturday, October 25, 2014

World Series: The impact of a Filipino American & a Japanese American

Jeremy Guthrie
AS BASEBALL'S POPULARITY grows throughout the world, players from other countries are starting to get the attention of major league teams. We've seen the influx of players from the Caribbean and how they're impacting the game.  Players from Asia, namely Taiwan, South Korea and Japan have also are making strides in the big leagues. They're easy to spot by their surnames.

However, Asian American players are a little tougher to identify. Many have Latino or European last names. Despite growing up with the sport in Little League, Babe Ruth and school teams, they're still a relative rarity.

We recently wrote about Kolten Wong of the St. Louis Cardinals and Travis Ishikawa of the Giants and their contributions to the post-season. 

Let's start with another Asian American player -- Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, who throttled the Giants' hitters for five innings in Game 3 and was the eventual winning pitcher.

Born and raised in Hawaii, Guthrie's mother is of Japanese descent.

After graduating from Stanford in 2002 he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians. He bounced around several teams until he was picked up by the Royals where blossomed into one of Kansas City's top hurlers.

The Freak

ALMOST forgotten in the post season is the Giant's Tim Lincecum, a Filipino American, who grew up in the Seattle area and played for the University of the Washington Huskies.

His mother is a third-generation Filipino American. Her grandparents immigrated to Hawaii as part of the sakada movement to work on the sugar plantation. 

Though he is reluctant to talk about his mother, who divorced Tim's father when Lincecum was in high school, he freely acknowledges his Filipino roots. The death of his mother's father, Lolo Asis, impacted him deeply. In interviews, he calls himself Filipino, not half-Filipino.
Tim Lincecum's role with the Giants may have been
diminished, but he's still a fan favorite.ilipino, not half-Filipino.

Oh yeah, lest we forget, Lincecum was winner of two consecutive Cy Young Awards in the National League in 2008 and 2009. He probably should have won the award for the National League's best pitcher in 2010, too, after winning his two World Series starts against the American League's Texas Rangers including his dominating performance in Game 5 in which he struck out 10 leading to the Giant's first World Series championship in 56 years.

From 2008 to 2010, his stuff was unhittable. His reputation of having the "nastiest" pitches were well-deserved. He holds the Giant's record for having the most games with 10 strikeouts or more.

Alas, in recent year's he's fallen on hard times. His fastball has lost its velocity and his 
control has been unpredictable. 

What is not sporadic is the love fans have for him. When Lincecum came in as a reliever in the 2nd game against the Kansas City Royals, Finnerty's, the New York bar known for its loyal Giants following, exploded in cheers and TV watchers stood up and applauded.

It was the first time "The Freak" was called into a game this post-seasson. People were wondering if Bruce Bochy, the Giants manager, had lost faith on his one-time All-Star.  For an inning and two-thirds, he looked like the Lincecum of old.

Then he tweaked his back and had to be taken out. By Game 3, he was deemed ready to go by the team doctors. What role he'll play the rest of the game is uncertain, but my guess is that Lincecum will pitch again before this series is over.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

World Series angle: Hunter Pence has Pilipino pans

ITS TIMELY. Its funny. 
Hunter Pence has an offbeat
sense of humor.

Giants right fielder Hunter Pence has attracted the attention of Seinfeld fans throughout the country when he first tweeted from a line from a Seinfeld episode: "These pretzels are making me thirsty." 

New York Mets fans brought a few signs to the next game and that started an avalanche of clever signs directed at Pence, which he enjoys reading.

Baseball fans everywhere have carried the tradition right into the World Series.

The sign pictured at the top of this post is one of my favorites. Hint: You have to be familiar with Filipino accents to really appreciate it.

Royals' fans got into the spirit:

Here's a sampling of a few others:


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Filipina American actress leaves legacy for actors

SUMI HARU - not exactly a household name in America - is one of those actresses who (behind the scenes) fought long and hard for more roles - substantive roles - for Asian actors and paved the way for a new generation of Asian actors to get better roles.

Sumi Sevilla Haru
Born Mildred Sevilla in New Jersey, she died in Los Angeles Oct. 16 at the age of 75.

It seems she spent more time as an activist than she did in front of the camera. In her leadership role with the Screen Actors Guild or marching in picket lines protesting the stereotypical roles handed out to Asian American actors, she was adamant about not settling for the stereotypical roles Hollywood envisioned for her and other Asian actors.  

Here's the story that appeared in the Los Angeles Times about her passing.

I remember interviewing Sumi Haru for an article for the San Francisco-based Philippine News in the late 1970s. She told me then that she took on the name Sumi Haru to make sure the casting directors and producers knew they were hiring an Asian actress. With the name of Sevilla, it would have been easy to be mistaken for a Latina actress. Besides, she said with a smile letting me in on the joke, there were zero roles for Fililpinas.

Here's a video of her explaining why she changed her name from Mildred (Mimi) Sevilla to the more exotic Sumi Haru. 

Ironically, through the Internet, we have a lot of footage of her. We're fortunate to have her work placed on Youtube for historical purposes, particularly this month which is Filipino American Historical Month. Even after all of her advocacy, it is still difficult for Hollywood to see Asian Americans as fully-fleshed out individuals with interesting, significant, heart-rending or action-pounding stories of their own.

Later in her career, she added back her maiden name so she became Sumi Sevilla Haru.

For all you budding Asian American actors and actresses, you are indebted to her. It would be to your benefit to hear Haru's story - her Filipina American story. 

RIP, Mimi SEVILLA. Thank you!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Asians are part of America's immigration debate

Pew graphic

WHILE MUCH has been written about our country's "immigration problem," most of our attention has been focused on the United State's southern border and the immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

A large part of Asian America are of the mindset that our country's immigration dilemma  has nothing to do with them. Well, let me tellya...

In recent years, the immigration of undocumented has taken a new twist. A study released this summer has found that the U.S. has seen a higher level of Asian immigration --surpassing the immigration of Latinos.

About 430,000 Asians, or 36 percent of all new immigrants, arrived in the U.S. in 2010, according the latest census data. Hispanics are up 31 percent, or 370,000.
Department of Homeland Security, 12 percent of the undocumented, or 1.2 million, are from Asia; 40,000 of these are under 30; under the Obama administration, over 250,000 undocumented immigrants have been deported to their Asian home countries.

Asian 'Dreamers' speak out

THE VIDEO "Why We Rise" is new documentary short featuring three brave young Asian New Yorkers who reveal what it's like to grow up without having legal immigration status. Their struggles and their strength are on full display as they come out of the shadows and into the light.

"Why We Rise," which provides a unique glimpse into the lives of real individuals affected by immigration reform, will remind you why the immigration movement is so important, not only for Latinos, but for the Asian American community as well.

The video was taped by Brian Redondo and Corinne Manabat with the support of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Why We Rise features members of AALDEF's undocumented youth group RAISE (Revolutionizing Asian American Immigrant Stories on the East Coast).

Join these RAISE members in their fight for change at

Antonio Antonio Vargas

Oscar consideration?

ONE OF the most visible undocumented immigrants is Filipno American Jose Antonio Vargas. His story about how he came to this country, went to college and eventually became a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter was turned into a documentary which may get an Oscar nomination according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The film, "Documented" is reportedly being promoted by Silicon Valley's Mark Zuckerberg to push for amnesty legislation. 

He moved out of the shadows in 2011 with an essay in The New York Times Magazine and ever since then, has worked towards immigration reform and amnesty for people like him who didn't discover his immigration status until he was a teenager.

Vargas' next film will "tackle quote-unquote 'whiteness' in America -- what it means to be young and white in post-Obama America." 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Media's double standard flares up when covering violence

MAINSTREAM MEDIA likes to see itself as the Public Watchdog, the Fourth Estate and enjoys "exposing" corruption, malfeasance, government officials, and the like but they most enjoy exposing hypocrisy. But who watches the watchdog?

The choice of words is important. See the difference how how the media handled Ferguson and the violence that broke out during a pumpkin festival in Keene, New Hampshire held last weekend (Oct. 18). The difference is - of course - the protesters in Ferguson were black "thugs." The rioters in Keene were "rowdy" white college students.

Don't think it wasn't noticed. The Twitterverse was ... uh, ... atwitter at the obvious discrepancies in how the two events were reported.

News.Mic collected a lot of the tweets about the Keene pumpkin riot. Most were of the sarcastic variety: 

The above photo looks more than harmless kids just being kids.

The article pointed out the obvious: 
"They deftly point out a sad truth: The media discusses acts of violence and vandalism by primarily white college students in a starkly different manner than black youths." 
"Michael Brown — the unarmed black teenager killed by a police officer in August — was 'no angel.' He was a 'criminal and a thug.' He flashed gang signs. But the white teenagers involved in Saturday's riots? They were just a "rowdy crowd." They were 'unruly.' People simply 'got too drunk.'" 
In Keene there were few arrests. Police referred the kids to their parents. The police - who were mocked on national TV by John Oliver for purchasing an armored vehicle - overreacted. But they did get to use their armored truck and other cool stuff they got from the military. 

The media is not solely to blame. The public itself showed their true colors (pun intended) as described in this article from Salon, which also referred to tweeters.

The problem with the boys-will-be-boys news coverage is the editors, reporters and publishers were blind to their own inherent bias. Some might call that "institutional racism," a buzz word sure to generate a defensive response. What say you, media folks?
The the long term solution is a bit more daunting. It's well known about the diversity problem in our country's newsrooms.  It is more prevalent in the print media since TV is a visual medium, in areas where there is great diversity, it only makes sense to have your anchors and reporters look like the people they are reporting on.

Harried reporters, pressured to produce more and more stories, find it easier and faster to do the majority of their work on the Internet or the phone. Most of the time, their readers  don't know what they look like.
When I worked for the Bob Maynard-owned Oakland Tribune, the news staff was truly integrated, from the copy kids to upper management.  Maynard hired the best reporters and editors, no matter what color. Men and women of color had management positions, their concerns were taken seriously and they reflected the people of Oakland. It was my first experience in mainstream media and for a journalist of color, it was the best and most stimulating working experience I had ever had. Little did I know that the diverse newsroom  was an aberration, not the norm.
For the few years he owned the Trib before his death, Maynard's conviction on hiring the best and brightest demonstrated that the quality of the staff. They were as good as any in the country - eventually resulting in a Pulitzer for their coverage of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
Publishers are well aware of the diversity problem and for years have talked a good game about their concern, but any progress towards achieving a more diverse news staff seem to be moving backwards.  Unfortunately, as the country grows more diverse, the newsrooms are cutting their news staff because of the economic woes caused by the growth of the Interenet. And so it goes: the most recently hired - you know the reporters and editors of color - are the first to be fired. So the problem gets even worse. 
As the news coverage of Ferguson and Keene shows, it's one step forward and two steps back. It is disturbing that the editors didn't catch the double standard themselves. Instead, it took tweeters to expose the mainstream media's shortcomings.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Baseball's newest baseball hero is an Asian American

Giants left fielder Travis Ishikawa interviewed by Erin Rogers after
 hitting the winning home run in the NLCS, 2014.

After featuring Kolten Wong of the St. Louis Cardinals, it is only fitting that we say something about the other Asian American in the National League Championship Series - the Giant's first baseman/left fielder Travis Ishikawa.

He just hit the home run to win the game sending the Giants to the World Series. With the score tied 3-3 in the 9th inning, Ishikawa, hitting in the 7th spot in the batting order - not a place in the lineup from which you'd expect a home run - Ishikawa hit it over the right field wall, jets of water shoot up in the air, fog horns blare, fireworks and cheers from 41,000 delirious fans as Ishikawa pumping his fists, yelling at no one in particular, as he runs around the bases.

I think I saw this scene in a movie. I love this game.

Ishikawa, who was drafted by the Giants out of high school in Federal Way, Washington, an Army town just south of Seattle, never reached the heights he dreamed about as a youth. He bounced around eight different teams and finally was resigned by the Giants earlier this  year and played for the Triple A team, the Fresno Grizzlies. He wasn't' even a starter.

This year, at the age of 31, he called a childhood friend and with tears in his eyes, pondered what he could do next to earn a living. He thought his playing days were over. In a bit of prescience, USA TODAY did a feature on Ishikawa a day before this final game.

As fate would have it, the Giants' regular left fielder suffered an injury and the team needed someone who could play right away. In 2010 he was with the Giants as a bench player as the Giants won their first World Series so Ishikawa's experience made him the perfect choice to be called up to the Bigs once more.

But the regular first baseman, Brandon Belt, also returned from an injury leaving Ishikawa the odd man out. He was relegated to the bench again.

Manager Bruce Bochy, going with his gut, asked Ishikawa to play left field, a position he's never played. Eager to stay in the majors, the athletic Ishikawa agreed, even though he had never played the position in his life. After a few games in left field, he found himself playing in October.

Earlier in tonight's game, he misplayed a fly ball to left field, eventually leading to a run and a temporary Cardinal lead. It looked like Ishikawa might become the goat.

Then came the moment when he redeemed himself.

Consider this:

If the Cardinals had won the NLCS, Hawaii-born Kolten Wong would have been a serious candidate as MVP.

Travis Ishikawa should have won the MVP. With one swing of the bat, he added his name to the legendary lore of the Giants. He became a hero to Giants fans, among which I count myself.

Years from now, when people talk about the great series between the Cards and Giants, I'll remember this: Two Asian Americans stood out playing "America's Pastime" on the country's biggest stage; one more swipe at the stereotype of the unathletic Asian male.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

TIME: The Real Problem When It Comes to Diversity and Asian Americans

The lack of Asian leadership in tech sheds light on a larger issue: Asians are excluded from the idea of diversity
Magazine cover, August 31, 1987

THIS WEEK'S Time Magazine (Oct. 14) has an article by Jack Linshi about the lack of Asians in the leadership ranks of Silicon Valley tech firms. Let me pique your interest with the opening paragraphs:
"Years ago ... they used to think you were Fu Manchu or Charlie Chan. Then they thought you must own a laundry or restaurant. Now they think all we know how to do is sit in front of a computer."
It was 1987 when Virginia Kee, then a 55-year-old high school teacher in New York's Chinatown, said the above words. She was one of several Asian-Americans who discussed the perception of their race for TIME's cover story, "Those Asian-American Whiz Kids." The cover story would elicit small-scale Asian boycotts of the magazine from those who found offensive the portrait of textbook-clutching, big-glasses braniacs. To them, the images codified  hurtful beliefs that Asians and Asian-Americans were one-dimensional: that they were robots of success, worshippers of the alphabet's first letter, study mules branded with their signature eyes. 
Today, Kee is 82 ... And yet Kee, who still recalls the words she told TIME nearly 30 years ago, maintains that not much has changed.  ... Read more, my friends.
And check out TIME's fun graphic that clearly shows the disparity between workforce and leadership: (If you cannot see it, click here.)

This topic generated a lot of conversation in the San Francisco Bay Area, the home of Silicon Valley and is the center of the world for techies and the venture capitalists who turn dreams into multi-billion dollar companies. Unfortunately, whenever you talk about inequalities or anything resembling affirmative action, it brings out the racists hiding underneath their hoodies.

Several news outlets have written about this topic, also known in the Asian community as the Bamboo Ceiling. For more articles, read Read Bloomberg's "The color of money in Silicon Valley" and a great piece by Mother Jones: Silicon Valley firms are even whiter and more male than you think. 

Whenever Americans talk about race, the vast majority often think only in terms of black and white. This myopic view is evidently not limited to the less educated. Through sheer numbers and the media focus on the border issue, Latinos have nudged their way into the conversation. The TIME article asserts that Asians are overlooked.

Why? I think Asians are saddled with the "model minority" stereotype. Asians are already successful. 

Asian men, who make up a larger portion of the workforce, also must also overcome the non-leadership qualities often associated with Asian males: being unassertive, too meek  and not being self-promoting. 

Asian women have one other hurdle to overcome  -- no matter how talented and intelligent they are -- their gender. Despite the rise of Carly Fiorina, Marissa Meyer and Sheryl Sandberg, technology is still a male-dominated field.

One other gargantuan barrier stands in the way for both Asian men and women: not being "one of the guys." You know, the back-slapping, drink-after-work, golf-buddy, trash-talking, take-home-for-dinner, be-my-wingman, share-an-off-color-joke, type of guys.  

The over-riding lesson here: When you are always looking for the next Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs, you keep coming up with people who look like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Nonito Donaire Jr.: "I am Filipino!"

NONITO DONAIRE Jr. (AKA The Filipno Flash) is a champion boxer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Next to Manny Pacquiao, he is probably the best known contemporary Filipino pugilist, holding multiple crowns in various weight divisions.

Like many men who have taken up the sport professionally, he's full of self-confidence to the point of being overconfident. He's brash, outspoken and proud to be a Filipino. The commercial for Cobra Energy Drink combines his confidence and pride to send a powerful positive message about being Filipino (its implied that comes with drinking Cobra, of course.)

Forget the drink, when I first saw the commercial, my reaction was "Oh, yeah!!!" It is one of the most positive and powerful messages about being Filipino that I've seen. Warrior, Perseverance, Power, Against all odds. Good stuff.

He has a fight this coming Saturday against up-and-coming fighter Nicholas Walters, a powerful puncher who hasn't been defeated in his 24-fight career. The fight in Carson, Calif. is for the featherweight WBA crown.

Donaire, at 31, may be on the downside of his spectacular career. Since he lost to Guillermo Rigondeaux, Donaire hasn't been the same. However, the "Flash" is no slouch either sporting a 33-2 record with 21 KOs.

It's a big fight for Walters to legitimize his quest for a world championship. The stakes are just as high for Donaire to regain the respect of the fight world but more importantly, to regain his swagger.

UPDATE: Nonito Donaire lost to Nicholas Walter by TKO in the 6th round. Donaire was overmatched by size, weight and reach. He should stay in the lower weight divisions.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Columbus: Hero or Villain?

What is Christopher Columbus smiling about?
AHH! SEATTLE. Love that city. Seattle is named after a Duwamish chieftain so its no surprise that instead of celebrating Christopher Columbus, they dubbed the second Monday of October as Indigenous People's Day. They join Berkeley and Minneapolis in switching from Columbus Day to celebrating the original  inhabitants of this continent. South Dakota marks the day as Native American Day. 

Columbus is revered as the man who claims to have "discovered" America, even though he really thought it was India; even though Vikings landed on North America 500 years earlier; even though millions of people were already living here for eons minding their own business before the Italian navigator set foot in Hispaniola and claimed it for Spain.

Depending on your point of view, Columbus Day marks the beginning, or the end. 

The beginning of an era of European conquest, the beginning of the exploitation of the land and resources; the beginning of the extermination of civilizations and enslavement of peoples; the beginning of lies and broken treaties that took the lands away from people who were living there first; the beginning of our great United States of America.

Or ... It is the end of a way of life, the end of the civilizations that were taking root in Peru, the Yucatan, Mexico and the Confederacies of Indian tribes on the Eastern Seaboard; the end of great forests of North America that spanned from the Mississippi to the Atlantic, the end of the nomadic tribes of the Great Plains, the end of the hunter-gatherer people of the West;

Or ... You can sum it all up to say it was the beginning of the end of the great native peoples.

I remember the history taught in school: "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue ..."
that painted the Italian explorer as the great navigator, the savior of the "savages," who brought Christianity to these shores; brought riches of gold and silver back to Spain. It wasn't until college did I realize those history books told only half the story.

Some cities still have parades and it has become a day of pride among Italian Americans, even though it was Spain that allowed and financed the expedition that changed the way the world was viewed and challenged the perspective of man's place in the Universe.

In "The Population of the Americas in 1492" by William M. Denevan, he writes: "The discovery of America was followed by possibly the greatest demographic disaster in the history of the world." Pre-Colombus population estimates by scholars runs from eight million to 112 million. In any case, by 1650 the native population was down to less than six million. That's a wide range, but no matter which number you choose, the decimation of the native people can be called nothing less than a holocaust.

That was the sad beginning and it got worse from there. Cities were ransacked, villages burned, temples destroyed, people enslaved, and treaties were broken time and time again. On top of all that, European diseases, against which the native population had no defense, took a tremendous toll.

"The Trail of Tears" as painted by Robert Lindneux in 1942. 
Their traditional land stolen from them, native Americans were forced to move to desolate reservations that couldn't support their farms or provide them any game to hunt. So they became wards of the state, forced to live off government handouts.

In one of the most egregious examples, through the Indian Removal Act of 1838, the "Five Civilized Tribes" of Cherokees, Choctaw, Chicasaw, Seminole and Creeks were forced from their traditional homes in the southeast U.S. so cotton growers could have their land. The native Americans then had to undertake the long trek to Oklahoma, Thousands died on the "Trail of Tears."

Is it any wonder that they don't do a champagne toast to Columbus?

If we were taught the truth in those grade-school history texts, people wouldn't be so shocked at Seattle's action.