Tuesday, May 31, 2016

AAPI Congress members endorse Clinton

Hillary For America
AAPI lawmakers threw their support towards Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton May 31.

A WEEK before the California Primary, the campaign for Sec. of State Hillary Clinton received the endorsement of a key group of legislators.

Today, (May 31) the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Leadership PAC, which includes several representatives and senators from California, urged Asian/American and Pacific Islander voters to back Clinton in her bid to become President.

The AAPI population in the Golden State is growing by leaps and bounds and the AAPI electorate, estimated to make up 12 percent of the state's voters, could be critical in deciding to which Democratic presidential candidate the state's hefty Democratic delegates will rally.

“There is so much at stake in this election, and we cannot tolerate any presidential candidate who promotes fear tactics, hateful rhetoric against immigrants and bullying,” CAPAC chair Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) said on Tuesday, alluding to Donald Trump, the GOP's presumptive candidate.

“We AAPIs must turn out the vote and ensure that our voice matters,” Chu said. “We must support the candidate who will bring us together, and make our nation more equal and just for everyone — and that person is Hillary Clinton.” 

A month ago, it was believed that Clinton had California in her pocket but a flurry of campaigning by Bernie Sanders throughout the state in the last two weeks has the race in a virtual tie, according to some polls.

While she was back east campaigning this week, Sanders stayed in California even making an appearance at the Golden State Warriors' clinching victory for the NBA's western conference championship. Clinton moved up her return to California to Thursday instead of waiting for the weekend hoping to bolster her lead.
RELATED: It's paramount to get more AAPI voters to the polls
"I am honored to have earned the endorsement of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Leadership PAC," said Clinton in response to the endorsement.

"As both First Lady and Senator from New York, I was proud to work with the AAPI community to build a fairer, freer, more tolerant and more inclusive America. During the 90s, the Clinton Administration launched the first-ever White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, so the federal government would be more deliberate about helping all parts of the AAPI community succeed. 

"As President, I will fight alongside the AAPI community to at last pass comprehensive immigration reform with a path to full and equal citizenship. Still today, applicants from the Asia-Pacific region make up about 40 percent of the family visa backlog, and too many have waited decades to have the chance to be back with their families. 

In her statement, she also said she would defend Obamacare and improve it, increase investment in education "with universal pre-K and debt-free tuition."
RELATED: Clinton's campaign targeting the AAPI vote
Clinton launched a campaign aimed at the growing AAPI community in California last year while Sanders was concentrating on the early primaries. She recently was the only Presidential candidate to attend an event of the Asian Pacific American Institute of Congressional Studies (where President Obama spoke) kicking off the nation's observance of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month even though all candidates were invited.

Celebrities urge AAPI voters to exercise their right to vote

A CADRE of Asian/American celebrities joined a public service announcement intended to boost the voting turnout of the AAPI electorate.

The celebrities who participated included George Takei, John Cho, Vincent Rodriguez III,   Constance Wu, Sonal Shah and Joey Quenga. 

 The PSA was launched today (May 31), a week before California's primary on June 7.

Despite being the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States and making up 12 percent of California's registered voters, the AAPI participation in the voting process lags behind other groups.
Asian American voter registration has increased nationwide 600,000 per presidential election cycle. The number of congressional candidates from the Asian American community increased from 10 in 2010 to 40 in 2016.
The campaign is a project of APIAVote with the support of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Imprenta Communications Group, The Great Company, and Asian Pacific American Leadership Foundation.

The story of the 'comfort women' of the Philippines is waiting to be told

Photo courtesy of M. Evelina Galang
Filipino/American author M. Evelina Galang with three of her "lolas."
THE EXISTENCE of the "comfort women" of Korea and China came to light to Americans in the last couple of years, but the horrible acts committed by men during wartime were not limited to those countries. The atrocities against women were done throughout Asia in those countries where World War II was fought, including the Philippines. The little known story of the Filipino lolas (grandmothers) is waiting to be told.

M. Evelina Galang is one of those story tellers. It has taken the writer, who is also a creative writing instructor at the University of Miami, almost 20 years to chronicle one of the Philippines' greatest traumas. It’s the story of how women finally confronted their nightmare after years of shame and silence; a testament to their courage and their long-buried grief.

In her unpublished manuscript "Lolas’ House: Survivors of Wartime Rape Camps," Galang tells the often overlooked story of the hundreds of Filipina women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II. 

A moving article about Galang, a Filipino/American raised in the American Midwest, and the Filipino comfort women, all who are now in their 70s and 80s, was printed in the Huffington Post May 18.

“These ‘comfort women’ were mostly 13, 14, 15 years old. They weren’t really women, they were girls,” Galang said of the victims, who are now so old they’re respectfully referred to as “Lolas,” the Tagalog word for grannies. “They were forced to do labor and raped up to 20, 30 times a day, every single day. The tragedy is colossal.”

“The ‘comfort woman’ issue goes beyond a history lesson, but is in fact an extension of our conversation about women and their bodies today,” Galang said. “This story is happening now. It’s happening in part because we have chosen not to hear the grandmothers. The Lolas’ stories, their experiences in wartime rape camps, and their fight for justice is a legacy to all women. What happened to them is happening now to women in Syria, in Bosnia, in the Congo, and on college campuses in the United States.”

“It seems to me that we have a culture where raping women and girls is not taken seriously,” she added. “We, as a global culture, need to stand up and say ‘No. Stop. Not right.’ Until we do, this history repeats itself. We need to document their stories. We need to understand their place in history. We need to make sure it never happens again.”

“Lolas’ House: Survivors of Wartime Rape Camps” is under consideration with a U.S. publisher. Find out more about the Lolas and other books by Galang at the author’s blog and website.

Click here to read the entire Huffington article, "The Harrowing Story of Filipina Women Enslaved in Japan's Wartime Rape Camps."

SURVEY: Asian/Americans are well aware of xenophobic rhetoric

Reprinted from AsAm News

A NEW SURVEY released last week by Asian Americans Advancing Justice indicates Asian Americans are taking notice of the Islamophobic and xenophobic rhetoric dominating the presidential race.

Voters were asked “if a political candidate expressed strongly anti-immigration views, but you agreed with him or her on other issues, would you still vote for that candidate or would you vote for someone else?”

Forty percent of those surveyed said they would not vote for a candidate who spouted anti-immigrant rhetoric. 35 percent said they still would with the rest either undecided or declined to state.

“The survey shows that Asian Americans are paying close attention to political discourse, and will not vote for a candidate expressing exclusionary rhetoric that only serves to separate communities. Anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim language will not win over Asian American voters,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of Asian Americans 

Advancing Justice | AAJC. 

“Candidates on both sides of the aisle need to pay attention to our community,” she added, “but our survey continues to show that the majority of Asian American voters have not been contacted by political parties in the past year.”

The rhetoric may help explain the sharp increase of Asian Americans identifying as Democrat. The survey found a 12 point increase from 2012 to 2016.

Hillary Clinton has a 62 percent favorability rating among Asian American voters compared to 48 percent for Bernie Sanders and 19 percent for Donald Trump.

Young Asian Americans are a key demographic to watch with income inequality ranking high among their concerns. They also had the strongest reaction against exclusionary anti-immigration rhethoric.

“The Republican National Committee’s Growth and Opportunity Project signaled an interest in outreach to Asian American communities and may have partly succeeded in 2014,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, professor at University of California Riverside and director of AAPI Data. “But, harsh rhetoric by several candidates in 2015 and 2016 seems to have eroded those again and, indeed, might have made the situation even worse.”

Overall for Asian Americans, the Democrats have the advantage on the issues of the environment, racial profiling, education, social security and immigration reform.

Republicans have the advantage on terrorism.

Asian American voter registration has increased 600,000 per presidential election cycle. The number of congressional candidates from the Asian American community increased from 10 in 2010 to 40 in 2016.

“Voter outreach and education by nonpartisan organizations remains critical and 2016 is poised to be the largest mobilization effort we have seen for the AAPI community,” said Christine Chen, executive director of APIAVote.

The poll of 1,212 registered voters was conducted in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and Vietnamese between April 11 and May 17 of this year by landline and cellphone.

 “The survey shows key problem spots where Asian American registered voters feel that the political system is not responsive to their needs. Greater investments are needed from the campaigns and parties.”

You can read the full report here.


Monday, May 30, 2016

What movies would you list as 'Essential Asian Films'?

Toshiro Mifune played an outlaw samurai in Akira Kurosawa's 'Sanjuro'
MY FILM SCHOOL consisted of Saturday nights at Chinatown's Grand Star Theater and J-Town's  Kabuki Theater in San Francisco. The teachers were Akira Kurosawa and Run Run Shaw. Throw Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon, West Side Story, a few new wave French films and any movies by John Ford western and Satyajit Rey - that's the extent of my film education. 

A really interesting four-part series of articles written by Kate Hagen on the blog The Black List is a  list of what she considers the "Essential Asian Films." Although she doesn't tell us her criteria, from the commentary on each film, I'd say the listing is of movies that open new worlds or shows the universal humanity of its characters.

'Enter the Dragon' made my list.
She's come up with a wide-ranging list of her own - plus contributions from other cinephiles -ranging from esoteric movies made in Asia to the popular Hollywood fare such as the John Carpenter-directed Big Trouble in Little China for featuring Asian characters played by Asian actors (how novel is that?) and Stephen Spielberg's version of the timeless Peter Pan fantasy, Hook for introducing Lost Boy leader Rufio (played by Filipino/American Dante Basco), proving that countless tweenage girls can have a crush on an Asian guy.

Enter the Dragon made her list as well as: Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding and Kama Sutra, Zhang Yimou’s Ju Dou, Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet, Oliver Stone's Heaven & Earth, Stephen Chow's Kung Fu HustleKiyoshi Kurosawa's Cure, Jessaca Yu's Ping Pong Playa, Jennnifer Phang's Advantageous, Wayne Wang's Joy Luck Club and Suzuki Seijun’s Tokyo Drifter.

Creating lists like this is always tricky because it is so subjective and personal experiences come into so much play. Sometimes, the list says more about the list-maker than it doe about the movies themselves. With that in mind, here are my contributions

In terms of films that allows us to peek into new worlds and raises empathy for its characters, I certainly would have included Kurosawa's classic Seven Samurai, the Sanjuro/Yojimbo trilogy and Rey's Apu trilogy. I would also include Lee's Enter the Dragon. for its groundbreaking and stereotype-busting introduction to an Asian hero, which, ironically, created a new stereotype; Better Luck Tomorrow, Justin Lin's shattering of the contemporary model student image; and the list would not be complete without adding Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman for showing the universality of family and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon because western audiences had never seen anything like it before, and yet - pay attention studio heads - people flocked to watch it again and again.

While going over the lists, what strikes me is how much talent there is and casting directors and producers should not be so closed minded. These movies should prove, once and for all, there is an audience for good movies, no matter what race the cast is. I don't understand the caveman-thinking that says U.S. audiences won't be able to relate to leads who are not white.

What motion pictures about, or by, Asians would you consider essential viewing to gain an  understanding of Asians and all the different cultures from that continent or about Asians in America?

As the title suggests, food and family are at the center of director Ang Lee's  'Eat Drink Man Woman'

That's a rap for #StarringJohnCho

AS A PARTING shot, on the last day of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month and enter into a new month, we present a fun little video. 

(Warning: Some of the language used in the video may be offensive to some.)

By Louis Chan
Reprinted from AsAm News

Korean/American rapper Dumbfoundead, AKA Jonathan Park, is taking the #StarringJohnCho concept to the next level.

The Koreatown-based musician took classic Hollywood scenes from both the big screen and television and superimposed his face on top of the White male stars.

“After the last Academy Awards and the regular whitewashing of Hollywood roles, I wrote this song and made this video to add my piece to the conversation,” said Dumbfoundead on Facebook and You Tube. “Thanks guys! New album coming out in July!”

RELATED: The Man Behind #StarringJohnCho
His song Safe is described as a counter to how Asians and Asian Americans are perceived–the model minority that will “take it and smile, the punching bag of America.”

Safe is produced by Denny Kim and Kirby Lee and executive produced by Park.

“Park embodies the qualities that #StarringJohnCho communicates: a lead with charisma, presence, and bankable talent,” said William Yu, the man behind #StarringJohnCho and a digital strategist from Massachusetts. “I personally think it is furthering the conversation of Asian American visibility. The song tackles the negative ways in which Asian Americans are perceived today.”

RELATED: The weird history of Asian sex stereotypes.

Memorial Day 2016: Conversations in absentia

Second column, second from the top is my dad's name.
IT HAS BEEN 43 years since my father died. He was a major in the U.S. Army. About this time every year, with the near convergence of Memorial Day and Father's Day I wonder about the man I never really got to know.

I regret never having conversations with him, adult to adult. I realized - belatedly - there's so much we had in common but we never had a chance to talk about them.

There's a bronze plaque in a California town listing the names of the survivors of the Bataan Death March who chose to settle in that town and build a Filipino/American community. My dad's name is engraved on it along with 53 of his friends and comrades. 

A little over a week from now, we, in California have the opportunity to exercise one of those privileges for which many  men and women sacrificed their lives -- the right to vote. 

The least we can do to honor those sacrifices is to register ourselves and exercise our right to vote.

Here's a posting I wrote a year ago about Maj. Melchor V. Diokno.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

MTV's 'Decoded': The weird history of Asian sex stereotypes

MTV's Franchesca Ramsey examines the root of Asian stereotypes.
IT'S ALL about sex and power.

The stereotypes that haunt Asian/American men and women is  getting talked about outside of our community and it's about time.

Franchesca Ramsey is the host of MTV's weekly video series, "Decoded," where she tackles race, taboos and pop culture. This week, in her typical fashion, she didn't hold back in addressing stereotypes about Asian men and women. 

"If you take a look at popular culture there's a pretty strange divide between Asian women and Asian men. Asian women are adored and fetishized by men of many ethnicities, while Asian men are rarely seen as sex symbols of any kind. Why? Well these stereotypes don't come from nowhere, they actually evolved from a long and twisted history of war, trade, and persecution of American citizens," reads the program notes. 
Asian/Americans are familiar with the topic but for non-Asians, it may be news to them. It's not a case of airing our dirty laundry, it's a case of airing the dirty laundry of the people who prefer to perpetuate the stereotypes. That's what Ramsey and MTV hope to do by shedding light on why these images exist.

We know that any discussion of these stereotypes is more complex than a 6-minute episode can expect to show - but for those coming late to the conversation, it's a good primer.

MTV doesn't have the influence that it used to have when it was first introduced but the network has a young audience with median age of 21 years and around 87 percent of MTV viewers are in the 18-49 demographic - in other words, people who will be running the country the rest of this century. 

The network has been discussing the issue of race to this age group for the last few years in formats that get people to thinking about it, and for a great number of people, (especially Euro/Americans) race is not something they usually think about.
Last year MTV produced the documentary "White People" confronting young people about race. MTV's effort to tackle one of this country's most divisive issues such as "White People" and "Decoded" may not change the world, but it might get a few people to think about topics that people of color think about every day. Getting people to see the world from a new perspective encourages empathy and understanding.  

"Here's the thing: Institutionalized racism fuels America, oftentimes in ways that you might not even realize. And because we live in a world that continues to reinforce outdated and harmful sexual stereotypes, it's no wonder that some people start to believe them," Ramsey said in conclusion.

The world is not going to change by legislation or some cataclysmic event that turns everything upside down. The way this country changes its attitudes on race is one mind at a time.

Broadway noting up-and-coming Asian/American performers in casting of 'Phantom' & 'Hamilton'

Ali Ewoldt as Maria in West Side Story.
WHILE HOLLYWOOD is stumbling around still trying to figure out this diversity thing #OscarsSoWhite, #Whitewashing, Broadway is showing signs that last year's success at integrating the stage was not a fluke.

Filipino/American Ali Ewoldt has been named as the new Christine in the long running Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera.

She’ll take over the lead role from Julia Udine on June 13.

Ewoldt whose mother is Filipino was born
 outside of Chicago and raised in Pleasantville, NY, she has a BA in Psychology from Yale University.

“I want to be able to represent all the other people of color who aspire to play Christine someday,” said Ewoldt to Broadway.com. “Hopefully someday, everything will be open and people will have truly equal opportunities, and we can say it doesn’t matter anymore.

Ewoldt made her Broadway debut in 2006 in Mr. Mackintosh's first Broadway revival of Les Miserable as Cosette, according to Playbill. She joins direct from playing Tuptim in the Chicago Lyric Opera production of The King & I. She also appeared in the original cast of the current Lincoln Center Theater production. 

Other credits include Luisa in The Fantasticks (Off-Broadway), Maria in West Side Story (first national tour), Lili in Carnival! (Musicals Tonight) and the national tour of Les Miserables

Ewoldt will join another new cast member. Jordan Donica, who will be the first African American to play the role of Raoul.

California-raised Karla Garcia now calls New York City home.
Another Filipina/American recently joined the cast of the Tony-nominated hip-hop hit Hamilton (how's that for alliteration?).

Karla Garcia joins the Tony-nominated Phillipa Soo as Asian cast members in the multi-ethnic cast. Garcia is the first Filipina cast member. As the "swing" for female cast members, the Broadway veteran and an alumna of So You Think You Can Dance (Season 5) has to learn multiple parts in case any of the cast gets a day off or can't perform for any reason.

“I’m not in Hamilton because I’m the first Filipino,” she told NBC. “They didn’t hire me because I’m Filipino. I audition. I put in the work. I know I’m good at my job. I’m secure enough that I’m just here as a dancer. And anything else like ‘Oh you’re Asian’ or ‘You’re Filipino,’ (I say) ‘Yes thank you.’ I’m proud of that, too. I’m happy to represent the Filipino community and have a family-oriented background and parents who raised me to follow my dream. But that’s the cherry on top.”

Here's a chance to work with 'Star Trek Beyond' director Justin Lin

By Anderson
Reposted from YOMYOMF

BY POPULAR DEMAND, the deadline to submit a short film to Interpretations and a chance to direct a project produced by Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin has been extended to July 15, 2016.

By popular demand, the deadline to submit a short film to Interpretations and a chance to direct a project produced by Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin has been extended to July 15, 2016.

Justin Lin
We’ve been getting a lot of inquiries regarding this initiative and we also know that producing a film, even a short one, is really difficult. It takes a village, as one would say. So, we’re extending the deadline by almost a month to provide you budding filmmakers some extra time to complete your short film entries and also convince anyone else who hasn’t decided to submit to consider now and enter your film!

However, do keep in mind that if you finish your film before the new deadline, we encourage you to submit early, because it allows more time for the judges to review your entries and also allows you, the filmmaker and your team, to also promote your entry via social media as we’ll start making the entries live on the website after June 17. It’s like campaigning but without the super delegates!

If you haven’t heard of Interpretations, then head over the contest website. But in a nutshell, Interpretations is a way of encouraging aspiring filmmakers to develop their own original and unique voice. All participants will “interpret” a four line script, and can produce and shoot it any way they wish. The only caveat is that the lines are static and must be in that order and the actual film itself is no more than 3 minutes long. Therefore, everyone is shooting their films from the same material and leveling the playing field in a way that traditional filmmaking competitions cannot. Three shorts will be selected from the entries and these winning filmmakers will have an opportunity to direct a project for one of the Comcast or NBCUniversal platforms (or equivalent platform) under the mentorship of Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow, Fast and Furious, Star Trek Beyond) and other industry professionals. YOMYOMF will produce the projects.

In an interview with Salon, Justin explained why he started Interpretations:

“I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but feel incredibly lucky to be in the position I am now and to be able to play a small part in trying to support talented, aspiring young filmmakers out there through a program like ‘Interpretations’ who, like me, had the desire and passion, but no connections to the industry.”

Interpretations really stretches your creative chops. It’s like a filmmaker brain game and if you’re one of the lucky final three winners, you get an opportunity to work with Justin and other mentors on a digital project. Seriously, there are no more excuses. Take this opportunity and submit your entry to Interpretations!

Head over to the Interpretations website for all relevant info, including the rules, an FAQ, the script, and how to enter your film.

If you’re an aspiring Asian/American filmmaker, don’t miss this opportunity and regret it later. July 15 is right around the corner.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Filipino/American oil worker wins bias suit

By Louis Chan
Reprinted from AsAm News

A Filipino/American oil worker whose manager urinated on his leg and called him names has won $250,000 in a discrimination suit.

Matthew Clark worked for the American Casing & Equipment, Inc., a North Dakota oilfield service company operating in Williston, N.D. He accused the company manager of hurling racial epithets at him and on one occasion while he was under a vehicle, urinating on his leg. The incident was witnessed by another supervisor, but no action was taken.

The harassment included the manager calling Clark a “non-white m—-f—-r,” “non-white guy,” “spic,” “n—-r,” “monkey” and “ape.”

The lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Clark was fired in retaliation for complaining.

“They cannot simply ignore harassment and fire employees who complain about being abused rather than doing something about it,” said Tina Burnside who litigated the case for the EEOC.

The company was accused of harassment and violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In the settlement, American Casing & Equipment also agreed to educate all its managers, supervisors and employees about laws prohibiting discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

“This settlement sends a strong message to employers that race and national origin harassment and retaliation will not be tolerated in the workplace,” said John Hendrickson of the EEOC. “EEOC hopes that the changes implemented under the consent decree will serve as a model for creating a workplace free of discrimination in the oilfield service industry.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thousands of Filipinos were brought to the U.S. to work in the Gulf states' oil industry after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. No one would have noticed this influx of Filipino workers if not for an explosion on an offshore oil rig that killed 11 Filipinos and injured dozens of others. Involuntary manslaughter charges were filed against the contractor who hired the Filipinos by the Department of Justice in December 2015 for unsafe working conditions. The case is due to be heard in the courts in January, 2017.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Cllinton targeting the AAPI vote in California's primary

WITH the California primary a week away, Hillary Clinton is trying regain the momentum from rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has been winning the primaries and caucuses of the smaller states. Despite his victories, a Sanders victory is mathematically unlikely but in the public's eye, the Clinton campaign has lost its sense of urgency. According to some polls, Sanders has been able to chip away at Clinton's sizable lead and the race is dead even.

For the country's largest state, Clinton is not leaving anything to chance and is making a concerted effort to win over the Asian/American and Pacific Islander vote. The problem is that even though there are about 3 million eligible AAPI voters in the state, in 2012 only 545,000 actually voted, according to a study conducted by UC Davis Center for Regional Change. AAPI voters have the lowest turnout rate among ethnic groups.
RELATED: Asian/Americans lean Democratic
Hillary for America released two new ads for television and radio highlighting how Clinton will break down barriers for AAPI families by working to pass comprehensive immigration reform, ensuring that veterans get the care they need, and providing children with access to a good education. Hillary Clinton has laid out a comprehensive agenda to help AAPI families and has vowed to continue to stand up for the community. 
The ads have started airing in California in Mandarin, Korean, Vietnamese and Cantonese.

Here's the “Our Community” television ad. Click on: Mandarin, Korean, Vietnamese or Cantonese.

Listen to the radio ad in Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese or Korean.

The "Our Community" television English translation:

Voiceover: There’s only one candidate for President endorsed by Asian American leaders across California…

It’s Hillary Clinton…

Hillary is determined to give every child a good education no matter where they come from…

Fix our broken immigration system…

And get our veterans the care they’ve earned.

Because Hillary knows America can’t reach its full potential unless we all do.

Hillary Clinton: I’m Hillary Clinton, and I approved this message.

The Radio script follows:

Announcer: The promise of America has always been if you work hard you can make it…

No matter what you look like or where you’re from.

That’s what Hillary Clinton has always believed…she’s spent a lifetime breaking down barriers for others and she won’t stop now.

She’s determined to give every child a good education no matter where they start out…

She’ll work to fix our broken immigration system so hard working Asian Americans have a path to citizenship.

And she’ll get our veterans the care they’ve earned…

Because Hillary knows America can’t reach its full potential unless we all do.

Asian American leaders across California are standing with Hillary.

Because she’s the one who’ll always stand with us.

On June 7th vote for Hillary.

Hillary Clinton: I’m Hillary Clinton, and I approve this message.

Announcer: Paid for by Hillary for America

South Asian dominance continues in spelling bee; ends in a tie

Spelling bee co-champions Nihar Janga, left, and Jairam Hathwar. are friends off the stage as well.

GET READY for another slew of articles about South Asians and their prowess at spelling.

For the second year in a row,when the spelling was over, the Scripps National Spelling Bee named co-champions Thursday (May 26). And once again, the winners are Indian/American youngsters.

Co-champions Jairam Hathwar, 13 and Nihar Janga, 11, are the third consecutive set of co-champions at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, held this week in National Harbor, Maryland.

Nihar spelled "gesellschaft" correctly.

Jairam spelled "Feldenkrais" correctly.After the confetti fell, the pair talked about their victory.

"I'm just very proud of myself and the hard work paid off," Nihar said. "I felt nervous all the time."

Jairam, Nihar said, is one of his best spelling friends. He said he is happy to share the championship.

Jairam's brother, 2014 co-champion Sriram Hathwar, was cheering him on from the audience.

"I wasn't expecting this," said. Jairam. "I dreamed about winning this bee and it finally came true. It's just amazing."

Though Jairam was eligible to compete for another year, he said he wanted to treat this year like it was his last because it's hard to get back to this level of competition.

"It's just amazing," he said. "I can't even believe this is real."

The spellers will take home $45,000 each in cash, a trophy and other prizes.

The bee changed the rules this year to avoid what exactly what happened — a marathon championship round. Words given to finalists didn't come from a 25-word list predetermined by spelling officials, Paige Kimble, the bee's executive director, said. Instead, organizers had the option of using an expanded list of words from anywhere in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. Kimble called it “raising the standard.” But it didn't work.

As you can see, four of the five finalists were South Asian youngsters.
Last year, when another pair of South Asians, Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam, won the bee, articles were written about why South Asians have been so successful in the spelling bee.

The dominance of South Asians in the spelling bee has given rise to speculation that bounces between the "model minority myth" and some of the racist notions that are not worth mentioning. There is no special gene giving South Asian youngsters an edge, just like there is no gene that East Asians have that make them so proficient in math and science.

It is not that south Asians are smarter than other ethnic groups. The difference, it appears, is persistence and that old axiom, "practice makes perfect." 
RELATED: Hard work and studies win the spelling bee
In the last 15 years, spelling contests have become ensconced in the South Asian/American community with regional contests to prime the kids for the bit Scripps bee. There is even a South Asian Spelling Bee with a $10,000 prize. Contests like these serve as the "minor leagues" prepare the youngsters for the pressure and intensity of the national contest.

“I think that the activity of spelling bees has grown in prestige among certain South Asian-American communities,” said Northwestern University professor Shalini Shankar, who has been studying South Asian dominance of spelling bee culture.

“I would say that it’s not a uniform phenomenon among South Asian/American communities, but among those that do value this activity, they’ve really taken to it and they compete year round in different spelling bee circuits.”


Widower can't collect $6.5 million for wife's death in burning limo

FORD Motor Co. on May 25th, was cleared of any responsibility for a limousine that burst into flames killing five Filipinas, all members of a wedding party.

Aldrin and Felomina Geronga
The blame belonged to the limousine company, argued Ford's attorneys. The limo owners allowed nine passengers despite  the recommended capacity of eight. 

The jury decided that the limo company should pay $6.5 million to the plaintiff Aldrin Geronga, the widower of nurse Felomina Geronga, who died in the blazing vehicle three years ago. However, he will not see a penny. The limo owners had already settled with all the plaintiffs, including Aldrin Geronga, so they could not be penalized a second time.

Geronga's lawyer, William Smith, said he will appeal.

The limousine was carrying the women across the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge on their way to a bachelorette party for Fojas who was going to the Philippines for the wedding ceremony. when the limo caught fire. 

Four of the women escaped by crawling to the driver's seat through a small partition. But the bride-to-be, Felomina Geronga and three others - Jennifer Balon, 39, Michelle Estrera, 35, Anna Alcantara, 46 - didn't make it out.

All the women were nurses, part of the Filipino Diaspora that has thousands of Filipino workers, especially those in the medical field, leaving the Philippines every day for employment opportunities throughout the world. 

Aldrin Geronga was the last plaintiff in the case. He had reached an undisclosed settlement with other defendants in the case besides Ford. The survivors as well as the families of the other women who perished settled with Ford earlier.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

TGIF FEATURE: Hawaiian high school's unforgettable graduation goes viral - AGAIN!

                                                                                                                                          MoStreet Productions

KAHUKU HIGH and Intermediate School on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii did it again. Their elaborate graduation performance has become a legendary tradition and the video of their graduation has gone viral, just like it did last year, and the year before that, and ...
RELATED: One of the coolest graduations you'll ever see
The school was founded in 1897 to serve the children of the sugar cane workers that worked the nearby fields. Today it has about 1500 students from 7th to 12th grades. You'll note from the video that Pacific Islanders make up of about 60 percent the school, almost double the average Hawaiian high school. 

On May 19, the 2016 graduating class of Kahuku High continued the tradition of grand graduation performances; this year throwing in a tribute to Prince, the Running Man, pop songs and concluding with a powerful haka, a traditional dance and chant from Polynesia that is performed on important occasions. 
RELATED: Hawaiian strips down for graduation
I don't know about your high school graduation but mine was nothing like theirs. I absolutely love their school spirit and their pride in their heritage. 

Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

The seniors of Kahuku High & Intermediate School continued the tradition of a graduation performance.
For more news about Asian/Americans & Pacific Islanders, read AsAm News.

REPORT: As AAPI numbers rise, the needs, disparities and inequalities also increase

By Louis Chan
Reprinted from AsAm News

ASIAN/AMERICANS will be more multiracial, more American-born and greater in numbers in 2040, according to volume 1 of the AAPI Nexus Journal released Tuesday (May 24) and published by UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press.

The community is expected to remain the fastest growing population in the country, increasing by 74 percent over the next 25 years. Pacific Islanders will increase by 52 percent compared to an 18 percent growth rate for the overall population.

Perhaps the most surprising projection, by 2040 its predicted half of Asian/Americans will be U.S.-born. Currently immigrants make up a large majority of AAPIs. Asian/Americans are also expected to get older with 178 
percent increase in Asian/American elderly in 2040 and a 205 percent increase among Pacific Islanders.The overall elderly population in the United States is expected to increase only 72 percent.

"More than ever, it is important to include AAPIs in the development of a more inclusive, fair, and comprehensive narrative about racial ... inequality," say the editors.
RELATED: Impact and influence of AAPI community is expanding
Unfortunately, with this rising population may come a rise in poverty and inequality.

Currently the poverty rate for AAPI elderly is twice the rate of non-Hispanic Whites and 1.5 times as high as the total population.

“Poor AAPI elderly tend to be immigrants with minimal retirement benefits,” said Paul Ong of UCLA. “There are also pockets of very high poverty among South Asian and PI Children. If the current poverty rate continues, then the numbers of AAPIs in poverty will grow to an estimated 2.2 million in 2015 to 3.7 million in 2040.”

Overall in 2040 one out of ten people in the United States will be Asian/American Pacific Islander. One out of six Asian/Americans will be multiracial and three out of 10 Asian Americans in Kindergarten through 12th grade will be multiracial.

With these increased numbers will be more political power.

“The number of Asian/American voters will double by 2040 and the number of PI voters will also grow, which will enable AAPIs to be a sought-after and decisive vote as well as a margin of victory in an ever increasing number of elections,” said Christine Chen of APIAVote.

RELATED: AAPI population will surpass African/Americans by mid-century
Also expected is more political representation from AAPIs.

“There is an opportunity for significant AAPI presence and leadership from the C-Suite in the private sector, to all levels of government, from local, state, federal, and even the White House,” said AAPI Nexus Journal guest editor Floyd Mori, President of the Asian and Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies. “We need to cultivate a leadership pipeline and resources that will shore up capacity and infrastructure to attain, sustain, and advance what our communities define as the AAPI dream.”

The first collection of essays in Volume 1 focused on health, aging, environmental justice, economic justice, education, labor , immigration and political empowerment.

Volume 2, to be released later this year will focus on Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders , women, LGBTQI, civil rights, media, business, philanthropy and cultural preservation.

To purchase or subscribe to the part one of the Journal, click here.
View the table of contents.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Celebrity short takes: Constance Wu, Justin Lin, Daniel Wu, Matt Damon, Vanessa Hudgens and more

The anime characters in FullmetalAlchemist and their human actors.
Director's decision counters Hollywood's 'whitewashing' practice

When the live-action adaptation of the wildly-popular manga-turned-anime Fullmetal Alchemist hits theaters next year, its entire cast of lead characters will be Japanese.
“I want to depict something that follows the original work as much as possible,” the movie’s director Fumihiko Sori told Natalie. “The cast is entirely Japanese, but the setting is Europe. However, their race and nationality isn’t expressed in a specific form.” This news is particularly refreshing in the wake of the upcoming Dr. Strange and Ghost in the Shell movies’ whitewashing of the Asian characters in their source material, tapping Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansson, respectively, to play them. Read the full story here.

Asian/American actors speaking out against 'whitewashing'

"AN ASIAN PERSON who is competing against white people, for an audience of white people, has to train for that opportunity like it's the Olympics," actress Constance Wu told writer Amanda Hess in the New York Times piece, titled 'Asian-American Actors Are Fighting For Visibility. They Will Not Be Ignored'. "An incredibly talented Asian actor might be considered for a leading role maybe once or twice in a lifetime. That's a highly pressured situation." Among the actors who were interviewed were heavy-hitters George Takei, Aziz Ansari and Daniel Dae Kim. Read the full article here.

AMC has renewed martial arts drama “Into the Badlands” for Season 2

The dystopian drama will return for a 10-episode second season that is slated to premiere on AMC in 2017. The show delivered the third highest-rated first season in U.S. cable TV history, averaging 5.6 million viewers per episode. “With its deep dive into authentic martial arts, the visually stunning ‘Into the Badlands’ proved to be unlike anything else on television,” said Charlie Collier, president of AMC, SundanceTV and AMC Studios. “Co-creators and showrunners Al Gough and Miles Millar, along with a talented team of producers, cast and crew, brought us an artfully crafted series. We’re eager to return to the world of barons and blades and spend even more time with these compelling and evolving characters across an expanded second season.” It stars California-raised Daniel Wu as its leading man.

Vin Diesel wants Justin Lin to direct the final 'Fast & Furious'

Vin Diesel wants Justin Lin to direct the final Fast & Furious Universal Pictures and director F. Gary Gray are currently shooting Fast 8 for an April 14, 2017 release, which is planned to launch a new trilogy of films. Fast 8 will be followed by a ninth film to be released April 19, 2019 and a tenth film planned to hit theaters April 2, 2021. Forward-thinking star Vin Diesel is already coming up with a master plan for Fast 10, which a new article from Wired indicates could include the return of Read the full story

'Space Jam 2' has found its director

It's finally on now. While Space Jam 2 has lingered in the minds of basketball and sneaker enthusiasts behind a regular season filled with Curry and Kobe headlines, LeBron James' summer is now closer to set. As The Hollwood Reporter breaks, the busy Justin Lin will direct the sequel to the cartoon classic. It's nice to be in demand. Read the full story

Chinese/American actress nominated for 2016 Tony Award

Phillipa Soo was nominated as Best Actress in a musical for her role as Eliza Hamilton in the Broadway hit Hamilton.  All together, Hamilton, the diversity-setting, rap-inspired musical set a new record with 16 nominations. Read the full story

Cary Fukunaga may adapt Stanley Kubrick’s 'Napoleon' as HBO miniseries

According to a new report from ScreenRant, HBO is eying a revival of Stanley Kubrick’s famously never-produced version of "Napoleon" with Cary Fukunaga directing the historical epic. If done right, this could be spectacular. Anyone who has seen the first season of True Detective (or Sin Nombre or Beasts of No Nation) knows that Fukunaga is a special talent, one that could be trusted to bring a version of Kubrick’s singular vision to the screen. The project would also have the benefit of more modern technologies than Kubrick ever dreamed of, as well as the backing of HBO, which has shown a willingness to spend big money on huge projects. An hours-long program, with frequent battle scenes, filmed in multiple countries for a massive amount of money? That sounds an awful lot like Game of ThronesRead the full story

Vanessa Hudgens agrees to pay $1,000 fine for carving on red rock wall

Actress Vanessa Hudgens has paid $1,000 in restitution for carving a heart into a red rock wall during a trip to Sedona, Arizona. The payment resolves a citation issued to the Filipino/American on a misdemeanor count of damaging a natural feature on U.S. Forest Service land. Read the full story

'The Great Wall' aims to bridge Hollywood-China divide

Matt Damon sported a new ponytail as he told fans in Beijing about his part in the fantasy epic The Great Wall, a $150 million U.S.-China co-production which could be a game-changer for the world's second biggest film market, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The legendary fantasy film, which is described as the largest film ever shot entirely in China for global distribution, centers on an elite force making a last stand for humanity on the iconic Great Wall in China. The English-language movie is directed by Zhang Yimou and is due to finish filming in August. The global release date is Nov. 23, 2016
. Read the full story

First Filipina to win 'Best Actress' at Cannes Film Festival
Jaclyn Jose has become the first Filipino to win the best actress award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Jose won for her performance as a mother who falls prey to corrupt police after being forced to sell drugs to survive in Ma’ Rosa. The movie was directed by Brillante Mendoza, who in 2009 became the first Filipino to win best director at the festival for Kinatay.

The Filharmonics

NBC winds up its 'Life Stories' of Asian/Americans

The Filipino/American a capella singing group, the Filharmonics, was one of the groups and individuals profiled by NBC as part of its 'Life Stories' series in honor of Asian/American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Other episodes of 'Life Stories', can be found here.