Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A true Filipino Musical Experience

'Karim at Jasmin', the first original Filipino Musical Opera written by Dr. Ramon Sison Geluz is coming to Los Angeles. The Musical was first staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines last Novemember 4, 2006. It's U.S. production will premier on June 23, 2007 at the Long Beach Convention Center Terrace Theater.

Spectacular and exotic, "Karim at Jasmin" touches the heart of the modern audience in its mythical Filipino rendition of love, tragedy, family, war and eventually peace. Spanning 20 years of original composition by Dr. Geluz and rendered into captivating music by the legendary and most acclaimed (5 Gold Records)Philippine classical and jazz-pop pianist Joselito Pascual, this specatacular stage production is guaranteed to sweep the entertainment landscape with the limitless and undiscovered Filipino talents.

Set in time even before the Spaniards came, Dr. Geluz drew inspirations from the myths, lore, legends, and the richness of the Philippine Muslim culture. After countless revisions, the rich music was finally arranged by Naldy Rodriguez. For it's U.S. production, under the able direction of award-winning stage director Jet Montelibano, distinguished performers like Ma. Cristina Navarro, Gelo Francisco, Everlita Rivera-David, Luningning Buan-Manahan, and Bones Deoso Jr. - who themselves have created their own legends in the opera world - will breath life to the characters of "Karim at Jasmin" in stunning and dramatic performance. Tickets available now at all TicketMaster outlets and at the Long Beach Convention Center Box Office at (562)436-3661. Watch this timeless drama unfold and make your country proud. (

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pres. Arroyo to attend Assumption founder Canonization in Rome

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be attending hundreds of Assumptionistas from all over the world for the canonization of the Assumption College founder Sister Marie-Eugenie of Jesus. Sister Marie-Eugenie , who was beatified by Pope Paul VI on Feb. 9, 1975, will be canonized on June 3, 2007 at St. Peter's Square in Rome. Ma. Lourdes Herrera, Assumption Alumni Philippines President (AAA), said the organization had invited President Arroyo to join the celebration for Marie-Eugenie's sainthood, especially because the miracle that paved the way for her canonization, the miracle healing on a Filipina girl named Maria Carmela "Risa" Bondoc (born 1995) thru the intercession of the Assumption founder, occurred in a Filipino family. (Assumption have schools in 34 countries but it was the miracle in the Philippines that was instrumental in her canonization). 3 year-old Risa cannot walk due to a malfunction on her brain. Carmen, an assumption graduate, brought her to the Assumption Convent in Paris and laid her on top of Marie Eugenie's tomb and prayed the child would be healed. In 2006, her recovery was considered a miracle by the Extraordinary Theological Commission in Rome and "recognized" a a true miracle. Today, Risa is a student at an Assumption Convent.

Herrera declared that Ms. Arroyo is an "Assumption daugther all the way." She studied at Assumption San Lorenzo Village, Makati City from kindergarten to college, graduating with honors and a degree in economics in 1968. She also taught at the college's economics department from 1984 to 1987.

The canonization of Marie-Eugenie should encourage Assumption graduates to return to the teachings of their founder which anchored on justice, respect for creation, peace, and solidarity. Other Assumption graduates include former Philippine President Corazon Aquino, Leading Senatorial Candidate Loren Legarda, Senator Tessie Aquino-Oreta, and Philippine Daily Inquirer chair Marixi Rufino Prieto and Inquirer President Alexandra Prieto Romualdez.

Coming from a well to do and educated family, Anne Eugenie Milleret was born in Metz, France on August 25, 1817. At age 19, she dedicated her life to the Church. When she turned 22, she founded the Congregation of the Religious of the Assumption to educate women to live an authentic Christian life and transform society. In 1892, with the help of Spain's Queen Regent Maria Christina, Marie-Eugenie's close friend Sister Celestine brought the order to the Philippines. Celestine built a school for female teachers, the Escuela Normal para las Mujeres - the first Assumption school in Asia. The school was closed in 1898, the same year Marie-Eugenie died. In 1904, on the request of Pope Pius X, the Assumption sisters returned to the Philippines and opened schools for elementary and secondary levels in Herran, Manila and later opened schools in other parts of the country. Currently, there are 15 schools nationwide with 50,000 graduates.

Our Heritage: Glendale Celebrates Philippine Independence

Glendale, Ca. The Filipino American Business Association of Glendale (FABAG) will be celebrating the 109th Philippine Independence Day dubbed "Unity & Friendship - the spirit of Freedom." Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian will present the resolution on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 at City Hall, 613 E.Broadway, Glendale Ca. 91206 at 6 p.m.

A Cultural Presentation will be held June 14 at 6 pm at the Glendale City Library featuring Kultura Philippine Folk Arts (founded by former members of the world renowned Bayanihan Dance Co. of the Philipppines) and a fine aret exhibit titled "Our Heritage" by Durfee Foundation awardee Vics Magsaysay. Vics is a self taught photographer, painter, sculptor, graphic and furniture designer, writer and alternative healer. Vics just concluded a book signing and motivational seminar at Carlsbad, Ca. last weekend of May 25-26, 2007.

For info: contact Marlene Cagatao at (818) 731-9429 or Ruby de Vera at (323) 255-6351. Email:

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Saga Continues:

The star-studded Star Wars Celebration IV finally caught up with our Princess debutante Tiffany celebrating her 18th at the the glitzy Millenium Biltmore. Before the guests arrived, the court had a grand time with a member of the Stormtroopers 501st Regiment. More than 300 family and friends attended the plush event.

Star Wars Celebration IV also boasted the best ever screen celebrities in attendance whose career span over the entire 30 years of the Star Wars saga. Spotted at the Los Angeles convention center were Peter Mayhew, the mighty Chewbacca, John Coppinger who played Jabba the Hutt in "Return of the Jedi, Horox Ryyder, Senator Yarua in "The Phantom Menace", Ian Liston from "The Empire Strikes Back and many more.

Back at the Millenium Biltmore, hair and make-up for our lovely debutante was done by iconic make-up artist "Monet" ( crew, over-all event coordination was done by the energetic Laly Aldeguer (The Aldeguer Sisters) and her assistants, on Video, the top award winning Videographer Henry Manansala (Jem Video) captured the moments, and yours truly (Jay Fermin ppp-usa of did the still photography assisted by photographers Angeli Lacson & Francis Esteban (AF Photography). The Empire saga lives on, with Princess Tiffany on her 18th debutante ball leading the most glamourous party of them all.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Star Wars Celebration IV & Rigodon

We will be shooting an event at the historically rich Millenium Biltmore in Downtown Los Angeles on Saturday May 26, 2007. This is an elegant tradition of the debutante ball, (deb in French means "female beginner"), the transition of a fine young lady into the age of maturity, and as a new adult, is introduced to society at a formal presentation known as her "debut" or "coming out." In the Philippine Culture, "Cotillion" (a formal presentation or dance) are very popular. The tradition carries with it the Eighteen candles presented by friends and family, and the Eighteen roses by eighteen male friends & family. The debutante, her escort, and her court of nine couples total performs the graceful cotillion de honor. This dance either consists of the waltz or the more traditional "rigodon". In the post modern world, the waltz is paired with modern dances and sometimes hip hop routines. A very nice elegant evening.....

Until ..... part of the expected 35,000 Star Wars fans descend and take over downtown Los Angeles (May 24-28, 2007)and transform it into "Destination Star Wars", the five day celebration at the Los Angeles Convention Center for "Star Wars Celebration IV" which have all the downtown hotels booked to the rafters. Lucasfilm is working on other Star-Wars related events all over. It will be the largest Star Wars party of all time, attracting thousands of fans from all over the world. Amidst Artoo and Threepio, Luke & Darth Vader Costume Pageants, mix in a few of the original Trilogy cast and crew stars, & the 501st Regiment, this will surely be the biggest & most memorable (30 years) Star Wars Anniversary.

With our lovely debutante back in the classic elegance of the rich chandeliers of the Millenium Biltmore, and ewoks and storm troopers crossing the streets of Downtown Los Angeles, who knows, we might just get the best images of our time. To George "The Maker" Lucas (photo), may the force be with you as well as with us.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Downtown Los Angeles Speaks

"Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Naabot Ng Pinay ang Tuktok Ng Mundo

3 Pinay mountaineers reach Everest summit
05/16/2007 | 10:45 AM

(Updated 4:55 p.m.) Proud that they have accomplished the historic feat, three female mountaineers on Wednesday became the first Filipino women to scale Mt. Everest, the world's highest mountain.

Television reports on Wednesday said climber Noelle Wenceslao was first to reach the top of the 29,028-foot Mt. Everest at 6:10 a.m. Nepal time, or 8:10 a.m. Philippine time.

She was followed by Carina Dayondon, who summited the mountain 10 minutes later.

The last member of the three-woman Kaya ng Pinay team, Janet Belarmino, was also able to complete her assault at about 11 a.m.

"Ang mensahe namin sa sambayanang Pilipino, naabot na ng Pinay ang tuktok ng mundo (Our message to the nation is that the Filipino woman has reached the top of the world)," Wenceslao was quoted by television reports as saying.

The three climbers have the rank of seawoman first class in the Philippine Coast Guard.

Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo of the PCG's public information office said the three woman mountaineers would be given a “hero's welcome" when they arrive back in the country.

The three successfully duplicated the achievement of three male climbers Heracleo Oracion, Erwin Pastor Emata and Romi Garduce in May last year.

They left Manila for Bangkok on March 18 en route to the Nepalese capital of Katmandu.

Oracion became the first Filipino climber to scale the 29,035-foot-high Mt. Everest on May 17, 2006, followed by Emata on the 18th and Garduce on the 19th. Incidentally, Oracion and Emata are both also from the Philippine Coast Guard. - GMANews.TV

3 Pinays Conquer Mt. Everest

Breaking News: Confirmed by Coast Guard Lt. Armand Balilo to DOTC UnderSecretary and co-expedition lead Art Valdez at 6:10 am Nepal time (10:10 am Manila time), Noelle Wenceslao and Carina Dayondon reached the summit of Mt. Everest at 27,035 feet with third mountaineer Janet Belarmino following to summit shortly. As I write these great news, the filipinas are on descent to the South Col through the Hillary Steps and down to the Nepal side of the great Mountain, the tallest in the world passing thru the Khumbu Icefall to Camp 1 on the Western Cwm (pronounced Coom where contrary to popular knowledge, temperatures could rise to 100 degrees F on a hot day), a broad, flat glacial basin at the foot of Lhotse face. This will be a record first Asean women to summit and traverse, which started on the China-Tibet North Col and descend on the opposite Nepal side. A truly great day for the filipina spirit, marking 1 day shy of the historic summit of First Filipino Expedition Everest Summiter Leo Oracion followed by Pastor Emata May 17-18, 2006. We are all proud of you Noelle, Carina, and Janet. We are humbled. Our prayers are with you for a safe and successful descent.

Jay Fermin: Los Angeles

Comment from PALMC Ver Penaranda:

"Naabot na ng Pinay ang tuktok ng mundo!!!" - Noelle Wenceslao 5/16/07

Have a safe descent and take care. Onward to your historic traverse of the Mt. Everest!!!!

Comment from Raymond Deza:
Huuraaaah! Sabi na nga ba, eh; Kaya ng Pinay!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

$1 Billion OFW Remittance for 11th month

OFW remittances stay above $1B
Remittances of overseas Filipino workers coursed through banks remained above $1 billion for the 11th straight month since May 2006, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported in a press release.
Inflows reached $1.3 billion in March 2007, posting a double-digit year-on-year growth of 26.4 percent, the BSP said in its press release.
This is the third consecutive month of double-digit growth since the start of 2007. The sustained strength in remittance flows in March brought the first quarter level to $3.5 billion, 24 percent higher than the $2.8 billion realized in the same period a year ago, the BSP said.

Almost There

The Philippine All-Women Everest team is now at 8000 meters at camp 3. They will begin climbing to the summit 10 pm Manila time.They should reach the top of the world from 8-10 am Manila time. They are already in radio contact with Nepal base camp.
Vince EBC, Tibet

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Pinay Everest Team aiming to Summit May 16

Pinay Everest Team Aiming for May 16 Summit (by Vince Rodriguez ABS-CBN)

The latest forecast received by the Pinay Everest Team shows a window of good weather on Everest between May 14-16, when winds at the summit will be less than 40 kph.Because of this, the team has moved quickly from Chinese base camp (CBC) to intermediate camp (5800m) yesterday, then advance base camp today.If the women are feeling strong, they climb to the north col on Monday, camp 3 Tuesday, then the summit of Everest on Wednesday, May 16.The women should reach base camp in Nepal on May 18. Janet Belarmino, Carina Dayondon and Noelle Wenceslao have had enough rest and recovery at CBC (5200m) the past four days and are in good health and spirits for their summit attempt.The climbers are asking their families, friends and supporters to hold a mass/prayer vigil on the evening of the 15th when they will be making their way to the summit of Everest.

Vince RodriguezEBC Tibet

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Philippine National Elections 07

45 million Pinoys set to vote in national and local elections
About 45 million registered Filipino voters are due to cast their ballots at the polling precincts as the 2007 national and local elections, ABS-CBN News reported.
Nearly 87,000 candidates are vying for 17,000 national and local positions in this year’s polls, which could dictate the national government’s direction until the 2010 presidential election.
All 265 House of Representatives seats and half of the 24 Senate seats are also being contested.

Friday, May 11, 2007

3 Pinay Everest Assault delayed

Latest feed from Everest: due to unfavorable weather conditions, the assault to the summit of Mt. Everest by the 3 Pinays will be delayed to around May 14 to 16, 2007. Note: This will be a possible world record first Asean women traverse climb from China Tibet to Summit and down to Nepal side. Check back for updates. The 3 Pinays are asking for your support & prayers. Kaya Ng Pinay !!!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Peso Gains

Latest word from Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Philippine Peso increased value from 47.46 to 47.345 to the dollar. Total exchanged volume = $682 million. It was too good too fast that the BSP had to keep it out of the market late Friday May 4/07. If not, it could have gained stronger ground at 47.20 to the greenbuck.

hmmm. This is good news folks. If not for us in the U.S., it is for our brothers and sisters in the Philippines. The cause of the Peso Rally - Overseas Dollar Remittance. Good job Finance Secretary Margarito B. Teves (who was in Kyoto, Japan) for leading us in the right direction with stronger tax collection thru the BIR.

3 Pinays to Climb Everest

Mount Everest is still the ultimate adventure as the highest mountain in the world. In the post-modern world of myspace and paperless documents, climbing “Sagarmatha” (goddess of the sky to Nepalese) or “Chomolungma” (mother goddess of the universe to Tibetans) require the guts, hard work, timing, solid alpine skills, excellent physical condition, technical skill, equipment, and most of all, good judgement.

Towering at a gasping height of 29,028 feet above sea level, majestic in its rugged snow capped peak, Everest has not lost its grandeur and with numerous unsuccessful attempts over the century, Eric Shipton in his book “Upon That Mountain” asked the ultimate dilemna: “ Perhaps we had become arrogant with our fine new technique of ice-claw and rubber boots, our age of easy mechanical conquest. We had forgotten that the mountain still holds the master card, that it will grant success only in its own good time… no party is in a position to choose its day …”

With plastic bottled Oxygen, mask & regulator, theres still no shortcuts to Everest. As I immersed myself in co-expedition leader Art Valdez’s last email to me from Llasa, signing off that this will be his last email before the assault on May 11, 2007 by the three filipina climbers Carina Dayondon, Noelle Wenceslao and Janet Belarmino, all I can think deep is “much luck my friends and God-speed.” They will attempt not only to summit but to traverse from the North Col (China-Tibet) route and descend towards the opposite side, the more challenging Southeast Ridge, passing thru the Hillary Steps, the steep “Balcony” and down thru the Lhotse Face towards Nepal.

Jon Krakauer of Outside Magazine noted in his book “Into Thin Air” that if you pluck somebody from sea level and drop them at the peak of Everest without bottled oxygen and proper acclimatization, the thin air which is only one third of that from sea level will render that person brain dead in minutes and survival won’t be an option.

The culprit is AMS, Acute Mountain Sickness which can occur to climbers above 20,000 feet due to reduced air pressure, lower oxygen concentration and can affect the brain with swelling (brain edema), coma, pulmonary edema or shortness of breath, and or can cause fluid leak in the lungs (pulmonary edema) and impair sound judgement.

But as Art Valdez quoted (George Mallory, an English mountaineer), on his last visit to Los Angeles Consulate General last December 2006, “We climb Mt. Everest because it is there.” Going up the hard 5 deep breaths for every one step climb against strong gusts of wind, step by step on a fixed ladder, or vertical on a fixed rope, one step at a time along a precipice that can spell death with a wrong turn, frostbite gnawing at the toes and fingers, sunburned beyond recognition, snow blind against all odds, it is the human spirit that will prevail.

Technique and ability, nor equipment alone can get mountaineers to the top of the world. It is only sheer willpower that’s most important. This willpower you cannot buy with money or be given by others… it rises from one’s own heart. The three Pinays will not bring back silver or gold. Not a bit. No gem or diamond. What they will bring down from Mt. Everest is more precious. It is too precious that it is immeasurable. They will teach us that there is not shortcuts to success. Neither is it easy. Nor is it faster and with less effort. They will show us how to be brave and to dare to do things differently, and be open to new struggles, new heights we have never imagined. These brave defiant spirits of the three filipina mountaineers will build paths to guide us in this the always comfortable and distracted post modern world. They will steer us away from making compromises and adhere to the present, the truth. Ignoring the dire straits of our economic or political situation at the moment, the May 11, 2007 climb will mold us away from the despair and downward spiral of our cultural descent. Is it a coincidence that the assault on Mt. Everest is also Election time in the Philippines? I tend to disagree.

Kaya Ng Pinay is their battlecry. Quoting from UP’s commencement address from a 16 year old BS Physics summa cum laude (April 22, 2007), I quote: “ Do not just be strong in your convictions, for strength is not good enough. Instead, defy the pressure to lead a comfortable life in mediocrity ….take not the road less traveled. Rather, make new roads. Blaze new trails, Find new routes to your dreams. We are brave, defiant searchers of excellence, and we will go far. Explore possibilities, that others may get a similar chance…come with me, and trample a new path.”

Kaya Ng Pinay. With the unbeatable Filipino spirit, once lighted within, the Philippines will be better one person at a time. Let it be true for our three climbers. Let it be true for me. My friends, let it always be true for you. Mabuhay Perlas ng Silanganan. (Long live, Pearl of the Orient .) Kaya ng Pilipinas.

(Jay Fermin ppp-usa is a freelance photographer, columnist and writer from Pasadena, and can be reached at