Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pops Fernandez & Tuesday Vargas at U.S. Philippines EXPO 2007 : August 4-5 at Fairplex, Pomona

(photo by Jay Fermin ppp-usa)

Annual U.S.-PHILIPPINES EXPO 2007: The Once A Year Event You Won’t Want To Miss

Pomona, CA — The anticipated Annual U.S.-PHILIPPINES EXPO 2007 is here! Get ready to enjoy the fun filled, two day, Grand Cultural, Trade and Consumer Show on August 4-5, 2007, in Building 4 of the Fairplex L.A. County Fairgrounds!
With exciting performances by Pops Fernandez and Tuesday Vargas at the Show of Shows…you won’t want to miss this once a year opportunity. So much is in store with more performances by: Lirio Vital, Pol Enriquez, Jing Velasco, Long Espina, Mare Dayco, and Carlo Parngao. Want more? See cultural performances galore with groups such as Teatro Kandusay, Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble, and Barkada Entertainment Company, along with special numbers by One Voice. Also, take the chance to meet your favorite artists during Meet and Greets in the Celebrity Lounge.

Then, cheer on your favorites as the young and talented Filipino and Filipino Americans present their best in friendly competitions in the Ms. U.S.-PHILIPPINES EXPO Competition, Singing Star Competition, and Junior Singing Star Competition. See celebrity judges and watch to see who wins 1st Place for $1,000.00, 2nd Place for $750.00, and 3rd Place for $500.00! Our Filipino and Filipino American talents will surely draw you in and blow you away!

Of course, don’t forget to show your support to during our Salute to Our Troops where we honor Service Men and Women for their commitment to protecting our freedom. The Great Achievers Awards will acknowledge and pay tribute to Filipino and Filipino Americans who remind us of the excellence and valued contributions of our community. U.S.-PHILIPPINES EXPO 2007 Great Achievers Awardees include: Jannelle So of LA 18’s Kababayan LA, DJ Icy Ice of Movin 93.9 F.M., Dr. Ramon Sison Geluz – Composer and Librettist for “Karim and Jasmin,” Educator/Drug Awareness Advocate Dr. Alfredo S. Quinto, and young actor Sean Michael Afable. Furthermore, join R-P.A.G.E. Inc., organizers of the U.S.-PHILIPPINES EXPO, as they show their appreciation for this year’s Community Service Award recipient, the Filipino American Library. Learn more about the Filipino American Library by visiting them at Booth No. 103.

Come out to: Shop through all the exhibits; stay awhile in the Kababayan Village for Filipino products and services straight from the Philippines; eat delicious authentic Filipino food with your friends and family; and laugh in the Kids Corner with clowns and magicians. Also, come join the fun for the Filipiniana Fashion Competition amongst attendees! All attendees are welcome to dress in Filipiniana attire, if they wish to, and take a chance at winning prizes for Best Filipiniana, President’s Pick, and Audience’s Favorite! Furthermore, Southwest Airlines will raffle roundtrip tickets for anywhere that Southwest Airlines will fly in the U.S. RSG Jewelry will dazzle lucky winners with gift cards for their fabulous jewelry line. Countrywide, Costco, and LGB Jewelry will also raffle gifts and prizes during Sponsorship Spotlights and Exhibitor Highlights.

The Annual U.S.-PHILIPPINES EXPO 2007 is this year’s event that you won’t want to miss!

The U.S.-PHILIPPINES EXPO 2007 is organized by R-P.A.G.E., Inc. and sponsored by: ABS – CNB Global, Normandie Casino, Asian Journal, LA 18, Countrywide, Weekend Balita, Asian American People’s Journal, Kewlit Co., Creative Concepts, Nestle, Southwest Airlines, The Department of Tourism, The Department of Trade and Industry, Beau Monet Corp., Shilo Inn Suites, Money Gram International, mygringos.com, Telebabad Calls, Western Union, RSG Jewelry, and Metro.

Brought to you by R-P.A.G.E: Executive Officers: (From top left to right) Ragsdale Panopio, Genevieve Cato, Abegail Panopio, Pamela Panopio, Jonathon Caton
(From bottom left to right) Rutherford Panopio, Russell Panopio,and Ruben Panopio Jr.

A percentage of ticket sale proceeds will go towards the Filipino American Library. TICKETS AVAILABLE ONLINE NOW or at the door. $8.00 for adults, $5.00 for children 6-12 years of age & seniors; free admission for children 5 years of age and under. For more information please visit our website at www.R-PAGE.com or call (310) 561-8474 TODAY. Member: National Association of Consumer Shows.

Monday, July 30, 2007

ILLONGGO animator Hits Big On YouTube

A good laugh is good for the heart. From the birthplace of legendary director Peque Gallaga (Oro-Plata-Mata), and great actors in the likes of Joel Torre and Rey "PJ" Abellana, now comes the world renowed BENJO, son of TON TON.......Let me share with you the creativity of the fictional Illonggo father and son duo "Ton Ton & Benjo", a medieval series of short video clips riding on a grand slam hit of more than 200,000 views and counting on YouTube ....with viewers from Los Angeles, New York and all over the world making it the comedy "talk of the summer". Watch the adventures of the Battalion Pitbull and Benjo in action, or the tale of the chorizo. Better yet, subscribe to their channel: "Talibong1". Who could have predicted that two normal young students from a small town in the Philippines will command thousands of viewership for their mini 5 minute video clips. Check it out. You will die laughing.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

PinoyGraphers.Com : Making Waves on Photography Worldwide

Where can you find the true "Barkada Spirit" nowadays that is a well known trait among Filipinos? I think I know where but first let me tell you my piece. After an invite by fellow PPP member Ver P., an avid landscape photographer and mountaineer, I finally decided to join for a friendly meeting of the fast growing group of Filipinos making waves in the Photography world. Talk was small but friendly, and boy was I surprised that when I joined in, after a few minutes, I felt like I was in the company of old buddies.

Small talk and big dreams are being discussed. Most are related to Photography but there are plenty of jokes and banter on the side. I am not too technical, so, the informal atmosphere made me at ease in between serious ones common to camera buffs. As I felt my way thru, it was apparent these younger photographers have brighter ideas and bigger dreams.

Lenses and cameras might be discussed, but mostly, it is about camaraderie and being one in Photography. You can feel the conversation taking on deeper root in a light fashioned pace of barkada.

No, this meeting is not located in a particular zip code. These exchanges goes on in real time among the 100 plus members and growing everyday at PinoyGraphers.com. Most founders are from the U.S. and Canada but members come in all the way from the Philippines and all over the world. I even bumped into old buddies from other photo organizations who are also now members of PinoyGraphers.

Welcome to the world of PinoyGraphers, a photography online community that truly exhibit and directs itselt to the new frontier of global Filipino Photography presence. Spending a few hours each evening listening in or participating is an enriching experience. Hmmm. I think I like to stand by here and listen in.... or what they call in the Philippines "tambay."

Actually, that's what they call members like me. I am officially a "tambay". Oh, well, they have Konsehal, Tanod, Kagawad, Administrator, Founder, etc but I prefer to be a "tambay". I like that touch of being part of a group that is moving in the right direction. To the members of the core group/ founders of PinoyGraphers.com, I am humbled and impressed. Keep up the barkadahan and keep on shooting great images. I am proud to be officially a "tambay" with PinoyGraphers.com. Can you pass the tripod please.....

(Jay Fermin ppp-usa)
(Photo courtesy of PinoyGraphers.Com on their latest Laguna Beach model shoot)

D' Barkads : A Comedy Show live

August 4 (SATURDAY) at the GRAND THEATER of LA Trade Tech
400 W. Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, Ca. 90015
(Click on poster for details)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Operation "Golden Phoenix": Are We Prepared for the Big One?

Officials from 60 law enforcement, emergency response agencies and the armed forces met Monday July 23rd, 2007, to polish their skills in case a magnitude-7.9 earthquake should ever hit California.

The eight-day training exercise, which began Monday at the Quiet Cannon Montebello restaurant and golf course, involved thousands of members from Los Angeles and Orange County sheriff's and fire departments. It is part of a military operation, "Golden Phoenix," which will test communication channels of law enforcement agencies in case the big one hits.

During next week's training in the military's Los Alamitos base, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department will place the call for help to fire departments, which will respond, confirming that they've received the call, sheriff's Sgt. Mike Castorina said.

Twenty communication channels will be used by law enforcement spanning satellite, cell phone, global positioning systems and data transfer.

On July 24, there were a series of emergency drills at the Rose Bowl, the Forum in Inglewood and a mall in Hawthorne involving 1,000 Marines playing the role of displaced civilians and angry looters.

The Red Cross and the sheriff's and fire departments were on scene to test transportation and personnel equipment. "The exercise will be as if we've been eight days into the situation," Castorina said. "We want to make sure everyone can get in contact with each other, so that we can begin to assist people in a major disaster."

Los Angeles County fire Capt. Mike said the training "gets the kinks out," added Capt. Mike Brown of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

I caught up with the USAR (Urban Search & Rescue) of Pasadena Fire and was embedded into their Pasadena Emergency Response Team for the past three weeks until today, July 25, 2007. I was involved in a series of 2 day classroom sessions in Disaster Preparedness, Mass Casualty Triage, and finally today I completed my Light Search & Rescue at the the Pasadena Fire Department training facility which involves 1 hour classroom and 4 hour real scenarios hands on in Urban Search & Rescue. 1 ladder, 1 Engine, 1 USAR special equipment truck, and 1 Paramedic units were on hand to conduct training while being also on standby for live calls from Verdugo dispatch even while we trained. Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) units are specialized and can be deployed Statewide as needed because they have specialized skills and equipment.

What I found out was that all Government Agencies (including Fire Dept) won't be able to respond for the next 3 to 8 days or more to "911" calls. Systems will be overloaded in a mass casualty event like a major earthquake. What local fire departments are working on are asking for volunteers from business and neighborhood groups and give them free basic training to be able to survive the first week of a major event.

Basically, what the plan suggests is for each office, neighborhood, and family to adopt a disaster preparedness program until the National Guard arrives. The training is quite intensive and the actual Search (meaning to look for) and Rescue (meaning to remove or extract somebody from danger) are two separate functions. Realistically, living in California a good part of my life, and having experienced the 1994 Northridge Quake, (I was living in the San Fernando Valley at that time), being prepared and trained is not a bad idea.

As what philosophers states, "Fear is just the abscence of knowledge". I urge you to try to pull together a group, (office, family, neighbors) and contact your local fire department. They would be more than willing to conduct the training needed. In the end, when you are trained, it relieves alot off the government agencies' shoulders for the first week after a disaster. Like a good boy or girl scout, be prepared. If you survive the big one, and you are able to crawl out, then what do you do next? Are you prepared for the next 72 hours or more on your own without government help: no phone, no electricity, fires and wounded all around, structural collapse in your own neighborhood? That is a very good question all of us civilians should ponder. Become part of the solution, not part of the problem.
(Jay Fermin ppp-usa)

D' Barkads live in San Diego

Monday, July 23, 2007

U.S. Passport Delays Continue

Summer is a time for travel for many of us. Many families have spent months or even years planning their dream vacation. This summer, new regulations and problems with the issuance of U.S. passports have cramped travel plans or, at the very least, created some very close calls. Things have settled down for the most part, but delays still exist. If you are planning to travel abroad, or to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean in the near future, please be aware of the new requirements and procedures in place.

In an effort to crack down on document fraud and better track those entering the U.S., Congress mandated the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. This initiative created a new requirement that a U.S. passport be used for travel from the U.S. to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Due to an unexpected backlog created by Americans trying to comply with the new requirement, the Departments of State and Homeland Security announced on June 8, 2007 that travel to those countries and countries within the Caribbean region will be allowed with a government-issued ID and a Department of State official proof of application for a passport through September 30, 2007. To apply for a passport, and to receive the official proof of application, you can visit the State Department website. Please remember that this accommodation does not affect entry requirements for countries outside Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean region. Americans traveling to a country that requires passports must still present those documents.

The best advice for anyone even contemplating travel abroad and in need of a passport is – APPLY EARLY! Or even, APPLY NOW. Routine passport service is now taking 12-13 weeks, and expedited service is taking approximately 10 weeks. Expediting your passport service does require an extra fee. If you encounter any problems with securing your passport or have not received your passport by two weeks ahead of your planned departure date, please call my office at 909-575-2662. We want to do whatever we can to help.

The terror plot recently foiled in Great Britain serves as a reminder that terrorism remains a threat, and we must be vigilant in our efforts to prevent attacks. So please plan ahead, please be aware, and as always, please call my offices if we can be of any assistance. Safe travels to everyone.


David Dreier
Member of Congress

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Filipino Taipans Expand to China

Downtown Chongqing (Ch'ung-ch'ing)

Filipino taipans are expanding in Chongqing even if a 300-man delegation of businessmen from that city is coming to check opportunities from motorcycle assembly to mining in the Philippines.

Our taipans, Lucio Tan and Henry Sy, meanwhile, are making great strides in their own investments in one of China’s largest and most populous cities. Francis Chua, special envoy to China for trade and investments, told reporters that Sy of the SM Group is eyeing to locate its fourth mall in China in Chongqing. Lucio Tan’s Philippine Airlines is set to mount direct flights to the city. Lucio Tan (born July 17, 1934) is a prominent Filipino business magnate. He owns Asia Brewery, the 2nd largest brewer in the Philippines, Tanduay Holdings, one of the world's largest rum makers, Fortune Tobacco, the largest tobacco company in the country, Philippine Airlines, Philippine National Bank, the 5th largest bank in the country, Allied Bank the Philippines' 8th largest lender. These companies are just a few of some 300 companies that Mr. Tan controls. The total value of his business empire according to some estimates would not be less than US$20 billion, and he controls 40 to 60% of that.

Sy is considered a taipan, or tycoon, of Asia. As of 2006, Forbes ranks him as the 14th richest person in Southeast Asia; "Henry Sy and family" is ranked the 74th richest in the "Asia and Australia" region, and 512th richest in the world. Sy built his first mall in Crossroads West Xiamen in 2001 followed by one in Injiang City in Fujian province and in Chengdu, also in Sichuan province. All malls, built as Sy’s personal investments, are drawing good shopping crowds encouraging the taipan to expand.

PAL will add Chongqing to the three destinations in China because of its huge potential in tourism and business. PAL has already signed a memorandum of agreement with Chinese officials on Thursday to develop the route. The airline would start with charter flights. PAL currently flies to Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen.

Chua said with the new route, he sees Philippine exports to rise as the area is a potential for our fruits and marine products.

Meanwhile, Chua said the Chongqing businessmen here last week are planning to put up manufacturing plant for motorcycles; nickel and chromite exploration in in Palawan; tourism and education. Chua said that for mining, the businessmen want to tie up with Chinese experts already here. The businessmen were scheduled to meet officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources last Friday.

He added that President Arroyo has suggested to the motorcycle manufacturer to locate in Sta. Rosa, Laguna where a number of car manufacturers are located so that spare parts can be sourced locally.

Chua said that the group is also proposing to build ships in the country because they are good in building luxury vessels but he said he has asked them to work with China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co.

He said another group of businessmen are partnering with William Gatchalian for the opening of at least five hot pot chain restaurants in the country. Chua added that to firm up relations between the Philippines and the city, the businessmen created the Philippine-Chongqing Business Council Thursday. The Council’s first activity is an exhibition of Philippine fruits and marine products in Chongqing in November. A provincial city within Sichuan Province, the municipality of Chongqing has a registered population of more than 31,442,300.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Filipino Psyche In The American Workplace

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the greatest worker of us all?
The Filipino immigrants who have had the opportunity to go to America are indeed a mixed lot. Majority of these Fil-Americans are have earned college degrees.

While most originate from our working masses looking for a better life, some come from the Philippines social upper crust.

What type of a worker is the Filipino? Do we fit into the American workplace? Last time I checked, the Filipino Americans have one of the top spots in per capita income among immigrants in the United States. We have managed to etch our way from doing agricultural work to blue/white collar positions in corporate America.

What makes the Filipino worker tick? A Pinoy who leaves the Philippines on his/her destination to a foreign land is determined to succeed. This individual’s mind is decided to work hard at anything in order to survive. The thought process is always clicking numbers. For instance: If I make 10 dollars per hour, how much is that in pesos? How many hours do I need to work in order to comfortably support my family back home, along with allowing me to have a comfortable life in the United States? Maybe I can find a second job so I can buy that nice car. Hmm… How much does a house cost?

Initially, we Fil-Ams think in terms of survival when we arrive in this country. But, the Pinoy mentality is not only of survival, but it is also of getting ahead. How many of us started working minimum wage while applying for better paying jobs using updated resumes? I believe the Filipino worker not only works hard, but also works smart. We have the ability to assimilate (we speak English well) and get along with superiors. It is part of our nature to be respectful to authority and the American bosses love that. In other words, we know how to kiss ass! Right?

After a period of plain survival, we decide that this place called America offers me the chance to get ahead even if I don’t know anyone in high places. I can actually be promoted even though I am not related to the CEO or the office manager. Well, let’s give it a try! We don’t have a problem with talking to the bosses about our ideas or for that matter, asking for a raise. First we butter up the boss, then later ask him/her for a raise! Worse they can say is no, right? But, we Filipinos are tough. Although painful, rejections are but a temporary obstacle as we keep our eye on the objective. Yes, we focus on that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; or in basketball, that 3 point shot!

What makes us different? We smile a lot. We share our food. Pinoys are popular for their pancit and lumpia. Why are these food items so popular amongst the Americans? It’s because the Filipino in the workplace don’t have second thoughts in sharing food. It’s like a national pride for us to put our lunch in the middle of the table during our meal breaks and having other people eat it. In a way, we are promoting tourism for the Philippines here when we present our culture on that lunch table. But hey, we know how to win brownie points! Maybe later we get promoted for sharing our pancit and lumpia? Whatever works.

As time goes by, we improve our incomes and status in American society. We buy nice homes and drive classy cars. Our children attend expensive private Catholic schools.
We have at last, achieved the American dream. What do we do next?

The successful Filipino-Americans invest in real estate. They buy homes, then rent them out. They use the equity from these multiple homes to buy more homes. They figure out how they can take loans out of their cumulative equity and pay minimum payments on their mortgages. Voila! We have our version of Pinoy “Donald Trumps” in our communities. It is an accepted business thought that at this stage; we don’t have to work hard as opposed to working smart. Again, it’s a numbers game with the bottom line of how much dollars we have at our disposal.

So what’s up with the Filipino mentality in this American environment? Do we stand a chance? Coming from a third world country, the average Pinoy immigrant realizes that in the United States, the future is what we make it. We are only limited by our imagination and the chances that we dare to take. We don’t need to have a rich uncle or know somebody in order to get ahead. What matters is that we are able to transform that hunger within us into something called success. As a matter of fact, the American dream is about the same as our Filipino dream. The only difference is the exchange rate between dollars and pesos. I hope we all have fun in achieving our American dream. Enjoy the trip!

(By John Lacson)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Antonio “ Tony Boy” Escalante

(Photo by Francis Esteban)

10 Questions while on his U.S. vacation
Chef & Owner of world famous “Antonio’s” in Tagaytay

I have been asked by friends from the Philippines and here in the U.S. several times over the years who this Chef Escalante is. He has become sort of an enigmatic persona making waves in the fine dining scene in the Philippines. (He is on the top ten list of the latest edition of a well-known Manila Magazine) You can google your way in the Internet and find “Antonio’s” good reviews everywhere. Well, I cannot blame them for from Filipino Americans like me, going back to visit the Philippines flashes pleasant greetings of the sight and sound again of our country. First that comes on strong would be of course our family and friends. Second on the excitement list: places like Bohol or Boracay. Ahhh, just the feeling of time standing still and lazy days going by in amazing places would be the best. Third and I guess the most that balikbayans long for ….of course …. Is the food.

People I have talked to coming back from the Philippines have exclaimed that the best food paradise hidden in the vicinity of Taal lake in Tagaytay is indeed “Antonio’s”. From the Spanferckel Boneless suckling pig stuffed with herbs, potato and fennel, and served with Sauerkraut, Apple Sauce, German Mustard, aaahhhhh, to his Foie Gras Three Way Mesclun Salad, Pan Seared Duck Liver Glazed with Honey and Peppercorn… to the Oyster Creamed Soup and of course the main course of tender Oven Roasted Beef Loin served with mushroom, potato and Goose Liver Foam, or the imported Grilled Peppered Sirloin Steak with Maitre’D’Hotel served with Onion Rings … awesome.

On his recent U.S. vacation, I shot ten questions to the man behind the success and the uniqueness of “Antonio’s”, Tony Boy himself. Having known him since childhood from our Bacolod days, to the interwined experiences we have had having our families very close (both our fathers were very close friends), I wanted to peal the veil and see “Tony Boy”, or as he is popularly known as embroidered on his white chef uniform; “Chef Escalante.” I shot the questions straight and here they are:

Question: Why locate Antonio’s in Tagaytay?
Tony Boy: Well, I just wanted to have a place to visit on the weekend and spend time with family and friends and grow my vegetables and herbs. At first I didn’t plan on building a restaurant.

Question: How would you describe Antonio’s?
Tony Boy: I want Antonio’s to create an atmosphere where people get the hospitality and make them feel like they are just going to my home. They are my personal guests. Set up would be casual but elegant. A place that would really reflect what I think my home should feel like.

Question: Where did you learn culinary arts?
Tony Boy: I really liked to cook since then. I have been experimenting with different recipes since I can remember but for my formal schooling, I studied culinary arts in Adelaide, Australia (Le Cordon Bleu-Adelaide).

Question: At home, what do you always keep in stock in your refrigerator?
Tony Boy: Butter and eggs (with a tongue in cheek chuckle).

Question: What’s your best-kept secret for success at Antonio’s?
Tony Boy: Attention to detail in the ambiance of the place and the food preparation. I serve fresh salad greens and herbs, which are grown from my own garden.

Question: Are reservations required?
Tony Boy: Reservations are highly recommended especially on weekends.

Question: What is your typical day at Antonio’s?
Tony Boy: My typical day includes attending to my vegetable garden. Then I go and check out the other location, “Breakfast at Antonio’s”. And then I head back to Antonio’s where I oversee lunch and dinner. After lunch though, I go to my third location, “The Grill by Antonio’s.”

Question: What inspires you?
Tony Boy: To live and work in Tagaytay, at my own pace and my own time.

Question: What do you cook for someone you like to impress?
Tony Boy: A good salad, good roast and a dessert made of fruit and cheese.

Question: Will you branch out in the U.S.?
Tony Boy: (Smiles shyly) I wish.

There you have it. An inner peak behind the person who is one of the most amiable and humble friends I have ever known. Unaffected by the sudden success of the restaurant, Tony Boy continues on with each day to achieve his dreams. Now I understand what the secret is. The food is fantastic. The ambiance is warm and friendly. The Chef is top rated but still the old down to earth Tony Boy I knew since then. Saying goodbye before heading back to the Philippines after his family vacation in the U.S., Tony Boy, in his usual boyish and playful way, beckoned me to go and visit Antonio’s the next time I will be going to the Philippines. With a friendly charm like these and with the best culinary experience he offers at Antonio’s, who can resists his invitation? Another very good reason of having a Philippine vacation soon.

(Article by Jay Fermin ppp-usa)
email feedback to Jayfermin@charter.net
read more of this article in Pinoy World
September 2007 Issue:
U.S. Philippines & Australia edition

(Antonio’s can be reached for reservations at
(046) 413-0975
Address: Barrio Neogan, Tagaytay City, Philippines.)

Thursday, July 12, 2007


At a young age we are taught by our elders to aim high and reach for the stars. We carry this pressure to achieve early on in our lives. Some of us react to this peer challenge by excelling in school and sports. However, most of us resent this and would rather be left alone with our ideas on how to lead life.

I remember my dad talking to me about being either a doctor or a lawyer. The problem was he was trying to mold me into a person after his ideals. But he never took time to talk to me and really know whom I was. So, when my becoming a doctor or lawyer did not happen, It felt like I had let him down. But nah, that didn’t bother me too long since by then, I was beginning to develop an attitude. Life was to be lived to the fullest (my way) and it would be smart to enjoy stuff before getting too serious with life.

However, all of us, early on in our lives, have a vision of what we want to be. Be it a ballerina or a diva, maybe an athlete or an airplane pilot. There’s that dream person we always wanted to be lingering within us.

Like that Beatle song, our pathway is indeed a long and winding road. A lot of times we stray from that proper road to the future. But that’s great as long as we survive these bouts of experimentation. Each new exploit adds to our string of experiences. How else can we learn?

But what happens thru all these diversions is that we lose sight of our original plan. We forget about that ballerina in us, or that person within who wanted to fly planes. Growing up has distracted us from that dream we grew up with.

We find nondescript jobs that drive us into a rut. We complain about it to our friends and family hoping for sympathy. And of course, sympathy is free, so we get lots of it. Then we go back to our job that sucks. It becomes a cycle which we all get tired of. You’ll know you’ve reached that stage when you don’t like what you see in the mirror.

It takes a lot of strength and courage to make changes in our lives. I’m sure we know the answers to our problems. Making that decision to do something about it is the hard part. We always rationalize things.

Before we can become that dream person we want to be, standards need to be established. We can’t be that great ballerina without practicing or become a pilot without learning how to fly. These changes we need to make are stepping stones into our personal greatness.

Thinking big does not necessarily spell out money or fame. We feel big when step by step, thru small changes, we see the formation of that individual we always wanted to be. Then we gain confidence and learn to like the person in that mirror. Tonight, I will make sure my room is clean, or not eat that candy bar on the table. Tomorrow I will conquer the world!

John F. Lacson

Sunday, July 8, 2007

One Sunny Day In Glendale California

(Photo "The Surfer" by Ver Penaranda)

Saturday 07/07/07 was when a group exhibited their projects at the Glendale Brand Library. The event started at 4pm with a mixed crowd of people admiring beautiful and captivating paint and camera work done by talented artisans. These artists included Filipino Americans whose passion is photography since as far back as they can remember.

Upon arriving at the gallery I had no idea as to who was going to be there. Entering that exhibit door looked like a sophisticated ethnic mix of art enthusiasts who wanted to expand their horizons by looking at new creations (eye candy). It was a pleasant crowd. Friendly and conducive to conversation.

At the door, I saw the familiar smiling face of VICS MAGSAYSAY. He was in the middle of a group discussing the symbolisms behind one of the artwork on the wall. This was a creation of VER PENARANDA that was being analyzed. Beautifully shot, it was a photo of a surfer calling it a day. It was open to interpretation if you utilized the reflections of light focused on this surfer’s surroundings Almost like he was crossing the threshold between day and night. Interesting.

Amidst the gallery crowd, I spotted ZEN LOPEZ. Zen is the City of Glendale’s Arts and Culture Commissioner. Aside from this impressive title, she is really an elegant and gracious lady. A symbol of positive hospitality, she has a way of touching bases with all the visitors and artists making them feel like one big family. I see her introducing people, and the wonderful thing is that, she knows a bit about everyone’s background to make them feel at home and welcome. The City could not have picked a better Commissioner.

Moving along, pretending to be an art expert, I am drawn to a large piece created by ROD SAMONTE. It is titled “Sphere of Time”. There are symbolisms in his artwork that represent aspects of life, as we know it. But for me, I wanted this artwork as a centerpiece in my living room or above the fireplace. It looked great and pleasing to the eye.

The wonderful thing about art shows is that you have the perfect excuse to strike up conversations with total strangers. All you needed to do was ask a person what they thought about a certain piece and they would be more than glad to give you their two cents worth. The interpretations are so varied that there is no one correct meaning to an artistic piece. Debates have been known to occur in Art Exhibits when two individuals with conflicting interpretations butt heads.

This festivity was graced by personas from the media and press club. SUSAN ROSAL of TALIBA and ELLA MADRIGAL-WARNER of NURSES MONITOR were there. JAY FERMIN of the PHILIPPINE PRESS CLUB showed up to appreciate good art. The occasion presented an “If you may, let’s have a soiree” type of atmosphere. The guests were mixing it up, enjoying the aesthetic environment while the artists were getting the compliments deserving their efforts.

What did I learn from this trip to the Art Exhibit?
I realized that art is not just colors put together to make a presentation look nice. Art is a reflection of the artists himself or herself. Not only does it tell about the creator of the piece but also about the aficionado. I learned that there is a lot of artistic Filipino Americans in our midst. They are individuals who have identified their passions and pursue it to this day. When I see their works, it makes me proud to belong to a culture that knows Life and is quite creative in presenting it.

To all those Filipino-American artists out there, keep it going, keep it flowing. Isn’t it cool that we’re still growing? Right on.


Saturday, July 7, 2007

Filam Artists Roy Natian, Rodolfo Samonte, Lynda A.N. Reyes, Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian,
Glendale Arts and Culture Commissioner Zen Lopez, Vics Magsaysay and Ver Penaranda

Lynda A.N. Reyes, Roy Natian, Nita & Irwin Jazmines, Rodolfo Samonte, Zen Lopez,
Vics Magsaysay, Suzan Rosal, Ver Penaranda & Ella Madrigal Wagner.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Brand Library Exhibit: July 7- Aug 3/07


The two wide planks of pine wood represent duality in nature, in the material world. The oval-shaped universe symbolizes an egg for its potentialities, newness and life. The spiral galaxy within it echoes the duality represented by the two planks of wood. But despite all these dualities, there's this "almost" invisible string that binds each and everyone, all of us, into ONE organic whole. This oneness is seemingly not real but the more we think of connecting with others--through cellphones, worldwide web, holding hands, marrying, eating plants and animals--the more is this inherent longing. It's only when one is truly deep in love does one feels this oneness, be it with his/her loved ones, an animal, plant or a thing...or the universe.



Thursday, July 5, 2007



SUNDAY, JULY 8, 2007, NOON to 6 PM.



Carlo Cruz Ver Penaranda
Irwin Jasmines Lynda A.N. Reyes
Stephanie Jasmines Rodolfo Samonte
Hubert "Bong" Malabanan Albert Vargas
Vics Magsaysay Rene Villaroman
Roy Natian

We have a father-daughter team (Irwin & Stephanie Jasmines)
and a mother-son team (Lynda & Roy Natian). This will be the
first-ever art exhibit for Roy.


Zen Lopez
Arts and Culture Commissioner
City of Glendale
613 E. Broadway
Glendale, California 91206
Phone: +1 (818) 244-8394
Mobile: +1 (818) 307-0177
E-mail: ZLopez@aol.com

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

U.S. Patriot Act H.R. 3199 Up Close & Personal: Or The Photo That Should Not Be

Pasadena,California: July Fourth at 5pm, while thousands of people were congregating towards the world famous Rose Bowl, I was on a chase under the bridges of Pasadena notably the old Route 66 Colorado Bridge paralel to the U.S. 210 Freeway. I was not interested yet for the Fireworks at the RoseBowl. I was after a small brush fire which erupted under the Colorado Bridge being extinguished by Pasadena Fire Department. Being a local, I know my way around (after covering the world famous Rose Parade for more than 15 plus years)and was using a short cut under the Bridge trying to gauge if the fire would flare into a full scale brush fire. Relief came when white smoke emanated up from the efforts Pasadena Firefighters on scene (and even on top of the old Colorado bridge )under the counter-clockwise continuos fly over of the Pasadena Blue & White Police helicopter flying at treetop level over the 210.

I ended my chase and headed up into the hills towards Old Town Pasadena when the massive structure on my right which is the old Route 66 Colorado Bridge, its grandeur showing in its classic arches and series of lamp posts towering a few hundred feet to my right, caught my attention. I did a quick turn into a dirt road under the Bridge which would lend me a good nice photograph I suppose. When I turned to park, there was a small compact tinted light blue car parked on my left, nothing else but the two hills straddling the Arroyo Seco winding its merry way into South Pasadena. Ahh, I thought, someone in the car might be waiting for somebody or who knows, might be on a hot date?

I went out of my car, took my trusted EOS 5D and started taking two shots of the lovely classic architecture of the bridge. I was interrupted immediately by footsteps and heard somebody behind me in an authoritative voice: "Who Are You?." When I turned around, it was a fully uniformed Pasadena Police Officer who came out of the civilian compact car. It was a surprise for me. I thought Police used cars that were black and whites, whites, detective types Crown Victorias and nothing else (this one was a nice metallic light blue civilian looking compact)....I told him I'm media and showed him some identification, explained to him that I shouln't have taken the shot because of the "Patriot Act." He understood, wrote down my information and let me go.

What? No more photos of bridges and government buildings? Yes my friends. Under House Resolution 3199, better known as the "USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005", as amended in 2006, say goodbye to nice photos of Bridges and Government Structures. Thanks to laptop data retrieved from suspected Al Queda operatives in the U.S.,(now estimated to have sleeper cells in 40 states)with detailed description of bridges and tunnels, be very sure that before you take photos of public establishments, you have "proper permits" (which to my knowledge there is no process yet in place).

On the other hand, I am so glad, that with the massive fireworks display for the Fourth of July celebration enjoyed by thousands at the Rose Bowl, your security and mine is in good hands. I was not offended. I was amazed that our government especially the Pasadena Police Department (and dozens of other law enforcement agencies lending a hand), they have taken your safety and mine very seriously. Enjoy the Fireworks. But if you have the chance, thank the law enforcement officers who go out of their way to make these events safe for you as well as for me. Happy Fourth of July America.

(Jay Fermin ppp-usa)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Happy 4th of July: U.S. Independence Day

A Member of the Philippine Scout Ranger patrol the streets of Southern Philippines with an "American Advisor." They used to be trained by the SRMTT (Scout Ranger Mobile Training Team) but now the U.S. Advisors are involved in the inteligence and training. The Philippines is still considered a hotbed of the war against "World Terrorism." Come to think of it, "Project Bojinka", the 1993 plan to bomb U.S. bound airplanes was first uncovered in the Philippines. The term can refer to the "airline bombing plot" alone, or that combined with the "Pope assassination plot" and the "CIA plane crash plot". The first refers to a plot to destroy 11 airliners on January 21 and January 22, 1995, the second refers to a plan to kill Pope John Paul II on January 15, 1995, and the third refers to a plan to crash a plane into the CIA headquarters in Langley, Fairfax County, Virginia and other buildings. The Bojinka plot was prevented on January 6 and January 7, 1995, but some lessons learned were apparently used by the planners of the September 11 attacks.

It was discovered back then that chemicals, such as gallons of sulfuric, picric, and nitric acid, pure glycerin, acetone, sodium trichlorate, nitrobenzoyl, ammonia, silver nitrates, methanamine, and ANFO were found. Several cans of gasoline and two large Welch's grape juice bottles containing nitroglycerin were being used to mix a bomb onboard a plane. Now, ever wonder why you cannot bring your toothpaste, cologne and shampoo onboard your flight?

The money handed down to the plotters originated from Al-Qaeda, an international Islamic militant organization which was then based in Sudan. Philippine authorities say that Oplan Bojinka was developed by Ramzi Yousef (the now incarcerated terror suspect in the first attack at the World Trade Center using a bomb loaded van) and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed while they were in Manila, Philippines in 1994 and early 1995.

Post 9-11, the partnership continues between Philippine troops and U.S. Advisors. Official word from U.S. Department of Defense is that the U.S. Troops are not and should not engaged in combat. The war is not over yet, but July 4th is one day that we stop and salute those that keep Freedom and Independence alive. Happy Fourth to all and... easy on that beer.....Stay safe. Remember, Freedom & Independence is not guaranteed. It is kept alive with blood, sweat & tears....to secure the "Land of the Free" as well as "The Home of the Brave."

(Jay Fermin ppp-usa)