Category Archives: politics

Do you know Fred? The new Fred T. Korematsu Institute, the Asian Law Caucus dinner, and the art of going amok softly

The only thing that gives you, me,  and anyone else in this great country the right to go amok is the Constitution. And if there’s a question about that, thank God there are  lawyers at the Asian Law Caucus to make sure that we get every last right coming to us.

ALC makes sure our silence isn’t confused for a tacit acceptance of any injustice that may come our way. Groups like ALC on the West Coast and the Asian American Legal Defense Fund on the East Coast fight for us and earn our support. And at this year’s ALC fundraising dinner in San Francisco  this Thursday night (http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/62245), the group is adding a new weapon to its arsenal–the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education.

Its principle goal is to make sure no one forgets who Fred Korematsu is.

Please tell me you know who Fred Korematsu is.

Continue reading Do you know Fred? The new Fred T. Korematsu Institute, the Asian Law Caucus dinner, and the art of going amok softly

Bromancing the dictator: Obama and Chavez much different from Reagan-Bush and Marcos

Much has been made about the recent photo ops between Barack  Obama and the Venezuelan president  Hugo Chavez.  In diplomatic matters,  talking is normally better than not talking.  But photo ops don’t necessarily come with context or sound. And as we know, a picture is worth a thousand words, particularly when they’re spun by ideologues from right or righter.

So now we have evidence of Obama and Chavez touching each other:  Is it really a handshake? Or is it a budding bromance? Continue reading Bromancing the dictator: Obama and Chavez much different from Reagan-Bush and Marcos

Manny Pacquiao: The Philippines’ Barack Obama?

Not since Lapu Lapu killed the colonizer Magellan (April 27, 1521) has there ever been a fighter like Manny Pacquiao.

Pound-for-pound, at 5’6″, 145 pounds, Pacquiao’s the best boxer in the world.  And he’s 100 percent pure Filipino.

All the traits are there.

He’s so religious he sounds like my mother. (“Believe in God, always pray,” he said at the news conference).  At the same time, the guy fights like a harried cock in spurs ready to bloody you to kingdom come.

And on top of it all, there’s that disarming Filipino charm.  The champ exudes charm.

It’s a formula that makes promoter Bob Arum’s jaw drop.

“He’s got a tremendous personality,” Arum told me after the baseball/boxing press conference (See it on this blog’s  first video entry). “He’s very promotable, and he’s become the best fighter in the world. That’s a dynamite combination.”

Arum should know. He had a piece of Oscar de la Hoya, the one time “Golden Boy” whom  Pacquiao turned into salsa and bean dip last December. Now Arum moves forward with Manny without missing a beat, like he’s  punching a speed bag filled with cash.

When I saw Pacquiao totally dominate De la Hoya, I wondered if Manny would ever reach the kind of media prominence that Oscar did with all his endorsements.

After all, at first glance he didn’t appear to have the same Hollywood-style of Oscar, the smooth-talking LA barrio glamour boy.

I mean, he looked like the kind of Filipino immigrant who you walk by everyday on Muni.

But Arum feels Manny’s potential is far greater than Oscar’s.

“We believe Manny has a bigger appeal worldwide than De la Hoya ever had,” Arum said. “Manny is making an impression on the world that Oscar never did. Oscar’s appeal was more regional and national. Big, but not what’s happening with Manny.”

Arum sees Pacquiao’s popularity set to rise like global warming. On May 2nd Manny moves up in class against the Junior Welterweight Champ Ricky Hatton of the UK. Billed as “The Battle of East and West,” the potential payoff to Pacquiao for the Las Vegas fight? A cool $20 million.

It’s just the beginning for a guy with Pacquiao’s irresistible “Everyman” appeal.

Indeed, the cross-promotion with the Giants was a way to test the broader market along with his ethnic base.

How did “Everyman” mesh with “Every Filipino”? Continue reading Manny Pacquiao: The Philippines’ Barack Obama?

Be like Jackie: The Politics of Pigment

Just as you remember to pay your taxes today, do remember to pay homage to No.42. Jackie Robinson.

He’s one of the reasons most of us don’t have to pay the tax for being a person of color in this country.

Robinson, of course, broke the color line in baseball.  Breaking the color line in anything is no small feat, whether 62 years ago or today.

Most of us do it in some way in our lives, some more, some less remarkably than others. Look around you. In your office.

Are you the only Asian, Black or Latino in the room? Continue reading Be like Jackie: The Politics of Pigment

As death march ends for Filipino Vets of WWII, a new challenge: Making chicken adobo out of chicken – – – – .

Fil-vet gets first lump sum check

Former U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba,  representing the VA Secretary, presents the $15,000 “Equity Compensation” check to Alberto Bacani, a 98-year-old Filipino American veteran from Alexandria VA, as Philippine Ambassador Willy Gaa looks on, in the Bataan Day of Valor reception at the Philippine Embassy in Washington.

Bacani received the lump-sum payment from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on April 8, in recognition of his U.S. military “active service” during World War II. The first 195 checks were issued on April 6 to qualified Filipino WWII veterans. More than 26,000 applications have been received by the VA and 766 have been reviewed and completed.
(ACFV photo  and caption by Eric Lachica)

But this is where we must go amok.

Normally, it would bring a tear to my eye: the sight of the modern Filipino American hero Taguba (the man who blew the whistle on Abu Ghraib) presenting the first lump sum check to Alberto Bacani, 98, one of tens of thousands of Filipino American vets who have been waiting their entire lives for the U.S. to pay them their due.

But the lump sum money, without interest, is part of a compromise that doesn’t quite make vets like Bacani whole.

Just wait two years to see if anyone is smiling.

On the whole, one must be happy for the Filipino Veterans of WWII who have been finally remembered in that new $787 billion federal stimulus bill passed by Congress.

But being remembered is one thing. Being shortchanged is another.

Nearly 500,000 Filipino nationals who fought under the U.S. flag during World War II were promised full rights and benefits by Roosevelt in 1941. But they were denied by President Truman in 1946 when with a stroke of the pen any and all promises made to the fighting Filipinos were rescinded.

The vets have had their advocates throughout the years, but community politics was all about the Marcos dictatorship until the early ’80s. After that, however, the aging veterans were the rallying cry of the community. And the fight was for “equity”-not compromise.

Every Congress, the battle would be waged. Every year the vets would be a few votes closer. But every year more vets would die. The stall/attrition tactic finds the number of eligible Filipinos down to about 15,000. Lobbying Congress has been its own death march.

To be included in the stimulus is a real breakthrough of sorts. The vets get something: A lump sum of $15,000 for those who are U.S. citizens; $9000 for non-citizens who are in the Philippines.

It’s just not like the $900 a month pension a normal low-income vet would get until the day he dies.

This lump sum comes with a catch. Continue reading As death march ends for Filipino Vets of WWII, a new challenge: Making chicken adobo out of chicken – – – – .