State of play: My analog weekend with Russell Crowe, Asparagus and the Tubes

Russell Crowe in his new movie “State of Play” is as pitch perfect as it gets in his depiction of the good old-fashioned journalist.

It was both nostalgic and sentimental for this old reporter. Like an old cowboy looking at a Western.

As Cal McAffrey, ink-stained wretch, Crowe uses the back seat of his aging Saab as a combination trash-can/file cabinet. He drives while listening to loud Irish music, so he has a touch of the ethnic journalist in him. He likes his car so much, his apartment décor resembles his car. Outward appearances be damned, McCaffrey considers fashion an affront to the truth, which of course, is all he cares about, no matter how painful it is.

The movie centers around a basic dilemma for journalists: Who’s a friend? Who’s a source? Who can you sleep with?

And the truth is found the old fashioned way. No guns.(Only the bad guys have those).  No superhuman powers. McAffrey Crowe just asks questions; of editors, sources, colleagues, himself.  In the end, what’s left are just the facts. No opinion. No blogs. Continue reading State of play: My analog weekend with Russell Crowe, Asparagus and the Tubes

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?

You don’t know Tracy: The mythologizing of Sandra Cantu

Sandra Cantu was buried yesterday. Today is the public memorial.

Don’t you think it’s time to let Sandra, the Cantus and Tracy rest?

Wherever you are in the world, if you’ve been following the Sandra Cantu story in Tracy, Calif., maybe you should  figure out why it means so much to you.

The Sandra Cantu story breaks my heart-in more ways than one.

I’m sorry, of course, for the little girl and her family. I have a family and daughters. I was a coach of many youth teams including little girls Sandra’s age. I knew how dear those girls were to their families. And  I took my responsibilities seriously, protecting and caring for them  as if they were my own.

Sandra Cantu could have been my prized center half-back.

I’m also sorry for Tracy, the town. Just a few years ago I got to know it  like few others.  As a bureau reporter for the major  San Joaquin county paper, Tracy was my beat. I liked the feel of the little city of about 75,000,  primarily  a bedroom community for San Francisco and Silicon Valley. But there was also a core Tracy built around the ranches and orchards. It made for one of the most diverse communities in America. At the base were the ranchers, mostly from old Italian and Portuguese families. Mix in blacks from the South who came west in the ’40s and ’50s; Latinos and Filipinos who have worked the farmland.; Add to that all the new ethnic and economic refugees (the teacher/firefighter families)  from the Bay Area seeking more affordable homes and simpler lives, and Tracy is about as reflective of the New America as it gets. Continue reading You don’t know Tracy: The mythologizing of Sandra Cantu

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 – – – – .

Emil Guillermo's commentary on race, politics, diversity…and everything else. It's Emil Amok's Takeout!

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