Tag Archives: Filipino American

Pacquiao Bradley II: That’s not your prep school classmate, that’s the boxing match HBO can’t seem to hype enough

When I saw Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley fight for the first time on June 9, 2012, I was like most of the free world: Dumbfounded by the results.

Pacquiao clearly dominated the fight, though Bradley seemed to finish strong. Still, it wasn’t enough for a rally that actually could win the fight. How do you say: “Peex.”

Who needs an undercover camera? It was there for all to see. We knew who won the fight two years ago.

And now Pac Bradley 2 is back before Easter. For redemption?

Jim Lampley, the HBO announcer/sportscaster, on one radio show recently said the fight  wasn’t about a fix, but more about “bad judging.”

Lampley’s a good guy, but he has his biases working for the network that has a monopoly on the live fight.

There was something smelly about that fight, and two years doesn’t sufficiently deodorize the matter.

But we’re going to have to wait for someone’s deathbed confession before we get the real truth.

In the meantime, Pacquiao needs money. He’s motivated by taxes, and the peso/dollar exchange rate. And he has a whole barangay for an entourage.

ESPN has both fighters getting $6 million, but Pacquiao gets a guaranteed $20 million according to a report last week.

We also don’t have much time left to admire Pacquiao, in all honesty.

I’ve been saying he should retire now. But he’s on record saying “two more years.”

So for curiosity sake, I will lift my moratorium.

Pacquiao is the Filipinos’ alter ego, and I’m willing to suspend my disdain for pro boxing to watch him—just to see if he has anything left. The fight might be closer with two years for Bradley to get better and Pacquiao to get older.

Consider a graph with two lines:  If P is at a high level but  arcing down, and B is at a lower level but still rising, if the fight is taking place where the lines intersect it could be a toss up. If the  lines are close but not intersecting, then P should still have enough of an edge. That’s where I think we are.  Based on the last fights of both, Bradley gave Provodnikov a good fight. P gave Rios a beating. Based on that Freddie Roach puts Bradley as similar to Rios. But that Provodnikov fight of Bradley was better than that.  And let me not forget that Bradley/Marquez fight, where Bradley fought a completely different style. It all points to Bradley getting better, whereas Pacquiao is getting older. So we may be close to that P/B intersection, but not quite to make it a toss-up.

Prediction? Lots of rounds 10-9 Pacquiao, with Pac the ultimate winner.

(Live tweeting here at www.amok.com and on twitter@emilamok

Emil Guillermo’s Amok: Ricardo Alvarado’s Eyes–Celebrating San Francisco’s Centennial Manongs

When I first met Janet Alvarado in the mid-80s, she was just like me—a young American-born Filipino.

Only she had a box of photographs and a dream.

The photographs were taken by her dad, Ricardo Alvarado. The dream was to share his vision.

Almost 30 years later,  it’s all come true.

The Alvarado Project, as it’s called, has been honored by the Smithsonian, toured around the country, and is about to grow in scope with another chapter–this time honoring Alvarado’s wife Norberta and her beloved Leyte.

But first things first, Ricardo Alvarado would have been 100 on February 7.

It’s only fitting to close the first chapter by honoring Ricardo Alvarado’s centennial year.

I admit when I first saw his photographs, I didn’t grasp how special they were. Why would they be? They were shots of neighborhoods that Filipinos lived in. Images of the parties Filipino families attended. They looked like my life in San Francisco in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. My American Filipino life.

Silly me.

That’s what gives them their power. The photographs recall the specialness of life that few regarded as special back then.

It was just us.

Who was looking at American Filipino life like it mattered back then? Before Asian American studies, or ethnic studies? Before there was a sense of pride within the American community?

Not many.

Ricardo Alvarado was in that first wave of immigrants to San Francisco. He came to America looking for opportunity in 1928. But instead, he found that people wanted to shut the door almost as soon as he arrived. It was the depression. The height of racism and violence toward Filipinos came in 1930. In San Francisco, we were called “monkey.”

No one thought the community was particularly photogenic back then.

Typical of many Filipinos, Ricardo Alvarado endured and was able to join the Army. After WWII, he returned to marry a Filipina, start a family and buy a home in San Francisco on the GI Bill.

And the community blossomed.

The family and the community became the subjects of Ricardo’s  lifelong love affair with photography.

More than the snapshots and the lineups most people took with the Brownie and  Instamatic,Alvarado was armed with a view camera,  documenting and preserving the look of American Filipino life.

As his daughter  realized, the images weren’t  just for people to gaze at then.

More meaningfully, the photography was the bridge from their present to the future, so that others could wonder what it was like” back then. “ 

And at their best, they represented the most artful photographs of the early American Filipino community in San Francisco, if not the entire U.S.

So while you may have placed your photos in deep storage, or heaven forbid, thrown them out as basura, Janet Alvarado knew she had something more than sentimental memories.

These were lasting images of the community.

That others didn’t keep even the basic shots of everyday, make Ricardo Alvarado’s photographs even more special.

That’s the value of the Alvarado Project.  We call it diaspora now, but then, the global Filipino was a few neighborhoods in San Francisco, and other places in California. How did we live? No one thought we were special enough to preserve and document on film, let alone study like some lost tribe in the Filipinos.

We were more like a new colony in America.

After surviving the 1920s, ‘30s, and the War, American Filipinos were  just happy to be alive.

Ricardo Alvarado knew that was photogenic.


When we gather in the South of Market on the 15th to celebrate Ricardo Alvarado,  Janet Alvarado has been gracious enough to allow me to mention my father, the late Willie Guillermo, already a member of the Centennial Club.

Though Filipinos lived all over the city, in the Western Addition, Fillmore, and BayView, most began their journey in the South of Market.

My family started on Kissling Street by St. Josephs, then moved to the Western Addition on Fulton St. My Uncle Joe was in the Fillmore on McAllister, under the appliance store light that would blink “HOTPOINT.” It was the hot spot for our family.

But Sixth Street was for fun. And that’s where my Dad would often return to hang-out with the other Filipinos of his generation who saw in Sixth Street as a the playground for Ma Jong, cards, dancing.

My dad would take me to the barber college for the cheap haircuts.

This month, my dad would have been 108.

That’s the irony. I thought my dad was 108 when he was alive.

Like Ricardo Alvarado, my dad came to America in the 1920s but was much older. He didn’t go to war and missed out on the GI Bill. But he didn’t miss out when more Filipinas were able to come to America after the war.

Until then, there weren’t many Filipinas to marry. And because of anti-intermarriage laws, Filipinos were essentially a bachelor society. Roving packs of bachelors.

It meant that when more were able to find wives, and start families later in life, there would be a lot of older dads.

I had one of them.  And I admit that as a kid I was ashamed, not of his being Filipino. It was his being old. He was grandfather and father all rolled into one. And he took me to that damn barber college for the cheap haircuts.

Today, Dad as a perennial 108-year-old makes sense.

And as I approach 108 myself, I am far more sympathetic.

It was history that helped me understand, and photographs that helped me recall–not just where we came from, but what we had overcome.

It is said that the offspring of the immigrants were the “bridge” generation. To what? To American life.

Maybe, but the bridges that have the lasting connections between the ancestral home and the present were formed by our fathers, the Manongs like my dad and Ricardo Alvarado.

On the 15th, we’ll honor them, members of the Centennial Club.




Date: Saturday, February 15, 2014 The Centennial Celebration

Time: 2 pm to 5 pm

Place: BAYAHIHAN COMMUNITY CENTER, 1010 Mission Street (near 6th Street), San Francisco, CA

Parking lot on 6th & Mission Street next to Bayanihan Center or at 5th & Mission Garage

Join us in a community salute to the San Francisco pioneering generation and communities. Remarks and discussion from invited guests celebrating Alvarado’s photographs in a nod back to “Through My Father’s Eyes”. 

Bruno Mars wins Super Bowl Sunday as explosive half-time performance catapults him to world-class entertainer status

Unless you were a Seahawks fan, Super Bowl 48 wasn’t much for football.

But if you didn’t know how good Bruno Mars was, you found out on Sunday night.

After Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos were shutout by the Seattle defense in the first half, Mars came on the field with enough energy to match both teams.

With an intro by a diverse chorus of young singers in front of a U.S. flag, Mars appeared center stage banging the drums like he was announcing a new America—or at least its soundtrack.

In Mars, we have the perfect representative: half-Filipino on his mother side, Puerto Rican and Hungarian/Jewish on his father’s side, born and raised in Honolulu, with soulful R&B pop roots that enable him to go from pop to hip-hop to James Brown.

As Brown might say, “Good God,” he’s got the moves.

Mars may just become the new “hardest working man in showbiz.”

With his drumming, his singing, his dancing, his stage presence, Mars put to rest any doubters who wondered why New Jersey artists like Bon Jovi or Springsteen weren’t asked to perform.

The NFL said Mars was always its first choice. Now we see why.

Still, even though Mars has been established since 2010 with multiple Grammy victories and nominations, doubters questioned his selection. His tour-de-force  half-time show was like his debut as world-class performer.

In the end, in the close-ups you could see the sweat drip from his brow. Then the wide shot revealed Mars, post-bow, humbled by the stadium’s roar of approval.

Quite a night for a Filipino kid from Honolulu.

I first sensed his greatness two years ago on Saturday Night Live.

Even there, there was some doubt whether he could host the show.

In the opening monologue he sang, “Can I be like Timberlake?”

It was a reference to the one-time boy band sensation now international star.

Then he delivered the punchline. “Underneath this trendy suit,” Mars sang,” hides a scared Filipino…”

To dispel all doubts, Mars broke into a gospel-like refrain. “I’ll be amazing,” he sang. “I can do it.” 

On Sunday he showed the world once again, that yes, this Filipino boy can.  



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More on Randy Gener, Filipino American journalist, who was assaulted in NYC

As I wrote in my post ( http://aaldef.org/blog/amid-the-super-bowl-hype-randy-geners-story-is-more-typical-of-the-asian-american-immigrant-story.html ), I consider it still an open question if what happened to Randy Gener is considered a bias crime against the Filipino gay journalist.

The police think not. I say, hold on.

Hate crime or not, the family is of Gener is very gracious in this public statement issued on Jan. 29, 2014:

The family of Randy Gener would like to thank all of the people who have helped move along the investigation. We are thankful to the New York Police Department, particularly the Hate Crimes Task Force, for conducting a thorough and swift investigation. We are eternally grateful to the community (particularly the Filipino American and arts communities) for raising awareness about this incident, for showing solidarity and generosity through organizing vigils and events, and for creating a fund to support ongoing medical expenses. Finally, we are thankful for all who have benevolently offered their services, particularly the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

We are pleased and relieved that a suspect has finally been apprehended and trust that the NYPD and District Attorney will make all efforts to bring justice for Randy. At this time, we are focusing on Randy’s healing and moving forward together as a family.

Stephen Nisbet & Jessica Blair-Driessler

Nisbet is Gener’s husband. Blair-Driessler, Gener’s sister. It’s still unclear if their views have changed now that the police are saying it was not a hate crime.

In the meantime, a fundraising effort for Gener’s medical costs is located on this website:



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“Hobbit” big, “Anchorman 2” smaller than expected, as weekend box office receipts tallied

“The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug” was again the No.1 movie in the nation with $31.5 million in tickets, giving it a two week take of $127.5 million, according to the NY Times.

“Anchorman 2,”lived up to its name and finished 2nd at $26.8 million. But it opened on Wednesday and is up to $40 million total, well on its way of making back the $50 million it cost to make.

Now instead of showing up in ads and free media everywhere plugging the movie, maybe producers will start showing up to Filipino community fundraisers or consider giving a little bit in aid to the typhoon victims in the Philippines.

As I pointed out on my blog post for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the silly anchorman was sullied by an ignorant joke that promotes a Filipino stereotype.


It was just one line, am I being too sensitive?  I don’t think so.

If all you see in the media about Filipinos is negative, then such jokes are indefensible. If there were something to counteract the throw away line in the movie, it would have been easier to take.

For example, there were a number of tasteless jokes about African Americans in the movie, as well. But there were African American actors in the movie  who were able to clearly rebut Ron Burgundy/Will Ferrell.

Read the piece on the blog.


And let’s hope that once the producers hit their $50 million nut, they will consider giving aid to the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines. The typhoon displaced millions of people, many of whom are hungry.

And not eating dogs.


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Thoughts on Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the Philippines, and Veterans Day: (UPDATED with video of newborn)

Called Yolanda in the Philippines, Haiyan internationally, by any name, the super typhoon has heaped on a sense of despair and helplessness.

Though we all knew it was coming from the warnings in both old and new media, there was still such an overwhelming sense that nothing could be done to help the country from its fate.

The very day the storm hit, a friend of mine in the San Francisco Bay Area, taken by news warnings, asked me if I still had relatives in the Philippines.

What could I tell her? Despite being born in America, in the broadest sense, as a full-blooded Filipino, I’m related to everyone there.

From a humanitarian sense, of course, we all are.

Over the weekend, as a U.S. based columnist for the Philippine Inquirer, I knew to turn to the paper’s website for coverage direct from the hardest hit area of Leyte.


For me, more than the photographs and videos, reading the first individual accounts of the super typhoon’s wrath were simply more harrowing, indicating the monstrous power of the storm. Reporter DJ Yap’s story described people in the throes of Yolanda, including one woman, Bernadette Tenegra, who tried to hold on to her daughter who was ravaged by wooden splinters from all the houses crushed by the storm.



The Tenegra family had huddled together in their shanty at Barangay (village) 66-Paseo de Legazpi, believing it could weather the storm as it had always done in the past.

But as the water rose with astonishing speed, the house toppled over, sweeping away the occupants, including Tenegra’s husband and her other daughter. They were able to scramble to safety, but the youngest Tenegra was spun around by the current along with the deadly debris.

“I crawled over to her, and I tried to pull her up. But she was too weak. It seemed she had already given up,” the mother said.

“And then I just let go,” she said, crying.

Mute shock was etched on the faces of survivors, many of whom were unfamiliar with storms as fierce as this one.

Richard Bilisario, an Air Force man, was carried by violent waves that demolished his unit’s barracks at the military base overlooking the Leyte Gulf.

“At first, the wind was only coming from inland, so we didn’t really mind it. Then suddenly we heard the howling from the sea,” he recalled.

“When we opened the door to check, the water was already up to the knee. And as soon as the door was opened, the water just rushed in, and the 11 of us were thrown away,” he said.

 Four are still missing, including their commander, Bilisario said.

 At downtown Tacloban, two men silently pushed a wooden cart carrying the bloated bodies of a woman, her teenage

son and her baby on the flooded main avenue.

The men took their gruesome load through the streets, as kibitzers watched in morbid fascination.

The woman’s name was Erlinda Mingig, 48, a fish vendor. She had been trapped in her one-story home with her two children, John Mark, 12, and 1-year-old Jenelyn, at Barangay 39-Calvaryhill.


“I told them to stay in the house because it was safer,” said Mingig’s husband, Rogelio, 48.

But the water was rising dangerously fast. When Erlinda tried to open the door to escape, it would not budge,” the man said.


“We found her embracing the children in one arm and grabbing on to the ceiling with the other,” he said.


So what do we do now?

The coincidence of Veterans Day and the world’s awakening to the apocalyptic images of the super typhoon’s hardest hit area, Leyte and its capital city of Tacloban, is eerie.

This is not the first time the region has seen such death and despair—and overcome it all.

It was on October 20, 1944, that General Douglas MacArthur made good on his “I will return” pledge after being forced out of the Philippines by the Japanese in World War II.

Standing on Leyte Beach, with Filipino president Sergio Osmena and Philippine General Carlos Romulo, MacArthur and the American military took back the Philippines and launched the Battle of Leyte, the biggest naval battle of WWII.

In the Leyte campaign that liberated the Philippines, the Japanese lost nearly 50,000. In victory, the U.S. suffered nearly 16,000 casualties.

Their lives enabled Philippine General Carlos Romulo to report back to Congress: “How I wish the world could have witnessed the ceremony on the capitol steps in Tacloban when…just two days after it was freed from enemy control, General MacArthur delievered Tacloban into the constitutional charge of President Osmena. In Osmena’s simple words of acknowledgment, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was re-established on Philippine soil.”

Romulo, who was also a great statesman and an award-winning journalist, continued:

“This is the story I have come back from the Philippines to tell you. It is of General MacArthur and the idea he has lived and fought for since he left Bataan…It is the story of that great Filipino underground army that fought in heart-breaking secrecy for two and a half years and their final triumph in sharing our victory at Leyte. And it is, moreover, each and all of these, American and Filipino feelings, different reasons and different earth, but all stirred by the same impulse that can be summed up in one word—Bataan.

“I saw Bataan again in Leyte. Filipinos and Americans there shared understanding of one another, having shared the same hunger for liberty, the same sacrifices and death and glories, and the same God. From this American Congress we obtained political equality. This is why it is impossible to encompass in communiques the way the American G.I. feels toward the Filipino who fought alongside his fellow American in the same fox hole in Bataan and later inside the barricade as his ally and friend; impossible to compress in print the way the Filipino feels towards G.I Joe.,.his comrade in arms and liberator. This is democracy as we saw it on Bataan. It is on Leyte, set like a torch between East and West.”

Nearly 70 years later, the same passion that liberated the Philippines must once again be summoned by the U.S. and the world, to respond to this natural disaster and save the country.

The start of financial and military aid, including a U.S.Osprey helicopter, have already begun to trickle into Tacloban over the weekend.

And amid the tragedy and rubble, there was even news of a brand new baby born to Emily Sagalis, 21.

She named the little girl Bea Joy, in honor of Emily’s mother Beatriz, swept away by Yolanda.

Even what little hope exists comes shadowed by tragedy.



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Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, Haiyan to everyone else, seems to be the mother of all typhoons

The reports of just 3 dead on Friday night were wistful.

There are now reports of at least 138 , with Philippines officials saying they  expecting that number to climb into “the hundreds.”

Philippine Inquirer.Net is reporting a people finder service:

Looking for your loved ones who are in areas devastated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda”?

The Philippine Red Cross has launched Social Services Restoring Family Links and Tracing Services.

“If you are looking for a family or friend, contact our Social Services Restoring Family Links and Tracing Services, please call 09175328500,” the PNRC said.

Google, meanwhile, is offering its Person Finder service.

It also has a mobile phone version.

“You can request status via SMS by sending an SMS to +16508003977 with the message Search person-name. For example, if you are searching for Joshua, send the message Search Joshua,” said Google.

Read more: http://technology.inquirer.net/31465/red-cross-google-launch-person-finder-services#ixzz2kAkZnfLh

Manila may have been spared, but the devestation appears to be great around the central part of the Philippines, particularly Leyte and Samar.

Leyte was the WWII  battle we celebrated last month, the one that  liberated the Philippines. If it survived WWII, It will  survive the typhoon. But it will take time and help from around the world.

When the typhoon was first reported on Thursday, friends of mine asked me if I had relatives in the Philippines.

I told them as a Filipino American, I’m related to everyone there.



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