Just because summer is quickly winding down doesn’t mean there aren’t great events out there to enjoy. If you live in or will be in the San Francisco area later this month, then you must check out the outdoor screening of Howl’s Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Ponyo).
Bring your family and friends and join the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) and the Japantown Merchants Association at the Japantown Peace Plaza (Post Street at Buchanan Street) on Sunday, September 19, 2010 at 8:30 pm. This event is free for everyone and early arrival is highly suggested as seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki enhances his legendary reputation as one of the world’s most visionary filmmakers with this amazing animated adventure. Howl’s Moving Castle follows the story of Sophie, an 18-year-old girl who toils in the hat shop opened years ago by her late father. Often harassed by local boys, Sophie is one day unexpectedly befriended by Howl, a strange but flamboyant wizard whose large house can travel under its own power. However, the Witch of the Waste is displeased with Sophie and Howl’s budding friendship, and turns the pretty young woman into an ugly, old hag. Sophie takes shelter in Howl’s castle and attempts to find a way to reverse the witch’s spell with the help of Calcifer, a subdued but powerful demon who exists in the form of fire, and Markl, who protects the four-way door that can instantly whisk visitors to other lands and dimensions.
For more information on this event, please visit www.asianamericanmedia.org.
I didn’t quite understand the enthusiasm for leggings when they first started to gain popularity, but I have grown to like them very much and appreciate them. It’s no secret that the weather in my hometown of Chicago is unpredictable and it can go from being 40 degrees and snowing one day to being 70 degrees and sunny the next. Planning one’s outfits for the week can be a bit stressful in the Windy City.
Leggings are the perfect solution when you have a cute dress or mini-skirt on and you don’t want to sacrifice fashion for keeping your legs warm. The Althea Harper native print leggings are 100 percent cotton stretch fabric with a flat, elastic waistband and are sure to flatter any woman’s shape.
The bold print of these leggings make it super trendy and flirty; you’ll probably opt to wear them even if the weather is warm. What’s another great thing about these sexy leggings? You won’t just have to settle for one outfit with them because the various colors can go with just about anything in your wardrobe.
The powers of the universe work in crazy ways sometimes. In the case of Korean American rapper/producer/deejay Kero One, those powers definitely worked in his favor.
With just his homemade studio and a personal credit card, the San Francisco native released his first single “Check the Blueprints” in 2003 on his own imprint, Plug Label. Due to a lack of experience with distributing a record, Kero One enlisted a group of friends to help him out.
That’s when the universe stepped in.
One out of the only 50 copies that were distributed around the world somehow made its way to a tiny record store in Tokyo, Japan. A Japanese deejay found that one copy a few weeks later and played it at a club that night. People began asking the deejay about Kero One’s record, including a Japanese label executive who immediately contacted the rapper and asked for 3,000 copies of the record. The record became an underground hip-hop classic almost overnight in Japan and established Kero One’s status of a “mogul in the jazzy hip-hop genre.”
Kero One began performing in different cities around Japan where he was surprised to see the hundreds of fans who were waiting to get his autograph and take pictures with him. Despite the sudden fame, Kero One didn’t let it get to his head. He eventually finished his first album in 2005, Windmills of the Soul, doing everything from playing instruments, rapping, and sound engineering. And without the support of a label or street team, Kero One took it upon himself to handle all the responsibilities of promotion and marketing, manufacturing, finances, graphic layouts and web design. He personally handed out promo fliers to anyone who’d take them.
All of Kero One’s hard work was not in vain. He was able to quit his job as a web designer in 2006 to pursue music full time. Since then Kero One has been awarded the title of Best HipHop Album of 2006 from Remix magazine, topped the iTunes hip-hop charts, received praise from the likes of Emmy award winning producer Will.i.am, and toured all over Asia, Europe, Australia and the U.S.
But despite all his travels, his heart was clearly at home. In Kero One’s newest music video, “On Bended Knee” featuring Sam Ock from Kinetic World, shot and directed by Johnny Le, Kero One sings of his personal experiences traveling around the world and looking for love “in all the wrong places.” Whether you’re a fan of hip-hop, this is a video you’re all gonna wanna watch. (And in case you’re wondering, the girl he’s rapping about in the song said “yes”! They just got married a couple months ago!) Check it out:
Kero One has also shared the stage with artists like KRS 1, Blu + Exile , DJ Cash Money, Dj Kentaro and Epik High (where he participated in arguably the first successful Asian American hip-hop tour). Additionally, Kero One has kept busy collaborating with the likes of renowned acts such as Talib Kweli, Mark Farina, Epik High, and Dynamic Duo.
In 2007, Kero One opened his first office and recording studio in downtown San Francisco to house his fledging hip-hop/dance/funk imprint, Plug Label, releasing more than a dozen records and CDs.
In 2009, Kero One independently released his official sophomore album Early Believers showcasing the talents of some of his favorite vocalists such as UK singer Ben Westbeech, Finland’s Tuomo, and Portland’s Ohmega Watts. A fantastic blend of “soulful jazz tinged tracks to upbeat synth-driven party bangers,” Early Believers is a reflection of Kero One’s growth and maturity as a writer, composer, vocalist and arranger.
In 2010, Kero One released his third solo album entitled Kinetic World which again features some of his favorite artists, including Fashawn, Tablo of Epik High, Dumbfoundead (check out our interview with him!) and Othello. In addition, Kero One’s interest in the YouTube generation has inspired features from young talents such as Esna and Sam Ock.
Visit www.kero1.com for more information on the rapper and his music.
Award-winning actress and playwright Anna Khaja will be premiering “Shaheed: The Dream and Death of Benazir Bhutto” at the New York City International Fringe Theater Festival, starting tonight.
With “Shaheed” (which means “martyr” in Arabic), Khaja creates a powerful portrayal of the life and tragic death of Benazir Bhutto, the controversial former prime minister of Pakistan who was assassinated only two months after her return from an eight-year exile. Khaja depicts eight different characters — from an American college student to Condoleezza Rice to a Pakistani street merchant and, finally, to Bhutto herself — who paint the complex picture of an enigmatic international leader.
Khaja, who was raised by her Pakistani father, said that “the lens through which I view Pakistan has, for the most part, been inevitably very American. Benazir’s assassination filled me with questions about the world, about Pakistan, about myself. ‘Shaheed’ was born out of my personal journey to answer these questions.”
Khaja’s insight into the inspiration for the play is fascinating:
“My father Waseem was one of millions who traveled across the war torn Indian border to find cultural and spiritual freedom in the new nation of Pakistan. Despite sixty years of despotic rule, this nascent country has continued the fight for democracy. At the forefront of the people’s struggle has been the enigma Benazir Bhutto.
“On the morning of her assassination, Bhutto was finishing her book dedicated to the compelling argument that Islam and democracy are inextricably linked. Hours later, before a crowd of thousands, she was dead, killed from a blast by a suicide bomber. Much of Pakistan was thrown into turmoil, its fragile dream in tatters.
“A tremendous paradox, Benazir was a practicing Muslim, a Harvard and Oxford elite, a ‘political mother’ to millions, the heir to a political dynasty, a corrupt megalomaniac, a warrior against terrorism, a dutiful wife to a back room thug, and in the end, perhaps, a true martyr. I find Bhutto to be a woman who is strong beyond our wildest imaginings and yet weak, egotistical and easily manipulated.
“As a Pakistani American, and as a woman, I struggle to reconcile my own notions of what these titles mean and how they could be embodied in single a person.”
Khaja’s “Shaheed” opened in Los Angeles earlier this spring and left audiences in awe. Critics praised this one-woman show, calling it “brilliant,” “riveting” and “insightful.” Backstage Magazine said: “In Khaja’s performance and in her insightful script, she masters the challenging solo-performance format to paint a riveting portrait of a leader who was both inspiring and flawed.”
“Shaheed” is produced in association with Off-Chance Productions and is directed by Heather De Michele and produced by Luis Reyes and Anna Khaja.
Friday, August 13 at 11 pm
Saturday, August 21 at 6:45 pm
Thursday, August 26 at 5:30 pm
Saturday, August 28 at 9 pm
Sunday, August 29 at 2 pm
Where: Venue #1, Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street, New York City, NY 10002
Photos by Maia Rosenfeld.
After making its way around the film festival circuit, Quentin Lee’s The People I’ve Slept With is finally coming to a theater near you. The film releases in New York tomorrow, Friday, August 13, at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas, and then in Los Angeles on August 27 at Laemmle Sunset Five Theaters, and finally in San Francisco at the VIZ CINEMAS on September 3.
The People I’ve Slept With is a sexy, romantic story about Angela (Karin Anna Cheung of Better Luck Tomorrow), a young woman with a very active and passionate sex life. After every sexual conquest she makes keepsake “baseball cards” of each of her male partners. One day, Angela finds out she is pregnant and together with her gay best friend and co-worker Gabriel (Wilson Cruz of He’s Just Not That Into You, My So-Called Life) goes on a comical and raunchy hunt through her past hook-ups and dates to find her “baby daddy.” As Angela examines her frisky past, the answers she has been looking for reveal themselves in surprising ways.
Also co-starring with Cheung and Cruz are Archie Kao (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), Lynn Chen (Lakeview Terrace, Saving Face) and screen legend James Shigeta (Flower Drum Song, The Crimson Kimono).
The film has found strong support with sold out festival screenings including the Hawaii International Film Festival, San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, and Outfest Fusion. It was also selected as the official Closing Night Presentation of the 2010 New York Asian American Film Festival this past July 21.
For more info, check out the website.
Jazz musician and composer Dana Leong will be bringing his unique “hip-hop meets avant-jazz sound” to the Golden State in a three-month long performance tour, starting tonight (August 11) through October 2. The Bay Area native kicks off his California tour with his headlining debut at Yoshi’s in Oakland.
Leong, a jazz cellist and trombonist, has played around the country with the likes of legendary avant-jazz saxophonist Henry Threadgill, Cuban jazz clarinetist and saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, and drummer Dafnis Prieto. He has also worked with top artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Yoko Ono and Kanye West, to name a few. Critics agree that Leong has created a very unique, boundless signature sound by “revolutionizing” the cello with his cutting edge amplification, lyrical melodies and collage of jazz textures and improvisations.
Tonight, expect to see the Japanese-Chinese American leading his quartet Milk & Jade by Dana Leong (Hager ben Ari on bass, Yoni Halevy on drums, and iLLspoKinN on vocals) in full hip-hop regalia. They’ll continue with performances at the San Jose Jazz Festival (August 13), and then in Los Angeles at the Levitt Pavilion MacArthur Park (August 14) and the Asian American Music Festival (October 15).
In addition, Leong continues to score for visual/theater projects with the world premiere of Project Bandaloop’s “Id Ego,” his first commissioned work for a contemporary vertical dance company. A multi-movement, site-reactive piece for San Francisco-based Project Bandaloop, Leong literally takes his musical style to new heights — both the dancers and Leong will propel off and across the exterior walls of the venue. You’ve got to see it to believe it. Catch it at Segerstrom Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, from September 30 to October 2.
For more information and tickets, click here.
July 17 wasn’t just any old day at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif. It was the largest Filipino gathering on the West Coast, otherwise known as Kababayan Fest.
Roughly translating to “countryman” or “fellow townsman,” “Kababayan” is more loosely used to demonstrate respect for a unity defined by a shared heritage, culture and ethnic background. And unify they did — an estimated 20,000 Filipino Americans gathered to celebrate that day.
In addition to the rides and good eats, there was plenty of Filipino culture and talented headliners. Dance crews We Are Heroes and Poreotix, America’s Best Dance Crew Season 4 and 5 winners respectively, were guest performers, as well as local talent Passion, AJ Rafael, and Kultura Philippine Folk Art. The event was hosted by Joey Guila and Giselle Tongi.
If you missed out on that Filipino gathering, then don’t miss out on another. Make the most of these last few days of summer by checking out Kayamanan Ng Lahi’s dance and music event, presented by Big!World!Fun!, this Saturday, August 14 at the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood, Calif.
Dance and music is alive in the deeply-rooted musical culture of the Philippine islands, and for the Philippine company, Kayamanan Ng Lahi, dance is all about family. Folk dances are passed down to the next generation like stories or heirlooms, and some of Kayamanan’s youngest members will be making their stage debuts at the family performance. The audience will be participating as well, as company members demonstrate Philippine martial art movements you can do in your seat. (Come early with the kids and make figure puppets and ribbon streamers for the show!)
Kayamanan, under the leadership of Joel Jacinto, Barbara Ele and Ave Jacinto, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Based on anthropological research, the company’s dance and music aims to stay true to its traditional Filipino roots, with an extensive dance repertoire, costumes and music ensembles.
When: August 14, 10 am
Where: Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood, CA 90068
Admission: Free for children, $5 for adults
Parking is $1 per vehicle
For tickets: 323-461-3673, www.FordTheatres.org
– with reporting by Han Cho
I have always wondered how my life would be like had my parents never left their hometown of Libagon, Southern Leyte for the United States. Having spent the last two weeks here in this town (where it’d only take you 15-20 minutes to walk from one end to the other),I’ve gotten a taste of what that life would be.
The best word to describe the lifestyle of Libagon residents is simple. Students attend school from 8 am until 4 pm. During their lunch breaks they’ll either get snacks from the street vendors, play computer games at the Internet Café, or sing a couple songs on the karaoke machine at the seaside restaurant (designed to look like a nipa hut).
Libagon can be compared to the city of Las Vegas because it is a town that never sleeps. From sunrise until sunset the town is alive with people who always have something to do. If they aren’t working, parents will pass the time by visiting friends and relatives to make kwnetuhan (share stories and gossip). Fishermen will get on their boats to catch fish or squid to sell. Young boys climb up palm trees to gather coconuts for a refreshing snack.
Even though I am not completely worry-free and have my Audrey assignments (like these series of posts) to do, I cannot help but feel calm and relaxed in this town. Everyone is so friendly and quick to help others out. Everyone knows each other and if they don’t they do not hesitate to introduce themselves.
I may not have been born here or know every family and their history like my parents, but Libagon is a very special place to me and I do feel at home.
However, I know I won’t ever be able to relate to the impoverished life that most people in this town live. Both my father and mother’s families are fairly well off, but they have always managed to stay humble and know that the best way to really give thanks to God for their blessings is to help those who are less fortunate than them.
My brother has celebrated his 5th, 13th and (most recently) his 18th birthday in Libagon. I can recall on the day of my brother’s 5th birthday, my mom and aunts were running around decorating the area along the beachfront where we would be holding the celebration. My brother started to cry because he noticed there were no gifts for him to be found. He sobbed to my mother, “Mommy, where are my presents? It’s my birthday!”
My parents took my brother aside and explained to him that here in the Philippines many children are not as lucky as him. They don’t have closets full of clothes or bedrooms full of toys. Some children aren’t even able to go to school because their parents do not have enough money to pay for their education.
As with all of his birthdays that have been celebrated in Libagon, my family invited many children to the party so that they could enjoy the many delicious food we had prepared: lechon (roasted pig), pancit (noodles), fried chicken, and fish among other dishes. It may just be one day out of the whole year that they can enjoy this kind of feast, but you can see in their eyes how happy and appreciative they are.
Once all the children are fed my parents distribute “presents” we brought for them from the United States. This year they brought a box full of various types of shoes for boys and girls and another box filled with notebooks, pens, pencils, calculators and other school supplies.
Living in the U.S. it can be easy for me to get caught up in my daily routine of working and worrying over petty things like a friend not returning a call right away, but when I see the big smile on a little boy or girl’s face over something as simple as a pack of pencils, reality hits me. My so-called problems are nothing in comparison to what many people deal with day in and day out in the Philippines. At the age of 5, my brother may have cried because he wasn’t receiving a table full of presents, but we both now know (thanks to the example set by our parents) the importance of sharing one’s blessings.
In my (almost) 23 years, I’ve been to the Philippines five times; when I was 3, 10, 14, 18, and now. With a degree in journalism and a few years of reporting experience under my belt, I’ve made it a point this time around to take note of what I see and hear on my current trip back to my parents’ native land and the place I consider to be my second home.
My parents, brother and I flew via Asiana Airlines from Chicago to Manila, Philippines last July 10. Despite the 14-hour flight from Chicago to Seoul, Korea (our three-hour stopover) and the three-hour connecting flight from Seoul to Manila, we very much felt comfortable and enjoyed both flights. We faced no problems checking in our luggage back in Chicago and had no issues upon our arrival in Seoul.
However, when it came time for us to take the approximately 45-minute Philippine Airlines flight from Manila to Tacloban City, Southern Leyte, we faced very questionable and rude treatment by workers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Despite my parents’ attempts to pack no more than 25-30 kilos in each of our boxes (the maximum weight for Philippine Airlines), we were informed that we had excess check-in baggage and must pay 4,000 pesos (approximately $80-$90). My mom was obviously not very happy because she had intended for that money to go to other purposes, but decided against fighting the charge. You see, being charged for excess baggage is nothing new to my family. We have faced this issue each and every time we’ve traveled domestic in the Philippines.
We paid the fee and were about to make our way through security when a female security guard stopped us. She eyed my parents’ and my brother’s carry-on suitcases, as well as mine and said, “Your luggage is too big. You need to go back to the counter and check them in.” (I should note here that as the guard spoke to us, two women whose suitcases were much larger in size than ours went through security no questions asked. Did the guard not question them because she knew they weren’t Americans? Who knows …) Needless to say, my parents were furious and my temper was nearing its boiling point. My mom told the guard, “We traveled on two international flights with these suitcases as our carry-ons and had no problems and you’re telling us they’re too big for the planes here?” The guard continued to just say that we had to return to the counter and so we eventually did.
Once we were back at the same counter from earlier, my mom (God bless her fearlessness of confrontation) demanded to know why the young gentleman who checked in our baggage did not make any mention of our suitcases being too big. She also demanded the name of the female security guard, to which the young man replied, “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I do not know her.”
“Oh, really? I think you’re only saying you don’t know her because I’m asking you for her name. Am I right?” my mother asked. She raised her voice a bit higher so that the other workers at the counters and other passengers could hear. “Is this how you are all trained to treat balikbayans? Were you all told to charge us with as many bogus fees as you can so that you could take all of our money? Hindi na ‘to balikbayan; balik gastos! (This is no longer a homecoming; it’s coming home to pay!)”
Many people may think my family and I overreacted, but I’m sure if you spoke with other balikbayans you will discover that they too have faced these same issues.
Philippines customs officials and airport employees are notorious for opening the boxes of balikbayans and taking items that are meant for their family and friends to keep for themselves (Upon our arrival in Manila, we discovered that a set of brand new bath towels that my mom had planned to give away had been taken. We knew the box had been opened because it had been resealed with tape that said “SECURITY CHECK” and the rope we used to tie it was inside). They also ruthlessly make false claims that certain items are not allowed to be brought onto the plane so that passengers will be forced to leave the items behind and the customs people can take them for themselves.
My family and I love the summers when we can go back to the Philippines to visit our extended family and friends. However, the treatment of many balikbayans has continued to be a problem. It is unfair and very upsetting to see our fellow Filipinos taking advantage of us when we just want to enjoy ourselves. It is also unfortunate that they don’t seem to understand that the money and items they, for whatever reason, so very much want to keep for themselves could be better used to help the children begging for food in the streets and the elderly who are forced to sleep on dirty sidewalks.
There is no doubt that the Philippines is a beautiful country full of equally beautiful and kindhearted people. I most definitely am not generalizing and saying that all employees at Filipino airports are unfairly targeting balikabayans, but it is a problem that I believe needs to be addressed immediately before the situation gets so out of hand that Filipinos living abroad no longer feel welcome in their motherland.
It’s always great when you discover artists with talent you can really appreciate. Chinese American Connie Lim, a singer/songwriter from Los Angeles is a breath of fresh air in this time of “Bieber fever” and autotune.
A graduate of UC Berkeley, Lim has been developing her style for the past two years, which is influenced by Imogen Heap, Feist, and Bjork. Lim’s growing fan-base has dubbed her music to be “retrotronica” while Lim herself describes her style as “old-school songwriting backed by electronica sentiment.”
Earlier this month Lim packed Hotel Café to its maximum capacity with the release of her EP The Hunted. And it’s not just her smoky voice and heartfelt lyrics. The album brings awareness to current global issues, like the title track, which is about the mistreatment of gay couples who are being sentenced to death in Uganda. The album also features collaborations with some of L.A.’s best musicians and artists including Yonatan Elkayam (album producer), Miguel Atwood Ferguson (string player for Will.i.am. and Flying Lotus), and Shane Sato.
Lim also recently finished filming a live YouTube show (to debut soon) that is being endorsed by Macy Gray. Other Asian American artists included in the video are Dan AKA Dan from After School Special, Sam Kang, Seriously, and Da Wen.
Lim will be having another EP release concert in San Francisco at Hotel Utah on July 30, 2010. If you’re in the area, get tickets here to check her out live.
For more info on Connie and samples of her music, click here or listen here: