Top Stories of the Week: More Asians in Comics, Nina Pham’s Ebola Update and The Inspiring Malala Yousafzai

1) Marvel’s Newest Superhero Is An Asian American Woman (READ HERE



2) Update on Nina Pham: The U.S. Nurse Who Contracted Ebola Virus From Patient (READ HERE



Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 1.39.51 PM
3) ASIANS IN COMICS: Long Beach Comic Con 2014 (READ HERE



Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 3.45.54 PM
4) Filipino Basketball Prodigy Kobe Paras Commits to UCLA, Gains Thousands of Fans (READ HERE



5) Top 10 Reasons Malala Yousafzai Is An Inspiration (READ HERE




Filipino Actor Uses Makeup to Transform Into Female Celebs


Paolo Ballesteros, a Filipino host and actor, has suddenly been making headlines internationally. Surprisingly, it’s not his acting and hosting skills that’s given him viral attention. It’s actually his unbelievable makeup skills.

Before all this international attention, the 31-year-old was most known for his acting, modeling and hosting. More specifically, he was known for one of his earliest hosting gigs on the television show “Eat Bulaga.”

Recently, his Instagram account has jumped up to nearly 500,000 followers and understandably so. In addition to photos of his adorable daughter Keira, his Instagram is filled with unbelievable makeup transformations. In fact, Ballesteros currently known as the man who can transform himself into any female celebrity using makeup.

That’s right. Looks like Michelle Phan has some competition when it comes to being the ultimate makeup guru. With the help of skilled contouring and wigs, he has transformed into Drew Barrymore, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Julia Roberts, and even Ariana Grande. Needless to say, he looks nothing like the girls he transformed into.

Because of his interest in makeup, many who are unfamiliar with Ballesteros have questioned his sexuality. Apparently, he has never minded the question. After all, this isn’t the first time. He has portrayed many gay roles in the past causing fans to question his preferences. Ballesteros has confirmed that he is heterosexual and clearly, he has no problem going against the gender stereotype which says makeup only interests women.

Check out the transformations below!

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.09.49 PM

Jennifer Lawrence

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.10.14 PM

Kim Kardashian

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.10.45 PM


Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.11.11 PM

Julia Roberts

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.11.43 PM

Kristen Stewart



Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.12.05 PM

Tyra Banks

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.12.18 PM

Ariana Grande

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.12.30 PM

Emma Stone

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.12.50 PM

Keira Knightley

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.13.00 PM

Jennifer Anniston

See more here!


Unforgettable 2014: Introducing the Royal Salute Mark of Respect Award


For the very first time, Royal Salute, one of the most coveted and admired luxury spirit brands in the world, will honor one deserving individual from the Asian American community with their Mark of Respect Award. This award will be presented at Audrey Magazine & KoreAm Journal’s Unforgettable 2014, a celebrity-studded event dedicated to honoring Asian American achievements within the past year. This awards and entertainment gala will take place Friday, December 5th at the Legendary Park Plaza Hotel.

“As Royal Salute aspires to always begin where others end, our extension of the international Mark of Respect Award to the U.S. is our way of continuing Royal Salute’s tradition of paying tribute and honoring leaders in the Asian community here in the U.S.,” said Wayne Hartunian, Vice President, Scotch & Cognac, Pernod Ricard USA. “The brand will continue to celebrate inspirational leaders that exemplify the highest level of excellence in to their respected fields and community.”


Stewart Kwoh, Lisa Ling & James Ryu. Photo courtesy of

Stewart Kwoh, Lisa Ling & James Ryu. Photo courtesy of

The Mark of Respect Award winner will be chosen by an esteemed selection committee comprised of three individuals who are also leaders and notable names in the Asian/ Asian American community.

·Stewart Kwoh, founding President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice
·Lisa Ling, television journalist, best known as host of “This is Life with Lisa Ling”
·James Ryu, Publisher of KoreAm Journal and Audrey Magazine

Earlier this month, Royal Salute held an exclusive dinner at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills to launch the Mark of Respect Award. The dinner allowed attendees to meet and greet with the selection committee and discover why Royal Salute carries such a legacy.


rs dinner 2

Photo courtesy of

rs dinner 3

Photo courtesy of


The recipient of Royal Salute’s Mark of Respect Award will be announced soon. Be sure to keep an eye out for updates on the performers, award recipients and honored guests who will make an appearance at this year’s Unforgettable!


Please drink responsibly. 
Feature photo courtesy of




Save The Date: Audrey Magazine & KoreAm Journal Present UNFORGETTABLE 2014


It is our pleasure to present Audrey Magazine & KoreAm Journal’s 13th annual gala, Unforgettable. This high-profile, celebrity-studded event is dedicated to honoring Asian American achievements within the past year, and is an opportunity for talent to perform for distinguished and influential members of the community.

Unforgettable promises to be one of the premiere entertainment events of the year for the Asian American community. In addition to the awards ceremony, the gala will also include highly-anticipated performances, a gourmet three-course dinner and a hosted after-party for its audience of over 500 Asian American professionals, celebrities and high-profile community leaders


When: Friday, December 5, 2014 @ 5pm
Where: The Legendary Park Plaza Hotel
607 South Park View Street
Los Angeles, CA 90057


Check out some highlights from Unforgettable 2013:

1 3 4 5 6


More information coming soon… 


Video of Ebola-Infected Nurse Nina Pham in Hospital Bed


Earlier this week, Nina Pham, the U.S. nurse who contracted the deadly Ebola virus from her patient, released the following statement:

“I’m doing well and want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers,” she said, according to the hospital. “I am blessed by the support of family and friends and am blessed to be cared for by the best team of doctors and nurses in the world.”


Many believe Pham is in stable condition thanks to a blood transfusion from Ebola-survivor Dr. Kent Brantly. However, others have had some doubt about the true state of her condition.

For those who are curious and worried about the brave nurse, we finally have video footage of Pham sitting up in her hospital bed. The video was captured by her treating physician, Gary Weinstein, on Thursday before she was transferred to a National Institutes of Health isolation unit in Maryland.

Pham can be seen wiping away tears before joking and telling everyone to come party in Maryland. She also tearfully tells her doctors “I love you guys.”



According to NBC News, Pham is very tired from her long trip. After all, one of the main symptoms of Ebola is fatigue. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has reassured everyone that she is comfortable, interacting with staff and eating.

Apparently, Pham will have two nurses with her at all times as well as two others at the door. The hospital believes this buddy system will ensure that no breach in protocol will occur.

“We fully intend to have this patient walk out of this hospital.”Dr. Anthony Fauci adds.



ASIANS IN COMICS: Long Beach Comic Con 2014



To my right, Harley Quinn was posing for a picture with Deadpool and Groot. To my left, Chewbaca and a female Loki were casually sipping coffee together. Up ahead, a giant wall was filled with Funko pop vinyls of every Marvel, DC, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones character imaginable.

Yup, I was definitely at a Comic Con.

Long Beach Comic Con was held on September 27th and 28th at the Long Beach Convention Center. The official website describes the event as “a celebration of comic books and pop culture that showcases the exceptional works of talented writers, artists, illustrators and creators of all types of pop culture.”

Although Long Beach Comic Con (LBCC) is much smaller than the famed San Diego Comic Con, it certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, many of the LBCC guests said they preferred the more intimate experience provided by a smaller convention. I admit, I enjoyed that this convention didn’t include pushing, shoving, occasional biting and the general crazy that came along with some of the other conventions I’ve been to. Don’t get me wrong though– there was no shortage of passionate geeking out, squealing fangirls and men who made the poor decision to skip their morning shower in order to be the first in line. No, it wouldn’t be a Comic Con without all that.

And while everything seemed to grab at my attention, there was one thing in particular that caught my eye. Sure, the cosplayers took up all of my camera’s memory and the venders took all of my wallet’s money, but what really captivated me was Artist Alley. Everyone from amateurs to famed illustrators gathered at Artist Alley to share their passion for art.

My mission was simple: I was on a hunt to find Asian American artists who went against the career stereotypes of our community (Doctor, lawyer, doctor, pharmacist, engineer and did I say doctor?) to follow their dreams of being an illustrator. When we announced the creation of Marvel’s Asian American superheroes, Ms. Marvel and Silk, our audience reacted with absolute delight. It was clear that people want to see diversity in their superheroes, but what about the people behind these superheroes? Would it be difficult to find Asian American artists? Do Asians truly turn away from this profession because of family expectations, or was that simply a stereotype of the past?

I went to find out. Check out some of the incredible artists that I found at this year’s Long Beach Comic Con.






Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 1.17.58 PM

Albert Nguyen
Age: 32
City: St. Paul, Minnesota, currently in San Francisco 
Favorite Superhero: Wolverine
(I have a theory that kids like superheroes based on how they grew up– I grew up as one of the only Asians in Minnesota, so I always felt very different from everyone. All of the X-Men appealed to me, but Wolverine seemed extra different, so I liked him most.)

What do you do?
I’m an illustrator. I do a lot of Star Wars and some Ninja Turtles stuff. My shtick is putting pop culture icons into famous paintings or famous photographs.

What’s the most favorite thing you’ve worked on?
That’s always changing. I usually like what I’m working on next the best. I see all the ways I could have done things better in my older work. I did once do an oil painting of a friend’s dog wearing a Star Trek uniform and that is definitely up there for favorites though.

Asians in comics?
There’s actually a lot of Asians working as creative professionals! I wonder if it’s taking the discipline of growing up Asian and all the energy you should have put into studying for the MCAT and putting it into drawing that pushes Asians to be really good. I like that art is very close to a pure meritocracy too– if you’re good, people will see that. I think it’s easier in art for that to come through clearly. Race is a sticky thing in modern America. We want to believe we’re beyond racism and bigotry and often uncomfortable talking about it, but it’s there. And it’s definitely there in a lot of non-nerd workplaces. The nerd community has definitely been a very progressive place though. [The Nerd community] is just everyone that’s ever felt different all come together in one place. I think that a lot of nerds have felt ostracized and I have seen that the community is good at accepting others.

Asian characters, that’s still lacking. There really aren’t that many Asian pop culture characters. Most Asian males who are in movies seem to be martial arts masters or really good at drifting. Most Asian female characters tend to get played up as exotic. We need more Asian role models who are fairly normal people. Glenn (Steven Yeun) from Walking Dead is awesome though.  John Cho is doing a lot of good work too.

How did your family react to your career choice?
(laughs) Well I didn’t go into this blind. Being Asian, my parents just wanted to know that I knew what I was doing. I’ve been doing these shows off and on, on top of my day job, for years and I’ve been collecting more and more money. My girlfriend’s actually a financial analyst so she built a financial model for me to project what a year would look like for me. So I presented that to my dad who’s an actuary and he got it.

What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m planning to branch out into more properties. Next I think I’m going to do Harley and Joker as Bonnie and Clyde.






Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 3.40.43 PM

Dustin Nguyen
Age: 38
City: LA/Long Beach and now currently in Fountain Valley
Favorite Superhero: Batman :)

What do you do?
I’ve been with DC for around 14 years. I’ve drawn all kinds of Batman stuff, but now I’m moving on to my own book with Image. I’m still doing stuff with DC—a lot of toys and designs for their stuff, but my main focus right now is in creating my own property.

What’s the most favorite thing you’ve worked on?
My favorite thing I’m working on.. is always the project I’m working on now, you know what I mean? The one I’m most proud of right now is Li’l Gotham because we pitched that half a decade ago, like 6-7 years ago and it finally got off the ground. It was the closest to something that I own because DC owns Batman. It was something that was as fun to work on as it was for us to read it. Right now, I’m working on Descender over at Image. I always love the next thing and hate the last thing.

Asians in comics?
I don’t think being Asian has ever created an obstacle for me in anyway in my past 15 years in comics, or has even come up ( aside from the usual jokes at meetings and dinner). If it means anything, some of the best artists working in the industry today are Asian. Jim Lee, who’s not only the most sought after and best-selling artist in comics ever (also happens to be the head co-publisher of DC Comics), is Asian. Comics is one of those industries in entertainment and pop culture where there is truly free range to be creative, regardless of who you are. Unlike music, or Hollywood, the consumer and fans see very little of the talent themselves, but more our creations. So in a way, we don’t really matter, and I think that can be a great thing. Mostly because some artists and writers are weird as hell.

As far as Asian characters themselves in comic books, I think there are a few. Definitely not a lot, but I dont have a problem with that at all. It’s safe to say I like Batman because he’s got a great back story, amazing aesthetic development as a character over the years, and just freaking cool. I’ve never once stopped and thought ‘it would be so cool if he was Asian.. like me.’

Also, I’ll be honest and say the reason there are not many Asian characters in comics, might be because they haven’t made one worthwhile yet, whether through purpose or story. The worst thing you can do when creating a character is creating one for the sole purpose of pandering to a certain demographic– whether Asian, Black, Gay, whatever. Unfortunately, that’s what I’ve seen being done a lot by the higher ups in corporations. It’s insulting to the demographic, and cheapens the character and therefore doesn’t last. Story should come first.

How did your family react to your career choice?
My mom was real cool with it. I grew up in LA and she was always like ‘as long as you’re not in jail, awesome. As long as you have a plan, awesome. ’She was really supportive. She knew I loved to draw and you know, she really saw that there was no money in it. She said ‘you know you’re never gonna make a living, but hey, you’re out of trouble.’ So she was real supportive. My brothers and sisters were all UCLA grads so she was like ‘oh if I lose one, it’s fine’ (laughs) and then it got better so she was fine. She actually has all of my books and she brings it back to Vietnam.

What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Descender definitely. It’s our book that comes out in March. Then next month Li’l Gotham has a toy line coming out—they’re tiny little figure, you can get them with a stand and everything. One statue that I just worked on was Catwoman and we made that into a toyline, but it took 3 years to get going. I have an exclusive cover coming out with Scott Snyder.






Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 1.39.51 PM

Kristen “Hapa” Lau
Age: 28
City: Alhambra, California
Favorite Superhero: Wonderwoman!
(Beauty Brains and Brawn! Plus, who can resist Linda Carter and that jazzy action fighting theme song?! I sure can’t! She’s AMAZING!)

What do you do?
I’m currently a Freelance Character Designer/Illustrator working for various clients. I have been getting mentored for Character Design and Development alongside Mark Mcdonnell who is a current Disney Master Instructor, whom has helped expand my knowledge and grow as a designer.

What’s the most favorite thing you’ve worked on?
Wow! That’s a hard question! Each piece has its own unique quality to it. I’m jumping into stylization, dynamics, character and overall…. just having fun in what I do! I’m always testing my versatility and challenging myself in shapes and design. I’ve been very lucky and honored to be featured at a few recent gallery shows in LA this year so that helped me tap into the different worlds and genres in my pieces and put my own little twist into it. The most rewarding feeling I get is when I see people smiling at my work. A smile can say so much without saying anything at all– and that keeps me going!

Asians in comics?
I think Asians and Asian Americans are definitely on the radar in this industry. There is so much wonderful talent out there, it’s beyond exciting! I not only have one perspective, I’m lucky to have 3. I’m Asian, Hispanic and American. In all three, it comes down to the same denomination– The work, the passion and your personality.

I’m new in this industry– taking courses, observing, learning, executing everyday. As an artist, all of us are learning and our work is always changing, nothing really stays the same in what we do and THAT’s the exciting part of it—- you can definitely see it in one’s work.  No matter who you are and what your background is, it’s the life in what you do, in what you draw, and your personality combined that shows the true talent and makes one shine bright.

How did your family react to your career choice?
(laughs) Quite well actually. My mother was and still is my ROCK. She was very supportive in what I wanted to do. She’d seen it first hand, so it was no surprise to her that I would be come an artist.

My mother would actually look up courses in community college courses that didn’t have an age requirement and sign me up when I was in middle school  So I was the youngest rugrat there. I didn’t care at all because, heck (yes I said said heck), I got to draw! She supported everything I did. Recently I spoke with her and she reminded me about how I would draw in elementary school and charge .25-.50 per drawing of my classmates’ favorite cartoon characters. I would even sell drawings at my mom’s yard sales! My mom and grandparents were very supportive and I’m glad they saw something in me before I even did.

What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m currently working on my first ashcan book full of my daily doodles and drawings I’ve done in the past couple of years. It’s been such a fun ride where I documented my quirks, experiences, notes, drawings and rough sketches — including some of the recent work and new pieces! It’s set to release February 2015 at Long Beach Comic Con Expo so be on the look out for it!






Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.03.59 PM

Ryan Odagawa
Age: 38
City: Los Angeles
Favorite Superhero: Wolverine

What do you do?
I’m a comic book artist and a storyboard revisionist. I do comics and I do my own comic called Shadowzone and I also do freelance work.

What’s the most favorite thing you’ve worked on?
My first job at WildStorm working with Jim Lee. I’ve worked on The Heroes, an online graphic novel for NBC. More recently, I worked on the Cheetos bag – I drew Chester Cheetah. Also, one of the recent jobs I had was on the Ultimate Spiderman cartoon and that was a lot of fun.

Asians in comics?
I think there seems to be a lot of Asians in the art field. I know a lot of Asian parents traditionally want their kids to be doctors, lawyers, etc., but it’s not really what the kid wants to do.  Seems like things have changed over the years where Asians can make a great living doing art. Especially in the Movie or Game industry.

How did your family react to your career choice?
My family was fine with my decision. My dad and several of our relatives on his side are artists, so it was not a big deal. I wanted to start working when I was in high school, but I remember my mom said, “You have to graduate high school first!”

What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Right now I’m working on my own graphic novel called Shadowzone, so I’m currently developing the characters and story.






Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.14.03 PM

Whilce Portacio
Age: 52
City: Born in Cavite City, Philippines. Currently in California
Favorite Superhero: The Silver Surfer

What do you do?
I am now what we call a Creator, I do everything– I pencil, ink, color and create the characters and the story

What’s the most favorite thing you’ve worked on?
So far, it was the creation of the X-Men character Bishop…I was able to create a character I thought was interesting and when the comicbook was published, it was gratifying to see that the audience thought he was interesting too. So it is now a great pleasure to see him in a movie this year.

Asians in comics?
Even before me, there have always been Asian artists. It seems to me that we not only have a great desire to imagine the fantastic, but we somehow have skills needed to realize thee goals.

In the bigger perspective, the world has already gone through the let’s say, “European” myths, legends, heroes…now the world audience in hungry for something new, and since there is an abundance of Asian characters, myths, legends, and heroes that have yet to be presented to the world, I believe it is time to expose all of that, and that the world audience will embrace this new outlook.

How did your family react to your career choice?
I have been winning art awards since the sixth grade, so when I decided to try art as a career, they gave me the chance to try. Like most Asians they didn’t feel it was a good career move, especially me being an honor student. When I made it they quietly accepted it because I could make a living with it. Now that comics are celebrated by society at large they are proud.

What can we look forward to from you in the future?
My partner-creator Glen Brunswick and I just recently launched our book (sci-fi) called Non-Humans for Image Comics, and we are now producing the Second Arc.

Then I am building a studio in Manila to do just this. I have also partnered with young filmmakers to produce them into film. I will then form a school to discover and train aspiring young artists.






Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.24.47 PM

Ann Shen
Age: 29
City: Orange, California
Favorite Superhero: Wonder Woman

What do you do?
I’m an illustrator.

What’s the most favorite thing you’ve worked on?
A HarperCollins book cover for “Say What You Will”

Asians in comics?
I think that everyone should pursue their dreams and follow their heart, regardless of their ethnic background. The comic book and art world is a place where someone can really take on and address the issues of representation they feel is lacking in mainstream media; it all starts here in your own hands.

How did your family react to your career choice?
When I said I wanted to be an artist as a kid, my mom was freaked out. However, as I got older, I never shook the creative bug and first became a writer and photographer, which eventually led to art school to become an illustrator and designer. My family is fully supportive of my career choice now, especially since my work can be found in stores like Target and Anthropologie!

What can we look forward to from you in the future?
A variety of projects I can’t talk about yet, hopefully coming to your bookstores soon, and booths at more shows! I’ll be at DesignerCon and CTNx here in the L.A. area this November.




Feature photo by Dustin Nguyen, courtesy of




Update on Nina Pham: The U.S. Nurse Who Contracted Ebola Virus From Patient


Nina Pham, a 26-year-old nurse based in Dallas, Texas, tackled an extremely tough and brave assignment– she was one of the nurses who treated a highly contagious Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan. Unfortunately, along the way she contracted the deadly virus herself.

Duncan was from was from Monrovia, Liberia which was drastically hit with the Ebola virus epidemic. He worked as a personal driver and allegedly came in close contact with the virus. However, his nephew claims this interaction did not happen. On September 19th, he traveled to visit family in Dallas. According to Liberian officials, Duncan lied about his history of contact with the Ebola virus on an airport questionnaire.  On September 14th, he began experiencing symptoms. By September 30th, the CDC confirmed that he had the Ebola virus and was quickly isolated. The virus proved to be too strong and on October 8, 2014, Duncan became the first patient to die within the United States of the Ebola virus disease.


 Nina Pham, the nurse who looked after Duncan, is the first patient to contract the disease while on U.S. soil. The exact way she contracted the virus is still being investigated.

“This is a very brave person who put herself at risk to do something good for society, and is now ill.” said CDC director Tom Frieden.

Pham attended Texas Christian University and graduated with a nursing degree in 2010. She is currently being treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. She recently received a blood transfusion from Ebola-survivor Dr. Kent Brantly. Brantly had also offered a blood transfusion for Duncan, however the two were not compatible blood types.

The transfusion seems to have affected her well. On Tuesday, Pham released a statement about her condition:

“I’m doing well and want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers,” she said, according to the hospital. “I am blessed by the support of family and friends and am blessed to be cared for by the best team of doctors and nurses in the world.”


Texas Health Resources CEO Barclay Berdan has stated that the doctors involved with Pham’s treatment “remain hopeful” about her recovery.

There is an online fundraising site to support Nina Pham and her family. If you would like to send a message or contact Pham directly, there is an E-Mail a patient function on

(photo credit)

Marvel’s Newest Superhero Is An Asian American Woman


Exciting news for comic book fans! Back in November of 2013, Marvel revealed their first Pakistani superhero, Ms. Marvel. Underneath the suit was 16-year-old Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American Muslim teenager.

Well it looks like Marvel is ready to put another Asian American woman on the superhero grid. Cindy Moon, who goes by the name Silk, will have her own comic book series by February 2015.

If you think she resembles Spiderman, you’re right. In fact, Silk was bitten by the very same radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker. Silk made her first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man where we learn that she has been locked away in a facility for years. We also discover that she was trained for six years to adequately use her powers. As a result, she is superior to Spiderman when it comes to speed, spider sense, and can create webs from her fingertips as opposed to Spiderman who must use artificial web-fluid.

Silk will be scripted by Robbie Thompson, the series will be drawn by Stacey Lee and Dave Johnson will be providing covers. In an interview, Robbie Thompson describes some of what we can expect from the series:

I can’t speak to the specifics of “Spider-Verse,” but it definitely has an enormous impact on her growth. One of the things that’s most exciting about her character is that she’s suddenly on this crash course of “how to be a grown up.” How do you land a job? Or have a life? What’s it like to have lost all that time?   That’s what she’s dealing with as Cindy Moon. Then on the Silk side she’s on a crash course of how to be a super hero. She’s been dipped into a pretty massive story with “Spider-Verse” and the adventures she has during it with Spider-Woman. So I think she’s learned a lot and had to grow up pretty fast, but she’s still on that growing curve. We’re going to be exploring more of that in the ongoing book. It’s about her growing up and really learning how to have both a personal life and a super hero life.

Read the entire interview here.   Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 5.24.13 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 5.24.22 PM

Filipino Basketball Prodigy Kobe Paras Commits to UCLA, Gains Thousands of Fans


It looks like Los Angeles will soon have a new Kobe to cheer for. Kobe Paras, a 17-year-old basketball prodigy from the Philippines, first gained major attention for his athletic skills when he participated in a 2013 Nike exhibition in Manilla. Despite the presence of LeBron James, the 6’6″ teen was able to slam the ball into the hoop. The move was caught on video soon went viral. It wasn’t long before Paras was known as “the kid who dunked on LeBron.”



But now it seems the young athlete is going for even bigger nicknames. Paras, who played for La Salle Greenhills before pursuing a career in the United States, currently attends LA Cathedral. Paras has apparently already received scholarship offers from UC Irvine, Fresno State, Texas Arlington, Arizona State, Portland State, and Boston College, but it wasn’t until last week that he received an offer he couldn’t turn down.

UCLA coach Steve Alford visited a Cathedral game to watch Paras practice and sure enough, by the end of the game Alford offered him a UCLA scholarship. It didn’t take long for Paras to commit.

“I have made my decision… I’m really happy to say that I have committed to UCLA!” Paras posted on his offcial Twitter account on Saturday. In 24 hours, he picked up 1,000 more Twitter followers. In fact, the young athlete now has over 50K Twitter followers.

In a video posted on the Middlebrooks Basketball Facebook account, Paras was asked to describe how it felt to have committed to the Bruins. “It’s an unbelievable feeling, especially for a kid coming from the Philippines, a place that no one even knows about that much,” he said. “I’ve just been here for a couple of months… I can’t explain that much. It’s just a great feeling, just amazing. I’m so excited.” Of course he ends with an enthusiastic yell.

Many are claiming that Paras gained his talent from his father Benjie. Los Angeles Times reports, “In 1989 [Benjie] became the only player in the history of the country’s professional basketball league to be the rookie of the year and the MVP in the same season.”

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 3.46.30 PM

Images courtesy of


Top 10 Reasons Malala Yousafzai Is An Inspiration


1.  She is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize WinnerScreen Shot 2014-10-14 at 12.35.51 PM
Recently, Pakistani teen Malala Yousafzai was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Indian children’s rights advocate Kailash Satyarthi. This makes 17-year-old Malala the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Winner ever. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has commented on this decision:

“Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzai has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations. This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education.”



2. Despite her age, Malala has been bravely advocating for her beliefs for years
Malala’s story is no ordinary one. Malala was only a young girl when she became an activist for education rights and women’s rights. At the age of 11, she began blogging about her life under Taliban rule. This was so powerful that in 2009, a New York Times documentary was filmed about her life. Her actions were seen as unacceptable by the Taliban and in 2012, Malala was shot in the head and neck by a gunman in an assassination attempt. The strong, young lady survived the attack and continues to fight for what she believes in.



3. The Malala Fund

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

In October 2012, The Malala Fund was formed which hopes to make her dream a reality. The fund provides grants for organizations which aim to empower girls through education. The Malala Fund’s approach consists of three pillars:

- Amplify the voices of the girls to keep them in the spotlight, inspire girls globally and drive action on girls’ issues by the global community.
- Advocate at the international, national and local level for policy and system changes that give girls access to a high quality education at a community level.
- Invest in community centered scalable solutions that provide quality education with potential for systems level change by empowering local leaders and educators.



4. Malala not only fights for education for her own people…

Malala has certainly called attention to the education rates in Pakistan. NBC News reports about 70% of Pakistan’s rural population is illiterate. Even more shocking, other reports show literacy rates in women as low as 23% in some parts of the country. Malala’s message on education had inspired many people, including her own mother who learned how to read this past August. “Our family shows an example to the world how things change with the help of awareness … and with the help of the importance of education,” she said.



5. …she fights for education for ALL people

When Malala claims she wants education for all, she truly means it. Last year, she left Jon Stewart speechless after sharing her thoughts. Malala described how she imagined an encounter with a Taliban member and how she would tell him how important education is. She imagined telling him “that I would even want education for your children as well. That’s what I want to tell you. Now do what you want.”



  6. Malala Day

July 12, 2013 was Malala’s 16th birthday and she spent it speaking at the UN to call for worldwide access to education. This was her first public speech since the attack, but she passionately spoke her mind to an audience of over 500 people. This historic event was dubbed “Malala Day,” but Malala recognizes the day for something else. “Malala day is not my day,” she said. “Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.”  

  7. Her work in Nigeria 

AP Photo/Olamikan Gbemiga

AP Photo/Olamikan Gbemiga

In July, Malala met with met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja, Nigeria. She urged him (and even claimed it would be her birthday wish) to meet with the families of the 219 schoolgirls kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. She then addressed the terrorist group by saying, “Lay down your weapons. Release your sisters. Release my sisters. Release the daughters of this nation. Let them be free. They have committed no crime.” Additionally, the Malala Fund created the “safe space” project in Nigeria which presents more opportunities to Nigerian woman to gain an education.  

  8. Her work in Syria and Jordan malsyria In February, the Malala fund helped hundreds of Syrian refugees enter safely into Jordan. The Malala fund currently provides educational programs for those refugees. These programs aim to protect, rehabilitate and educate the children. They also aim to invest in Syrian-led programs to rehabilitate the children.  

  9. Malala’s Memoir

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 2.36.33 PM

On October 2013, Malala’s memoir I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban was published and told the full story of Malala’s experience. “I hope the book will reach people around the world, so they realize how difficult it is for some children to get access to education,” Malala said in a news release. “I want to tell my story, but it will also be the story of 61 million children who can’t get education. I want it to be part of the campaign to give every boy and girl the right to go to school. It is their basic right.”  

  10. As a modern-day icon, she inspires the work of others  icons Needless to say, Malala’s efforts have sparked inspiration in others. United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, launched a petition in her name a few weeks after she was shot. The Malala Petition aims to get every child in school by 2015 and received over 3 million signatures. In the world of art, Texas artist Anat Ronen wanted to blend the old with the new and create a mural showing both the strength of women in the ’40s and the strength of women today. He blended the 40’s feminist icon Rosie the Riveter with today’s icon, Malala.     (Source 1, 2, 3, 4)