Want to be Part of Ariel’s World? This Philippine Academy Shows You How

 

Some fifteen years ago, little girls all over the U.S., myself included, had our eyes glued to the television watching The Little Mermaid and praying that one day we would wake up with the latter half of our bodies covered in colorful scales. Um hello, who doesn’t want the ability to live underwater and hang out with adorable fish all day? But then we experienced true internal conflicts as we watched Ariel give up her beautiful tail to be with the love of her life.

Now, even with raging hormones fighting against us, most of us (hopefully) know better than to change our appearances for some boy. Even if he has piercing blue eyes, an adorable dog and lives in a castle. Like whatever, we’re so over it.

But for those of you who aren’t quite ready to give up on your lifelong dream of becoming a mermaid, we have great news for you — the Philippines Mermaid Swimming Academy has just opened to turn your dreams into reality, at just $40 per session. According to Elitedaily, the classes are open to anyone regardless of age and gender, and they also offer mermaid water scooting and mermaid scuba diving classes. Boys, that means you too can swim around with a heavy rubber tail while being strapped to an oxygen tank.

 

Here are some pictures so you know what your getting yourself into:

 

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And here’s a promo video to really get you into the mood:

 

YouTube Star Surprises Parents By Paying Off Their Mortgage

If you don’t already keep updated with YouTube personality Tim Chantarangsu, better known as Traphik and Timothy DeLaGhetto, then maybe this video will convince you to do so. The 28-year-old Thai American rapper and comedian added even more to his 2 million subscribers with his recent, heartwarming act of generosity.

Chantarangsu begins his video by saying, “My family and my parents are a big part of who I am as a person and why I do what I do.” He goes on to explain that all of his efforts are to help his parents, who have constantly worked hard for him at the Thai restaurant they own in California. Despite the fact that he is not a doctor or lawyer (he dropped out of college five years ago to pursue a career in entertainment), Chantarangsu was bent on being successful so that he could give his parents the biggest thank you he could think off: paying off the mortgage to their house.

He pulls his adorable parents in front of the camera and, much to the delight of his mother, tells them he has a surprise. He then presents them with a check and is met with tears and hugs. According to USA Today, the check was worth $210,000.

Many Asian Americans can relate to the desire of wanting to give back to their parents who often sacrificed everything just to give their children a better life.

“He just paid off the mortgage for us, man,” Chantarangsu’s father says in disbelief. “But with or without [the check] you’re still the best son to me.” He pauses and adds with a laugh, “The check just made it better.”

 

 

TOKiMONSTA On Being A Female DJ In A Male-Dominated Industry

Just as she steps onto the red carpet to pose for a row of photographers, what had been a light sprinkle suddenly turns into a downpour. A member of the press rushes to grab an umbrella, but TOKiMONSTA, one of the four stars being celebrated that night for the premiere of the Mnet America reality show Alpha Girls, laughs and says, “Good thing I have this hat on.” A black fur-trimmed hat sits atop her shock of blond hair — she’s been known to experiment with color over the years, mixing blues and purples at one point — and though a pair of oversized black shades cover 50 percent of her face, TOKiMONSTA stands out. It’s a part of a life she’s become used to, especially now that she’s one of the few well-known Asian American female DJs in the music industry.

Jennifer Lee, better known by her aforementioned stage name, has risen to the forefront of the electronic dance music scene with two albums, a number of EPs and high-profile appearances at festivals like Coachella and SXSW. The Torrance, Calif., native, who is of Korean descent, was ranked by LA Weekly as L.A.’s top female DJ in 2010 and was a part of the Full Flex Express Tour in 2012 that had her performing alongside electronic music gods Skrillex and Diplo. Not too shabby for a girl who began producing music in her college dorm while studying business at the University of California, Irvine.

In a crowded L.A. beat scene, Lee’s music stands out, like the recently remastered “The World Is Ours,” with its softer, chiller beats (it’s the stuff midnight dreams are made of). But what also makes Lee unique is her success in an industry that has always been dominated by males, and non-Asian males at that. It’s what made her the perfect candidate for the Asian pop culture channel Mnet America’s new web reality series, Alpha Girls.

Alpha Girls, which premiered in February, follows Lee, Korean artist and illustrator Mina Kwon, Korean American supermodel Soo Joo Park and Filipina American fashion designer Lanie Alabanza-Barcena in a series documenting their journeys in the worlds of art, music and fashion. “I joined [the show] because I loved the idea behind it,” says Lee of her Alpha Girl status. “Alpha Girls shows the rest of America that, hey, Asians can choose careers outside of the medical field, and they can still be successful.”

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Lee’s segment on Alpha Girls follows her as she takes South Korea by storm, performing in her motherland for the first time. She jets around the country in stylish streetwear and looks completely at ease performing in the middle of jam-packed, ear-numbing clubs. “It was scary because I didn’t know whether Korean audiences would be used to my music,” she says, “but I ended up having a blast. I hope girls can watch this show and see us all doing our thing and know that they can succeed at whatever they want to. I didn’t discover the underground scene until college, and now here I am in Korea playing my own music!”

Catch full webisodes of Alpha Girls on Mnet America’s YouTube channel or at alphagirlstv.com. 

 

–Story by Taylor Weik

This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here

 

ALISA XAYALITH of The Naked and Famous On Stage Fright and Breaking Through

 

Just four years ago, Alisa Xayalith was a shy singer from Auckland, New Zealand, who had suddenly exploded onto the international indie music scene with her band The Naked and Famous and their surprise hit song “Young Blood.” Though it’s the power of her voice that drives the catchy electro-pop anthem, Xayalith didn’t have much experience performing live. She had stage fright, often hid behind her long black hair, and didn’t yet know how to act the part of a front woman.

“You have to look up this [2010] video on KCRW of us playing ‘Young Blood,’” she says. “I was so timid! When I look at that girl now, I think, ‘Who was that?’” She laughs. “Performing feels like second nature now, but it’s definitely been a process.”

Her hair newly cropped and dyed into a bleached blond pixie cut, Xayalith, 27, isn’t hiding anymore. There is no secret to becoming more confident in front of a crowd, she says. It’s all about practice. In the last few years, The Naked and Famous has performed all around the world, most recently touring with Imagine Dragons and performing at Coachella, before kicking off the European portion of their international tour in June.

As a child, Xayalith grew up listening to a lot of Laotian folk music because her dad was a singer in a local Laotian band in South Auckland. But she also remembers her father introducing her to English-language songs. “He used to sing me ‘Mona Lisa’ by Nat King Cole,” she remembers. “And then when I got older, I became obsessed with Mariah Carey for a long time.”

Her mother passed away from breast cancer when Xayalith was just 7 years old, a personal tragedy that she finally got the courage to write about in “I Kill Giants,” a track on The Naked and Famous’ second album, In Rolling Waves, released late 2013. The saddest of days, she sings. Why couldn’t we save you?

 

 

“I had written these lyrics and Thom [Powers, her The Naked and Famous bandmate] really loved them,” says Xayalith. “He said, ‘Don’t change them. I’m going to use them for something.’ It’s the most revealing that I’ve ever let myself get, lyrically, and I was really apprehensive about it. But he really pushed me.”

Xayalith, Powers and bandmate Aaron Short met at Auckland’s MAINZ music college in 2006. (David Beadle and Jesse Wood joined the band in 2009.) Xayalith always wanted to be a singer, but she says her songwriting skills weren’t fully realized until she met Powers and they started writing together. Soon they formed The Naked and Famous. The band name is taken from the song “Tricky Kid” by English trip-hop artist Tricky, which has the line “everybody wants to be naked and famous,” about being ambivalent to the idea of celebrity.

Their first collaboration was a trip-hop song that Xayalith says she’d be embarrassed if anyone heard now, but their second song, “Serenade,” which ended up on their debut EP, gave them their first taste of success when it reached number one in New Zealand’s college charts.

“I remember Aaron, Thom and I were sitting in the living room listening to the countdown, seeing if we’d be on it,” she says. “Aaron has a recording of it actually. All of our friends were there screaming, ‘You guys are number one!’

“But international success didn’t come until we released ‘Young Blood’ in 2010,” she continues. “That song changed our lives. It catapulted us out of New Zealand.”

 

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Xayalith still remembers fiddling with the melody that ended up turning into “Young Blood.” When she showed Powers what she was working on, he immediately recognized the potential behind those chords, and they came up with the music for the song together in two hours. “It was just a natural moment of inspiration that we harnessed,” says Xayalith. “Then I wrote the lyrics, and Thom said, ‘How about you sing it higher?’ And I was like, ‘Really? I don’t know about this!’ But I did it, and he said, ‘Alisa, we’ve got it.’”

At the time, the band members were still working day jobs — Xayalith was working at a record store and in fashion — and they were recording their first studio album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, on the side. When “Young Blood” blew up in New Zealand, they were suddenly wined and dined by record labels and eventually dominated the 2011 New Zealand Music Awards, winning everything from Single of the Year and Album of the Year to Best Group. American audiences eventually caught on after “Young Blood” was featured everywhere, from Chuck and Gossip Girl to American Idol and the 2013 film Carrie.

Soon after, the band moved to Los Angeles to pursue their music full time and recorded their entire second album in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Laurel Canyon. In addition to the vulnerable “I Kill Giants,” the songs on In Rolling Waves are moodier. The first single, “Hearts Like Ours,” is about being brave despite anxiety, while their second single, “A Stillness,” deals with rising above fear and learning to be calm. “What We Want” — their first collaborative effort with a singer-songwriter outside of their band, Max McElligott from Wolf Gang — is a melancholy duet. The somber tone throughout was inspired by the first song the band wrote for the album, “Grow Old.” “It’s one of those slow burn, sad, miserable songs,” says Xayalith. “It’s a Naked and Famous love song, so that means it’s not very happy.”

As Xayalith juggles an intense touring schedule, which means she’s only “home” in L.A. a few months of the year, she hopes that their sound continues to evolve. “Our early music had a punk attitude,” Xayalith explains. “We wanted to be pop, but also had a love for rock music, like Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins and Queens of the Stone Age. If you look at our body of work, you can see that our music is multigenre and hard to pinpoint.

“But it’s important for us to develop and change,” she adds. “We don’t have to worry about consistency and continuity, because the music is always going to be written by us and sound like The Naked and Famous.”

– Story by Ada Tseng 

 

This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here!

Watch Out Hello Kitty — Pikachu Pop-Up Café Is Moving In (For Now)

 

Japan is clearly the go-to destination for all things cute. In the past, we brought you Little Twin Stars and My Melody-themed cafés in Japan, where you can eat the world’s most adorably shaped foods. And of course by now, you probably already know about Sanrio’s Hello Kitty café that has now expanded its stores worldwide. But obviously, the cartoon-themed café trend isn’t complete without everyone’s favorite yellow rodent — Pikachu. Hence, a Pikachu pop-up café made its debut in downtown Tokyo, Japan on July 19, shortly after the release of Pokémon the Movie XY, a Japanese anime film. In addition to purchasing adorable Pokémon-themed food and beverages at the café, you can also purchase Pokémon postcards, T-shirts and more.

Even though the franchise is now 20 years old, die-hard fans (surprisingly, mostly adults!) still go the distance to stand in long lines, eagerly waiting for their Pikachu-shaped meals. The pop-up café ends on August 31, so Pokémon fans, get moving!

Here are some of the café’s most appetizing dishes!

 

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Photos courtesy of Kotaku

 

Steven Yeun to Create More Opportunities for Asian Actors

 

In 2005, when Korean American actor Steven Yeun decided to pursue acting rather than get a job that directly correlated to his degree in psychology, you can imagine all the people who thought he was ludicrous. After all, as difficult as it is to maintain a successful career as a working actor, it’s even more difficult with the limited opportunities for Asian actors. Luckily, the odds didn’t seem to scare him away.

Fast forward to today and 30-year-old Yeun is now one of the most popular Asian actors in mainstream media. We can all rest assured that he certainly doesn’t regret his “ludicrous” decision to go into acting. “[Glenn] is a really exciting character,” Yeun told Audrey Magazine in an interview in 2010. “As an Asian American male, it’s something that isn’t very stereotypical and really kind of stretched to show a lot of dimensions.”

In addition to his role, Yeun also stretched his career in many directions. In 2011, he was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television. In 2013, Yeun was on the list of of People magazine’s “Sexiest Men.”

With all this success, it’s safe to assume that Yeun is drowning in job offers right? Apparently, that’s not necessarily the case.

 

 

“People ask, ‘So, how are the roles now? You must be getting so many.’ And it’s like, I don’t know if you know, but I’m Asian still,” Yeun told TheWrap during an interview in July. “It’s not a complaint, that’s just how it is now. I think that if I had not been Asian, I probably would have a whole plethora of roles, at least to audition for, but it’s just not what has been written.”

And Hollywood certainly isn’t helping. Many Asian films, such as Oldboy, have been remade and recast with white actors, instead of simply opening up to the idea of more Asian actors on screen. (Looking at you, The Last Airbender.)

So is Steven Yeun, the man who took a leap of faith into acting despite the odds against him, going to sit around and just wait for more opportunities for Asian actors to pop up? Of course not. Yeun is taking matters into his own hands by writing and producing his own projects that will offer better roles to Asian actors.

Yeun is working on an adaptation of Kang Chol-Hwan’s memoir The Aquariums of Pyongyang, which focuses on life inside of North Korean concentration camp, as well as some comedies and cartoons.

Yeun’s drive to progress not only his career but also the opportunities available for Asian actors comes from a place many of us are familiar with: a desire to make our parents proud.

“I think my greatest fear is letting my parents down,” Yeun told Audrey Magazine. “That might be inherent in anyone, but coming from my perspective, it’s pretty inherent in the Korean culture. [My parents] sacrificed so much for me, and I said I was going to be an actor after they paid so much for everything. And yet they stood behind me and they were very supportive. I definitely want to make this a long career and definitely want them to be proud.”

I can’t speak for his parents, but I for one can say he is certainly someone the Asian American community can be proud of.

 

Growing Up With Chinese Food, Dwayne Johnson and a Shake Weight, And Other MUST READS OF THE WEEK

 

1) 23 Food Things Only Chinese American Kids Would Understand (READ HERE

 

2) Maxine Hong-Kington and Billie Tsien Honored With National Medals of Arts (READ HERE

 

3) Chinese Businessman Sips Tea From $36.3 Million Ming Dynasty Cup, Angers Netizens (READ HERE
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4) 21 Annoying Comments Filipinos Are Tired Of Hearing (READ HERE

 

5) Actor George Takei Shares Family’s Story of WWII Internment (READ HERE

 

6) Move Over McDonalds, Brand Bringing Thai Fast Food to Cities Across the U.S. (READ HERE

 

 

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7) Pools in China are so crowded, you don’t swim, you go for a stand (READ HERE)

 

8) 10-Year-Old Hapa Girl’s Guitar Cover Of “Slayer” Is Insane (READ HERE

 

9) Run For Your Lives! Zombie-infested obstacle course heading to Singapore (READ HERE)

 

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10) Jimmy Fallon And Dwayne Johnson Make Hilarious Workout Videos (READ HERE

 

 

Top Stories of the Week: An Inspiring Granddaughter and Floating Babies

1) What This 20-Something Does For Her Grandmother Who Raised Her 

 

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2) “Mistresses”‘s Catherine Haena Kim Dishes On Working with Yunjin Kim and a Surprising Famous Relative 
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3) Chinese Doctors Bow For An 11-Year-Old’s Selfless Decision 

 

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4) Viral Video Alert: Tiny Floating Asian Babies

 

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5) Lee Hyori’s Behind-The-Scenes Photos of Her DIY Wedding on New Lifestyle Blog 

 

Chinese Doctors Bow For An 11-Year-Old’s Selfless Decision

 

These bowing doctors are not the only ones in awe of 11-year-old Liang Yaoyi. This image, along with its inspiring story, has been circulating all throughout China. Everyone seems to be impressed with this selfless young man who proved that children are most certainly capable of doing what is noble and good.

Liang was a fifth grader in Shenzhen, China. Despite his young age, he already knew that he wanted to save lives as a doctor in the future.

“There are many people doing great things in the world,” he told ChinaDaily.com. “They are great, and I want to be a great kid, too.” Well it was only a matter of time before Liang fulfilled that longing.

In April, Liang was diagnosed with brain cancer and even after multiple surgeries, his body could not handle the cancer. There on his deathbed, Liang told his parents about his final decision: After he died, Liang wanted to donate his organs so that he could help others live.

 

 

Soon after, the brave 11-year-old passed away. Touched by his incredible selflessness, Chinese doctors bowed to Liang before performing the surgery.

Although he didn’t end up becoming a doctor, Liang managed to fulfill his wish of saving lives. According to China Daily, the boy’s kidney and liver were successfully transplanted to people in need.

 

(Source 1, 2)

 

The Most Breathtaking Photos of Indonesian Village Life You Will Ever See

 

“I am an amateur,” Herman Damar humbly told us when we asked about his incredible photography skills. Despite Damar’s insistence that he is just a self-taught photographer, no one can deny his natural ability and talent. In fact, it’s obvious to anyone after just a short glance at his work.

Based in Jakarta, Indonesia, Damar often shows the everyday lives of rural Indonesian villages in his work. His photos capture children playing together, villagers swimming in the river and even elders at work.

“I am interested in photography because I want to capture every moment, especially the beauty and life of Indonesian society,” the Indonesian photographer explains. “I want explore the rich diversity of Indonesian culture.”

Well, if showing the beauty of Indonesian culture was his goal, he can consider his task complete. It’s rare that we come across such beautiful photos of the everyday Indonesian lifestyle.

Damar mainly uses natural light and shoots with a Canon 550D. Using Adobe Lightroom and After Effects, he makes his photos come alive. See them for yourself below and be sure to check out his official site here.

 

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Photos courtesy of Herman Damar Photography