Last month we all rolled our eyes at Americans overreacting to Asian food where, as you can guess from the title, a few taste testers made it seem like Asian food was the most horrible thing in human existence. Let’s not kid ourselves here. Asian food is amazing —end of story. (Am I biased? Maybe a little.)
So you can imagine our fear when these same Buzzfeed taste testers decided to try some Filipino street food. After all, we’ve seen this before and it wasn’t pretty. A controversial blogpost titled “I Would Rather Go Hungry Than Eat Filipino Street Food Again!” made its way onto the Web a few months ago and sparked some controversy for its writer, Agness Walewinder.
The story received nearly 700 responses and even led other writers, such as travel writer Nathan Allen, to allege that Walewinder was intentionally abrasive and offensive just to gain attention for her blog.
For instance, Walewinder comments, “No wonder why [sic], in the north, the vast majority of Filipino kids and young people are overweight. This is something we have noticed straight away. People in young age [sic] are huge and it’s due to poor quality of food.”
After such controversy, we couldn’t help but expect an even worse reception in Buzzfeed’s Filipino street food taste test. After all, these are the people who cringed at Japanese snacks. (Seriously, how do you not like jelly cups and green tea Kit Kats?)
So you can imagine our pleasant surprise to discover that Filipino street food was rather well received this time around. Although the tasters showed some hesitation before taking a bite, they were quick to admit that the street food was pretty good and even ended up enjoying many of the treats. Finally, we’ve found something they’re satisfied with!
Check out the video below and excuse me while I go indulge in some turon.
A fifteen-year-old Filipino teen named Angelo Casimiro has created a new way to charge a phone or flashlight with footwear that can generate electricity by walking.
He recognizes that this concept may not seem necessary for everyone. After all, who wants to walk when they can just plug their phone into a charger and go on with their full day of watching Netflix? Well, this is certainly not the average day for everyone.
“I’m a Filipino. I live in the Philippines. And just by looking around my surroundings, I can see that a lot of people are suffering from poverty,” explains Casimiro. “A simple source of light is a big deal for people who don’t have electricity.”
The footwear was Casimiro’s entry to Google’s Science Fair this year. He realized that the average human takes 7,000 steps a day and wanted to find a way to utilize that energy.
Of course, this will still take quite some effort. During Casimiro’s experiments, he was able to give his phone about 10 minutes of battery life after two hours of playing basketball. None the less, this is clearly a start to something extraordinary.
Learn more about his invention with the video below.
Darren Criss has only been in television’s spotlight for a handful of years, but he has already managed to gather an incredible amount of dedicated fans. On twitter alone, his account has an impressive 1.7 million followers. It doesn’t take much to see that Criss is beloved by many.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the 27-year-old actor, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 reasons we love Darren Criss. See if you end up falling in love with him after reading them all.
1. He’s Harry Potter.
Well… not exactly, but he certainly does a great job of portraying a comedic Harry Potter on stage. In 2009, Darren Criss co-founded a Chicago-based musical theatre company called StarKid Productions. That same year, Criss played Harry Potter in the StarKid production “A Very Potter Musical” and began gathering attention for himself. The hilarious musical was put on YouTube and became a viral video. The musical was so popular that they created two more installments. Even before hitting television screens, Criss already showed us his humor, charm, talent and stage presence.
2. He’s Blaine.
Darren Criss is most known for his character Blaine Anderson on the popular Fox musical comedy-drama series Glee. Following his success with StarKid Productions, he was casted as the charming gay high school student. The chemistry between Blaine and another character named Kurt Hummel gained a large fan support and their relationship was named, “one of the most beloved TV couples of the millennium” by the New York Post. Additionally, they were named Favorite TV Couple at the 2010 AfterElton.com Visibility Awards, and Entertainment Weekly claims that the boys have been “leading the way” in representing the gay community on television.
3. He’s talented. As you can probably tell from his work, Darren Criss is an awfully talented fellow. He began playing the violin at the age of 5 and was classically trained for 15 years. Of course, he didn’t stop there. He also taught himself how to play the guitar, piano, mandolin, harmonica and drums. By the age of ten, he began joining theater groups and theater companies. By 15, Criss began composing songs. He made his television debut in 2009 on Eastwick, his Broadway debut in 2012 in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and his film debut later that year in Girl Most Likely.
4. He’s Filipino-American. And he’s extremely proud of his roots. His mother is a native of Cebu, Philippines and went to live in America in hopes of better circumstances for her children. Criss admits that while his childhood was not too immersed in the culture, he has been to the Philippines numerous times and has a “bizarre kinship” with the country. “As soon as I got off the plane, I was like, ‘Ah, this is me back in the Philippines.” I love this place. Whatever Filipino blood [I have in me] is very happy to be here.” he said in an interview.
5. He has a big heart. Possibly one of the biggest reasons Criss has such a large fanbase is because he seems to be a genuinely good person. Following the massive Typhoon that hit the Philippines, Criss launched a campaign to encourage donations. His statement said, “My mother was born & raised there, and as a result I have always been proud of my Filipino heritage, as well as lucky enough to feel the tremendous support of the Filipino community throughout my life as an artist.” Criss is an active supporter of The Trevor Project which focuses on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. His work with this organization gained him Variety’s Power of Youth Philanthropy award.
Among the numerous monsters in Filipino folklore, the aswang is undoubtedly the most known and most feared of them all.
A ghoulish shape shifter that feeds on the unborn, the aswang is said to be a combination of vampires and werewolves. Although the creature is known to be a shape-shifter, they are often depicted as female with bloodshot eyes due to entire nights spent feeding on human bodies.
The most known tale associated with the aswang is the story of the creature hiding on a rooftop or near a window of a pregnant woman as she sleeps. The creature then releases its long proboscis (or tongue) to suck the unborn child out of the mother’s womb.
Disturbing? You bet.
This may be why Jim Kouf, executive producer of the American TV drama series Grimm, says that the aswang is the scariest creature that the show has ever featured.
True to his word, when the aswang made its appearance on an episode last week, audiences were surprised to see a monster even darker than Filipino folklore imagined– a bald, pale creature with sharp claws and skull-shaped face.
Despite the new and horrifying mental image, Filipinos are rejoicing. It is not too often that Filipino folklore is featured in mainstream media. This is all thanks to Filipino actor Reggie Valdez who plays the role of Sergeant Wu on Grimm.
“The creators are so wonderfully collaborative. They actually came to me and said, ‘Do you know any of – do you know any Filipino folklore?’” Lee said in an interview with Broadway World.com.
“And as you know, we believe these things in the Philippines,” he said. “I’m so grateful that the creators of Grimm decided to use my actual heritage to introduce my character to the ‘creature world.’ I mean, how often do we have a Filipino story line on mainstream television? It was probably one of the most fulfilling times I’ve had within my career both because of the connection to the Philippines and the tremendous amount of emotion involved. I am grateful!”
Story by Ada Tseng. Photos by Craig Stubing, unwrittenfilms.com
In 2011, Patrick Mendoza Epino and Stephen Dypiangco started a YouTube channel and new media studio called National Film Society. Part of the joke was that their name sounded very official and old-school Hollywood, but in reality, the playful, self-mocking and slightly absurd videos, from “Film School or No Film School?” to “Manny Pacquiao vs. Batman,” were made by two Filipino American filmmakers who riffed on everything. Eight months after they started, they caught the attention of PBS Digital Studios, which added National Film Society to their lineup. Since then, they’ve given out National Film Society “awards” (aka slightly inappropriate Barrel Man statuettes) to their confused actor friends, filmed commentary about the popular PBS series Downton Abbey, and interviewed subjects from documentarian Morgan Spurlock to Cookie Monster.
One of their most memorable videos was titled “Awesome Asian Bad Guys,” where they paid tribute to the badass Asian fighters in the action films they loved watching in the ’80s and ’90s. Unfortunately, in typical white male-dominated Hollywood form, these impressively skilled Asian guys always ended up dying very quickly at the hands of a Bruce Willis, an Arnold Schwarzenegger or a Mel Gibson. Dypiangco’s favorite bad guy was George Cheung (Rush Hour, Rambo 2); Epino’s favorite was Al Leong, who was killed off so many times that he’s inspired an “Al Leong Death Reel” compilation on YouTube where he violently perishes in almost 20 different movies. At the end of this National Film Society video, they mention that it’d be awesome to gather all these Asian bad guys together one day and create a super team, kind of like “the Asian Expendables.”
They had no idea they’d actually do it one day. “We just thought, conceptually, it’d be funny,” says Epino. “We weren’t like, ‘Let’s make it!’”
“It just seemed like it’d be ridiculous and fun,” says Dypiangco. “And it seemed like it’d be something that’d work really well on the web.”
Once they got some actors on board — including Tamlyn Tomita (beloved for her role on Karate Kid 2), Yuji Okumoto (who played the Karate Kid’s nemesis in the same film), comedic actor Aaron Takahashi (onboard to play the villain), and even Al Leong himself — Epino and Dypiangco launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to make their Awesome Asian Bad Guys web series.
A year and a half later, Awesome Asian Bad Guys is scheduled to premiere in San Francisco at the 2014 CAAMFest in March. There, it will play as a short feature, but online, it will be separated into approximately 10-minute webisodes. Though there were some “bad guys” in their dream cast that they weren’t able to lock down — including Bolo Yeung (Bloodsport, Double Impact) and James Hong (who turned them down four times) — Epino and Dypiangco’s team of Asian American actors were game to play fictional versions of themselves in the action comedy. The story begins with Tomita, who alerts the National Film Society about the dangers of Takahashi — who people might recognize as the funny guy with glasses in the Amp’d Mobile and State Farm commercials, but, in his personal life, is the leader of a gang with a diabolical plan to take down his competition in the entertainment industry.
“See, Tamlyn had a twin sister named Pamlyn whom Aaron killed,” explains Epino, with a straight face. “So she comes to us to help her get revenge.” He laughs. “Don’t ask why she comes to us. She just does.”
“She asks us to help recruit this team [of Awesome Asian Bad Guys] to take down Aaron,” says Dypiangco.
Other co-stars include Dante Basco (Rufio in Hook, Ben in The Debut), who plays Takahashi’s right-hand man, and Randall Park (Larry Crowne, The Five-Year Engagement, Veep), who is desperate to join the team of Awesome Asian Bad Guys to show that he can do more than just play the goofy Asian sidekick. Epino and Dypiangco even got Nuo “Sunny” Sun, who has worked on films such as The Avengers, The Expendables and The Last Airbender, to be their stunt coordinator.
“[Patrick and I] are on the Awesome Asian Bad Guys team, so we get to do some action, but we do it as [versions of] ourselves,” says Dypiangco. “So we’re not super skilled.”
“We’re poorly skilled,” says Epino. “But we were available to do the fight training more often than any of the rest of the actors, whose schedules we’d have to work around because they would sometimes book other gigs at the last minute.”
While they did some research on other web series to get a sense of the online medium, the story mostly references The Expendables, the film series starring Sylvester Stallone and other action hero actors, including Jet Li. Yet while they were shooting, the cast and crew kept telling them it felt like they were making a Naked Gun movie.
“That wasn’t necessarily conscious,” says Dypiangco, about being inspired by the over-the-top crime comedy film franchise from 1988 to 1994 starring Leslie Nielson, “but I think people thought that because [Awesome Asian Bad Guys] is just super silly.” He laughs. “But I actually watched Naked Gun again recently, and it’s pretty good!”
Last night, during the 86th Academy Awards, Robert Lopez and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez won the best song award for “Let It Go,” from Disney’s Frozen.
The success of “Let it Go” is undeniable. Robert Lopez has composed a song which has become a worldwide phenomenon that has inspired countless covers, parodies and tributes. But an even more inspiring success is that Lopez has made history by being the very first Filipino American to win an Oscar.
Additionally, Lopez is the first Fil-Am to join a prestigious group called “Egot” which consists of individuals who have won the four top entertainment awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.
How rare is this group? It contains only 12 individuals including Audrey Hepburn and Whoopi Goldberg.
Previously, Robert Lopez received Emmys for his music direction and composition in “The Wonder Pets,” a Grammy for “The Book of Mormon: Original Broadway Cast Recording” and two Tonys for “Avenue Q” and “The Book of Mormon.”
A few days before the Academy Awards, Lopez spoke to Inquirer.net about his nomination. Lopez apparently didn’t even know he was in the running to be the first Filipino American Oscar-winner.
“I was not aware of that! Wow,” Lopez exclaimed. “I hope, win or lose, that Filipino artists everywhere take my example as proof that you don’t have to look a certain way for your dreams to come true. It just takes hard work, perseverance and some luck.”
After winning the Oscar, Lopez once again acknowledged his Filipino heritage during a backstage press conference.
“Filipino pride. I’m so excited. I’m just sending love to the Philippines. I know they’ve had a tough year and I just send out my feelings to them,” he said, referring to Typhoon Haiyan which ravaged the Philippines last November.
In fact, Lopez revealed that he and his wife are planning a benefit concert for the Philippines on March 12 in New York.
Mitch Album, author of works such as The Five People You Meet in Heaven, For One More Day and Tuesdays With Morrie, is on a mission to rebuild some of the Philippine libraries that were ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan in November.
Early this week, Albom visited Tacloban and quickly found himself emotionally invested in the Philippine citizens. Upon arriving, the author donated 40 boats to help fishermen in the region.
Most importantly, Albom says he was touched with the way literature is viewed in the Philippines.
“I have been here since early this past week and have seen 11-year-olds embracing paperback books like prized possessions,” Albom writes. “In fact, readers here cover their paperbacks in plastic to preserve them. In the U.S., we rarely bother to do that with hardbacks.”
“I’ve seen my own books pulled from the flood-damaged homes, mouldy, discoloured, yet brought to me to sign,” Albom said. “It’s incredible and heartwarming.”
Joining forces with the National Book Store Foundation, the largest book and stationery chain in the Philippines, Albom has pledged to raise $160,000, including his own contribution of $10,000 for the libraries. (Click here to read the heartwarming story of Mitch Albom meeting Socorro Ramos — the woman who started the National Book Store in 1942 despite Japanese soldiers censoring and banning publications in the Philippines during World War II.)
Earlier today, Albom posted the following picture and caption on his Facebook page:
I’m back in the U.S., but miss the Philippines already. What an amazing, loving, resilient country. My deepest thanks to my new Filipino friends – and thousands of readers. Rarely have I been as moved as by seeing the ravages of Typhoon Yolanda. It inspired me to launch “D.R.Y. Libraries” (Donated Reading for Youth) a campaign to raise $160K to rebuild and restock school libraries in the typhoon-affected areas. National Book Store is matching each dollar. Asked authors—like Jeff Kinney, JK Rowling, John Grisham, Stephen King and so many more—to donate their books and they have. If you’d like to support and see which of your fav authors have contributed, go to www.mitchalbomcharities.org/dry
In addition to his generous donation and inspiring efforts, Albom has also pledged hundreds of copies of his own books to start filling the library bookshelves. He has asked other writers to join him and the following authors have already contributed their books directly to restock the libraries.
Roy Blount Jr.
Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket)
National Book Store Foundation will match funds raised by Albom until the goal is met. Albom and the National Book Store Foundation said their goal is to begin construction on the first three libraries by late spring.
Drew Arellano and Iya Villania make a gorgeous couple so it only makes sense to have a gorgeous wedding. After all, fans have been waiting ten years for the two to tie the knot.
Arellano and Villania are both actors and television hosts. 34-year-old Arellano is one of the traveling hosts of the daily morning show, Unang Hirit the host of Balik-Bayan. He has been awarded for hosting both shows. He is also known for his movie roles in Spirit Of The Glass andMy First Romance.
Villania, the 27-year-old Australian-born beauty, has hosted a number of shows including ASAP Mania and Us Girls. Additionally, Villania has a number of television roles, film roles and music videos to her name.
Although everyone was aware of the couple’s 10 year relationship, Arellano and Villania have prided themselves in keeping their romance private.
“We are really just a private couple and I would like to think that it’s something that has helped us in becoming strong so far… Basta, we are definitely preparing for our future,” Villania said.
Despite this, they could not control the anticipation from their fans for their long-awaited wedding ceremony. In addition to their families, the ceremony had over 200 guests including Kim Atienza, Luis Manzano, Gary Valenciano, Bea Alonzo, Shaina Magdayao, Matteo Guidicelli, Iza Calzado, and Nikki Gil.
The gorgeous cliffside wedding took place on January 31, 2013 at Meditation Point, Kawayan Cove in Nasugbu, Batangas.
“The past week leading to this day has been crazy happy moments. But today marks the start of what I know will be a happier life with you,” Iya said to Drew during the wedding ceremony. “A life of freedom and adventure, a life of love that only seems to grow stronger as we get older, a life of laughter at the silliest of things, a life of growing with each other.”
This gorgeous 27-year-old Filipina first graced television screens on the 2013 season of The Bachelor.
The American reality television dating game show, which premiered back in 2002, received backlash over the years for its predominantly white cast. To this day, the show remains primarily white, but it has shown effort to add some diversity.
In season 17, Bachelor Sean Lowe found himself facing one of the most ethnically diverse group of girls that the show has seen yet. Among the women who stood out to us, and to Sean apparently, was Catherine Giudici.
The graphic designer eventually won Lowe’s heart, but not before bringing him home and teaching him a thing or two about the Filipino culture. As it turns out, Giudici’s mother is a trustee of the Filipino American National Historical Society so Giudici is no stranger to her roots. In fact, her full name (Catherine Ligaya Mejia Giudici) contains the word “happiness” in Tagalog. Catherine Giudici has even been found tweeting about her Filipino culture.
After waiting patiently for nearly a year, we finally get to see the adorable couple tie the knot! The wedding will be held January 26 at the Four Seasons Resort—The Biltmore Santa Barbara. Lucky for us, every detail of the wedding will be telecast live on ABC.
Their wedding planner Mindy Weiss says, “”Sean and Catherine have a very grown-up style right now. They want something sexy and romantic. They use certain words to kind of guide me with their vision.”
And if you thought the couple couldn’t get any cuter, let’s not forget that they have an absolutely adorable Save The Date.
Although the couple will be in front of camera’s once again for their lavish wedding, they swear they aren’t nervous because of all the nationwide attention. Instead, they’re excited that they finally get to start their life together.
As two girls walk by, one spots him and taps her friend excitedly on the shoulder before pointing in his direction. Too shy to approach him, they settle for sneaking peeks at him, whispering to one another and giggling. This, J.R. Celski explains, has become an odd but normal encounter for him. Of course, the big fuss over him is all for good reason. After all, in addition to his boyishly good looks, this Filipino-Polish American Olympic speed skater already has 16 championship medals under his belt, all by the age of 23. And if things go well at the Olympic Games in Sochi this coming February, he’ll have four more to add to his collection.
Celski began his competitive career at the age of 4, and by 12, he wanted to compete in the Olympics. This was not your average pre-teen goal, but thankfully his parents went along with it. Having grown up in the state of Washington, “I actually needed to move away if I was going to get any better at skating,” says Celski. “[My parents] have always been supportive my whole life with all my endeavors. They also knew that I loved to speed skate, so when I told them that I wanted to move to California to pursue my career, they made every effort to help me out through that process.”
Clearly, they made the right decision. Celski’s career took off when he won five medals, including two gold, at the 2009 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships. He was then catapulted into fame a year later when he won bronze medals at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Celski was genuinely surprised to discover that he had gained a large fan base overnight. “It was kind of a shock to me when it first started happening right after the Olympics,” he says. “I was walking around and people would say, ‘Hey, is that J.R.?’ And [I would say,] ‘No, but I’ve heard that name a lot. Who is that guy?’ It was kind of hard at first, but I got used to it, and I realized that people looked up to me.”
Celski notes that among this loyal group of fans is a rather large Filipino following. He’s a proud Filipino, and he takes every opportunity to show it, whether it’s appearances at Los Angeles’ annual Festival of Philippine Arts & Culture or the tattoo of the sun of the Philippine flag emblazoned across his chest (something that has delighted many of his fans).
Despite the fame, which has earned him nearly 24,000 “likes” on his official Facebook page and more than 18,000 Twitter followers, Celski consistently emphasizes that he’s just “a regular guy.” And like a “regular guy,” Celski had to juggle high school, speed skating practice and a social life simultaneously. He admits that he had to learn the hard way when it came to balancing everything on his schedule. “I struggled with [time management] quite a bit when I first got into this sport because my practice schedule was pretty intense,” he says. “Sometimes I would go to bed too late, and I would wake up tired in the morning and I wouldn’t have a good performance at practice. My coach would be mad, and I would be mad at myself.”
As his training grew more intense, Celski had other difficulties to manage. During the last Winter Olympics, he suffered a major injury during a crash in the semi-finals, leaving him wondering if he would ever walk again. The blade on his right skate slashed into his left leg, requiring stitches and months of rehabilitation. “This was five months before the Olympics, and that kind of just put a stop in my journey,” he says. “I really had to decide right then and there that I was gonna either stop and give up or push forward and jump over that obstacle that was put in front of me. I think that was the biggest challenge that I’ve ever had.”
It was around that time that Celski began working on a documentary following up-and-coming, Seattle-based hip hop artists like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. His much-anticipated documentary, The Otherside, made its debut at the Seattle International Film Festival last May. “I think I kind of wanted to get a jump-start into that career,” says Celski. “I’ve always been into film and music and advertising and stuff like that, so I just wanted to do a passion project.” When asked if he thinks filmmaking will be part of his future, Celski doesn’t hesitate to respond: “Yes. I definitely think so.”
Until then, Celski is focused on the Olympics in Sochi. Although the official U.S. Olympic team will not be announced until January, Celski is ranked number one in short track speed skating in the U.S., making him a shoe-in for the Olympic team. “I want to skate to my full potential,” he says. “I’ve been skating my whole life, and I haven’t really, in my mind, reached that level yet. I’m working hard every day, and I don’t try to put a specific goal in front of me because I feel like that just puts a limit on my abilities. If I happen to win medals, hopefully gold, then that would be an awesome thing. But I’m just reaching for the highest level I can go as an athlete.”
Oh, and to answer the question you’ve probably been wondering since you began reading this — yes, he has a girlfriend.
SIX THINGS ABOUT J.R. CELSKI:
1) Favorite food: Sushi.
2) Guilty pleasure: I eat ice cream quite often. Probably more than I should. I like to indulge quite a bit.
3) Wish I could do: A double back flip off the ground.
4) My job in another life: Curling. Nah, I’m just kidding. I don’t know, really. I’d probably be going to school for marketing and advertising.
5) Favorite thing about me: I like that I’ve kind of understood what it takes to be a great athlete.
6) Least favorite thing about me: I don’t like that I wear skin suits.
This story was originally published in our Winter 2013-14 issue. Get your copy here.
Audrey Magazine is an award-winning national publication that covers the Asian experience from the perspective of Asian American women. Audrey covers the latest talent and trends in entertainment, fashion, beauty and lifestyle.