Save The Date! The Bachelor’s Catherine Giudici is Finally Getting Married

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.


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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.

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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.

 

(Source 1, 2, 3)

J.R. Celski Proves He Has What It Takes To Win Olympic Gold

Story by Ethel Navales. 

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.

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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.  

MUST SEE: Filipino Pantene Commercial Calls Attention to Gender Labels in The Workplace

Now its time to applaud Pantene Philippines for its amazing commercial tackling gender discrimination.

We’re no stranger to gender labels. There have been many cases where women were perceived in a negative light while men were praised for doing the exact same thing. Many claim that such judgements are subconscious. Obviously, it would do us all well to question the disparity between these labels and why they exist.

Each scene portrays a man and a woman in the workplace environment. The commercial then highlights the double standards among men and women through labels. A man is simply being the “boss” while a woman in the same position is “bossy.” A man is “persuasive” while a woman is “pushy.” A man well-dressed for work is “neat” but a woman is “vain.” The man is “smooth” while the woman is a “show-off.”

The commercial successfully pulls our attention towards the unfair gender discrimination that often occurs in the workplace. It ends by stating, “Don’t let labels hold you back. Be strong and shine.”

Although this commercial doesn’t feature Pantene in the most obvious way, it certainly features glossy hair. Besides, we’re definitely a fan of the bigger issue that the commercial addresses.

The commercial was only uploaded onto youtube yesterday, but it has already gathered over 3 million views. Check it out for yourself.

Heartbreaking Images: The Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan

One of the world’s strongest recorded Typhoons recently plowed through the Philippines leaving catastrophic damage. More than 10,000 estimated people are dead and nearly 620,000 people have been displaced from their homes and communities.

Here are some ways you can offer your aid:

Philippine Red Cross is sending rescue teams to affected areas of the country.
UN humanitarian response depot (UNHRD) have set up hubs with equipment to affected areas.
The UN’s World Food Program is providing food assistance to families and children.
UNHCR is providing emergency resources to the affected areas.
Unicefs Philippine branch is trying to provide access to drinkable water, medical supplies, food and shelter.
Gawad Kalinga, a Philippine nonprofit dedicated to fighting poverty, is accepting monetary donations as well as nonperishable goods such as children’s vitamins, rice, kitchen utensils and blankets.
A shipping company is delivering to the Philippines for free.
Candlelight Vigils are being held in various communities to raise relief funds.
Habitat for Humanity plans to offer shelter repair kits for families who need to re-build their damaged houses.
Operation USA will allocate donations directly to relief and recovery efforts.

 

Below are some of the heartbreaking images of the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
Warning: Some of the following images may be graphic.

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A survivor stands in the wreckage of Tacloban city

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A father looks over the body of his deceased daughter.

A father looks over the body of his deceased daughter.

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Bodies of the deceased wrapped in blankets in a damaged chapel.

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A damaged village hall in Janiuay, in Iloilo province.

A damaged village hall in Janiuay, in Iloilo province.

 

Homeless survivors take refuge in a damages jeepney.

Homeless survivors take refuge in a damages jeepney.

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Survivors wait to receive treatment and supplies.

Survivors wait to receive treatment and supplies.

 

Resident's cover their face to avoid the smell of rotting corpses.

Resident’s cover their face to avoid the smell of rotting corpses.

Residents try to rebuild their homes.

Residents try to rebuild their homes.

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(Source 1, 2, 3)

The Daily SHAG: Sam Milby

Though he may have gotten his showbiz start on reality TV, Filipino actor-singer Sam Milby has proven that he’s much more than just a pretty face.  The 29-year old, Ohio-raised Milby first caught eyes on the first season the Philippine’s edition of Big Brother back in 2005.  Though he didn’t win the competition, he certainly grabbed the nation’s attention with his charming looks and personality and has kept it ever since.

After signing with ABS-CBN’s Star Magic talent agency, he’s since released a string of hit records (with his stripped-down, guitar-laden sound earning him the nickname “Prince of Romance” and “Rockoustic Heartthrob”) and starred in numerous Philippine blockbuster films and hit dramas, including the recently ended Huwag Ka Lang Mawawala.  His next project is another film entitled The Gifted, where he’ll be reunited with former girlfriend (and Philippine superstar) Anne Curtis — a definite must-see for fans of the Sam-Anne tandem.

While he may be in a real-life love battle to win the heart of it-girl Jessy Mendiola, he certainly has earned his place in our eyes as one of the hottest guys in the industry today and the title of today’s SHAG.  Find out why below!

Check out any of his editorials — he’s mastered the brooding model pose and looks amazing while doing so.

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He knows how to rock a suit…

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…and glasses…

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…and suits while wearing glasses.

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He’s business-savvy, having invested in music an concert ventures and most recently becoming a co-owner of a German restaurant and pub called Prost, located at the Fort Strip in Bonifacio Global City.

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He’s a proud pinoy, doing his part to promote tourism outside of his acting and singing gigs (see left).  But humor aside, he even walked the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in a barong, a traditional, embroidered shirt from the Philippines (see right).

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Need we say more?  If so, just take a peek at the pictures below.  Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words — so we’ll give you two thousand, just because we can.

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(Photo Sources: 1, 2)

The Daily SHAG | XIAN LIM

Who is Xian Lim you may ask? He’s only one of the hottest and most admired stars in Philippine showbiz. This Chinese Filipino actor, model and singer has received several awards and has been featured in a variety of films and television shows. His most recent film role was Alex in Star Cinema’s Bakit Hindi Ka Crush Ng Crush Mo? where he acted alongside real-life girlfriend, Kim Chiu. He has earned his rightful spot as today’s Daily SHAG (Smoking Hot Asian Guy) and you’ll find out why below.
He looks absolutely stunning in any photo shoot he does.
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His smile is just mesmerizing.
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He’s even more adorable when holding a puppy.
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He’s fit and athletic. (He was a varsity basketball player while attending the University of the East).
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He has a smokin’ body. Enough said. tumblr_mr9qdr3jyW1s77auro1_500.
And if these GIFS don’t win you over, then I’m not sure what will.
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(GIF Source: 1, 2, 3)

Celebrating Filipino American History Month: Ten Timeless Filipina Actresses

The art of film and television was introduced to the Philippines in the late 1890’s and although this is the youngest of the Philippine arts, it has developed into the most popular. Because of its appeal, the Philippine Entertainment Industry appears to be growing larger every year. And when we say large, we mean it. With new faces popping up everyday, it would take a very long time to name all of the young and rising Filipina Actresses currently gracing the screen.

We decided to take a different approach. Yes, there are many Filipina actresses, but who are the ones we consider timeless? Who are the leading ladies we can watch years from now and still find ourselves mesmerized by? Who’s performances bring us to tears? In honor of Filipino American History Month*, we present to you Ten Timeless Filipina Actresses:


NORA AUNOR (1953)

Nora Aunor first began her career after winning an amateur singing contest. Upon recognizing that her singing career wasn’t going as well as she’d like, she set her heart on acting. This was clearly Aunor’s strength and she quickly became a serious actress after her film debut in All Over the World (1967). Her career sky-rocketed and today her achievements are astounding. She has had more nominations in both the FAMAS Awards and Gawad Urian Awards for Best Actress than any other Filipina actress. With over fifty awards under her belt, its no surprise that this leading lady has received international recognition.

Watch:
Himala
Thy Womb
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VILMA SANTOS (1953)
Surprisingly, this award-winning actress and politician stumbled upon her acting career quite accidentally. While in the studio her uncle worked at, she mistakenly ended up in line to audition for a role in Trudis Liit. Sure enough, she landed the role and received a FAMAS Award for Best Child Performer in 1963 for it. Vilma Santos went on to do countless films and has been nominated for countless awards for her performances. She is currently the Governor of Batangas Province.
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HILDA KORONEL (1957)
Koronel began her successful acting career very young and at thirteen she became the youngest winner of the FAMAS Best Supporting Actress Award for her role in the film Santiago (1970). She is best known for her work under Lino Broka (named one of the greatest film directors of the Philippines). Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag (1976) won six FAMAS awards and Insiang(1977) won a FAMAS and Gawad Urian Award.

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LORNA TOLENTINO (1961)

Tolentino began her career as a child actress- she was only eight years old during her first film Uhaw Sa Kalayaan (1969). Clearly finding her calling, she continued film and currently has about 60 pictures to her name. She is also one of the Grand Slam actresses in the Philippine Cinema Industry. The Grand Slam award is the rare title given to those who win a certain amount of awards for a single film. The list of Grand Slam actresses include Vilma Santos, Nora Aunor, and Sharon Cuneta. Lorna has expanded her career to hosting and producing.

Watch:
Magnifico
Narito Ang Puso Ko

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MARICEL SORIANO (1965)

With the nickname “The Diamond Star” of the Philippine Entertainment Industry, a lot is expected of Maricel Soriano. Luckily, she lives up to these expectations. Soriano began her acting career at the young age of six in My Heart Belongs to Daddy (1971). With 46 movie and television awards, Maricel is the third most awarded Philippine film actress of all time. These awards include Best Child Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Achiever Award as actress/producer, Best Performer and Best Actress.

Watch:
Inang Yaya
Bahay Kubo

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SHARON CUNETA (1966)

Cuneta is another Philippine actress given a nickname in the Entertainment Industry- The Megastar. Beginning her career at the age of twelve, Sharon has had quite the success. With 53 starring roles in film, 10 television roles, and 40 recording albums, its no wonder that Sharon is the highest paid Filipino endorser. She became the highest paid Filipino artist ever with her contract to the Kapatid Network. She currently hosts a daily talk show called Sharon; Kasama Mo, Kapatid.

Watch:
Crying Ladies
Kung Ako Na Lang Sana

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REGINE VELASQUEZ (1970)

Regine has been in over 20 films and even more television roles. She even has a few theater titles under her name. Although she has clearly captivated audiences with her acting (and has the awards to prove it), her heart lies with music. In 1989, Velasquez won the Asia Pacific Singing Contest in Hong Kong. She’s the first Asian artist to perform solo at Carnegie Hall and her first Asia-released album sold more than 700,000 copies.

Watch:
Of All The Things
Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw

 

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KRIS AQUINO (1971)

At the age of 14, Aquino made her first television appearance and quickly seemed to find her calling. Her film career gained her some nominations and awards, but her heart seemed set for television. She has gained popularity through her talk shows, game shows, and endorsements. Her television and hosting prominence has gained her nicknames such as Queen of All Media, Philippine’s Queen of Talk, and Queen of Philippine Game Shows.

Watch:
Mano Po
Feng Shui

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JUDY ANN SANTOS (1978)

Like many of her fellow Timeless Filipina Actresses, Judy Ann began her acting career as a child. She began in television with Kaming Mga Ulila (1986). She also began doing film and won her first FAMAS Award nomination for The Lost Command. In 1992 she was getting vast media attention and finally had her breakthrough in 1997 with the television drama Esperanza. Santos is known to have achieved high recognition, popularity, and success in both television and film. She has become an award-winning actress, recording artist, and film producer.

Watch:
Sabel
Kasal Kasalo Kasali

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CLAUDINE BARRETTO (1979)

Interestingly enough, Barretto was discovered at the age of 13 by talent manager Douglas Quijano at a party. With her sisters already in the entertainment business, Claudine was ready for her own stardom. By 2000 she was named Most Popular Teen Star by the Starlight Cultural Foundation the nicknamed Box Office Queen in 2003 for her role in Kailangan Kita. With nearly thirty movies, 26 television roles, and a handful of award nominations to her name, Claudine Barretto is proving that shes here to stay.

Watch:
Kailangan Kita
Anak

 

 

*This story was originally published in March to honor Women’s History Month. Today, it is republished to celebrate Filipino American History Month and showcase the Filipino actresses who have created lasting influence in Filipinos and Filipino Americans alike. By progressing the Filipino Entertainment Industry, these ladies have allowed Filipino Americans to reconnect with their roots.

Accessories Designer Rafe Totengco Bring Us Something Different

Story by Kristine Ortiz

 

When asked what his 10- year-old self would tell him today, Rafe Totengco jokes, “Why didn’t you get started sooner?” Even as a young child, the Filipino American accessories designer — who has been designing for his coveted namesake brand Rafe New York for the last 16 years, and serves as the creative director of handbags at The Jones Group, which handles more than two dozen labels including Rachel Roy, B Brian Atwood, Stuart Weitzman, Givenchy Jewelry and Nine West —always knew that fashion was in the cards for him.

A self-described “creative,” Totengco remembers growing up in the Philippines and making alterations to his school uniforms and Sunday church clothes on a seemingly weekly basis. “Since the fifth grade, I was already designing. The tailor and I had a very good relationship,” he says with a laugh. It was his realization that simple aesthetic changes to something as basic as trousers could bring him “instant gratification,” that laid the foundation for his future in the fashion industry.

After starting his own fashion business in Manila, Totengco made his way to New York to pursue his love for design, a move that his family supported. It was his time in the Big Apple that allowed Totengco to explore and to hone in on how he wanted to make his mark on the industry.

“I felt that the only way for me to be independent and be my own designer was to start an accessories company,” he says. “I didn’t have to go through the drama of producing so many sizes per style and all of that. You can essentially do a capsule collection of 10 pieces and be in business. So it was a great way for me to still be in fashion and express a different side of my creativity.”

But it wasn’t until Totengco saw one of his pieces in a fashion magazine that he felt his place was affirmed in an often-brutal industry. “I was like, ‘OK, here we go! It’s gonna be a whirlwind, it’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be fun!’”

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And what a whirlwind it’s been. Since his start in 1997, in addition to his namesake label, he has designed a collaboration collection with retail giant Target, has been recognized by prestigious organizations like the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and Gen Art, and received the Pamana ng Pilipino Presidential Award from the Philippine government for bringing honor and recognition to his home country through his work.

The praise that he has garnered seems inevitable given his ability to draw inspiration from an “amalgam of different things.” For the fall season, he takes cues from graphic marbled floors in Venice (“[Everyone] was taking pictures of the frescoes, and I’m the only one taking pictures of the floor,” he laughs), a vintage photo of Eartha Kitt and Barbra Streisand featuring a leopard clutch, and the Art Deco aesthetic of The Great Gatsby. His pieces range from the structural Maryanne minaudiere, which he describes as one of his “iconic” designs, to practical zip clutches and totes, some of which are inspired by his time growing up in the Philippines.

Totengco is always prepared for visual inspiration, using both old-school and new-school technologies. He says that he always carries around his sketchbook, which he considers a type of “therapy” and a “second crutch” — it gives him a space to get all of his ideas out. But he also relies on his iPhone; an avid Instagram user, Totengco calls the popular phone application his “visual library,” a public space that enables people, both peers and customers, to get a glimpse into his world. Full of photos from his collections and various travels around the world, his feed lets people see where he draws his inspiration from. For Totengco, this allows him to nurture a close connection with his customers.

In a market flooded with big names and designer “It” bags, this intimate relationship is “something that’s really special” to Totengco, who’s more than pleased to have his small niche in the industry. “There’s a woman out there who wants something different [and] who wants to take the road less travelled,” he says. “There’s something authentic about what I do, [and] to me, that’s something I’m really proud of.”

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ON RAFE’S RADAR:

  • Go-to comfort food: Filipino food of course. Fortunately in New York I can run over to Jeepney, a restaurant in the East Village, to satisfy my craving.
  • On repeat on my iPod: “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke.
  • Pet peeve: Ill-fitting clothes — on anybody.
  • Talent I’d like to have: I would love to be able to play the piano.
  • What I love about being Asian: There’s an automatic kinship when you meet a fellow Asian, this unspoken understanding that you “get” each other.

 

This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here.

MUST WATCH: Talented Filipino YouTube Sensations on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”

Months ago, a video of a pair of young and talented musicians went viral. The only problem? No one could identify them. For a while, different YouTube sources were placing various labels on the mysterious duo. One source titled the video “Asian kid,” while others took a stab at guessing their race. Finally, it was confirmed that the pair are from the Philippines, but all other information about them remained a mystery.

That’s when Ellen Degeneres set her sights on finding the talented boys and sent out a public invitation.

Months later, the teenagers were identified as Aldrich Lloyd Talonding and James Walter Bucong. The two musicians accepted Ellen’s invitation and found themselves in Burbank, Calif., to perform in front of an excited audience.

During the interview, it was revealed that Talonding’s father passed away in June due to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Because of this, their cover of Luther Vandross’ song, “Dance with My Father,” became even more meaningful.

The boys talked about handling YouTube stardom and girls, and even went home with a handful of goodies (a guitar and a piano!) and a check for $10,000. Watch their breathtaking performance below:

FIRST U.S. INTERVIEW: DJ Rocky Rock is Ready to “Rock The World”

“In and out.  Shake it all about.  Let’s go!” Those are the wise words from the poetic, lyrical master DJ Rocky Rock.  In his first US interview, Rock divulges on his hardships as a kid growing up in the Philippines and trying to stay afloat as a newcomer in the States.  Majorly influenced by his cousins, Rock discovered the world of music as a kid in junior high growing up in the Bay Area.  He even DJ’ed at his high school prom much to his prom date’s dismay.  With an urge to learn more and master his craft at the turntables, Rock went on to participate in DJ competitions, including one sponsored by Linkin Park.  It would be this competition where he would win and begin his life transforming friendship with Joe Hahn of Linkin Park.  Hahn pushed Rock to eventually move to LA where he would get discovered by the owner of the hip-hop music festival, Rock The Bells.

In 2002, Rock entered a DJ competition called Koolmix where the actual prize was the opening act for the Black Eyed Peas.  Rock formed a unique friendship with fellow Filipino, apl.de.ap who would ask Rock to work on a single with him (“Bebot”, followed by “Monkey Business”).  After working with the Black Eyed Peas, Rock found himself on the road again with the band, Sublime with Rome and then on his own tour in Europe.

With a strong conviction of his style of music and a flair for knowing what the crowd and his fans want, Rock is now ready to “Rock the World” with his new EP as DJ, rapper and producer.  Audrey sat down with Rock to get inside his mind to find out how he got his start, what’s next for him and what keeps him grounded.

AM:  Tell me all about your, your background, where you’re from?

DJRR:  I was born in the Philippines. My Grandma had her own restaurant under the house. She left something on and our house burned [down]. The first three years of my life was a disaster, my mom told me.

We got petitioned by my Grandpa to America in 1983, so I flew out here.  After that, we lived a hard life.  Music was a big part of my life.  I had uncles that were breakdancers back in the day. My mom re-married again and it was my dad’s second cousin.  It was crazy because I was wondering why my dad wasn’t visiting me.  And then, throughout the years, I got to know his family and my cousins from his family.

I was hanging out with them and they were all really into music.  They’re all DJs.  And they’re like, “Hey Rock, we’re going to dentist school.  Jerry’s going to be a nurse.  You want this equipment?”  I said, “Yea, sure”.  So they gave me the equipment.

After getting all the equipment, I started practicing in my junior high years.  I was DJ’ing my high school dances.  Even my prom date was mad at me.

 

AM:  Who influenced you as a kid, musically?

DJRR:  My cousin, Jerry.  He was one of the main DJ’s.  Our DJ group was called Abstract Vibes. I was always the guy trying to learn behind-the-scenes.  So, when they gave me the turntables my high school year, I became a crazy guy.

I started joining competitions like DJ Battles.  I won my first major battle at Guitar Center in 2001.  They were promoting like – the first DJ to win a car out of two thousand DJs in America.  And I was like, ‘Really?!?’  So I joined the competition, signed up and just had to win two or three battles until I got to the finals. I beat everybody there and then after that, I went to the US Finals at the Key Club.  It was four minutes out of ten DJ’s [battles].  It went from two thousand [DJs] down to ten.  And then I just took that in four minutes, won a car and thought, ‘This is crazy.’  I’m winning cars.  There’s something cool here.

 

AM:  What’s it like when you go back home [Philippines] and perform there?  I know that the Asian market is huge, they love their music, and they’re loyal fans.  What’s it like when you go back?

DJRR:  They seem to be very amazed when I DJ for them out there.  But again, it’s like, as a person, when you meet me, I’m totally just a normal guy.  So, its like when they see how hard I really put into my music and DJ-ing, they go crazy.  They’re like what the hell?  What’s going on?  This guy is crazy, phenomenal.  Like Superman on the turntables. They find it really cool and exciting.

 

AM:  Do you ever feel like it’s been more challenging to rise above as an Asian artist?

DJRR:  Yes, of course, but that can only get so far because the hard work usually pays off and it shows.  I had a lot of struggle with that.  And I still do, at times.  But it doesn’t affect passion.

 

AM:  Have you had to overcome any other struggles to get to where you are?

DJRR:  You have to go through a lot of struggles to actually get to where you’re at.  As far as for me, DJ-ing was a very experimental thing for me.  And I figured out – what does a DJ do?  And actually in the game, you realize there are four big parts of being a DJ.  There’s a Radio DJ, or you’re either a Turntable-ist, which you’re just the bedroom DJ, scratching in there, or you battle sometimes.  And then there’s another one where you’re a crowd rocker, where you’re rocking clubs consistently and killing it.  And that’s the big thing, that’s where the money is. And then you’re this other DJ that produces, makes the beat, and just packing up arenas.  I’m already on that arena. And now, there’s one thing that a DJ never did, and that’s actually get off your turntables and rap your song

 

AM:  Before you get out there and you’re about to perform as a rap artist, do you get really nervous, do you have any rituals?

DJRR:  No, because I practice the song so much.  And you won’t even tell because if my song isn’t your favorite song, then your favorite song will be coming after that.  What’s kind of cool is that I get to play your favorite song plus me as myself.  Which is kind of cool because people get a concert right there while the club is happening.

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AM:  As a producer, do you also produce other performers, artists as well?  Or is that something you want to build on?

DJRR:  I’ve actually been doing that.  I scratched on and helped out on a song called “Bebot” with Black Eyed Peas.  Sold millions of singles.  “Bebot” means hot girl or it could mean your auntie, too.  I actually have an Uncle called Bebot, so it’s weird. I was like, what was your mom thinking?

 

AM:  What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

DJRR:  Just being patient.  Just inventing yourself.  Create yourself.  You see it.  You figure it out.  I always try and be different.  I don’t want to be the same as everybody else.  The way I see it is to stay humble.  That’s always the best.

 

AM:  How do you stay humble?

DJRR:  Just hang out with the family.  I’ve got a daughter so I try to spend time with my daughter.  I haven’t seen my mom for awhile so I’m excited to see her.  I always look up to God at the same time. I grew up Christian and in the church, so that’s important.

 

AM:  And what do you tell those that want to be you? What advice do you tell them?

DJRR:  My advice is – well, if you’re trying to be a DJ.  Just stick with being original and at the same time, just keep your head down. Keep doing what you’re doing.  You’ll find your way.  Your passion will see if it’s really for you.  You just gotta keep striving.  That’s it.

 

AM:  If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, alive or dead, who would it be?

DJRR:  That’s a good question.  Marilyn Monroe.  One time.  I want to just stare at her mole and just look at her and just drink.  I would just want to talk about why she’s so beautiful.