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Movie about life of Cesar Chavez simply got it wrong

Written By Matt Garcia

Most great men have one. Malcolm X, Gandhi, Mandela all have one. And now, Cesar Chavez has his.

The biographical film titled “Cesar Chavez,” which came out this past weekend, lends itself to the creation of legends. In the case of Chavez, the legend is complicated by the fact that his story did not exactly lead to the liberation of the people he represented. Great strides were made during the heyday of the farm workers movement – namely the first contracts for farm workers and a California law that recognized their right to unionize. But field workers today suffer indignities familiar to those who worked in rural California prior to the 1960s.

These facts are not the concern of Diego Luna, the new film’s director. “We have to send a message to the (film) industry that our stories have to be represented. And with the depth and the complexity they deserve,” Luna said recently.

Fair enough. As a Mexican American and a historian, I too long for dignified cinematic portrayals of Latinos that convey the struggles for equality our people have initiated. Our yearnings, however, should not come at the expense of historical accuracy.

I recently published a book on the United Farm Workers and Chavez, and I understand the need to play a little loose with the timeline for dramatic effect. But Luna’s omissions and alterations are really historical subversions. His interpretation, I suspect, is a product of his unsophisticated handling of U.S. identity politics. He rejects the multiethnic community that made up the farm workers movement in favor of a simplistic notion that Mexicans did all the work. Creating a hero comes at the expense of depicting an entire social movement.

The Filipino American National Historical Society has rightly come out against the film’s misrepresentation of labor leader Larry Itliong and have questioned Luna’s failure to acknowledge the largely Filipino Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, which initiated the 1965 grape strike, a turning point in the film.

The film doesn’t mention white volunteers and organizers beyond Fred Ross, Cesar’s mentor, and Jerry Cohen, the talented leader of the UFW legal team. Several white ministers and students played a critical role in the movement, including Rev. Jim Drake, who came up with the boycott strategy. As the film lumbers toward the epic signing of the first contracts in 1970, Luna’s most egregious distortion of history comes when he shows Chavez in London. We see the labor leader lobbying dockworkers on the Thames River wharf and appealing to consumers not to buy the fruit. Though this work actually happened, it was a young Jewish American volunteer, Elaine Elinson, who almost single-handedly kept the grapes out of Europe.

The film even fails to represent accurately the supporting cast of Mexican American activists in Cesar’s orbit. Gilbert Padilla (Yancey Arias) and Dolores Huerta (Rosario Dawson) come off as nothing more than a yes-man and yes-woman to Chavez when in fact they were distinguished organizers in their own right. Only Helen Chavez, Cesar’s wife, is presented as a character with her own mind and story, a tribute to America Ferrera’s standout performance.

But the film probably does the greatest disservice to Cesar Chavez himself. The director opts out of the 1970s altogether, a period in which Chavez struggled with personal and professional demons and became invested in creating a community rather than solidifying earlier gains. Such a storyline would have done little to burnish his credentials as a civil and labor rights leader, but it would have made for a more compelling film. More importantly, it would have made for a much more accurate portrait of the real man’s depth and complexity.

These omissions reflect the limitations of the genre and the hero-making project of this film. With rare exception, biopics elide complexity and avoid overt criticism of their subjects. The most extraordinary and entertaining renditions of historical figures have often via fictionalized characters, like Orson Welles’ Charles Foster Kane based on William Randolph Hearst (“Citizen Kane”) and P. T. Anderson’s Daniel Plainview based on Edward Doheny (“There Will Be Blood”) .

In fairness to Luna, Chavez was delivered to him with decades of historical baggage, thanks to hagiography and political stamps of approval from Robert Kennedy, Jerry Brown, and Barack Obama. Though new histories are now being written, it will take time for the public’s perception of the hero to catch up with the all-too-human Chavez. Sadly, Luna’s film does almost nothing to assist this move toward a new understanding of Cesar Chavez’s life and the successes and failures of the movement he led.

*Source: Merced Sun Star

Dan Inosanto: A True Fighting Spirit

A martial arts legend in his own right, he holds advanced rank in many martial arts systems including Jeet Kune Do, Filipinio Martial Arts, Silat, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and others….

He has been directly responsible for introducing many prominent martial artists such as Pendekar Paul de Thouars, Edgar Sulite, Chai Sirisute, Leo Gaje, Johnny Lacoste, Maung Gyi, among others to the general martial arts public.


*Source: Fighting HQ

Today in History…

On March 26, 1920, the Philippine Legislature enacted Act No. 2928, which adopted the official flag of the Philippines.

From SYMBOLS OF THE STATE: REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, 1975: “The equilateral triangle on the left side of the flag is symbolic of equality among men. The eight rays of the Philippine Sun in the triangle represent the eight provinces that revolted against Spanish rule. The three stars on each corner of the triangle stand for the three geographical divisions of the country—Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The red stripe symbolizes the willingness of the Filipino to shed blood in defense of his country. The blue stands for common unity and the noble aspirations of the Filipino people.”

Learn more about History of the Philippine Flag:



When I made my way down south to Cebu and the Visayas, I was shocked that people were not impressed with my meager knowledge of Tagolog. I say this because in Manila (and up north in general), people are often completely flattered that you can speak ANY Tagalog. Down south, not only were they not impressed with my Tagalog, but they demanded to know why I couldn’t already speak Bisaya – their dialect! Haha. At first I found them kind of rude, honestly, but soon began to really appreciate their sense of pride. I really came to love the people and culture down there. Bisaya people don’t like Tagalog because they believe that the majority of people in the Philippines speak Bisaya, and that it should have been chosen as the national language instead of Tagalog. Unfortunately they are also looked down on by many people in Manila.


If somebody from Manila visits the Visayas and speaks to the locals in Tagalog, the locals will answer back in English, even though they can speak Tagalog well (they must learn it in school). Again, the point is I love this sense of pride that Bisaya people have in their language, culture, and food…and I wish that people up north weren’t quite so “western-worshipping”. There were times when I almost seemed to embarrass people in Manila by speaking their own language (Tagalog), as if they were ashamed of it. Filipinos have so much wonderful culture and heritage – I would like to see all Filipinos celebrate and take pride in it.


And the Oscar goes too….

Congratulations to songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, who won an Oscar for Best Original Song for “Let It Go,” the hit single from the animated feature Frozen, at Sunday night’s 86th Academy Awards. The big win apparently makes Lopez the first Filipino American to win an Oscar.


*Source: Angry Asian Man blog

Ravenswood Star Nicole Gale Anderson on Playing a Ghost


By Sona Charaipotra

If you’ve been watching ABC Family’s new certified hit, the Pretty Little Liars spin-off Ravenswood, you know that things are starting to get really creepy in smalltown Pennsylvania for Caleb Rivers and his ragtag band of cursed hotties. His new pal Miranda Collins, in particular, has had it rough—what with dying in the second episode and all.

We caught up with Ravenswood star Nicole Gale Anderson, who plays the newbie ghost (and might look familiar—thanks to stints on Make It Or Break It and JONAS LA), to chat about hauntings, scare tactics, and, of course, whether there’s romance in store!

Miranda died in the second episode—which really sent some fans reeling!
Aw, yeah, it was kind of crazy. It’s a little nuts that they did it so soon in the season, but I think that’s what they were going for—that shock value. You get so attached to the character, starting with the Pretty Little Liars Halloween episode, and now she’s dead! What now?


Were you worried going in, since Pretty Little Liars has such a huge fan base? That’s a lot of pressure for a new show.
Oh my gosh, yeah! They’re such a successful show and it’s intimidating to follow in their shoes, but we couldn’t ask for a better lead-in. It was really really awesome working with them all. But I hope people are checking on Ravenswood and enjoying it too. It’s definitely very different from Pretty Little Liars. I mean, just with the supernatural elements alone!

How is it on set? Is it really freaky? Or is it all really mechanical and expected, the scare tactics?
Some of it is very mechanical. Especially for my character, since Miranda is a now a ghost and she’s having a lot of interactions with ghosts and other supernatural things. So half the time, I’m playing to nothing. I have to take my own cues of, “Huh! Oh my gosh, what was that?” I have to use my imagination a bit, so it’s definitely sparked the little child inside me. Which has been fun. But there are definitely sometimes where they really try to scare us. Tyler Blackburn and I had this one scene the other day where this ghost is supposed to come through and so they triggered this big gust of wind and we were definitely jumping at that! We weren’t expecting that one at all. We didn’t know that they were going to use a leaf blower!

You guys are shooting in New Orleans. Tyler Blackburn told us the energy there is different. Do you feel the same?
New Orleans is kind of dark in a very beautiful way. The above-ground cemetery we’ve been shooting in, and the old, decrepit mansions—we’ve had such awesome locations, but they’ve definitely been spooky. There’s this one that is this abandoned children’s hospital, a mental institution. So Steven Cabral, who plays my uncle Raymond, had these recordings on his phone of these children’s voices. And he kept playing them in the background when Tyler was shooting. So Tyler kept freaking out, thinking, “Oh my God, I’m hearing these kid ghosts—this place must be haunted.” All week Tyler was thinking he was hearing these ghosts, and then at the end of the week, Steven played the recording in front of him and was like, “Hey Tyler, does this sound familiar?” It was really funny. He totally fell for it! It was hilarious.
ABC Family
Miranda and Caleb bond on Ravenswood. (ABC Family )

The mid-season finale is coming up next week. What can we expect?
There’s a big surprise coming up at the end of the episode that will be the big cliffhanger, leaving everyone wondering what’s going to happen next. And then they’re going to have to wait over the holidays to see what happens when we return January 7th. By the end of this week’s episode, the other four characters are able to see Miranda. It’s been fun to be able to develop relationships with the other characters—they’re all so different, but we become unexpected friends. But there will be a lot of new ghosts introduced—some of them good, but most of them very bad. And Miranda, being a ghost, has a lot of interaction there.

So far, Miranda’s been a good ghost. If you have to be haunted…
I don’t think haunting is the right word. She’s just always around. It almost feels normal having Miranda there. She’s a part of the pack. She almost feels normal—she just happens to be dead. She’s a strong personality, but then she dies, and she sort of loses herself. She’s trying to figure out who she is and where she fits in, and with those other ghosts, it gets pretty freaky. But in the next few episodes, she’ll get more comfortable in her skin as a ghost and gets her edge back.

Miranda and Caleb have a very When Harry Met Sally vibe—at least according to producer I. Marlene King. What can we expect romance-wise?
We’ve been able to do some really, really awesome flashbacks—and they revolve around the tombstones Miranda and Caleb found of people who looked exactly like us. So we get to flash back to 1917, and those people and what their lives were like back then. And how it relates to us in the modern-day. But romantically, between Miranda and Caleb, the writers are having fun, because it can’t really happen. But they care for each other and depend on each other and they’ve got each other’s back. But he’s with Hanna, and physically, he and Miranda can’t connect anyway. She’s a ghost!

But who knows what we’ll see historically?
Absolutely! There’s an episode where we have a whole slew of flashbacks, so who knows what we’ll learn. We got to dress up in all the period costumes, and that was a lot of fun. But romance-wise, you never know what’s going to happen! And in the mid-season finale, episode five, we learn so much more about the curse and why those tombstones were there and why those people look so much like Miranda and Caleb. So tune in and find out!

Ravenswood airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC Family.

Fil-Am Symphony X’mas concert to double as typhoon relief benefit

LOS ANGELES–Part of the proceeds of “Handog ng FASO sa Pasko,” a Christmas benefit concert and festival, will be set aside for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) through ABS-CBN Foundation’s Sagip Kapamilya, the event’s sponsors announced.

The performance by Filipino-American Symphony Orchestra (FASO), the only Filipino symphony orchestra outside of the Philippines, will be at 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 7, at the White Memorial Church, 1720 Cesar Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles.

FASO has been rehearsing for the concert with top Filipino-American choirs including Bridges, Harana Men’s Chorus, Philippine Chamber Singers-Los Angeles, University of the Philippines (UP) Concert Chorus Alumni of Los Angeles, University of Santo Tomas (UST) Singers Alumni and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church (IHMC) Children’s Choir.

They will be performing together for the first time, with special guests Joey Albert, Louise Marie Cornillez, Gelo Francisco, Sal Malaki (fresh from his performance as Crisostomo Ibarra in the New York production of the opera version of “Noli Me Tangere”) and Wendy Mazon (FASO’s principal clarinetist).

Since the concert, presented by ABS-CBS Foundation International and FASO, falls on Dec. 7, a commemorative Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day number will be performed. Luis “Louie” Ramos, vice president of the FASO board, is arranging this special piece titled “Patriotic Fil-Am Medley,” which consists of the songs “God Bless the U.S.A.,” “America the Beautiful” and “Bayan Ko.”

“I arranged the piece and was inspired to mash up two of the songs, ‘America the Beautiful’ and ‘Bayan Ko,’ ” Ramos said. “The arrangement consists of melodic and harmonic material from both songs, just like the genetic material of a child comes from both their parents. ‘Bayan Ko’ was originally written for a zarzuela, ‘Walang Sugat,’ as a subversive song against the American Occupation of the Philippines. Today, ‘Bayan Ko’ is a patriotic song that many consider to be the second Filipino national anthem. It has always inspired love and pride for our country of origin – the Philippines. ‘America the Beautiful’ instills love and loyalty for the United States, second home to many Filipinos.”

Mazon, who will perform “Weber Concertino for Clarinet,” said FASO concerts, especially “Handog ng FASO sa Pasko,” are “windows on our rich musical heritage and talent for entire communities to enjoy. This coming concert is a valuable showcase for the Filipino community by featuring local and non-local Filipino performers, composers and arrangers and emerging youth performers. It’s a positive exposure to our culture and a way to pass musical traditions to our youth.”

Louise Marie Cornillez

Mazon, who has a doctorate in musical arts degree in music performance and a university teaching certificate from the University of Arizona, added, “Your attendance at a FASO concert is a contribution and confirmation of your act of support in the Filipino community and all of the treasures that it holds. Through FASO, children can come to know, understand, and value the rich musical culture of the Philippines, Filipinos and Filipino-Americans.

The orchestra, whose previous concerts have been acclaimed as entertaining and memorable, will render traditional English and Filipino Christmas music, including “Simbang Gabi” and Handel’s “Messiah.” The orchestra will be conducted by Robert Shroder, FASO’s music director and conductor.

FASO, which is under new leadership, wants the orchestra to continue as an important and viable Filipino-American musical institution. Its new officers are Arlene Ferrolino, president; Luis Ramos, vice president; Titus Verzosa, treasurer; John S. Mina, secretary; Claire Espina, Susan Legaspi, Ruben Nepales, Asuncion Ojeda, Carmelita O’Neil, Roger Oriel and Edwin Raquel, directors; and Robert Shroder.

The festivities before the concert start at 5 p.m. and will include a display of Christmas lanterns or parol, the brightly colored popular symbol of the Filipino Christmas tradition, and booths and stalls. The concert starts at 7 p.m.

Tickets, priced at $100, $60, $50, $45, $40 and $25, are available through (323) 467-5096 and 1-800-527-2820. More details are available at or Sponsorship opportunities are available through (650) 508-6117 or via email at

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Alicia Keys visits Manila Air Base & has surprise duet with Regine Velasquez

MANILA, Philippines – Grammy-winning singer Alicia Keys has visited an air force base in Manila to bring cheer to hundreds of evacuees from eastern Philippine provinces wracked by Typhoon Haiyan earlier this month.

The American singer distributed crayons and coloring books to children at the Villamor Air Base grandstand, where evacuees from eastern Leyte and Samar provinces arrive via C-130 planes.

Social Welfare Department officer Jane Abello says Keys stayed for about half an hour on Monday to chat with evacuees.

The R & B star is back in Manila for the second time for a concert at the seaside MOA Arena.

The Philippine Star earlier quoted her as saying that “music has a way of lifting your spirit and that’s what I hope to do for the Filipino people.”

Read more:

Regine Velasquez made a surprise duet with Alicia Keys during her “Set The World on Fire” Manila concert at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, November 25, 2013.

*The Associated Press

Pretty Little Liars Season 4 Finale Spoilers: Marlene King Promises the “Biggest Ending Ever”


It’s hard to imagine an ending to the Pretty Little Liars Season 4 finale that beats every the Season 3 finale, but that’s what PLL showrunner Marlene King is boldly promising for Season 4B’s climactic episode.

When asked what she could tell us about the Season 4 finale, Marlene tweeted: “It’s all about Answers. And the biggest ending ever.” Good, because we have a lot of questions. We have a feeling that Season 4B’s overarching mystery theme will be exploring why Ezra is stalking Ali, what their connection is in general, and the events leading up to Ali’s fake death. Is it possible we could get all of these questions answered in the Season 4 finale, considering the show will continue into Season 5? We hope so!

And, to be clear, the label “biggest ending ever” is comparing this episode to season-ending moment like Ian’s death after nearly killing Spencer, Mona’s reveal as “A,” Maya’s death, Toby’s redemption, and the Thornhill Lodge Fire — and that’s not even taking into account summer finales, or the game-changing endings of the epic Halloween specials. Basically, we’re totally intrigued by Marlene’s promise for “answers” and big-ness because — so far this season — she’s delivered on both counts. We can only imagine what she has in store for us in the finale.

How do you think Season 4 will end? Share your theories in the comments below!

Catch the Pretty Little Liars Season 4 winter premiere, Tuesday, January 7, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Family.

*courtesy of Wetpaint


Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone dealing with the devastation going on in the Philippines. There’s nothing like “PINOY PROUD” and we will get through this!

Please help. GIVE what ever you can. UNICEF has started a relief fund.

Learn more…