Friday, February 26, 2010

Silicon Valley Asian American Voices

Sheila aka XiaolinMama, one of the founders of Clever Girls Collective, gave me the 411 re: this new documentary:

“Asian American Voices: Shaping Silicon Valley, Strengthening Community, Sharing Hope”

"Silicon Valley Asian American Voices is a multimedia project that facilitates education and advocacy on policy issues that impact Asian American immigrants. The project is facilitated by Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI), a nonprofit organization based in San Jose, CA.

General Synopsis
This documentary follows the stories—the successes, hardships, and hopes—of three Asian American immigrants in Silicon Valley. Despite struggling through language, cultural, and health care barriers, these individuals readily work to shape the local community. For a region that has thrived on the ideas and labor of immigrants past and present, supporting these populations remains vital toward improving the social and economic health of Silicon Valley. This piece explores the strengthening of community through the support of immigrant populations.

Chapter 1 – Building California and Silicon Valley
Asian Americans have shaped and steered the innovation, development, and technological growth that uniquely characterize Silicon Valley today. This chapter provides a brief timeline of the history and contributions of Asian American immigrants to this region.

Chapter 2 – Nenita Ibe
Nenita Ibe, an elderly Filipina woman, works hard as a room attendant in the hotel industry. She is an active member of the union committee, advocating for workplace changes that will improve the lives of those around her. Related policy issues: health care access, language access, immigration reform, family reunification

Chapter 3 – Andy Pan
As a child, Andy witnessed his family struggle to support itself on multiple low-wage jobs. Now, a young sales executive at a software company, Andy has applied the lessons and values gained from his experience, succeeding in business and volunteering as a financial counselor for those in need. Related policy issues: language access, ESL classes, citizenship, immigrant support services

Chapter 4 – Iris Dinh
In 1981, Iris Dinh fled Vietnam. After months in a Thai refugee camp, she was granted sponsorship to come to the United States. Today, as a graduate student, social worker, and activist, Iris strives passionately to give voice to the vulnerable and build a community that honors the health and dignity of all. Related policy issues: health care, language access, cultural competency, immigrant support services."

i have to admit, one of the many reasons i miss the bay area SO much is because of how many asians live there. when i moved to san francisco in 1995, i distinctly remember walking around and becoming so aware that i didn't feel like the odd person out. it was especially humbling and empowering to disappear into a swell of filipinos and to see the living legacy of asian immigrants who paved the way before me.

i wish i could be there to see the screening of the documentary! nenita ibe reminds me so much of my lolas (grandmothers - meaning mine and all my friends lolas too.) just that little snippet of her makes me so proud and so eager to hear her story.

for those of you able to attend the film festival, here's an AWESOME bonus: head on over to silicon valley asian american voices' facebook page where they will be asking questions that fans can answer to win tickets to the Asian American Film Festival were the video will be screening on 3/20/10.

check out their website here. follow them on twitter here.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

propagate (illustration friday)

(click to enlarge)

i think this is the fastest drawing i've ever done... which may or may not be a good thing... generally, i draw at glacier speed and have been trying to draw the IF prompts as fast as i can with as much detail as my drawings usually have...

ennywey.... my mind drew a complete blank when i saw the word propagate. so, i looked it up:

prop·a·gate (prp-gt)

v. prop·a·gat·ed, prop·a·gat·ing, prop·a·gates

1. To cause (an organism) to multiply or breed.
2. To breed (offspring).
3. To transmit (characteristics) from one generation to another.
4. To cause to extend to a broader area or larger number; spread: missionaries who propagate the faith.
5. To make widely known; publicize: propagate a rumor.
6. Physics To cause (a wave, for example) to move in some direction or through a medium; transmit.

and being the true (brainwashed) child of the 70s that i am, i thought of this:

for some reason, the words "...and so on, and so on..." made me think of twitter and how a retweet can also multiply and propagate, etc in a similar and organic manner... so, i melded the ideas together... i especially liked making up the fake twitter handles and the "140 fl. characters" instead of ounces... :)

btw - the tracing of the twitter font couldn't have been accomplished without downloading the arista 2.0 font from

hope you liked it! :)

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

an open letter to the creators & fans of evelyn evelyn:

i know many people of different colors, shapes, sizes, abilities – and i would never be so arrogant as to claim to know them or define them in words, or music, or drawings… much less make them the subject of a black comedy from which i could make a profit.

here’s a newsflash: just because you know/live with/marry/date someone who’s disabled doesn’t make you automatically not a bigot. it’s a fact - love and hate are intertwined…. show me one relationship whose pendulum hasn’t swung between love/hate and i’ll show you a dead/fake relationship….

i don’t want either of us to be politically correct. so, when i say, when it comes to “the disabled” (a term even I don’t like to use) you are ignorant - i'm just trying to be helpful.

i don’t hate you, creators & fans of evelyn evelyn. i don’t think you’re evil. i don’t care if you’re mean or get some joy out of watching/encouraging others being mean. i don’t care about all your defenders, disabled or abled, famous, infamous or obscure and unknown….

personally, i would never make fun of ignorant, privileged, albeit creative, musicians/artists and then make those people feel wrong for trying to inform me of why i shouldn’t say whatever i said about them.

imho, evelyn evelyn is not an exercise in creativity, it’s a bigoted interpretation of a “disabled” life. and it’s a terrible interpretation. evelyn evelyn is defined as “good art… that comes from stories”. i have to disagree. from what little i’ve seen, it’s bad art that comes from a good story.

from my heart, i’m speaking for the girls with deformities like mine… who know what it feels like to hear “circus freak” combined with a swipe and push of the head or a swift kick to the feet and the hellacious scrape of cheekbone to concrete and gravel that follows...

girls, like me, who would have delighted at ripping strangers' eyes out, when they, like you, spoke at gentler tones (thanks for being so thoughtful) about us, assuming maybe we couldn't hear at that distance... were possibly deaf and mute or just didn't speak english... or maybe were just not "sophisticated" enough....

but see? our cooler, human, intelligent minds prevailed - we thought better of you... we knew how much you would need those eyes, how much you took them for granted... we realized that maybe, by being better role models, you would learn something from us...

but maybe we should have spoken a little s l o w e r for you?

i hope you learn from this… i hope you learn from your mistake… admittedly, it bothers me a little bit that you’ll probably do this again since you sincerely think creating this work was actually brave and important…

lastly, i forgive you for your non-apology apology, which in some ways was even worse than the creation of evelyn evelyn itself.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

happy valentines day!!! :)

i remember when i was still in college (*cough*90s*cough*) wishing i knew the sentiments in this song, these lyrics... and how wonderful it is now, to not only know it, but feel it deeply and elicit these feelings in someone else i love so dearly...

"Sky of ink and diamond stars
empty streets of just occasional cars

here we lie in a lullaby
of the stillness in our room.

Words are unable to speak of love
like a smile in a whisper does
words are unable to speak of love
like a smile in a whisper does.

All of the letters and all of the words
in all of the books all over the world

they're nothing but sounds and vowels and nouns
for talking to stranger that's all they're worth.

Words are unable to speak of love
like a smile in a whisper does
words are unable to speak of love
like a smile in a whisper does.

Orchestra of tiny harps
it's like pepper sprinkled on our hearts

we're threading a needle with boxing gloves
when we try and talk about love.

Words are unable to speak of love
like a smile in a whisper does
words are unable to speak of love
like a smile in a whisper does. "

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

breaking eggs

last night, i got an email from my brother in law in canada. my sister was too distraught to tell me that my uncle (my father's brother) had passed away. the email didn't tell me how he had passed, just that he had and that if i had any contact info for my uncle's family, i should send our collective condolences.

at first, i wasn't sure he was gone. i thought maybe they'd heard wrong - maybe he was just sick and in the hospital. i remembered he'd had a stroke many years ago but recovered completely. it wasn't until a cousin called to confirm the news - that he had a heart attack at home and died - that i finally lost it and cried.

i finally got in touch with my uncle's son who told me that my uncle had come home complaining of feeling ill and had gone to bed earlier than usual. shortly thereafter, he got up and said that he couldn't breathe and collapsed. my aunt and cousin called 911. the ambulance arrived quickly and took him to the hospital, but they couldn't revive him.

this morning, i woke up feeling completely drained. it was almost as if by muscle memory, i showered and changed and then walked into the kitchen to make some eggs in a hole. and as i placed the egg carton on the kitchen counter, a memory flashed into my head.

i was back in my uncle's kitchen in LA. i was on vacation, still in high school. we were getting ready to do a tourist trek around LA/hollywood and the universal studio tour. he asked me if i wanted french toast. and i realized i'd never had french toast. growing up in a filipino home, i didn't get fruit punch or canned pasta or boxed cereal. my grandmother would often make a huge filipino meal that would last a few days - we'd eat the same thing for breakfast lunch and dinner. so i sat at the table and watched him break eggs in a bowl and beat them. he asked me if i knew how to cook yet. and i told him i was too afraid to cook. cooking had too many variables that i didn't think i could familiarize myself with...

that little reverie reminded me that this small act would really sum up my uncle: he who was never afraid to break some eggs to make an omelete (or french toast).

my earliest memories of my uncle are from my childhood summers in manila. although we regarded my uncle with the respect he was due, he acted like one of us kids. my wonderful father is/was the "serious" brother. where my father was a proud and accomplished engineer, my uncle had tried his hand at many jobs - a jack of all trades. when my father finished work, he took some time to relax before reconnecting with us at dinner. when my uncle arrived home from work, he wouldn't take a break, he'd talk to us, joke with us, run after us... often my lola (grandmother) would force me to eat weird concoctions, in an effort to shrink my hygroma. after a morning of downing a mixture with raw egg yolks, my uncle gathered us up and challenged us to climb a coconut tree and i'll never forget watching my brother race up the trunk like a gleeful monkey... :) i don't think it was possible to bore my uncle. he was easily amused and charming, but mellow and calm too.

later, he really seemed to embrace life in the states. he was a walking NFT guide for LA and NY when he lived in both cities. although my mother and i lived in the states, my father always complained about life in america, how different it was, how fast, how obscene, how depressing, etc...

i regret the last time i saw him in ny. i was in college, on vacation. i was trying to get any job i could in the garment industry. and in the wings, there was a boy in an up and coming indie rock band... i was drinking too much... the "highlight" of that visit was ending a night of alphabet city barhopping, kicking hypodermic needles around a playground... somehow, i got back to my uncle's apartment, bobbing, weaving, reeking of smoke and beer... and like the visit to LA, he was awake, smiling, in the kitchen, quietly making me a breakfast with eggs.... although i deserved it, he didn't preach or get angry, or argue or insult. he just told me he cared about me and was worried about me.

i couldn't believe it when he agreed to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day when my father couldn't make it. for some reason, he was nervous at the church. he was a little emotional. he fumbled a bit thru the filipino portion of the ceremony. but by the time the reception rolled around, he was up and dancing with the rest or us.

the last time i saw him was back in manila for my sister's wedding. he was one of her sponsors. he looked so handsome in his barong. he told jokes while we (the large entourage) all waited in the hot sun outside the church. at the reception, after my father's emotional speech, my uncle retold some funny, poignant and heartfelt stories from our family. and later when he set eyes upon the paloma, he joked with her and played with her like they were the oldest and bestest of friends. she was so excited to hear that he lived in america too. it absolutely breaks my heart that she won't get to know him...

i don't mean to lionize my uncle. he had weaknesses and faults. i'm sure his family had dysfunctions and resentments (like ours) due to extended absences overseas. and i don't mean to disparage my father or characterize him as cold or thoughtless - he isn't, he's quite the opposite.

i just wanted to say that my uncle winnie was a great role model for me. and he would want me to be courageous and break some eggs even if it meant i made a mess or something that required a hospital visit. he'd encourage me to machine sew blindfolded and try spelunking undersea... he would want me to relentlessly chase after something that might make me happy... just like him.

so, rest now, uncle winnie. for me. so i can catch up... :) i'll miss you very much...

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Monday, February 01, 2010

...for the little girl who lives down the (peruvian) lane...

my laptop was returned to me finally, repaired and functioning, over the weekend... there was much rejoicing in the 'zilla house! :)

in the meantime, i finished three more lamb drawings for my friend who is moving her family to peru. i believe the first lamb and the singular, curly lamb (standing in the snow) below are making their way to peru as i type...

speedy, safe, happy and healthy travels to you, bokumbop! can't wait to hear about you, J, T & L and your peruvian conquests!

click on images below to enlarge:


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