Tebow-mania gets Denver Filipinos attention in Philippines press

The Broncos' Tim Tebow (Photo by Jeffrey Beall)The glow of Tebow-mania will fade as the Broncos head into the off-season, but the quarterback’s remarkable run with the team put the spotlight light on Denver’s Filipino community before the season’s end.

Tebow has a deep connection to the Philippines: he was born there to missionary parents, and he funds healthcare organizations there with his Tebow Foundation. NBC Sports ran a blog post the day of the New England game about how no one in his hometown of Makati City had heard of the NFL star. But the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a national daily paper, ran a story the same morning, “Colorado Fil-Ams enthralled by Tebow time” that noted Tebow’s roots and tracked down members of Denver’s thriving Filipino community to get their take on the Tebow phenom.

Two members of the Filipino American Community of Colorado were among the Broncos fans quoted in the story:

‘Kuya Tim’s a source of pride for Colorado Filipinos,’ says Fran Campbell, past president of the Filipino American Community of Colorado now headed by her father, Silvino Simsiman from Cabugao, Ilocos Sur.

Fran said Broncos fans come up and talk to her and other Fil-Am leaders about Tebow and his Philippine connection. ‘We have the opportunity to share our culture in a way that we’ve not been able to before,’ she exulted.

‘His (Tebow’s) ability to inspire not only his team, but the communities surrounding the Broncos has given us all something to strive for,’ said Bernadette Niblo, spokeswoman for the FACC. ‘His faith is strong. As Filipinos in Colorado, we connect with that and are honored to consider him one of our own.’

Maybe Tebow will visit the FACC, which has its headquarters in Edgewater, at its annual Philippines Festival this June and cement a local link to his Filipino roots…

(This is a cross-post from HuffingtonPost Denver.)

Ethnic studies classes ruled illegal in Arizona because it would promote “racial resentment”

Arizona state seal I can’t think of a good reason for me to want to live in Arizona. Via Yahoo, here’s news that a judge has ruled that the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican-American Studies course violates state law because it’s “designed primarily for one ethnic group, promoting racial resentment and advocating ethnic solidarity instead of treating students as individuals.”

Part of the school’s funding is being withheld until it complies with state law and quits offering the course. The judge wrote in his ruling that the course crosses the legal limits because “such teaching promotes activism against white people.”

Apparently it’s OK to “objectively” teach about racial oppression, but not OK to teach from an activist perspective. However I’m not sure how you teach objectively about, say, the enslavement of African Americans; the genocide and systematic uprooting of Native Americans; racism against Blacks, Hispanics and Asians; and the imprisonment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II without people getting pissed off. Aren’t we allowed to be angry? Isn’t that a free speech issue?

I love the United States and I consider myself a patriotic American citizen. But I’m allowed to be angry at my country, and resent it for a host of things including the lousy management of the economy, unnecessary wars, rampant cultural imperialism, institutionalized racism, white privilege, legislative gridlock and other stuff.

I’m also all about ethnic solidarity. If we’re a racial salad bowl, people of color need to be proud of who we are AND celebrate our place in the multicultural richness of American society. That doesn’t mean we’re fomenting a race revolution against white folk. I mean, seriously.

I’m dumbfounded. Speechless. And saddened. It’s another reason to avoid AZ unless I’m just driving through.

PHOTO: Who are these incredible women fighting fires at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941?

Women firefighters at Pearl Harbor

UPDATE DEC. 13: NBC Nightly News reported last night that one of the women in the photo above has come forward, and said that the photo was not taken on Dec. 7, as has commonly been captioned every time it’s been published for decades. Instead, Katherine Lowe, who’s now 96 and still living in Honolulu, says she was at church the morning of the attack. But she and her friends from the Dole pineapple factory signed up as civilian volunteers and she’s sure the photo was taken sometime after Dec. 7, during a training session at Pearl Harbor. It’s great to have this incredible mystery cleared up, and from my perspective, the photo is still an amazing testament to the fact that a multicultural group of women worked together in the days following the Pearl Harbor attack, for the cause of protecting our country. It’s a powerful, moving image even though it wasn’t shot during the bombing.

I thought I’d seen pretty much every photo taken at Pearl Harbor 70 years ago — so many of them are so iconic. But here’s a new one that’s already seared into my visual memory: Women firefighters aiming a hose following the attack on the U.S. Navy base that terrible Sunday.

It was included in a series of photos on the MSNBC Photo Blog, and then posted by itself on MSNBC’s Open Channel crowdsourced investigative blog when the photo began to attract a lot of attention. None of the women are identified, but it appears that there are Asians and a Polynesian or Pacific Islander (maybe African American?) woman among the group.

I’m posting it here with apologies to Three Lions/Getty Images as a public service to help get the word out and hope that someone can identify any of the women. If requested, I’ll be happy to take down the image.

Maybe someone grew up with the grandmother telling stories about being on the dock at Pearl that day….

Thanks to TzeMing Mok on the APA Mavens list for the heads-up.

Denver’s Lao community suffered the tragic loss of its Buddhist temple, and needs your support to rebuild

Firefighter at Lao Buddhist Temple of Colorado

Colorado’s Laotian community woke up yesterday to a terrible tragedy: The morning news shows kept showing breaking news footage from their helicopters circling over a raging fire in Westminster, off 108th and Wadsworth. The Lao Buddhist Temple of Colorado was burning down, the flames and smoke engulfing the building in less than half an hour as firefighters poured water from their bucket trucks in the sub-zero chill of dawn.

I have a special place in my heart for the Laotian community, so my heart broke along with theirs as I watched the coverage of their loss.

My wife Erin and I first met the Laotians because of their dedication and passion for boat racing, through our volunteer involvement with the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. If people know about it, Laos is probably remembered most for its part in the Vietnam war.
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Visiting Japan is the best way to help the country post-earthquake and tsunami

A geisha at Kiyomizudera in Kyoto

It’s such a cliche to point out that Japan is a contrast of old and new traditional and modern, but the comparison keeps coming up because it’s true, and is a part of the country’s cultural DNA. It would be a surprise not to see some people — women, men, old, young, children — dressed in traditional kimono at ancient temples and shrines. It’s not unusual to have a contemplative (dare I say, zen-like) centuries-old spiritual site plopped into the middle of one of the world’s most bustling megalopolises. Japan is home to 14 of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

So it makes sense for me to start this series of blog posts with a photo of a geisha (or a maiko, a geisha-in-training) I saw seemingly floating amidst the crowds of tourists at Kiyomizuedera, one of the thousands of amazing temples scattered throughout Kyoto, the city that contains the soul of Japan. The geisha is a romantic stereotype of Old Japan, and yet, the tradition of geishas performing ancient music and dance continues today.

I returned this month from a two-week trip to Japan with my wife Erin Yoshimura and my mom, Junko. We traveled there for several reasons:

First, because Erin has never met my mother’s family in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan.

Second, because as Japanese Americans, we both believe it’s important to connect with our roots and appreciate where our values come from and why we think and behave the way we do in the United States.

Third, because we think it’s a cool idea to bring out American side to Japan and see how it’s different from Japanese society.

And fourth, because traveling to Japan is a great way for people around the world to support Japan’s recovery from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tohoku region of northeast Honshu, Japan’s main island.

According to an Oct. 5 report from the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism to Japan fell by 62% and 50% in April May over the previous year because of the disasters (including the man-made nuclear disaster at Fukushima). It’s been improving in the months since — in June and July tourism was 36% below 2010 levels. That’s a huge loss for a country that is the third-largest tourism economy in the world.

No, we didn’t visit Tohoku. We flew to Narita Airport outside Tokyo and took a connecting flight to Chitose, the airport that serves Sapporo in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. We spent a couple of days in Sapporo and met with my uncle Fumiya Mori and aunt Mistuko, then took trains to Nemuro, my mom’s hometown on the easternmost tip of Hokkaido. We spent several days there with my uncle Kazuya Mori and aunt Eiko (I adore her) and got to visit Akan National Park (sort of like Japan’s Yellowstone) and the Ainu Village that showcases the culture of the native people of Japan. From Hokkaido we flew to Tokyo and spent four busy days there, then took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Hiroshima. We spent a coupe f days there, and visited the powerful Peace Memorial Park, which forever commemorates the atomic bomb blast of Aug. 5, 1945. We ended the trip in Kyoto before flying home from Osaka’s Kansai Airport.

Two weeks is a long trip, but it was worth it to squeeze in such a diverse array of destinations and see Japan from the dual perspective of foreign tourist and someone coming home after a prolonged absence.


View Day-by-day photo albums on Facebook from our trip to Japan.

View 34 short videos on YouTube of our trip to Japan.