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‘Field of Dreams:’ Fil-Am Tim Lincecum wins ‘Cy Young Award’
 by Joseph Pimentel
Asian Journal, Nov. 14-20, 2008

“I was more shocked than anything as far as the [tough] competition. I was hoping to be in the mix [for the award],” said Lincecum, whose mother is Filipino, during a press conference announcing the award on Tuesday, November 11.

Lincecum said he was shocked when he found out he won the prestigious award. “I really said ‘Really?’ I was more shocked than anything. ‘Whoo-hoo!’ I literally yelled a couple of times,” he said.

The Giants’ right-handed pitcher Lincecum has a record of 18-5 with a 2.62 earned run average and led the National league in strikeouts with 265.

The 24-year-old received 23 of 32 first place votes, seven second-place votes and one third place vote for 137 points. He won the award over former Cy Young award winner Arizona Diamondback pitcher Brandon Webb, another former Cy Young award winnder the New York Mets’ Johan Santana and the Philadelphia Phillies’ closer Brad Lidge, who did not blow a save the entire year.

“It’s great,” said Lincecum. “It’s a definite honor for me. It’s a tremendous honor, to be honest with you.”

According to MLB.com, Lincecumcompiled a league-best .783 winning percentage with his 18-5 record and amassed 265 strikeouts to become the first Giant in baseball’s modern era (since 1900) to earn that distinction.

Against Lincecum, opponents hit .221 overall and .167 with runners in scoring position while averaging 7.22 hits per nine innings— all league lows. And his 2.62 ERA was the NL’s second best.

At 24 years old, he is the youngest pitcher to win the Cy Young, joining teammate Barry Zito, when he won it for the Oakland Athletics’ in 2002.

Standing 5’11” and weighing just 160 pounds, Lincecum is not the prototypical strikeout pitcher. Many had criticized hisawkward delivery, thought he was too small and did not believe he would be an effective Major League pitcher.

“People have been doubting me my whole life,” said Lincecum. “I don’t let them bring me down.”

The Giants did believe and drafted Lincecum No. 10 overall from the University of Washington in the 2006 MLB draft. In just his second year, Lincecum won the 2008 National League Cy Young Award.

“On behalf of the entire Giants organization, and our wonderful fans, we congratulate Tim Lincecum on his outstanding achievement,” said Giants managing general partner Bill Neukom.

“By winning the Cy Young award, Tim has been recognized as the National League’s premier pitcher in 2008. This is a great day for Tim, for the Giants and for our fans everywhere. Tim is an exceptionally talented baseball player who has earned this high honor through his hard work, dedication and competitive spirit.

“It is a proud day for Tim and his family, the Giants organization and for our fans everywhere.”


Lincecum nabs MLB 2K9 cover
By Doug Miller
MLB.com, Nov. 11, 2008

For Tim Lincecum, winning the National League Cy Young Award was just half of the good news he got Tuesday.

The young San Francisco Giants right-hander did indeed get the prestigious honor as the NL's premier pitcher in the 2008 season, but he also was announced as the cover athlete for the upcoming Major League Baseball 2K9 video game from 2K Sports.

As a video game fanatic, Lincecum said he couldn't be happier.

"Winning the Cy Young Award is truly an amazing honor, and now having the opportunity to be on the cover of Major League Baseball 2K9 is another dream come true and an absolutely surreal experience," said Lincecum, a 2008 All-Star who went 18-5 with a 2.62 ERA, led the Major Leagues with 265 strikeouts (an NL-best 10.51 per nine innings) and limited opponents to an NL-low .221 batting average.

"Whenever I'm hanging out at home or traveling on the road, you can find me playing video games, and I'm definitely the best gamer in the clubhouse by far. I'm incredibly stoked that 2K Sports picked me to represent Major League Baseball 2K9, and I look forward to lending my baseball knowledge to the development process."

Lincecum wasn't the only one "stoked" to be involved in the ongoing creation of MLB 2K9. Chris Snyder, the director of marketing for 2K Sports, and MLB 2K9's senior product manager, Mike Rhinehart, work in Novato, Calif., about a 45-minute drive from AT&T Park, the home of the Giants. They've seen Lincecum pitch plenty of times and are ecstatic that he's the chosen player for 2009.

"Our boy won," Snyder said. "After having Jose Reyes on the cover last year, it was time to show the West Coast some love."

Rhinehart explained that the choice of the cover player is always a political one at 2K Sports, whose corporate offices are in New York City.

"Basically, everybody in the company is a baseball fan and everybody wants to weigh in with their opinion on the cover athlete," Rhinehart said. "It goes all the way to the top, to the CEO and corporate. And the decision this year was that we really wanted to align with somebody that was unique, that was a (video) gamer, and personified our game this year."

Lincecum fit for all those reasons and more, and perhaps the most significant reason he was chosen was because of the "Signature Style" feature that MLB 2K9 is known for and is improving year after year.

"We're pushing hard with our ability to capture the unique motions players have, whether it's a walkup or a delivery on the mound," Rhinehart said. "We mimic them to a point of being spot-on, and a good example is (Detroit left-hander) Dontrelle Willis. He has that unique delivery, and when he came down to our studios and saw how we had captured it, he flipped out.

"So Tim, to us, was perfect. He's so unique with his delivery and mechanics that he personifies that 100 percent. And during some of his interviews, he talked about gaming, which always perks our ears. In fact, in one of his last interviews of the season, he actually said he was going to put down the glove and pick up a controller. That was music to our ears."

And hearing he would grace the cover of a game that will be available in early 2009 for the Xbox 360 entertainment system from Microsoft, the PlayStation3 and PlayStation2 computer entertainment systems, PSP (PlayStation Portable) system and Wii home video game system from Nintendo was music to Lincecum's ears.

"We're always looking for guys that are invested, and Tim very early on seemed invested in the product," Snyder said. "We're bringing him out here in a couple weeks to meet the development team, do a motion-capture session and really get this thing rolling. He's really excited and we are, too."

And according to Rhinehart, Lincecum wouldn't have been chosen if he didn't have the personality to match his pitching ability.

"From the first day he showed up to practice and they wouldn't let him into the park because they thought he was a kid, we've always felt as if he is exactly like our audience," Rhinehart said. "He's a normal kid that plays video games, but when he's on the mound he's a totally different beast throwing crazy heat.

"You look at him and you think, 'How does this guy throw heat like that?' It's perfect for our audience."


A pitch and a homerun
Asian Journal, Nov. 13, 2008

ALTHOUGH baseball is highly a popular sport here in the United States, in the Philippines, baseball still has to find its place in the hearts of Filipinos. For one, only a few Filipinos have made it in Major League Baseball (MLB), starting with Bobby Balcena, who played briefly for the Cincinnati Reds in 1956. Other players of Filipino descent who made it included Jason Bartlett, Bobby Chouinard and Geno Espineli.

But much honor is given today to Tim Lincecum, a starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, who recently won the Cy Young Award, for being the best pitcher in Major League Baseball. The Cy Young Award is given to the best pitcher in MLB, one each for the American National leagues.

Lincecum, whose mother is a Filipino, brings much honor to the Filipinos not only in the US, but all over the world. He is also the youngest pitcher to win the award at 24 years old.

For most of us Filipinos, baseball could probably take a little time to be part of our culture. Still, what Lincecum has achieved—as well as the other FilAm baseball players—is easy to understand. It is, in baseball terms, a homerun.


{Note: Although not mentioned in the above article, probably the best-known Fil-Am major league baseball player until now has been Benny Agbayani, who played for the NY Mets and Boston Red Sox.]

Charice sings with Celine Dion at Madison Square Garden
Philippine Entertainment Portal, Sept. 17, 2008

Natuloy noong September 15 (Monday, U.S. time) ang duet nina Charice Pempengco at ng international singing superstar na si Celine Dion sa Madison Square Garden sa New York. Ang naturang concert ni Celine sa New York ay bahagi ng kanyang Taking Chances World Tour 2008.

Maipagmamalaki ng mga Pilipino si Charice dahil kinakabahan man siya, mahusay ang kanyang performance sa duet nila ni Celine. Kinanta ng dalawa ang "Because You Loved Me," ang hit song ni Celine at ang unang kanta na natutunan ni Charice noong four years old pa lamang siya.

Panay ang himas ni Celine sa buhok ng batang singer at pinabayaan din niya na magkaroon ng moment si Charice.

Ipalalabas bukas, September 18, sa The Oprah Winfrey Show ang guest appearance ni Charice sa jampacked concert ni Celine.

Ito ang mga sinabi ni Celine bago niya tinawag si Charice para umakyat sa stage:

"They actually told me about an incredible young singer that she [Oprah Winfrey] discovered awhile back. You know, if you watch Oprah last week, you know all about her. This young lady's name is Charice. I'm so excited. She's 16 years old and she's from the Philippines.

"Let me tell you, she has a voice that can literally blow the roof of Madison Square Garden and she just might. But the real story is how Charice and her mom escaped the terrifying experience and had to leave Charice's violent father.

"You know, to start a life of their own. Charice vowed to save her mom from a life of desperation and despair. You know, through prayers and dreams and God-given talent, an incredible voice, Charice entered every singing contest in her native country and was eventually noticed by such influential people.

"You know, a show in Oprah and Oprah wanted to take her and took her under her wings. Then, David Foster joined her. I had the chance to see Charice perform one of my songs on Oprah last week. I have a little bit of difficulty to talk right now because I met Charice, and I'm so emotional... So I'm searching and looking for my words...trying to control my emotion.

"I invited her to come here tonight to sing with me. Where are you, sweetheart? There she is, come down, Sweetie."

Sa puntong ito, bumaba si Charice mula sa kanyang kinauupuan para umakyat siya sa stage.

Inalalayan siya ng mga bodyguard habang naglalakad papunta sa kinaroroonan ni Celine sa gitna ng stage.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is Charice. [To Charice] You look spectacular! Are you shaking? Are you okay? Don't be nervous and, I think, a lot of people, they understand that you are nervous.

"I'm gonna tell you one thing, the talent we're not gonna talk about. Because you have the strength, we're not gonna talk about (it) because you have (it), and so the love. And I have to tell you, the family, we'll gonna talk because you have to.

"One time, my manager, my husband [Rene Angelil], told me, ‘Celine...' Because when I started to sing, I was 12 years old, so 12 and 16, it's the same, okay? He told me, ‘Celine, I know you're nervous, don't be scared. You love to sing. When you go up there, you'll be nervous. Don't be.'

"I will give you an image that you can think about. Think that all the people you see in front of you are your brothers and sisters. You're singing in your living room and these are your family. They can't can't wait to hear you sing. I think I know you want to dedicate this song to your mother. So we're gonna sing ‘Because You Loved Me' for your mother."

Pinabayaan ni Celine na mag-shine si Charice at nagsilbi lamang siyang back-up singer sa malaking bahagi ng kanta. Pagkatapos ng kanta ay binigyan si Charice ng standing ovation at masigabong palakpakan ng mga tao, samantalang ang kanyang ina naman ay hindi mapigilang maluha sa napanood.

Mahigpit ding niyakap ni Celine si Charice pagkatapos ng kanilang awitin. Ani Celine, "Your mother is extremely proud of you, and so we are as well. You did amazing and the roof of Madison went up tonight.

"But I'll ask you Charice, when you do Madison Garden, are you gonna invite me?" biro ni Celine kay Charice, na napatawa lang.

"I love you and I cannot wait for you to perform here for a full concert," pahabol ni Celine.

"Thank you," ang tanging nasambit ni Charice.

Bago ang duet ni Charice kay Celine ay nakasama na rin niyang kumanta ang operatic pop singer na si Andrea Bocelli sa Tuscany, Italy earlier this year.



Oprah to manage Charice’s US career
INQUIRER.net, Sept. 16, 2008

MANILA, Philippines--Charice Pempengco has wowed audiences around the world with her awe-inspiring performances and jaw-dropping vocal strength. After impressing the best in the US entertainment industry, Pempengco is now getting a formidable career boost with a new US-based manager.

Oprah Winfrey, considered the queen of US daytime TV talk shows, has agreed to manage Pempengco’s US career, according to Nixon Sy, audio marketing unit head of the young singer’s Philippine label Star Records in a DZMM report on Tuesday.

According to the report, Winfrey is set to dedicate a full episode of her syndicated talk show, “Oprah” to Pempengco, apart from other Hollywood performances she will arrange for the singer.

Oprah shares management duties for Charice with Star Cinema boss Malou Santos, who is handling her Philippine career.

FilAm Baseball Player Geno Espineli
by Joseph Pimentel
Asian Journal, Aug. 1, 2008

FILAM Eugene “Geno” Macalalag Espineli is a Giant in more than one way. Standing 6’ 4” the 25-year-old pitching reliever for the San Francisco Giants baseball team is tall for a Filipino, whose average heights are almost a foot shorter. With that height, you’d think he would be better off as a shooting guard or small forward in a basketball league.

“I was never good in basketball,” he said to the Asian Journal as the Giants were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles.

The tan skin Giant is one of the few Major League Baseball players with Filipino heritage. Along with teammate starting pitcher Tim Lincecum, who is half Pinoy, Chris Aguila formerly of the New York Mets, and Jason Bartlett of the Tampa Bay Rays, there aren’t a lot of Filipinos playing in America’s pastime.

It’s a reason why Espineli takes a certain pride of being a full Filipino in the Major Leagues.

“Since I’ve been here, I realized how great it is to be a different culture and different race. It just shows that all cultures can play this sport and any sport,” said Espineli.

Baseball’s done a great job of reaching out to all the different cultures, added Lincecum, who dedicated a game to his Filipino grandfather after his passing last year.

“It’s great that baseball’s expanding their horizons and they are all over the world,” he said.

Both Espineli’s parents are from the Philippines. His mother is originally from Lumban, Laguna. He said he’s been to the home country a few times, the last time being when he was 13 years old.

“I remember the scenery and small villages in the mountains, and the trees and that it was pretty hot when I was there,” he said.

Espineli was born and bred in Houston, Texas. Espineli said he was only one of two Filipinos in his High School. Growing up, baseball was the game the kids played in his neighborhood so naturally he gravitated towards the sport and dreamt about playing professionally in the Major Leagues.

And about two weeks ago, his dream came true.

“This is something that I’ve been working for my whole life,” he said about being called up to play for the Giants. After playing college baseball for the University of Texas and Texas Christian University, the San Francisco Giants drafted the left-handed pitcher in the 14th round of the 2004 draft.

According to MLB.com, Espineli’s scouting report that year compared him to ex-major league pitcher John Candeleria, a former 20 game-winner and World Series champion. Espineli’s “tall, lanky” frame, side arm delivery and three-pitch combination – a sinking fastball clocked at 89 miles-per-hour, a backdoor curveball and sinking changeup – made him a good draft choice for the Giants.

“My pitching style is about trying to fool the hitter,” said Espineli. “I like to confuse the hitters with what I throw. I don’t throw really fast; my pitches are usually in the high 80’s. I just try to get it [the ball] to sink or slide.”

After a few years in the Minor Leagues as a reliever and starting pitcher, the Giants called up Espineli in mid-July after he posted a 2.06 earned run average with 43 strikeouts in 34 games for the team's Triple A affiliate in Fresno. During his time in Fresno, Espineli also was a Pacific Coast League All-Star and named to the Olympic USA baseball team.

Espineli said he was surprised about being named to the Olympics but opted to stay in the majors to help the Giants playoff run in a wide-open National League West division.

“That opportunity came out of nowhere,” he said about the Olympics. “I would have been definitely proud to represent this country but now I’m in the majors and I’m hoping to stay here as long as possible.”

Now that he’s on the Giants, he’s hoping to contribute to the pitching staff in any way he can even if it means humiliatingly carrying a Barbie backpack to the bullpen in front of thousands of people to appease the veterans on the team.

Hazing is what veterans do to rookies, and Espineli knows it’s not over.

“I know it’s going to get a lot worse in September,” he said.

So far Espineli has played in five games as a reliever for the Giants. He’s pitched 5.2 innings striking out four hitters and allowing two walks. He’s also given up four earned runs but to Espineli,it’s a learning experience.

“Every time I’m out there it’s nerve racking,” he said. “You’re in front of thousands of fans. Everyone back home is going to watch it. It’s exciting but it’s also nervous at the same time.”

He also knows there’s a little added pressure on him being a full Filipino playing in front of a team with a large Filipino fan base.

“It’s great that we have a built in audience especially in the Bay area,” he said. “There’s a lot of Filipinos there. Especially for a country not known to produce a lot of baseball players, it just adds more fans to the sport.”

Espineli said he hopes to stay in the majors for a long time. He also mentioned that one of his goals is to increase the popularity of baseball by hosting baseball camps in the Philippines.

“I definitely plan on going back soon and that’s definitely something I would check out,” he said. “I know it’s not one of the bigger sports there so anything to get a sport like baseball going to a country will be a big deal and something I would definitely look into.”

He advises young FilAms and Filipinos pursuing a career in major league baseball to “keep working on it and eventually you’ll get to the top.”

Another standing ovation for Charice
FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo
Philippine Star, July 24, 2008

There seems to be no stopping Charice from wowing ‘em in foreign places although not (yet) just as much on the homefront where some of her very own relatives are trying hard to pull her down — without success, thankfully.

Of course, we all know that Charice first got a standing ovation on Ellen DeGeneres’ show in December last year, followed by the same awesome guesting on Paul O’Grady’s show in London and then on Oprah Winfrey’s show, leaving Oprah breathlessly impressed, wondering where Charice got her lung power.

As Funfare reported in a “scoop” last Saturday, Charice was personally handpicked by Andrea Bocelli (no less!!!) to sing a duet with him at the Third Edition of the Teatro del Silenzio held last Sunday, July 20, at a natural amphitheater between the rolling hills of Lajatico, a small rural town in Volterra Valley, Italy.

“It was like a dream,” gushed Charice in an exclusive long-distance interview by phone, arranged by immigration lawyer and STAR columnist Michael Gurfinkel and his wife Millie who are acting as Charice and her mom Raquel’s advisers. “I couldn’t believe it. Para talagang panaginip.”

During the concert, Charice did a duet of The Prayer with Bocelli and they got a standing ovation. She was the only Asian performer in the annual concert put up by Bocelli himself, this year featuring Italian artists Noa (a Grammy winner), conductor Nicola Piovani (the Oscar-winning musical director of Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful, an Oscar Best Picture winner), the etoile of the Teatro della Scala Roberto Bolle and the 90 elements of the Orchestra Sinfonietta from Rome.

“Onstage before we sang,” continued Charice, “Bocelli was whispering to me, ‘Good luck, good luck!,’ kaya pinagbutihan ko talaga. Feel na feel ko ‘yung song namin. After we sang and I heard the audience clapping, nakatayo, hindi ako makapaniwala. Sobra talaga!”

Charice was the only artist who sang with Bocelli accorded such an honor. The next day, her picture with Bocelli was on the front pages and also played up in the newscast.

It was Charice’s second time to meet Bocelli; their first was several weeks ago when they both performed at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas during a tribute concert to famous and multi-awarded songwriter David Foster who first saw Charice on Ellen DeGeneres’ show. Very much impressed, Foster has big plans for Charice, probably including writing a song for her. Foster has written hits for almost all the A-list singers (Whitney Houston, Madonna, Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, Michael Bublé, etc.).

“Doon kami unang nagkita,” recalled Charice. When I reminded her that Bocelli is vision-challenged, Charice giggled. “A, doon pala niya ako unang narinig na kumanta, sa Mandalay Bay where I sang The Bodyguard and I’m Telling You medley, kaya niya ako inimbita doon dito sa Italy.”

Bocelli had finished his performance at the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas event, and was in his dressing room, when he heard Charice sing. Bocelli asked his assistants to bring him backstage, so he could be among the first to congratulate Charice. After telling Charice that he was moved by her performance, Gurfinkel (who secured Charice’s working visa for the US performance) said to Bocelli, “It would be nice if you could duet The Prayer together.” Bocelli responded, “Yes, that would be nice.” Bocelli’s business manager handed over his business card to Gurfinkel, asking that he be contacted to discuss details. And viola! Charice was invited to Tuscany (birthplace of Bocelli), to be the first Filipino to ever sing with Bocelli.

Upon Charice and Raquel’s arrival in Tuscany in Pisa two days before the Teatro del Silenzio concert, she was invited by Bocelli to his house. Bocelli had her fetched at the San Marco Hotel where she and her mom were billeted.

“Nag-bonding kami. He introduced me to his family, including his mother. Then, ipinasyal niya ako sa kanyang pagawaan ng wine. Nag-picture-taking kami and he even asked me to autograph a bottle.”

The next day, they had a rehearsal.

“Doon ako simulang kinabahan. I couldn’t believe it. Hindi ako makapaniwalang katabi ko siya at nagre-rehearse kami.”

Did Charice know Bocelli even before they met in Mandalay Bay?

“Oo naman. Di ba nag-concert siya dyan sa atin noong 2004? Napanood ko po ‘yon. That was the first time I heard him sing The Prayer.”

After the concert, Charice and Raquel took time out for a quick tour of the place and had themselves photographed beside The Leaning Tower of Pisa.

They are arriving today in Manila.

Watch video: Charice duet with Andrea Bocelli, July 20, 2008 in Italy

Documenting Pinoys in the entertainment capital of the world
July 20, 2008

MANILA, Philippines - More Filipinos are getting noticed in Hollywood, and they are listed in a book by Carina Monica Montoya. Launched last March 8 at The Filipino American Library in Los Angeles, the book is also a pictorial account of Pinoys who cast a moist eye on Tinsel Town as early as the 1920s, as well as those who are just beginning to make inroads in global show biz.

“Filipinos in Hollywood” was born of Montoya’s personal interest in her compatriots’ evolution in the entertainment capital, her father being one of the first Filipinos to settle in LA and work in Hollywood as a film extra. It starts at the time MGM started casting “short native types” as extras for black-and-white movies and notes the continued influx of Pinoy workers, despite immigration restrictions and racial discrimination.

Pinoy movie-stage-TV actors, directors, writers, singers, musicians, broadcasters, models—they’re all immortalized in Montoya’s book.

Famous ones

The famous ones are: actor-comedian Rob Schneider, best known for his “Saturday Night Live” and “Deuce Bigelow” stints; Lou Diamond Phillips, whose big break came in the 1987 Ritchie Valens biographical film “La Bamba”; and actress-singer Tia Carrere, best remembered for her role as Cassandra in “Wayne’s World” and “Wayne’s World 2.”

Also among the most recognizable is Allan Pineda Lindo or apl.de.ap, Fil-Am superstar from the Grammy-winning, internationally-renowned hip-hop group Black-Eyed Peas. He is photographed with BEP’s other members, as well as with “Bebot” music video director Patricio Ginelsa and folk singer Lolita Carbon.

There’s Jasmine Trias, third-placer in the third season of “American Idol”; actor-comedian-writer Alec Mapa and singer-actor Dante Basco, who have penetrated the US film-theater-concert scene.

Alec has been cast in TV shows such as “Dharma & Greg,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Ugly Betty.” Dante has appeared in the theatrical movie “The Debut” and in the Antonio Banderas starrer, “Take the Lead.” “The Debut,” incidentally, was written by two Filipinos, John Manal Castro and Gene Cajayon, who also directed the movie.

Likewise mentioned is model-actress G Toengi, who expects to work in TV and movie productions soon, after studying at the Lee Strasberg School of Acting in New York.

Little known is Neal “Xingu” Rodil, a Pinoy “martial arts trainer to the stars” who has appeared on episodes of the series “Absolutely True” and “Fashion House.”

The book also includes a snapshot of Inquirer’s Hollywood entertainment columnist Ruben Nepales, with his correspondent wife Janet and their daughters.

In her introduction, Montoya explains how Pinoys made it past the door: “The new generation of Filipinos today is the product of the hard work and sacrifice of the Filipinos of yesteryears. Beginning as one of the least recognized and least documented Asian ethnic groups in Hollywood, Filipinos today shine in Hollywood’s limelight as a big part of the business community, industry and glamour. The earlier generations of Filipinos laid the groundwork, mostly behind the scenes, for today’s Filipino-American success.”


Anna Maria Perez de Tagle in Disney Channel's "Camp Rock"
by Kenn Gold and Angela Gold

Disney Channel’s newest original movie, Camp Rock, premieres on June 20th, 2008. The movie follows Mitchie Torres (Demi Lovato) as she attends the prestigious musical camp, confronts her fears, and is thrown into the spotlight. The film also stars real life teen rocker Joe Jonas, as well as his siblings/bandmates Nick and Kevin. Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, best known for her role as mean girl Ashley on Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana plays Ella in the movie.

Anna Maria recently came by the MediaBlvd Pop Culture Hour radio show to talk about her roles in Camp Rock, and Hannah Montana.

Kenn: Welcome to the show! I think you are best known for your role on Hannah Montana, Ashley DeWitt. But can you start off by telling us about your upcoming movie, Camp Rock and your character in that?

Anna Maria: Yes, I play the girly-girl of the main girl clique, Ella. She’s obsessed with her lip gloss. Most of all, she talks about her lip gloss 24/7. She’s obsessed with her hair and makeup and everything, but she’s kind of a ditz, and she’s not the smartest girl out of the group. But her character changes completely towards the end of the movie. And the movie stars The Jonas Brothers. So I’m actually really excited. The movie comes out June 20th, so it’s soon!

Angela: What was it like working with The Jonas Brothers? Are they as nice as they appear to be?

Anna Maria: Yes, they are definitely the most down to Earth guys I’ve ever met. They’re amazing and they’re very humble. And they are professional, just like you’d imagine. I have to say they are definitely not bad to look at everyday!

Kenn: We have a hard question here. Do you have a crush on the brothers, or any one of them?

Anna Maria: Well, I can’t really choose. I always say Frankie Jonas, they call him the bonus Jonas. He’s the youngest one and I think he’s eight years old. He’s just a sweetie-pie. He’s so cute, and I actually just came back from the Disney Channel Games. He comes up to me, and is like, ‘Can I get your number?’ It was cute, a sweet guy.

Angela: So what’s it like playing the ditzy girl? Do you ever worry that you will get stereotyped in that role?

Anna Maria: I do kind of. The fans come up to me and they think I’m really mean. They come up to me and ask, ‘Are you really that mean to Miley? Why are you that mean to Miley?’ I love my fans and I’m always like, ‘Oh, it’s just acting and what you see on TV is really, really acting because Miley and I are good friends. I love playing the mean girl though. It’s a lot of fun.

Kenn: From what I’ve seen of you in interviews, you seem like such a nice person. How do you psych yourself up to play the mean girl?

Anna Maria: Oh cool, thank you! That’s kind of the point. Hopefully I don’t come off really as a mean girl in person.

Kenn: Or else you’re just really, really evil and come off as being nice, then turn mean.

Anna Maria: No, no, no.

Kenn: Where was Camp Rock filmed?

Anna Maria: We filmed in Toronto, Canada. Then we filmed a lot of the camp scenes in a remote place three hours away from Toronto called Halliburton.

Angela: How did you like Canada?

Anna Maria: I liked it, it was my first time in Toronto, and it was cool because our hotel was right across from one of the biggest shopping malls. So every time we’d end filming, all of the cast would go shop. We’d literally walk a mile, and it was right in front of us. It was fun.

Angela: What made you decide to go into acting?

Anna Maria: It all kind of started when I was a junior finalist on a show called Star Search. And I’m originally from the Bay area, and so that’s where I started. I did a lot of musical theatre, and from Star Search I got an agent. I did modeling and commercials and print work here and there. Then all of a sudden my agent said why don’t you try out for this show called Hannah Montana, so I did. And before I knew it, they were flying me back and forth from the Bay area to LA. And then Disney called and said you got the role of Ashley, so we highly recommend you to move to LA. So that’s when I packed up all my stuff and moved the next day, because I really wanted to do acting. Now I’m here!

Angela: How do you like LA?

Anna Maria: I love it! It’s different from where I lived before, I used to live in San Jose and it was more like everyone knew each other. It was smaller obviously, but in LA there are so many things to do, and so many places to go. It’s a lot of fun for me, and I always pictured myself being here, so I’m glad.

Kenn: So what’s it like being a part of this phenomenon? Hannah Montana is so popular now and seems to be getting bigger and bigger.

Anna Maria: I’m very honored and very humbled to be a part of the show. Seriously, none of us knew this show would be that big. I understand now, it’s just an amazing show and it’s literally like my second home. I’m always there. It’s a big party and we’re going to start filming season three soon. I’m excited for that.

Kenn: What’s your relationship like with Miley in real life? I take it you guys probably aren’t enemies?

Anna Maria: Definitely not. We’re really good friends and I love her a lot. She’s an amazing girl. She’s like a big ball of energy and it’s kind of contagious. Every time she’ll walk into the room and literally make everyone smile- hence Smiley! But I love her.

Angela: Do you ever go online and check out your fan sites and what people are saying about either you or the show?

Anna Maria: I do have one fan site I go to. It’s called AnnaMariaFans.com, and I lend my pictures and contribute to that. But I think it’s really great because that was my very first fan site, and I know the girl who did it. She was very sweet, and I’m actually going to be able to see her in New York for the premiere of Camp Rock. I think that’s the only fansite I got to.

Kenn: Do you have an official MySpace Page?

Anna Maria: I do not. I think I’m going to come up with a music MySpace page, but not currently.

Angela: We always like to ask that question because some people don’t know if there’s a MySpace page out for them already, and say I don’t know anything about it.

Anna Maria: I know a lot of them are like fake. I definitely don’t have one.

Kenn: You never know. The internet’s a great thing, but people can pretend to be you.

Anna Maria: Yeah, it’s kind of scary.

Kenn: One question I have to ask, it looks like you have so much going on. How do you keep it all together?

Anna Maria: I honestly don’t even know. It’s pretty crazy how I’m keeping up with my schedule. It’s getting busier and busier, and I’m actually enjoying it so much. It’s very surreal for me right now. I never knew that I’d get this busy. If I ever need a break, or if it’s getting kind of crazy, I have to fall back on my family. And I have a close knit family. I know that Miley and I have close knit families. And to have a great support system is our family.

Angela: It says in your bio you have two brothers, are they older or younger, and how do they feel about your career? Do they want to get into the same type of thing, or are they doing their own thing?

Anna Maria: I have two older brothers. One is 26 and the other is 24. I’m the baby of the family! They support me through everything. None of them are actors or anything, but one of my brothers is getting into photography and is starting to do my headshots. He’s getting into a little and I guess he was kind of inspired.

Angela: Are they pretty protective of you?

Anna Maria: Yes, both of them are very protective, even more protective than my dad. It’s pretty crazy because it’s like they are eves dropping on every single thing I do. But I love having the protection and I know that I’ve got security with me. So it’s great.

Angela: How did your parents feel about you going into the acting?

Anna Maria: At first, they were kind of apprehensive because they know that show business is really hard, and there’s going to be rejection. They were like, “Are you sure? Can you handle rejection?” And I said, “Yes, let’s move. I want to be an actress, I want to be a singer, and I want to be in the business”. I love what I do. Now they are just supporting me 24/7 and they are always there for me. I just love them for that. I love my family for that too.

Kenn: What’s been your most disappointing or worst part of this experience for you? Have there been parts that were bad?

Anna Maria: I probably have to say no. Part of the business is that you’re not going to get everything that you go out for. So I’m happy to be on the show Hannah Montanan, and happy to be on Camp Rock. I’ve also had another show called Cake on CBS, and I’m just happy for that. If I don’t get a job, it’s like “Next Project or next audition!” I’m strarting to build my skin and have thicker skin; definitely nothing too bad.

Kenn: What’s your favorite thing that you’ve done so far?

Anna Maria: I would have to say Camp Rock. Out of all things, I love it. It was my first Disney Channel movie, and it it was great working with the Jonas Brothers. Demi Lovato is in the movie, Alyson Stoner, Jasmine Richards, everyone in the cast was amazing. We’re all really good friends now, and I’m happy to have them as hopefully lifelong friends. I think Camp Rock was probably the best thing so far.

Angela: How was it different doing the movie compared to the TV series?

Anna Maria: For Hannah, it was different because there was a live audience. So there were lots of kids watching and if we had a funny joke they were laughing out loud. So we would feed off of their laughter, and they loved the show. For Camp Rock, it was kind of more straightforward. We had to get things done because we were in the woods, and we can’t stay till night because it would be pitch black by eight o’clock. We had to work a little faster. Plus the weather was different around that time. It was getting really hot, then really cold and a lot of us got sick. It was a little bit different.

Angela: Do you like that instant feedback when you do Hannah Montana, getting the audience’s reaction?

Anna Maria: I do. It’s like we feed off of that and get inspired to be funnier and have kids laugh even more. And I know for Hannah, the mean girls do this little gag, and go “Ooohhh”, every single time that we do that the kids laugh. And Shanica and I, Shanica Knowles plays the other mean girl, our hearts are warm, and it’s really cool that even though we are the mean girls they still love us.

Kenn: Do you get recognized when you go out in public now? Has that changed for you?

Anna Maria: I do. It’s pretty crazy. I walk to a mall, and if there are little kids, they will go up to me and go “Ooohhh”, and ask if I’m really mean. Then when I tell them I’m not really mean, and they see me in person, they ask if they can have a picture, or an autograph.

Angela: What seems to be the audience age range for the show?

Anna Maria: The youngest is probably 7 or six even, and the oldest, I can’t say. The moms know me more than the kids sometimes. It’s a great family show though.

Kenn: Can you tell us just a little bit more about the plot of the movie?

Anna Maria: Camp Rock is a musical where a whole bunch of kids come to this camp to discover or enhance their talents like singing, acting, dancing, drumming, rapping. And Mitchie, played by Demi Lovato, is like a turtle. She’s very shy. But as the movie progresses, she kind of breaks out of her little shell and shows the camp how raw and how talented she really is. I think kids will definitely be able to relate to this movie because it’s got good morals, like to always be yourself, and to never be somebody you’re not. And that kind of happens in the movie. But I think that’s why kids will be able to tune into this movie.

Kenn: So where do you see yourself being 10 years from now? Do you think you will keep up with the acting, or get more into singing?

Anna Maria: I want to do everything. I want to go to college. I have one more year, I have senior year left. But after that I definitely want to go to college. And I do want to do some records, and I’m talking and working with some producers. For acting, maybe some feature films. I’ve always wanted to do a drama or a comedy, or even a horror where I get killed off or something.

Kenn: Do you know yet what you’re going to major in in college?

Anna Maria: I think I want to major in the performing arts, or even musical theatre. I miss musical theatre so much. Or even just vocals. Anything to do with the performing arts.

Angela: Thank you so much for joining us tonight. We really enjoyed having you!

Anna Maria: Thank you so much, I had fun.


On April 25, 2008 Anna Maria was interviewed by Janelle So on the TV program Kababayan L.A. Here are some highlights of the interview.

Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, who in addition to her role as Ella in “Camp Rock” also plays mean girl Ashley Dewitt on “Hannah Montana,” shared in an exclusive interview with Janelle So on “Kababayan L.A.” that she learned a lot about singing and acting through her famous grandmother, singer and actress Sylvia La Torre.

“I’m very close to my grandma—she’s quite the icon in the Philippines,” laughed Anna Maria.

“She taught me my first Filipino song “Bahay Kubo.” Whenever she’s on stage she says ‘Oh my apo, she’s following in my footsteps,’ and I can’t disagree. When it comes to singing and acting, I owe it all to her.”

Anna Maria shared that despite her Hollywood career, her parents still raise her with conservative Filipino values and rules.

“Well, my parents say I can’t date until I’m 30!,” Anna Maria joked.

“They always make me have a chaperone—my older brother’s always there. But he’s a cool brother, he’s not like one of those brothers who’s behind my back everywhere I go.”

But she did share that her parents are willing to compromise on certain things, such as spending time with her fellow Disney stars—but only to an extent.

“We go on group dates, you know with the Jonas Brothers (her co-stars in “Camp Rock”) or Zack Efron (star of Disney channel’s smash hit “High School Musical”)…but I can’t go out past 11 [p.m.] or anything like that.”

Yet Anna Maria doesn’t mind her parents’ relatively strict dating rules, as she is completely focused on honing her singing and acting skills.

“If a guy were to ask me out, they would definitely have to know that I’m really focused on my career right now.”

She also enjoys the fame she has already received from playing Ashley on “Hannah Montana.”

“Little girls come up to me and say ‘You’re the girl from ‘Hannah Montana!,’” Anna Maria laughed.

“Sometimes they even think I’m mean because I play a mean girl on the show, but I explain to them that it’s just acting. But I definitely love my fans!”

Anna Maria clearly enjoys being part of the famous Disney channel family, its perks including hanging out with superstars like Zack Efron and the Jonas Brothers.

“They’re such nice guys,” Anna Maria says about the Jonas Brothers.

“We actually filmed in a remote place in Canada where there was no cell phone reception and no Internet so we became really close.”

About watching her upcoming projects including “Camp Rock” set to come out June 20, Anna Maria had this to say to her fellow Filipinos.

“Filipinos please, please, please support me.”

“I’m really happy where I am and I love being in the Disney family.”

Charice gets standing ovation at MGM Grand, Foxwoods
by Ricky Lo
ABS-CBNnews.com, May 19, 2008

When it rains, it does pour.

No, it’s not a cliche as far as Charice (now minus Pempengco) is concerned.

After a landmark guesting in Ellen DeGeneres’ show (and then in those of Paul O’Brady in London and Oprah Winfrey), Charice shared the spotlight Saturday night with Josh Groban, John Mayer and Alicia Keys in a show organized by songwriter David Forster for the grand opening of the MGM Grand Casino-Hotel at Foxwood, Connecticut, USA.

Here’s the full report from immigration lawyer and STAR columnist Michael Gurfinkel and his wife Millie who were in that Foxwood event (it was the couple who helped expedite the issuance of the US visa of Charice and her mom Raquel):

Saturday, May 17, was the grand opening of the hotel.

David Foster put together and produced the very first show, featuring Alicia Keys, Josh Groban, John Mayer and, of course, the International Singing Sensation and pride of the Philippines, Charice.

Charice appeared just before Groban and sang a medley of the Whitney Houston hits I Have Nothing and I Will Always Love You (from the movie The Bodyguard which stars Houston herself and Kevin Costner).

Charice received a standing ovation, the only performer to receive one that night, and therefore the first performer at the MGM Foxwoods to receive a standing ovation.

Foster asked the crowd after Charice finished her numbers, "Would you like one more song?"

The audience cheered and shouted an enthusiastic "Yes!" Foster said that he and Charice would do And I’m Telling You...unrehearsed!

After they sang, the audience once again gave Charice another standing ovation. Among those in the audience were Quincy Jones, and Michael Douglas with his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Backstage, Foster, Alicia and Josh congratulated Charice for her "phenomenal performance."

Next stop for Charice is the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on Friday, May 23, where she will perform once again with Josh Groban, along with Andrea Bocelli, Michael Buble and Katherine McPhee.

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph)

Watch video: Charice at MGM Grand Hotel, Foxwoods

Encounters with Arnel Pineda

This story about serendipitous encounters with Arnel Pineda (formerly AMO now lead singer of Journey Band) was recounted by a US Visa Officer in Manila, one of our Foreign Service Institute graduate FSOs :

Months ago a band shows up at my window. It was Lemons and Oranges, or something fruity. Asked why they would play a concert in Seattle. They claimed some following there. I asked about their music; looked at their posters, CDs, etc. At the end of the interview, they were saying, "come out and see our show tonight." This invite was probably due to my withering questioning, and since they thought they were hot stuff, pride was wounded, etc. etc. It turned out that the venue is actually on the way home from the Embassy, only ten minutes away. So I says, "I can't take any free tickets yada yada yada but maybe I'll pop in."

It was a Friday. I went with two LES. We got a table, ordered some beer, fried chicken and so on. The opening band comes on. They were called "Zoo"--this I'm sure of, since I'm from Kalamazoo, the name stuck. The Zoo starts rocking out to 70/80s tunes, like Foreigner, Night Ranger, etc. But the coup de grace was indisputably when they busted out Journey. I mean, the singer was not just good--95% of all Filipinos are good singers--he was really dern good. I couldn't shut up about it. I was telling anyone who would listen, "Dude, not only does this guy have pipes, and range, he's got perfect pitch. He has only missed a few notes on some of the hardest power ballads in schlock n roll history." The LES grudgingly agreed, but they've been desensitized to the regular displays of amazing karaoke you get in Manila, so maybe they were just humoring me.

Since I'm from Michigan, I had an older brother who sported a mullet and wore softball t-shirts. His first 8-track was Styx. Ted Nugent is referred to simply as the Nuge, or Uncle Ted. The Silver Bullet invokes Bob Seger not Coors. In short, I'm qualified to judge this kind of thing. The performance was poignant for me... Images of Camaros and pegged jeans danced in my head... definitely surreal. Then.. then!... Lemons and Oranges comes on and, frankly, they were a bit of a let down. I mean, their music was Edie Brickel / Natalie Merchantesque. And that's fine --it has its place-- but let's be clear: it is a metaphysical transgression to go from Journey's "Separate Ways" into Lisa Loeb's "Stay..."

The next week I'm sitting at an NIV window next to a soon-to-be legend of an officer name Singer. Singer and I were doing FMJs and so we would trade off regular NIV applicants occassionally so that we got fair share of student visas. Singer loves the three things: the FAM, movie quotes that might cost him an EEO violation someday, and cases that make sense. Things that don't make sense, make Singer an unhappy man.

I hear Singer say, "Journey? The band Journey?" He flips through papers. He sounds unhappy.

I butt in: "What's that all about?"

He turns off his mic and looks over at me. "I don't know. This guys says he's going to try out for Journey."

I'm puzzled. "Journey? The band Journey?"

Singer goes, "That's what I just said, [EXPLETIVE]! "

"Great, another nutjob. I'll take it." Singer takes my student, I take the nutjob.

I look over his stuff and say "purpose of travel?" and all that. I start to scrutinize more carefully and realize its the guy I saw from the night before.

"Hey, does your band at Bagaberde?.. ."

He confirms and he goes on to tell me the story of how he uploaded some clips of his band that he recorded to YouTube and contacted Journey's manager, having heard they were looking for a new singer. He says they called him up and invited him to the U.S. to try out. Given the malarkey you get at a Manila NIV window, this story only got points for being original. He produced some flimsy emails and letters, etc.

So I go, in my best dubious voice, "Yeah? let's hear Wheels in the Sky!"

He belts it out for the whole waiting room and for the staff to hear (I made sure to take off my headset and let the speaker play it because what I was really doing was covering my butt).

I said, "Look sir, there isn't a person in this Embassy who would believe that story-- going to try out for Journey!-- not a soul would believe that. Except for me. I saw you sing last Friday and I couldn't shut up about how your vocals were perfect Steve Perry.

So I tell you what. I'm giving you that visa. You're going to try out. And you're going to make it...."

And the rest is rock n roll history, my friends:

Arnel Pineda in GQ magazine