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One The Sceen - Winter Wonderland of Events


Grant Avenue Follies dancers grab stpotlight at the God Bless America VI show in San Francisco
On the Scene  February 5, 2016          by Gerrye Wong
GOD BLESS AMERICA VI  welcomed a packed audience to San Francisco’s newly renovatedHerbst Theatre in a tribute to veterans.  Cathay Post #384 in association with Linking Rings Performing Arts group presented a musical tribute to honor and welcome two busloads of 45 veterans from Yountville and over 80 seniors in wheelchairs to the War Memorial Building  site.  A true variety show, the performances highlighted the talents of the Grant Avenue Follies, vocalists Sergeant Major Richard Kishimoto and Bobby Barnaby, Modern Fan dancers Mimi Chin, Coby Yee and Ivy Tam, Endless Love performer Hank Quock,  Michael Stroud in his famed changing mask dance, Sunset Dance Troupe,  Magician Tanaka cutting MC Doris Grover in half, songstress Miki Katsuyama, and Seattle Princess of Burlesque Shanghai Pearl. 
Cynthia Yee,who spearheaded this great volunteer effort, said she was joined by all of those talented performing volunteers who wanted to bring smiles to the Veterans and seniors in the audience.  That they did!  While the logistics of bringing the veterans to the show was coordinated by Veteran Roger Dong, the show couldn’t have been presented if it wasn’t for generous donors Ray Choy, Chinatown Opti-Ms Club, Hilton Hotels Financial, Lions Veterans Charities, Inc., Wah Ying Club , C.C. & Regina Yin, Nikkei Lions, and Peninsula Veterans Lions Club.  California Assemblyman David Chiu opened the show presenting the event Honorees Geoffrey Palermo the Corporate Service Award and Steven Lee the Community Service Award.  Bouquets to all of the dedicated volunteers on stage and back stage,  MC Jan Yanehiro, and On Lok Lifeways who gave bright orange tote bags to the audience members.  
IMMIGRANT DREAMS HERO VOICESis the theme of Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation’s annual benefit dinner and presentation of the 2016 IMMIGRANT HERITAGE AWARDS.  To be held March 9 at the San Francisco Grant Hyatt Hotel in the heart of downtown Union Square, the event will present a special tribute toTYRUS WONG, an Angel Island detainee whose life  as a pioneering Chinese American painter andDisney legend was recently chronicled in a feature-length documentary film TYRUS!  Receiving  the Immigrant Heritage Awards that evening will be the following:  Philanthropist Kanwal Rekhi who supports education opportunities in India and the U.S.; Community Leader Larissa Konstantinovna Krasovsky who volunteers with theRussian American Women’s League; Educator Professor Marn Cha, PhD who raises visibility of Korean Americans through his faculty work at California State University Fresno; Community Leaders Al Cheng and Steven Owyang who lead Roots: Him Mark Lai History Project connecting youth with their ancestral roots in China. 
Angel island Foundation Gala Dinner Chairs Nobuko Saito Cleary and Sonny Lullatell us that exciting news will be announced about the campaign for the Angel Island State Park Pacific Coast Immigration Center, to be housed in the 100 year old hospital which once served the medical needs of the detainees on the island during the immigration center’s 1910-1940 years on the island. AIISF continues to work hard to strive to bring the history of theAngel Island Immigration Station before the public eye, to arouse support and interest on this west coast as Ellis Island has brought to the east coast. Active Board of Directors include Katherine Toy, John Cu, Larry low, Henry Der, Anne Chen, Paul Chin, Nobuko Saito Cleary, Heather Fong, Buck Gee, Sonny Lulla, Rosemary Nom, and Gerrye Wong.    Honorary Chair Norman Mineta and Executive Director Michael McKechniewelcome all to the group’s annual Benefit Dinner.  Reservation information: www.aiisf.org;

Dance of 1000 Hand Goddess is among spectacular scenes of upcoming Chinese performing Arts of America March 5 show in San Jose.

To celebrate Chinese Performing Arts of America (CPAA)’s   twenty fifth anniversary, it is presenting its 8th ANNUAL SPRING FESTIVAL SILICON VALLEY on March 5 with two performances in San Jose’s Center for the Performing Arts  theater.  Noteworthy will be the World Premiere of the dance drama SILK ROAD FANTASY which is a creation inspired by the fact that Silicon Valley is one of the most culturally diverse regions in America.  In ancient times, cultural exchange was preva lent along the Silk Road, which extended thousands of miles throughout China and neighboring countries.   The musical story centers in the 6th Century, when Damo (a.k.a. Bodhidharma) travels on foot through countries along the Silk Road to China, and is well received by the peoples along his way until he arrives at Mt. Songshan, settling at Shaolin Temple.  The multi-cultural production GLOBAL SPRING FESTIVAL will present music and dance of Chinese, Indian, American, Tajikistan, Dai, Tibetan and Korean culture to entertain audiences of all ages.  The 1000-Hand Goddess and the Flying Apsaraswill be spectacular scenes in theSilk Road Fantasy while theCPAA Youth Orchestra and the neon Dragon will highlight the Global Spring Festival section of the program. The March 5 3pm performance will  be presented FREE to all children accompanied by an adult, so bring all o f the y oung people to see this extravaganza/

Chinese Performing Arts Youth Orchestra will be performing at the Global Spring Festival march 5
What better way to celebrate our 21st Century where all of Asian countries celebrate spring with the hope for better futures.  CPAA will be presenting vibrant works from diverse art organizations and famous artists from China.  Along with Guest performers from China are Xue Mei Li, Shude Wu and Li Ma with Silicon Valley guest performers Cupertino Mayor Barry Chang and San Jose City Councilman Ash Kalra.    CPAA in 25 years, has established itself as an acclaimed arts company with innovative performances every year, and is a multi-culture incubator for 45 local teachers teaching 2500 students in its San Jose community center.    Executive Director Ann Woo has been the mastermind visionary behind the group and looks forward to the community celebrating her group’s 25th anniversary.  Information:  sf.cpaasv.org;   408 973 8276     Congratulations toAnn Woo and Chinese PERFORMING ARTS OF AMERICA as we look forward to seeing her anniversary program.

Chinese Historical and Cultural Project Board members Lee Liu Chin, Anita Chan, Debbie GongGuy and Gerrye Wong greet guests at Membership dinner in Santa Clara

CHINESE HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL PROJECT held its annual membership meeting at ChinaStix for over 80 members who joined the membership roster again to enjoy the complimentary dinner given to all new and renewing members.   Continuing big supporter China Stix owner Frank Changjoined in welcoming all with Registration chairs Liz Chew, Teddy Sue, Carol Fong, and Yvonne Ching.  Board members Peter Young, Debbie Gong Guy and Gerrye Wong awarded over 30 door prizes, while Chairperson Tim Tom, Anita Kwock  and Adam Tow made a slide show presentation showing the latest technology exhibit enhancement that will premiere in the museum very soon.  President Brenda Hee Wong welcomed her new slate of Directors and Trustees to be inducted; they were Yvonne Ching, Chris  Jochim, Allan Low, Liz Chew, Helina Chin, Lee Liu Chin, Sylvia Eng, Teresa Lau, Sylvia Leung, Teddy Sue, Tom Stutzman, Judy Wong, Willy Wong, Peter  Young, DebbieGong-Guy, Anita Kwock, Gerrye Wong and  Patrick Kwok. Dr. Michael Chang gave a lengthy discourse on Asian Americans in Silicon Valley following a Chinese musical instrument performance by Cadence musicians Sabina and Sirina Law, Elin and Ethan Chee.  The CHCP sponsored Chinese American Historical Museum at Kelley Park will be open on February 7 and March 6 to welcome all interested visitors.   In addition, CHCP Directors invite all organizations interested in Chinese American history to bring their members to the museum and private tours can be arranged by the CHCP. It is a wonderful park setting for a day’s outing for groups whether they be seniors, youth or interested visitors.
 Information: www.chcp.org

Willy Wong, Tim Tom, Al Low and Wesley Chan register guests to the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project dinner at China Stix Restaurant in Silicon Valley

Sm Wo Restaurant Chef Owner David Ho shows off his famous rice roll preparation to: l to r: Melvin Lee, Clifford Chang, Jeannie Lee, Calvin Wong, Susan Chang and Gerrye Wong
A whoop and holler came from the audience when JERSEY BOYS opened its first number at the SHN ORPHEUM THEATRE in downtown San Francisco.  All ages swarmed into opening night although at the finishing number where everyone – literally everyone – stood up and  with hands held high, danced  to the beat, it was evident there were many 70s nostalgic people in the audience besides the youngsters just discovering Frankie Valli music.  Thanks, SHN for bringing top class shows to San Francisco audiences and the only shame of it is the homeless filled streets we have to cross to get to the beautiful Orpheum and Golden Gate Theatres where your shows are held.    The music, the performances, sets and staging were superlative in this performance, and I recommend everyone to go down memory lane to swing and sway to all of the old Four Seasons songs like I did.  It’s not always easy to find a musical that has you tapping your toes, and clapping to the beat with a carefree grin on your face – Jersey Boys does it well!!  Tickets: shnsf.com 

Sam Wo spokesman Steven Lee points out name logo apron of jis friendly waitresss to Chinatown alumni visiting favorite restaurant of their youth.
SAM WO RESTAURANTwas a San Francisco institution, brought to fame by a mention in Herb Caen’s column over 50 years ago.  It became a San Francisco Chinatown standby to see and be seen.  San Franciscans who grew up in the Chinatown itself, Clifford and Susan Chang, Mel and Jeannie Lee, well remembered its famous rice noodle rolls called “Geurng Fun” and its many varieties of jook.  Steven Lee recognized Sam Wo was an icon in Chinatown, so when it closed, he gathered some of his friends and voila – Sam Wo is now greeting customers, old and new, to its new location on Clay Street near Kearny Street.  Original chef David Ho is in the kitchen preparing favorites the group and I enjoyed that day – beef stew with tendons in noodle soup,  tomato beef chow mein,  crispy chicken wings, famed  pork cha sieu rice rolls and Sam Wo’s specially prepared hot mustard. Popular with the luncheon crowd from nearby financial district, the restaurant is also open until midnight for late night diners. 

Shown here are some of the artists applying to design the Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial Project monument who met with Chinese Consulate Deputy, third right, at Chinese Culture Center reception in San Francisco.
Steven Leetold us the exciting news about his CHINESE RAILROAD WORKERS MEMORIAL PROJECT which is now in the process of choosing an artist to do the monument the group is planning to establish to commemorate the involvement of Chinese workers in the making of the railroads opening up theWest Coast to California.  Examples of work by the 18 artists applying for the project are being shown at the Museum of Chinese American History of America in San Francisco’s Chinatown until February 6.  Viewing and voting can also be done online athttp://www.crrwmemorialproject.com/artists/. However if you miss this preliminary artist choice deadline, in the summer, there will be a chance to vote for the final choice among the top 5 selected artists.

Steven Lee, left, and other Railroad Workers Memorial Project supporters gather at Hilton Hotel reception to vote for artist to be chosen to design memorial statue.

 I applaud this non- profit group, headed by Steven Lee, to bring this long neglected history to light with a permanent marker.  For information on how you can help support this project, contactCRRW.MEMORIALPROJECT@gmail.co.   Sponsorship donations are always welcome for such an important project, as well as from supporting organizations and individuals.  Let’s all join in.

Melissa Weinstein and Akemi Okamura play two dysfunctional sisters in City Lights Production Tiger Be Still.
CITY LIGHTS THEATER’sproduction of TIGER BE STILL continues to draw sell-out audiences to see two fine Asian American actresses, Akemi Okamura and Melissa Weinstein play leading roles of two sisters caught in depressing situations they must fight through to go on with their lives.  Show runs through February 21;  Ticket info: www.cltc.org

Kelly Matsuura, right, joins Gerrye Wong and her cousins Trudy Marean, Brenda Wong and Dr. Chris Gong in paying respects with a toast to their grandparentsKelly Matsuura, right, joins Gerrye Wong and her cousins Trudy Marean, Brenda Wong and Dr. Chris Gong in paying respects with a toast to their grandparents at the Fowler, CA restaurant they owned in the 1930s. at the Fowler, CA restaurant they owned in the 1930s.
I want to conclude this column to share with my readers  a visit I made to find my own ancestral roots right here in Central Valley, CA.  My paternal grandparent, Hee Sing and Emma Lee  raised a family of 10 in a modest dwelling hooked on to a roadside restaurant/bar in Fowler, CA in the 1910-40s.  With visiting cousins Dr. Chris Gong from Michigan, Brenda Hee Wong and Trudy Marean, we  re-visited this family home of our parents to rekindle old memories and make a toast to the courageous and difficult struggles Chinese American immigrants like our grandparents of that era faced to make a better life for their families. We, the fourth generation of the clan, due to grandmother Emma being a native Chinese American born in Madera, CA., were humbled seeing the very modest living conditions our parents grew up in and went on to become model American citizens raising our fourth generation of 22 cousins.

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