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On The Scene - News Around The Bay

ON THE SCENE      by Gerrye Wong
NEWS AROUND THE BAY       March 22, 2016

San Francisco Mayor Ed lee is welcomed to Angel island immigration Station Benefit Dinner by Gerrye Wong, Gary and Nobuko Cleary, Katherine Toy and Amy Brees.

IMMIGRANT DREAMS / HERO VOICES was the theme of ANGEL ISLAND IMMIGRATION STATION FOUNDATION’s (AIISF) annual presentation of the 2016 Immigrant Heritage Awards. Held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel San Francisco, the benefit event drew over 300 dinner patrons who generously supported the non-profit organizations goals of raising over $245,000.  At the VIP Reception high atop the 36th floor, guests were treated to sunset views of a San Francisco landscape while meeting Mayor Ed Lee, Community Leader Awardee Larissa Constantinovna Krassovsky, and a smiling youthful Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient  105 years young Tyrus Wong.  Other special guests included San Francisco Chinatown Rotary President Paul Chin with fellow Rotarians Gayle and Bill Chin, Dennis Wu, George and May Koo, David Lei, Felicia Lowe,  California State Parks Executive Amy Brees,  LeRoy and Claudia Quon.

At AIISF reception were Darlene Chiu Bryant, Steven Owyang, People's Republic of China Ambassador Luo Linquan, Al and Anne Cheng.
Representatives from the Consular Corps of San Francisco were welcomed by Board President Katherine Toy, Board members Darlene Chiu Bryant, Anne Chen, Nobuko Saiko Cleary and Emcee Queena Kim.  They were Ambassador Luo Linquan from the People’s Republic of China, Consul General Sergey V. Petrov from the Russian Federation, Consul General Chris Cheang from the Republic of Singapore, Acting Consul General Nobuhiro Watanabe from Japan, and Head of Chancery Mr. Pradip K. Yadav from the Republic of India.

Angel Island Honoree Larissa Constantinovna Krassovsky and son are congratulated by AIISF Board members Katherine Toy and Gerrye Wong.
Following a moving Video Tribute titled “Thank You AIISF” in which individuals spoke on how AIISF helped them become more aware of their family roots, and a video excerpt of TYRUS, a new film about the evening’s honoree, Tyrus Wong, the fundraising “fun” began.  Auctioneer Devon Ball in the live auction raised over $20K drawing top bids from enthusiastic supporters and others helped the cause by making silent bids to win 5 pairs of Southwest airline tickets.
 The usual request for everyone to open their wallets with a Fund A Need call brought in another $16K from the generous AIISF supporters. Thanks to eager bidders like Anne Chen, Glenn Osaka, Carline Shin, Dennis Wu, Steven Ow-Ling and Calvin Wong with many others, the AIISF’s evening fundraising activities were successful.   Seen happily leaving with a beautiful potted orchid, donated by Wilton Lee of Lee’s Florist, were guests whose birthdays were the closest to January  22,  a date well remembered for being the first day immigrants first stepped into the immigration station in their quest to enter America.

Michael McKechnie and Buck Gee present Lifetime Achievement Award to Tyrus Wong.

In an effort to bring focus on the varied ethnicities who came through Angel Island Immigration Station during its 40 years of operation, 2016 Immigrant Heritage Awards went to KANWAL REKHI, co-founder of TiE, The Indus Entrepreneurs, a non profit support network for Indian Americans hoping to start businesses, and Professor MARN. J. CHA , who has written extensively about Korean immigrant heritage and is a founding president of the Central California Korean Historical Society.  Other 2016 Immigrant Heritage Awardees were AL CHENG AND STEVEN OWYANG who have accompanied hundreds of Chinese Americans back to China to search for and visit their ancestral villages through a program titled In Search of Roots. . As with any smooth running benefit event, it is a culmination of months of hard work, so congratulations must go to Executive Director Michael McKechnie, staff members Julie Phuong and Grant Din, AIISF Board members and development counsels Craig Palmer and Lisa Van Cleef.

Immigrant Heritage Philanthropist Honoree Kanwal Rekhi is applauded by friends.
The thrill of the evening for many was the special appearance of Tyrus Wong, a long admired artist who brought to the world Disney’s Bambi while working at the Disney Studios. He beamed upon accepting the Lifetime Award from Buck Gee and smiled throughout the evening as fans swarmed to take photos with him or ask him to sign their program. His three daughters and grand nephew accompanied him from his Los Angeles home for the Angel Island dinner and a premiere showing of his movie at a CAAM fest event the next night.

The Look Lowe Family gather together at Angel island Immigration Station Foundation Dinner.

Celebrated artist Tyrus Wong, seen with daughters,  drew many admirers  from Silicon Valley.
When the annual CHI AM CIRCLE MEMBERSHIP TEA invitations go out, the organizing Board of Directors prepare for an onslaught of new and old members to start off the year with a bang.  Over 80 members and guests were welcomed at the Los Altos home of Vice President Maria Lu and treated to a lavish buffet spread prepared by the Chi Am Circle 2016 leaders.  A full schedule of activities planned for the year were presented by Program Chairs Laura Ah Tye and Lari Yamaguchi,  who invited all of the members to sign up for the monthly event they would like to join the committee of.  New members recruited that day were Kerchen Heller, Angie Krackeler, Ruth Lu, Shirley Pak, Sophie Tsang, Dana Wong and Maggie Zhen. The over 100 members of the non-profit organization Chi Am Circle, who celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2015, are kept busy supporting community projects in addition to its noted scholarship awards to 30 students annually and attending activities that run the gamut from outdoor sports, museum tours, human interest lectures, and social activities. Leading this very active women’s club are the Chi Am Circle Board:  Co Presidents Teddy Sue & Helen Yamauchi, VPs Maria Lu, Cleo Jong & Susan Lee, Treasurer Sharon Lai, Secretaries Dorothy Wu & Birdie Adema, Newsletter editors Wendy Tsoi & Linda Toda, Hospitality Chairs Alice Lee &  Eva Wong, Historian Rose Low, Auditor Zeny Seid, Webmasters Jenny Leung and Marichu Scanlon, and Parliamentarian Sylvia Eng. For membership information of this Asian American women’s organization,  check www.chiamcircle.org.

Chi Am Circle Board members gather at annual membership Tea in los Altos.
SOUTH BAY CHINESE CLUB, based primarily in the East Bay/Fremont area, celebrated the Lunar New year with its annual dinner at the Mayflower Restaurant in Union City. Longtime members  Lorrie Wong and Maelene Wong managed the raffle ticket sales and winning drawing to very efficiently bring in about $700 to the club’s service coffers as well as make over half the  80 diners crowd happy who won the many prizes of the raffle. Enjoying the comradeship of good friends and enjoyment of a Chinese banquet dinner were Gene and Mary K. Lim, President Randy and Gerry Low Sabado, Victor and Frances Gin, Brian Gin and Sara Chiu, Willy and Cindy Yichoy.  Scholarship Chair Joe Woo spoke about the upcoming scholarship dinner April 20 where the club will award grants to students chosen from the growing pool of high school seniors applicants.  For information on how to be a sponsor of a scholarship to a worthy recipient, or to cheer the students on at the dinner, check www.southbaychineseclub.orgor joseph.woo@comcas.net

South Bay Chinese club members celebrate at its Lunar New Year Dinner

CHINESE PERFORMING ARTS OF AMERICA (CPAA) celebrated its 25th anniversary with a gala SPRING FESTIVAL SILICON VALLEY attended by about 1000 persons who braved a stormy rainy night at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts.  The event showcased the premiere of a multi media drama, SILK ROAD FANTASY, directed by producer Ann Woo.  I’d like to call attention to those usually forgotten working behind the scenes of this musical production featuring dances from China and India. Back stage workers were Dennis Nahat, Kenneth Keith, John Gerbetz while seen on stage were singing artists from China, Beijing Opera star Xue Mei Li and Li Ma.

 Although the  2 ½ show was overly long for a restless audience of adults and children needing an intermission respite, wowing everyone  was the iridescent Magical Lion prancing about on stage to the drum beat music of Phil Young. Also very crowd pleasing was the INTERNATIONAL WUSHU SANSHOU DAO ASSOCIATION team , whose martial artists put on a grand display of acrobatic artistry. Another group deserving applause for its musical excellence was the SILICON VALLEY INTERNATIONAL YOUTH ORCHESTRA with conductor Xiaoming He, who led the young tuxedoed musicians for wonderful interpretations of The Magnificent Seven and Tales of Hoffmann.  Ann Woo is to be congratulated for being the guiding light behind CPAA, who with a fine team of community volunteers and individual artists, have achieved much to share the culture of Asia and China through music and dance. Happy Anniversary, CPAA.

On stage at Chinese Performing Arts of America anniversary show were Deputy Consul General Ren Faqiang, Barry Chang and Ann Woo

Starring in thr CPAA Sprng Festival were MC Diana Ding, Ash Kalra, and Beijing singer Xue Mei Li.

It is always good to receive the FRIENDS OF ON LOK NEWSLETTER as it is always filled with information on ways this volunteer group of ladies work to raise funds or do hands-on activities with the seniors.  Happy Year of the Monkey greetings and kudos to the 2016 Board Members leading the group, President Cynthia Yee, VP Darlene Mar, Secretaries Avis-See-Thro and Cecilia CeeCee Wu, Treasurer Beatrice Wong, Ways and Means Marleen Luke, Newsletter Editor Howard Luke, Parliamentarian Lillian Poon, Hospitality Lily Smith and Diane Jung and Volunteers Nellie Go and Ivy Tam. Latest activity was attending the premiere showing of MURDER AT THE DRAGON’S DEN OF THE FORBIDDEN CITY NIGHTCLUB, which featured a Chinatown ghost walk and dinner show at the Utopia Café in Waverly Alley of San Francisco’s Chinatown.  Hopefully there will be more performances of this who dunnit mystery show for us all to see.  Reservation info:  Cynthia Yee 415 793 1183. 

Man of the Month Frank Jang leads Senior portrait Project.
Almost one year ago community friend FRANK JANG shared with me a Senior Portrait project he had begun with fellow Master photographer PAUL TSANG.  Last year they and members of the Chinatown Photographic Society went to San Francisco Chinatown senior centers and set up a mini-studio to take over 1500 portraits of seniors. They offered this service free of charge and gifted each senior with a 5x7 print, which I am sure brought many a smile to gladden their senior subjects’ faces. This year, in between his many jobs stemming from being recognized as one of the best event photographers in the Bay Area, Frank is ramping up his senior portrait project again. Again partnered with Tsang, Frank has recruited over 20 volunteer senior photographers (ages 60s-mid-90s years of age) to again visit centers of Self Help for the Elderly, On Lok, Chinese Newcomers Assn., and Chinatown Community Development Center among other agencies,  to offer free portraits to the seniors. The photographers under Frank’s mentorship set up an indoor temporary studio with backgrounds, lighting, posing stools, and tables, and  take special care to pose the seniors, do minor touch ups and within an hour, print it on location for the seniors to happily pick up.  To date they have taken portraits of over 2500 seniors, and I can imagine how valued these portraits are to families to be used at birthday parties and even perhaps at Celebration of Life ceremonies.  To continue this very valued volunteer project, Frank credits AARP, Recology and Portsmouth Square Garage Foundation for helping fund this senior portrait project.  But to continue, he agrees, more funding is needed.

Frank Jang is very modest when receiving plaudits for this innovative service for seniors who often feel neglected with few friends and family members visiting or attending to their needs. Many are low income immigrants who would never have the resources to have a portrait taken, so let’s stand up and hail my Man of the Month Frank Jang for this project which has, without a doubt, enriched many a lonely senior’s life with this attention.  Frank’s volunteer crew devote their time and energies, but obviously, there are many costs involved in providing this free portrait.  Right now their local funding resources can only take them to Chinatown, but I know there is a need for this wonderful service in centers throughout the Greater Bay Area.  So let’s help support this wonderful group of volunteers, and send in a donation so they can continue and expand this great service for seniors. Perhaps you’d like to invite him to come to your own senior center to take portraits of your clients too.   Contact Frank at frankjang888@gmail.comand join me in giving him our show of appreciation and encouragement to keep up the good work of making a senior feel happy and appreciated.   Write that check now!  Thank you, Frank, for volunteering your photographic talent and sharing it with the less fortunate seniors in their final years. 

Broadway By the Bay opens Miss Saigon production
Broadway’s popular MISS SAIGON will thrill audiences at Best of Broadway’s (BBB) production which plays March 18-April 3 at the historic FOX THEATRE in downtown  Redwood City.  I admire BBB because it continues to inspire, educate and engage our community’s local talent through the power of musical theater.  It continues to be the only major musical theatre company between San Francisco and Palo Alto producing large-scale musical productions using local talent.  Starring in this moving love story of tragedies that happened during the final days of the American occupation of Saigon were Danielle Mendoza, Terrence Sullivan, Antonio Rodriguez,III, Catherine Brady, Brian Palac, Aaron Grayson and Vida Mae Fernandez. Ticket information: www.broadwaybythebay.org.
CINEQUEST FILM FESTIVAL came to San Jose and I was happy to see films in the now named Hammer Theatre, once the home of San Jose Repertory Theatre.  RITA MORENO, who won one of the festival’s hero awards, was featured in Remember Me which was a poignant tale of two grandchildren at odds with how to deal with their aging grandmother when her husband dies suddenly .The journey to take her to an assisted living facility is filled with humor, pathos and sadness and awareness of the plight of the elderly. Second movie, HELLO I’M DORIS is packed with SALLY FIELD’S humor as she portrays an aging daughter who has devoted her life to an ailing mother and gets her only pleasures buying and hoarding things as they live together. A young man’s attentions in her dismal office changes her perspective on life, her hoarding habits and sets her off on being adventurous to try new ways to live.
Sweet Bean is a delicious red bean paste that is the heart of the rodayaki pancakes popular in Japan. The movie SWEET BEAN, seen in the 2015 Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals, is about a sad bakery owner who hires a disfigured elderly lady with a talent for making extraordinarily perfect sweet bean paste which immediately attracts a new clientele of customers  lining up to buy.  Both have unfortunate sad histories that have shaped their life perspectives.  He disillusioned, she resolutely carrying on in spite of a leprosy condition which has robbed her of a free life.  This moving tale by Naomi Kawase may make the movie goer thinking about facing life’s obstacles and communing with nature. Like with making successful bean paste, one can make their lives more successfully self-satisfying with patience, listening and learning from Nature surrounding us.  Green Bean will be at the Kabuki Theater in San Francisco’s Japantown April 8. Look for local newspapers times.

Ruby Fong and Carolyn Jow, seated, celebrate birthdays heralded by Santa Clara Valley friends