LA Weekend Edition -- November 21 -- 24, 2015

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A10 november 21-24, 2015 • LA WeeKenD ASIAn JoUrnAL

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OpiniOn

Features

11th worst

AFTER hosting the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, President Aquino flew to Kuala Lumpur for another regional gathering, this time hosted by Malaysia. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit’s Manila Declaration focused on one particular message: it condemned terrorism and called for global action against the threat. The President was in the Malaysian capital just three days after the Abu Sayyaf beheaded a Malaysian hostage who was snatched with a compatriot from a restaurant in the Sabah town of Sandakan in May. Philippine officials said Malaysia paid P100 million for the hostages but the Abu Sayyaf freed only one as the bandits demanded more money. The officials said the Philippines was kept in the dark about the ransom negotiations. While Philippine officials may blame Malaysia for giving in to a ransom demand, the Abu Sayyaf is still the perpetrator. The bandit group, loosely linked to al-Qaeda, is based in the Philippines where the government has failed to neutralize the threat. Last year, the bandits said they received P250 million as ransom for two German captives – a claim the government has not convincingly denied.

Abu Sayyaf attacks are among the reasons why the Philippines is rated the 11th worst among 162 countries in the 2015 Global Terrorism Index. Although this is an improvement from its ninth place in the 2014 index, the Philippines is still rated the second worst affected by terrorism after Thailand among Southeast Asian countries. Indonesia is a far 33rd, Myanmar is 41st and Malaysia 49th. Southeast Asian states that not too long ago suffered bloody internal strife rated better than the Philippines, with Cambodia at 113th and Vietnam tying with Singapore and Timor Leste at 124th place. Globally, Iraq was rated the worst followed by Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria. The index included killings not only by the Abu Sayyaf but also by the New People’s Army and Islamic separatists. The insurgencies have festered ing the discontent. The beheading of the Malayfor decades, with poverty and social injustice fuel- sian hostage and the Philippines’ ranking in the

Editorial

Philstar.com photo

terrorism index should spur more resolute action to deal with this threat. (Philstar.com)

The other side of the immigration debate

Commentary

Eric cohEn, ThE hill MILLIONS of undocumented immigrants are facing possible deportation. Some have proposed building a wall. States are threatening to close their borders to refugees. Amid the current divisive immigration rhetoric it’s important that we not forget another story: the nearly 9 million green card holders living lawfully in the U.S. who are eligible to become citizens, and the milestones reached in the past year to help them do just that. One year ago the president announced his executive action on immigration and one part

of his order on which we have seen progress is citizenship. Today, substantial strides are helping to address the barriers to citizenship. A year ago, the president launched the White House Task Force on New Americans to ensure that eligible lawful permanent residents (LPRs) have the tools and support they need to apply for citizenship. The Task Force has listened to the suggestions of the immigrantserving community on ways to integrate immigrants civically, economically and linguistically. We know that lack of understanding of the naturalization process and eligibility requirements are significant barriers to achieving citizenship. That is why the immigrant rights

community has called on the government to share information about naturalization proactively with eligible residents. This year the White House announced its “Stand Stronger” citizenship awareness campaign. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launched a 10-state Citizenship Public Education and Awareness Media Campaign. Both efforts aim to encourage LPRs to take the next step and naturalize. The high cost of citizenship is another barrier. At $680, the application fee often prices people out of becoming citizens. As USCIS has been reviewing options for those who cannot afford the fee, immigrant advocates can now point

to the White House Task Force on New Americans’ directive to increase the rate of naturalization. This year, USCIS began accepting credit cards as a form of payment, hoping to make citizenship more accessible. The important contributions of immigrants to our country is why I’m proud to lead a nationwide campaign to increase citizenship called the New Americans Campaign, which believes in the power of innovation, collaboration and technology to transform the journey to citizenship. The New Americans Campaign comprises more than 100 partner organizations in 18 cities that partner with municipal governments, promote “Citizenship Corners” in public

libraries and encourage volunteerism, all of which the U.S. government counts among its top citizenship-focused priorities. Since the launch of the New Americans Campaign in 2011, we have helped more than 180,000 aspiring new Americans complete their citizenship applications and save more than $161 million in legal fees by accessing USICS resources and free or low-cost services from our partners. It is essential for our elected leaders and others to reach out to eligible aspiring Americans and advocate for improved access as a key element of immigration reform. The achievements in the past year prove that citizenship is an increas-

ingly important part of the immigration conversation. Let’s not forget this aspect of immigration. Let’s continue to encourage the 8.8 million citizenship-eligible green-card holders to become citizens. When new Americans gain the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of citizenship, it only strengthens the vibrancy of our communities and nation. *** This op-ed originally ran in The Hill. Eric Cohen is the executive director of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco, which leads the New Americans Campaign, a nationwide network that promotes immigrant integration through citizenship. The ILRC is a national non-profit resource center that advances immigrant rights.

Triumphant Nilo Alcala on world-acclaimed Walt Disney Hall

Rhizomes

Prosy AbArquezDelAcruz, J.D. “Last night we experienced Filipino musical creativity at the highest level. But Nilo’s work goes beyond merely evoking Filipino Pride. He reveals not just a refreshing sensitivity to a larger cultural environment, but a willingness to embrace it without losing his Filipino “carabao” (or soul). this is reaffirming and inspiring to me, as a Filipino american in Los angeles. Both performers and audience seemed to claim Nilo’s music as their own. Under Grant Gershon’s direction, the Master Chorale (LaMC) sang with such enthusiasm and energy that was both palpable and infectious, even hair-raising, in perfect complement to the spirited performances of Guru Danny Kalanduyan and the subla Kulintang ensemble, Filipino tenor sal Malaki (a 19-year Master Chorale tenor) and two other fine soloists [ayana Haviv-soprano and abdiel Gonzalez-baritone]. What a triumphant appearance on the world stage by Nilo alcala!” - Nonoy Alsaybar, Ph.D. Nov. 16, 2015 Nilo Alcala’s “Mangá Pakalagián” -- a suite of three parts: “Fellowship”, “Thanksgiving”, and “Pre-Battle Ceremony” -became a historic first, when the Grammy-nominated 64-member vocal ensemble, Los Angeles Master Chorale (LAMC), sang his composition in Maguindanaon dialect, accompanied by the Subla Kulintang ensemble, made up of Danongan Kalanduyan [kulintang, kaluntang]; Bo Razon [gandingan]; Chris Trinidad [dabakan, babandil]; Frank Holder [dabakan, kaluntang]; Roberto

Rios [agung], before an almost 2000 strong – audience, which appreciated the complexity of these musical harmonies. That Sunday night audience responded with robust enthusiasm and an enduring standing ovation, to which the musicians came back onstage, to acknowledge. That evening, as described by percussionist Chris Trinidad, was “trying to create art in a wounded world. Praying for Paris and counting our blessings. Kyrie Eleison.” Paris, two days before, had lost 129 people in four separate attacks, the largest of which, occurred at the Bataclan Theater. Grant Gershon, Musical Director of LAMC, thoughtfully encouraged the audience to respond with more tolerance, compassion, justice and humor. From the margins to center stage reflections Amongst the audience was a seasoned, master violinist with over three decades of musical experience: Nonoy Alsaybar, Ph.D., whose musical knowledge has been passed onto many students, and who has a doctorate in philosophy from UCLA. His musical genius has been passed onto his daughter Jenny, a flutist. Nonoy was part of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO), handpicked by then First Lady Imelda Marcos, and traveled with the orchestral group, to Morocco and Saudi Arabia to play for the kings and princes, while representing the Philippines. When Nonoy raved to me: “Nilo made music history,” it was coming from his innate musicality and decades-strong authority, as a masterful musician and performer. Fittingly, this is what Annie Nepomuceno (a brilliant music arranger, also concert producer,

Grant Gershon and Nilo Alcala in congratulatory hugs, and with Subla and LAMC

singer, vocal coach and music publisher) had to say: “Nilo’s piece is indeed an impressive one, and not an easy one to pull off. LAMC experienced the depth, sophistication and ethnic flavor of Filipino choral music. From my perspective as a music publisher, I laud the fact that Nilo is capable of writing his composition in a manuscript, conducive to learning a complicated work. The readability of the score is key for it to be performed well. It also got Filipino-Americans to experience the caliber of work that is up to international standards: stemming from a choral musician whose training and exposure was borne from Philippine music education at [the] University of the Philippines, nurtured by the Philippine Madrigal Singers and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, then exposed to American higher education studies. We should all work towards getting those who are talented and passionate about perfecting their craft to get on prestigious stages. They do, after all, represent us Filipi-

nos in the best light.” But for Brian Louis Ferrer, a 32-year-old nurse, it was his first to listen to LAMC: “Growing up Filipino-American here in Los Angeles, it was a real delight to witness the works of a Filipino composer be performed by the esteemed Los Angeles Master Chorale. Since very few Filipinos find success in this industry, it was a heart-warming occasion to experience Nilo Alcala’s hard work successfully come to life.” His mother, Sion Ferrer, another virgin-listener of LAMC, equally got excited, though a fan of Sal Malaki: “The Kulintang music played by the Master Chorale was historic, considering [it was done] at a beautiful venue, Disney Hall. Nilo Alcala is a genius whose ethnic music Filipinos young and old can appreciate.” Nilo Mendez Alcala and Regina Belarmino Alcala, who traveled 8,200 miles away from the Philippines, witnessed the US-debut of their son’s work. They said, “As Nilo’s parents, although we have always known

Grant Gershon and Nilo Alcala (their backs) congratulating Subla Kulintang Ensemble AJPress photos by Prosy Delacruz

his integrity and dedication to his chosen vocation as a composer/singer/arranger, still we were deeply awed and amazed by his incredible musical creation that has been put to life by the LA Master Chorale. We really prayed hard that his work will be able to give glory to God and will also lift up our country, the Philippines. And indeed God heard us. Which parents in the world wouldn’t be proud and ecstatic by this great blessing?” Why the rave? Made in LA — an LA Master Chorale’s performance of original works by eight composers: Nilo Alcala, Jeff Beal, Matthew Brown, Paul Chihara, Shawn Kirchner, Morten Lauridsen, Moira Smiley and Dale Trumbore, created a stirring excitement, originating from when these composers shared their compositional insights and inspirations last October at the AT&T Theater. First, “The Whole Sea in Motion” by Dale Trumbore, inspired by Anne Brontë, sounded like the rolling and splashing waves

of the sea, as the LAMC’s crescendoing voices sang “craggy cliffs, smooth, wide sands, low rocks at sea, brilliant, sparkling waves.” When I heard “dimpled pools, running streams,” the piano, played by Lisa Edwards, sounded very much like the receding waves of the ocean. In “the Desert with You”, by Moira Smiley, took on extra meaning when LAMC sang “May we stay in the desert with you, water?” as this writer had just been to Utah, Arizona and Nevada, where water was precious and scarce that when the female sopranos sang “Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles burst! We are dry,” this writer could imagine parts of the Virgin River that have gone dry marked by plenty of rocks and weeds, but also the gray granite hills in the horizon, with unusual cracks from the small growth cottonwoods with yellow leaves. The best sounds for me: when LAMC sang bubble bubble bubble bubble/Rainwater, groundwater, greywater/Clearwater, backwater, Stillwater/

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