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Issue 9

Letter from the Editor This issue’s theme focuses on color. Color is the visual perception from a vast spectrum of light, which is received through our eyes. It can affect our emotions, cultural, political & social views and can have individual meaning. As this will be one of my final issues as Editor in Chief I have learned a lot. Managing staff, working on finances, writing articles, going to events to take photos; it has all been very surreal. I hope everyone who reads this issue sees how much Isa Magazine has grown and developed. as well as the writers, photographers and designers who all made this possible. I hope they will carry on what I have when I leave.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

About Isa Magazine Isa is the number “one” in Tagalog (Filipino), which is meant to acknowledge what the magazine’s focus is: to create a publication which is all inclusive of all identities and cultures. Isa Magazine has gone through three years of transitioning and growth Quest Starting out as an Asian-American based journalism, Isa pledged to create a publication aimed at enhancing Asian-American consciousness within the community. Our purpose has evolved with the hopes of being the go to guide where students can find everything they need to be on top in every sense of the word. We strive to create a space in which all students can come together and find unity. From all nighters, hangovers, facebook, memes, social, political, spiritual bases this magazine hopes to shed light to all aspects of student culture which is relatable to daily and life-long issues. Goals: • Focus on the student’s culture and life • Challenge our viewers to see things differently in both themselves and in the world • Be both visually and annotatively aesthetic/noteworthy


Table of Contents 1

Letter from the Editor Table of Contents



Staff Taiko



Makasama Makasama



Asian Night Market Asian Night Market



Color Run Electric Run



Ways to Remember Ways to Remember



Colors in Design Colors in Design



Colorful Health Foods Restaurant Review: Cafe Hue



Little Planets of San Diego Little Planets of San Diego



Little Planets of San Diego Little Planets of San Diego


21 23 25

Frank Capri Prof Spotlight: Jody Blanco Being Asian American In Japan Being Asian American In Japan Photographers Wanted Writers Wanted

22 24 26

“The Publication may have been funded in part or in whole by funds allocated by the ASUCSD. However, the views expressed in this publication are solely those of (publication’s name here), its principal members, and the authors of the content of this publication. While the publisher of this publication is a registered student organization at UC San Diego, the content, opinions, statements, and views expressed in this or any other publication published and/or distributed by (publication’s name here) are not endorsed by and do not represent the views, opinions, policies, or positions of the ASUCSD, GSAUCSD, UC San Diego, the University of California, and the Regents or their officers, employees, or agents. The published of this publication bears and assumes the full responsibility and liability for the content of this publication.” 2

S TAFF Chris Asuncion Editor in Chief Alice Kim Assistant Editor Photography Director Judy Jue Designer Finance Aimly Sirisarnsombat Writer Angela Luh Writer Bernadette Ondevilla Writer

Linda Kha Designer Ada Espanola Designer Hannah Bernabe Photographer

Jason Chang Photographer Jeff Chow Photographer Alex Duran Photographer


ASAYAKE TAIKO Wherever Asayake Taiko practices, the ground rumbles. During each practice, members of the Japanese drum ensemble arrange themselves around six drums; others make do with tires wrapped with plastic tape. Before the drill begins, silence falls on the group. Suddenly, someone declares the start of a drill and the perfectly synchronized musicians overcome the silence by striking their instruments with bachi (Taiko drumsticks), relying on both technique and teamwork to establish the precise, reverberating rhythms they prepare for. The art of Taiko, or “drum” in Japanese, began thousands of years ago in Japan. Originally used as military instruments and as timekeepers for daily village life in Japan, Taiko grew in importance as it became embedded in culture and religious activities. Later, the drums would often be played at festivals. Asayake Taiko at UCSD began practicing this art form officially in the spring of 2002 when Bobby Koga, Reid Matsuoka, and other students decided to create a Taiko group on campus. Financially supported by the university, Taiko began purchasing the necessary equipment to construct the Taiko drums themselves in student members’ garages. 2 years later, Asayake Taiko would debut these drums at the 3rd Annual Nikkei Student Union Culture Show. Since then, the group has nearly doubled from its original size with 29 members. Today, Asayake Taiko makes it their mission to perform for on-campus cultural events, high school conferences, and various university functions. The organization also wants to spread cultural awareness of Taiko to the campus community and to the greater San Diego area. Asayake’s largest performance, their annual spring concert embodies the culmination of their learnt repertoire throughout the year. This year the concert will be held on Sunday, May 5.

Preparing for these events include not only dedicated practice of the instrument but also keeping up personal fitness. Taiko meets about three times a week in parking structures around campus: two weekday practices for 2 hours each and a Sunday training for 4 hours. “We start with running, stretches, and light condition exercises to warm up our bodies before we play,” Taiko Performance Director Megan Matsumoto said. “We work on our basic form for a bit and run drills before getting into song learning.” In order for new Taiko members to learn specific playing techniques and songs, Matsumoto said that older members are encouraged to take on teaching roles. She along with Assistant Performance Director Jinjoo Lee organizes and leads the practices. Due to Taiko’s strong emphasis on proper technique and the physical nature of the art form, the instrument can intimidate some. “Our correct form draws the full potential of the sound that the drums can produce but takes many years to master and perform consistently,” Equipment Director Jonathan Hoang said. “As an organization, we are very supportive of each other…a way to do so is to give constructive criticisms to each other because we all strive to become better with playing Taiko,” Taiko Internal Director Jimmy Nguyen said. “At first, I had no idea of the time commitments that came with Taiko. Yet, after my first year there, I see these people 24/7! Along with that, not only have I learned so much about Taiko, but also gained many new friendships with people,” External Director Laura Lee said. “By the end of the year, after all the late night practices and hangouts we have, we truly become a family.” Written by: Aimly Sirisarnsombat Photography by: KP Ourstorian Designed by: Chris Asuncion

Makasama O

n November 10, 2012, UCSD students, friends and family members lined up outside Price Center Ballroom West to take part in Kaibigang Pilipino (KP) Magkasama Benefit Showcase’s fifteenth audience. Magkasama, which began in the 1998-1999 academic school year as a cultural celebration for FilipinoAmerican students and allies, continues to embody its name’s meaning of “Coming Together”. Since its transformation into a benefit showcase in 2009, the show donates its proceeds from ticket sales to a community organization every year. This year, KP’s Magkasama chose the Team of Advocates for Special Kids (TASK), a nonprofit charitable organization whose mission is to empower individuals with disabilities to reach their maximum potential by providing resources and referrals and community awareness programs. Through the event, they were able to raise about 200 dollars for TASK.


This year’s schedule of performances ranged from UCSD students and organizations showing off their talents to bigger names such as personable and easy-going American Idol finalist Andrew Garcia, singing duo and newly-married US who aroused the hugest “awe” from the audience, and Youtube sensation Passion who had many mouthing the words to his songs as he sang. MCEE’s Kevin Joel Llorente and Christian Bradley Ignacio entertained with their corny jokes in between performances.

Brian Wong and Joanna Bustamante kicked off the show with their duet, Joanna singing and Brian accompanying with his voice and acoustic guitar. The Tritones, a co-ed vocal ensemble at UCSD gave smooth and seamless acapella performances, spotlighting one or two soloists at a time while other singers contributed to bass or even via beat boxing. Ernie Mejia, a member of Ascension, a competitive dance team at UCSD, painted the stage with his graceful solo routine set to music. The Hawaii Club electrified the venue with their bare-chested male members rhythmically stomping on the stage while the female members demurely performed traditional Polynesian hula dance. Andrew Basilio impressed audience members with his original piano renditions of popular songs. UCSD’s Taiko, a Japanese drum ensemble, celebrated Japanese musical tradition as they showcased both rhythm and style. SDSU student Adrianne soulfully covered artists like Adele. Krispy Patas and Auto-Tuners Piano Quartet successfully blended classical with modern through their exhilarating fusion of voice and instrumental. The BunSistahs had the audience cracking up with their whimsical take on popular boy band songs. Kasama Modern, Kaibigang Pilipino’s dance team presented its debut performance that night, while Cultural returned to their Filipino roots with a Filipino folk dance. The Finesse Dance

Company showed off their dancers’ grace through a contemporary dance performance.

“I’ve grown a lot in the space and learned a lot about myself, and being on KP board and taking on the challenge of planning Magkasama was [a way to] give back to the space that’s given me so much.” Magkasama coordinators and KP board members Tien Phan and Carl Caldejon, who remained behind-thescenes as the many performers took the stage, had to start planning for this event in May of last year. Although they wished to publicize the event had gone smoother, they both agreed they were able to achieve a dynamic and diverse line-up with the Magkasama committees and KP board members’ support. “During the planning process, we not only wanted to encompass Filipino students, but we also wanted to [feature] different identities on campus, like other student

Written by: Aimly Sirisarnsombat Photography by: Hannah Bernabe Designed by: Judy Jue


Asian Night Market “Asian Night Market was an amazing experience for me. I have never seen so many cultural orgs working together to put on a fantastic night and food festival extravaganza! It was a great opportunity for each organization and I would definitely hope to see it happen again” –Jeffrey Won Choi (KASA) For the first time in UCSD history, MASA (Multi Asian Student Association) held Asian Night Market! Thursday, January 17th 2013 marked the annual collaboration of eight student organizations bringing together a turnout of 1400 strong. APSA, “We wanted to create an CASA, Hawaii Club, ISA, KASA, UTA event that would make bonds and solidify con- and VSA, turned our very own nections between our Library Walk into a fellow Asian orgs”, wondrous display of vendors, bustling with lines of students waiting for food and crowds anticipating performances. The sought after food, quickly disappeared as people stood in line hoping to get a chance at the affordable and delicious. ISA contributed delicious samosa along with decorative henna tattoos, while the Hawaii Club shared their mouthwatering katsu chicken and kalua pork. VSA sold nemnuong and pork skewers as KASA sold ddukbokki (spicy rice cake) and odeng gook (fish cake soupppz). It was an evening of nom and yum as people waited patiently in line while they enjoyed the market’s entertainment.

Guest Perspective: Indian Student Association MASA’s (Multi Asians Student Association) Asian Market Night was the first event our organization, Indian Student Association (ISA), had the honor of participating in. Our organization participated in this event by serving Indian food, playing classic Bollywood music, and providing our customers with henna in the Indian tradition. Asian Market Night was a success for us.

Asian Night Market kicked off the event with the epic Lion Dance, followed by KunFusion’s crowd-pleasing performance of Eminem and Goofy Movie songs. Hawaii Club then entertained the crowd with the haka and beautiful hula. According to Kenneth Benedictos, Hawaii Club dancer, “It was just a fun performance, with a sea of people surrounding us and everyone cheering having a good time. The crowd was really encouraging which made the performance better along with the food”. Wushu then took center stage, dazzling the crowd with the pure fusion of martial arts, dance and weaponry. Lastly, Asayake Taiko took the night with their ground shaking performance, which rumbled throughout the campus. “We wanted to create an event that would make bonds and solidify connections between our fellow Asian orgs,” states Pat Nguyen, event coordinator. Solidarity was honestly felt and accomplished through the partnerships between student organizations. With the vision of filling our stomachs and entertaining our lives, UCSD looks forward to the annual celebration of Asian Culture Night.

Written by: Bernadette Ondeville Photography by: Jeff Chow Designed by: Judy Jue

We enjoyed the event and thought the event was well organized and enjoyable both for the participants and the guests. Everyone seemed to be energetic and vibrant that night. The event conglomerated many Asian cultures including but not limited to ours in one pathway that leads to the heart of our University. For one night, Library Walk became a series of beacons for many different Asian identities that have not only influenced us at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) but rather the United States of America. This is an excellent way of raising awareness of the various, diverse cultures that call the Asian continent their home. MASA’s Asian Market Night is an amazing opportunity that our organization is thankful for being a part of. We enjoyed not only providing others with the awareness of our culture but also learning about other Asian cultures, their foods, and their music & dance. We recommend MASA’s Asian Market Night to all clubs and/or organizations that pertain to any Asian culture or heritage. The Indian Student Association (ISA) is grateful to MASA for allowing us to participate in Asian Market Night. Written by: Ashay O. Patel

Color Run


eeling the Fall season blues? Need something to reenergize you around midterms? There are lots of reasons we feel like we’re in a rut as we come back into the routine school and work schedules. So you decide to go for a jog and clear your mind. You throw on your white jump suit and start your exercise. The first thing you need as you begin to de-stress is someone to throw a handful of colored powder in your face, right? Of course, it is! At least at The Color Run it would be. The five kilometer Color Run began its inception with Travis Synder, the Executive Director of The Color Run ten years ago. He was a tri-athlete and an avid runner who wanted to bring together groups of experienced and novice runners. Unlike many other 5k runs, Snyder wanted to see the pressure off performance and create an environment which both sides of the running spectrum could focus more on the social experience of running. You can run, jog or walk the three mile stretch, the pace is your own. “Seeing how happy The Color Run has made all different kinds of people has been extremely rewarding. Itis an event for all fitness levels, ages and backgrounds. Our tag line is ‘The Happiest 5K on the Planet” for a reason. That line was created after seeing how happy it made people.” Synder says. The event has gained much of its backing from the people who have shared their experiences in previous runs. The entire event this year was sponsored by Big Brothers Big Sister of San Diego and the majority of the people working the stations and throwing the colored powder are volunteers who are there to help keep up the energy and keep you motivated throughout your run.


“Seeing how happy The Color Run has made all different kinds of people has been extremely rewarding. Itis an event for all fitness levels, ages and backgrounds. Our tag line is ‘The Happiest 5K on the Planet” for a reason. That line was created after seeing how happy it made people.” It’s the one time in the year that people can throw something all over your face and smile about it. Written by: Chris Asuncion Photography by: Hannah Bernabe Designed by: Chris Asuncion

November 3rd 2012 at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

Electric Run


an Diego is one of the best places for 5k runs. Dan Hill was the man who took this concept to another level. He was able to turn his idea into a reality all due in part to VAVi, a sports and social club that sponsors, holds events like the Electric Run, sets up and promotes sports leagues in San Diego. With the combination of these two entities they were able to conceptualize the Electric Run. The Electric Run is a 5k run through the Del Mar Fairgrounds at night. With black lights, glowsticks, and amazing music, it takes the aspect of raves, bringing an Electronic Daisy Carnival and matching it up with the the fun of runs. The Electric Run is now spreading to 30-40 cities within the next 12 months and San Diego had over 10,000 people alone. Once the US has been completely covered they will spread out to other countries overseas and around the world. Even though this event is targeted at ages 21-40, everyone is welcome to participate in the event. It’s an amazing place to let loose and have fun. Written by: Chris Asuncion February 2nd 2013 at Del Mar Fairgrounds

Photography by: Jeff Chow Designed by: Chris Asuncion

More about VAVi We have over 85,000 members who play VAVi sports leagues for young adults ages 20-40. We produce over 30 types of sports. We also produce events like ROC Race Del Mar Mud Run and a variety of other events like NYE party, ski trip to Mammoth, Tailgates with the Padres, Buses to Opening Day at Del Mar Race Track and more. We’re the biggest social promoter in San Diego by a long shot. We also give back to the community a tremendous amount. Everyone in San Diego needs to be involved with VAVi at some level. Sign up for the email list for free now at


Color of Design

Purple: As a combination of red and blue, it has a warm and a cool feel used to symbolize luxury and is highly regarded. Royale, Mysterious, Noble, Regal, Spiritual

Yellow: Draws attention and creates a sense of joy and warmth. Caution, Cheerful, Curious, Happy, Playful, Positive

Orange: Also has a connection with playfulness and can even be used to stimulate our appetites. Affordable, Creative, Fun, High Spirited, Youthful

Red: An intense and strong color. It can bring about thoughts of love and passion or even blood and warfare. Action, Adventure, Aggressive, Blood, Danger, Energy

Our minds are inherently programmed to respond to colors. They have a direct link to our emotions, our appetite and can even our mood.

White: Universal color for peace and purity. Cleanliness, Innocence, Peace, Purity, Sterile, Holy

Written by: Christopher Asuncion Photos Courtesy of Google Designed by: Judy Jue

Green: Represents life and renewal. It is a calming color but can also represent jealousy and inexperience. Environmental, Fresh, Healthy, Natural, Tranquil

Brown: A strong connection to the earth. It can also create a sense of dependability and wholeness. Earthy, Utility, Natural, Simple

Grey: A neutral and cool color, Native Americans associate gray with friendship. Respectable, Stable, Dull, Neutral

Black: This color can represent something evil and sinister, but it is also an indicator of power. Bold, Classic, Mysterious, Sophisticated, Evil

Blue: A Calming color but can also command strong and authoritative attention. Authority, Calm, Confident, Loyal, Secure

Pink: Feminine color that conjures up feelings of innocence and delicateness. Delicate, Feminine, Gentle, Romantic

Bright Bites:

The health benefits of naturally vibrant food!

Article: Angela Luh / Photo credits:

You may already know that food that looks good usually tastes good, but did you know that many colorful fruits and vegetables are also very good for your health? If you’re looking to add some colors to your drab daily meals, take a look at these bright options. Remember, what makes a good palette is also great for your palate!

If you’ve ever been to a salad bar, you might remember casting a suspicious eye on slices of this pink-purple root and then walking past them to fill your plate with croutons. Known for their unique color, beets are very nutritious: high in vitamins A, B, and C and minerals like potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, and iron. The health website Full Circle states that the vitamin

Red Curry

Pomegranates Pomegranates are nutritionally rich fruits that originated in the Sub-Himalayan range of North India. Today, pomegranate trees are cultivated around the world, even locally in California. The inside of a pomegranate contains many seeds coated by sweet, tangy fruit pulp and compartmentalized by thin, membranous tissue. The fruit is low in calories, high in fiber, rich in Vitamins C and K, and very beneficial for weight management and cancer prevention. According to, an average pomegranate of about 600 seeds has only 83 calories per 100g serving. The same serving size gives you 17% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin C, which helps to boost your immune system and detoxify your body, and 20% of the Vitamin K daily value. An average pomegranate also contains 45% of the daily value of fiber. The Global Healing Center states that pomegranate seeds are rich in polyphenols, substances that fight heart disease and cancer. If cutting open the fruit is too bothersome for you, pomegranate seeds are now sold in individual packets and also as juices in many markets. Curry is a highly popular dish in households and many Asian restaurants not because it is not only delicious, but it also requires little

time and skill to make. Tumeric, the main ingredient in curry that gives it its orange color, is a strong anti-inflammatory herb that cleans the liver and is sometimes used to treat arthritis. One of the most popular types of curry is red curry, a Thai dish that mixes curry paste with coconut milk among other ingredients including red chili peppers, coriander root, peppercorns, and cumin seeds. The saturated fat in coconut milk can help aid in weight loss. I know, I know – isn’t saturated fat supposed to be bad for you? Actually, according to Livestrong, the saturated fat in coconut milk is made of short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids that the body uses for energy. The hot spices in red curry that give it its signature kick are good antioxidants that help fight the inflammation of blood sugar levels. If you have a penchant for all things spicy, this is good news for you!


Blood Oranges B and iron are beneficial to stimulating new growth cells and replenishing iron levels. Beets contain tryptophan, which relaxes the minds and also lowers your blood pressure. Most importantly, they are inexpensive, very accessible, and are great in salads and smoothies. The health benefits of juicy oranges are relatively well-known, but blood oranges offer even more pizzazz with their intensified color, flavor, and nutrition. According to, in addition to having a large amount of Vitamin C, blood oranges have substantial amounts of folic acid, or Vitamin B9, which is vital for forming red blood cells in the body. The red pigmentation of blood oranges contains anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammtory properties that aid in preventing cancer, diabetes, bacterial infections, and help reduce the risk of heart disease. Blood oranges also help defend blood vessels from oxidative damage and oxidative stress, which are often involved in the development of many diseases. Though they are named for their color, blood oranges are, in fact, good for detoxifying blood.

Cafe Hue 3860 Convoy St Ste 106 San Diego, CA 92111 (858) 571-7947 Hours: Mon-Sat 12 pm - 11 pm, Sun 12 pm - 10 pm Accepts Credit Cards: Yes Parking: Street, Private Lot Attire: Casual Price Range: $ Takes Reservations: Yes Delivery: No Take-out: Yes Wi-Fi: Free Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

Every Student’s Sweet Study Spot Snuggled between a Japanese market and a Chinese restaurant is Cafe Hue, a small dessert venue that is most popular for its wide variety of gelato, delectable crepes, and fresh, homemade Belgian Liège Waffles. Located in a discreet plaza of Convoy Street, San Diego’s esteemed Asian cuisine avenue, Cafe Hue was founded by a Korean owner who wanted his establishment to reflect the artistic and qualitative dessert culture in Korea. With its array of customizable dessert and coffee options as well as its free Wifi service, the cafe is now well known among San Diego college students as a haven for late-night studiers who need their sweet fix. Everything in this casual dessert den is freshly prepared. As soon as my friend and I finished ordering our “Mixed Berries and Gelato Premium Belgium Liege Waffle” with pistachio gelato, the worker behind the counter began pouring the shop’s famous homemade batter into the waffle-maker. The result was a beautifully crafted waffle: crisp and buttery on the outside, warm and fluffy on the inside. Dusted with powdered sugar, the waffle came decorated with a ring of whipped cream and a handful of berries. Plated with a playful splash of raspberry syrup and crowned with a generous scoop of creamy gelato, the dessert was truly a piece of art. Needless to say, every single bite was heavenly bliss. With its modern furnishing and relaxed ambiance, Cafe Hue is one of the few places in San Diego where all kinds of patrons feel comfortable. The continual flow of teenagers, college students, groups of young adults, and parents with their children attest to its popularity among many different crowds as well as the support behind the restaurant’s unique and quality sweets.

Written by: Angela luh Photography By: GoogleMaps & Angela Luh Designed by: Chris Asuncion


Tiny Planets Photographers: Hannah Bernabe, Alice Kim, Alex Duran Front Cover: Chris Asuncion Back Cover: Jeff Chow

of San Diego



her joy showed in the pictures. It was fun to see Halle’s rise to success, from struggling actor to winning an Academy Award for Best Actress. What advice would you give to young artists? Develop a strong focus. Artists tend to have many interests, and often they try to do too many things at once. Less can be more. Focus on something you have the passion for. Go with what feels right. Trust your intuition, and don’t be afraid to take risks. Failures are necessary for success. Don’t over analyze and don’t keep waiting for the perfect time to do what you were meant to do. Hesitation magnifies fear. Get rid of the notion of ‘hoping’ for success. It’s not strong enough. And if you’re an aspiring photographer, don’t think you have to wait for the perfect camera equipment. The most valuable camera equipment is a creative mind! I made plenty of mistakes along the way, but what helped me get through them was a positive attitude and persistence. My motto became, Dream, Believe the Dream, and Make It Happen. I read quite a few self-help books. A quote that particularly inspired me was the one from motivational author Napolean Hill who wrote, “You cannot be defeated unless you accept the defeat.”

Frank Capri: Photographer, Author, Activist, Artist Having the chance to interview Frank was an opportunity and treat in itself. As a celebrity and dance photographer, he shared stories of Neil Armstrong, Halle Berry, Muhammad Ali and many more. Frank is also a theoretical astro-physicist who is inspired by the likes of Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Lastly, he was a prominent activist in the 60s influenced by leaders of peace such as MLK and Gandhi.

Internship Opportunity: Frank has a wide variety of internships available to UCSD students: photography; public relations; marketing; writing; and documentary film. If interested, check out Frank’s website (, and send an email: Be sure to include a contact phone number. Also, if you want to learn more about the ‘60s, Frank will teach a UCSD Extension course this April: “Give Peace a Chance: The 1960s and Nonviolent Protests.” The course is based on Frank’s upcoming book, “I Refuse to Kill.”

Written by: Bernadette Ondevilla Photography by: Alice Kim, Frank Capri Design by: Chris Asuncion

How did you start out? “When I was 9, I picked up a camera as a form of escape from my highly dysfunctional family. Photography was my freedom. It encouraged the use of my imagination. It also helped me get over my shyness. With a camera, I had an excuse to talk to people. It brought me out of my shell and bolstered my selfconfidence. When I first moved to Hollywood to become a professional photographer, I starved for about two and a half years. Then, after 7 years of hard work, with positive thinking and stubborn persistence, I established one of the top ten entertainment photo studios in LA.“ Could you tell me more about Neil Armstrong and Halle Berry? They were two of my favorite subjects. I had always greatly admired Neil Armstrong, so it was a special treat when we worked together several times. Then we became close friends, and I named my son, Neil, after him. Halle Berry and I worked together before she was famous. She was a model, and then an actress. On one of our fashion shoots, I put her two little white dogs in the shots. Halle lit up working with them, and

Relentless Optimist


Get to Know Your Professor UCSD Professor of Literature What class/department do you teach? Latin American and Asian American Literature, Third World Studies, Culture Studies, Comparative Literature, Filipino and FilAm culture. What got you into teaching? What attracted me to the humanities was the encouragement and spirit it gives to imagine the world and find alternative solutions. Thinking out of the box. It is the heart and spirit of human endeavor. Did you have any influential teachers? My arts and humanities teacher, Cindy Sowers. She taught me why I love what I do in terms of creating, analyzing, critiquing the world and it’s unfolding. The human heart of expression in reflection. What advice would you give to literature majors? To remember and be true to what it is you love. Most people who come into literature know why and they are faced with people who tell them they don’t know why. We know it but sometimes lose sense of why we know it. What other jobs do you have or have had? I did everything. From landscaping, restaurants, library work, bookstores and data entry. After graduate school I ended up teaching in the Philippines for 2 years.

What are your hobbies and interests? Yoga. I used to swim. I love music. I play the violin. Learning, laughing, travel. Guitar. What’s your favorite kind of music? Alternative streams of popular music. Indie music. Bangra. Everything. German, French music. Soul. Prince. Who is your favorite superhero? I read a lot of comics growing up. My favorite series was V for Vendetta, the hero being Guy Pierce. Watchman. Batman. Daredevil. What did you do during winter break? I visited my parents in Florida. Really crazy but our car got shot at in the middle of the night.

Written by: Bernadette Ondevilla Photography by: Alice Kim Designed by: Chris Asuncion

My Experience So Far

Being Asian-American in Japan


am a recent UCSD alumni that graduated with a major in Visual Arts. Having no idea what I wanted to do with my life or what stable opportunities I could get with a bachelor’s in art, I was lucky enough to be accepted to teach English in Japan. I think a lot of people dream about going to Japan, whether it be for vacation or work. When I first thought of Japan, I imagined Tokyo with it’s flashing neon lights, busy arcades, Harajuku fashion, and the constant bustling of busy salarymen and students in sailor uniforms. I also imagined Kyoto, with its temples, shrines, and people wearing kimonos while holding fancy technologically advanced cell phones with a Starbucks around the corner.


Instead, I found myself placed in a small city called Takaoka in Toyama-prefecture. When I got my placement, I had to Google where Toyama even was. Even most of my Japanese friends barely knew anything about the place. The best I could describe it is a city past its prime, protected by a vast mountain range on one side and the Sea of Japan on the other. My supervisor also described Takaoka as a ghost-town of sorts, since most of the younger generations migrated to larger cities such as Tokyo or Osaka, leaving the older population behind to tend the rice paddies and farms. Big name shopping malls and supermarkets have also stolen business away from the local mom-n-pop shops, leaving most of the town empty and rusty looking. Despite this, Takaoka still has much to offer. It’s incredibly beautiful, especially with the Mt. Tateyama (one of the “Three Holy Mountains” of Japan) mountain range. It is home to the third largest Buddha in Japan and has its fair amount of temples and shrines. It even has a nightlife. I happen to live 5 minutes away from the local red-light district. I’ve loved Toyama from the beginning, even if it wasn’t the Japan I initially dreamed of.

Well, back to the main point of my article: I am now an AsianAmerican living in the countryside of Japan. To be more specific, I am Filipino-American. Back home in the states, a common question I’d be asked was “what are you?” God, I hated that question. But what they were really asking was what my ethnicity was. In Japan, people don’t really know the difference between ethnicity and nationality. It’s always been synonymous with each other, being a predominantly homogenous society where most people are just simply Japanese. When I tell Japanese people that I’m American, they almost always say “but you look Japanese”. When I explain that my parents are from the Philippines but my dad is half-Chinese and I was born in California, a common response I get is “wow, so international!” When I first started work at my school, most of the students thought I was just a new young Japanese teacher. They would greet me in Japanese in the hallways like with any other teacher. When one of my friends (who is a mix of Japanese/ Filipino/African-American and looks more obviously like a foreigner, or as Japanese people call it, “gaijin”) visited my school, students eagerly greeted her with a shy but loud “Hello!” that made me a little bit jealous. Japanese kids are fascinated by obvious-looking foreigners and seem to approach them more easily. During my school’s opening ceremony where the principal introduced me to the students, he also gave an explanation that despite me looking Japanese, I was actually American and that the students should greet me in English. After the ceremony and my first self-introduction lessons in my classes, students slowly began to say “hello” to me in the hallways but I still often get greeted in Japanese.

The experience of a non-Asian foreigner and an Asian foreigner in Japan is quite different. The first obvious one is that non-Asians get stared at a lot more. Some may initially enjoy this at first because they feel like a local celebrity, but after a while it can get a bit tiring and even stressful. Non-Asians stand out and in small cities, towns, or even villages, everyone knows who they are and what they did. Especially as teachers, we often see our students and co-workers outside of class. It’s not surprising how word about where you ate dinner last night and who you were with can spread easily around the community. As an Asian-American that can pass as Japanese, I don’t have that problem so much since I blend a little more easily. However, since most people here think I’m Japanese, I feel some pressure that I should conform to the Japanese societal norms and expectations more strictly and that my Japanese should be more fluent. I feel like it’s harder for me to get away with being “American.” Some non-Asians can get away with dressing or acting a certain way because they’re more obvious foreigners whereas I’d probably get looked down on. When I go out to dinner with my non-Asian friends, the server will sometimes start with me, assuming that I am Japanese or can speak the best Japanese out of the rest of them. I have a non-Asian friend that majored in Japanese and is nearly fluent in it. When we were walking in the nearby park with our friends, he said that he felt like people thought I and my other Asian-American friend were their tour guides. I found this ironic since he would have been the better tour guide with his awesome kanji reading skills. He said that while they (the non-Asians in our group) were “gaijin,” we (the Asian ones) were only “half-gaijins.” On the whole, I’ve been treated with nothing but kindness from the people here. I have yet to experience any kind of discrimination. Upon learning that I’m a foreigner, people have showed an interest in my background and have warmly welcomed me. The little things are also nice, such as free bread at the bakery or people going well out of their way to help me in any way they possibly can. From the kindness of the people here to the way of living, I can definitely see myself living comfortably here for the next few years. Written by: Clarissa Tong Photography by: Clarissa Tong Designed by: Chris Asuncion

Written by: Clarissa Tong Photography by: Clarissa tong Designed by: Chris Asuncion


Issue 9  

Isa Magazine

Issue 9  

Isa Magazine