On the Scene: Summer in San Francisco

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You couldn’t have asked for a better day, weather wise, and history wise, when 1000 people jammed the Ferries from San Francisco, Tiburon and Alameda, to cross the bay to Angel Island last weekend. Everyone was there to herald the unveiling of the Phase II section of the AIISF sponsored Immigrant Heritage Wall which held 90 plaques that over 230 members of families had inscribed in memory of families members who came to America to start the family history here in America.  Not all of the family ancestors came through Angel Island during its 1910-1940s years of existence, but this wall exemplified the immigrant history of many of us whose forefathers braved a new hostile unwelcoming land to begin a new life here for themselves and their subsequent generations.  Speakers for the day were Cheryl Ann Park, granddaughter of Angel Island 1914 detainee Anna Im, and 1904 detainee Kyung See Park; Ruthie Holland, grandniece of Katherine Maurer, the “Angel of Angel Island 1912-1940; and Betty Diamond Jue Dickard, daughter of Angel Island detainees Henry and Edith Jew, 1921 and 1938.

Angel Island wall unveiling, from left to right:Grant Din, Betty Dickard, Kathy Turner, Henry Der

AIISF Board President Buck Gee, Marin District Supt. of the California State Parks Danita Rodriguez and Interim Director Kathy Turner welcomed the happy guests, as did Board members Henry Der and myself throughout the day.   It was a wonderful day of remembrance for families to honor loved ones, and visit the exhibits the AIISF has provided in the original barracks building where detainees were kept until allowed to enter America through this west coast center. Seen enjoying themselves were Allan and Mary Seid,  Ernie and Mary Ann Wong with extended family members, brother George and Pat Jue from Memphis, sons Brad and Barry Wong, and daughter Kathy, Larry and Cyndi Chang family,  Helen and Larry Chew, Solomon and Rose Pon Jon Jue,  Bill and Marge Chun Hoon from Southern California Chinese Historical Society.  Active raffle sellers for the day were Zeny Seid, Maelene Wong, Mary K Lim, Sylvia Eng and Kelly Matsuura who gathered in over $1000 from eager supporters wanting to help the AIISF goal of establishing more exhibits in the old hospital there.

Gerrye proudly stands before her Kee Family plaque with Calvin Wong, Todd and Kelly Matsuura.


And for those of you who have seen the wonderful work the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation has done to preserve history on Angel Island, there’s still time to reserve a seat for AN EVENING IN THE SPLENDORS OF THE FORBIDDEN CITY, the third annual Immigrant Heritage Awards Dinner September 28  which will bring needed funds to continue the work they have begun.

I may be a little prejudiced as I am co chairing the event with Sharon Seto and Doris Grover, but I promise a program filled with heartwarming immigrant stories from the Honorees of the evening, author Linda Frank, TiE Silicon Valley President Vish Mishra, San Francisco Ballet principal ballerina Yuan Yuan Tan and the Chinese Hospital Health System.    To be held at the Hilton Financial District, a fascinating magic show by Tamaka and Cynthia Yee will enthrall you, and a lively auction will get your bidding juices going when California State Assemblyman Jerry Hill coaxes the audience to bid on some wonderful auction vacation packages.   Event is fast selling out, so don’t hesitate and contact Grant Dingdin@aiisf.org for your reservation for a good evening out for a wonderful cause.  Please join me so I can see you there?


Ken and Mabel Lai celebrate 50th wedding anniversary.

Back in 2011 when Ken and Mabel Lai were at the annual Self Help for the Elderly’s Longevity Ball, the very generous Richard and Warren Achuck donated their lovely San Francisco Seacliff home for a grand auction prize of a dinner for 100 planned and additionally hosted by Eva Jones and Flora Zee.  Thinking ahead to 2012 when they wanted to throw a gala 50th anniversary celebration, the smart couple outbid everyone so that they not only could help their favorite charity organization, but could  have their party all planned for them in the best setting they could ever hope for.  Relatives and friends, even members of their original wedding party, came from near and far to herald the young couple. How often after 50 years would most people be able to gather in your wedding party?  The Lais did with best man Raymond Auyang, Herbert Cheung and Susan Leong coming from the East Coast, and Maid of Honor Dora Hong flying in from Kauai.  Mabel’s 90 year old Auntie Margaret Wu flew in from New Jersey and spoke before the 100 guests her vivid memories of the anniversary couple. Grandchildren Paige, Everett and Vanessa Lai rounded out the program reciting a greeting in Mandarin to their smiling grandparents.


Gerrye Wong is welcomed by Gum Moon Director Gloria Tan nd Board president Peter Goetze

It was a jam packed program for the 600 patrons who came to A Night At the Opera presented by the Gum Moon Women’s Residence Asian Women’s Resource Center at the Far East Restaurant recently.  Not only was there continuous entertainment throughout the evening by the Grant Avenue Follies, Arthur Ji, Opus 1 Music Studio, Sharon Hui and  the cute kids from the Asian Women’s Resource Center singing and dancing to the Phantom’s music of Masquerade, there was an Awards ceremony honoring leaders in the community.  Receiving the 2012 Carol Lee Award was the Chinatown YMCA, accepted by Director Cory Lee.  The two deserving couples winning the 2012 Giving Back Awards were Darlene and Bill Lock and Michael and Diana Lai.  2012 Outstanding Community Service Award winner was Gwen Chan, followed by 2012 Outstanding Asian Woman Award honoree Muriel Chew Kao.

Asian Women’s Resource Center 2012 Honorees

Board President Peter Goetz of First Bank was the highly spirited leader of the evening, coercing bidders for his open auction, and asking others to join their Gala of Giving drive that evening.  Kudos to MCs Doris Grover and Philip Choi for keeping the program moving along through a very busy program.  However, with such a large crowd and a small stage it was too difficult for the tables in the back to see the program, although there were TV screens throughout the room.  Thus those in the back would tend to talk with their tablemates instead of being attentive to the evening’s program, making it a rather noisy evening for all.   However, all in all, everyone knew they were there for a good cause and I hope this dinner raised a lot of needed funds for this Chinatown organization.

Mc Doris Grover, seated and honoree Muriel Kao congratulated by Peter Goetze, Board President.


Kristi Yamaguchi’s Dancing the Night Away was another splash bang party for the 300 patrons who witnessed the talents of a bevy of young scantily dressed women and wiggling hipped handsome men in a show titled DANCE TEMPTATION starring Producers Edyta Sliwinska and Alex Mazo in the beautiful surroundings of The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco.  Two beauties themselves, Jennifer Lee and Phyllis Romine co chaired this beautiful evening, which was micro-managed to perfection by Event Producers Lori Yamaguchi and Dean Osaki.  Gift bags welcomed all at the dinner tables, which included Kristi’s latest book, “It’s a Big World, Little Pig”, logo key chain and memo book from Neiman Marcus, and Always Dream travel bag, and upon leaving, a boxed cupcake was presented for a nice midnight snack following the glamorous evening.  Sydnie Kohara was an enthusiastic MC, and the best part of the evening was when the auctioneer revved up the audience to dole out over $85,000 for 9 live auction items which included a Big Apple weekend, won by Joanna Lin, Dancing With the Stars screening trip to Hollywood , dinner cooked by Olympian Brian Boitano, and a party for 30 at Silicon Valley’s swankiest estate, Grandview Ranch.  For 16 years, Kristi’s Always Dream Foundation has served the needs of children. Her new initiative is “Always Reading” will integrate interactive e-tablets with proven literacy programs  that will ensure underserved students will strengthen their literacy skills and love of reading.

Event Co-Chair Jennifer Lee and Kristi Yamaguchi celebrate their fundraising dinner success

More power to you, Kristi and Always Dream Foundation.  Good work, wonderful evening, and what a successful and meaningful fundraiser!

Supporters of Always Dream Foundation were Lori Yamaguchi, Jennifer Lee, Reiko Iwanaga, and the evening’s auctioneer


Hooray – David Henry Hwang’s wonderful  play CHINGLISH has come to the Bay Area, courtesy of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, which opened its season for this west coast premiere.   I saw this play in New York last year and am pleased to see it will be playing here until October 7 and then will move to the South Coast Repertory Theatre.  The seven actors worked like clockwork along with the turntable sets which changed scenes so effortlessly.  Although the matinee I attended were enjoyed by a mostly Caucasian audience, they laughed at the proper spots as if they understood the rudiments between the Chinese language and the mix up in translations when an attempt at literal translations and limited knowledge of English was attempted.   The story line is about an American businessman who goes to China to score a lucrative contract making English signs but the deal isn’t that easily accomplished when agreements get lost in translation and he meets his match with a Communist minister, a bumbling consultant and a sexy bureaucrat with ambitions of her own.  People who have visited China always find amusing the sometimes unbelievable signs in English, a problem with literal translations and Hwang gives examples of translation problems in his hilarious conversations between the American and his Chinese associates.   Run to your phone to get your tickets – the day I was there was a sell out with only standing room only tickets  available.

Michelle Krusiec and Alex Moggridge star in Berkeley Rep’s production of Chinglish, a new comedy from David Henry Hwang which heads for Hong Kong after having its West Coast premiere here. Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com

All ages and all ethnicities will enjoy this clever play.

PIONEERS – INSPIRATION FOR THE NEXT ERA were honored at the OCA San Mateo’s 25th Annual Fundraiser and Awards Gala  at the Green Hills Country Club in Millbrae.  Honored were  Ginger Lew, Former Senior Counselor White House National Economic Council; Peanut Louie Harper, Member, USTA N. California Hall of Fame, and Lloyd LaCuesta, newly retired  KTVU Channel 2 South Bay Bureau Chief.

Former Cupertino Mayor Patrick Kwok is now a candidate for reelection to the San Clara Valley Water District for District 5. He welcomed supporters in Sunnyvale to a kick off with local city Mayors Michael Chang, Gilbert Wong and Tony Spitaleri.    Currently serving as Vice Chair of the Water District Board, if reelected he will serve as chair.  Kwok, a Saratoga and Cupertino resident for 33 years, has held positions as a civil engineer and diplomate environmental engineer with a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering and Public Administration.  I serve with Kwok on the Asian Americans for Community Involvement Board and as fellow Trustee to the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project of Santa Clara Valley and couldn’t find a more dedicated community activist.

Patrick Kwok meeting Sunnyvale supporters \in run for San Jose Water Co. Board.

Just off the press is THE SEAGULL’S GARDENER, Pam Chun’s memoir of her father growing up in Territorial Hawaii and the bond she forged with him throughout his life, even when she moved 3000 miles away to California.  Told in a casual style, Chun lets us relive her memories of her dad telling her of running barefoot in Hawaii’s lush valleys in the early 1900s, and the changes he lived through in his Paradise of the Pacific before, during and following World War II.  When he turned 90 and was not the active man he always wanted to be, Chun shares her worries about carrying for a failing parent across the Pacific Ocean and the problems families face when not in agreement of how to care for the elderly. You feel her anguish and frustrations of seeing the decline of her father’s health and her attempts to care for this loved one in his last days.  Included in the book are some family recipes and family photos.  For info: www.pamchun.com.


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