When you think of summer, it brings thoughts of blue skies, pleasant breezes and a busy schedule of weddings, graduations, and celebrations.
In Hawaii, The Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii held an auspicious inauguration for its new president Robert Yu at the Empress Restaurant in Honolulu. Congratulating Yu was Miss Hawaii 2013 Crystal Lee at her last public appearance with that title as she crowned her successor soon after at the Chamber’s sponsored Miss Hawaii pageant.
We learned from active Chinese Chamber of Commerce supporter Leilani Keough that Hawaii actually has three pageant titles for the lovely ladies of Hawaii to compete for, so a lot of celebrating must go on after all these competitions. Dedicated CCCH supporter and philanthropist Douglas Ho brought the new reigning queen to San Francisco to attend its Miss Chinatown USA festivities.
Meeting Health Needs
Dr. Vernon G. Wong was honored at the recent Foundation Fighting Blindness Visionary Awards dinner at the San Francisco Four Seasons along with Dr. H. Dunbar Hoskins, Jr. Introduced by his son, Dr. Randy Wong, who flew out from Washington D.C. for his father’s honor ceremony, Vernon Wong has long been a pioneer in the field of drug delivery dating back to the 1970s when he was the first clinical director of the National Eye Institute and was a tenured Professor at Georgetown University Medical School
Having published over 100 scientific papers, Wong was the core patent holder in Oculex Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Allergan Pharmaceuticals in 2002. He currently is the founder of Icon Bioscience, Inc. of Sunnyvale. To give the dinner patrons the experience of being blind, the Foundation dinner organizers had everyone eat their dinner in total darkness. If nothing else, it let everyone there realize the importance of this organization’s work in finding cures for eye diseases causing blindness. Congratulations to the Foundation Fighting Blindness for over the past four decades, the Foundation has raised more than $500 million to put an end to retinal degenerative diseases. Hopefully someday there will be a “cure in sight”.
Another worthwhile organization fighting health-related disease is the Bay Area Arthritis Foundation. Its Auxiliary recently held a kick-off fashion show featuring New York fashion designer Carmen Marc Valvo to spotlight its upcoming Benefit Event on October 1at the Fairmont San Francisco. As reported proudly by Fashion Show Chair Sharon Seto, over 100 Arthritis Foundation supporters and Bay Area fashionistas descended on the Fur Salon of Sake Fifth Avenue to see spectacular fur and couture fashions from Valvo’s Fall collection. In the audience were Honorary Co-Chairs of the upcoming event Michael and Iris Chan, photographer Magdalene Chan and Sharon Juang. Mark your calendar for the Bay Area Arthritis Auxiliary Benefit Fashion Show October 1 with an exhibition of 25 iconic celebrity gowns designed by Valvo over the years. Kudos to the Northern California Office which supports over 2 million adults and children with important resources, programs, research and advocacy in fighting this deadly disease which strikes one in every five adults and 300,000 children as the nation’s leading cause of disability, as reported by Eric Badillo.
Let’s Grab a Bite in SOMA
Summer is here and of course, baseball plays a major part in many a San Franciscan’s life at AT&T Park. Giant’s fans heading to the ballpark have found a SOMA/South Beach neighborhood restaurant, Ironside, which Manager Brian Ayer welcomed Southern California visitors Dr. Ronald and Naomi Jue to try its specialty dishes of BBQ Portobello mushroom, tempura fried avocado, Red Lodge Ranch beef brisket, St. Louis Ribs and Duroc pulled pork. Housed in a renovated bi-level loft in San Francisco’s historic Chronicle Books building, the name Ironside honors the building’s legacy as the machine shop for the Moore Shipping Company which built and repaired thousands of ships in its day, Next time you’re headed to an exciting Giants game, stop beforehand and enjoy Ironside’s beverage program which includes 6 draughts exclusively from California micro brews. Stop by its location at 680 Second Street, near Townsend in the Historic Warehouse Industrial District of San Francisco to be welcomed by Brian, Angie Herrera and partner Jon D’Angelica.
Music in the Summer Air
Davies Symphony Hall lobby is festive this summer with balloon arches and silver stars in the curved lobby. It was colorful inside and out, as from its wall of windows, one could see across the street to San Francisco’s City Hall which was lit in multi-colors in celebration of Rainbow Gay Pride Week. I joined patrons there as we seemingly were transported to the “middle of a samba parade in Rio de Janeiro” and many danced down the aisles at the end of the lively Pink Martini band concert . This twelve piece “little orchestra” was backed by Conductor Edwin Outwaters’ magnificent San Francisco Symphony in a cosmopolitan concert showcasing an intoxicatingly international mix of cabaret, samba, and jazz. Pink Martini was joined by four Von Trapp grandchildren of the “Sound of Music” fame who didn’t sing one song made famous by the movie, but showed that the family’s musical talent has transcended the generations. SFS summer season has such fun concerts. A Jazzy Night: Rhapsody in Blue & Bolero featuring famed Japanese jazz virtuoso Makoto Ozone on piano, was a smashing success, as evidenced by the cheering crowd that leaped to their feet in wild admiration following Ozone’s jazz interpretations with Rhapsody in Blue. Conductor Edwin Outwater did an amazing job of coordinating his SFS musicians as Ozone would go on tangents jazzing the piece up. You could feel the audience’s enthusiasm and love for Ozone as they experienced his exceptional talent that night.
Coming up next week will be Pixar in Concert with hosting Pixar filmmakers Lee Unkrich, John Lasseter and Brad Bird and selections from memorable scenes of their movies, including the latest release Monsters University. Fun fun – take the kids for a family outing.
More cheering came from San Francisco music admirers when a sold out crowd embraced Patricia Racette as Butterfly with the SFO production of Madama Butterfly. Jun Kaneko’s sets were of a modern vein for this old opera lovers’ favorite, but nothing could detract from the emotion of the story as played by Elizabeth DeShong’s Suzuki and Brian Jagde’s Lt. Pinkerton. I went to a matinee this time, and it was heartwarming to see many disabled opera goers who wouldn’t let having to depend on crutches, walkers, canes or wheelchairs hamper their joy at seeing live opera.
Music comes down to the South Bay too July 13 for two concerts when the Community School of Music and Arts presents U.C.-Japan Friendship Special Music Concert which will unite the exceptional talents of musicians with autism across the Pacific. Sponsor Nobuko Saito Cleary tells us that the program will be introduced by former First Lady of Japan, Madame Kayoko Hosokawa, the founder of Special Olympics Nippon and the producer of 2013 Academy Award-Nominated Strains of Odyssey.
Tickets to the 1:30 Family concert and 3:30 Formal Recital can be purchased at www.arts4all.brownpapertickets.com. Concert will be held at Finn Center, 230 San Antonio Circle, Mt. View, CA.
Power to the People
Last month Asian Americans for Community Involvement brought out more than 100 clients and supporters to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors budget hearing to advocate for funding to expand AACI’s health center. Seeing this support in numbers, the Board approved AACI’s request on a 5-0 vote, enabling AACI to expand its primary care health center and serve much needed services to more patients, regardless of patients’ ability to pay. Congratulations Executive Director Michele Lew on your ongoing vision and determination for AACI’s expansion to serve community needs.
Last month I had to proudly introduce you to my high school graduate, Melissa Matsuura – and this month, I want to salute her brother, Justin Matsuura who graduated from UCIrvine before 40,000 people who jammed into an outdoor stadium to hear the 2014 Commencement speaker, President Barack Obama, no less. President or no, Justin was our Wong star of the 2 commencement ceremonies, and he was properly “lei-ed” to commemorate his big day.