Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thumbs-Up Michy: RIP Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

It's a regular morning so far. I pour myself a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats and turn on the computer. Everything loads, and suddenly I get an instant message on AIM. "Michy, Michael Jackson's dead!!" I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it, but it was true. The King of Pop was gone. My family basically grew up with listening to Michael, his music is timeless. My 60 year old grandma loves his songs, and my 5 year old sister is always dancing whenever "Beat It" is on.

Michael Jackson is considered the King of Pop for a reason. His dance moves and singing were unique. It was evident that there could be no other person that could duplicate Michael's style. He basically opened the doors for other artists to make music. Michael started it all. Since he has passed away, it seems like the end of an era. The future of music is bright however, and many musicians should strive to follow in his footsteps. Even though Michael had to overcome many obstacles, he still came out strong. People will remember him for his classical tunes and effortlessly gifted talent.

Rest in peace.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Thumbs-Up! Michy: So close, yet so distant

I grew up in a small home, with me being the oldest out of my two sisters. And when I couldn't get along with them, my cousin Pita was always there. Since we were small, we've always been close, causing havoc everywhere and starting trouble whenever possible. Pita and I were like best friends, I recall us always playing video games on that old school Nintendo, or just hanging out in the front of his house. Pita was like the older brother I never had. Even though he has many younger siblings and an older brother, we were able to get along better because we were about the same age, as he is only a year older than I am.

Unfortunately, as the years went by, we've began to slowly drift apart from each other. Since I started high school, Pita has been like a stranger to me. He started hanging out with the wrong crowd, and involving himself in gangs.

To this day, Pita is on trial for attempted murder.

When I found out about this incident from my mom, I couldn't believe it. This occurred probably right in the middle of my sophomore year. My mom picked me up from school and told me about how Pita tried to cut up some man's face. I haven't seen my cousin in a while, but I knew that wasn't like him at all.

I felt bad for not being able to keep in touch with my cousin. I thought that if I had been around more, this wouldn't have happened. If I was there like I used to be. But of course, it was too late now, and my mom told me that no one was to blame except himself and his parents.

As the investigation continued, I found out that Pita was sort of "crazy" when he did it. He was out of his state of mind, and they soon found out that he was on drugs. "That's what happens when you hang out with the wrong people," my mom said to me.

As time passed, I seemed to forget about this incident, for schoolwork and everything else was all that occupied my mind. Then, summer came, and Pita's court dates were still going on. The case was that; Pita shall not be immediately sent to jail, because they found him in a loony state and were trying to figure out where to put him.

So on the 18th of June, I was finally able to attend a court date with my mom and aunt, Pita's mother. When I entered the court room, I saw a long glass wall on the side. As we sat down, I heard chains moving behind the wall, and realized that was where he was kept, like an animal, along with the other "criminals." All I could see behind the wall were blurred orange suits, and after waiting for a long while, the judge then announced the name of my cousin, Pita Hing.

We all got up to stand at the opening to be able to see him. He came out in a a yellow jacket, with chains in the back. "That's what murderers wear," I thought. But he wasn't a murderer, he didn't kill anybody. Pita seemed so different, his hair was longer and he looked extremely sad tied up in that straight jacket, indicating that he was crazy. We stared at him for a long time while the judge talked. He finally glanced over at us. I smiled at him, letting him know that I was there to support him. He returned a mournful smile back, and after he did he stared at the ground for the remainder of the time. It was so sad, he looked miserable. I felt bad for him, his life was basically thrown away. He was only a year older than me, turning 17 this 22nd of June, which, by the way is today. He had dreams of studying to become a mechanic, he loved working with cars. He had his life planned out but was stopped by those obstacles in life that pulled him down.

So now, the next court date will be on this 25th of June. That is when they'll know whether to place Pita in a group home, or in a mental hospital until he turns 18. The sad part is that if he gets placed in a mental hospital, his family won't be able to see him very often because the hospital will be all the way in Southern California, near Long Beach. That is extremely far from Stockton, and we want him to be near us so we can visit him frequently. But whatever happens, I just hope that Pita will be able to have a future despite this obstacle that has stopped his life. He doesn't deserve to be in jail knowing that he was able to drive and was almost near his high school graduation.. Knowing that he has a future ahead of him.

Happy birthday, Pita.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

CARINA 360°: Laura Ling and Euna Lee, a 12 year sentence

As you probably may have heard, journalists' Laura Ling and Euna Lee, both reporters for the California-based channel Current TV, were arrested. It's been over three months, and now they are guilty and sentenced to 12 years in a labor prison for illegally crossing the North Korean border, though both women and the families have apologized.

The North Korean goverment is saying they were spying and on a mission to destroy the reputation of the communist country. Or a "smear campaign."

On June 17th, Anderson Cooper had an exclusive interview with both husbands of the women and the sister of Laura Ling, Lisa Ling. In the interview, Ling said that they are mostly worried about their mental state.

(You can also see another interview with Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling here.)

Laura Ling's husband, Iain Clayton, said, "These three months have been the worst three months of my life...The idea I would have to endure this for another 12 years is just unbearable."
Euna Lee's husband Michael Saldate has been dealing with comforting their 4-year-old daughter. He says he tell's her that mommy is at work. Since then, the only contact the families have had is writing letters.

Support for both the families is nothing short. This story has struck many with vigils taking place in Santa Monica and San Franciso to pray for the women. People holding signs saying "Liberate Laura and Euna Now." People doing anything they can to help. Lisa Ling attended the vigil in Santa Monica. Where sadly she broke down talking about her sister to those who attended.

A few weeks ago on Larry King Live, a man (whose first name I can't recall but his last name is Graham) says he thinks this is a grim situation, but that the woman knew the consequences of crossing the North Korean border, and that the real issue is the nuclear weapons. Nonetheless, he believes the women will be home by Christmas. Joy Behar, co-host of the View, responded with saying she wouldn't want them home by Christmas, she would have wanted them home yesterday.

As little as captive journalists are showed in the media, this isn't rare. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an advocacy group, reported that since December 1 2008, 28 journalists' in China, 21 in Cuba, 14 in Burma, 13 in Eritrea, 2 in Russia, 2 in Vietnam, have been jailed. And 17 killed in 2009. Which leaves me wondering why these weren't publicized. It's not as if these people are not important.

But back to Ling & Lee. Despite the claims, they should be freed. The North Korean government should have some heart and let the women return to their families. Laura Ling has a medical condition, and Euna has a daughter waiting for her. And in the eye's of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, this may have a happy ending. Clinton has high hopes in their release. Saying the trial date is a "Welcome timeframe." Also, "We believe the charges are baseless and should not have been brought and that these two young women should be released, immediately." As I'm sure what everyone wants.

*Petition's do make a significant diffrence. I signed one set up to call the release of both journalists'. It doesn't take up alot of time. I hope you sign it! Click here to sign.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Thumbs-Up Michy!: The 'A Skylit Drive' and 'Dance Gavin Dance' escapade!

Thursday, June 11th was probably the best day ever. I got to meet one of my favorite bands, A Skylit Drive at Hot Topic and then see Dance Gavin Dance play at the Empire Theatre afterwards. And of course my partner in crime, Alisya, was with me the whole day!

First off was meeting Skylit at 5. My mom wanted to leave early so she could shop at Old Navy, so we left at around 3:30. We picked up Alisya at around 3:40; my mom took us to Starbucks because she knew we were early. She bought Alisya and I carmel frappuccinos, mmm.

When we arrived at Weberstown mall my mom let us wait in line at Hot Topic as she went to look around at Old Navy. I was glad that we came about an hour early, because the line was already long, and it was only about 4. When my mom tried to find us to give me some extra money, she found it humorous at how my peers in line all looked alike with our A Skylit Drive t-shirts and skinny jeans.

As Alisya and I stood in line we talked about how we would respond to seeing A Skylit Drive for the first time. "JAG, I LOVE YOU!" was one of the first reactions that I could think of. Luckily we decided that going all hectic and fan crazy was a bad idea. Alisya thought of the idea that we were going to take short videos of this awesome day, so we took two videos before we met them. After 30 minutes of waiting, we finally got to see them.

As soon as they told us that we could go to the table and meet them, I was in shock. With a quick gaze at all of the band members, I realized that they were all so beautiful. The first person I saw was Michael Jagmin, also known as Jag, and I was completely speechless. I guess I admired and was itimidated by him at the same time. I felt awkward standing there and letting him sign the CD, for I was just at a loss for words. While Alisya, next to me, couldn't stop talking as she was overly-excited. They gave us these Skylit posters for the band to sign with their pictures on it, and they drew mustcaches and boobs along with their signatures on each others faces. Also, Alisya still had the Starbucks cup from before, and she offered to let them sign it for our friend, Skyler. She told them about how we joke around and call him "The Skyler Drive" and so they signed "To Skyler," and "Skyler Drive" on the cup. The band was just really funny and they were the best, completely awesome. Once you meet them, you can never forget it.

So after the signing, we needed a ride to take us to the Dance Gavin Dance show downtown at the Empire Theatre. It was about 5:50, and the show started at 6:30. Perfect timing, right? Well, we called our friend Skyler and gladly said he would take us, as he was going to be there as well. We were overjoyed. As were going to wait outside of Dillards for Skyler, we took another video of the aftermath of meeting the band. Unfortuneatly, waiting for Skyler seemed like an eternity. We waited for him for about 30 minutes and were losing hope every minute. I called him multiple times but he never picked up. We were getting scared, and didn't know what to do but to just wait even longer. Finally, he called at around 6:40, but when the show started at 6:30. The first thing he says is, "hey guys I'm leaving my house now, I'm putting on deodorant."

Alisya and I were just shocked. I said "you know the show started already, right?" And Skyler just goes, "oh, did it?" It was a relief to know that he answered and would be picking us up, but we were angry that he didn't answer my 500 missed calls or texts. As Skyler came to pick us up, Alisya handed him the Starbucks cup with "Skyler Drive" written over it, and he laughed. We then drove off to the show where Dance Gavin Dance would be performing at.

Now, I've never been to the Empire Theatre, so it was my first time. I wanted to go when my favorite band Alesana came to town, as you recall from my first blog, but I wasn't allowed to go. That's why I made sure my parents had no idea that I was going, and I had no intention of telling them, ever. They thought that I was at Alisya's house, watching DVDs and such.

So anyway, I'm at Empire, and the uh, how do I put this? The "scene kids" sitting outside scared me. Some of them were just smoking and fixing their lovely multi-colored hair. I don't know why but they scared me, it sort of felt like I didn't belong. But as I went in to where the stage was, I felt more comfortable.

I saw Jeremy and his friend Thalia, they were already propped up right in the front of the stage, watching a band set up. So Jeremy joined Alisya and I, and Skyler went off somewhere. The bands that played before Dance Gavin Dance were mediocore. It was pretty boring because I just wanted to see the band that I came here for. After what seemed like forever, The Audition came on. They were pretty good, but I didn't like them and didn't know the words to any of their songs. So after they were done, we watched Dance Gavin Dance set up. Funn.

Finally, they played songs off of their new album, Happiness. I immediately felt stupid because I should've gotten their new album so I could sing along with everyone else. But I didn't, so I didn't now the words to any of the songs and just stood there shaking my head to the beat of the music. Dance Gavin Dance put on a great show, however, with leadsinger Kurt dancing like he was drunk. His stage moves were insane and unforgettable. It loved how he jumped in the crowd and everyone was going crazy. It was incredible.

After the show, we took another short video and called it a night. Later however, I found out that Skyler threw away his lovely autographed Starbucks cup, which made us very angry. Despite that, even though I know it won't ever make up for me not seeing Alesana, the whole day was completely amazing. Thank you Alisya. :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Same sex marriage is gay

A faint scent of incense fills the air and live conga music pleasures my ears. I'm enjoying the Juneteenth festival in Berkeley with my mom, but it isn't long before she has to comment on something to provoke me.

"See, that's just how I am. I don't like that gay stuff,"

It's sad. How close minded your own flesh and blood can be.

But I have a different approach to that "gay stuff". Especially for Same-sex marriage. I just don't understand how wrong it is.

Same-sex marriage isn't about gender anymore. It's about equality, and homophobic California's meddling in it.

People like to argue that it degrades marriage, or takes away from its value. I say that's what cheaters, divorce, and 24-hour Las Vegas wedding chapels are for. And sure-marriage comes straight from the Bible, but the idea that only men should marry women does too-and last time I checked, the powers that be shouldn't govern from the Bible.

So if we're ruling from the Bible, let's stone our wives and ride around in horses. If you aren't stoning your wife or getting to school on horseback, its probably because doing those things now are unreasonable, and because times and circumstances have changed.

How is it possible I can enjoy the fruits of a cannabis card or fly overseas with the objective to kill "for my country" but absolutely COULD NOT reap the rewards of a domestic partnership with someone I loved?

I don't think the decision should be up to the close-minded of California. Why does everyone else get a say in who marries and who doesn't?

California (the close minded part), you're getting a little controlling. If this is a way to keep things right, you still have a long way to go, and you shouldn't start here. Your religiously influenced values aren't fixing anything -- they are keeping people like me a little more angry and California a more prejudiced, less equal state. You should hang out with Vermont or Massachusetts more often. They've got the hang of things.

Friday, June 5, 2009

ReaLiz: A racist Sotomayor?!

Many people would define their summer breaks as a time of watching an infinite array of reruns. Well my summer so far has been dominated by the voice of news journalists coming from my TV. There have been many things happening in the last week, Obama's speech in Cairo, and even the latest Jon and Kate news. But one thing that time and time again gets my attention is the news about latest Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

From the beginning I saw this women as a great inspiration, she has broken so many barriers as a Latina women. Barriers that I aspire to reach in my future. Although an aspect that the news continuously comes up with, are the accusations of her being a racist. People have picked up these accusations after she wrote in an essay, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." In my opinion I don't see this as a racist remark to white men, she is just showing that a person who is not Caucasian will most likely have a more challenging life that will fill them with an inside look into the real world. A world that isn't defined by the size of the home you live in, or the amount of home runs you once made on your little league baseball team.
But this sudden attack on a innocent women shows how everybody who is criticizing her as a racist, is a racist. People had to quickly find a reason to discriminate her, saying she is a reversed racist. Why couldn't people just accept her for what she is, and what she thinks? I'm pretty sure that if a white male had been nominated, people wouldn't act so critically towards him.
While watching my favorite news on Univision, my idol Jorge Ramos introduced people to a report about stereotypes being made about Sotomayor. This is when my buttons were pushed because Sotomayor was depicted in a cartoon as nothing more than a pinata. We supposedly live in a country where politicians are seen for their strengths, and apparently Sotomayor's strength is to be the laughing stock of others.
I hope that Sotomayor is chosen to be on the Supreme Court. She is a qualified women, who not only is a women, but a strong Latina women. A person that should be seen for her strong character, rather than unimportant past comments.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thumbs-Up! Michy: Two brave hearts of the community; gone

On June 2nd, during an early Tuesday in the Oak Park village apartments, two unarmed security guards were found executed in their cars. Their bodies were found at 2 A.M, as they were parked alongside each other in the parking lot behind the complex. The guards, Oscar and Eugene, worked for Ad Force Private Security and were both very liked in the community. They were always described as polite and caring, even Eugene, on his days off, would come to talk and visit his friends here in the community, and even fish with them. The people that he protected were like his family, since Eugene had no close relatives.

When I come back from grocery shopping or doing laundry with my mom, I would always see her wave to Eugene, sitting in his car. My parents, my aunt and her boyfriend knew and were friends with Eugene and Oscar. My aunt's boyfriend was friends with Oscar, the other guard, and as I have seen, Oscar was always seemed chipper and excited about life; he was just in such a great mood. So, my family were close with these guards that protected us, and it's such a shame that they were found dead in the place they were supposedly loved.

As I think about what has happened, I know it isn't fair. Eugene and Oscar were always kind and friendly towards these people, and the community that they were guarding ended up killing them. Now, I live in these apartments, this village we call Oak Park. And I feel ashamed to live here. Whoever killed the guards just set a bad reputation for us, making the whole community look like criminals. Even a friend of mine said that her mom was afraid to pick me up or drop me off anymore because of this incident. The majority suffer from the minority, it's such a shame.

I, personally didn't know these guards, but to some people, they were like family to them. My parents saw them everyday, after a long day of work. When my dad gets ready to leave his car, he would see Eugene, always opening up with a "hi, how are you?!" They would then engage in small chit-chat, and it was like a part of his everyday routine. So, as a result, we have new guards but they aren't as friendly as Eugene and Oscar. They look at us as if we're going to murder somebody, and it's just very sad. The guards didn't deserve it. And this community doesn't deserve to have a bad reputation. I just hope that they find whoever killed the guards soon, as it will bring my parents and my aunt great relief.
Photo credit to: Leticia Ordaz/KCRA

-Thumbs-Up! Michy more at

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

THE FRIENDLY FEMINIST: The virgin standard

I learned what a virgin was at an early age. Have been raised in a strict religious household, I was conditioned to the rules and regulations of the Bible. Without question, I knew if there was one sin I needed to stay away from, it was fornication. My father made my sister and I well aware of an easy ticket to Heaven: remaining a virgin until marriage. It was always stressed that my worth rested in my virginity, or lack thereof.

As I got older, I realized other people didn't live up to this standard. Not because they weren't the strict Seventh Day Adventist my dad was, but because there seemed to be some double standard. Sexuality was expected and almost encouraged for males, but was taboo for females. Media portrayed ample evidence of this. How many teen movies display male sexuality as a moral ideal, or a marker for what constitutes a real man? How many of these movies portray a young girl who has engaged in sex as anything less than a slut, or a victim to high school swoon? Not to mention the countless songs by male artists boasting of their promiscuity-by the guys who don't want relationships, but relations. The message was clear: girls should not engage in sex-and if they do, it is a decrease in their worth. For males, it boosts it.

Like the many passive, obedient young women robots we find in conservative America today, I didn't question this. There are obvious reasons anyone should abstain. But they go for EVERYONE, so why are they only expected of women?

I'm all for the young women who resist this raunchy, hypersexualized culture. It takes great strength, right?

I'm NOT for internalizing this double standard. Virginity seems to carry a female persona. In almost every dictionary, a virgin is defined as:
1. Someone who has not engaged in sexual intercourse
2. An unmarried girl, woman, especially a saint (see for yourself)

A woman's worth or moral standard should not rest "between her legs," literally. What happened to ethics? Aren't women worth more than the sex they've had or never had?Now think of your high school. Think of the emphasis young men put on female sexuality.

It is too often females are seen as sexual objects. Truth is -- we're not. We're living, breathing, thinking human beings. Females, your mom or dad may say sex will degrade you. When done without discretion, it does. Sex, more or less, is not a measure of the value of a woman. So females and males -- don't use it that way.