It’s award season around Hollywood and it’s that time of year when we celebrate everything from actors to writers, costumes and songs but mostly movies and stories… the best stories on the screen for us. It’s a dream for everyone who makes it to this town to someday win an Oscar, it’s literally winning the Super Bowl in our creative industry.

In the last few decades, or for as long as I can remember, the irony of it all is many of the movies celebrated by the Hollywood elite more than not don’t resonate with the audience at large, even among many Hollywood insiders we have a hard time to remember the last handful of winners of Best Film of the Year. What does that mean? I’m not sure, I am sure all the films that won are great films… to even get nominated is proof of great work. The fact that we may not know exactly who or what won just a few years ago may just speak to how much impact on the community at large a film may have had on the masses regardless of the exceptional work that had been done.

This year these issues are getting more called into view with actors of color calling a boycott on the Oscars due to lack of ethnic artist being nominated. Are Oscars so white, as the trending hashtag on twitter seem promote? Well, of course they are, but that is nothing new, there are more films being made in Hollywood with Caucasian stars and about “white” stories than any other groups. At the end of the day, the majority of the country is Caucasian and so is the majority of the people running this entertainment industry. That being said, I still feel there should be more inclusion, not too just recognize people of color working in the industry, but to recognize work that is worthy and I do feel that there was some work that was worthy. Also, outside of just winning some subjective award, it actually means a lot when it comes to business and negotiations in future projects. That kind of recognition can definitely be life changing for years to come, so it’s important to be included.

But beyond the race conversation surrounding the whole awards, what about the fact that most of the time, movies I actually love don’t get recognized by the Academy. Many people I know think if an film wins an Oscar, it’s guaranteed to be a boring movie! I’m not going to go that far but here are my favorite movies of the year.

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Straight Outta Compton: this movie was just an important to me because it was about guys from my neighborhood at time I was growing up, the music and the memories that ran through my mind when I was watching this movie is unexplainable. Certain moments that happen in the movie, I was thinking where I was when that happen, the first time I heard this song, when I met certain people in that film around those times. To be honest, I didn’t know if this was going to be good when I first heard they were putting this film together, it’s just a story that was so fresh in our minds still and the music that still played on radios everyday. I feared it would turn out cheesy and taint that time, but shout out to director F Gary Gray for making an amazing film that romanticized a special time in my life and showed these black kids from the neighborhood become rock stars and changed the world forever. I’m still convinced “Fuck the Police” is the craziest thing that any musicians have put on wax, I think this will be remembered as an important film because its an important story.

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The Hateful Eight: this is my favorite movie of the year, hands down… I watched the 70mm version, it over three hours with overture at the beginning and an intermission in the middle of the flick, I watched the 10:45pm showing knowing I had a flight in the morning and I was swept away into another world, lost in the adventure of this movie the whole time! I love Tarantino as writer and director, the story is filled with twist and turns and has racial undertones and dark witty humor throughout. It’s my favorite film this year, it baffles me that it didn’t even get a nomination for Best Film by the Academy, I don’t want to give out any spoilers, if you haven’t seen this film, you got to go see this film. I can feel Tarantino’s ode to classic Western films and then he puts his mark on the genre and takes us to whole new places that world’s never seen.

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Mad Max Fury Road: then there’s this film… I watched it over the summer after getting off the set of a movie I was shooting in Texas. The cast wrapped and rushed to a movie theatre in Taylor, Texas, arriving 5 minutes before it started only to find out due to no tickets in this little town had been sold for the last showing of the night, they decided to close early. But somehow we talked them into to opening it for our own private screening! (the kid closing down recognized us as actors and called up his manager and convinced him to play the movie for us… thank you!) It’s a great memory, and as we sat in this 100 year old theatre to watch this film on summer night in Texas I witnessed a roller coaster ride of lifetime. I literally got to see a masterpiece, George Miller did something that some may have thought was impossible, he made an art film and a summer blockbuster, a thrill every 5 minutes and I can take any number of frames of the movie and blow it up and put the image in museum to rival any masters of all the ages. Got to admit, the Academy got it right on giving this unlikely contender a nod for Best Film of the Year.

I just love movies… if you haven’t seen these ones yet, I highly suggest it, you may not agree with me, but these are my favorite movies of the year.

It’s Super Bowl Sunday and I’m a fan like most people here in the US and around the world, I guess, now… Growing up a 49ers fan and being a longtime Los Angelino (seriously considering changing my alliance to the Rams now that they’re coming home) I don’t have a horse in the race, I just get to sit back and enjoy.
The thing that hits me though is the generation battle. Awhile back, I remember seeing Peyton Manning in some sideline interview during a practice, as he was answering questions, a familiar song started playing, he turns around and says something to the nature of, “Hey, Bell Biv Davoe, that’s my jam.” “Poison” was playing over the speakers and I realized, hey, this guy is from my Era! I always thought of him as older than me, but in actuality, he’s a few months younger than me. And his recognition of that song, made me feel a kinship to him, even though I was never particularly a fan of the Colts in his heyday, it’s cool to think we grew up, went to high school at the same time and probably have good memories to similar songs, like BBD’s “Poison.”
Now, there’s Cam Newton, the new school, obviously a beast of a player with the whole new style of playing and celebrating that often rubs my generation the wrong way. The times are a changing…
How I see it, is this my generation’s last hurrah with Peyton going to win one more, this time less through power or arm strength but more through mental cunningness, the way elders often win. Or does this mark the end of one Era and the beginning of the new…
Ultimately, Cam and the new generation will inevitably win in the long run, it’s their time, it’s cycle of things, but it will be fun to see Peyton can pull off one more magical game!
Regardless who you’re rooting for, hope everyone is with family and friends celebrating this pseudo holiday. Happy Super Bowl, y’all!

Waiting for my flight…

Posted: February 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

It’s less than a week and I’m back at the airport, LAX, waiting to board another plane, this time flying to Vermont to speak at the university. Looking forward to it, it’s one of the state’s I haven’t been to and I haven’t seen snow in a year.
But waiting for my plane, I had a memory flash into my mind from the long time ago. I remembered the first time I came to this airport. I must have been around 12 years old, I was here shooting an episode of television show called “Highway to Heaven.” I don’t think I had even been on a plane yet, but we were here early in the morning, break of dawn. Michael Landon, not only starred in the show, he was the director. He was a big star in my mind, I used to watch reruns of “Bonanza” with my brothers and he was “Little Joe.”
In the episode, I was adopted by a white family and I was being reconnected with biological family. I think I was playing Vietnamese, I know the late, great Hang S. Nor played my father. He had recently won an Oscar for “The Killing Fields.” It was odd that he didn’t really know his lines, I remember as kid I found that strange. My biggest memory of the gig is it was the first time I had to cry on film, it was nerve wrecking. It was an emotional scene, saying goodbye or something. When you haven’t cried before on camera, a lot of thoughts go through your mind, like… where are these tears going to come from? You’re just kind like, in your dressing room, thinking about, seeing if you can force a tear out, then trying to save it up for when the cameras are rolling, thinking about all kinds of bad stuff like your parents dying and stuff. I mean, your just a kid on a TV set, working with some pretty legendary people and you kind of want please people or at least deliver what they hired you for.
But at the end of the day, I don’t remember how those tears came, we were in the little airplane bridge that connects to airplane and we all started acting, everyone else was crying and next thing I know, so was I…
Acting 101… assume the position.
If I can find a picture at my mom’s house later, I’ll post it.
But my plane’s boarding… gotta go!

Fashion Sense: Dressy Sneakers

Posted: January 19, 2016 in Fashion Sense

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For all the sneaker heads like myself, something happened… We grew up. No matter how fresh your Jordan’s are, they just don’t look good in you skinny jeans. I love shoes, I always have, maybe because I grew up in the hip hop generation where fresh kept sneakers were an extension of your personality or maybe because I’m Filipino and I have Imelda Marcos syndrome ¬†of owning too many shoes coursing through my veins. Shoes have always been an important part of my life.

Lately I’ve been obsessed with these particular hybrid kind of shoes. These Cole Haan’s… Now I know people are always thinking bloggers will only write about products that are sponsored or what not, and I do recieve my share of swag, but this post is unattached to any of that, they didn’t send me shoes, (although I would not be opposed to that) this is just me falling in love with a product, as I do sometimes and then obsessively going too far by buying more pairs of shoes than any one individual needs.
The skinny of it all is, we love wearing sneakers, Air Max’s, Jordan’s, Air Force 1’s, not just for the style, but because they’re comfortable, I mean they’re sneakers. And although it’s become the norm to wear sneakers in almost any outfit, as we’ve grown up, our styles have gotten a little more mature and so has our shoe game. The great thing about these shoes are they are dressy on the top side, wing tipped, suede or leather and on the bottoms are like Nike running shoes, the Lunar soles or the Zero Grands.
Not only do they look good, there are so many color combinations which again appeal to the hip hop fashionista in me, I can get funky with my style and add a little flair to my look. Cole Haan is not the only brand dealing in these upscale sneakers, my other favorite brands in this space are Clay and Common Projects.
So as this part of my blog is just a conversation for every day guys and fashion, I say to step up your shoe game with this new wave of dressy sneakers.

On the road again…

Posted: January 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

It’s a little past 7am on the second Saturday of the new year and I find myself at the airport for the first time in 2016. I was lucky to get upgraded to first class, doesn’t always happen, but it’s always great when it does, I mean who doesn’t love first class. (Side note: an actor from “Scandal” just walked by, I watch the show, so I’m a fan, the lawyer guy, you know who I’m talking about)
I love airports, I love just people watching when I’m here early for my flight, I don’t have to rush and I can just sit here and people watch. You see people from all walks of life roaming around the airport. Hopeful faces, maybe going on their first plane ride or someone about to embark on an adventure overseas. People wearing hats and tshirts of the teams and places where they’re from. Faces of people arriving, happy to get off the plane, happy to get home. An elder couple, not arguing but the wife insisting her husband take out the plastic baggy to make sure there’s no “goop” is spilling out of it, he of course does what’s asked. The women’s voice comes on over the intercom with a mix of boredom and a little forced positivity to assure everyone our flight is on time. Sometimes, you can’t help to feel like cattle being herded around on these massive buses that just happen to fly around in the sky, flying around on a regular basis isn’t luxurious as I imagined as kid. There’s the faces of those that have traveled ten’s of thousands of miles, who look like they are just over this whole process and I guess I don’t blame them.
But I still have to sit back at times and just look at everyone in an actual state of transition, everyone going somewhere or coming from somewhere, myself included… and just now, the nice, slight bored lady is letting me know it’s my turn to board.
This is the first of many plane rides this year.

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So I woke up this morning and had a little bit of a panic attack because my play, “Midnight Makeout Session,” opens in two weeks from tomorrow on Dec. 3rd. Now I say “my” play, because I not only star in it, but I also wrote it.

What the play is about and all that, can be found out at midnightmakeoutsession.com, but I’m sitting down right now to talk about why I wrote it… Well see, it’s kinda like a love note to all those who we’re here in Los Angeles in the 90’s, running around this crazy town we call home, Hollywood. We we’re all just kids back then, hustling our careers by day and by night, chasing adventure in the golden age of the LA club scene. Now we’re all grown up and this play discusses all the things I want to talk about to all my friends from those times. Some of us are still here working, some have passed away, some have left town to return to wherever they came from to continue their lives.

I hope friends around town can come check it out and reminisce about some of those times, but anyone who wants to revisit a more romantic time in life, this is for you. It’s also for people who love 90’s Hip Hop and R&B, the play is full of that because that was the soundtrack of my life… For all of us really, back then, every club spun everything from Jay-Z, Usher, R. Kelly t0 Biggie, Tupac… Man, back then, if you we’re at the right clubs, there would be a good chance you would be partying with them! (Shout out to “Joseph’s”, “Dublins”, “B-Sides”…)

And if you’re just a fan of me, well, you’re invited too… If you come see the play, you probably get to know me better. All the male characters are basically different aspects of me, mixed in with my closest friends and the girls… well, you know how that goes, if we’ve dated in the past, chance are you might see a glimpse of you showing up in this piece.

Now, it’s not a perfect play in any way… in fact, it’s the first play I wrote, but it’s me.

So… I personally invite you to the Midnight Makeout Session.

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My Birthday Recap…

Posted: September 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

So I wanted to blog everyday in the month of August coming up to my birthday… I was a little overwhelmed to say the least. I ended up throwing a big party, reunited my band to play a set and shot a youtube video food fight to commemorate the whole thing. Thank you for everyone that came out to the party and all of those who sent their well wishes.

Here’s a recap of the party, the playlist to see the music set and the food fight video.

Now… on to the next decade!