Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

This last weekend, as we continue on this adventure of this Bangarang short film, we went into “casting.” That means, we had a whole weekend of meeting kids, searching for the new Rufio and crew. It really brought back memories, I remember all the days of running around town with my mom and my brothers, going to auditions, meeting other kid actors and dancers and getting prepared in the lobby, being a little nervous, then getting your chance to go into the room and show them what you got!

Being on the other side for this one, loved seeing the kids come in and was so impressed how talented they we’re… fearless, really. They all wanted to do their best and some we’re trained well from acting classes, some were just raw and going for it. I loved seeing the dancers, after they read, I would ask them if they could bust a move, being a former dancer myself, I love to see the new kids get down. Our producer went into some beatboxing (shout out to Rawn, he was killin it too) and the kids just went in to some freestylin.

One of the best things about becoming a writer/producer is the ability to create opportunities for others, especially the next generation.

Doing this Rufio origin project, I get to revisit, not only the character and friends from those days, I also get to revisit the great times I had as a kid actor and being able to give some kids from this generation chance to make some great memories of their own and maybe give them a launch pad to make some noise in the industry.

Can’t wait to introduce you all to the new crew!



So yesterday we dropped this kickstarter to fund this short film called, Bangarang, which will tell the story of the character I’m know for, Rufio. It’s been crazy with all the attention it’s been getting online. I mean, I know it’s he a beloved character, but it’s cool how it’s captured the imagination of so many.

People are asking me a lot of questions about the project… and really, it pretty simple. This young, promising director, Jonah Feingold approached me about the project. He loved Hook, matter a fact, I met him at an LA bar called, Delilah, not too long ago, he tapped me on the shoulder and showed me his iPhone and the screensaver is the Hook poster. I kinda of chuckled and proceeded to walk towards my table. He exclaimed, “No! I have to talk to you, let me buy you a drink!” Anyhow, we ended up having a few drinks… tequila, I think it was and told me about him going to USC film school, being a big Spielberg fan and about another film he’s setting up called, Wendy. From there we became friends and awhile later he drops on me this short he wrote about the origin story of the rebel rousing kid we all love, Rufio.

Being it’s the 25th anniversary of the film and the character, I figure, now’s a great time to revisit Neverland, but this time, let’s see how this new generation does it. I simply signed on to produce, talked some other partners of mine into joining me, Rawn Ericson, and dropped the Kickstarter… I simply thought, we’ll see what happens.

To everyone one’s surprise, people are loving the idea. I love bringing Rufio to a new generation, not just because he’s a character I played in the past, also bringing a Filipino hero to today’s kids is important to me.  It’s essentially a fanfic, crazy because I’m involved. Can’t wait the cast the kid actors to play the new and of Lost Boys & Girls.

You can support on Kickstarter and follow my social media be apart of the adveture… Bangarang!!!

Comic Con has been a buzz word for years now, a place where it looks like comic books, super hero movies and Halloween collide in a weekend for grown up to get back to the kid in themselves… I’ve been fortunate to fall into this world due to the popularity of some of the characters I’ve played in my career and here is the behind the scene looks of one of my latest outings in Seattle!


I grew up as part of the Hip Hop generation, meaning I came up in a time when we didn’t look up to rock gods on electric guitars but rather, our anti-establishment movement came in the form of M.C.’s rockin elevated lyrics on microphones. Like the generation before us worshiped groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, we worship groups like A Tribe Called Quest. I’m just writing today to mark the passing of a legend, Phife Dawg (Malik Taylor), member of this amazing rap group, they’ve always been my favorite, a perfect blend of Jazz and clean New York beats with the poetic verses of the perfect duo Phife and Q-tip, giving an articulate and thought provoking depiction of our generation. They transcended the neighborhood and their music transcended race and classism and when I think about people and places and moments in my past, often, one of their songs accompanies it in my memory. They will forever be apart of the soundtrack of my life, rest in peace, Phife.

Farewell, Mrs. Neita

Posted: February 18, 2016 in Blog


I’m writing tonight because I today attended the funeral of the women of picture you see above, her name  is Mrs. Neita. You don’t know who she is, she is a women who I think of as a surrogate grandma of sorts. This part of my life is hard to explain, it’s not known by many, even those that knew at this time of my life. The short of it all is she was the mother of my then acting teacher and I knew this women for most of my life… In my 20’s,  my brothers and I, ended up, due to a series of unlikely events, becoming care takers for this woman. When I say care takers, I mean we watched over her, 24 hours a day for nearly 2 years. Now, me and my brothers are all actors, not qualified to be care takers, but for those who you consider family, when asked, you may be surprised at the things you are capable of doing. It wasn’t the easiest things to do, as a matter a fact, it was some of the darkest times in my life. Coupled with doing one of the hardest jobs I can think of, (that we weren’t qualified to do), we also were in a dark time with our family, in that we weren’t speaking to our parents. You can imagine how hard that can be for most families, especially ours being such a close knit one. Ironically, in taking care of this woman, Mrs. Neita,  I felt that this is something my mother would do in a heart beat, I mean, my mother, you see, is one of the most saintly women in the world. Anyone who knows my mom would tell you the same. So even in a time of disconnection with my mother, I somehow felt connected with her in helping out Mrs. Nieta.

Now, Mrs. Neita, well, this woman… Yeah, the mold was broken with her. Although some days it felt as if it was a burden to feed her, bath her, sleep over and just be there to help as she was going through health and mental issues that many folks go through in elder age… it’s funny, in thinking about those crazy days, I also remember laughter… many times of laughter and conversations that we’re enlightening and sometimes just downright hysterical. Maybe I’ll write about it all in a script one day.

Once, my brother Dion and I, had to fly out to Nebraska because she disappeared and when we found her, she was in Nebraska! Yes, somehow, she got on a plane and then a train and every one was scared as to where she could be… well, she was in Nebraska. We flew out, rounded her up and had an adventure of a lifetime driving her back to Los Angeles. I’m telling you, this woman, one of a kind… I’m smiling writing this now. She lived to be 96, I just wanted to write a little about her, life is an adventure, you never know who you’ll meet along the way… Farewell, Mrs. Neita! love you, darlin.


What Movies Mean To Me 

Posted: August 13, 2015 in Blog

I’m sitting in my bed, in my hotel room again in the middle of the night, thinking about my day and thinking about what I want to talk to you guys about. I had a long day of walking around Disney World, took a bunch of silly pics on my snapchat and rode a bunch of rides. I was pretty taken with Hollywood side of the park, walking through the gates and seeing my town, Los Angeles on display for the whole world to see. Familiar sites, replicas of buildings and restaurants. Sometimes you don’t see the beauty of the things in your backyard. On a last minute decision, we raced across the park to catch The Great Movie Ride, actually they we’re closing that area for some reason, I think due to end of the evening, we kind of jumped the roped off area and went to catch the ride anyway. We ended up being the last folks to do the ride. I was sucked into the movies again.

I just loved seeing the films that I grew up on, not because I’m as old as most of those films, but because I grew up an actor and a big part of my training was watching all those films, watching and studying what is literally the history of our industry and craft. I went through my head the names of all the films that were being showed in the clips… Public Enemy, Maltese Falcon, Tootsie, Bonnie and Clyde, Grease, Doctor Zhivago, True Grit, Singing In the Rain, Casablanca… some films I haven’t seen in awhile and feeling that urge to go back and watch the classics. The excitement of seeing the opening of films and the music of the lights of 20th Century Fox or the Universal globe, knowing I’m in some way apart of all that.

The ride takes place in a replica of the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood and I was thinking of being in the original theater for my own movie premieres, one being “Biker Boyz,” which I was ironically recognized for later in the park, shooting in front of the theater in a pilot called “Hitman,” where I was stealing a Corvette. It’s cool to see your town being recreated somewhere on the other side of the country and people enjoying it, to feel like you’re apart of it all, even if it’s just a little bit.

Upon returning to my hotel, I remembered I couldn’t play my favorite video game, League of Legends, due to a restriction on the internet and I went back to Netflix and found myself watching this amazing documentary on Roger Ebert, called, “Life Itself.” I must say, I’ve never really been keen on movie critics, I mean what actor really is? I always felt we do the work, we’re filmmakers, let them decided if what we did was good or bad, they can talk about it all they want later… But, I was really touched by the film and felt a kinship with the man, he loved film as much as I do and was incredibly articulate about it all. He lived a fascinating life, a great life. Through the film, I definitely have more respect for the role of the critic… They help raise the bar.

I do remember him not liking the movie “Hook,” and of course, I know the film was flawed and didn’t really open to critical acclaim only became a cult classic later… but I also remember him really appreciating a smaller film I did  called, “The Debut,” an indie movie about a Filipino American kid coming of age played by myself.

I guess I feel like, in the Hollywood movie making fraternity, with this guy and all us who’ve been around this industry for years, Ebert is one of the people who help make these movies we make for entertainment, fluff to some, have weight and importance, puts it in the context of great literature and fine art.

Movies just mean the world to me, I’m lucky to have been apart of some classics, big films, indie films… I look forward to telling more stories.

3am. Orlando. Nina Simone.

Posted: August 13, 2015 in Blog

I’ve been traveling all day and now I lay wide awake after an early evening nap in my hotel room in Orlando. I’m in town to make an appearance at the Anime Fest Orlando. After finishing up the Daredevil series on Netflix, I wandered on to the documentary, “What Happened, Nina Simone?” about the life and times of this amazing musician. Honestly, I can’t tell you I knew much of her life, I know some of her music, because I love music and some of her songs have been anchors in my memory to my family and special times. Her voice is instantly recognizable and incredibly powerful.

Parallels that I’ve always made in my mind to Nina Simone, has been Lauren Hill and Amy Winehouse. Artist that are supremely talented and impactful in my life, yet somewhat tortured, you can hear it in their music, maybe it’s why I love there songs so much.

With Nina Simone and this film, I got to see her true craftsmanship as an artist, she was a world class classic pianist and she became an activist in a time when America was in great disorder and was in need of change… She was apart of that.

As an artist watching this film, I am deeply moved. One can only wish to be in a class of artistry that Nina displayed, fame and everything else aside, I want to be that good. You know, sure we all want to be rich and famous, but to be really, really good, is most important… to me at least.

And then there is the life beyond the art, the activism and just living… being happy, in the end, artist or not, we want to be happy. Exactly what will bring that happiness can be elusive.

As the years go by, I checkin with myself and how happy I am, as an artist and a human being. What have I accomplish professionally, what have I accomplished personally. There’s still a lot of work to be done on both sides of that coin.  The humanizations of those we put on pedestals, is always interesting to me, the singers and actors and politicians. Sometimes they’re like gods in our minds and then you see their flaws, not unlike our own, there is something comforting in that, hell it even makes the art that much more great.

Now I’m just rambling in the middle of the night, taking stock of what I’ve done, being happy with that, but not content, knowing you can still hang with with the best of them. But it’s 3 o’clock in the morning, in Orlando and I’m alone in a hotel room, I’m just going to fall asleep listening to Nina Simone songs.

So I’ll leave you with on of my favorites: Angel of the Morning

We Own the 8th Surprise

It’s the 8th of the month and today is the day that our Asian American arts collective meet’s in downtown LA in at The Great Company. Now every month, there’s a different event that takes place, from open forum meetings to talk about issues effecting the community, to keynote speakers and workshops, and live performance nights. Now, tonight was supposed to be a performance night where some of the founders including myself we’re supposed to perform from the group at large. The whole evening was hosted by Beau Sia, also one of the founders and was supposed to be us and others just performing for everyone… as I was introduced and took the stage to begin my set, the screen come down and a video starts to play… it’s a tribute video… to me! Friends and colleagues and fellow members of the 8th wishing happy birthday.

Beau really got me, I took a seat in the front row and after this wonderful video of well wishes, Beau began to bring on friends and family to honor me. It was funny and emotional and people talked of how I may have impacted them and the community. You know, the funny thing is, of course as performer, I’m comfortable in front of an audience to act or talk, but as the center of attention otherwise, it can be a little uncomfortable for me, I much rather lay low and fly in under the radar. But brothers hit the stage and told stories, roasting me a bit, a lot of laughter, then other stories which filled my heart up, I love those guys, songs from friends Olivia Thai and AJ Rafael, AJ even got me to join him for a duet… that was pretty crazy. I poem from my sister.

And the other crazy thing is, Beau, within planning for the show, asked me to write a new poem, talking about age and also becoming the leader of this group, “We Own the 8th.” It was to be apart of my set… although, ultimately there was no set to do. I was up all last night writing this new piece. Lucky for me, or I guess it might of happened how Beau planned it, this new poem I wrote was the perfect poem to end the night. So I read it to thank all those in attendance. (I’ll probably post the poem on my youtube later)

So my actual birthday is on the 29th… but this was a special night, to celebrate and honored by my peers and family, I appreciate everybody that came, everyone that took time to send in a video, everyone that performed, the poets, the singers and of course Beau. I am truly proud to be a member of the crew, #WeOwnThe8th!


Tonight I was invited to watch a preview of the upcoming movie, “Straight Outta Compton.” Wow… this movie took me back! As I started my August blogathon because it’s my birthday month and around this time of year I get reflective, it’s suiting to go watch a movie that brings us back to the 90’s to relive stories and a time that feels like so much of my own personal history.

So in the 1990’s I grew up in a town called Paramount which just so happens to be the next city over from Compton and the stories that get told in this movie are like legendary tales from around my way. In those days, our high school football team, Paramount Pirates, we’re state champions and Eazy E and MC Ren would show up at the games. I can remember hearing gangsta rap for the first time, they all looked like guys from our neighborhood and the stories they rapped about we’re about things that happened close by, even on our own streets sometimes. I mean, the 90’s we’re the height of gang culture, we all kind of looked like we were in gangs, it was just part of the fashion… baggy pants, flannels, bomber jackets, baseball hats. If you’re from, where we’re from, the gang culture, seeing it, dealing with it was an every day thing. From being bullied by gang members to hanging out with friends that happen to be in gangs to be mistaken by other gang members or cops for being in a gang… it’s just part of life back then… I’m sure it still a part of life for folks in the neighborhood.

And this movie took me back to those times. Sure there were rough moments… but a lot fun times too. Hearing gangsta rap for the first time was something that was exciting and scary at the same time. And knowing that these were guys from around our way was even cooler. It’s like you hear, “so and so is Dr. Dre’s cousin” or “that girl is dating EZ.”

And that era was such a different time in Hollywood. African American culture was everywhere, it was actually more diverse than now in many ways. Hip Hop ruled the pop charts, they’re we’re several Black shows on the network television, from “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” to “Moesha” to “Hangin With Mr. Cooper” and so many more… I was on most of them! The great thing is there was a lot more work in Hollywood for actors of color… myself included. Not only that, there were so many African American movies being made, sometimes I think of them as LA Hood films… again, I was in some of these like, “Fakin Da Funk.”

Yeah, many people know me from mainstream projects like “Hook” or “Avatar the Last Airbender,” but for a whole generation, people from my neighborhood and neighborhoods all over the country remember as part of “Black Hollywood.” I mean, there wasn’t any Asian American projects getting made and not a lot of roles in mainstream or “white” Hollywood, I found work in the Black Community and got to work with some of the greatest artist like Will Smith, Cedric the Entertainer, Michael Jai White, Pam Grier, Brandy and so many more. Sometimes I miss the diversity we used have on television.

Just growing up in LA and seeing all those guys from the movie at parties or clubs back in the day, I mean seeing Tupac by himself at a club just hanging out days before his death or knowing Suge Knight was in the club and trying to stay away from wherever he was because of fear of anything going down around him. It was just great to see this movie made and done right. Bravo to the whole crew and the director F. Gary Gray. Its a great story to see kids from around my way make it and gives me pride, that I too, like them, were one of the “Boyz In the Hood.”


I was invited today by my friend, Winston, to be apart of the Filipino board for the USC Pacific Asian Museum, now I didn’t know what that meant or even where that museum was. But since Winston is a friend for years now and someone I hold in high respect, I agreed to go to the gathering and see what it’s all about.
All of a sudden, I find myself in my car heading to Pasadena in rush hour traffic… for those that don’t know what that means, roughly from my place in Beverly Hills, it’s easily over an hour. I pull up to this building that must be the Pacific Asian Museum, I mean, it’s the address I was given, plus it was building with the beautiful blue Japanese style roof.
Now inside the get together, I find myself surrounded, not only but an open wine bar and a nice layout of Filipino food, including lumpia and empanadas, I find myself probably being the youngest person in a group of Filipinos that are assembled to help the museum cultivate and curate the Filipino Community’s involvement. Listening to some of the speeches made by some of the elders, I can see that the museum has to start to “Millennial-ize” itself, and I now see I’m going to apart of it all.
It’s interesting to see this process and I’m honored to be thought of to join this… but then I also realize that I’ve gotten to that age or that place in life that all of a sudden I’m being sought out to be on the board of something… a museum no less! This my friends, is new territory… but a new world I’m welcoming.
Now, after leaving this meeting, I rush to catch a dinner I’m already late for… (I’m running on Filipino time, I guess) The dinner I am able to attend is the birthday and anniversary celebration of my friend Gary Valenciano (or as his fans know him, Gary V) and his wife Angeli. Both are dear friends to me. See, Gary is like the Michael Jackson of the Philippines and the now I’m sitting at a table of 20 or so people, friends and familiar faces… nearly all Filipino. We did not eat Filipino food but looking around the table and sounds of my native language filling the air made me feel like I was back in Manila.
Another place I was honored to be included in, both groups, very pretigious… and both beautifully Filipino!