Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

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!


Posted: August 5, 2015 in Blog


Here’s a shot from a photo shoot from earlier today, this is my car in the movie, “Head Thieves.” The cast, including my brother, Dion and Mickey Gooch, who plays our brother in the film (yeah, it’s a weird movie) and some other crew members got back together today to shoot some pictures for the cover of a magazine.
Getting together with a crew of fellas months after a shoot can sometimes be weird, but we all fell right back into how we were on set. Just a ragtag crew of actors and production, laughing, cracking on each other and really just loving each other’s company. When you get together with a group of artist so effortlessly and doing work together, feels less like work but more like something else… fun, yeah, but everyone is still trying to shine at what they do… direct or edit or act or move the lights and get us through the day. Sometimes it just works. Makes you think, this must be how Adam Sandler’s crew must be like or Judd Apataw’s crew. You know, those groups that always comeback to work together, they make great work, but more than anything, it looks like they’re having fun… and in the end, we had fun, and we still do, every time we get together. Consequently, we made a movie… I think it turned out pretty good, hopefully you guys will get to see it and think it’s good too. But I’m more hopeful we all get to work together again to do another project and have another crazy adventure.


Spent today shooting some stuff for YouTube, another episode of my 30 Something Else show and got to hang with my friend’s kids all afternoon. I have to admit, they are the cutest things and they call me Uncle Dante. Now of course, I’m at the age, with my big birthday coming up that the idea of kids occupy my mind here and there. I come from a big family, there’s 5 siblings and my parents both had more than that, so the idea of having a family has always been a given in my mind. The reality is starting to set in now and what that actually means.

I mean, I love kids, I’m great uncle… Well, I’m a fun uncle, always available to spoil whoever is around. I’m good for at least an hour as a babysitter. I see myself as more hanging out with them then taking care of them. But it makes you think, what kind of father will I actually be.

Can’t see myself being all that strict, which could be good or bad. I hope the kid… Or kids will be cool enough that I want to hang with them. And the idea of my whole life changing is a bit ominous.

I mean, my day today consisted of, working out, then off to shooting, then an audition in Burbank, a meal or two mixed in there somewhere and end the day playing poker at some underground card house like I’m some character in “Guys and Dolls.” Needless to say, it’s not a day that I would consider very fatherly.

But, I can’t lie and say there isn’t an urge to be a father, I do look at kids now and think of myself having a child and raising him or her, hopefully instilling in them the best of you and gaurding them from some of the traits you’re not so proud of.

It’s weird to have this consideration or desire in you’re head or in your heart. I don’t even know if it will happen, who knows what’s in the cards for us, but kids are definitely one of the things I wrestle with now, at least the idea of having them. A healthy fear of being inadequate might be a good thing. But not being a parent, I don’t really know, and much respect goes out to all the parents out there, including my own. If I could be half as good them, I’d probably be doing alright.

Hanging out in downtown LA today, Arts District, I sat down with had dinner with my boys and co-creatives in the We Own the 8th project, Carl Choi and MC Jin. The conversation was crazy with me and Jin, talking about where we’ve been in our careers and what’s ahead in the future. It’s wild to talk about past successes and be vulnerable to talk about things that weren’t as successful. Jin was the first Asian rapper I ever knew of, rose to fame through winning rap battles on BET and signed a record deal on Ruff Riders. A groundbreaking dude, for sure, and it’s great have a meeting of the minds and truly express ourselves and talk openly as artist to get each others view points on one another.

This game, this whole world of entertainment, it’s hard to make it, you know, most of the people that come to this party don’t succeed. Now, the one’s that find success, you start to see how hard is to keep success going and actually as you grow up your definition of success changes. The new generation of artist are coming on to the scene, and artist from my generation can’t help but tackle with the ideas and emotions of who we were then… who we are now… who we are going to be.

In our talks, one thing I got from Jin, like many artist, it’s like we’re survivors. I compared us to a like a rat in a flooded house or something, not going to drown, not going to give up, we find a way to survive. He like myself, he’s constantly taking inventory of himself and talents and reinvents himself. I applaud him on his past and look forward to what he has in store for the future, not only in music, but in acting and comedy.


It’s summertime and for my family, like most families, it’s time to get as many of your cousins and aunts and uncles together to have some semblance of a family reunion. Now, for my family, that means our yearly camping trip. Now when it comes to the Basco’s, you have to understand that my dad is one of 7 siblings and all the kids have anywhere between 2 to 5 children each and when you think that many of us now, my 20 or more cousins, have kids of our own, sprinkle in friends and extended family, you get somewhere around 100 Filipinos in the woods somewhere, just getting dirty in the dirt, cooking all kinds of food, morning, noon and night and being loud… mostly too loud. So loud in fact, the park ranger came on several occasions including every night, to remind us to keep it quiet,as there are other campers in the woods.

As I get older, I appreciate these moments more. I always had a great time as kid, getting to hang out with my cousins playing sports and laughing and pal around with my uncles, playing poker and horseshoes. What’s funny is, me and my brothers and cousins, who were once the kids running around getting all dirty, playing till the sun went down, only to rush to make s’mores under the supervision of an adult, now we’ve become the uncles. All the new kids, scouring around to hang out, to sing songs and spend time and hear stories by the camp fire. I really love talking to all my new nieces and nephews, even the ones that are so sassy and have so much attitude, it seemed they spent the whole weekend in “time out.”

I guess I can hope that they think of me as a cool uncle, as cool as the the ones I looked up to when I was young… Uncle Danny, Uncle Duke, Uncle David… hell, I still look up to them.

And as people on the west coast know, it rained a lot last weekend caused by hurricane Dolores coming through. We got a hit a little, but didn’t mind it, as my grandma, who recently passed is missing her first camping trip, we knew it was her just joining in on some fun, my Grandma Dolores. 

Summer is my favorite season of the year… and camping is my favorite weekend. Happy summertime!Lela Darion and Rory Justin Horeshoes cookin it up Mahjong ladies Cool KisSammy at Sunsetsunset on the lake .