Items filtered by date: Sunday, 26 November 2017

Voices of A New, Emerging Majority Rise Up at the Successful Cinematografo International Film Festival

SAN FRANCISCO --- The very first Cinematografo International Film Festival (CIFF) opened its inaugural year with a four-day exhibit of 28 films that echo the voices that tell the stories of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans.
Opening night at the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8 Theaters saw a parade of filmmakers, celebrities, government officials, community leaders, and guests walking the red carpet just before the U.S premiere of Loy Arcens’ “Ang Larawan” (The Portrait). Director Arcenas, Lead Actor Rachel AlejandroProducer Girlie Rodis, and Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, who wrote the music, were in attendance and participated in a Q&A with the audience right after the screening.
Good spirits, good food, and wine flowed at the Opening Night Party at the Omni Hotel in downtown San Francisco. Filmmaker Ramona Diazwas impressed, saying, “I think to get Filipino American filmmakers in one room is already an accomplishment. Cinematografo has really stepped up to the plate.” High-profile publicist David Magdael lauds that Cinematografo’s inaugural year was held in San Francisco because of the rich diversity and the strong Filipino artist base and Filipino community in the Bay Area.
Screenings throughout the four days enjoyed good attendance from movie lovers. There were those who attended all four days, having purchased the festival pass, and savored a good line-up of movies, including documentaries, feature-length narratives, shorts, and animation.
The energy was palpable throughout the festival as filmmakers, actors, creatives, and other industry representatives networked at the filmmakers’ lounge at the Kabuki in between movie screenings. Jannet Nuñez, iTVS Content Development Manager, emphasized that “any film festival that really focuses on a specific community is always important to visit, especially if you’re not part of the community, because you can learn so much.”
Festival Highlights
One of the highlights of the festival was a tribute to documentary filmmaker Ramona Diaz where her latest, award-winning film Motherland(Sundance 2017), about one of the world’s busiest maternity wards located in Manila, was screened, followed by an intimate conversation about her work and prolific career as one of the most renowned Asian women documentary makers today. 
Other highlights were the various panels that featured discussions on: (1) State of the Nation(s); (2) The Minority as the New Majority; (3) Tribute to Documentary Filmmaker Ramona Diaz; and (4) Cinematografo Originals and New Projects. All panels were well-attended. Participants were excited with the launch of Cinematografo International Film Festival, and were eager to get the conversation going about finally having a platform where the unique stories of Filipinos and Filipino Americans can be told.
A New Platform for Emerging Voices of the New Majority
“What I love is you’re my people! Mga kababayan ko! (My fellow Filipinos!) So, it’s a great feeling to have our own festival,” Hollywood Actor Reggie Lee enthused. Fellow Actor Dante Basco echoed the sentiment saying, “It’s time for us Filipino Americans to really flourish as artists. We have so many stories, so many great artists. It’s about time we continue to work and produce great product and support each other.”
Bianca Catbagan, Director of “Supermodel,” one of the featured shorts, stated that, “We want to see more films by women, by people of color. Having this network is great because we see each other’s work and we can be a group that forges on together.”
Cinematografo helped amplify the voices of this generation of storytellers, providing them a platform where they could show powerful, unique stories about the Filipino and Filipino American realities. 
Asian American Studies Professor, Writer and Poet Oscar Peñaranda said that Cinematografo offers a fresh perspective in its vision of shining the spotlight on stories of Filipino Americans that is not presented elsewhere. The Festival was a viable arena to showcase the voice of the community. Cinematografo Executive Director John-D Lazatin got his wish as all participants felt that the passion for storytelling was the energy that filled the Kabuki in those four days. As Cinematografo Festival Director Miguel Sevilla reiterated, they want Cinematografo to be the festival where the Filipino voice refuses to stay quiet, where Filipino stories refuse to be forgotten.
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The CIFF is the premier event for Filipinos abroad to tell their stories, and is the platform to bring these films to the world stage.
Guided by its mission to elevate Filipino talent to the global stage, Cinematografo aims to foster, nurture, and inspire filmmakers from the Filipino diaspora. The festival serves as a platform to launch films funded and developed through one of its initiatives – Cinematografo Originals, and serves as a venue for Filipino filmmakers to express their passion for filmmaking, to share their stories of the world through a cinematic lens, and to connect them through an international industry and community network.



PG&E continues to educate customers on utility scams

San Francisco, CA.Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is standing with fellow electric, natural gas, water utilities and our respective trade associations in support of Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS). UUAS is a consortium of more than 100 U.S. and Canadian utilities. UUAS will observe the second annual Utility Scam Awareness Day, on Wednesday, Nov. 15, as part of a weeklong advocacy and awareness campaign, Nov. 13 – 17. UUAS is focused on exposing the tactics scammers use to steal money from utility customers and on educating customers on how to protect themselves.
“Awareness and reporting are keys to keeping customers safe from these scammers,” said Deb Affonsa, vice president, Customer Care. “It’s important that if customers get a call, a visit, or an email that just doesn’t seem right – say something by letting PG&E and law enforcement know.”
Electric and natural gas customers throughout the country are being targeted by impostor utility scams each day. Scammers typically use phone, in-person, and online tactics to target these customers. Scammers pose as electric, water or natural gas company employees, and they threaten that customers’ services will be disconnected or shut off if they fail to make an immediate payment – typically using a prepaid card or other non-traceable form of payment. 
Scammers can be convincing and often target those who are most vulnerable, including senior citizens and low-income communities. They also aim their scams at small business owners during busy customer service hours. However, with the right information, customers can learn to detect and report these predatory scams.
Signs of Potential Scam Activity:
Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer his or her bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within less than an hour.
Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment.
Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds.
How Customers Can Protect Themselves: Customers should never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. PG&E does not specify how customers should make a bill payment and offers a variety of ways to pay a bill, including accepting payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
If a scammer threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service without prior notification, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email, or shut the door. Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification, typically by mail and included with their regular monthly bill.
If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email, or shut the door. They should then call PG&E at . If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud, or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers, should contact local law enforcement authorities. The Federal Trade Commission’s website is also a good source of information about how to protect personal information.
UUAS is dedicated to combating impostor utility scams by providing a forum for utilities and trade associations to share data and best practices, in addition to working together to implement initiatives to inform and protect customers.
For more information about scams, visit

Fascinating history

As the year comes to a close, allow me to take you back in time to revisit some of the great moments in medical science which made possible the great strides man has made in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases that benefit all of us today.
I had the great fortune and privilege in 1972 to have trained as a Fellow in Cardiac Surgery under one of the world’s giants in heart surgery, Dr. Denton A. Cooley, founder and cardiac surgeon-in-chief of the Texas Heart Institute in Houston.
The management of heart diseases was still in the Dark Ages during my undergraduate years in the late 50s. Physicians then did not know how to treat heart diseases, much less, save the lives of patients with these ailments. Looking back, the physicians at that time did not even know that simple aspirin had any potential role in the prevention or treatment of heart attacks. Treatment was mainly symptomatic, using pain pills or pain shots. The most sophisticated pill was the nitrate pill, a vasodilator that “relaxes open” the coronary artery, since the “current” knowledge in physiology then said angina pectoris (chest pain) was due to spasm in the coronary arteries which supply the heart muscles with oxygen and nutrition.
The first milestone that started it all was in 1628 when an English physician first described blood circulation. Inspired by that, these historical events followed:
1706 Raymond de Vieussens, a French anatomy professor, first described the structure of the heart’s chambers and vessels.
1733 Stephen Hales, an English clergyman and scientist first measured blood pressure.
1816 Rene T. H. Laennec, a French physician, invented the first stethoscope.
1903 Eillem Einthoven, a Dutch physician, developed the first electrocardiogram.
1912 James B. Herrick, an American physician, first described heart disease resulting from hardening of the arteries, a fundamental concept that led to the modern therapy of today.
1938 Robert E. Gross, an American surgeon, performed the first heart surgery (close-heart, not open-heart).
1951 Charles Hufnagel, an American surgeon, developed a plastic valve to repair the aortic valve.
1952 F. John Lewis, an American surgeon, performed the first successful open heart surgery.
1953 John H. Gibbon, an American surgeon, introduced the heart lung machine (which he published as a
concept in 1937) and first used this mechanical heart and “blood purifier” to do the first “real open heart surgery” utilizing the heart lung machine, precursor of the modern day cardiopulmonary bypass machine.
1950 John Hopps, a Canadian, invented the external heart pacemaker. That same year, Willem Greatbatch introduced the concept of an implantable (internal) heart pacemaker.
1960 The first self-contained implantable heart pacemaker made by Medtronic was inserted by W. C. Lillihei. Over the years, this has been improved, made more versatile, smaller, better, and longer lasting.
1961 J. R. Jude, an American cardiologist, led a ream in performing the first external cardiac massage to re-start the heart, the foundation for today’s CPR.
1960s Denton A. Cooley of Houston, Texas, rose to world fame for his extraordinary dexterity in performing thousands of congenital heart surgeries in infants, and for being the first to successfully remove pulmonary emboli (clots in the lungs).
1965 Michael De Bakey and Adrian Kantrowitz, American surgeons, implanted mechanical devise to help the diseased heart.
1967 Christian Barnard of South Africa, performed the first whole heart transplant from one person to another.
1968 Denton Cooley performed the first heart transplant in the United States on a 47-year-old man, using a donor heart from a 15-year-old. The patient lived for 204 days. He had done 22 heart transplants over the next year, a record at the time.
1969 Denton A. Cooley implanted the first artificial (mechanical) heart on a man to “tide him over” and keep him alive while waiting for a donor heart.
1972 In the field of clinical application, Denton A. Cooley had, by this time, performed more than 10,000 open heart surgeries, more than any other surgeon in the world. That year, in his honor, the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society was founded. Its members are the more than 800 heart surgeons from 50 countries around the world whom he trained at the Texas Heart Institute (THI) in Houston. (As a Filipino-American heart surgeon, I was truly humbled to be elected as its first president.) The THI has been doing more than 30 open-heart surgeries per day since then.
1970s Michel Mirowski, M.D., and his associates, Morton Mower, Stephen Heilman, M.D., Alois Langer, PhD, and a company called Medrad in Pittsburgh, developed the automatic implantable cardiac defibrillator. In 1980, the prototype AICD was implanted at Johns Hopkins to prevent sudden cardiac death.
1982 Willem DeVries, an American surgeon, implanted a permanent artificial heart, designed by Robert Jarvic, also an American physician. O. H. Frazier and his team under Dr. Cooley at the Texas Heart Institute has performed more than 600 heart transplants, and doing extensive works on artificial (mechanical) hearts. Someday, they will be available on the shelf like pacemakers today, and heart bypass and cardiac valve surgeries would be a thing of the past.
A Crazy Idea
A most worthy pioneer was Werner Forssmann, who, as a surgical resident in Germany in 1929, experimented with himself by inserting a catheter through a vein in his arm and into his heart. He walked to the basement where the X-ray machine was, and x-rayed himself to prove that the catheter was in his heart. In another experiment, he injected dye to his heart through that catheter and took x-ray film. Many of his fellow physicians were outraged by his “daring and insane” acts.
This, by the way, was the origin of what we know today as coronary or heart angiogram or cardiac catheterization, that made possible life-saving procedures, like angioplasties and heart bypass surgeries all over the world. Thanks to Forssmann’s “crazy idea.” In 1956, Forssmann was awarded a Nobel prize, shared with Dickinson Richards and Andre Cournand, physicians in New York who studied heart function and physiology using catheters.

NEXT WEEK: Part II - Conclusion


The Politically Incorrect Christ

For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine—2 Timothy 4:3

It’s amazing how so many Christians are afraid to stand up when it comes to taking a public stand that is morally correct and grounded on biblical principles. They fear being labeled a hater and a racist—a bigoted or prejudiced person. They fear not being politically correct.
But did Jesus Christ ever allow himself to be so controlled? Never! He hated the abuse of God’s house so he drove out the money changers with a whip. He hated evil and sin, not simply because these were opposed to his truth but because they were, and still are, damaging to those whom God loves—us. But he always loved sinners, rubbed elbows with them, and was against anything that hurt them, kept them in bondage, or hindered their growth.
Jesus was not committed to being sensitive and respectful of the felt needs of people by being culturally, religiously or politically correct. No! Instead, he was completely committed to teach people the truth—that they may grow to know and love God and make him known. And he was strongly against anyone or anything that came in the way of this life-transforming truth.
If being politically correct means that we treat people of different backgrounds with respect and do not stereotype them based on their race or gender, then it is in fact, very biblical. But this is not the real intention of our modern, politically correct movement.
In truth, this movement is designed to intimidate people into using language that has been pre-approved. Political correctness tends to be focused on human sensitivity and self-esteem. When you exclusively focus on human sensitivity and self, you eliminate God from your life.


Choice Of Being Grateful

And I will offer you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the LORD—Psalm 116:17

Being grateful is a choice—a choice not to constantly complain, but to give thanks in everything. Gratitude is what we express when we take time to remember God’s past provisions. Today, we have much to be thankful for.
Someone once said, “If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your body, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep, you’re richer than 75% of the entire world. If you have money in your wallet, a little change, and can go anywhere you want, you’re among the top 18% of the world’s wealthy people. If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you’re more blessed than the million people who didn’t survive last week and died. If you can actually HEAR or READ this message, and understand it, you are more fortunate than 3 billion people in the world who can’t see, hear, and read or who suffer from mental retardation.”
Life shouldn’t be about grumbling and complaining, it should be about a million other reasons why we ought to be grateful to God.
The Bible is loaded with verses on giving thanks. For the most part, our problem is that we don’t know what we ought to be thankful for. Instead, we often choose to complain about anything and everything. We live in a culture of complaint. The Book of Psalms contain a treasury of words that call thanksgiving a sacrifice.
Why is it a sacrifice to give thanks to the LORD? Because being thankful forces us to take our eyes off ourselves and focus them on the LORD. Giving up our self-centered lives is the kind of sacrificial surrender that pleases God.

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