Monday, January 20, 2020

On Retreat with Bhikkhu Bodhi

I was reading The Noble Eightfold Path, which was the first discourse of the Buddha.  I'd read various translations of it, but the one by Bhikkhu Bodhi is my favorite.  I've read his translation at least three times.  I was reading it again when a notice popped up on Facebook that Bhikkhu Bodhi himself would be leading a retreat on the Eightfold Path in La Puente at Lankarama Temple.  Well, I just couldn't believe my karma!

It was a five day retreat filled with meditation, dhamma instruction, pali chanting, blessings and offerings.  It was a great way to start the year.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

My First Dad Role

Last weekend, I did a short film called The Laziest Susan written and directed by Andrea Suwito (above with script).

I had a blast acting in a story about a Chinese American family having dinner where one daughter is favored over another.

It was quite monumental for me as I did my very first "Dad" role. I guess it was meant to be that a man of a certain age would be playing fathers. I had the chance to act with these fine young actors Ella Chen (left) and Jocelyn Liu (center).  Such fun.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Revisiting Filipinos on a Saturday Night

A few years ago, I discussed the phrase "You look like a Filipino on a Saturday night" and its reference in a Raymond Chandler Novel. (See video above with host G. Tongi and Cecilia Mangeurra Brainard)

It was a good discussion on how Filipinos were viewed  in the earlier part of the last century.  It was not a positive view.  I'm glad to be living now, creating what it means to be Filipino American.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Portraits at the Proud Festival

I took these portraits in 2017 at the Downtown LA Proud festivals.  Their faces are intriguing to me.

The Color Purple, 2017

Girl with Freckles, 2017

The Smirk, 2017

Friday, September 13, 2019

Write with Me!

I'm teaching the short story form at UCLA Extension. Please join me.  Classes begin on October 3. I'm working out of the downtown Los Angeles campus. More information HERE.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Vulnerability NOW!

I'd been taking these acting workshops through the SAG-AFTRA conservatory.  I took two workshops that required immediate intimacy.  Right. Now. 

Within 30 minutes in a room of complete strangers, I had to cry, love, yearn and regret. 

I delivered. That's what actors do, but I had to reflect on how each and every time actors are asked to be "authentic."  By being authentic, we lay it down, offer the most intimate moments of our lives through our bodies, speech and minds.  

After each acting experience, I'd felt, in a way, closer to something higher than myself. Was it God? Or Enlightenment? Or an elevated sense of self?

When I was doing AIDS work, some of the most spiritual times of my life were connecting with someone who was dying. There was no wall between us, it was just two human beings connecting at a core level.

That's what those acting workshops resembled--a core level of connecting.  The director and casting people were EXPECTING to connect on a deeper level, so this cold place with strangers because a temple of sorts. For 10 minutes--the time it took to act my scene--I felt something sacred.  

Who knew at an acting workshop, I'd be "taken to church." It was a nice place to be.

Friday, August 30, 2019

What I Learned through the SAG-AFTRA Conservatory

I decided to check out the SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles Conservatory. For $45, members can access all sorts of workshops on acting, casting, self-care, technology, and more! I was surprised at the variety of classes offered.  I've made several sessions thus far.  Here are some of my takeaways.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

When Moments Come Together

Recently, Skylight Books, where I've hosted for 18 years, had a staff showcase.  It's an opportunity for Skylight staff to show off their talents.  I showed a painting (pictured), while my colleague Arlo sang.  I like how our talents meet in the above picture: the guy singing in a hat is being admired by a painting of guy in a hat. Arlo confessed that he saw my painting earlier in the day, and he may have subconsciously wore his hat because of my painting.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019


I haven't had acting headshots in nearly 15 years.  If I'm going to start acting again, I decided to finally get them.  The photographer is the amazing Alexis Rhone Fancher.

I was fourteen when I got my very first headshots. I got my first agent at 16 and got into the unions by 17.  I got my BFA in acting. I thought I would be acting forever. However, the roles were few and far between, and the roles pretty much sucked.

I did my own performance work, which I loved, but found my creative urges could be quenched through writing.  Leaving acting to write was one of the best decision I made.

Now, I feel the urge to go back to my first love of acting.  We'll see what happens.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Story Read in Hi-Fi

This is the first time that I'd been fully recorded reading a short story. If you're not into reading and would rather be read to, here's a video for you.

I'm reading from my short story Music Heard in Hi-Fi, which was published in Sunday Salon. It was a joy reading at Sunday Jump, a monthly open mic in Historic Filipinotown.