Monthly Archives: April 2007

Vancouver Sun: Dancer's Search for Cultural Identity – features Alvin Erasga Tolentino

Vancouver Sun: Dancer's Search for Cultural Identity – features Alvin Erasga Tolentino

I first met
Alvin Erasga Tolentino about 6 years ago at the Vancouver Public Library.  Alvin was starting up his new dance company Co. Erasga Dance
and he would use the computers in the Central Branch computer lab where
I worked at the time.  We hit it off, and he invited me to some of
his shows… and over the years, I have both attended and reviewed some
of his works (see
Alvin Tolentino's “She Said” – featuring vibrant contemporary Dance

He is considered one of the top Asian-Canadian dance choreographers.

This weekend he is featured at the Telus Studio Theatre in the Chan
Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC, on both Saturday evening and
Sunday afternoon.

Check out the Vancouver Sun article written by Kevin Griffin about Alvin on Saturday:

Kevin Griffin,
Vancouver Sun

Published: Saturday, April 28, 2007


By Co. Erasga

Telus Studio Theatre in the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC

– – –

Alvin Erasga Tolentino was in the process of creating Field 1, eyebrows
were raised in the Philippines. Even the Filipino choreographer who
commissioned Tolentino was concerned about an outsider, who had lived
in North America for years, creating a dance work about rice, a food
staple utterly central to the way of life in the Philippines.

however, was confident, trusting his intuition. On a trip home to the
country of his birth five years ago, he realized he had to find a way
to synthesize the years he spent learning ballet and modern dance in
Canada with the memories and feelings he had from growing up for the
first 12 years of his life in the Philippines.

“I had a huge, huge need to turn to my roots,” Tolentino said in an interview.

was just beginning to understand who I was. So, I literally went back
to Asia to see where I came from and what was happening there.

was an eye opener for me. I really began to formulate in the structure
of my creation and my choreography about what it is like to integrate
that background, those roots, into what I know and into what I have
been transformed into in the Western world.

“Field is the result.”

is performing his reworked version of Field: 1, called Field: Land is
the Belly of Man, at the Telus Studio Theatre in the Chan Centre for
the Performing Arts at the University of B.C. tonight and Sunday.
Tonight's performance is pay-what-you-can in honour of International
Dance Day; Sunday's performance is a gala benefit at $50 a ticket for
the Multicultural Helping House Society.

After this weekend's
performances, Tolentino takes Field: Land to Toronto, Quebec City,
Montreal and Winnipeg. In August, Tolentino will be performing Field:
Land in the Philippines as well as in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

multicultural and international journey of Field: Land started in
Tolentino's birthplace, Quezon City, part of sprawling metropolitan
Manila. As a youngster, he performed in traditional Filipino folk
dancing in elementary school but said one of his strongest memories of
dance was watching an aunt dance flamenco when he was five or six years

The move from Asia to North America occurred because of his
mother, Zenaida, who arrived in Saskatoon to work as a seamstress. But
it took only one visit to Vancouver to convince her that West Coast
winters were preferable to the cold and snow of the Prairies.

Vancouver, Alvin, the eldest of three, attended Notre Dame high school.
Before graduation, he told his parents he wanted to leave the West
Coast to study dance at one of the country's centres of modern dance. On a
trip east, he visited Toronto and went to New York and Montreal, where
he immersed himself as much as possible in the world of modern dance.


Chairman George (Sapounidis) to Rock Beijing!

Chairman George (Sapounidis) to Rock Beijing!

“Chairman George” and “Toddish McWong” finally meet!
Read about “Toddish McWong meets George Sapounidis”

George Sapounidis is a Greek-Canadian who sings in Mandarin
Chinese.  He has become famous in China.  In 2004, he was
featured in the CBC television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat
Choy.”  In February of 2005, I met him when he came to do a Spring
Festival concert for a Chinese audience in the Vancouver suburb of
Burnaby.  We hit it off immediately with our spontaneous wacky
sense of humours and living in the moment styles.  George sent me
the invitation below…. obviously…. he's very excited.

Todd & George pose with Chinese dancers!

Friends !   Hope to see you in Beijing
for our performance.   
George QiaoZhi from Canada
Call  13693364944 after April 29 .  
Ottawa, Canada   April 15, 2007


Performing at:
BEIJING International Cultural Festival 2007
April 30 – May 4, 2007 in
Beijing (Chaoyang Park)  
Apr.30   19:30–21:00  


May.3     09:00–10:30 

May.4     09:00—10:30 

GEORGE and the MINISTERS  (photo attached)
Sapounidis – vocal, guitar, bouzouki
Vince Halfhide – electric
Stuart Watkins –  bass, backing vocal
Murray – drums


For performance details please call Zhu Dan at
13552287798 in Beijing (China Performing Arts Agency).

Sapounidis and his Ottawa-based Canadian rock band Chairman George and the
have been invited

to Beijing to perform in one of China's biggest
international festivals this spring, the MEET IN BEIJING Cultural Festival
Sapounidis and his band will perform
a combination of Chinese folkpop and Greek bouzouki blues. Their repertoire
also includes original songs written and performed by Sapounidis in Mandarin, as
well as Olympic-themed tunes. In addition to singing in Mandarin and
Greek, Sapounidis plays the guitar and the Greek bouzouki which resembles a
Xinjiang instrument called the Dongbula. In 2002 Sapounidis appeared solo
at the Festival for the first time.
MEET IN BEIJING Cultural Festival 2007 is
a month-long gala featuring diversified cultural performances by artistic
troupes from around the world. Chinese performances by top-class arts groups
from different regions in China will also be included.
The Festival is sponsored by the Ministry of
Culture of the People’s Republic of China, the Beijing Municipal Government and
the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and is organized by
the China Performing Arts Agency. The Festival has been held every May since
2000 and has attracted more than a hundred arts groups and exhibitions from all
over the world.
This will be the band's second visit to
China. In October 2006 they performed in Beijing's award-winning rock music
venue Yugong Yishan, at the Nanning International Folk Song Arts
Festival in Guangxi Province, and in Shenzhen. 
Sapounidis also attended the 5th Shanghai Baoshan
International Folk Arts Festival as a solo performer. He was invited by Beijing Television to take part in the annual
performance competition for foreigners and participated in the CCTV4
program Tong Le Wu Zhou. He has submitted original songs for the song
competition for Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. He regularly lectures and
performs in schools and universities in Beijing. Sapounidis and his
band are based in Ottawa, Canada.
For information contact :

1) George Sapounidis aka
“Chairman George”  
   Ottawa :  613 951
   Beijing :  mobile
   Email :   (listen to interview, songs)  (purchase CD) 

2) Han Yi  (Assistant to George Sapounidis)  

    Email :

3) Beijing :  Winston Wang Xiuqin (Deputy
Director, China Performing Arts Agency)
    Mobile : 
About Chairman George and the
Ministers   (Ottawa,
Lead singer and musician George Sapounidis
(Chairman George) is a Chinese folk-singing sensation of Greek descent
who has appeared at international festivals across China, on stage at Beijing's
Forbidden City Concert Hall, the Great Hall of the People and for China Central
Television. He is a polyglot who sings in more than six languages. In 2005 he
was the subject of the award-winning CTV / BBC international television
documentary Chairman George. He was Olympic Torch-Bearer and National
Olympic Committee Assistant with the Chinese Delegation at the Athens 2004
Olympic Games. His CD release  George from Athens to Beijing,
consisting of Chinese and Greek repertoire, was nominated for Best World Music
at the 2005 Canadian Folk Music Awards.  He holds a Ph.D. in mathematical
statistics from the University of Toronto.
Stuart Watkins (electric bass)
has performed at the Athens and Torino Olympics, in Hong Kong at the
international premiere of the film the DaVinci Code, and appears regularly with
the East Village Opera Company out of New York City. This was the house band for
the Miss USA 2006 pageant on NBC television and is currently set to perform in
Peru, South America.
Vince Halfhide (electric guitar) is
originally from Trinidad and is of African, British and Japanese descent. He has
appeared on television and radio and has toured nationally and internationally
across Canada, the U.S. and in Europe as guitarist for many Canadian and
American artists.

Ross Murray (drummer) has been a professional
percussionist and drummer for more than 25 years. He has collaborated with
bands, composers, choreographers, and film makers across Canada and
internationally.  He is also a well-known producer and recording engineer
in Canada.  

CBC Radio Studio One Book Club: featuring Jen Sookfong Lee

CBC Radio Studio One Book Club: featuring Jen Sookfong Lee

The following is from CBC Radio's Sheila Peacock and the CBC Radio Studio One Bookclub website:

Jen Sookfong
Lee with
The End of East

Wednesday May
2, 2007
6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

The CBC Radio Studio One Book Club
takes place in Studio One, in the CBC Broadcast Centre.
Please note we have a new entrance at 775 Cambie Street
(between Robson and Georgia).

The End of East by Jen Sookfong Lee

In celebration of ExplorASIAN 2007, the CBC Radio Studio One Book Club
is pleased to present Jen
Sookfong Lee
on Wednesday, May 2, 6:30 to 8
pm, at the CBC Broadcast Centre.

Her debut novel The End of East
has been garnering great reviews from across the country. It's an
evocative portrait of three generations living in Vancouver's
Chinatown, spanning most of the last century.
Jen Sookfong Lee

Sammy Chan was sure she’d escaped her family obligations
when she fled Vancouver six years ago, but with her sister’s
upcoming marriage, her turn has come to care for their
aging mother. Abandoned by all four of her older sisters,
jobless and stuck in a city she resents, Sammy finds
herself cobbling together a makeshift family history
and delving into stories that began in 1913, when her
grandfather, Seid Quan, then eighteen years old, first
stepped on Canadian soil.

Here's your
opportunity to discuss the art of writing, and the struggles of young
writers, with one of Canada's newest literary stars!

The only way to get in, is to win!
For all the details and to enter online, go to .

check out these Links and reviews.

March 23, 2007

“The End of East is just her start”
Jen Sookfong Lee profiled in 7 section of The Globe and Mail

March 22, 2007
“End of East chronicles immigrants' gamble”
The End of East reviewed in The Georgia Straight

March 22, 2007
“Vivid Vancouver”
The End of East reviewed in NOW Magazine

March 17, 2007
“Uprooted from Vancouver”
The End of East reviewed in The Globe and Mail

March 10, 2007
to the archived conversation of SPiN talking with Sheryl
MacKay on North by Northwest at CBC Radio One's archive,

Battery Opera April 27-29: FUSE, What the Hell, & Bob's Lounge

Battery Opera April 27-29:
FUSE, What the Hell, & Bob's Lounge

battery opera is an eclectic and creative duo surrounded by lots of
creative and elcectic friends.  David McIntosh is of Scottish
descent, Lee Su-Feh is of Chinese descent… They are very neat people
that like to challenge the audience, as well as ensure that everybody
has a good time.  Last year, Lee Su-Feh was listed in the
Vancouver Sun list of influential Chinese-Canadians. The Bob's Lounge
duor of David and Max performed at the 2005 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie
Burns Chinese New Year dinner event.

The following announcement is courtesy of battery opera

battery opera announcements: the revised version

A double-dose of Lee Su-Feh at FUSE!
Friday, April 27
6 to 11pm
$15 admission
Vancouver Art Gallery

1. Su-Feh is a Leaky Heaven Circus collaborator in this upcoming edition of FUSE. 
Leaky Heaven Artistic Director Steven Hill at the helm, collaborators
Jamie Long, Tanya Podlozniuk, Lee Su-Feh and Billy Marchenski will be
set adrift in the House of Oracles. Designers Catherine Hahn and
Stephan Bircher will weave a landscape of sea and wreckage in which
gallery patrons can watch, play and chew the fat on this 3-hour tour.
You're sure to eat this show up!

2. Su-Feh has also created a piece called “Welcome to all the Pleasures” featuring performers
Ali Robson, Amanda Sheather, Alana Gerecke, Stacey Murchison, Amber
Funk Barton, Billy Marchenski, Joseph Jurd, Chris Wright & Chengxin
Wei. If you've seen any of the exquisite candle dances at various Bob's
Lounge gigs, you won't want to miss this!

For the full listing of FUSE events, please visit 

What the hell?
Saturday to Sunday, April 28 to 29
1 – 3 pm
In association with The Dance Centre
A series of dance interventions an happenings instigated by battery opera in celebration of International Dance Day. 
is injected into the midst of life with encounters small and large –
puzzles, amusements and celebrations that sneak up and sprout up on
street corners around downtown. 
are Amanda Sheather, Alana Gerecke, Stacey Murchison, Amber Funk
Barton, Billy Marchenski, Joseph Jurd & Chris Wright. Choreography
by Lee Su-Feh.
Locations to be announced at 
For the full listing of International Dance Day events, please visit

Bob's Lounge
Saturday, April 28
8 until late
No cover, no regrets
Café Montmartre (Main St @ 28th Ave)
Featuring David McIntosh (vocals), Max Murphy (baritone saxiphone), Finn Manniche (cello) & Ben Brown (percussion).
With special guest artists Amber Funk Barton, Sarah Brown, Adrienne Wong & MACHiNeNOiSeY.
as “a louche supergroup”, Bob’s Lounge is at once a highly portable
creative practice, an experimental production format, and a platform
for inclusion and collaboration. Bob's Lounge has appeared in cafés,
clubs, living rooms, roof tops, art galleries and theatres. Guest
artists have included dancers, actors, schuplattlers, sopranos, and
Veda Hille. 
Watch a video (or two) at 

BC Book Prizes annual soirée: I love it… lots of literary connections and prizes!

BC Book Prizes annual soirée: I love it…
– lots of literary connections and prizes!

On Saturday, April 21, 2007, I attended the annual BC Book Prize Soirée at Vancouver
Harbour Centre.  It is one of my favorite literary events of the
year.  Now I can hardly wait for the actual BC Book Prizes Awards
Gala later this year…. check PHOTOS
taken by Deb Martin and myself that are featured on the BC Book Prize Soiré  website. 

I love meeting up with my good friends in the BC literary community… and making new friends!  

BC Book
Prize board member George McWhirter, recently named Vancouver's inaugural
poet laureate, was crowned with a laurel wreath and read a poem for
an appreciative crowd. (photo: Deb Martin)

introduced myself to George McWhirter who last year became Vancouver's
inaugural poet laureate.  I also invited George to be a special
guest for next year's Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner – he was
thrilled.  George told me that while he is “technically” born in
Ireland – his family has a generations long history crossing back and
forth between Ireland and Scotland.  He even shared with me that
his daughter-in-law is Chinese from Singapore…. I think.  I will
have to reconfer with George on that.  When I joked about creating
a “McWong” tartan, George suggested that I could even use the term “Ma
Wong” which in Gaelic means “son of Wong” – but he also knew that “Ma”
was a chinese name meaning “horse.”  “That's my mother's maiden
name!” I exclaimed… I think it will be a great 2008 Gung Haggis Fat
Choy dinner with Vancouver's first poet laureate.

Literary men about town, Todd Wong and Ian Chunn posed with BC Book
Prizes board member Ann-Marie Metten. (photo: Deb Martin)

Metten is a favorite liteary friend of mine. She is an editor for many
publishing houses and magazines in BC… and she is also the Secretary
for BC Book Prizes.  And most important of all… we are two of
the coordinators for the Joy Kogawa House committee, working hard
throughout 2005 and 2006 to find ways to raise the profile of the Save
Kogawa House campaign and fundraise with The Land Conservancy of BC,
who were so impressed with the campaign, that they ultimately stepped
in to lead fundraising and eventually purchase Joy Kogawa House.

The silent
auction featured great stuff, including a gorgeous dragon puppet donated
by the BC Library Association, books, weekend getaways and much more.  (photo: T. Wong)

Silent Auction prizes are always great at the BC Book Prizes Soiree. This beautiful red dragon donated by the BC Library Association was later picked up by Todd Wong to become a new member of the
Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team… Red is definitely one of our
team colours.

BC Book
Prizes Executive Director Bryan Pike and Melanie Reid, successful
bidder of a signed Vancouver Canucks jersey. (photo: Deb Martin)

I put my $140 bid on the Canucks jersey, Melanie Reid warned me that
she would outbid me.  It was a thrill to reconnect with my former
English Drama instructor from Capilano College.  Last year, I met
up with Stan Perskey, my former Political Science instructor from
Capilano College who was also a Book Prize nominee.

At the
end of the evening, Todd Wong showed off his successful bid sheets
with Executive Director Liesl Jauk and BC Book Prizes board president,
Michael Hayward. (photo: Deb Martin)

Other events for BC Book Prizes:

Monday, April 23, 2007
Vancouver reading event at Chapters on
Robson | 7 pm

April 23-27, 2007
BC Book Prizes On Tour: Southern
Kamloops | Salmon Arm | Vernon | Kelowna | Princeton
| Osoyoos | Oliver | Victoria

Thursday, April 26, 2007
Vancouver reading event at Wonder of Words
| 7 pm

Saturday, April 28, 2007
End of
BC Book and Magazine Week

imaginASIAN” Bedtime Stories Collection 2007 – Part 2

imaginASIAN” Bedtime Stories Collection 2007 – Part 2

From the explorASIAN website:

to popular response, we have extended the imaginASIAN program to the
end of May in celebration of Asian Heritage Month in Canada.

invite Canadians of all ages and ethnic backgrounds for their original
bedtime stories that weave together both Asian and Canadian culture.

seeks to generate a new legacy collection of fun, witty, and
imaginative bedtime stories for all Canadian children and in particular
those of Asian background.

Created as part of the 2010 Arts
Now program, the goal of the “imaginASIAN” Bedtime Stories Collection
is to celebrate the unique experience of Canadians of Asian descent.

hope these new bedtime stories will help to strengthen family bonds,
instill pride in young people’s cultural identity, and help to further
greater understanding between the ethnic communities. In addition,
Ricepaper Magazine seeks to revitalize the storytelling tradition and
to stimulate creative writing in children and adults as part of an
overall desire to improve literacy and reading skills in these

The story criteria are as follows:
– Language: English
– Subject matter: must be suitable for children aged 5 and under
– Must feature at least one prominent Asian character
– Story should be between 300 to 1000 words in length (no images or graphics)
– Submissions should be created in electronic form in TEXT or MS WORD format
– Submissions should be sent by email to:

The submission deadline for imaginASIAN is May 31, 2007 (Part 2)

selection of qualified stories will be posted on these websites:,, and Some of the stories
will also be selected to be featured and read on CBC Radio One and at
the explorASIAN festival celebrating Asian Heritage Month in May 2007.
A selection of the best stories will be published in 2007.

Presented by the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop and Ricepaper Magazine.

Sponsored by CBC Radio One, explorASIAN, and Vancouver Public Library.

The imaginASIAN Bedtime Stories Collection is made possible with the financial support of Arts Now.

For more details, please visit our website at

Vancouver Courier: Contract with China…. a story about the 1887 anti-Chinese riot in Vancouver

Vancouver Courier: Contract with China

– a story about the 1887 anti-Chinese riot in Vancouver

Check out this story from the Vancouver Courier


Immigrants Mah Shou Hing and
Lee Dye were photographed in 1892 in Vancouver .

Vancouver Public
Library VPL8584

A contract with China

By Lisa
Smedman-staff writer

On a
snowy February evening in 1887, a crew of loggers retired to their tents
after a day spent clearing the dense forest that would one day be
Vancouver 's West End .
They laid aside axes and eight-foot-long crosscut saws and stripped off their
waterproof coats. Before bedding down, they peeled off damp and sweaty
checked shirts and trousers, pulled off muddy boots to change their wool
socks, and tucked valuables like silver pocket watches into trunks for the

crew was just like the dozens of other work crews that were clearing land so
it could be subdivided and sold, except for one small detail.

were Chinese.

night, a mob, said by one eyewitness to number close to 300 men, made their
way to the spot where the Chinese were camped. Lanterns in hand, singing the
U.S. Civil War Union marching song “John Brown's Body” they
converged on the tents around midnight.

H. Gallagher was an eyewitness to what followed. More than 40 years later,
when interviewed at the City of Vancouver
Archives , his memories of that night remained vivid.

was snow on the ground, it was quite clear, and we could see what we were
doing,” Gallagher said. “There were many tough characters among the
crowd, navvys who had been working for [Canadian
Pacific Railway contractor Andrew] Onderdonk,
hotheaded, thoughtless, strong, and rough…”

the Chinamen saw all these men coming they were terrified… the rioters
grabbed the tents by the bottom, and upset them, the
war cry 'John Brown's Body' still continuing. The Chinamen did not stop to
see; they just ran. Some went dressed, some not; some with shoes, some with
bare feet. The snow was on the ground and it was cold.”

camp was located near the foot of modern
Burrard Street ,
where a spring tumbled over a bluff into Burrard
Inlet. Several of the Chinese fled in this direction, choosing a 20-foot jump
into bitterly cold water over facing the mob.

tide was in, they had no choice, and you could hear them going plump, plump,
plump, as they jumped into the salt water. Scores of them went over the
cliff,” said Gallagher.

The mob
tore down a wooden cook house, heaped the bedding and belongings of the
Chinese into piles and set them on fire.

F.R. Glover,
a reporter for the Vancouver News, saw the riot first-hand. The newspaper
broke the story in its Feb. 25 edition, one day after the riot.

The mob
had formed after a Thursday night meeting at city hall, organized by
businessmen determined to “keep the city clear of the Celestials.”
Their aim was to put the Chinese on a boat and send them to
Victoria .


“Mr. Prime Minister, are you listening?”

Media Advisory: April 20, 2007

“Mr. Prime Minister, are you listening?”
Head Tax Families Begin Community TV Initiative

Vancouver BC
– “Mr. Prime Minister, are you listening?” is an opportunity for
citizens to express publicly their concerns to the Prime Minister. The event is
organized by Head Tax Families Society of Canada who are asking participants to
contribute new and used (clean) bedding items (blankets, sheets, pillow cases,
etc..) and toiletries (soap, shampoo, towels, face clothes, etc..) to the
Downtown Eastside Women's Centre homeless shelter.

When: 1:00pm Saturday, April 21, 2007 (taping starts at 1:30pm)

Where: Carnegie Community Centre, Main Auditorium,
401 Main St. at Hastings,
Vancouver BC                

The video recording of public comments for up to two minutes will be
scheduled for broadcast on the cable community channel on Shaw cable 4 as well
as delivered on DVD to the Prime Minister's Office. The Association of Chinese
Canadians for Equality and Solidarity Society (ACCESS TV) is providing
personnel, equipment and broadcast time.

– 30 –

Contact: Sid Tan – 603-783-1853