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BLOG: If you want to last, put yourself first! — My 2016 roadmap to de-stressing

BLOG: If you want to last, put yourself first! — My 2016 roadmap to de-stressing

By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly

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Thao Tran proudly exhibits the first steelhead he caught in July 1994 while fly-fishing on the North Fork Stillaguamish River near Oso. (Photo provided by Thao Tran)

Did you smile or sigh when reflecting on 2015?

Many tend to glance at their bank balance, thinking of a nice new car or a house. Some think about job advancement or finding love. I wonder how many out there would count having good health as a wonderful gift? If you do, you are perhaps one of the few smart ones. Frankly, without health, we can’t do much. Other accomplishments would quickly be overshadowed when we are sick.

A big question people Google at the end of 2015 is: How to manage stress? If you know how to manage your anxiety, depression, and anger, you should celebrate because you possess an unusual ability, one in which many others lack.

What grade would you give yourself on managing stress in 2015?

I assume most people who surf the internet must be giving themselves Cs or Ds.

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Consider doing a paper craft like origami to de-stress, which tai chi instructor Yijiao Hong’s daughter, Anna Koskinen, is demonstrating (Photo provided by Yijiao Hong)

I give myself a solid B+, and I am shooting for an A– in 2016. It requires tremendous self-discipline, self-acceptance, and self-awareness to handle stress well.

I credit my friends for inspiring me with these priceless revelations. Their life lessons have transformed my life.

1. Avoid the stock market

I have watched friends go insane and get sick because of the volatility of the stock market.

If you are not in the finance business, don’t look at the ticker every day. Those numbers that go up and down will make you too excited, exhausted, regretful, disappointed, sad, and frustrated. It’s hard to have peace of mind if you are obsessed with how much money you are making or losing every day.

“Worse come to worse, just sell your stocks if it doesn’t give you much joy,” a friend of mine advised.

Another option is to get a reputable money manager to oversee your portfolio. It costs a fee, but it’s worth it to have your health and mind back. The other solution is to invest in something steadier and longer term, such as real estate and index funds.

2. Let go of anxiety

It’s important for us to accept the fact that no matter how good of a job we do, other people might do it better. The important thing is to try our best and not worry about others.

If you don’t get the results you want, don’t get upset. Instead, reward yourself for the effort and value the fringe benefits, such as the relationships you sustained and the knowledge you gained.

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Playing with pets is a great way to de-stress. Just make sure your furry friend can actually muddle through the entire hike! (Photo by Stacy Nguyen/NWAW)

I know it’s easy to tell people to let go, but it’s hard to do, especially when you or your loved ones are really sick. It’s hard not to worry. Fear of dying creates feelings of stress and loss of appetite and sleep.

Conventional wisdom states that those who are affected should be positive and hopeful. My friend, a math professor who had advanced mantle cell lymphoma, had a different approach. First, he was not afraid of the disease.

“I was optimistic though. Basically, I didn’t accept [that] I was sick, psychologically, and tried to do the normal things. I concentrated on my math,” he said. “It’s a good way to keep my mind away from the disease.”
Working on math made him happy. He channeled his energy. He focused on what he could control, not what he couldn’t.

Author Eckhart Tolle said, “Worry pretends to be necessary, but serves no useful purpose.”

It takes a lot of practice to step back and not let fears and bitterness consume you. Practice, practice, and practice.

3. Recognize sources of stress

If you are an alcoholic or drug addict, admit it and recognize that you have caused yourself and others pain. Take initiatives to change your life. If you are in a demanding job like mine, identify factors that cause fears and frustrations. One of our challenges is continuously presenting interesting columns and editorial topics. My solution is to develop new blog’s themes every few weeks. Having topics decided upon in advance makes me feel much more relaxed and confident in my work.

4. Don’t blame others or yourself

What happens to us sometimes doesn’t have any rhyme or reason. Problems just meander into life when we least expect them to. Overanalyzing your life’s events might paralyze your mind.

Some play the blame game, driving themselves and their loved ones crazy.

Forgive yourself and others. Move on. I love the way my friend, who got laid off, said, “It’s one of those life lessons for me.” She laughed. “I still expect to get fired at some point in my life,” she added jokingly. What a refreshing vision!

When Seattle University Father Steve Sundborg suffered a heart attack years ago, he said, “It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.” How many of you think of a heart attack as a gift?

5. Don’t go down to the wire

The late Sen. Ted Kennedy took his work in the Senate seriously. He always picked his suit and tie the night before going to the Senate. His rituals were part of his routine to prepare himself mentally to deal with Congress the following day.

Who would dare to fire me for having a late deadline for my stories? But no, I choose not to. I usually hand in my blog on Mondays, not Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

6. Incorporate strengths of different beliefs

I am not a religious person, but I embrace multiple religious philosophies. They enable me to adapt to changes quickly, comfort myself when I need to, and open my mind to more possibilities beyond the horizon. Stress tends to limit one’s thinking and actions.

I embrace Buddhism — its compassion, long-term vision, and meditation practices. I follow the Bible’s 10 Commandments.

“Don’t just see a baby who is just born,” said my friend, who is studying Buddhism for her doctorate. “Take a long view. Imagine the day he dies.”

7. Find a sanctuary and thoroughly savor it

Slow your mind down when it is racing. Locate a soothing spot in your home or office, where you can relax, pray, meditate, and reflect freely on the present.

8. Take walking breaks every hour

Technology has enabled us to take regular breaks. Just program your computer or phone to remind you to stop working, to drink water, and to take short walks — whether you go just outside your office or into the woods.

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Don’t discount the value of literature that specifically reminds you to be happy! (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

9. Find hobbies and play hard, play often

Many of my friends say they like to read or work out at the gym in their spare time. But reading or working out are not exactly ‘playing.’

Playing is the best method of de-stressing. It’s not goal-oriented. It’s an important source of relaxation and stimulation.

It’s never too late to find your passion for playing. It can be hula dancing, fishing, yoga, horse-back riding, or playing with pets.

10. Change the routine creatively

How do I avoid long meetings and lunches?

Last Saturday, my friend and I lunched at a restaurant next to the YMCA gym in West Seattle so that we
could chat and walk around a track for half an hour after eating.

I felt I achieved a lot in one day, in mind and body.

When friends visit my office during the summer, I often ask, “Would you like to take a walk in the International District?” Usually, I get positive responses.

If you want to last, put yourself first! (end)

Assunta Ng can be reached at assunta@nwasianweekly.com.

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 35 No 3 | 1/16-1/22Comments (0)

BLOG: The many faces of Cambodia  (Part 3)

BLOG: The many faces of Cambodia (Part 3)

This is the part three of Assunta Ng’s three-part Cambodia series.

By Assunta Ng

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A museum displays a shrine to elephants, which are a sacred animal in Cambodia. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Dispelling safety myths

“Is Cambodia safe?” Many readers asked me this after reading my first two blogs about my recent trip with my husband last November.

It is surprising that many have this misconception. While some may have concerns traveling to Cambodia, its tourism has actually increased 17 percent in 2013 and 7 percent last year. Just in Angkor, there are more than one million visitors every year.

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The garb worn by guards at the Royal Palace are bright and multi-colored. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Notably, the Killing Fields Museum, an institution that remembers Cambodia’s notorious genocide 40 years ago, is the number one tourist spot in the capital, Phnom Penh.

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Ladies-in-waiting or handmaidens to the queen also wore colorful dress, one for each day of the week. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

While our 5-day trip was full of fun and adventures, our tour guide warned us that pickpockets are huge in Cambodia. I noticed some tourists put their backpack in front of their body rather than carrying it behind.

Don’t expose your money is a good rule anywhere you visit. Don’t go into dark areas or walk around in the wee hours of the night by yourself. I always wear flat shoes when I travel — in case I need to run for my life.

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The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh was constructed in the 1860s. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Cambodia’s challenge is alleviating poverty. Crimes and poverty are usually linked together. (Its poverty rate is at 19 percent, only better than Burma’s 26 percent.)

I was wrong in assuming that human misery is only confined in Cambodia’s genocide museum.

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A cultural dancer at the National Museum’s theater (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

One night, we walked back to our hotel after watching a dance show at the National Museum’s theater. Two homeless families were sleeping on both sides of the street just one block from the Royal Palace. There was a baby and kids with the parents, sleeping side-by-side on a torn rag.

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A mother and child, who are homeless, sleeping in the street (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

On the other side were men chatting before bedtime. It was hard to watch.

Friends who visited Cambodia have all share stories about relentless beggars.

During our trip, several kids with innocent sad eyes swarmed over our tuk-tuk (a motorcycle with passenger seats in the back). The guide pointed to people sitting in chairs under a tree.

“Their parents train kids to beg.” Some adults hire kids to go out just to beg. Beggars, young and old, are experienced in their task.

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Panhandlers are a common site in Cambodia’s capital. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

“Give me money to go to school,” one 12-year-old girl said in English. Another begged me to buy the souvenirs from her. As soon as I said yes, another girl and boy suddenly appeared.

“Buy two from me and two from her,” the boy said in English. Rather than simply being skilled in negotiation, these kids have a street survival instinct, which grows out of desperate poverty.

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A museum display of Khmer Rouge victims’ clothing (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Even the most ordinary Cambodians know how to exploit tourists for a buck.

Poverty inspires greed. We got lost inside an Angkor temple. A security guard helped us to get out of a maze.

“Do I get a tip?” he asked afterwards. We gave him $2 USD, and he was happy.

Another time, we asked the tuk-tuk driver to make stop at a hotel across from ours. “That will be $2,” he replied.

In general, though, I the people I met left good impressions.

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Signage that details the terror enacted by the Khmer Rouge on its prisoners (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Visiting a tragic and violent history

I remember I had chills when I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., in 2004, even though there were no real dead bodies or skeletons. The Killing Fields site is famous for its rawness, with thousands of real victims’ skulls and skeletons making up a tower.

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Within this structure are human remains, victims of the Khmer Rouge. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

The difference between Cambodia’s and Germany’s genocide, as many have said, was that Hitler targeted Jews while the Khmer Rouge killed its own people — more than two million victims.

I hate horror movies. You can understand why I have resisted visiting sites of genocide. What if I got nightmares from sensing unsettling souls dying in terror? It took courage for me to confront Cambodia’s past. Finally, we went, dragging our heels to step inside a haunted building.

Through the hotel, we hired Pat, a tour guide, a university graduate with a degree in tourism.

In her mid 20s, Pat spoke fluent English. The tuk-tuk ride took 40 minutes, kicking up a dust on the road. At one time, the road was so bumpy and narrow, our tuk-tuk stopped. The driver told us to get out and walk so his vehicle was light enough to turn onto another road.

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The remains of children killed by the Khmer Rouge is bordered by fencing that displays memorial ribbons. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

When we reached the museum, (the Khmer Rouge had used a former cemetery for Cambodian Chinese to conduct killings), Pat sat us down and narrated the place’s history.

“Enough.” I stopped her after 20 minutes.

It was sickening to listen to tales of human destruction. I avoided looking at the skeletons up close.

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The “killing tree,” where children were beaten is memorialized with hanging ribbons (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

“One more place I have to take you,” said Pat. It was the Tuol Sleng Prison, a former public school where victims were held before they were sent to the death camp.

“What were you two talking about?” I asked, inquiring about Pat and our driver.

“He wants $5 USD more,” Pat said. “I said no because it’s on the way.”

“Tell him OK,” I responded.

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Within this structure are human remains, victims of the Khmer Rouge. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

The prison was actually a torturing center. It’s currently a museum displaying photos of interrogation and tools of torture. We only saw less than half of the exhibits, enough to make me nauseous. Outside the prison building, 85-year-old Chum Mey, the last prison survivor out of 12,000 killed or trucked to the Killing Fields, was selling his autobiography.

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85-year-old Chum Mey holds a copy of his autobiography. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

The only reason he was not executed was because he was a mechanic — after torturing him for months, the regime found that they needed someone to fix their cars. He was one of seven survivors at the prison who were spared death because of special skills.

I was delighted to meet Mey and buy his book, which was translated into English. Just like my Cambodian friends, Sam Ung, owner of Phnom Penh Restaurant and our former writer Meng Kwong, who both survived and escaped to America, Mey symbolizes the triumph of the human spirit.

I was so relieved when we left Phnom Penh for Angkor. (end)

This is the part three of Assunta Ng’s three-part Cambodia series.

Tips to travel for visiting Cambodia

1. A visa is required, although this was not stated on its website.

It is easiest to apply for an e-visa. Have copies on hand though. At the airport, an official asked for one. Good thing my husband was prepared. If you don’t give them a copy, you might have to pay more.

2. See Angkor over Phnom Penh.

If I travel to Cambodia again, I will skip Phnom Penh and focus on Angkor, as there were much to see there. Besides Killing Fields, the Royal Palace, and the National Museum, there are few other attractions in the capital. But the logic is if you’re visiting Cambodia for the first time, you might as well see both. However, if you are lacking time or have to choose, I recommend Angkor.

3. Combine trips when traveling to Southeast Asia.

Cambodia shares borders with a few countries that are reachable by bus or a short flight. Combine your trips and also visit Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, or Myanmar.

4. Avoid duplicating destinations and routes.

I was so thankful we didn’t need to return to the capital for departure to Hong Kong. We arrived in Phnom Penh and left from Siem Reap. The drive from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is time-consuming and bumpy though, even on big buses.

5. Tour guides are always available, but quality of service may vary.

It’s easy to hire inexpensive tour guides in Cambodia, about $10 USD for 45 minutes or $30 USD for four hours. Not all of them are good though. The one recommended by the hotel was better than the one we hired at Angkor who deliberately took us shopping (many guides just wait outside the gates soliciting business.). Shopping’s a no-no for me. And not all guides know to give interesting information. We often enjoyed it much more when we went on our own.

6. Stay in hotels, not guest houses.

Guest houses can be as low as $12 USD a night. You pay for what you get though, like suffering mosquitoes bites. And you won’t get any service. I prefer English-speaking hotels with well-trained and helpful staff. For instance, our hotel helped us set up our cell phones for local calls and gave us vital information.

7. Just bring money from home.

U.S. currency is popular in Cambodia. No need to worry about the exchange rate.

8. Avoid summer trips.

Cambodia is hot year-round. It’s best to travel between November and January, if you’re sensitive to heat.

9. Stay away from bikes.

Because of the heat, riding bikes with a helmet can be miserable. Tuk-tuks are better. The tuk-tuk has protective curtains to guard against the heat. Sometimes it’s even breezy in the passenger seats.

10. Plan, plan, plan.

Visiting Cambodia is not like going to Paris. You have to plan ahead. Talk to people who have been there. Know what you like to do in order to get the best experience.

Read part 1 at http://tinyurl.com/nncv6oe. And part 2 at http://tinyurl.com/z2cdrbz.

Assunta Ng can be reached at assunta@nwasianweekly.com.

 

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 35 No 2 | 1/9-1/15Comments (0)

BLOG: “Eat, play, give,” should not only be for December

BLOG: “Eat, play, give,” should not only be for December

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Northwest Asian Weekly employees Kelly, Rosita, and Bonnie at potluck. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

By Assunta Ng

If you whine about being lonely during the holidays, or if you don’t have many party invitations, or if your friends and family have been deserting you from Christmas to New Year’s day, you need to read this blog.

If you are an out-of-state transplant, working for Amazon or Google, and have no family roots here, you need to read my blog.

If you are the type who sits for hours reading your cell phone to numb your feelings with no dates at the end of the year, I’ve got news for you.

It’s time for you to take action to change your life. Here is a list of things you can do not only during the holidays but during the rest of the year.

Organize your potlucks

Have an interesting theme. Start with an Asian or other ethnic potluck with family and other relatives or colleagues. You can organize veggies or low-fat potlucks if you worry about dieting.

Ask each friend to invite five friends. Three or four organizers will produce a room of enthusiastic guests so you won’t carry the burden of doing all the work.

The Northwest Asian Weekly staff is famous for its Christmas tradition – a sumptuous potluck. This year, our potluck showcased staff being outstanding cooks, adventurous with food and generous to share. Food is about sharing; it tastes better when you are dining with others.

At least seven staff members out of 12 brought along two dishes each, and they made them personally, ranging from Taiwanese, Japanese, Cantonese, Northern Chinese, Vietnamese, and American. Most of them were entrees, not desserts. (Make sure you don’t end up like many non-Asian potlucks I have experienced, with guests mostly bringing salads and desserts bought from grocery stores. And one notorious potluck I attended only served cheese, bread and wine. I was the only one who brought real food – barbecued pork.)

Confession: I didn’t make any. (I just ordered from restaurants in the Chinatown International District.) The quantity and quality of food was amazing. The amount of leftovers was enough for my next five dinners.
But no!!!

“We already talked about who would take the leftovers,” one said. They had fun in negotiating the food, I suppose. Hey, where was my share?
“I want the beef, some chicken, and some of the fungus so I don’t have to cook dinner tonight,” I said.

As soon as I said that, my desire was granted. Someone boxed the goodies for me. Everyone was happy with delicious leftovers to take home.

Be Santa

A lot of bosses think their employees want a turkey or nice china for Christmas. Wrong. Employees would rather receive money than gifts from their employer.

I am fond of being Santa. It gives me great joy at the end of the potluck to say, “Ho, ho, ho!” and hand each staff member a red envelope with money. We have done it every year even in tough times when the economy tanked from 2008-2012. Yes, we make sacrifices and I hope my team appreciates.

On Dec. 27, a New York Times article, “Give, if you know what’s good for you” stated the health benefits in giving. The research showed that for those who bought things for themselves compared to those who bought gifts for others or donated money for good causes, there was a clear difference in the subjects’ blood pressure. Those who spent money on themselves showed no difference in their blood pressure; those who spent money on others showed “a significant reduction in blood pressure.” Yes, “financial generosity was linked to lower blood pressure.”

“I am not Bill Gates,” you might argue, and you don’t have money to spare. Everyone can be Santa with a heart of charity. What about making something for those who are in need? Bake cookies or bread for a homeless shelter. Clean out your bookshelf and donate books you left cold over the years to the library. Take out CDs, DVDs that you have forgotten in your storage and send them to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Visit those who are sick and in need, especially those who couldn’t go out to enjoy holiday activities. Send notes and cards to old friends you have not connected with in ages.

Entertain yourself

I couldn’t believe the number of singles going to see the movie “Star Wars.” Learn to enjoy your own company. Going to movies yourself is just like watching television at home alone. You shouldn’t be self-conscious.

Instead, you should be content that you can afford to watch movies anytime you like.

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Kaci Aitchison performs in “The Nutcracker”

Try something new

I haven’t watched the Pacific Northwest Ballet for 15 years and never at McCaw Hall. This year, my son and I decided to see “The Nutcracker.” It was a lovely time with my son. We were delighted to see Asian performers in the show and were impressed by the entire show.

Learn a new skill

Teach yourself how to paint, knit, dance, play the piano, or speak a new language through the Internet. One of my staff  members taught herself how to speak Korean. She now has many Korean friends including a boyfriend.

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Aquarium lights at Bellevue Botanical Garden. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Enjoy the lights with friends

The other day, we drove friends to see Christmas lights in town. This was not the type of activity they would normally do.

The rest of the year might not have light shows. Still, there are garden shows, concerts and other events you can invite friends to come along and enjoy. Just check newspapers, television or the Internet. There are enough new things happening in the city, you just have to explore them.

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Dragon sculpted with holiday lights at Bellevue Botanical Garden. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

People frequently ask what is my New Year’s resolution. Eat, give and play all year round sounds terrific, I reply. I was able to achieve that in December, and I intend to do so in 2016. I have worked hard all my time.

So I want to play more even with lots of challenges! And one more thing: count my blessings every day. (end)

Posted in Features 1, Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 35 No 1 | 1/2-1/8Comments (0)

BLOG: Create magic — Gifts from your heart

BLOG: Create magic — Gifts from your heart

By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly

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Jerry Lee and friends donate chicken and goodies to the ACRS food bank every Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Photo by Rick Takagi)

I discontinued the tradition of sending out Christmas cards long before e-cards became popular. Why I stopped was because I found it pointless to send a card with someone’s name and my signature; and partly, I was lazy.

I reciprocated by sending out a card to someone who just scribbled their name on a card like a movie star, while I had to spend an endless amount of energy trying to figure out who the heck sent it. If you don’t want to do it, you might as well forget it—don’t bother sending out those cards. You are still my friend if I don’t get one from you.

Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

With Mother Teresa’s wisdom, I do give a few gifts with a great deal of love and thoughtfulness during the year, and not just the end of the year. Most of us have misunderstood that gifts have to cost a lot of money to make the receiver happy.

In fact, some materialistic folks think if the gift is free, it probably is no good at all. Well, there are gifts you can give, which are not flickering diamond rings or a brand new car, and yet it means a lot to both the giver and the recipient. Call them magical gifts or gifts from the heart. Those gifts sometimes create wonders beyond imagination.

Last year, in Contilia Retirement Home in Essen, Germany, someone came up with a brilliant idea of exciting its residents and bringing them joy. They created a calendar by having its seniors dressing up as stars in memorable movie scenes such as James Bond, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and John Travolta. In the process of making the calendar, it produced a tremendous amount of fun, comfort, and warmth for the organizers, models, and their families.

About 5,000 were printed for families and friends of the retirement home.

Here is my list of 10 magical gifts which you can easily duplicate every year.

1. Forgiveness

It’s human nature to hold old grudges.  Forgiveness shows a gender difference between woman and man. Men can forget, but not forgive; whereas women can forgive, but never forget. Pals, we have work to do!

Although it is hard to do, forgiveness is one of the most generous gifts you can offer to your enemies or your loved ones. Forgiveness cannot be granted half-heartedly, it has to be complete before you can free yourself of hate, revenge, and negative energy consuming you without peace.

After you forgive, find a way to make up.

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“You need to lose some weight” was the first thing I said to my friend whom I hadn’t seen for years. She just recovered from a heart attack.

“You are mean!” she fired back. She knew I was right, but resisted my advice. So the fight began. I didn’t know exactly how we made up. But we did.

Weeks later, she mailed me a knitted scarf from San Francisco. I complained again, “It’s the wrong color. I asked for blue color.” I knew she did it intentionally. Literally, I started the fight again like two mischievous kids wrestling to beat the heck out of each other.

Then, magic kicked in as soon as I put the scarf on my neck. I felt her love—each stitch I saw reminded me how she did them with pride and joy for our friendship. It’s still my favorite scarf, I told her.

3. Show kindness and support

My former classmate, living in Australia, decided to celebrate her battle and recovery from cancer by taking a long trip to see her friends in Canada. My husband and I would drive up to Richmond, B.C., just for dinner to see her. We were there at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and left at 8 p.m. the same night so I could work the next day, Wednesday (our print day).

No words could possibly describe our joy when we hugged each other since we parted 40-plus years ago. She was so excited and touched that she shared the story to our classmates that I made a special trip just to be with her.

4. Buy a goat (really!)

Rosario Carroll likes to donate money to Heifer International in her classmates’ name. For $120, it can change a family’s life in Africa. The gift will be used to buy a goat so the family can get food, and also sell the milk if they have extra.

Offering a gift in a friend’s name is a win-win situation. www.heifer.org

5. Return the blessings to strangers

Know the source of your blessings when giving your donations. Bonnie Miller’s son once had a cleft lip and she didn’t even know it at the time. The baby’s lip was healed inside the womb – a once in a million case, according to her doctor.

She donates every year to organizations which provide free surgery to kids with cleft lips.

6. Write for gratitude

Write a song, poem or thank-you letter to a teacher, mentor and friend, telling the person how much s/he helped you in the past.

7. Buy food and volunteer in a food bank

Collect and volunteer to give out toys at churches and other non-profit organizations.

8. Pay for groceries for the needy

Quite a few times, I take friends to go grocery shopping at Uwajimaya in December so they can have a fridge full of goodies during festivals to feed their families.

9. Offer heartfelt services

Cook a meal for an elderly or sick one. Clean someone’s house that is in need of a makeover. Cut someone’s hair if they are not able to go to a salon. Or offer to treat for lunch!

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Imitating Marilyn Monroe for the Contilia Retirement Home calendar

10. Show seniors they are significant

Organize Christmas carols at senior centers, nursing homes, and hospitals. Spend time talking, listening, sharing stories, and sharing food. (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 52 | 12/19-12/25Comments (0)

BLOG: Adventures in Cambodia — Six reasons why you should visit Cambodia (Part 1)

BLOG: Adventures in Cambodia — Six reasons why you should visit Cambodia (Part 1)

By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly

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Angkor Wat (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

“Why go to a backward country?” my friends reacted when they heard that my husband and I were going to Cambodia.

“Are you crazy going alone and not with a tour?” another asked.

Why people think Cambodia is not a safe country puzzles me. It could have to do with Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime, which committed the notorious genocide, as later portrayed in the film “The Killing Fields.” But that was 40 years ago, 1975-79.

Cambodia was also made famous because movie star Angelina Jolie did a movie there, “Tomb Raider”, and even adopted a Cambodian son as a result. This spot is a must-see in Cambodia.  (More about this in my second article.)

Prior to my tour, I didn’t know what to expect as I knew so little about Cambodia (except I have quite a few Cambodian friends). But it turned out to be a relaxing and adventurous journey compared to my overwhelming England trip last June.

Fascinating country

“Cambodia has amazing history,” commented a few Seattle friends.
Cambodia is a country full of multicultural influence including Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian, French, and Chinese. One of the things I didn’t know about Cambodia was that it was a French protectorate for more than 90 years since 1863.

If you talk to Cambodians, you will find out that many hated the French. But Hong Kong Chinese would likely tell you some of the good things the British did, included designing a social welfare system for seniors and affordable housing during its colonial days.

“The French did nothing good,” said our driver whom we hired to take us from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. “They were just interested in money (getting taxes) and control.”

Ironically, Paris was under attack while we were in Phnom Penh. I felt bad that our hotel’s French tourists were glued to their cell phones to watch updates.

Cambodia is not exactly a friend of Vietnam or Thailand either if you study its past. Its conflicts with these countries began hundreds of years ago to the present. When the Viet Cong were fighting Americans, many of its soldiers were hiding inside Cambodia’s borders. It was hard for Cambodians to fathom why the Viet Cong left land mines there after they left.

Currently, Cambodia is a friend of China. China is building shopping malls and roads, and especially highways, in Cambodia. “We don’t share borders with China so we don’t have problems with each other,” said our Cambodian driver.

“Besides, King Norodom Sihanouk had strong ties with China. He died in China during a visit.”

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Heavy traffic on typical street (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Why Cambodia?

Three weeks ago, I visited Hong Kong (HK) to deal with family problems. It was stressful. We needed a side trip to de-stress. Cambodia seemed to be the logical choice, as it only took two hours and five minutes to fly from HK to its capital.
I have traveled to Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, S. Korea, and Japan. Although I love to go to India, it is a bit far from HK. Our family’s dream is to visit as many new countries as much as we can.

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Private dining huts at restaurant on the way to Siem Reap (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Visiting my Cambodian friends’ homeland helps me understand their past and heritage. My desire was to see Angkor Wat and not the Killing Fields museum. In fact, I tried to talk myself out of going to the “killing fields.” But I changed my mind at the last minute.

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The Plantation boutique hotel in Phnom Penh (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Easy travel

What makes it beneficial for us Americans to go to Cambodia is its inexpensive standard of living. Everything is inexpensive. From food to hotels to souvenirs, it’s cheap.

For instance, our 5-star hotel was $128 a night in Siem Reap; our 4-star hotel Plantation in Phnom Penh was $100 a night (including breakfast and wi-fi, and 50 percent off for massages). Where can you get a $20 massage in the U.S., not even among Chinese massage spas?

If you give a $2 tip, the Cambodians are happy. But if you do that in the U.S., you get a dirty look from the server.

By the way, U.S. currency is more popular than Cambodian money. We never needed to exchange to Cambodian currency during our five-day stay.

And most people we met speak English. In fact, they are versatile in many languages. We met tour guides speaking fluent Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and even Polish in many parts of Siem Reap.

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A version of Cambodian tapas for tourists (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Cambodian food

I give Cambodian food a thumbs up – a fusion between Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian, and French. It is not like Thai food, too spicy hot. Cambodian food is not hot at all. I need not worry about picking the wrong items.

It also has fried rice on the menu, similar to Chinese fried rice. When we went to its night market, I checked out the restaurants. The one with lots of individual Chinese tourists, I jumped in. We Chinese are picky eaters. If they patronize, my confidence spikes. We enjoyed all our meals in local restaurants.

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Mr. Bunny, tut tut driver (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Transportation

Seattle is heaven compared to Cambodia’s traffic hell. There are no crosswalks, no sidewalks, no traffic lights, no public city buses, and no night lights. You get the picture.

The common transportation was to ride on a tut tut, a motorcycle converted to carriage seats behind the driver. Actually, it’s a quite comfortable and cheap form of transportation. For four hours on and off the ride for sightseeing, you only pay $25. Everywhere, there are hundreds soliciting you for rides so we never waited for one.

Hot weather

The temperature is hot in November, but bearable. Even though the weather is warm, you have to wear long sleeves and pants. Cambodian mosquitoes are famous. Luckily, we were prepared with mosquito-resistant cream. (end)

Part II to be continued Dec. 24

Assunta Ng can be reached at assunta@nwasianweekly.com.

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 51 | 12/12-12/18Comments (1)

BLOG: We need more revealing than concealing — No answers at community meeting on Donnie Chin’s slaying

BLOG: We need more revealing than concealing — No answers at community meeting on Donnie Chin’s slaying

By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly

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Outside the Sun May store; tribute of origami cranes by unknown artist (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)

Since Donnie Chin’s slaying four months ago in the International District, there’s been little progress when it comes to getting information about the case. Why? Chin was the founder and one-man staff of the International District Emergency Center, providing patrol and emergency services in the ID.

There have been a series of meetings held with the community and the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to get updates. The most recent meeting was held on Nov. 24 at the Nagomi Tea House.

And what did the community get out of it?

Just frustration, disappointment, and disbelief. That’s how many felt in the audience.

I can envision Donnie sitting in the room, sighing, and rolling his eyes (his usual expression). “What a bunch of idiots (cops)!”

Organized by Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, Seattle City Councilman Bruce Harrell, and King County Councilman Joe McDermott, the community got a canned speech from SPD at the meeting—the usual public relations approach.

What SPD has repetitively been saying is, “We are working on leads, following on leads… and can’t really say more (because) it might jeopardize the case.”

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Community members in audience (Photo by John Liu/NWAW)

Deputy Chief Carmen Best, on behalf of Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, echoed those words again at the meeting when asked about the progress of Donnie’s case.

Simply stated: We can’t tell you anything.

It didn’t matter that it wasted more than a couple of hours of each of the approximately 70 attendees’ time.

Bob Santos, a community leader, said in another Asian Weekly article that we shouldn’t be sidetracked by other issues. SPD needs to find out who shot Donnie. It needs to be a priority.

Whether it is still a priority of SPD to solve Donnie’s murder is unknown. If SPD says it is, how can we be reassured it is?

Without answers, residents can’t forget they live in buildings in the proximity of where Donnie was shot, and perhaps some are fearful of living in the ID in general.

According to Chun Li, apartment manager for Dva Apartments (721 S. Lane St.), three families have moved out since the murder due to the fear of violence, and several families are thinking about getting out.

In the month of October, six shots were fired in the middle of the night although no one was hurt.

“Everyone in the building heard it,” Li said.

Li also said that just three weeks ago, two shots were fired in the evening.

The community has no way of finding out with a typical SPD response. Is there no progress in the investigation?

Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I like Best. The Asian Weekly even honored her at the Women of Color Empowered lunch in 2011. It is disappointing that Best came to the meeting without checking with the investigation unit first and couldn’t give us a more informative response regarding Donnie’s case. It was the No. 1 question in the mind of many in the audience.

I couldn’t just sit there—I was about to explode because SPD was ignoring the Asian community. Best’s excuse for not sharing information was that, if the media printed any information, it might alert the suspect(s).

Haven’t you heard of the term “off the record”? The Asian Weekly has cooperated with sources and the police department in the past by not printing certain facts when requested. With our community as witnesses, the police can ask for the media’s cooperation. If the Asian Weekly breaks the promise, it would affect our credibility instantly.

Rep. Santos asked, “What can you (SPD) tell us?” besides information which might hinder the investigations.

Harrell said the police could talk specifically about what has been done regarding Donnie’s case. What kind of progress has the investigation made? What kind of obstacles is the investigation running into?

Or is the investigation going back to square one? Is there anything the community can do to help?

Were there any suspects arrested so far?

Donnie’s death has disrupted the lives of many ID residents. Community members have been asking for increased police presence and reorganization of the East and West police precincts—such reorganization takes time and money. We understand that. However, the community needs to know when Donnie will get justice so that Chin’s family and the community will receive closure and move on with our lives. You would think SPD has updated the Chin family. Not even once as far as we know.

The residents are waiting. We are all waiting for that day when Donnie’s killer is revealed and arrested so we can all take a long hard breath of relief and say, “It’s over. Donnie, you can rest in peace.”

Chief O’Toole, please don’t fail us. (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 50 | 12/5-12/11Comments (0)

BLOG: We raise! — Keiro’s successful auction represents a united Japanese community

BLOG: We raise! — Keiro’s successful auction represents a united Japanese community

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Front row, left to right: Judge Park Eng, Jerry Lee, Charlene Lee, Andrea Nakata. Back row: Jeff Hattori, Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci, Katherine Cheng. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

By Assunta Ng

You don’t see Asian donors fighting to give money, fast and big, often. But it happened at Keiro Northwest’s 40th anniversary dinner on Oct. 24 at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel.

Keiro Northwest (formerly Nikkei Concerns), which specializes in elderly programs with assisted living and nursing homes, was able to galvanize its fans to raise more than $500,000, and funds are still coming in. At the event, it formally announced its new name and presented fascinating and powerful storytelling before 970 guests.

Why is Keiro able to reach such a milestone while others can’t?

Keiro’s success says a lot about the Japanese American community. They collaborate selflessly to take care of the older generation; they give generously to preserve the legacy of their parents and community members’ quality of life; and they work hard to create a strong community network to support Keiro in different dimensions.

Other Asian ethnic groups will find it hard to duplicate Keiro’s accomplishments due to the lack of desire of giving back, having too many factions to build consensus, and the political, language and regional differences the Chinese community experiences.

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From left: Julie Ann Oiye, Nikkei Concerns Board President; Tosh Okamoto, Founder; Tomio Moriguchi,Founder; Jeffrey Hattori, Nikkei Concerns CEO. The board was hand-carved by Tosh Okamoto, reflecting the new name Keiro Northwest, and the new logo. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Strong and generous board

An organization can’t develop itself without visions. Keiro has visionary founders like Uwajimaya Chairman Tomio Moriguchi and retired Tosh Okamoto, who have remained dedicated for decades by serving on the board to guide and help expand the organization.

The board’s leadership and generosity in setting examples for the community inspires confidence and followers.  It is impressive to see hundreds of volunteers listed on the program. They didn’t just volunteer, they paid for their tickets to support the event.

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Co-Chairs, left to right: Patty Hiroo Mastrude (staff), Pat Wakazuru, Ellen Suzuki, Sunnie Nagai, Tomoko Matsuno (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Female leadership

The current board chair is Julie Ann Oiye; the new chair is Brenda Handley. The event co-chairs are Tomoko Matsuno, Sunnie Nagai, Pat Wakazuru, and Ellen Suzuki. They all are strong women who get things done. Would anyone dare to say “no” to these women warriors?

Supportive donors

The auction was phenomenal. Every minute produced thousands of dollars. If you were one second late in bidding on any of the auction items, you would end up with nothing. A $5,000 item jumped to $9,000 in 40 seconds.  Organizers were smiling and the audience was applauding.

The fund-a-need part, asking guests to raise the paddle, raised more than $185,000 to support healthy seniors who have a desire to stay home without going to nursing homes. The program helps seniors in social and computer skills, and in paying for transportation and other services.

Over the last four decades, Keiro has accumulated and deserved recognition for all its good work. Many of the audience that were in attendance have parents or relatives who were or are under Keiro’s care. It was clear that the event was an opportunity for them to say “thank you” by giving back.
While other organizations suffer from donors’ fatigue, Keiro’s donors are eager to give a lot more because it only holds a big fundraising dinner every five years.

Another reason people came was because five of the seven Keiro founders had passed away. The community is eager to hail the two surviving founders, Moriguchi and Okamoto, according to Patty Hiroo Mastrude, Keiro’s philanthropy manager. “Without them, there will be no Keiro.”

Spectacular organizing

Most fundraising events can last hours and hours. Keiro’s was well-organized. It ended on time, a little after 9 p.m. From nametags to room decorations, it was nicely done.

Mastrude said people still stayed around chatting after the event. “They felt happy that they came. No one complained. We didn’t want to go home when it’s over.”

That’s just the opposite in some community events. Well done, Keiro NW! (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 45 | 10/31-11/6Comments (0)

BLOG: A closer look at the candidates

The Nov. 3 general election is important and exciting. Not only are there Asian American candidates running for offices in several cities and King County, there are issues directly impacting the Asian community. It is the first time after redistricting that voters will decide to elect some new blood to the Seattle City Council. Several King County races are interesting to watch.

Pam Banks vs. Kshama Sawant
Seattle City Council Position 3

It has been disappointing to see Kshama Sawant’s performance at the Seattle City Council for the past 20 months. Her tough leadership style doesn’t win colleagues. Humiliating her opponents in public is not necessarily a winning strategy. Negotiating and compromising behind the scenes can go a long way. She fails to recognize how to get things done.  She needs five votes and teamwork at the council.

A City Council member should be equipped with skills and knowledge, and willingness to deal with the city’s many pressing problems.

Sawant’s opponent, Pam Banks, has shown collaborative skills, empathy and flexibility through her past experiences as Urban League CEO and former city employee, and understands that it is critical to work on diverse issues including transportation, police reform, utilities, public safety and development issues. Focusing on a limited agenda which Sawant follows — wage and housing issues — will not advance the city very far.

Lloyd Hara vs. John Wilson
King County Assessor race

King County Assessor Lloyd Hara has a surprise challenger this election. His former deputy, John Wilson, who was asked to resign, is running against Hara. Perhaps revenge? Hara has had a track record in public service for decades. He has been promoting efficiency, innovation and outreach for the office.  Hara is visible in many communities, including Asians, other people of color and mainstream communities, and listens to communities’ concerns, while his opponent disappears (except when sending out his website message asking for money).

Julie Wise vs. Zach Hudgins
King County Director of Elections

Rep. Zach Hudgins, a candidate for King County Director of Elections, is an ally of the Asian community. Some of Hudgins’ supporters have spread the rumor that Hudgins’ opponent, Julie Wise, deputy director of elections, would not work hard on voters’ disparity, including Asian American voters, while Hudgins would if he gets elected. Not true.

On Oct. 1, the API Candidate Forum gave us a chance to listen to the debate between Hudgins and Wise. Wise said she is interested in improving voters’ disparity and reaching out to minority communities.

Both will bring rich experiences and backgrounds to the job. Either candidate will be qualified to be King County Director of Elections.

Fred Felleman vs. Marion Yoshino
Port of Seattle Commissioner Position 5

Fred Felleman, a marine biologist, is passionate about the Port of Seattle and the environment. He has consistently attended the commission’s meetings over the past few years. He knows the Port inside out.

Marion Yoshino, a former Normandy Park City Council member, is not Asian. If elected, she will be the only commissioner living in South King County. It’s important to have diverse representation on the five-member commission.

Both candidates are aware of the issues facing the port. Felleman might be more informed about the port issues because he attended the Port Commission’s meetings regularly. However, Yoshino’s collaborative leadership style is more likely to work well with others. (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 44 | 10/24-10/30Comments (0)

BLOG: Finish that plate! — Dining with British elites (and lessons on how to be good children)

BLOG: Finish that plate! — Dining with British elites (and lessons on how to be good children)

By Assunta Ng

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Oxford and Cambridge Club, exterior, (no photos allowed inside!) (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)

When my friend emailed me that she was taking me to the Oxford and Cambridge Club (OCC) in London, I was elated. But after one meal, my original desire of wanting that experience changed to no desire of returning again.

Was I crazy to make that decision? After all, the OCC is one of the most prestigious clubs in England, and one of the founders was a prime minister. So why did I have such a negative experience?

My husband and I were in London recently. We were looking forward to the invitation, knowing that Oxford and Cambridge University are famous. My friend was being thoughtful for offering the invitation.

The club was a couple blocks from our hotel so her husband, a Brit, picked the OCC, while they took an over hour-long train ride from Cambridge to join us.

And of course, he graduated from Cambridge University, with a double degree. The OCC is not a big club.

It only has about 3,000 members and a long wait list for potential members. You practically have to wait for some alumni to die, or move away, before an opening is available.

My friend emailed me about the dress code. Men have to wear a suit and tie. In Rome, do as the Romans do. I gladly complied.

There are more hidden rules than I expected. Soon, I realized that I had violated every single rule at the OCC.

It started with my golf hat. (It’s different from a baseball hat, which is more casual.) When I walked in, everyone was staring at me. Yep, hats are not a good idea at the OCC, (perhaps unless I had one like Princess Kate Middleton with frills and feathers around it). Everyone could stare as long as they wished; I was not going to expose my bad hair.

In the lounge, I greeted my hosts with hugs and giggles. We hadn’t seen each other for 40 some years—we just couldn’t contain our joyous emotion. Apparently, noise is not acceptable at OCC. My friend’s husband motioned us to “sh sh sh”!

I turned around and saw there were only two small parties besides us at the huge place. Holy crap, was I disturbing and disrupting the whole world?! Still, I reminded myself to do as the Romans do. We whispered even though our conversation included some hilarious jokes.

Later, to my astonishment, my dining manners were clearly unacceptable to high-class Brits.

Decorated with majestic chandeliers, the formal room was elegant, but lacked vibrancy, ingenuity, and energy. In less than an hour, the whole room was packed with professional folks dressed in business attire. No one moved around, interacted, and shook hands with people sitting at other tables. Everyone looked stiff and reserved.

Our waiter was a pleasant Spaniard with a little accent. He gave us the menus and provided us with superb service.

“I like to order a fish, would you like a steak so we can share?” I asked my husband.

“No, No, No! You can’t,” our host, my friend’s husband said.

“You finish [eating] up the whole plate like a good boy,” he told my husband. Actually, his words were meant for me, that I should clean up my own plate. I guess I am not a good girl based on British standards, due to sharing my food with others.

That’s the way we eat, Chinese-family-style. In America, restaurants usually split the dish for us so we need not bother to divide the food ourselves.

I could never finish a whole plate myself when we go out to eat. And my husband is a bigger eater than me. Sharing is not only a cultural norm for us, but it is also economical and natural. It’s a sound, practical way not to waste food.

The portions of each entree were huge. But I forced myself to eat the whole fish. If I didn’t, I would be perceived as rude. But the side dishes including the veggies and potatoes were big too. My husband would have loved my leftovers, which were cooked with the juices of the fish. I would have enjoyed a few pieces of his steak. I felt bad that I had to watch the waiter picked the plates up and knew that he would throw them away. When I thought about the Ethiopian kids who never had enough to eat, I felt sick to my stomach. All my life, I have considered it a gift to cook leftovers, so I don’t need to throw away any bits of food. Why do the Brits have to be so square and tight? Is that how they demonstrate the meaning of high society?

“This is a beautiful room,” I told my friends. “Can I take a picture?”

“No,” my host said. “How would you like everyone in the room, flashing their cell phones?”

I begged, but he insisted that we shouldn’t break the rule. Not able to take photos is like a slap on my itchy hands.

So young people, the OCC is not for those who want to take selfies. “I would like to see a photo of your sons,” I said to my friend.

“No,” her husband said. “Don’t take out your cell phones,” he told his wife.

In defiance, my friend sneaked out her cell phone and showed me her sons’ photo underneath the table. Another friend followed, she showed me her grandkids’ photos.

By the time the waiter arrived with the dessert trolley filled with appealing pastries and cakes, everyone was really full. But how could we resist when the beautiful sweet treats were so tempting? We would prefer to have bits of each dessert. But no, we were not allowed to share. Instantly, it drained the fun. We women like to steal from each others’ dessert plates.

“Honey, can I have a bite of your dessert?” my friend asked her husband. How could he say “no” to his wife!

“No, you can’t,” he replied without any hesitancy.

If he were my husband, you know what I would have done! I would have chewed him out flat like a pancake or pin him down as if I can do kung fu!

So each of us had to order a separate dessert. It was wasting money. Everyone’s dessert was big including my fruit bowl. And everyone finished his or her dessert like good children except me, because I was so stuffed from my main course. What a pity to see fresh fruits being discarded in a garbage can!

Thank God, this was the only meal that I wasn’t allowed to truly be myself in our 16-day England trip.

You might think that I am ungrateful. It’s quite an adventure to dine at the OCC, and it was not the kind of adventure I envisioned.

At the crossroads of my life, I was deciding whether I should study in England or America.

I picked America and loved the country the moment I landed. (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 36 | 8/29-9/4Comments (0)

BLOG: Think twice before smoking that pipe — The hookah bar controversy continues

BLOG: Think twice before smoking that pipe — The hookah bar controversy continues

By Assunta Ng

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Mayor Ed Murray discusses the proposed ordinance relating to hookah bars. He invited both Asian and African communities to attend. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

The first time I heard about hookah bars two years ago, I was completely repelled.

“Hooker” was what I heard. You can imagine why I didn’t want to continue the conversation with anyone mentioning the word.

Go ahead, you can laugh at me. My editor certainly did.  I didn’t know anything about hookah bars until Donnie Chin’s murder, and many had shared the same sentiments. Chin was shot and killed near Chinatown’s Kings Hookah Bar. Lately, this subject comes up more often than I want, especially after Mayor Ed Murray’s decision to shut down those lounges, which angers many African Americans and those who share in the smoking tradition.

Those protesters at the City Hall on Aug. 10 probably carry this mentality: How dare a white mayor try to enact this possible new ordinance without considering and consulting the African American community!  The fact is, the mayor did. The older East African immigrants supported the mayor’s thinking, but the younger crowd holds a different opinion. It’s trendy to smoke there, and it offers a place to hang out. Some younger people depict hookah as cool.

Many who testified at the City Council’s meeting on Aug. 10, easily threw out the race card, accusing Murray of racism.

Some perceive that the mayor is unfair—he favors the Asian community over the African community—he did it for Chin, an Asian American. That interpretation of Murray’s action is short sighted and absurd: Why is it one community’s loss is viewed as another community’s gain?

Our relationship with other ethnic groups is often complicated with rivalry, ambivalence, and misunderstanding. Although we try to build bridges with other ethnic groups, I am sorry that we still have a long way to go. Have our African American brothers forgotten, that we too have suffered from racism?

Is the mayor being unfair to close all the bars instead of just the ones in the ID?

Not if he thinks of the big picture for the City! Not if he knows a lot more than the general public, while not at liberty to tell everything! Not if the enforcement of the statewide smoking ban law is being challenged in hookah lounges! The mayor would definitely be unfair if he allows a double standard in the city, letting some lounges continue the smoking practice and others can’t!

Murray simply seized Chin’s tragedy as an opportunity for change. He didn’t just hear of hookah lounges since Chin’s death.

At the press conference on Aug. 3, he told us that he was frustrated that he couldn’t do anything about it last year when another homicide occurred near another hookah bar.

So far, Murray has presented the illegal aspects of hookah bars in a united front with City Attorney Peter Holmes, Seattle City Council members Bruce Harrell, John Okamoto and other council members, and also the King County Health officials.

It shows Murray’s leadership and collaboration in finding solutions. Also, he promised to increase youth jobs from 2,000 to 4,000 to prevent idle youths from getting into trouble.

What the city didn’t mention is the effects of hookah smoking!  A reader alerts us to look into hookah smoking’s impact on health. Had you known the risks, you might not think that it’s cool to patronize hookah bars any more.

According to a 2005 World Health Organization report, hookah smoking is more harmful than smoking a cigarette. A hookah session can last as long as an hour, and smokers usually taking long, deep breaths. The King County Health Department web site said, “An hour-long hookah smoking session involves 200 puffs, while smoking an average cigarette involves 20 puffs.

“The amount of smoke inhaled during a typical hookah session is about 90,000 milliliters (ml), compared with 500–600 ml inhaled when smoking a cigarette.”

A single hookah session exposes users to more carbon dioxide and PAHs, similar levels of nicotine, and lower levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines.

What will hookah users get? “Hookah sickness.” Frequent users need treatment in hospital emergency rooms for symptoms including headache, nausea, lethargy, and fainting.

As for long-term effects, hookah smoking can inflict heart, gum, and lung diseases, and prenatal problems (low birth weight and pulmonary problems at birth), larynx and voice changes, and osteoporosis.  And several types of cancers will be included in the list of “hookah diseases.” Just google hookah smoking, you will find tons of information about hookah’s health risks.

Because the tobacco is mixed with sweet fruits, it is even more addictive than a regular cigarette.

What about those people who work there or those who just hang around the lounges without smoking?

Second-hand smoke from hookahs contains significant amounts of toxic chemicals small enough to enter the lungs.

Studies have found that concentrations of particulate matter in the air of hookah bars were in the unhealthy to hazardous range according to the Environmental Protection Agency standards. According to Wikipedia, “the concentrations in the air of all these toxic substances are greater” than for cigarettes (for the same number of smokers per hour. One more important point: Hookah users may find it difficult to quit.

Think twice before you smoke hookah again. Oh, and thank the mayor for protecting the health of the citizens. (end)

For more information, go to http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/tobacco.aspx.

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 35 | 8/22-8/28Comments (2)

BLOG: Seattle’s Chinatown loses its dragon — Donnie Chin’s tragic death unites the community

BLOG: Seattle’s Chinatown loses its dragon — Donnie Chin’s tragic death unites the community

By Assunta Ng

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Protesting Donnie Chin’s death

“Donnie Chin is our dragon,” said Dean Wong at Chin’s candlelight vigil at the Hing Hay Park this past weekend.

In Chinese culture, the dragon symbolizes excellence, boldness, perseverance, power, heroism, and nobility.

Chin’s death has transformed the Chinatown International District ID overnight–bringing a protest, two community meetings demanding answers and justice from city officials, a vigil with over 700 people at Hing Hay Park, and much more resounding aftermath.

Founded with Wong, Chin was a figurehead for the International District Emergency Center (IDEC). He was fatally shot on July 23.

A low-key, selfless, humble, blunt, and self-effacing man in a trooper uniform, Chin possessed no wild magic. Simply, he served his community for close to 50 years, and was on his feet 24/7 as the first responder to any emergency situations—faster than the police and the fire department. He saved many lives including mine. I was almost choking to death with a piece of beef stuck in my throat, in a Chinatown restaurant 20 years ago.  My husband couldn’t think of anyone else to call except Donnie.

He responded in two minutes and called an ambulance, which immediately took me to the hospital.

Chin would be surprised that his death would rouse the whole community in deep grief, anger and actions, and media coverage.

Presently, his name evokes powerful responses in a protest against a hookah bar which caused security problems in the area.

He was shot near the bar.

Community leader Bob Santos said, “We will be back (in protests) every Friday until the bar is closed.”

Chin’s sacrifices were hard to forget and people felt he didn’t deserve the way he died.

“Donnie was stolen from us,” said Mario Vera, a long-time ID resident.

People were looking for ways to give back to him. Many called the Asian Weekly and the Seattle Chinese Post. “What can we do to help?”

Chin would be embarrassed that he himself had become the legend he never wanted to be.  Yes, he would be proud that the community has finally come together. He would be amazed by the ceaseless number of visitors paying tribute every day since his death, bringing flowers and messages to honor him at his little gift shop, Sun May in the Canton Alley. It would be impossible to count the number of lives he has helped, from drug addicts to homeless; seniors and youth; common and powerful people; Asians and non-Asians; and businesses to non-profits.

Chin would be thrilled to see cops patrolling day and night in the ID reversing the absence of police in the past. Several top police and fire officers attended the recent ID meetings, answering questions and sharing condolences. It is a nice gesture that the mayor and police department are willing to address issues facing the ID and hopefully develop solutions, including addressing drug addicts and dealers and other kinds of illegal activities. Over the years, Donnie had given reports to the police department about security issues, however, nothing happened.

The fact is, if the police department truly wants to make a difference in our community, it has to establish a strong presence in the ID day and night, not just temporarily, but permanently.

As Maxine Chan said at the community meeting regarding Chin’s violent death, “What will be the police’s lasting policy in the community?”

In the past, the excuse was ID folks didn’t complain enough—didn’t dial 911 when they sensed something wrong. Keep in mind when you are Asian immigrants with language and cultural barriers, you don’t really like to deal with cops no matter how many times you were told it’s okay.  It requires no effort for you to sing the national anthem, but even proficient English-speaking immigrants couldn’t do it. New habits take time to adopt, period.

Why is it only after his sudden death that the City is listening to our community earnestly?

Why is it so many are generous and considerate?

The community’s reaction and love towards Chin is phenomenal. I have never seen such emotions exhibited in the community in my 33 years as a journalist in the ID. Chin’s overall selflessness and his desire to build a better community might be a wake-up call for us to think of the community rather than themselves.

The challenge is for the community to keep its pressure on the City to be accountable, and keep up the momentum to galvanize everyone to do their part to create a vital and secured neighborhood.

“Man! Don’t do it for me, do it for the community,” would likely be Donnie’s response to all the reactions and pain which has developed after his tragic death. (end)

Posted in Features 32, Vol 34 No 32 | 8/1-8/7Comments (0)

BLOG: Avoid or endorse? — Politics can pose challenges for ethnic media

By Assunta Ng

People expect the Northwest Asian Weekly, a relatively small paper, to act like a big media company when it comes to election time.

Candidates’ questions cover the myriad, such as:

“Do you do endorsements?”

“Can you do an interview?”

“Why haven’t you contacted me?”

. . . These questions keep popping up and candidates seem to be pounding on our small door.

You would assume those callers are Asian Americans. Actually, a number of them are non-Asians.

Thanks for the attention, but we are actually overwhelmed.

The truth is, many community publications avoid politics. In a 2014 study done by Scott Swafford for Donald Reynolds Journalism Institute, small papers with a circulation under 50,000 generally don’t cover elections.

As an ethnic media outlet, I understand why some ethnic publications shy away from politics. First, most of them have to deal with survival challenges. That means getting advertisement is the focus. Secondly, many of the city, county, state, and federal issues are hard for Asian immigrant journalists to comprehend.  Also, don’t forget many came from lands prohibiting free speech. Yes, they don’t trust the government or the elected officials.

Being political

I wasn’t born to be a political animal in the beginning. What drove us to consider political coverage was  in 1982 when former state representative John Eng retired, and Gary Locke (former governor and ambassador) jumped in the legislator race when I started the Seattle Chinese Post and Northwest Asian Weekly.

While publishers try to influence the papers’ content, editors are usually the ones who mold it. And our editor at the time opposed political stories. “It’s toxic to your papers,” he said. “Immigrant readers just skip those pages (on elections).”

I didn’t like what I heard. Proving him wrong wasn’t my point.

The point is, political participation is vital to the well-being of the Asian community. If you want to get things done, you better have Asian Americans at the table. If you seek equal opportunities, you need non-Asian champions to support you. If you fight injustices, you need tireless fighters like Frank Irigon and Al Sugiyama to be on your fence.

Voting is letting your voice be heard. If you want the community to have a voice, you have to help develop that voice. In the process of organizing, you have empowered your community. It doesn’t matter if your candidate wins or loses, political empowerment is the reward of being involved in politics.

Our interest in reporting politics reflects our goal of empowering the Asian community.

We get our satisfaction when readers use our papers’ endorsements as reference for general elections. (We wish we could do primary election endorsements as well, but couldn’t due to too many candidates and races.)

The consequence of endorsement

A decade ago, I fretted about the Asian community having “double standard.” When The Seattle Times didn’t endorse their favorite candidates, no one in the community made any noise. Yet, they showed their displeasure towards the Asian Weekly when we did so.

Now, I understand why. It is because the community feel a deep sense of connection with the Asian Weekly. Sharing their emotions with us, means the readers are closed to us. I consider their responses as “terms of endearment.” It is comforting to know that the community cares about what we have to say. More important, they feel they are part of the Asian Weekly. Sometimes, it puts us in a difficult position when our community is split between two candidates like the McGinn-Murray mayoral race in 2013, and the Inslee-McKenna gubernatorial race in 2012. The community’s passion towards their preferred candidates touched me. Need we add fire to the divided community? We didn’t want to divide the community, so our decision was not to endorse.

Yes, our doors are open, and we welcome candidates to approach us.  However, you must do your homework first. Talk to our community leaders. Get their endorsement.

Show us your list of Asian supporters when we meet. If you don’t know who they are, you have work to do. It’s never too late to cultivate relationships with the Asian and minority community.

We did change our minds after meeting with certain candidates privately in past elections.

Asian American candidates

In the past, few Asian Americans were running for office; we had to cook up our readers’ excitement in elections. Now, not only have the number of Asian Americans candidates increased several times—the race has spread all over the state in four to six cities. We even have Asians running against Asians. Among Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s opponents is Urban League CEO Pam Banks, who is of Asian and African descent. Filipino Leonard Luna is challenging Mayor/State Representative Mia Gregerson of Chinese descent, for Sea-Tac city council position. Is that progress or what?

One Asian American leader said, “The white guys are running against each other for a long time, shouldn’t we Asian Americans do the same?”

Asian Americans are now sophisticated campaigners. When I request interviews, some Asian American candidates would respond, “Schedule with my campaign manager.” It’s not just campaign managers, the candidates have their own communication staff, fund-raising chairs and volunteers committees—all structured and organized. It’s not easy to run for office. We commend those who run.

So to all the API candidates listed on page three, thank you for your guts, conviction and commitment to serve the public. Win or lose, we are still proud of you. The important thing is you try and not give up. (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 31 | 7/25-7/31Comments (0)

BLOG: Nikkei Concerns reinvents a health fair

BLOG: Nikkei Concerns reinvents a health fair

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Stress relief at Nikkei Concerns health fair (Photo provided by Darcia Tanabe)

Most health fairs are boring with information overload, lacking fun and creativity.

Nikkei Concern’s (NC) health fair has reinvented its health fair program.  It will be held at the Blaine Memorial Church on July 25 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

First, delicious food! Yes, you can sample as much as you want—healthy snacks for visitors while browsing the booths. What alternatives do you have if you are not interested in sweetened sodas? How do you avoid foods consisting of bad chemicals? How innovative can a manufacturer be to make snacks healthy and delicious? Did you know that cooking demonstrations will be held?

Nikkei Concerns said they have as many as 15 food exhibitors in addition to 45 other exhibitors. Preparing healthy food requires cooking differently. Kanao Koizumi will show you how to do so.

Stress is another unavoidable topic. NC said it has all types of massages for you to experience. And they are free!

Massages are an expensive luxury. It costs as much as $80 an hour. At the fair, you can experiment at least five types of reflexology from feet to back, head to neck. How cool is that?!

What about your brain? How do you retain memory and retrain your brain? Speaker Lisa Waisath will provide a session on brain health.

“Health is more than taking medicine,” said Darcia Tanabe, NC Communications Manager. The whole fair helps people with the social and emotional aspects of health, and how to incorporate principles of health.

The fair gives you practical suggestions for applying the principles and new ideas for people to explore and adopt into their health habits.

Tanabe said this year’s fair will be twice bigger than last year’s. (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 30 |7/18-7/24Comments (0)

BLOG: Lunch with Deputy Mayor Kim

BLOG: Lunch with Deputy Mayor Kim

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Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim speaks with students

Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim of Seattle invited Northwest Asian Weekly’s summer youth leadership program to have lunch at City Hall this summer.

Our kids have no social status. They still have to do something to prove their worth. Yet, Kim sent me an email to invite our kids this summer back in March! I was deeply touched and excited.

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SYLP students at City Hall with Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim

We request our community leaders to do us a favor by talking about their success to the students.

Since the program started in 1995 for Asian American high school students to learn about leadership and community-building skills, we have asked, the list of speakers which included Prof. Connie So, Hon. Gary Locke, KING TV anchor Lori Matsukawa, Justice Mary Yu, Bob Santos, University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce, Andrew Cho, Hon. Martha Choe and others to meet with our youth.

The City is involved in so many things and Kim’s time is in demand. Since she got married two years ago, she has delayed her honeymoon until this summer.

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SYLP students with Mayor Ed Murray

So 43 of us visited City Hall and the Mayor’s office on July 1. I was proud to introduce Kim as the only and first Asian American deputy mayor for the City to our students. It was eye-opening, inspiring, and empowering for the students to meet someone so young and accomplished, and also an Asian American female in such a high position. We dined inside the Mayor’s office. Yes, we were treated with sandwiches, chips, and drinks. Kim also invited department head of Planning and Development Diane Sugimura to speak to us.

On our way out, Mayor Ed Murray returned. We had a chance to photograph together.

Thank you, Kim for remembering your community and roots. We were honored to be the first leadership group to be invited by Kim. (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 30 |7/18-7/24Comments (0)

BLOG: Farewell to Imperial Lanes — Finishing with a strike

BLOG: Farewell to Imperial Lanes — Finishing with a strike

By John Liu

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Bowling and nostalgia at Imperial Lanes (Photo by John Liu/NWAW)

Driving past the Burger King and 7-11 on Rainier Ave, it is easy to pass Imperial Lanes day after day on your commute from the International District to Beacon Hill. Sadly, Imperial Lanes is closing on May 31.

Imperial Lanes and Lounge opened in Seattle’s Rainier Valley in 1959 and was run by Fred Takagi for 30 years.

As a result, many young Japanese Americans chose Imperial Lanes as their hangout. Imperial Lanes was sold to AMC in 1992. Louise Ono, daughter of Fred Takagi, said “Imperial Lanes was the hub of the Japanese and Chinese community. After the war, everyone needed a place to go and socialize. This is the end of an era.” Louise still bowls in the Nisei League, which will be moving to Skyway Park and Bowl.

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(Photo by John Liu/NWAW)

Even though I did not go to Imperial Lanes often. I do remember my mom suggesting the entire family to go on Mother’s day three years ago. We had a great time. I had to experience Imperial Lanes one last time. There were around 30 people there last Monday. It was actually $1 Mondays after 8p.m. Had I had known that, I would have gone many more times since I live in the proximity. I played two games and finished my last frame with a strike – the perfect way to say goodbye.

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Photo by Randon Aea

I asked some former patrons to tell me their fondest memories of Imperial Lanes.

“In our younger days Imperial Lanes was a second home to Ernie. He worked there on Saturday nights, bowled in pot games till the wee hours of the night, and bowled in several leagues. Although he spent more time at Imperial than with me, we made many friends and bowled with many old friends. It is sad that Imperial will be gone but we still have many fond memories.”
— Ernie and Sunnie Nagai

“Imperial Lanes opened their doors when Frank and I were in high school and it quickly became our “hangout.”  One incident I vividly recall took place not inside Imperial Lanes but outside in their parking lot where I threw the “going steady” ring that Frank  gave me out of the car window…..(obviously mad over something or another). But by the end of the day, the issue was resolved, we found the ring AND NOW Frank and I have been married for 48 years!  Good bye Imperial Lanes…thanks for the memories.  You will be missed, but never forgotten.”
— Frank and Penny Fukui

“In the 60’s when you said bowling alley, you meant Imperial Lanes.  I even bowled in a handicap league (the only way I could get in since I rarely broke 100).  After bowling we’d go out for a bite to eat and drink (in those days you couldn’t drink alcohol on Sunday, so the lights would go on in the Four Seas bar announcing ten minutes to closing).  One Friday night I was out and my date said let’s go to the bowling alley and see what’s going on (evidently I wasn’t good date night company).”
— Kiku Hayashi

“Imperial Lanes was the Beacon Haller. It was the place to go to if you live on Beacon Hill. It’s the thing to go to if you go to Franklin High School, bowl and play video games. I was a member of the women’s league. People went there to meet people.”
— Lisa Noji

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 23 | 5/30-6/5Comments (0)

BLOG: RESPECT? — What we should learn from Sawant’s actions

BLOG: RESPECT? — What we should learn from Sawant’s actions

By Assunta Ng

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From left: Jean Godden, Bruce Harrell, Tom Rasmussen, Kshama Sawant, Nick Licata, Tom Burgess, and John Okamoto (front) (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s inappropriate and unfair questioning of John Okamoto (now voted in as a councilmember) during the public interview to fill in Sally Clark’s seat, gave me a revelation—the importance of respect.

We make wishes during celebration. My wish for May’s Asian Pacific American API Heritage Month is that Asian Americans can respect one another and that we can respect our differences.

Sawant’s action recently shocked and disgusted a number of the ethnic community when they felt she was trashing a respectable Asian community leader.

Sawant’s behavior bothers some Asian Americans because she is Asian American herself.

Seattle’s Asian community is famous for its collaboration despite our small number compared to San Francisco and New York’s Asian population. We pride ourselves in getting things done by a small gang. Yet, Sawant never wants to be connected to the Asian community. She has no time to meet with Asian community leaders as a couple of Chinatown/International District leaders told the Asian Weekly. One called Sawant’s office and introduced herself, and instead got cold shoulders. “(Council member Sawant) she doesn’t have time,” said her staff.

“We should bring the Asian community together, not divide it,” said Debadutta Dash of Indian descent, currently a candidate for Seattle City Council. Okamoto was clear of wrongdoing in his role at the Port of Seattle, which Sawant accused him of mismanagement and the Port of corruption.

You could tell at the hearing, Sawant was upset because she sent out a questionnaire prior to the interview asking all candidates for their views on rent control, wage theft, and other issues,  and Okamoto didn’t respond. Not every candidate responded either. Okamoto didn’t say whether he’s for rent control, even though Sawant pushed many of the candidates to commit to her agenda. The rent control issue is more than a “yes” or “no” answer.

A person’s a person, no matter how small—Dr. Seuss

You don’t have to like or dislike someone to respect the person. You don’t need to have a relationship with someone to treat him as a human being. You don’t have to agree to respect another individual. It’s just basic courtesy, humility, and decency. If you don’t respect others, how can you expect others to do the same?

In my decades as publisher, I have encountered many whom I stand on the opposite and people that I don’t agree with, yet we can greet and talk to each other, and even collaborate on projects for the common good. There are times when I readily praise my detractors because I recognize that they have done good deeds and even the right thing.  I want to encourage people I disagree with to make positive contributions. Frankly, the community can all benefit from great work and learn from remarkable examples.

There should be a respect for differences, honesty, and integrity.

Sawant’s strategy backfired: Okamoto received the majority of the City Council votes. Last week, the Seattle Times editorial even commented that she owes Okamoto an apology! How many of these negative media pieces can Sawant afford in an election year? How many of these battles can she fight with her Council colleagues, and then result being isolated with the minority of the Council? And the public is simply left to shake their heads in disbelief by her behavior?

I was beaming with pride at the hearing initially, watching three Asian Americans in the final round for Clark’s seat, and two Asian American elected officials, Sawant and Councilmember Bruce Harrell, interviewing on the other side of the table. It was truly historic for the City of Seattle. But then, it turned out to be embarrassing and disappointing for me being an Asian American witnessing how an Asian elected official who lacked tact, grace, and humanity, grilling a candidate without basis. Ironically, Okamoto told the Asian Weekly during an interview that he thought he had a connection with Sawant because of his labor background as he was once the CEO of the Washington Education Association, the state’s teachers union.

Perhaps, Sawant’s action taught us a lesson–Asian Americans have to learn to agree to disagree. And we have to practice it well because the art of politics is to compromise and learn respect for disagreement. (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 19 | 5/2-5/8Comments (0)

BLOG: What is the Wing’s fundraising formula for success?

BLOG: What is the Wing’s fundraising formula for success?

By Assunta Ng

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Ellen Ferguson and Paul Mar (Photo by John Liu/NWAW)

 

The Wing Luke Asian Museum’s annual fundraising dinner is the envy of many Asian community organizations. This year yielded  another record-breaking amount, $460,000 raised, a 13 percent increase from last year.

The amount they raise each year, keeps increasing. How does the Wing do it?

Find champions

Having a generous board is important, but the board president has to set high standards. Ellen Ferguson, co-president of the Wing, is the highest contributor every year. Although she isn’t Asian, she believes in social justice, and her enthusiasm for the Wing is contagious. Last year, she donated $10,000 during the “ask” for the Wing’s youth program, and no one followed her lead.

This year, she jumped it up to $15,000. Surprisingly, Paul Mar, another board member, reciprocated. Yes, another $15,000!

“Ellen has done a lot for the museum and not just donating money,” said Gloria Wakayama, Wing’s former co-president.

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Amy Nikaitani, 90 years old and still going on strong (Photo by John Liu/NWAW)

An inspiring theme

Earlier, the museum held a big celebration for the Luke’s 90th birthday (see http://www.nwasianweekly.com/2015/03/wing-lukes-90th-birthday-celebration-reveals-fascinating-history/). Inspired by Luke’s 90th, the dinner committee decided to recognize Asian American pioneers who have been instrumental in the museum’s success in its early years. Many of them are now 90 years old.

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Molly Maeda, 90 years young (Photo by John Liu/NWAW)

 

These individuals still look fantastic, unbelievably youthful, and in good health. Their stories were amazing, and their presence brought wonders and support for the Wing.

What an incredible gesture! And they brought along their friends and family too.

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Bill Chin (standing), Jeni Fung, and Cal Fung also 90 years young (Photo by John Liu/NWAW)

 

“It made me feel young,” said one of the guests who applauded for the 90-years-old folks.

Multi-generations featured

What fascinated the audience was the Wing’s ability to bring the old and young together as part of the program. The students talked about what they got out of the museum’s Youthcan program.

“Get your boss promoted, so you can get his job,” was what Christina Nguyen, one of the students, learned from Abe Goo, former Boeing president.

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Mona Locke and Gary Locke (Photo by John Liu/NWAW)

Stars are welcome

Many “Who’s Who” were in the audience, including Mona and Gary Locke, former governor and U.S. Ambassador to China,  Seattle City Councilman Bruce Harrell, and wife Joanne, former Supreme Court Justice Bobbe Bridge and husband Jon, and former State Representative John S. Eng.

No long speeches

The program was organized and scripted to allow as many people on stage as possible, but no one gave lengthy remarks. The change of pace was fast, and there was never a dull moment.

The only ones who dominated the scene were the auctioneer and his reader for auction items. That’s the way it should be.

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Block print ready for auction (Photo by John Liu/NWAW)

Focus on Asian American art

The majority of their auction items were sold above their listed price. “What we have matches the interest of those who came (for the event,)” said Beth Takekawa, the Wing’s executive director.

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Artwork by Roger Shimomura (Photo by John Liu/NWAW)

 

From Aki Shogabe’s Japanese paper-cutting techniques of waterfalls to Roger Shimomura’s pop art imagery on socio-political issues of Asian America, the Wing’s auction artwork was one of a kind. It focused on the art of Asian Americans rather than Asian national artists. By doing this, the Wing has made a strong statement promoting ­­ Asian American artists and that their talent is special, if not unique.

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Lucky 8 Horses painting by artist Lolan Lo Cheng (Photo by John Liu/NWAW)

Attract a new crowd

Many Asian community events I attended have the same audience. The Wing is one of the few venues that is able to attract the mainstream to support the event. These mainstream folks have deep pockets and are used to bidding big and high. They understand this is for a good cause, and looking for deals shouldn’t be their goal.

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Artist Lolan Lo Cheng (left), and John Eng, former state rep. (middle) and his wife Sandy Chock Eng (right), who bought Cheng’s horse painting for $3000 (Photo by John Liu/NWAW)

Bruce Lee helps

The current Bruce Lee exhibit definitely helps to bring awareness of the museum, said Beth. People were still buying tickets at the last minute for the dinner. Attendance for the museum had shot up 70 percent lately. There were local visitors who came to the exhibition who  had never been to the Chinatown/International District before.

Despite all the worries the organizing committee had at the beginning, it turned out to be unwarranted. It didn’t matter that the date they picked had a lot of schedule conflicts such as the Final Four games, spring break and yes, even close to the tax filing deadline date—people came anyway. It didn’t matter that the event day, April 4 was supposed to be unlucky in Asian culture. The word “four” rhymes with death in some Asian countries. Seattle Westin Hotel’s ballroom was packed with 490 guests and dozens of volunteers.

Looking back when the Wing was only able to raise $1200 during the “ask” in 1997, Beth said she was surprised how supporters just “open up” their wallets and of course, their hearts for the Wing. (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 16 | 4/11-4/17Comments (0)

BLOG: Nine tips for coping with stress — Creating a balance between work and fun

BLOG: Nine tips for coping with stress — Creating a balance between work and fun

By Assunta Ng

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Years ago, I experienced severe chest pain as if I was having a heart attack.

“No, you didn’t have a heart attack,” my doctor said. “You just have stress.”

With print industries struggling to stay afloat, it can be stressful for me running two weekly publications.

Instead, these days I am at peace with the inevitable trend, and have developed an appetite to accept really disastrous consequences. But the bad news has not destroyed my passion and commitment for the job. After more than three decades, I am still capable of creating fun experiences out of my daily challenges. If there’s not much you can do to change things, you might as well enjoy the journey. (But also remember, sometimes we can change things!)

It might be hard for those living in a high-tech world to have a stress-free life, but there are things you can do to mitigate your situation. Yes, you can perform a balancing act. The more you work at it, the better you become. Some of the tips are simple things, but so many simply don’t do it. Even I need to remind myself everyday to perform to make myself feel good.

Did you know that when you are stressed, you tend to hold your breath, and you forget to eat, drink, nap, smile, and laugh? When was the last time you felt really wonderful or joyful? Did you know that not drinking enough fluids not only causes dehydration, but bladder infection and increases your stress level?

1. Drink lots of fluid

“I don’t have time to go to the bathroom,” she insisted after learning she has a urinary-related infection. Her excuse is, her busy job is too busy.  She doesn’t go to the rest room much because she forgets to drink liquid during work.

Drinking water or other kinds of fluid like juice, tea or soups, helps to cleanse your body, ease your digestion. Urinating helps rid the body of toxins.

“How do I remember to drink water when I should?” she asked.

You can clock in to remind yourself or put a glass of water in every visible place in your office and home. The act of drinking actually reminds me to take a break from my work and computer.

2. Breathe deeply

“I hate office meetings, those politics make my body tense,” my friend said. The no. 1 therapy to resist stress is to keep breathing, long and deep. It will instantly relax your body. Oxygen is good for your body and brain.

Remember to breath long and deep five times in the morning before you start your day—you will feel the difference in your attitude when dealing with the rest of your day.

Some mornings, I have a headache. I don’t run to my cabinet to get a pill. All I did was breathe and massage my forehead and the pain gradually disappeared.

3. Meditate

Modern gurus advise people who have a demanding life to meditate for 10 to 30 minutes a day. The goal is for your mind to attain calmness, focus, and clarity.

Yoga and Tai Chi classes will teach you how to meditate and breathe. Studies have found that when you meditate and stretch in a yoga class, it will free your body from tension and tightness. Tai chi can achieve the same goal.

4. Ignore the dollar sign

Nine out of 10 projects I am involved with, don’t result in financial gain. But the projects are interesting and important—offering me many moments of happiness and learning-—and surprisingly sometimes, a small amount of money to support the papers.

The Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation’s diversity scholarship program held last Friday at the New Hong Kong Restaurant, made me thrilled and proud when I witnessed all the young people who were nominated because they thrive and serve their community.

In fact, the amount we raised was not enough to cover the expenses. The amount of work to review 46 diversity applications, were time-consuming and labor-intensive. Despite our argument over the choice of winners, we felt the students have transformed us to appreciate the purpose of our judging. When our editor, one of the judges, said she wanted to give scholarships to every student, you could imagine how much we have been inspired.

5. Do nothing day
Author Gretchen Rubin, wrote in her new book “Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives,” wrote that we should schedule in our days what’s important to us, such as a museum visit.
My philosophy is to have an “unscheduled” day so I am free to do whatever I want. Both approaches actually share the same aim that we should have time to do what we enjoy doing and not think about work.
A do-nothing day would be lovely to us workaholics. No text or emails so we can free our mind and body.

6. Laughing and crying

Is it better to laugh or cry? Many say the former. However, I have discovered crying is beneficial for releasing all the bad hidden emotions. One time, I cried so sorrowfully after my friend died. With the outpouring of all kinds of emotions, I found that I actually felt much better physically and mentally afterwards. The mourning ritual helped me to let go finally and gave myself closure.

Yes, I watch a lot of comedies and every day I make sure I have something to laugh about, at myself, or other people.

7. Acupuncture and massages

Those are effective means to make you feel relaxed. Some insurance companies cover these services. Make good use of them if you are covered.

8. Find enjoyable activities

Singing, dancing, listening to your favorite music, playing with your dog, walking in the woods and gardening, do provide important relaxation. Schedule those events for yourself at least during the day and week.

9. A good night’s sleep

I have recommended before in my blog that a good night’s sleep can enable you to face the day with energy and optimism. Yes, I emphasize this again. If you have insomnia, seek medical help. Don’t use sleeping pills. It might do more harm than good.

It’s not everyday we get up and feel enchanted. You just have to know how to overcome your own demons such as negativity, alcoholism, scapegoating, depression, and anxieties. Develop a strategy for each of them. When it comes, you are ready. Yes, you can fight it. (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 15 | 4/4-4/10Comments (0)

BLOG: Easy medicine: A list of foods for stress — (But be sure to create your own list, too)

BLOG: Easy medicine: A list of foods for stress — (But be sure to create your own list, too)

By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly

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Bananas

“Food is medicine,” said a doctor in a television interview recently. But of course, he was not the first to acknowledge that food is medicine.

Hippocrates, a Greek physician said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” more than 2,000 years ago. The Chinese culture has viewed food as medicine more than 5,000 years ago.

A healthy mind and body needs the nutrition of healthy foods. The rewards are plentiful and outweigh the instant gratification of junk food.  Of course, the transition might be difficult if you are used to your own diet, but here are some suggestions and thoughts if you want to attempt a transition.

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Dark chocolate

 

Two decades ago, I frequently got sick being publisher of the Asian Weekly and Seattle Chinese Post. I decided I needed to make changes and it was necessary to adopt a healthy lifestyle, so I can deal with work stress. The main focus that helped was watching what I ate. I needed a change. And it worked.

Sure, I indulge myself once in a while with unhealthy temptations. But now, those moments are rare and sporadic. Only during travel, when work is not on my radar, do I turn myself loose and treat myself to sinful pleasures like bacon and a deep-fried morsel of something equally delicious when it is not deep-fried.

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Peggy Lynch and Julie O’Brien serve up fermented veggies

 

For two years in a row, my family doctor gave me an “A” for my health report card. That means my blood pressure and my heart is in good condition. My Vitamin D, glucose, iron, cholesterol level, and everything else is normal.

For the past few years, I have developed my list of food for stress, and I consume the favorites diligently most of the time, if not every day. These are foods I enjoy, not foods I feel like I have to eat for the sole purpose of maintaining a healthy body (even though they do).

Salmon

Yes, top of the list, but I must admit, this is my least favorite food for stress. To make myself like salmon, I experiment with preparation so I can tolerate it. I discovered that salmon head and stomach can taste fantastic. The head takes too much preparation, but the salmon stomach is doable.

Whenever I shop for salmon, I look for pieces which have the fatty white stomach attached. My family members save the stomach part for me, while they eat the rest of the fish. I get the most fatty, but the best part of the salmon.

Dark chocolate

Chocolate is known to be a mood enhancer. However, dark chocolate is not for everyone at first.

It is an acquired taste. After munching on it for four months, I really enjoy it. I prefer the kind with 75 percent dark chocolate. Anything over 80 percent tends to be bitter and expensive, too.

Dark chocolate not only makes you happy, it is an antioxidant as well.

White chocolate, milk chocolate, or chocolate with caramel coating, I will probably pass on. Too much sugar and calories cause your body more harm than good.

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Grilled chard, onion, carrots

Vital fruits

When stressed, my body temperature rises, including my face, eyes, and head. Watermelon instantly cools me down, nourishes, and replenishes my well being. Most important, I don’t feel dehydrated. A piece of papaya also boosts my energy when I am tired.

Apples and bananas are considered to be “happy” fruits. I eat them every day to lift my spirits.

When I wake up in the middle of the night, I will drink a glass of apple juice. An hour later, I will fall asleep again.

Green grapes are my dessert after dinner.

Grapes aid digestion. Interestingly, even though I don’t really like red or black grapes, I found out they will give the body more resveratrol, which is known to increase longevity.

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Seaweed

Milk

Most people know that if you can’t sleep, try a glass of hot or warm milk. here is a chemical in milk that helps you relax. I don’t use milk to entice my sleep. Instead, I have hot milk with cereal to increase my energy for the morning.

When I feel energetic, I am in a good mood.  Besides, milk consists of calcium and protein, which helps to build strong bones, muscles, and teeth.

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Veggie snacks

Green tea

I love the calming effect of green tea. Usually, I end my breakfast with one cup of green tea.

Why? Because green tea extract should not be taken on an empty stomach due to the potential for liver toxicity from excessive levels of epigallocatechin gallate, according to drugs.com. Although it is recommended safe for 3-5 cups a day, one cup is good enough for me. And I only take it in the morning, so it won’t affect my sleep at night.

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Preparing samples at Vegfest

Brain food

Every day, I consume my brain food, which supports brain function. My list is filled with nuts, one egg, cinnamon, garlic, and turmeric. Nuts, including cashews, almonds, and pistachios, are considered to be “happy” nuts, and I use them as my snacks. I put cinnamon, garlic, and turmeric powder on my egg. These powders make my egg tasty and they also are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory. Cinnamon can stimulate your sense of smell and your brain. Turmeric is a property inside curry powder. Studies have found that Indians who consume much curry have less experience with Alzheimer’s disease than other countries.

I don’t like curry, but I don’t mind turmeric. I have added it to my diet last year. It actually gives more flavor  to my egg.

Vitamin B12

I like to begin my day with vitamin B12. It strengthens my nervous system. It helps me to tackle the challenges of the day. I have felt the difference after taking it for the past five years. When I discontinued it for a while, my blood pressure jumped.

The list of food for stress is long. For example, some recommend avocados and asparagus. I dislike asparagus, so it’s never on my dinner table. Avocados mix well with salads. My family eats them once to thrice a week.

If you can’t afford foods like dark chocolate, no worries, you can find ways to release stress without cost, such as exercise.

Another alternative, according to Lord Byron, an English poet, “Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine.” (end)

Pictures taken in this blog are from the 2015 Vegfest. Taken by Assunta Ng/NWAW
The 2015 VegFest this past Saturday and Sunday at Seattle Center was a huge success. The popular annual festival offered over hundreds of samples of vegetarian and vegan-friendly foods. There was also free blood pressure screenings, BMI counts, artery analysis, and glucose level counts.

Posted in Health, Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 14 | 3/28-4/3Comments (2)

Herb: A bridge for all — Two Seattle giants honored: Mr. Downtown Admiral Herb Bridge and Wing Luke

Herb: A bridge for all — Two Seattle giants honored: Mr. Downtown Admiral Herb Bridge and Wing Luke

By Assunta Ng

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Left to right: Herb, grandson Zach, Tawny (Zach’s wife), great grandson Eli (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

 

What do the late Seattle City Councilmember Wing Luke (Asian) and Admiral Herb Bridge (not Asian), have in common?

They both fostered communities, found strengths in others and created goodwill and harmony out of chaos and hate.

“Wing Luke and Herb Bridge were both members of the Greatest Generation,” said former Supreme Court Justice Faith Ireland.

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Presenting birthday cake to Herb (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

 

Both were born in 1925; Wing in February and Jewish American Herb on Mar. 14. Coincidentally, both birthday celebrations were held on Mar. 14, the same day, and in a museum: Wing’s 90th birthday celebration at the Wing Luke Asian Museum in the afternoon, and Herb’s 90th surprise party in the evening at the Museum of History and Industry MOHAI.

Faith and I were the only ones who attended both events.

“They were exceptional patriots,” said Faith. “Herb Bridge rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. Wing Luke served in Guam, Korea, New Guinea, New Britain, and the Philippines where he received the Bronze star.

They were both minorities, Herb a Jew, Wing, Chinese.  Herb was born into a successful, assimilated family…They both valued their heritage.  Herb, ‘Mr. Downtown,’ embodied leadership among businessmen and civic activists, promoting education, equality, diversity and  philanthropy.

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From left: Herb’s partner Edie Hilliard, Bridge daughter-in-law Simcha Shtull, son Dan Bridge, Herb Bridge, son Jon Bridge and daughter-in-law Bobbe Bridge (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

 

“…More than anything to me they shared the quality of being gentlemen warriors of the highest order, fierce but calm, visionary, generous, forgiving and loving,” said Faith.

“Surprise!” shouted 400 family and friends to Herb when he entered the museum. Then a chorus of “Happy Birthday” greeted Herb. Emotions overwhelmed Herb, who was obviously shocked. He was so touched that he cried several times throughout the evening. In his speech, he wished the audience would have the same experience as …“You have given me tonight.”

How did the family pull this surprise party off?

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Jon Bridge spoke to the audience (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

 

Dad, we won’t celebrate with you on your birthday, we will do something the day after, his son Jon said. “He (dad) was disappointed.”

Though Herb thought Jon was a little heartless, he said at his age, his philosophy was not to take things personally.

Meantime, Leonard Garfield, MOHAI director, wrote Herb a letter to invite him to the museum for a special donors’ reception. Herb never suspected a thing, he never thought his friends including Mayor Ed Murray, would scheme in the “conspiracy.” The mayor gave Herb, Mr. Downtown, a proclamation and declared Mar. 14, Herb Bridge Day.

At least three API groups have recognized Herb’s community service, including the Japanese American Citizens League and Executive Development Institute. He was honored several times early in life, and even more the last five years.

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A history of Herb’s family published two years ago

At 90, Herb is in great shape, sharp-witted, funny, charming, compassionate, and wise. And he doesn’t even need glasses. Also, he looks tough for a 90-year-old, with a straight back with acuity even better than some folks younger than him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he lives beyond 100.

Once, he said he liked a political candidate, but then he paused, “except one thing, he’s a Republican.” A committed Democrat, he is active in politics and has been working on both sides of the aisle no matter how impossible it has been.

A couple years ago, Herb spoke to an audience of 400, at the Seattle Rotary Club on Veteran’s Day. His words were powerful and genuine. It was amazing that he didn’t hold a piece of paper. He handled “Why them and not us?” so beautifully. How do we justify being alive, while our loved ones are being killed early and unexpectedly in wars, sickness, and accidents? That guilt was burdensome and wrenching. Many in the audience who were still grieving for their loved ones, couldn’t help but shed tears.

Herb said, “It’s because we have to carry on their (our loved ones) legacy.” The work is not done, he said, and we’ve got work to do, he added.

So Herb has carried the legacy of many, including Wing’s unfinished business. Wing would probably say, “Well done Admiral, in every sense of the word.”

Mar. 14 was a day to remember. Faith said it so wonderfully. “What an extraordinary privilege …to know both of these Seattle giants.” Though I never met Wing, his words, examples and impact has continued to inspire me. Herb, you are my hero. (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 13 | 3/21-3/27Comments (0)

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