Tag Archive | "Publisher’s Blog"

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

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


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.


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.


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


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


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 (1)

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


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


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


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.


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.


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


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.


(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.


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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



“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.


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.


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).


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.


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.




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.


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.


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 Features 14, 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


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.


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.


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?


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.


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)

BLOG: What a week for entertainment and politics!

BLOG: What a week for entertainment and politics!


Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber board members (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)


Not the usual Chamber’s dinner

So what was unusual?

Mayor Ed Murray, who declared he’s a sheep, spoke briefly at the Greater Chinese Chamber of Commerce’s Lunar New Year dinner at the China Harbor Restaurant last week.

Murray, 60, was born in the Year of the Sheep. According to Chinese astrology, anyone born in the same year as the named zodiac sign, it will be a year of turmoil. As if his first year wasn’t dramatic and challenging enough with the shakeup of the police department, the hiring of a new police chief, Kathleen O’Toole, and the passing of the $15 minimum wage and more—well we will soon find out, won’t we?!


From left: Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant, Mayor Ed Murray, and Director-General of Taipei Economic Affairs Andy Chin (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)


Then Murray mentioned that he is also a Taurus (bull). Oh, the yin and yang balances! That might also explain how the Chamber arranged its seats for the VIPs. Consider that Murray, a Democrat, was sitting right next to Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant, a Republican. But that’s not the odd part.

What is interesting is the conflict and obvious tension between the City and the Port. Murray had asked the Seattle Dept. of Planning and Development to review, investigate and determine whether the Port lease of Terminal 5 to Shell Oil is allowed under the City’s and Port’s guidelinea.


I don’t blame Murray left early.

Then Walter Liang, a devoted Republican, bragged about Republicans buying two tables at the dinner. How about four tables next year? Republicans can afford it. (I know I am going to get flak for this!) The Washington State Republican Party also paid for a Happy Lunar New Year advertisement in the Northwest Asian Weekly without us asking for it. I hope the year of the sheep will be a start for the party to get involved with the Asian community.

I bought five raffle tickets and one of them hit the jackpot. I won the third prize (in terms of dollar value), a gift basket, but it was actually the best prize because it was the Chamber’s board members’ team effort pulling their resources together. What did it contain? The basket contained Nordstrom and Starbucks gift certificates, a comic book (Silk Comic Issue #1), a tea set, Girl Scout cookies, plus a month of kung fu classes donated by Master David Leong.

Winning the raffle was not just about winning. It also meant that a lucky aura had descended on me that day to prevent me from getting badly hurt the following day.


Pam Banks (left) and Kshama Sawant

While I was frying pork for lunch the next afternoon, another stove inches from me, suddenly caused the plate on top to explode into hundreds of pieces with sharp edges and weird shapes. The broken pieces flew all over the kitchen, including on the food I was cooking. My husband thought he had turned off the stove, but it was not completely off. The switch was a half centimeter from the “off” sign, and the heat was still strong. Amazingly, I was not hurt. Despite the fact that I had no physical injury, my psyche was tarnished, and my body was trembling for a while. I had narrowly missed a frightening, deadly experience. If that wasn’t luck, what is?

Pam Banks vs. Kshama Sawant

Pam Banks, CEO of Urban League, has announced her candidacy challenging Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. On one hand, it is good news that a person of color is running for office. On the other, it might divide the minority communities. And two women will be running against each other. Banks is of Asian and African descent and Sawant is Indian-born. Oh my! What are we going to do?

Remember, we are living in a democracy. We are talking about choices and the right to vote for who you think can best serve you and the diverse needs of your district. We also have Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell running for re-election. It looks as if this election will turn out to be an exciting one for the Asian community in politics.


Group therapy scene from “Seven Ways to Get There”

Win-win for all

How do you describe a guy who is restless, relentless, passionate about doing good things, and simultaneously manages to shed some spotlight for his company?

Meet Dwayne Clark, founder and chairman of Aegis Living, who has just co-written a play, “Seven Ways to Get There,” now playing at the ACT Theater. The story is about his counseling experience with a group of men and a counselor 16 years ago.

Aegis Living is also planning to build a Chinese-assisted facility in Newcastle, which will be breaking ground this year.

So before the show is even produced, Clark got his 28 CEO friends’ commitment to support the play by inviting their companies’ employees and families to watch it, too. Sixty percent of the seats have already been sold prior to the show.

I have a confession to make. I am not exactly a huge fan of plays, but more a symphony and Broadway-performance enthusiast. Nonetheless, I took my family to watch Seven Ways to support Clark’s endeavor.

Surprised, I actually shed tears (I won’t spoil the play and tell you what happens). The play was actually a comedy, and there were several moments of lively and funny conversation about how these men discovered and responded to each other’s secrets, fears, anger, anguish, challenges, and anxieties.

“My goal in writing this play was to raise awareness for mental health issues,” Clark wrote in his e-mail. “What I realized during this process is that everyone has mental health issues from time to time.  It is unfortunate that we label and stigmatize people who do.”

Proceeds of the play will benefit Sound Mental Health, which serves over 16,000 people in the Puget Sound Area. The play will continue until March 15. I bet ACT folks are feeling great about the play, no need to sweat for sponsors or hustle for ticket sales. On Mar. 8, when I attended the play, it was about 70 percent filled. That’s darn good for a local theater when many theaters struggle financially. Clark took care of everything.

Clark has written several books and he has donated the proceeds. I wonder what Clark is going to do next. Perhaps produce a movie! (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 12 | 3/14-3/20Comments (0)

BLOG: Harmony — Competition and coincidence between two Asian symphonies…

BLOG: Harmony — Competition and coincidence between two Asian symphonies…


Simon Wood, SSO President, Chiaki Endo, Leslie Chihuly, Naomi Minegishi (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)


By Assunta Ng

When the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (SSO) was planning to perform in China and South Korea in 2016 last year, it didn’t know that a Chinese symphony orchestra, hosted by Dr. Austin Huang, had already booked a concert in its own backyard in Benaroya Hall, here in Seattle on Feb. 25. Not only that, it would have to compete with its own 7th Celebrate Asia (CA) program on March 1 for audience.


Ye Yanchen interviewed by Carolyn Kuan (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)


Every year, the CA program features music from different Asian countries. A Bellingham engineer and a self-taught music composer, Huang, who brought the Shenzhen Symphony to Seattle, had no idea his show would be so close to the CA’s program. Shenzhen Symphony requested the date and he simply did what it was told.  Benaroya Hall was open that day.


Yugo Kanno, composer, at the Japan Consul General’s reception (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)


So it was booked.

The Shenzhen Symphony was also booked to perform in San Francisco and San Diego afterwards.

Apparently, Benaroya Hall management didn’t communicate with SSO even though SSO is its resident. But Simon Woods, SSO’s president said, even if they knew, there was not much they could do.

So within five days, over 3,000 attendants enjoyed fabulous Chinese and exquisite Asian concerts, all at Benaroya.

It’s a decent record. Both parties achieved their goal. Lovely music for all parties.


Dozan Fujiwara (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

How different were the two?

If you asked guests who attended both programs, no one would be willing to speak on the record as many are friends with both groups of organizers.

“They are different,” some would say. Still, there were signs of competitiveness. Both sides invited Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to speak before the program. Both had several event sponsors. Both programs shared similar program designs.  Both held receptions for sponsors and guests.


Zhao Cong, pipa soloist (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)


One concert focused on Chinese music, while the other one focused on music from China, Japan, and India.

Both programs took an immense amount of investment. The Shenzhen Symphony delegation has 100 members including 80 musicians and family members. The piano rental fee was $10,000. Just the airfare and hotel accommodation would carry a hefty price tag. And consider—there were also 74 musicians for the CA performance.


Mayor Ed Murray and sponsors receive plaques (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)


There were no voluntary musicians at CA.

The Shenzhen, which ran three and a half hours, focused on popular traditional and modern Chinese music, including the Yellow River Piano Concerto and Butterfly Lovers. Although fatigue was natural for the musicians and the audience too, as the concert was held on a weekday, the music nonetheless, were familiar pieces for a Chinese audience. There was comfort, familiarity, and enjoyment not trying to understand meaning or what would be next.


Chen Chuan Song, Jindong Cai, Austin Huang, Zhao Cong (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)


CA performed a much shorter and demanding program on Sunday, lasting barely two hours, highlighting Yugo Kanno’s Revive (Tohoku Tsunami Disaster Relief, with three parts, Sunrise, Pray and Future); A.R. Rahman’s Slumdog Millionaire; and Tan Dun’s selections from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I couldn’t say enough about Tan Dun, the author orchestrating the  Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon soundtrack. He is brilliant. While I listened, I correlated the music with the movie I remember–its drama, sword and fist fights, traps set up by the kung fu characters–those memories just came alive..


Yin Chengzung (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)


Conducted by Carolyn Kuan, the inaugural conductor for CA, many in the audience were happy to have her back.

Kuan’s presence instantly inspired confidence in the crowd. SSO only had two rehearsals with Kuan and yet everything flowed so beautifully and magically together. It was so much better than last year. The music was carefully selected this year.

Not that different

Despite what some folks said, I think the Shenzhen and CA of Seattle Symphony program were actually similar. Both the CA and Shenzhen symphonies are all about showcasing talents who are well-known in their native lands, but literally unknowns outside their country. A case in point is Shenzhen pianist, Yin chengzong. He is a prominent musician in China and everyone from China respects him. But it’s the first time I heard of him. And Zhao Cong, the pipa virtuoso, is one of the most popular pipa soloist of the China national Tradition Orchestra. Her performance was so amazing that it enhanced my appreciation about pipa. I wasn’t a pipa fan before.

Another example is CA’s 37-year-old Yugo Kanno, who produces about 300 songs a year for movies, network shows, commercials and games. But I have never heard of him.

He wrote Revive, a symphony to honor Japan’s effort to build after its tsunami especially for the SSO and Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. I was in awe of his first-ever concerto–full of suspense, emotions and color–the richness of East (with koto and shakuhachi) and West instruments intermingling to optimize their effects on the music. When Chiaki Endo played the koto and Dozen Fujiwara with shakuhachi at the end, I was so mesmerized that nothing could stop me from rising and joining others to give them a standing ovation.

Thanks to Yoshi and Naomi Minegishi who supported an open score contest, this year’s winner is Ye Yanchen who wrote Xizi (World Premiere). Ye is only 22 years old. But the maturity is obvious. He took risks and created  the most fun interludes during the performance.

Both conductors were trained in the U.S. Shenzhen conductor Jindong Cai joined the Stanford faculty in 2004.

Currently a professor at Stanford University, he was assistant conductor with the Cincinnati Symphony and has taught music at Louisiana State University and the University of California at Berkeley.

Although Kuan was born in Taiwan, her parents were originally from Guangdong, China. She came to the U.S. for high school at the age of 14. Kuan is now music director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Her conducting experience also includes directing for Butterfly Lovers Concerto.

Both groups’ musicians were also diverse. The Shenzhen group hires musicians outside China, while SSO has several Asian performers in the orchestra.

Both performances showcased some of the best talents in China, and CA has extended its sphere to include Japan with the koto (zither) and shakuhachi (flute-like) instruments.

We Seattleites were lucky to see such superb concerts. The Shenzhen concert even attracted many Chinatown members to go, who have seldom displayed such interest for a concert before. Austin and Nina Huang were gutsy.

Many would back down from bringing the Shenzhen group due to the amount of work and the expenses involved. For friends who know Huang, he would do anything for his love of music. The Huangs deserve a bow from the Chinese community.

My suggestions are to have symphony concerts on different weekends. Make it two hours and not over. And an encore with Carolyn Kuan. We want her back! Don’t try to do everything, just give us something special.
And they were both special. (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 11 | 3/7-3/13Comments (0)

BLOG: Lunar New Year Confessions — It’s already an interesting year

BLOG: Lunar New Year Confessions — It’s already an interesting year

By Assunta Ng

“What’s going on in the community?”

This is a question I often get, and well, it makes me uncomfortable.

People assume I know everything being a newspaper publisher. But I don’t.

I’ve learned that “I don’t know” is not an embarrassing response.  I don’t feel insecure or have an ego issue that I am afraid to admit that I am dumb sometimes, and even make mistakes. Luckily, the internet often saves my day, and I will keep searching for answers for the questions I have. I respect Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In, in which she says, “Leaders should strive for authenticity and not perfection.”


Boom with a fan (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Who is Boom?

“Blitz is not available for the (Lunar New Year kids’) parade this Saturday as he is already attending a different event,” responded a Seahawks staff email to my request for the Hawks’ mascot.   “I could have Boom attend the parade,” he suggested.

Who the heck is Boom?

Instead of showing my ignorance, I replied, “It will be great to have Boom. Yes, please help us get Boom.”


Costume contestants on stage (with Boom!) (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)


Then, I went online to learn more about Boom, Blitz’s sidekick. Okay, I confessed that I didn’t know about Boom and even Blitz’s name until recently. I just wanted the Hawks’ magic touch to add to the Northwest Asian Weekly 6th annual kids’ parade/costume contest.

Kids just loved Boom at the parade, and wanted to hug, high-five and hold the mascot.

Oops, I didn’t clean!

“Did you clean your house for Lunar New Year?” asked a casual acquaintance on Lunar New Year’s Eve, Wednesday.

“No, I didn’t,” I said.

“You didn’t?!” He sounded like I had committed a sin.

“My mother-in-law cleaned the house and worked so hard to prepare ( for the arrival of New Year’s luck.)”

“Shut your mouth, I am not your mother-in-law,” I wanted to reply, But, I decided it’s not worth educating someone chauvinistic who thinks that a woman is responsible for doing it all, and that she should be responsible for cleaning her house.

Wednesday is Asian Weekly’s print day. We had the biggest issue of the year. I had my priorities straight, paper first, house-cleaning third.

Does it mean I won’t have luck this year just because I didn’t clean my home? Following traditions with common sense is a better way to honor our heritage.

Food is King

We gave out Chinese waffle crackers, children’s books, and lucky bags as prizes for finalists participating in the Asian Weekly’s kids’ parade and costume contest.

Nine of the participants chose crackers.

I wish I would have known the crackers would be so popular! They were eight times cheaper than the books. One family of five immediately opened the cracker packages and ate the sweets. They looked so satisfied. Next year, I will be prepared with plenty of crackers.

I will work hard to find sponsors next year so we can afford to give every contestant a pack of waffle cookies.

Have a Fat Chinese New Year?

I didn’t know what it meant when someone wished me a Fat Year last week.

Does it mean I should gain more weight?  Does it mean I don’t have enough fat to cook my meals?

Actually, it means “earn a lot of money, buy a lot of foods for celebrating Chinese New Year, and wishing family members are healthy and happy to enjoy the holiday.” I wouldn’t mind that at all.

With 40 pages and 44 pages for two consecutive issues of the Seattle Chinese Post and three issues of the Asian Weekly with 20 pages in February, it looks like we have a fat beginning.

But the print business is going through a very challenging time. We have to work very hard to achieve a fat year.

Unfortunately, three of my staff were sick last week, one after another. Several of us swallowed quite a bit of vitamin C to fight the flu. I got sick Sunday after deadline, when everything was done. Luckily my body understood how important deadlines are. I just told myself during busy days, “I cannot fall until the work is done.”

What a price we have to pay to make sure we can print!

Greed was dominant

The Lunar New Year Festival brought out at least 10,000 people to visit the Chinatown/International District. While I was happy to see so many people who wanted to be part of the festivities, I was not thrilled to see so many people who showed up due to greed.

People lined up for free goodies from McDonald’s, free fans from Delta Airlines, New York Life’s lanterns and the many more freebies.

Many were fighting, pushing, and getting more than their share like a swarm of bees sucking on their newfound honey. Knowing that there were coupons inside the Seattle Chinese Post, they kept coming to wait for our free issues. We hand out free copies of the Seattle Chinese Post every year during the festival. Every hour, people kept asking, “When will you distribute?”


Getting ready for the parade (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

C’mon, it’s only 50 cents a copy. You get a lot more in the Seattle Chinese Post than just a coupon.

BRAVO award for CID-BIA

The layout of the Lunar New Year Festival was refreshing. The stage was placed in front of the Bush Hotel at Hing Hay Park, enabling the whole audience to see the show. The kids’ pavilion was outside the park, on King Street, whereas it was inside the park in the past. That’s the way it should be.

The Chinatown/International District Business Improvement Area only has two full-time and a few part-time members. Yet, it was able to achieve so much by organizing several events during the year. The success of the CID-BIA is due to its innovation with the strong leadership of Don Blakeney and Mary Do. (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 10 | 2/28-3/6Comments (0)

BLOG: Year of the Sheep is for weaving dreams — Eight is a lucky number

BLOG: Year of the Sheep is for weaving dreams — Eight is a lucky number

The Year of the Sheep is for imagination. Just look at celebrities born in sheep years: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Will Ferrell and others, how they create from nothing to something amazing. It’s time for you to make your Lunar New Year dream list.

The sheep celebrities have certainly inspired me to build my wish list. Instead of a list of 10,

I will only list eight, since eight is lucky number in many Asian countries. But if I can get some of my wishes, I will be as happy as a sheep.

Here you go:


1. Fresh Off the Boat unbeaten

“Fresh Off the Boat,” a pilot television series about an Asian American family on ABC prime time, drew over 9 million viewers in its first two episodes, since its debut three weeks ago. It’s about time we have our own show!!!

The last Asian American television show was two decades ago, featuring Margaret Cho in “The All American Girl,” which ended after 20 episodes.

My son taped the show to make sure his mom watches it dutifully every week. What it means is that young Asian Americans support it. They want to see their own faces and not just the white characters, white values, and white cultures.  It also indicates America is curious about Asian Americans, likes the idea of having such a program, and is ready to watch more. We can’t rely on only Asians to watch the show. To make it successful, we need non-Asians to cheer it on as well. The show’s premiere episodes point to it receiving acclaim from all audiences.

Sure, it stereotypes Asian Americans. Some critics said it wasn’t that funny. Still, I saw myself in the story—how at times, I raised my sons with an iron fist–forcing them to go to Chinese classes on Saturday when they protested. They understood that getting a bad grade would be the end of the world.

I was delighted to watch Asian Americans not being portrayed as sidekicks or second-lead characters, but rather, being the main stars. They were telling our stories, examining struggles, and making sacrifices when living in a new country.

I sincerely hope the show triumphs and lasts for a long, long time. This will encourage Asian Americans, young and old, to think seriously about going into the entertainment industry. Hopefully, this project would also lead to other Asian American characters and movies popping up in Hollywood, giving our community more opportunities.

So readers, watch it every Tuesday on ABC at 8 p.m. Parents, inspire your kids to follow their passion. Not everyone can be a computer expert, doctor, or engineer. Your kids’ possibilities are endless.

2. Ana Mari Cauce as UW president

University of Washington President Michael Young has announced that he will be leaving for the position of Texas A&M president in June.

“What do you think are Young’s contributions?” I asked some UW alumni.

“He has raised a lot of money,” they replied.  When I asked the same question for Young’s predecessor Mark Emmert, who left UW in 2010, several could instantly articulate what Emmert did for the Asian community and UW.  Emmert had a stellar performance in fund-raising for UW too. I have not met someone who felt sorry that Young is leaving.

Yes, he quits simply because the other school pays him more. Need I say more!?

It could be that Young never felt he belonged here. He doesn’t really open himself up much to others. UW Regents picked him through a national search, which was time-consuming, costly, and a minor return for us.


Provost Ana Mari Cauce

However, Young did make one significant contribution—the appointment of Provost Ana Mari Cauce, a woman and person of color.

Last week, the UW Board of Regents appointed Cauce to be the interim president. If the Regents were bold enough to do the right thing, they should encourage Cauce to apply for the permanent job and then pick her. A natural leader in many areas, she works well with people, including the faculty and community.

A female university president is a treasure, only 27 percent of university and college presidents are women. We have an excellent candidate now and it’s up to the Regents.

Don’t make the same mistake like last time–UW lost President Emmert and Provost Phyllis Wise, a Chinese American. The Board was unsupportive of the idea of Wise’s candidacy for the presidency. So she stayed out of the race and worked as interim president before Young’s arrival. Then, the University of Illinois approached Wise and grabbed her as Chancellor at Urbana-Champaign.

Please keep Cauce for the good of the UW.

3. Go Seahawks!

I am still proud of the team although the Hawks lost its Super Bowl championship.

The Hawks don’t get the respect and prestige they deserve–they are not even on the top 10 most popular football teams in the United States. But if they can prove themselves in 2016 with a championship, who would dare challenge their talents?

Yes, Hawks for a 2016 win! Yes, we can!

4. $15 minimum wage

The $15 minimum wage will be implemented in Seattle on April 1. It would be tough on minority businesses and even mainstream businesses.


Lester Holt

I pray for business owners not to be victimized by the $15 minimum wage, and that they will be able to survive by developing innovative measures, and be equipped with a fighting spirit in dealing with adversities.

5. Lester Holt as anchor?

Who would have predicted that Lester Don Holt, Jr. would be the interim anchor in 2015 for NBC Nightly News during Brian Williams’ six-month suspension?

(Williams has been accused of embellishing his role in a fighting helicopter during the Iraq War when he was actually in another plane.) If Williams doesn’t return, Holt will be the first person of color anchor for a major network.

Even though many said Williams deserves a second chance, and he does, there is a silver lining for the public to recognize that Holt can fill a big anchor’s shoes. So I am rooting for Holt to be a prime-time news anchor—if not for NBC, then one of the other major networks.

6. Great stories!

Did you know that many times the media, including newspapers, are dictated by good visuals? Maybe we don’t have the meatiest story in a certain week, but we can try to procure a good photo to complement it. So the story gets a front-page position even though it’s not important enough to be placed there. That visual can make all the difference.

In the Year of the Sheep, I hope we will have stories that won’t depend on that. I am not hoping for disaster and bad news, but perhaps with our readership’s help (send us story ideas!), we can really provide great and exciting stories–especially those which can lift the human spirit. Yes, we will still deliver the bad news, but hopefully it will be a year of good news.

We hope to see great things happening in the Asian community and people of color so we can present inspirational pieces and lessons for us all.

7. Speak up about mental health issues

Asian Americans who have mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, are often ashamed to admit that they need help. Asian culture pressures many of the patients not to seek help and support, due to perhaps “saving face.” Everyone deserves to have a quality life. No one should be afraid to make changes or be ashamed to talk about something they need support for. Be brave and seek help. Be consistent and unashamed in your search for support. Be vocal. There is nothing to be frightened or embarrassed about when it comes to depression or other mental illness.

My wish is to be able to use the Asian Weekly as a resource and hopefully make a contribution to our community. We tried to address this issue after hearing about Yale student’s Luchang Wang’s suicide in our recent editorial. You will hear from us more about the issue. If you have any thoughts, please let us know.

8. Enjoy, relax, and focus on your blessings

My job is stressful as a publisher. Every day, I search for ways and moments to enjoy, laugh, and relax. My wish for you is the same. Every day, I make a decision in the morning that I am going to have a great day no matter what happens and how lousy it might be. It’s easier said than done. It’s my goal in Sheep Year, though.

In 2014, I was successful most days, but still working on some glitches along the way. In the Year of the Sheep, I hope I can achieve my goal 99 percent of the time.

Happy New Year in the Name of the Sheep, the most peaceful and patient animal of all in the 12 zodiac signs. (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 9 | 2/21-2/27Comments (0)

BLOG: Superstitions and traditions — Examining our strange Lunar New Year customs

BLOG: Superstitions and traditions — Examining our strange Lunar New Year customs

By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly


Variety of red envelopes

Reminiscing about Lunar New Year during my childhood, I could count as many as hundreds of traditions my family followed. Some were fun, while some were silly and reflective of cultural defects.

As a child, I wasn’t smart enough to say, “Hey, just because it was done thousands of years ago in China doesn’t mean we have to do the same today!”

Nor was it my place to ask, “Why are we doing this?”

As an adult, I have skipped many of the requirements of the Lunar New Year to-do list due to two reasons. It isn’t meaningful to honor traditions if they are based on superstitions. It’s not practical to keep my cultural customs, living in America, which doesn’t celebrate the holiday like Asian countries, and not even normally celebrate other nations’ New Year.

So I made an arbitrary decision—only hanging on to the fun New Year activities and traditional food and crafts, to bring families and the community together.

Here is a list I will refer to before and after Feb. 19, the first day of the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Sheep.

Yes, “red envelopes!”

When I was a child in Hong Kong, I would dream of having New Year every day because there was no school, and there was plenty of money and an abundance of fine food.

My family was poor. Seldom did my mother give me an allowance. My mother was able to give me lunch money during weekdays. (The Hong Kong school system didn’t provide free lunch for low-income students.)

I usually only bought two pieces of bread (about 10 cents U.S.) as opposed to buying a lunch box (about 60 cents U.S.). Then, I hid the rest of the money. Yes, I hid it. Because if my mom knew that I had money left, she would give me less the next time.
So Lunar New Year became my temporary financial savior because adults, all my relatives, would give us “lucky money.”

My mom usually let me keep all the lucky money.

Red envelopes are a popular tradition, and especially popular with the receivers.

Married adults are supposed to give unmarried friends and relatives lucky money. The money is put in red envelopes for good fortune.

I give red envelopes to my employees.

Ever since we’ve published the Asian Weekly, I have always handed out lucky money, as well as treating them to a sumptuous Lunar New Year lunch. It’s something they look forward to every Chinese New Year. Of course, I give red envelopes to my sons and some friends’ children since they are single.

I will stick to this tradition because everyone is smiling when I hand them money.

Pay debt the Chinese way

It would bring bad luck for the debtors next year if they don’t pay before New Year arrives, according to Chinese tradition. That’s what we should teach our children before they become adults. I endorse this custom totally. Settle your debt before you borrow again next year; it is the right thing to do. In the modern world, people are inclined not to pay on time and postpone payment as much and as long as possible. That’s why so many Americans have lost their credit and are in financial trouble.


Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW


There are lucky foods, especially when it comes to the Chinese New Year.

The New Year Cake, made of solid cake, nien go, combines glutinous rice flour with some sugar.  Eating the cake is a symbol that you will climb higher and higher every year.


Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW


Oysters signify that your affairs will be in order. If you don’t want something bad to happen, perhaps eating more oysters can ward off all those bad omens.


Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW


What about lotus seeds providing fertility? What about tangerines giving you wealth?

How about steamed fish granting you prosperity every year?

I don’t mind eating all those with my family and staff. I don’t care if it lands me fortune. It’s still fun to eat them anyway.

We can all buy our lucky foods at Lam’s Seafood and Uwajimaya if we don’t have time to make them.


Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW


Create the New Year look by hanging lucky posters, signs, and lanterns to decorate your shop, office, and home. These gestures make you feel festive. You can buy these items at Uwajimaya and Modern Trading.

I love to enhance my office with New Year greetings, but I never seem to have time to do it at home. Some folks might argue that if you don’t do it, you might have bad luck all year round. Sorry, I can’t help it. I would rather get enough sleep than sweat over New Year superstitions.

Avoid mean words

During the first two days of the Lunar New Year, we are supposed to greet friends and loved ones with “Gung Hay Fat Choy,” meaning “wishes for you to make lots of money.”

My parents and relatives got annoyed if anyone said anything like “You go to hell” at the beginning of the year. Now, if people say mean words, I just respond with, “Oh really,” and laugh. That’s a better defense mechanism than to be upset.

Today, we say the phrase “Gung Hay Fat Choy” so many times, as if it doesn’t mean too much. It’s more like a New Year greeting than actually meaning that the receiver will get wealth. The better greeting would be, “May your dreams come true.” “May you have good health.” “Million affairs will be in triumph.”

It doesn’t cost us anything to say nice things to others. So why make others feel bad?!

Cleaning is a no-no…

My mom used to clean our home before the New Year because cleaning means sweeping away your wealth. As she ages, she doesn’t do much. Could it be that she is wiser or she doesn’t remember to clean? Both. I try to schedule my cleaners to do the cleaning before the New Year. It’s thoughtful to do so, especially if your janitors are Asian immigrants.

Sometimes, it doesn’t work and that’s fine.

Go with the flow. And don’t blame yourself or rationalize that you have bad luck that year simply because you clean your house on New Year’s Day.

Washing dishes and showers are a “no-no.” But we can’t stop flushing the toilet! I can manage turning on our dishwasher two hours before midnight instead of that certain day. But a daily bath for me is essential to have a good night’s sleep. I cannot change this habit even if you guarantee me a thousand bucks. The day I came to America, I have been showering every New Year’s Day.

Perhaps, that’s the reason I can’t be a publisher of 20 newspapers, but only the publisher of two. I just disregard my luck with my act of bathing on the wrong day! But then, if I change my habits, I don’t think money will flood my house either. (end)

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 8 | 2/14-2/20Comments (0)

BLOG: Being blunt about race…

BLOG: Being blunt about race…

By Assunta Ng


DaNell Daymon, founder of Greater Works (left), and choir members perform at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church for Seattle Colleges MLK celebration (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)


My words were blunt and shocking even to myself when I asked community leaders to contribute to the Asian Weekly’s social justice issue. Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 5 | 1/24-1/30Comments (0)

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