Category Archives: Profiles

Juniper Tangpuz: A Profile of a Filipino American Visual Artist and Paper Sculptor

My friend, Paulo Cabezas, owner (together with manager, Cara Lewis) of Cara and Cabezas Contemporary, an art gallery in the heart of downtown Kansas City, Missouri, had mentioned the name of Filipino American artist, Juniper Tangpuz, a year ago. Today, I am making the time to feature this talented professional to the Filipino communities worldwide. When you look at Juniper’s curated videos, you’ll understand what I’m talking about… Juniper, when you want to find out more about your roots, please holler! We’d love to show you around the new cultural landscape in America that your Filipino heritage influenced.

Filipinas Magazine, January 2008: Traveling with Johnny

I don’t write too many profiles nowadays. This particular article that I wrote for Filipinas Magazine actually took eight months to germinate in my “to-do” list before it even saw print. Well, it was worth the wait. I wrote this story because I wanted to highlight the entrepreneurial experiences of our successful Filipino American business owners. Johnny Francisco of Travelfast International, Inc. and Mango Tours certainly fits the bill. Peachy Pelaez had introduced us many, many years ago when my attention was still on the Rotary Club of Fisherman’s Wharf-San Francisco and the San Francisco Business Times, not on the Filipino American community. So, when I finally sat down with Johnny inside a private conference room at his Flood Building office, it was quite an exhilarating experience for me especially since he had this forward-thinking attitude about the travel industry. Now that his son, Jappy Francisco, is handling the marketing for Mango Tours (do I hear a lot of second and third generation Filipino Americans trekking the beaches, mountains, and clubs in the Philippines?), succession planning (which I keep hounding family-owned businesses with) seems to be working just fine for the Francisco family.

The article is found on pages 20 and 21 of the January 2008 edition of Filipinas Magazine.


Traveling with Johnny

by: Lorna Lardizabal Dietz

“Taking a chance on running a travel agency nearly 30 years ago, Johnny Francisco has built a business that continues to soar.”

Johnny Francisco, standing, works with his team in his San Francisco office

It is 11:00 p.m. in San Francisco. A sleepy Filipina travel sub-agent, who has an online booking engine at her website, answers a telephone call from a friend in Chicago. Apologetic, he asks, “My grandmother just passed away — and I want to leave in a couple of days for Manila. I need the best internet airfare. Can you help me?”

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Thelma Boac: The Educator Builds Community

WOMEN IN FOCUS – Work & Life by Lorna L. Dietz

August 23, 2005: Introducing The New Principal

This is the scenario.

You are a brand-new student at Silver Creek High School this week in San Jose, California. You have already made your acquaintance with Thelma Boac, Principal, before the official “first day at school.” Mrs. Boac smiles a lot. Her eyes sparkle with laughter. Her teacher’s voice sounds crisp and clear, soothing and melodic — articulating English, Spanish, Tagalog, and Cebuano words fluidly and appropriately — somehow making the school’s embracing multi-ethnic, inter-cultural environment seem more like a global learning ground. You feel right at home with the fusion of cultures. Continue reading

“What’s Up, Bernardo?” – A Profile on Bernardo Bernardo

SAN FRANCISCO–For the past 10 years, Bernardo Bernardo has been popularly known as a comedian in the highly-rated Philippine TV series “Home Along Da Riles,” playing the arch-nemesis of Dolphy — the legendary Charlie Chaplin of the Philippines.

His irreverent sense of humor charmed and provoked an international Filipino audience, accentuating a “tongue-in-cheek” outlook on their life experiences. Renowned for his ability to comfortably execute multiple personas, from leading roles in Philippine and Singaporean theater productions to portrayals as actor, stand-up comedian, singer, host, scriptwriter and director, Bernardo effortlessly attracts an admiring clientele in the entertainment and corporate circuits.

When Queenie Salazar, a special event and entertainment consultant, introduced us a few months ago, my pursuit of the holistic lifestyle suddenly manifested itself in gaining a new teacher who helped me understand that healers come in various forms. In his case, Bernardo could alter the lackadaisical or lethargic climate of a room into a powerful, transformative impression that overflows with light-heartedness and delight. His experiences in pranic healing and interests in crystal healing stimulated my curiosity.

“If you’re in Manila, go to SM Megamall and visit my crystal shop, Crystal Stars. My partners will take good care of you,” Bernardo assured me.

He gives commonplace advice to people whose studies in Eastern philosophies are meant to enrich their quest for enlightenment. “Every person has a special gift. Whether it is the ability to make people laugh or being conscious and sensitive about what is going on at all times, take care of these gifts. A person might not be prosperous with his finances right now, yet he is blessed with many friends, an active life that includes community service, or a loving family.”

Bernardo’s dream is to have a bi-country commuter’s life between the Philippines and the USA. “I manifest my intentions by allowing people to ‘know me, like me, and trust me,’” he said. Bernardo then shifted to a more reflective mood and added, “For the longest time now, I’ve had this desire to simplify my life. It’s happening. I know my priorities.”

Professionally, Bernardo’s career intentions in the US are very clear. “Many people in Asia remember that my theater background is the foundation of it all. A masters degree in Theater Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara, a Bachelor of Literature college degree in Journalism with a minor in Public Relations from the University of Santo Tomas, an Urian Award-Critic’s Choice for Best Actor, and a multi-hyphenated total performing artist’s reputation are significant credentials for my résumé. Yet, at this time in my life, I want my talents and skills as a teacher, trainer, director and entertainment host to take center stage in the US. My focus is education. I have a lot to learn and a lot to contribute,” Bernardo said.

His first choice for an American directorial debut was an improvisational variety show that served as a playful and flippant tribute to the newly-arrived Filipino immigrant’s adventures in the US.

“It was very well-received in San Jose and Anaheim. In time, we will broaden the revue’s story line to encompass a more multi-racial American experience. I would really like to expand this entertainment format to include a local cable TV show,” Bernardo revealed.

Recently, an advertorial in a Filipino-American publication about the production of the Island Pacific Supermarket’s TV commercial for ABS-CBN’s The Filipino Channel caught my attention. The comedic milieu had Bernardo Bernardo impersonating a Samba dancer, a nouveau riche matron, a blue-collar worker, and a fish-loving personality. I asked him about the episode where he had to lie down on a bed of ice with the fishes.

I teasingly inquired, “Was it a slimy experience?”

“It was refreshing! However, when I used a mackerel as a microphone, the production crew laughed because it wasn’t written in the original script,” recalled a happy Bernardo after he related that the advertisement had garnered favorable reviews.

“Make more commercials like this one and you’ll be due for a Clio Award,” I encouraged Bernardo, referring to the world’s creative competition that honors advertising and design excellence.

Bernardo’s endeavors in the US include laying the groundwork for actors’ workshops in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Preparing for a career in acting, acting for singers, and basic actors’ workshops are courses that he believes will empower individuals to pursue their dreams with purpose and passion.

“Every day, we create many roles for different situations. The performing arts is a very generous and giving profession. Even if you are always ‘on,’ there is something childlike in an actor’s attitude and mind-set. An actor heals with his gift of transformation. Remember, actors’ workshops offer you the chance to round up your personal and professional development. You’ll discover more gifts and insights about yourself in the process,” Bernardo said.

And so it is.

(The author is the executive secretary of the Philippine American Press Club. You may e-mail her at [email protected])

Notes: This article was written one Sunday morning in November 2002. I e-mailed it to all of my friends around the world as a prelude to a difficult writing assignment, although it was more than a writing exercise because I wrote the text as an intention. This profile was published by a Filipino American publication, Asian Journal, and the news portal,

What’s up, Bernardo?

Posted: 6:11 AM (Manila Time) | Nov. 29, 2002

By Lorna Dietz, contributor

Sample Profile: Anton Valera Quisumbing

Limited Cast pieces numbered and signed exclusively for the Ayala Museum Shop
Limited Cast pieces numbered and signed exclusively for the Ayala Museum Shop


“We can mold and manipulate stone and metals to the extreme,” Anton Quisumbing explains as he ends his working day preparing for the “Simbahan” (Churches) exhibit at the Social Hall of the Philippine Consulate General’s office in San Francisco. The miniature facades of Philippine churches, chosen for their aesthetic and virginal, restorative appeal and ranging from a foot high to almost three feet, stand majestically atop their double-purpose carrying cases. Hours and days of sculpting that started in November of 2000 are blessed with bas-relief replicas carved in Mactan stone, a fossilized limestone found in the island of Mactan, Cebu. Using resin and plaster to complement other meticulous details, Anton finishes the miniatures with a patina of simulated antiquity. Thus, when a visitor enters the exhibit hall, a hushed aura of “sacred space” pervades the atmosphere.

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Henry Manayan: Tangible Proof of Vital Leadership

As one drives along the Calaveras Boulevard corridor in Milpitas, California, a sparkling, brand-new, architectural jewel looms into view — a 57,000 square-foot building that the city’s political decision makers call “home” and the residents proudly display as the hub of a community’s social, cultural, and economic power base. This is the Milpitas City Hall, redefined.

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