Exclusive Interview: Chicago Alderman Leon Depres

Featured in Huffingtonpost on 5/6/09

Video interview by Ted Regencia

CHICAGO — Chicago’s venerable alderman (retired) from Hyde Park, 101-year old Leon Depres, also known as “the conscience of the city” recalls his 1937 meeting with Leon Trotsky in Mexico, which led to his introduction to Diego Rivera and wife, Frida Kahlo. Rivera painted a portrait of Depres’ wife, Marian. That painting now hangs at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. Depres died a few months after the interview on May 6, 2009.

Op-Ed: Journalism in the time Joe the Plumber

Web Exclusive
January 2009

By Ted Regencia

CHICAGO — Almost a year ago, I watched in horror, as the nightly news carried a story on Election 2008 everyman, Joe the Plumber, becoming a foreign correspondent in the ongoing conflict in Gaza. I became even more troubled when Joe, whose real name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, stressed that the media should be “abolished” from the war zone. “I liked back in World War I and World War  II, when you’d go to the theater and you’d see your troops on the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for them,” the Washington Post quoted him as saying. He accused reporters of not being “patriotic” for reporting the war.

The spectacle surrounding the Ohio native’s trip to Israel, highlights the perils of citizen journalism. Instead of covering the news, bloggers and citizen journalists became newsmakers themselves, advocating overtly biased opinions without regard to accuracy and fairness. By confusing their own celebrity status and their message, they undermine the essence of  real journalism: The delivery of objective, thorough and balanced information.

In today’s free-for-all media environment, the role of professional journalists as gatekeepers of information has become even more critical. The dominance of 24-hour cable news and the Internet, allows the news to travel the world in an instant. The widespread use of personalized gadgets, only ensures mass transmission, while spawning self-proclaimed reporters. The responsibility to guarantee that, that information is factual and fair, however, still rests on the professional journalists.
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How I met Barack Obama

Inquirer.net’s Global Nation Section
November 2008

Text and videos by Ted Regencia

CHICAGO — Pressed against the steel railings, I struggled to keep myself from being completely crushed by the delirious crowd, all wanting to shake the hands of their idol. It was past 11 pm in Des Moines last January, and Barack Obama had just finished delivering his speech following a decisive victory in the Iowa Caucus that would propel him to the Democratic nomination.

Anxious not to miss a single moment, I feverishly clicked on my camera, now completely aimed on the subject who was inching closer and closer to me. All of a sudden, I hear Secret Service agents barking orders to people, “show your hands; show your hands.” It was part of the security measure to protect the candidate.

I had to clear my hands too. The next thing I knew, I was face-to-face with the would-be American president. He extended his right hand to me and flashed a toothy smile. All I could say was, “Thank You” as he I shook his rather skinny hand and looked him in the eye. Thank you? What was I thinking?
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Election 2008 and the New Media

Video by Ted Regencia

Ben Goldberger, Chicago Bureau Chief of the Huffington Post talks about the relationship between the media and citizen journalists in an era of instant communication. Goldberger was one of the panelists of a forum, “Election 2008: New Voters, New Media, New Engagement” hosted by Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and the new Center for Civic Engagement, October 2.

Barack Obama and the re-education of Fil-Am voters

Inquirer.net’s Global Nation Section
August 2008

Text and photo by Ted Regencia
CHICAGO — At the height of the US presidential primaries that pitted Chicago’s very own Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, one Filipino American social butterfly emphatically said, “Ay, ayaw ko kay Obama! Baka yung White House magiging Black House (Oh, I don’t want Obama! The White House might turn into a Black House).”

It’s a sentiment not so few of Chicago’s Filipino Americans feel towards their very own senator, who is an African-American. Now that he is the Democratic nominee for president, a historic achievement for a black candidate, the antagonism has only intensified.

It all started when Obama won the Iowa caucus on January 3. Shortly after, an online group of Filipinos received a forwarded email attacking Obama’s “Muslim upbringing.”
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Fil-Am Army captain hits the trail for Obama

July 2008

By Ted Regencia

CHICAGO — As an army captain assigned in Iraq, Mario Bonifacio experienced the war firsthand. Now, he is in a different battlefield helping Barack Obama get elected president of the United States.

“This is an extremely historic event and I am very proud to be a part of it,” Bonifacio said, referring to the Illinois senator’s candidacy.

Bonifacio is the Regional Field Director of the Obama campaign for the state of New Jersey. He is one of the very few Filipino-Americans with an inside look at the campaign from its early stage. Recently, the campaign also recruited Charmaine Manansala as director of the Asian American Pacific Islanders voter outreach program.
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Filipino contingent shines at Chicago’s Pride parade

Philippine News and GMANews.TV
July 2008

Text, photos and video by Ted Regencia

CHICAGO — For the first time in the 39-year history of the Chicago Gay Pride Parade, a contingent of Filipinos joined in the festivities Sunday, June 29, capping their trailblazing participation with a victory in the Best Organization Float category.

An estimated 450,000 people — 25,000 more than last year, according to reports — gave the Filipinos and Friends in Chicago (FINC) and other parade participants a wild and frenzied welcome. FINC is an organization of young Filipino professionals in the Windy City.

“We really want to highlight the rich and colorful culture of the Philippines, and make known to the world that as Filipinos, we are proud to be a part of the Chicago community,” Oliver Cutamora, a founding member said.

FINC’s street performance, a fusion of native Filipino dances and modern rhythms, conceptualized by professional choreographers Mike Vallente and Chip Payos, sent the crowd into loud cheers.

As the performers entertain the crowd, other FINC members distributed pink beads, while an advance party carried the group banner, the American and Philippines flags, and the rainbow-colored flag of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community.

Continue reading “Filipino contingent shines at Chicago’s Pride parade”