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.”
Continue reading “Barack Obama and the re-education of Fil-Am voters”

Fil-Am Army captain hits the trail for Obama

Inquirer.net
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.

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Pacquiao’s foe David Diaz trains with Fil-Am from Mountain Province

PINOY Newsmagazine/Inquirer.net
June 2008

Text, photos and video by Ted Regencia


CHICAGO — As he prepares for his biggest fight against the Philippines’ Manny Pacquiao on June 28, lightweight champion David Diaz now spars with a Filipino-American southpaw.

Diaz has enlisted the help of Diamond Gut-oman Baier, a 31-year old native of Bontoc, Mountain Province, as one of his three sparring partners, all lefties.

Diamond, as he is popularly known in Chicago’s boxing community, is an amateur boxer and trains with the Chicago Boxing Club. He is also an entrepreneur and long-time resident of the Chicago’s South Side. At the age of 10, Diamond moved to Chicago after he was adopted by his aunt. He took his last name Baier, from his German-American uncle.

“I hope he doesn’t get in trouble,” Diaz jokingly quipped after revealing Diamond’s name. “We didn’t just get him because he’s Filipino. We got him because his style is similar to Manny’s. He is fast, he’s pretty strong and he’s from around the area,” Diaz said.
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