Ex- Star columnist makes mark in US

SPORTS FOR ALL - Philip Ella Juico - The Philippine Star

Filipinos have made their presence felt in different parts of the globe in varying capacities and professions. In sports, the prime examples are, of course, Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire. In social development and non-traditional education, Filipinos are extremely proud to have Efren Penaflorida, CNN Hero of the Year for 2009. The 32-year-old Penaflorida who was born in Cavite and graduated from San Sebastian College- Recoletos de Cavite with a degree in computer technology, grew up in the slums near a dump site in Cavite City.

In the performing arts and entertainment, we have Cecille Licad, Liza Macuja-Elizalde, Lea Salonga, Charice Pempengco, Jessica Sanchez, and Filipino-American rapper, Apl.de.ap, member of the Grammy Award winning band, the Black Eyed Peas. Apl.de.ap, whose real name is Allan Pineda was born on Nov. 28, 1974 in Sapang Bato, the largest barangay in Angeles City, Pampanga. At 11, Pineda arrived in the United States to have an eye ailment treated and eventually decided to stay in America through a sponsor. Pineda’s father was an American airman stationed at the then Clark Air Force base who left his mother Cristina Pineda who eventually raised Allan and his other siblings.

In media, most everyone should be familiar with Jose Antonio Vargas, the TNT (Tago ng Tago) or undocumented Filipino who revealed his illegal status in an essay in TIME magazine. Vargas was working at the Washington Post when he wrote the article in an attempt to end all the years of deception and legitimize his stay in the US It was reported that shortly after Vargas publicly revealed his story, the US Department of Homeland Security would no longer deport young illegal aliens provided they qualify under the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act which stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors provides conditional permanent residency to illegal aliens of good moral character and who meet other important conditions.

Certainly, there are many other Filipinos who do not enjoy the same super high profile recognition as Pacquiao, Donaire and company but have remained just as effective and credible. In business and politics, especially in local government units in various parts of the States, Filipinos have managed to win the trust and confidence of corporate colleagues and Fil-Am voters. Media also has its share of US-based talented Filipino personalities who have addressed the unique needs and desires of Fil-Ams.

One such Filipino is former STAR sports and lifestyle columnist Jannelle So who we bumped into last year in Las Vegas the day before the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez bout. It was the 10th time that So reported on a Pacquiao fight.

So is well-known among Filipinos in Southern California-Los Angeles for being the host and producer of Kababayan L.A., a daily show catering to the Filipino market. The show airs on KSCI (LA-18) television.

Prior to invading the highly-competitive television broadcast industry, So had written for this paper and covered international events like the 1997 ASEAN Informal Summit in Malaysia, the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok and the 2002 Asian Games in Korea. She also covered the 1998 presidential elections and the 1998 Centennial Celebrations. So was a courtside reporter in the Philippine Basketball Association before she took a big risk by leaving for the States in 2003.

Reports provided us by So, indicate that nearly two-third of Los Angeles Filipino residents watch Kababayan LA which is categorized as a Filipino news magazine show. Now on its sixth year, host/producer So celebrated the program’s sixth anniversary in April 2012. Program supporters insist that its sixth anniversary legitimizes the presence and growing influence of Kababayan LA in the Fil-Am community in Southern California.

The program is considered the longest-running daily Filipino talk show outside of the Philippines and is beamed toward the largest ethnic segment among Asian-Americans with over half a million consumers in Southern California. The next largest ethnic grouping is the Chinese, followed by Korean, Vietnamese, Asian Indian and Japanese.

LA 18 states that the percentage growth among the Fil-Am population in L.A. outpaces the total L.A. populations with a 37 percemt population increase from 2000 to 2010. An interesting figure to consider, especially by advertisers is today, Filipino consumers in Southern California account for nearly $16 billion in annual buying power.

Jannelle So’s efforts all these years have not gone unnoticed: she and her program have gotten recognition from prestigious Filipino organizations such as Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA) and Filipino American Library or FAL.

A cum laude graduate of Communication Arts of Miriam College in 1998, So completed a journalism course in UCLA before joining Kababayan LA.

When we met at the media center at MGM Grand, Jannelle was all business, gathering material for her weekly show. Indeed it was a source of pride to see a Filipino doing well and competing with the best in a foreign land. In a manner of speaking Jannelle So is the STAR’s contribution to continuing and strengthening the overseas Filipino’s bond with the motherland.












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