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tv   Asian Pacific America with Robert Handa  NBC  December 10, 2017 5:30am-6:01am PST

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♪ "asian pacific america." and welcome to i'm robert handa, your host for our show here on nbc bay area and cozi tv. it's the winter holiday season, and we hope you enjoy today's program that reflects that spirit. what's the holiday art season without performances of "the nutcracker"? and today, we feature one of the best and one of its special stars. the san francisco ballet performance is coming up, and joining us is soloist and bay area dancer wang wei. then we talk about the spirit of giving through the family giving tree, which has fulfilled the gift wishes of more than 1 million children in the bay area. next, we will have a community calendar of some important community events, and wrap it up with our old friends from the parangal dance company, who will do a live performance, bringing its popular form of filipino music and holiday
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spirit here to the "asian pacific american" studio. well, having a daughter, olivia, who was in a ballet school, i saw my share of "nutcracker" performances, community and professional productions. and even those not familiar with ballet, there is a feeling of holiday spirit that the audiences all share. and when you see it at its highest level, it's inspiring. the traditional san francisco ballet production provides one of those experiences. it starts its holiday run at the war memorial opera house december 13. we are proud and happy to have a soloist from the show with us today. wang wei was born in anshan, china, and trained at the beijing dance academy before attending the san francisco ballet school, joining san francisco ballet in 2013, then elevated to soloist in 2016. welcome to the show, and congratulations, i should say, that's a very fast ascension there. now, give us an idea here in terms of, first of all, for people who aren't familiar with it, the san francisco ballet, the holiday tradition behind this production. wang wei: so, so basically, christmas,
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talking about christmas, "nutcracker," is like number one thing for local people, bay area, to come in. it becomes a tradition every year, like people, you know, get together to feel about the holiday spirit of "the nutcracker," the magical "nutcracker" production from san francisco ballet. for me, that's like a have-to-do thing every year. robert: yes, absolutely, like a career goal too. wang: yeah, yeah. robert: i'll tell you, we have a little bit of "the nutcracker" to show with featuring you, so let's take a look at it, and then we'll talk about it after. wang: okay, sounds good. ♪ ♪ ♪
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robert: it must be quite a thrill just to see yourself doing it and doing it, huh? wang: yeah. actually, i don't see the tape that often. i more just, you know, when i see myself more into the professional, you know, technical, you know, when i see myself, it's just like, "oh, there's more things to improve." but like, see the whole production, see, actually see myself in this magical show, it just--i'm so excited. robert: yeah, so we're going to be showing some images of that as well, not just you, but for you to be able to be in it and everything like that. one of the things we want to make sure that people understand too, is that the show is set in san francisco, like in 1915. there's a lot of bay area references. and so, for people to go see it, it isn't just a ballet, it's a ballet show, a whole production. it's really something, for me, i would just find it a very bay area experience as well as a christmas experience. wang: yes, of course, 'cause actually san francisco ballet
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is the first company ever to premiere "nutcracker" in the whole us. so, "nutcracker" is very, very important to san francisco ballet. so, that's why people are more looking forward every christmas to see "nutcracker." and then helgi tomasson, the director of san francisco ballet, took a step forward, built on from the first production ever by lew christensen. and then he made this magical show happen on the war memorial opera house, on this stage. it's--you know, it's quite an amazing, exciting experience for me. and for audiences, a magical show of the evening. robert: oh, i know. i mean, first and foremost, having the war memorial opera house to use is just it's amazing, a place like that. is there much difference for you in terms of like--like for me, i've seen many different productions of it, and they always have sort of their unique take on things.
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you know, it always is sort of a special place. but san francisco's might be one of the most unique because of some of the things that you were saying. wang: yes, yeah. helgi himself actually went to a different couple of places that actually took inspirations from the bay area. for example, there's this chinese scene from second act. he actually went to chinatown and actually explored himself, and then he--and then he found the inspiration of the guy as a warrior kind of lead this dragon team kind of-- it's a chinese tradition. and then he took that magical moment and bring it to "nutcracker" and then onstage. i found it's a very, very amazing thing to do. robert: how about for you, your transition from the programs in china to coming here, what was that like? wang: yeah, i was trained in beijing dance academy. that was 7 years, spending time with lots of different chinese students from different places in china.
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and then, you know, lots of talents, lots of competitions, and then bringing everybody together. and there was lots of hard training, yeah for sure, technique training every day. and then, you know, like you always want to look things forward. and then other companies out there, for example san francisco ballet, one of the biggest names out there, so i took a shot, and then i auditioned at school. and then, you know, i'm here. robert: and the rest is history. we'll see much of that during the christmas holiday season. thank you very much for being here, and of course we're going to have you come back later to talk a little bit more about the upcoming season, okay? wang: yes. robert: all right. well, the san francisco ballet production of "nutcracker" with wang wei opens on december 13 and runs through december 30. again, at the magnificent war memorial opera house in san francisco. for more details on the schedule and tickets, go to and stay with us as we talk about giving this holiday season with the family giving tree. that's next.
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robert: well, the holiday season is all about giving and receiving. and when you give, you also know you also receive. that's the spirit within the family giving tree, a group that partners with more than 500 schools, service agencies, and non-profits, and since 1990 has fulfilled the gift wishes to more than 1 million bay area children, as well as working-class families and seniors. with me are some who represent the driving force behind giving tree, including the founder and ceo jennifer cullenbine, who came up with the idea of the group giving tree while getting her master's degree in business from san jose state university. and also with us are two volunteers, a sister-brother combo, ryan yi and julia yi, who have been volunteering at family giving tree for 6 years for ryan, a year or so for julia. thank you all for being here. ryan yi: thank you for having us. robert: give us an idea, first of all, for people who don't know about it, what was family giving tree-- what was the original kind of concept?
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what was it like in the early years, and how has it evolved now? jennifer cullenbine: well, it evolves from my mother and i buying gifts for someone else on a giving tree. and instead of giving each other gifts, we would say, "dear mom, merry christmas, i bought slippers for a woman named agnes in the senior center instead of giving you a gift." and she would do the same for me. and it became the most meaningful part of our holidays, and so we wanted to do that and help a bunch of families in east palo alto. robert: what's the best way? i know that you want to get gifts, donations, volunteers all the time. you could always use the help, always use the support. is there any one particular way that you want people to focus on maybe during the holiday season? jennifer: well, between now and yes, the holidays, we'd love to have people go onto our website and sponsor a child. they can choose a child to give us their money, and we'll go out and buy their gifts. and we do a lot of bulk shopping, so we get a really great deal. but there's a lot of kids on that--on the tree still. robert: that's right, a lot of demand. and also you need a lot of volunteers, right? jennifer: yes, about 8400 of them have signed up so far. robert: oh, very good. ryan, you started volunteering about 6 years ago.
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give me an idea why you did it, and what are kind of some of the rewarding aspects of it? ryan: well, i started because my mom was the drive manager for her company at the time, so i tagged along during the summer of 2012 i want to say. and, i really enjoyed the experience, and just the environment there, and then the people you get to work with and the people you get to meet really keeps me going every year. robert: what were some of the first impressions when you were actually doing it at the beginning? ryan: my first impressions were like, "wow, like the amount of people that we are helping, like how we come together as, like, a community and a group to help these kids." robert: yeah. well, ryan tagged along with his mom. and julia, you tagged along with your brother, right? that's how you got started? julia yi: mm-hmm. robert: give me an idea, what is it that you enjoy about volunteering? julia: i like helping the kids who need the toys, or like whatever they want instead of, like, the parents thinking if they really need it, or if it's just something that they want. so, then i just want to help the people who actually
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want something. robert: yeah, want something and needing something both, huh? ryan, you see a lot of youngsters, and of course there's a focus on that. makes you kind of appreciate things a little bit when you see people like that, huh? ryan: it really does, yes. robert: yeah. what about for you? when you see people your age being helped, what's that feel like when you're able to help them? ryan: it's really rewarding because for me, like the smile is like the most, like, powerful gesture. so, seeing the people, like knowing that i'm making someone smile really does make me feel good. robert: yeah. jennifer, no shortage on people who need those smiles this year. we were talking a little earlier, though, about the north bay fires. jennifer: yeah. robert: is that a particular area this year? jennifer: really hard-hit, obviously. it's hard to--it's hard to get the wishes for those children because they're just in such disarray. and there's one school, we spoke to the principal, and they had 154 students who were homeless instantly, instantly homeless. so, we have about 5,000 children we're going to try to serve this holiday. robert: they give you a real perspective on homelessness, huh? it's not just this thing, it's something that could happen
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to anybody. jennifer: anytime. robert: any way that people can help that particular group if they're sort of focused on helping north bay fires when they go to the virtual tree? jennifer: on the virtual tree, there isn't specifically, but we're pretty much committed to take the money that we--that we gain and to help those families. i mean, it's kind of a done deal. we have a goal of 80,000 children for the holidays in general, and 5,000 of them will be from north bay. robert: wow, that's almost kind of a shock, in a way, to hear so many in need like that. so great there's an agency trying to help them. julia, when you hear things like the fires and, you know, you hear about all these disasters, there's even one going down in southern california now, kind of make you feel good to be able to be--be able to do something rather than to just see people in trouble? julia: mm-hmm. robert: yeah, and just kind of makes you more enthusiastic about doing it, huh? julia: mm-hmm. robert: yeah, how about you, ryan? when you see, like, news stories about people in that kind of a situation, does it feel good to be able to, like, know that you're going to be able to help rather than just feel sorry for them? ryan: it really does, yes. robert: yeah.
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and what about for you, when you think about what youngsters would like for this holiday season, what do you think youngsters kind of want to get? you know, what is it that they're looking for that would make a good holiday season for them? ryan: well, like they would want something that they really enjoy. and especially like you're talking about these fires and these disasters, so they're--like, their lives are suddenly falling apart because of those disasters, so receiving a gift that would make them happy really does help in the holiday season. robert: yeah, yeah. is there anything that maybe in particular--we were doing a thing with a charity one time who said that people are generous, but they sometimes donate the wrong things, or they go about the wrong thing, you know. what is it that you kind of want to caution people about, and again maybe reaffirm what it is the right way to go ahead and do it? jennifer: well, we collect the wishes from individual children, so one year we're looking at the wishes and a little girl had asked for a puppy. clearly that's not the right thing to give through our holiday drive. but basically, our donors have done an excellent job of choosing the gifts for the children. we actually make a wish card and it says, you know, "brian, who's seven, needs a pair of pants, size five." so, we know it will fit them, they know what color they like,
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and what is the need. robert: okay, and it's the virtual giving tree? jennifer: the virtual giving tree. robert: where can they get--access that? jennifer: it's robert: all right, thank you very much. thank you for everything that you're doing. thank you very much for being here and for all your volunteer efforts, appreciate it. okay, well, coming up next, a holiday list of events we all wish and hope we can attend. then after the community calendar, a return visit from our old friends at the parangal dance company with a live performance here on our studio, including a christmas number filipino-style, so stay with us.
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the energy conscious whopeople among usle? say small actions can add up to something... humongous. a little thing here. a little thing there. starts to feel like a badge maybe millions can wear. who are all these caretakers, advocates too? turns out, it's californians it's me and it's you. don't stop now, it's easy to add to the routine. join energy upgrade california and do your thing. here is our holiday community calendar. it's time for christmas in the park in downtown san jose, open from 9 a.m. to midnight every day through january 7. some of the new features include the bears pond ice rink, the tree of light, southwest landing, and an interactive santa house that shows how mr. and mrs. claus practice an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
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and along with all the other traditional christmas in the park favorites, each saturday evening will feature a popular holiday evening movie, and every night community performances that range from local musicians, dance studios, and school choirs. then nbc bay area is proud to be the sponsor for the following ice rinks, such as the holiday ice rink in union square, where we did a recent show. that rink is open now through january 15 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. in san francisco union square. it benefits the city's recreation and parks department, and there are 90-minute skate sessions that start on every even hour. then the always popular kristi yamaguchi downtown ice, that is open now through january 6 in the beautiful circle of palms in downtown san jose, next to christmas in the park. it is first come first served, and skate all you want for as long as you want, just no in and out privileges. and also check out walnut creek on ice, now through january 15 at civic park in walnut creek. for more information on christmas in the park and all of these ice rinks, go to
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but you don't have to go anywhere for this next attraction. the popular filipino dance troupe the parangal dance company will perform musically for us live next.
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with us now, one of our favorites, these are some members of the parangal dance company, including the music director, major julian. thank you all for being here. thank you for being back on the show. and give us a quick idea, first of all, who's here with us today? major julian: so, today we brought mary jo, rom, cyril, josh, eric, erna, and saki. robert: all right. give us an idea for people who aren't familiar with the background, how did the group start? what's sort of the mission of the group? major: so, parangal was started in 2008, and parangal means tribute. so, we wanted--in 2008, we got together and we wanted to preserve our cultural heritage through song, dance, and now music. robert: yes. in fact, we have always had the dancers here. major: yes.
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robert: and it's kind of nice to have the musical aspect emphasized tonight. major: absolutely, yes. robert: what are some of the--what are the songs, or what's the music that we're going to hear today? major: so, today we brought you two renditions. the first one is "maalaala mo kaya," and the second song, since it's the christmas season, is "pasko na, sinta ko." sorry, it's really hard. robert: that's okay. my wife's part filipino and she'll forgive you, i think. major: oh no. robert: but it is a christmas song, right? major: it is a christmas song. robert: all right. for the group, it's really important, i know that one of the reasons why we love having you on here is because you really do kind of have the traditional music, dance, the culture, as well as kind of bringing it into kind of contemporary times, right? major: absolutely, yes. robert: all right. and we're going to hear that. i noticed some interesting instruments. what, is that the most unique one? major: so, erna here is holding up the banduria. the mandolin was introduced from spain, and it was incorporated through our culture. we added a 13th and 14th string to the mandolin.
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robert: very good. all right, looking forward to hearing it. thank you all for being here. all right, the parangal dance company musicians. enjoy. ♪ [singing in foreign language] [singing in foreign language] [singing in foreign language]
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[singing in foreign language] [singing in foreign language]
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[singing in foreign language] [singing in foreign language]
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[singing in foreign language] [singing in foreign language] [singing in foreign language]
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[singing in foreign language] robert: thank you very much, very beautiful, nice job. all right, well, you can find out more about the group and its activities, as well as our other guests and their events, on our website, and we're also on social media, twitter, and facebook. that's it for today's show. go out and enjoy some of these great events that we've been showing you. hope you're having a fun holiday season. we have a full lineup of more special holiday shows coming up, so join us again next week and every week here on "asian pacific america." we've got more with more from the parangal dance company musicians. thank you very much, and thanks for watching.
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♪ ♪
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