Dr. Lopez addresses National Hispanic University online courses

Dr. Lopez speaks at the NHU 30th Anniversary on Feb. 24, 2012. | Photo by Jose Posadas

National Hispanic University celebrated its 30th Anniversary on Friday, February 24, 2012, with special guest Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Dr. Lopez addresses National Hispanic University online courses | Video by Jose Posadas

Bel Borba Aqui Film Review

Brazilian artist Bel Borba | Photo courtesy of Cinequest

Meet Brazilian artist Bel Borba of Salvador da Bahia through an awe-inspiring documentary (English and Portuguese with English subtitles) about the man who loves his city as he, through his vast imagination and unlimited canvases, embellishes it.

The film, written and directed by Burt Sun and André Costantini, opens with Bel and an assistant crew at a decayed building frame, and he talks about the history of other fallen structures just like it throughout the city, he paints the exposed metal beams with white paint using a small paint roller. When he is done speaking, the camera pans out and the metal beams come to life with the patterned mural made up of cultural expressions.

Brazilian artist Bel Borba here stands next to one of his Mosaic Murals in Salvador du Bahia | Photo courtesy of Cinequest

“People from Bahia are very much on love with our town,” says Bel. “I have such a close relationship with my town where I was born, where I live.”

He is considered a gift to his town.

We follow the artist through the city and neighborhoods to discover what inspires him and experience the passion for his culture, people and home town. The open market, a small ranch, his back yard and an old boat yard all attribute to images in his work.

“I am a man that is moved by  passion. I just feel things.”

He works from small scale on single ceramic tiles to larger than life scale murals made of broken tiles –wood and ceramic – and his crew solders and saws out sculptures from steel and metal, as well.

“There’s my rocket!” Bel refers to a Christmas tree sculpture that he created from metal bars and plastic Coke bottles strung on rope; at night it is illuminated with green lights to be seen for quite a distance.

Director Burt Sun says, “Bel has tattooed the city with his art.”

Live like Bel as he eats, sings, works and sleeps in this creative film production that incorporates ten lapse photography and animation techniques. Feel the artist’s exhaustion while working on his masterpieces as he falls asleep on benches and the floor. One can almost taste the marinated steak dinner he cooks for friends. Feel free to sing along or whistle, if you know the tune, while he creates.

The Bel Borba Aqui world premier will be featured Sunday, March 4 during Cinequest 22 Film Festival in San Jose at Camera 12 at 6:30PM and experience a live painting by Bel.

Coming Soon the SVL exclusive interview with Director/Writer Burt Sun during the Film Festival!

Delusions of Grandeur Movie Review

Lulu (Leana Chavez) in Delusions of Grandeur. Director Iris Almaraz.

Lucy, also known as Lulu, a 22-year-old young woman experiences a rite of passage in the film Delusions of Grandeur by writer/director Iris Almaraz and writer/guest director Gustavo Ramos.

Set in San Francisco Bay Area (English and some Spanish with English subtitles) the film centers around Lulu (Leana Chavez) who at around 10 years old moved in with Dad (Louie Olivos Jr.), step-mother Angie and two step-brothers. She is obsessed with finding her mother in random women she meets even though she is undergoing counseling with Doctor (Jesse Wilde), the psychiatrist, who also proscribed her psychiatric medication to keep her from stalking women and toning down her outbursts of anger.

Lulu works at Café Azucar as a barista in San Francisco but her growth develops when she moves out from her father’s suburban home into the city. She meets Rocio (Rina Fernandez) – a woman who resembles her mother – out in front of the café selling flowers for one dollar to women and for three dollars to men.

Leana Chavez as Lulu (left) & Salvador Benavides as Illusion (right) from the feature film Delusions of Grandeur. Director Iris Almaraz.

Her comical yet emotional ripening unfolds after Lulu rents a room from Illusion (Salvador Benavides) a transsexual prostitute who claims she owns the bottom half of a San Francisco home and is saving to buy out the top half, as well. Illusion interviews Lulu as a renter, “Are you a metiche? Because, I like my privacy.” Their nosy personalities actually bring them closer.

In sudden state of independence, Lulu signs up for a chat line mailbox, dyes her hair red like her mother used to, and stops taking her psych meds. Her appearance softens with the help of Illusion so she even wears dresses and make-up, quite a change from the oversized men’s clothes she wears in the opening scene.

Flashbacks of the neglect and abuse she experienced from her mother spice up the film, triggered by conversation and moments Lulu spends alone.

She meets Guy (Dave Vescio) on chat line. On their first date, he explains that he is drawn to her full lips and to her body type saying, “Bones are for dogs. Meat is for men.” Her virginity changes to being oversexed.

Her relationships with Illusion, Rocio, and Mario (Ronnie Alvarez) the cafés manager, intertwine with insight to the love and heartbreak they all encounter. The film picks up steam when Lulu invites Rocio to Illusion’s home and the three women bond while high on marijuana. Illusion overcomes a recent broken heart over a gay man and Rocio embraces that her husband is cross-dresser.

A side from selling love, Illusion grows and sells hallucinogens, which Lulu stumbles across while snooping through the house. Mario shows up on Lulu’s doorstep one evening, after she is temporarily suspended from work for lashing out at some racist customers. She invites him inside and they drink mimosas – an alcoholic cocktail made of champagne and orange juice – and they consume hallucinogenic mushrooms making for quite a colorful, yet hilarious bonding moment between the two characters.

Viewers seeking to gain insight to the possible San Francisco life experience of a young women coming of age in her early twenties, the delusion of finding her mother, and the making friendships and love encounters, through laughter, tears, and shock value this is a film a must see at Cinequest Twenty-Two running February 28 to March 11, 2012.

Trailer for Delusions of Grandeur provided courtesy of Cinequest.

Providing Our Future Leaders with Guidance

“Your inspiration is your daughter. She wouldn’t want you to stop writing,” a friend told Frank Carbajal over the phone in 2005 when he decided to quit writing his book Building the Latino Future, because his baby daughter had a near death experience.

Carbajal, 42 years-old and father of three daughters, born in El Centro, Calif., began the manuscript for his book in 2002 and finished in 2007. The release date was 2008 cinco de mayo.

Crabajal is the youngest of five children and from a very loud house hold.

“I wasn’t inspired as a youth to write, at all. Because Spanish was my first language, the school thought I was special ed.” His mother and sister advocated for him in school, that language had nothing to do with his intelligence.

His parents, Regino Carbajal from Guadalajara and Hermelinda Carbajal from Jalpa, were seasonal farm workers in a bracero program and were introduced to each other by their compadres in Mexico. They married in El Centro in 1963 and relocated to East San Jose when Frank was four years-old. His father received a job at Stokley’s Cannery located, then off of Newhall and The Alameda, and his mother worked at Del Monte cannery.

An important life lesson, he says “To excel in school is to be inquisitive.”

Carbajal dealt with cultural, language, and institutional challenges while growing up. He was in speech therapy in the Evergreen School District, which helped him learn English. His first mentor and speech therapist, Ms. Sanders was very culturally aware and knew he was from the barrio. She told him to use his inside voice and that he could be a good student, encouraged him to continue to speak English with confidence, and to not be afraid to ask questions.

In the words of Ms. Sanders, “To be successful in education was the only way to go.”

He attended Cadwallader Elementary School where he recalls, “In fifth grade, I became acculturated to the main stream; what taught me the lessons of America was pop culture, with my favorite music from Michael Jackson, ACDC, and The Scorpions; so two genres, rock and popping.”

Carbajal also attended Leyva Middle School in 1981-1984 and mentions that it was predominately Caucasian. “It was difficult, because after school I had to go back to my home environment and I was confused … surrounded by the kids from the Creekside area (during the day at school) and went back to the barrio where my home was surrounded by gangs. It was a challenge because my own brother was a gang member. But I owe all the love to him because he protected me and saw that I had potential to do well in school.”

Carbajal began to change in middle school and was voted the funniest guy in 8th grade. He says, “I used humor as a coping mechanism like comedians George Lopez and Cheech Marin.”

In nineth grade at Silver Creek High School he was a talented soccer player; he tried out and made it on to the varsity team, but he started cutting school and lost focus.

In his junior year, he joined the school cross country team where he met Coach Paul Kilkenny who was his next mentor. Some of his closest friends were incarcerated and fell into “the system.” Carbajal separated himself from his neighborhoodand made new friends who were on the team. He received The Most Improved Runner award.

His high school English teacher Mrs. Holtclaw asked the class to write a journal entry about an 80 year-old Silver Creek tree and what the tree meant to the school because it was to be cut down. Carbajal titled his story “The Topless Tree.”

When she pulled him aside, “Frank, can I see you?” He thought he was being reprimanded but was surprised because she said, “I love the title. How did you come up with it?” She inspired and encouraged him to write more.

As his confidence grew through his hard work and with the support of his mentors, he decided to go to college towards the end of high school and enrolled at Evergreen Community College in San Jose, Calif. There he joined the Enlace Program, where he identified with other Latino students and transferred to San Jose State. He originally wanted to be a teacher but was too shy to speak in public, so he did his undergraduate studies in social work and pursued the Masters of Social Work for a year; he left and changed majors and received his Masters of Arts in Human Resources Management. He is the only one in his family to graduate from college.

“It takes a lot of tenacity to write a book,” says Carbajal and adds that he couldn’t have done it without the support of his wife Molly Carbajal.

He refers to his friend as “Harold,” an author of a book on African Americans who told Carbajal that he needed to write a book addressing the misperception of all Latinos being in gangs and drug. “So I created the framework on Latinos in leadership doing great things … and that we are contributing to the U.S. economy; just as I thought back in school, we are now a part of pop culture.”

Frank Carbajal | Photo by Patricia Ruiz

Building the Latino Future was published by Ken Blanchard and Wiley and Sons in NY and translated to Spanish where El Futuro Latino: Historias de Exito en el Extranjero where it was published by Grupo Norma published in 14 Latin American countries.

Writing the book was just the beginning. Not only is Carbajal now a mentor, but his leadership and communications talents were sought out to provide speakers for a Harvard University Leadership event. Dick Gonzales, Richard Leza, and Roberto Medrano Latinos showed him that Latinos are successful outside of Silicon Valley, throughout the U.S. Gonzales suggested that Carbajal do the same here in the Valley so the inaugural Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit was in 2010. The goal is to bring to bring some of the most talented people to Stanford to provide not only their leadership, mentorship to individuals who are university students, middle management folks, senior leaders who want to make changes in their community and abroad and to see how the Latino Leaders do for the next 10 years, projection of where we can go from 2010 to 2020.

Next Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit is May, 19, 2012. To find out more about Frank Carbajal and the Summit visit the SVLLS Blog: www.svlls.wordpress.com.

Written By Eydie Mendoza | Photos By Patricia Ruiz

White House Summit in San Jose

White House Initiative | Photo By Eydie Mendoza

Chancellor Rita Cepeda speaks to SVL Publisher Alex Ontiveros about the upcoming White House Hispanic Community Action Summit taking place Saturday, January 21, 2012 at Evergreen Valley Community College.

Video By Jose Posadas