A Red Carpet welcome for ‘The FilAm Los Angeles’

Dante and Cecile (nee Caguingin) Ochoa

Dante and Cecile (nee Caguingin) Ochoa

By Cristina DC Pastor

Dante and Cecile Ochoa, long-time residents of Los Angeles’ North Hollywood district, have seen them all. From celebrity sightings on Rodeo Drive to breaking bread with the ‘Manongs’ on Temple Street to watching the most alluring sunset as they drive down Interstate 15 South to catch Styx and Journey at Pechanga Resort down the wine country of Temecula.

It’s no wonder that this couple would embark on a publication that would chronicle the fascinating people they meet, the events they’re invited to, and the fond memories they hold in hearts. Not to mention that both were seasoned journalists in the Philippines.

Coming to the U.S. may have initially tamed the writing beast while they adjusted to American life and raised a family. Now that their three children are grown, Dante and Cecile are returning to publishing and more writing via The FilAm Los Angeles online magazine.

“Writing seems to run in my family” said Cecile (nee Caguingin), who is a published author in the U.S. (“Folktales from the Philippines,” “Asian American Folktales,” “Encyclopedia of Philippine Proverbs and Legends, and Folklife” published by California State University, San Bernardino in 2011). Her essay is included in the UCLA’s Anthology of Asian American Writings, “Asian Americans: The Movement and the Moment.”

“My grand uncle Aguedo Caguingin of Santa Ana, Bulacan wrote primary books on the heroes of the Katipunan. My history professor from the University of the Philippines told me that I have an important grandfather in the history of the Philippines and had me researching on his works at the library,” she said.

Cecile came to the U.S. as the media representative for the Department of Public Information and National Media Production Center in 1977 and as a TV news foreign correspondent for Channel 4’s NewsCenter. She was barely out of her teens when she worked as a wire services reporter for the Philippines News Agency. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines and an M.A. (through a fellowship award) in Public Administration from the University of Southern California.

Dante has a Juris Doctor degree from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law and a B.A. in Social Science from the University of the Philippines. He got started in journalism, freelancing for various Philippine publications including Sports Today and Focus Magazine. He then worked as a researcher-writer for “Business Day,” once a premiere business daily in the Philippines before immigrating to California in 1976. He worked for 25 years for the State of California Air Resources Board occasionally writing freelance for Filipino American publications in Los Angeles. Currently, he owns a print shop in the San Fernando Valley.

The couple, with a few known writers, ventured into newspaper publishing in the 1990s through the weekly “Los Angeles Filipino American Bulletin.”

“No cut-and-paste nonsense from publications at home,” said Cecile. “We did interviews and chased the news and for a couple of years we became an alternative to cut-and-paste journalism.”

Sadly, good journalists are not always the most business-savvy, they conceded. The news group’s “little capital dried up.” As the children were growing up, they hurtled back into their day jobs and went on with the business of surviving.

“We know writing and publishing are commitments with hard work,” said Cecile, but they are ready now. More importantly, that passion for community journalism that has never really fizzled out. “We hope through The FilAm Los Angeles, we can lend visibility to the otherwise ‘invisible minority’ that we continue to be regarded as.”

Dante and Cecile have three sons: JB, who is producer for Yahoo!Sports in the Silicon Valley; Andre, who works in the medical field trying to squeeze time for the e-zine venture with his keen sports analysis ; and Lawrence, another writer in the family. He is the youngest fellow admitted to the NVM Gonzales Writing Workshop when he was 12. In his first article for TFLA, he shares his thoughts attending his first Kalayaan Independence Day celebration.

The FilAm Los Angeles is the third in a series of publications originating from The FilAm in New York. It joins The FilAm San Francisco and The FilAm Metro D.C. in this steadily growing network of independent online magazines serving Filipinos in America.

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  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    Dear Mr. Dante and Mrs. Cecile Ochoa,

    As a reader of “The FilAm New York since its inception I would like to welcome to the network of The FilAm online publication in America. I wish you both all my best good wishes and much success with your new venture. I do remain

    Very Truly,

    M. Matthews of Sunnyside, NY 11104

    • Cecile Ochoa wrote:

      Dear M. Matthews,

      Thank you for your commitment to the TF network and family. We take privilege in working with professional journalists in the spirit of excellence and relevance to our communities.

      Cecile and Dante Ochoa

  2. Thank you for giving Filipinos a voice.

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