Fil-Am dances his way back to health and Broadway fame

Julian DeGuzman as Finch in disney musical Newsies PHOTO BY NEWSIES

Julian DeGuzman as Finch in Disney musical Newsies PHOTO BY NEWSIES

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – They told him he was dancing too much and playing soccer a lot. Give yourself and your legs some rest, they said.

But, after a trip to the Philippines, the pain persisted. ” I took matters into my own hands,” his mother, an anesthesiologist, said. “I took him to a hospital and asked that some x-rays be done.”

Their worst fears were confirmed: He had a tumor on his hips.

At 21, Julian DeGuzman, the guy with a passion for dancing, may never dance again. But first, he has to save his life.

That was seven years ago. Now, DeGuzman is dancing again – with more passion and joy, and his dance floor is the biggest of them all: Broadway.

DeGuzman is on the cast of the Disney musical Newsies, playing the role of Finch, one of the 20 boys on the show, a rousing adaptation of a 1992 film, which in turn was based on the 1899 news boys’ strike in New York.

“This is great joy for me. This is what I sought out to do and trained for,” says DeGuzman, who has been with Newsies since its Broadway run in 2012.



Now on a national tour, Newsies is based on the music of Alan Menken, whose work included the Little Mermaid, the Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, and the lyrics of Jack Feldman.

The production has surpassed expectations. It was the fastest and one of the biggest grossing Disney musicals ever.

After winning the 2012 Tony Award for Best, st Score and Best Choreography, Disney took it on the road for its North American Tour, where it will perform in 25 cities over 43 weeks.

DeGuzman, who replaced his friend Aaron J Albano from the original Broadway cast three years ago, says the choreography drives the story.

Choreographer Gattelli has herded the 20 boys on the show to dance a thrilling combination of ballet and bold athletic moves.

“This show means the most to me out of any project I ever done, because this is what I do. I trained as a ballet dancer and modern dancer,” says Gattelli. “I was these boys 20 years ago. This is how I danced.”.

In addition to playing Finch, DeGuzman is a member of the show’s dance ensemble, performing practically in every dance number, “requiring every muscle of my body.”

It’s a tribute to how far he has come back from those desperate days when dancing again was almost an impossibility.

His mother, Maria DeGuzman, took him to a hospital in Oakland for the x-rays when the pain on his hips would not go away after a trip back to her hometown in Borongan City, Eastern Samar.

Several doctors said an operation was not a good option as they came up with similar diagnoses: muscle overuse.

Eventually, a Vietnamese-American orthopedic surgeon with an oncology background, agreed to operate on Julian.

The operation involved taking out a golf-sized tumor from his hip and filling the “hole” with graft from a cadaver, requiring six to eight weeks of rehab.

Unwilling to lose any time, he completed his studies at UC-Irvine, graduating with a double major in Sociology and Bachelor in Fine Arts – Dance.

In addition, he had a chance to visit Spain, performing with UC-Irvine dancers in cities and towns around Costa Del Sol.

Unfortunately, Julian was not out of the woods just yet. The tumor returned after six months after the bone graft from the cadaver “liquified” and a cyst formed in the old tumor site.

The process to find the right surgeon willing to operate began again. One doctor told him to forget dancing. “Get an economics degree and work in Wall Street,” he was said.

Richard O’Donnel, chief of orthopedic oncology and specialist in bone marrow cancer and soft tissue tumors at the UCSF Medical Center, did the second operation, using cement to fill the hole created by the tumor.

Then, it was strenuous rehab again. He was on crutches for six weeks, but after a few physical therapy sessions, he ditched the crutches and relied on his self-designed rehab plan.

“He would drive to San Francisco, park close to the ocean, hiked the hills of Ocean Beach carrying a backpack with weights in them,” says Maria DeGuzman. Even she and her husband Joe were impressed with Julian’s resolve, she says.

The thought that he will never dance again fired his resolve, says Julian. His parents say he became a quieter young man.

“He tried to put on a cheerful face, but our conversations as a family became more subdued,” his mother said.

As soon as he was able to regain his strength, increase his range of motion, and dance again, he went to New York and roomed with a cousin in Brooklyn, and started auditioning for Broadway roles.

He got a part in The King and I, andTarzan, a production of the Arizona Broadway Theater in Phoenix.

His sister, Robyn, herself an actress and a dancer who was on the cast of the Beauty and the Beast, encouraged Julian to try-out for Newsies, saying he was better than most of the boys on the show.

About 800 dancers and actors auditioned for the parts, and a Disney bigwig had to be involved in the selection when the choice went down to only two dancers.

Julian was accepted, but got the role of a “swing,” an actor who stands-in for an absent co-worker and therefore has to learn all 14 roles and performs at a moment’s notice.

On his first night on the show, Julian said he could not remember anything, as if everything happened on a blur.

“It took time to sink in,” he says. “I was gratified and relieved.”

The musical is now on a tour in Texas, followed by play dates in Tennessee and North Carolina, with eight performances in a week.

They had shows at the Smith’s Center in Las Vegas and the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco in a sort of homecoming of the Alameda native DeGuzman.

” I enjoy going from city to city and the opportunity to perform in front of different audiences,” says DeGuzman. “It’s nice to see different places.”

Time away from family, especially during holidays, weddings, birthdays, and family gatherings are the hardest to deal, says DeGuzman, who is in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend.

Plans for the future are still on hold, including going back to school as the typical tug-of-war between career in entertainment and academics in most Asian-American families continues.

“I guess you have to give up something for your dreams,” DeGuzman says.

Newsies, a disney musical PHOTO BY NEWSIES

Newsies, a Disney musical PHOTO BY NEWSIES

The national tour will perform in 25 cities over a period of 43 weeks. The show performed as the Smith’s Center in Las Vegas, and in San Francisco, in a sort of a homecoming for the Alameda-born Deguzman.

“The travel adds another element,” says DeGuzman. “Going from city to city can be challenging, (but) I’m enjoying my time on the road.”



Blazing a Broadway trail for a Fil-Am dancer

Julian DeGuzman of Newsies

Julian DeGuzman of Newsies

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – In 2012 when he joined the cast of a Broadway musical, Julian DeGuzman didn’t have a blueprint for success, or even a role model to base his career upon.

Even though the dancer he “inherited” his role from was a friend and a Filipino-American like him, essentially, he was blazing a trail, a talent from an “invisible community,” hoping to break long-held stereotypes.

Now, three short years later, he has become a Broadway veteran and mainstay of a Disney musical whose success had surpassed expectations.

DeGuzman is a cast member of Newsies, playing the roles of Finch in a rousing production adapted from a 1992 film, which in turn, was based on the true story of newsboys disrupting New York with a strike in 1899.

“I’m really having a wonderful time,” said DeGuzman in an interview from Dallas, where the show is on tour in Texas. “This is what I sought out to do and trained for years for.”

From Dallas, the show will move to San Antonio for a May 12-17 date and Houston for a week, May 19-24.

From there, it will go to Nashville, TN, May 26-31and on to Durham, NC, June 2-7.

A member of the cast since March 2012, DeGuzman’s stint was highlighted by two years in Broadway, where his role, included that of a swing, in which he has to perform 14 characters, often getting the call at a moment’s notice.

“You have to sing, dance and commit to memory the lyrics of the songs,” he said. “Every muscle of your body has to be involved.”

Julian DeGuzman plays Finch on Broadway musical Newsies

Julian DeGuzman plays Finch on Broadway musical Newsies

Awarded the Tony Award for Best Score and Best choreography in 2012, the musical featured the melodies of Alan Menken, whose work included scores for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Alladin, and the lyrics of Jack Feldeman.

“The choreography drives the show and the story,” said DeGuzman, who dances as member of an ensemble, which is the heart of the show.

Choreographer Christopher Gattelli has herded together 20 boys to dance a thrilling combination of ballet spiced with bold athletic moves..

“This show means the most to me out of any project I’ve done because this is what I do. I trained as a ballet dancer and I trained as a modern dancer,” Gattelli said.. “I was these boys 20 years ago. This is exactly how I danced.”

DeGuzman said the choreography showcases his talents as a dancer, honed by years of practice, which started when he was just four years old.

“When you start dancing in Broadway, his father Joe, himself a dancer, told him while he was growing up, “it will be you laughing on them, not them laughing at you.”

DeGuzman, now 28, was the object of scorn by his friends, who could not understand why he could not join them in baseball or other sport, and instead practice ballet and other dances.

In high school, the taunts and bullying started to die down as he showed his skills.

“They ask me what I do, and I told them I dance, and they say, ‘cool,” who nevertheless graduated with a double major in sociology and fine arts architecture from the University of California – Irvine.

A native of Alameda, California, DeGuzman said he will stay with the dancing career for a while longer, even though the tug-of-war between academics and arts is also likely to continue.

His sister Robyn is also a dancer and actress, and teaches dance in New York’s Chinatown. His mother,a native of Borongan City, Eastern Samar, is a medical doctor and his father is an architect, aside from being the first dancer in the family.

The original Finch in the Newsies show was his friend Aaron J. Urbano, who is now a member of the cast of the King & I.

Filipino-Americans credit Lea Salonga for opening doors for Asian- Americans in her role as Kim in the franchise “Miss Saigon” show, Les Miserables and Alladin.

But you can count in the fingers of one hand male actors or dancer who have found acclaim in Broadway as the community continue to focus more on academics than arts and entertainment.

DeGuzman said he has no regrets for the choices he made, but missing holidays, weddings, birthdays, and other family gatherings were the toughest.

“I guess you have to give up something for your dreams,” DeGuzman said.

Wesley So absent from FIDE Grand Prix

Khanty-Mansiysk FIDE Grand PrixThe fourth and final stage of the FIDE Grand Prix series 2014-2015 will take place from 13-27th May in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

FIDE Grand Prix is part of the FIDE World Chess Championship cycle. The winner and second placed player overall of the GP Series will qualify for the 2016 Candidates Tournament.

In the earlier GP stages Fabiano Caruana and Boris Gelfand shared the first place in Baku, Dmitry Andreikin won in Tashkent, and Evgeny Tomashevsky excelled in Tbilisi.

Leading the overall Grand Prix standings after three events are Tomashevsky on 252 points, Mamedyarov on 235 (he finished the competition), Caruana on 230, Radjabov on 210 (concluded GP), Nakamura on 207.

A number of other players are also in contention for the Candidates should the results go their way. All this promises an extremely exciting tournament in Ugra.

Each Grand Prix stage is a 12-player round robin event with the prize money of 120,000 EUR offered by the host city. The winner of Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk will earn 20,000 EUR.

Khanty-Mansiysk GP participants:

Fabiano Caruana (ITA) 2803
Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 2799
Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 2780
Anish Giri (NED) 2776
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 2754
Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 2753
Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 2749
Boris Gelfand (ISR) 2744
Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 2738
Peter Svidler (RUS) 2734
Leinier Domínguez (CUB) 2734
Baadur Jobava (GEO) 2699

Official website

Asian Continental Chess Championships

The UAE Chess Federation and Al Ain Chess Club on behalf of Asian Chess Federation and FIDE, invite Federations to participate in the Asian Continental Chess Championships (Open and Women’s) from 1-13 August 2015 at the Hilton Hotel in Al Ain, UAE.

Each Federation from FIDE Zones 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7 can enter one official player in the Open and one official player in the Women’s Division.

In addition, each Federation may send extra players rated 2300 and above for the Open, and 2000 and above for Women based on the July 2015 FIDE Rating List.

Extra players will be responsible for the payment of their board and lodging through the Organizing Committee. Exceptions for the rating floor may be made by the Continental President on request of national federations.

The tournament shall be conducted as a Swiss System competition of 9 rounds and will be played according to FIDE regulations.

Hilton Hotel in Al Ain

The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an addition of 30 seconds per move starting from move one. Players from the same federation with more than 50% score shall not be paired together in the last round.

Entry shall be submitted by the national federation in the attached registration form on or before 1st July 2015 together with payment of the entry fees. A digital ID photo and clear scanned Passport Copy of each player or accompanying person should be sent by email to the Organizing Committee.


Prize fund is $50,000 for the Open and $25,000 for Women’s as follows:

1st $11,000
2nd $9,000
3rd $7,000
4th $5,000
5th $3,000
6th $2,000
7th $1,000
8th $800
9th $700
10th-30th $500 each

1st $6,000
2nd $5,000
3rd $4,000
4th $3,000
5th $1,000
6th $900
7th $800
8th $700
9th $600
10th-11th $500
12th-16th $400

Cash prizes shall be shared according to the Hort System.

$12,000 in cash prizes for Rapid and Blitz, open and women: $1500, $1000 and $500

The top five (5) from the 2015 Asian (Open) Championship shall qualify for the 2015 World Cup. The 2015 Asian Women’s champion shall qualify for the Women’s World Championship.

If previous qualifiers are among the winners, the next in line in the Continental shall take the Continental qualification place to the World Cup / Women’s Championship.

In the Asian Individual Chess Championships, tie-breaks are organized only in the following cases:
– to establish the Champion;
– to establish qualifiers for the World Cup / Women’s World Championship

Tie break system to make ranking will be calculated in the following order:
a) Direct Encounter if tied players have all played each other;
b) More number of victories (forfeits counted);
c) The average rating of opponents except 1 highest and 1 lowest Opponent;
d) The Buchholz System Cut 1 (less 1 lowest);
e) The Median Buchholz System (less 1 highest and 1 lowest).

All Players are obliged to wear uniforms that represent their national federation and/or the national flag. Shorts and slippers, sun glasses, sport caps and revealing attire are not allowed. Award winners should follow the dress code at the closing ceremony.


Asian Chess Federation Secretary General: Mr. Hisham Al Taher,
Technical Delegate: IA Casto Abundo, mobile +971-50-3544938,
Finance: Dr. Essam Zenhum,
Visas: Mr. Moheb, mobile +971-56-4747391,
Live Broadcast: IA Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh,
Reception and transport: Mr. Rafiq Thengil, mobile +971-50-9314161,
Hotel reservation: Mr. Ebraheem Alkadomi, +971-50-7337544

Download full regulations (PDF)

Fil-Ams say Manny Pacquiao a clear loser

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao exchange blows during their fight Saturday at the MGM Grand in Last Vegas

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao exchange blows during their fight Saturday at the MGM Grand in Last Vegas

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – A collective sigh of resignation descended upon the dozen or so Filipino-Americans gathered around Pat Mendoza’s table even before the result was announced.

Used to watching Manny Pacquiao dominate his opponents, this one was a clear loss before Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s hand was raised in triumph.

“He’s not like the Manny Pacquiao of old,” said Cristita Cerezo. “He did not put together a bunch of punches like he”

After feasting on pancit, adobo, lumpia and other Philippine delicacies, the group settled down to watch what was hyped as the “Fight of the Century.”

It turned about to be the “Biggest Disappointment of the Century.”

Urbano Salvati, Mendoza’s neighbor who joined the fight party, was courteous enough to his host to say, “it was a good fight. But the other guy kept running away and refused to mix it up.”

A town-mate of the great Rocky Marciano, Salvati said the unanimous decision was not surprising though.

“This is (Mayweather’s) town and Pacquiao should have done more to beat him.”

It was a sentiment shared by Brelane Mendoza, Pat Mendoza’s grandson.

“Pacquiao has to score a kknock-out to win,” he said. “If it go the distance, I’m sure Mayweather will prevail.”

Mayweather is a very smart fighter,” said Benny Montano. “I think Pacquiao did not do enough to win.”

Pacquiao alternated between complaining of a shoulder hurt in training camp to insisting he won the fight, but his fans say he was off his game.

His best round came whenhe caught Mayweather in a corner and rained blows on him, but the Sarangani congressman often backed off or stopped after not seeing any damage on the American fighter.

At the end of the 12-round bout, the fighters who may have earned a combined $200 million, were both unmarked.

Mayweather tantalizingly left a date in September for another bout (without naming a potential opponent) but a return match with Pacquiao seems out of the question.