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“I, The Emcee!”

 A Unique Perspective on The CHSSC ‘Portraits of Pride’ Gala

 By Jack Ong

Murphy's Law ("Anything that can go wrong will go wrong") was in force big time during the critical hours just prior to the kickoff of the Portraits of Pride dinner event sponsored by the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2004! 

As Eugene Moy (dinner chair), Dr. Wing and Joyce Mar (Portraits of Pride powerhouses), Randy Bloch, CHSSC administrator, and the Historical Society planning committee waited (and waited) to set up the banquet facilities for the big party, anything that could go wrong pretty much did, and I, the Emcee, felt we were rapidly turning into a Hysterical Society!

 Actually, I, the Emcee, was probably the only one getting more hysterical by the minute, but I was at least holding it in, writing it all down, dealing with the stress. Hey, I had to – we were in public, after all, lots of people were flowing in, and I stood out, dressed as I was to be front and center. I HAD to appear calm. It was my job!

 So it is a testament to the inner strength and professionalism of the dinner committee of volunteers and CHSSC board members that they all remained so very cool and collected under pressure, as one thing after another seemed to go awry.

 Yet I’d be surprised if a single guest at the gala event noticed anything except the great centerpieces by Donna Young, the tasty 9-course banquet, and the snappy flow of the evening’s program, when 17 of the 38 Portraits of Pride stars in attendance were introduced. To roars of approval and respect, the “Sensational 17” stepped forth to accept special commendations signed by L.A. Mayor James Hahn. They were also decorated with commemorative CHSSC medals.

 Doing the honors: Society president Kenneth Chan and Dr. Wing Mar, assisted by a radiant Julia Nickson, beautiful star of such hits as “Rambo 2,” “China Cry” and the TV miniseries version of “Around the World in 80 Days”. Incidentally, Julia is garnering rave reviews for her performance as a naughty stepmother in the movie “Ethan Mao” by Quentin Lee (“Shopping for Fangs”); the highly anticipated new film was chosen to be shown at the recent AFI Film Festival in L.A. 

 Meanwhile, at Portraits of Pride: The Gala…I, the Emcee, had a fabulous time “running the show,” as it were; and from my point of view onstage, everyone in the sold-out, turnaway crowd of about 300 seemed happy to be with us. I saw smiles everywhere! Lots of laughter, fun and flashing cameras! Beaming honorees and families! Fun-loving hecklers! In short: WHAT AN EVENING! 

Now on to Portraits of Pride – The Book! Five years in the making, this is the latest in a series of quality CHSSC historical publications. Dr. Mar, project director and editor in chief, oversaw a team of writers, editors and artists to create this beautiful volume showcasing profiles and life stories of 38 Chinese Americans from the WWII Generation, most of them rising above racial adversity and limitations to excel in their chosen fields of science, industry, medicine and education.  

Among the special features in the new book is a chronology of Chinese-American immigration and progress in the United States, high points of Asian American activism, a chart of the 2000 U.S. census, and the entire text of the Chinese Exclusion Act, enforced by the U.S. in 1882 and finally repealed in 1943, when China and America became allies against Japan. 

This first printing of CHSSC’s Portraits of Pride is a special limited edition. CHSSC is distributing 1500 copies with CDs to various libraries as a public service. Order your copies now for holiday giving, and don’t forget to keep one for yourself. Wonderful reading! To order, just go to www.chssc.org

Tell them I, the Emcee, sent you!

Jack with Julia Nickson

John Parnell Photo
Event Reviews...
“My wife Thyra and I enjoyed the CHSSC group, the dinner, and most of all, their MC of the evening, Jack Ong. Not only did he keep the program on schedule, his humor and insights (as to the plight of the honorees and his own life) were both funny and moving, making the evening a delight for us all! Good friends, great food and a wonderful program…what more could you want on a Saturday night! ”
- Karl Boeckmann, VP, Galpin Motors,  and 2004 recipient of the Fernando Award (the most prestigious honor bestowed in the San  Fernando Valley for volunteer community Service)
Wow!  What a show!  Thank you, Jack, for a terrific job. Your professionalism and enthusiasm carried the evening!”
- Eugene Moy, CHSSC VP, Programs and event chair
“Our event was a big hit! Jack kept the program going and kept everyone’s attention and interest – a total success! Our Jack has raised the bar!”
- Donna Young, CHSSC board member and dinner committee volunteer
“We must join everyone in saying what a professional talent Jack Ong is! He makes the evening so much fun. I watched the audience and they all were smiling. My family table all said ‘GREAT SHOW!”
- Bill & Natalina Chew (Bill is a “Portraits of Pride” star!)
"Jack certainly gave the evening a classy touch!"
- Ann Lau, President, Visual Artists Guild
“Jack! You were hysterically funny and should get paid big bucks for this kind of work. Great job!!!!”
- Julia Nickson
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