Friday, October 22, 2010

Latina legislator fought for better environment

LONG BEACH, CA - Known as a fighter and survivor, Senator Jenny Oropeza, D-28th District, has passed away on October 20, 2010.  The Montebello, California born Latina leader had been instrumental in representing Latina interests as an Assembly Member to the more recent State Senator.

Launching her political career as student body president at California State University Long Beach, Oropeza sought and was elected to the Long Beach School District Board 1988.  In 1994, she successfully ran for the Long Beach City Council while also serving on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board.  She was elected to the California State Assembly in 2000 where she chaired the powerful Budget Committee and almost became the first female Democratic Speaker.

In 2006, Oropeza ran for State Senate facing very tough opposition, including the mayor of Los Angeles, who had endorsed her opponent.  After winning by a narrow margin, she was named “Comeback Player of the Year” by Sacramento’s Capitol Weekly.  But nothing had prepared her for the toughest fight she would face, liver cancer.

After months of treatment, rehabilitation and painful recovery, Oropeza defeated the disease. The illness made her more sensitive to environmental issues that cause cancer, thus introducing legislation that curbed such exposures including an anti-smoking law signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a known smoker of cigars.

On Wednesday afternoon Oropeza, who had been suffering from a blood clot in her abdomen, had complained of shortness of breath and was taken to a Long Beach hospital where she died at 9:50 p.m.

Funeral services for Sen. Jenny Oropeza, have been scheduled for Monday, Oct. 25, 2010, beginning at 1 p.m. at Church of Our Fathers, Forest Lawn, 4471 Lincoln Ave., Cypress, 90630. This service will be open to the public.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Latino's interview of Social Diva, Peg Samuel

INTERVIEW: The Social Diva, Peg Samuel
By Al Carlos Hernandez, Herald de Paris, October 17, 2010

HOLLYWOOD  – A native New Yorker, Peg Samuel likes to say that she was pretty much born with the ‘fabulous’ gene embedded in her DNA. However, no one ever said that ‘fabulous’ was mutually exclusive with ‘diva’ Peg spent many years fine tuning her diva skills for which she is so well known. So well known in fact, she wrote the book on it.

Peg’s journey began in 1995 as an internet pioneer working in digital advertising at well known sites such as, Disney’s Info seek/, Value Click Media and Travel Ad Network. Peg was becoming affectionately known around town as ‘The Diva’ and the go-to girl for connecting, promoting and socializing. Friends say that her social butterfly personality made her situationally aware of the hip happenings on the social scene.

Peg wanted to combine her internet savvy with her love of lifestyle and her people skills. Armed with her personal mantra of “More Everything,” Peg launched Social in 2000, a lifestyle and entertainment website and blog which answers the age-old dilemma: Where can a girl go to have some fun?  MORE.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Latina trailblazing Tejano music

Promesa Mortal keeps it in the family
Joey Guerra,, October 5, 2010

Publisher's Note:  This article first appeared on

HOUSTON - Tina Vega first picked up a bajo sexto (12-string guitar) at 9 years old. She probably didn’t realize it at the time, but it made her a bit of a trailblazer.

“It just caught my attention,” she says. “I love challenges. Even my dads friends were like, ‘Your hands are too little.’”

Now in her early 20s, Vega fronts Promesa Mortal, a norteño outfit featuring her two brothers and a female cousin on drums. Vega handles lead vocals and strums her bajo sexto.

And she’s still a rarity in a male-dominated field.

“It’s hard to be taken seriously as a female,” Vega says. “I’ve had a few promoters not give us jobs because I was playing the bajo. They wanted me to sing only and hire a male musician.

“I use it as motivation to keep moving forward. At my shows I always say, ‘Tambien las mujeres pueden.’ Women can do anything a man can do, especially in the music industry.”

Vega says she’s had unwavering support from her parents and sees the late Selena, who seamlessly combined Tejano and pop, as an inspiration. Linda Esobar, a well-respected conjunto singer, is also a mentor.

Promesa Mortal’s own sound is a hybrid of norteño and rock, influenced by everyone from Paramore, AC/DC and Spanish rock band Mana to more traditional acts Los Tigres del Norte and accordion legend Tony de la Rosa. The group released its debut CD, featuring tracks in Spanish and in English, earlier this year.

“Most conjunto bands, Tejano bands stay in their zone. They don’t want to venture out,” Vega says. “They’re scared to because they don’t know how the public will react.

“We want to show rock and pop fans that you can play anything with bajo sexto y acordeon.”

The Vega clan might look familiar to local fans of conjunto music. Promesa Mortal was formerly known as Tina y Los Gallitos, who appeared four times at the Festival Chicano and performed throughout Houston. Vega fronted that incarnation from 10-20 years old.

“We were young, and it was something new, an adventure,” she says. “We traveled a lot. We recorded three albums. We won about four awards.

“Playing with family has its pros and cons. I’m the bandleader, and my older brother doesn’t really like that I’m in charge. We butt heads over a few things. But we all kind of have things were in charge of and our specialties. It balances out.”