The Home Runs, Check Swings, & Strike-Outs of Filipino Heritage Night at Dodger Stadium

August 21, 2009 · Posted in Events, General, sports 

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The official My Town Philippines souvenir shirt from the Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo taken by Jon Bareng which I took from him off Facebook)

On Tuesday, August 18th, the Los Angeles Dodgers put an end to the St. Louis Cardinals’ 5-game winning streak with a 7 to 3 victory.  Over 49,000 baseball fans were in attendance at Dodger stadium that night to witness an action filled game complete with overpriced food and liquor. 

For the Filipinos that went to the game that night, the evening’s story wasn’t just about a night at the ballpark.  The Dodgers marked that specific evening as Filipino Heritage Night.  To celebrate this special night, the right field reserve section was decorated to say My Town Philippines and the 800 people that got tickets for that special area were given access to all you can eat concessions, a special Filipino food menu and a souvenir t-shirt that said “This Is My Town, Dodgertown Philippines”.

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Now, I had a blast at the stadium. Even though I wasn’t in the special My Town Philippines section, I was part of the Filipino American Network of L.A. group of 162 people that was in section 9 of the reserve level.  So to all you folks in the My Town section, I hope you enjoyed that awesome view of the right field foul pole and the narrow view of the main scoreboard ‘cause the FAN L.A. group was sitting nice and pretty behind home plate. Big thanks to Matt Rousso in the group sales department for hooking up the section and the t-shirts.

The game itself was pretty entertaining. You had a struggling L.A. Dodger team going up against one of the hottest teams in the National League with arguably the best player in the game, Albert Pujols.  Orlando Hudson had a great defensive play with him fielding a deep infield single only to do a quick turn around throw to make the play at 1st base.  Even though there wasn’t a home run hit during the game, there was an exciting hustle play by James Loney as he scored from 1st base of a Russell Martin double to barely beat out the throw at home plate.  For Dodger baseball fans, the game delivered.

As for the Filipino Heritage Night components, well, that was more hit and miss.

The Home Runs

The exclusive Dodgertown Philippines shirt is just awesome. This is the first time the Los Angeles Dodgers created merchandise specifically for Filipinos and a lot of life long Pinoy Dodger fans were happy to see that our team was recognizing our community.

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Cal State Northridge FASA Alumni and two of the baddest brothers on the planet showing off their Dodgertown Philippines t-shirts

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Rod, Marifi, Trish and Brian sporting the t-shirts in Section 9

The My Town Philippines section was completely sold out.  There were other Asian groups that had their My Town theme nights but the Dodgers were not expecting the large response for Filipino Heritage night because the My Town Korea and My Town Japan nights didn’t sell as well.  Keep in mind that the Dodgers don’t even have a Filipino player on their main roster!  Huge props to the Pinoys that came out in large groups to show the Dodgers that they have a large Filipino fan base and that we are a viable market worth catering to.  Because of the overwhelmingly positive response by the Filipino community of Los Angeles, expect to see the Dodgers do another Filipino Heritage Night in the future. Not to mention that the Dodgers are now 1-0 for Filipino Heritage Nights at Dodger Stadium.

On a personal note, I need to give a huge thanks to Earl for smuggling some of the food from the all you can eat section into the section I was in.  The extra hot dog, popcorn, and peanuts were awesome.

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Earl and his magic hat of smuggled food

The Check Swings

Jo Koy throwing out the first pitch was pretty cool but let’s get real here folks.  If you were to throw a Filipino Heritage night at a baseball stadium, is Jo Koy’s name in the top 5 list of candidates you would try to book for the first pitch?  Not taking away from Jo Koy’s success as a stand-up comic but aside from people that watch VH-1 recap shows, Comedy Central viewers, and comedy club patrons, not many other folks know who Jo Koy is (at least not yet). 

The girl that sang the Star Spangled Banner, Michelle Martinez, did a decent job. I’ve never heard of her before and neither did anyone in my section of 162 people but at least she didn’t screw up the song or go flat on the big notes. 

The Strike Outs

Unlike Michelle Martinez, the girl that sang God Bless America in the 7th inning stretch made me want to yank the microphone away from her face and revoke her Filipino card.  “Recording artist” (at least that’s what they announced her as) Erika David not only had a difficult time hitting the ending notes of the song, she flubbed the words of the song!  Her mumbling of a partial verse prompted quite a few fans to boo her mercilessly, myself included.  Way to rep the Pinoys in front of 49,000 fans.  Erika, if your excuse for botching God Bless America was because you were nervous singing in front of 49,000 people, why the hell are you passing yourself off as a recording artist? I mean, the f-cking words to the song were in big f-cking letters in the video scoreboard directly in front of you!  Who the hell booked this person and what was the talent criteria? More on that later.

The Filipino food choices in the My Town section was a nice gesture but based on the reports I got, the chicken adobo was more like “teriyaki and soy sauce chicken”.  And I don’t know about the rest of you but last I checked I’ve never seen pineapple skewers served as a Filipino food dish at any family party or Filipino restaurant that I’ve been to.  Not sure how that made it on the exclusive Filipino food menu, well, actually I do have an idea. More on that later.

As much as I love the art of DJing and am proud of all the accomplishments of Filipinos in the world of djing and turntablism, I’m not sure what a group of Pinoy djs spinning hip-hop outside of the My Town Philippines section does to really drive home the feel of Filipino Heritage Night.  And it’s not like they were even playing Pinoy hip-hop artists like Bambu or Roscoe Umali. They were just playing stuff you hear on the radio.  Just throwing this out there but if you’re gonna book a music group to accentuate the theme of Filipino Heritage, wouldn’t you try to find a rondalla or kulintang group instead of DJ Pinoy Guy and his crate carrying homies?  More on that later.

Here’s the “more on that later”

There’s no way the Dodger organization has the internal staff to know how to market towards every single target group in Los Angeles. They had to consult with some third party agency to figure out how to market towards the Filipino community of Los Angeles in order to sell tickets for their Filipino Heritage Night. 

Enter Plan C Agency.  They are a “full service multi-cultural marketing agency specializing in Asian Americans.” At least according to their website that’s what they are. These are the folks that convinced the Dodgers that they knew how to target market to Filipinos in Los Angeles and had the connections to deliver quality programming suggestions for the pre-game and in-game entertainment. 

Well, I did meet two of their reps a week before the game and, to be honest, these folks were f’n clueless when it came to the dynamics of the Filipino community of Los Angeles. 

6 days prior to the game, these folks hosted a meet and greet with Filipino community groups and businesses along with a tour of Dodger Stadium.  Let me stress that it was only 6 DAYS PRIOR TO THE GAME that they decided to reach out to Filipino community groups and businesses such as SIPA, FAN LA, FASGI, and the Asian Journal to meet them in person.  Of course this was after the fact that the My Town Philippines section was already sold out. 

On the night of the game, these junior level scouts invited people to join them in the Dodger Stadium club for some form of VIP reception.  Here’s a part of an email from Barbara Lee – PR Specialist from Plan C:

“On behalf of the Dodgers, I’d like to extend an invite to you plus 1 additional guest to the Stadium Club on the night of Filipino Heritage Night (8/18).   I am aware you may be attending the event and sitting in seats provided to you by the Dodgers, but if you are interested in enjoying the game at the Stadium Club also, you are welcome to do so.  I would love to share a few words with you and find out more about your organization.  Food will not be complimentary, but the option to purchase appetizers and dinner will be available.”

Hey Plan C, if you’re gonna invite people to join you at the Stadium Club to get better acquainted with a constituency that you are obviously not familiar with, you need to at least offer a drink or appetizer or something.  What kind of cheap skates are you when you invite people to an exclusive VIP area and tell them they still have to fork over some cash just to eat so you could talk to them? 

I did some digging and found out that these Plan C folks are former club promoters that scored a few deals with liquor companies and now they are an “agency”.  That explains the DJs, the God Bless America chick, the pineapple skewers, and the choice of Jo Koy throwing out the first pitch.  And for the folks that remember the failed Manny Pacquiao first pitch night earlier this year when Manny was advertised to be at a Dodger game only to cancel last minute, I’ll give you three guesses which “agency” dropped the ball on that but you’ll only need one.

To the folks from Plan C reading this, I figured out why you guys are called Plan C.  It’s because when the better choices of plan A and plan B are unavailable, you get stuck with Plan C.  It’s also the grade you guys get for your part in planning for Filipino Heritage night… a “C” which is barely passing.  If you guys are serious about truly marketing to Filipino Americans, you need to step outside of your nightclub networks and learn about the market you are claiming to understand.  And don’t think that it was just me that noticed how junior level you guys came off.

It’s partially our fault though.  Nobody from the Filipino community of L.A. stepped up and offered to help the Dodgers put together Filipino Heritage Night.  And that’s where we get into a bigger issue.  As our communities grow in size and our presence gets more well known, corporate entities will start doing things like Filipino Heritage Night to try to capture our spending dollars.  If we don’t step up and make ourselves business friendly to work with, these corporate entities will go to other groups like Plan C that do not know the dynamics of our people or our community and they will be given the power to define who we are. 

Our heritage was recognized by one of the top sports organizations in one of the largest cities in the United States.  Finally we are getting noticed and now it’s up to us to make sure that the Dodgers, Plan C, and every other company looking to make money off of our heritage and ethnicity respects everything that the word Filipino represents.

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Comments

15 Responses to “The Home Runs, Check Swings, & Strike-Outs of Filipino Heritage Night at Dodger Stadium”

  1. Gigi on August 21st, 2009 12:30 pm

    I browsed through Plan C’s web site and noticed they couldn’t even spell one of their talents names correctly. It’s Gabby ConcepCion, not ConcepTion.

    Interesting, though — Plan C’s president, co-founder, and “marketing visionary” seems to be Pinoy, ‘no?

  2. Gigi on August 21st, 2009 12:33 pm

    Couldn’t catch my comment to correct error: Should be “they couldn’t even spell the name of one of their talents correctly.”

  3. Dr. Phil on August 21st, 2009 12:47 pm

    It just so damn comical sometimes, seeing how we are misrepresented. Or how hookin up the homeys gets in the way of providing the best rep’s of the community. Except for Joe Coy, that brother gets a pass from me any time.

    Other than that, It’s almost a form of entertainment to see whats next and how skrewy it will be.

    That said, it was a fun as hell night at Chavez. The community responded to the gesture big time and represented well. The Doyers responded as well, with an exciting game and a good win.

  4. Walter on August 21st, 2009 12:57 pm

    Funny and true.

  5. Valleypinoy on August 21st, 2009 1:28 pm

    “Nobody from the Filipino community of L.A. stepped up and offered to help the Dodgers put together Filipino Heritage Night.”

    If there is a marketing group in SoCal that can represent us effectively, please step up. If there isn’t, maybe it’s time that one form.

  6. Arlyn Sinsay on August 21st, 2009 1:51 pm

    Great article, Walter. I was very disapointed when the Filipino Section sold out. They definitely should have increased the seats allocated to the promotion. And you are right about the girl who sang “God Bless America.” Her pitch was so off and she just looked so uncomfortable warbling the song. Jo Koy is cool and all, but there definitely could have been a higher caliber Filipino celebrity to throw in the first pitch. As for the DJ’s, that was a little random. Dj’s don’t usually perform at stadiums during games. It just shows how we are not being marketed to effectively. Pineapple skewers? Really? We are Filipino, not Hawaiian. Anyway blogs like yours definitely show insight into our perceived place in US society.

  7. Manny Ramirez Pacquiao on August 21st, 2009 1:52 pm

    As for Filipinos on the Dodgers roster, this local kid from LMU was a recent draft pick and is now playing for the Dodgers’ single-A farm club the Great Lakes Loons in Michigan:

    Angelo Mario Songco
    http://greatlakes.loons.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?pos=LF&sid=t456&t=p_pbp&pid=572154

    Manny Ramirez Pacquiao wishes him the best of luck in the minors and hopes he gets called up to the big leagues one day!

  8. earl. on August 21st, 2009 7:20 pm

    W00h000!! I smuggled food! And no problem… glad to do it.

    I do that alot.

    But yes… good article, homey. Speak truth on it.

  9. Hae-Yong Pilapil on August 21st, 2009 7:22 pm

    Could that “c” in the “plan” stand for “clueless?”

  10. Dre on December 12th, 2009 2:50 am

    Intersting article. After reading your article, as a proud FilAm and longtime Dodger fan, I can now say that I’m glad I did not spend $45 for all you can eat ” teriyaki and soy sauce chicken “. C’mon, how do you mess up chicken adobo ? ( And this is coming from a very white-washed FilAm, mind you ) . I saw the menu before the game actually and had a feeling that the food wasnt going to be appealing. As for the event, I was hoping to see some Filipino themed pre-game cultural presentation and maybe hear our anthem Lupang Hinirang ( It was performed here in ‘06, the first time the Philppine anthem was performed at an MLB Stadium unfortunately I missed it due to our notorious LA traffic ) , and even though I had field level seats, I still went up there to check out the scene and was impressed by the enthusiasm for the Blue, (BTW, Filipinas love Andre Ethier too…..) . But other than that, there could have been more done to show what our heritage is about. But being the biased Dodger fan I am, I will give the Blue a pass and as for My Town Philippines selling out, I think it also helped that the opponent was the Cards , which at the time was talked of as a possible playoff preview. And on a more personal note, the next time the Dodgers do My Town Philippines, perhaps they should do it when the Jints, ahem, the Giants are in town. Then you’d really have some excitement in the stands ( Especially since LA and SF have perhaps the 2 largest Filipino fan bases. Filipino Dodger fans and Giants fans together, hmmmmmm )

  11. Lee Wilkinson on October 6th, 2011 11:23 am

    You speak well. Are all of them from the picture filipinos? Great article post. Well, How i wish i could sit in that stadium at the picture. Very well written article.

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