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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

PEOPLE

by Alexandra A. Seno

Tiger Goes Thai


WITH ELDRICK "TIGER" WOODS' star on the rise, it was no wonder legions of fans turned out to warmly greet the hot golf hero when he arrived in Bangkok last week for the Honda Asian Classic tournament. The 21-year-old American was still flying high after starting 1997 with a win at the prestigious Mercedes Championship in the U.S. There was also much local pride since the pro's mom, Kultida, is Thai. But it turns out that Woods' visit became less a display of golfing prowess than the centerpiece of a three-ring circus. On Feb. 5, he begged off from competition saying he had heat exhaustion and stomach cramps. Earlier, his name was embroiled in a controversy over ministerial behavior. While top politicians planned banquets for Woods, one reportedly was keen on offering him Thai citizenship. This despite the ban on dual passports and controversial laws that restrict land-ownership for Thais married to foreigners. The gesture provoked angry comments in the press, including one from a letter-writer, who said: "I do not see any other nation trying to brown-nose celebrities like this government." One bright light in all this was Woods' mom, who has become something of a TV celeb. She recently appeared on a two-hour variety show to tell viewers how her famous son should live his life: She wants Tiger to find a nice Thai girl and settle down. "Whoever [the bride] is, she'd better like golf," opined Kultida, giving new credence to the theory that mothers arenever wrong.

Preaching to the Converted

It was no ordinary promotion pit stop for Hollywood's Steven Seagal. When the action-film tough guy visited Taipei last week, he was a man on a mission -- from Buddha, no less. The star flew to the island to spend time with fellow Tibetan Buddhists, and to discuss religious and social issues with President Lee Teng-hui. Despite their spiritual differences -- Lee is a practicing Christian -- they chatted for 40 minutes using a mix of English and Japanese. Earlier in the week, Seagal also found time to lecture local reporters -- on press ethics. Local hacks found themselves under siege when one of their number brought up U.S. media reports accusing Seagal of wife abuse. Assuming a bit of his on-screen image, a scowling Seagal launched into a tirade about journalists fabricating news. After cooling off, he explained how he reconciles his violent movies with his Buddhist beliefs. "A lot of great lamas and gurus I know really enjoy my films," he said. Next visit, he hopes he will be on a more spiritual mission: to escort the Dalai Lama to Taiwan.

Ballet Dancer Takes the Big Leap

After years of soloing, Philippine ballerina Lisa Macuja, 32, is finally planning a lifetime pas de deux. Her prospective husband: business magnate Fred Elizalde, 56, her father's friend and former boss. The Russia-trained dancer, who runs a company dedicated to bringing ballet to the masses, says the marriage is scheduled for June. "This is a whirlwind with a capital W," the bride-to-be told Asiaweek. He proposed to her in December after a month-long courtship. What about the 24-year age gap? "I guess when you are in love nothing else matters," she sighs. "I've always gone out with men no less than 10 years older than I am." Elizalde is expected to take an active role in supporting dance on his native isles. Macuja reports he has written a libretto for a new ballet. Working title: The Iron Butterfly.


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