“Everybody doesn’t have to be a hero; everybody doesn’t have to be famous. Each person who’s Filipino American, to me, is very, very important as a story… Our stories are really in our people. It’s not so much in what the achievements are…as much as what is the story itself.” – the late Fred Cordova, co-founder of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS)
Everyone Filipino American has a story. Certainly, those who came before us had stories. Descendants of the Manong generation and students of Filipino American history may recall the history of the thousands of Filipinos who traversed the Pacific Ocean to make life in Depression-era America. During their heyday between the 1920s and 1960s, many Filipino Americans of this generation spent their lives picking fruits and vegetables in the Central Valley, canning salmon in Alaska, and bussing tables in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Mostly male, they came as laborers and faced the harsh reality of racism, anti-miscegenation, and poverty. Yet, they lived out more meaningful lives. Despite their bleak situation, these young pioneers shined in taxi dance halls, led labor strikes, built fraternal bonds, raised families, and developed long-lasting institutions. The Manong generation forged a community and identity lasting decades. Theirs is a story that too few know and remember.
Alleluia Panis pays tribute to the Manong generation and fights for their memory in her latest innovative work, In the Belly of the Eagle: Man@ng is Deity. The multimedia dance performance centers on Manong Valentino Pablo who, in his deathbed, experiences flashbacks of his earlier days in early 20th century San Francisco. Through dance performances, original music by Joshua Icban, and media art by Wilfred Galila, Man@ng is Deity communicates both the struggles and joys Pablo and so many of his contemporaries faced during their lifetimes. Through it all, Panis captures the resiliency of this increasingly forgotten generation of Filipino Americans, something in which all people – Filipino or not – can find inspiration.
Man@ng is Deity is truly a testament to Panis’ artistic creativity, passion for inclusion, and commitment to the Filipino American community. Like the Manong generation, Panis is a pioneer in her own right. For over three decades, Panis has contributed to the arts canon with more than 20 full-length collaborative dance theater works presented on stages throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Her work precedes and inspires this current age of #GoldOpen and #MyYellowFaceStory, when present-day audiences are voting with their money and demanding more diverse representation in the arts sector.
Panis joins many Filipino Americans – from Carlos Bulosan to Dorothy and Fred Cordova to Dawn Mabalon – in expanding the body of work of telling the Manong generation’s story. While so much of our Filipino American narrative points to our present day struggles of erasure and invisibility, we must not do the same to those who came before us. Filipino American history is vast; more than we realize. We must remember and honor it. Alleluia Panis’ Man@ng is Deity just does that.
In the Belly of the Eagle: Man@ng is Deity premieres March 22-24 at Bindlestiff Studios, 185 6th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.
March 22 & 23 at 7:30pm
March 24 at 2:30pm
$20 in advance
$25 at the door
For tickets go to http://manongisdeity.eventbrite.ca.
Founded in 1985, Kulintang Arts, Inc., now known popularly as Kularts, is the premier presenter of contemporary and tribal Pilipino arts in the United States. Through three decades of service, Kularts has grown into a leading elder arts organization, uniting generations of artists and community activists in a common effort to build a collective space and sense of belonging within San Francisco, specifically the SOMA Pilipinas: Filipino Cultural Heritage District. Kularts creates work that makes visible the contributions of Pilipino Americans and creates room for cultural continuity and knowledge.
About Bindlestiff Studio:
Bindlestiff Studio cultivates artists who reflect and celebrate the diverse values, traditions, and histories of Pilipino and Filipino American cultures through bold artistic expression and community engagement. Originally opened in 1989, Bindlestiff became the only permanent, community-based performing arts venue in the nation dedicated to showcasing emerging Filipino American and Pilipino artists. The studio provides the often under-served Filipino American community access to diverse offerings in theatrical productions, music and film festivals, workshops in directing, production, acting, stand-up comedy, and writing, as well as a children and youth theater program.
About Alleluia Panis:
Alleluia Panis has received awards for her choreography from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, California Arts Council, New Langton Arts, and Creative Work Fund. She has created over twenty full-length dance theater works since 1985, which have been performed on main stages in the United States, Europe and Asia, including the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Dance Theater Workshop, Singapore Arts Festival, and Verona Arts Fest – Italy. Her work was recently nominated for two Isadora Duncan Awards in ‘Outstanding Achievement in Performance’, and ‘Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design, for ‘Incarcerated 6×9’ (2018).
About Wilfred Galila:
Wilfred Galila makes use of a variety of media for storytelling and art making. His films have been screened at the 23rd and 26th annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. As a media artist, he has collaborated with dance artist Alleluia Panis on the multimedia dance theater productions She, Who Can See (2015) and Incarcerated 6×9 (2018, nominated for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design – Isadora Duncan Dance Awards), as well as the dance film She, Who Can See (2017) that was screened at CAAMFest in 2018. Galila is mounting a multimedia art installation piece as a commissioned artist by Kularts for the Postcolonial Survival Toolkit exhibition and series of events at The Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco in May 2019.
About Joshua Icban:
Joshua Icban is a composer based in Vallejo, California. As a creator, his work focuses on the intrinsic relationship between memory, history and identity. Josh is also a regularly performing guitarist who plays in a number of projects and groups in the Bay Area. Past credits include the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco State Gospel Choir, Afro-Cuban Ensemble He has served as composer/arranger & music director for Awesome Orchestra and Bindlestiff Studios and has had his work as sound designer featured in spaces such as Counterpulse and the Asian Art Museum. He recently graduated with an MA in ethnomusicology at CSU East Bay and teaches private lessons in the North Bay.