thisfilipinoamericanlife

Episode 81 – Finding Filipino American Community in LA’s Little Tokyo: Conversations with Alison De La Cruz, Kennedy Kabasares, and Francis Cullado

In Los Angeles, Filipinos have a special relationship with the Little Tokyo neighborhood. In the 1920s and 1930s, Filipino immigrants formed a viable Little Manila district adjacent to the Japanese neighborhood. Little Tokyo was in many ways the heart of the Asian American Movement in Southern California during the 1960s and 1970s, prompting many Filipino American activists to work and live in the area. Today, many Filipino American leaders continue to head Asian American organizations headquartered in Little Tokyo, contributing to the cross-cultural coalition work established decades ago.  LA might have Historic Filipinotown, but SoCal’s Filipino American community can be found in numerous places.  Many Filipinos have built a vibrant center in Little Tokyo.

In this episode, Producer Mike takes us on a journey to Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo through the lens of its Filipino American community advocates. He speaks to Alison De La Cruz, Vice President of Programs at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, Kennedy Kabasares, artist and resident of Little Tokyo, and Francis Cullado, Executive Director of Visual Communications, the organization that produces the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Listen as they speak about the rich history of Filipinos in Little Tokyo, the importance of Asian American coalitions, and the legacy of the late Linda Mabalot, former Executive Director of Visual Communications and a pioneering Filipino American visual storyteller.

Pictured: Bill Watanabe, former Executive Director of the Little Tokyo Service Center and the late Linda Mabalot during the construction of the Union Center for the Arts, home to Visual Communications, LA Artcore, and East West Players.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

On a similar note, make sure to check out the 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival of which TFAL is a media sponsor. They got some great films lined up, particularly from Filipino and Filipino American filmmakers. You can check out the festival lineup here: https://vcmedia.org/festival.

EERIE

EERIE is set at Saint Lucia Academy for Girls, which is plagued by the ghost of a student who died under mysterious and tragic circumstances. The NEOMANILA & BIRDSHOT director returns to the screen with his play on Filipino mythology that uses supernatural characters that Filipinos may find familiar (mumus, aswangs, and dwendes oh my!). Horror fans will clamor for Mikhail Red’s take on the genre.

 

EERIE

Friday, May 3, 9:30pm

Downtown Independent

251 S Main Street Los Angeles, CA 90012

 

BUY TICKETS HERE:

https://laapff2019.eventive.org/schedule/eerie-5ca076743b07ca002f7ca125

 

SPOTLIGHT ON TAIWAN

The 35th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) shines a light on the country of Taiwan, presenting the very best in Taiwanese cinema and showcasing all its diversity in genres and peoples that make this island nation one of the most unique countries in Asia.

This year, LAAPFF is honored to present two award winning feature films — Heather Tsui’s directorial debut LONG TIME NO SEA, and Malaysian born Wi Ding Ho’s CITIES OF LAST THINGS.

Inspired by her personal experiences and involvement with an aboriginal tribe of Taiwan island, Heather Tsui’s debut LONG TIME NO SEA follows themes of indigenous identity and family traditions. The dance troupe, in real life, has won national awards and has been invited to perform both nationally and internationally. What is captured on screen truly makes Taiwan a true Asian melting pot, bridging the indigenous cultures with Chinese and everything in-between, creating a unique and compelling voice that presents Taiwan as a bridge of Chinese and Pacific Islanders.

From its striking opening image of a man hurling himself to his death from an apartment building, Wi Ding Ho’s CITIES OF LAST THINGS, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the juried Platform award, is an engrossing, evocative tripartite character portrait told in reverse, working back from the Taiwan of the near future to the recent past. It’s a stylish sci-fi noir as if directed by an amalgam of Wong Kar-wai, Jia Zhang-ke and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, with neon-lit alleyways and a humid dreaminess that captures the balmy climes of Taipei nights.

The common thread of these two films is one that is cross-cultural — with LONG TIME NO SEA, its indigenous identity and the legacy of the Yami people and with CITIES OF LAST THINGS, it is Taipei as a way station for lost souls from around the world, much like the seminal BLADERUNNER.

In addition to these two features, this year’s spotlight also highlights the works of emerging filmmakers from the Taiwanese diaspora, a record five short films, the most Taiwanese shorts presented in one festival edition: MAMA PINGPONG SOCIAL CLUB by Shiang An Chuang, THE VISIT by Roxy Shih, GENTLEMAN SPA by Yu Jhi-han, MERRY-GO-ROUND by Ray Wu, and I CAN’T BRING YOU AWAY by Li-Wei Lin. As LAAPFF is an Academy Award®-qualifying festival for Short Film Awards, short films at the Festival get special recognition and serve as a barometer for the next generation of successful filmmakers.

These films are screening on the following days:

MAMA PINGPONG SOCIAL CLUB (dir. Shiang An Chuang) appearing in I Gotchu Fam, Always – Sunday, May 5 at 7:00 pm at Downtown Independent

MERRY-GO-ROUND (dir. Ray Wu) appearing in WWYD (What Would You Do?) – Monday, May 6 at 6:00 pm at Regal L.A. LIVE

I CAN’T BRING YOU AWAY (dir. Li-Wei Lin) appearing in WWYD (What Would You Do?) – Monday, May 6 at 6:00 pm at Regal L.A. LIVE

CITIES OF LAST THINGS (dir. Wi Ding Ho) – Monday, May 6 at 6:30 pm at Regal L.A LIVE

THE VISIT (dir. Roxy Shih) appearing in The Tipping Point – Monday, May 6 at 8:30 pm at Regal L.A. LIVE

LONG TIME NO SEA (dir. Heather Tsui) – Monday, May 6 at 9:00 pm at Regal L.A. LIVE

GENTLEMAN SPA (dir. Yu Jhi-han) appearing in Blooming Colors – Tuesday, May 7 at 9:00 pm at Regal L.A. LIVE

 

 

Beats, Rhymes, and Resistance Revival: Dawn Mabalon Tribute

The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival will be presenting a revival screening of the 1997 film BEATS, RHYMES, AND RESISTANCE, the landmark short documentary about Filipinos in Hip Hop in Los Angeles directed by the late Dawn Mabalon, Lakan de Leon, and Jonathan Ramos. The film will be followed by . a panel discussion on the impact of the film and the legacy’s of Dawn’s work. Panelists will include Lakan de Leon, Faith Santilla, Kiwi Illafonte, former TFALpodcast guest Kat Carrido, and Wendell Pascual.

Friday, May 3, 7pm

341 FSN (341 E 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012)

 

This free program is part of Visual Communications’ CENTERING THE MASSES series at 341 FSN. To learn more, visit vcmedia.org/centerthemass.

 

YELLOW ROSE

The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is kicking off with the world premier of Yellow Rose by Diane Paragas. The film follows Rose Garcia (played by Eve Nobvlezada), a 17-year-old Filipina American in Texas. When her mom is arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Rose undertakes a musical journey while facing deportation back to the Philippines. Inspired by the music of country musicians like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Willie Nelson, the original composition accompanied by Noblezada’s captivating voice becomes the soundtrack of Rose’s wanderings akin to American westerns.

 

YELLOW ROSE

THURSDAY, MAY 2, 7PM

Aratani Theatre

244 S San Pedro St Los Angeles, CA 90012

BUY TICKETS HERE: https://laapff2019.eventive.org/schedule/yellow-rose-5ca076743b07ca002f7ca111

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2019

The 35th Annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) runs May 2nd – May 10th. The festival will hosts features and short films from both North America and Internationally. This Filipino American Life is excited to continue to partner with LAAPFF to highlight Filipino, Filipino American, and Asian Pacific Islander American stories.

Interested in saying multiple films during the festival? Purchase the Festival 10 pack or a Festival Pass! The Festival Pass allows you to attend the Opening Night Gala, Closing Night Gala, and Access to C3: Conference for Creative Content.

For more info on ticketing head here: LAAPFF Box Office & Ticketing

There are also free programs that you can check out! Tickets are required for admission into the theater and will be distributed online and at the Box Office. First come, First serve.

FREE PROGRAMS

Follow This Filipino American Life on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for our LAAPFF picks!

 

Episode 80 – Filipino American History, Politics, and Cultural Work in Seattle: TFAL Talks to Dr. Pio De Cano, Devin Cabanilla, and Sendai Era

Over the next few episodes, the TFAL crew brings you some voices from the Pacific Northwest.  This past month, TFAL was on location in Seattle (and later Vancouver) to speak with some of the movers and shakers of the Filipino American community.

In our first installment, we talk to Devin Cabanilla of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) and long time political advocate, Dr. Pio de Cano.  We then speak to Rico and Mike of Sendai Era, a duo who met at the University of Washington (Joe’s alma mater!), and now document the city’s rich creative scene through multimedia videos on Instagram.

Seattle has a long Filipino American history, politics, creativity, and food dating back to the turn of the 20th century.  We barely scratched the surface in these episodes, but I hope the next couple of episodes inspires you to dig deeper into the rich Filipino American heritage of this corner of the United States.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

Many thanks to Devin Cabanilla, Joseph Guanlao, and the good folks at Hood Famous Bakeshop (Geo and Chera) for your warm hospitality in the International District!

7 Mile House, a 161-year old restaurant in the Bay Area, continues long legacy with Filipino Food

Established in 1858, 7 Mile House, located in Brisbane, California (just south of San Francisco), is one of the oldest standing restaurants in the country.  However, this historic restaurant doesn’t serve any 19th century delicacies.  Instead, 7 Mile House serves Filipino food.  Yes…Filipino Food.

We  get some answers about the Filipino connection to 7 Mile House from owner, Vanessa Garcia.  Vanessa Garcia, originally from the Philippines, was a drummer, backup singer and original member of the Philippine-based all female pop-rock group ‘Prettier Than Pink’.  Enjoy this interview!

As a Filipina immigrant & owner of a 161-year old establishment, how do you see 7 Mile House in the context of the San Francisco Bay Area Filipino American community?

It is rare that a Filipino immigrant is given the opportunity to preserve a historic establishment’s legacy and stories and I consider it an incredible honor to be the owner and guardian of the 7 Mile House.

Its original owners in the mid-1800s were immigrants from Italy — hard working families who wanted to survive in America by incorporating skills, experience and culture that they learned from their motherland and could apply to their livelihood in order to succeed in a foreign country. Over 150 years later, that story has not changed. As an immigrant from the Philippines, I share the same intentions and feel immense gratitude for the opportunity this country has handed me, which is one I will never take for granted.

Many Filipino-American immigrants share this same sentiment, which is why we work hard, seize opportunities and never forget where we came from.

 

Right now is an incredibly exciting moment for many Entrepinays (Filipina/Pinay entrepreneurs) not just in the SF Bay but around the country. What lessons can you share about the intersection of your experience in culture, food & entrepreneurship?

Nothing is impossible and there are no limits to what we as Entrepinays can do. I have never let anything or anyone stop me from reaching my goals and in return, have achieved what I once thought were impossible dreams: I run a landmark restaurant despite being an immigrant and not knowing how to cook. I published an award-winning book on its history, which took 13 years of data collection and only 7 months to write, design and publish. 7 Mile House has won numerous awards for various categories including our food, ambiance, live music and dog-friendliness, to name a few — all of which I never thought a little dive bar could ever achieve.

Dig deep down into your soul and figure out what you want to achieve. Do everything it takes. But do so in the name of kindness, honesty and sincerity. It is much more fulfilling to know that you do things because you have good intentions and people around you will see that and will treasure you for it.

 

 

Can you talk about the community 7 Mile has built in the neighborhood, particularly with Filipinos & Filipino Americans?

In 2004, when I purchased 7 Mile House, I was frustrated. More Filipinos lived in the Bay Area than other Asian groups like Thai and Vietnamese, yet the locals knew more about their food and culture. I thought, “How could one know more about Korean food when 30% of Daly City is comprised of Filipinos?”

Our very long history of colonization from Spain and the United States has made Filipinos quite invisible within this country. As a result, many in our community have internalized this invisibility and believed they were inferior.

Eventually, things aligned and Filipinos started getting noticed worldwide. Entertainers like Apl.de.ap and Bruno Mars, as well as the rags to riches story of Arnel Pineda touched many people’s lives. Comedians like Rex Navarrete seemed to give us permission to relax and laugh at who we are. And of course, there’s Manny Pacquiao, who really brought the most pride and limelight to the Filipinos as a fighter.

While all of this was happening, I was still fueled by the frustration that our cooking and culture was little known by others, so I set out to talk about our culture through their stomachs. My strategy was to lure my guests with something familiar — a really good burger. Then, sprinkle amazing Filipino food into a menu mostly comprised of American and Italian food. I wanted to offer people Filipino food that was familiar — adobo and lumpia — and then to introduce to something more interesting, such as pork sisig made with pig cheeks on a sizzling plate.

Back then, no one knew what sisig was. “Sig Sig?,” non-Filipinos would say. “Sing Sig?” No one even know how pronounce it. I was so determined to bring this particular dish to 7 Mile House because it is my all-time favorite when paired with a cold bottle of San Miguel beer. In addition to this, no one was doing it “right.” Restaurants at that time were simply cooking dishes that resembled pan-fried sliced beef and that frustrated me.

Like I said, I don’t cook. And when I discovered this little Filipino Restaurant in Alameda that actually did it right, I drove every few days to that restaurant just to buy their sisig and resell it at 7 Mile House. Once we figured out how to make it ourselves, our formula just kept getting better and better. Today our Sisig is one of the most popular items on the menu, along with lumpia, adobo and of course, the cheeseburger!

Through the years and through our tummies, my mom and I spread the word about our food and culture. We talked all day long about how beautiful the Philippines is to whoever wanted to listen. I even went as far as inviting everyone on a nice vacation to the Philippines with the idea that somehow someday they could come see the sights and rich culture.

Then, the Filipino Food Movement started to emerge. Young Filipino cooks started creating both traditional and fusion dishes. It became cool to sport the Philippine star on your shirt and even as a tattoo.

And as my Mom and I continued to spread the word about our heritage in our little restaurant, little did we know we would be a part of a Filipino American movement that would change how the world saw our culture and how we would see ourselves.

 

 

You came out with the book “See You at the 7” last year, a book that chronicles the buried history of 7 Mile. How do you think this contributes to the legacy of Filipinos & Filipino-Americans in San Francisco?

See You at the 7 along with books like Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong, help chronicle our contributions to this country. This book leaves an indelible mark on American history — throughout the book you will read stories of Filipino Americans, and how they are all connected to 7 Mile House, and the SF Bay Area. It also tells the story of a Filipino immigrant family that would become historians of a 161-year old establishment in California, and document it in the first book ever written about Bay Area mile houses. I hope this book inspires more people to document their history as Filipinos in the diaspora.

 

7 Mile House

2800 Bayshore Blvd

Brisbane, CA 94005

http://7milehouse.com/

Episode 79 – Gio-Stories: Three Tales about Filipino America by Giovanni Ortega

In this TFAL episode, we switch gears a bit and give you a few literary works in audio form by Giovanni Ortega, multi-disciplinary artist, writer, and teacher. Giovanni joins the TFAL podcast and shares his upbringing as a 1.5 generation Filipino American from Chicago. He then gives us three short stories from different Filipino American experiences. The first is an excerpt from the play, ALLOS, a story about writer Carlos Bulosan. The second story is about life as a young Pinoy soldier in the U.S. military. Finally, the last story depicts the struggles of a Filipina migrant working overseas. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

 

Do you have an audio story to share?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL (8325) or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

Episode 78 – Filipino American Karaoke Culture

Filipinos and karaoke go together like peanut butter and jelly, like peas and carrots, like green mangoes and bagoong. Karaoke is essential to every Filipino party and every late night Filipino beer house.  We perform karaoke in the swankiest KTV room to the local roadside hole in the wall.  Filipinos even kill each other over karaoke!  Though the first karaoke machine was invented by Daisuke Inoue in 1975, did you know that it was a Filipino, Roberto Del Rosario, who holds the first patent on a karaoke system he developed in 1975, the Karaoke Sing-Along System?  Yes, karaoke is in the Filipino blood.

In this TFAL episode, we finally discuss karaoke, the beloved Filipino pastime.  We discuss what makes a good karaoke song, what’s a good karaoke playlist, and why performance and atmosphere – whether on a night out or in the living room – is so important.  We also talk about funny cultural nuances that make Filipino and Filipino American karaoke jam sessions so unique.  And of course, there is actual singing involved.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

What’s your favorite karaoke jam?  Do you have a memorable moment that involves karaoke?  Drop us a line on our voicemail (805) 394-TFAL (8325) or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com!