podcast

Episode 153 – Kulintang Kultura: A Conversation with Theo Gonzalves and Mary Talusan Lacanlale

Kulintang (literally meaning “golden sound moving” in English), is the gong and drum ensemble indigenous to the Sulu and Mindanao islands in the southern Philippines  This classical music genre has resonated across the Philippines and throughout the Filipino diaspora. As a way to honor and archive the rich sounds of kulintang, the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings recently released Kulintang Kultura: Danongan Kalanduyan and Gong Music of the Philippine Diaspora, a two cd-set full of traditional and contemporary takes of this musical genre. The collection is a tribute to the late Guro Danongan “Danny” Kalanduyan, a champion of kulintang and U.S. National Heritage Fellow, a lifetime honor awarded to him by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1995.

Joining us on this TFAL episode are Kulintang Kultura co-producers Theodore S. Gonzalves and Mary Talusan Lacanlale. As scholars and artists, Theo and Mary discuss the past and future of kulintang, the sonic rhythms of the instrument which have the ability to capture the sounds of Filipino America, and what we can all do to keep this artform alive.

Listen to or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

When was the first time you first listened to kulintang?  Do you have a story you think we should tell?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or emailing us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

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Theo Gonzalves currently serves as Interim Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and is a scholar of comparative cultural studies, focusing on the experiences of Asian American / Filipino American communities. He has taught in the United States (California, the District of Columbia, Hawai’i, and Maryland), Spain, and the Philippines.

Mary Talusan Lacanlale is an assistant professor of Asian-Pacific Studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills. She has a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles and specializes in Filipino and Filipino American music and culture.  Her book Instruments of Empire: Filipino Musicians, Black Soldiers, and Military Band Music during U.S. Colonization of the Philippines was published by University Press of Mississippi.

Episode 152 – A Life Well Designed: The Legacy of Pinky Santos and the Influence of Filipino Art on the Lived Environment

“If there was one thing to take away from this story, I would hope that it’s motivation for you to go create something.” -Antonio “Miko” Javiniar

This is a story about chairs.

Whether you knew it or not, the rattan and bamboo hourglass-style peacock chair that has been seen in photos and homes for over a century traces its origins to the Philippines.  In fact, the first photo taken in what’s often been referred to as the “photographer’s chair” was taken at Bilibid Prison in Manila.  Vox’s short doc on YouTube is a good primer on the chair’s history and influence.

Photos:  Huey Newton / Black Panther Party; “Jail Bird In A Peacock Chair” / El Paso Herald.  Re-published by Esquire Philippines.

And whether you knew it or not, if you’ve ever seen the chairs at Gracias Madre, Pink Taco, the Ace Hotel, or even in the movie Jurassic Park, you were looking at the art and designs of Pinky Santos, including her own take on the peacock chair.  She designed furniture for the renowned and influential Fong Brothers, and then eventually for her own design house in the Philippines, fulfilling a life-long dream.  And she drew, doodled, and painted.

Photos courtesy Antonio Javiniar.

And while all of that is notable on its own, we know Pinky not because of chairs, but because, for a time, she was part of the extended family at Search to Involve Pilipino Americans, where Producer Mike and guest host Gerlie Collado both worked, and where her kids, Antonio / “Miko” and Kat spent their time after school.  So to us and so many others, Pinky, Antonio, and Kat were family, nothing more, nothing less.

Photos by Michael Nailat

Last June, Pinky passed away, leaving behind Antonio and Kat, both of whom have grown into incredible creative people in their own right.  And rather than let their loss fade into memory, Antonio made sure to tell the story of his mother’s incredible body of work on his Instagram, a story so beautiful that we had to have Antonio on our show to share it with all of you as well.

We often celebrate the most visible and notable people in our community, and we’ve interviewed a lot of them on this podcast.  But it’s also important to tell the stories about the less well-known but just as remarkable people in our own lives as well.

Pinky Santos was so many things to so many people:  a humble industrial designer, an eager artist, a supportive mother and friend, a chaser of dreams.

This is a story about chasing those dreams.  This is a story about finding family and community wherever you go.  This is a story about the art we experience in our daily lives while rarely ever thinking about their origins and the artists that created them.

This is a story about Pinky.

Photo courtesy Antonio Javiniar

Listen to or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

Have you seen or sat in one of Pinky’s chairs?  Do you have a story you think we should tell?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or emailing us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

 

Episode 151 – Filipino American Heritage…er History Month

Happy Filipino American Heritage…er History Month!

It’s hard to believe, but in the five years this podcast has been around, we haven’t dedicated an episode to Filipino American History Month (FAHM).  So this episode, the TFAL crew discusses our experiences with October ever since the Filipino American National Historical Society declared the month as FAHM.  Listen as we discuss how we first learned about FAHM, what we did and currently do during the month of October, why it’s called Filipino American History, and not Heritage, Month, how we all can contribute to and expand the definition of “Filipino American History,” and what happens when months such as these get appropriated by corporations.

This is also the first time we’ve recorded in-person after close to two years of social distancing, which may have enhanced our conversation.  All we can say is it was definitely more fun in the TFAL Studio!

Listen or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

What do you do during Filipino American History Month?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

Photos from PIC Magazine (March 3, 1942) and James Wood Collection (UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library).

Episode 150 – The Wisdom of Guncles: A Conversation with Michael Dumlao (Social Distance Series)

Are you the black sheep in your family who chafes at traditions and seeks examples of how to redefine them? As Filipino Americans, we are constantly pulled in various directions and navigate multiple spaces in our families and in society, often getting shunned for just being our true selves.  The black sheep, however, are in key positions to move our families and communities in a more inclusive and equitable direction.

In this TFAL episode, we speak to LGBTQ+ activist, artist, brand manager, and author of The Wisdom of Guncles, Michael Dumlao.  He discusses his journey as a gay man from a very conservative Filipino family, his experience crossing (and recrossing) geographical, racial, and sexual borders, as well as his brave attempts at breaking barriers and redefining what it is to be human.  Michael’s story, as well as others he shares in his book, will inspire all of us as we aspire to be better people for ourselves and for others.

 

About the book:

The Wisdom of Guncles is about queer people and their relationship with family — however they choose to define it. Featuring a diverse pantheon of gay uncles (“guncles”) and other queer mentors, their stories offer unique perspectives about life, love, and personal empowerment.

The Wisdom of Guncles shares ten powerful journeys, each bearing knowledge honed through struggle and triumph, on living with audacious authenticity and compassion. While these narratives are unapologetically queer, they hold universal lessons about the human condition that, like all stories about family, are grounded in love.

Listen or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

Do you have a story to share about your experiences as a black sheep?  Leave a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com!

Episode 149 – Contested Relations: Fil Am Experiences with Filipinos in and from the Philippines (Social Distance Series)

What are Filipino Americans’ experiences and relationships with Filipino immigrants and Filipinos in the Philippines?  Filipino Americans – Filipinos who are born and or raised in the U.S. – often have vastly different experiences from Filipinos in the Philippines and those who recently immigrate to the U.S.  Sometimes those differences clash when discussing issues of Filipino identity, culture, and politics.  And these tensions have significantly heightened over the last few years because of social media.  Why is there such a divide?  Why have we developed such different perspectives, particularly on issues such as racism, classism, and imperialism?  Are Filipino Americans considered a part of the Filipino nation?  Where can we find commonality?

In this TFAL episode, we explore the tensions between Filipino Americans and Filipinos from the Philippines.  The crew first discuss our experiences with Filipinos who recently immigrate to the United States and our views of other communities.  Then we have a great conversation with Kristoffer Pasion, a Historian and Museum Researcher at the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.  Also known as the Indio Historian, Kristoffer provides us with great historical insight on these contested relations between our communities.  He points out how we can resolve many of our issues through much needed dialogue.  He also discusses the important work he is doing with the National Historical Commission.

Listen or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

What are your thoughts on this divide?  Do you agree or disagree with what was said in the episode?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or emailing us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com!

Episode 148 – A Pawsome Episode for Filipino American Pet Owners (Social Distance Series)

Although they provide companionship, emotional support, and stress-relieving, these key “family members” of some Filipino American households may not get talked about very often: OUR PETS!  On this TFAL episode, we talk about pet ownership and welfare with two Filipino American veterinarians who are passionate about animals: Dr. Maria Solacito and Dr. Ronaldo “Joey” Vasquez. We discuss how to best care for our pets, what animal welfare practices are specific to Filipinos, and what kinds of Filipino food to feed your pets (hint: not a lot!).

Dr. Solacito has been the Senior Veterinarian for the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control.  She currently serves on the California Veterinary Medical Board and served as President of the Southern California Filipino Veterinary Medical Association (SCFVMA) for 2016-18.

Dr. Joey is a veterinarian who provides affordable veterinary care in Los Angeles, running the North Figueroa Animal Hospital.  He also works with organizations like the Humane Society and local rescues, providing veterinary services for the pets of the homeless and impoverished families.

Before our interview with these two veterinarians, the TFAL crew discusses our evolving views of animal welfare, what we learned from Bob Barker at the end of Price is Right, sabong (cockfighting), and we even talk a little bit about the derogatory term “Dogeater.”   Find out who from the TFAL crew hates animals (joke lang!), who wants a corgi, who named their pet after a famous actor, and who had pet chickens growing up. Finally, we talk about why it’s so important for people to look at pet adoption when considering getting pets.

Listen or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

Do you have pets?  How do you care for them?  Any specific Filipino-related stories about having pets? Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or emailing us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com!

Episode 147 – Family Matters: TFAL Talks Taking Care of Family

“As the days go by…it’s the bigger love the family.”

Growing up in communal households, many Filipino Americans sense the unspoken duty to take care of their families.  Whether it’s taking care of one’s own children, or one’s parents, or new, adopted members of one’s family, we all know we have some form of obligation to something outside of ourselves. In this very personal TFAL episode, the crew discusses our roles as caretakers for our families. Did we do that??

All four of us have gone through tremendous life changes over the past year – and we’re not just talking about COVID.  We all found ourselves as new caretakers of other members of our families.  Joe (and his boss, Gerlie) are now raising a young daughter, Ryan is now co-raising the children of his girlfriend, and Elaine and Mike are now taking care of Elaine’s recently widowed mother.  Listen as we discuss our experiences as relatively new family caregivers.  Through it all, we are both embracing as well as learning from the challenges of our new responsibilities.

Do you have any experiences in taking care of your family members?  Let us know!  Email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com or leave a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL.

 

Episode 146 – No Crying in Baseball: A Conversation with The Baseballogist L.A. Gamo

Take me out to the ball game

Take me out with the crowd

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack

I don’t care if I ever get back 

Let me root, root, root for the…

 

How many of you have had the opportunity to sing this song at a baseball game? Filipino Americans love sports, however our fandoms lean towards basketball, a sport where the average height of an NBA player is above 6 feet. Would it surprise you to know that in Philippine history, baseball was once the most popular sport amongst Filipinos? (https://www.amazon.com/Playing-Big-Boys-Imperialism-Philippines/dp/0803255462

 

In this episode the TFAL crew share how they all became baseball fans before having a conversation with The Baseballogist L.A. Gamo, a Filipino American content creator who is highlighting the sport of baseball on his instagram (@baseballogist) and Youtube channel (The Baseballogist). L.A. shares his story and his love of baseball from a kid playing tee-ball to playing college baseball to his role now as a coach and baseball ambassador. Take a listen to the episode to find who’s favorite baseball clip is this scene from Naked Gun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-S-eeInJVk

 

Listen or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

 

Which baseball team do you root for?  What’s your favorite baseball memory?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or emailing us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com!

Episode 145 – Les is More: Mixing It Up with “Les The DJ” Talusan (Social Distance Series)

 

Can you believe that, in the five years that we’ve been doing this podcast about Filipino American Life, somehow we have neglected to talk to a DJ about DJing?!  Neither can we, especially since Producer Mike is a collector and curator of vinyl himself!

Though DJing may be as old as vinyl records themselves, the artform as we know it today really came together through the efforts of Black and Latinx pioneers, whose sound selections, skills, and techniques were rooted in long-standing rhythmic traditions and were honed for the masses in backyards, at block parties, and underground clubs.  And as with many forms of popular art that originated with those communities, those styles were were adopted and adapted the world over, including by DJs in the Philippines and throughout the diaspora.

Which brings us to our guest for this episode, Les Talusan, aka Les the DJ.  Based out of Piscataway Land / Washington, DC, originally from Caloocan City, Manilla, Philippines, Les Talusan is a DJ, photographer, curator, teaching artist, and organizer whose practice immerses people in the joy of discovery, empowerment, and community.  And most importantly (for us anyways), Les is the opening half of our favorite weekly ritual, #OPMSundays on Twitch, where she and past (first!) guest of the podcast Joel Quizon / DJ joelquiz play Original Pilipino Music from the Philippines and throughout the diaspora.

Listen or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

Who are your favorite DJs?  What are your favorite OPM artists and songs?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or emailing us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com!

You can catch #OPMSundays and Les’ other sets on her Twitch page at https://www.twitch.tv/lestalusan.  Also check out her Instagram for info on other events and gigs.

To learn more about some of the history of Filipinos and DJing, we highly recommend you check out Oliver Wang’s excellent book, “Legions of Boom: Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews in the San Francisco Bay Area.”  Definitely also pick up “Tropical Renditions:  Making Musical Scenes in Filipino America,” which we talked about all the way back on Episode 4 (!) with author and friend of the podcast Christine Bacareza Balance.

And in case you didn’t know, #TFALheartsOPM, so if you do too, why not show it off by picking up a Chicken Joy Division shirt from our WhatAManeuver! storefront?

Episode 144 – Susus Maryosep: TFAL Talks Recent Filipino Representation (Social Distance Series)

In recent weeks, many Filipinos and Filipino Americans have appeared in mainstream U.S. news and entertainment.  Whether it’s the release of the Netflix anime series, TRESE, the long-awaited appearance of a Filipino nurse in Grey’s Anatomy, the recent announcement of a Pinay Captain America, or the heroic acts of Jordan Clarkson after a racist incident befell a Filipino food truck in Utah, Filipinos have been in the mix of American popular culture more than usual.

In this TFAL episode, the crew discusses this recent surge of Filipino visibility in entertainment.  Listen as we discuss all of the latest news in Filipino American life and give our lukewarm takes on each of them.  (We even briefly touch upon the controversial Aswang Project hullabaloo!)

Listen or download through the embedded player on TFAL, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

What do you think about these latest developments in popular culture? Let us know by leaving a voicemail (805) 394-TFAL or emailing us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.