After a 2-year hiatus, the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC) made a return. With the pandemic in mind, FilAm ARTS (The Association for the Advancement of Filipino American Arts and Culture) decided to hold the festival on a virtual stage, rather than a physical one.
It streamed live on various platforms from October 23 to 25, in celebration of Filipino American History Month. Launched in 1992, it is the longest-running Filipino cultural celebration in Southern California.
This year, Filipino-Americans celebrated with the theme “Tuloy Po Kayo,” (Welcome! Please come in) inviting everyone to join the online festival even during the pandemic.
The live streams featured Filipino-Americans across 10 disciplines: Musika (Music), Literatura (Literature), Sayaw (Dance), Philippine Martial Arts, Pelikula (Film), Komedya (Comedy), Kulinarya (Culinary), Teatro (Theatre), Tradisyonal (Traditional Dance), and Bisual (Visual Arts).
Filipino-Americans, along with Filipinos across the diaspora, showed how they have used their talents to adapt to and cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Artists also paid tribute to Filipino frontliners in America and around the world.
Philippine martial arts – Jade Gaje
One notable artist featured on the first day of the festival was Jade Gaje.
Nicknamed “The Jade Chef,” Gaje is a chef, mother, and esteemed practitioner of the Pekiti-Tirsia Kali (PKT) martial art. She is the daughter of PKT Grand Tuhon Supremo (Supreme Grandmaster) Lero Gaje.
Gaje adapted to her circumstances in the pandemic by creating a dojo in her own home, where she could train her 2 daughters in the martial art.
Coming from a long line of PKT fighters, Gaje brandished a sword gifted to her by her father. It was made by the Gaje family’s panday (blacksmith), responsible for crafting all the family’s swords for over 30 years.
She is motivated to preserve the art of PKT by her family’s legacy, saying, “Being the offspring of a grandmaster, it is my responsibility to make sure that I represent the art as best as I can.”
Musika – Southeast Cartel featuring Gloc-9
On the first day of the festival, Filipino Canadian hip-hop group Southeast Cartel showcased how they used rap to strengthen their sense of community and identity while away from the Philippines. The group also discussed how they have had to get creative in making music videos during the quarantine.
During the livestream, a Zoom-themed music video for the group’s original song featuring Gloc-9, entitled “It Was All A Dream” was aired.
Bisual – Michael Rippens
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VR art shows are a trip!! I’d recommend viewing the FPAC exhibition on a desktop if you’re someone who prefers walls with their art. I, on the other hand, really enjoy the organized chaos you get from obliterating the white cube. My work rarely hangs on pristine gallery walls in the real world, so why should I strive to show in an idealized traditional exhibition space in the virtual one? Unrestrained by physics and drywall, online shows are free to take any form one can conjure up. I wonder if all art will begin adapting to this new (virtual) reality and come to only exist in these never before imagined spaces, rather than being physical objects awkwardly shoehorned into a digital world. And when that happens, what will be lost? And what will emerge to replace it? • • • #randomthoughts #virtualartshow #artinthetimeofcorona #fpac2020
Visual artist Michael Rippens appeared on the 2nd day of the festival show with his official entry into the FPAC 2020 virtual exhibit, as well as other art projects he undertook during the quarantine.
One of his projects was an interactive installation entitled 20 Seconds in Memoriam made available to the public in September. It was a sink where people were invited to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds to curb the spread of coronavirus. When the sink’s basin was wet, it would show the names of Filipino medical frontliners who passed away during the pandemic.
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Today (Sunday 9/20) is your last chance to check out my 20 Seconds In Memoriam project. It will be available from 10 til 4 for hand washing and reflection. Hope to see you here (from a safe distance, of course.) Details in bio. • • • #20secondsinmemoriam #maidenla #washyourhands #slowthespread #frontlineworkers #healthcareworkers #participatoryart #artinthetimeofcorona #michaelrippens
For his official entry into the FPAC 2020 virtual exhibit, Rippens created personal protective equipment (PPE) out of rice sacks.
Tradisyonal – Malaya Filipino Dance Arts
Malaya Filipino-American Dance Arts LA — an ensemble of performing artists, dancers, and musicians — was tapped to do the traditional dance performance for the 2nd day of FPAC 2020.
Malaya’s Artistic Director, Peter de Guzman, introduced the performance with an emotional anecdote about how art saved him in the pandemic after his mother passed away. He recounted how although his mother did not have COVID-19, his family was still barred from seeing her at the hospital. Through his involvement in Malaya, he has been able to bear with the grief.
The dance performance was a homage to the Maranao, Tausug, and Sama communities in the Bangsamoro region. Dancers and instrumentalists were clad in traditional attire with matching face masks.
Kulinarya – Island Pacific Seafood Market
Island Pacific Seafood Market is a pillar of the Filipino American community in California and Nevada. It is where Filipinos in America can purchase ingredients to make Filipino dishes.
The supermarket chain paid tribute to its Filipino frontline workers by showing footage of employees accompanied by Andra Day’s “Rise Up” covered by Filipino American singer AJ Rafael.
The segment was introduced by actress Donita Rose, who currently works as a recipe consultant at Island Pacific Seafood Market. – Rappler.com
Wyanet Alcibar is a Rappler intern