A Dialogue, A Reckoning: Filipinos in the Arts

You in for some major reckoning, Filipinos in the diaspora-style?

Get ready for Kularts’s Dialogue in the Diaspora, a weekend-long event featuring conversations, panels, workshops, performances - even a Kamayan Kabaret - right in the heart of San Francisco, SOMA Pilipinas.  

Now on its third year, Dialogue continues to bring Filipino voices together to challenge and explore different aspects of cultural work. From art, dance, music, writing and healing, it creates a space to foster necessary conversations in the community, a place to offer up ideas and new ways of thinking about Filipino-ness. This year, it aims to expand its vision by shining a light on queer, trans and gender-nonconforming Filipinos in the arts and going beyond the mainstream narrative of entertainment.

Featured Performers, courtesy of Kimberley Arteche

Featured Performers, courtesy of Kimberley Arteche

Kimberley Arteche, Dialogue’s production manager & Kularts Program Manager, brings up that as culture bearers, Filipinos in the arts also have to uphold authenticity and be intentional about the responsibility of carrying cultural traditions and rituals forward. Beyond the traditional PCNs (Pilipino Cultural Night, a yearly ritual in colleges and universities featuring Filipino ethnic dance culture and skits), Arteche hopes to deepen how Filipinos in the arts represent cultural aspects of different communities in the Philippines, specially indigenous ones. And equally as important, how do we talk about cultural appropriation when we do the work?

Friday night opens with a performance and reading, a benefit-panel for the real-life stories of women behind bars in the Philippines, in Iloilo City District Jail. There will be a performance by Rosalie Zerrudo, followed by a reading by Melissa R. Sipin along with a talkback on the responsibility of storytelling.

Saturday dives deep into the conversations, as back to back panels commence throughout the afternoon. These include panels featuring the state of LGBT+ Filipinos in the arts (Rani Marcos, Jae Tioseco, Jose Abad and Aimee Espiritu), the process of  engage institutions in exhibiting and highlighting the work of Filipinos and their art (with PJ Policarpio, Lian Ladia, Mike Arcega, Gina Rosales, Rosalie Zerrudo), and the innovative ways artists and cultural workers have developed projects in their respective communities (with Irene Duller, Caroline Cabading, Don Aguillo, Raf Salazar). A Kamayan Kabaret follows, complete with a Filipino food spread and more performances from Kinbaku Love, Brian Batugo of the Rice Rockettes, Earl Paus, Kreatibo, Jae Tiosece, hosted by June Arellano and music by Aimee Amparo and Josh Icban.

Kamayan. Photo by Wilfred Galila

Kamayan. Photo by Wilfred Galila

The event concludes with a sampling of workshops on Sunday: from plant medicine with Holly Calica, intro to drag with Brian Batugo, Shibari rope play with Kinbaku Love and romantic and sensual Tagalog learning with Lydia Neff.

With a lineup that deepens our link to cultural traditions from the homeland, Dialogue also offers an invitation to rethink our relationships with Filipino culture and the arts. It is a rare convening indeed, a space wherein presenters and participants interact with each other, affirming a lineage that has relied on its people’s resistance and resilience.

Dialogue in the Diaspora takes place on June 15-17, 2018 at Bayanihan Community Center (1010 Mission St.) in San Francisco. Please note: folks are encouraged to register for the Kamayan Kabaret by Thursday (6/14) midnight, prices go up at the door. Click here for tickets.






Pia Cortez is a Bay Area-based community organizer and the creator of Libromance, a blog dedicated to book reviews and literary features with a queer Pinay immigrant perspective. She believes in the power and beauty of the written word: how stories stretch time and transcend boundaries, how books simultaneously challenge and console, how reading becomes an act of resistance. Pia hopes to transform reading from a solitary pursuit and turn it into a tool for community-building, a catalyst for ruckus-raising. When she’s not currently reading the world, she’s experimenting with #booklooks, a play on books and fashion.

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