Who will Tell Our Story in America?

I came to America as a teen-ager. I have read, watched and heard all about the American story from the White, Black, Hispanic, Asian perspective. But how about my story, why is the Filipino story in America so scarce? These types of questions lead me to seek out works that is Filipino centric. The works of Jessica Hagedorn (Book: Dogeaters), Carlos Bulosan (Book: America Is in the Heart), and Doroteo Ines (Short Film: A Filipino in America) are some of the great contributors to Filipino-American literature/film.

Back in college, I met this enthusiastic film major that always have great ideas. His name is Patricio Ginelsa. He wrote and directed “Miss Teen Raffle Ticket”; this was a play about two Filipino-American teenagers of immigrant parents, Chris and Vicky (Note: I forgot the character’s names so I am using the actors names instead); sorry Patricio). The story is about how immigrant parents have very high expectations of their children; so high that it can lead to conflict and even further widening the culture/age gap between them. To complicate things, the two teenagers have a secret relationship that results in pregnancy. I will not tell you the entire story as Patricio plans on making this into a movie one of these days.

I just love that play, even though the characters were flawed, it spoke of the issues that confront Filipinos today in America. I feel privileged to have been a part of that play. As we performed, you can tell that the audience appreciated seeing the human condition portrayed in the Filipino context. The play was shown way back in 1998 at the University of Southern California at the Pilipino-American Cultural Night.

Patricio has been instrumental in propagating Filipino centric movies. Patricio was actually one of the associate producers of the “The Debut”. One of Patricio’s most recent works is a Black Eyed Peas MTV, the Apol song. He wrote the story and directed the BEP MTV. This MTV is Filipino to the core; a Filipino World War 2 veteran in a nursing home, reminiscing about his youth and juxtaposed with images of real Filipino World War 2 veterans fighting for their rights in Washington. His works is just amazing.

People like Jessica and Patricio are rare, so we must support these individuals and others like them as much as we can to ensure that our stories are told.

To learn more about Patricio Ginelsa please visit the following sites:
http://kidheroes.net/aplsong.htm (the Black Eyed Peas MTV)
http://www.lovethatlumpia.com/ (Lumpia)

To learn more about Jessica Hagedorn’s play Dogeaters visit the site below:
http://www.esipa.org/happening/ (Dogeaters, the play)

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