Friday, May 14, 2010

Mark Pulido on Lyrical Empire and Phil X Fil Am connex

Mark Pulido and Jerome B. Smooth connect. Bridging Fil Ams and the Philippines.

At the premiere, I also had a chance to catch up with Mark Pulido, who has been down with the hip hop scene since the early 1980s as a popper and a DJ. Not as immersed in the hip hop scene anymore, Mark is currently in the political and policy scene, working hard for the Cerritos/Artesia community (Los Angeles County). In the early 1990s, he was central in advocating a Bambaataa-like (in my opinion) union of hip hop culture and gangs (during this time Filipino American gangs were becoming more notorious) in order to facilitate peace and promote cultural expression.

Here are some of his reflections on Lyrical Empire and the potential for greater Fil Am and Philippine concord:

Did the film Lyrical Empire change any of your impressions of the hip hop scene in the Philippines? What new things did you learn?

The film confirmed my view that Hip Hop is truly global in scope and that Filipinos in the Philippines, like Filipino Americans, are skilled, creative practitioners of the art, music and culture of Hip Hop. The film exceeded my expectations by the speed and dexterity demonstrated on the mic by the MCs who effortlessly went back and forth between English and Tagalog.

Why do you think it is important for Filipino Americans to know about the hip hop scene in the Philippines?

I believe Filipinos in America, in the Philippines, and around the globe are inextricably linked by common cultural values and a powerful heritage of struggle, resistance and survival. I think Filipinos in Hip Hop who realize and come to fully understand this just might open themselves up to a world of opportunity to explore the interconnectedness between their sisters and brothers around the world. I suspect this journey of discovery could yield phenomenal results - both artistically and politically.

Do you think it is important for Fil Ams and Filipinos in the Philippines to connect when it comes to creating hip hop music? How would this be possible?

I believe it is important for Filipinos to try to connect and create, regardless of their geography, sector, or industry. Personally, I'd love to see a "Filipino Hip Hop Summit" to bring together artists from the Philippines, across America and around the globe to showcase their talent and build a network. I think this may spark creative energies and facilitate collaborative projects that could grow a global audience. Ideally, a summit like this would go back-and-forth from the Philippines and the United States. At some point, I would love to bring it to Cerritos, California - hometown to countless Fil Am DJs, b-boys, and graffiti artists over the past 30 years.

What challenges are preventing Fil Ams and Filipinos from connecting?

I'm speculating, but I imagine many factors make it challenging to connect Fil Ams and Filipinos in Hip Hop, such as: distance and lack of finance; or perhaps even colonial mentality and self-hate. I hope it is more so the former, than the latter.

Any thoughts about the Filipino American hip hop scene, especially from your experience in Cerritos? How would this experience relate to the challenges/opportunities Filipinos face in the Philippines?

I have good memories of the early Fil Am mobile DJ crews who ruled the SoCal scene in the late 1970s/early 1980s (spinning Funk, R&B and Disco). They inspired Fil Am youth to embrace immediately Hip Hop culture as it hit the West Coast. Like back then, I suspect today's Fil Am DJs can help introduce Hip Hop artists from the Philippines to Fil Ams. They still have access to Fil Ams- less now in the garages, gyms and hotels; more so in the clubs, over the radiowaves and online.


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