Monday, September 28, 2009

Typhoon Ondoy/Hurricane Ketsana--a bit of help in SF

Prayers go out to all those impacted by Typhoon Ondoy in Manila and surrounding areas. More than a month's worth of rain in 9 hours is a big deal.

If you would like to contribute to the material relief of the survivors, the Kularts event in San Francisco on October 4th will be accepting monetary donations, which will be sent to a reputable relief organization in order to provide some support for the clean-up efforts in Metro Manila.

There are other groups accepting donations as well, such as Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA) in Los Angeles, who will host a collection day:

Sagip Tulong Sa Pilipinas Collection Day

Sat. Oct, 3rd from 10am to 4pm

3200 W. Temple St.
Los Angeles, Ca, 90026

Our thoughts and prayers are always with our folks in the Metro. Peace.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hip Hop Mestizaje in San Francisco! Yee!

Hip Hop Mestizaje will be showing in San Francisco on Sunday, October 4th, along with other great films. Thanks Kularts!! I'll try to make it to the Q&A, but no promises...

PeliKULa! Pin@y Film Series
First Sundays of the Month

Dim the lights, silence your cell phones, butter your popcorn, sit back and relax as Kularts presents its first Pin@y Film series featuring works by today's leaders in cutting-edge Pin@y cinema.

5pm, Sun OCT 4

Art for Social Change (Documentaries) Admission: $7


Hip Hip Mestizaje: Racialization,
Resonance, and Filipino American
Knowledge of Self

Director: Mark Villegas
Why Filipinos, why hip hop? A coast-to-coast exploration of Filipinos immersion into the hip hop movement, highlighting the cultural and racial impact of colonization on Filipino artists.

Sounds of a New Hope
Director: Eric Tandoc
Co-presented by ALAY
Growing up around LAs neighborhood gangs in the 90s, a young Filipino-American named Kiwi (Jack DeJesus) became an MC and community organizer, using hip-hop to raise consciousness
for genuine democracy. Through sharing life experiences, beats, and rhymes, youth from San Mateo to Metro Manila make connections across oceans that inspire the next generation to continue the ongoing struggle for freedom.

Showman Shaman
Director: Egay Navarro
Free-thinking independent artists catapulted Baguio into a vital art center of the Philippines in the late 80s such as Roberto Villanueva's art installation of his own cremation - outdoors, in the middle of Baguio City, mourners circled his funeral pyre, chanting and dancing to the beat of gangsa gongs.

Huna Huna
Director: Wilfred Galila
A haunting art film calling for environmental awareness and action in response to the largest oil spill in Philippine history.

Q&A Panel: Eric Tandoc, Suzanne Llamado (Baguio Arts Guild), and Wilfred Galila

...Stay Tuned for The Dark Side: Pin@y Horror and More! (NOV 1)


Sunday, September 20, 2009

America's Best "Periphery": Island dance crews redefine America

The banner has fallen for the Massive Monkees in the 4th season of America's Best Dance Crew. The crew has once again inspired a whole demographic of young Filipino Americans and b-boy/girls. Furthermore, they help gave Seattle a bigger, bolder, well-deserved rep in the hip hop game.

With an obvious domination of Fil Am champions on the show, every season so far has captured the imagination of Filipinos and definitely impacted their respective dance choreography. This year will be the only year to not feature a Filipino in the last round; Afroborike and We Are Heroes will battle it out in the finale.

We can't say there is a definite Filipino, Asian, or b-boy fatigue on ABDC because each crew definitely put in work to prove themselves, but we'll miss the MM's and want to congratulate them and their tremendous success on the show.

Critical questions:

Who would have thought fans of U.S. popular culture would usher in a group of mostly Puerto Rican dancers (one is Cuban) as perhaps America's best?

Who would have thought that four Filipino guys, a Cambodian fella, and a Black dude would represent the desire of a whole generation of young people in the U.S.?

This show is interesting in that it gives a visual representation of the varying meanings of "America's best..." I've written about it before, but the Puerto Rican and Filipino fetish this show has raises stimulating questions about the U.S.'s island colonies and their role in U.S. mainstream culture. The colonized strut, flip, and strike poses on stage, constantly challenging the "center" of America as they invigorate the imagination of a new, young MTV generation.

The islands are erupting on the American continent.

This MTV generation might find the Latin-flavor of Afroborike worthy of ABDC champ-status, but We Are Heroes will take it this season. If they don't, it's good to see some ladies (from either crew) finally crowned.

Season 5, Pinoys and Pinays get ready! We hope to see you on stage once more! (East Coast, Midwest, South stand up!!)


Friday, September 11, 2009

Mastaplann interview on Francis M. Tribute

The Way of the Plann

As you already know, we will be honoring the late, great Francis M. at the 18th Annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC) this Sunday, September 13th on the Main Stage at 1:00pm.

I interviewed Butch of the legendary Philippine hip hop group Mastaplann, who will be performing for the Francis M. Tribute. Below are his words about the impact Francis M. had on their group and why it is important to honor the Philippine hip hop icon. Mastaplann performed last year for the FPAC Tribute to the Filipino DJ, and we are happy to host them again this year.

Butch of Mastaplann:

"Mastaplann was the first hip hop group that came out in the Philippines and we showcased all elements of hip hop such as DJing, Emceeing, B-boying, graffiti art, and beatboxing.

We're here to honor and show our respect to the founding father of hip hop in the Philippines, Francis M., who was also a good friend of ours. RIP to our brother.

Francis M. started the hip hop movement in the Philippines. If it was not for him, Mastaplann would not have been successful. Francis was a pioneer in the industry and was way ahead of his time.

Mastaplann's niche in the Filipino hip hop community was bringing a States-side style back to the homeland. Initially when we first came out in 1991, our record label at the time wanted us to make a "commercial album" with radio friendly songs. This album was released in 1992. Some hit songs were "Bring Dat Booty" and "Here We Are." The second album The Way of the Plann was released in 1994. Some hit songs were "Rollin in Da Ride" and "The Way of the Plann." Both albums hit platinum. The third and last record released Mastaplann.Com was under RED EGG (Francis M.'s' label) under BMG Philippines. We collaborated with Francis during our third album and his Freeman 2 album.

Francis was the icon of Pinoy hip hop. He paved the way for a lot of us that made it or are trying to make it in this industry back home."


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hip Hop at 18th Annual FPAC + Francis M. Tribute

Geologic of the Blue Scholars headlining on the Main Stage @ 2pm on Saturday

It's that time of year again! The 18th Annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC) is happening this weekend, September 12-13, in San Pedro, CA. And yes, amigos, there will be lotsa hip hop.

Below, check out details on the Francis M. Tribute, crews in street dance showcase, a list of hip hop performers, and a description of the FPAC Tinikling Battle:

Francis M. Tribute
18th Annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture
Sunday, Sept. 13, 1:00pm on Main Stage
Featuring performances by: MastaPlann and The Kasamas

Earlier this year we lost an icon in Philippine popular culture. Francis Magalona, also known as Francis M. “The Master Rapper” or the “King of Philippine Rap” left this world as the most prolific hip hop artist in the Philippines. Although iconic, Francis Magalona was still very human. On March 6, 2009, he passed away at age 44 after a seven-month bout with leukemia. At the 18th Annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture, MastaPlann (photo at left) and The Kasamas will honor “The Master Rapper” by performing a few of his songs and by paying tribute to a true Philippine hero. MastaPlann is a legendary hip hop group that excelled in the ranks of Philippine hip hop in 1991 and continue to perform today. They were not only friends with Francis M., but also collaborated with him musically. The Kasamas are a hip hop group from San Francisco who carry on Francis M.’s tradition of Tagalog rap and honor the late rapper with his music.

Francis M. will be remembered for his lasting impact on hip hop in the Philippines. His first album Yo! (1990) proved hip hop’s promising potential in the Philippines. Throughout his career, his lyrics embraced Philippine nationalism and addressed urgent issues relevant to Filipino people, such as government corruption, drug abuse, and Filipino colonial mentality.

Francis M. stood at the pinnacle of a handful of Philippine hip hop artists who have come to the forefront of Philippine popular consciousness. He was an exceptional talent, making Tagalog rap acceptable when many rappers struggled due rap’s negative stigma.

Francis M. has been a role model for Philippine hip hop artists. He legitimized Pinoy rap for many rising artists in the hip hop game. In addition to his Philippine-based inspiration, he was influential among Filipino American hip hop performers who turned to Magalona for artistic guidance.

Not only was Francis M. a luminous rapper, his creativity also stretched to Pinoy rock (blending rap and rock with his group Hardware Syndrome), photography, and film. Also, many will remember him as a co-host for the popular variety show Eat Bulaga! In addition, many young Filipinos know Francis M. as a fashion designer for his stylish clothing brand 3 Stars & a Sun.

Come join us at FPAC on Sunday as we honor Francis M. and celebrate his legacy through his music!


Street dance showcase
Saturday, Sept. 12 @ 3:00pm
Main Stage


PAC Modern + Sheroes + Kaba Modern + Supreme Soul

Yes, this is a perfect space to celebrate the success Filipinos have been having in street dance fame. It's like an ABDC reunion! Tell ya gramama to wipe her drool...panis laway.


Clockwise: Power Struggle, The Counterparts, All In Motion, and FlowEthics

List of FPAC Hip Hop Performers throughout weekend
(may be incomplete, please let me know if I left you off)


Rhythm Natives (2:00 Main Stage)
Geologic (2:00 Main)
The Counterparts (1:00 Gen Stage)
Power Struggle (1:00 Gen)
FlowEthics (2:00 Gen)
Street dance showcase (3:00 Main)
Kasamas (3:00 Gen)
Ethnic Descent (3:00 Gen)


Francis M. Tribute feat. MastaPlann and The Kasamas (1:00 Main)
Deep Foundation (1:00 Main)
Kiwi (2:00 Main)
Heart Beat Dance Crew (12:00 Gen)
All In Motion Dance Crew (12:00 Gen)
N2RK8 (1:00 Gen)
Hydroponikz (1:00 Gen)
Carson Street Dance (4:00 Gen)


FPAC 2nd Annual Tinikling Battle

Sunday, Sept. 13 @ 12:00pm

Main Stage

Tinikling dancers at Jacksonville's Filipino Pride Day. Photo credits: Jeff Enriquez

The FPAC Tinikling Battle is back for a second year! Last year, to the grumbling of some unhappy audience members, only one college tinikling troupe (UC Riverside Katipunan) was able to perform. This year, we have more! This is gonna be carazay!

Come cheer on Cal State University Northridge FASA, Cal State University Fullerton PASA Kaibigan, Cal Poly Pomona Barkada, and the defending champions UC Riverside Katipunan as they battle it out and see who will rock the sticks for 2009!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

New Video: EyeASage's "MRSHMLO"

MRSHMLO from Mikhail Shapiro on Vimeo.

Your favorite guerilla-busridin', grill-rockin 'Frisco Pinay EyeASage aka Rocky Rivera dropped her first single "MRSHMLO" on Tuesday. Don't be fooled, this txt-savvy, sweet-tooth song title is nothing soft. It's a hard-hitting, street-smart knock.

EyeASage's clever braggadocio is complemented well with 6Fingers' sharp, sample-heavy, head-nod beat, which uses an E-40 sample ("neva been a marshmellow"). It sounds sort of like a funkier Puff Daddy "Bad Boy for Life," spiced with a Bay Area vibe, and embellished with cartoony, quirky sounds. And you got to love that OG, boom-bap sound with samples or scratches serving as the oh-so-sweeeet formula. 6Fingers' madman creations can also be heard on Hopie Spitshard's album from last year.

The video is interesting too, amplifying EyeASage's boss swagger. With a dark, anonymous background, bright studio lights, and extreme close ups, it kind of feels like a battle. To Rocky Rivera's opponent: good luck.

In the last 40 seconds of the song, the beat switches up to a slower, laid back, West Coast flavor. EyeASage gives a short bio of her (mis)adventure with Rolling Stone Magazine. For those who are not familiar, EyeASage aka Krishtine de Leon, who writes as a music journalist, won on the reality MTV show "I'm From Rolling Stone," where journalists competed to write for the magazine.

I'm curious to learn if EyeASage's Rocky Rivera persona (at least in this video) is in any way a reference to the stylin' Filipino zoot-suiters in the 1930s-40s? The feminist implications to this is geekily interesting.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Artist Spotlight: The Philippine Allstars keep it "Mainit"

Sweet baby Jesus, it's hot. And I have no aircon. So the Fil Am funk is truly festering.

I think when the the city is burning it is appropriate to feature a steamy music video that has been out for a few months already. "Mainit" features Q-York (Knowa Lazarus and Flava Matikz), and Kenjhons and Chelo Aestrid of the Philippine Allstars. The music video was produced by Jerome B. Smooth, who is an on-air personality at Wave 89.1 in Manila.

Ang init-init naman!

In July, I had the privilege of interviewing two members of the Philippine Allstars, Lema Diaz and Chelo Aestrid, who will be highlighted in today's artist spotlight. They share the story of the success of the world-famous Philippine Allstars, the growth of hip hop dance in the Philippines, and the conversations Philippine dancers have with Fil Am dancers.

On a side note, while I was in Metro Manila, I also interviewed Jerome B. Smooth and Knowa Lazarus, so keep a look out for those also and a bigger project to come (wink-wink). For now, let's give a spotlight to the Philippine Allstars who lost in a controversial upset against France in the 8th Annual World Hip Hop Dance Championships in July.

Chelo (back) and Lema (front) get interviewed at Wave 89.1

Lema Diaz: Hi, I’m Lema Diaz from the Philippine Allstars. I’m currently the managing and artistic director of the group. Allstars started in 2005 as a bunch of—it’s just a hobby for us when we first started. And then we heard about the World Championships in Los Angeles, 2005. So we gathered everyone together and to see if we can represent our country. And then when we went there we competed against 26 countries. The first time we placed 6th. And then, 2006 we won the first gold medal here in the Philippines. And then after that, when we went back in 2007 we won the bronze medal. And in 2008 we won the championship again.

Chelo Aestrid: Hello, I’m Chelo Aestrid from the Philippine Allstars.

MV: How did you get involved with the Allstars?

Chelo: So basically, these guys were all my friends since ’01. I moved to the Philippines in ’01 and they were the people that I first met and got along with. So, we would always go out and dance the night away. And then when we heard about representing for the Philippines in L.A. back in ’05, we were like “let’s do it.” So, that’s when we started the group pretty much.

MV: Do your choreographers have formal training in dancing?

Chelo: Some of us do have formal training, like Lema here she used to be in a group called Hotlegs. They’re called Hotlegs because their legs are pretty hot [laughs]. Naw, but they were really good with jazz, ballroom, and Latin dancing.

Lema: Everything.

Chelo: Everything pretty much. And then some of us—

Lema: Regan.

Chelo: Regan also, he was part of Air Dance. But a lot of us pretty much—oh, and Kyxz was part of the national team for gymnastics in the Philippines. But the rest of us were from street—different teams, just learning through friends, and going to the club.

Lema: That’s how we first met, dancing in the clubs. We’d just see each other, like someone is just dancing on their own at the club. And that’s how we started getting to know each other. You’d see them dancing at the corner. So that’s how everyone started.

What do you think about the scene now? Because I went to an event at Empire Club and they had different colleges battle. Is that something that’s getting bigger and bigger?

Lema: Yeah, definitely. Four years ago, it wasn’t like that. But since after hearing that the Philippines won the World Championships in L.A., I think it’s a matter of breaking through. When people heard about it, like everyone got inspired to do their own thing. Before, dance wasn’t that much here, it was very underground. And hip hop was underground. But now everything is just picking up.

It’s really good. A lot of dancers are coming from the U.S. teaching. A lot of dancers are going to classes now. And more competitions are happening left and right, like big competitions going through Araneta [Coliseum]. It’s definitely getting bigger and bigger every year.

MV: When you said that people from the States come here, were they Fil Ams? Has that been a conversation occurring across the ocean?

Chelo: Definitely. I think the local—the Filipinos here in the Philippines are getting inspired by not just Allstars, but also like JabbaWockeez, Kaba Modern. So many Filipinos internationally are representing for Filipinos. And now Filipinos here are inspired to push themselves harder. And now the Fil Ams are coming back and they’re realizing, “Hey, we should reach out to our Kababayans and teach them what we know.” Because a lot of them know knowledge of dance, of hip hop dance. Like the old school stuff that the local dancers wouldn’t be able to get here without their help.

So, I think that’s definitely getting stronger. You know, people just come here on their own and teach free workshops, not just workshops to make money or anything. They’re actually teaching for free and giving knowledge and spreading love for free. So that’s something we’ve witnesses recently that’s really amazing.