Archive for Proud Pinoy

Spoliarium,an opera about Juan Luna debuts October 1 in NYC

Enough said about the patriot Heneral Luna.  Antonio Luna's brother, Juan Luna also has an interesting controversy that rocked the 19th century Europe and the Philippines, a focal story of an opera that will be shown at Tribeca Performing Arts Center on October 1, 2 and 3. The opera, composed by Ryan Cayabyab with libretto by Fides Cuyugan, is directed by Anton Juan who was flown in by the production just for this opera.  

A scene taken from the rehearsal of the opera, 'Spoliarium'. The opera, composed by Ryan Cayabyab with a libretto by Fides Cuyugan, is directed by Anton Juan. The show promises to be another celebration of Pinoy talent in New York.

  The opera revolves around the expat life and love of Ilocano patriot and painter Juan Luna. Born in Badoc, Ilocos Norte and educated in Manila, Juan was sent to Europe to further pursue art studies. He settled in France and was married to Maria de la Paz Pardo de Tavera, a beautiful Spanish and Portuguese Philippine-born woman whose status and wealth was of esteem. As a painter Juan won awards and much acclaim. As a reformist, he worked with other foremost Filipino expats such as Jose Rizal, his brother Antonio Luna, Graciano Lopez Jaena, Pedro Paterno, Isabelo depot Reyes, Felix Hidalgo and other notable propagandists. Known in the Philippines as the 'illustrados', they were an elite group of Filipino expatriates in Europe whose aim was to increase Spanish awareness of the needs of its colony, Las Islas Filipinas. Juan was such a popular figure in Europe that even the King of Spain was among his friends. Yet despite his talent and social status, Juan was infamous for his violent temper like his general brother, Antonio. In a very publicized family drama in September 1984, Juan was in front pages of French newspapers for shooting his wife, mother and brother-in-laws in a fit of rage and jealousy. Only the brother-in-law and  a friend, Felix Pardo de Tavera, survived the tragic event. Everything was witnessed by his son, Andres.  

A Juan Luna painting, probably of his wife Maria de la Paz Pardo de Tavera

  Juan painted in the Renaissance tradition and his favorite subject and model was his slain wife. His most famous painting that won him awards is 'Spoliarium, an allegorical painting about injustices of the Spanish colonizers in the Philippines. This opera was named after this painting.   

Spoliarium, Juan Luna's masterpiece, currently hangs at the National Museum, Philippines.

  Notes About Production Director Anton Juan, started out in the University of the Philippines- Diliman and ultimately becoming its foremost theater professor whose mentorship produced numerous award-winning and critically acclaimed artists. Professor Juan has contributed significantly to and made an impact on the evolution of Philippine culture and drama. His influence and fame spans the world. Peter Holland writes: “Anton Juan is one of the most exhilarating directors in the world.” Juan’s moving poetic style has been seen and widely admired in the Philippines, in Asia, the USA, and Europe, not only as innovative and visually exciting, but also as merging inner space, movement, sound-sense, with the urgent cry for insularized, marginalized, and emergent cultures." Ryan Cayabyab is a prolific composer, musician, and conductor whose work include not just popular music of which he is wildly popular, but also spans full-length ballets, opera, theater musicals, choral pieces, and orchestral pieces, to commercial recordings of popular music, film scores and television specials. In the opera's gala night on October 3, production mentioned that Ryan Cayabyab will play as a guest musician. Fides Cuyugan Asencio, Spoliarium's librettist is an accomplished stage actress, opera star and then a long time voice mentor at the University of the Philippines College of Music. She stars as Sisa in the opera's Act 1. The show promises to be another showcase of Pinoy talent in New York. Tickets will be sold at the door or available online at  

photo by Troi Santos

  SOURCES and additional readings  Love That Kills, Ambeth Ocampo, Anton Juan, Full Biography Ryan Cayabyab, Wikipedia Fides Cuyugan Asencio, a Grand Dame of the Philippine Stage,

Philippine Independence Day Celebration

Mabuhay ang mamayang Pilipino mapasaang lupalop man sila ng mundo! June 1, 2014

To walk the streets of a city so great while proudly holding your home nation's flag is a social, political & cultural feat that we enjoy now because of people who willingly gave up their lives so we could enjoy ours.

ABS-CBN 2013 Christmas Station ID Shoot in NYC (the story behind the scenes)

When I was invited by a friend (Ms. Luchie DR) I didn't hesitate. We knew it was not a paid gig but the experience of working side-by-side (literally!) with THE Lea Salonga was priceless!

After I excitedly told my mom that I'll be part of a small group of background artists for the ABS-CBN station ID filming at Times Square, her first response was, " ... But you can't carry a tune." And she's right.


SIDE NOTE. Thanks, ABS-CBN US correspondent Don Tagala.

In yet another facetime session with my mom that happened after the filming of the station ID, I jested, "See I told you, I get to sing with Lea. I performed a song and dance in Broadway district so you already have a daughter who is a Broadway performer." Always the bluntly honest one she answered without malice, "With all the ABS-CBN stars your face might not even be included in the final cut." Hahaha ... True!


But what the heck, Lea Salonga is Lea Salonga! It was the experience and the thrill of doing things so unique and so New York. Memorizing the lines was challenging and singing was humbling...  Pretending to sing was very difficult acting!  Although we knew only the images will be used we were told that they might use the actual sound recording for the news.


Let me write about Lea. That day she was the only one wearing red as we were given explicit instructions to wear bright holiday colors and never black, brown, red and earth colors. A lot of us had to shop for candy-colored outfits because in New York it is the norm to dress in muted colors. She arrived at 7:45am, just after daybreak and found us already rehearsed for our call time was at 6:00 am. Leah arrived with her 2 assistants, a stylist and her sister, from her apartment at West 54th Street. Like us she was worried she might forget her singing lines.


This experience goes to my alkansya of special memories!


Above picture was taken in 2011 at the after party of the Fil-Am Broadway Stars Concert at Lincoln Center in 2011. Below is a picture taken at the 2013 ABS-CBN Christmas Station ID.

Rizal in New York

Did you know that when Jose Rizal was in New York in 1888 he stayed at a hotel along 5th Avenue which was considered one of the best in the City at that time?

Where the hotel stood is now present-day Madison Square Park where Fil-Ams in the East Coast  celebrate the annual Philippine Independence Day.the Philippine National Hero,

To read more about Rizal in America, click here. This blog contains more links to Rizal's Anglo-American travels and experience.

It is New York City for Rizal before he headed to London via steamship. Follow Rizal in this interactive travel log by the GMA 7 team.      

Mabuhay Pinoy! Carlos P. Romulo

MABUHAY PINOY! contains Filipiniana tidbits and information 
showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the Filipino people. 
______________________________________  Read more

Filipinos in America: Tangled Roots – NY Times Article

WHEN Joey Tabaco of Ronkonkoma was growing up in his native Queens, his Filipino roots remained a largely unexplored subject.

“Back in the 1950s and ’60s, your job as a kid was to assimilate,” said Mr. Tabaco, 62, whose parents came from the Philippines. “There were no meeting places for Filipinos.” As a result, he said, he and others like him grew up “basically American,” but “trying to learn about their heritage.”

For Mr. Tabaco, who works as a weather observer at Long Island MacArthur Airport, the search extended well into adulthood. Now he is sharing that heritage as a part-time volunteer in the Charles B. Wang Center at Stony Brook University, ready to help visitors navigate their way through “Singgalot — The Ties That Bind: Filipinos in America, From Colonial Subjects to Citizens.” An exhibition of nearly 100 images, historical documents and illustrations reproduced on a series of panels, “Singgalot” will be on view at the Wang Center through April 22.

Organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, “Singgalot” (the word in the Tagaloglanguage of the Philippines loosely translates to “the ties that bind”) depicts the long and often tortuous road traveled by Filipinos in this country over more than two centuries. Today, Filipinos are among the largest Asian-American groups: According to a 2010 survey by the Census Bureau, an estimated 2.5 million people of unmixed Filipino origin live in this country. (The exhibition began traveling in 2008 and is making its 12th and last stop here.)

The often tangled ties that bind the two countries include a fractious history. Spain ceded the Philippines, a longtime colony, to the United States after the Spanish-American War in 1898. The Philippines, however, had declared its independence that same year, and the transfer to American domination touched off the bloody three-year Philippine-American War.

In “Singgalot,” somber images of the period document the fledgling republic’s resistance to American control. In one 1899 photo, Filipino rebels are sprawled dead in a trench; in another, American soldiers, rifles at the ready, kneel in battle in Manila. (The rebellion was quelled in 1902, though sporadic resistance continued until 1913, and the Philippines did not achieve independence from the United States until 1946.)

By the time of the Spanish-American War, some Filipinos had already long been settled in Louisiana, building houses on stilts along the Gulf coast and living as shrimpers; vintage photos show the settlers “dancing the shrimp” — stepping on their catch to remove the shrimp from their shells.

Such disparate reflections of the Filipino-American past are typical of the exhibition, which not only documents the hardships often endured by Filipinos on these (as well as their own) shores, but also celebrates Filipino-American culture.

In the spirit of that celebration, “Singgalot” will be complemented by two free receptions with Filipino-oriented comedy, dance, music and refreshments. On March 3 at 3 p.m., the comedians Rex Navarrete of Portland, Ore., and Air Tabigue of Ronkonkoma will perform at a community reception. (Those who wish to attend should respond by e-mail to

On March 8 at 6 p.m., another reception, organized for the university but also open to the public, will feature the comedian Kevin Nadal, along with Koba, a hip-hop artist, and others. Dr. Nadal, of New York City, who has a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Columbia University, will do stand-up and storytelling about the “cultural divide between the immigrant parents and aunties and uncles, and the American-born experience, like me,” he said in a telephone interview.

That divide is sometimes breached in surprising fashion: Dr. Nadal’s mother, he said, may be generally conservative in her ways, but “I just think it’s funny that she knows who Kim Kardashian is.” (Dr. Nadal wears numerous hats: He is also an associate professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and the president of the metropolitan New York chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society.)

The special events will wrap up on March 13 at 7 p.m. with a “Pinoyorker” panel about the Filipino experience in New York, also at the Wang Center.

As for the exhibition itself, perhaps the strangest images depict a 47-acre “Philippine Village,” including thatched huts and “natives” in loincloths, at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. It exemplifies the conflicting American sentiments toward Filipino and other Asian immigrants during a good part of the past century. On the one hand, the World’s Fair display was the American government’s first opportunity to present Filipino “progress” under American rule. (Some Filipinos participating in the fair were college students.) On the other, it added to prevailing concepts of white supremacy.

The exhibition tracks the various waves of Filipino immigration in the face of periodically virulent anti-Asian sentiment. There are photos of Filipino laborers in the agribusinesses of Hawaii and California and the fish canneries of Alaska starting in the early 20th century. The United States Navy also provided employment for Filipinos, mostly as cooks and in menial positions.

Later images show Filipino-Americans fighting in the United States military during World War II, contributing to the arts and the medical professions, and adopting roles as citizen-activists.

Perhaps most emblematic of the Filipino journey is the photo of Eleanor Mariano, also known as Connie, a career naval officer who was chief White House physician from 1994 to 2001, being promoted in 2000 to rear admiral — the highest military rank occupied by a Filipino-American at that time.

Dr. Mariano’s father was a naval steward, a job that included serving food and beverages, and the exhibition quotes her as saying, “I came to the White House by way of the kitchen.” Now, she said, “Filipino-Americans in the Navy no longer have to go through the kitchen, the back door or the garage.”

“Singgalot — The Ties that Bind: Filipinos in America, From Colonial Subjects to Citizens” is being presented through April 22 in Room 201, Charles B. Wang Center, Stony Brook University. Information:; (631) 632-4400.

Kambal Kami!

LOS ANGLES, May 13, 2012. Teasing and amused, he told the entire room several times, "She's my twin sister! Kambal kami!"This after I showed him my New York State ID as proof that we were born at exactly the same year and day. As he autographed my ID, he asked, "What time?" I told him in the afternoon. He said he was born at early dawn. " Eh di mas matanda ako sa 'yo". I said with a smile, "Oo, kaya Kuya kita." He grinned. NOW that's one item off my bucket list: to tell him of this fact personally.
The Champ Manny Pacquiao with Ilocano York

The Champ Manny Pacquiao with Ilocano York