During the Marcos regime, Imelda had a vision to make the Philippines a center of fashion, art, and culture. She implemented this vision through various million-dollar infrastructure projects. Such projects included the Cultural Center of the Philippines, which was meant to promote and preserve Filipino art.

It was established in 1966 and was designed by Leandro Locsin, a Filipino architect (who appreciated the use of concrete, as you can tell by the facade of the main building.) On its opening day in 1969, there was a three-month celebration with a musical and other series of events. It was that big of a deal that even Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Reagan were in attendance!

Over the years, the Cultural Center of the Philippines has hosted countless plays, dances, concerts, films, exhibits and other art performances and showcases. One of the center’s performance companies includes the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company, which we discussed in class. The birth of the Bayanihan dance troupe originated from the physical education program at the Philippine Women’s University. Young Filipino-Americans became attracted to these modern, energetic, enjoyable and dramatic dances and incorporated these dance performances in PCNs or Pilipino Culture Nights, an extensive and enjoyable performance that Filipino organizations on college campuses put together.

Usually these PCNs cover an over-arching theme, topic or struggle that is common within the daily experiences of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans. The PCN is one play that incorporates different skits, choir sets, and dances—adopted from the Bayanihan dance company. PCNs have become a part of Filipino-American culture and the Cultural Center of the Philippines as well as the Bayanihan dance troupe helped that. Filipino-Americans now have a trivial sense of the culture is in their motherland of the Philippines.

Or do they?

As far as the dances go, how accurate are these performances, costumes, etc.? Is this how Filipinos in the Philippines really are? Are there Tinikling clubs on college campuses in the Philippines? As we read in Gaerlan’s article, some aspects of these dances have been modified and dramatized. In this sense, how are we to think of the aspect of dance in PCNs? The plays, skits, and choir suites are mostly associated with cultural conflicts between generations and the struggle of Filipino-Americans finding their identity between their cultures of America and the Philippines. The dance suites of a PCN are, in a sense, the closest thing in the play to Filipino cultural traditions. However the implications involved in modifying these dances for political or physical purposes distorts the originality and creativity of the Filipino traditional dance and because of this, the true meaning and art of this cultural tradition is lost. – K.A.

Posted by: filamgroup1 | November 30, 2009

A Brighter Side of Martial Law

My dad was a first year in college attending Adamson University in the Philippines for engineering when martial law came in effect. It was a dark time for Filipinos during that time. Rallies and protests pervaded the campus as well as on other university campuses in Manila and elsewhere in the Philippines. My dad recalled demonstrations near Malacañang Palace and also had friends being sent off to jail because they were labeled as “subversives.” Certain laws had to be followed; boys had to cut their hair in order to have a more “clean-cut” look, girls could only wear certain clothing, etc. And of course, freedom of speech and habeas corpus were suspended. If you speak out against the government or say something “seditious,” off you go to incarceration. The media and all related sources were tightly controlled by the government. There was also a curfew imposed at 10:00 at night until 4:00 in the morning. Filipinos would start filing back to their homes when it was almost time for curfew.

But some, however, did not.

My dad mentioned something interesting about life under martial law called “stay-ins.” Stay-ins were parties that lasted the whole duration of the curfew, from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. Instead of going home, people—mostly college students—would rent hotel rooms, community centers, or would simply congregate at a person’s house and party until the wee hours of the morn. There, they would drink, dance, and just hang out. “If you had a crush on someone,” my dad stated, “a stay-in was the perfect time to hang out with her or him.” These get-togethers were an opportunity for young Filipinos to have fun and enjoy themselves under the fear and intimidation of martial law.

This relates to the act of coming together, partying and having fun in the culture of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans. As a Filipino-American raised in a traditional Filipino family from the Bay Area, my family finds every excuse to throw a family party. The reason might be the general birthdays, death anniversaries, a job promotion, or just because it’s Sunday. Bring out the lechon (on some occasions) and homemade kare-kare and pancit.

What also came to mind was DJ Icy Ice’s conversation about Filipino-American presence in the party scene. Dance and music has always been a part of our culture, from the live exhibits of Igorots performing their sacred dances and rituals during the World Fair in St. Louis in 1900 to the taxi dance halls in the 1920s and 30s to the nationally televised shows “America’s Next Best Dance Crews” that we see today. Dance and music were excuses for us to come together and have fun as a united people—despite the negative political, economic, or racial climates of the time. – K.A.

Posted by: filamgroup1 | November 30, 2009

Imelda: the Glamour of Corruption

Imelda Marcos is no stranger to luxury and excess. She is world renowned for her love of beauty…and shoes. Yes, it’s a well-known fact that Mama Meldy had over 2,000 shoes. There is a shoe museum in Marikina City in the Philippines that showcases a vast collection of her fancy footworks.

Imelda showing off her own shoes at the Marikina Shoe Museum in Manila

On top of that, the raid at Malacañang Palace uncovered not only the shoes, but also diamond tiaras, necklaces and other very expensive pieces of jewelry that amounted to over millions of dollars. Let’s not even touch upon the Swiss bank accounts and the billion-dollar real estate properties that the Marcoses had in New York and the Philippines…

During her reign as First Lady under the Marcos regime, the concept of beauty was very important to her. As seen in the documentary we watched in class, she always presented herself in such formal attire, complete with the teased up-do and flawless makeup.

She was a woman that never went quite beyond the surface when it came to nurturing the Philippines and “making it a home”–which her late husband had asked her to do while he was President. What was the point of such buildings like the Culture Center and the Film Center? To carelessly spend government money that could be spent towards the increasing problem of poverty in the country?

Think of the message this sends to Filipinos and Filipino-Americans…that as long as you are beautiful and rich, you can do (and buy) anything you want. Imelda glamorized corruption in the Philippine government through consumerism. Her 2,000 pairs of shoes? That’s nothing! She’s just being a woman who is living the life of the rich and famous. What makes this okay? Consumerism. Imelda herself once claimed that she saw an ad in front of a New York boutique that read, “There’s a little Imelda in all of us.” While the people of her country suffered and died because of the lack of the basic human needs to food and shelter, she showered herself in diamonds, pearls…and shoes. She is revered by some Filipinos and Filipino-Americans as a “diva” or “fashionista” but do they not remember that this is the same woman that was part of a government that ignored the people’s needs? Because of her extremely lavish and materialistic desires, she became a fashion icon not only in the Philippines but in America. As mentioned before, hundreds of her shoes sit daintily in a shoe museum in the Philippines and American consumerism use Imelda’s love of excess to justify shopping sprees. Because Imelda glamorized corruption in the Philippines, this sends a weary message to Filipinos and Filipino-Americans that those in power in the Philippine government are capable of getting away with anything. Can the people of the Philippines really trust their government? Maybe…if they buy 2,000 pairs of shoes. – K.A.

Below is a video summarizing Imelda’s consumer habits, her shoes, and Philippine poverty.

Yep, all in one 6-minute video.

Posted by: filamgroup1 | November 30, 2009

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, (aka Bayan)

Bayan, short for Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, is an alliance in the Philippines made up of mostly workers and peasants. It was founded in 1985 “on the majority and strength of the majority of oppressed classes” (www.bayan.ph) I chose Bayan as the one of the activist organizations to write about because they have such a strong base here in California, by the name of “Bayan-USA.”

Though Bayan was founded in 1985, they trace their history to the mid-sixties during the democratic movements conceived in the Philippines in reaction Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship. Bayan credits the origins of its spirit to these movements which achieved national recognition during the First Quarter Storm of 1970 and took deep root among the people.

When opposition leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino was assassinated in 1983, larger anti-Marcos, anti-martial law protests took place. It is here that Bayan includes the spirit of its founding, when the national democratic movement took hold within the Filipino people. The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) was then formally founded in May 1985. According to Bayan’s official timeline, it was during these anti-martial law movements that “Bayan soon became the coordinating center for open mass mobilizations against the hated dictatorship. It led big demonstrations and people’s strikes in Metro Manila and the country’s major urban areas, contributing greatly to the eventual downfall of the U.S.-backed Marcos regime.”

Today, Bayan is engaged in work both within the Philippines and the United States. In the Philippines, Bayan is speaking out for justice for the victims of the Maguinadanao massacre. Bayan calls on the Philippines government to “dismantle the Amapatuan power base,” and calls on President GMA to “step down over killings.” Bayan has also been involved in campaigns that express opposition to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s silencing of activists, and in her attempts to change the Philippine Charter to declare herself Prime Minister. On their website, Bayan has posted in their graphics corner flyers expressing extreme opposition of GMA’s administration. There is a caricature of her that reads “Terrorismo? Si Gloria mismo!,” and another cartoon graphic of Arroyo’s family that reads “The Arroyos. Stealing Our Money. Running the Economy.”

In the United States, Bayan USA organizes and mobilizes Filipino-Americans, and links their rights to the rights of those in the Philippines, and to the National Democratic Struggle. Bayan-USA organizes in coordination with the campaigns of Bayan Philippines, but also fights for causes that relate specifically to Filipino-Americans. Between 2002-2004, Bayan USA organized protests and campaigns opposing the “war on terror” and the war and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq .They are always present at Filipino-American events like Festival for Philippine Art & Culture, to recruit more youth to be a part of their effort.


Posted by: filamgroup1 | November 30, 2009

Kabataang Makabayan

Kabataang Makabayan is a social activism organization founded on November 30, 1964 by Filipino revolutionary Jose Maria Sison. Kabataan Makabayan (KM) translates to “Pro People Youth,” and is centered in the power of society’s youth to change the status quo of injustice in their political system.

KM is made up of students, young workers, peasants and professionals.
In the late 1950s, study circles under the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines (SCAUP) on the Philippine-Revolution and Marxism-Leninism would later form the student membership of KM.

In the early 1950s, KM was born out of reactions to the fall of the Old People’s army and the Armed Revolutionary movement of the people. Sison declared in his speech that LM “arose from the concrete conditions of sharpening oppression and exploitation of the Filipino youth and people from the early 1960s onwards.”

My father described his most vivid memory of Kabataang Makabayan protestors during martial law chanting, “Ibagsak! Ibaksak ang mga tuta!” They are notorious to conservatives and the Philippine government for mobilizing youth in mass protest actions, including during the Anti-Martial Law movement against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

KM protested and continues to organize against unjust Philippine treaties with the US in the economic and military fields, against US wars of aggression, “against the killing of Filipinos in US military bases, against the puppetry of the reactionary regime, against the big compradors and landlords, against oppressive and exploitative school authorities” (Sison)

I have seen the influence of KM in my hometown- known as “Pro People Youth” and “KmB” here, their chapter in Los Angeles and is constantly educating Filipino-American youth, encouraging consciousness and community activism. They have organized for Justice for Filipino American Veterans, collaborated with other Fil-Am organizations to send supplies and money to Typhoon Ondoy victims in the Philippines, and have rallied alongside Palestinian-Americans against the Israeli occupation of Gaza.

The first time I saw a KmB flag was at a Gabriela Network protest in Los Angeles for the “GabNet 3,” three GabNet women prevented from boarding their flight back home to the US after allegedly being blacklisted by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. (GabNet is active in speaking against human rights violations under GMA’s administration.) I interviewed KmB member John-Eric Concordia, who told me that standing against this kind of injustice was not only important but necessary.

KmB’s call to youth:

“ *Join spaces created to express, share ideas, and advocate
for social change!
*Continue the legacy of Filipino youth to fight for freedom
and democracy!
*Raise your social consciousness to critically analyze society!
*Actively develop your skills to serve your community locally and
globally! “

KmB believes in the power of the youth to effect social change. They use a beautiful quote from Mao Tse Tung to call to youth: “The world is yours, as well as ours. But in the final analysis, it is yours.”

Among KmB’s members in LA are UCI alumni and former Kababayan president Ernie Tamayo, rapper Bambu, and community organizer John-Eric Concordia. KmB celebrates its 10th anniversary this weekend, November 28th, 2009 with a “Carnival ng Masa.”



Posted by: filamgroup1 | November 30, 2009

Ninotchka Rosca

Ninotchka Rosca is a human rights activist, writer, and feminist. Born in the Philippines in 1946, her name to me stands for the decades of activism in the name of women that she has devoted her life to. Rosca is most famously known for her human rights activism. She was a political prisoner during the martial law rule of Ferdinand Marcos. After being threatened for a second arrest for her social activism, Rosca was forced into exile in the United States, where she today resides in New York.

Ninothcka Rosca’s work has spanned the decades and continues to be felt in the Philippines and internationally. She is the founder of GABRIELA National Alliance of Women is a grassroots-based alliance of more than 200 organizations, institutions, desks and programs of women all over the Philippines. They seek to “wage a struggle for the liberation of all oppressed Filipino women and the rest of our people.”

In the United States, Ninotchka Rosca’s influence can be seen in Gabriela Network, a Philippine-US women’s solidarity mass organization founded as a branch of Gabriela Philiippines. GabNet is a means for Filipinas in the US to empower themselves through organizing in communities for causes affecting women. It is training ground for women’s leadership, and sheds light on social problems like modern health care reform through women’s point of view. I personally credit GabNet to politicizing me during high school, when I interned with them to organize a conference of high school women about grassroots organizing and activism for and by women of color.

Today, GabNet chapters all across the United States continue to organize. One of their most prominent campaigns is the Purple Rose Campaign, of which Ninotchka Rosca is the international spokesperson. The Purple Rose Campaign which fights against the sex trafficking of Filipino women and children. GabNet recognizes that the Philippines is the world’s top exporter of people for labor, and that its women are everyday forced into lives of sexual exploitation.

Presently, GabNet organizes for U.S. healthcare reform that includes women’s reproductive rights, because “women’s rights are human rights.” It is presently active in facilitating 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence—this includes blogging, protesting, speaking out, and organizing.

Ninotchka Rosca has also written six books Her two novels are State of War and Twice Blessed, which was chosen for the 1993 American Book Award for excellence in literature; Roscoa’s works of non-fiction are The Fall of Marcos and Jose Maria Sison: At Home in the World – Portrait of a Revolutionary.



Posted by: filamgroup1 | November 30, 2009

Rock and Roll Music in the Philippines during the 1960s

Music during the 1960s and the early 70s in the Philippines were largely characterized by the Rock genre. Since the United States occupied the Philippines from 1898 to 1946, many forms of American culture took root in the Filipino people, including music. Many of the different forms transferred during this time were American blues, folk, R&B, and rock-n-roll.

In the early 1960s, as electric instruments and new musical technology was introduced, instrumental American and British bands like The Shadows and The Ventures flourished. During this time, many Filipino instrumental bands also gained spotlight as well; some of these groups who gained fame were: The Deltas, The Celtics, RJ & the Riots, The Technicolors, The Downbeats, The Hi-Jacks, and the Electromaniacs. Through these bands, the first Filipino-songwriters were born.

Later in 1963, the British Invasion brought mainstream bands like the Beatles to the Philippines. Due to their popularity and their important of the counterculture furthered the possibility of socio-political lyrics with mature comments on real life into popular music. Immensely influenced by this new breed of British artists, Filipino bands began adopting similar music styles.

Up until the 1970s, popular rock music was composed and produced entirely in English. Later, in the early 70s rock music began to be composed in local languages. Bands like the Juan Dela Cruz Band were the first to compose and perform in local dialects. This mixing of Tagalog and English lyrics became a popular trend. The mixing of the two languages, called “Taglish,” was already commonly used in casual speech in the Philippines, but rarely in musical form. Using this language mixing in song lyrics was seen as a bold new move, but through the success of many popular Taglish songs, like Sharon Cuneta’s first hit “Mr DJ,” broke the barrier for generations to come.

During the 1970s, Filipino music grew more nationalistic and political along with using more Tagalog in the composition of lyrics. Pop music still dominated the airwaves with artists such as Apo Hiking Society and Hotdog. Songs which were popularized by Taglish lyrics such as “Ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko” also helped further innovate the new generation of music called “Manila Sound” and “OPM (Original Pilipino Music).”

While Taglish songs were gaining fame, social and political themes made their way into the music industry through folk and rock genres. One of the most prominent artists during this period was Freddie Aguilar. Other artists included Asin and Florante. Freddie’s debut single “Anak,” become one of the most commercially successful releases in Filipino history. This song also became widely popular in other Asian countries and made its way into storming through Europe.

The bands of the 1960s and 70s were the first to be considered as “Classic Pinoy Rock.” I found the Classic Pinoy Rock music history of the Philippines fascinating because of the manner Filipinos mixed English and Tagalog cultures and lyrics to create something entirely different than before. Although much of society was controlled by martial law and strict containment of society during the 1960s and early 70s, rock music flourished due to its anti-government theme and its ability to characterize the Filipino people’s rebellious feelings for cultural norms. -NC

Posted by: filamgroup1 | November 30, 2009

Movies and Cinema in the Philippines during the 1960s

In the Philippines during the 1960s to the early 1970s, so-called “bomba” pictures largely summarized Filipino cinema. These films were largely based off of James Bond and other western-spinoff films. During this time, Sampaguita Pictures (one of the movie production companies) came under siege from the growing labor movements.

The decade also saw the emergence of the youth revolution demonstrated by the Beatles and rock and role. Thus, certain movie genres were made to cater this “revolt.” Through this revolution, fan movies and teen love team-ups were created which included Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos, Tirso Cruz III, and Edgar Mortiz.

Movies genres showing disapproval for the status quo during the political era were also popular. Action movies with Pinoy cowboys and secret agents as the movers of the plots depicted a “society ravaged by criminality and corruption.” This was not the only form of youth revolution, movies featuring child stars started to gain fame. Towards the end of the decade “bomba films,” also known as soft porn movies, became increasingly popular and were seen as a direct challenge to the conventions, norms, and conduct.

Color movie technology, called Eastmancolor, helped Filipino filmmakers create successful full-length movies. One of the first color productions was Ito ang Pilipino. After the release of Ito ang Pilipino, movie producers completely stopped producing movies in black and white.

Under martial law set in 1972 by order of President Ferdinand Marcos, many films in popular cinema were used as political propaganda against the government. In spite of this portrayal of the government, Marco’s and his staff created the Board of Censors for Motion Pictures, which regulated the content and government portrayal in movies. Through this agency, movies were required to include ideologies of the New Society such as discipline, uprightness, and nationalism.

Even though censorship took its hold in the Philippines, the amount of sex and violence on the big screen continued. Action films, during the era of martial law depicted the view that with the establishment of the New Society, social realities shown had been completely wiped out.

It seems odd that during this time of martial law, even movies were restricted with what content was appropriate. It was apparent that many movie producers began the trend of rebelling against the government through movies that depicted espionage, action (and destruction), and soft porn. For Philippine cinema, it would have seemed logical for the government to stay uninvolved with movie production so as to not suppress the anti-government sentiment and have it eventually erupt in the way it did; but, due to the political situation under martial law such luxuries were not an option. -NC

Posted by: filamgroup1 | November 30, 2009

Filipino Sports/The Araneta Coliseum

Sports in the Philipines was highlighted on March 16, 1960 when the Araneta Coliseum opened with a wrestling match between the boxer Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde and the World Junior Lightweight crown from American Harold Gomes. During this opening ceremony match, more than 33,000 spectators attended. Due to it’s popularity, admission prices were favorable at 80 centavos for a general seat and five pesos for reserve seating. The mission of the Araneta Coliseum was to provide the people of the Philippines with the best entertainment available at the lowest cost. Many of these events included concerts, boxing matches, wresting, and eventually basketball games. Some of the most remembered performances were the “Thrilla in Manila” which was the Ali-Fraizer World Heavyweight Championship Fight, the Philippine Basketball Association Games, and annually, the Bb. Pilipinas Beauty Pageant.

For the Philippine Basketball Association, the Araneta Coliseum was and is still considered home. Commissioned in 1975, the Philippine Basketball Association is the oldest country in Asia to have a professional basketball league. Since it’s debut, the arena has been home to more than 400 games.

Other populare events during the 1960s included world-famous boxing matches. The Araneta Coliseum made history when the great Gabriel “Flash” Elorde decked defending champion Harold Gomes of the United States eleven times to capture the latter’s Junior lightweight crown.

The historic “Thrilla in Manila”, the 15-round bout between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, was held at the Big Dome on October 1, 1975. This was the fight that carved out the legendary reputation of Muhammad Ali as one of the greatest boxers of all time.

Timeline of Sigificant Moments in Filipino Sports from 1960 – 1975:
March 16, 1960 – Gabriel “Flash” Elorde became a world champion in the 130-pound division on when he knocked out American Harold Gomes at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.
February 6, 1964 – Filipino boxer Anthony Villanueva won the country’s first silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
March 20, 1964 – Roberto Cruz knocked out Raymundo Torres in the first round to clinch the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) junior welterweight championship in Los Angeles, California.
December 14, 1968 – Pedro Adigue beat American Adolph Pruitt to bag the World Boxing Council (WBC) junior welterweight title.
February 15, 1969 – Rene Barrientos was declared World Boxing Council (WBC) super featherweight champion of the world in Tokyo, Japan.
April 25, 1972 – Ben Villaflor dethroned Alfredo Marcano as the world junior lightweight champion at the age of 18 years old.
October 1, 1975 – The Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City hosted the infamous “Thrilla in Manila”, the thrilling boxing match between Heavyweight champions Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. -NC

Posted by: filamgroup1 | November 30, 2009

A Hectare of Rice

One important part of a nation’s economy is agriculture. At the time of Marcos’s regime, the world was relying on chemical-intensive technologies of the green revolution. Growing numbers of farmers are beginning to outperform and outgrow other competitors that are using chemicals that work with natural ecological forces.

The Philippine based research group, International Rich Research Institute (IRRI), created hybrid varieties of rice yielding record numbers that responds to all the pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and irrigation methods. Some institutions pitched in incredible amounts of money to encourage a more widespread use of the hybrid rice. By the 1960s, the first “miracle rice” was introduced to the world and by 1973, Filipino farmers were using the seeds but found themselves harvesting a low 1.7 tons per hectare compared to the IRRI average levels of production.

In response, the government launched the program Masagana 99 to encourage adoption of high yielding rice varieties and helped spur on growth by allowing small farmers access to postharvest facilities like rice mills and warehouses. Also, the government guaranteed 85 percent of losses suffered by banks allowing banks to offer low interest loans to farmers. By 1975, 500,000 farmers participated in the Masagana 99 program. A small rice farm of the name Lorenzo Jose was considered a green revolution hero by producing over 8 tons of rice per hectare on his 1.6 hectare plot. Ten years after his bustling crop harvest, he discovered that his soil was extremely depleted because he had to apply four times the normal amount of chemical fertilizer to produce the same amount of rice. Also, the insects became chemically resistant to pesticides and protein source from fish and snails disintegrated.

The cost of planting eventually covered the income from the crops his health was deteriorating. Other farmers that experienced the same thing Lorenzo did turned to the Department of Agriculture to shift to organic farming methods. Having been shot down, they turned to the CADI (Center for Alternative Development Initiatives) promoting ecological agriculture for help. Ikapati Farms and Co. was a for-profit affiliate of CADI and demonstrated the viability of biodynamic farming. This involves high yielding seeds and natural pest control with several methods of preparation and practice to maintain and enhance the fertility of the soil and nitrogen levels and stimulate the process of photosynthesis. With the help of Ikapati technology, farmers were able to harvest 6.5 tons per hectare, 3 times the average of harvest in the area. Most farmers harvested more than the average of chemical farmers and made more than 2 and a half times more money of typical chemical farmers. These farmers demonstrated the possibility on immediate shifting from chemical to biodynamical methods on commercial sale that increased both yields and income. -BQ

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