Pinoy Pride Weekend

 

Adidas Philippines Jacket (Photo by Ardith Ibanez Nishii)

Last weekend, I enjoyed back-to-back Filipino cultural events up in Seattle.  I was able to reconnect with old friends, experience some amazing art, support some important causes and express my Filipino pride. Special thanks to my hubby for being on double daddy daycare duty AND for driving Cedro to Tagalog class on Sunday without me.

I planned the trip around the Here Lies Love musical, written by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim about Imelda Marcos and the political climate in the 70s-80s in the Philippines.  The show stars some NYC friends (who I had met through my dear friend, Liz Casasola).  I thought the show was closing on June 4th, but it has been extended until June 18th at the Seattle Rep Theatre.  I highly recommend it.  It’s not just for Filipinos!  It is the most unique musical/theater performance you will experience.  Get your tickets now!

Then I found out that coincidentally a Broadway Barkada benefit concert was happening the following Monday night in Seattle.  It was the perfect excuse to have a mini reunion with friends and to support Fil-Am performing artists as well as The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project.

Liz Casasola and Brian Jose — 2 of the 3 Broadway Barkada co-founders at rehearsal, Seattle, WA

Liz Casasola and Brian Jose — Broadway Barkada co-founders at rehearsal // Seattle, WA // 04 June 2017

Filipino Festival Time with Liz in June 2017 Seattle

Filipino Festival Time with Liz — This was moments before a raven swept down and STOLE my Filipino BBQ stick that was sitting on my plate that I had put down on a table while I was buying a drink! // June 2017 Seattle

Going back to Cali #californiagirls #filipina #pinaypride #oldfriends #seattle #gno

A post shared by Ardith Ibañez Nishii (@ardiddy) on

Lately, I have been struggling with balancing Filipino culture and language exposure to my kids in our trilingual household. Those couple of days in Seattle were exactly what I needed to stay strong.  Mabuhay!

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Artisan Made Philippines

2016_1001_artisanmade_barkadako_post_by_ardithibaneznishii

Ay nako!  It has been almost 2 years since my last post!

Yesterday, I attended an amazing launch event for Artisan Made Philippines.  Overnight my cup runneth over with the sense of Pinay Pride.  And just in time!

One of the biggest things that has been weighing down on my mind, heart and soul has been my struggle to teach my kids Tagalog and cultivate their Filipino identity.  Yes, I speak to them exclusively in Tagalog, but I know my version of Tagalog is not enough.  I myself need some immersion crash course in order to discuss more complex thoughts and feelings with them.

Thanks to Artisan Made, I came away from last week feeling connected to a vibrant Filipino-American community.  I’m feeling happier.  It’s the kind of feeling you might experience when you spend a whole day with cool cousins.  Mind you, I only knew Kristine Surla, the founder of Artisan Made when I walked in the door, but everyone felt familiar as they shared their stories of being Filipino or Filipino-American.  It didn’t matter that we were from all different parts of the Philippines or different parts of the US.

It’s a huge understatement to say that I was thrilled and inspired.  The day wasn’t about fleeting fashion trends.  It was about Filipinos and Filipinas making a difference in other people’s lives.

  • Moved by the work that the non-profit, Gawad Kalinga, is doing to end poverty and hunger in the Philippines.
  • Lost my mind shopping for beautiful pieces by Anthill – a social and cultural enterprise in the Philippines working to preserve local weaves through contemporary design to sustain livelihood and tradition.  Each piece had a story about the specific weaves and the weaver or craftsperson who created it.
  • Witnessed the inventive and improvisational culinary skills of The New York Times-featured Filipina chef, Yana Gilbuena.  I inhaled the 5-course kamayan meal after admiring her artful presentation.  I also learned that you can peel ginger with a regular spoon!  It’s work, but it means that you don’t waste any of the ginger!  Genius.
  • Discovered that “heirloom Philippine rice” exists!  Last night’s menu included black rice by Social Products — an organization that sources organic food products from Philippine coop smallholder farmer partners that empower rural farmers, women, and indigenous peoples with a more sustainable way to eradicate poverty.
  • Excited to taste and learn about Kalsada Coffee from the Philippines and roasted in Seattle.
  • And wow!  Theo & Philo artisanal chocolates.  Yum!  They’re the Philippines’ first bean-to-bar artisan chocolates.  You have to try them!
  • And calamansi liqueur?  Yes, please!  I am now on the hunt for Manille Liqueur de Calamansi.  According to Forbes, it was “conceived as a Filipino take on the Italian limoncello by president and CEO Olivia Limpe-Aw, in collaboration with restaurateur-turned-writer-and-television-host Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi, Manille Liqueur de Calamansi, launched in January 2014, is a vodka-based drink that uses the essence of the zesty calamansi rind sourced from Mangyan farmers in Mindoro, a province located off the coast of Luzon, and northeast of Palawan.”
  • And most importantly, I have secured some SoCal Tagalog play dates in my family’s future!  In fact, because of the press coverage leading up to the event, I now know that there’s a show, Kababayan Today.  And because of that show, I now know that there’s a summer school program by the Filipino Cultural School here in LA!  It’s far but it will be worth it to enroll Cedro next summer.

Maraming salamat, Kristine! Mabuhay!

 

 

Inspiration in West LA

Limited Edition Mint Tins by Audrey Kawasaki, one of my favorite artists — purchased as set of 5 from GR2 // Giant Robot Gallery in West LA

Limited Edition Tins designed and signed by Audrey Kawasaki, one of my favorite artists — purchased as set of 5 from GR2 // Giant Robot Gallery

During a lazy Sunday afternoon of mundane errands, I had a serious “Ah ha!” moment.  (More like, “No duh!” moment.)  I was reminded that there is way more to my life than a 9-to-5 job and emails and agendas and deadlines and things to prove.  That everyday things can be works of art and that I am completely content simply spending time in a Japanese grocery store or Tokyo Outlet.  And it was all thanks to our old neighborhood, Little Osaka along Sawtelle Boulevard.

I decided to wander into GR2 and was immediately inspired by the current Stories group show.  Galleries and museums can often be so alienating but I love the shops on Sawtelle.  The art scene here in West LA feels authentic yet approachable and even fun.  Always inspirational.  I love checking out what other artists are trying.  Edwin Ushiro‘s graphite on vellum drawings are amazing.  And I am totally in love with Jeni Yang‘s paintings on wood with laser cut embellishments.  My favorite is her Nuke piece.  I couldn’t stop staring at it.

Just as I was about to leave, a little stack of  Audrey Kawasaki tins caught my eye.  I couldn’t resist.  Audrey Kawasaki is one of my favorite artists.  And just when I thought my modern Asian-American art adventure was coming to an end, who happened to be the cashier but none other than Eric Nakamura himself!  Founder of Giant Robot.  I was completely awestruck.  I tried desperately to think of something intelligent and thought-provoking to say as I paid for my tins.  Instead, all I could think of was, “Uh that’s a cool watch in the display case…  It’s on sale?  Can I take a look at it?”  I’ve bumped into famous people both in NYC and in LA and I usually have no problem chatting it up.  “Excuse me, are you Henry Thomas?… OMG, I loved your work in E.T.!  Wow!”

Oh well.  I was never a very good extemporaneous speaker.  Next time I run into Eric Nakamura, I’ll have my speech prepared about how inspirational his work has been — both in the art world and in the Asian-American community.  In the meantime, I’ll just have to say my somewhat silent thank you via this blog post.