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NYT: Artist Eyes’ Views of Filipino History

Posted by FAN Admin in Back To Our Roots, Home on 11 23rd, 2009

Artist Eyes’ Views of Filipino History

By SONIA KOLESNIKOV-JESSOP

“Thrice Upon a Time: A Century of Story in the Art of the Philippines,” at the Singapore Art Museum through Jan. 31, is an ambitious exhibition looking at the Filipino tradition of storytelling and the role of artists as storytellers.

Like artists elsewhere, Filipino painters have been recording and commenting on their nation’s complex history, responding to the pressing social and political events of the day. In the Philippines this has included 300 years of Spanish control, followed by American occupation, some 20 years of tumultuous rule by Ferdinand Marcos and the People’s Power Revolution of 1986 that brought down his dictatorship. Mixing contemporary and modern works, the exhibition pulls these stories together to explore ideas about political representation, religion, identity and a place in history.

“Storytelling is a strong characteristic in the art of the Philippines,” said Joyce Toh, the curator. “I was hoping that people could enjoy old-fashioned storytelling.” But, Ms. Toh continued, important to the show is also the idea of the “unreliable narrator,” so that “you might abandon yourself in the story but you shouldn’t always trust the reality” the artist presents. “The different conceptions of reality, I think, are reflected through the exhibition.”

Ms. Toh also pointed out that while some of the “storytellers” can be believers in the system, almost mouthpieces supporting the dominant ideologies, others are agent provocateurs critiquing the official discourse.

Viewers are confronted with the way history can be portrayed and interpreted differently from the start of the show. Two iconic masterworks — Juan Luna’s “Spain and the Philippines,” 1886, and Félix Resurrección Hidalgo’s “The Christian Virgins Being Exposed to the Populace,” 1884, are placed next to each other, each offering a different perspective about their country’s occupation by Spain.

Luna portrays a benign colonial power. He presents Spain as a protective, nurturing mother gently putting her arms around the Philippines, a younger child, as the two walk together toward a bright horizon.

Hidalgo’s Virgins, one of the most recognized paintings of the Philippines, offers a potentially different interpretation of the Spanish occupation. It shows two Christian maidens overcome with shame and anguish as they are stripped before a lascivious mob of Romans. As Ms. Toh pointed out, “On the one hand, the painting fitted well within the European academic salon in terms of its subject matter, the Roman Empire, its use of oil and its overall style. However, the story was also read as an allegory that spoke of Spanish abuse. Thus, depending on one’s perspective, or even who is offering the interpretation, the work can be seen either to underscore colonial cultural domination, or alternatively, as a nationalist symbol that critiques and subverts Spanish authority.”

But she doubted that Hildago in this work was “consciously” taking on the role of “unreliable narrator, or at least not to my knowledge,” she said. “The painting can be read as carrying two completely different messages, or saying two very different things,” Ms. Toh said. “The question is: which version do you, as the audience, believe?”

In the post-colonial period, artists have become more blatant in their criticism of power. They played an important protest role during the Marcos years of the 1970s and ’80s, and the exhibition presents several pieces of Social Realism art by Pablo Baens Santos, Antipas Delotavo and Danilo Dalena that tackled a broad range of social themes such as agrarian reform, poverty and exploitation by big business.

In one room, the curator has concentrated on the theme “Chronicles of Faith.” Catholicism is engrained into Philippine history and the church was the first major patron of the arts. As a result, Philippine art has often been characterized by the prevalence of religious imagery. In “New Christ” (1980) by Santo, a worker is presented, crucified on a dollar sign with an American flag dominating the background in a clear commentary on capitalism, while in “Crossing” (2000), the painter Nunelucio Alvarado presents a man on a cross made of sugar cane and impaled by sugar cane sticks, a commentary on the plight of the sakadas, or contract workers, in the cane fields of Visayas, the region where the artist is based.

“The narratives of Christ’s martyrdom provided strong images that mirror the perceived social injustices in the country,” Ms. Toh said. “At times, the Church itself became the focus of criticism.”

José Tence Ruiz’s series of Kariton Kathedrals, strange hybridized sculptures of a kariton (the handcart used by the poor) and a Gothic cathedral, points to the disparity between the two worlds, suggesting a disjuncture between the church and those to whom it claims to offer salvation, she said.

Every good story needs heroes and villains, and the Philippines has plenty of these. José Rizal, who was executed by the Spanish in 1896, is shown in a portrait by Fabian de la Rosa, while another portrait shows Benigno Aquino Jr., who was assassinated in 1983 as he returned home from exile in the United States. Meanwhile, two photographs of Imelda Marcos by Steve Tirona, showing her swathed in sparkling jewelry, tap into the ill-will felt toward the former first lady. In one, she sits regally in an opulent room where a classic painting hangs askew on a red silk-covered wall and a large gilt framed mirror is cracked. “The funny thing is that they look critical of her lifestyle, but the photos were approved by her because they were done to launch her grandson’s line of costume jewelry,” Ms. Toh said.

A side exhibition, “In the Eye of Modernity: Philippine Neo-Realist Masterworks from the Ateneo Art Gallery,” running until March 14, focuses primarily on the development of Neo-Realism in the 1950s to mid-1960s. It consists of 43 works from the Ateneo University’s museum collection by artists such as Arturo Luz, Vicente Manansala, José Joya, HR Ocampo and Cesar Legaspi.

These artists aimed to break away from the traditional representation of the Amorsolo school, which had long represented bucolic visions of the country. They instead used semi-figurative distortion and abstraction to convey the country’s urban changes after World War II.



Pushcart educator named CNN Hero of the Year

Posted by FAN Admin in Back To Our Roots, Home, News on 11 23rd, 2009

To view video of emotional and inspirational acceptance of award by Efren Peñaflorida, go here

(CNN) — Efren Peñaflorida, who started a “pushcart classroom” in the Philippines to bring education to poor children as an alternative to gang membership, has been named the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper revealed Peñaflorida’s selection at the conclusion of the third-annual “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on Saturday night.
The gala event, taped before an audience of 3,000 at the Kodak Theatre, premieres on Thanksgiving, November 26, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the global networks of CNN.
The broadcast, which honors the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2009, features performances by Grammy Award-winning artist Carrie Underwood, R&B crooner Maxwell and British pop sensation Leona Lewis.

Peñaflorida, who will receive $100,000 to continue his work with the Dynamic Teen Company, was selected after seven weeks of online voting at CNN.com. More than 2.75 million votes were cast.
“Our planet is filled with heroes, young and old, rich and poor, man, woman of different colors, shapes and sizes. We are one great tapestry,” Peñaflorida said upon accepting the honor. “Each person has a hidden hero within, you just have to look inside you and search it in your heart, and be the hero to the next one in need.

“So to each and every person inside in this theater and for those who are watching at home, the hero in you is waiting to be unleashed. Serve, serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve. As I always tell to my co-volunteers … you are the change that you dream as I am the change that I dream and collectively we are the change that this world needs to be.”
The top 10 CNN Heroes, chosen by a blue-ribbon panel from an initial pool of more than 9,000 viewer nominations, were each honored with a documentary tribute and introduced by a celebrity presenter. Each of the top 10 Heroes receives $25,000.
“With the recognition they receive on our stage,” said Cooper, who hosted the tribute, “they’ll be able to help thousands and thousands of people. Through their efforts, lives will be changed and lives will be saved.”

Maxwell sang “Help Somebody” from his first album in eight years, ‘BLACKsummers’night.’
Lewis, a three-time Grammy nominee, performed “Happy,” from her second album, “Echo.”
All three performances echoed the spirit of the CNN Heroes campaign, which salutes everyday people whose extraordinary accomplishments are making a difference in their communities and beyond.

Presenters included Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Neil Patrick Harris, Pierce Brosnan, Dwayne Johnson, Eva Mendes, Randy Jackson, Greg Kinnear, George Lopez and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
“This record number of nominations is further evidence of the momentum CNN Heroes has built in just a few short years,” said Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide.

“Viewers have been engaged by these stories of inspiration and accomplishment beyond our expectations. It is truly an honor to be able to introduce the CNN Heroes to our global audience every year.”
Again this year, producer/director Joel Gallen served as executive producer of “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute.” Among his credits, Gallen produced telethon events supporting victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, winning an Emmy Award and a Peabody Award for “America: A Tribute to Heroes.”

The Kodak Theatre is best known as the first permanent home of the Academy Awards.



Book Launch: Pieces of Me, Who do I Want to Be?

Posted by FAN Admin in Home on 11 17th, 2009

POMcover923

A book for adopted and fostered teens that offers healing, help, and hope as they find, understand, and embrace the pieces that make up who they are.

I tell you this story because
for too many years,
people have told my stories for me.
I am ready to speak for myself.
So where do I begin?

Juli Jeong Martin,
transnational/transracial adoptee

Pieces of Me, Who do I Want to Be? is a collection of stories, poems, art, music, quotes, activities, provocative questions, and more – all for the young adopted person who wants to figure out his or her story but doesn’t know where to begin.

It is a book of voices, from ages 11 to 63, speaking honestly and authentically about what it means to be adopted. Most are adoptees from around the world – some are transracial, some are international, some are from foster care, some are young, some are old. There are a few adoptive parents, birth parents, and professionals who share themselves in here as well.

It is a series of experiences, expressions, feelings, hurts, hopes, dreams, and struggles from a wide range of individuals. Some will make you laugh, some will make you cry, some will make you happy, some will make you feel less alone, some will offer advice, and some will just share.

All of them are like us, figuring out where thePieces of Me fit in with Who I Want to Be.

Organized around the idea of putting a puzzle together, there are five major sections:
Gathering the Pieces
Stolen Pieces
Fitting the Pieces
Sharing the Pieces
Where do These Pieces Go?

– all offering hope, encouragement, empowerment, and a sense of not being alone.

Although it was conceived for the young adopted person, there are universal themes of healing, hope, and struggle all of us can resonate with. And if you are a parent, birth parent, or professional who works with adopted and foster kids, you will find a glimpse into their world. So, open the book. It doesn’t matter where. Just open it up, and start to find the Pieces of Me: Who do I Want to Be?

Pieces of Me is edited by Robert L.”Bert” Ballard, PhD, an Operation Babylift adoptee from Vietnam, who wishes he had this book as a teen to know he wasn’t alone and what he was feeling was normal.



Adopted – The Movie

Posted by FAN Admin in Home, News on 11 15th, 2009

adopted-cover

Adopted reveals the grit rather than the glamor of transracial adoption. First-time director Barb Lee goes deep into the intimate lives of two well-meaning families and shows us the subtle challenges they face. One family is just beginning the process of adopting a baby from China and is filled with hope and possibility. The other family’s adopted Korean daughter is now 32 years old. Prompted by her adoptive mother’s terminal illness, she tries to create the bond they never had. The results are riveting, unpredictable and telling. While the two families are at opposite ends of the journey, their stories converge to show us that love isn’t always enough.

Watch the Adopted trailer here.

Adopted is available for purchase and can also be downloaded here.



Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel: Family history motivates Jockey CEO to encourage adoption

Posted by FAN Admin in Home on 11 14th, 2009

By Doris Hajewski of the Journal Sentinel

Kenosha — Even as a young child, Debra Steigerwaldt Waller knew how lucky she was to have a loving family. But she didn’t realize the full impact of where she had landed until later in life.

Adopted as an infant into the family that owned Jockey International Inc., Waller today is chief executive officer of the Kenosha-based underwear company. And she has made it a company goal to support and promote the work of adoptive families.

“I know the Lord put me here for a reason,” Waller says. “The stars were aligned.”

Waller said she didn’t learn she was adopted until she was in third or fourth grade.

“You didn’t speak about it,” she said. “There was a stigma to being adopted.”

She was aware as a child that her grandfather, Harry Wolf Sr., owned a company called Jockey. Her father, William Steigerwaldt, owned a construction company. Her mother, Donna, became chairman and chief executive at Jockey in 1978, two years after Wolf retired.

Waller became chairman and CEO of Jockey in 2001, after her mother’s death. She soon began looking for a charitable cause for her company to support, and given her personal history, adoption was an obvious choice.

The company’s adoption-support initiative, Jockey Being Family, was launched four years ago.

“In my mind, every kid should have a home,” Waller said.

But many don’t. There are 115,000 children in U.S foster care systems who are ready to be adopted now, Waller noted.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, started in 1992 by the late founder of Wendy’s restaurants, funds adoption recruiting efforts. Waller sits on the Dave Thomas board of directors, and she felt that Jockey could complement Wendy’s efforts by focusing on helping families to be successful with their family life after adoptions, particularly those who adopt children from the foster care system.

Some fail

“About 12 to 15% of those families ultimately fail,” Waller said. “The kids go back into foster care.”

Jockey Being Family works with two agencies to provide post-adoption support for families: Adoption Resources of Wisconsin and the North American Council on Adoptable Children.

As part of that effort, employees set up a room off the company cafeteria to serve as the headquarters for their Jockey Being Family work. Shelves are stacked with handmade blankets, games, crayons and bears for children who will be placed in adoptive homes. Favorite colors and interests are taken into account, so a kid who likes cars, for example, may get a blanket with an auto design. The items are delivered in backpacks personalized with the child’s new initials.

Some Jockey staffers and other volunteers in Kenosha make the blankets. Jockey employees stop in when they can spare some time to assemble the backpacks, and they are delivered by Adoption Resources staff members to the adoptive families.

“It gives our staff a reason to contact families with post-adoptive services,” said Marilyn Boeldt, director of development and communication for Adoption Resources. By the time a family has been through all of the screening processes in advance of the adoption, they’re often tired of being a case number and might not seek post-adoption advice that could help the family adjust, Boeldt said. The backpack visit gives ARW a chance to offer contact information for support.

“Parents who get backpacks use more post-adoptive services,” Boeldt said.

Jockey provides funding to the Council on Adoptable Children for training for parent support groups nationwide, and also gives money to Adoption Resources to help fund the agency’s educational conferences for adoptive parents.

“We’ve always done this,” Boeldt said of the conferences. “But now, because we have this funding, we can bring in national speakers.”

To date, the company has donated $1 million to adoption causes, Waller said.

Jockey also has established adoption benefits for its U.S. employees who adopt a child.

Kevin Edmonston, an information technologies administrator for Jockey, and his wife, Terri, who works for the Racine Water Utility, were able to take advantage of the $10,000 stipend that Jockey offers to its employees who adopt children. The couple adopted their daughter Hailey, who is 20 months old, just five weeks after her birth, in a local closed domestic adoption process.

The Edmonstons decided to go the route of a traditional adoption after they were unable to conceive a child themselves. They started the process in December 2002, before Jockey set up its Jockey Being Family program.

Now Kevin is involved in helping other adoptive parents by working in the backpack room and also participating in Jockey’s larger weekend projects in Kenosha County. Jockey employees donate their time to home-renovation projects for families who adopt special-needs children from the foster system.

Bathroom renovation

In one recent project, they helped to renovate a bathroom for an older couple who adopted a preteen girl who uses a wheelchair. The Jockey team installed a lift the couple can use to get the girl in and out of their bathtub.

“It’s good to be part of it and to feel you’re helping other families,” Kevin Edmonston said.

Another Jockey staff member who was adopted as a child was able to find her birth mother after getting information on how to do it through Jockey Being Family. It was a happy reunion, documented with photos in one of the many adoption scrapbooks in the Jockey Being Family room.

Although Waller’s mother, Donna Wolf Steigerwaldt, didn’t live to see the start of her company’s adoption-support initiative, she likely would have approved.

“I think she would have loved it,” Waller said.



Vladtv.com: Apl.de.Ap of The Black Eyed Peas discusses being legally blind and adopted

Posted by FAN Admin in Back To Our Roots, Connections, Home on 11 11th, 2009

Vladtv.com provides an intimate interview with Apl.de.ap as he shares his experience being legally blind and his adoption at the age of 14 through the Pearl S. Buck adoption agency. He also shares his current project launch of Jeepney Music Company in hopes to search for emerging Asian artist.

To watch the interview go HERE.

(excerpt from bep.wikia.com – music wiki)

Allen Pineda Lindo, (b. 28 November 1974) is better known as Apl.de.ap. He was born in the impoverished district of Sapang Bato in Angeles City in the province of Pampanga, Philippines. He is of Afro-Filipino descent.

Apl.de.ap is part of a famous hip hop group, the Black Eyed Peas. During his rough childhood days, Apl.de.ap grew up in Barrio Sapang Bato. At the age of 14, he was adopted by the Hudgens, an American family, and moved to Los Angeles, California, leaving behind his birth family and country. However, he has stayed very loyal to both his biological family and to the Philippines, identifying himself as a Filipino American. He explains his life story in a song called “The Apl Song” found on the Black Eyed Peas 2003 album Elephunk (Track 11). This song has a full chorus in Tagalog (Filipino) taken from the Asin song “Balita”.
As a member of the popular rap group Black Eyed Peas, Apl.de.Ap has overcome tremendous odds by achieving success despite his humble beginnings. In an interview on VH1, he recalls In the Philippines, you’ve got to dig up the ground to do a number two, and then you’ve got to cover it up. You got to pump the water out of the ground to wash your clothes and your hands. That’s my ghetto! Apl.de.Ap left Pampanga at age 14 to join his adoptive family in Southern California. There, he and childhood friend Will (a.k.a. Will.I.Am) formed a break dancing crew called “Tribal Nation”, which would later evolve into Black Eyed Peas when the duo added mike skills and rapper Jaime “Taboo” Gomez to the mix. Their first album, Behind the Front was released in 1998 to critical acclaim, and was followed by Bridging the Gap in 2000 featuring a guest appearance by Macy Gray as well as members of Jurassic 5 and De La Soul.
Unlike some Filipinos who have shied away from acknowledging their Pinoy roots, Apl.de.Ap embraces his heritage, even in his work. His landmark “The Apl Song,” from 2003’s Elephunk, features a chorus sung completely in Tagalog and speaks of his experience as a Filipino American. Its accompanying video, which reached number one in the Philippines, with its cameo appearances by fellow Fil-Ams, Dante Basco and Chad Hugo, is a touching tribute to the Filipinos who fought for the U.S. in World War II. Also “Bebot” is an all-Tagalog song on Monkey Business.