And Sulu DC is back with another full season of the brightest, fiercest, most fly artistic talent in API communities locally and regionally. Presenting…
Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 8:00 pm
Black Fox Lounge, 1723 Connecticut Avenue NWDC
Tickets are $10 and will only be sold at the door (cash and credit accepted)
At the beginning of anything big, a ‘sound check’ must be performed to ensure the best possible sound and experience for performers and the audience. Join us for our 2013 kickoff show–a melding of art and community collaboration, bringing together artists and organizers in the DC Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Hosted by Azizah Ahmad, the show features Diana Bui and Vincent Lacsamana and guest performances by Bryan Lozano, Anirudh, DISE, Jo Quiambao and Pia, and Christian Oh.
the transition from oral to print resulted in the loss of memory
July 4th weekend. 2012. That was the start of what soon became a drama obsession (Filipino and Korean). I’ve watched Filipino soaps (aka teleserye) on and off for years but I was never emotionally invested nor watched consistently. As for kdramas, my first exposure was in 2005/2006 when my college roommate introduced me to “my lovely samsoon.” That was all I watched and didn’t pick it up again until that fateful weekend in July.
Now this may bear no significance except that I’ve recently found myself emotionally invested and immersed in these dramas and yikes!–dare I say it–the actors portraying the characters. As in a squealing fangirl rooting for her man, shaking my fist in the air at the injustice of being the second lead who really deserves the girl but doesn’t get her. I confess: I have spent countless hours turning off my brain–sometimes my better judgment–watching stories unfold in a world not based on any true reality.
I suppose it started off as an escape, a major function of entertainment. But it’s gone beyond that now that I was even compelled to write a blog post and fess up my guilty pleasure to the internet universe.
What is it about these dramas and celebrities that make us go gaga? That turns a woman in her late 20s into a giddy 16 year old? Is this some late (or repressed?) onset of fangirldom I missed out on in my teen years? Like how I never had acne as a teenager but my face broke out when I was 24? I’ve even gone so far as to rationalize my obsession as having educational purpose: learning to analyze literature again and improve as a writer. (Yes, these dramas do have plot and you can learn a lot, from the Korean ones, not so much Filipino soaps except that Filipinos really love to drag out drama on screen and off when you really don’t have to).
Is it because we want happy endings, we want fairy tales, we want hope, we like to feel the angst of love but only temporarily? Do we really see a part of ourselves in those characters or who we hope to be? Is the connection we feel meaningful? What value does it have? Or is it all a waste of time? Or is it because it’s the only way we feel something, anything when the rest of the world has us anesthetized?
I’ve never been sucked into this world so this curiosity about actors and celebrities is new to me. I’ve even gone and started following a few Filipino celebrities on twitter, reading their thoughts about the mundane, taping, travel and interviews. It’s like a look into what I had briefly a few years ago when I was performing nonstop. The bigger than life feeling you get after a phenomenal performance. The pressure to entertain and be on all the time on social media and in person. Maybe I miss all of the glitz and excitement knowing that people are curious about your life and want to know your thoughts. Like you’re some important being on this earth. And through these tweets I get to live a fantasy in my head of what could have been for me.
Perhaps what’s really going on is my subconscious reminding me not to forsake art, to not give up on my own talents. At least not quite yet. Maybe I needed to dive in completely, lose track of time a bit so I could emerge with newfound conviction. So I could pick up my pen again and write despite the fear of judgment, rejection, and disappointment. To write again, beginning with this blog post.
my wish for you is that you fall into love like a burning coal that falls into water and keeps burning
This month makes the third year Sulu DC has been in existence (or is it the 4th year if we’re thinking 2013 is the 4th full years once we started in 2009? Eh, I was only decent at math). To celebrate, we went out of the box and collaborated with Meeps, a vintage clothing boutique on 18th Street in Adams Morgan. Not exactly what comes to mind as an art performance venue. But that’s exactly why we did it. To stretch what is possible or plausible. We wanted to kick off the next year infused with out of the box thinking, with supporting local, small businesses (one of the co-owners is also Asian American so you know we were all about visibility and representation). We wanted to kick our return to the “district” in style. And so we did.
With performances by the incorrigible Regie Cabico to the heart rending vocals and lyrics of Tara Trinity to the smooth, almost like chocolate voice of Phil Good, and my quasi-impromptu set, we showed the best of what we could do, and some of the best DC has to offer in terms of AAPI artists. The crowd may have been small, but it was intimate, and it felt grounded.
Since 2011, Sulu DC has been struggling with its own identity–not quite figuring out what it was. Are we here for artists? Are we here for the audience/community? Who are we serving? And how? After a bit of running around with our heads cut off (or maybe just mine), I think we finally figured it out. And we’re excited about it, excited to share the plans for 2013, to create shows that are as meaningful to the artists as it is to those who consume the art yet never sticking to one formula, and always willing to be bold and experiment.
Sulu DC is still run by volunteers and it’s more than impressive to be running this long on volunteer power on such a consistent basis (a show every month or every 2? Yea, hella impressive). I didn’t do my team justice at the show, but I hope to now (since I’m better with written words). They make things happen, they laugh and applaud and critique. And most of all, I am deeply humbled that they have put so much trust in me to lead this group and organization. For all the times I have faltered, disappeared, lacked filters and been unable to discern what is true or what is the best course of action, they remain steadfast and continue to believe. I wanted to say that tonight but couldn’t find the words. To all of the exec team–Regie, Megan, Thuy, Joyce, Peter, Alex, Thu, Anna, and Jackie–maraming salamat sa pagmamahal at sa pagtiwala (thank you for the love and trust/faith). 2013 is gonna be a rockin’ year. Let’s go!
[ A repost from the Sulu DC website ]
Last night, Sulu DC received the DC Mayor’s Community Service Award for our work supporting and advocating for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) artists in the District of Columbia. We are incredibly honored and humbled to have been nominated and selected by the DC Commission and the Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs. It was a true privilege to be in the presence of organizations, businesses, and individuals who contribute to the cultural and economic vibrancy of our city.
It was only three years ago when five Asian American artists came together to form Sulu DC to address the need for visibility and support for AAPI artists in the DC metro area. We did not know then that our modest, curated productions would one day anchor artists’ careers and development, and become a meaningful space not only for the artists but also for the broader AAPI community in DC. Our mission has been to provide empowering spaces for artists—a space for full expression of themselves and our individual and collective history. We are creating a world where AAPIs create and participate in art that addresses our social context.
I cannot express the importance of receiving this award both on an organizational and personal level. To be recognized for our work is a testament to art as an integral part of public life. All across the nation (and in history), funding for arts education tends to be first on the budget cutting block. My fellow artists and I continue to fight against the idea that artists are not professionals. Every day is a struggle for artists to be paid what our labor and talent is worth, and for the arts to be recognized as an essential component to community and public policy. But last night was one those moments of light—a reminder that we are making an impact and that support can emerge from where you least expect it.
Many thanks to Mayor Vincent Gray, the DC Commission and the Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs for believing in our vision. We look forward to working with everyone in strengthening the AAPI community and growing our city. Of course, the work of Sulu DC would not be possible without the time and energy of the Executive Team—the group of volunteers who dedicate their lives to serve AAPI artists and the AAPI community through advocacy in the arts. Thank you for sticking with me on this often ambiguous journey.
Everyone agrees. Lola Elia was fiesty. The most outspoken of the 9 Pakingan siblings, she challenged authority, walked out of her 2nd grade class and never went back. A single mother since 1965, she raised 11 children, cooked feasts for a growing brood of grandkids, and smoked cigarettes the majority of her life.
All of this I discovered or just realized the past few days, being here in Houston with my 2nd cousins and aunties and uncles. I truly wish I had known her. I think we would have gotten along well. Maybe I would have seen the roots of my fighting spirit. Maybe I would have heard more stories about my grandmother, her sister, and I would have understood my grandmother sooner rather than holding on to the past I thought was unfair.
At the funeral service today, my 2nd cousin, Kuya Rommel, spoke and through tears thanked his uncle, Tito Victor for his work and sacrifice. Without him, their whole family wouldn’t be in the US. Shortly after he turned 18, he signed up for the US Navy then the Coast Guard. Then the rest, as they say is history.
My own family has a similar history, as many Filipino families. My dad’s brother was sponsored a work visa, then he petitioned my grandmother who then petitioned my dad and aunt. And the rest, as they say is history. But if fate worked out any differently, if my Lola decided not to join my uncle, if my dad got a job in Houston instead of moving to Maryland, everything would be different. I wouldn’t be the same Jenny typing this post away on her phone. This is the greatest plot twist in the lives of my generation. Our lives as we know it is dependent on this event. I’ve known this but am so forcefully reminded of it right now.
Below is a picture of 8 of the 9 Pakingan siblings (one died long before this pic). My Lola is seated in the middle with Lola Elia to her right. This picture was taken at my parents’ wedding in 1987.
So it’s been a minute since I logged in and wrote a blog post. Sorry, folks! Lots on my mind and plate and too much to write about in such a public sphere. But I will say that behind the scenes I have been working on my themes for 2012. [applause and exclamations here] “Show up” is one of them and can be applied to numerous aspects of my life. For example, the professional job search; I can’t just wish for a new job to land on my lap, I have to show up and actually write cover letters and network. It’s also about giving myself the opportunity to change my own life. I’ve cried about the lack of performances in the past year; I’ve placed my own art and performance on the back burner while I manage Sulu DC. But no more! I have several gigs lined up this month including one in Colorado thanks to @MsTSTanny. Check them out below:
Saturday, March 10, 12-3 pm
Yoga Stops Traffic
Bloombars (3222 11 St NW – metro: Columbia Heights)
Suggested donation: $10
A worldwide yoga event which raises awareness about human trafficking. Last year YST brought together 3,000 people in 38 countries, 95 yoga studios, parks, homes, beaches and mountaintops around the world. Following YST will be a reception with performers who have previously supported Odanadi through their art. http://www.yogastopstraffick.org/wp/. Odanadi is a grassroots organisation based in Mysore, India, which works to combat human trafficking, sexual exploitation, slavery, domestic abuse and destitution.To find out more about what we do, visit their website: www.odanadi-uk.org
Wednesday, March 28
Colorado State University
Saturday, March 31, 1-2:30 pm
DC SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) Day
Grace Church (1041 Wisconsin Ave., NW)
This all-day event presented by The Georgetown Theatre Company and Women in Film and Video features free music, theatre and storytelling performances, poetry readings, visual arts and film screenings at six different locations throughout the District. More information about DC SWAN Day is available here.
Thursday, April 5, 5 pm
Performance/Workshop for the spoken word & poetry class at UMD
I do want to thank the Christine Chen for inviting me (and Sulu DC) to perform at the OCA-NoVA’s Annual Lunar Year Banquet tonight. It was an awesome event and the crowd was truly wonderful. Many thanks to all of the people who bought my book for your support and kind words. It means the world to know that my pieces resonated with you all. (I should have brought more than 5! That’ll teach me.)
See you at Bloombars and maybe Colorado!
Sulu DC is back in rotation this month with a tight lineup of artists and films. I’ll be co-hosting the show with Eddie Lee of Jubilee Project (the return of our host tandem!). I also have a short feature and will be sharing new pieces (oh snap. new shit.) Details below.
Sulu DC + The Jubilee Project Show
DC premiere of “Dear Daniel”
7:00 pm. Doors open at 6:30
Ballroom, Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209)
$15 general admission / $12 students
Buy tickets at: http://tickets.artisphere.com
Featuring local electronica brother duo, Atoms Apart, and a special guest artist (hint: he’s from Philly).
Follow me @jennylares, @suludc, and @jubileeproject for updates and live tweets at the event.
Goodbye 2010. Hello new decade. It’s New Year’s Eve and I’ve got on some polka dots. Am about to put some coins in the pocket for wealth in the new year. Mom is cooking palutang, a rice flour based dessert traditionally cooked on NYE. The idea is that if the balls of flour float to the surface of the pot of water, then life will be “light” or easy for the year. I think I’ve got all my Filipino NYE superstitions covered.
So let’s literally say goodbye to 2010 even though we’ll continue to struggle and celebrate all that it brought. Bring on this new decade–one I hope to be filled with adventure, opportunity, love, and balance.
The above was my blog post last New Year’s Eve. How greatly optimistic I was! I wonder how many of those flour balls rose to the surface because 2011 felt anything but light. But let me practice some realistic optimism now.
2011, like most other years brought its own opportunities and struggles. I formed new, unexpected friendships, yet lost quite a few. Many struggles were an opportunity for growth–a few I took, several I wasn’t courageous enough to confront. Sensing that I have, in many ways, been running from my own life all year, and coincidentally from the people who care deeply, here are my themes (not resolutions) for the new year:
show up, be bold, love and let go, jenny 2012
Bring it, 2012. I’ll meet you.