Three Fantastic Filipino Artists You Should Know

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Notable conversations on the TTC, on Facebook and in coffee shops galore lead us to our next blog post. These conversations started with “Did you hear about…” and end with “…that’s fantastic, can’t wait to see what comes  next.” Some proud Pinoy action happening in Toronto.  So be in the know and remember these names and events.

Tala Berkes – Fashion Designer
Having recently submitted her thesis entitled “Sound As Signifier” Communication and Expression Through the Sound of Clothing” for her Masters of Arts in Fashion, Tala Berkes has been making headway since awarded the inaugural 2012 Elle Fashion Canada Graduate Award and appearing in the July issue of Elle Canada Magainze (right).

The Ryerson student has been researching the sound of clothing.  On her website Tala goes into further detail about her process…” was interested in looking at what role the sounds of our clothes play in communicating, but I also wanted to understand how sound could lead to a more holistic appreciation of our clothes, to a fuller sensory experience.”
Keep your eyes peeled for Tala Berkes and her  label Tala Kamea!

Hazel Venzon – Theatre Artist
Some may recognize the name, Yes she’s our Canadian Filipino Artists #2! Since our February posting, Hazel has re-located to Toronto and is currently working on a SummerWorks Live Art Installation.

As the largest juried festival in Canada featuring predominantly New Canadian plays, SummerWorks looks to program a festival that uniquely reflects Toronto and Canada’s cultural zeitgeist.

Hazel’s piece entitled “Small Embrace” combines Street Food and Conversation at the Corner of Queen and Dovercourt. A little birdie tells me that Tita Flips may be making an appearance. It’s FREE August 11,12, 18, 19 at 2pm

Diana Reyes aka Fly Lady Di – Dancer & Choreographer
Just recently Toronto- born dancer/choreographer/actor Diana Reyes  was at the Harbourfront Centre teaching FREE house dance and hip hop workshop.

Some of her first dance roles included a part in the movie Honey, as well as music videos for Fall Out Boy, Ashley Simpson, Tweet and Fabolous to name a few. She’s known around the world for her house dance freestyle of which she trained in her hometown of New York City. Di has recently choreographed the famed web series Prison Dancer. As she constantly learns and grows, she wants to continue spreading true dance culture worldwide!

You can catch her teaching House on Monday nights with O.I.P. Dance Centre, Home Of Do Dat Entertainment. You can also catch her  every Sunday 3-9pm at The London Tap House.

We at CBT wish to congratulate these ladies and wish them continued success!

KULTURA FESTIVAL 2011 Where are they Now?

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We are busy planning Kapisanan’s 7th Annual Kultura Filipino Arts Festival!

KULTURA Festival is KAPISANAN’s signature annual summer Filipino arts festival since 2005. The festival features a live music showcase, a visual arts exhibit in the KAPISANAN gallery, film screenings, now co-presented by Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival, and theatre showcases presented in partnership with Carlos Bulosan Theatre.

Here’s an update of August 2011’s theatre presenters and how their work has grown since showcasing their work at the 6th Annual KULTURA Festival.

Transit Diaries by Meesha Albano
Since Transit Diaries showcase, playwright Meesha Albano was then accepted in the Carlos Bulosan Theatre’s Play Creation Unit. While part of the Unit she continued to develop Transit Diaries with the support of Play Creation Unit Director, Marjorie Chan.  In March of this year Meesha showcased new scenes of Transit Diaries in a staged reading as part of CBT’s Flipside Festival under the direction of Ruth Madoc-Jones (pictured left).

We can all see the production of Transit Diaries by Meesha Albano this summer as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival Starting July 4th-15 2012
More Details Here

Through the Bamboo by Byron Abalos & Andrea Mapili

Playwrights Byron Abalos and Andrea Mapili took their 40 minute play with them when they moved to California shortly

after presenting at KULTURA. While there they continued to develop their play and recently had a 70 minute reading of Through the Bamboo at Bilndlestiff Studio in San Francisco!  Bindlestiff Studio was founded in 1989 by Canadian artists Chrystene Ells, Chris Brophy, and a group of local theatre artists and for many years flourished as an experimental theatre space.

Bindlestiff Studio cultivates artists who reflect and celebrate the diverse
values, traditions, and histories of Pilipino and Filipino American cultures through bold artistic expression and community engagement.

Rebound (formerly Monday Night Lights) created by The Sixth Man Collective: Byron Abalos, Marjorie Chan, Colin Doyle, Darrel Gamotin and Richard Lee

About five years ago a group of actors came together to let off some steam and play some basketball. From their weekly gatherings they  were inspired by the correlation between art and sport. Last year’s presentation brought audience and actors together with story and basketball drills in this outdoor interactive play. The Theatre Centre Artistic Director Franco Boni, was in the audience for this showcase and after an application process The Sixth Man Collective was chosen as one of The Theatre Centre’s 2012 resident companies.

Their continued development on Rebound (formerly Monday Night Lights) will return 1087 Queen St. West to its roots as one of Toronto’s first YMCAs and the home of some of the earliest basketball games in Toronto’s history.

Catch the next phase of Rebound on Sunday July 8th 4:00PM at The Theatre Centre 1087 Queen Streest West (entrance on Dovercourt) and later again in mid December 2012

Every Letter Counts by Nina Lee Aquino

Every Letter Counts makes its world premiere at Factory Theatre Directed by Nigel Shawn Williams – recent Dora Mavor Moore Award winning Actor for his role in Obsidian Theatre’s Top Dog/ Under Dog, and previously nominated for Outstanding Direction for Anusree Roy’s Brothel No. 9.

Nina Lee Aquino has been an Associate Artist of Factory Theatre for three years and Every Letter Counts was developed through Factory Theatre’s Play Development Program and is the first Factory production of one of Nina Lee Aquino’s plays.

See Every Letter Counts at Factory Theatre (Main Space Theatre) January 26-February 24, 2013
More Details Here

Nina is CBT’s Director of Novice Play Creation Unit and the Novice Play Creation Unit (pictured right) will be showcasing their work at this year’s KULTURA.

KAPISANAN’s 7th KULTURA Filipino Arts Festival slated to open Friday August 17, 2012. More details soon!

Casey Mecija & Ohbijou at Luminato Sunday June 17th (free)

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Our beloved friends of Ohbijou will be performing at Festival Stage, David Pecaut Square, 55 John Street (next to Roy Thompson Hall) on the main stage. FREE!

Actually, I’m currently on “vacation” from CBT until June 18th because I’m working Luminato as the assistant associate producer. I had the pleasure of speaking with Luminato’s Music Curator, Derek Andrews, who had this to say about Ohbijou “…endearingly intense, intelligently quirky, poignantly propulsive, delicately orchestral, trancy, and beatlesque, they are a pleasure.”

Unfortunately I have my hands tied at the tiff Bell Lightbox for Luminato’s $5 film series but if you have time for a free concert; head on over to the “Hub” and catch them at 4:00PM

Ohbijou return with their third album: Metal Meets. To be released in North America by Last Gang (Metric, Crystal Castles, New Pornographers), Metal Meets is the band’s most mature and creative offering. Recorded by acclaimed producer, Jace Lasek (also of Besnard Lakes fame) in Montreal’s Breakglass Studios, Ohbijou presents an album that cements Casey Mecija, her sister Jenny Mecija, James Bunton, Ryan Carley, Anissa Hart and Heather Kirby demonstrate a relationship to each other and their instruments that is emotive and zealous. The band’s familial-like structure and unwavering support for each other is evident. Casey Mecija is a practitioner of love songs. Here, her audience is privy to a moody, more experimental lyricism and her words bespeak a passionate, rebellious desire. While producing a more complex sound, these songs remain hopeful, at moments pop-infused, and always melodic. Mecija’s vocals are layered atop her band’s skilled instrumentation.

Each band member meticulously conditions the album’s narratives with haunting arrangements. Unique to this album are song-writing contributions from Jennifer and Ryan. This is a resonant and infectious offering, guaranteed to satisfy the appetite of critics and audiences anxious for the band’s return. Their status as one of the most important bands at work in Canada, Ohbijou is renowned for their devotion to the city in which they live. Their lyrics and sounds have always paid homage to Toronto. Metal Meets, however, was crafted during retreats out of their city’s confines. This album is inspired by ventures to cabins in the woods, travel across Asia, Europe and North America (as they headlined tours), and lyrical reflections on familial bloodlines that move across borders. Taking inspiration from territories traversed outside of familiar realms was invaluable. Ohbijou has produced their most thoughtful and experimental record. In Metal Meets listeners will hear the band struggle to realign their sound, using delays, distortions and reverbs to capture a more pensive and experimental relationship to music. This is an album that will draw new audiences while expressing commitment to devoted fans.
Conceptually, Metal Meets draws on sites populated by rumbling volcanoes, deep lakes and haunted waterfalls, metals torn from damp earth, and dark desires usually uncommitted to words (Mecija sings, for example: “A parsing of this blood to find myself in you”). This is a poetic offering. The band retreated from the familiar in order to test the limits of their craft and attend to detail in a way they had not before. As a result, each song on the album is housed in a matrix of experimental effects and timbres. Listeners and audiences will feel Ohbijou come of age with this album, and their adulthood is more precocious and imaginative than their youth.

Casey Mecija, her sister Jenny Mecija, James Bunton, Ryan Carley, Anissa Hart and Heather Kirby demonstrate a relationship to each other and their instruments that is emotive and zealous. The band’s familial-like structure and unwavering support for each other is evident. Casey Mecija is a practitioner of love songs. Here, her audience is privy to a moody, more experimental lyricism and her words bespeak a passionate, rebellious desire. While producing a more complex sound, these songs remain hopeful, at moments pop-infused, and always melodic. Mecija’s vocals are layered atop her band’s skilled instrumentation. Each band member meticulously conditions the album’s narratives with haunting arrangements. Unique to this album are song-writing contributions from Jennifer and Ryan. This is a resonant and infectious offering, guaranteed to satisfy the appetite of critics and audiences anxious for the band’s return.

Sister Mary’s a Dyke?!

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Sister Mary’s a Dyke?! by Flerida Peña
with Director Nina Lee Aquino, Designer Camellia Koo and Dramaturge Ric Knowles
Friday May 25, 8PM & Sunday May 27, at 2PM at the
Fringe Creation Lab, 720 Bathurst St, Suite 403, Toronto ON
Pay-What-You-Can. Arrive on time.

This comedic drama focuses on Abby’s journey as she uncovers the truth about her school. Unbeknownst to her, the school is not only comprised of sexually active queer students and nuns, it is the training ground for a group of Catholic Extremists who are hell-bent (heh) on infiltrating Vatican City by secretly organizing their female members into the College of Cardinals.

In this rogue approach to development, Playwright and Performer, Flerida Peña will be given only 10 days of rehearsal before she presents her latest draft of #SMAD on Friday May 25th.  Director Nina Lee Aquino, Designer Camellia Koo and Dramaturge  Ric Knowles assist Flerida as she spends the following day, May 26th, writing/revising/rehearsing for what could be a drastically different presentation on Sunday May 27th at 2PM.

Fore more information download Sister Mary’s a Dyke?! Press Release

May is Asian Heritage Month – Events

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Celebrating and acknowledging the long and rich history of Asian Canadians and their contributions to Canada!
Here are three affordable events with some extra Filipino Pride this month

1. The Carlos Bulosan Theatre presents the Workshop Presentation of
Sister Mary’s a Dyke?!
by Flerida Peña

Nuns, Catholic School Girls and other things the Vatican didn’t see coming
Friday May 25 at 8PM and Sunday May 27th at 2PM at the Fringe Creation Lab, 720 Bathurst St, Suite 403
Pay-What-You-Can. Arrive on time.

In this rogue approach to development, Playwright and Performer, Flerida Peña will be given only 10 days of rehearsal before she presents her latest draft of #SMAD on Friday May 25th.  Director Nina Lee Aquino, Designer Camellia Koo and Dramaturge  Ric Knowles assist Flerida as she spends the following day, May 26th, writing/revising/rehearsing for what could be a drastically different presentation on Sunday May 27th at 2PM.

2. Toronto Public Library in community partnership with KAPISANAN and Mavshack presents FILIPINO FILM SERIES


All FREE films screenings will be at:
Toronto Public Library, Barbara Frum Branch
20 Covington Rd. Toronto.
Covington is just West off Bathurst St., just North of Lawrence Ave.

Lolo’s Child | Tuesday May 8 – 6pm
Directed by local Filipino-Canadian, Romeo Candido. Romeo will be in attendance for Q & A. Check out the trailer

Emir | Tuesday May 22 – 2pm
Directed by Chito Rono, starring Francheska Farr – a musical production about a Filipina who becomes a nanny to an Arab prince.  Guest speaker Brian Bantugan will be in attendance.

Baler | Tuesday May 29 – 6pm
Directed by Mark Meily, starring Jericho Rosales and Anne Curtis – a star-crossed love story set during the revolution against Spain.  Guest speaker Brian Bantugan will be in attendance.

3. Miracle Thieves hosts the first Cultural Series presenting The Philippines | Now On until May 2nd
Installations by Jo SiMalaya Alcampo, Michaela Cruz, Jodinand AguillonAlex Felipe, Eric Quebral, CMango DesignPacific Blues, Sammy Jade, The Original Fiddy, Jen Maramba, Pinoy Culture Bookstore, Lamesa Filipino Kitchen, Centre for Babaylan Studies, Kapwa 3 Conference (Baguio, Philippines) and more.

For more on Asian Heritage Month check out the Citizenship and Immigration website

Call for Submissions – Queer Playwrights

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From the desk of Queer playwrights Catherine Hernandez and Flerida Peña (along with our video dude, Manny Veneracion with music by MC Jazz) join forces to bring you When Sally Met Sally, an online video collection of dating disasters.

Based on TRUE stories from our viewership and the playwrights themselves, each episode will laugh at the quirks of dating, queer style.

We want you, your friends and your friend’s friends who self-identify as LGBTTIQQ2S/WSW/MSM to send to us your stories of dating disasters.

Here is what you need to know

1)      Your submission will be COMPLETELY CONFIDENTIAL. No names will be used and all similarities pertaining to your story will be diluted to the best of our ability.

2)      For worried viewers: Although you might think that bee-yotch you met last week told us about how you breastfed a puppy during speed dating, there were probably three or more people who submitted a similar story. Seriously. Our community is too weird for anyone to pinpoint anything on you. Now stop breastfeeding that puppy.

3)      You will not receive any payment for your submission. You may experience intense glee if we choose to use your submission in some way. This may give you satisfaction beyond what payment can ever give you.

4)      We want the truth. The truth is just plain funny. No need to exaggerate. Reality is funny as is.

5)      Do note that our focus will be on first dates rather than how your past relationship got dragged into the dirt, ending in your ex burning sex toys outside your former home. That’s not really funny. That’s just sad.

6)      Submission of your story will not guarantee that it will be recreated in our series.

7)      We are aiming at shooting all recreations in one take and under 2 minutes.

8)      Once we have our first 3 episodes up, please share, because sharing is caring.

9)      Our deadline for our first round of submissions is May 3rd 2012.

10)    This image of the fallen cupid is merely temporary. We have more swag than that.

If you have something to share, e-mail us at whensallymetsallyshow@gmail.com.

Last Night’s Supper by Jodinand Aguillon

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Last Night's Supper by Jodinand Aguillon

Inspired by the home he grew up in, Art Director and Photographer Jodinand Aguillion (aka Jodee), gathered 13 Filipina artists-enterpenures and used food, fashion, installation art, social media and photography to celebrate our Filipino Culture for The Pearl Cultural Showcase at Miracle Thieves.  See the Photograph and other installations today until May 2, 2012

On Wednesday night myself and 12 fellow Filipinas gathered at Pretty Freedom to help our friend and feast on this glorious Filipino meal that included pancit, kare-kare and lechon. Jodee briefed us that the feeling of the shoot is “…REGAL REALNESS (powerful, bold, elegant – but not over the top) it’s a blend of Beyonce’s “Run The World” & “Joy Luck Club.”‘ We, the participants, noted that the set itself was striking, and filled with familiar symbols of our own childhood but with a contemporary flare.

Once we were ready to shoot, Jodee began by remarking how we inspire him on both personal and artistic levels. “It’s not a coincidence that you’re all here in this room. You all are powerful and instrumental to the success of our community and culture.” During the photoshoot our job consisted of talking, laughing, eating and of course calling Jodee’s mom to wish her a happy birthday. Jodee continued to talk about his upbringing and his mother as a constant source of  strength and inspiration.

Here are the 13 Filipina artists-enterpenures of Last Night’s Super are (from left to right)
Diana Reyes aka Fly Lady Di, painter, actor and dancer
Kristen Jordan, original member of CLUTCH Vol 1, Organizer Daps All Ages
Annalie Bonda, of The Chief Company
Tala Berkes
, Fashion Designer
Christine Mangosing
, Art Director & Designer at C*Mango Design
Maylee Todd, Multi-faceted artis
April Aliermo, of Hooded Fang & Phedre
Casey Mecija of Ohbijou
Eleanor Espiritu of Mirror Phase
Renna Reddie, Artistic Producer at the Carlos Bulosan Theatre
Renelyn Quinicot, CLUTCH Vol 4 member
Gerasil Coria
, Blogger
Charise Aragonza, CLUTCH Vol 4 member

The photo is currently gaining much attention across social media websites and receiving positive accolades.  More often than not Filipino Women are showcased through a male gaze.  All one has to do is Google “Filipino Women” and the computer screen is filled with predominately exoticized imagery and websites. On an intimate level the photographer wanted to pay homage to his friends and their accomplishments but this photo, the set, the food, and all that it encompasses establishes a demand for the evolving Filipino presence in our mainstream culture.

See the night through instagram

Jodinand Aguillon  is the Co-Owner and Creative Director of Pretty Freedom in Toronto’s Kensington Market, Shopcastr Retail Scout, Do-It-Yourself Innovator, Shotgun Wedding Set and Costumer Designer, Photographer and all round Renaissance Magic Maker.

Catering provided by the ever satisfying Tita Flips and her Scadding Court Food Stand and the lechon provided by Mang Bernard’s, who came to Toronto in 1961 and originally sold lumpia in Kensington Market, now in Parkdale he runs his own Filipino Grocery Store.

Make-up done by Gillian Alix and Vincent Trang. Last and certainly not least, Patricio Estebar as Jodee Photography mentor.

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