Renowrites blog!

Author of YA novel "Enlightenment" available March 2019!

Tell your story

I’ve learned it’s okay to tell your story. Although this seems like a simple concept, it never was for me. I had to be silent most of my life in order to fit in to the environment I was surrounded by. I felt no one would understand how important it was to me to be both Filipino and American.

I was never quite American enough. Or Filipino enough. I was in between. Midwest Americans didn’t see me as a Midwesterner. Filipinos silently disapproved I didn’t speak Tagalog.

I’m still in between, but more creative types are coming out of the woodwork who have experienced this “feeling.” I can tell by their art. I attended my first Fil Am Creative Event on Friday 11/10/2017 and saw short films with Filipino American perspectives.

I was laughing, crying and covering my eyes during the screenings. Mostly, I sighed in relief for the first time since I was on set of “The Debut” film years ago, a film that focused on 1st generation vs. 2nd generational conflict. To see a slew of short films from all these talented Filipino American filmmakers and actors who are expressing themselves through art is what should have happened years ago. What happened after the Debut? Everyone has an opinion, but now…finally…there is a valid literary and theatrical Filipino American movement.

This year, the novel by Melissa De La Cruz “Somewhere in Between” gives credence to identifying as both Filipino and American. More Filipino American novels are being released by Arkipelago Books in SF. And my novel “Enlightenment” is being released in 2018.

“Enlightenment is a Filipino American novel tied to the history of our people prior to the Spanish arrival in the Philippines. This is a story I was afraid of while I was writing it. I was afraid of people’s reactions to the novel’s inclusion of both Christian and Islamic historical ties to the islands. I was afraid my Filipino American writing perspective would be considered invalid.

But now all these years after first penning this novel and literally burning the midnight oil while working a full time job, starting and running a 501c3 youth basketball program and raising a family, the novel is at its final edits. And hopefully, this is the first of many stories I’m no longer afraid to tell.

Thank you to all the Filipino American writers, directors, actors and organizers who are telling their stories.

You inspire me.

Filed under: Filipino American, Writing, , , ,

Fil-Am perspectives in Hollywood?

The presence of Filipino Americans in Hollywood is an issue close to my being.

On May 31st, there was a panel hosted by Fil-Am Creative regarding this very subject. Fil-Am Creative is a collective of actors, writers and producers who strive for their voice to be heard in the Hollywood minefields. How do we navigate in this minefield? This is a daunting task for anyone who attempts to make it in Hollywood.

dbqwlluvwaabgtm

But imagine Filipino Americans trying to make it?  We are background players in the big budget movie entitled “Hollywood” functioning as gaffers, writers and producers, but fuh-get-about being on-screen!

There have been tangible strides made in TV with actors like Angela Relucio on CBS’s “Code Black”, Manny Jacinto on NBC’s “The Good Place,” and Aina Dumlao on CBS’s “MacGyver”. They are working in Hollywood, and I know just having a regular acting gig deserves a round of applause!

But…they play characters written through the lense of the Establishment (yes, I capitalized the E on purpose, so take that blog copy editors!).

What about our stories? Our perspective? This is why I love knowing Fil-Am Creative exists. Youtube channels, television pilots, short and feature films are being made and looking for support, created and influenced by talented Filipino-Americans who deserve their voice to be heard. Fil-Am Creative provides a platform to be heard.

Filipinos have a diverse set of perspectives that need a place to be heard. Filipino immigrants have a different viewpoint than third or fourth generation Filipino Americans. We are such a diverse group. Muddling through this diversity within ourselves is a challenge in itself. A support group like Fil-Am Creative can recognize these differences (thank God!).

For me, it’s a big sigh of relief knowing there is a movement of Fil-Am stories being told in the shadows of Hollywood’s elite.  I was lucky enough to meet a few people behind the scenes of this organization. My first thought: why didn’t I know about them before?

I’ve been reawakened.

For those who haven’t heard of Fil-Am Creative, check out their Filmmaker movement post, which gives you surface view of the work involved to support Fil-Am content creators! With funding always the issue in getting projects from infancy into public view, those with financial resources can get behind a support group like Fil-Am Creative and influence the creation of more great content! It’s gotta be great though. No junk, or else we add to the skepticism already prevalent to most who hear the words “Filipino American film.”

Let us not lose sight of one thing; a movement cannot be just one feature or one short. We must have a series of “quality” projects that allows us to be self-sufficient. Hmmm…I feel like I’m posting a car-ride lecture to my kids! Now I feel their pain.

Let’s. Not. Stop! More Fil-Am content please!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filed under: film, Hollywood, , ,