Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DIARY | What it is like to be a guest on Sirius XM Satellite Radio

NEW YORK CITY |   She is as classy as she is beautiful.  I was interviewed this morning on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. The interviewer was Pia Lindström, the award-winning host of "Pia Lindström Presents," an exclusive weekly interview show on Sirius XM Book Radio, where she gives listeners a glimpse into the world of books, plays, movies, and current issues. 

Pia Lindström and me.
Every week Pia talks with guests from the world of books as well as film directors, producers, literary insiders and more.  Previous guests have included best-selling authors Danielle Steele, Lorrie Moore, Anne Rice; playwrights like David Mamet; musicians such as Kenny Rogers, Jimmy Webb, Judy Collins; Forensic Scientists, Stuntmen and Mystics.  For her first show, Pia sat down with her sister, Isabella Rossellini to discuss Isabella’s new book, Green Porno, based on her Sundance Channel web series. 

I was nervous, but she made me feel at ease. I was anxious, because she wanted me to talk about the world of performing arts, as well as the present state of democracy and the arts in Europe, Asia and Africa, but she wanted me do this in a way that would clearly communicate to a broader audience. Pretty esoteric subjects, I suppose, in our mainstream-only U.S. media. To be honest I lost sleep at the mere thought of losing the interest of her millions of listeners while I had to describe and expound on global experiences and international encounters. After two cups of strong coffee, I dared to go on the radio anyway. I kept breathing to myself my mantra: "Transform your passion into a pop-culture conversation."

My favorite moment was when I got to say "Pussy" on air. I said it twice. In what context? Pia was interested in discussing issues of censorship and repression of artists, and she mentioned Putin. So there it was: my opening (no pun intended). I described the Pussy Riot debacle in Russia as one example of the repression of artists in illiberal democracies after the so-called death of Communism.

Pia Lindström, the first child of actress Ingrid Bergman and Dr. Petter Aron Lindström (a Swedish American neurosurgeon), couldn't have been sweeter and nicer.  It helped that she is an accomplished movie and theater critic, so we shared a common lingua.  I was most especially struck by her anecdotes about what it was like for her when she was starting out in broadcasting. 

Born in Stockholm, Pia began her career in San Francisco at KGO-TV, co- hosting a two-hour morning talk show.  A long time trustee of the Theatre Development Fund, the largest arts service organization in the country, she is also on the Board of Trustees of the American Theatre Wing and a member of the Tony Award Nominating Committee.  Lindström worked in television journalism for three decades in California and New York. She received two Emmy Awards and the New York Associated Press Broadcasters Award for news reporting.

Looking back, I wish we had more time to dig our heels deeper into discussing contemporary Swedish performing arts. Perhaps there will be another time. Who knows?  If our conversation sparks true and deep interest, we might broadcast about performing arts direct from Sweden in the near future. It could happen.

Stay tuned to Sirius XM Radio.  --rg

Saturday, October 13, 2012

THANK-YOU SPEECH | Accepting Fil-Am Heritage Achievement Award at LA City Hall

Tonight there is a party in Los Angeles that I am sadly unable to attend.  I am being honored as one of the country's first-ever recipients of the Filipino-American Heritage Achievement Awards. This national recognition honors Filipino Americans who, in the estimation of the Los Angeles Filipino Association of City Employees (LAFACE), "helped shape the last 425 years of Fil-Ams in United States." 

Headed by Cora Aragon Soriano, LAFACE is the only Filipino-American employee organization in the City of Los Angeles. LAFACE's Fil-Am Heritage Achievement Awards are being formally presented (right now!) at Los Angeles City Hall during an all-day celebration called "425 Years of Filipino-American History." 

A second before posting this, I received a text from LA. It says that each awardee actually receives five awards: a Heritage Achievement medal, one plaque from LAFACE, and one plaque each from the State of California, the County of Los Angeles, and the City of Los Angeles.  I tell you: New York does not treat people as well as L.A. has toasted me tonight.

This is the thank-you letter I composed for the occasion.

Dear Cora Aragon A. Soriano
Dear Board Members of LAFACE
Dear Councilmembers Eric Garcetti, Jose Huizar, Richard Alarco
Dear Mayor Jejomar Erwin S. Binay Jr.
Dear Acting Philippine Consul Daniel Espiritu
Most of all, Mga Kababayan of the Los Angeles Filipino Association of City Employees:

Sayang talaga. Sayang na sayang. Nanghihinayang ako. Kasi narito ako sa New York. At lahat kayong mga nagpupuri at mga itinatanghal ay nasa Los Angeles.

This is a letter from Randy Gener in New York. How I wish I could celebrate with you tonight!  How I regret that I am not able to express my tremendous gratitude in person. This lovely gentleman reading this letter is Mark Santos. He is my best friend from Paco Catholic School.  We grew up together.  We performed and sang in school shows. We served as editors for our high school paper.

I kid you not, but on this very beautiful Friday evening, this very moment that Mark is reading this letter now in LA City Hall, I am standing on a stage, performing my own original piece of writing at Nuyorican Poets Cafe in Manhattan. This dramatic work was inspired by the historical legacies of Fil-Am farm workers and union organizers in California and Seattle. I have been collaborating with a group of young Fil-Am writers and performers to open a theater piece about Filipino identity. Had tonight's celebration happened a week earlier or a week later, there would have been no problem for me to come to LA. I am deeply moved that, despite my absence, you decided to publicly honor me anyway.

What a stunning award! What significant event tonight is! If you consider that Filipinos first set foot on the coast of California 425 years ago, tonight's gala is remarkable. This is still a society where we exist on uneven playing fields. As long as this is the case, we need groups like LAFACE to help recognize the achievements and contributions of people of color in this country.

Johnny Itliong, who received a posthumous award for his late father, the legendary Larry Itliong.
With Bernardo Bernardo, Heritage Awardee. | Photo by Paul Consignado
Among the 21 awardees tonight, five of them are being awarded posthumously. This record is completely unheard of. This LAFACE event serves as a model for the U.S. national scene. I join everyone here to salute the late Larry Itliong, whom you have recognized with a posthumous award. An important Filipino labor organizer, Itliong died 35 years ago at the age of 63.

I am jumping for joy that tonight you are honoring the late Gladys Celeste Mercader. A virtuoso pianist with international credentials, Mercader was a hidden treasure of the American music and ballet world. She had worked in the shadows of Jerome Robbins, Rudolf Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. She died in 2008.

Heritage Achievement Awardees
With these posthumous awards to Itliong and Mercader and others who are no longer with us, LAFACE sends an important message: that we Filipino Americans truly value and acknowledge the excellence of our own people, especially those performing artists like Mercader whom the larger U.S. culture had overlooked.

I sing the praises of Bernardo Bernardo, Heritage Awardee, also for Music/Entertainment.  Ever since we first met at Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska, Bernardo has amazed me with his lacerating wit, his joie de vivre, his acting talents, and his community leadership.

I salute Cora Aragon Soriano and the Board Members of LAFACE.  What you have created here tonight is to build an instrument of legitimacy for our people. I thank you for allowing me and Mark to play a small role in it. I thank whoever it was who nominated me for this award.

I grew up in the slums of Santa Ana river, studied near the outdoor markets of Paco church and immigrated to America with aspirations of becoming a writer. This award blows my mind. You have given this kanto boy something to treasure, something to live up to. Whenever I receive yet another rejection or life deals me another terrible or unfair hand, I will remember your munificence tonight: Once upon a time, in California, on the 425th year of Fil-Am historical presence in America, there was an association of LA city employees. These wonderful people, these kababayans, bless them, they took a look at the body of my work so far and said, "Job well done."

To be a success is about being happy with what you’re doing, constantly growing as an individual, and contributing to other people in measurable and meaningful ways. I will work hard to live up to your astounding generosity. I will find hope and good cheer and perseverance in this lovely gesture from LAFACE.

Maraming salamat po. Mabuhay kayo! At magandang gabi sa inyong lahat.

Randy Gener
Friday, October 12, 2012
New York City

Thursday, October 11, 2012

ANNOUNCEMENT | Heritage Achievement Awards given out at LA City Hall

LOS ANGELES |  Two important Filipino American artists will join the country's first-ever recipients of the 2012 Heritage Achievement Awards.  These Fil Ams will receive national recognition in an unprecedented event that takes place October 12 at Los Angeles City Hall.

In the estimation of LAFACE, these Filipino Americans "helped shape the last 425 years of Fil-Ams in the United States" through their "major contributions."

LAFACE stands for the Los Angeles Filipino Association of City Employees. Headed by Cora Aragon Soriano, LAFACE is the only Filipino-American employee organization in the City of Los Angeles. The historic event is called 425 Years of Filipino-American History.

For the first time in Los Angeles City Hall, there will be a celebration of 425 years of heritage and culture of Filipino Americans in the United States. The day-long event consists of three parts: an official recognition from Los Angeles City Hall, a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the historical exhibits of Filipino Americans in the USA; and a formal evening gala, by invitation only, which will gather together LA City Council members, Filipino local elected officials, LA City employees, Filipino community leaders, members of the Filipino community, and 2012 Fil-Am Heritage Achievement Awardees.

At the gala, LAFACE will hand out the first-ever 2012 Fil-Am Heritage Achievement Awards to "exceptional Filipino-Americans, organizations, and posthumous awardees" in a number of categories. At the end of this note, you will find LAFACE's announcement in Asian Journal and a complete list of its 2012 Heritage Achievement Awardees.

I would like to give special mention to two Filipino Americans. They are the late Gladys Celeste Mercader and Bernardo Bernardo.

Gladys Celeste-Mercader, a deceased Fil-Am musician, rehearsal pianist and performance soloist at American Ballet Theatre, will finally receive long-delayed national recognition in the USA. Her children will be coming to Los Angeles to pick up a posthumous 2012 Fil-Am Heritage Achievement Award in the category of Music/Entertainment.

Celeste-Mercader had worked with the world's most elite dancers: Rudolf Nureyev, Carla Fracci, Cynthia Gregory, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland and Julio Bocca. She is also associated with the most notable choreographers of the 20th century among them, Jerome Robbins, Agnes DeMille, Eliot Feld, Mark Morris. Her career in the ballet world spanned over 40 years (ABT, Feld Ballet, Cleveland Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem and Ohio Ballet). With these companies she has performed piano concertos by Prokoviev, Shostakovich , Mendelsohn and piano solos by Debussy, Brahms and Strauss at New York's Metropolitan House as well as theatres throughout the United States as well as some famed International theaters, like the Paris Opera House and Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Argentina. To this day, her ballet-music recordings are being taught in ballet school all over the country.

Bernardo Bernardo is a performing artist par excellence. He is a mover and shaker in the Filipino American community in the United States. Most recently, he was awarded the L.A. Weekly Theater Award for Best Direction for the 2012 productions of The Romance of Magno Rubio and Ang Romansa in Magno Rubio. The two versions of the same play ran in repertory at Inside the Ford Theatre, from November 4 through December 11, 2011. Bernardo is a triple threat: a host, singer and stand-up comedian. He is an actor of stage, film and television. With his wicked sense of humor, piercing intelligence and seductive singing voice, he wows audiences in Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Juneau, Las Vegas and New York. He is a complete entertainer.

Although I have known about him for years through his film and television work, I first met Bernardo in Juneau, Alaska, when I wrote the cover story, "Alaska Is In the Heart," for the July/August 2005 edition of American Theatre magazine. He appeared in two Perseverance Theatre productions there: the musical THE LONG SEASON and the documentary play VOYAGE.

Congratulations to both the Mercader family and Bernardo Bernardo.

A Personal Note: In late September, I received a letter from LAFACE. It stated that I was nominated and selected to receive a 2012 Fil-Am Heritage Achievement Award in the disciplines of Arts/Literature and Media/Entertainment. 

I would like to publicly thank Cora Aragon Soriano and the LAFACE Selection Committee for including me in this historic "425 Years" event. Not the least of which because it happens during the Filipino American History month of October. What a gorgeous honor!  Maraming salamat po.


ANNOUNCEMENT by Cora Aragon Soriano

LOS ANGELES |  We are honored to announce that we are recognizing the following exceptional Filipino-Americans, organizations, and posthumous awardees, who by their outstanding achievements and contributions have made historical presence and exceptional contributions to the Filipino heritage, culture, humanitarian efforts, progress and development, and professional contributions in the United States of America (USA).

The celebration in Los Angeles City Hall has been rescheduled to Friday, October 12, 2012.

Formed in 1982, LAFACE currently represents over 2.500 Filipino City employees. In addition to fostering advancement of Filipinos and its members in the City, LAFACE’s objective is to promote the economic, educational, social, and cultural advancement of Filipinos in the community. According to the LAFACE website, "We believe this celebration is the perfect opportunity to celebrate 425 years of Filipino-American achievements, contributions, and historical presence in the United States."

2012 Fil-Am Heritage Achievement Awards
Eliseo Art Silva
Arts/Literature (LA/Philadelphia)

Randy Gener
Arts/Literature/Media (New York)

George Gange
Cultural Preservation – Rondalla (Daly City)

Jose Omila
Cultural Preservation – Filipino art/music/dance (Florida)

Dr. Fe Ludivico Aragon & Dr. Enrique Aragon
Education (City of Irwindale)

David Tupaz
Fashion & Style (Woodland Hills/Las Vegas)

Cora M Tellez
Health/Medicine (Oakland, CA)

Grace Mercado Ouano
Health/Philanthropist /Entrepreneur (La Canada)

Donald Plata
Historical Contributions (Washington, DC)

Francine Maigue
Humanitarian/Arts/Community Service (San Diego)

Cora Oriel
Media (print) – LA

Jannelle So
Media (TV) - LA

Dr.  Michael W. Cruz, MD
Medicine/Health, Public Service, US Military (Guam)

Bernardo Bernardo
Music/Entertainment (LA)

Lt. Colonel Shirley S. Raguindin, USAF
US Military (Maryland)

Posthumous Awards:
Helen Brown
Cultural Preservation (LA)

Remedios “Remy” V. Geaga
Community Service (LA)

Larry Itliong
Historical Contributions (Delano)

Agripino Mallado “Pinoy” Jaucian
Historical Contributions (Philadelphia)

Gladys Celeste Mercader
Music/Entertainment (New York)

Organizational Award:
Filipino Community, Inc., State of Alaska
Community Service (Alaska)

CONGRATULATIONS to all our awardees!

425 Years of Filipino-American History
at Los Angeles City Hall
Let us celebrate 425 years of heritage and culture of Filipino Americans and their achievements, contributions, and the historical presence of Filipinos in the United States.

(“On October 18, 1587, 33 years before the pilgrims arrived in New England and 20 years before the founding of Jamestown in Virginia, Filipinos were a part of the Spanish Unamuno’s Expedition that landed on the coast of California.”)

Councilmembers Eric Garcetti (CD 13, Jose Huizar (CD 14), and Richard Alarcon (CD7);  and The Los Angeles Filipino Association of City Employees (LAFACE), sponsored by TFC Filipino Channel, cordially invite everyone at our celebration of 425 Years of Filipino-American History at Los Angeles City Hall.

Mayor Jejomar Erwin S Binay Jr., Mayor of the City of Makati, Philippines, Sister City of the City of Los Angeles, will also be joining the celebration.

This event honors the many contributions of Filipino Americans to the United States and will include local dignitaries, community members, 2012 Fil-Am History Awardees, and an official recognition from the LA City Council.  The celebration is comprised of the following components:

Friday, October 12, 2012
Members of the Public are invited at the morning event

10:00 a.m.  Los Angeles City Council Proclamation, Filipino History Month in LA; Resolution to be presented to LA Consul General, Local Elected Officials and Filipino community,  at LA City  Council Chambers. 3rd floor, LA City Hall, 200 North Spring St., LA, CA  (use Main Street entrance)

11:00 am  Ribbon Cutting of Filipino Historical Art Exhibits in LA City Hall Bridge
(Filipino Art One-Month Exhibit:   October 2nd to 26th, 2012)

11:30 Light Reception at the LA City Hall Rotunda

RSVP/Parking To determine amount of food to order, please RSVP by emailing alex.banares@lacity.org; for free parking, email Alex car info, i.e.: model, license, make, color
Suggested Attire:  Filipiniana/Barong or Business

Evening Event (by invitation only to 2012 Fil-Am Heritage Achievement Awardees)

6:00 pm GALA Event to honor Fil-Am History Achievement Awardees,
Tom Bradley Towers, LA City Hall (formal event – Filipiniana/Barong or Formal)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Performances | Taking the New York stage at Nuyorican Poets Café, Oct. 12 and Oct. 13

NEW YORK CITY |  I am raising my voice and performing my own work to my community.

On October 12th and October 13th at 7:00 pm, I will perform a new piece I've written in Tagalogue, a night of original creative works and theatrical pieces about Filipino American identity, at the world-famous Nuyorican Poets Café on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

This two-performance evening belongs to the calendar of official events supported by the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS)'s Metro New York chapter in commemoration of Filipino American History Month of October 2012.

I will perform a monologue from a new work still-in-progress. It is an original piece of writing, inspired by the research I did in the the FANHS archives  in Seattle and Asian American labor-union archives which reside in the University of Washington. Prior to Tagalogue, I workshopped this new piece while I participated in the 2011 New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Immigrant Artist Project.

The cast of Tagalogue, Volume 2
Tagalogue will be performed on Friday, October 12 and Saturday, October 13, 2012. Doors open 6:30pm. The show begins at 7pm at the Nuyorican Poets Café (236 East 3rd Street, New York, NY).

Dubbed "Volume 2," this second edition follows a first edition of Tagalogue which was presented this past summer. Both Tagalogue projectd share with the audience the Filipino experience within the United States, through creative original works and the voices of Filipino Americans.

Tagalogue is a platform to unify and strengthen the community through performance art and education.  In celebration of Filipino American History Month, these original works document and write history as these are stories that question being Filipino, American, Filipino American, and more.

Tagalogue brings to the stage, a line from Jose Rizal’s novel El Filibusterismo: “While a people preserves its language; it preserves the marks of liberty…”

Tagalogue is a play on words suggesting a collection of monologues and dialogues speaking of the Filipino identity, which if spoken in their native tongue would be spoken in Tagalog.  Add the “ue” to the end of their language (turning Tagalog into Tagalogue), and you have a colorfully expressive theater piece that tells the stories of recent generations as their culture and identity merges with American culture.  They are defining who they are and rediscovering the commonalities of who we are all striving to become.

Performers/Writers: Jessica Abejar, Joelle, Abejar, Anton Briones, Alfretz Costelo, Andre Dimapilis, Leslie Espinosa, Philippe Garcesto, Randy Gener, Maria Gregorio, Erika Pineda, Julian Pormentilla, Precious Sipin, Lorely Trinidad and Robert Wolf.

Their stories create a snapshot of what it is like to be Filipino American in New York City in 2012.  The performers relive experiences, share ideas, and pose meaningful questions while they celebrate their heritage.

Tagalogue is created and produced by Leslie Espinosa. Other producers are Precious Sipin and Kilusan Bautista. Grant Thomas is the evening's director.

Nuyorican Poets Cafe presents groundbreaking works of literature, music, theater, performance art, poetry slam, hip hop, visual art and champions established as well as rising artists from every background imaginable.

Friday, October 12 and Saturday, October 13, 2012
Doors open 6:30pm and Show begins at 7pm

At the Nuyorican Poets Café
236 East 3rd Street
New York, NY

Tickets are $15
Find tickets online at www.nuyorican.org and also available at the door

For more info go to www.tagalogue.com or email tagaloguenyc@gmail.com

In performance at Tagalogue, Volume 1, in July 2012 | Photo by  Chauncey Velasco

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thank-you Speech | Delivered in acceptance of FANHS Outstanding Artist Award

Delivered on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at the Philippine Consulate General in Manhattan

Maraming salamat po. Maraming salamat sa Metro New York chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society for this lovely piece of recognition. This award comes at a very challenging period of my life. A moment of change. A time of reckoning. Hopefully a shedding of old skin. Definitely a confrontation with old demons. A brand-new test of wills. I have yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

What I have not been doing is that I have not been waiting. I have been renewing my artistic relationships and revisiting my theatrical friendships. Where does art seed and grow, after all, but in the fruitful soil of real friendship? I have been spending time observing and listening to others so that I can learn and figure out how my talents can best be of service to the various communities in which I move.  If it seems like I am always too busy and doing too many things, this is not out of raw ambition or out of empty striving. To be honest, I would be more than happy to find myself confined in a room with a little income and just write [as Virginia Woolf has posited: "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction"].  I have been longing for that simple day when I can function in the world only as a writer. But I have found, based on my experiences in the nonprofit arts world, in the publishing realm, in the tumultuous age of digital media, among the international circles, and in the beleaguered field of criticism, that I cannot remain a passive and reactionary agent. We have to become the change we wish to see in the world, as an Indian guru had once proposed.

I was struggling in New York to write a play when I first heard that a group existed called the Filipino American National History Society (FANHS).  I was curious about it, so I checked the FANHS website. Eventually I was corresponding with Dorothy Cordova who had co-founded FANHS with her husband Fred Cordova in the basement of a church in the suburbs of Seattle. We started talking over the phone. We collaborated on publications and art projects. When I learned that Theatre Communications Group, the service organization that publishes American Theatre magazine, was going to hold its annual national conference in Seattle, I realized that this was the chance I had been waiting for. That I could put two purposes together. One of our most important roles as artists is to trust that the dots, however disparate, will somehow connect. ["Only connect," E.M. Forster states.] I realized that if I could come to Seattle several days before the conference, I could use my vacation time to research that play, and I could have TCG reimburse me for my plane fare, since I would also be working and assisting in that national conference.  So I am thankful to TCG for opening up the way for me to explore the FANHS archives and to examine the Asian American labor-union archives which reside in the University of Washington.

At the time I was conducting historical research on Filipino Americans before the 1950s.  I was struggling because the books and newspaper accounts were woefully inadequate in terms of offering me what I really needed as a writer.  What was daily life like for the manongs?  How did they conduct their migrant lives beyond the sociopolitical constructs that historians and academic scholars had imposed on their lives?  What everyday dramas arose during their Sunday days off when they dressed to the nines while hanging out in the parks?  Certainly the Mexican immigrant experience has been greatly explored. We have the realist novels of John Steinbeck as testaments to the Okies lifestyle and journey to California. What about the lives and loves of Filipinos during that same Dust Bowl era?

At FANHS, I saw the rows of untranscribed tapes and the piles of black-and-white photographs of the manongs. Emotionally I was so deeply moved by what I saw with my own eyes during that special pilgrimage to the Seattle church where the Cordovas are headquartered. Soon after I found myself working to create two theatrical installations based on the oral-history research I had found and the photographs that the Cordovas were willing to lend to me.  One of them was installed at the Long Wharf Theatre lobby in New Haven, Conn.  The other one was placed on display at the Culture Project as part of Ma-Yi Theatre Company's production of The Romance of Magno Rubio. Moreover, I felt compelled to write many essays and articles in American Theatre magazine and elsewhere about the Filipino American experience in the United States, all of which were continually fed by the research I did in Seattle.

Today I have returned to writing the play that was the original reason I visited FANHS in Seattle.  Thanks to producers Leslie Espinosa, Kilusan Bautista and Precious Sipin as well as director Grant Thomas, I will be able to share a monologue from that play, still-in-progress. I will perform this piece in TAGALOGUE, an evening of theatrical performances about Filipino identity that a group of us actors and writers will present on Oct. 12 and Oct. 13 at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Please come see our wonderful work.

One of the costs of being a Filipino-American artist in the U.S. is that you have to find new and creative ways to make art happen.  You have to create the opportunities for yourself and for others so that as artists we will be allowed to play: to earn our place on the American table. (If the journey has not made you too disillusioned or too desperate or too bitter, you then have to switch gears so that you can play from a state of joy.) Interestingly, this situation, I have found, is the same with young writers and emerging artists in the Philippines. Many Philippine artists are struggling, too, to make their art seen and their voices heard. Because, for sure, artists in the Philippines cannot depend on their leaders, especially the government.

Do you know what is driving the Philippines' strong economic growth right now? As emerging markets slump and the euro zone continues to struggle, the Philippine economy has made a surprising surge in the first part of this year. The growth surge is driven by the money sent home to the Philippines by the country's overseas workers, known as remittances, and the rise of outsourced call centers. These factors, according to economists and analysts, have served as the long-term stabilizers relatively unhindered by a sagging global economy. As a U.S.-based artist, I have to frequently ask: How much of that new economic surge, driven by remittances, will be used to invest in the development of Philippine arts and culture? Will the businessmen, entrepreneurs, society leaders, heads of institutions and of course politicians truly integrate and parallel the process of nurturing, encouraging and promoting Philippine arts as part of their social, education and philanthropic programs, as opposed to the typical approach of treating art as an add-on and an afterthought?

I am very thankful to the Metro New York chapter of FANHS for this Outstanding Artist Award.  I thank you for your generosity, because my contributions and advocacy have been modest and intimately tied to my desire to give theatrical life to a larger history that the manongs have left as our creative capital. As I actively search to find new ways to make my own life sustainable for the future, I see this award as a totem. That I should never waver from the real task of the artist today. That task is to work to build our capacities for self-reflection, for critical thinking, for problem solving, for inventive self-expression, for tolerance of difference, for seeking commonalities, for making fresh intuitive connections, for creating bounty in the life of the arts. Struggle and pain are our woe. Peace and survival are our quest. Art is our medium. -- rg