On the debut of Ruby Ibarra’s “Nothing On Us: Pinays Rising Behind the Scenes”

May 20, 2018

Yesterday, I sat in the Roxie Theater, weeping, almost unable to breathe, desperately seeking tissues, both of my kids asking, “Mom, are you okay?!”

And I thought to myself: why is this so weirdly familiar? …

25 years ago (!) I sat in movie theater in Santa Cruz, CA weeping, unable to breathe. For almost two hours. In a good way. Accompanied by other Asian American women from my graduate program crying just as hard as I was. We were watching Wayne Wang’s The Joy Luck Club, and though we later ripped that movie to shreds with our newly-acquired skills in feminist, ethnic studies, and poststructuralist critique, we wept at the sheer joy, the miracle of seeing a movie screen filled with Asian American women. Finally.

And yesterday afternoon I sat with my family, surrounded by Pinays and comrades of all ages and races, for the debut of Ruby Ibarra’s Nothing On Us. And I wept again for the searing joy of a screen filled with Pinay faces like my own, for Pinay creativity and intent, for a Pinay politics so collective, beautiful and fierce, unapologetic. Balm for the Pennsylvania-born and scarred little girl in me, who constantly searched for validation and found none. Balm for the mother of mixed race kids who had the privilege of sharing this moment with them.

I held my daughter’s hand as we all sang:

“Island woman rise, walang makakatigil
 Brown, brown woman, rise, alamin ang yung ugat
 They got nothin’ on us …”

15 years ago when editing Pinay Power: Peminist Critical Theory I yearned for this moment. And it’s HERE.

Shoutout to all the fierce Pinxy educators everywhere teaching and nurturing this incredible new generation of peminists/ pinayists / babaylans. Shoutout to all the culture bearers, visionaries, the artists inspiring our next generations. Because of you, they see themselves represented, proudly, empowered. Their work builds upon yours, and so our future is




and so full of love.

xo melinda