As October comes to an end, it’s important to note that this month is actually Filipino American History Month. The Filipino American National Historical Society established Filipino American History Month in the year 1988 in California and Hawaii, where a large number of Filipino Americans reside. Currently, across the United States there are celebrations of poetry, theater, articles, dances, panels, and events that focus on a wide range of Fil-Am diaspora.
For this October, I wanted to highlight artists and thinkers who share perspectives and innovate art and dialogue that enhance the complexity of Filipino History as we know it. There is not one monolithic kind of Pin@y person, but an amalgam that spans artistry, ability, gender, sexuality, and size, among other identities. I asked six people who identify as people with Pilipin@ ancestry to share their ideas, work, and any projects or thoughts that inspire them. Here’s to some Pin@y/Pilipinx brilliance in the U.S.!
-Kay Ulanday Barrett
Edxie Betts | She/Her
Edxie Betts is a Black Pilipin@ BlackFoot Queer Trans Gender-Non-Conforming Anti-authoritarian Femme neuro-divergent, autonomous organizer, political cultural producer, and liberation artist. They often present and workshop at different schools and events throughout the kkkountry to raise awareness of their collective work, lived struggles, decolonial struggle, and the power of reclaiming collective consent. Their existing work consists of critical self-collective reflection, bringing support and attention to political prisoners, restorative mediation work, and emphasizing art as cultural production for the sake of inspiring healing, counter-narrative, oppositional alternatives, collective liberation through autonomous self-organizing, and direct action.
Influences: My mom, vibrations, Artist/Illustrator Leslie Janine Berry
Quote by someone you admire: “What would it mean to center the lives, experiences and struggles of those who lay on the margins of margins? To what end do we question our ancestral relationships to this and every other Nation State we’re coerced and compelled to engage with? When answering these questions I hope we can keep in mind the lives of Black, Brown, Disabled, Queer and Trans folk and the value we actually have in regard to the legacy of this ongoing fight for liberation.” — Me
Social Media: Instagram
What are you excited about? I’m excited to see folx and re-union at conferences, even some of the shady violent ones. I’m looking forward to the Buff Butch Qt, Fit, & Lit Tour around different schools to discuss trauma and informed healing across the so-called US. Seeing what I come up with visually in collaboration with TGIJP (Transgender, Gender Variant & Intersex Justice Project) for this year’s series of Transgender Day of Remembrance posters. I’m also looking forward to performing at Occidental College at the beginning of next year, and getting a chance to do the Living Mythologies collaborative performance piece again. But most of all I’m looking forward to spending more time with all these amazing folx I’ve had the opportunity to build, struggle, and grow with over the years. These connections are really important to me.
PJ Gubatina Policarpio | He/Him
Policarpio is a community arts engager: a socially engaged artist, curator, programmer, and educator. His multidisciplinary practice utilizes research, archive, collaboration, curatorial, education, and public engagement as both art and tool. Born in the Philippines and raised in San Francisco, PJ is currently based in Corona, Queens.
Quote by someone you admire: I’ve always found solace in Zora Neale Hurston’s “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” but have been increasingly awakened by the urgency and accuracy of Audre Lorde’s “Your silence will not protect you.”
Influences: Kameelah Janan Rasheed + Adriel Luis + Kim Drew
Ashley Volion | She/Her
Ashley Volion is a queer disabled woman of Filipino and Cajun decent from Louisiana. First and foremost, she is a sister, aunt, daughter, grand-daughter, and friend. She is a poet, an activist, and an academic in her fourth year as a Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois at Chicago in Disability Studies. She was recently published in QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology and she was also a contributor to the Azolla Story. Her passions lie in fighting for home and community-based services to ensure that everyone has the right to live in the community with the appropriate supports, as well as the exploration of blogging as a tool of empowerment.
Quote: “Love and hardships come in waves. Savor the love and store it up to take you through the pain. Neither define you, but each adds to your story.” — Me
Influences: Mia Mingus and all the other strong disability activists in my life, my oma, and Aliya Volion (my strong and fierce niece).
What are you excited about art/work/academia/activism-wise? I am excited about the emergence of stories in the public eye. Stories have the power to empower people and free our minds.
Marin Lido Watts | He/Him
Marin Watts is a Southern queer, trans, Filipino multimedia artist who is deeply committed to social justice. His multimedia video installations, drawings, and photographs are an exploration of queerness, gender, spirituality, and cultural identity. Marin is currently working at the Trans Justice Funding Project, a community-led funding initiative that supports grassroots trans-led trans justice groups across the country.
Influences: Shirin Neshat + Lorna Simpson + Ana Mendieta + Claude Cahun
What are you excited about art/work/academia/activism-wise? I’m inspired by the black and brown trans/gnc queers existing gracefully in all their strength and weakness. I’m grateful for the resilience of the amazing people who fight for liberation and justice each and every day, and I’m moved when I see activists like Micky Bradford use dance as away to push back against discriminatory anti-trans legislation during a protest. I’m full of awe of the hope and possibility that artists share with the world and I get excited about artists like Micah Bazant, a trans/gnc artist who creates art inspired by social justice, and Lora Mathis, who uses poetry and multimedia to build strength with raw emotions and feelings. I’m loving all the ways that art and performance can serve our communities and the impact it can make on our hearts and minds.
Mar Pascual | They/Them
Mar Pascual is a Filipinx, non-binary, queer, traumatized, fat, femme inter-disciplinary artist living in Southern California. Their work explores themes that center decolonization, gender non-conformity and fluidity, intimacy, mental illness, and trauma. They received their BA in Art (Painting) from California State University, Northridge, where they helped start a zine collective with some fellow students. Since making their first zine in 2014, their work has appeared throughout CA, including Los Angeles and San Francisco zine fests, the Long Beach Queer Film Festival, and several QTPOC community events. Though they are experienced in several mediums, collage, illustration, and zine-making are their current practices. Their growing, ongoing series, tenderqueerthings, combines delicate confessions and cut paper craft and captures what it means to become (and un-become). They are the artist of the zines Goddex, Bloom: A Zine About Coming Into Femmeness, Three A.M., and Note to Self (And to You).
Quote: “Creating art is a personal practice of allowing myself to take up space. I make it a priority to center the ugly parts of my healing/recovery that I was conditioned to feel ashamed of.” — Me.
Influences: I’m most inspired by genuine shows of tenderness in friendships, especially between other femmes of color, who remind me of my own power and magic. Building with other QTPOC has been integral to my creative and decolonial process, and the individuals who make up these communities have influenced my work abundantly.
Kim Baglieri | She/They/Them
Kim Baglieri is a queer, mixed-race artist and filmmaker of Philippine, Armenian, and white descent. Her work investigates collective and personal mythologies, intergenerational memory and trauma, and the body as a container. Her mother’s sister is an Overseas Filipin@ Worker (OFW), thus Kim has a very personal interest in issues of migration and labor. Kim is also an educator who teaches film and art to NYC public school students. She has led many community art projects with Filipin@ trafficked domestic workers and Filipin@ youth. Her banners and other projects have helped support Damayan Migrant Workers Association’s Baklas (Break Free) Anti-Trafficking campaign and involvement in the People’s Climate March.
Quote: “My memories form a forest with unstable boundaries. This forest has entrances in Northern California, Lebanon, Brittany. . . It’s a field of tall trees and strange spirits. The dead do not scare us, that’s what’s wrong — we have let go of the power of fear. Streams are running, yes, but who’s going to tell me how to find a way in the territory I’m speaking of, and if I don’t find it, what am I living for?” — Etel Adnan, from “Night”
Influences: Pipilotti Rist + Pavel Zustiak + Kidlat Tahimik + Rea Tajiri
Current Projects: Notion of Home: A Filipin@ domestic worker uses creative strategies to construct home, nestled in the intersection of current living/working environment and reimagined homeland. The film explores the space between homeland and place of migration, suggesting that home tentatively resides there.
About the Author
Kay Ulanday Barrett | They/He/K./Siya
A Campus Pride Hot List artist, Trans Justice Funding Project Panelist, and Trans 100 Honoree, Kay Ulanday Barrett, aka @brownroundboi, is a poet, performer, and educator navigating life as a disabled pin@y-amerikan transgender queer in the U.S. with struggle, resistance, and laughter. K. has been featured on colleges & stages globally: Princeton University, UC Berkeley, Musee Pour Rire in Montreal, Queens Museum, and The Chicago Historical Society. K’s bold work continues to excite and challenge audiences. K. has facilitated workshops, presented keynotes, and contributed to panels with various social justice communities. Honors include: 18 Million Rising Filipino American History Month Hero 2013, Chicago’s LGBTQ 30 under 30 awards, Finalist for The Gwendolyn Brooks Open-Mic Award, Windy City Times Pride Literary Poetry Prize. Their contributions are found in RaceForward, Poor Magazine, Fusion.net, Trans Bodies/Trans Selves, Windy City Queer: Dispatches from the Third Coast, make/shift, Filipino American Psychology, Third Woman Press, Asian Americans For Progress, The Advocate, Bitch Magazine, and PBS News Hour. K. turns art into action and is dedicated to remixing recipes. Recent publications include contributions in the anthologies Outside the XY: Queer Black & Brown Masculinity (Magnus Books) and Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices (Trans-genre Press). Their first book of poetry, When The Chant Comes, was published this Fall 2016 by Topside Press. Check out their work at kaybarrett.net. Tumblr | Twitter