Two Second Gen FilAm ARTS Silent Community Heroes
By Joel Bander, Senior Columnist
Laarni (center and her co-volunteers) feign being stressed out getting ready for the festival
In a community that is constantly barraged with award and fashion shows, along with beauty contests, the FilAm ARTS festival stands out as a crown jewel of FilAm community demonstration of unity lead in this instance by mostly Second Generations Filipino Americans and fueled by idealist young volunteers seeking to explore their own connections with Filipino culture and ethnicity.
An ongoing event of this magnitude cannot be successful without extremely dedicated volunteers. In studied contrast to some in the community that seek to jump in front of cameras to seek recognition and popularity but providing little in return, the FilAm Arts Festival activists obtain anonymous fulfillment by serving the community.
I interviewed two of these community heroes and hence anonymous no more. I was particularly interested why the FilAm Arts festival is unique in drawing both First Generation (called ‘Gen’) and Second Gen Filipino Americas (or as some wish to be called AmeriPino) as most other events either draw one or the other.
We are all Filipinos. It is a journey to find out what Filipino is.
Laarni Cordero, the Vendor Coordinator for the festival, is one such hero. Initially identified to me as a dedicated recent FilAmArts volunteer, the Loyola Marymount junior studying was involved in the Lion’s Club International since middle school, called the Leos Club, which she described as Filipino based organization. Cordero, told me that growing up in a First Gen environment, her parents’ world, she looked at the world differently than she does now. When she started college was her first substantive exposure to Second Gens, and she would not consider herself as formally First Gen, now Second Gen.
Cordero advised that her parents’ first language is Tagalog and hence she well versed in the language. “Some of my peers did not have that privilege,” Cordero advised, accenting even the differences in acculturation within the Second Gen community. Cordero appreciates that society is different in the Philippines and that society molded her parents stricter approach to raising a child. She describes that her parents were always apprehensive about late night parties and sleepovers even when it was all girls.
Once she arrived at college she has now sought to reconcile her ‘super conservative’ upbringing with American democratic culture, particularly the Southern California variety. Adding to this conflict is her view that corruption in Filipino politics, which she describe as the “apidamy” of Filipino culture tainting its relevance in an essentially non-corrupt American environment.
Cordero sees her volunteer work for the FilAm arts as part giving back to her community and part her own self exploration. “We are all Filipinos. It is a journey to find out what Filipinos is” she stated. The Fil Am Arts Festival appeals to her because it is structured to attracts both First and Second Gen, and encompasses all parts of the culture, with activities for kids to adults, and that the organizers make sure it balanced to the larger crowd to appeal to both youth and seniors alike.
First Gens are so thankful in America they do not speak up. They should be more vocal.
Kat Carrido, a FilAm Arts board member, a UCLA graduate degree in literature and Asian studies, is the public relations manager at the East West American Theater Company focusing on only Asian players. She is also a Second Gen, and her parents, while both born in the Philippines came to America as young adults. Hence, Carrido feels she had a more American upbringing than some of her compatriots.
Carrido barely understood Tagalog growing up, but did study Filipino American literature in high school, which she considered her “first conscious entry” to explore her Filipino origins. While growing up her family practiced some Filipino customs and she attended Filipino events. However, Carrido stated she has had a personal ‘renaissance’ in being Filipino when she attended UCLA. While her elders never disparaged being Filipino, the overriding principal was they were very proud to be Americans. She now makes particular efforts to see that her own child is close to the extended family, Filipino style, and encourages her aunts and uncles to speak to her daughter in Tagalog so the culture can be retained.
Similar to many FilAms/AmeriPinos, Carrido has only visited the Philippines a single time. She advised beings overwhelmed and quite surprised at the extent of the poverty that exists in her ancestral land. Carrido sees as an essential flaw of Fil Am culture that they are “so polite and never complaining. They believe they are complaining when just standing up for their American rights. They are already thankful for what they have in America so they do not speak up. They should be more vocal.”
Carrido continues her personal renaissance by volunteering as a board member for the festival. She advised that after being in existence for 21 years it has a “great community network.” Initially, the board has an initial brainstorming session, followed by open call out for artists, putting out all programming to obtain a wide array of talent. Carrido described the variety extending from Marshal Arts to comedy to rhythm and blues and just general “fun for whole family” to be able to instill the commonality of Filipino culture for all.
These two volunteer heroes are just a small part of the team that makes the FilAm ARTS festival the major community event it is every years. PinoyWatchDog.com continues to look for stories about other unsung community heroes that never seek publicity for their efforts. Tell us about them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FilAm ARTS is the official name of the organization sponsoring the 21st Annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC). FPAC21 takes place from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8 and from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9 at breathtaking Point Fermin Park, 807 Paseo del Mar in San Pedro.
Tickets for FPAC21 are $9 (Free for children 5 and under) each day. Two-day passes are available for $15. Ample complimentary and all-day parking with free shuttle service is available at 22nd Street and Sampson Way.