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filipinas for rights and empowerment


Diwang Pinay | Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment


While I was in New York, my friend Miguel invited me to an event being hosted by FiRE NYC, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, part of the first overseas chapter of GABRIELA-USA. My cousin Mercy and I decided to go at nearly the last minute, and we were so glad that we did.

For me, the event brought me back to my college days where I was involved with Kaibigang Pilipino (KP) at UC San Diego. Every year, we put on an event, Pilipino Cultural Celebration (PCC), which seamlessly incorporates an original script, dancing, singing in a theatrical production. From KP: “Through this production, we hope to preserve our tradition, promote diversity, facilitate student achievement and higher education, raise awareness in the San Diego community, and provide the audience and ourselves with a new and/or broader understanding of our interpretation of Pilipin@ American culture.”

In fact, this year’s production A Prayer Adrift in Free Verse is TOMORROW! If you are in the San Diego, go check it out, it’s FREE!

And now, back to New York. The event was great!

From their blog since my description probably wouldn’t do it justice: Diwang Pinay, meaning “Spirit of the Filipina” is an annual performance and silent auction in New York City showcasing Filipina/ Filipina-American performers, writers, and visual artists. This FiRE event is one of the few venues solely dedicated to providing Filipinas and Filipina-Americans a platform to display their triumphs and struggles through art, linking history to the narrative of today’s Filipina.

This year’s theme and celebration props up the work of Pinay artists who are currently shaping the art world and the Filipino American community. Following the courageous legacies of Filipino women like Gabriela Silang, Lorena Barrios and Bullet X Marasigan. Diwang Pinay will share how Pinays are redefining the “ilaw,” the light and radiance that represent Filipino women today.



Hosts Rowena Cruz and Irma Salvatierra Bajar kept the evening moving and entertaining.


Hanalei Ramos performed excerpts from Letters to Martha, a personal testimony to her firsthand experiences with domestic violence.


Danielle Parrish, activist, poet, dancer, and fashion designer read her poem “Black and Brown” and performed the dance piece “Brown Baby.”



Anne Beryl Corotan, also known as Taospuso, is currently the Chairperson of SANDIWA, the National Alliance of Filipino American Youth. She performed songs in English and Tagalog.


Binky Bianca is a female fronted pop/rock/power pop band from Jersey City, New Jersey. Binky Bianca is expecting to release their single featuring “Absolute” and “The Hand That Tango”, Spring 2009.


Simultaneous to stage performances, Arlene Rodrigo, a visual artist, completed a live art piece of a mother and child which was auctioned off at the end of the night.


Laurel Fantauzzo, who has written for New York Magazine Online, the Associated Press, and Go Magazine, read her Nonfiction Essay recounting her experiences in the Philippines.

Rona Figueroa has four Broadway productions, a handful of TV and movie spotlights, and two original rock albums under her belt. She performed “When I was 5”, “Phoenix”, and “Simone’s Beads”.


I think Valerie Francisco was my favorite performer. I LOVED her spoken word and hip hop pieces! Representing for female hip hop artists!

To top off the evening, FiRE Kultural Kollective took the stage with a final performance. The women have worked collaboratively to develp a collective monologue-like piece.









Here is the live art piece complete!

Thank you Miguel for inviting me to Diwang Pinay, it was a great way to spend my trip to New York! There were also several pieces of art up for silent auction, and it turns out that I went to high school with one of the artists. Small world!

For more information about Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) click here.

For more information about GABRIELA-USA click here.

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