Artistic Statement

Artistic Statement

In 1995, my journey of writing stories for the stage began with ANG PALENGKE, meaning “The Marketplace” in Filipino. ANG PALENGKE is a play about the dreams of people living in a provincial town in the Philippines. This was ironic because the script was born out of a literal dream. I awoke needing to spill that story onto 65-pages of college-ruled paper. The end result of that movie-in-my-mind was a full production of a cast of 15 actors, 40 dancers, and one magical night.

Even though I also directed that play, it felt as if that story has directed my life from then on. The summer after having ANG PALENGKE produced, I joined a theatre company called Sinag-tala Filipino Theatrical and Performing Arts Association in Sacramento, CA. They gave me the opportunity to act, sing, dance, and write for a stage I’d later call “home.” The river of life led me to perform and write with Bindlestiff Studio, the epicenter of Filipino American Performing Arts in San Francisco. Since 2005, I’ve had the fortune of having three of my short plays produced by them – the last being an adaptation of a short story from Tess Uriza Holthe’s novel, WHEN THE ELEPHANTS DANCE. The play, THICKER THAN WINE was selected to be the first play performed at the re-opened Bindlestiff Studio Theater.

Like ANG PALENGKE, THICKER THAN WINE’s theme revolves around an oppressed community’s survival as it dangles from the threads of hopes and dreams. Feeling like an under-represented minority in the Theatre Arts Community, it’s my goal to weave these threads into a strong fabric to be displayed on a stage to inspire, induce thought with emotion, and lead others to take action for the betterment of themselves and the community they live in.

To be able to reach this goal, in 2012, I applied to the MFA Creative Writing Department’s Playwriting Program at San Francisco State University and was accepted.

Going into my final year of the program, I have continued to make strides in this creative endeavor. In the Summer of 2012, I partnered with My Sister’s House, a Domestic Violence Shelter catering to the Asian-American community of the Sacramento area to write and produce ESPERANZA MEANS HOPE. The full-length drama with music was performed on the campuses of Sacramento City College, Sacramento State University and at the University of California, Davis.

In 2013, I began a partnership with Drew Stephens and Emmanuel Romero on the screenplay, PRINSESA. PRINSESA is a short film about Rey, a 28 year old Filipino- American father who tells the Singkil folk tale to his children to calm them after a small earthquake. But his young boy seems to be more identified as the Princess in the myth than the prince. The film went on to win the Best Screenplay Award at the Scary Cow Film Festival. As of this writing, PRINSESA has been screened 22 times in 9 countries.

In 2014, INAY’S WEDDING DRESS was written as an intimate portrait of the often- fragile dynamics of the Filipino American family, sisters Rianne and Gerilyn – faced with the death of their mother – reunite for a painful confrontation that simmers with the difficulties of identity, diaspora and internalized racism. The play went on to win the James Milton Highsmith Drama Award at San Francisco State University.

These last couple of years has made me find my voice as a Filipino American writer. I write about the importance of family, culture, history, and where we stand as a community in America. My first play started with a dream and I hope to continue in sharing this dream with you and many audiences to come.