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Tagong Yaman
(Hidden Treasures)

A weaving of digital media, visual art, and embodied storytelling by four collaborating Filipino-American artists

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Tagong Yaman is a choreographic and curatorial work by Anito Gavino, supported by MAPfund Grant 2020 and Painted Bride. Tagong Yaman, once titled Babaylan Anthologies, was performed at an old grocery store in West Philadelphia, which turned into a makeshift performance and gallery space. The space itself simulated an anthropological museum gallery: altars of ancestors and unsung heroes were displayed, holiday lanterns made by Filipino-identifying community members hung on the storefront window, and collaged images of the Philippines printed in textiles were exhibited. This is a two-woman act that undertakes the journey of a Filipina mother asking, How can a mother pass culture to a child growing up in America?


The duet interweaving dance, song, film, and poetry, performed by Gavino and her daughter, Malaya Ulan, investigates the Filipino consciousness's historical erasures due to colonization, indoctrination, and migration. Through comedy, dance theater, jazz, contemporary, and folk dance modalities, Anito journeyed down the memory lane of childhood and ancestral past.... remembering herself as a healer (a Babaylan) whose powers were taken by her colonizers. She remembers intergenerational trauma and portrays a character, Sisa, from a political novel, Noli Me Tangere, written by Dr Jose Rizal. This novel was a catalyst for the Philippine revolution against Spain, and the character Sisa is one she relates to when she remembers her own emotional turmoil as an immigrant in the US. She then embodies her journeys as an immigrant whose ancestral memory of her past shaman self becomes the source of her strength, joy, laughter, dance, kinship, and friendship (kapwa). Malaya's spoken word performances of her writings about her disconnection to ancestral land are interspersed with her mother's storytelling. They both grapple with their complex and unheard identities in a celebration of community, dance, and food. 

Meet The Team

Recap of Tagong Yaman

Dive into the Research Work

The Collaborators 
Mic brings her research on Abaca and constructs an installation reclaiming "Manila Paper."
Kidlat creates a crocodile puppetry for the shadow theater, remembering how our matriarchal Babaylans (shamans) were fed to the crocodiles by the spanish colonizers. 
Brandon creates a Sari-Sari/ Bodega style set design,  a symbol to the magic within communtiy spaces
Malaya and Sefaera paint memories of the Philippines on a woven rice winnower.
The Field Research Archive 
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Thank you MAPfund and the Painted Bride
for supporting this work.


The collaborators



The site is a former grocery store turned into a shoe store and now a community art space. Filipino American Multimedia Artist Brandon Aquino Straus has created a temporary installation within the space that draws inspiration from the Sari Sari, which in the Philippines is the corner store where daily essentials and packaged foods can be found. It is the Southeast Asian version of the bodega or convenience store. Familiar products have been scaled up to unreal proportions and are projected throughout the space. The package designs have been altered with messages of solidarity, strength and humor. Brand names have been replaced with jokes, protest signs, and familial wisdom– ultimately inviting the viewer to examine the ways that we interact with the agro-industrial complex. The installation serves as an interactive stage for the performance of Ani|Malayaworks. 


















Filipino American contemporary artist Mic Diño Boekelmann takes the iconic golden Manila envelope, a mundane office supply, and transforms it into organic paper sculptures. The envelopes, originally made with Manila Hemp/Abaca which comes from a native banana plant of the Philippines, is an ninvitation to discover the multi-layers of home. At the Painted Bride space, they will take on the form of the Sampaguita or Jasmine, the national flower of the Philippines, which is commonly sold as garlands. They will be used throughout the space to welcome guests and as an offering, symbolizing affection, pureness and divine hope.

Multidisciplinary artist, choreographer, and storyteller, Anito Gavino collaborates with her poet, filmmaker, and dancer daughter, Malaya Ulan in unpacking identity loss for Filipino Americans. Together, they collaborate as Ani/MalayaWorks in an embodied storytelling of joy and resistance. 

Recognizing that the body is a container and transmitter of memories, they connect to ancestral memories, call upon indigenous dance rhythms and create new ones authentic to their Filipino-American experience. They will begin the performance with co-participatory tasks such as parol-making (Filipino lanterns made and displayed during the holiday season) led by Anito’s dad who created a How To video before his passing in August 2022. Malaya Ulan will lead a writing of I AM poems, written to distant family and friends (perhaps imagined ones or relatives we have never met). Each letter will be dropped into a BalikBayan Box to the Philippines. ( Balikbayan box is a corrugated box containing items sent by overseas Filipinos known as "balikbayans"). This will lead into experimental forms of storymaking, shadow play, dance, drama, communal dance as a practice of archiving our often untold memories. 




This research-to-performance process began with a MAPfund proposal which received funding in 2019. This three year process involved research interviews of Filipino American artists on the West Coast such as Dr. Robyn Magalit Rodriguez, Alleluia Panis, Eric Solano, and more. Another part of their methodology is to read Filipino written academic books such as Jose D. Fermin’s 1904 St. Louis Exposition, E.J.R. David’s Brown Skin, White Minds and Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart, all three unpacking the reasons for migration from the Philippines to the US.  They engaged in dialogic methods with family members in the homeland, and formed new familial relationships with Filipino/a/x artists in the East Coast, such as the artists they collaborated with in this multidisciplinary performance, Tagong Yaman. 


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The Program Notes

3:00- 4:30: Participatory and experiential installations; Samahan at niraranas na "installation"

Installation 1: Performance Stage Filipino /Tanghalang Pilipino

Located at the store front window are Filipino-Americans doing mundane things such as looking through cellphones, reading a book, dancing to music etc. Here we confront  and question  our audience what its like to perform our Filipino-ness especially when Filipino is not a monolith. Because Filipino-Americans suffer from erasure brought about about a binary Amerikkka, we find ways to display our complex stories, our loss, confusion, and celebration. We reflect upon St. Louis exposition and what that was like for Filipino's to be brought to the US to be displayed as human zoos in the many World Fairs. 

Sa bintana, makikita natin ang mga Pilipino-Amerikano na gumaganagana, tumitinging sa cellphone, nagbabasas, sumasayaw, at iba pa. Hinaharap natin at tinatangon ang manonood  kung paano ba natin ginaganap ang pagiging Pilipino, lalo na kung magkakaiba ang bawat Pilipino. Dahil binubura tayo sa Amerika, humanap kami ng oportunidad na itanghal ang aming kuwento, ang kalituhan at ang katuwaan. Iniisip namin ang mga tribong dinala sa Estados Unidos upang gumanap na "human zoo"... parong hayop sa zoo  St. Louis Exposition. 

Installation 2: Anitohan /Portal to Spirits

This installation refers to altars found in many Filipino households, some families display idols of the European religions, but some maintain indigenous rituals trying to connect to ancestors by displaying their photos and offering food or Itang in the Ilocano culture. Mic Diño Boekelmann takes the iconic golden Manila envelope, a mundane office supply, and transforms it into organic paper sculptures. The envelopes, originally made with Manila Hemp/Abaca which comes from a native banana plant of the Philippines, is an invitation to discover the multi-layers of home. At the Painted Bride space, they will take on the form of the Sampaguita or Jasmine, the national flower of the Philippines, which is commonly sold as garlands. They will be used throughout the space to welcome guests and as an offering, symbolizing affection, pureness and divine hope. Mic's work will merge with Malaya' Ulan's painting on a rice winnowing basket, the Bilao. 


Dito sa Altar, makikita natin ang mga pag-aalay kagaya ng mga European idolo na dala ng mga Kristyano, dito mayroong sinang-unang pagaalay-mga litrato ng ating ninunong naglaban sa mga resistenya. Mayroon ding pag-aalay ng  pagkain o atang. Sa altar ay inaaly ni Mic Dino Boekellman ang kanyang arte- mga samgagita gawa ng Manila paper, isang papel na galing sa puno ng saging at tintawag din na Abaka. And samgauita ay ang national na bulaklak ng Pilipinas at binibigay alay sa mga bisita upang maghandog ng pag-ibig, kadalisayan at pag-asa. Ang handog ni Mic ay magsasama-sama sa alay ni Malaya, mga painting sa Bilao. 


Manila folders were originally crafted out of the yellowish-brown fiber from a type of plantain called Abaca plant or “Manila Hemp” found only in the Philippines. The stout fiber was also nicely woven into cordage called “Manila rope” and fashioned into “matting” and “Manila hats.This plant and manila fibers made the Philippines known in the international market in the early 1700s to 1900s through the exporting of this valued material. Later because of its durability, it was discovered that they could also be used to create thicker and more hard-wearing types of paper. So, manila envelopes, initially, were as heavy as cardboard when they were first commercially manufactured in the 1800s. No longer plantain-based, the manila folders and envelopes we use today are made of heavy tan paper, designed to evoke the natural color of the versatile plantain fiber."(Blogcrunch, 2019)

Atang (food offering) is an indigenous ritual for the dead in the Northern Philippines. The Atang ritual is thought to be a part of the cultural and religious contexts of the Ilocano people (Jeff Clyde Corpuz, 2020). Anthropologically speaking, atang offers an interesting similarity between Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrated in Mexico and in other Latin American countries and the veneration of ancestors celebrated in China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and other Asian countries. The essence of atang is the claim that there is communication between the living and the dead. Steadman, Palmer & Tilley (1996) claimed the “universality” of 114 ancestor worship. Sociologically speaking, atang provides a deeper and continuous bond between the living and the dead. The hybridity of such beliefs allows them to be transposed, incorporated, and materialized into different rituals, practices and socialization (Beck, Bolender, Brown & Earle, 2007; Bourdieu, 1977; Sewell, 1992)

The Bilao is a round and shallow basket tray traditionally made of bamboo splits (used for winnowing rice or carrying food). In this installation, Malaya Ulan painted memories of the Philippines on this basket.


The first painting is of a bangka. Bangka is an indigenous Philippine boat originated from the ancestral canoes of the Austronesian peoples, which themselves evolved from catamarans (Mahdi, Waruno 1999). The geographical span of Austronesian was the largest of any language family before the spread of Indo-European in the colonial period. It ranged from Madagascar off the southeastern coast of Africa to Easter Island in the eastern Pacific. HawaiianRapa NuiMāori, and Malagasy (spoken on Madagascar) are the geographic outliers. Thus, this painting symbolizes our connection to Africa and neighboring Pacific islands before the fragmentation and Nationhood created by the colonial oppressors.


The second painting is of a sungka. Sungka is a game that is played in the Philippines by passing cowry shells into each hole in this carved wooden piece. Sungka is believed to date back to around BC 1400 and are thought to be the oldest games in the world seen in the Asian and African diaspora. Malaya's lolo taught her how to play the sungka. He passed last August 15, 2021. He is with the ancestors now, hopefully still enjoying a game of sungka. 

The third painting is of  community.This depicts how we come from a Baranggay culture (village) and live within the ideas of Kapwa (come together in unity and shared identity). 

The fourth painting is of a Bahay Kubo. The Bahay Kubo is a national shelter indigenous in Philippines, a pre-Hispanic shelter created to adapt to the tropical climate. The materials are all made of nature such as anahaw, nipa and bamboo. Natural breeze enters the home without a need for electric fans or air conditioning. Artificial temperature changing devices that requires electricity and therefore, money came after colonialism specifically the United States and its capitalistic ideologies. The Bahay Kubo requires us to work hand and hand with nature. 

Installation 3: Parol Making

In the Philippines, we celebrate the holidays by decorating our houses with lanterns in the shape of a star. The word paról is the modern Filipino spelling of the original Spanish name farol, meaning "lantern" Parols are traditionally constructed using bamboo and Japanese paper, and are illuminated with candles, oil lamps, or carbide lamps (Villanueva, George 2013).

4:30-5:30: a 2 woman show (mother-daughter) + community

Dalawang babae (mag-ina) at kapwa


This is a mother daughter storytelling of past, present, and future Filipino/a/x experiences in the homeland and abroad. Anchored from Malaya Ulan's poetry, we devised movements inspired from Ntozake Shange's work of using autoethnographic poetry as script. We used embodied research to archive sounds, gestures, lost histories, and new evolving histories. We collaborate with Brandon's digital work and images of his own memories of the homeland. 

Lyrics to the song:

Ili ili tulog (Rock a bye baby, sleep now)

Wala diri imo nanay (your mom is not here)

Kadto Tienda (went to the market)

Bakal Papay (to buy bread)

Iliili tulog anay (Rock a bye baby, sleep now)

I chose this song because I sang this as the eldest cousin amongst the cousins, reminding me of how we function as a village, we care for our young. We don't keep to the insular mother, father, child family structure. Titas and Titos (aunties and uncles),Kuya at Ate (older siblings and cousins) are all part of the caregiving of a child. 


by Malaya Ulan

The rain feels like a light mist. Coating my skin- silky, cool, salty tears. The rain pours drenching my skin, absorbing my body. It cradles me. Comforts me. Covers me. It masks the tears that soak my flesh, washing away the salty ocean into a river. 


Ulan is warm in the Philippines. Ulan is joyful. Soaring through the clouds as it crashes to the ground. Soaring into my soul, pouring itself into me, replacing the pain. Yet, Ulan is fierce and angry. Ulan battles the strong coconut trees. Shredding homes and life. Yet, Ulan is life. Ulan streams into us. It's water cascading down waterfalls. Flooding into oceans. Watering life with its very being. 


My name is Malaya Ulan, yet Malaya Ulan is someone I need to become. Not someone I am. I am not Malaya, free. I do not soar or pour myself into others like Ulan. I am like ice. Frozen, restrained, foreign to the Philippines. Yet, I am growing. My wings… defrosting. Ready to become- Me.

Poetic essay for Tagong Yaman film

by Anito

In  1887, Jose Rizal wrote the novel Noli Me Tangere, a novel that inspired the Katipeneros to revolt against Spain after 400 years of oppression. In this realistic fictional novel, he created characters that represented Filipino society and one of them is Sisa. 


Sisa was raped by the highly respected priest, Padre Damaso. She was lured by the promise of religious freedom and spiritual salvation only to find herself a victim . With this, she also lost her sons, Crispin and Basilio to the Spanish government. They were children imprisoned for stealing from a church’s coffers. 


Many mothers lose their children to the system. Many mothers loss their children to the illusion of a better life abroad. Many mothers loss their children to the pull of the American dollar. My mother lost me to our oppressors,  the US when I left 2000, disconnected to land, I never realized what consequences there was for me and later, for my daughter. I was my mother’s Crispin, Basilio.  


Rizal saw trauma before we even had a word for it. I think about Gregoria De Jesus, our revolutionary leader who fought hand in hand with Andres Bonifacio against Spain. She too was raped but this time by a kapwa, a fellow Filipino fighter who sided with the colonists. I think about the generations of women after them, stored in our DNA contains abuse fused with resiliency and power. I think about myself as a mother raising a young Filipina in the land of my own oppressors. 


Denying myself of this truth will not ground me. Denying myself of this uncomfortability will not set me free or prepare me to mother and empower.  It will steer me away from my shadows…running away…lost, confused, floating, assimilating, never knowing what safety means. Never knowing what self-knowing means. Never knowing what home means. 

Anthem erased

by Malaya Ulan


Melodic sounds, faint in my memory. Words are not words but lyrics of a Philippine anthem. A language I could have spoken. A language I should speak. My vocabulary is limited. 

Songs on replay for hours hoping for a miracle. Hoping to understand. 

Why didn’t I learn? Why didn’t I try? I learn the language of our colonizers before I learn our own. I learn the language that twists my name that's like the free Philippine Eagle into a cage that holds me tight. I learn and I speak the language that prokes, probes, picks, punctures, penetrates, and pierces my ears.   Learning, relearning, unlearning, relearning, unlearning, learning. 

American Dream

by Anito 

Dear God I hope this isnt my path

This is a trap to a never ending wrath

After decades, its crystal clear

Days turned into years, and I'm still here

A dream turned in a nightmare, thinking there's nothing else out there

I dreamt of America

I made a home with no stars

when I used look up, I could see what could have been Mars

and now, home is simple a vacation

my lineage gone through castration

vanished! obliterated!

vanished! obliterated!

vanished! obliterated!

chasing what its like to be liberated

in Amerikkka!

in America.

In America?

5:30- 6+ : Karaoke and community writing (Saturday), Filipino food + talkback/tsismis/question and answer/debrief (Sunday) 

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