De(scribing) Filipinx a weaving of historical research with my personal memoirs (as a Filipinx immigrant turned 1st generation American and my mixed raced 2nd generation Filipinx- American daughter). This writing will be presented in a poly-disciplinary digital book. Screen dances, documentaries, drawings, soundscape, and photographs will be embedded after each chapter of this audio-visual book, giving a traditional static writing more interactive and engaging approach. This work started as my graduate thesis which I intend to deconstruct into an interactive zine type writing format. This project is funded by Velocity Fund Grant. Look out for more details and announcements of book release.


Guess what we learned in school today mama?


We learned about the Age of Explorations. 

Um you mean the age of colonization?

I guess. My teacher says that Magellan circumnavigated the world and

discovered the Philippines.

No he did not. Does your teacher know of Lapu-Lapu?

Lapu-Lapu resisted submission to Magellan. He dug pits as traps in preparation for battle; however, this plan was apparently unused. Magellan and his men waited in their boats and only attacked in the morning of April 28. The boats of the Europeans were unable to approach the shore, supposedly because of rocks or corals in the water, which also prevented the boats from getting near. With Lapu-Lapu’s poisonous arrow, Magellan was shot in the leg causing death.

Following the platform, Drunk History of Comedy Central, we made our own version retelling of the Battle of Mactan. This was a collaborative work: my partner (Jasmine Lynea who directed and edited), our daughter (Malaya who played the lead role, Lapu-Lapu) and myself ( screen writer, researcher and co-director ).

Premiered at Philadlephia Asian American Film Festival

How is my 12 year old daughter, Malaya collaborating in this work? Because dance is part of my life, it has become part of her language as well. Even to this day, we finish each other’s sentences in more ways than one. When the COVID 19 pandemic started, we collaborated in making Tiktok videos which I edited together in this documentary style video, Dear USA. These are mainly YouTube videos recorded, showing the performativity of colonial narratives still perpetuating even in social and pop media.


I personally enjoyed creating the Tiktok videos because this is more familiar to her, therefore I had to do my own codeswitching to speak her language. She directed some of the shots, giving her that voice and empowerment. I am happy that this work is igniting her own reclamation, asking me to teach her Tagalog lessons or how to cook Filipino dishes.

Magunita, is screeendance. The word Magunita literally means a recollection...the recollection of memories of the past as we embrace the future... a re-envisioning of an ulterior universe.... an antidote to the poisons of colonialism. Magunita recollects the Mahiwaga (the magic) in us and our stories..

Directed By: Ani Gavino

Director of Photography: Jasmine Lynea

Sound Mix: Torian Ugworji

Music by: James Allister Sprang, Grace Nono, Free the Robots

Storyboard and Edited by: Ani Gavino

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March 16, 2020
Movement Research at Judson


January 18

Lunar New Year Celebration


December 6,7 2019

De(scribing) Maharlika @ Swarthmore University   4:30 pm Friday; 8 PM Saturday


November 14, 2019

Patawili Films: Parang Drunk History (a retelling of the historical narrative that Magellan circumnavigated the world and discovered the Philippines; honoring the chief that led the battle against Magellan, Lapu-Lapu ). De(scribing) Maharlika film, a film honoring and naming the indigenous tribes of the Philippines -- Philadelphia Asian American Festival @ Flesher Art Memorial, 8 PM




October 21,23 2019 @ Asian Arts Initiative, 7 PM

Patawili: a Sunday dinner and multi-disciplinary immersive dance theater experience on Filipino-American stories culminating an Asian Arts Initiative and Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists Residency project. This worked involved visual and conceptual installations and a story of an ancient Filipinx mythological character, Bighari, the goddess of the rainbow.  



Oct.5, 2019

Taga-ilog: a site specific work designed to go with Isaac Witkin’s  sculptural piece “The Bathers”, commemorating Outlet Dance Project’s 15th Annual Festival for Grounds for Sculpture


September 21, 2019

Sunset CypHER for Bartams’ Garden: part of Philadelphia Fringe, a site specific performance centered on ancient mythological stories ending with a dance and drum cypher for the community 



August 18, 2019

Oval + Summer season: Solo Site Specific work performed at the Philadelphia Oval as part of the Fairmont Parks and Conservancy’s Oval + Summer season