Name a Broadway musical and chances are there’s a Filipino cast-member. For many years now, talented Filipino and Filipino-American artists have found themselves dancing, singing and acting on Broadway. With Broadway theatres remaining dark until at least next spring, performers have found themselves exploring digital outlets, such as virtual events via live streaming. Enter the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture a.k.a. FPAC, an annual festival usually held in an outdoor venue around Los Angeles. With COVID-19, FilAmArts, the organization behind the festival, announced that FPAC this year will be held virtually over three days via Facebook Live, YouTube, Kumu app and the website filamarts.org
Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Yellow Rose film) leads a stellar list of Broadway vets and regional talent who are sharing their talent with the Filipino-American community during this special month named as “Filipino American History Month (October).” Notable FPAC guests include:
Joan Almedilla (Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, The King and I), Kimee Balmilero (Mama Mia, “Hawaii 5-0”), Jon Jon Briones (Miss Saigon, Netflix “Ratched,” “Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”), Isa Briones (Hamilton, “Star Trek: Picard”), Bonifacio Deoso, Jr. (Miss Saigon), Anatloy Fedorov (Les Miserables, “American Idol”), Deedee Magno Hall (Wicked, If/Then, Steven Universe), Adam Jacobs (Aladdin, Les Miserables, The Lion King), Reggie Lee (“All Rise,” “Grimm”), Eva Noblezada (Yellow Rose Film, Miss Saigon, Hadestown), Jennifer Paz (Miss Saigon, Steven Universe), AJ Rafael (YouTube), Don Darryl Rivera (Aladdin), CJ Uy (The King and I) and Paolo Montalban (The King and I). Tony Award nominated costume and set designer Clint Ramos (Slave Play, The Rose Tattoo) will also take part in the festivities.
Another special highlight of #FPAC2020 for theatre fans is the exclusive world premiere of the song “Stories Like Air.” In partnership with Broadway Barkada, Paulo K. Tirol composed “Stories Like Air” world premiering exclusively for the 27th Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture 2020. Performing are Filipino-American Broadway stars including: Liz Casasola (Imelda, Miss Saigon, Dogeaters), Brian Jose (Miss Saigon, Imelda, Thoroughly Modern Millie) Steven Cuevas (Once on This Island), Jaygee Macapugay (School of Rock-The Musical, Here Lies Love), Devin Ilaw (Miss Saigon), Aaron Albano (Cats), Albert Guerzon (Escape to Margaritaville), Emily Borromeo (School of Rock-The Musical) and Ali Ewoldt (Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables).
“Stories Like Air” is a tribute to theatre and to theatre artists, written from the perspective that theatre is an art form in which a community of artists comes together to tell stories through words, music, movement, and design. In writing the song, composer Paulo K. Tirol asked the cast about the role that theatre as an art form has played in people’s lives during this pandemic, and he made it his goal to capture the thoughts and feelings they shared, as well as the passion with which they shared it. Built into the song is a call to keep telling stories through these challenging times. “Broadway Barkada is grateful for the collaboration with FilAm Arts on “Stories Like Air” and serves as a reminder that art is essential and healing during these challenging times.” says Broadway Barkada Co-Founder, Liz Casasola.
FPAC 2020 will take place virtually October 23, 24, and 25 from 7 – 10 PM, streaming on multiple platforms: Facebook Live, YouTube, the filamartsla.org website and the Kumu App. October is Filipino American History Month. Admission is free, but RSVPs are requested. FREE and VIP Tickets are available at http://bit.ly/fpac2020-tickets
“We’re humbled to have our community celebrate its tradition once again and this year’s theme, ‘Tuloy Po Kayo’ (‘Welcome! Please come in.’) couldn’t be more apropos given the unique times we’re in.” said Winston F. Emano, FilAm ARTS Board Director. “Some may recall that the first-ever FPAC in 1992 also came after a period of much uncertainty and over a quarter of a century later, its return is a wonderful reminder to us all of the power of arts to heal and of our culture to affirm. It’s good to be back!”
Premiering a week after the Los Angeles riots in 1992, FPAC has presented countless artists in a multitude of disciplines to multigenerational audiences nearing an estimated half million attendees over the course of 26 consecutive years. But, this year marks its first as a virtual presentation.
“We’re excited to debut FPAC on a first-ever virtual stage but, in festival tradition, we continue to spotlight a strong lineup of Filipino and Filipino American multidisciplinary artists,” said Giselle Tongi-Walters, FilAm ARTS Programming Director. “The hard work, long hours and dedication put in by the production team — helmed by award-winning filmmaker, Charles Uy — and our amazingly passionate Festival Builders alike has been nothing short of community-strengthening and inspiring and we are certain that our artists will provide equal inspiration through their art and performances.”
“It’s a blessing in disguise presenting FPAC virtually this year. When FPAC was presented on physical stages, only people on the West Coast were able to attend the event. We now get to exhibit and discover the artists in a more personal setting through our live streams to a global audience,” shares Charles Uy, FPAC 2020 Festival Technical Director. “When growing up in Queens, NY, I always wondered what it meant to be Filipino-American. With FPAC, we get to define who we are through sharing to the world our art and culture.”
FPAC 2020 is on October 23, 24 and 25 from 7-10 PM on facebook.com/filamartsLA, YouTube and filamartsla.org Follow @filamartsla on Instagram and Facebook for the latest updates. Official Hashtag #FPAC2020
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.