VANCOUVER (June 22) — In a vibrant display of dance, live music, hip hop, poetry and politics by Filipino youth, the auditorium of Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School was once again transformed into a venue of artistic expression and social commentary on Friday May 29, 2009 during “Root Down, Rise Up: the 12th Annual Roots, Rhymes & Resistance.”
Organized by the BC chapter of Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada/Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance, the show is held annually during ExplorASIAN, Vancouver’s Asian Heritage Month Festival. This years’ theme, “Root Down, Rise Up” was aimed at raising awareness around the issues of settlement and integration of the Filipino community specifically within the youth sector. making youth count in community action and participation in Canadian society. This was shown in the performances as youth sang, danced and rapped about issues of racism and racial profiling, education, gender and equality.
Over 200 Filipino youth, community members and supporters came out to the show, including Member of Parliament, Hon. Don Davies who came to support the youth in his riding. The audience was able to see the product of months of educational and creative workshops, which inspired many of the performances.
“The educational component of the show was strong because of the workshops that led up to the event.” says Niki Silva member of UKPC/FCYA, speaking about the series of skills building and educational workshops help from March until May. “It’s always good to see youth as young as 13 years old addressing issues of racism and systemic barriers in front of large crowds. It shows the empowerment within a marginalized community, and the progress they’ve made through our work.” Silva adds.
Performers ranged from first and second generation Filipino youth doing contemporary and hip hop dances, punk rock music, hip hop and poetry. Youth and domestic workers came together to perform a variety of performance work as part of the Sinag Bayan Cultural Arts Collective.
“RRR bridges the gap between different sectors of the Filipino community, because no matter what sector you’re a part of, whether you’re a worker or a student, you learn to understand the different issues affecting the community as a whole.” Stated Carlie David, who co-emceed the evening. “When you understand the communities issues, you see the need for programs for genuine settlement and integration, not just amongst youth.”
Other performers of the show included MEC- Filipino Dance Group (contemporary dance), Kuyas United In Solidarity (hip hop), Kim and Racquel Villagante (acoustic vocals), Illest Vibe, Rec-Ignition, and D-Funk of Fresh Groove Productions (Dance crews), Toxic Slime Clique, Jatty Boi, (hip hop), and Renovation Under (Rock).
Special greetings came from Tim Greer, one of the Vice-Principles of Tupper Secondary School, and Leah Diana of the PWC, who appealed the audience to continue to support the urgently-needed positive work of UKPC and the Kalayaan Centre.
“This was another very successful event in raising the consciousness amongst youth about the issues facing Filipinos here in Canada, but it doesn’t end here. We hope to continue the workshops we started before RRR and plan to have more youth involved.” Says Carlo Sayo, national chairperson for UKPC/FCYA.