Collaborating with youth and adults from Filipinos for Affirmative Action and other community-based organizations, choreographer Pearl Ubungen and Filipino musician Joey Ayala created a major, site-specific work in San Francisco’s Presidio about the Philippine American War. The project was co-produced by Pearl Ubungen Dancers and Musicians and La Peña Cultural Center. The performance’s title “Tagulaylay,” means “requiem” in Tagalog.
The artists’ collaboration began in spring 1997 when Filipino composer and musician Joey Ayala visited San Francisco as part of an Inroads/Arts International planning residency with Ubungen. In January of 1999, Pearl Ubungen traveled to the Philippines to work with him further. In 1999-2000, the two artists expanded their collaboration to create Tagulaylay/The Presidio by engaging an estimated 400 people from a host of community-based organizations as well as individuals in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Filipino American Community. Filipinos for Affirmative Action orchestrated this community participation, and the artists actively integrated input from these participants in the finished piece. The project was documented by photographer David Bacon.
Filipinos for Affirmative Action (now Filipinos for Justice) was created at a time when many Filipino Americans were involved in the battles of farm workers, the grape boycott, and the strikes for Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley. It provides employment assistance, immigration assistance, and employment training through Newcomer Services and also a number of youth programs.
Pearl Ubungen Dancers and Musicians create interdisciplinary dance-theater works that explore the revisioning of history and contemporary cultural/social issues through in-depth community engagement. Ms. Ubungen has made a body of work pertaining to the Filipino Diaspora experience and has worked with other immigrant/refugee communities as well.