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Fil-Am artists, Broadway actors headline virtual Filipino festival

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Oct 20, 2020 9:59 pm

October is Filipino American History Month. From Oct. 23 to 25, the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC) 2020 will stream festival content on multiple platforms, from 7 to 10 p.m.

FilAm ARTS (The Association for the Advancement of Filipino American Arts and Culture) announced the return of FPAC, the longest-running Filipino cultural celebration in Southern California.

After a two-year hiatus, FPAC presents a three-day lineup of Filipino American artists in the following disciplines: Musika (Music), Literatura (Literature), Sayaw (Dance), Philippine Martial Arts, Pelikula (Film), Komedya (Comedy), Literatura (Literature), Kulinarya (Culinary), Teatro (Theatre), Tradisyonal (Traditional Dance) and Bisual (Visual Arts).

Participants include musicians, Ruby Ibarra, Klassy, Jocelyn Enriquez, and actors Jonjon Briones (Ratched), Isa Briones (Picard), Nico Santos (Superstore/Crazy Rich Asians), Alain Uy (Helstrom on Hulu), standup comedians Rex Navarrete and JR de Guzman, choreographer Phil Tayag (Jabbawockeez) and more.

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.

Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Yellow Rose film) leads a stellar list of Broadway vets and regional talents participating in FPAC.

Also participating are Joan Almedilla (Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, The King and I), Kimee Balmilero (Mamma Mia, Hawaii 5-0), Jon Jon Briones (Miss Saigon, Netflix’s Ratched, Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story), Isa Briones (Hamilton, Star Trek: Picard), Red Concepcion (National US Tour Miss Saigon), Bonifacio Deoso, Jr. (Miss Saigon), Reggie De Leon (Mom, Aladdin), Anthony 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).

Lea Salonga and other Filipino/Fil-Am Broadway actors are participating in “Tuloy po Kayo.” Photo from

“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. This year marks the first virtual presentation.

Giselle Tongi-Walters, FilAm ARTS programming director, said, “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 have been nothing short of inspiring.”

“When FPAC was presented on physical stages, only people here 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.”

Another special highlight of #FPAC2020 for theater fans is the exclusive world premiere of the song Stories Like Air.

In partnership with Broadway Barkada, Paulo K. Tirol composed Stories Like Air for a world premiere exclusively for the 27th Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture 2020. Performing are Filipino-American Broadway stars 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 theater and to theater artists, written from the perspective that theater is an art form in which a community of artists comes together to tell stories through words, music, movement and design.

Actors Vincent Rodrigues III and Tess Paras from Crazy Ex Girlfriend at FPAC 2016. Photo by Florante Ibanez

FPAC officially kicks off Filipino American History Month with a visual arts group exhibition on featuring works by Bren Bataclan, Gigi Bio, Mic Dino Boekelmann, Lek Vercauteren Borja, Alex J. Cabalu, Pia Cabanela, champoy, Calvin Coloma, Jolly De Guzman, John DeCastro, Christopher Dimaano, Trinidad Escobar, Nicanor Evangelista, Jr., Jade Hoyer, David Ignacio, Thea Ivens, Jeanine Jalandoni, KarlosAnthony, Lola x Kenneth Collaboration, Marissa Lynn, Matt Manalo, Jessa Mae Mendiola, Michael Rippens, Andrew Rogge, Gloria Elisa Margarita Sanchez, Diyan Valencia, T. Jay Santa Ana and Christopher Angelo Perez Yniguez. The show is curated by Nica Aquino and can be accessed as a virtual gallery at

FilAm Arts is a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles facilitating arts and culture programming so that our cultural identity may be properly represented, embraced, preserved for future generations.

The festival will stream on Facebook Live, YouTube, the website and the Kumu App.

Admission is free, but RSVPs are requested. Free entry and VIP tickets are available at here.