In 2009, the United States Congress declared every October as Filipino American History Month. Filipino communities throughout America are holding a wide range of events celebrating the history and culture of Filipino Americans. Here in Chicago, the Filipino American Community Calendar contains events for anyone to attend. Some events worth noting are:
- Award-winning Filipino filmmaker Nick Deocampo’s American premiere of "Cross Currents” (Oct 14)
- The Together Concert 2013 by Musika SamaSama featuring Lea Salonga and SamaSama Project (Oct 26)
- Field Museum of Natural History. "FilAm Community Dialogue with the Field Museum” (Oct 28)
As wonderful it is to see the Chicago Filipino community promoting and sharing their own culture, it's awe-inspiring to see non-Filipinos sharing the Filipino culture. This was the case last night at the Industrious River North Studios in downtown Chicago, where a group of three non-Filipino women hosted their Filipino cultural event called The Connection Art Project.
It was a multi-media culmination of three Chicago artists’ adventure to the Philippines. The event featured a twenty minute documentary by dance documentarian Jaycee Gossett (former host of The Travel Channel’s Dance the World), artwork by photojournalist Maggie Rife Ponce, and a fusion collage by cultural artist Agustina Diez Sierra. This was no typical display of Philippine culture in that it shined a good portion of its spotlights on the indigenous Igorots of Kalinga.
The moment people stepped out of the elevator to enter the studio; they were greeted by a photo collage of elderly tattooed Kalinga women dressed in their traditional tapis. The energy in their eyes and the joy in their smiles evoked a sense of welcome that echoed the ancient blessings of these indigenous highlanders, known as Igorots.
The Connection Art Project focuses on the importance of connecting with others in the world, while connecting with our own heritage. The story of Johann Oro, a Filipino-American, whose journey back to his estranged homeland for the first time, spoke volumes of why it is important to stay connected or reconnect with our own cultural heritage. Interestingly enough, by connecting with his heritage, his Argentinian wife deepened her connection with him and his Filipino culture. It is a beautiful lesson we can all benefit from.
These women are not Filipina, but they definitely understand there is a wealth of goodness within the Filipino culture, as well as other world cultures. By being inspired by the Filipino and Igorot culture, they are now seeking to inspire others to make new connections throughout the world. Their “The Connection Art Project” is relatively new, but it is the type of project that deserves the support of the Chicago Filipino American community.
Readers can help their endeavors by contributing to their Kickstarter Fundraising campaign. A portion of the funds raised will go to The National Council of Indigenous People to help the Kalinga Igorots in the Philippines.
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