filipino open mic in hiatus
Filipino open mic takes respite after a year of performance

Originally uploaded by ulanmaya_deux.

michaelle pureza performs an early draft of "From 'Dialogues with the Devil' by Taylor Caldwell" at pintig's november filipino open mic.

After one year of original music, drama and poetry, organizers with theater troupe Pintig Cultural Group plan to send the Filipino Open Mic into several months' hiatus to give space to other projects.

About 50 people gathered for three straight hours of performance Sunday, Nov. 27, at Hoghead McDunna's in Chicago. Among the headliners were veterans Imelda de la Cruz, Joey Flores, Lani T. Montreal, Bagwis and first-time performer, Toronto-based actor Byron Abalos.

An era in Filipino-American youth in Chicago is resting for a moment. Musician and actor Narciso Lobo has consistently played host to the monthly open mic events pro-bono.

"We're just taking a much-needed break from organizing this event. We'll definitely be back, sometime next year, possibly March," Lobo said at the closing session Sunday. The open mic has been held in various venues, such as Sala Cafe, InSight Arts and Jinx Cafe.

There were no themes given each open mic. At first the event was simply a venue for aspiring writers and performers to showcase their works pro-bono in a safe venue. Later, many works pointed to a single theme of change in the Philippines and the U.S. In November's open mic, Bagwis has written and performed songs about the Cojuangco estate Hacienda Luisita in the Philippines' largest island, Luzon. In January's event, writer Kay Barrett has read a journal entry on the reelection of President Bush.

It is the first and only event of its kind in the Chicago area held exclusively for artists of Filipino descent. Lobo has also invited Mexican artists for the open mic's first Mexican-Filipino open mic held in August.

The open mics gave many young Filipino adults encouragement to hold events of their own that highlight and contribute to their heritage.It connected artists with each other - Bagwis found their vocal lead, Ginger Cacnio, Pintig member and producer with Ruckus Productions, at a session in Sala Cafe in Chicago. Rey Villar found colleagues who would work with him to bring about his brainchild, the Chicago Filipino-American Film Fest, to reality. It helped many quiet writers break their shyness and attend other Filipino and non-Filipino events.

Past performers of the successful open mics include Allen Hope Sermonia, artistic director of Due East Theatre; Pintig actors Levi Aliposa and Michaelle Pureza; musicians Ramon Bonzon and David Wycoco; Committee on Pilipino Issues; and poets Marlon Unas Esguerra, Amador Ibardaloza, Bea Rodriguez and Raven Guerrero. The event was featured by Chicago-based Hataw Pinoy, a Filipino-language local TV show.
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