Coffee Lab welcomes Kapwa & Kapé for Philippine American History Month

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Live music and spoken poetry filled the Evanston Coffee Lab on Saturday afternoon as residents and students gathered to celebrate Filipino American History Month.

A collaboration between Kitchen Table Stories Project, Kids Create Change, Studio 3 Evanston and Coffee Lab, Kapwa & Kapé weekend The event allowed community members to enjoy traditional Filipino food, entertainment and art.

“Kapwa means oneness, oneness, reciprocity with one another, and kapé means coffee,” Abbey Monsalud said., an art therapy intern at Studio 3 and one of the event organizers. “We wanted to create a space to bring everyone together to experience this oneness with each other. “

Filipino American History Month commemorates the arrival of the first Filipinos to America on October 18, 1587. Monsalud and Melissa Raman Molitor, co-founder of Kids Create Change and founder of Kitchen Table stories, both said they believe that it was important to create an event that recognized the presence and culture of Filipino Americans.

While Molitor created programming for Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, she said she wanted to create a space that specifically showcases Filipino American voices.

“It’s really important to celebrate the cultures that hide under this big umbrella so that people realize that we are not a monolith,” Molitor said.

Artist lineup included Sans Miguel, Ayrie Gomez, Czaerra Ucol, Deneza, Dori-Taylor Carter, Ky Kami, Resurreccion, Aériel Cabitac and Christian Aldana. The artists sang and read poetry on a variety of subjects including language, family, femininity, sexuality, and food.

Aldana, founder and creative director of local organization Luya Poetry, said art is a way for people to celebrate their personal cultural experiences. She cited Deneza’s songs about mental health and her mother, as well as the poetry of Ucol and Taylor as examples.

“Seeing Filipinos celebrating together, but also thinking about their own travels and experiences and putting them into their art, is an important way to tell our stories,” said Aldana. “It’s a recovery process.

Aldana said they hope people share their art more, especially young Asian artists who question themselves because they think they won’t have an audience. They said that witnessing art by people who share identities with them makes them feel less alone.

Monsalud described this sentiment in response to the performance of the event, particularly Aldana’s oral poetry.

“I felt sadness, anger, the feeling of being seen and a lot of validation through his words,” Monsalud said. “I feel a lot of kapwa with these artists because the stories they tell are close to me.”

Participants could also create weavings with natural fibers like raffia, banana leaves and bamboo reeds, as well as other traditional materials like seashells and wooden beads.

Monsalud and Molitor explained that weaving has a long history in the Philippines. Molitor said that with technology, younger generations don’t need to continue traditional labor-intensive practices. The event therefore allowed participants to learn about weaving and recognize how it brings people together.

Monsalud explained how celebrating Filipino traditions such as weaving can combat the colonial mentality, which she described as the belief that her culture is inferior to the “mainstream” culture.

“It’s very internalized, especially for the Filipino diaspora, and we often forget our roots,” she said. “As I get older, I really want to celebrate my legacy more. I want to fully immerse myself in the Filipino community and celebrate who I am because for so much of my life I have put that aside.

Jay Costales, a freshman at Columbia College Chicago, said they had never attended any Filipino events that featured weaving before and were excited about it.

Costales said they believe it is important for the diaspora to keep their legacy alive, especially with a resurgence of younger generations connecting to their roots.

“Politics is a big part of why we’re here,” Costales said. “And recognizing that while eating great food and spending time with friends is really important.”

The event continued on Sunday, when attendees made lyrics – Filipino Christmas lanterns.

Monsalud said she hopes people leave the event knowing Filipinos deserve to be heard and celebrated. She also hopes the event will remind the Filipino community how the arts can improve their lives.

“It’s so natural that the arts promote community and kapwa,” Monsalud said. “It’s not about competing against each other. It’s not about tearing each other apart. It’s about uplifting one another.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @ prilshowers0

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Local artist, educator, community activist and art therapist Melissa Raman Molitor creates space to elevate the work of APIDA artists

Pinoy Show 2018 commemorates a Filipino revolutionary

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