Thoughts of a Raised Pinay

For women, the need and desire to nurture each other is not pathological but redemptive, and it is within that knowledge that our real power is rediscovered. […] Interdependency between women is the way to a freedom which allows the ‘I’ to ‘be’, not in order to be used, but in order to be creative. This is a difference between the passive ‘be’ and the active ‘being’. — Audre Lorde, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”

It has been two years since RAISED PINAY premiered at the Philippine Consulate General and at NYU in New York City. (As of the publication of this post, a second iteration of Raised Pinay, featuring a new all-Pinay cast, premiered this year at St. John’s University in Queens and at MayDay Space in Brooklyn.)

I intended to write this post after the shows ended, as a reflection on the process leading up to that point. But then time passed and many things came up that kept me from writing about it. Coming back to this, I decided to discuss what has happened since Raised Pinay and how much I have changed. It is fitting to discuss Raised Pinay this way, not just from a performer’s standpoint, but from an actual “raised Pinay” standpoint; this was more than just a “show” but a necessary healing process and a turning point in my life.

Raised Pinay was a rite of passage into my womanhood, in the context of ‘the Filipino’.

Continue reading Thoughts of a Raised Pinay

RAISED PINAY: My Matrilineal Heritage in Dresses

The featured image for this post is the RAISED PINAY logo, beautifully designed by Gigi and Grace Bio. The logo features Baybayin-style lettering and Kali sticks–representing Philippine ancestral roots, history, and intergenerational power.

I would like to announce that I am part of an all-Pinay cast in the production of RAISED PINAY, directed by Jana Lynn Umipig and produced by Justine Fonte & Rachelle Ocampo. Artwork for the show are created by Gigi Bio and Grace Bio.

This is a benefit show, meaning that the proceeds will go to a non-profit organization called Roots of Health (Ugat Ng Kalusugan), providing clinical and educational services to wom*n, girls, and families in Puetro Princesa, Palawan. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite.

Show Dates, all in NYC
Thursday March 31st @ 7PM – Philippine Consulate
(no tickets sold at the door)
Saturday April 2nd @ 2PM – NYU Palladium Hall
Saturday APril 2nd @ 7PM -NYU Palladium Hall

What is this show about, exactly? It is not your typical play with fictional characters, dramatic scenes, or musical numbers. This is about 13 Pilipina American wom*n sharing their stories about what it is like to be “raised Pinay”–the intergenerational condition and inheritance of Pilipina values, teachings, trauma, and expectations, combated with modern ideas of feminism, social justice, identity, and wom*nhood.

What makes this production unique is that it focuses on the Pilipino/Pilipino American experience, through a wom*n’s perspective. Stories about intersectional experiences (in terms of nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and heritage) are rarely told. To be a part of this production has given me the opportunity to reveal and explore myself as who I really am–a raised Pinay in the 21st century.

My story is about the matrilineal heritage of mother-daughter through dresses. The dress is a symbol of femininity, the thing that mainly identifies womenhood. Attached to the dress are gendered values and expectations of being a “woman”–to be a daughter, a mother, a wife, a respectable and well-mannered lady, a beautiful “woman”. As much as the dress symbolizes the positive aspects of its form and meaning, it also carries the struggles of wom*n in trying to meet those high expectations, in a society that badgers wom*n to sacrifice their own (physical/mental/emotional) health and well-being for the sake of vanity and acceptance.

But the dress can also be a symbol of reclaiming the wom*n identity, for the empowered person wearing it. By changing the meaning of the symbol into something that advocates self-love, inner beauty, compassion, and sisterhood, the dress becomes a weapon against the violent society that disadvantages wom*n and a tool for the uplift and empowerment of wom*n. The dress will be passed down to future generations that will inherit that power and be encouraged to transform the society that will treat everyone with love and respect.

I hope that many of you will be able to attend the show. Remember that this is for a good cause that will also give support to wom*n, girls, and families that need the resources that we, in a developed country, often take for granted. For me, this is one step into my career path as a storyteller.

"RAISED PINAY" in Baybayin language. Designed by Gigi and Grace Bio.
“RAISED PINAY” in Baybayin language. Designed by Gigi and Grace Bio.