A couple of months ago, I had went to go see and support fellow UC Irvine Kababayan alumnae Jana Lynne Umipig and her newest experimental theater project, “The Journey of a Brown Girl.” An incredibly inspiring, empowering, moving and important work of spoken word/theater art, it, as described, “seeks to create a space for self inquiry around wom*n’s identity and issues and brings them to light through the narrative of Pinay (Filipino Wom*n).”
There are many issues pervading the Pilipino identity. In media, television, music and the arts, the Filipino identity is almost invisible. You see actresses such as Lalaine and Vanessa Hudgens, who are both of Filipina descent, cast into roles that depict Hispanic characters on Disney Channel. Quarter-Filipina Shay Mitchell of “Pretty Little Liars” is secondary to three female co-lead stars, whose culture is not even prominent. The characters you tend to see in entertainment that are of Filipino descent tend to be of mixed-race (thus, the Filipino culture further erased).
You can also tell from the immersion of Filipinos into the United States with their history and culture being erased. (Think: How come prominent Philippine figures aren’t even mentioned in our history books? The Delano Manongs? Or how our Veterans fought alongside the US in WWII and have not even received recognition or benefits for decades? How often are we made aware of our own culture and customs? Our immigrant parents most likely did not teach us the “Pilipino way” because they thought it would a hindrance into our acceptance in America.)
And, don’t even let me get started on the presence of women, in general, who, especially in the United States, face a lot of injustices.
So, “The Journey of a Brown Girl” is a rare and telling story that sheds light on the Pilipino, Pilipino-American, and especially Pilipina-American woman‘s experience, tracing us from the origins of our culture back on the homeland of Pilipina women being seen as the healers/leaders/”Babaylan” in our history, to our difficulties, customs and issues we as Pilipina-American women today face as a minority with a homeland that strives to “become White” on the Philippines’ own television network and continues to practice the religion of Catholicism, as taught to us by Spanish colonizers.
I’ll let the rest speak for itself, but this is a very important piece that deserves to be recognized and made aware by any soul.