Last Wednesday, November 30th, threeWord (Mark was not able to attend due to his brother’s graduation. Congrats!) performed alongside Kymistry, Tripz, and Andrew Figueroa Chiang and the Blazing Rays of the Sun to celebrate Bonifacio Day and KmB’s 12th Year Anniversary at SIPA in Historic Filipinotown!
Kabataang maka-Bayan (KmB), or Pro-People Youth, is a progressive youth and student organization. Our aim is to raise the social consciousness of the youth to organize and mobilize in response to issues affecting our local communities, the oppressed people of the Philippines and other pro-people issues around the world.
Stephanie and I are currently provisional members of KmB. Not too long ago, we attended this KmB event which featured Johnny Itliong, the son of Larry Itliong who was a co-founder and an unfortunately often forgotten hero of the UFW. Johnny reminded us a part of our Filipino-American history and how important it is for us to organize and mobilize if we wish to bring about a positive change in our community. This ultimately was what brought us to KmB.
At our first KmB meeting, one of the members invited forWord to perform for Solidarity Night and it was an honor to accept. I also became part of the planning committee for Solidarity Night with Carmela, Janice, Manila, and Jay.
The theme for the night was to party it up as if it were your birthday; a pinata that represented capitalism was provided by yours truly. I wish we had a picture of it and how it was utterly destroyed thereafter. Take that, oil companies!
On the night of the event, I drove straight from work. Luckily, traffic was not so bad on the side streets. The freeways were a different matter for Stephanie and Susan due to accidents and heavy blowing winds. We were set to perform at 7:10 PM. I was the only forWord member since 6:30 PM. At 7:05 PM, it got to the point where I had to prepare myself to do a solo set. The KmB organizers were already stalling for us. Thankfully, Stephanie made it. But we had to start our set without Susan.
We were the first performance for the night as we went after the solidarity statements given by allied organizations.
Stephanie and I performed two duo poems, “Living Dead” and “Shared Roots.” I performed an old yet still relevant poem from college entitled, “Everybody Wants to Be An Activist.” Toward the end of our set, Stephanie pointed out that Susan had arrived. I didn’t even notice, but there she was at the sidelines so I brought the crowd to give her a warm welcome. Together, we performed “Writer’s Block,” the threeWord version impromptu style.
Kymistry rocked it out on the guitar with her beautiful singing. Andrew and the BROTS surely entertained the crowd with their souls emanating through the music. There was a year-in-review video made by Jay which was absolutely awesome by the way. I am very new to KmB so to see a glimpse of what they did this past year was informative for me and kept me looking forward to the next. The night ended with an inspiring speech by Ernest who spoke about the importance of KmB and how he will always be “KmB for life.” It definitely got me more inspired to stay active with KmB.
With forWord, I am active in the spoken word community. With KmB, I hope to be active in the Filipino-American community. Somewhere in between, it is the dream to combine the two like a fitting puzzle to my identity as a Filipino-American spoken word artist: I am proud of my people’s culture, my people’s history. I will continue to write and perform poetry to share our culture, our history.
One of the main campaigns of KmB right now is to save multicultural and ethnic studies classes! With all the budget cuts happening, these classes are usually the first to go. We must remind those about the importance of culture because without it we are like dull pencils. Culture is what sharpens our minds and shapes us to be who we are. Let’s educate why culture is crucial to the development of our identity; not only Asian-American, but all cultural identities.
Currently KmB is in the planning stages for a series of educational workshops so if you feel the same way, it is time to get started. I know I am still learning and have a lot more to learn. Let’s go!
- Eddy M. Gana Jr.