Saturday, November 01, 2008

Remembering Our Manongs

FANHS Sonoma County's documentary film, Remembering Our Manongs, was launched today. This is the culmination of a three-year labor of love by the children of the Manongs. For three years they crisscrossed Northern California gathering stories, doing archival research, following obscure leads, getting certified by the Community Media Center, conducting interviews, documentation of every detail. What the public doesn't see in a project like this is what it takes to make this happen.

I felt privileged to watch the project team work closely with each other. There weren't very many ruffled feathers. I feel these words describe the team well: Consistent. Reliable. Responsible. Even tempered. But if you ask them they will simply say: the spirit of the Manongs are with us.

Indeed. As we gathered as a team in a sacred circle before the start of the event, Karen led us in a grounding ritual where we expressed our blessings and gratitude for the work that's done and is now going out to the world.

Interestingly enough, the post-1965 immigrant Fil Am community didn't turn out in big numbers at this event. Where are the 300 people who showed up at the recent Miss Philippines beauty contest? Why aren't they here? I am hoping they show up on Nov. 15 because there will be an intergenerational dialogue that they need to be a part of. I don't know what it takes to bring the post-1965 immigrant group on board FANHS projects. After all, FANHS is not just about the Manongs' history, it is about contemporary history as well.

Someone asked me after the event when we will start making the post-1965 documentary. I wanted to tell her that before we can do this, there will be some serious 'stepping up' to the plate required... Some serious consideration of history and its ramifications when we remain invisible to ourselves. The post-1965 folks will need to express an interest in expanding their repertoire of beauty contests and fiestas and reflect seriously on sustainability issues as the community becomes multiracial, multilingual, multicultural.

Remembering Our Manongs ended with the voice of the granddaughter of a Manong expressing her gratitude for her grandfather's trip to America and the hope that her generation will always remember that this history is American history. This is a good way of pausing the documentary at this point. It signals hope. Hope we can believe in.

(now go vote for Barack on Tuesday!)

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