In September 2012, the oldest ongoing Filipino organization in the United States, the Filipino American Association of Philadelphia, Inc. (FAAPI) celebrated its 100th year in the City of Murals. As part of this centennial celebration, it sponsored the nation’s first Filipino mural in the East Coast. The Filipino American Mural will be dedicated on June 15, 2013. In order to harmonize with the Quaker Philosophy that “the light of God” is present in everyone’s hearts, and not just on a select few, the central image of the communal flame in the mural honors the collective endeavors of Filipinos and Filipino Americans. By referencing the mural with Quaker philosophy, the mural acknowledges and embraces its location within the City of Brotherly Love. The title of the mural, “Alab ng Puso” or in English “Hearts Ablaze”,” was lifted from a line in the Philippine National anthem called “Lupang Hinirang” or “Chosen Land”.
The rice terraces in the background of the mural encapsulate both the Filipino and Filipino American experience. Each section of the wall or water within the terraces are containers for the images. On either end of the mural are two iconic figures: Jose Rizal, and his counterpart in the USA, Carlos Bulosan. A stylized “bakunawa” or Filipino dragon emanates from Rizal’s heart, which journeys outward unto behind his head, then behind the giant parol, eventually swirling into Carlos Bulosan’s heart. From Carlos Bulosan’s heart, the bakunawa journeys out back into the Philippines which is about to reconcile with its originator, Jose Rizal. The mural’s centerpiece is an ancient presentation dish , used as ritual pottery, with an eternal flame emanating from it. Within the flame, three significant Filipinas are highlighted through giant portraits that fill the entire flame. Clemencia Lopez, Josefa Llanes Escoda and Corazon Aquino are the mothers of history that served as beacons during the 1898 War of Independence, WWII and the 1986 EDSA Revolution, respectively. Within Filipino culture, the mother is considered as the “Ilaw ng Tahanan,” or the “Light of the Home.”
The painted portion of the mural begins from eight feet from the ground, underneath is all done with mosaic materials. There are thirty-five photographs integrated with ceramic tile depicting the local history of Filipinos in Greater Philadelphia. There are four stained glass window panels created to transition the painted part of the mural with the windows. The main entrance to the building will also be covered with a snow door panel sandblasted to depict images that transition from the mural. The main window, visible from passers-by depict an abstracted chrysalis inspired from early Filipino pottery art, with the likeness of the famed boxer Manny Pacquiao spreading his “wings” about to take flight. This portion of the mural was designed so that people standing in front of the window can interact with the mural and can be photographed with angel wings.
Across the bottom of the photo tiles are various icons derived from Filipino pre-colonial heritage to the Filipino American movement. The motif for the mosaic tile will be patterns from the traditional woven mat known as “banig” from various parts of the Philippines. Since the mural project coincides with the Jose Rizal Sesquicentennial, the mural has features that honor the Philippines’ national hero. The vignettes of Philippine history from pre-colonial to the present and future are all filtered through Jose Rizal’s writings and ideas. Among the parts of the mural that demonstrates this is the centerpiece which depicts an eternal flame (as a child, Rizal was taught the “Tale of the Moth & the Flame”); the sculpture Rizal created himself called “Mother’s Revenge” ( a manifestation of Rizal’s aim to reach his goal of a revolution devoid of violence-embodied by the dog attacking the crocodile right at the ‘kill spot’-causing immediate death, while saving her pup from certain death); and the quote from Rizal delivered in Madrid as a toasting speech in honor of the dual triumphs of two Filipino artists who won the top two prizes for painting…ushering in the cultural groundwork for the Philippine Revolution.
The section of the mural which contains a panorama of ancient Philippines from the era of dinosaurs (Ice Age) onto the six hundred years of SE Asian heritage largely defined by the Indianized kingdoms of the Majapahit and Srivijayan empires of Southeast Asia which included the Philippines. The top left are the ancient animals during the Ice Age in the archipelago which includes the Stegadon, Elephas and an Ancient Rhino. Behind them is the Mayon volcano. Depicted in the sky are the two figures atop the Manunggul Jar journeying into one of the seven levels of heaven. Below them is the ancient war vessel called “Caracoa.” At the farthest right is the Tarsier-which is believed to be as ancient as the dinosaurs. On the highest level of the terrace is a recreation of an Indianized Kingdom in the Philippines (900 AD). The temple in this vignette was based from the Paoay Church, but re-designed into a Hindu temple. Along the side of the terrace is the Angono Petroglyphs, below that is Princess Urduja’s palace receiving her famous guest- Morocco’s Islamic scholar Ibn Battuta. Below that section are the Cordillera hanging coffins, the Ibaloi Mummies, some rare bulul granary figures as well as an Ifugao playing a nose flute to awaken the spirit of our ancestors. Connected to the 900 AD Philippines panorama is the Indianized Kingdom of Raja Sulaiman II the last ruler of Maynilad- whereby Intramuros was built upon. His own palace became the site of Malacanang Palace. Below that section is the famous ‘Battle of Mactan’ in 1521, the earliest Filipino victory against Western imperialism, led by Datu Lapu-Lapu against the Portugese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Between the Ifugao scene and the Mactan vignette is a contemporary Filipina pop music icon- Charice, who is flashing the pyramid symbol with her hands-to symbolize the strong cultural, spiritual, and intellectual foundation from which the multicultural Philippines was founded. Just to her right, is an Ifugao house called “fale,” next to that is the water portion of the terraces depicting the Manila Galleon trade that connected the Philippines with Mexico until 1812 as “New Spain”. Underneath the Ifugao nose flute player are is a Palawan landscape, the Pagsanjan Falls, and the famed Underground River Subterranean National Park. Within these tourist destinations are one of the members of the B.E.P., Philippine-born, Grammy award winner, Allan Pineda (a.k.a. apl de ap). On the other side is another Grammy winner, Bruno Mars surrounded by vignettes from the War of Philippine Independence. The USS Olympia, which is docked in Philadelphia’s Penn’s Landing was the flagship of Admiral Dewey’s Mock Battle of Manila Bay. Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo then returns triumphantly with the victorious Battle of Alapan where he waved the new Philippine flag for the first time in victory, after defeating the Spaniards.
On the bottom left corner portion of the mural shows three different surfaces of the site. The topmost section is painted, below that is a mosaic that covers 6 feet from the ground up; then, a wall dropping into the parking lot extending from the walkway will contain another mosaic art etched with a quotation from Jose Rizal. Parts of the painted portion in this section reveals the lower part of APL de AP of Black Eyed Peas, surrounded by coral reefs in the Philippine Deep. Followed by the lower portion of the Philippine Eagle, Bruno Mars playing a guitar, then Emilio Aguinaldo walking into the Inauguration of the Philippine Republic in Bulacan. At the center is a window embellished with stained glass art. The montage in the window includes a cocoon based from a design from ancient Philippine pottery, Manny Pacquaio emerging from the cocoon and aquiring wings, while above him is a Philippine Tamaraw. The lowest portion reveals the wall that protrudes into the parking lot and elevates the walkway beside the mural wall.
The main figure honored in the mural is Jose Rizal, who established the designation of “Filipino” to the natives of the archipelago who were defined by the colonizers as “indio.” This seminal event took place in Paris when Rizal founded the “Los Indios Bravos” in 1889 (-Ambeth Ocampo). Thus, from Rizal’s heart emanates the Filipino dragon (“Bakunawa” among Visayans, “Laho” among Tagalogs and “Naga” among the Filipinos in Mindanao). At the top left corner is the Chocolate Hills of Bohol, next to that are the Cordillera Rice Terraces, then the handle of an Ifugao spoon. At the opposite left side of Rizal’s elbow is a vignette of the destruction of ancient Philippine civilization and the mass slaughter of the ‘Babaylan’ or ancient priestesses. The symbol of Manila; the Merlion holding a cross and sword, officiates this tragedy of epic proportions. On the opposite side are the Arc of the Centuries from UST, and the original Letran College in Intramuros. Going back to the bottom half of the left side is a scene from the Manila Galleon trade, then a panorama of prosperous Manila during Rizal’s childhood. Rizal is portrayed here as a brilliant young student in Ateneo. On the opposite side are scenes from the cultural revolution: Juan Luna painting the ‘Spolarium’ and Felix Hidalgo painting ‘La Barca de Aqueronte,’ who both garnered the highest honors in Spain. Between them is Simon Flores painting ‘Quiazon Family’ the first Filipino with native blood to garner a prize from an international exhibition. In 1876, he was awarded a silver medal at the Philadelphia Universal Exposition for his painting La musica del pueblo (The Music of the Town). At the rightmost section of these painters are the immortal characters of Jose Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere, the embodiment of a society devoid of any self-respect and dignity; which eventually coalesced the idea of Filipino nationhood and ignited the Philippine Revolution. Returning the leftmost bottom section of the mural are: Aguinaldo delivering his inaugural address to the Filipino people, and below that is the parade and seal of the 1st Philippine Republic. Next to this poignant image is Manila’s San Juan del Monte bridge where the first shots were fired which began the 1899 Battle of Manila. There is also a Lady Liberty announcing to the American invaders that it is the Filipinos who is fighting for her. In front of her is the first clash in what would be known as the Philippine American War (1899-1913) which ignited the earliest anti-war mass demonstrations in the United States as well as encourage the largest mass defections of US Military servicemen to the opposing side. 20 US soldiers defected to Emilio Aguinaldo’s army, comprising of five African Americans from the famed Buffalo Soldiers and fifteen Caucasians. Surrounded with this battle scene is part of Mark Twain’s portrait, who was Vice President of the Anti-Imperialist League which represented the other half of Americans that opposed this seminal conflict which entailed sending 126,000 troops and 400 million USD against a Filipino army with only 30,000 barefoot Filipino soldiers, with no foreign allies and no United Nations. The rightmost bottom of the mural honors three generals-in-chief throughout the archipelago: Gen. Martin Delgado (Visayas), Gen. Vicente Alvarez (Mindanao), and Gen. Gregorio Del Pilar (Luzon).
Moving on to the next part, the top left portion shows scenes from the ‘MORO’ Wars in Mindanao, along with portions of the War of Philippine Independence. The bottom half of Mark Twain seated on his rocking chair is in the midst of all this including a box camera-representing the media. The space in between Rizal’s feet reveals the Carabao Charge in 1900 which happened in Sta. Cruz, Laguna and inflicted heavy casualties on the American line. On the far right is the part of a portrait of Ibaloi Chieftain Kapitan Mateo Carino who harbored and allowed safe passage to benefit Emilio Aguinaldo and his cabinet, during his journey across the Cordillera mountains. He is also known internationally through the landmark ruling, now referred to as the “Mateo Cariño doctrine,” has been used even in arguing land ownership cases filed by the Indians in Canada and the United States and by the Maoris in New Zealand, in addition to the Philippines.He is then followed by Gen Gregorio Del Pilar, part of his image riding a horse is seen here. Underneath the right foot of Rizal is a huge head of a serpent- a symbol of imperialism and evils of colonialism. Towards the bottom left end is a figure of China’s Dr. Sun Yat Sen who facilitated the purchase of a shipload of arms from Japan via Mariano Ponce to aid in the Philippine War of independence. The next two are notable Anti-Imperialists which opposed the McKinley/ Roosevelt government’s circumventing the US Constitution and illegal invasion of the Philippines: Susan B. Anthony and W.E.B. Du Bois. The next figure is Gen. David Fagen, a Buffalo Soldier that defected from the US to join Emilio Aguinaldo’s army and eventually rose to the ranks to become a general. He represents the largest defection of US soldiers in military history- which amounted to twenty, five of whom where African Americans. Towards the far right is a Filipina educator revealing a fresh new way of seeing- helping Filipinos acquire ‘new eyes’ –breaking the chains of mental captivity. Below the painted portion of the mural is the first row of a series of photo-tiles narrating the story of the local Filipino Community of Philadelphia. Underneath are two iconic symbols derived from pre-colonial Philippines. The first one is a symbolic representation of a white umbrella (image courtesy of www.watawat.net), also symbolizing a mobile temple, as well as the dome of the sky above the mountains (handle). If there were temples made of stone in the Philippines, reflective of the Majapahit and Srivijaya Empires, their designs would have been similar to these. The second one is derived from the flag of the Sultunate of Sulu province in Mindanao.
The top left of the mural depicts an Ifugao spoon, inside the ladle is the ‘Linnapet Festival,’ a 3,000-year old tradition in the Cordilleras considered the earliest Christmas-like Filipino festival. Beside it is a portion of the giant ‘Ligligan Parul’ of Pampanga- a Filipino Christmas icon; and, inside is a tribute to Victoria Manalo Draves, the 1st woman in Olympic history to win two gold medals in the same Olympics. During the 1942 Olympics in London, she represented the US in both the platform and springboard competition to become the 1st Asian American and first Pinay to win an Olympic gold medal. At the center is the Bakunawa and underneath the head of this dragon is the 21 Women of Malolos who came together and valiantly fought for their rights to open up a school for Filipina women, by petitioning the Gov. General himself. Jose Rizal was so impressed by their collective efforts that he wrote a letter to them entirely in Tagalog, exalting them for their courageous example, perhaps an antecedent to the Feminist movement as well as the La Liga Filipina and the Katipunan. Hovering above the dragon is a figure of a the Filipina Joan of Arc: Gabriela Silang, who led an army in Ilocos during the Bristish occupation of Manila. She is attempting to stop the dragon from devouring the moon, by making noise and taking action-so that the people will not dwell in darkness. Moving down into the lower section of the Rice Terraces is the political organization that Jose Rizal founded called, “La Liga Filipina” similar to the Katipunan but with more emphasis on non-violence as path to FREEDOM and self-government. Rizal believed that the only justification for national liberation and self government is the restoration of the dignity of the people and this organization was his answer. However, Spain saw it as too radical, and Rizal was banished immediately to Dapitan, Mindanao (which is depicted in the mural directly under the bulge of the dragon). Shifting back to the bottom left corner is the outbreak of the Battle of Pinaglabanan led by Andres Bonifacio (portrayed in the mural holding the bolo with his standard behind him)- and signaled the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution which struck the first major blow against Western Imperialism (Claro M. Recto) and inspired liberty-loving peoples throughout Asia and beyond. This global aspect of the revolution is depicted directly underneath Bonifacio, embodied by Nehru and Gandhi of India reacting with shock upon reading newspapers reporting shiploads upon shiploads of US soldiers being sent to fight the Philippines’ 30,000 barefooted soldiers of Independence, with no advantage in terms of a UN, nor a foreign ally to provide them a steady supply of arms, food and ammunition needed to sustain a prolonged war. Underneath these two giants of Asian Nationalism is Pres. Manuel L. Quezon, who was a major in Bataan that served under Aguinaldo fighting the US invaders and became the champion of US recognition of his country’s independence. In this portion of the mural he has opened the door to 10,000 Jews to escape the holocaust with about 1,000 benefiting from it. Finally at the rightmost corner is Ninoy Aquino, the martyred hero of the 1986 Edsa Revolution which ignited the dismantling of dictatorships and authoritarian rule from Berlin to Egypt. A portion of Cory Aquino, the widow of Ninoy and the first woman president of the Philippines who continued her husband’s fight to end the 20-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.
The dominant feature of this section of the mural is the snow-door which will be sandblasted with a design depicting the Filipino mythology of the emergence of the first man and woman called: Malakas at Maganda. Around this door art, beginning from the top left is a portion of the Battle of Tirad Pass. Next to that are scenes depictimg the international and global impact of Jose Rizal’s legacy as the first modern political leader to preach non-violence as a path to freedom, and the forerunner of Gandhi. The first is the US Civil Rights movement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who credited Gandhi as the one who gave the movement its tactics. Underneath are the popular movements to dismantle authoritarian regimes and/or dictatorships following the example set in 1986 via the Filipino People Power Revolution. From left is: Tiananmen Square Student Uprising in China, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Indonesian 1998 Revolution, and the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. A faceless Navy person is sitting at the edge of the painted portion into the mosaic part of the mural. This face will be a portrait of a local Filipino in Philadelphia to honor the local Filipino pioneers who were mostly mariners who worked at Philadelphia’s shipyards. The mosaic design will be based from ‘banig’ or woven mat designs from all over the archipelago. The star seen behind the Timamanukin bird of the creation story is one of the three stars in the Philippine flag.
The central figures of the mural are women warriors who embody the historical fabric of Filipino history. These three Pinay mothers of history are: Clemencia Lopez, Josefa Llanes Escoda, and Corazon Aquino. In 1902, Clemencia Lopez became the first Filipino citizen to obtain an audience with a US president inside the White House. Accompanied by the Anti-Imperialist League, she negotiated the US recognition of Philippine Independence along with the freedom of her three brothers held as prisoners in Guam. She studied in Wellesley College as a Pensionado and spent almost 2 years in the US, testified before a US Senate Committee on the Philippines, becoming very active in speaking publicly against US invasion of the Philippines as well as Women’s Suffrage. At her left are two of her male counterparts: Felipe Agoncillo, the first Filipino diplomat tasked by Emilio Aguinaldo to secure International recognition of Philippine Independence, along with Sixto Lopez who was the secretary of the delegation; and a few years later was the most prominent Filipino member of the Anti-Imperialist League speaking publicly against US invasion of the Philippines during the earliest anti-war mass demonstrations across the East Coast, including Philadelphia where he stayed extensively. Below these two figures is the scene where Clemencia is given the chance to speak, while US president Theodore Roosevelt listens on.. Beside Pres. Roosevelt is the Declaration of Philippine Independence. Above the head of Clemencia is a Filipina ‘Lady of Liberty,’ while next to her is a Filipino priestess known as Babaylan. Below the priestess’ hands is the Declaration of Philippine Independence in Kawit, Cavite; while to the left of that is the martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal. Underneath the June 12 declaration is the scene depicting Congressman Henry A.Cooper of Wisconsin who recited Jose Rizal’s final poem ‘Ultimo Adios’ in the halls of US Congress to validate and secure the passage of the 1902 Philippine Organic Act (Bill creating the Philippine Assembly, a US prerequisite for Independence) which he authored. Below Congressman Cooper is Jose Rizal writing the poem inside his cell in Fort Santiago, along with the poem itself. Further down of the vignette is the US Flag being lowered and the same 1898 flag designed by Emilio Aguinaldo is being raised to symbolize US Recognition of Philippine Independence on July 4th 1946. At the topmost right corner is Paulino Alacantara, one of Spain’s greatest legends in football and the first Filipino and Asian player to play for a European club. Underneath Alcantara is the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, where Filipinos known as Manila Men volunteered to fight the British in the American Revolution, led by Andrew Jackson, considered by many as the greatest American land victory of the war. Directly below this scene are three Filipinos based in Philadelphia who served the Union during the US Civil War.
At the very center of the mural is a portrait of another woman warrior: Josefa Llanes Escoda. An energetic and brilliant woman, Escoda lectured in sociology at the University of the Philippines, held several civil service posts, is a well-known advocate for women’s suffrage in the Philippines, founder of the girl scouts and a martyr of WWII. Like Clemencia Lopez, she studied in the USA where she also became active in NY’s Women’s International League for Peace; and, earned her masters degree in Sociology from Columbia University. During the Japanese occupation, her efforts to aid and nurse POWs — including those on the Bataan Death March — made her the “Florence Nightingale of the Philippines” included as one of three WWII martyrs in the 1,000 PH banknote. Surrounding her face is the oval of the stylized sun of the Philippine flag- and within that circle are the martyr’s of the nation: Jose Rizal, Josefa Llanes Escoda, GOMBURZA, the 13 Martyrs of Cavite and Sen. Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino. The third woman warrior is Corazon ‘Cory’ Aquino who became Asia’s first elected woman head of state, and the first Filipino to become TIME Magazine’s Man of the Year. Just like the other two woman warriors, Cory likewise obtained part of her education in the US, her first year of high school to attend Philadelphia’s Assumption Sisters-run Raven Hill Academy and earned a degree in French and mathematics from New York’s Mount Saint Vincent College. Below her portrait are some members of FAAPI, led by the current FAAPI president-Dr. Rommel Rivera- receiving a symbolic baton from the founder of FAAPI- Agripino Jaucian who is standing in front of GOMBURZA, the martyrdom of the three Filipino priests whose execution ignited the seeds of Filipino nationalism. FAAPI is the nation’s oldest ongoing Filipino organization in the US, thus, in honor of its centennial, this mural was designed to celebrate this important milestone in the City of Brotherly Love. This justifies the centrality of FAAPI’s founder and current president. Just next to Gomburza is the withrawal of US bases, destroyed largely by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo on June 12, 1991. The female figure with a hat is Tausug Princess Tarhata Kiram. After studying at the University of Illinois as one of the first female ‘pensionados,’ she married the leader of the 1927 Moro revolt and eventually became a prominent Muslim leader and intermediary with the government. The Princess proved herself not only in politics, but also in music, writing Tausug songs. “Jolo Farewell” was among her most popular compositions. One of her memorable political battles was her denunciation in 1927 together with Senator Hadji Butu Rasul of the Bacon Bill, which sought to exclude the Sulu archipelago from Mindanao. Finally, the last portrait in this section honors Teofilo Ydelfonso, known as the ‘Ilocano Shark’, he is the first Philippine athlete to win an Olympic medal but also the only athlete to date to win back-to-back Olympic medals from his country. He is hailed as the ‘Father of the Modern Breastroke’ and was inducted in the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2010. The top left side reveals a portion of the group of local Filipinos representing FAAPI, reciving a symbolic baton from FAAPI’s founder Agripino Jaucian. Next to that are some of the national cultural treasures of the Philippines. The first from the left, is a gold vessel in the shape of a creature that is half-bird, half-woman: the “kimnari” of Hindu mythology, next one is the earliest document of the Philippines: the Laguna Copperplate (900 AD) written in ancient Filipino baybayin. This is followed by a water pouring vessel shaped into a Sarimanok motif and made of copper. Finally, a clay figurine of a seated man completes this display. Towards the lower top right corner is another mariner meant to honor one of the locals in the area, while next to him is a portion of the Liberty Bell. Most of the mosaics in this portion of the mural is defined by the lower part of the ancient Filipino presentation dish. The very bottom towards the left side is a portion of the sculpture created by Jose Rizal during his 4-year exile in Dapitan, Mindanao called “Mother’s Revenge” another Filipino national cultural treasure.
Filipino American History begins in this section of the mural just to the left of the central flame. The left-most area depicts the earliest permanent settlement of Asians in America: the Manila Village of 1763 in Louisiana, New Orleans. The two figures on the left belong to two of the early Filipino settlers in the USA: the male is Baltic Borabod (1890) and the female in a wedding gown is a Third generation Filipino American, Rosalie Borabod when she married Benito Yabut Martinez in 1903. Next to her is the built environment of Manila Village in Louisiana. Above this structures is the Manila Men “dancing the shrimp” a method pioneered by Filipinos in American shrimp farming. Next are two students that came to Philadelphia as Pensionados: Olivia D. Salamanca, who earned her degree from Women’s College of PA in 1910- the 1st Filipina to obtain a medical degree; and Carlos Barretto who arrived in Philadelphia in 1903 to attend Drexel Institute where he obtained his degree in architecture. After the over 100 ‘pensionados’ or US government sponsored Filipino students sent to the USA came the 15 Sakadas to work in Hawaii’s planatations in 1906, which began the official immigration of Filipinos in the US recruited mainly from Ilocos and the Visayas as laborers. Along a section of the terraced mountain containing water are some of the innovations originated from the Philippines and/or by Filipino Americans. At the top is the Manila hemp from which the Manila Rope was derived brought to the USA via US clippers that visited Cavite and Manila during the 1800s to Boston, MA where John Mark and Lyman Hollingsworth patented the product (12/4/1843) and used the fibers of the hemp from Manila Rope cut from old sails to create Manila Papers and Manila Folders. Another East Coast innovation, this time by a Filipino American named Jose Reyes credited for reviving and reinventing a tradition in Nantucket- the Nantucket baskets. Next is Pedro Flores who brought the Filipino toy to America; named it Yo-yo and started the yo-yo craze world-wide. In front of the yo-yo is local Philadelphian Baltazar Pinguel, who was the national spokesperson of Kabataang Makabayan during the First Quarter Storm movement to oust Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. Superimposed on the left side is the map of the Philippines. Towards the right of the map, along the side wall of the terrace is the Bataan Death March during WWII. The figure pointing his finger is Carlos P. Romulo, who was a Filipino correspondent in WWII and won a Pulitzer Prize for it. Behind him is the US Presidential Medal of Freedom- which he received for his contributions. Below him is a vignette of the Battle of Besang Pass, which is the greatest victory of Filipino soldiers against the Japanese. Underneath are 4 of the 5 Filipinos awarded the US Congressional Medal of Honor: Jose B. Nisperos, Jose Calugas, Leroy A. Mendonca, and (partially visible) Rudolph B. Davila.
Carlos Bulosan’s full figure dominates the left part of the mural. From top on the right side of Bulosan’s face is the 1904 St.Louis World’s Fair, where 1,200 Filipino natives where shipped to the US as anthropological specimen displays designed to justify US Imperialism in the Philippines. Above this scene is a hand carrying a piece of wood which says: “…Get rid of all Filipinos or we’ll burn this town down!”, symbolizing the Anti-Filipino Riots that erupted in the 1920s-1940s. Along the same portion of the terrace are a group of Filipinos that worked to build the railroads in the US. After that is a Filipino owned barbershop called Ancheta’s in Philadelphia’s Chinatown during the 1930s-50s. Returning back towards the left side is a collection of insignias of the 1st and 2nd Filipino Regiments, representing over 7,000 Filipino Americans that served the USA during WWII. Towards the right are three of four great Filipino Boxers: Francisco ‘Pancho Villa” Guilledo, Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde, Ceferino ‘Bolo Punch’ Garcia. Returning back to the bottom left is the first Filipina elected into the state legislature in the USA, and re-elected three consecutive times due to her outstanding performance: Thelma Garcia Bucholdt. Next to her is Philadelphia Eagles’ Filipino American football great Roman Gabriel. The ‘Postively No Filipinos Allowed’ sign on a Stockton Hotel comes next followed by a Manong being taken away from his home inside the International Hotel in SF. The bottom right is a portion of the 1965 Delano Grape Strike, the watershed movement in CA’s labor history. Directly below Pancho Villa is Larry Dulay Itliong, catalyst of the Delano Grape strike and considered the father of the Filipino American Movement, The alliance between the Filipino farm workers led by Itliong and the Filipino professionals led by Heredia and Esclamado brought about the formation of the Filipino American Political Association (FAPA) in 1966. In 1970, when Itliong was national president, FAPA had active chapters in 30 cities throughout the US. Towards Itliong’s right are local vignettes in Philadelphia: a Santacruzan parade held annually near Girard Avenue in Philadelphia, where the FAAPI building was also sited (the mural will include this landmark next to the parade); below it is the Our Lady of Hope Parish in Olney section of Philadelphia where the Filipino Apostolate is based led by Sister Lory Mapa and Father Efren Esmilla, who made his mark in PA as the earliest Filipino ordained Parish priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Contained in this part at the bottom of the mural from the top left side: the other half of the Liberty Bell, Filipino martial arts legend and confidant of Bruce Lee, Dan Inosanto who mainstreamed Philippine Martial Arts globally, the Independence Hall behind him, a Filipino WWII Veteran in a walker, still fighting for EQUITY, two dancers from FAAPI Youth dancing ‘Pandanggo sa Ilaw’ which is also Filipino Martial arts camouflaged as a dance, then towards the corner are some kids from FAAPI Youth. The church beside Independence Hall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Miag-Ao Church of Iloilo, on the street level is a Jeepney, which hopefully will someday roam around Philly once again as it did once during the 1960’s when the NY World’s Fair in 1964’s Philippine Pavillion shipped a Jeepney to the east coast and was driven from NY, to Philadelphia and unto Pittsburgh where it was displayed for the Pittsburgh International Folk Arts Festival. The series of rectangles are photo tiles presenting the local history of Filipinos in Philadelphia. The star is one of the three stars in the PH flag, and below that is the remainder of the Rizal clay sculpture. The icon next to this is the first of three Filipino American symbols representing the Filipino American movement. The first of the three is the painted logo of Paulo Agbayani Village in Delano, CA which was created by the UFW to house retired Filipino farmworkers who have no families and was named after the first martyr of the great Delano Grape Strike of 1965, which changed the course of US labor history. A “Manong” wearing a ‘Mummers Costume’ during the 1930s-40s, along with the Spanish Chapel in Center City Philadelphia where a lot of the early Filipino pioneers in Philly went to is on the left side part of the terraces. The entire vignette in this section depicts the local community of Philadelphia, except for the dominant depiction of Manny ‘Pac-Man’ Pacquiao in a prayerful mode. Beside his head are the four Filipinas and Filipinos that are awaiting sainthood, with two already designated as blessed and another- already a attained sainthood: Blessed Pedro Calungsod, Mother Ignacia,San Lorenzo Ruiz De Manila and Isabel Ramirez. Included in this scene is a Filipino tradition of showing respect to their elders, this one specifically portrays a child asking a blessing from her grandmother during Christmas time. Above this part is a local band in Philadelphia, known as a music capital. Then a figurative depiction of one of the mothers of the year, a social worker and beloved matriarch of the Filipino community: Mrs. Maria Umali-Velez. Next to her is another recipient of Mother of the Year (left blank for now). Finally the National Shrine of St. John Neumann is another important Church for the Filipino Community of Philadelphia, and one of its leaders, Msgr. George Tomicheck is one of its most beloved figures. The bottom panorama includes portions of a future Philly-Pinoy Town (Filipinotown). Instead of the landmark LOVE sculpture, this future enclave will have “PUSO” (word for *heart* in Filipino) with a tilted ‘U’. The famous Rocky Statue will be reclaimed to honor the Filipino champion, Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquaio.
Finally, the painted panorama here includes a future Philly-Pinoy Town (Filipinotown) highlighted by a collection of architectural heritage sites representing the various cultures that live with the neighborhood of the mural site: (from L-R) an African University, a Jewish Temple, and the Taj Mahal of India. Above that from the top left is the FAAPI Youth, a symbolic tribute to the Filipina nurse which represents a pivotal part of Philippine immigration to the US. After her is a scene in the Philippines during the graduation of hundreds of nurses. Finally, a FAAPI Miss Maria Clara Queen is paraded atop a car during the PH Independence Day Parade. The parade at the bottom of the painted portion are various nationalities joining in the annual Sinulog Festival which has been the most well-known Filipino legacy in Philadelphia. The last two icons at the bottom are (from L); the ‘SULONG’ (Forward) logo based from the Vinta of Zamboanga, designed by Timoteo Cordova which was used for the 1971 Young People’s Far West Convention, credited by many scholars as the beginning of the Filipino American Movement. The last icon on the right is the FAAPI logo which was based from the convergence of the PH Flag and a keystone- symbolizing Pennsylvania as the nation’s keystone state. The heritage site on the left is Russia’s St. Basil Cathedral followed by St. Augustine Church in Old City Philadelphia, the nation’s 4th oldest Roman Catholic Church and home of the National Shrine of the Sto. Nino de Cebu, whose installation inside this church saved it from being shut down permanently in 1991. The figure on the right honors Cristeta Pasia Comerford, the first non-white and first female Executive Chef of the White house, who now has served two US Presidents since acquiring that position. Finally, the sunburst icon at the bottom was based from Andres Bonifacio’s design of the Katipunan Flag (courtesy of www.watawat.net).
-Eliseo Art Silva with revisions by Rommel Rivera
FAAPI is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.
Upcoming EventsRizal Dinner Gala and Miss Maria Clara 2014
6:00 PM – 12:00 AM, December 28
Commemorating the 117th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, and featuring the coronation of Miss Maria Clara 2014 Melissa Evelyn Laurencio.
Crowne Plaza Hotel Grand Ballroom
2349 W. Marlton Pike
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
Please click the DONATE button above to pay.
$60/person if paid on or before Dec. 13, 2013.
$50/student. $30/children 12 and under.