4:59 PM

Saan TAYO Papunta?

Posted by Prosy Delacruz

Paul Estuar of Litt, Estuar Law Firm; John Mina, Kristine Co, Melissa Sipin, Rose Ibanez of TAYO Magazine, Cecile and Dante Ochoa of First Impressions.

“What was clear, though, in all his attempts at casting light upon who and what we are as Filipinos, was that he ( Nick Joaquin ) would write – in the flowing, tempting and enchanting prose Filipinos have all come to love- the condition of his countrymen wherever the Fates will bring them. He loved this city ( Manila ) still, warts and all, and with a mind as clear and crisp as the day he was born, in an unbroken stream of words, he once more took his pen and wrote like no other city was worth the blood and sweat he poured tirelessly in every piece of his prose… He moved as with a creature born with wings, and if at all windy spaces come, it was only for the purpose of lifting him higher. Nick Joaquin was beyond doubt the Literati of Manila, as was James Joyce to his beloved Dublin." - Joel Pablo Salud, 2009

Magazines cater to the needs, sensitivity and sensibilities of their readers and TAYO is no exception.

Melissa Sipin, co-founder of TAYO Magazine, shared that the magazine aspires to go beyond the ivory tower by showcasing creative talent, not only from members of collegiate institutions. It seeks to provide a cultural space for young community artists and to create awareness on immigrant issues that are a vital part of the lives of second – generation Filipino-Americans.

Often mistaken as gang members, Filipinos are pulled over in Los Angeles. They are exposed to a rawness, like no other. Going to college opens their minds about the Philippines and enables them to discover the roots of their identity.

No one talks about their own home issues, though. Should we be wholesome beings first, before becoming rebels without a cause? I asked.

Melissa's clear vision appeared unorthodox. Some achieve this level of clarity, after learning lessons from trauma. Melissa has been blogging since she was in 8th grade -- first, with a journal about how she felt and how she was traumatized by her dad’s heart transplant.

Her AP English teacher mentored her to “ tame the talent." After high school, she went to Wheatstone Academy and learned about the works of Plato, Socrates, and Descartes.

Paolo de la Fuente, TAYO’s content coordinator, said that his early journey was a series of turning away from writing -- his innate gift. He changed majors three times (from film, to psychology, to philosophy) yet his written works stood out, prompting his professors to encourage him to publish his written works. Paolo did more. He completed his Master’s in Creative Writing at CSUN, was published in academic journals, and won literary awards.

Melissa and Paolo discovered their knack for writing through different means, but have pooled their talents together for TAYO, thanks to the Filipino-American Library’s Board, who believed in them.

Paolo shared that initiating conversations with Fil-Ams and Filipino immigrants to bridge perspectives from two ends of the spectrum is part of the magazine’s creative process. These engaging exchanges usually come from Filipino-Americans who are fresh, spontaneous and expressive of their fears and passions and from Filipino immigrants who are reflective and meditative, who speak without being explicit from an invisible backpack of struggles of being far away from home.

TAYO co-founder Kristine Co said that “ TAYO aspires to have a cultural and anthropological symbol of art to be passed down through the ages. We wanted to capture a mosaic of perspectives held by the Fil-Am youth, and pass this snapshot down to the next generation, so that we can continue to build on a rich tapestry of art and culture. The reason all this is so important is because we are the next generation, and we have a responsibility to preserve what culture we feel we identify with as Filipino-Americans."

TAYO’s striking icon is made up of broken up pieces of a woman’s face, with dark and light tones, some parts in color, a composite put together. The icon grabs you to wonder.

TAYO is a refreshing mosaic of various forms and colors, but does not possess a cohesive theme. Perhaps, there should be none, if it is a magazine of the moment. It is about how young folks are -- a spontaneous field of the youth's streams of consciousness, ideas and artistic creations and their ‘go for it’ attitude.

TAYO is bold and risky to insist on its premature birth, forsaking community traditions. But for Maganda Magazine at UC Berkeley, it sets aside, if brashly, the current economic context of depressing news on foreclosures, millions of jobs lost, if only to declare "TAYO is ready to carve a space for young artists and writers! “

In spite of the current situation, when printed ethnic newspapers are folding up, this literary magazine insists to be published, with a lot of bayanihan support from generous business and community sponsors: FAL Board Members Matt Lopez, John Mina, Carol Ojeda-Kimbrough, Paul Estuar, FAL Administrator Jonathan Lorenzo and First Impressions Printing Co., who clustered resources for the literary magazine to be born.

For centuries, there has not been a single magazine that featured young Filipino- American artists in Los Angeles. Yet, already eight or more generations of Filipino-Americans have settled here in America, with 4,000,000 residents of Filipino ancestry. Early pioneers lived in Weller Court, in Little Tokyo, where they have been displaced by gentrifications. No cultural landmarks evidenced that they were once there.

Professor Lucilla Hosillos’ research findings revealed our ancestors were literate during the 11th century. They created extemporaneous poetry and interacted through Balagtasan. Their early forms of poetry even influenced Mexican corridos, as they traded with merchants around the world.

How then can the imagination of succeeding Filipino generations be silenced? Is this the aftermath of four centuries of colonial wars? Or was it a lack of moral leadership at the helm of government institutions that led them to be miseducated?

Peter Bacho, a master teacher in creative writing, shared his observations about how our writers are invisible, how only a few of them get published, and how others only remain as aspiring writers. A few of them participated at the 4th NVM Gonzalez Writers’ Workshop at UC Santa Barbara, organized by NVM’s son, Mike Gonzalez.

To address this need, TAYO created a community of writers/artists ‘for our culture, by our culture’ and declared that 'they will no longer be writers in obscurity.’

TAYO’s inaugural issue became a venue for 70 young artists to showcase their poetry, the spoken word, short stories and photo art and a chance for their works to be immortalized as they go through their personal journeys in finding their identity and building the community.

If you would include the production team for this magazine, at least 100 folks were part of the creative process -- a team training towards a worthwhile goal which is TAYO.

But is there a marketing and distribution network for TAYO? If one would consider the tools of virtual and viral marketing -- Facebook, Twitter and TAYO’s website, all active social networks for the magazine, including the relational networks of the published artists, and their community, there would be enough channels to sustain TAYO for generations to come.

TAYO’s improbable birth in 8 months, during these hard economic times, is now a reality, providing our Filipino youth with the opportunity to become responsible risk-takers and entrepreneurs. It inspires them to make something out of nothing, to imagine beauty from dark, toxic places and to capture our community’s imagination to aspire and to reach for our potentials as well.

TAYO is bound to go somewhere -- kung saan, only the artists and the community of writers would know. I hope that it will be somewhere noble and towards something larger than themselves.

“ Never underestimate the power of the youth to create something of value." TAYO was launched with a purpose and a mission. Here is a cyber glass of Vuqo to sustain them for a century!

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