Tuesday, October 4, 2011


The Filipino-American community aims to make this city a center for talented Fil-Am visual and performing artists similar to those already flourishing in the West Coast, Chicago and New York.

“We are pulling together all the talents in the Baltimore area so we can get organized as a performing group,” Ike Santos, chairman of the recently formed First Act, Inc. disclosed to the Manila Mail.

The 2010 Census showed that Filipinos posted one of the largest proportional increases of any minority in Maryland, their numbers growing by more than 65 percent. Indians remained the dominant Asian group but their numbers increased by only 59 percent over the last decade.

Most Fil-Ams here live or work in the Towson-Baltimore City corridor which is reputedly the fastest growing area in this corner of Maryland. The city is also home to about 600 Filipino teachers who were recruited for many inner-city schools.

“Right now the talent is all over the place but it’s not organized,” Santos averred.

“Sometimes when someone asks if we can do a folk dance, we have to go to different places just to put together a group,” adding that they’ve gotten calls from the Maryland Governor’s office to perform in state festivals.

“They asked for a Filipino participation because they already have Korean or Chinese groups performing, but we have to scramble to put one up for us,” he revealed.

Santos explained that Fil-Am talents in California, New York-New Jersey and Chicago already have theater or cultural troupes that can put up shows at a moment’s notice. They aim to create this same artistic environment in Baltimore where young Fil-Ams inclined to the arts can gather and receive training to further hone their skills.

“If we organize these talents under one organization, we can get an idea of where they are, how many they are; we can have an inventory of Filipino artists in Baltimore,” he explained.

“The group can also draw still undiscovered Fil-Am talent. Right now much of that talent is hidden because artists don’t have any group to join. We want them to come out and join us and show the native artistry of Filipinos,” Santos said.

Initially, he revealed, they are thinking of putting up 1 or 2-act plays for community theaters. A former director from the Philippines, Greg de Guzman, has volunteered to help start the ball rolling for the project, Santos disclosed. Dance instructor Nene Guanzon, originally from Chesapeake, Virginia has also offered to teach zumba, line-dancing and of course Filipino folk dances.

At the moment, the Pinoy talents are more involved in singing or dancing. “We want to expand this. We want to develop a community theater. A lot of Filipinos go to the Maryland Institute of Art; we can help put up shows in art galleries or exhibitions. They can get a lot of exposure and experience,” Santos stressed.

“This group can create the demand for the Filipino arts,” he declared. “When we see all this Filipino talent flourishing, it can be inspiration for others,” Santos averred, a venue for demonstrating the rich Filipino culture and heritage. (Manila Mail)

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