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The Filipino New School Freestyle Revival

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 5, 2014 06:06pm | Post a Comment

Freestyle is a type of dance-pop music that evolved from Hi-NRG, Electro, and Hip-Hop in the early 1980s — primarily in New York City and specifically the South Bronx. Due to the ethnic and musicological background of some of its producers, performers and many of its fans, Freestyle was originally often referred to as Latin Hip-Hop. After enjoying a period of crossover popularity in the second half of the 1980s, Freestyle stopped being a major musical force in mainstream but was kept alive by a cult largely comprised surprisingly perhaps, largely of Filipinos.


Freestyle CD covers from the Geocities Era

In the early 1980s listeners could still discern the unique cultural contributions that made pre-corporate Hip-Hop a complex Afro-Caribbean-Hellenic-Italo-Teutonic gumbo. The syncopated rhythms of Electro-Funk owed their popularity to Nuyoricans’ central importance in the emerging subculture. Electro-Funk branched into something distinct (what came to be known as Freestyle) in 1982 and ’83, with the release of songs like Planet Patrol’s “Pay At Your Own Risk,” C-Bank’s “Get Wet,” and Shannon’s “Let the Music Play” and the production efforts of figures like John Robie & Arthur Baker, The Latin Rascals, and Mark Liggett & Chris Barbosa.
 

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Filipinotown

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 13, 2011 01:12am | Post a Comment
P-TOWN, STAY DOWN! -- HISTORIC FILIPINOTOWN



This blog entry is about Historic Filipinotown. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods to be the subject of a blog entry, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Historic Filipinotown

Historic Filipinotown is a neighborhood in Los Angeles' Mideast Side boundried by the 101 to the north, Beverly to the south, Hoover to the West and Glendale to the East. Its neighbors are Silver Lake and Echo Park to the north, Angeleno Heights to the northeast, Temple-Beaudry to the east, Westlake to the south, and Wilshire Center to the west.


Prior to its official designation in 2002, the neighborhood was often described as being part of Rampart Village, Westlake, Echo Park, and Silver Lake


The designation of Historic Filipinotown strikes some as odd. To casual observers who only pass through the area in their cars, the neighborhood doesn't look especially Filipino. The streets aren't exactly lined with nipa huts. In addition, Filipinos are sometimes referred to as "the Invisible Minority" because most in America speak English as a first language, most speak English, and most no longer live primarily in ethnic enclaves. It may come as a surprise then that the area around Historic Fillipinotown is actually home to quite a few Pinoys. 


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Mideast Side

They probably should've just called it "Filipinotown" and dropped the "Historic" except that there are even more, apparently, Koreans, Mexicans, and Salvadorans in the neighborhood. But then again, Koreatown is mostly Latino, Little Ethiopia is largely Jewish, Little Tokyo is heavily Korean, and Thai Town is primarily Armenian. The fact of the matter is that Filipinotown is a major cultural and culinary center for Filipinos but what's done is done and the official name has lead to the nickname, HiFi.


FILIPINO-AMERICAN HISTORY


Filipinos first settled in the US starting in 1763, when they established Saint Malo in Louisiana. Prior to that, the Austronesian ancestors of modern Filipinos had spread across the Pacific Islands, some of which would later become part of the US. After the 1902 conclusion of the Philippine-American War, the first Filipinos came to California and Hawaii.

In 1911,  Pablo Manlapit formed Filipino Higher Wages Association and the Filipino Unemployed Association in Hawaii. Many Filipino males continued to immigrate, working as farm laborers, as there were fewer restrictions against them than applied to other Asians since their country was an American colony. In 1920, over 10,000  Japanese and Filipino plantation workers go on strike. In 1928,  Filipino farmers were chased out of Yakima Valley, Oregon by a white mob.

In 1934, the Tydings-McDuffie Act reduces Filipino immigration to 50 a year while outlining the Philippines' path to independence. However, after  The Philippines become independent from the US in 1946, citizenship was offered to all Filipinos living in the United States.

Although state-sanctioned racial discrimination is no longer practiced and Filipinos are often thought to have assimilated into mainstream society, there are still cases of anti-Filipino racisim. For example, in 1999 Joseph Ileto was murdered by white supremacist Buford Furrow just for being brown. In 2007, Marie Stefanie Martinez was beat up by a group of black teenagers in New York City... their excuse was "she looked Chinese."

Anyway, no doubt in part because of the relative ease with which they move through mainstream American society, Filipinos are prominent in the arts and entertainment industries. There are a lot of American artists and entertainers with some Filipino ancestry and, off the top of my head I can think of Chad Hugo, Christine Castro Hughes, Joey Santiago, Lou Diamond Phillips, Ernie Reyes Jr., Dante Basco, Emy Coligado, Joanna Bacalso, Jocelyn Enriquez and Reggie Lee.


FILIPINOS IN LA

In the 1920s, Los Angeles' Filipino population was centered in the residential hotels in Little Tokyo. In 1929, anti-Filipino riots began around California over inter-racial relationships between white women and Filipino men, in defiance of anti-misegination laws.


After the Philippines achieved independence in 1934, a limit of fifty Filipinos per year was imposed as punishment. Most of these immigrants settled around 1st and Main, just west of Little Tokyo, and the area came to be known as Little Manila. If anything, that's "Historic" Filipinotown but anyway... After the passage of the Luce-Cellar Act of 1946, which increased the quota to one hundred, more Filipinos arrived and the area became increasingly crowded.


With growing racial tension between Filipinos and black Angelenos, most of the Pinoy population relocated to nearby Bunker Hill, a formerly posh neighborhood of Victorian homes which had by then been subdivided and deemed a slum.

After that neighborhood's demolition in the late '50s, many Filipinos moved west to Temple-Beaudry and what's now Historic Filipinotown. Most of the homes in the area date back to the 1920s and 1910s although, especially in the eastern edge, there are Victorians built in the 1890s. As with Bunker Hill, by the time the Filipinos arrived, many of the neighborhood's older inhabitants had moved elsewhere, following the expansion of Los Angeles and abandoning the early and by then unfashionable Victorian and Craftsman neighborhoods.

With the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, national quotas for "Malays and Mongoloids" were finally lifted and Filipinos were actively sought out to help end a shortage of qualified nurses. As a result, Filipino immigration exploded and Filipinos were only surpassed by Chinese in numbers of Asian immigrants. There are still a lot of Filipino nurses, huh? Anyway, one in four Filipino immigrants to the US settled in the Los Angeles era and there are now around 400,000 here. With the expanding numbers and with segregation ended, Filipinos began to fan out from their traditional enclaves and today there are pockets of large numbers in Filipinos both where Little Manilas traditionally existed and in newer enclaves in places like Arleta, Artesia, Buena Park, Carson, Cerritos, Covina, Diamond Bar, Eagle Rock, Glendale, North Hollywood, Panorama City, Walnut, West Covina and West Hollywood.


THE ESTABLISHMENT OF HISTORIC FILIPINOTOWN

Filipinos had long lobbied for the establishment of an official Little Manila but with the population so spread throughout the county, the question of where exactly remained until the establishment of Historic Filipinotown in 2002. Today, not only is the neighborhood a large Filipino bedroom community but as a cultural and commercial center it rivals even the Eagle Rock Plaza. It's home to several Pinoy organizations and establishments. The Historic Filipinotown Neighborhood Council works to preserve the cultural, political and economic development in P-Town.


Filipino Christian Church

The Filipino Christian Church, established in 1933, is the oldest Christian Church in the county.


Filipino American Community of Los Angeles

There's also the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA), whose hall one can rent out for events. 


Filipino American Service Group, Inc.

 The Filipino American Service Group, Inc. (FASGI), stands out with its traditional Filipino vibe.


Search to Involve Pilipino Americans

There's the Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA).

In addition to those, there's The Rotary Club of Historic Filipinotown (HIFIRC), the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC), the Pilipino American Network and Advocacy (PANA) Filipinas World Travel, the Filipino American Library (FAL), Philipino American Comm-LA, and the Historic Filipinotown Chamber of Commerce (HIFICC).


One of the oldest sites in the neighborhood pre-dates the arrival of Filipinos to the area, the Bonnie Brae House. In 1906, the home of Richard and Ruth Asberry (216 N. Bonnie Brae Street) gained fame as the birthplace of the Pentecostal movement when a black, Catholic-raised preacher named William Seymour led a fast and after three days, one Edward S. Lee began speaking in tongues and was soon joined by others. Today the home is open as a museum (by appointment only).


Faustino “Peping” Baclig WWII memorial

The first Filipino WWII Veterans Memorial in the nation (designed by artist Cheri Gaulke and with a quote from Faustino “Peping” Baclig) is located at Lake Street Park at the former site of Our Lady of Loretto High School.


The crosswalks in Filipinotown have even been decorated with traditional Filipino basket weaving patterns.


Luzon Plaza


Manila Terrace

There are even strip malls and apartments with names like Luzon Plaza and Manila Terrace!
 

CULTURAL EVENTS

There are two major annual events in the Historic Filipinotwn: the Annual Historic Filipinotown 5k Run/Walk/Festival in August and, after Thanksgiving, the lamp posts along Temple Street are decorated with parol which remain until the Three Kings Celebration and then are highlighted by the Christmas Parol Parade. Currently, there are also plans for monuments to Uncle Roy Morales, Philip Vera Cruz and Jose Rizal.


I'm not sure what section to put it in, but P-Town is home to the LA Derby Dolls, too.


EATS & DRINKS


There are several Filipino restaurants in the neighborhood including:

  Bahay Kubo Natin


Sisigan Republic Atvp (previously Pinnoy BBQ
 [sic] and Amihan)


 Nanay Gloria  
 

 ...and Little Ongpin.  

Not pictured but also offering Filipino cuisine are AristocratKapistahan Grill, My Mom's Bake Shop, and Salakot Sizzle and Grill Restaurant)

 
I would have eaten at one of the Filipino joints except for the fact that Filipino food is pretty much up there with Mongolian or Inuit in terms of not-being-vegetarian-friendly. Being a hot day, I did grab a Calamondin juice from Temple Seafood Market, which was refreshing.
 
 

Non-Filipino joints include Bernie's Teriyaki, Lowenbrau Keller, TiGeorge's, Bangkok Express, Brooklyn Bagel Bakery, Dante's, Antojitos Chapines Amalia, Tacos El Aja' Toros, Gigi Bakery & Cafe, Alberto Tamales, Luong Vinh, Village Kitchen  and Ostionero Colima 2
 
 
 
 
 
The most famous restaurant in Historic Filipinotown is the Original Tommy's Hamburger, which was started by Greek-American Tom Koulax and opened on May 15, 1946 at the intersection of Rampart and Beverly, where it still stands.
 
 

There are also some bars, including Medusa Lounge, Fredo's, 1642, Chang Billy.


P-TOWN ART SCENE




There's at least one art gallery in Historic Filipinotown, Tropico de Nopal Gallery.
 
 
There's a mural in Beverly Union ParkGintong Kasaysayan, Gintong Pamana, which depicts key moments and figures in the Pinoy civil rights struggle. The fact that Paula Cristomo is Chilipina is frequently overlooked, as is the fact that the 1964 Grape Boycott was begun by Filipino farm workers.
 

There's also a Cache mural, which typically depicts chickens, Zapatistas and simplistic political sloganeering and iconography.

HISTORIC FILMIPINO





I don't know of any actors/filmmakers or bands from Filipinotown but there is Gemini Video, however. Gemini Video is much more than a video store. They do sell and rent a large selection of Hollywood and Filipino films on DVD and VHS... they also sell nurse scrubs, dish soap, bags and all kinds of seemingly (to me) random items.


OCCIDENTAL STUDIOS


At 201 N. Occidental stands the old Occidental Studios. They were built in 1913 by a then-famous actor from Ohio, Hobart Bosworth. It was at Occidental that Canadian actress Mary Pickford got her start in film. The studios were later owned by director Robert Aldrich.



HI-FI SOUNDS





The neighborhood is also home to both Pehrspace and L'Keg Gallery, both of which focus on up-and-coming bands with considerable talent and both of which are located in the Glen Village Shopping Center
 
 

The nearby Filipino-owned Tribal Cafe also hosts live music events. The Pan American Nightclub, despite its name, boasts that it's "100% Latino" and, in keeping with that boast, mostly features Bachata, Bolero, Cumbia, Duranguense, Merengue, Punta, Reggeaton and Salsa.

So check out Historic Filipinotown, "bayang magiliw, perlas ng silanganan." Palaam na po!


*****


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California Fool's Gold -- A San Gabriel Valley Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 24, 2011 06:33pm | Post a Comment
GABRIEL'S HORN DOES SOUND -- THE SAN GABRIEL VALLEY

Invariably when one speaks or hears of "The Valley," the valley in question is the San Fernando (despite the fact that there are at least six major and loads of minor valleys in Los Angeles County). For the same reasons that I'm mildly annoyed when people refer to "THE City" or "THE Bay," the notion of "THE Valley" smacks of ignorance at best and unpleasant small-mindedness at worst. This blog entry is an introduction to the San Gabriel Valley, that great and amazing expanse of suburbs, boomburbs, exurbs and enthoburbs (any "suburb" portmanteaus I've missed?) with surprisingly significant history and variety of cultures beneath the seemingly uniform surface of bandage-colored strip malls and homes. That being said, at the time of writing, the San Fernando Valley page on Facebook has 25,519 fans whereas the San Gabriel Valley page has a mere ten.


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of the San Gabriel Valley


GEOGRAPHY

The San Gabriel Valley is bordered by the the Verdugo Hills and San Rafael Hills to the northwest; the San Gabriel Mountains (and Angeles Forest region) to the north; The Pomona Valley and Inland Empire to the east; the Puente Hills and San Jose Hills and, on the other side, Orange County to the south; SELACO to the south west; and The Eastside and NELA to the west.

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Silver Lake, Los Angeles's Gayborhood

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 8, 2010 09:33pm | Post a Comment


Silver Lake
is a largely gay and hilly neighborhood (one of its nicknames is "The Swish Alps") in LA’s Mideast Side. To vote for more Los Angeles neighborhoods to be featured in a future post, click here. To vote for LA County communities, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

 

INTRODUCTION TO SL

First things first… Silver Lake is two words! Don't believe me? Count 'em! There are fifteen Silver Lakes in the US, thirteen of which are two words (one of the offenders is in Texas, and therefore doesn't really count). It is supposedly the second gayest place in the Southland, after West Hollywood and in front of Broadway Corridor.

 
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Maps of the Mideast Side and Silver Lake*



Its neighbors are Los Feliz, Franklin Hills, Sunset Junction, Virgil Village, P-Town, Atwater Village, Frogtown, Elysian Heights and Echo Park. For this episode, I was joined by my traveling companion, filmmaker Diana Ward.

Constructing the reservoirs

EARLY HISTORY & THE RESERVOIR

The area that is now Silver Lake was once populated by the ancestors of the Chumash, who arrived around 13,000 years ago. The Tongva/Kizh arrived from the Sonoran Desert to the east some 3,500 years ago. In 1542, whilst exploring on behalf of Spain, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo claimed all of California for the Empire after having set foot in San Diego Bay, Santa Catalina Island, San Pedro Bay, Santa Monica Bay, and a few other coastal points. Nevertheless, more than two centuries passed before Spain moved to protect their till-then mostly nominal possessions from the possible encroachment from the English and Russians.

Setting the stage for conquest part to secure California, in 1769 Spain sent explorer Gaspar de Portolà de Rovira on an overland exhibition of what’s now California. In 1777 a plan was put into place to establish civic pueblos to support the newly established military presidios. In 1781, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles de Porciuncula (Los Angeles) was founded near the banks of the Los Angeles River. Los Angeles was granted four square leagues of territory, the northern border of which corresponded closely to what’s now Fountain Avenue and the western ran along what’s now Hoover Street. 


Detail of an 1887 map showing the Southerly portion of Ivanhoe

In the 19th century, Scotsman Hugo Reid named the area just north of Los Angles's northern border Ivanhoe and many streets still have Scottish names or names taken from Sir Walter Scott's famous novel, including Ben Lomond, Hawick, Herkimer, Kenilworth, Rowena and St. George. In the map above, the future site of the Silver Lake and Ivanhoe Reservoirs is merely designated as the LA City Res Site, which was before its development as a reservoir a seasonal wetland and part of the Ballona Creek Watershed.

Detail of a map from 1894, still showing the area as Ivanhoe

In 1906, the neighborhood’s two reservoirs were named the Ivanhoe Reservoir and the Silver Lake Reservoir, the latter after LA DWP commissioner Herman Silver.


Detail of 1913 Los Angeles map showing Silver Lake - Elza Ave is now Silver Lake Blvd 


Detail of 1945 Los Angeles map showing Silver Lake - Elza Ave was by then Silver Lake

The reservoir was first drained in 1951 and there was no sign of the infamous Sylvie, the Silver Lake Serpent.


The August House  


 The Canfield-Moreno Estate

 
The Burrows Residence


The Garbutt-Hathaway Mansion

THE SILENT FILM ERA

In 1909 William Selig and Francis Boggs established a film studio in Boggs' rented bungalow in Edendale, an historic Los Angeles neighborhood centered in what is now Echo Park and the eastern portion of what’s now Silver Lake. Soon, Edendale was the center of the burgeoning industry. Meanwhile, Monogram, Vitagraph and Walt Disney all established studios in another Silver Lake neighbor, Franklin Hills. Silver Lake, situated between the two, immediately attracted industry figures and creative types. With the silent film industry including many homosexuals, by the 1920s, Silver Lake also supported a thriving gay population which continue to reside in the neighborhood to the the present.

Silver Lake was also, like neighboring Echo Park and Elysian Heights (nicknamed “Red Hill”), a hotbed of Communism. Beginning in the 1920s and continuing into the 1930s, many real estate developers began to build up the neighborhood. One home, The August House, built in 1913, is one of the neighborhood's oldest. Antonio Moreno, was a "Latin Lover" who commissioned the development of the Moreno Highlands as well as his own Canfield-Moreno Estate (co-named after his oil heiress wife, Daisy Canfield, and also known as The Paramour Mansion and The Crestmount). There's also the Gaudi-inspired Burrows Residence, designed in 1921. Cinematographer Frank A. Garbutt had the Garbutt-Hathaway mansion built on top of a hill and it was a frequent shooting location since its completion in 1928.


The Avenel Co-Op 


The Droste House


The John R. Hunt House


A Neutra home


Another Neutra


Diana checking out another Neutra



The O'Neill Duplex   


Silvertop  


The Tierman Home

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Eagle Rock

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 9, 2010 03:21pm | Post a Comment

This entry of the Los Angeles neighborhood blog series is about Eagle Rock. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods to be featured in the blog, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here.  To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.





Eagle Rock is a neighborhood situated in Northeast Los Angeles whose neighbors are Pasadena to the east, Garvanza to the southeast, Highland Park and Mount Washington to the south, Glassell Park to the southwest and Glendale to the West.

 

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