What was supposed to be the yearly Philippine Independence Heritage Festival & Parade on June 2nd turned out to be another political debacle. From one rumor that the festival didn't happen because of the current terrorist threats, to the other that the permit wasn't filed on time, the story just got better and better. The parade was allowed, but the street fair and stage show were canned. It often comes down to, as it did this time, the people at PIDC (Philippine Independence Day Committee) negating many of the younger generation's voices, unless they had to do with a wedding band or were packaged in a Maria Clara outfit (a national costume which has roots in our being colonized by Spain.)

In previous years, the PIDC often had issues with those programs that veered from conveying the upwardly mobile image. Last year, a hip hop show that was programmed through hard work by one of our own, who even flew in artists from the West Coast to add to the great East Coast lineup, was cancelled. The coordinator(s) voiced their concerns to the PIDC at their open meeting, only to be turned down once again, claiming that a hip hop show would incite violence.

This year, other shows were planned, including some with a rock show feel, but those were canned as well, partially due to the supposed lack of the PIDC's filing the permit on time, but also most likely because participants were not showing up in barong tagalogs and Maria Claras, the suggested attire. Yes, conforming to colonized standards is what rockers are all about! Even those in the parade were required to be more "formal", with a preference for the barongs and Maria Claras. Sneakers were definitely out. As usual, special props were given to the young beauty pageant winners. I used to go off on this beauty pageant crap in previous issues of my (print) zine, so it’s such a tired subject already. Suffice to say, though, the passion hasn't died.

I was so disappointed by all this control manipulation by the PIDC, especially in their emphasis in including the upper middle class of Pinoys in the community, that I wasn't up to attending the parade, much less be a part of it (even the lineup of the parade was controlled to mostly include "acceptable" organizations, though some who bordered on being opinionated were actually accepted into the fold.) I live near the park where the festival was supposed to be after the parade, so I decided to take a stroll there, to take in the sun, and to peoplewatch. There was a somewhat significant Filipino presence there. On my way to find a nice bench to sit my ass on, I passed a posse of boys following a beauty pageant queen in a long flowing gown. My tongue practically bled from my biting it so much, and my impulses almost made me rip that tiara right off her head! There were also the young hoochie mamas who teetered on their platform sandals, flirting loudly with the barkadas of boys who were hanging out as well. What a show!

I find it ironic that in a city where "independent thinking" and non-Electric-Slide-line-dancing creativity is supposedly celebrated, those who are anywhere in those spectrums are shunned by the yearly PIDC parade/festival, either in their entirety or in part. Year after year it is made clearer to me that “keeping appearances” is tantamount; presenting Pinoys as upwardly mobile is upheld. Wanting to be viewed as successful is no crime in itself. But when excluding the true span of Filipino representation as part of the process, the whole goal of taking “pride” in a march is a stunted one.

Which is a shame considering we’re living in NYC, one of the most diverse, metropolitan, and supposedly tolerant (though that has much to be contested) cities. What is that saying about our community? What does it mean when we negate our own visibility?