August 26, 2002

Press Contact:
Sabrina Margarita Alcantara-Tan
Email: bamboogirl@aol.com


- Maritess Zurbano, New York’s only female magician, will be showcased in a limited-run performance entitled, “GIRLIEMAGIC: THE LIFE OF A PROFESSIONAL FEMALE MAGICIAN,” as part of Artists of Tomorrow, the theater festival supporting women in theater.

“People should come to see a story that has never been told before on stage—ever,” Maritess states. “I’m one of 15 professional female magicians in the United States, and am uniquely qualified to introduce the audience to the secret world of magic and Las Vegas... There will also be quite a bit of sex present in the play, which is worth more than $15 bucks,” she winks.

With a background as a professional freelance writer, Maritess has been working on her memoir for several years. “GIRLIEMAGIC” encapsulates this Filipina-American's treacherous journey – from a suicidal teenager in the backstreets of Chicago, to black jack dealer, magic apprentice in Las Vegas, to world-traveled illusionist. All will be revealed via magic illusions, slight-of-hand, and mind-reading feats.

“This show is the accumulation of 12 years of wonderful friendships, magical moments, education, and blatant misogynistic hatred I’ve received from the magic community.”

As the only known Filipino American professional magician, the only known professional female magician, and the only female Asian mentalist in history, she is no stranger to breaking new ground.

Maritess hopes that in telling her story, in all its colorful, intense, and humorous glory, women will be encouraged to pursue their dreams, “Magic is like any other male dominated career choice. It’s just that in the magic world, the misogyny is hilariously blatant. Traditionally, if a woman is on stage, she is wearing a bikini and a g-string and is being sawn in half, impaled, set on fire, or acting as servant. I’ve attended magic conventions for years, and over and over I’ve seen young magicians being exposed to magic’s misogyny, via deprecating jokes or routinely offensive magic tricks, such as the old sponge-penis-jumping-out-of-the-hand-trick (long story, it’s in the show) as if it was a requirement for participation. My message is that it doesn’t have to be. We can all be magicians side by side and it’s okay.”

Guest artists will include: Kenny Muhammed, “Human Orchestra”/beatbox extraordinnaire, with whom Maritess will be collaborating with in the show, and Chinese-American musician Kevin So, who will be opening for the Sunday performance only.

Show dates for this limited engagement are Saturday, September 14 at 2pm and 8pm, Sunday, September 15 at 8pm, and Saturday, September 21 at 9pm, at the West End Theatre, located at 263 West 86th Street, between Broadway and West End Highway, half a block from the 1/2 86th Street stop. Ticket price is $15. Reserve tickets by calling 212.696.8931.

“One of the recommended shows to see in Manhattan.”
- Time Out New York

“Zurbano’s style could be called urban sophisticate - with an edge…”
- New York Newsday

“Zurbano’s steady rise to popularity… is not by magic.”
- Philippine News

About Maritess Zurbano

Maritess was born and raised in Chicago where she studied sculpture, painting and art history in college. She later dropped out of art school to become a magician in Las Vegas. Beginning her career as a close-up slight of hand artist with an expertise in card and coin magic helped her deal blackjack at every major casino. Later, she became part of a gambling team.

Maritess apprenticed with legendary magician, Gary Darwin, in Las Vegas for seven years. Since then, Maritess has toured with her full stage illusion show throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. She was nominated for competition in the Federacion Internacionale Societe Magique 2000, considered the Olympics of Magic. She has been featured on Lifetime Television, VH1, Newsday, and in media around the world, including Japan’s TV network, NHK.

Guest Artists

Kenny Muhammed: Kenny is known as the “Human Orchestra.” He has performed on the Jay Leno Show, with the New York Symphony Orchestra, and has toured with Maxwell. Kenny’s human beatbox rivals a four-track mixer. Maritess and Kenny will be doing a magical collaboration in the show.

Kevin So: Kevin is a Chinese-American musician from Boston. He is a folk singer, and has opened for many stars, including Billy Bragg. His politically-charged songs address racism, alienation, and love. Kevin will be opening for the Sunday show only.



An 8-year-old girl was shot to death with her parents; a 15-year-old was sexually molested by an army sergeant; two women in their 20s were believed to have been raped and killed. These were among the incidents visited upon GABRIELA Philippines since year 2002 began, since the archipelago became the site for the second phase of the US-led "war on terrorism."

Join GABRIELA Network USA, a solidarity mass organization working with GABRIELA Philippines, as we appeal to the women in US Congress to raise questions regarding the sexual exploitation of women of the Philippines by US troops, and about state-sponsored terrorism visited upon women's organizations, particularly GABRIELA Philippines, under the encouragement of the US government.

Help us appeal to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to fulfill the oath she took and safeguard the well-being of the Filipino people and the nation.

GABRIELA Philippines is the largest women's group in the country. The organization was instrumental in ousting the Marcos dictatorship and paving the way for the first female president of the Philippines.

Join us the WEEK OF AUGUST 25th IN A LETTER-WRITING BARRAGE. Let Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and your elected representatives know about your opposition to the victimization and killing of innocents! Send them a message via email, fax, and/or postal mail.

Just a few minutes of your time can help save the life of innocent Filipino women, men, and children. Just a few minutes can help save your own life. The US-led "war on terrorism" infringes on your civil liberties, and appropriates tax dollars from your social service benefits -- this is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

The following are 1) GABNet's statements, 2) sample letters, and 3) contact information for Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, relevant congressional committees, and women congressional delegates from your state. Just cut and paste the names and contact infos into the attached letters, then email and/or print and mail/fax.

Please cc GABNet on your emails. Or mail/fax us a copy of your signed letter. Thank you.

In solidarity and sisterhood,

Annalisa Enrile
National Co-Chairperson, GABRIELA Network

Dorotea Agustin Mendoza
National Co-Chairperson, GABRIELA Network

Vivian Itchon Gupta
Coordinator, GABRIELA Network - NY/NJ Chapter

PO Box 403, Times Square Station
New York, NY 10036
Tel: 212.592.3507
Fax: 651.321.1845
Email: gabnet@gabnet.org
Web: www.gabnet.org


[SAMPLE LETTER to US government officials, addressed particularly to women representatives]

Dear Sen. __________ or Dear Rep. ____________:

When an 8-year-old girl is shot to death, when a 15-year old is sexually molested by an army sergeant, when women organizing and advocating for their rights have their homes sprayed with gunfire, are hoisted in front of military interrogators and accused of subversion, when the sex trafficking of women peaks sharply and when women can be ordered and delivered into US camps for sex purposes, it is time to ask whether the presence of US troops in the Philippines is doing that country any good or whether it is simply a waste of American taxpayers' money.

In the aftermath of the Philippines' involvement in the so-called "war on terrorism," the political situation there has gone from bad to worse, the armed conflict extended even to such legitimate women's organizations as GABRIELA Philippines and even political parties like BAYAN MUNA.

The largest multisectoral women's alliance, GABRIELA Philippines, was pivotal to Philippine acceptance of women's leadership. Now, it is besieged by Philippine state-sponsored terrorism, its members raped, disappeared and/or murdered, or subjected to repression.

For over a hundred years, the US military occupied the largest landholding in that very small archipelago, violated the country's laws and sovereignty with impunity and created an organized sex trade which remains to this day. When they were evicted, at the end of the Philippine-US Military Bases Agreement in 1992, the US military abandoned its responsibility towards 60,000 AmerAsian children, fathered by US troops.

The Philippines and the Filipino people, particularly the women of the Philippines, do not deserve to go through this experience again. Between 1992 and 2001, before the return of US troops, Filipinos were deepening their practice of democracy, ousting corrupt and incompetent officials, including the former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada. They had served notice that they would not tolerate a repeat of the unspeakable pillage and tyranny of the Marcos Dictatorship.

The return of US troops to the Philippines changed the political balance in the archipelago. Historically, the presence of US troops has always been used by whoever is in power in the Philippines to consolidate his/her control, suppress opposition to his/her power, and maintain himself/herself in authority. There are indications that the current President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, will be declaring martial law, using as an excuse the existence of a hundred-man band called the Abu Sayyaf, a group created by the Philippine military itself as a counterforce to legitimate Moslem groups opposing political and economic pillage by the 60 ruling clans of the Philippines.

On behalf of the two million women of Philippine ancestry in the US, we ask that you, as a woman and in your official capacity, raise questions regarding the sexual exploitation visited upon women of the Philippines by US troops, and about state-sponsored terrorism visited upon women's organizations, particularly GABRIELA Philippines, under the encouragement of the US military. If a Senate or Congressional fact-finding committee could take up these matters, it would certainly be of help to the women of the Philippines.


[contact info]
Philippine President
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Fax: (011)-632-736-1010; Email: corres@op.gov.ph
Office of the President, Malacanang Palace, Manila, Philippines

[SAMPLE LETTER to Philippine President]

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Office of the President
Malacanang Palace
Manila, Philippines

Your Excellency:

We join GABRIELA Network USA in calling upon you to end government-sanctioned military terrorism against activists, particularly members of GABRIELA Philippines and BAYAN MUNA, one of whose representatives in the Philippine parliament is GABRIELA Secretary-General The Honorable Liza Maza.

Since the beginning of this year, the following GABRIELA members have been murdered by the Philippine military: Milagros Belga, killed by members of the First Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army; Benjaline Hernandez, killed by the North Cotabato Philippine military; Manuela Albarillo and her husband Expedito, a member of BAYAN MUNA, killed by paramilitary and military men; Jhoanny Luario, four months pregnant, and Mary Jane de Guzman, raped and killed by military/paramilitary men; Rodriga Apolinar, her husband Ruben, member of BAYAN MUNA, and their eight-year old daughter, Nina Angela, killed by the military in Oriental Mindoro.

Other terroristic acts against GABRIELA members include: spraying with bullets a member's house in Oriental Mindoro; requiring members of the women's peasant organization AMIHAN in Camarines Sur to report to the local Philippine National Police Headquarters; interrogating and photographing Josie Magmanlac and her husband and requiring that they report periodically to the military detachment in Oriental Mindoro; interrogating and threatening an 8-month pregnant woman in Quezon City, Metro Manila. The sexual molesting of 15-year-old Jessei Zubiri and the harassment and intimidation of her mother Victoria by Sgt. Joel Garcia of the 68th Infantry Battalion.

We are most distressed and perturbed by the murder of Nina Angela, whose name means Little Angel, who at 8 years of age assuredly gave no reason to be shot to death. We are equally distressed and outraged by the sexual abuse visited by Sgt. Joel Garcia upon a fifteen-year-old. Your children were eight years old and 15 years old at one time. For you to tolerate these unconscionable acts is beyond reason. We expect you - not only as president, but as a woman and a parent - to be relentless in bringing Sgt. Garcia and the murderers of Nina Angela to justice.

Indeed, we expect you - as president, as a woman and as a parent -- to be indefatigable in holding accountable all those responsible for the murders of women in particular and of all Filipinos in general.

In addition, we expect you as president and as a woman to acknowledge the profound debt all women politicians owe GABRIELA Philippines for the general acceptance of women's political leadership by ordering the Philippine military to cease and desist from its terroristic acts against the organization, its affiliates and its allies. Had GABRIELA Philippines not worked hard and long to establish the credibility, integrity and viability of women's political leadership, it is highly unlikely that you or any other woman would even be considered for the presidency. That you use of the fruits of the long years of women's activism against women activists is contemptible.

The terroristic acts of the Philippine military simply underscore the truth that the presence of US troops in the Philippines renders the situation there worse, not better. State repression has never solved political problems which are rooted in economic inequality. The history of the Philippines, which has been war-torn for over 500 years already, bears this out.

We therefore call on you to end the re-occupation of Philippine territory by US military troops. We call on you to fulfill the oath you took, when you were inducted as president, to defend the Philippine Constitution (which forbids foreign troops on Philippine soil), Philippine sovereignty and the Filipino people's absolute right to self-determination. Only in this manner can the well-being of the people and the nation be safeguarded.

If you cannot fulfill these duties to which you swore, then you should not be president.