It's been about a month since the world premier of Ruby Ibarra and my documentary, Nothing on Us: Pinays Rising, and I am still reeling (heh) from all the positive energy. Leading up to our screening at the historic, independent Roxie theater was nothing short of chaotic and lively. That weekend was (1) sandwiched between two trips – Utah and New York, (2) after a huge work deadline, (3) while my family was in town, and (4) the video was not yet exported. Yup. In retrospect, I remember just wanting to make it to June (spoiler alert: I did!).
While those days felt like there weren't enough hours in the day, excitement was definitely in abundant supply — built up and boiling over ever since Ruby asked if I could shoot the behind the scenes of producing the music video back in February. We were introduced through mutual friends Joy, who moonlights as a talented Hip Hop writer, and DJ Mister Rey, who DJ's several of Ruby's gigs.
Naturally, Ruby and I scheduled to chat through logistics for the music video. In our two-hour conversation, we also exchanged journey-stories between passion x profession (she's a scientist in her day job, y'all), commiserated on our contradictions as ambiverted artists, and braved the tough topic about getting paid as womxn of color artists in our male-dominated side-hustles. I already respected Ruby as an artist, and our conversation added a new dimension of admiration for how down-to-earth she is. As we finalized details, one minor (major) issue remained unresolved.
There were 150+ Pinays on deck, ready for more info of the shoot, and we were only days away... without a confirmed venue.
In our description for the documentary, we mention how producing this music video was ambitious af. Yet from the getgo, we never doubted the community (*cough pinay mafia cough*) who continue to play an instrumental role in turning this moment into a movement. As mentioned during the post-screening Q&A, I grew up grappling with my identity as a Pinay. Even as young at eight years old, I vividly recall how I scrubbed my brown skin with papaya soap, read the newspaper out loud to avoid having a Filipino accent, and regularly pinched my nose hoping it would get 'taller'. This story is not unique, and it's been powerful to see other Pinays reclaim our brown skin to rise in solidarity together in many ways, through multi-dimensional platforms. Seeing a multitude of Pinays, in one room, each carrying their own weight of identity glamour and grit and watching Ruby, Rocky, Faith, and Klassy recite lyrics from shared chapters of our lives made the hair rise on my skin.
Reflecting on the turn of events these past weeks, I can't help but feel blessed. Amid the chaos in the world, hope perseveres. In almost every interview Ruby and I did, we always brought up how we're excited for the next generation of Pinays. Who will grow up unapologetic, empowered, and blaze even more trails. This is for them; this is for us.
When we wrapped up taping the group scene, Ate Allyson led our isang bagsak unity clap drawing from tropes of solidarity and resistance of the United Farm Workers (UFW) Movement. Roughly translated, Isang bagsak means one down, one fall — we rise and fall together. Every person claps, starting off slow, sometimes off rhythm, like individual heartbeats. As people calibrate to one unified, resounding pulse there is a warrior cry, ISANG BAGSAAAK with a final unity clap and a lingering echo.
And the beat of this drum grows louder. Island womxn rise.
COVERAGE – maraming salamat for beating the drum with us
- SOMA Pilipinas Blog: "Nothing on Us": Ruby Ibarra and Evelyn Obamos' Behind-the-Scenes Documentary
- SF Weekly News: Bitter Melons and Queens of Swords: CAAMFest Opens
- You Offend Me You Offend My Family (YOYOMF) Blog: The Power of “Us”: The Making of a Music Video and a Documentary
- The Filipino Channel, Adobo Nation: TAM Pinays Rising
- Blossomlink, Yuka Ohishi Vlog: CAAM FEST 2018 // Ruby Ibarra & Evelyn Obamos
- Center for Asian American Media (CAAMFest) Website: PINAYS RISING: RUBY IBARRA, EVELYN OBAMOS AND DALE KEANO ON “US” VIDEO
- Peminist Medium Article: On the debut of Ruby Ibarra’s “Nothing On Us: Pinays Rising Behind the Scenes”
- Bitchtalk Podcast: 276 - Live Q&A with Ruby Ibarra from CAAMFest
- Us by Ruby Ibarra, Rocky Rivera, Faith Santilla, Klassy
- Ruby's Circa 91 album (released October 2017)
- Pin@y Educational Partnerships (PEP)
- Practicing Pinayist Pedagogy by Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales and Jocyl Sacramento
FUTURE SCREENINGS –
- We're hoping to bring our video to more Pinxys and allies. Please message me if you know of a film festival or space that would like to feature our documentary along with the music video.
Photos by Erina Alejo (@discobangus)
Did I mention I wore a duster* to my first film screening?
Mom: Ano ba yan? Na ka duster ka ba?
(What is that? Are you wearing a duster?)
Ate (older sister): HAHAHA
Evelyn: Yes, yes I am. Because you're both here from across the country, and we're about to watch 200 Pinay sisters on a big screen with our faces and names on it. Nothing says home more than that.
*duster aka pambahay (house clothes)