spoken word

You Bring Out the Filipina in Me, A Poem

In the spring of my junior year in college, I decided to write a poem every single day for an entire year. This project evolved into something much more. I decided to continue writing until Commencement exercises, until the day I had my diploma in hand. Today, my project stands at 390 days, with 391 individual poems; early on in the project I had so much to say, that I ended up writing two pieces for one day. During this journey, I expected my pens to pour out my thoughts and troubles. I wanted to make space in my cluttered mind, and be at peace with myself. So, I kept a paper with me at all times, scribbling in the margins of class notes and my planner. Any emotion that I was feeling, or event I was experiencing, I tried to capture it in a concise handful of words. At the end of the day, I’d sit down for about an hour to piece together my thoughts. Most nights, I’d begin three or four different poems before deciding on a common theme or concept. Then, I’d just go with it. This often meant most of my poems were written between the hours of midnight and 3:00am.

In February of my senior year, I attended the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) conference. I went with a few of my closest friends from William & Mary’s Filipino American Student Association; we embarked on road trip from Williamsburg, VA, down to Duke University in North Carolina. There, we had the opportunity to meet amazing leaders in the Asian American community and participate in various workshops.


As a young writer and poet, I immediately chose to attend the "Spoken Word and Activism" workshop, facilitated by Bao Phi. In the workshop, we watched and discussed 1700% Project: Misaken for Muslim, a piece by Anida Yoeu Ali, which challenges racial profiling and hate crimes against those perceived as Muslim or Arab. Afterwards, Phi shared some of his own pieces. One that stood out was titled You Bring Out the Vietnamese in Me.  I connected with the piece instantly, as it inspired me to write my own version as part of my poetry project.

It’s been a year since I wrote this poem. I’ve only performed it a couple times before some close friends, but I’ve been too afraid to share it because it never seemed relevant for any of the open mic events I’ve attended. After my project ended, I started reading through all of my poems, from start to finish. It’s really interesting to see how my writing has evolved over the course of my project.

Originally posted as Day 314, I present it to you now. Maybe I’ll have the courage to perform it on stage one day.

Inspired by: Sandra Cisneros’ “You Bring Out the Mexican in Me” and Bao Phi’s “You Bring Out the Vietnamese in Me”



You bring out the Filipina in me.


The jeepney-riding miracle worker. The island sweetheart of art. The gutom na ako, but not really in me.



You bring out the Filipina in me. The war-stricken tropical paradise, pained by martial law under Marcos, trampled by the feet of Imelda and her closet of over a thousand shoes.


The anti-Colonialist mindset that might set the world on fire. The tainted skin that refuses lightening creams. The Illocano and Kapangpangan and Tagalog and Spanish rolled into a single dictionary in me. The easy to assimilate into American culture because of English-infused classrooms in the motherland.



The Magandang Gabilechon-eating, Soon-to-be doctor and lawyer in me. The OFW working in the Middle East, sending remittances back to children, or the daughter of a US Navy officer, for he joined the Americans out of necessity. And yet you still bring out the true Filipina in me.



The young, activist peacemaker, that yearns to clean up corrupt acts that plague the Philippine Sea. The “I want to return to the homeland to give back” because that all I’ve worked for. The wealth of knowledge, once I graduate from college, need to make a difference in me.



You are the one I turn to, and turns to me for love, for my home is built with always-open doors. With it’s plastic-covered couches, fully-stocked pantry piled high with cans of Spam, dried manga, sweet condensed milk walis-swept tiled floors, and sometimes kneeling on piles of kanin for being naughty in me.



You bring out the feisty, ghetto-fabulous wannabe itim in me. Yeah I said it. The lover of all R&B


and jammin’ to old school rap in me.



You are the rays of sun on my very own flag, the guiding stars that surround me.


You have taught me the truth of mahal kita and salamat, for I love to give thanks when it is not required.


Oo : you, have been woven into the mosquito nets that shield me. You are the protector of me.

Speak & Be Heard: Meet The Judges

A few days ago, we introduced you to last year's Speak & Be Heard winner, Danielle Maglente, in order to give you an idea of the incredible spoken word poetry to expect from our contestants at this year's event. But in addition to the talented competitors, we're thrilled to introduce this year's judges which include Steven Raga (founder of UniPro) and Rosendo Pili (MC known as Mugshot) and Danielle Maglente. Emceeing the night will be Air Tabigue, comedian and emcee from the New York area. Please join us at Jebon Sushi on Februrary 1, 2013 at 7PM for 2013's UniPro Speak & Be Heard competition.

About the Judges:

46603554ab2362214cbbd5108c322f12_f227 (1)Steven Raga was the founding President for UniPro in 2009, and served as Executive Director until 2011. Currently, he is a member of UniPro’s Board of Trustees. As of 2012, Steven is serving as the founding National Chairman for Filipino American Civic Engagement (FACE) [facephilippines.com] and Executive Director for Region 1 of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) [naffaa-r1.org]. He is also on the Board of Directors for the Filipino Children's Fund [fcfinc.org], which works to improve the livelihood of impoverished families in the Philippines.

MugshotHeadshot“Before and when all else has failed, words are my first and last resort.” As an MC, poet, writer and educator, Mugshot lives by this credo and has dedicated his passion and energy to the written and spoken word. As an avid Queens New York native, his voice has been inspired by the diversity, culture and grit of his borough, as well as by the beauty and struggle of his immigrant upbringing. This is where the means of his perception has taken root, culminating in a mixture of urban angst, a haze of third world toddler-escent memories and the flowery pessimism of a poetic disposition.

Mugshot has rocked stages throughout the US with his crew, Deep Foundation, and has worked on several releases including Deep Foundation’s “The First Draft,” “Generation ILL” & Hydroponikz’s “Grown.” He is currently working on his solo debut project entitled “Punching Clocks” scheduled for release in 2013.

airtabiguepictureAir is a Filipino-American comedian, emcee and producer from Long Island, New York. He has performed and emceed numerous events for the Filipino and Asian Community, including the FIND, MAFA, NYC's Asian-Pacific American Heritage Festival, AsianinNY's Moon Festival and Fashion show and the 2011 and 2012 NYC Philippine Independence Day Parades. In 2011, Air was nominated for NYC's "Most Outstanding Filipino-American in Entertainment" for his accomplishments. He is currently performing with Pacific Punchlines: a hilarious group of API comics have banded together to bring standup comedy to school campuses.

headshotAt 21 years old, Danielle Maglente is currently a Senior at Seton Hall University, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Political Science and Asian Studies. She has been involved in the Filipino Community since she was four years old, singing in local Filipino Independence days, various Performing Arts of the Philippines Inc. (P.A.P.I.) events, Shirt the Kids NJ in 2011, and serving as External PR and President of Seton Hall’s Filipino Club (FLASH). She wants to thank UNIPRO for allowing me to come back and judge this year’s SPEAK and BE HEARD Competition, and wants to wish good luck to all of the competitors!

Speak & Be Heard Spotlight: Danielle Maglente


In anticipation of Friday's Speak & Be Heard spoken word competition, we wanted to give readers an idea of what sort of talent they can expect. Here is the winning piece from last year's competition "Seventeen Once" by Danielle Maglente. Danielle will also be one of our featured judges for the 2013 event on February 1. For more info, see the event flyer at the end of this story.  "Seventeen Once" by Danielle Maglente:

I was “in love” once, And stupid Yeah I thought my definition Of love Was crystal, clear, Lucid

But then I realized all I ever did was give my heart away To anyone that would use it

But he really did love me, I think.

Baby, you threw that fact around As if it wasn’t a delicate feeling Respected and renowned, Like it wasn’t my exposed vulnerability, Tender and profound.

And slowly The me I once knew was nowhere to be found.

Cause with all that time I made myself invest All those sweet quotes And love notes I lost myself Identity theft

Auctioning off This once respected sort of self For that chance of being in love Collecting dust on my shelf To you the highest bidder

Going, once for once I think I’m in love my thoughts dominated by you I can’t get enough going twice with your lips, and your words you entice but your heart just isn’t in it but I let it suffice

Sold, Without a moment to reconsider Our hearts grew founder But our conversations turned bitter

And I know you can go to the grave saying that you never hit her But your harsh words struck me like the heaviest fist The “Fuck You’s” left their marks worse than a dozen bruises

But tell me Why is it that when you left I was left Drowning in desperation

Throwing myself at you for a mere hint of reciprocation Thinking I could have your heart if you had my flesh Forced to succumb to this innate moral mess ,

Yeah I was sick and all I wanted was to convalesce.

But he used to be such a nice guy, I would doggedly protest He would never just use a girl Jus’ to get under her dress.

Not me. (what about those 5 years?) Not me.

I told you I was stupid,

I just wish there was some sort of quick remedy for a heartbreak.

Like, you were some universally accepted- FCC approved obscenity So I could just block and bleep you out of every crevice of my memory mentally erase you phsyically deface you fight that stupid, stupid, need to embrace you

You know, the funny part is, you blow up my phone more..AFTER we break up but I’ve wised up, yeah I put that shit on block

Cuz nobody calls at 4 in the morning “just to talk” I did it cause I missed you And You did it cause you suck Knew that I was waiting And would most likely pick up. ..and that’s just messed up.

Be a man. Being lost isn’t an excuse, babe. Should’ve just told me you gave up.


About Danielle: 21 years old. Currently a Senior at Seton Hall University, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Political Science and Asian Studies. I have been involved in the Filipino Community since I was four years old, singing in local Filipino Independence days, various Performing Arts of the Philippines Inc. (P.A.P.I. )events, Shirt the Kids NJ in 2011, and serving as External PR and President of Seton Hall’s Filipino Club (FLASH). I want to thank UNIPRO for allowing me to come back and judge this year’s SPEAK and BE HEARD Competition, and I want to wish good luck to all of the competitors!

Postcard from the UniPro Eboard


As January comes to a close, the UniPro Eboard couldn’t be more thrilled with the recent successes of our organization. Since November, we finally obtained 501(c)3 status and we welcomed new Program Directors to our board. We launched our new blog, a fantastic source for personal and thought-provoking pieces about the issues that affect Pilipinos locally and globally. On January 9th, we started a petition as a display of our solidarity with the Fil-Am community in American Canyon, CA. On the 17th, we networked with more than a dozen community figures and organizations at our first Meet & Greet of the year at Max’s of Manila in Jersey City. That was only the beginning. On February 1st, we will be hosting Speak & Be Heard!, a spoken word competition and showcase of the many talented poets in our community. (Let us know if you're interested in competing!) February 25th, the 27th anniversary of the People Power Revolution, is fast approaching - and so is our panel featuring guest speakers who will share stories about their involvement in the Revolution. This anniversary event is the first in a series of three events, all under the umbrella program called State of Filipino American Advocacy (SoFAA), an initiative headed by Kirklyn Escondo, our Director of Community Building.

We have so much more in store, with Lester Bosea, our Director of USAPAN, scheduling USAPAN workshops at various colleges, and more events and publications in the works thanks to Ivan Gonzales, our Director of Public Policy and Foreign Relations. While our Eboard, Program Directors and staff are hard at work putting together all of our engaging and exciting events, much of what UniPro does would not be possible without our interns! UniPro internship positions are currently open for Spring 2013 and college credit is available.

Lastly, save the date for Summit 2013! Our third annual Summit will be on Saturday, June 1st, the day before the annual Philippine Independence Day Parade.

We're looking forward to getting to know you in the coming months, whether you're a prospective intern, an individual curious about the People Power Revolution, a spoken word poet or a member of a fellow community organization!