UniPro Literary Festival

Article By Jasmin Justo

On Saturday, July 11, UniPro hosted their first Literary Festival celebrating the work of three Filipino authors Sarah Gambito, Gina Apostol, and Bino Realuyo. In the festival, the audience heard excerpts from their novels and discussed how the immigration experience and their country’s past inspired their stories. During the discussion, Iris Zalun and Kirklyn Escondo, the organizer’s of the event, asked each author a series of question regarding their excerpts and its themes.

One of the themes amongst the three author’s work is how the immigration experience creates a need to forge a identity such as in Sarah Gambito’s “Matador”. In her collection of poems, she expresses her own desire to find a sense of belonging with her native country after growing up in America. Her poetry is raw with pure emotion of how it feels to be foreign in two countries. Bino Realuyo also read excerpts from his story “The Umbrella Country”, and how the main character Gringo, feels how his whole life can change with just the thought of the States. Through metaphors and figurative language, Gringo personifies the States as a person unbound to anything, a person free and independent, able to hold the awe of everyone around him. In his book, Gringo grows up in a dysfunctional family and tries to create his own self-identity as he struggles to survive everyday. In Gina Apostol, “Gun Dealers’ Daughter”, her excerpts covered the theme of shame and looking at one’s roles in society, upholding the status quo. In her book, the main character is a daughter of a prestigious gun dealer who works with the dictatorship that suppresses the weak while granting her the life of a wealthy daughter, hence she explores the ironies in both society and in herself.

At the festival there was also a writers workshop with Claro, the founder of the organization Claro Que Si. Claro Que Si is Brooklyn based organization that sponsors free art events and workshops for people of all backgrounds and ages to learn how to express themselves through various art forms while promoting community building and cross-cultural exchange. At the workshop, participants did free writing, wrote poems, and read out loud their creative pieces.

Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro) is a New York City-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that envisions a unified and engaged Pilipino America. Founded in 2009, UniPro’s mission is to engage Pilipino Americans through collaboration, advocacy and education. It seeks to transform Pilipino students & young professionals into community leaders through its various programs, which incorporate professional development, history, and policy through the lens of the Pilipino experience. The organization allows Pilipino Americans the opportunity to explore their place in the community in the hope of owning their niche.

For more information on the authors or organizations please visit their websites.
UniPro: www.unipronow.org
Claro Que Si!: www.claro-que-si.com/
Gina Apostol: www.ginaapostol.com/
Sarah Gambito: www.sarahgambito.com
Bino Realuyo: www.binoarealuyo.com

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