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Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Brings Filipino-American History to Life

November 5, 2010

Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Brings Filipino-American History to Life
“Singgalot: The Ties That Bind,” an exhibition on the history of the Filipino community in America, opens at Drexel’s Intercultural Center in Philadelphia November 15. The Drexel exhibition of “Singgalot” is a collaborative project of the Filipino Executive Council of Greater Philadelphia (FECGP), the Asian American Women’s Coalition (AAWC), Drexel and the Filipino Intercultural Society of Drexel University (FISDU).

The exhibition runs through January 15 at Drexel and continues on a national tour through 2011. Drexel President John A. Fry, along with Consul General of the Republic of the Philippines the Honorable Cecilia B. Rebong, will host the opening reception at 5 p.m. November 19 at the Drexel Intercultural Center (30 S. 33rd St.). The exhibition is free and open to the public from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Friday.

There are more than 2.5 million Filipino-Americans in the United States. However, many people, including Filipinos themselves, are not familiar with the details of their history in America, such as their experiences, rich traditions and culture. A traveling exhibition, developed by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program and organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), tells their story.

Nearly 100 images and historical documents vividly portray the social history and development of the Filipino community in the U.S. “Singgalot” initially explores the experience of Filipinos as colonial subjects and nationals, and further examines their subsequent struggles to acquire full citizenship as immigrants in the U.S. “FISDU believes it is a shared responsibility to continue the preservation of our culture as a reminder to the future generations of the significance of being Filipino,” said FISDU President Steven Daguio. “FISDU thinks that this is an important opportunity to showcase the highlights of Filipino culture to the collegiate community and the younger generations while also instilling our culture within ourselves.”

In the words of Filipino Executive Council of Greater Philadelphia Chairman Rommel Rivera, M.D., “‘Singgalot’ is a testimonial of the significant contributions of Filipino-Americans to the socio-economic and political life of the United States. Hopefully, this exhibition will strengthen the bonds that tie the Filipino-Americans and their Asian and non-Asian brothers and sisters.”

The exhibition also highlights Filipino public service in the U.S. military and achievements in literature, arts, sports, and the health care industry. The past four decades have witnessed tremendous growth of the Filipino-American community. The current group of immigrants, who began arriving after 1965, has revitalized Filipino ethnic identity and culture in the U.S.

“The exhibition uses rare photographs and illustrations from the National Archives, the Library of Congress and personal collections to provide a glimpse into the dynamic story, culture and contemporary issues of Filipino-Americans,” said co-curator Franklin Odo, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program. “‘Singgalot’ is a deeply moving, dramatic and evocative narrative of Filipino-American history and culture.”

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program has provided vision, leadership and support for all Asian Pacific American activities at the Smithsonian for more than a decade. The program’s goals are to reflect experiences of Asian Pacific Americans in all aspects of Smithsonian work; to improve the public’s appreciation of the role of Asian Pacific Americans in the history of the nation; and to empower Asian Pacific American communities by increasing their sense of inclusion in the national culture. For more information visit www.apa.si.edu.

Drexel’s new Intercultural Center, led by Assistant Vice President for the Office of Equality and Diversity Michele Rovinsky, is a place for intellectual, faith and identity development and a place that fosters community building and collaboration among diverse groups within and outside the University community. SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at www.sites.si.edu.

The national tour is made possible by Farmers Insurance. The exhibition is supported locally by the following sponsors: the Honorable Judge Ida K. Chen, Drexel University Trustee; the Pennsylvania Humanities Council; SAF Travel; the Philippine Folk Arts Society, Inc.; SAGANA, Inc.; the Filipino American Association of Philadelphia, Inc.; Comcast; and Eva Air.

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News media contact: Chris Silvestri, Drexel News Bureau Associate 215-895-2705, csilvestri@drexel.edu

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