It felt like a large (really large) family reunion, with hundreds of Filipinos and friends gathered for an exuberant, open-air “Night of ‘Pinoy’tainment” at the Ford on Sunday. The Filipino American comedians, rappers, singers and dancers ranged from established names such as comedian Rex Navarrete and rapper Apl.de.Ap of the Black Eyed Peas to up-and-coming comedian Lila Hart and fast-rising rapper Ruby Ibarra.
Singer-songwriter AJ Rafael hosted; his sister, Jasmine Rafael, danced with her crew. From the back of the house, members of the dance crew Kaba Modern (a spin on the Tagalog word kababayan, or “fellow countrymen”) cheered them on. The backstage areas resonated with the same camaraderie, as performers joked and mingled.
Comedian Erick Esteban’s set was highlighted by a bit about the Ewoks from “Star Wars” speaking Tagalog, one of several languages spoken in the Philippines; singer Jules Aurora wowed with “Kailangan Kita,” sung in Tagalog — which she does not speak. VJ Rosales of the a cappella group the Filharmonic joined her for a crowd-pleasing rendition of Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” (Mars is also Filipino American).
Black Eyed Peas’ Apl.de.Ap, comic Rex Navarrete and more stars join ‘A Night of “Pinoy"tainment’ and say it’s time to stop marginalizing Filipino Americans.
Hart, who likes to say she’s “as tall as a parking meter,” got big laughs with energetic — and blue — humor pinging off her experience with spina bifida. Ibarra was joined by 14-year-old singer Ella Jay Basco (for their collaboration “Gold”) and fellow Bay Area rapper Nump (for his “I Gott Grapes”). Ibarra closed with her best-known song, “Us,” rapped in English, Tagalog and another Filipino language, Visayan.
AJ Rafael wrapped up the festivities like a lumpia, saying: “Food, friends, family is what I think about when I think about being Filipino.”
Additional reporting by Michael Ordoña.
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