Titas, poems, trans cousins, hypnosis to spice up Seattle’s Pagdiriwang ‘19

/ 11:29 PM May 28, 2019

Maritess Zurbano and her hypnotized volunteers from the audience. CONTRIBUTED

SEATTLE — Poetry and performances will be part of this year’s Pagdiriwang Philippine Festival at the Seattle Center on June 1 to 2.

Now on its 33rd year, the festival will also have food, children’s games, martial arts, film showings, a photography exhibit, music, and dance performances.


There will even be a blood donation drive and health fair.

Organized by Filipino Cultural Heritage Society of Washington,


the annual celebration aims to be an “ideal setting for presenting art, craft, song, dance, music, history, literature, and culture to promote better understanding of the Filipino cultural heritage.”

Poets, musical

Filipino American poets will hold a literary reading of their works at the “Ang Aming Mga Salita” program on the first day of the festival.

Included in the line-up are educator Third Andresen, playwright Robert Francis Flor (Alaskero Memories), journalist Jen Soriano (Making the Tongue Dry and published in Pleiades, Waxwing, TAYO,), editor Dujie Tahat (published in Sugar House Review, Bennington Review, Poetry Northwest, Asian American Literary Review) and librarian Gerie Ventura.

Meanwhile, the “Teatro Pilipino” segment includes two one-person shows, a musical, a magician-master hypnotist, and a staged reading of a film script.

Composer and musician Rheanna Atendido and actor Mara Elissa Palma will perform a work-in-progress version of the musical they are developing.

Pagdiriwang Philippine Festival is organized by the Filipino Cultural Heritage Society of Washington. CONTRIBUTED

Titled “Tides of Fortune,” the musical is about Reyna, a Filipina drag king (women who dress up as men) performer on a cruise ship on her way to starting a new life in the United States. When her dream is threatened, she has to make a choice between doing what’s right or doing whatever it takes.


Reyna’s best friend and chef, Miguel, will try to cook something up to help her. To complicate things, Nova, a half-Filipina, half-American security officer on-board stands in Reyna’s way but sparks fly when they realize they have more in common than they thought.

Performances are scheduled for both days.

Magic, stand-up

Magician and master hypnotist Maritess Zurbano will perform on both days as well with “Mentalism: The Supreme Magic of the Mind.”

Zurbano has performed in New York and Las Vegas. Internationally, she has performed in Berlin and Japan.

Matt Dela Cruz will perform his autobiographical one-person shows “Tita Ester” on the first day and “Mr. DC” on the second day.

Matt Dela Cruz (left) and his mother, Ester. CONTRIBUTED

Subtitled “Motherly reminders from a Filipina mom,” “Tita Ester” showcases Dela Cruz’s tribute to the wit, wisdom, and loving acceptance of his Ilocana mother, the titular Ester.

“Mr. DC” chronicles Dela Cruz’s journey from hopeful young artist struggling in New York to his current endeavors as an educator in Seattle.

Dela Cruz’s credits include cabaret shows as well as musicals with theater companies such as Village Theatre, Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Centerstage Theatre and Seattle Musical Theatre.

On the second day, there will be a staged reading of “Kultura,” a script for a film by Sean Dagiwa about an artist and his transgender cousin who both attend a wedding and rediscover the traumas that have shaped and bonded them.

Line-up and schedules subject to change. Contact organizers to confirm.

The festival has been held at the Seattle Center since 1987 and is part of Seattle Center Festal, a series of cultural programs sponsored by the City of Seattle.

Pagdiriwang Philippine Festival 2019 is June 1 to 2 at Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St., Seattle. Visit Festalpagdiriwang.com.


Plays, poetry, food, comedy at Seattle’s June Pagdiriwang fest 2018


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TAGS: Fil-Am plays, Filipino American entertainers, Filipino American festival Seattle, Pagdiriwang Philippine Festival
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