by Kimberly Balmorez (DJ AWKCUARD).
Growing up I really wish I had Filipino-identified folks to look up to. Other than my own family, I wasn’t surrounded by my culture at all and no one in my family was politically or culturally active. That still stays true to today; there’s so much about my culture that I don’t understand. For example, I can’t speak or understand any of my parent’s languages, but I want to be proud and know the history of Ilocanos and Kapampangans. With only so much having been recorded throughout history and stories my parents feel comfortable sharing, it is my own responsibility to keep myself aware and accountable. Luckily, I’ve found a small community of people throughout my college career who have kept me grounded. Through them I’ve found Filipino hip-hop artists and activists such as Prometheus Brown, Bambu, and Rocky Rivera.
Although my upbringings are somewhat different from theirs, it’s been empowering and motivating to see other Filipinos doing work to uplift their communities. If it weren’t for artists like these, I wouldn’t have realized how the implicit violences of societal and institutional oppression have affected me. If it weren’t for their presence in media and music I wouldn’t be as passionate as I am today to learn more about my own culture and be a comrade to others.
My personal advice is to find a platform to express yourself and remember to be respectful of that space. Representation matters.