This past Saturday, May 18th, the annual Multicultural Festival, celebrated its 40th anniversary with its tagline “Together We Resist, Together We Persist.” The theme this year signifies our strength as students to continue fighting racial and social injustices. The MCF is historically known for celebrating the various cultures of the UCSC student population. Although traditionally the festival is put on at the Oakes Lower Lawn, the city of Santa Cruz faced a great rain storm this weekend with high winds peaking at 18mph and loud thunder you could not ignore. This caused the MCF committee, which consists of various representatives from different cultural organizations on campus, to respond with short notice and relocate the festival to the Porter/Kresge Dining Hall. As said, the show was made for all the different cultural performative groups to showcase a piece to the audience. With groups like Grupo Folklorico Los Mejicas, Haluan Hip Hop Dance Troupe, Isang Himig, Mariachi Eterno de UCSC, POPreKa, Sabrosura Latin Dance Troupe, and others, the collective energy was brought by the performers and translated onto the audience.
After four hours full of student performers the show was closed off by the headlinder, Ruby Ibarra, an upcoming Filipina Bay Area rapper. Ibarra, who was accompanied by the Balikbayans, is known for rapping about her cultural heritage and her experiences as a female immigrant to the United States form the Philippines. Ibarra, is best known for her song “Us”, off her album Circa91, that features other female AAPI artists, Klassy, Faith Santilla, and Rocky Rivera, the 2015 MCF headliner. In the song, she calls brown island womxn to rise, making space for womxn of color to heal and resist from colonial, imperialist ties that has hurt and continues to hurt the Filipinx society, and other communities of color heavily. It is also important to emphasize that the Filipina rapper raps in both Tagalog and English. Her lyrics, some which say “Island woman rise, walang makakatigil,” which translates to “no one can stop us,” are written to highlight the narratives that are often erased in her communities. When speaking about her musical influence, Ibarra mentions though not intentional, her music can seem to gather direction from artists she grew up listening to like Lauryn Hill, Tupac, and Wu-Tang.
What is so great about Ibarra is that she so passionately and fearlessly raps about political topics many artists would not even dare to mention in interviews. When asked in an interview with RX Music how she felt about the Trump administration, she mentions that it makes the discourse of her music topics so much more important, especially since immigration is under attack with this administration. She wants to continue to challenge and question the already existing policies of immigration and what they mean. Some of her other lyrics from the song titled “Taking Names”, highlights that she will be resilient no matter what land she is on, although ultimately it’s hurting her “From Morro Bay to the East Bay, we stay survivin’ where we stay. They keep invading where we lay, there’s no debating that we pay.”
It was concluded by a live performance by the Filipinx Female rapper Ruby Ibarra. Ruby Ibarra’s music was not only able to move the crowd due to her incredible and rhythmic flow, but also because her lyrics address critical issues concerning her identity as a Filipinx person living as an immigrant in the United States. As she fiercely faced the crowd of students at the Multicultural Festival, she was able to surprise many, not only with her incredible fact paced rapping in English, but also with her rapping in Tagalog. Ruby Ibarra made sure to engage herself with the audience by high fiving crowd members and eventually jumping off stage! The crowd made space for her to stand in the middle while also making sure to dance and encourage her performance. Ruby jumped around the venue very energetically and moved around to make sure everyone could have a first hand look at her enthusiasm and see her rap passionately. Despite going back up on stage, Ruby was still able to surprise the audience by bringing out a Supreme money gun and shooting out fake one hundred dollar bills to the crowd! Ruby and the rest of her band members made sure to present an ode to their culture by performing a song during which they played instruments that are traditional in the Filipinx culture. Ruby Ibarra’s performance was a clear tribute to her culture and her strong beliefs. After the show, she made sure to speak to anyone who wished to meet her and took a multitude of pictures. Ruby even made sure to repost the stories of her performance taken by UCSC students onto her own story and messaged them individually to thank them. Ruby Ibarra serves as an amazing example of a great performer and individual! Those of us who were in attendance at the Multicultural Festival felt very grateful to have a person of color as the special guest; this served as a reminder that we are people full of incredible talent and love for our people.
After the performance, Ruby Ibarra and the Balikbayans thanked the committee and the audience for allowing them to be apart of a show that celebrated multiculturalism. Ibarra and other members spoke to the audience and reminded them that it’s a beautiful thing to stand in solidarity, which creates the power we need for resisting systematic forces that hurt people of color everyday.
Peep photos below!
written by: Edith Saldano De La Paz & Mariana Soria
photos by: Edith Saldano De La Paz