Kodakan explores the many “faces” of the San Francisco Pilipino community, both past and present. But each individual also has many “faces” both literal and figurative. Along the atrium, we profile four individuals with complex and multi-layered public personas. Pictures on this panel were taken by Wilfred Galila and Peggy Peralta, with assistance from Cece Carpio.


“seguro in spanish means surely.
seguro in tagalog means probably.”

Joel Tan small

Director of Community Engagement, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
“I make art and organize communities around art + well-being + joy.
As a poet, I am a channel.
As a curator + editor, I favor toward the present future + tend to disrupt morality + norms + formula.
As an activist, I work to end suffering.
As an intellectual, I work to end essentialism, authenticity+ other comedies.”

“I was born in Manila and grew up in the San Fernando Valley. I moved to SF in 1996. My family began migrating from Manila and Naga City Bicol, Philippines to the US in 1962. I moved to San Francisco in 1996.

“I’m a hybrid queer. I am also Filipino. My father was half-Chinese. And I am also American. Among other things + while I am not at all interested (or capable really) of homogenizing or blending in, I also don’t feel like being Filipino American in the Bay Area in 2013 makes me a special kind of ethnic unicorn. Maybe it’s because I work in a non-ethnic specific arts organization. I’ve worked in several API arts and activism groups in the past. I co-founded Los Angeles’ Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team over 20 years ago. I edited the first collections of Queer Asian Erotica. I have mentored dozens of writers, many Filipino and many more not. I don’t eat lechon. Am I Filipino-American?


“My calling to the Sisterhood came at the opening night of the Sisters’ 30th Anniversary exhibition at YBCA in 2009.  The SF Sisters descended the grand staircase in a single file procession according to tenure, with the newest members leading and the tail ending with the original 1979 Founders. Below, hundreds of queer nuns visiting from around the world watched in amazement as Sisters from the Founding House descended the grand staircase. I was at the bottom of the stairs agog. As each nun descended, it occurred to me that I was witnessing 30+ years of Queer Culture. I thought of the impossibility of that. I thought of 30+ years of queer tradition. I thought of those who are impossible to categorize, the sacred clown, the trick ministrant and it occurred to me that being a Queerdo is power.

“I am not a drag queen.

“I am a queer nun + I use drag to make a point. I use nun drag to unfuck this world.

“I believe in unfucking this world with dazzling visual joy, raucous laughter, sweet permission, & promiscuous creativity.  I also unfuck this world by resisting categories which is made easier by the fact that I am Filipino. Having said that, I will also fight the necessary fight when the fight needs to be had. My vision is future facing and I believe it’s deeply important that marginalized peoples claim the future and design it for themselves!  As active agents of society, I believe we should live as engineers of the near future by living sustainably, loving immeasurably, & actively imagining and working toward a world we deserve to live in.”

From the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence website: The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a leading-edge Order of queer nuns. Since our first appearance in San Francisco on Easter Sunday, 1979, the Sisters have devoted ourselves to community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment. We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and we use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.


“I don’t feel much Filipino American these days. I’ve been most Filipino American when talking with others who are deeply invested in what being Filipino American is. And is not. I have difficulty identifying with such categories largely because it’s so abstract and tied to a nationalist thinking by reducing the complexities of nationality and origin to ‘Is he Filipino or not?’ Sell out or Down.  The Authenticity Dilemma.

“Pilipinos are completely of the future. Think about hip-hop theory. It’s all about plurality all working together.  I always think of these discussions about the lack of majority and the idea of everyone in the future will be a kind of a blend. But Pilipinos are already that—a blend. Pilipinos are a kind of magical plurality–everyone and no one.  It’s beautiful because Pilipinos are already the future. Everyone will look Pilipino anyway, so what the fuck… cheer up!


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