Maharlika UK Filipino Artist Platform @ Grow Hackney (YouTube) Review

Maharlika is a Filipino expression that roughly translates as ‘free man’ or ‘warrior man’. An expression that concisely encapsulates the concept of independence, this term is fitting for this integral movement committed to showcasing works for and from Filipino artists. Live streamed from Grow Hackney on Monday 28th February and available to access online for a short time via YouTube, Maharlika UK Filipino Artist Platform is a necessary step in the right direction in regards to fostering intercultural exchanges locally, brilliantly addressing the need for greater diversity on our stages.

Hosted by the very entertaining Ashley Joseph of the BBC, Maharlika UK Filipino Artist Platform is a showcase of four short filmed works that are then followed by Q&As with the teams of each project, a welcomed feature that allows for the backstage team and process to have their moment in the spotlight. To begin, John Malipol and Jasmin Saulo present Bahalana, roughly translating as ‘whatever will be, will be’. Their stimulus for the work ‘Where the riches lay…’, a resonant meditation throughout. Within the piece, the pair, through mindful spoken word and contemporary dance explore their rich Filipino heritage, one before colonialism where they were connected to their beautiful land. The spoken word element slow and sustained, the dance sequence accompanying it boldly exploring the value of gold, a natural resource that has a value far greater than wealth. A thought provoking piece that initiates the evening’s rich, profound energy.

Next, martial artist Paul Dee discusses the creation of his strand of the art form Fluid Tactics. In this, Paul Dee explaining what practising and teaching martial arts has done for him. Encouraged to take on martial arts from childhood as a means of channelling his anger and energy into something positive, Paul Dee speaks of growing up in Manila and building up his resilience. Martial arts going far beyond the moves taught, and more so about the philosophy behind it and accompanying it. We’re taught that majority of the martial arts sequences observed in Hollywood films derive from the Philippines, Paul a captivating presence and one that inspires. Fluid Tactics is a captivating watch and a documentary I can easily see being made into a longer version.

Chris Reyes and Jonadette Carpio follow on with a gripping short piece titled Sean. An impactful piece inspired by a mother and son relationship exploring displacement. A graceful, steady introductory segment featuring Jonadette then materialises into a clash filled, chaotic battle of minds, a tumultuous connection filled with static, sharp sequences that inevitably showcase vulnerability, interdependence, the battling of demons – two minds constantly trying to find a middle ground. A powerful watch.

To conclude, Clara Bajado and Ruhiya present Usa, an experiential short bringing the evening full circle to a climate situated outdoors in nature and one where we’re reminded of the power of ancestors. A piece encouraging all to focus more so on the realm of sound as a Celtic drum, gong, bells ring and reverberate in a forested landscape – bamboo poles at one point serve as both a portal and as a form of entrapment. Drones and hums immediately resonate with the concept of oneness – being at one with everyone and everything around us. An enchanting piece to end the showcase!

A Q&A with the showcases’s production team Ray Roberts and Jason Torres wraps up the evening, the showcase a collective effort that has all been brought together by this dynamic duo! A great evening work, of which I look forward to seeing more of!

Review written by Lucy Basaba.

To find out more about the artists involved, find links to their Instagrams below:

Follow John Malipol

Follow Jasmin Saulo

Follow Paul Dee

Follow Jonadatte Carpio 

Follow Chris Reyes

Follow Jason Torres

Follow Ray Roberts

Follow Clara Bajado

Follow Ruhiya

To find out more about the showcases’s host and supporters, find links to their Instagrams and sites below:

Follow Ashley :

Follow RUMAH :

Follow Omnibus Theatre :

Follow Grow Hackney :

Follow Pirate Studios :

Written by Theatrefullstop