History: Arkipelago is a New York City-based volunteer-run cultural organization that promotes critical dialogue and community engagement in issues of concern to the Philippines and the Filipino Diaspora. Arkipelago grew out of a one-night commemoration in December 1993 of Human Rights Day through songs, poetry, and dances planned by Susan Quimpo, other older Filipino activists and Youth for Philippine Action (YPA). The event was named “Arkipelago,” the Tagalog translation of the word “archipelago,” which brought to mind the Philippines archipelago and its inhabitants’ displacement by recent diasporas. The entirely Filipino community funded event, which drew more than two hundred Filipino and Filipino Americans, turned into a venue for community members to talk about immigrant rights, AIDS (which disproportionately affected Filipinos), generational gaps and problems, and racism. The event’s success prompted Arkipelago’s steering committee to continue its community building and organizing work.
The organization’s ongoing programs include publishing maARTe.org, an arts-related webzine that discusses issues brought out through artists’ works or as a response to art works and Brainfood Sessions, a forum where invited artists discuss and present their works. Past major programming include Sa Pinilakang Tabing (On the Silver Screen), an annual film festival initiated in 1994 that showcased innovative works. Pelikulang Pilipino (Filipino Films), an event which consisted of a review of contemporary Philippine cinema, a screening of excerpted Filipino films, and accompanying panel discussion served as the proto-type for its annual film festival.
Arkipelago has also performed street theater that brought attention to such issues as the toxic wastes left behind by US bases in the Philippines, domestic workers, mail-order brides, and anti-immigrant legislation. Past activities also include 100 Years later, artist performances addressing the centennial of the Philippine Revolution, Salamin (Mirror), a slide show presentation and discussion of works by artists of Filipino descent, and Word Gets Around, an interactive, collaborative mural project promoting awareness of California Proposition 187 (1994), which sought to deny illegal immigrants access to social services, healthcare and public education.
Arkipelago has worked in coalition with Filipino Civil Rights Advocates, Sumisibol, New American Program, Queens Borough Public Library; Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV): Organizing Asian Communities, Godzilla: Asian American Artists Network, Philippine forum, and Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans (CAPA) in their Asian Pacific American Heritage Festival since 1994. Arkipelago has also made presentations for Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue (FIND), Asian CineVision’s annual Asian and Asian American film festival, and the GABRIELA Network conference.
Sources: “All About the Arts: Five Artists to Present Work in Salamin.” Filipino Reporter. July 28, 1994. http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=495160211&sid=4&Fmt=3&clientId=9269&R….
“Arkipelago Calls for Film Entries.” Filipino Reporter. July 1, 1999. http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=504781741&sid=4&Fmt=3&clientId=9269&R….
Brion, Rofel G. “I Have A Dream: The Long Journey Home, Bringing Filipino Americans Closer to Their Roots.” The History of Tagalog On Site. Accessed January 29, 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20100823075123/http://www.tagalogonsite.org/tos_history.html.
“For Art’s Sake.” Filipino Express September 19, 1999.
“From Hip Hop to Poetry to Rock Band: Cultural Convergence.” Filipino Reporter. July 26, 2001. http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=467830531&sid=4&Fmt=3&clientId=9269&R….
“Silver Screen Gems.” Filipino Reporter. November 16, 1997. http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=494043121&sid=4&Fmt=3&clientId=9269&R….
Summary: The Arkipelago Collection totals 4 linear feet and consists of a range of materials documenting its “artivist” activities, including meeting agendas and minutes, events programs, leaflets, VHS films, banners and flags, photographs, and electronic files.
The bulk of the collection, approximately 2 linear feet, documents Arkipelago’s annual film festival Sa Pinilakang Tabing (On the Silver Screen). These materials consist mostly of film submissions to the festival in VHS and Betacam format, but there are also binders containing paper portions of filmmakers’ submissions and documents stating Arkipelago’s criteria and guidelines for festival submissions. The films range in date from 1998-2003, but the majority are dated 1998, the year that Brian Barenio served as Artistic Director for the festival.
Contained within the collection’s 1 linear foot of subject files are meeting minutes and agendas for the years 1994-2007, financial files and grant proposals, events information, and files on other A/PA organizations that Arkipelago has worked with, including the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, New York University Asian/Pacific/American Studies and Institute, and GABRIELA Network.
Arkipelago’s events are mostly documented through banners, flags, leaflets and other ephemera. These include seven different versions of the Philippines flag that the organization used in marches, including one flying the red over the blue signifying the Philippines in times of plight. There are also multiple copies of leaflets for events, including “Filipinas Not for Sale!” in collaboration with GABRIELA Network. Documenting the group’s participation in the campaign against mail order brides are also stickers with the slogan “No brides but we can mail order a boot up your ass!” and a VHS recording of Arkipelago’s protest of the practice during the Philippines Day Parade in June 1997.
A small collection of 4”x6” color photographs document Brainfood Sessions, Arkipelago’s participation in the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans’ (CAPA) Annual Asian/Pacific American Heritage Festival, and Sa Pinilakang Tabing.
The collection also contains electronic files of Arkipelago’s award-winning online magazine maARTe, which captured the Filipino arts scene and document salient issues it raised at the turn of the twenty-first century. There is also a copy of the first and only paper issue of maARTe, dated Fall 1999. Subsequently, the magazine was published on the web.
Total Size: 4.0 linear feet and electronic files
APA-related Size: 4.0 linear feet and electronic files
Languages of materials: English
Location: Private residence (New York, New York)
Conditions Governing Access: Currently inaccessible to the public.