Mabuhay Inc. Culture School students discover books by Filipino authors in the Library of Congress’ Asian Division Reading Room

Posted by Lia Chang

Library of Congress'Asian Division Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C.  Photo by Lia Chang

Library of Congress’ Asian Division Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C. Photo by Lia Chang

On the first Saturday in May, I was in the Library of Congress’ Asian Division Reading Room, located in Room 150 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E. in Washington, D.C., to photograph the Performing Arts Images from the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection, on display through May 31, 2012.

Selected scripts from the Performing Arts Playwright Series in the Library of Congress' AAPI Collection.  Photo by Lia Chang

Selected scripts from the Performing Arts Playwright Series in the Library of Congress’ AAPI Collection. Photo by Lia Chang


Sponsored by the Library of Congress’ Asian Division, the display of 54 of my “In Rehearsal” photographs, drawn from the AAPI Collection’s Lia Chang Theater Portfolio, along with select working scripts from the Playwrights’ Archives including the plays of Rick Shiomi, Velina Hasu Houston, Christine Toy Johnson, Reme Grefalda, Jeanne Sakata, and Lani Montreal, is being held in conjunction with the Library of Congress celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM).

Members of the Mabuhay Inc. Culture School in the Library of Congress' Asian Division Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C. on May 5, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Members of the Mabuhay Inc. Culture School in the Library of Congress’ Asian Division Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C. on May 5, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

I was delighted to meet up with 10 children, their parents and chaperones from the Mabuhay Inc. Culture School, who had driven in from College Park, Maryland, for their second field trip in the Library of Congress’ Asian Division Reading Room.

Members of the Mabuhay Inc. Culture School in the Library of Congress' Asian Division Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C. on May 5, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Members of the Mabuhay Inc. Culture School in the Library of Congress’ Asian Division Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C. on May 5, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

More than 20 years ago, Mencie Y. Hairston and a group of parents established Mabuhay Inc. Culture School, a terrific weekend cultural and educational enrichment program where Filipino-American children ages 4 – 16, learn the common bonds of history, geography and culture between the United States and the Philippines.

Members of the Mabuhay Inc. Culture School in the Library of Congress' Asian Division Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C. on May 5, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Members of the Mabuhay Inc. Culture School in the Library of Congress’ Asian Division Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C. on May 5, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang


Arts and crafts, music, folk dancing, literature, history and Tagalog are part of the program. The mission of Mabuhay Inc. Culture School is to enhance the self-esteem and “cultural competence” of young Filipino Americans – children who know, share, and are proud of their parents’’ customs and traditions.

Members of the Mabuhay Inc. Culture School in the Library of Congress' Asian Division Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C. on May 5, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Members of the Mabuhay Inc. Culture School in the Library of Congress’ Asian Division Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C. on May 5, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Reme Grefalda, curator of the AAPI Collection at the Library of Congress, handpicked a selection of children’s books by Filipino authors for them.

Sofia Escalante, age 4, of the Mabuhay Inc. Culture School reads a book by a Filipino author in the Library of Congress' Asian Division Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C. on May 5, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Sofia Escalante, age 4, of the Mabuhay Inc. Culture School reads a book by a Filipino author in the Library of Congress’ Asian Division Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C. on May 5, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang


Each student chose a book to read, and then shared its synopsis with the whole group.

“We are grateful to Reme Grefalda for continuing to make the Library’s Asian American Collection accessible to our young readers,” said Hairston. “The field trip was focused on children’s books by Filipino authors. Reme totally gets it! She has gone out of her way to make the whole experience ‘kid friendly’. As Filipino Americans, our children read “Green Eggs and Ham” and “The Velveteen Rabbit”. We wanted them to also know first hand what stories Filipino children listened to or read.”

Members of the Mabuhay Inc. Culture School reads a book by a Filipino author in the Library of Congress' Asian Division Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C. on May 5, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Members of the Mabuhay Inc. Culture School reads a book by a Filipino author in the Library of Congress’ Asian Division Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C. on May 5, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang


“I asked them to identify the author and illustrator of their chosen book to drive the point that Filipinos are creative people,” said Hairston. “A majority of the books we read were based on Philippine legends. At the end of the book reading, the students deduced that the legends explained how things/beings/animals came to be but more importantly, they taught life lessons. Discussions continued at the cafeteria between bites of pizza and spoonfuls of rice! This was the best field trip ever!”

Katherine Argente (age 10), Lia Chang, Kayla Argente (age 13) and Liezl Argente. Photo by Leon Argente

Katherine Argente (age 10), Lia Chang, Kayla Argente (age 13) and Liezl Argente. Photo by Leon Argente

MABUHAY, INC.
(A Filipino American Association) www.mabuhayinc-md.org/

Lia Chang with her Lia Chang Theater Portfolio "In Rehearsal" photographs on view through May 31, 2012, in the Library of Congress'  Asian Division Reading Room, in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C, on May 5, 2012.

Lia Chang with her Lia Chang Theater Portfolio “In Rehearsal” photographs on view through May 31, 2012, in the Library of Congress’ Asian Division Reading Room, in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington D.C, on May 5, 2012.

“In Rehearsal” Photographs from AAPI Collection’s Lia Chang Theater Portfolio on view through May 31, 2012 The 54 photographs on display feature the following artists rehearsing for “opening night”:Shinsai: Theaters for Japan, a collaborative benefit by New York’s leading theater companies as a gesture of solidarity with theater communities in Japan devastated by the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami; Katie Hae Leo’s Four Destinies, produced by Mu Performing Arts in Minneapolis MN; BD Wong and Wayne Barker’s King Matt the First with Wong directing Rosie O’Donnell’s Theater Kids; Cindy Cheung’s SPEAK UP CONNIE a one-person show also directed by BD Wong; David Henry Hwang’s Chinglishat the Goodman Theatre, prior to its Broadway run; Darren Lee, Director/Choregrapher of Disney Wishes; Thom Sesma’s Makeup Transformation as Scar in Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas; and the cast of Bakwas Bumbug!, a pop opera by Samrat Chakrabarti and Sanjiv Jhaveri.

In rehearsal at Lincoln Center for Shinsai: Theaters for Japan, a collaborative benefit by New York’s leading theater companies as a gesture of solidarity with theater communities in Japan devastated by the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami, on March 9, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

In rehearsal at Lincoln Center for Shinsai: Theaters for Japan, a collaborative benefit by New York’s leading theater companies as a gesture of solidarity with theater communities in Japan devastated by the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami, on March 9, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Photos: In Rehearsal with Director Bartlett Sher and the cast of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan
Photos: Highlights of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan (3pm) with Andre Bishop, Mary Beth Hurt, Jennifer Lim, Angela Lin, Philip Kan Gotanda, Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, Richard Thomas, Jay O. Sanders, and more 
Photos: Highlights of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan (8pm) with Oskar Eustis, Patti LuPone, Lisa Emery, Ann Harada, Paolo Montalban, Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, Henry Stram, Richard Thomas, John Weidman and more 
The Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room is located in Room 150 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The hours of the Library of Congress’ Asian Division Reading Room are 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

In rehearsal for Katie Hae Leo’s Four Destinies, produced by Mu Performing Arts in Minneapolis, MN, at Mixed Blood Theatre on October 15, 2011. Photo by Lia Chang

In rehearsal for Katie Hae Leo’s Four Destinies, produced by Mu Performing Arts in Minneapolis, MN, at Mixed Blood Theatre on October 15, 2011. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia Chang Photos: Backstage at Mu Performing Arts’ Four Destinies by Katie Hae Leo, 10/15-10/30 The Library of Congress is the central repository for all types of Asian publications that are not broadly available at other locations in the United States. Initiated in 1869 with a gift of 10 works in 934 volumes offered to the United States by the Emperor of China, the Library’s Asian collection of more than 2 million items is the largest and most comprehensive outside of Asia. For more information about the division and its holdings, go towww.loc.gov/rr/asian/.

In rehearsal for  David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, prior to its Broadway run, on June 5, 2011. Photo by Lia Chang

In rehearsal for David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, prior to its Broadway run, on June 5, 2011. Photo by Lia Chang

Photos: Playwright David Henry Hwang in rehearsal at the Goodman Theatre for World Premiere of ChinglishFounded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website atwww.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.

The cast of Bakwas Bumbug in rehearsal at DANY Studios in New York on June 16, 2011. Photo by Lia Chang

The cast of Bakwas Bumbug in rehearsal at DANY Studios in New York on June 16, 2011. Photo by Lia Chang

Photos: Christmas in June w/ Samrat Chakrabarti and Sanjiv Jhaveri’s “Bakwas Bumbug” at The Wild Project in NY

BD Wong rehearses King Matt the First, with Rosie’s Theater Kids at the Maravel Arts Center on 445 W. 45th St. in New York on March 17, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

BD Wong rehearses King Matt the First, with Rosie’s Theater Kids at the Maravel Arts Center on 445 W. 45th St. in New York on March 17, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Photos: BD Wong in Rehearsal for “Passing It On: An Evening of Mentorship to Benefit Rosie’s Theater Kids”
Photos: BD Wong, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Brandon Victor Dixon, Tom Viola at “Passing It On: An Evening of Mentorship to Benefit Rosie’s Theater Kids”

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Lia Chang. Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang. Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography


Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist.
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