Mantones de Manila at La Pena Cultural Center

An installment of the five part series “Enlaces” exploring the Spanish, Indigenous, Arabic, and African influences in the music and dance of the Americas, on February 20 at La Pena Cultural Cultural Center in Berkeley, “Manton de Manila” showcased the beautiful embroidered silk shawls introduced across the globe by the Spanish.

Featuring:
María de la Rosa & Rudy Figueroa – Mexican Dance
Parangal Dance Company – Philippine Folk Dance
Theresa Calpotura-Classical Guitar
Asociación Cultural Kanchis – Peruvian Dance
De Rompe y Raja – Afro-Peruvian Cultural Association
Javier Trujillo – Peruvian Guitar
Virginia Iglesias – Flamenco Dance
Jorge Liceaga – Spanish Guitar
Edwin Lozada – Poetry
Paul Flores – Narrator
Exhibition of Mantones de Manila – Courtesy of Edwin Lozada (Carayan Press)

Curated by Edwin Lozada, editor of Field of Mirrors and member of PAWA Inc., Lozada owns an impressive collection of mantones de manila that span from 1820 to present time, gathered from all over the world. The show traced the history of these embroidered shawls back to Canton, China, purchased by the Spanish in Manila, which starting from 1571 through 1811 served as an integral port to the Galleon Trade. The popularity of these shawls spread to Mexico, Peru, and Spain, just to name a few countries. Weaving song and dance while chronicling the shawl’s diaspora, we start first in Veracruz, Mexico.

Unfortunately, no videos or photographs were allowed by the audience, but to get a feel for the similar threads that run throughout these cultures across the globe, here are some samplings from other sources. The first performance was Mexico’s National Dance, the Jarabe Tapatio:

After the dance, the dancers told the story of La China Poblana who was neither from China or Puebla but may have been a Mughal Princess named Mirrha taken captive by the Spaniards and brought to Puebla where she was bought by a wealthy Dona and Don and christened Catarina de San Juan. She’d fashion the most beautiful embroidered skirts that glittered and shimmered, and wear them when she went to the market. The ladies of Puebla soon adopted her style, and the skirt spread across Mexico. For more on Mirrha’s history check out Stitches in Time.

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Image from Yucatan Living

The evening’s performance then transported us to the port that made the embroidered shawl so famous. From Manila, “El Paseo”:

We also learned of Saint Martin de Porres (1579-1639) the Black Saint or La Santa Negra, the first saint of the Americas. Born illegitimately from a Spanish nobleman and a young, former black slave, he grew up poor but learned the medical arts at the age of ten and was already devoted to taking care of the sick. Porres later joined the Dominican Order and led a life committed to charity.

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Image from Novena

In honor of the Saint of Peru, two dancers performed La Marinera:

The dancing ended with a rousing and riveting flamenco from Andalusia Spain:

And the rest of night belonged to the mantones themselves. Spanning from 1820 to 1940 (?), the later the shawl was made the more elaborate the embroidery and the longer the fringe, each one more beautiful than the next. From striking reds, gorgeous greens, vibrant blues and purple, the mantones de manila are marvelous creations made more unique and more lovely by the many different cultures that have stylized this shawl and called it their own. This show made me wonderfully proud to be a Chicapina.

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Image from Museo Oriental, Valledolid

For more information check out “Truth about the manton de Manila” by Bea Zobel Jr. on TravelSmart.net and watch for Lozada’s much anticipated book on the history and influence of the manton de manila.

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Enlaces (Connections That Bind Us) El Mantón de Manila presented by La Peña Cultural Center in collaboration with Gabriela Shiroma (CulturARTE), Carayan Press, PAWA, Inc., Community Music Center-San Francisco

“the many ways in which our individual memories, histories, and stories may intersect with our cultural memories, histories, and stories”

Poet and Professor Barbara Jane Reyes covers the University of San Francisco fiction talk and workshop for her class “Filipino American Arts” in her post “Random: Culture, Commodity, Performance, Production”

…I am also thinking about erasure and invisibility (so, what’s new?). Last week in class, we discussed Lysley Tenorio’s story, “Save the I-Hotel,” which moves back and forth between the 1930’s and 1977, specifically the day of the final evictions of the I-Hotel. The story follows two men, laborers named Fortunado and Vicente, who are I-Hotel residents during that entire time period. We get the kind of care they exhibit toward one another, one helping the other find employment, sharing space however cramped, protecting each other from white male violence, keeping each other company when loneliness and homesickness are consuming, lending a coat to keep the other warm. It’s very tender. How do these things not amount to love, and how is this love never romantic? So that’s that, about erasure and silence; we simply cannot know that 100% of the Manongs were hetero, though we never ever hear about Manongs who were not.

I am also thinking of Rashaan Alexis Meneses’s visit to my class, also last week. She discussed how she came to her story, “Here in the States,” from the anthology Growing Up Filipino II, and her series of stories about immigrant workers in our urban areas (specifically, Los Angeles), what things about their American lives we never know because even though they’re omnipresent, we never ask them to tell us their life stories. She talked about the process of writing these stories and considering an audience who may not have the same cultural knowledge, how much to explain and translate, and how to explain and translate, while balancing what the story needs, at what pace it needs to move, from whose point of view it must be told.

She also conducted a writing workshop for my students, based upon memories, items that always occupy a special or significant place in our memories, and how to go about writing about these things. We started with a list of seven items and from there, did a freewrite engaging all the senses. I like this, the practice of keeping a written inventory of memories to which we can always return as artists. I like how this practice can bring to light the many ways in which our individual memories, histories, and stories may intersect with our cultural memories, histories, and stories. My students had some really great responses, and were, for the most part, quite open about why those items were so important to them, and where they are now in relation to these items. I later on told Rashaan about my mental inventory, and that I always go back to the same memory; all of th.e items on my list pertain to that memory of visiting Papa’s house in Gattaran when I was six…

Read the rest of the post here.

More coverage on the fiction workshop at the University of San Francisco will be forthcoming…