Broadway Barkada helps Fil-Am dancers soar with “Lumipad”

NEW YORK CITY – From musicals such as “Miss Saigon” in the ’90s to 2015’s “Allegiance,” Filipino singers and actors have made great strides on the Great White Way.

But there’s one group of Filipino artists that are still facing some challenges on Broadway — Filipino dancers and choreographers.

Fil-Am choreographer Billy Bustamante says, “All roads do lead back to ‘Miss Saigon’.” 

He said, “Back when Lea was doing ‘Miss Saigon’, it created a demand for people like us that didn’t exist before. So people rose up to fill that demand and now that there weren’t as many Saigons and King and I’s happening. There’s all these talent with no place to go.”

So four years ago, Broadway Barkada — an organization of Filipino Broadway and Off-Broadway performers — came together to shine a spotlight on the New York Filipino dance community through an annual show called “Lumipad.”

Broadway Barkada co-founder Brian Jose said, “Lumipad means fly. We found this need in the community to really promote them, gather them together, so that they can all meet each other, make connections and learn from each other and really promote that untapped talent.”

Fil-Am triple threat Albert Guerzon has been in musicals like “Ghost on Broadway”, “Honeymoon in Vegas”, and “Mama Mia” among many others.

Today, he is back in the hustle of auditioning for Broadway shows.

“So many people come here from different places, and they come here on their own,” Guerzon said. “So to find a sense of family and to see familiar faces at auditions, to see people to help you learn lines with or to go to class with, and to know they’re on your side is a beautiful thing.”

Fil-Am dancer Kevin Santos has made it on the Broadway stage and has been cast as Puerto Rican or other nationalities, but not his own.

“So I still have yet to do any of the Asian American shows at all. So it’s all about finding your niche. Sometimes that doesn’t necessarily go along with the Filipino shows or the Asian shows. It’s about finding where you fit,” Santos said.

Iconic Broadway star Lea Salonga, who is currently in the musical “Allegiance,” says the show Lumipad has this message for Broadway show producers.

“Please hire us. We are talented. We are passionate, and there’s so much heart in what we do,” she said.

What started as a small group of Filipino friends on Broadway is now becoming more and more organized as a support group that has only one goal in mind – to help Filipinos soar on Broadway.

You may contact Don Tagala at for more information.

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