Pinoy artist shows off "Universal Self"

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN News North America Bureau

August 14, 2013

NEW YORK CITY–- “Universal Self” is a personal life story of a Filipino-American searching for his own identity — lost in multicultural America.
This is Kilusan Bautista’s one-man-show at the NYC Fringe Festival where he plays a dozen characters that made an impact in his life.
Bautista said, “It’s an opportunity for those that are on the Fringe of the theater community to come and get their exposure and network with each other and build with individuals that are more established.”

The show explores some of the experiences of many young Fil-Ams in America.
For Bautista, it’s an opportunity to tell his story through spoken word, martial arts and hip-hop music.
“It’s a tribute to my heritage, my family’s struggle of immigration from the Philippines to America and also my self definition of who I am as an individual the represents the melting pot,” Bautista said.

Bautista says the feeling of not being Filipino or not being American enough – is a struggle all too many young Fil-Ams go through.
“I think, just because I had a similar experience of not speaking Tagalog growing up and then wanting to try and find my way back into that culture, find my way back into my native culture so definitely that resonated with me the most,” said Astoria, NY resident Kristine Reyes.

“My parents didn’t teach us Tagalog because they were discriminated against in the work force and in society in general so they didn’t want their children to go through that same experience,” said Bautista.

Growing up in the Bay Area, Bautista was exposed to other cultures. He also got involved with the wrong crowd. But he began learning Filipino Martial Arts – and that turned out to be a life changing experience.
“When they punch me in the face with drugs – I knock it with self love. I felt free for the first time in my life I was proud of myself, It’s about struggle, and embracing that struggle and not using it as a crutch or putting myself in a victim position but more in learning and teaching those lessons behind those struggles,” he recalled.

“Universal Self” at the New York Fringe festival runs through August 23.

You may contact Don Tagala at for more information.

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