APEX Express

APEX Express – 5.2.24 – Celebrating AAPINH Month!

A weekly magazine-style radio show featuring the voices and stories of Asians and Pacific Islanders from all corners of our community. The show is produced by a collective of media makers, deejays, and activists.

Join Powerleegirl hosts Miko Lee, Jalena Keane-Lee and Ayame Keane-Lee, a mother daughters team. They are celebrating Asian American Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Heritage month.They talk with artists and activists who are telling their stories in so many different ways. Artists from the annual United States of Asian America festival, including artistic director, Melanie Elvena, storyteller Nancy Wang, and musician, Scott Oshiro. Jalena learns about the POC Food and Wine festival from Director Gina Mariko Rosalis and talks with Thuy Tran about CAAMfest, Asian American film festival. Miko speaks with Cyn Choi from Stop AAPI Hate.


Events Covered in this APEX Episode

May 2-5, 2024  POC Food & Wine Festival @cielcreativespace, Berkeley & @fouroneninesf, San Francisco, CA

April 25-June 23, 2024 United States of Asian American Festival various locations throughout SF. Including performers such as Eth-Noh-Tec and Scott Oshiro

May 9-19, 2024 CAAMfest various locations throughout the Bay Area.

May 10-12th, 2024 After The War Blues Z Space

May 16-June 1, 2024, DARKHEART – A Concert Narrative by Golda Sargento at Bindlestiff Studio

Stop AAPI Hate campaign Spread AAPI Love


Additional Events:

May 10-12, 2024 After The War Blues at Z Space

May 31, 2024, from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Sacramento AAPI NIGHT MARKET


SHOW Transcripts

Opening: [00:00:00] Apex Express. Asian Pacific Expression Community and cultural coverage. Music and calendar. New visions and voices. Coming to you with an Asian Pacific Islander point of view. It’s time to get on board the Apex Express.


Miko Lee: [00:00:34] Good evening. You’re tuned into apex express. We’re bringing you an Asian American Pacific Islander view from the Bay and around the world. We are your hosts, Miko Lee and Jalena Keane-Lee, the PowerLeeGirls, a mother-daughter team. Tonight we are talking about Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month and all of the amazing events that you can experience. We meet with artists and activists who are telling their stories in so many different ways. We hear from the artists from the annual United States of Asian America festival, including artistic director, Melanie Elvena storyteller, Nancy Wang, and musician Scott Oshiro. Jalena learns about the POC food and wine festival from director Gina Mariko Rosales and talks with Thúy Trần about CAAMFest an Asian American film festival. And I hear from Cinci from StopAAPIHate. First up, we’re going to hear about all the amazing artists behind the 27th annual United States of Asian America festival.


Hello, Artistic Director Melanie Elvena from Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center. We’re so glad to have you on Apex Express.


Melanie Elvena: [00:01:44] Hello, everyone. Thank you so much, Miko, for having me here today and letting me talk about our festival.


Miko Lee: [00:01:49] This is the 27th year of the United States of Asian America Festival, which is stunning to me, already 27 years. Tell us about the theme this year, Be(long)ing Here.


Melanie Elvena: [00:02:02] Yeah, it’s crazy to believe that it’s 27 years. It’s also my 10th year with APIC. And our theme this year is Be(long)ing Here which asks us what it means to be, Here, what it means to belong here, but also what are we longing here? Actually, I created this theme with our previous festival coordinator who unfortunately passed away in October, but he came here from San Diego and was just blown away by the richness of the AAPI arts community and our culture and our history. We just wanted together to reflect on where we have been, where we are now, And just what our collective future holds while acknowledging our backgrounds as immigrants, as refugees, mixed race descendants, and just really wanting to dive into what it means to belong. I think a lot of us as AAPI community members are folks who immigrated here, we’re always looking for our home and our place where we can feel safe and belong, especially with everything going on right now in the world politically, the war in Gaza, a lot of us have even just in our own AAPI community, have lost a lot of community members. We’re going through this moment of grief and reflecting upon our time in the pandemic, where we also just lost a lot of there was just so much death, right? What does that mean now in this current moment? Every year we try to come up with a theme that, you know, reflects upon us. What we’re experiencing as Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders. And also what do we see for ourselves in the future?


Miko Lee: [00:03:21] Thank you for sharing Melanie. I’m so sorry to hear about your colleague. That’s heartbreaking and you’re right. We are living in such a time of immense grief. It is powerful how we can use arts and cultural events to enrich us and bring our spirits back to ourselves. Can you talk about the breadth of the festival and what people can expect?


Melanie Elvena: [00:03:40] Of course. So every year we have multiple events. , this year I believe we have 22 different events. It showcases all disciplines, theater, music, dance, film, literature, visual arts, many, many more. There’s even culinary events and we have artists of all different disciplines, AAPI backgrounds, represented and, it goes from May through June. There’s a little bit of something for everyone but I just want to talk a little bit about our featured events. Our first event is a kickoff celebration for the festival, but it’s also an opening reception for our annual arts exhibition. This year, I worked with Independent curator Delaney Chieyen Holton, and they curated this exhibition called Where is Your Body and for them they are exploring how the body is the lowest common denominator for solidarity and thinking about the body and our vulnerabilities. What does it mean to have a body, especially as someone who identifies as AAPI, a person of color, queer, for us, we’re always negotiating what the body means, for ourselves out in the world. There’s a handful of artists and that’s going to open on April 25th. Then the exhibition will run through May 24th at SOMArts cultural center. So we would love for everyone to come and see the show. Another event that we’re highlighting. We have two featured. the first one is Megan Lowe Dances from May 31st through June 9 at The Joe Goode Annex called Just a Shadow. Megan is bringing together seven artists to make six different duets. It’s about pretty much celebrating life, but also acknowledging grief and the memory of loved ones and resilience. For Megan, who personally has experienced a lot of loss in the last handful of years, she’s using this piece to reflect upon everyone’s collective grief that we’ve all been experiencing. Our next featured artist is Ramon Abad, who’s doing an immersive theater experience for children and families at Bindlestiff Studios called Duck Soup. He has shows from June 8th through June 15th. I really love about Ramon’s work is, he works with puppets and brings in children and youth to tell their own stories. There’s going to be multiple stories with different youth, and they’re going to be able to tell them to an audience and to have families involved, especially in San Francisco, where there’s not as many programming for children. We wanted to highlight Ramon and be like, San Francisco is a place where families can thrive and have a space and with his art with his theater his puppetry. It brings to life, the humor, the joy, but also some of the hard things that we have to go through, especially through the perspective of youth and of children.


Miko Lee: [00:05:58] What is a collaborative event that you’re doing this year that you’re excited about?


Melanie Elvena: [00:06:02] Yeah, so We’re collaborating with Sunday Streets Tenderloin to do an outdoor showcase from 1 to 4pm on June 23rd It’s a street fair, two blocks on Golden Gate Avenue in the Tenderloin between Jones and Hyde Streets. We’re so excited to have this partnership again with Sunday Streets and Livable City. We’re going to have a whole afternoon of performances from both artists, as well as Tenderloin artists and local artists. Our Artists we’re featuring is dNaga Dance Co., Johnny Huy Nguyễn & Tim Kim, Sun Park, as well as Swetha Prabakaran Productions with Nirmathi. We’re just so excited for this day because last year we had such a good time. We brought the stage to this street fair and people from all walks of life came to enjoy as well as a lot of families and youth. It was just like a beautiful day where folks could just come and enjoy as well as take advantage of the free services that they had. The street fair offered, especially when we talk about the tenderloin and all the issues and problems you think of homelessness substance abuse and all those things. But, for one day, there was just like this beautiful time where everybody was just enjoying and being each other’s company. That’s the real San Francisco. I think that’s the real beauty that we have here. The real richness and what it means to experience art together. It really brings people together and it brings some healing. I’m super excited to have this again and can’t wait to be out there.


Miko Lee: [00:07:20] Thank you so much APICC, for continuing to show up and provide us with a varied experience of what it means to be Asian American for curating such an amazing event. We really appreciate your work. People can have access to all of these amazing adventures with APICC and a greater understanding of belonging here by looking at the website, which we will link to on our apex express site at KPFA. Next up, listen to elements of freedom from Scott Oshiro Part of Afro Asian futures playing Saturday, May 18th. As part of the United States of Asian America Festival.




That was Scott Oshiro from Afro Asian Futures playing the song Elements of Freedom. This will also be part of the United States of Asian America Festival.


Welcome Nancy Wang from Eth-Noh-Tec to Apex Express.


Nancy Wang: [00:10:18] Thank you. Thank you, Miko.

Miko Lee: [00:10:20] We are so happy to have you, and I understand that Ethnotech is going to be part of APICC United States of Asian America Festival. Can you tell me about what work you’re going to be presenting in APICC Festival?


Nancy Wang: [00:10:34] Yes, my piece is called Shadows & Secrets, and it’s about my grandfather’s death in 1924. We had all been brought up to think it was an accident, although my grandmother accused her own brother of murdering him, so no one took her really seriously, but I began to notice inconsistencies around what was going on at the time of his death. And so I’ve been doing a lot of research and I’ve come up with too many suspicious circumstances around his death. I agree with her. I think it was murder. And so my piece is about trying to find in this cold case, uh, Who could have been the murder. There are four suspects I have found, and maybe they all did it together, or maybe they all wanted to do it, but this is what this piece is about and it’s multidisciplinary. So there’s going to be media behind it with different photos of this restaurant. He was a very famous restaurateur in Chicago. I have six other actors who are going to do the parts. It’s going to be a stage radio play genre. So it’s kind of exciting with all the Foley sounds. It’s going to be at the Mission Cultural Center on May 4th and 5th. May 4th at 6:30pm. and May 5th at 2pm. In addition to that, we’re doing an art exhibit at 447 Minna, because there’s an artist in New York, Chee Wang Ng, who has been collecting various memorabilia of Chinese restaurants in that era of the early 1900s. It is going to be really interesting to see the lavishness of the restaurants at that time, east of the Mississippi river, because both. non Chinese and Chinese were very, very much in love with Chau Sui. If they could afford it, they went to these lavish restaurants.


Miko Lee: [00:12:20] And how is the exhibit connected to your work?


Nancy Wang:[00:12:24]  Because my grandfather had one of those lavish restaurants in Chicago. He was known as the, Prince of Merchandom or the wealthiest Chinaman in the Midwest. Because of his fame and his ability to draw in like the upper crust of the lo fan or the European Americans who came to his restaurant and were loyal to him. He had more than one restaurant and they were all very lavish. You’d have opera singers and violinists from Russia. And he had a 10, 000 organ in his restaurant and he had, uh, organ player every night besides bringing in special guests. So it was really very lavish, but very suspect as to what else was going on. Everyone’s dead. So I can say what I need to say. [Laughs].


Miko Lee: [00:13:14] This feels like a new genre for Eth-Noh-Tec in terms of doing a radio play and an art gallery. How, what does it feel like to expand into a new kind of medium?


Nancy Wang: [00:13:24] We saw the Ross Valley players put on a stage radio play and it was so interesting. I just love the idea of it. And it also saves the actors from having to memorize because they get to use their scripts since it’s supposed to be a radio show. They all get to play different characters, so they have to find different stances and different voices, so it’s a challenge for them. so it really simplifies and at the same time is really interesting and exciting.


Miko Lee: [00:13:50] I’m excited to see it because mostly your work is movement oriented. Many different forms of Asian, traditional dance forms that are moved in this storytelling style, so it will be very fun to see a new kind of work. Can you talk a little bit about how your show fits into the festival’s theme of belonging here?


Nancy Wang: [00:14:09] I think, everything that happens whether they’re part of the Tong Wars or they’re part of, just trying to make a living, survive, it’s all about trying to belong here. Even if the Tongs are at war, it’s about territory. It’s about saying, no, this is where I live. This is my territory. I belong here. So it’s always about trying to make sure that your own way of life is going to be grounded in some kind of permanency, trying to make sure that you get to stay in this country. So, whether you have to, you end up doing it illegally, It’s still about trying to stake out where you belong. That’s how I see it.


Miko Lee: [00:14:51] And lastly, Nancy, talk to me about what Asian American Pacific Islander Native Hawaiian Heritage Month means to you.


Nancy Wang: [00:14:59] Well, you know, it should be our heritage all year round, but in this time that the federal government has put aside for us, , it’s a way to really hone in on here we are. This is who we are. This is what we’re capable of doing. This is how we think. This is how we express ourselves. We belong. Please understand. We’re not foreigners forever. We have been here for seven to eight generations already. So how can you say we don’t belong? This is our world. This is our country too. It’s really important for us to use this time to celebrate who we are. And hopefully that the rest of the country, who are not Asian, Get to understand that and somehow create the bridge that will connect us all in some way so that diversity is celebrated rather than something to fear.


Miko Lee: [00:15:52] Nancy Wang, thank you so much. Looking forward to seeing your show as part of APICCFestival. Thank you.


Nancy Wang: [00:15:58] Thank you, Miko, for having me on your show.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:16:00] I am here with Gina Mariko Rosales and so excited to talk about the POC Food and Wine Festival. Thank you so much for joining us on Apex Express.


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:16:10] Yeah, I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:16:14] Can you tell us a little bit about the festival and what listeners can expect if they are to attend?


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:16:20] Been a long time event planner, producer. We’ve been doing a ton of work in the Filipino community in San Francisco for over seven years. So one of our biggest festivals has been Undiscovered SF, this Filipino night market. And it’s been so beautiful for us to be producing that event. But I’ve really had this desire to build with more multicultural communities. And so that’s how this idea of POC Food and Wine was born, was really wanting to bring together multicultural communities in food, beverage, art, music and how do we bring all these folks together to build something that’s bigger than any one of us? How do we share knowledge resources across our communities? So POC Food and Wine Festival is launching. It’s a four day festival and we’re featuring all kinds of different events, but our main event is happening on saturday May 4th. So it’s the main dish where we’re featuring pairings so like tastings from amazing award winning chefs. It’s paired with POC winemakers, spirits, non alcoholic drinks, and beverage brands. And then of course, Make it Mariko, we always do music really big in everything we do. So of course there’s going to be tons of amazing DJs and live music performers. But there’s really something for everyone. You want that festival vibe, you want our after party vibe, you can come to that or we have these really amazing family meals where it’s like more of the traditional sit down, coursed out, dinner service.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:17:45] So exciting. And for people who don’t know, why is it particularly important to highlight POC winemakers and food creators? What is it about those fields that makes it difficult for people to rake into?


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:17:57] In the mainstream spaces and all of those industries so many of these festivals, a lot of the smaller batch winemakers or just folks who don’t maybe have PR agencies, they don’t really get access to a lot of these festivals. And even when POC folks do get access. A lot of the time it costs a ton of money for these chefs to come and present at some of these festivals. And so that’s not accessible to a lot of people who may be really amazing chefs but don’t have the budget for that. So our whole goal with our festival was to create a space that was highlighting folks who don’t necessarily typically get access to these big festival spaces and how do we do it accessibly for them so they can really come and be a part of it.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:18:41] And speaking of accessibility, I feel like wine sometimes can be something that it feels like, you know, there’s a lot of clout around it or maybe some studying or something that’s needed. Can you talk a little bit about the space around wine and inclusion in that field?


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:18:57] Totally. I mean, so I’m a wine lover. I love drinking wine. I love going to wine bars. I just got back from Calistoga last week. , but sometimes the reality is a lot of these wine spaces for people of color may not feel accessible or safe or welcoming. A lot of them are, but I’ve definitely been to a lot of spaces where I’ve kind of been ignored. Or maybe I’m the only person of color in the room. Maybe you’ve even had the experience of feeling, getting shushed at a winery or a wine event. And that just, to me, doesn’t feel comfortable. It doesn’t feel like home. So we really wanted to create a wine studio. space that feels more comfortable and accessible. Even just playing music that we like, little things like that make people feel comfortable in a space like I can come as my authentic self.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:19:42] That’s so true. I think a lot of times the culture around wine can feel a bit stuffy and exclusionary. For someone who’s not sure about wine, what would you say to them about reduced barriers to entry to be a connoisseur or an appreciator of wine?


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:19:58] This festival is a perfect way to get introduced to that culture and start to feel comfortable there people who love drinking wine But maybe don’t they don’t consider themselves like a wine person because they don’t have knowledge about it Because we’re creating these pairings for you So we’re gonna be telling you like here’s this bite this amazing tasting from this chef and we paired it with this drink for these Reasons, so why don’t you try it out and see how you feel how you like it and if you don’t then that’s fine like at least you’re learning something and you’re getting your, foot in the door and, learning how to even do a wine tasting. So we’ll be sharing some tips like that for people before they go to the festival like, all right, here’s some things that you might want to know about and here’s how you can taste at a wine festival. Here’s how you can spit at a wine festival. Here’s what these buckets are for. So we’re going to help try to introduce people to that culture and make it, you know, less scary.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:20:51] How did you first connect with wine and what was that experience like?


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:20:56] My dad loves drinking wine and he would always drink like the darkest, richest red wines. And so when I would taste it, I was like, I do not like this. This is gross. I started drinking my first foray into wine was like really sweet wines, like Gewürztraminer and the more I got into it, my palate started developing and I was like, okay, I’m starting to like this now and now I like this. And it changed. So I actually took a sabbatical from my company after like a really bad burnout after COVID and I got a received a wine scholarship to this program that gave me an introduction to wine that I could actually now learn and study it and that gave me so much inspiration to be like, Oh, this is something that I can do. This is accessible to me and now I’m just educating myself. And there’s so many of these kinds of scholarships available for people who are. excited or curious about wine and just want to get into it and make it more of a passion. So we really want to introduce those to folks too.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:21:57] Wow. That’s so incredible. When you’re talking about who you want to come to the event, can you talk a little bit more about that of who would be the ideal audience for this event and who, or what are you hoping that they bring with them?


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:22:11] Yeah, that’s a great question. Of course, we really want those like wine lovers, wine connoisseurs, folks who are, even studying wine, going up for the WCET, or, even like high class sommeliers who are really lovers of wine and understand it really deeply because some of the winemakers we are featuring are just wine Amazing, amazing winemakers with very delicious wine. So the wine pro is welcome here and we’ll have an amazing time, especially with the pairings. But The like, entry, I’m just curious about wine, and really I just like, love music and festivals in general, like you are absolutely welcome here, because who doesn’t love food, first of all? People all love really delicious food and drinks, so that’s gonna be there for you. Some of the other people that we’d love to come or even people who just love music. I love music. I love culture. I love dancing. That is going to be on display throughout the week. So we have some of the best DJs, not even just in the Bay Area, but in the world that are going to be showcasing and spinning at the events. There’ll be line dancing galore. So even if that’s more of your jam, you’re going to have an amazing time too. Another group that might be really excited about coming and that we really want to come to the festival are industry people. So if you are a person who’s actively working in the food, beverage, hospitality events or entertainment industry, like we want you to come. Friday night we’re hosting a special event. special sip and scratch industry night reception just for the people who are working in the industry. And we’re going to be hosting like a really amazing industry roundtable discussion where we want to like get people’s thoughts and ideas. How do we help improve diversity in these industries? Who’s out there doing it really well? What are some ideas of what we could do better? And how can we come together as the industry? Fellow folks in the industries and, you know, work together to improve that. So that’s something that I’m really excited about too. We really just want to have a community conversation.

Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:24:12] That’s great. And you know, this is a mother-daughter radio show. And you know, my mom thought that this was more my lane, but I’m curious what you think about the parents and older generations coming through too.


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:24:23] Oh my gosh, absolutely. Mother’s Day is coming up. And we really love the idea of people buying tickets for their moms or chosen moms or aunties or dads or whoever, and bring your family to this event. It’s really going to be a super family friendly. Festival where you can come, bring your parents, do all the tastings together, dance a little. I invited my parents to the after party last year Brown is Beautiful and they had an amazing time and we’re just like dancing up a storm. So I definitely encourage people like make this a family friendly day and invite them.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:24:57] I love that. And I’m so glad that you’re bringing this event to the Bay and that, you know, all of these world renowned people are going to be here in our hometown. And of course, there’s so much wine production that happens nearby us as well. What is special about the Bay Area informing the idea of the event and your own worldview?


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:25:17] I mean, I am a Bay girl born and raised. So I was born in Pacifica and raised in Daly City, San Francisco, Berkeley, you know, so I’ve been around the Bay and I probably will be for the rest of my life. So I just. Love it here so much. I love the creativity of people, the diversity of people and diversity of thought out here. So of course, like the festival is really highlighting the best of the Bay and we’re really focusing on What are some of the amazing diverse creatives that are building here currently? What is it that makes the Bay the amazing place that it is? And highlighting some of those key businesses throughout. So they’re going to come and give you tastings at the festival, but some of them have beautiful brick and mortars that really do need support outside of that. So that’s one of our big goals too, is like, how do we just introduce people to new spaces that they never knew of before? Because we all know that we get stuck in our little pockets of places, even me, sometimes it’s hard to get even out of like Excelsior and Soma in San Francisco, but how do we challenge ourselves to find new spaces outside of our comfort zones and then become part of a bigger community and expand our community.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:26:28] Yeah, I’m so glad, and that definitely happens to me too. I’ll get this idea that nothing happens here, and then I’m like, girl, you’re the one that’s been inside, like, all this time.


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:26:38] The thing, too, is like ever since COVID, the pandemic, we got so comfortable in these little niche spaces. And that’s okay. You know, we went through trauma together, but now it’s time for us to really explore and expand. And I think that doing this multicultural festival really challenges us to meet new people, meet new restaurants, meet new small businesses that we can support, and connecting people is one of the biggest goals of our festival.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:27:02] Yeah, and what have been some of the unique challenges that you have faced and overcome when it comes to making a multicultural festival in this place and time?


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:27:11] Oh, man, it’s definitely, it’s definitely been a journey, but one I’m really, honored to be on. First off, we’re long time festival producers, but new to the wine industry. And so that was really a big hump and I had to kind of get over was figuring out my way. Who’s the who’s who of the industry? Who’s already doing diversity work? Who are some of the big players? And who can I also reach out to for help? You know, so that’s been definitely a challenge. But one I’m really have been excited about because I’ve been meeting all these amazing new people. Secondly, we’re self funding this festival. We do have some sponsors, which I’m really excited about, but the majority of the festival is self funded by our agency and we are really small startup women of color owned agency. So that alone is a lot of investment, but we feel so passionate about the space that we’re trying to build and highlighting the people that we are. So we’re very excited about that and really excited for the community to turn out and show their support for something like this.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:28:10] That’s so great. Can you talk a little bit more about your agency and being a woman run business? And I know that, some of the events are at CL Space, which is also a woman owned, great studio in Berkeley. So yeah, how does that impact the festival?


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:28:23] One of the hardest things I was like, daughters, sons of immigrants, you know, I’m a second generation. My parents came from Japan and the Philippines and immigrated here. We often deal with so much scarcity mentality, like we’re just trying our best to make it. Maybe we have imposter syndrome. Maybe we’re the only woman or person of color in a room. So there’s a lot of challenges already from us just taking up space. So that alone has been a real mental challenge for me to even just Say like, Hey, we deserve to be in this space. The space is necessary and we want you to hear us loud and proud. You know, we say it so confidently, but there’s a lot of mental work that comes behind just getting to that place of confidence to say that out loud.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:29:08] Absolutely. And it feels to me like the festival is really an example too of, staking a claim in the fact that we deserve joy too, and we deserve rest and play and luxury, and that as important as it is, of course, to come together across, you know, lines of difference when it comes to like urgent actions and organizing. It’s also so important to be able to have that kind of space in our joy and in our leisure too.


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:29:34] Yes. Oh my gosh. I’m so glad that you did have that takeaway because we try so hard to really just constantly put this message of, Hey folks, we know you’re tired. We’re tired too. And we’ve been doing a lot. We’ve been pushing a lot. We all have. And yes, we deserve nice things. We deserve joyful experiences. We deserve spaces where it’s centered on us being taken care of. And that’s really the kind of environment that we want to create here at this festival, a place of. You know, wellness and healing and joy, because food is healing. Food is also connection, food is culture. So by creating this space, also like, you know, we have, we’re featuring a CBD wine sound bath. You know, there’s all kinds of other activities. So come be fed in your, in your belly, but also of your heart and your mind, you know, take care of that too. So it’s this holistic approach to joy and healing.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:30:30] I love that. And how does your own cultural background impact, why you wanted to create this event and how you organize?


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:30:37] Oh, yes. So I’m Filipino Japanese, and there’s not many Filipino Japanese people around my age, mainly because of, like, that was like World War II time, that our grandparents were kind of coming together. So, I take a lot from both of my cultural backgrounds that kind of helped me determine like, what I do and how I curate, you know, Japanese people are so beautiful at creation and curation and really just like honing a craft and becoming well at it. I take a lot of inspiration from that and try to really do that for myself. But when it comes time to party time, Filipinos. know what is up. And so a lot of my curation of how I plan parties and festivals comes from my Filipino upbringing and what a Filipino family party looked like. You know, tons of food, karaoke, singing, drinking, you know, laughing. Like that is my background and what I want to bring to every festival we produce.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:31:40] I love that. And you know, as someone born and raised in the Bay Area who did a lot of theater growing up, I have been to many a Filipino party. They’re always amazing. Great, great food, great, uh, singing. Although some content is a bit competitive, but [Laughs].


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:32:00] Absolutely. You might even see my mom there and then, you know, it’s like a big party. She’ll just be welcoming everyone at the front.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:32:06] That’s so sweet. Um, what are three of your like highlights of the festival? Like things that you’re really, really looking forward to?

Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:32:17] First is basically our Main Dish Palate Pass Experience. That’s what we’re calling it. And that’s basically the 14 to 15 chef pairings with beverage that you’re going to get to experience at the main dish. We’re really excited because we’ve paired these amazing chefs. With the multicultural beverage providers creating these collaborations that never existed before. I’m really excited about our opening family meal that is going to be, hosted by Chef Reem Assil of Reem’s California. So we’re really highlighting the Palestinian family meal experience, which is going to be served family style. So I’m really excited because Chef Reem is just, just a joy that cooks straight from her soul onto the plate. So I’m excited to experience that intimate dinner. And I’m really excited about our Brown is Beautiful after party. So that’s the one that’s sponsored by like Bacardi and Doucet and Case Tea. So this whole mix of like spirits and also non alcoholic Asian tea and putting together this fashion forward after party experience where people just get to come and enjoy and get down.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:33:26] That sounds great. We’ve talked about the wine and the food and a little bit about the music too and how important that is. I know that there’s also a marketplace. What can people look forward to from the marketplace?


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:33:38] Yeah, we’re so excited about featuring about 15 retail vendors who are going to be selling some amazing array of goods. So like jewelry, cookbooks, we’re even going to have a vendor doing like massages and chiropractic services. So there’s going to be this huge mix of vendors. selling their goods as well, selling some art, selling pastries too. If you can’t get enough from the tastings, you can buy extras on the side. So there’ll be so much stuff for you to explore in this 40, 000 square foot space at CL.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:34:12] Beautiful. Is there anything else that you’d like to share?


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:34:15] I think the last thing is I just really want people to come as themselves in whatever capacity that is and really just to be ready and open to meet whoever comes along. I know it sometimes can be hard for folks to get out nowadays, can feel really introverted, and we really just want people to feel like they’re coming to a giant family party where we’re all welcome.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:34:38] Amazing. And yeah, I’m sure it is going to feel just like that and so much joy and how important it is in this time to have a space that is centered on joy and, building up our resilience and resistance through just things that are fun and pleasurable and full of culture.


Gina Mariko Rosales: [00:34:57] Absolutely. Yes, absolutely. And centering our cultures and our stories center stage.


Miko Lee: [00:35:03] Next up listen to StayGo from DARKHEART,  A Concert Narrative by singer, & songwriter Golda Sargento playing at Bindlestiff through May




That was the voice of Golda Sargento from the new Filipina|x|o Futurism Punk Rock Sci-Fi  DARKHEART at Bindlestiff thru May.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:39:04] Hi, everyone. I’m so happy to be joined by Thuy Trần, the Festival and Exhibitions Director of CAAM, or Center for Asian American Media. Thanks so much for joining me, Thúy.


Thúy Trần: [00:39:15] Thank you for having me. I’m so excited.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:39:18] We’re so excited too. We’re such big fans of CAAM and, you know, long time participants and audience members, what do we have in store for CAAM 2024 this year?


Thúy Trần: [00:39:29] Yes. So CAAMFest is May 9th through the 19th is the leading showcase for Asian American talent and film, food, and music. And we’re probably the only festival where you can see this large concentration of Asian American media. So the last few years we’ve expanded to having multidisciplinary programs with food and music. And what’s really important for us is, you know, curating, A holistic and experiential experience for a guest, whether you’re a filmmaker, artist or audience member. and so I guess a couple of things that, I feel really excited about this coming year. Of course, we have our opening night this is going to be at a brand new venue, new to Camp Fest, we’ll be at the Palace of Fine Arts up in the Presidio and our opening night film is Admissions Granted, by Hao Wu and Miao Wang. and it follows the events leading up to the overturning of affirmative action and all the players that are involved. And, afterwards, there will be the opening night gala at the Asian art museum. We have some amazing chefs. And food vendors confirmed there, including Audrey Tang of Batik and Baker, their Malaysian pastry pop up, Sita’s Kamai Kitchen. We also have Patty Liu from Gear of the Snake, another Asian American pop up in Berkeley, and Melissa Chu, who’s the pastry chef of Grand Opening. And she used to work at Mr. Ju’s. and of course you have music by DJ Dree Lee, who’s the resident DJ and organizer of Honey’s and Hot Sauce, and you’ll frequently see them DJing at Jolene’s and, you know, other venues across the Bay Area.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:40:59] Incredible. Well, that sounds really exciting. what are some upcoming dates that people need to keep in mind? Are the tickets available already, or what’s kind of upcoming?


Thúy Trần: [00:41:07] Dates are available. You can get them online at camfest.Com. and, the dates are May 9th through the 19th, with most of our programming concentrated during the two weekends.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:41:17] Perfect. And what’s an event or a screening that you personally are really looking forward to?


Thúy Trần: [00:41:22] I’m looking forward to a lot. I mean, of course, our centerpieces are pretty amazing. You know, we have our centerpiece documentary called Q by Jude Chehab. and that one is on May 11th at the SFMOMA, Jude made this film to save her mother, who’s been deeply indoctrinated into a mysterious religious order that has has woven through three generations of their matriarchal lineage. Another film that I’m really looking forward to is, Ashima by Kenji Tsukamoto and this is about 13-year-old rock climbing prodigy Ashima. It follows her trying to solve a, I think it was like a grade 14 boulder problem, something really advanced. and she does this with her coach, who’s an eccentric retired avant garde dancer who has zero professional climbing experience and also happens to be her father. So it’s a really touching, tender documentary. and of course we also have our food programs as well. One of the programs this year highlights, Chef Tracy Koh from Damansara, as well Chef Emily Lim from Davao, Singapore. So they are coming together for a really specially curated menu, celebrating Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine and this will take place on May 14th at Damansara. We also have our Directions in Sound, music concert that’s a collaboration with the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, and we are highlighting Tao formerly of Tao in the Get Down, Stay Down, she’s a local, Bay Area musician, and she had a CAAM funded documentary called Nobody Dies back in 2017. So we’re all really excited about these programs.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:42:53] Beautiful. So many fun and exciting things coming up. So many things to do in the Bay. And we’ll link to the tickets and all the other information in our show notes, too, for anyone listening who wants to figure out how to get tickets. When you were kind of building up the program for this year and going over all of the submissions, were there any themes or anything that stood out that’s kind of maybe unique to this year?


Thúy Trần: [00:43:15] Definitely. This is, in election year. We want folks to go out and vote and also thinking about the social issues that are important to us. So we do have a couple of films that talk a lot about, just empowerment through community building. And so many of our stories come from their personal stories from our chefs. And we’re also looking at CAAMFest as, we’re shining a light on truth tellers. and thinking how we’re lifting the truth of our stories, how these stories are brave and beautiful, bizarre, and they’re all true of something, right? They’re ours, and they’re generous expressions of what impacts us, what matters, and what we long for and imagine. So those two themes were really resonant for us throughout this entire curatorial process.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:44:02] That makes so much sense. And I love the films that you highlighted. Jude is one of my really close friends and I can’t wait to see her screening here in that year. You’re bringing her to the Bay Area. I’m so excited for that. And I saw Ashima in the fall and I love that one too.


Thúy Trần: [00:44:15] Oh, that’s so amazing. I know we’re flying Jude in from out of the country. So it’s going to be really special. We’re actually, you know what, her mom is going to be with us as well. I know. So it’s going to be really special. Jude was saying that her mom, I think she was only able to make it out for their world premiere at Tribeca. Right. And so we’re, yeah, it’s going to be, it’s going to be really incredible to have both of them on stage.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:44:41] Wow, that’s gonna be, that is an event that you cannot miss, everyone listening. It’s gonna be so phenomenal, and Q is truly breathtaking, as is Ashima, and I’m sure all of the other films that were programmed, and it’s just so beautiful to see how diverse and unique and, you know, everything you’re talking about our community is, and so much breadth and depth, so thank you so much for hosting this event and bringing us all together.


Thúy Trần: [00:45:06] Awesome. And thank you, Jalena, for again, having me and of course, like all the wonderful work and art that you create.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:45:13] Thank you. Is there anything else that you’d like to share before we wrap up?


Thúy Trần: [00:45:16] I just want to say that, you know, everyone is, of course, invited, and I just want folks to know that, yes, lifts Asian American storytellers, but ultimately it’s for everyone, it’s for the community as a whole, and we really encourage you to bring all of your friends, your family, tell everyone. We really rely on our community bringing folks in. It’s a really special time to get folks together too. This is a great way to celebrate Asian American Heritage Month.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:45:44] Exactly. And you know, you don’t have to be Asian American to celebrate the month and learning about Asian American stories from Asian American storytellers is a great way to do that.


Thúy Trần: [00:45:56] Yes, a hundred percent.


Jalena Keane-Lee: [00:45:58] All right. Thank you so much. Hope you have a great rest of your day.


Thúy Trần: [00:46:01] Thank you.


Miko Lee: [00:46:02] Welcome Cyn Choi to Apex express. We are so happy to have one of the co-founders of Stop AAPI Hate on Apex express.


Cyn Choi: [00:46:12] Thank you so much, Miko, for having me.


Miko Lee: [00:46:14] Can you tell us where Stop AAPI Hate comes from?


Cyn Choi: [00:46:19] Stop AAPI Hate was born out of a crisis moment for our community nearly four years ago when COVID was being racialized we decided to create a reporting center. So we can have everyday people share with us what was happening to them. With that data and those stories, we have been able to establish number one, that this was a pervasive issue that we needed to have a robust response to the different forms of hate and discrimination and harassment that our communities were experiencing. We’ve used that to advocate for meaningful change and we’ve done that in a myriad of ways at the grassroots level, policy, local, state, and national level.


Miko Lee: [00:47:04] And you have grown with your collaborators Stop AAPI Hate from a conversation around a table about what was going on in the world into a national movement. What does that feel like for you to be a founder of this?


Cyn Choi: [00:47:17] It’s really humbling, and I think what’s really important to note is that, of course we have experienced racism, discrimination, ,and violence throughout our history, and it defines our experience in many ways, and that our movement Is robust and diverse, and it’s both about we are shaping this country the ideals of a multiracial democracy. And obviously, we have contributed in ways that I think are really important to lift up and to celebrate. And unfortunately, that’s not really taught within our public education system. It’s not what we talk about within our families. And that is something that I think is really important to note, especially in light of AAPI Heritage Month.


Miko Lee: [00:48:13] Can you tell me a little bit about what AAPINH Heritage Month means to you personally?


Cyn Choi: [00:48:19] I think Heritage Month becomes a time where we get to focus on our history which includes our history of resilience, resistance and solidarity, where we get to in our own words and share with our own stories what that means. It allows. others to have exposure. And so we think that focusing on our heritage and what that all means within the month of May is really just our opportunity to share what that means for us.


Miko Lee: [00:48:49] Thank you for sharing that. I wanna step back and ask a question about you, and I am wondering who you are, who your people are, and what is the legacy that you carry with you from your people?


Cyn Choi: [00:49:03] First and foremost I have to name that I am a daughter of immigrants. My parents came to the United States, to California specifically in the early sixties. And they benefited from the lifting up of really severe restrictions. quotas that allowed my family and so many others so I think that’s incredibly important and the legacy of the civil rights movement that really pushed for and advocated for these kinds of changes. It continues to define who I am in terms of how I see the world. And it really does inspire me in terms of my advocacy work. It makes sense that I have been concerned about removing barriers and opening up opportunities for immigrants, for refugees, for women and girls and people who have been traditionally locked out. And so I know that my inspiration and my grounding comes from that. My people, that’s an interesting one for me to answer because I’m a part of so many different communities, a community of activists, a community of mothers who wants to raise their children so that they are compassionate I am a part of a community of organizational leaders that is really trying to make sure that whatever we do, we are Thinking seven generations ahead, what are we trying to build? What are we trying to nurture? And for me, that’s not just a privilege, but it certainly is a feeling of responsibility. So I’m a part of a lot of communities that make me feel grounded and accountable to.


Miko Lee: [00:50:42] Thank you, Cyn. Can you share with us this new campaign that Stop AAPI Hate is showcasing during our Heritage Month?


Cyn Choi: [00:50:50] We have been working on a new campaign called Spread AAPI Love. It’s a project of Stop AAPI Hate, and it’s specifically for AAPI Heritage Month. It’s a storytelling campaign that amplifies the voices of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. It’s about stories of resilience, it’s celebration, solidarity, resistance. It’s from everyday people, it’s from community members. We want to hear from our communities. It’s also about highlighting those in our community who represent many of the values that we uphold around solidarity, around unity around justice. and equality and it’s about harnessing our joy and power and our cultural pride.


Miko Lee: [00:51:35] What inspired this campaign?


Cyn Choi: [00:51:37] After four years of emphasizing and highlighting the rise of hate and structural racism against our communities, we really wanted to center more affirmative narratives. Of who we are and the power that we have to create change. We are not victims of hate. We are more than a series of tragic headlines. We are a richly diverse group of people. And again that is about joy. It’s about our power. It’s about our collective power and a celebration of our diversity and with that it is pride and the sense that we have come from somewhere. That we have journeyed, we are still on this journey of establishing belonging, in a sense that we have collective fate and shared fate, not just amongst and within our AAPI communities, but with other communities as well.


Miko Lee: [00:52:31] And what do you hope that the community will understand or walk away with after hearing some of these stories?


Cyn Choi: [00:52:37] One of the things that we’re really trying to uplift is, that we have to focus beyond acts of hate, that it is about, as I said, our power and joy, but also that We need to tend to healing from this trauma. We need to be able to sustain ourselves because this work is long term and we also need to uplift the fact that. It’s not just visibility. But it’s about what do we do in these moments. So it’s about mobilizing community members to take action. There’s aspects of it where it’s about representation. We want to amplify the voices, the many voices and perspectives and experiences. So that our community members feel seen. and heard and represented. Again, it’s about healing. So we want to really promote this idea that we can heal, that we can overcome moving from a place of anger to really be anchored in love. from a place of love. And that needs to be our driving motivation. It’s about the narrative change. What are the stories that we’re able to tell? From our own voice. It’s about being affirmative about the richness and diversity of our communities and that we have never been a monolith and that it’s important that we also uplift those that tend to be underrepresented within our communities.


Miko Lee: [00:53:59] And how can people get involved in this campaign?


Cyn Choi: [00:54:02] One of the fundamental ways that we’re hoping to engage with people is we’re going to invite people to share their stories. And so we have a campaign microsite. It’s spreadaapilove.org. This is where we’re going to feature stories. People can submit stories, video, audio, art, photography. We’re going to highlight some amazing people who have turned. A tragedy or an experience of racism into something positive. We also want to just hear everyday stories about what makes you feel proud. What makes you, what do you want to lift up about your experience, your family’s history? And it could be something as simple as cooking together. It could be as simple as understanding your family’s contribution, whether it’s in your local community or in the schools, in your neighborhoods.


Miko Lee: [00:54:53] Cyn, I understand that there has been some research that’s been recently released around some of the work of Stop AAPI Hate. Can you share with us about that research and what it says?


Cyn Choi: [00:55:02] Another aspect of our research and data collection is we also do nationally representative surveys. And one of the things that we wanted to learn more about is what really motivates people when it comes to taking action against racial injustice, and our research shows that APS are actually more motivated By positive factors like hope acts of solidarity and cultural pride and some of the statistics that I want to share with you, which was really enlightening to me is when we asked them about if this is motivating 81 percent said that hope for a better future for younger generations was really motivating. It was one of the top 72 percent said that seeing the collective efforts of AAPIs to combat racism, that was number two. And then 69 percent said that feeling strongly connected to their ethnic and racial identity. And so that could take many different forms. And then finally what was a motivating factor? To get involved to take action was, of course, their own direct experiences with hate, and that was roughly a little over 60 percent. And so what that really tells us is that we need to share more affirmative stories about how everyday people are choosing to be grounded in love, to take affirmative steps, to do acts of care, of solidarity to feel that they are doing this as part of a larger movement. And that is really driving in large part our spread API love campaign and the work that we’re doing every day.


Miko Lee: [00:56:40] Thank you. It’s so important to hear positive stories and hear about the work that’s going on in the community. Thank you so much for joining us today. We will put a link to the campaign on our website so people can access this and share their own stories. Thank you so much, Cyn, for joining us today.


Cyn Choi: [00:56:57] Thank you, Miko.


Miko Lee: [00:56:59] Please check out our website, kpfa.org to find out more . We thank all of you listeners out there. Keep resisting, keep organizing, keep creating and sharing your visions with the world because your voices are important. Apex express is produced by Ayame Keane-Lee, Anuj Vaidya, Cheryl Truong, Hien Nguyen, Jalena Keane-Lee, Miko Lee, Nate Tan, Paige Chung, Preti Mangala-Shekar, and Swati Rayasam. Tonight’s show was produced by Miko Lee and edited by Ayame Keane-Lee. Have a great night.




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