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Premiere of “Yellow Rose” opened Visual Communications’ LA Asian Pacific Film Festival

14 May 2019 No CommentEmail This Post Email This Post

The
assignment to watch “Yellow Rose “as the premiere film
celebrating Visual Communication’s 35th Los Angeles Asian Pacific
Film Festival, became close to my heart at the onset, because my dear friend,
Linda Mabalot, who was a visionary filmmaker and a community leader, founded
the Asian Pacific Film and VIdeo Festival, while heading the non-profit group
of Visual Communications, back in the mid 80’s, when likewise, this writer
had a television program at the former KSCI Channel 18’s International
Channel cable station owned by the Hare Krishna organization.

As
a visionary, Linda led the group that nurtured Asian American
filmmakers and they sponsored producing projects such as
“Manong” which focused on the FIlipino farm workers in the Central
Valley, followed by other short movie projects such as: “Planting
Roots: A Pictorial History of FIlipinos in California
,” “Moving
Image,”
and “Hiroshima 20 Years Later.”

As
executive dIrector of Visual Communications, Mabalot thought of expanding the
group’s mission which included producing videos and educational materials.
Unfortunately, she passed away on May 2003 but her legacy will forever live on.

This
year’s LA Asian Pacific Film Festival presented its first feature film, “Yellow
Rose
,” on Thursday, May 2, 2019 at the Aratani Theatre. It was a film
written, produced and directed by Diane Paragas, which starred twice Tony-award
nominee (for “Hadestown” and “Miss Saigon.”), Eva
Noblezada
.

The
film is about Rose Garcia (amazingly played by Noblezada) who was an ambitious
but undocumented 17-year old Filipina, leaving in the tiny town of
Austin,Texas, but dreamt of becoming a country music singer. Unfortunately, her
dreams were put to a halt when her mother, (played by veteran film star Princess
Punzalan), was suddenly picked up by the unapologetic, “strict-to the
core” Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and was placed
in detention for eventual deportation back to the Philippines.

Through
her relentless determination to stay and pursue her career, she struggled to
live in various situations such as briefly living with her aunt Gail (who was
her Mom’s estranged sister) played by Lea Salonga, whose Filipino values were
overcome by the American influence of her husband. Then there was her friend
Ellliott (played by Liam Booth), who became her constant “protector;”
and then there was another friend, Dale Watson, (who played himself), as an
Elvis impersonator but who was instrumental in encouraging Eva to pursue
her songwriting and singing career in public. Lastly, there was Jolene
(played by Libby Villari) who owned the cramped depot dance hall where Eva
lived and honed in her stage performances while at the same time, earning her
keep.

It
is worth mentioning that Producer/Director Diane Paragas took 15 years to
complete this film, which to her credit is timely and relevant, regarding
Immigration which is now enforced by the Trump administration. The strict
policies on Immigration is now being questioned by those on the political front
as well as those fleeing persecution from their countries of origin. But for
us, Filipinos, this film also defines the Filipino trait of sacrifice and
resilience, but sadly intertwined with a Filipino’s questionable sense of
assimilation as shown by Gail (Lea Salonga) during a dramatic and
emotional scene when Gail was singing “Dahil Sa Iyo” to
her daughter, upon the hearing of Eva. That particular scene truly defined
her firm longing to assert her trait of being Filipino,
which subtly meant that “blood is thicker than water.”

Though
“Yellow Rose” is the first feature film of Eva Noblezada, who comes
from a musical theatre background, her acting in this film was one that has
enabled her to evolve as an amazing and uprising dramatic actress.
Undoubtedly, her impressive performance in this film will transcend into more
dramatic roles for her in the near future. Likewise, filmmaker Diane
Paragas deserves our gratitude in presenting a timely film that lends
relevance to a nation that is supposed to welcome everyone’s freedom. With
the “Star Spangled Banner” song we sing: “Oh say does
the star spangled banner yet wave – O’er the land of the FREE and
the home of the brave.”. 

 Mabuhay
to both Eva Noblezada and Diane Paragas: you both deserve to be called
our Pinay Pride!

Souvenir photo of this writer along with singer, Malou Toler at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival
Eva Noblezada as ‘Rose Garcia’ in “Yellow Eose”

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