Cafe Ysabella

Coffee and poetry. Words and images. Every Good Thing.

cafe ysabella does piyesta March 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — cafeysabella @ 5:03 am

it is an unusual way of spelling pista, the tagalog – note, not filipino or pilipino; i mean the dialect spoken in that region in central luzon – but that’s how piyesta pinoy sa navy pier started.

navy pier has invited the chicago filipino community for a third year to join their neighborhoods of the world series. the series celebrates the diverse communities that make up chicago. there’s only a handful of groups invited to this festival, so we’re doing a good job of showcasing a part of our heritage.

singkil at the 2013 piyesta pinoy

singkil at the 2013 piyesta pinoy

the festival is broken up into two parts: the main stage and exhibits. dance groups mostly come from participants of battle of the bamboo and local high school, university and community groups. singers come from professionals in the community and groups who sometimes use the piyesta as a recital stage to yearlong gatherings and lessons.

i’ve posted my 2014 battle of the bamboo playlist. here’s my 2013 piyesta pinoy 2013 playlist:

please visit the following sites for more information:

kita kits sa 23rd sa navy pier!


2014 Piyesta Pinoy

2014 Piyesta Pinoy poster.


cafe ysabella does museums

Filed under: Uncategorized — cafeysabella @ 4:32 am

i had an opportunity to assist in the development of a dream in the mind’s eye of one of chicago’s museum curators.

dr. john terrell, curator of the field museum’s pacific collections in the anthropology department, had a vision of co-curation – a new way for museums to display artifacts and collections whose descendants may still be around. without his intern, doctoral student of anthropology pilar escontrias, a handful other young people and i would never have had the chance to see the field museum’s 80-year-old philippine collection.

there are many things to unpack here. yes, the field museum has a collection of artifacts gathered at one of the most important turning points in philippine history, the very short but effective u.s. colonialism period – the time after the revolution against spain, after the philippines had been sold to the u.s. by spain for $20 million, and just before the commonwealth of the philippines. it is 1910, and the philippines is a colony of the world’s newest superpower, the united states.

to make a long story short – and there are many, many stories to tell here – between 1907 and 1910, the field museum sent anthropologists to collect artifacts from the main regions of the philippines. there are pieces from the ifugao region in northern luzon, clothing from tribes in mindanao, and a few artifacts – notably with christian influence – from the visayan region.

i wrote about the first time a group of friends and i saw the artifacts, which at that time were just about a carefully guarded secret by a handful of groups – not surprisingly, because these are, after all, historical artifacts. just as you wouldn’t want just about anyone handling your own irreplaceable possessions, the artifacts are treated the same.

Ifugao spears at the Field Museum

Ifugao spears at the Field Museum’s Philippine Collection, currently in storage.

currently, there is a hand-select group of people chosen arbitrarily by museum officials and community members to put together activities to increase awareness of the artifacts. there is a petition to sign, and events to attend, which is usually dovetailed with other events, such as piyesta pinoy sa chicago.

this story is incomplete because the project has to involve many hands – the field museum and a committee cobbled together by various groups of the chicago filipino community. for a view of just how difficult it is to launch a project that involves so many stories and requires a deep investment from so many people, please view the video below. it is a group of interviews shot last summer at the 2013 adobofest. i was asked then to help conduct interviews to launch the 10,000 kwentos project. the project is still ongoing, but the video seems no where to be found but in an e-mail to me by the Filipino American Network.

the project is also on facebook by another name, The Philippines Collection at the Field Museum of Natural History.

as soon as i can, i’ll add to this story and post it here. maraming salamat for reading!


cafe ysabella does video

Filed under: Uncategorized — cafeysabella @ 3:05 am

… and would really, really want to do livestreaming, but i’m still looking for an appropriate venue for that. i can’t do my daughter’s events again – it’s bad enough that i have a collage of just about every interesting little thing she does, like field trips.

i enjoy it though, and it’s entertaining for me to look back. i just think having her see herself on various media – my newspaper column and social media feeds, not to mention private photos and videos we already record and post all over the walls of our physical house – can go to her head and twist it in ways unfathomable to me this early in the game is unwise.

adler field trip, feb. 25, 2014

adler field trip, feb. 25, 2014

being a writer in the field though, and the way things are going with social media, it may be inevitable that she’ll find herself in some online archive somewhere, so if i simply must post pictures of my daughter online, they had better be ones that she can be proud of in the future. can you imagine how absolutely unhinging it might be: she might some day dig up a picture of her from every month of her life up until, say age 16 – because that’s the way things are going. especially with all these moms of young kids blogging and posting pictures-a-day. 😉

that said, i went to one of chicago’s largest events featuring the Filipino culture, battle of the bamboo at UIC Forum. it’s student-run and organized, and this year they said 300 people attended the event. i’m not sure what UIC Forum’s capacity, or at least the seating capacity of the part of the forum that they rented for the event, but i think it was way more than 300 people who went to see the dances this year.

if you don’t already know, battle of the bamboo is the one place i know of in chicago that features a collection of traditional philippine dances – and i mean traditional: religious dances, ritual dances (funerals, weddings), stories of myths and legends enacted. i’m not sure who choreographs the dances – even if all they relied on were YouTube videos, the steps are impressively creative and built for groups or corps, and reminiscent of modern ballet and hip hop.

it was a nice event, with family and friends. i brought along my daughter, one of my siblings and my mother. it was a little bit of a mistake, because the screaming fans, both male and female, scared just about every living daylight out of my very sheltered young one. it was a great experience for her.

and for me: i was able to use my computer tablet for the first time that evening, hopefully to livestream, but alas, the organizers didn’t order wi-fi. i didn’t think it would have been an issue, but livestreaming will have to wait. hope you check out my playlist of battle of the bamboo 2014, anyway. truly a source of pride for filipinos in chicago.



cafe ysabella does pictures

Filed under: Uncategorized — cafeysabella @ 2:43 am
blueberrytime: march 5, 2014 prompt , "sharp"

blueberrytime: march 5, 2014 prompt , “sharp” – to fulfill a photo-a-day prompt list.


i believe it all began when the summer set in.

i wanted to do something different for my birthday, which falls on a june – the month leaving spring and entering summer. i wanted to do something to celebrate the coming of the warm weather.

i found a photo-a-day prompt list on my instagram feed some months ago. like picking up crochet, i knew i was on to something.

i also wanted to stop posting pictures of my daughter on every social media account i curate, and i wanted something else other my opinions to populate my facebook wall. the photo-a-day prompts seemed like a godsend.

i have all the photo-a-day prompts and photos i take, edit and embellish on my tumblr. i also use hashtags creatively in my posts – i use filipino words and underscore phrases i think would be funny and catching. for example, for the above photo, my hashtags were #tropical #pinya #prutas #chicago #photoaday #fruit #pineapple #yummynesses #photooftheday #theidearoom.

come join me! 🙂 use #photoaday #photooftheday #theidearoom (for march only) and tag me, @blueberrytime.

blueberrytime: march 2014 prompts

blueberrytime: march 2014 prompts. after following FMS (fat mum slim) for about six months, i broke off and researched other ready-compiled prompts. one compelling list is this one, put together by another mom of young children, #theidearoom,


cafe ysabella does it again

Filed under: Uncategorized — cafeysabella @ 2:12 am

except this time, i didn’t volunteer to write poems again.

i probably should have went for it, but my typewriter truly needs servicing, and i’d rather i bought a new one, actually.

almost two years to the day, on the third week of january, we launched yet another fundraiser for typhoon relief, much like sendong all our love.

please click on the graphic below to read the Illinois Philippine Recovery Operations, a series of fundraisers to benefit survivors of infamous Typhoon Haiyan.

i am going as far as the end of this year in helping establish this fundraiser, held under the Philippine American Cultural Foundation – the same 501(c)3 group that helped SendongAllOurLove. then we will see – because there really is only as much as a mom of a small child can do.

ILPRO team members flew to typhoon-affected areas in the Philippines in february and march, and surveyed affected areas. not surprisingly, Internet access in those areas is dismal, to none at all. i look forward to their news, and will post here when the time comes.

i am super proud of ILPRO, and look forward to the rest of the year!

Illinois Philippine Recovery Operations

Illinois Philippine Recovery Operations


cafe ysabella writes a column for a paper

Filed under: Uncategorized — cafeysabella @ 2:01 am

hello, everyone!

it has been two years since my last post! i am so sorry for letting this blog lapse. i have been very busy with the usual obligations that come with being a mom of a small child, but i’ve also been blessed to be invited to volunteer at many community functions.

i could have offered to represent cafe ysabella, but i didn’t want to write poems on a spot all of them time. my next step for that might be at a farmer’s market for a small profit, or at another fundraiser. i appreciate the many congratulations for my poetry-on-th-spot! please stay tuned for more on that subject.

one of the things i’ve been very busy with is my column for the filipino american community builder, a monthly newspaper based in suburban niles. as the name implies, the subject matter pertains to a very specific group of people, but, as is always the case, all the stories are universal. please follow me:

storify (also a poor, neglected source): murmurations

main web site: Filipino American Community Builder



cafeysabella at kultural night of resistance! June 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cafeysabella @ 10:14 pm
kultural night of resistance 2012

kultural night of resistance 2012

i am excited to announce that i’ll be performing poems and banging them out again for you on my trusty olympia for the 2012 kultural night of resistance!

like at the sendong all our love fundraiser, i’ll be donating all the proceeds for the poems you ask me to write to the committee on pilipino issues, the organization behind the popular KNR event.

poems will be $5 each. i welcome early topic submissions! please e-mail me at yhortil5 at yahoo dot com.

please RSVP on the facebook page:

see you there! 😀