Suit jacket, water buffalo hide, acrylic ink
During the 1920’s and 30‘s, Filipino men began immigrating to America by ship from Hawaii and the Philippines. These waves of men are respectfully known as Manongs. In the late 1700’s, Filipino sailors escaped from Spanish ships and settling the bayous near New Orleans, Louisiana. Later in the 1800’s Manila Village, a Filipino settlement, was established in Barataria Bay. These men were called, Tagalas or Manilamen.
My father arrived in San Francisco in the 1920’s and despite low wages, his generation was known for buying tailored suits to go out on the town dancing, looking sharp or as they would say, ‘dressed to kill!’
The Manilamen Vest is a project connecting my fathers generation to the Manilamen of Barataria Bay. My intent was to create an intersection of sorts for these two groups through a gang like vest.
The suit jacket sleeves were cut off and patches were sewn on the back. There are three patches, two with text in Tagalog and one with a drawing of an alligator and a monkey. The patches are made from water buffalo hide. Using the hide from a beast of burden in the Philippines references the hard labor these men endured.
It was important that I complete the project at Barataria Bay where Manila Village was once located by wearing the vest and washing my hands in the bay, a ritual of acknowledgement to my cultural past in Louisiana.
Documented by video and photographs.