With food trucks, cooking demos, a festive parade, two stages of live entertainment, a landmark health awareness presentation, lots of booths to buy both authentic and offbeat Asian-themed merchandise, and much more (Did we mention lots of food?), there was no better place to be for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month than at the Eighth Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration. Held on May 19th in San Francisco’s Civic Center and Little Saigon districts and produced by AsianWeek Foundation, the city’s largest APAHM celebration was a festive and extremely well-rounded event to bring together Asian Pacific American communities and spotlight Asian cultures. Aside from the festival’s yearly offerings of music, dance, culinary delights, arts and crafts, the Faces of Asia cultural procession, and community networking, the 2012 festival broke new ground in bringing cooking demos by celebrity chefs to foodies and in launching the first-ever National Hepatitis Testing Day.
On the topic of sexuality, voices are silenced. Speaking out about sexual desires is considered improper for women and much more alarmingly, speaking out against violence towards women—as survivors of it or as supporters of survivors—is difficult, for the pain and suffering is all too much to relive the ordeals. However, through theater, these stories of women exploring their sexuality and surviving sexual assault, war, and domestic violence can be told boldly and with absolutely nothing held back. Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues goes deep into the varied experiences of the female organ, and performers and activists from the Asian Pacific American community went all out in their recent opportunity to honor the strength and courage of women everywhere, even in the face of adversity.
In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and V-Day San Francisco co-presented a landmark production of The Vagina Monologues on May 17th at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theater. Under the direction of Gabrielle Patacsil, the all-Asian Pacific American cast of women from different walks of life came together to perform in this very special presentation, the first by the only national, multi-issue Asian and Pacific Islander women’s organization in the country. Proceeds benefited the Bay Area chapter of NAPAWF and V-Day.
For many of the APA women performers, including Connie Chung, who works at the Asian Women’s Shelter in San Francisco, participating in the production was a valuable chance to address taboo issues amongst the community.
“In media and arts and entertainment, Asian-Americans have such a small presence because of the different barriers that don’t allow them to take front stage,” said Chung. “To have a discussion about sexuality and empowerment is so important, so to bring those two together is such a rare opportunity.”
Culinary delights are sure things to be celebrated during Asian Pacific-American Heritage Month, and Bay Area foodies rejoiced at the opportunity to learn more about the art of Asian cooking (And satisfy their tastebuds too!) from a local celebrity chef.
As part of Macy’s series of Asian Pacific-American Heritage Month events, the Union Square store in San Francisco welcomed Michelin Star chef James Syhabout to the Cellar Kitchen on May 5th for a cooking demonstration and tasting. A Thailand native who grew up in Oakland, CA, he is the chef and owner of Commis Restaurant and proprietor of Hawker Fare Restaurant, which are also both located in Oakland. Hawker Fare is a Southeast Asian street food joint that Syhabout brought a piece of to his audience, by cooking one of their signature dishes Khao Mun Gai, or Thai-style chicken and rice.