Preliminary Program Information


HALO-HALO is a collaborative project produced by Asian Story Theater in conjunction with
the Filipino American National Historical Society and the Honorary Consul of the Philippines

Act I

by KL Brisby

Magdadagát ~ PJ CImacio
Jejomar ~ Edward delos Reyes
Unamuno ~ Thomas Villegas
Father Loyola ~ Rhys Green
Salinan ~ James Shelledy, Andre Urbano, Claudette Santiago

by Gingerlily Lowe

Gina ~ Gingerlily Lowe

Rhumba at the Rizal
by Marivi Soliven

Benny the Bouncer ~ Thomas Villegas
Lucinda ~ Claudette Santiago
Eli ~ Alex Keodara
BettySue ~ May Esteban
Honorato ~ Andre Urbano
Paloma ~ Carol Cabrera
Dancer ~ Eduard Cao
Tino ~ Rhys Green
Mamie ~ Gingerlily Lowe

Matters of the Heart
by Carol Cabrera

Groom ~ Eduard Cao
Bride ~ Carol Cabrera
Bartender/Sharp ~ James Shelledy
Andrea ~ Caludette Santiago
Sylvester ~ Rhys Green

Baby Ruth & Uncle Sam
by KL Brisby

Bert ~ PJ CImacio
Karaoke Singers ~ the company

First Salute
by Thelma Virata de Castro

Gilbert ~ James Shelledy
Younger Gilbert ~ Alex Keodara
Dennis ~ Andre Urbano
Younger Dennis ~ Eduard Cao
Drill Sergeant ~ Rhys Green

by KL Brisby

Mercito ~ Alex Keodara
Father ~ James Shelledy
Teacher ~ Thomas Villegas
Filmed ~ Eduard Cao
Bully ~ Andre Urbano
Gangster ~ PJ Cimacio
Classmates ~ Madeline Tulagan, Carol Cabrera

by Carol Cabrera

Hula Ramos ~ Edward delos Reyes
Armi, Paola, Fresas ~ Claudette Santiago, Gingerlily Lowe
Mom ~ May Esteban
Dad ~ PJ Cimacio

Rebel with a Cause
by Carol Cabrera

Emcee ~ Edward delos Reyes
Marlene ~ Carol Cabrera
Activists ~ Claudette Santiago, James Shelledy, Gingerlily Lowe

by Alicia Deleon-Torrez

Julia ~ May Esteban
Adrian ~ Eduard Cao
Baby ~ Madeline Tulagan
Sonny ~ Andre Urbano

Grape Playground
by Joe Nogra

Junior ~ PJ Cimacio
Toto ~ Andre Urbano
Manong ~ Thomas Villegas

Act II

House of the Philippines
by Thelma Virata de Castro

Marie ~ Claudette Santiago
Juan dela Cruz ~ PJ Cimacio

TNT Knows Drama
by Jon Briornes

Felicia ~ Claudette Santiago
Ernie ~ Alex Keodara

Skinny Wrists
by Amanda Solomon Amorao

Taba ~ Carol Cabrera
Payat ~ Madeline Tulagan

Nanay With Attitude (NWA)
by Joe Nogra

Nanay ~ May Esteban
Rick ~ Alex Keodara
Christine ~ Madeline Tulagan

by Thelma Virata de Castro

Norma ~ Gingerlily Lowe
John ~ Andre Urbano

When I was Young in the Philippines
edited by Gingerlily Lowe

Angelika ~ Madeline Tulagan
Rafael ~ Eduard Cao
Audrey ~ Carol Cabrera
Aiden ~ Andre Urbano

by Carol Cabrera

Juana ~ Gingerlily Lowe
Younger Juana ~ Carol Cabrera
Principal ~ Rhys Green

Peanut Butter Soup
by Joe Nogra

Chris ~ Thomas Villegas
Adam ~ Edward delos Reyes

by Carol Cabrera

Mom ~ May Esteban
Pop ~ Thomas Villegas
Tony ~ Alex Keodara
Uncle ~ James Shelledy
Grandmother ~ Gingerlily Lowe
Kids & Relatives ~ the Company

The Dance
by KL Brisby

Mom ~ Carol Cabrera
Dad ~ PJ CImacio
Angela ~ Georgina Spelvin
Samahan Teacher ~ May Esteban
Pasacat Teacher ~ Claudette & Madeline
Dancers ~ the Company


Written by
Jon Briones, Amanda Solomon, Alicia DeLeon-Torres, Marivi Solivan,
Gingerlily Lowe, Joe Nogra, Carol Cabrera, Thelma deCastro, KL Brisby

Directed by
Kent Brisby

Assistant Directors
Edward delos Reyes, Gingerlily Lowe

Stage & Production Manager
Suanne Pauley

Michelle Camaya

Assistant Stage Manager

Cheryl Lindley-Lopez

Jay Newington


Community Program Coordinator
Thelma Virata deCastro

Poster Design
Jessie Zelayandia


Special Thanks
Ron Padua
Teatro Máscara Mágica
Connie Viado


“Rhumba at the Rizal Dance Hall” is inspired by the1935 murder of taxi dance hall owner Paul Arriola.  The play assembles key elements from The Rizal Dance Hall Murder, Marivi’s novel that depicts the lives of Filipino farm workers and their struggles with anti-miscegenation and other racist laws of the period. The novel draws on extensive archival research of newspaper articles, business directories and court transcripts to portray Depression era California and the diverse communities that once inhabited San Diego's Stingaree district. ~Marivi Soliven

“TNT knows DRAMA” is a snippet of the life of an undocumented Filipino living in America. TNT is an acronym for the Filipino phrase tago ng tago, roughly translating to always hiding. This play was based on an interview with a local undocumented Filipino American, Alicia Ricafrente, sharing her hopes and her fears as well as her desire for immigration reform. Undocumented Filipinos in the US is not a new phenomenon, but is not a popular conversation among Filipinos in America. Bringing stories like this to light hopefully sparks sympathy for reform. ~Jon Briones

“Skinny Wrists”was based on my personal experience with depression and suicidal ideation within my family, which lead me to perform further research. The work of Diane Wolf and Yen Le Espiritu were most helpful. In particular, their 1999 essay “The Paradox of Assimilation: Children of Filipino Immigrants in San Diego” analyzes the context and consequences of a CDC study that found 45.6% of Filipina students in San Diego public schools at that time reported contemplating suicide while 23.3% actually attempted.~Amanda Solomon Amorao

“First Salute"

"October 1987" episodes are based on the ship's log written by Captain Unamuno, who led his crew south along the coast of California in search of suitable ports for the fluorishing Manila Galleons to resupply or repair. Over just 3 days in Morro Bay, Unamuno managed to make enough of an impression that Spanish ships steered clear of California for more than 100 years. His visit ended in tragedy, with several of his crew and one "Luzon indian" killed in skirmishes with the local Native Americans, believed to be the recently-recognized Salinan Tribe. This contact and first documented evidence of Filipinos in what would eventually be the United states is now memorialized by a small plaque and monument in Morro Bay, near San Luis Obispo. Of course, the details in Unamuno's actual logs are sparse--liberties have been taken to use these few historical facts as a metaphor for the experiences of future visitors and immigrants. ~Kent Brisby

"Lapu-Lapu" is based on the experience of Mercito Gesta, a boxer who moved to California to train as a protege of Manny Pacquiao, and to San Diego in 2011. In his first match in nearly two years, Mercito is boxing in Las Vegas on April 1. Mercito will spek on the panel following the April 8, 7:30pm performance. ~Kent Brisby

"The Dance" features a visit to the studios of San Diego's premier Philippine Dance companies: PASACAT and Samahan. What starts as a playful lesson for a young student evolves into the idea of dance as a metaphor for finding our own community, in whatever pursuit we choose. ~Kent Brisby

"Baby Ruth and Uncle Sam" is based on interviews with National City's own Roberto Andrade. "Bert" personifies many Filipino Americans' experience coming to San Diego through the military, and is now often called on to represent a Filipino WWII Veteran's perspective on contemporary and historical issues. Plus, he is a fixture in local karaoke and dance. ~Kent Brisby


Amanda Solomon Amorao, Writer - Amanda received her PhD in literature from the University of California, San Diego. Her research and publications focus on the development of Filipino American literature during the period of U.S. colonial control of the islands. Currently, Dr. Solomon Amorao is the Associate Director of Writing for UCSD's Culture, Art, & Technology Program. She is also the proud Executive Director of the Kuya Ate Mentorship Program, a grassroots organization providing educational workshops on Filipino history, culture, and identity in local San Diego high schools and middle schools.

Jon Briones, Writer - is a middle-aged desk drone for the State of CA Unemployment Department. He is a UCR alumnus. He volunteers at St. Mary’s Parish in National City as a catechist. He occasionally writes and paints. When he’s not working his day job or preparing students for confirmation, he’s procrastinating over his next art piece or making up possible titles for his (yet to be written) novel. He has contributed his writings and has performed for VAMP, a production of So Say We All in San Diego. Jon frequents local bars, cafés, and taco shops. 

Michelle Camaya, Choreographer - Michelle is grateful to be a part of the creative team for HALO-HALO. She has recently relocated back to her San Diego hometown after almost a decade in New York as a performer on Broadway, also teaching and choreographing for Mark Stuart Dance Theatre (NYC). Currently the Vice-President for Samahan Filipino American Performing Arts & Education Center, she also teaches jazz dance as well as yoga throughout San Diego. Credits include: THE LION KING (Broadway, National tour, Las Vegas). TWYLA THARP’S- COME FLY AWAY/SINATRA, DANCE WITH ME (Vegas, Natl tour, Japan), SWING! (1st Natl tour, Japan), FAME (1st Natl tour). Movies: Memoirs of a Geisha, Enchanted. TV: Bravo's Step it Up & Dance (finalist). This August she will perform in SD Repertory Theatre's production of EVITA. Endless love and deep gratitude to Samahan, family, friends and Mon Julian!

Thelma Virata de Castro, Writer - is a playwright, Community Programs Coordinator for Playwrights Project, and founder of San Diego Playwrights. She first worked with Asian Story Theater as part of the writing team for Stories of the Sun Café, which focused on the Chinese American and Japanese American communities of San Diego. She served as Community Liaison and playwright for Halo-Halo. She loves hearing people’s stories, transforming them into theatrical works, and sharing them with the community.  Thank you to AST’s Kent Brisby and Gingerlily Lowe for producing Halo-Halo. Audie, Carlos and Enrique—You are my favorite story.

Alicia DeLeon-Torres, Writer - is the daughter of Rosie and Gil DeLeon, both of who were active in San Diego’s Filipino American community for almost four decades.  Alicia’s community service spans 30 years including Operation Samahan, Union of Pan Asian Communities, NAPAFASA and Survivors of Torture, International. She served on California Attorney General’s Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes, and City of San Diego’s Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention. Alicia is a fellowship recipient of The California Wellness Foundation Violence Prevention Initiative, USC Annenberg Public Health Journalism, and The Old Globe’s Community Voices.  She also writes for the Filipino Press.

Gingerlily Lowe, Writer, Performer - Gingerlily was recently featured in STORIES OF THE SUN CAFE with Asian Story Theater, here at the Lyceum. Other local appearances include shows at the San Diego Zoo, at the Old Globe Theatre with Playwright's Project, Magic Machine, Marquis Public Theater, and many others. She has toured with National Theatre for Children, and appeared at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Virginia.  Gingerlily is one of the founding producers of the Asian Story Theater, where she also serves as Education Director.

Marivi Soliven, Writer - has authored 17 books and taught creative writing at the University of the Philippines and  UC San Diego. Prior to publication, her debut novel The Mango Bride (Penguin, 2013) won the Grand Prize at the 2011 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, the Philippine counterpart of the Pulitzer Prize. The Mango Bride later won Best Contemporary Fiction of 2013 at the San Diego Book Awards. Grupo Planeta released a Spanish edition, Hace Una Eternidad en Manila in 2014 and National Book Store published the Filipino edition in 2015.

Kent Brisby, Director, Writer - Kent focuses mainly on original work, appearing in 2015 in THE PITCH starring Paul Rodriguez and in 2017 the upcoming original musical THE GEEZE AND ME.  He has toured nationally, and appeared on more than a dozen local stages as an actor.  As a playwright and director he has many more local credits, including projects at the Old Globe and San Diego Zoo.  He currently serves as Artistic Director for Asian Story Theater.