In the years since his 2003 film Lumpia, Filipino American director Patricio Ginelsa has been busy collecting awards, directing music videos and writing a whole world of comic books. After working with The Black Eyed Peas on the two-part music video for their 2005 banger “Bebot,” which was awarded the California Preservation Foundation’s President’s Award for its representation of Stockton’s Little Manila District, Ginelsa got hungry for more Filipino representation and more lumpia.
In 2020, Ginelsa and producer A.J. Calomay teamed up to release Lumpia’s sequel, Lumpia With a Vengeance, an action comedy about a high schooler who finds herself tangled up with a crime syndicate selling drugs masked as food. The crowdfunded film features heavy hitters like Danny Trejo, former UFC champ Mark Muñoz and April Absynth (Blindspotting).
When the Lumpia With a Vengeance tour came to Oregon, it screened only in Eugene. But that was two hours away from Portland, where viral hip-hop artist Talilo Marfil saw an opportunity. So Marfil does what he does: He found a way to connect folks from multiple communities to create a bigger event for a bigger cause. Marfil got connected with one of the stars of the film, Filipino hip-hop legend NUMP, who had seen Marfil’s viral video for “Big Flip” blowing up last fall. Soon Marfil was talking with Ginelsa and Calomay about bringing the film up to Portland for a screening. But what would be a Lumpia screening without some lumpia?
So Marfil contacted Portland chef Carlo Lamagna, owner of local Filipino restaurant Magna Kusina. Lamagna agreed to cater top-notch lumpia and other Filipino cuisine at the screening. “A lot of people think of Filipino food as poor people food,” Marfil tells WW. But when it comes to high-end Filipino cuisine, Marfil says, “Carlo is changing our culture. He’s putting it out there.”
Director Patricio Ginelsa’s mission is much the same. “I think the most important aspect of the movie is the fact that you never see Filipino American heroes, or villains,” Ginelsa says. “When we were going around the country on tour last October, we got to see people seeing themselves represented…especially for kids who watch it, the fact that these characters are people that look like them? It really hits home home for them.”
“Filipinos haven’t had a lot of representation throughout the years in America,” Marfil says. “We kind of pop up here and there. But in the last couple years, Filipinos have been becoming more popular and more recognized; our stories are getting told more.”
Marfil, co-founder of the nonprofit New Narrative, recently won a Creative Heights grant and an Arts for Justice grant, which he’ll use to elevate his career as an artist and as a representative of the Filipino community. He shares that he used to worry about representing his culture too much in his music for fear that he’d not get as many followers. That maybe listeners from other cultures wouldn’t be into it.
“I was down to represent my culture, but at first I thought, I’ll just do it like 60% of the time,” Marfil says of his early career. “I’d make songs that had no reference to Filipino culture at all, so I could be more relatable.” But the more he leaned into his culture, the more he fell in love with it. “I give it up to my manager, Javonnie Shearn, for reminding me that that’s who I am and that’s who I need to represent.”
Saturday’s event will kick off with a screening of Marfil’s viral video “Big Flip,” along with a Q&A with the song’s featured artists, Swiggle Mandela, Taryn, and JayRThaBarber. Every attendee will also receive a free download of the Lumpia comic book.
With its nod to comic books, Lumpia With a Vengeance is funny, energetic and, as Ginelsa puts it, “unabashedly Filipino American.” He says: “This is how my life looks like and feels like and smells like. Maybe that’s not for everyone, but it represents the community I grew up in.”
The event is a fundraiser for the displaced Lumad People of the Philippines and Rose City Eskrima. “My community work is so important to me,” Marfil adds. “I will never leave that for anything.” And as he calls out in a recent Instagram post: “If you’re Filipino, pull up. If you’re not Filipino, definitely pull up.”
SEE IT: Lumpia With a Vengeance premieres at the Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St., cstpdx.com. 2 pm Saturday, Jan. 28. $10-$25. Filipino meal with lumpia provided by Magna Kusina. Tickets available at cstpdxtickets.square.site/product/lumpia-with-a-vengeance-saturday-january-28th-at-2-00-pm/469.