by Andrea Aguilar
My first visit to Burning Man a few years ago was a big wake-up call. I learned it’s a place that revolves around principles such as radical acceptance and self-expression. These are keys to feeling safe and gaining a sense of belonging in the community — not to mention helping to have the confidence to tell the world who you are.
Growing up as a first-generation Filipina American, my heritage often left me feeling marginalized. Using the lessons learned at Burning Man, I decided to share my culture and my passion for environmentalism to build an art car in the image of the endangered Philippine eagle.
Realizing I could use my bright background to empower myself and stand out, I connected with two other women already devoting their lives to make Filipinas more visible. A camp called “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” was created for our group to present a one-of-a-kind, authentic Filipino experience at Burning Man through art, food and music.
Yana Gilbuena, who had no formal training, left behind her former career to become a traveling chef. Using the recipes taught by her grandmother and aunt, she has served unique Filipino pop-up dinners in 50 states. She will now present her culture’s food at Burning Man, a popup city itself that only exists for one week of the year each August.
Gingee, a music producer, DJ, and vocalist, has devoted her life to sharing her culture through a mix of traditional Filipino kulintang drums with global electronic bass. She wants to set an example to other young women to be true to yourself in your art, whatever the medium.
We are hoping our contribution to Burning Man will inspire others to embrace who they are and know the most valuable asset they have is themselves.