photographs by Breannie Robinson
by Breannie Robinson
“This is my real life,” said actress Deanne Palaganas, a 25-year-old who plays a Filipino mother who is arrested by police and jailed for not having her papers.
The actress talks about the prejudice she encounters, the judgments of people not accepting her because she has no papers even though she pays taxes.
Palaganas portrays an immigrant and single mother from the Phillipines in Gary Soto’s newest play, Living In and Out of Shadows, which played last month at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco.
To write his play, Soto read through the harrowing experiences of immigrant teenagers, gathered through interviews conducted by the Marsh Youth Theatre actors, living in Richmond and Pinole, and wove them together in an intricate compilation of stories and songs.
Palaganas herself was an undocumented teen, forced to live in secrecy even while attending college.
Like Palaganas, many of the actors were telling their own stories on stage. Others were portraying people they had interviewed.
The play refrains from stereotyping the immigrant look and experience. Soto said his biggest fear was not including enough ethnicities, which is why he added a Chinese teen and added the stories of several of the Marsh Youth Theater’s undocumented actors from Canada, the Phillipines, and Mexico.
This is most noticeable when a young Chinese girl addresses the point, saying “they think only Mexicans and Latinos know the way [across the border] but we Chinese know the route, too. ” In the play, her Chinese family takes a plane ride to Peru, travels from Peru to Mexico and then crosses the Mexican-US border illegally.
Several of the interviews with Marsh Youth Theatre actors made it into the play, including a story from a young man who migrated to the U.S. illegally but told Soto, “because I’m white, they don’t bother me.” An Indonesian girl found it frustrating to have people refer to her as Chinese or Mexican.
Besides adding cultural diversity, Soto made sure to include real details: for instance, a young boy had to re-cross the Mexican-American border through an underground sewer pipeline after he was caught by ICE the first time when trying to cross through the desert with his uncle.
Palaganas said her character reminded her much of her own mother, loud and passionate, outspoken and prone to alternating between rapid or soft Tagalog but never a mixture. “For many of us, this is our story,” she said.
“I’m allowed to stay here because Obama let me,” said Palaganas.”Not many Filipinos are open. They train their kids to maintain their reputation, to say they have papers,” said Palaganas.
“To them [American-born] we are aliens,” said Palaganas. She criticized the U.S. government for accepting taxes from undocumented immigrants, but refusing to acknowledge their contribution or pay any benefits. As for undocumented parents, “They tell us we have to act normal, act American,” said Palaganas, who was accepted to UC Irvine and San Francisco State but could not get a scholarship because she was undocumented.
“You just try to live your life normally and don’t tell nobody your status,” says Louel Senores, who plays Felix, the articulate, dancing, rapping Filipino high school student and activist in In and Out of Shadows.
Senores’ story is a bit different: he received his papers in 8th grade. He was able to attend UC Berkeley from which he graduated with a degree in engineering For him, the challenge was professional: how to portray a jock when he was trained as a ballet dancer.
Although not in the script, he added his own line about being gay because he wanted to include LGBT in the production, as they are among undocumented youth.
“Filipinos from the islands are more conservative, they are not very open to homosexuality,” said Senores.
After spending time with undocumented cast members, Senores feels fortunate. “I am an immigrant but I got my papers. I didn’t think of it. I didn’t realize they had it that hard. That’s some f***ed up shit,” he added
“It was just a role but it makes you care,” said Senores. “As soon as you know someone who is going through that, you care.”
Is My Lipstick A Lethal Weapon?
Danny Sola, senior, applies Jordana Squeeze ‘n Shine “I hope my brand’s not toxic.”
by Sana Saeed
Lipstick makes your lips silky and bright. It may even make you feel more feminine.
But it may be hazardous to your health.
So says the latest study by University of California at Berkeley researchers, who found metals in every one of 32 lipsticks and lip glosses like Burt’s Bee that they tested. These metals included lead, cadmium, manganese and chronium, which are used as color additives.
“It scares me that (metals) are getting in my skin,” said Danny Sola, a senior.
In a small study published last week, researchers asked teenage girls to hand over their lipsticks and glosses and tested them for toxic metals, including lead and cadmium.
Even though the metal content was different for each brand, researchers found that women who apply lipstick two to three times daily can ingest a significant amount—20 percent of the daily amount that’s considered safe in drinking water or more—of aluminum, cadmium, chromium, and manganese.
Women who slathered it on (14 times a day or more) met or surpassed the daily recommended exposure to chromium, aluminum, and manganese. Lead, a metal that humans should avoid, was detected in 75 percent of the samples.
Darlisha McClothen wears Maybelline Baby Lips. “I never thought of lipstick as being dangerous.”
Students said they expected the government — specifically The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — to protect them from dangerous cosmetics. “It’s very horrible, so horrible (that the FDA is not looking out for us), ” said 16-year-old Katina Degraffenreed, whose favorite brands were on the list. “Now, I won’t wear it much, now that I know it has lead.”
Right now, the FDA regulates how much of these substances can be in pigment, but doesn’t specify how much metal overall is allowed in a tube of lipstick. And the FDA itself doesn’t test the dozens of dyes used in cosmetics or set the maximum amounts of metals in them, UC Berkeley researcher Katharine Hammond told The San Francisco Chronicle.
As for students, not all are ignoring the study. “From now on, I’m using olive oil,” said Sola.
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