Interview: The Sunday Jump, a community open mic series in Historic Filipinotown (Part 1)

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Sunday Jump Historic Filipinotown Logo

Sunday Jump is a free Filipino-founded open mic series in Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown in the greater neighborhood of Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA. The open mic series takes place at Tribal Cafe every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month at 5:00 p.m.

Sunday Jump was co-founded in 2012 by a trio: Eddy M. Gana Jr, Janice Sapigao, and Stephanie Sajor. Each co-founder has his/her own inspirations and motivations for co-founding and developing the series. Echo Park Forums reached out to Sunday Jump, and the following publications will feature short interviews with each of the co-founders.

In the first part, we interview Eddy M. Gana Jr. Eddy shares information about the series, and reflects on Historic Filipinotown’s culture, businesses, and future.

Following the interview there is information about their next upcoming open-mic event at Tribal Cafe.

Sunday Jump Interview: Eddy M. Gana Jr.

Q: Hello Eddy! Tell us about Sunday Jump–what are the basics?

Sunday Jump is the only Filipino/a-founded community open mic series in the heart of our cultural community, Historic Filipinotown. The basics are summed in our two community guidelines: (1) Express, not Impress and (2) Free Speech, Not Hate Speech. We encourage artists to share not for the snaps and claps, but for the passion and love of the art form. Moreover, we cultivate a safe space for everyone to share and listen, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, and religion. We are not about putting others down. We are about uplifting our community.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the founding of Sunday Jump?

It is all thanks to co-founder, Janice Sapigao, that Sunday Jump was created. She can probably give a more detailed account, but from what I recall, she visited Tribal Cafe and saw a flyer asking if anyone was interested in running an open mic at Tribal Cafe’s second location on Beverly, which is unfortunately closed now. She spoke with the owner, Josh Jose, and asked Stephanie Sajor and I if we wanted to help run the space. Without hesitation, we said, “Hell yeah.”   

Q: What is the purpose/mission of the group, and has it changed over time? If so, how?

Janice, Stephanie, and I are all writers and poets so we knew what we liked of other poetry and community spaces, such as the APIA Spoken Word and Poetry Summit, Uncultivated Rabbits at UC Irvine, Tuesday Night Cafe, common ground, and Speak Easy.

It is from our shared experiences that we ultimately created our two community guidelines. Moreover, we are located in Historic Filipinotown and it has always been intentional to be here. After running the open mic for several months, we reflected on the significance of Historic Filipinotown to our community and what it means to be a Filipino-founded space within it. As Filipino-Americans, we recognize our people’s history of being marginalized/silenced/ignored, such as our WWII veterans being denied access to equal benefits and our agricultural workers being overlooked as significant contributors to California’s labor movement. If you do not share your story, someone else will, or even worse, no one.

We believe that it is important for people to share their stories. We believe that the people have a voice, and often they are met with deaf ears. Through Sunday Jump, we aim to provide a safe space for all those who have ever been marginalized to express free speech and share their stories.

Q: What was/is the connection between the 3 co-founders of Sunday Jump?

I met Stephanie during our first year at UC Irvine. As members of the spoken word organization on campus, Uncultivated Rabbits, we performed and organized open mics to facilitate an emergent student voice. After we graduated, we founded an Asian-American spoken word collective, forWord, with Mark Maza and Susan Diep. However, due to personal choices, we disbanded and we were left with a void in our lives as spoken word artists.

We had recently returned from the APIA Spoken Word and Poetry Summit in Minnesota, and I had attended a workshop by half of the spoken word duo, Yellow Rage–Michelle Myers–who challenged us to ask ourselves, “Is writing poetry enough?”

With forWord on a hiatus, Stephanie and I wanted to do more for the community. As a high school youth, I organized with Pilipino Youth Coalition of South Alameda County. As college students, Stephanie and I organized through Uncultivated Rabbits and other student organizations respectively. As young adults who have recently graduated, we wanted to organize in the city of Los Angeles. We learned about a local progressive youth and student organization, Kabataang maka-Bayan (KmB), Pro-People Youth, and it was at our first general meeting that we met Janice who was also attending for the first time.

We clicked at the very beginning. Things just fell in place. We learned how we are all writers and spoken word artists. We were generally at the same point in our lives and so it was easy to build a friendship to help build the community. We were at the right place at the right time. Together, we wanted to organize for the community, and so we did as artists do, creatively.

Q: Do the co-founders have a history of living or being in Historic Filipinotown/Echo Park?

I am originally from Union City in the Bay Area. I moved down to Southern California for college and stayed after graduation due to work. I have been living in Los Angeles for over three years. I actually work right down the street from Tribal Cafe at the Roybal E. Learning Center. On my lunch breaks, I often visit the cafe, catch up with Josh and his employees, and order my favorite: chicken adobo panini sandwich. As a member of KmB, I have helped organize various community events at People’s CORE, Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA), Unidad Park, and Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), for example.

I cannot say this enough. I absolutely love Historic Filipinotown. It reminds me so much of my hometown, Union City, which is a Filipino town too. I currently live nearby in Koreatown, but I often find myself coming back to the heart of our cultural community.

Support the local businesses: Tribal Cafe, Kapistahan Grill, The Park’s Finest, Bahay Kubo, Little Ongpin, and more! Since its proposal to be officially recognized as a neighborhood, Historic Filipinotown has been around for 12 years. I am excited to see how it grows in the next 15, 20, and 50 years.

Q: We see that Sunday Jump’s first session was in 2012–has it always been held in Historic Filipino Town/Tribal Cafe, and has it run consistently twice a month since 2012?

Sunday Jump has moved a total of three times. When we began in 2012, we were located at Tribal Cafe’s sister location on Beverly, which was outside the borders of Historic Filipinotown. After several months, this cafe closed down. Fortunately for us, the youngest member of our team, JP Dimatulac, knew the family that owned a traditional Philippine cuisine restaurant so we moved to Kapistahan Grill, which is in Historic Filipinotown. We had many memorable moments there, such as Janice’s final open mic before she moved back to the Bay Area. We formed a strong relationship with the restaurant’s owners and their employees. But due to creative differences, we moved for the third and final time to the original Tribal Cafe, which as you know, is still in Historic Filipinotown.

Q: How did Sunday Jump establish itself in Tribal Cafe?

We really could not have lasted this long without the support of the community. The owner, Josh Jose, understands the importance of providing a creative outlet for the people. Many of his employees are artists themselves. The patrons are loyal and respectful to the open mic community. As soon as you step through the door, you will notice that this cafe is very conducive to creativity with the various murals and art pieces. If you are seeking to feel inspired, visit Tribal Cafe. It was a smooth transition when we moved here. It felt natural.

Outside of Tribal Cafe, we have experienced nothing but love as well. Local business owners are also friends. When I drive through Historic Filipinotown and visit stores, like Little Ongpin, I ask, “Is it okay to post a flyer?” Its owner, Beth responds, “Oh for Josh? Of course!” I love this close sense of community in Historic Filipinotown. Sunday Jump is like a new resident on the block and we have been welcomed with open arms.

Q: How does Sunday Jump find or recruit its performers, and how can interested people get on the open mic list?

We are artists ourselves so many of the artists we meet we naturally connect and become friends with. Our past features we have met at various open mic and community spaces, and some features were also Sunday Jump open mic-ers. I truly believe that an open mic is not meant for only one person, it is for the people. It is for connecting, building, and learning from one another. Community is what drives us to create and maintain a safe space for everyone to express free speech. So come by, share stories, and make friends!

With regard to open mic sign-ups, it is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Sign-ups begin at 4:30 PM. Look for the Filipino/as with a stuffed penguin (which I will explain soon) and a clipboard!

Q: Is there a fee for those who are part of the audience? And is it drop-in or reserve?

It’s free and drop-in so come as you please. There is no fee for good times and good vibes. However, we ask that you please support the venue, Tribal Cafe. Support family-owned businesses so they can continue providing for the neighborhood! Personally, I recommend the P5 chicken adobo panini sandwich and the ES3 strawberry and banana smoothie.

In addition, we have a Sunday Jump Mascot. His/her name is PAF (Pilipino/a American Friend). S/he is a penguin. I do not believe there are any penguins in the Philippines, but PAF represents how we welcome everybody at Sunday Jump. His/her only duty is to guard our lovely donation bag and so we kindly ask for donations to help fund our upcoming projects, such as our community chapbook, which includes poems by our past features, like Lady Basco, Mike The Poet, and more!

Q: What is the best way to stay in touch with Sunday Jump?

You can visit our website at www.sundayjump.com. For updates, please like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thesundayjump. You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram @thesundayjump. If you are interested to feature or have any questions/concerns, feel free to contact us at thesundayjump@gmail.com. But the best way to stay in touch is to visit us every 1st and 3rd Sunday at Tribal Cafe from 5:00 – 7:00 PM.

We hope to see you soon!

Sunday Jump July 2014 Events

Sunday Jump Historic Filipinotown

July’s Featured Artists:

Sai

Sai is part of a group called, “The Broken Society” out of Echo Park, Los Angeles. When not making smoothies, espressos and sandwiches at Tribal Cafe, he spends his time writing poetry and performing at various Hip Hop events. What is most important to him is spreading a message of hope and inspiring people by sharing stories for all to hear and be encouraged by.

The Black Noise

In December 2010, Donovan Brown and music producer, Victor Ujadughele, played their first show as The Black Noise at a small coffee shop in Long Beach, CA with the vision of changing the face of R&B. Two years later, the band has gained a dedicated following. They released their EP The Sessions and elevated their goals from changing the R&B scene in Long Beach to changing the music scene globally. The band’s sound has evolved and become an arresting, mold-breaking force of music that has swiftly become one of the most interesting up-and-coming outfits in Los Angeles. Having performed at countless venues from the Airliner, to the Roxy, and House of Blues, this is a band on the rise. The Black Noise is currently writing and recording their debut album in Inglewood, CA with Stampede (Snoop Dogg, YG, Far East Movement). The release date is still TBA.

 

Excellent interview, Eddy! Thank you for your time and responses. – Jose Cervantes and Echo Park Forums

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