IN THE MIX by Mic Diaz: 4th Historic Illipinos celebrates Fil-Ams in Hip Hop

4th Historic Illipinos celebrates Fil-Ams in Hip Hop

4th Historic Illipinos celebrates Fil-Ams in Hip Hop

Saturday, April 20 saw a packed Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA) headquarters office in Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles. Now on its 52nd year, the recently completed new HQ of SIPA serves as the venue and backdrop for this year’s 4th Historic Illipinos, which was organized by Justin Foronda, Chef, and Owner of HiFi Kitchen, a local neighborhood restaurant dedicated to bringing visibility to Historic Filipinotown (HiFi).

Designed to celebrate the impact Filipinos have had on Hip Hop, the first Historic Illipinos event that happened on October 15, 2021, commemorating the 25th anniversary of Radiotron’s Style Elements vs. Renegade Rockers, a historic B-Boy Battle located in the heart of what we now know as HiFi.

The second Historic Illipinos event celebrated Fil-Am B-Boys, while the third event, which was held last year, honored Fil-Am B-Girls. 

This year’s unprecedented event aptly called “Moving The Needle” brought some of the best Fil-Am Hip Hop DJs to HiFi. The day-long event showcased several resellers of vinyl records, Hip Hop artists selling paintings, prints and merchandise, delicious food from HiFi Kitchen, a workshop that presented students from the Beat Junkies Institute of Sound along with an opportunity for the audience to try a hand in spinning and an informative and entertaining panel that talked about the journey and experiences of special guest DJs.

DJ Bella Fiasco who is a native of Long Beach and Lakewood known for her impeccable style and taste in her music selection, DJ Babu is a member of Los Angeles-based hip hop trio Dilated Peoples, DJ Rhettmatic who is a producer, member, and part creator of California’s first turntable band Beat Junkies, DJ Icy Ice of the legendary DJ crew The World Famous Beat Junkies and DJ in several radio stations in Los Angeles joined the panel of DJs and DJ Dynamix who is a finalist on several DJ competitions and an official instructor at the world-famous Beat Junkies Institute of Sound moderated the panel.

According to event organizer Justin Foronda, there is a need to celebrate the contributions of Fil-Ams to Hip Hop to empower the community to recognize their ability to change the world.

SIPA Executive Director Kimmy Maniquis stated, “I’m reminded that art will always be central to who we are, and be a powerful carrier of our stories, memory, and history.”

Justin Foronda further expressed, “I think that says it best. Hip-hop is just the vehicle, whether you listen to it or not, you have a shared cultural experience with these folks, and the journey is something anyone can relate to. Fil-Am or not.”

In laying the foundations of Historic Illipinos, Justin shares, “Hip Hop, through Breakin’, gave me a lot of the tools I use to be successful in all my endeavors including dance, nursing, music, food, and business. I learned about the world through a microcosm. Dance was a recreation or re-creation of the world. Through Historic Illipinos, I want to stress the importance of being creative—having hobbies and doing what you love—because it helps us learn about ourselves and life. Also, doing something you love only creates more love. 

The chef and owner of HiFi Kitchen demonstrates the same passion for doing what he loves in the kitchen and sharing it with others. Justin affirms this through his purpose, “to share my bicultural experience and create a space for bicultural folks to feel seen. Most importantly, to thank my Mom for all her hard work. She provides an abundance, not just for me but for the people around her, and the only way I know how to pay her back is to be successful in what I’m doing, and not take advantage or be complacent. Her love overflows from me into the community.”

Justin Foronda sets his sights on highlighting Filipino communities beyond Los Angeles through the dance space, workshops… The sky’s the limit.

Photos by Ervin Arana Photography