About this submission

You might know this familiar story - immigrants arrive full of hope, build a thriving community, and then watch their kids drift away from the old ways. Magasayawan Ketchikan explores how the Filipino community in Ketchikan was established, thrived with cultural programs, and then declined. It highlights current efforts to revitalize Filipino cultural traditions, especially traditional dance, and pass them to younger generations to recreate the cultural pride, belonging, and connection that once brought the community together. This goes beyond one culture; it is the immigrant's struggle to maintain identity in a new home, played out on the Alaskan frontier.

Rafael Bitanga is a Filipino-American filmmaker from Kodiak, Alaska, known for his character-driven documentaries that offer intimate insights into his subjects. His journey began in 7th grade when he documented the life of a retired Filipino nurse and teacher, igniting his passion for documentary filmmaking. In 2016, Rafael represented the Kodiak History Museum at the National Arts and Humanities Youth Programs Award, where Mrs. Obama highlighted his contributions to the field. His work has garnered support from various funding sources, including the Alaska Department of Education. Beyond filmmaking, Rafael teaches digital storytelling to students and teachers through See Stories, impacting over 6,450 students, 130 educators, and releasing 150 podcasts and films. With a degree from Cornell University Nolan School of Hotel Administration, Rafael firmly believes that service is life, and it's the essence of purpose and fulfillment. Rafael is currently working on "Magsayawan Ketchikan," a film sharing Alma Manabat Parker's inspiring journey of rediscovering her Asian heritage through dance. The opportunity to tell Parker's meaningful story is particularly relevant for rural Asian-American youth. more...

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