Along the side of a building in Northeast Philadelphia, the Filipino American Association of Philadelphia, Inc. (FAAPI) unveiled the first Filipino mural on the East Coast of the United States.
The 22-by-65-foot mural, which is located in the 8400 block of Bustleton Avenue, is entitled, “Hearts Ablaze.” Artist Eliseo Silva designed it to honor the 2 million martyrs of the 1898 War of Philippine Independence.
“Filipinos are coming out to promote their history and culture through their surrounding community and to the world,” said Dr. Rommell Rivera, President of FAAPI.
Rivera hopes that this mural will uplift the presence of Filipinos within the local community. In the mural, there are images of iconic Filipino figures, from famous boxer Manny Pacquiao and singer Bruno Mars to the most prominent figure in Filipino history, Jose Rizal.
“He is the greatest martyr in Filipino culture,” said Rivera. “He ignited the revolution against Spain and died for the country.”
The mural has images from ancient Philippines to pictures of Filipino youth in Philadelphia. FAAPI hopes the work of art will educate others about Filipino culture and the organization's role in the community.
Among many other pictures of Filipinos in the work of art, the central image of the mural is an ancient presentation dish that has a flame emanating from it. Within the flame, there are portraits of Clemencia Lopez, Josefa Llanes Escoda and Corazon Aquino. According to Rivera, the symbolism means mothers are considered as the “light of the family” in Filipino culture. These three Filipinas were considered lights of inspiration for their country during some of the most pivotal times in Filipino history.
“The Filipino mural is a gift of this generation of Filipino-Americans to the people of Philadelphia and the world and to future generations,” said Rivera in an interview with the Filipino news group, ABS-CBN news.
A ceremony took place to unveil the mural to the local community on Saturday, June 15.