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Path to “Universal Self” through performance

Joseph Garber, Staff Writer

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A mesmerizing act of poems, animation, martial arts and break dancing tied together the autobiography of an American-born Filipino growing up in a poor side of San Francisco in the 1990s.

Kilusan Bautista performed “Universal Self” on May 11 at the Visual and Performing arts center.

Kilusan, which is not his real name, means movement in his native language. He began writing poems about his tale in 2005.

In 2009, he moved to New York and finished his project, “Universal Self.”

Always struggling with his perception of what culture he belonged to in high school, he turned to hip-hop at a young age.

As a boy, he was proud to have friends of many races. “Blacks, Filipinos and Mexicans were the ones in my crew,” Bautista said.

Bautista told a story of when he first attempted to break dance at a school dance and watched the girl he was trying to impress take his friend instead.

Sadly, during his time in high school, he said, his father started to use crack cocaine. His mother kept the family strong, but things were never the same.

Bautista found himself in trouble with the law at a house party, and was forced to spend Sundays with his grandma going to church.

He remembered wondering as a child, “How could the church be so rich and the Philippines so poor?”

After visiting the Philippines in 1994, Bautista realized how lucky he was to have been raised in the U.S.

He couldn’t understand the Philippines. “The streets were full of stores, every store had a house on top of it,” said Bautista.

Upon returning, Bautista had a desire to try theater.

At the age of 14, he began training in martial arts with his uncle.

“My uncle’s training taught me self-control,” Bautista said. “The self-control I needed.”

He moved out of his father’s house at 16. After living on his own for a few years, he was granted tuition at the University of Santa Cruz.

Soon after graduation, he started writing  “Universal Self.”

His moving personal story will be available on De Anza College’s YouTube channel.

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