Dante Basco is the third honoree in Bidyo’s new show, Filipino American Hall of Fame and the third episode airs this Friday, September 23rd! Bidyo is a new YouTube channel created by FilAm Creative and its mission is to produce and promote content from emerging Filipino American talent. Subscribe to the Bidyo Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7-cvvEYApGwFOO337gUZuQ
Growing up, there were no Filipino American faces on both television and film. My friends have all mentioned it was the character of “Sulu” played by George Takei on the original 1960’s Star Trek television series as representation of an Asian American image in media. For some strange reason, I saw Wayne Newton (in the 1970s) the closest to look like a Filipino even though he wasn’t. But, it was not until I saw a little Filipino boy in a 1980s episode of The Wonder Years…
“Cow’s ears” was replaced three years later with “Rufio!” when Dante Basco starred in Steven Spielberg’s 1991 fantasy, Hook along with Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Maggie Smith and the late Robin Williams.
Like any performer, Dante long searched to play a Filipino American character and to tell Filipino American stories to a mainstream audience. After Hook, his momentum continued landing roles on television and film but playing other Asian characters not specifically Filipino. Until another decade later when he was cast as Ben Mercado, a talented high school senior who rejected his Filipino heritage in order to fit in. That film was The Debut directed by Gene Cajayon and also starring Joy Bisco, Tirso Cruz III, Gina Alajar and Eddie Garcia. The film became the first Filipino American film to be released theatrically nationwide.
In recent years, Dante has been inspiring and supporting young Filipino and Asian American artists to create their own content and tell their own stories. Sometimes being involved in them such as 2008 NewSpeak TV’s Sketch Comedy Show, 2012’s Hang Loose with KevJumba (Kevin Wu), 2014’s Awesome Asian Bad Guys with Stephen Dypiangco and Patrick Epino (National Film Society) and even being one of our special guest panelists in both our 2nd and 3rd Annual Filipinos In Entertainment and Media events in 2013 and 2014.
His latest project is an artistic and creative free form endeavor he and others developed in 2014 for Filipino and Asian Americans. It is called #WeOwnThe8th, an arts collective promoting diversity in media thru music, poetry, comedy, film and etc and meeting once a month on the 8th. A mixed media movement delivering such creative expression thru social media showcasing original works and having monthly gatherings on the issues facing AAPIs today while presenting live stage performances, film works and seminars held at The Great Company in Downtown Los Angeles.
Actor. Poet. Writer. Producer. Dante Basco has become a trailblazer for the Filipino American artistic scene for more than a decade. He continues to work on film, television and New Media (I see him at auditions all the time), supporting Asian American projects from the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival to a friend’s YouTube sketch video, to opening opportunities for current, upcoming and future FilAm talent both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes and providing a free space to FilAm artists to express their voices to the voiceless in hopes that the Hollywood machine itself can pause and take notice.
Written by Edwin Santos (9/22/16)
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