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KPBS’ New Docuseries Brings the Filipino American Experience Out of the Boondocks

KPBS is adding “Out of the Boondocks,” a new locally-produced docuseries, to its TV and streaming lineup. “Out of the Boondocks” celebrates Filipino creativity and culture through the lens of San Diego’s Filipino artists and innovators. The new series premieres on Thursday, May 5 at 8:30 pm.

The six-part docuseries highlights the Asian American experience through local Filipino creatives, such as artists covering San Diego in murals, filmmakers bringing cinematic visions to life, a spoken word poet honing their art and sharing it with others, and many more.

Rio Villa and Jay Jay Maniquis are the hosts, creators and producers of the docuseries. Villa is a Filipina American born and raised in San Diego. She is a theatre artist and writer who often travels to the Philippines, showing her how documentation and discussion of history and culture are crucial to self-development, especially for communities affected by immigration and colonization. Maniquis is a native San Diegan and Filipino American who has hosted for TFC, the most-watched Filipino channel in the world. He also has a travel channel on Youtube called “Jaycation,” where he focuses on travel, food, and culture in cities like San Diego, Las Vegas, Barcelona, and Manila.

"We created the show to provide a platform to highlight and display the many talents of Filipino American creatives in San Diego. We aim to educate and take more of an in-depth look at Filipino culture," says Maniquis.

The term “boondocks” refers to distant places, but its root is a Filipino word for mountain: bundok. The duality of the word represents the hidden strength in the Filipino American experience.

The show is produced by Fearless Few Productions, which includes director of photography and editor William Ezell, and sound designer and production assistant James Punay. Everyone on the team is of Asian American descent with backgrounds in the creative industry.

“Out of the Boondocks” is part of the KPBS Explore local content project. The project aims to collaborate with local producers on ideas for programs and series that reflect our diverse and dynamic community and allow audiences to connect over shared experiences.

The trailer for season one is available here.

“Out of the Boondocks,” airs Thursdays at 8:30 pm starting May 5 on KPBS TV and the PBS Video App.

Episode Descriptions:

Episode One: Theatre Production and TV & Film Acting

Family is as central to Filipino culture as the ensemble is to the theatre. Casting director and producer, Kim Heil is passionate about supporting artists, improving representation, and educating others on the benefits of working in the creative industry. Angelo Gonzales is an actor in Los Angeles and talks about how Filipinos continue to make waves in film and television production. At home, both guests have families of artists who are their biggest supporters.

Episode Two: Education and Pro Skateboarding

Since retiring from his lifelong career in education, Dr. Dario Villa spends most days surfing. His work centers around helping students get an education as his elders did in the Philippines. Willy Santos made international headlines as a professional skateboarder and entrepreneur. He talks about his career and being an advocate for his community.

Episode Three: Eskrima and Filipino Tribal Tattoo

Jessica Mercado practices eskrima, a traditional martial art from the Philippines. She talks about the history and importance of self-defense and awareness. Tha Kuya is a tribal tattooer, an older brother figure to many, and formerly incarcerated. While gradually learning more about being Filipino, he uncovered his passion through his creativity.

Episode Four: Hilot and Spoken Word Poetry

Developing a strong sense of identity and purpose can come through self-exploration and guidance. Dr. Catherine Sy Luib practices the traditional healing art of hilot, implementing body massage for physical and spiritual healing. Jaime Estepa not only writes about his experiences being queer and Filipino, but he also puts them into performance. Through their art, both guests bring personal and communal catharsis.

Episode Five: Street Murals and Filmmaking

Ground Floor Murals’ Signe Ditona and Paul Jimenez create murals inspired by San Diego’s unique culture and history. Their collaboration spurs from their shared culture of being from a city with a large Mexican and Filipino population. Benito Bautista and Emma Francisco see life as cinematic. The filmmakers bring Filipino-made films to San Diego and foster future filmmakers.

Episode Six: A Look Into the Season and the Hosts

“Out of the Boondocks,” hosts Rio Villa and Jay Jay Maniquis recap the season and their favorite moments with this season’s guests. They converse about their shared experiences with Filipino culture and growing up inspired by Filipinos in the limelight. They explain how they support and have been supported in their creative endeavors, making it work for them and how others can too.

For more information:
Heather Milne Barger
Director of Communications
hmilne@kpbs.org