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The Coconut Chick

Directed by Vince Cruz

Not only is Faith (Mariana Alencar) a beautiful and confident barista, she’s also mean-spirited and casually racist, particularly towards Asians. But things change for the attractive white girl when her roommate, Vanessa, (Grace Santos) gives her a Santo Niño statue as a gift from her vacation in the Philippines and suggests praying to find true love. Being secretly lonely, Faith takes her advice but her prayer turns her into a short, tanned Filipino girl (Meriden Villanueva) instead. She is greeted by a life-like version of Santo Niño named Ninang (Mary Grant) who explains that in order to change back, she needs to be kinder to others and to kiss a Filipino guy. However, Faith struggles to adjust to her new racial identity and rushes to kiss her co-worker, Elmer (Ian Jerome Kumus). When she finally kisses Elmer, we learn that she isn’t the only one who was under Ninang’s spell.

As a Filipino American raised in Orange County, I’ve always struggled with issues of belonging. Movies, television and video games were my escape growing up, though there were hardly any characters that looked like me. I had to turn to my imagination and the arts to explore stories where I could be the hero.

I’ve always been drawn to various artistic endeavors, but it wasn’t until 2014 where I started filmmaking while being active and inspired within several Los Angeles based Asian entertainment networking groups.

My writing naturally gravitates towards comedy and action because those were my heroes growing up. In those, it didn’t matter what you looked like or where you came from. Anybody can be funny, anybody could save the world. I hope my works will inspire others to embrace themselves and be their own heroes.

Plays in

Shorts Program I: Connect the Dots

Q&A with the filmmakers after the screening Moderator: Trixi Agiao