California-based Filipina spoken word artist Ruby Ibarra is set to return to the Philippines on December 20 for a rare White Wall Poetry production fusing hip-hop and spoken word poetry in a night of intense lyricism and punchlines at B-Side, The Collective in Makati City.

Balikbayan: Ruby Ibarra Live in Manila finds the wordsmith sharing the stage with NINNO, Ryke, and White Wall Poets, along with Dzeli Del Mundo of Tadhana, Roc-6 of Art Forms Productions, Neil John Luna of Titik Poetry, Jo Hussle of Death Threat, Apoc, Tukar Sinati, and Mellow Submarine. The event will be hosted by rapper GnarlyDork.

Ibarra’s newly released EP Circa ’91 went on #29 on iTunes rap/hip-hop albums, next to the likes of Macklemore and Kendrick Lamar. The EP reflects the different facets of Ibarra’s identity and growth as a Filipino immigrant and artist living in the United States, from her earlier years illustrated in “The Other Side, Welcome” (It started in the Philippines, Francis M to Killa Beez / ‘Til I was 13 spittin’ soliloquies on Dilla Beats / Silly me for thinkin’ these, television imagery / Representin’ me when most these people never looked liked me) to a jab at the so-called “American dream” in “Curtain Call” (This country of dreams, but weaved in the seams / A system that feeds / On people that’s seen oppression, that means, a pyramid scheme).

These personal insights and experiences are tucked away into the tracks’ details like the use of a vocal sample of a Filipino mother seemingly telling her kids to get inside the house and away from the sun because “you’ll get ugly if you’re dark” in “Brown Out”, further reinforced by its lyrics (They teach me to erase that brown, subconsciously I lose my crown / ‘Til I don’t even recognize the person that’s inside me now.)

Through her play with words and well-known local references —as in “Taking Names” (From Magellan’s days to Philip’s raid / When the land was raped and they changed the way / ‘Til my father drownin’ in that alcohol / And then my mama always be up in that Eskinol)— Ibarra paints a vivid picture of the Filipino and interlaces it with the societal issues that we live with.

For inquiries on White Wall Poetry Presents Balikbayan: Ruby Ibarra Live in Manila, contact Slac Cayamanda at or +63 917 577 1822. White Wall Poetry is a collective of performance poets that aim to revolutionise and elevate spoken word poetry in the Philippines through varying performances, competitiveness, courage, flexibility, balance, and ultimately—non conformity, while sharing the stage with those who are eager to engage in the art form. Visit their page for other related events.


FEATURED IMAGE: via Ruby Ibarra on Facebook