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Buffalo Soldiers' Story Comes to Life at the Presidio

Bindlestiff Studio presents Buffalo'ed


Presidio of San Francisco (March 25, 2009) — The experience of the Buffalo Soldiers in the Philippines at the turn of the 20th Century will be brought to life as Bindlestiff Studio and the Presidio Trust, along with the Asian-American Theater Company and the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, present a dramatic reading of Buffalo’ed: a full-length play by Jeannie Barroga about the African-American soldiers sent to fight during the U.S. War in the Philippines of 1899. The reading will take place Saturday, March 28 at 2 p.m. at the Presidio Officers’ Club. Admission is free.

For Bindlestiff Studio, a San Francisco based Filipino-American theater group, the Buffalo’ed reading marks a return to the Presidio. The group produced Shadows of War — a multimedia production featuring live actors and music silhouetted against a backdrop of historic photos — during War and Dissent, the Presidio’s recent historic exhibit about the war.

“We just thought this was the perfect partnership,” says Allan Manalo, Bindlestiff’s artistic director. “After doing Shadows of War, Jeannie sent me Buffalo’ed and it seemed a natural fit for the Presidio, especially since the Buffalo Soldiers were one of the cavalry regimens that took off from the Presidio for the War in the Philippines.”

The Spanish-American War of 1898 and the Philippine War were turning points in both the United States role in the world and in the history of the Presidio of San Francisco. While the Presidio was growing into a major military installation, the U.S. rose to become an imperial power.

A dramatization of the presence of the Buffalo Soldiers in the Philippines in 1899, Buffalo’ed raises questions of national loyalty to the American policy of Manifest Destiny. Formed during the Civil War, the Buffalo Soldiers were renowned for their bravery and were “invited” to participate in more wars for “freedom,” including the war in the Philippines. Faced with conflicts of loyalty and dignity, a number of these soldiers defected to the Philippine cause.

“So many communities were impacted on so many levels and yet it is a mere footnote to our history,” says Manalo. “In the Filipino-American community today, and in the Philippines, there are direct descendants of the Buffalo Soldiers and it is only generations later that their stories are coming out. I’m surprised more hasn’t been written about the Buffalo Soldiers, especially from the Filipino perspective.”

The Buffalo’ed reading takes place Saturday, March 28 at 2 pm at the Presidio Officers’ Club, 50 Moraga Ave., in San Francisco. Admission is free.

The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to oversee the Presidio of San Francisco, an urban national park located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 1,500-acre site contains expansive open space and spectacular views, a 300-acre historic forest, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. It also comprises nearly 6 million square feet of buildings, including 469 historic structures that contribute to its status as a National Historic Landmark District.”

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Lisa Petrie

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