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The APAHM Project 2021 Day 12: Yellow Rose

Updated: Jan 19



Film: Yellow Rose

Created by: Diane Paragas

Release: 2019

Where to Watch: STARZ or STARZ Premium Add-On on Hulu or Amazon Prime

Wanna Skip? Pick a Movie from APAHM Project 2020


Why it Made the List:

Starring Eva Noblezada, Dale Watson, and Lea Salonga, "Yellow Rose" stands to be one of the only Filipino-American films released by a major Hollywood production company. The film is directed by Diane Paragas, who is also a Filipino-American who grew up in Texas. The film received a #GoldOpen from Gold House, an effort to ensure a successful opening weekend for films that feature AAPI/BIPOC actors and/or creatives.


My Thoughts:

I have been wanting to see this film since its theatrical release in 2020. However, due to Covid-19, I wasn't able to see it in theaters. This was my first time watching "Yellow Rose."


The film centers around Rose, a young Filipino girl living in Texas and aspires to be a country singer. This is the only information I could really gather from the poster (I don't remember if I ever saw the trailer).


The tone of the film shifts quite early on. We know that Rose and her mother, Priscilla, live in a motel (her mother works there) and that they immigrated from Manila. Rose's father passed away and played guitar, which he left to Rose. Rose befriends a boy, Elliot, at a local guitar store, and the two of them sneak off to Austin to listen to Dale Watson play at a bar. Priscilla waits for Rose until the early morning (thinking she went to church), when suddenly ICE Officers raid the hotel.

Elliot and Rose drive up to the motel in time to see Rose's mom being taken away with her hands above her head, Desperate and traumatized, Elliot insists Rose get back in the car and he drives away.


Rose later returns to the hotel to quickly grab her things, including her guitar, and an envelope from her mother. Inside is cash and a letter to go to her tía Gail (Salonga). Gail has never met Rose and allows her to stay with her to avoid deportation. However, Gail's husband is not accepting and Rose goes to the Austin bar to live with the owner's permission. In exchange, Rose works at the bar, meeting a fellow undocumented friend Jose. During this time, Rose also befriends Dale Watson, who takes notice of Rose's musical abilities and potential.


Meanwhile, Rose's mom calls from an ICE center, asking how Gail is. When Rose tells her she is staying with people who treat her more like family, Priscilla insists that Rose lives with Gail or come to Manila with her. Rose explains Texas is the only home she's known, but doesn't give an answer right away. Later, ICE officers raid the bar, taking in Jose and another employee. Rose narrowly escapes as an ICE Officer lies with an "all clear." In light of the event, Rose goes to live with Dale, who mentors her in music. She writes a new song with him and records a demo. However, Dale expresses he has no interest in legally adopting Rose, which would help secure her safety. Angered, Rose once again leaves her current residence.


Rose then sells her guitar and works and lives in a hotel. She video calls her mom, now in Manila, and says she has no idea what she is doing. Eventually, she returns to Dale, who helps her write another song, which she performs at the Austin bar. Elliot is in the crowd and her tía Gail, who is video calling the performance to Priscilla.


I had no idea this film was going to cover the large scale issue of deportation and undocumented citizens. And while it does address it, it still seems unresolved. While we see first hand how ICE affects Rose and her mother (and other families like theirs), we don't know what happens to Rose in the end. While Rose was not born in Texas, it is the place she calls home. It does put into perspective how many people are born here or came to the US at a young age and are forced to go back to a place that is unknown to them.


Furthermore, I thought it was really interesting that Rose wants to be a country singer. Country music, beer, the lake or beach are all stereotypical symbols for America. More specifically, I think, white America. It is also a stereotype that Filipino people are musically inclined. Rose has a deep passion for country music, America's music. And yet it is America who is rejecting her. The lyrics to the song "Square Peg" (written by Dale), explain what it's like to be seen as an "other" in a place you so fondly call home. I know I have felt this before, having lived in Memphis my entire life and yet seen as a foreigner.


I never fit in Never could win Though I tried and tried This feelin' don't end

I feel out of place Sung out of tune Like a velvet chair In a dusty saloon

Square peg, round hole Like a tumbleweed with nowhere to go Square peg, round hole A runaway with nowhere to go

Northern blows in And I feel at home But deep down inside There's still somethin' wrong

From what they say Do I belong? I'm a melody That don't have a song

Square peg, round hole Like a tumbleweed with nowhere to go Square peg, round hole A runaway with nowhere to go


In Conclusion:

I think this movie was really enjoyable to watch. Eva Noblezada gave such a great performance that made you feel like you are rooting for Rose, crying with Rose, and falling in love with life with Rose. I do wish Lea Salonga had more of a part. The music besides "Square Peg" was okay, but I am also not a fan of country music. I also think it seemed a little wrapped up too nicely - Rose is living alone in Texas, her mom is in Manila, and her aunt and her seem to still communicate as seen by Gail's presence in the bar. It does leave the question, where will Rose go now? I do recommend this film; I haven't quite seen a film that touches on ICE and how it disrupts the lives of families of immigrants before nor have I seen a film about a Filipino family before. And I think "Yellow Rose" did a great job in introducing us to these matters.


Stop Hate and Donate:

**A Reminder! I will be matching donations from this blog post based upon the number of likes it gets! Share this post and tell your friends to like this post!**


Today’s donation link is for the ESEA (East + Southeast Asian) Community Fund. From the Stop ESEA Hate GoFuneMe page "Figures from the Metropolitan Police show a 179% increase in hate crime around the start of the UK lockdown compared to the same period in the previous year, and campaign group besea.n (Britain’s East and Southeast Asian Network) has reported similar increases have occurred throughout the country.

In the US, we’ve seen a surge of heartbreaking violence towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). But this uptick is not limited to the US: from an increase in racially motivated attacks against ESEA people to the staggering COVID-19 death toll amongst Filipino health and social care workers we need to ensure communities in the UK are protected too."


Donations will go towards grants to trusted organizations working to rectify the racial inequalities in the UK. Click here to donate to the GoFundMe page.



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