We Are They is a documentary and dance film that features the voices of three Filipino American health care workers reflecting on their battle with the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, with music and choreography informed by indigenous traditions from the Philippines, and performances situated at various sights in the Little Manila neighborhood of Woodside, Queens. Inspired by the lineage of care labor and sacrifice that has come to define the Philippine diaspora, the video is an offering to show appreciation and bring attention to a community who has made significant contributions to New York City.

During the Covid-19 crisis, the Filipino community was severely impacted. According to reports, 67 Filipino nurses have died of Covid-19—approximately a third of the nationwide number of registered nurses, even though Filipinos make up only 4 percent of those nurses.

We Are They draws on both cultural heritage and the lived experiences of Filipino health care workers, the performances showcase embodied storytelling, utilizing the body and voice to tell a “story” resonant not only to Filipinos but other communities who face similar challenges of reclaiming their histories.


We Are They
A Film Screening & Talkback
6:30PM | Thursday, November 18
Kalayaan Hall, Philippine Center
556 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10036

To reserve a seat please email:


Please wear a mask.
Proof of vaccination is required.


Diana Diroy
Co-Director, Director of Photography, Editor

Diana Diroy is a documentary filmmaker, editor, and cinematographer. She has a love for storytelling both behind the lens and in the edit room. Diroy was selected as a 2021 Sundance Art of Editing Fellow, and just wrapped up editing the feature documentary, Fire Through Dry Grass. She edited the documentary Standing Above the Clouds, which won Best Documentary Short at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Her cinematography work has screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Hot Docs and CAAMFest. Her work reflects her interests in social justice, climate change, immigration, gender and identity. Diroy is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and continuously strives to collaborate, build community, and make magic with other creatives locally and remotely.

Jaclyn Reyes
Co-Director, Producer

Jaclyn Reyes is a visual, performing and teaching artist, designer, and cultural organizer based in New York City. She earned her BFA in art photography from Syracuse University and her master’s degree in Arts in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She co-creates community-based art and creative place-keeping interventions with Little Manila Queens Bayanihan Arts in Woodside, Queens.

Will Simbol

For 25 years, Will Simbol has studied indigenous rondalla, gangsa, and kulintang musical traditions of the Philippines as well as contemporary western woodwinds, keys, and strings throughout his life. Having served as a studio session player, musician with the Rondalla Club of Los Angeles, Musical and Education assistant with Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project, Faculty for the Harvard Arts and Passion Driven Learning Institute, Founding Creative Director for the Himig Kawayan Bamboo Orchestra, and as Director of Education for the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Will continually seeks rich collaborations in exploring the intersection between music, history, and empathy, loves the depth of understanding and connectedness that music allows us to have.

Joyelle Cabato

Joyelle Cabato is a second-generation Pilipinx-American born and raised on Kumeyaay Territory. Her maternal roots are from Baliwag, Bulacan and Aklan, and paternal roots from Zamboanga. She studied and performed with the PASACAT Philippine Performing Arts Company under the instruction of former Bayanihan company members. For nearly a decade, Joyelle has worked Off-Broadway as an Arts Administrator and Marketer focusing on Accessibility and Audience Diversification. As an artist and educator, her mission is to uplift Pilipinx artists and stories.


Patricia Tiu

29 year old born and raised in Queens to Patrick and Amy Tiu who immigrated from the beautiful islands of Cebu and Basilan. Being the middle child of two brothers, I grew up playing basketball and grew into becoming the leader of the Filipino women’s basketball team in an organization called PBM, which was located in Woodside, NY. My father and I held free practices and trained the youth and girls/women’s basketball, where we would travel and compete with other Filipino teams from other states as well as cities in Canada, Labor Day weekend. As a child, my parents sent my bothers and I to live with my Grandma and aunts in Cebu every summer. By doing that, we were able to be taught to speak our native tongue Visaya, as well as holding on to our beloved Filipino culture and traditions, while also being proud Americans. I have been a nurse for about 6 years working in Queens and Manhattan and have experience in various fields. My current specialty is working as a PACU nurse in Manhattan. I am currently continuing my education trying to obtain my masters as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at Hunter College.

Rommel Milanez

Rommel Milanez migrated from Bicol when he was 16. He finished his nursing studies in the Bronx. He has been a nurse for 23 years with critical care background. Currently he is working as Assistant Director of Nursing in Manhattan. Involvement in the Filipino American community is his passion. He founded Jaleo Filipino Dance Ensemble of NY and he was founder of the Filipino Club at Lehman college during his college years.

Ariane Meliton

Ariane Meliton has been a Physician Assistant for the last four years. The pandemic was a tough time for everyone, patients and hospital personnel alike. At the peak of the pandemic when hospitals everywhere were getting overwhelmed, she is proud to say that she did her part in Queen's fight against the pandemic, such as becoming a COVID ICU provider and being part of the PPE, ventilation and IPAD team alongside the US Navy and the US Army when they had volunteered to serve at her hospital. She is also just as proud to say that she is a first generation Filipino American. She originally grew up in Woodside, Queens, which has and continues to have a strong Filipino presence. Growing up in that community allowed her to stay connected to her Filipino roots growing up. Therefore every day when Ariane goes to work, she tries her best to treat patients as if they were her own family, because that is what she noticed how other Filipinos try to treat complete strangers everyday - like family.



Kenjo Bruton

Carlyn Costales

Will Simbol

Ezra Undag


Carol Angeli
Joyelle Cabato
Maxine Ann Evangelista DeHitta
Leslie Espinosa
Juan Paolo “JP” V. Moraga
Jaclyn Reyes
Sabrina Herbosa Reyes