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Kids in Art Class

We believe in the power of the arts for engaging community members in building and nurturing thriving communities that are fully empowered to determine their collective destinies. Our vision of a just and humane society rests upon our core belief that our communities can play a significant role and can contribute meaningfully towards upholding human rights for all and uplifting the human ideals that value life, freedom, justice and nurture individual human potentials to the fullest.

Mountain Trail

In the light of our vision, we will educate, mobilize, and organize community members, primarily immigrants and their families, through community arts-based and community-centered intergenerational programs and services.


In carrying out our mission, our overarching goal is to serve primarily the needs of the most marginalized members of our immigrant communities and to partner with other individuals, organizations, and institutions in addressing the most pressing concerns of our local communities.

Mountain Peak

Our long history in CIRCA-Pintig of conducting artistic-educational workshops, performances and other collective actions to address pressing community issues serves as the foundation of our “home-grown” cultural work. The use of the integrated arts approach to interrogate, analyze and challenge assumptions about our communities or the larger world around us and creatively figure out solutions to problems confronted by our families, neighborhoods or society at large are critical to our work of educating, organizing and mobilizing for transformative social change. We view these foundational elements of cultural work as strongly akin to the work of scientists that involves challenging prevailing assumptions or explanations of facts as well as proposing novel and original ways of interpreting the material world. 


In the same vein, we also believe that the practice of science, whether that be inquiry, discovery, testing assumptions, finding and designing solutions, etc. cannot be devoid of any cultural influences in which it is done. In this light, we deem that science is an integral part of culture and vice-versa. And hence for us, in these challenging times marked by serious environmental concerns, racial injustice, economic dislocation of predominantly communities of color or responding to the COVID-19 crisis, engaging in “relevant science” not only makes sense but becomes necessary if we want to make our cultural work equally relevant and impactful as well.


In 2021, CIRCA-Pintig celebrates the 30th anniversary of its formal establishment as a 501(c3) nonprofit organization. However, its history started way before 1991 when a group of youths and students formed their own independent organization, the Pintig Cultural Group (Pintig), to focus primarily on doing cultural work as their distinct form of community engagement and organizing. 


Prior to its formalization in 1991, Pintig’s primary activities involved street performances during mass mobilizations and Philippine community events as early as 1986. With its formal launching on April 1, 1991, Pintig’s activities have evolved into annual performance seasons and dramatic-educational workshops and outreach activities. It was a membership-driven organization.


Ten years later, in 2001, the Center for Immigrant Resources and Community Arts (CIRCA) was founded to serve as Pintig’s training and youth-theatre arm by members of Pintig. The founding members of CIRCA were children of Pintig members and supporters. Given the nature of its work and youth membership, CIRCA was primarily board-driven.


In 2006, Pintig and CIRCA merged and combined its organizational infrastructure, resources, membership, outreach, and programs. Since then, CIRCA-Pintig has largely been board-driven and former members continued to participate on a project basis. What started out as a working Board has slowly transitioned to a Governing Board and some board members have stepped down to take on staff roles to focus on the day-to-day operations and programming. 

Building Upon 30 Years of Community Engagement and Cultural Organizing Work

STEAM stands for Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Math while LEAF stands for Learning Enrichment Across Families.  The STEAM-LEAF program is an expansion of CP’s Youth Heritage and BITAW (Basic Integrated Theatre Arts Workshop) After-School programs. The main thrust of this program is to enhance the joy and value of learning while at the same time developing critical and scientific thinking skills among children and youths within the rich context of communities-of-color histories and cultures through creative, participatory, and experiential activities. 


CP’s longstanding Youth-focused and Integrated Arts workshops will continue to be a core component of this program. These workshops which have traditionally been participated in by youths ages 11 – 16 years old will continue to utilize the core curriculum developed by CP. With the addition of the STEAM component, CP’s After-School program will be expanded to now include pre-K up to elementary school-aged children and their families.


Since the STEAM activities are conducted online, the new site of learning is shifted to the participants’ homes. With this shift, CP hopes to engage more family members in the learning enrichment not just of the youth/child participants but of others in the home as well. CP will primarily utilize the innovative arts-based and hands-on STEAM curriculum and activities developed by Playnovate. Playnovate’s next-generation STEAM program originally piloted in China is now being used by over 120,000 students there. This is also being implemented among rural children in Guatemala with amazing results. CIRCA’s STEAM-LEAF program is a pioneering undertaking among communities of color in the U.S. and is the first nonprofit partnership with Playnovate.

Expanding CIRCA-Pintig’s Cultural Work
Angela Agustin Mascarenas, Ph.D.
National Program Director

Angela is one of the founders and founding Executive Director of Pintig Cultural Group (1991) and CIRCA (2001). She received her doctorate degree in Sociology from the University of Illinois Chicago. Her scholarly work focuses on social movements, race & ethnic relations, and cultural organizing. Angela has taught in several Illinois colleges and universities as an adjunct professor and has also worked in the financial industry as a senior marketing analyst prior to returning to the nonprofit sector. She has presented papers and conducted integrated arts workshops in the U.S. and the Philippines. She has served on several Chicago nonprofit boards such as the Crossroads Fund and the Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE). 

Ginger Leopoldo, M.A.
Lead Trainer

Ginger is an educator, actor, director, and community organizer. She is currently the Executive Director of CIRCA-Pintig. Her work includes performing, directing, producing, and facilitating theatre productions and workshops of all ages. With over 20 years of experience as an educator and literacy coach for public school teachers through a nonprofit that engages at-risk youth with arts-based literacy programs, she has also been the Program Director for America’s Children’s Museum on Wheels: StoryBus, delivering an interactive hands-on literacy experience for young learners throughout Chicago. Most recently she has taught ESL to students in China and is an adjunct lecturer with the ESL program at the University of the Potomac. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in organizational and educational leadership.

Ube Leopoldo mascarenas
Operations, designer, and Technical Support

Ube is an artist and designer who grew up with CIRCA-Pintig programs. He has helped design and provided technical support to several small businesses and websites. 

Gigi Carunungan, Ed.D.

Gigi is Playnovate’s Chief Learning Architect. She is the inventor of the Helical Model, an innovative constructivist learning system anchored in neuroscience. She has served as the Co-Founder and Program Director of gifted children Synapse School, Imagination School and SPARK School in Silicon Valley. She has been a progressive and innovative STEAM educator for over 25 years.

JingJing Xu

JingJing is Playnovate’s Chief Operating Officer. She has served as Co-founder and Board Chair of Imagination Lab School, Palo Alto, Founder & CEO of InnoED, Palo Alto PiE Board Director and Co-president of PACPC. She’s an active leader in the Palo Alto education community.

 Al Dabiri

Mohammadali Dabiri, Al in the Global North, is an expatriate Iranian scholar artist based in the US. His work includes directing, facilitating Theatre of the Oppressed workshops, and conducting critical ethnographies to bring meaningful changes to the underrepresented individuals’ lived experiences. Currently, he is the project coordinator at the Louis Stokes Regional Center of Excellence for the Study of STEM Interventions ‎‎(LSCRE ‎‎‎‎‎SOSI).

Al Dabiri 2021-1.jpg
Mario Santos
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