Working through a change in direction.
“There’s always logic in any artist’s development, but it’s individual.” Claude Tousignant
It actually came to me at 3:00 in the morning of my 35th birthday. I’ve been struggling with some nagging questions/gaps regarding my proposed digital art thesis for my work in the U.K. this coming September. Firstly, my initial proposal to photograph and digitally collage the visual landscape of the Philippine community in London is something I’ve already done in Toronto. The digital collaged series of St. James Town, St. Clair West and other pockets of ‘Pinoy districts’ was received quite well. The series is part of municipal and national collections and helped earn me a few awards. That said, the thought of doing the exact same project all over again in London is leaving me creatively drained.
I will not have the luxury of having grown up in London as I did in Toronto. The success of the Toronto project was facilitated by the years I spent growing up in the city, going to the local Pinoy groceries stores with my mom to pick up lechon sauce, going to local fiestas and debuts and visiting relatives around the city. Although I have visited London several times, the city is still relatively unchartered territory for me. Furthermore I will not have the same mobility in London as I do in Toronto. Toronto is a small walkable city with terribly cheap public transit and London… well, I’m guessing is not.
Another motivation to shift the focus of my UK project are a result of my experiences from the work I did in Toronto. After completing a digital collage of the Philippine community of Toronto I began to question the true need for digital art in the project. Diaspora/community representation could have just as easily been represented by a traditional assemblage techniques. Why a digital collage? How does this new media specifically address the issues of the Philippine diaspora? Is there any better way to exploit digital media other than computer rendered/enhanced prints?
In the end, it is time that is troubling me most. I have the arduous task of familiarizing myself with the Pinoy community of London (over 120,000- largest in the UK), creating a series of works that best represent this diaspora and complete my MA all within 10 months. With the new addition of Baby Julien to the family my time to work on the project will further be compromised. Before anything else I want to be an involved father for my son. I could put in the same hours as I once did to my art and leave my wife with a majority of the parenting responsibilities but truthfully I don’t think that’s fair for her, Julien and most of all me. These last few months watching my son grow from a wrinkly red newborn to a crawling, smiling five month old full of unending energy has made me realize that time flies by way too fast. I will not regret the hours of creative work time I missed out on. I will regret the hours I missed of not seeing my son grow and develop. Sorry for the gratuitous papa tangent… the nature of blogging is self-indulgent so I figure I might as well shamelessly express some of my happy fatherhood thoughts ;) It is also a very real element in my day to day and as a result must be factored into the creative process. Picasso was a talented and prolific artist but I wonder if he was a good father. It’s possible. I read somewhere he loved kids or was it that he loved making kids…
Anyhow, the future of living in a new very expensive city, trying to finish a project with limited time and trying to raise my 8 month old has resulted in a shift of things. I feel this change in creative direction is actually better and will fill in all the “gaps” I was initially feeling. I’ve decided to create a project that would exploit the communicative networking abilities of the internet and allow me to do most of my work at home. What I figured I’d do is to establish and locate as much of a London-Pinoy community using primarily internet communication. This works on the fact that I will know very few Pinoy-Londoners when I arrive and will in effect be a lone Pinoy looking for a community. Part of my artistic process could involve the documentation/blogging of all communications and internet surfing I had done to find “my community”. I am hypothesizing a majority of community members I locate will be through social networking websites such as Facebook groups, Yahoo communities, Wikis, message boards, etc. I plan to create a general reach out letter which I can copy and paste with everyone accompanied by a website which will act as my face/avatar for the project. I recall coming across a diaspora artist from Taiwan (Jun Jieh Wang) who in “Cities on the Move” exhibited a piece that was essentially a self-created corporate identity for a faux travel agency. “Neon Urlab Agency Version 97-99” revealed the possibility of anything/everything being ‘virtual’ and addressed the fact that nothing is what it seems. In contrast I would like to keep my web presence as close to my real world persona as possible but I find it intriguing how much trust people are willing to put on a well designed website.
CREATIVE TANGENT: To create websites of two fake companies/people that are identical in their supposed real world identities. Have them differ only in their web presence (One corporate slick design, the other self-publishing amateur). Visually represent the difference in feedback. Conversely hack corporate sites and create mirrored sites of their online identities turned amateur…or vice versa, over design normally “moms and pops” websites. This train of thought reminds me of Baudrillard’s essays about Disneyland and weddings. If the photo has more power to effect reality/ memory of reality what of the web and websites?
ANOTHER CREATIVE TANGENT: It would be neat to one day do a visual project exploring the incongruities and similarities of virtual and real world identities. Second Life inspired art projects by G+S “Objects of Virtual Desire”, eteam “Second Life Dumpster” and Eva and Franco Mattes/ 0100101110101101.org “Reenactment of Joseph Buey’ 7000 Oaks” come to mind.
After I’ve established a Philippine-London community what next? Where is the art? Could I visually represent the connections I made via the internet in the vein of Warren Sack’s “Conversation Map” or Antonio Muntadas’ “Social Network”? Should I invite my new digital community to the opening night of the MA Exhibit… maybe bring in some lechon? Better yet we could make it a Pinoy potluck and have them bring in a dish each ;) Maybe they could bring in a physical “real world” object that they can relate to as being British-Filipino and I could incorporate this into the art piece. Should I use the ubiquitous Evite?
Or… I could gather as much online information as possible of each community member and create a visual representation of each of them based only what I could find on the net (Facebook images that are screen grabbed, website downloads etc.). This is particularly interesting as it also addresses issues of privacy/exhibitionism on the internet. The Myspace/blogging phenomenon that has taken over the web seems surfacely exhibitionist but the ubiquity of these sites creates a layer of anonymity. People all want to be seen and heard so they post pics and words of themselves online but who is really listening and watching them. Who cares? Much like my blog.
On the flipside, I could select prominent people of the community (those with a large web presence or those that are considered societally prominent in the real world, those that are in the public eye community ie. nationally recognized actors, musicians, athletes politicians, etc.) and invite them personally to the opening. Make a big show of it. Maybe document how contacting people via the web can break down some real world walls in place when contacting society’s famous or elite. Or maybe it can’t. Maybe I can go further and try to gather people from outside of London. Fly dignitaries of the Filipino Diaspora in from around the world… the Black Eyed Peas, Rex Navarrete, Phoebe Cates, Tia Carrere, Jessica Hagedorn, the PacMan! Okay, I think I’m going over my budget. Something to think about though.
What next? What else? I could start the project now. Start the project from T.O. I guess I’m already starting the project with this blog entry. One thing I could do from here is…
(be warned a good espresso can bring on a fountain of spontaneous ideas if given the right setting)…
look up any other artists (digital, new media, traditional) that may have done anything like this. People that come to mind are:
Allen Kaprow (Happenings- akin to my guests bring in the art idea), the Gutai Group (in particular the subversive PoMo stuff… maybe I could fake Pinoy-UK visas instead of 1000 Yen notes and use them as invites),
Cities on the Move Artists (just a powerhouse of Asian diaspora/identity artists that participated, curator’s Hou Hanrou’s theories of Glocalism and Multi-Modernity are particularly relevant),
Cindy Sherman and Jennifer Ringley (who address identity and voyeurism),
social network art projects (the techno challenging “Pigeon Blog” and the web log commentary of “the Dumpster”),
possibly some other Asian identity artists who have been on a similar quest of connectedness and agency in their art (Manuel Ocampo,
Ken Lum, Nikki Lee and plenty more…),
and finally some theorists (Walter Benjamin, Jean Baudrillard, Marshall McLuhan, Lev Manovich et al.)
Next I should probably contact Andrew Stiff my supervisor with a new project proposal and reason for a change in direction. Maybe I could just link to this blog entry… I better think this one out first. ;)
I could also start a new project blog. New project, new blog. Makes sense. It would be easier to do through WordPress or some other free forum like that so that it could easily be linked to the Camberwell DigiArt Wiki. Or maybe I should just stick with this one.
Or maybe I should just design a separate website with an attached blog for this project. It would help to keep things recent, relevant and transparent with all the people I will be contacting in the UK.
I should also start researching/surfing the scope of web presence the UK/Pinoy community has. I’m expecting there already is a lot out there. I should locate the key players and start my virtual digging for information before contacting them. Maybe there are internet groups that I could already join from here…
All very exciting stuff. For now I will take a moment and digest all this while I play with Baby J. Things will come together in the end. If they don’t, it’s not the end (got that lovely piece of inspiration from a birthday card I once got lifetimes ago when I lived in Tokyo. It stuck.)
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“In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it dull and know I had put it to the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about than have it bright and shining and nothing to say…”
In my creative journey I find myself coming back to this insightful snippet from Hemmingway’s “A Moveable Feast”. It’s become a bit of a mantra for me. I find myself remembering that sometimes life takes me away from the art and that is good. On January 17th of this year my gave birth to our first child. A baby boy named Julien Rosendo Desrochers-Dioso. His name, albeit long ;), is a reiteration of his Pinoy-French Canadian roots. As all parents must realize when they begin their journey into sleepless nights and diapers, the universe’s greatest gift that it could give us is children. They are our future. He is my angel ;)
And so I have done little on the creative front besides be there for my son. My wife and I were lucky enough to take the first few months of Julien’s life off of work and have been reveling in domesticity. My plans to go to the University of the Arts London in the Fall of 2008 to complete a Masters in Digital Arts has since been deferred to the following year.
That said my art has been flourishing in new and unexpected ways. Since last I’ve blogged I successfully completed the TO-Pinoy Project. The result was series of digital prints that have been exhibited at a few art fests around Toronto and are currently a part of the City of Toronto Art Collection 2008. They are also on exhibit (digitally) at the Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Culture and Heritage. One of the works was also purchased by Toronto’s Mayor Miller for his personal collection.
I now find myself in an interesting place. My said project is finished and I am supposed to do a similar project in the UK as part of my MA thesis project. My initial proposal was to create a series of digital prints that documented the visual landscape of the Philippine community of London. I expected that Pinoy communities would be pocketed around the city, populated by Philippine women who have immigrated to the city as nurses or nannies as it is in Toronto. Although the project is sound (having gone though a “test run” in Toronto), I have hesitation in going through it all again. I have been working on the TO project for the last two and half years and I am feeling my creative energies branching to different directions.
I am currently brewing something up and will write more about it soon.
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Last night I dreamt of cockroaches. I hate cockroaches. When I was a child, I lived in a townhouse complex filled with Filipino families in Mississauga. The block was infested with cockroaches and had been bombed with heavy insecticides several times in the seven years that I grew up there from 1975 to 1982. I was nine when we finally moved out of Mississauga Valley Boulevard and I still remember my parents worrying that we might bring the ipis
with us to our new detached four-bedroom house in Brampton. They left the sofa in the townhouse for fear that it may have had cockroach eggs.
I remember seeing half a dozen of them feasting on the spout of my Star Wars Action Pump toothpaste and rubbing the brown off Chewbacca’s plastic head in an attempt to get it clean. What I was really trying to clean was the memory of picking up my prized toothpaste then immediately throwing it on the bathroom floor in a defensive impulse to keep the six cockroaches that were speeding down Chewbacca’s face from running up my arm. One cockroach ran over my foot and into an invisible crack between the floorboards. Its trajectory over and between all five of my toes would leave me grabbing at my feet for days just to make sure that the insect wasn’t still there. After that, I kept my toothpaste and toothbrush wrapped in Saran Wrap, rubber bands and masking tape.
I remember my analogue clock, top of the line at the time, which told the time through flipping plastic numbers like four mini-rolodexes changing every minute and hour as needed. A cockroach had found its way inside and died belly up in the small plastic display casing. I would often shake the clock back and forth hoping to get the cockroach carcass right-side-up so that it would wake up and get out of my clock, but I only made things worse. Its dry fragile legs crumbled off with my shaking and stuck to the inside of the display. Six brown splinters reminded of the insects I was living with everytime I checked the time.
To avoid witnessing flagrant displays of the infestation, I would turn on the light before entering my bedroom or washroom at night and count to five with my eyes closed. It gave the cockroaches a chance to hide before I entered the room. Although this tactic usually worked, in those five seconds I would always imagine a horrendous wave of scurrying brown insects spilling out of the room in silent speed.
Anyways, last night I dreamt of roaches. In my dream, Tita Menchit, my mother’s cousin, came by with a large plastic bag of random Filipino edibiles- frozen embotido
like the type my mother still brings over to Lola’s every month or so. I was much younger in this dream. I was a child again. Tita Menchit put the bag on the linoleum kitchen floor, which was much more yellow than it had ever been in real life, and she began the routine cursory greetings. She kissed my mom hello and then kissed me. Kiss on the cheek, lips tucked in, big sound, no contact. She pulled me back, “My Derick, you have grown. And so pogee
!” She looked at my mom with a big smile to make sure my mother caught the compliment. My mother didn’t, or pretended not to. The two women proceeded to the kitchen counter, chatting about their church group when I noticed that there was a cockroach on my foot. It was the same cockroach that crawled through my toes fifteen years ago. It felt the same anyways. Light, almost not there. Almost. I quickly kicked it away in hopes that Tita Menchit would not see the insect. I was embarrased that she would dicover that we were infested and I was already prepared to act shocked and digusted as if it were the first cockroach I had ever seen- a tactic I learned and practiced on the rare occasion that friends would come over for sleep-overs.
I soon realized the cockroaches were actually coming from the plastic bag on the floor. There were hundereds of them and they were emerging from the bag in brown ripples across the floor and into the walls. I woke up in a cold sweat, looked at my wife and contemplated waking her up. Instead I touched the cold wall near my bed and lay awake in the dark for the next hour or two.
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I've been heavy on the research lately and have been away from blogging for sometime. I owe many thanks to OCAD's Dr. Soyang Park who has enriched my knowledge of contemporary Asian art and has inspired me to push on with my own project.
Things that have been of interest lately:
1) Manuel Ocampo: US/Pinoy transgressive artist who reached acclaim in the 80's when California was promoting multiculturalism. Ocampo's work deals with post-colonial trauma, religion, sex, violence and host of other goodies that are noteworthy.
2) Mariko Mori: Japanese digital artist who creates sci-fi self-portraits. Her images seem to capture Orientalist stereotypes of an ultra modern Japan, but do they facilitate further discussion or are they propogating negative asssumptions of the Japan?
3) Hou Hanru: Chinese curator of a slew of exciting international Bienniales and "Cities on the Move" which explored themes of "multi-modernity", "diaspora" and "glocalism". The touring show highlighted the dynamic nature of Asian cities and exhibited work from a number of exciting asian artists from around the world including Bul Lee, Guo-Qiag Cai, Chen Zhen, Soo-Ja Kim, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Surasi Kusolwong, Judy Freya Sibayan and Canada's own Ken Lum.
4) US/Korean Niki Lee who photographs herself in the process of immigrant assimilation. She starts projects where she tries to fit into a variety of American subcultures like skateboarders, hispanics, yuppies, etc. She will immitate and befriend people in these groups, and create a repore for several months and have herself candidly photographed through this process by the people in her "project group". She highlights aspects of hybridization in her work and records the immigrant's gaze of diasporic groups that are seeking to become "All-American".
For now, I am gearing up for the holiday festivities and hope to get back to my art in the new year re-energized and inspired!
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Confession: Juggling is difficult
I’ve had more productive days, correction weeks. In the month since the last blog, I’ve mastered the art of starting things without actually finishing them. There are three other blog entries in various stages of completion sitting in digital limbo waiting to be posted. I’m halfway through uploading my last two series of paintings online and I have an incomplete canvas taunting me as I type. I won’t bother elaborating on my “To Do” lists which have grown so long they made their way into an occasional nightmare. Things are in flux. I feel out of control.
The perpetual juggler that I am, I usually thrive off the adrenaline of keeping as many balls flying as I can. It’s just that my eyes are a bit tired, my hands are sore, and right now I can’t keep track of what’s going up or coming down.
As the summer ends, I will claim this new season as one of change. May the days of frustrating procrastination fall. May the shackles of negativity fall. May this creative constipation fall! Fall! Fall! Fall!
I need a plan.
The plan: Stay positive, stay motivated, keep juggling
The good news is, I haven’t dropped any balls yet. Almost, but not yet. Things I have completed include an online article about the parallels between transnationalism and digital art—the piece has been accepted for publication at www.lepanoptique.com
, an online journal covering current events with an academic twist. I had a successful exhibit with Kultura and several of my paintings are still on display at the Kapisanan Philippine Centre in Toronto. I will also be a part of a group show at the Hangman Gallery on Queen East (Toronto) for the annual Nuite Blanche, an all-night art event inspired by the happening in Paris. But what to do about staying motivated?
It’s funny where one can find that extra boost to keep on with the circus act. Today it came from a Chinese parable I heard at Kung Fu class. Thank you Sifu ;)
The parable: A Wushu student and his master were walking by the river when they came across a hungry fox chasing a tired rabbit. Noticing the student’s interest in the animals, the master stopped and asked the student, “Of the two beasts, who do you think will succeed?”
The student, taken aback by the question, answered, “The winner of this chase will surely be the fox.”
“Really? Why are you so sure?”
“Well master, the fox is bigger, smarter, quicker and stronger than the rabbit. The rabbit is feeble. The rabbit can’t do anything that the fox can’t do better. The fox will succeed.”
“Hmmm,” said the master. “You are right. The fox is indeed bigger, smarter, quicker and stronger than the rabbit. But the rabbit possesses one thing that the fox doesn’t and this can make all the difference.”
“What is this special thing master?”
“Yes,” said the master. “You see, the fox is running for his lunch, but the rabbit is running for his life. This difference in motivation outweighs size, intelligence, speed and strength. I think the rabbit will succeed.”
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Last night I rented a DVD from Suspect Video about Canadian identity. Based on a 2002 Douglas Coupland novel under the same name, Souvenir of Canada
documented the creation of Coupland’s Canada House. Canada House was a temporary exhibit of Canadian identity art set in a CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) House that was painted gallery white, from floor to window to ceiling. Pieces in the Canada House included large scale images of the Canadarm, a used sock of Terry Fox, sculptures of the Canada goose, cigarette warning labels, stubbys, and of course an assorted array of hockey paraphernalia. The purpose of the exhibit was to create something “that only Canadians would get.”
Coupland, made famous for coining the term “Generation X” in his 1991 novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture
, is yet another example of a Canadian who had to leave Canada to get acclaim. His story begins in Vancouver where he grew up in the waspy, upper/middle-class suburbia of the 1970’s. Being an artist in a family whose interests were more focused on game hunting and hockey, Coupland was the black sheep. After high school, Coupland went to McGill to study medicine which pleased his parents immensely. Coupland left McGill shortly after to return home and go to art school. This did not please his parents. The story goes on... Coupland works odd jobs around Canada, has no success in his art, he goes to California, has big success with his book, has freedom to live and travel around the world and ultimately decides to return to Vancouver. Everyone is happy. Another tale of great Canadian success.
I can relate to Coupland’s story. I too left home to study at McGill. I too was from a creatively-challenged family whose parents and sibling held views of the world that were very different than my own. If it wasn’t for the unquestionable physical similarities, I would have sworn I was adopted. Like Coupland, I dropped out of an early med school trajectory at McGill and returned home with my tail between my legs. Instead of studying at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, I followed my creative calling at the Ontario College of Art and Design. This is where my part of the story is still waiting to be unraveled. Time will only tell if Canada wants to hear the Fil-Can tale.
Watching Souvenir of Canada, which was just as much about Coupland’s life as it was about Canadian identity, I found myself relating to him in someway and in other ways saying to myself, hey wait a minute you forgot some parts! This is because my Souvenirs of Canada
would most likely be a bit different than Coupland's. I grew up ten years later in Toronto and my home didn’t look like Coupland’s Leave it to Beaver
suburbia. That said, the Diosos were no less Canadian. We were Filipino-Canadian. My mother didn’t stock her cupboards with Premium Plus crackers and canned tomato soup and cook wonderful recipe dinners at 6:00pm everyday. Both my parents worked till 8:00, sometimes 9:00, and at ten years old I would take my sister from Etobicoke to Bloor and Yonge subway station to my mom’s office where we would wait for her to finish work. After, we would all meet my father and have Swiss Chalet, or a pizza or McDonalds. Nights ended at 11:00 or 12:00. My father wasn’t a doctor who flew planes in national parks on the weekends. He was an accountant for an California car additives company who used to love playing basketball and later switched to softball when I first got accepted to the Bramalea Rep Team. My parents didn’t retire on an expansive cattle farm. They retired in a 2 bedroom condominium on Yonge Street, and currently live with their son and daughter-in-law.
My Canada House would of course have hockey sticks and images of wilderness like Coupland’s, but it would also have ramen noodle packs in the kitchen along with the Kraft Dinner. There would be Wonderbread sandwiches with chicken wieners, ketchup, mayo and pickles in the fridge. In the freezer, there would be a bag of Ontario peas and three dozen sweet longonizas. A plate of Swiss Chalet leftovers with fresh rice and a can of coke would be ready at the table with a spoon and a fork. The clock would always read 10:00pm, as that was the family-bonding-dinner time. There would be Chinatown lychees and cantaloupes ready for dessert, and the television would be playing a loop of Archie Bunker epsiodes. The walls would have pictures of Filipino summer picnics with fifty newly immigrated Pinoys trying to re-create ‘home’ in those short months when Canada held temperatures that were similar to the Philippines. The pictures would show large group shots in front of picnic tables of food - sliced watermelon , skewers of shaved pork, a 'lechon' on waxed paper with an apple in it’s mouth and skin picked at, plates of 'lumpia shanghai' and 'pancit', large boats of white rice, and a mango cake with butter icing in the shape of Big Bird served on Styrofoam plates. There would be ‘capis’ lamps on either side of a plush pink Leon’s sofa and butts of Rothman's Regulars in the 'kamagong' ashtray. There would be a redbrick fireplace that was used only once and above it a shield of all the Philippine tribes of Luzon. The basement would be a mess, storing broken toys, old 'balikbayan' boxes and a hundered pieces of an incomplete chandelier brought over from Lola Nene's basement in San Pablo. There would be a kid’s room that had Transformers and Lego and the toxic plastic blow bubbles that were illegal in Canada and smuggled in as ‘pasalubongs'. There would be half empty bags of microwave popcorn, Planetrs peanuts and 'chicken adobo' flavoured Crackernuts strewn on the floor. This is my Canada House.
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Only in the Philippines can you find 1,500 orange-clad inmates doing a choreographed dance to the music of Michael Jackson. Please click below to see the boys of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center do their thang!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMnk7lh9 ... ler%2Ehtml
"Thriller" on youtube, thanks for the link Phil!
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The Paglaum girls of Bacolod
An Inspiring Story from Paglaum girls of Bacolod forwarded to me from Rose Dioso Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer July 2006
NOW for a bit of good, positive news for a change.
Paying a courtesy call Thursday on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at Malacanang were the members of the victorious Bacolod team that emerged as champions in the recent World Series Junior Girls
Softball championship in Kirkland, Washington, United States.
After the girls showed her their victory banner and presented her with an honorary team jacket, the President handed the girls from Paglaum (a village on the outskirts of Bacolod) a check for one
million pesos, an incentive for their winning performance.
A newspaper report says the team's 2-0 victory over Puerto Rico in the title match "gave the Philippines its first World Series crown since 1992 when a team from Zamboanga was stripped of the crown it won in Pennsylvania" on allegations of fielding over-aged and unqualified players. The girls' victory, then, was not just a great honor for the country, but also a vindication of Filipino honor and pride.
Beyond that, though, the team's victory is a real "Cinderella" story, a fascinating tale of how girls from a small town overcame the odds and showed the world what they're made of.
THE GIRLS, from 12 to 14 years of age, come from Paglaum, a small
village on the outskirts of Bacolod, and belong to farming families, their parents working in the sugar cane fields or else engaged in fishing and rice and coconut farming. Rufino Ignacio, one of the pino-Americans in Washington who played host to the team, says the girls brought pictures of their nipa huts and the dilapidated remises of the Paglaum Village National High School.
As Ignacio tells it, the team almost didn't make the trip for lack of
money for their plane fare. Funds raised by their sponsors, including Little League Philippines and politicians and business people in Negros, were not enough for their needs. So as a last ditch effort, the team's coach and the school principal took out a loan for 100,000 pesos, though perhaps the President's check should now ease their anxieties somewhat.
Upon arrival in the US, the girls and their coach stayed with a host
family, the Shannons, all of them crowded into the Shannons' modest
home, although once the tournament began, the USA Little League housed them in a hotel. But they faced more than logistical challenges. Ignacio describes the Paglaum girls as the "smallest" among all the players in the tournament, who were "heftier and taller and from their looks, stronger."
Despite their physical disadvantages, however, the young Pinays became
the "darling of the crowd," racking up a "very impressive record" and
winning everyone's admiration for their "discipline and decorum."
THE STORY of the Paglaum girls, though, is also the story of how the
entire Filipino-American community in the area came together to lend their moral, physical and financial support for the plucky team.
Fil-Ams from as far as Oregon and British Columbia came in droves to
cheer on the Paglaum girls. The Ilonggos Northwest Association, the Filipino Community of Seattle, and a regional Fil-Am association, the FACSPS, combined resources to make the girls feel welcome.
The FACSPS, headed by Ignacio, gathered used clothing, shoes, toiletries, canned goods and other items and packed them in balikbayan boxes for the girls to take home to their families.
"As the team is not used to eating bread in the hotel, the Ilonggos and FACSPS prepared food for them, potluck style, and the team heartily ate with other Filipinos after each game," recounts Ignacio. "The girls said they had the best meals in their young lives during the tournament."
Ignacio notes that the Paglaum girls left the Philippines with "no
money, hardly noticed, and thinking perhaps they had nochance of winning." But now, they have returned as heroes, or rather, as
Everyone loves an underdog, but victorious underdogs are loved even
more. This is one "Cinderella story" that deserves to be told and retold.
Its only when you share your life to others that life begins to have a
meaning and purpose ... the time you touch the life of others is the
time you really live.
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Book Launches and Brainstorms
The term Balikbayan
refers to Philippine nationals who reside permanently outside of the Philippines. I was born in Canada and hold only a Canadian passport. The first time I entered the Philippines in 2002, I was stamped entry as a foreigner. I didn’t think twice. According to official immigration status, I am not Filipino. I am Canadian.
The second time I entered the Philippines, three months later, the customs officer asked me the routine questions about the length of stay and purpose of visit. In my accent free English, I told him that I was Filipino-Canadian and had intentions to marry my French-Canadian fiancée in the country of my parental roots. That day, I was stamped in as a Balikbayan
. I think of this event more and more as I delve further into my exploration of the Filipino-Toronto community and as a result into my own identity. I am a Filipino-Canadian in Canada. I am a Canadian in France, Japan and any other country outside of Canada. But I am a Balikbayan
(sometimes) in the Philippines. I like Filipino food, but I am a vegetarian. I can barely speak Tagalog, but my "native speaker" fluency in English has allowed me to teach and travel in Asia and Europe. What defines nationhood for those of us who have equally strong ties with more than one country?
Last week I was discussing issues of identity with members of the Kapisanan Philippine Centre-- a cultural and artistic centre focusing on the needs of second-generation Filipinos, youths and newcomers to the Toronto community. Things discussed were: methods of expression for the community, the idea of cultural shame, history, education, the police killing of Jeffrey Reodica, and the split between the needs of second generation Filipinos, those of their parents and those of newly arrived immigrants.
The sense I was getting, was that although Toronto is home to the largest Filipino community in Canada (population of 150,000 according to Statistics Canada), community cohesiveness is scattered. When team Italy won the Fifa World Cup in 2006, there was no shortage of Italian flag-waving or people with faces painted in red, white and green. In a 2001 survey by Statistics Canada, predicting immigration patterns into 2017, the Italian community did not make the list, yet the current visual presence of the community on Toronto's landscape is unquestionable. Pockets around the city from St. Clair and Bathurst, Vaughn and Corso Italia on College have become ingrained in Toronto’s identity. I find myself questioning where is "Little Philippines" or why can’t I remember the last time the Philippine flag was waved down Yonge Street. Would my fellow Torontonians even know what one looked like? Is it because we don’t play soccer? Could be. Is it because the Philippine community is relatively newly arrived? Probably not.
The newly arrived Toronto Hindu community (population of 191, 305) boasts the publicized erection of a ‘remarkable marvel of architecture’, a stone carved temple on HWY 427 and Finch Ave. According to Toronto Star’s Urban Affair Columnist, Christopher Hume, “the local Hindu community, which paid for the $40 million building without any public or foundation funding and provided 400 volunteer workers, wants the world to know it has arrived…(and) there is no chance its presence will go unnoticed.” Although considered a “new immigrant community”, Filipino immigration to Canada started in 1931 and has been peaking since the seventies with the Family Reunification Program and further in the eighties with the Live-in Caregiver Program. So why is it that this particular community has had such a meek presence on the visual landscape of Toronto?
On the evening of July 12, in a small hall at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), a modest reception was held to launch two seminal studies that have been recently made on the Filipino community. The first being “Filipinos in Canada: Economic Dimensions of Immigration and Settlement”, a report by York University’s Dr. Philip Kelly who used government data from censuses and immigration statistics to create a portrait of the Philippine community. Some conclusions Kelly made were that although the community comes to Canada relatively well-prepared (specifically in education and language proficiency) with expectations that they will do quite well, the reality is that upon arrival, the job market and prospective futures of Filipino immigrants are limited. He also mentioned that the Philippine community hasn’t had the political voice to assert itself proportionate to its numbers.
Milla Astorga-Garcia’s study “The Road to Empowerment in the Filipino Community: Moving from Crisis to Community Capacity Building”, documents the killing of 17 year old Filipino Jeffrey Reodica in 2004, and how the event helped to unite the community. Astorga-Garcia’s documents and references community events and organizations such as the Justice for Jeffrey campaign and Community Alliance for Social Justice (CASJ). But more importantly, Astorga-Garcia has come to represent a voice in the Filipino-Canadian community who is calling for community cohesion.
I am a part of the Filipino-Canadian community. I am also a government-funded digital artist whose work pertains to the Filipino-Toronto community. As I start this project I find myself questioning, reflecting and brainstorming on all the possible angles that I could/should take. What is the Filipino-Toronto community? How is it best visually represented? Is it different from other transnational communities and if so how or why? Furthermore how can digital art be used as a vehicle for expression and representation for this community?
I have just been asked to write an article for the online journal www.panoptique.com
where some of these questions regarding digital art and the transnational community will be addressed. Please stay tuned. ;)
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Below is an email from an old friend and shining light. Thank you Eoghan and keep up the good fight ;) Mon, 2 Jul 2007 01:48:48 -0600, Eoghan Moriarty wrote:
On our nation's day let us not forget:
That sovereignty like freedom possesses an
Most spoken of covetously and yearningly
After its somehow impossible demise.
The corporatocracy that animates the thin veneer
of shiny wool
That drapes resplendant, fat and marvelous, over
our Etch A Sketch consciences.
Laughs deeply, resoundingly from within their
Far beyond the reach of mere mortals protected by
the full power and
apparatus of the state.
While the walls of the cage steadily retract
vanquishing personal freedoms
Given up unbeknownst to their dimwitted owners .
It is not enough to say that Canada will never be
like the USA.
Worldwide there is no distinction between the 2.
And soon there will be no difference whatsoever.
Only zero control over our own sovereignty,
resources and security.
Under terms of NAFTA, the USA can extract bulk
water resources from
Canada if it is deemed a national security
concern. Do some research
on shrinking water resources in the US and you
will learn just how
incredibly desperate the US is for water.
The US Northern Command is already in control of
security for the
entire continent and has been for years. Does
this not worry anyone?
Look at our "Nation Building" exercise in
For our population we have the equivalent of
25000 US soldiers serving there.
There is no difference between Afghanistan and
NATO has become an offensive force worldwide.
Deploying ABMs on Russia's west flank
antagonizing the world's largest
Our governments collectively sold our nation to
our big, bully of a
neighbor for nothing more than personal gain.
1) Free Trade Agreement
2) North America Free Trade Agreement
And finally, initiated & implemented by Paul
Martin's Liberals and
continued behind the scenes by our wee Yankee lad
Harper the next
irrevocable step in the process of "Deep
3) Security and Prosperity Partnership Of North
This minor soon to be forgotten fuss over the No
Fly List is but a
taste of the last gasps of our sovereignty being
absorbed into the US.
Look at Atlantica on the east coast.
The average person in the Atlantic provinces will
benefit from deeper
integration with the NE USA?
The music has already stopped and there are no
chairs for us.
And somehow we're toiling away in our basement
cleaning up after the
partywe were not even allowed to attend wondering
What about the plans for the Amero?
Who stands to benefit the most from an
amalgamation of the 3 currencies?
Who is the most indebted country on Earth?
And who has no intention whatsoever of repaying
The Israeli company that is building the wall in
Palestine got the
contract for building the barrier between the US
The SPP was created from a framework developed by
the CEOs of the
largest companies in North America whose mandate
was to make their
lives as easy and profitable as possible and
specifically to benefit
the US most of all.
How come there has been no mention of the SPP in
Who are we kidding? The only real objective media
left is the alternative one.
Huge changes need to be made.
But our politicians have no intention of rocking
Our only option is to get educated and bide our
Its a good thing that any kind of political
demonstration can treated
as a terrorist act, no? You have to admit that
the entire slide into
fascism has been a master work of propaganda and
Goebbels would have been proud.
Wake up and shrug off tinsel town.
Get educated about what is going on.
Check out these websites:www.globalresearch.cawww.canadianactionparty.cawww.democracynow.orgwww.freepress.netwww.bandepleteduranium.org
Google Ron Paul and see the power of a real
campaign by someone who has real answers for
Check out the Canadian Action Party.
I could go on for day and days.
But I wouldn't read it either.
Canada is an incredible country.
Part of what makes it great is the distinction
between the USA and us.
We will never get back the good will of the world
and strangely will
wonder why people hate us because of our freedom?
Being a proud Canadian is not enough.
It requires action through self education and
Banish the Etch A Sketch and choose to remember.
Eoghan Nations grown corrupt
Love bondage more than liberty;
Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty.
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