The project Bahay Natin (Our House) began with an interest in discerning a connection between food and Filipinx resilience. Through academic journals and online articles, we gained a greater understanding of how colonialism and migration impacted Filipinx cuisine over several hundred years. We explored cuisine in the context of Spanish and American colonial occupation; local stories of immigration and food; and the ongoing rezoning plans affecting Filipinx restaurants in Vancouver’s Joyce–Collingwood neighbourhood (an important cultural hub for many Filipinx people in Metro Vancouver).
Another research activity that has been ongoing throughout our project has been interviewing and learning from local Filipinx-Canadian creatives in Vancouver. Through our conversations, we came to understand that the process of constructing and reconstructing one’s identity can be complex, nuanced, multi-faceted, and empowering. We feel honoured to have met and listened to so many incredible people, including JP Catungal, Claire Baguio, Kathleen Zaragosa, Una Gil, Donnel Garcia, and April Milne. The conversations we had and the stories we shared were some of our favourite aspects of our project.
Between readings and interviews, we also hosted a dinner event called a Kamayan or Boodle Fight for a few of our friends in the ECU Design Faculty. This Kamayan event as a whole was one of healing, learning, gifting, and receiving, which ultimately helped clarify how we wanted to present our insights and proceed with our final deliverables.
Our final outcomes consist of a publication and a grad show exhibit. The publication includes transcribed interviews from our research phase, portrait photography of the interviewees, and a feature for our Filipinx peers in ECU. It plays with the idea of a metaphorical house where each feature represents unique “rooms” in which our interviewees can display their work and perspectives in. The grad show exhibit consists of a gift box set atop a dining table. The dining table display will include paper placemats that educate visitors about Filipinx food culture and a menu of conversations that took place during our Kamayan event. The gift box will include several takeaway items, from postcards and stickers that highlight snippets of Filipinx food culture, to food crawl zines that introduce readers to local Filipinx restaurants.
At its core, Bahay Natin is designed to encompass both sides of a gift exchange. With our interactive exhibit on one side, we aim to share the gift of our culture and cuisine. With our publication on the other side, we aim to show appreciation for all the relationships and insights we’ve gained throughout the year.