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Bahay Natin Publication

D616bb065aaf35409097479179cdd75a?s=47 Kin Chua
May 08, 2022

Bahay Natin Publication

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.


Kin Chua

May 08, 2022


  1. April Milne • Claire Baguio • Donnel Garcia JP Catungal • Kathleen Zaragosa • Una Gil A CELEBRATION

  2. Edited and designed by Fyonna Laddaran Kin Godwin Chua A

    book of perspectives from Filipinx creatives, community advocates, and scholars living in Vancouver, BC.
  3. TABLE OF CONTENTS Editors’ Note John Paul (JP)Catungal What is

    Bahay Natin? April dela Noche Milne Anne Claire Baguio & Kathleen Zaragosa Donnel Garcia UnaGil Filipinx Designers of ECU Our Kamayan Event Bahay Natin Exhibit Acknowledgements 04 122 24 06 82 118 08 102 46 112 62
  4. 04 BAHAY NATIN 05 EDITORS’ NOTE Throughout this publication, we

    will be using the terms Filipinx and Filipino interchangeably to be more inclusive of trans & non-binary folks. For more information on the term Filipinx, Sliced Mango Collective’s online statement of identity is a good place to start. We use Filipino alongside Filipinx as that is what we and some of our interviewees continue to identify with. Kin Godwin Chua Fyonna Laddaran The editors: PHOTO BY DONNEL GARCIA It all started in the summer of 2021. We (Kin and Fyonna) started talking about what we wanted to do in our final year at Emily Carr University (ECU), and conversations around our shared cultural background kept coming up. Much of what we discussed centered on the ideas of cultural identity and exploring what that means for us. We were both born in the Philippines, have Filipinx-Chinese ancestry, and our families immigrated to Canada at a young age. Having spent the majority of our lives in Canada, we experienced confusion and limiting beliefs around our multi-cultural identity. Leaning more into our shared Filipinx history and culture, we recognized how it has been heavily shaped by its relationship to American culture and/or reduced to themes of poverty and political corruption due to its reputation as a developing country (an antiquated term with problematic connotations of colonial hier- archies and stereotyped inferiority). When we looked at ourselves in contrast to these complexities, we asked, “How do we begin to understand our place in the world?” Our project seeks to answer this question, to understand ourselves better in relation to our culture, history, lineage, and community. The lack of representation around Filipinx history, people, clothing, traditions, and more, have made Filipinx culture seem static and one-dimensional. However, misconceptions or misleading assumptions around the Philippines simply shroud the vibrancy, dynamism, and diversity of Filipinx culture. In our experience, conversations around Filipinx culture tend to focus on its cuisine, but why is it that we never question where many of these dishes originated from (i.e. colonial histories) or how they came to be quintes- sential “Filipino” (e.g. Filipino spaghetti). We fail to acknowl- edge those who cook the food, who pass down the recipes, and the role it plays in shaping or building a generation. As Filipinx-Canadian youth, we also grapple with the effects of bi-culturalism, endlessly nav- igating such a rich and com- plex middle-ground between intergenerational differences, Western versus Filipinx values, OUR INTENTIONS Create conversations around the implications and hidden contexts behind things we consume or encounter daily Seek to spotlight stories and work by local Filipinx-Canadian creatives to bring the beauty and complexity of Filipinx culture to the forefront Understand the history of the Philippines more deeply to recognize the intersectionality of narratives across the diaspora and recognize the resilience of Filipinx people EDITORS’ NOTE and the distance from our home- land. Being children of immigrants, we watched our diligent and hopeful parents struggle to survive in a foreign country. Our ability to redefine what success looks like for ourselves comes from the many sacrifices they made. Yet, how do we remain thankful while desiring more; pushing through the ‘survival mentality’ of the past to advance into a future where we can live to our full potential? Throughout our journey this past year, we learned that there are as many ways to be Filipinx and express Filipinoness as there are Filipinx people. We still have a lot of unanswered questions, and some questions we have yet to fully form. We are only at the begin- ning of uncovering what being Filipinx- Canadian means to us. The testimonies and thoughts offered in these pages are meant to highlight a range of inter- pretations around what being Filipinx- Canadian means and looks like. We feel honoured to bring together conversa- tions from creatives with different lived experiences we greatly admire. Our hope is that this pub- lication inspires and elicits joy for anyone who comes across it, but especially for those who identify as Filipinx.
  5. 06 BAHAY NATIN 07 WHAT IS BAHAY NATIN? 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 construct- ing 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 inter- views, we also hosted a din- ner 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, learn- ing, gifting, and receiving, which ultimately helped clarify how we wanted to present our insights and proceed with our final deliv- erables. See page 112 for more about the Kamayan event. Our final outcomes consist of a publication and a grad show exhibit. The publication includes tran- scribed interviews from our research phase, portrait photography of the in- terviewees, 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 high- light snippets of Filipinx food culture, to food crawl zines that introduce readers to local Filipinx restaurants. See page 118 for more about the exhibit.. 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. CONVERSATIONS EATING TOGETHER EXHIBIT & PUBLICATION GIFT EXCHANGE WHAT’S BAHAY NATIN?

    to John Paul (JP), we learned more deeply about the ways food can be used to police new immigrants as well as the ideas surrounding cultural purity. He opened up our minds to think carefully about the language we use to speak about these topics and how they can influence or shape our ideas. Often, he asked us to reframe our understanding by interrogating and deconstructing the assumptions our original questions revealed. We felt grateful and humbled to speak with JP. ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, CRITICAL RACE AND ETHNIC STUDIES (UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA)
  7. 10 BAHAY NATIN 11 JP CATUNGAL We can think about

    this question in terms of the different layers of migration. We can consider Filipino food in the Philippines and how that was shaped partly by the Philippines being embedded in a set of global processes throughout history. Thinking about some of the most beloved Filipino foods like Caldareta and Adobo, we can ask questions about why they have Spanish names or why there are, to some extent, similar to or have counter- parts in Latin America and the Caribbean—for example, Mexico or Cuba. I’m thinking of the word “Adobo” and how it has a different valence. The Mexican Adobo sauce is differ- ent from the Filipino ones and that had to do with the specificity of geography and local ingredients which transformed approaches to the making of this dish. So in this way, we can think of one of the layers through a historical lens, surrounding ideas of trade (e.g. Galleon trade across the Pacific) and the traffic en- abled by colonial circuits of mobility. Another layer to this question is: what does it mean to create Filipino food in the diaspora? Again, for example, with geo- graphical shifts in the availability of ingredients, as well as en- counters with different commu- nities, we can think of how these aspects of Filipino migration might affect cooking Filipino food here when certain ingre- dients aren’t as easily available or are more expensive. Filipino food is central to the communi- ty—a key to the continuation of Filipino identity in the diaspora. Filipino food functions as a very tactile and familiar set of senso- ry experiences of being Filipino. Often, it is through the medium of food that we are being mobi- lized to gather together in these familial, identity-building, and community-building processes. A third layer to con- sider is: what does it mean for Filipino food to arrive here, not only for the Filipino community, but in general? The book, Dogeaters by Jennifer Hagedorn, is a very important piece of Filipino liter- ature that talks about the racist reception and construction of Filipinoness in the imperial imaginary through food prac- tices. Being that Filipinos are uncivi- lized or do not meet Western expecta- tions of “proper”; this subjectivity is mea- sured partly through How do you think Filipino food has been altered through migration? this notion that we eat dogs. There’s this shift, however, in the way Filipino food has been received as a marker of multi-cul- tural belonging where it gains currency and becomes the new thing. It arrives in these culinary cir- cuits. So there’s this dance, this tension, between the construction of Filipino food as gross then there’s this arrival. In both cases, there’s a way racialization factors into how Filipino food is received here, including by non-Filipino folks. When my immediate family moved to Canada in 1999, one of the first things we were told, by family members who already Filipino food is central to the community—a key to the continuation of Filipino identity in the diaspora. lived here, relates to food. Our practices of eating came to be disciplined by our other family members who wanted us to do well or at least, not be attacked. “Don’t cook smelly fish like Tilapia or Tuyo. Don’t send your kids to school with rice and ulam. Make them sandwiches instead.” These were some of the first lessons we received as new immigrants to Canada. This also tells me that food is a site through which migrant communities are policed here in Vancouver.
  8. 12 BAHAY NATIN 13 JP CATUNGAL Part of me wants

    to approach this question by asking us to think about what we mean by “fusion”. The idea of fusion food as something inauthentic—that it’s sort of sideways—re- lies on the idea that there is such a thing as “pure” or “fully authentic” food. It implies, to a certain degree, that it’s always been there, never changing, and it’s ahistorical. It also relies on the idea of a “pure Filipino-ness”. That there is no such thing, for example, as “Chinese-Filipino”. To think of lumpia as “fusion”, to say that Chinese influences are honing in on a “pure Filipino-ness”, but in my mind, there is a long, complicated history of Chinese-Filipinoness. The word “fusion” is very confusing to me be- cause I think it’s doing a lot of things that we don’t always think about: smuggling in ideas about authenticity and purity. We should be very careful with these ideas. This is not just about Filipino-ness. Alongside this question, we might also ask, “What do we mean by Filipino style?” to begin with. Because only then, when we have a sense of what that is, can we start categorizing other things as “fusion”. Fusion is always in comparison to something else. I’m also thinking about some of the most quintessential foods—not just Filipino foods— that we think about, we need to think about historically. When we think of Italian food, what do we think about? Pasta is one, which has ties to East Asia, China and noodles. We also think of pizza and tomato sauce, but to- matoes didn’t grow in Europe and they didn’t I’m thinking about is Filipino Spaghetti— sweet and with hotdogs. Since when is Spaghetti quint- essentially FIlipino? It’s pasta. It’s Italian, but it makes sense to us, in a self-ex- planatory way, that there is such a thing as “Filipino-style Spaghetti”. Unless we ask the question about what that means and unpack- ing it, how on earth can we consider Spaghetti as Filipino? Then there’s this thing about diversity within this category of Filipino—of all kinds. We might think about region- al differences. For example, my family on both sides is from Pangasinan. The re- gional cuisine where my family is from is not the same as the regional cuisine in Bicol or Mindanao. Again, this category needs unpacking. Touching on what you mentioned before about the Galleon trade and influences from colonial powers, do you see Filipino fusion style foods as a form of erosion and/or progress? In what ways is Filipino food a form of resistance? Or in what ways do Filipino people resist or subvert colonizing influences? arrive until Europeans came to North America. And when we think of Swiss, we think about chocolates, Toblerone, but cocoa is Mexican. If we think his- torically, this idea that they are ahistorical, always been there and are unchanging falls apart a little bit. Again, going back to my example of Caldareta and Adobo. My family would make this dish called Picadillo with ground meat, carrots, peas and tomato sauce. And there’s a Cuban dish called Picadillo. These circuits travel and they influence food. Part of me is pushing back against this question because it implies that there is some- thing being eroded. And prog- ress for whom and for what? Fusion style for what purpose? Progress in terms of the arrival into the culinary industry? It’s slightly different than everyday cooking in a fusion style versus fusion cooking for the sake of making money. Another dish There are so many ways to talk about this question. It’s huge. At the most basic level, in order to resist you need to be strong enough to resist and so food is key. We often think about resistance in terms of a big picture, grand, spectacular practice like battles, but in order to survive, you need to eat. Feeding people is an essential part, an often unappre- ciated part, of resistance. I’m thinking here from a feminist perspective where resistance is often masculinized. It’s the grand warrior representation of resistance, but there are people who are making food and feeding the armies—often women. The quiet everyday work is often not part of that story. So how might we think, from a feminist perspective, about how we define resistance and what place food—the consumption as well as the preparation of it—would enable us to do? How would the story shift if that’s the question we’re asking? I’m also thinking partly of the work in African- American studies, in particular, the Black Panthers which was a political group. One of the most, in my mind, significant and revo- lutionary things they did was introduce and popularize the idea of breakfast programs for kids. Their revolutionary work is to sustain Black people. A basic breakfast programming in schools is now very common and that was popularized by the Black Panthers. Dealing with the issue of hunger—this very basic need to feed children—they understood also as part of their work of strengthening Blackness in the US. If we think about food in terms of everyday sustenance, what some might call “social reproduction”, then it shifts the lens a little bit.
  9. 14 BAHAY NATIN 15 JP CATUNGAL The idea of fusion

    food as something inauthentic—that it’s sort of sideways— relies on the idea that there is such a thing as “pure” or “fully authentic” food. It implies, to a certain degree, that it’s always been there, never changing, and it’s ahistorical.
  10. 16 BAHAY NATIN 17 JP CATUNGAL How do we interrogate

    Filipino identity but while asserting / desiring national identity and belonging? It requires us to ask these kinds of questions about how the no- tion of Filipino identity is shaped by power relations, histories, and inequalities. Also, who gets to set the parameters of what Filipino identity means? In relation to the previous question, part of how we interrogate Filipino iden- tity—I’m a geographer by training—is to ask the question of “where?”. If we think about Filipino identi- ty in the diaspora, it shifts the question a little bit. Because in the diaspora, we need to ask the ques- tion of our relationship to the “homeland”. We have different relationships to the “homeland”. And again, which “home- land”? Are we thinking about it as in “the Philippines” singular- ly? Because “the Philippines” is a colonial construction; it is liter- ally named after a Spanish King. So that colonial residue is there and we need to ask questions at that scale. Also, in the diaspora, we need to ask the question, “what does it mean to think of our place when the place itself is stolen?”. I’m referencing a book written by Razack, Smith, and Thobani in 2012 or so (States of Race: Critical Race Feminism for the 21st Century). And so if we reorient that question slightly: “what does it mean to think of Filipino identity as migrants in a settler colonial context?”. Asking that question requires us to then attend to the multi- ple nation-building projects—Canadian, Philippine colonial, etc.—that are influ- encing how we might think about Filipino identity. Because to think about Filipino identity, in the diaspora context—in Greater Vancouver— functions for a differ- ent set of purposes than thinking about Filipino identity in the Philippines. Here, it might mean to create a community, to negotiate a place here, to maintain some romanticized notion of Filipino tradition or history. What does it mean to think of Filipino identity as migrants in a settler colonial context?
  11. 18 BAHAY NATIN 19 JP CATUNGAL How do we resist

    colonization and cultural imperialism but still embrace our Filipinx pride and identity? Or is that inherently problematic? In response to this question, I want to think about it in relation to the previous question again. To begin with, what motivates this desire to assert national identity? What are we trying to do with it? What are the material consequences? How are we trying to shape and relate to our future through asserting national identity? And similarly, how do we understand the idea of Filipinx pride and what exactly are we embracing? I ask the question in part because nationalist identities are by definition, normative. By that I mean in order to be understood as a “proper” Filipinx person, one needs to conform to a particular set of criteria that’s already defined. So the questions of 1) “how is it defined?” and 2) “who gets to define it?” are part of inter- rogating this question. For example, there’s some work on the literary figure of Maria Clara and the dress attached to her reputation. Even when we think about the dress, there are particular ideas around how you perform femininity as a way of asserting national identity. So national identity is gendered. To be a “proper” Filipino woman, one needs to conform to a particular set of ideals about “proper” femininity. One needs to be “ilaw ng tahanan” (the light of the household), to be a proper mother, to be mahinhin (demure), very colonial-Catholic norms. What are the norms that get reproduced in this idea that we perform Filipinx pride? How do we govern the proper performance of Filipinx pride and also, where? about how they’re understand- ing what it means to be Filipino here: “Just lay low,” “Don’t rock the boat,” “Be happy with what you’re handed,” “Don’t try to change things.” If we embrace that notion as what it means to be Filipino, then the kind of work that I do would never fly. It’s conditioned by the fact that we’re migrants here and that we should be grateful to the Canadian government rath- er than critiquing it. What are the “terms” of what it means to be Filipino? Sometimes I get made fun of for speaking Tagalog improperly, either with an accent or that I’m not as comfortable speaking it. Because in their mind, to be Filipino is to speak Tagalog. We need to ask how that came to be. There are so many other languages in the Philippines and in fact, I am much more com- fortable and fluent speaking in Pangasinense. And yet, speaking Tagalog becomes this measure Last year, in April or May, I col- laborated with RJ Aquino from Tulayan, which is a local Filipinx group. We issued an open letter calling on the BC government to start collecting race-based data in terms of COVID. Because our community is very heavily overrepresented in healthcare and public-facing caregiving roles, our suspicion is that we were disproportionately affect- ed by the pandemic. Now, we know that that was the case. We wanted that as a kind of equity practice. If we’re going to respond to a pandemic, we need to respond in ways that attend to who is dispro- portionately affected. I mention this in relation to this question because some mem- bers of our community attacked me and RJ for complaining too much. We’re rocking the boat and not being “proper” immi- grants because we’re critiquing the government. Part of launch- ing their attack was by question- ing our Filipino-ness—that we were an embarrassment to the community and we’re “com- plainers”. This tells me a little bit of my “proper” Filipino-ness. This is also an opportunity to question the idea of a “sin- gular” Filipino-ness, being colonial, and how that comes to be through elevating certain forms of FIlipino-ness over others. In terms of language, why does that ascend to the top? What about if you’re Ilocano? Visayan? Cebuano? What do we do with those who are unable to speak Tagalog because they were born here? Or they spoke another language? I’ve been thinking about this a lot: how my speech—not just the languages that I speak but how I speak—has for the longest time been part of how I’ve been governed. I speak in, what some might say, a very “gay” or “queer” way of speaking and so for the longest time people were concerned about me and tried to masculinize the way I speak—that’s a slightly different conversation but I thought about it in relation to this topic. If we embrace [the notion that rocking the boat is not] what it means to be Filipino, then the kind of work that I do would never fly. ...nationalist identities are by definition, normative.
  12. 20 BAHAY NATIN 21 JP CATUNGAL In what ways is

    food connected to family / nostalgia in advertising? What are its implications? Last week, for my Asian Canada and Popular Culture class, I assigned a Tim Hortons ad. I asked my students to watch this Tim Hortons ad from 2005 and asked them to think about what’s happening here. Why is there all of a sudden a story about a Chinese-Canadian fam- ily being the way Tim Hortons is advertising itself? I want us to start by asking the question not about food or fam- ily, but about advertisement as a specific genre. Advertisements are, by necessity, corporate; they’re capitalist. They’re meant to sell products and to earn the company money. I found it really quite interesting that when I assigned this import- ant commercial that students forgot that. They didn’t consid- er as much as I wanted them to, as much as I thought they would, the fact that this is a Tim Hortons commercial… that fam- ily becomes a vehicle to sell Tim Hortons products. The tugging of the heartstrings relies on an already established understand- ing of family. Jollibee is notorious for these kinds of com- mercials that are very sentimental. It affects people! I get it. I’ve been touched by them. They’re beautiful to watch, but we should never forget that they’re meant to sell prod- ucts. They’re a specific device and they have a specific function. There’s a very basic sensory thing happening here, which is that there’s a more general truth to the fact that sharing a meal is a familial practice. Food is a very easy thing to tie in with family. That’s also quite het- eronormative because there’s a long history of women in the kitchen preparing food. We also need to account for that, but it’s useful for advertising because it calls up these warm, fuzzy ideas about togetherness. Also, in the case of selling Jollibee through this “excited child” image, it calls on parents to be “proper” parents. If you want your child to be happy, bring them to Jollibee. And I’m clearly being very ungenerous, but I’m refusing the senti- mentality of these commercials and reading the sentimentality for its material purpose which is meant to move money. To go back to the Tim Hortons commercial, for people who are really touched by the idea of Chinese folks being recognized, alongside this idea of belonging, I ask “For what purpose?”. Who benefits? What’s in it for Tim Hortons to narrate this way? They’re corporations and they are selling sentimentality. It clearly works and they become viral. So those are important things to consider. JP WITH A FRAMED PHOTO OF HIS FAMILY
  13. 22 BAHAY NATIN 23 JP CATUNGAL #1 #2 #3 #4


    ZARAGOSA FOUNDERS OF SLICED MANGO COLLECTIVE A lot of Claire and Kathleen’s work centers on providing a space for Filipinx youth to connect with each other and their roots in the Philippines. They taught us that accessibility, collaboration, and rest are all essential to pursuing sustainable collective action and change. Claire and Kathleen also challenged us to think about what it means to be a settler immigrant while being part of the Filipinx diaspora here in Canada. We were continually enamoured by the passion and joy Claire and Kathleen exuded about their work.
  15. 26 BAHAY NATIN 27 CLAIRE & KATHLEEN Why are you

    called “Sliced Mango Collective”? How did you come to decide on the lens through which you approach the exploration of Filipinx identity? Your website details your values regarding decolonization, anti-racism, and intersectional feminism. When Kathleen and I conceived of our organization, we didn’t actually have a name for it. We gathered our team and asked, “what should we be called?” We really wanted to make it a community organi- zation, not just us two telling people what to do. Further down the line in our group chat, I made some innocuous comment about want- ing mango and then our team was like “that’s it!”—so we became Sliced Mango Collective.” Our runner-up was saba banana. I feel like we were on a bit of a food thing—whether we were aware of it or if it was our subcon- scious telling us that food is an immediate gateway to culture in many ways. One of the under- lying commonalities we saw in our meetings was that food is something we really gravitated towards to understand and un- pack what the Filipinx-Canadian identity was to us individually. After we did decide on “Sliced Mango,” we found that people kept asking about the name and we only really realized after the fact there’s quite a lot of sym- bolism in it. The mango being a universally understood and re- latable symbol in the Philippines; in the many different cultures throughout the islands and regions. The slices specifically represent the many different cultures that are home there but they can also be seen as a nod to that Subtle Asian Trait meme about how Asian parents cut fruit for us to show their love rather than overtly saying they Kathleen and I are just talking about this. Before we started Sliced Mango Collective, Kathleen and I were chatting about when we were talking about Filipinx identity, these were the lenses we ap- proached it from. We talked about decol- onization in terms of the Philippines and what that means. Then also this idea of being settler immigrants in which while we are also part of the diaspora; we’ve been displaced from our homeland; we’re also living on unceded and stolen land. That’s some- thing to unpack. Then there’s inter- sectionality because we talked about how often there’s one idea It was very deliberate that we were trying to navigate these conversations even just as individuals to really come to under- stand what that meant for us to live as Filipinx- Canadians today. It’s a reflection of how we try to live our lives, essentially. Living our lives, the values that we carry, those commonalities, and the accountability of all of that. That comes with us just living and representing authentically what a Filipinx-Canadian is. We tried to go with the notion of, “Okay, this is what we know our Filipinx expe- rience to be growing up in Metro Vancouver and this is what we choose to prioritize as we contin- ue to navigate and expand that exploration with other people.” CLAIRE KATHLEEN CLAIRE KATHLEEN THE SLICED MANGO COLLECTIVE LOGO love us—kind of like showing intergenera- tional and community care and extending that love for other people, especially in Metro Vancouver’s Fil-Can community. There are a lot of ways to access cultures such as language, traditions, and family values but food might be the easiest way out of all of these. These are the things we like to say “Sliced Mango” represents to us now, but as Claire mentioned, we kind of just took food and ran with it! of being Filipino and what that means. There are a lot of different intersecting identities. For example, I don’t always identify as Filipino—I’m actually from Cebu so I identify as Cebuana for the most part. I’m also queer. There are other things that I have to grapple with in my Filipinx identity other than just being Filipina. Then there’s Anti-racism. That’s a big one. Colour and anti-blackness have their place in the Philippines; in our society. We started talking about creating Sliced Mango Collective in June, the summer of 2020, when Black Lives Matter was taking the forefront. It was really important for us again as FilCan people to reflect on what having sol- idarity with the black com- munity meant for a Filipinx.
  16. 28 BAHAY NATIN 29 CLAIRE & KATHLEEN We read that

    the organization was originally created as a space for Filipinx people—and creatives specifically— while now, it’s more of an activist group. How and why did that evolution take place? The purpose of Sliced Mango is definitely to create a space. Not a physical space, but one for FilCan youths in the area to talk about the things that Kathleen and I grappled with individually and together as we have more conversations. While creat- ing Sliced Mango, we were like, “Wow, I wish we had these conversations when we were younger. If we had other people to really find that community and have these conversa- tions with, maybe we’d feel a little less alone trying to navigate our identities.” We wanted Sliced Mango to be a space where we can meet people where they’re at—in terms of how they want to explore their identi- ty. Kathleen and I, being the creatives we are, we asked, “What’s a fun and accessible way to do it?” We were like, “Art, performance, food. That kind of stuff.” We always intended for it to include activism—to involve, be present in, and organize in the community. We just didn’t think it would happen so soon. One of our team members actually came up to us asking, “Did you know this was hap- pening in Joyce–Collingwood?” (This is in reference to the 5163–5187 Joyce St. redevel- opment plan displacing Filipinx and Chinese businesses) The rest of the team said, “No we didn’t. I mean, engaging with these sorts of things are a part of our values.” We didn’t expect to jump into it so soon because we had just launched at the end of January (2021) and we got all of this information about Joyce– Collingwood and the redevelopment at the beginning of March. It just evolved so quickly is what I want to say. We knew early on that even though our focus would be art, we still wanted to be involved in our community and work with our community for activism and advocacy for local issues. In a way, it talks to Claire and my backstory, as we became friends at the beginning of high school. We met through our musical in eighth grade so there was always an undercurrent of music, performance, and understanding our identity—they com- plemented really well from the get-go. As Claire mentioned, we had also wanted to be involved in ac- tivism in some way. It really was just a mat- ter of capacity. As the #SliceofSupport campaign unravelled over March, it was all happening very fast. At that point, we had only launched maybe a month or two prior. We said, “Okay, we started this thing and we know it holds all of our values. We ourselves as people growing up in Vancouver know what Joyce–Collingwood means to us as a community.” We really felt compelled to do as much as we could. That’s the impetus for why things happened so quickly because it was happening right in front of us. So as that whole process of redevelopments taking place in Joyce–Collingwood has turned into a long-term thing, so too have our SMC (Sliced Mango Collective) initiatives, as they provide support. We now have a relatively active activism and advocacy front alongside all of our arts initiatives. We knew it was going to happen eventually but given the local issues that were taking place, it happened quite early on. CLAIRE KATHLEEN different art forms throughout our friendship. We knew that was something we could really heavily lean on. We also knew that it’s a really powerful mode of expression and navigation, which felt like it really was going hand-in-hand with how we wanted Sliced Mango to be and how we were In a way, it was almost in a crisis. I grew up in Joyce–Collingwood—it was my first neighbourhood as a kid. I knew how important that Filipinx community in Vancouver is. It’s one of the only ones where you know like, “Yeah, there is a Filipino com- munity there.” There used to be some other immigrant communities on Fraser St. but those have also been displaced and gentrified, so Joyce–Collingwood was one of the final spaces in the City of Vancouver that Filipinos have. Again, community organization was always part of it, but we had a really calculated way of including it after we felt more estab- lished and ready before the world said, “No,”— so we went with it. SELECT INSTAGRAM POSTS INTRODUCING THE #SLICEOFSUPPORT CAMPAIGN CLAIRE
  17. 30 BAHAY NATIN 31 CLAIRE & KATHLEEN Something we’re drawn

    to is the joy you exude as you both are speaking and sharing about your projects and initiatives. How do you sustain this joy in the midst of your work and find this balance between the arts, initiatives, and activism? Let me speak to our timelines. In March of this year, Claire was working on her thesis and I had just finished my course work back in December. It was all kind of serendipitous between the capacities of our core team, which was seven people. The breakdown was four people of our team of seven were actively working on the Slice of Support campaign—Claire and myself includ- ed. Between our four people’s capacity: Joey was in full-time school, Danica was in a full- time job, Claire was finishing her thesis, and then I was in a limbo of graduating but not yet. Somehow between all of that, our capacities had worked out. That’s an immediate scope of how that campaign was sustained over March. We just made it happen as that was going. It feels really crazy looking back on it because time moves so differently during a pandemic, especially when you’re all working virtually. It really feels like it was a long time ago now. March of 2021 is when that campaign was go- ing on and taking place. Seeing that we had all juggled it, two really big values come into play: communication and organization. Between the four of us we were always checking in. We were always trying to delegate tasks as much as possible, but that also came with a mutual understanding of respecting capacity and rest. Those are all top tier priorities. Rest if you need to. Don’t feel bad about it. Take space and make sure you’re really taking care of yourself. breaks because the world is merciless when it comes to that kind of stuff. We want to make sure that we and our team are always coming into our space, virtually and in-person, as well-rested as possi- ble. I want people to sleep, have breaks, eat good food, and make sure they have the capacity to come and have these really challenging conver- sations. Also, we plan events and in some ways, do arduous work.. So rest is key. I think that’s how we stay—as you said—joyful. Basically, all our team works on is rest be- cause Sliced Mango Collective is something built by the commu- nity. It’s built by a community of volunteers who are graciously granting us their time and talents to do things. Even the way I work with teams outside of Sliced Mango, rest is a huge pri- ority for me. You ask about “How are we so joyful about this?” The honest answer is Kathleen and I are giant nerds. The second answer to that is we make sure we have time away from Sliced Mango if that’s what our lives dictate and if that’s what the lives of our team dictates. If you don’t take the time to just take a break from whatever it is you’re doing, you’re going to get burned out. You’re going to get exhausted. It doesn’t matter if you have love for the thing that you’re doing. If you are tired, you will inevitably just be angry and resentful. Again, it’s just im- portant for us that people take Respecting that need for rest also comes with making sure that there’s a baseline un- derstanding that that boundary will always be respected and understood between us as a team. There’s a lot to be said about our team dynamic and how that is, but also with the base- line understanding that we’re all volun- teers. We don’t get paid to do this work. It would be cool to have this organiza- tion as a registered non-profit. Maybe someday. It’s always nice if we could, but then we know that we’re doing this as volunteer work and we have lives apart from SMC. Kind of coming with that lens and that perspective as well being like, “If this can’t be your top priority right now then that’s okay.” Also, trying not to give into urgency culture is another thing that goes hand-in-hand with that, whether it’s the dead- lines or having to show up for a quick turnaround time on every aspect. We don’t want to give into that either. Just respecting our capacities. Respecting how much that we’re able to feasibly do and actively communicating that with the people that we work with. All of that contrib- utes to how we can make this work really happen in the long term and that’s why we’ve been able to follow the trajectory that SMC has been going on in the past less than a year. CLAIRE KATHLEEN KATHLEEN We want to make sure that we and our team are always coming into our space, virtually and in-person, as well-rested as possible.
  18. 32 BAHAY NATIN 33 CLAIRE & KATHLEEN Rest if you

    need to. Don’t feel bad about it. Take space and make sure you’re really taking care of yourself. PRIOR TO OUR PHOTOSHOOT, WE INDULGED IN A TASTY MEAL, GENEROUSLY HOME-COOKED BY CLAIRE’S MOTHER.
  19. 34 BAHAY NATIN 35 CLAIRE & KATHLEEN I really like

    what you said, Kathleen, about not giving urgency culture and clearing the emphasis on a rest in your organization. I think so much of activist work can seem like we need to do an upheaval of culture and all these systemic issues right now. In order to sustain that long term change, work has to be very gradual and sometimes, will feel too slow. On this topic of ongoing activism, what does your involvement look like in the Joyce–Collingwood area as of right now? initial team of four, for instance, Danica’s in graduate school, Joey is working on her thesis now, and I have work; so there are different capac- ities. In relation to the whole discus- sion we just had on boundaries, we have taken maybe a minor step back. Within our individ- ual capacities, we contribute here and there with the team and take on supporting roles. For instance, I work with the research and development team and look at ways to support JSAN’s is- sues that we want to be addressed within Joyce–Collingwood such as: how do we support the busi- nesses? And how do we show that the Filipinx com- munity—although we don’t all live in Joyce–Collingwood— continues to access these businesses, continues to see this as one of our cultural landmarks (if there were any), and continues to see them as vital and of our community? Things like that. We’re continuing to do work behind the scenes. Our current involve- ment with Joyce stems from the campaign in that immediately after the current campaign, there were a group of organizations based in and around the Joyce–Collingwood neighbourhood as well as the Filipinx-Canadian community in Vancouver who were working around the campaign and also behind-the-scenes. We had been going into meetings and discussing how to continue to support the businesses and the tenants in the redevelopment. That’s an overview of what is taking place after the campaign. In terms of our involvement to- day, that group of organizations have now called themselves a coalition called the Joyce Street Action Network or JSAN. It’s working alongside the fact that the redevelopments have—not an upheaval—but it’s going to happen again eventually. There was supposed to be a meeting with the City and this whole big event that was to take place last month in September, which has not ended up happening. It turned into a much larger situa- tion that’s going to span over a much longer timeline. The coalition has had to be flexible with working with that and making sure that all of our issues as a community become addressed when the time comes. There are differ- ent teams within the coalition that are working to strategize different initiatives to support that. I know that for us as Sliced Mango, we take a little bit of a minor role right now given our current capacity. Within our I was also going to say a lot of our Slice of Support campaign was reactionary in the sense that it had to be urgent because no one knew that the rezon- ing was happening. We had to create a sense of urgency because if people didn’t make a fuss about it or didn’t talk to the developers about our concerns by the end of the month, we would have just lost all those cultural food hubs. Now, as Kathleen said, there is a longer timeline associated with those businesses in Joyce–Collingwood. We’re able to just have little time for breaks, for other parts of our lives. Basically what happened is I think the developers held back. They still want to rede- velop that area, but I think they withdrew their initial plans. They withdrew the initial proposal, but they’re making amendments to it. To the coalition’s knowledge, it wasn’t because of community input. It was because of other minor developer things. Right now, the coalition is working again. As Kathleen said, we’re pre- paring to have all of our points in a row so that way when the developers inevitably come back with a new proposal, our voices will be heard and it won’t be a reactionary thing. Our community will be prepared for when this happens and to make sure that the voices of our community—and our concerns—will actu- ally be taken into consideration this time. CLAIRE CLAIRE KATHLEEN KATHLEEN How do we support the businesses? And how do we show that the Filipinx community continues to access these businesses, continues to see this as one of our cultural landmarks, and continues to see them as vital parts of our community?
  20. 36 BAHAY NATIN 37 CLAIRE & KATHLEEN In your work

    with either Joyce–Collingwood or in your creative initiatives, what have been some of your successes or what work has been encouraging to you? At the same time what are some of the challenges you’ve encountered either within your organization or just as people in your positionality? The Slice of Support campaign was re- ally one of our big successes because we were able to drum up so much fuss over Joyce–Collingwood, which had never really happened before obviously. Since I moved out of there, Joyce–Collingwood has been in the process of being gentrified. Even though it really didn’t stop development and JSAN is still working to figure things out, I call that campaign a success in the sense that it really helped create a stron- ger sense of community and place in Vancouver for Filipino-Canadians. I don’t think people really reflect- ed on our space, whether we have a space and a physical place in the city. I think Joyce–Collingwood is our physical place here and that campaign really helped bring that to life for a lot of folks, including ourselves. We’ve also done some writing Those have been some of our success- es, just like the things that our team has been able to come up with and do. Our team has grown too. We don’t have just the core team mem- bers that we gath- ered at the beginning of this. We actually have new members who primarily help with the zine, but have also been super helpful during the events and are in- credible. That’s been our biggest success. In general, we are creating communi- ty and connecting with other organi- zations and people who are interested in what we do. Some of the chal- lenges we’ve en- countered are really balancing everything. I don’t think it’s a challenge to respect people’s capacities, but I definitely think it can be a challenge to be like, “Okay, these are everyone’s capacities. These are some things we need to do. How do we make sure we accomplish what we want to?” Because other organizations workshops—that’s been very cool. That’s my success. We were also in- vited by Pinoys on Parliament to do our workshop. We’ve done our workshop again in the summer and had amazing pieces of work that we are so hounored to be able to help facilitate the creation of. We had our inau- gural zine which we are in the process of distributing. We also had our first in-per- son event, Share Your Slice, which was wonderful. When I say the team leans into the Sliced Mango theme we really do. I think it’s been weird. Kathleen said Sliced Mango’s been here for less than a year. For me, it felt longer. that we might work with might have a stronger sense of urgen- cy than we do and we under- stand why. Trying to balance everything has probably been the most challenging. Otherwise, I don’t know. I just love the people that I work with at Sliced Mango and it’s been great. Claire said a lot about the things that we’ve been able to deliver on in the past while. We’re super proud that we could actually put work out there and have people respond to it. Honestly, that’s a success in and of itself because right when we began we were thinking, “Okay, who is actually going to be interested in this?” Like, “Who is actually going to be on the other side of all of this thing? All of the stuff that we throw out there?” It’s really crazy and honestly bewilder- ing to see the impact that has been going on. Slice of Support really was a huge turning point in terms of engagement because we thought, “Oh my God. Why are so many people noticing us?” but in a great way—in terms of bringing awareness to our cause. That was huge for us as we tried the best we could to show up for the community. As urgent as it was, and as chaotic as that three-week campaign was, we’re still very proud of the turnout. It actually led to a lot of opportunities where we were encouraged by the number of people reaching out to us, such as yourselves who heard of us and were interested to learn more. That’s a success right there: for people to want to engage with us further. Like Claire was saying, in terms of challeng- es, it was mainly about how we want to carry out our work as SMC and the sustainability of it—how we are able to do that long term. Continuing to practice what we preach with regards to our values and how we conduct our team is an ongoing process. Like we said earlier, it has something to do with the fact that we have lives outside of SMC. Our lives are always in flux and our priorities are always going to be changing, especially right now giv- en that it’s back-to-school season. People are returning back to school and have to prioritize that on top of SMC. Managing all the stuff in the back end as administrators and as people who are over- seeing all the stuff in the background can also be challenging for Claire and me. It really is a task for us to continue to make sure that everyone is contributing as much as they can, working and continuing to support our team as much as they’re willing to contribute. Then, also making sure that everything that needs to be addressed and everything that needs to be done on the organizational end, all the logistics, and all those things still continue to be worked on. It really is just priority manage- ment. That’s our biggest challenge and making sure that we still have the ongoing capacity even though we need to take a break. CLAIRE KATHLEEN SMC’S FIRST ZINE CLAIRE’S FEATURED POEM IN THE ZINE
  21. 38 BAHAY NATIN 39 CLAIRE & KATHLEEN In our research

    we’ve been exploring a lot of what Filipinx identity means: what it means to us, non-Filipinx people, people in the Philippines, and people in the diaspora. How do we interrogate Filipino identity while still asserting/desiring national identity and belonging? This is going to be more of a personal thing rather than a standpoint that Sliced Mango has as a whole: I don’t really believe in borders. They’re very real and have very real political value in our society, but they’re manufactured. However, just because something is manufactured doesn’t mean they’re not important to our society in the way we look at ourselves and our identity. ‘Filipino’ is a national identity. You could argue that it is an ethnic identity, but if you actual- ly look at the makeup of ethnic groups and cultures in the Philippines, you would know immediately that that’s not true. Interrogating Filipino identity is actu- ally opposed to asserting or desiring a national Filipino identity and belonging. If we’re talking more about like, “How do we grapple with being Filipino but also while perhaps coming from a different ethnic background?” For example, if you’re eth- nically Chinese and that’s what your family culture is and then also being a Canadian citizen—that’s another question and then, we’d have a different discussion. It’s a very interesting question. Man, I can only really grapple with this from my experiences as a sec- ond-generation immigrant. I was born here immediately after my family had immigrated to Canada. I feel pretty stable in calling myself a Filipinx immigrant-settler, but that being said, I feel there’s a lot of controversy in that title, even in terms of the Filipinx term itself and unpacking what that means. The letter ‘F’ wasn’t even in our alphabet. Shouldn’t it be Pilipinos? What is the meaning of the ‘X’? There are so many different ways to look at and interpret it. Filipina” etc. It has to come down to your own awareness and understanding of it—how you’re most comfortable with that understanding. That’s how that pro- cess has unfolded for me at least. In terms of grappling with it in your own identity, it really comes down to trying to build an internal awareness of the context in which all of those conversations are coming from. Making a decision through that knowledge and not just through the stubbornness that comes with labels and each position of “No, it has to be Filipino. No, since you are a girl it has to be CLAIRE KATHLEEN Maybe you’ll talk to me in 5 months and my opinion will be completely different. Identity is a very per- sonal thing too. In our drive to have a col- lective idea of what it means to be Filipino or Filipino-Canadian, we’ve neglected the fact that identity can be a very personal and intimate thing to explore. Belonging is not synonymous with asserting a national identity. Belonging to a culture and belong- ing to a community is a different thing than having a fixed na- tional identity. Again, because national identity is a political thing—a manufac- tured political thing— it’s valuable and important to our so- ciety, but it’s not as intrinsic as belonging to a community with- out borders, without national identity. That happens because we are human. That’s how it works. *At this point, Kathleen had to leave the interview, but please reference page 44 for her follow-up thoughts. CLAIRE
  22. 40 BAHAY NATIN 41 CLAIRE & KATHLEEN However, just because

    something is manufactured doesn’t mean they’re not important to our society in the way we look at ourselves and our identity. I don’t really believe in borders.
  23. 42 BAHAY NATIN 43 CLAIRE & KATHLEEN Part of our

    research also involves looking into how migration, colonialism, and neighbouring countries have influenced and transformed Filipinx cuisine. What are your thoughts on the reclamation of colonized things as part of Filipinx identity or Filipinx cuisine? I’m a writer as well so I wrote a piece about adobo a while ago—it was just a short essay. You think, “Well, it’s just a piece about adobo. That’s fun and interest- ing.” Then, you really get into it and you’re like, “Wow, there is so much to really think about in terms of colonization, decolonization, region- alities, and the different cultures that are found in the Philippines.” Your question is interesting to me because you’re thinking about the reclamation of colonized things such as the spoon and processed foods as part of Filipino identity. I wouldn’t even say that we use these things as reclamation. We use these things because of cultural intermixing. (I don’t know what the proper sociological term is.) These things were introduced to our culture for whatever reason because of colonization, whether it was forced or not. Although I don’t know the history of specific artifacts like the spoon or Spam, these things were introduced because of imperialism and colonization. And then, for whatever reason, it became part of Filipino culture and identity. doesn’t mean that they’re not part of Filipino identity. It needs to be an active effort. How much can you divorce these things from mod- ern Filipino culture without colonialism? That’s a question that a lot of people are trying to answer; it’s not just you guys. It’s complicated. We want to try and decolonize as mind- fully as we can, but sometimes, there are things that are a part of modern Filipino culture that are very difficult to divorce from colo- nization. That’s just how societies work. Two societies happen to just interact with each other and they take things from each other whether by force or just naturally. I don’t think we can reclaim anything that over time has become part of our society. Again, it comes back to the idea that there is this single Filipino culture. Well, I mean there is a single national identity, but that national identity is often mis- translated into a single Filipino culture—that Filipino culture is fixed and has been fixed for however many thousands of years. However, like any culture and nation, the Philippines is full of different cultures that have intermixed and created differ- ent traditions. One of those traditions happens to be eating with a spoon and fork instead of just Kamayan. I mean we have Filipino spaghetti, which is not Italian spaghetti, but it’s Filipino spaghetti. We reclaimed spa- ghetti. We didn’t say, “Well, it’s Filipino spaghetti now to reclaim whatever thing from the Spanish or the Italians.” I think reclamation is an active process. When you’re trying to decolonize, that is an active, conscientious process. Some things that were introduced were because of colonization, like the spoon, the fork, Spam, and the word ‘adobo’, like Spanish words in our languages. Those things were introduced due to colonization, but that Wow. What a loaded question. It means to always have a very complicated relationship with your culture and your identity. It is an ongoing process of trying to find a com- munity that understands you. I know that’s a very sad way of putting what it means to be Fil-Can youth, but that’s the experience because you grow up in Canadian culture and you’re also immersed in Filipino culture at home with the culture your parents pass on to you. The Filipino culture you experience at home is also determined by what your parents believe is important for them to pass on. Being Fil-Can youth, what that means is a complex mix of being really joyful about your identity and community while also sometimes grieving what you don’t know about yourself. That’s sad, but that’s just how it is. Oral histories are also very valuable in our cul- ture too. There’s that element of how many of us in the modern times really practice the oral history of our ancestors? To some degree, we do a lot of cooking and sharing of family stories which are passed down orally. That’s part of our oral tradition. When it comes to historical facts, those are harder to find from a perspective that isn’t American or Spanish or another colonizer. CLAIRE CLAIRE What does it mean to be Filipino- Canadian youth in Canada? LEFT: “BALIKBAYAN BOX” EARRINGS BELOW: PHILIPPINE SUN SYMBOL EARRINGS


    GIL UNA UN GIL G UNA Una’s undergraduate capstone project, Little Brown Box, was a big inspiration for Bahay Natin early on. In our talk, Una walked us through the contexts in which her similar culturally-centered project was conceived and her practical approaches to challenges that we may also encounter in our own process. She also reminded us that “our stomachs are forever Filipino” and gave unique perspectives as a new resident of the Joyce–Collingwood “Filipino-town”. Our photoshoot around the neighbourhood, involved a tour of Una’s favourite restaurants and market before ending with her own home-baked cookies. DESIGNER + ILLUSTRATOR
  26. 48 BAHAY NATIN 49 UNA GIL Why did you choose

    the subject of your capstone project? What did that look like? First of all, I’m really glad you guys are looking at my Little Brown Box project. I never thought that people like you would actually be inter- ested in that. I don’t know your guys’ case, but I grew up in Manila. When I moved here for University, I was 17 and lived with my Tita the whole time I was studying. I noticed that all the Filipinos I met here grew up here or they immigrated at a young age. I was having trouble connect- ing because I realized a lot of them didn’t know how to speak Tagalog. I’m also not the most fluent at Tagalog, but I understand it. I understand the context of things culturally more than I realize. From my own experience, most of the Chinese international students I’d met at school all knew their native tongue and seemed very heavy on passing on their culture through their projects, language, etc. However, most of the Filipinos I met in my community didn’t really speak Tagalog, or were very Westernized. Culturally, what was familiar to me when I spent time with them was how tight-knit their families were, their religious practices, and how they all really loved Filipino food. I was curious about looking at colonial mentality and why the diasporas are the way they are. In my four years of University, before deciding on my thesis project, I was subconsciously absorbing all of these inter- actions I had with Filipinos in the community or the Filipinos that I came across here. It was interesting because they’re very different from the Filipinos back home. A lot of them, in a sense, kind of denied their Filipinoness. And that’s what I was really in- terested to do my project about. To me, when I would meet a Filipino person or a family friend—be- cause my aunt was try- ing to get me to meet Filipinos that were my age—I noticed that all of them barely wanted to talk about the Philippines or discuss Filipino things that would typi- cally bring two Filipinos togeth- er. This was probably because they grew up very westernized, so I felt a kind of disconnect there. Also, when I was working part-time at a bakery during University, there were several Filipino employees working there with whom I would try to strike up conversation. Sometimes, I might ask if they were by any chance Filipino as an effort on my part to connect with others as a new immigrant. However, I felt that some of them would take great offense to this question. Usually, Filipinos are really happy to come across another kababayan (meaning fellow Filipino, countryman, or town- mate). Maybe it was the location I was in, but at the time, it seemed that some of them didn’t like it when it was pointed out that they were Filipino or if I tried to speak in Tagalog with them. That’s just my personal experience. Can you elaborate about what you mean that you found Filipinos here denied their Filipinoness? CAPSTONE EXHIBITION DISPLAY BY UNA GIL VISIT UNAGIL.COM FOR THE CASE STUDY
  27. 50 BAHAY NATIN 51 UNA GIL As someone who has

    gone through the grad project process at Emily Carr, would you have any sort of advice for us? What helped you to be successful and what was challenging? It was really helpful for me to talk it through with my peers and professors—or even ran- dom people. It’s very easy to get stuck in what you think is a great idea or be worried about if this is going to work, or if it will be received well. However, it’s really important to get the opinion of other people. Even if you have the chance to talk to people at a family event or ask people that are not within the art school context. It’s really helpful to talk to a lot of dif- ferent people about your project and not just get stuck in your own beliefs about your topic. What was challenging? Oh my God. Okay. I don’t know if you guys have your critiques be- cause you’re in the early phase of your project, right? But we would have one every week or every two weeks and would have to present our progress to sell our ideas to the class. I remember that not everyone understood my project, maybe because it was a sensitive top- ic related to culture and colonial mentality. When you’re trying to make people who are not a part of—or are not aware of— your culture understand your project, it can be really difficult to get your point across. This was a big chal- lenge for me because all of the people who were not people of colour in my class were basically implying that it was an offensive project, or that no one would be interested in what I was going to say. I know… I was discouraged, but it pushed me to stick with my project. This is what I signed up for. This is exactly why I needed my project to make people aware of the Filipino colo- nial mentality because it is In terms of what helped me be suc- cessful, there were a lot of resources online that I really scoured the inter- net for. It’s great to be able to interview people and get the opinions of your pro- fessors. In terms of the internet, I would say my advice is to use it to your advan- tage. For us, a part of the requirement For example, one of them was a pantry list. I asked “What is always something that you need to have in your household pantry?” Surprisingly, even though all of the answers in all of the other probe activities were, “I don’t know how to speak Tagalog”, “I’ve been west- ernized”, or “I don’t know about my culture”, in the pantry list, they easily listed down things like sinigang (soup) mix and Datu Puti (a con- diment brand). Everything was Filipino. From that activity, I learned that if there is anything Filipino people pass down culturally to their children, it’s food. That’s something I wouldn’t have been able to understand just by grilling someone and sending them a survey to fill out. It was interesting to have another way of seeking out that information. a huge thing that af- fects us as a people. Otherwise, no one’s going to know. At the end of the year, I had a whole slide in my final presentation where I placed all of the microaggres- sions and comments that I received when I was trying to com- municate this project. It was received well and made my proj- ect stronger. it can be really difficult to get your point across... but it pushed me to stick with my project. in class is that we had to make a cultural probe. A probe is a kit that includes a set of activities you can design and you are able to receive insights in non-con- ventional ways through design thinking. I designed a few differ- ent activities and gave them to a few Filipinos in the community to fill out. That was also really helpful for me. LITTLE BROWN BOX MATERIALS BY UNA
  28. 52 BAHAY NATIN 53 UNA GIL It’s interesting because in

    Manila, it’s very western. So I’d say the grocery stores in Manila look like any other grocery stores here in Canada. It’s not nec- essarily that I feel nostalgic when I come into the Filipino markets, but I remember a while ago, I used to live on Commercial Drive and there was bare- ly any Asian food there. I remember at one point when I was out, I was calling and saying to my mom, “Where in the hell do I find these things? Where can I find sinigang mix?!” I had to go all the way to downtown, T&T or H-Mart to find it. When I moved to this new area, I realized, “Oh my god. This is liter- ally Filipino town.” There was Pampanga’s cuisine (a Filipino restaurant) by the station. There’s a siopao bakery. I was so happy for some reason. When I go into the markets, I definitely feel very comfortable. Lately, I’ve been trying to make recipes from my family’s home as well. I’ve always had such a hard time finding ingredients, but now I can just walk to the Filipino market near me and I know I’m going to find what I need. Also, their staff is very friendly. That’s one thing that I noticed with the Filipinos in this neighbourhood, which is a stark contrast to my first few experiences at the bakery I used to work at: they acknowledge their Filipino identity. One time I went to the UPS store in Joyce and he realized I was Filipino and he said, “Iha (a term of endearment for young girls), I’m going to give you a discount.” I was like, “Oh my god. This is the most Filipino thing ever.” I don’t know. I felt very at home. It’s hard because when you migrate somewhere it can be difficult to find your community. Something that you mentioned was that you’ve recently moved into the Joyce–Collingwood area in Vancouver. Does shopping in Filipino markets feel particularly different from other markets? That’s one thing that I noticed with the Filipinos in this neighbourhood... they acknowledge their Filipino identity.
  29. 54 BAHAY NATIN 55 UNA GIL Your stomach is forever

    Filipino How do you think Filipino food has been altered through migration? Interesting. I mentioned earlier that in my opinion, if anything is passed down culturally within Filipino society it’s our food— your stomach is forever Filipino. All of the older families that I met here always cook Filipino food for their family even though their kids don’t know an ounce of Tagalog. I feel that it hasn’t been altered. There is this effort to preserve that aspect of our culture. The fact that there are Filipino markets here means they aren’t completely gone. There’s a market for people who want to make Filipino food at home. I guess in little ways it has been altered in a sense; sometimes I find that certain ingredients aren’t always readily available to make certain things so you have to substitute that with something else, but for the most part, I’ve been able to find what I need to make FIlipino food. Regarding fusion food, I’ve seen a few restaurants doing this. There’s a restaurant in Vancouver called Bao Down. And I had no idea that that was Filipino-owned. I would say that’s fusion because it’s a lot of Southeast Asian and East Asian cuisines plus a mix of Filipino cuisine as well. If Filipino food is at all “altered”, I’d say that apart from trying to keep our original family recipes, we’re also open to combining with other Asian cultures which is cool. I wouldn’t necessarily say that fusion food is necessarily Filipino food. Asian fusion food is a genre in itself.
  30. 56 BAHAY NATIN 57 UNA GIL In line with this

    thought of fusion foods, do you see Filipino fusion- style foods as a form of erosion and/or progress? In what ways is Filipino food a form of resistance? In what ways does Filipino food resist or subvert colonizing influence in your sort of opinion? I feel that because a lot of minorities are not very represented, it’s great to open up conversations through fusion food or be like, “Let’s go to this Filipino-style place.” I don’t know if you guys have seen that food truck where they have these Spam fries but I don’t think that’s authentic. My friend messaged me and said, “Oh my god. Filipino food truck. Filipino restaurant. Let’s go.” I said, “Okay. Let’s see.” Spam fries were their most popular dish that they sold. While I wouldn’t necessarily say Spam is a uniquely Filipino thing, we do eat Spam. Not that I’m offended by it or anything but maybe that could be viewed as some sort of erosion. Again, like I said, fusion food is another branch of food that’s not necessarily Filipino. Filipino fusion often makes food more palatable to western audiences. So it’s cool, and through fusion food maybe you can kind of slowly get them into eating balut (common street food in the Philippines consisting of a fertilized bird egg) one day. I used to be against fusion food, but now when you put it in boxes like this is authentic cultural food, and then this is fusion food as its own category, then that’s not bad. Although, if we’re going to talk about passing down Filipino food and recipes, I stand with trying to make it more as authentic as possi- ble, like handing down your parents’ recipes so that it isn’t erased. That’s so interesting because not neces- sarily food-wise, but I feel we are very easi- ly influenced. I forgot who I was speaking to about this. My sis- ter and I always talk about Filipino culture. Why are we so easily swayed? For exam- ple, why are there so many whitening ads in the Philippines? ILLUSTRATION BY UNA What is this obses- sion with East Asians and wanting to be East Asian when you’re not? I remem- ber someone saying that it’s because be- fore our culture was even fully solidified, we were colonized for hundreds of years. So our culture is a cultural mix, a melting pot. It’s a combination of all our colonizers. All the outside influences forced themselves onto us. This goes back to what I was saying before about how we are easily swayed. For example, people who mi- grate here want their kids to be very good at English and have no accent so they can assimilate better. They’ll have a better life and better chances of getting better jobs, but the Filipino stomach remains the same. In my experience, food is a way that we Filipinos resist colonization as we are still very much in touch with our food and the inter- actions that come along with it. We always have big family dinners or cook food for new parents or for housewarming gifts as an act of service which is a very hospitable Filipino thing to do. In my personal experience, Filipino food is a form of resistance because we still search for Filipino food.
  31. 58 BAHAY NATIN 59 UNA GIL How does being Filipino

    form your identity and what does that mean to you? It’s something that I never really paid much attention to, maybe because I grew up in the Philippines. Everyone is Filipino. Everyone eats the same thing. Everyone talks the same way. When I moved to Canada, that’s when I found myself really grasping what it meant to be Filipino. I found that it really helped keep me grounded in my roots no matter how far away my family was and is. They are still in the Philippines and I make regular calls to them and try to learn as much as I can while staying rooted in my Filipino-ness. For me, meeting up with family members here in North America helps me feel at home and helps me stay grounded as a Filipino. None of my friends here are from the Philippines. The few Filipino friends I do have grew up here so it’s not quite the same. Even though I’m very open to meeting new people and learning about new cultures, I find that it’s important for me to make something Filipino or learn a little bit more about my culture at least once a week. In the Philippines, since I lived in Manila, I didn’t really grow up learning much. My parents never really talked to me Now that I’ve been able to cope with that through my grad project, it’s great to connect with people like you and others who are also interested in why Filipino culture is the way it is. To wrap up your question, being Filipino to me is never forgetting my roots in whatever small way that is. Even if it’s just making food or buying a Filipino- made placemat. in my native language. Coming here, seeing so many immi- grants being able to converse with their family members in their second language made me realize, “Oh my God. Am I Filipino?” I was having this iden- tity crisis because even though I grew up taking mandatory Filipino Tagalog classes, I didn’t retain anything. It was horrible and it’s so sad. It’s something I’m very ashamed about. Your tongue is very integral to your identity, right? While I can understand Tagalog totally fine, it caused a shift in my identity because I’m like, “Oh my God. I grew up in the Philippines and I don’t even know how to speak Tagalog.”


    with Donnel was full of wisdom about identity, creativity, and community-building. We absorbed the confidence he has in his Filipinoness and his photography practice. He taught us to recognize the impact that small acts of help can have in uplifting the next generation of young creatives. His generosity with passing on the knowledge and influence he has encouraged us to think of ways we can give back in our own project and practices. LEFT PAGE: PHOTOS BY DONNEL GARCIA RIGHT PAGE: PHOTO BY KIN CHUA PHOTOGRAPHER
  34. 64 BAHAY NATIN 65 DONNEL GARCIA I know other people

    might have had really pivotal moments where it’s like “Oh, I need to find out who I am. I’m actually different from my friends or the neigh- bourhood I grew up in”, but for me I never had that. In some ways, it’s different but also kind of the same because I had a moment later in my life where I was trying I was born in Laguna, Philippines and I came to Canada when I was around three or four years old. I don’t re- ally remember much, but my earliest memory is the first day of kindergarten. It was strange because in my head, “How did I even know how to speak English?” My parents told me later on that I learned English through Canadian Television. Yea, so I grew up in the Burnaby/New West/Surrey area. In terms of my upbringing as a Filipino person, I never thought about it too much. When you’re a kid, you’re still innocent and ignorant about life. You just want to be like your friends so whatever my friends were into at the time, we were all into. We all just wanted to be like each other. And so I never really had that “Oh, I’m different” moment. Plus, the neighbourhood I grew up in had a lot of lower-income households—near Edmond’s in East Burnaby—so most of my neighbours were people from Afghanistan, Serbia, Iraq, and Somalia. We also had after-school programs in our local community centre where all of us neighbourhood kids would come together. It felt like we were all the same. When you grow up with other people of colour, you begin to see a lot of similarities between cultures. For me, I grew up as a Christian and my family would pray before we ate. My best friend was Muslim and their family would pray before they ate as well. It didn’t matter what religion we were, it was just the fact that like “Hey, you guys pray before you eat too?!” So throughout my life and up until now, I never really had that experience of feeling out of place. And I think that contributed a lot to the person and creative I am today. It also shapes the way I make art and look at my life in general. to figure out how to tell myself apart. Everywhere I came from, I was always around people who were always just like me. Instead of realizing I’m different, I was slowly learning and growing up to define what makes me different. Those unique things are what I can be proud of and sometimes, things that don’t make me feel proud. It’s interesting. I don’t really talk to a lot of people that have the same experience, especially being a Filipino person. Usually, a lot of Filipino people I talk to grew up with a lot of caucasian friends and they had that expe- rience where they questioned who they were as a Filipino person. Even though I wasn’t actually surrounded by a lot of Filipino people, I had people in my life, even up until now, that have the same values at home. When I would make a joke about my parents at home, it was so relatable. Every POC (person of colour) kid who has an immigrant parent, you have that connection. You know? I feel like I was pretty fortunate to be surrounded by people who shared similar types of experienc- es. As I grew older, it was more about diving into what it actually means to be Filipino. I’ve always been super proud to be Filipino and I’ve always thought it was cool. One person asked me when I was younger, “if you could be any other race, what would you be?”. For me, I never wanted to be anything else because Filipinos are the coolest. And I’ve never felt ashamed of being who I am, wheth- er it has something to do with my culture or my interests. I was also very fortunate to not have people point out the things that could make someone feel different. For example, whenever I brought a “weird” lunch or Filipino dish to school, nobody ever questioned it. I can’t even remember a time where anyone made a comment about anybody’s lunch. I know those experiences are very common for immigrants, but I was fortunate not to have those experiences. When I came to Canada, I lived with my grand- parents, two uncles, aunt, three cousins, and other grandparents in a really big house with pretty much my whole family. All of my dad’s side is here and his siblings are really close so every week, we would hang out. I’m never not away from my family and because I have a lot of cousins around my age, I never feel like there isn’t someone like me. All of these things led me to feel more confident about the type of person I am. Can you share a bit with us about your journey coming from the Philippines and growing up in Canada? How has your upbringing shaped your identity and your practice as a creative? Instead of realizing I’m different, I was slowly learning and growing up to define what makes me different. Those unique things are what I can be proud of and sometimes, things that don’t make me feel proud. PHOTO BY KIN
  35. 66 BAHAY NATIN 67 DONNEL GARCIA Filipinos from the Philippines

    are Filipino right? We’re also Filipino right? I like to explain it this way. Let’s take for example R&B music. Back in the day, R&B was like Brian McKnight, Luther Vandross, you know? Now, that’s considered old school, but to me, that was my generation. Then, it evolved into Usher, Chris Brown. Then, eventually, it evolved into Drake, Bryson Tiller. Maybe now, it’s like Kehlani and SZA. Even though, sonically, when you listen to it they all sound different, inherently, the throughline is that it’s R&B. So let’s just say the Philippines is Luther Vandross and consid- er the fact that Filipinos are immigrating everywhere. There are Filipinos in Italy. There are Filipinos in England. There are Filipinos in Australia. There are Filipinos in Virginia. There are Filipinos here. So just because I’m a Filipino in Vancouver, that doesn’t make me any more or any less Filipino. I’m just a strand, like SZA. To a Filipino person in the Philippines, they might be look- ing at me thinking “You’re not really Filipino ‘cause you grew up in North America”, but for me, what do you mean by that? What about me doesn’t make me Filipino? Because I’m not from there? Because I didn’t grow up there? When I go home, both of my parents are Filipino. I speak Filipino (Tagalog). If you pull out my genes, I’m racially Filipino. What is it about that, that makes me less? To me, I’ve always claimed every- thing I do as a Filipino thing. For us first or second generation Filipinos, we didn’t have a blue- print. When you grow up in the Philippines and you want to grow up to be a basketball player, there’s like 30 years of PBA players that you can look up to. If you say you want to be an actor, there’s like Piolo Pascual, Fernando Po Jr., and all these peo- ple you can look up to. But when you grow up here, you would say you want to be like Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Brad Pitt, you know? Just because I grew up in a different place and maybe I look at different things or see different things, that doesn’t mean I’m any less Filipino, especially if I don’t perform a stereotyp- ical Filipino role. For people like us doing “new” things, we’re essentially creating the “new” stereotype. I started photogra- phy when I was 19. Look at how many Filipino kids are trying to be photog- raphers now. I think I only know Filipino photographers now (that I hangout with). The same thing for everything else. I try to tell people, “Don’t be afraid and don’t think of yourself as less Filipino because the things you want to do don’t have a history of represen- tation. Now, you get to create history”. If it’s something that I really love to do, I’m not going to let the fact that no one who looked like me before didn’t do it stop me. I try to en- courage younger and older folks to have the same sentiment about themselves. At the end of the day, if your blood is Filipino, it doesn’t matter where you grew up, how you grew up, who you look up to, or who your friends are. If your body is cut open, you’ll be Filipino inside, you know what I mean? I feel like nobody should be able to dictate how Filipino you are just because of arbitrary categories or measurements of ‘Filipinoness’. Everybody has a different experience. Think about a Filipino person grow- ing up in rural America with a dream to work as a cowgirl. Now imagine her coming to Vancouver and being told, “you want to be a cowgirl? That’s not Filipino.” Why would you want anyone to feel that way about something you share in common? “I’m Filipino, you’re Filipino, but you’re not as Filipino as me.” That doesn’t make any sense to me. Being Filipino isn’t defined by your geography, what you do, or any of these surface level things. Like I said earlier, we all just want to be like our friends. If a Filipino kid immigrates to an area where most of the friends they make are white, how could you criticize that kid for growing up there and being ‘white-washed’? You can’t choose how you grow up. You can’t judge someone from a checklist and label them as a C grade Filipino. We naturally tend to look at each other this way. It isn’t wrong, but we can try to reframe this. We came across another interview you recently did with NowChild and were really intrigued by what you said about being Filipino-Canadian. We’ve sometimes had insecurities with feeling not Filipino enough but you described that you feel everything you do is Filipino. Can you expand a bit more on that? Just because I grew up in a different place and maybe I look at different things or see different things, that doesn’t mean I’m any less Filipino, especially if I don’t perform a stereotypical Filipino role. For people like us doing “new” things, we’re essentially creating the “new” stereotype. PHOTO BY KIN
  36. 68 BAHAY NATIN 69 DONNEL GARCIA Don’t be afraid and

    don’t think of yourself as less Filipino because the things you want to do don’t have a history of representation. Now, you get to create history. At the end of the day, if your blood is Filipino, it doesn’t matter where you grew up, how you grew up, who you look up to, or who your friends are. PHOTOS BY KIN
  37. 70 BAHAY NATIN 71 DONNEL GARCIA It was kind of

    an accident that I came to love photography. So before I was a photographer, I was a nurse. That’s what I went to school for. And growing up, when I was in elementary school, whenever someone would ask me to describe myself in three words, I would always put down things like “athletic”, “cool”, and for some reason, “artsy” or “creative” even though I didn’t really do anything creative when I was younger. I felt this yearning to do art and create things. I would try really hard in art class even though I was a terrible painter or a horrible collage person. Once I grew up, I started to figure out that there were oth- er things considered as art like fashion and photography. This is something I felt like I could attach my- self to and try. After college, two of my best friends really opened me up to the art world. They expanded my mind on what can be done and what art can be. They’re both graphic designers and wanted to be freelance designers. They figured that they could probably charge a bit more if they did photography and I just happen to have a cam- era. They asked me to take photos for them and I said sure. So I kinda started out that way and I wasn’t doing a lot of work. It was just me bringing my camera around, taking photos of my friends and what I thought looked cool. I wasn’t actually consuming a lot of photography; I was just going out and shooting so I didn’t really have a frame of reference for what looked good or not. I didn’t re- ally know anybody or any famous photographers either. I just went out and did it. Then, I kinda figured out what I liked and rolled with it. I was working as a nurse and doing photography, but I knew early on that I wasn’t really that good, especially not good enough to charge money or take on any new jobs. I knew that’s what I wanted to do though. So I took all of my nursing cheques and invested it back into buying a nice camera and other gear. And then from there, I just worked. I worked really hard on trying to find out who I wanted to be as a photog- rapher and what I wanted to contrib- ute to my world of photography. There was a part of me that some might call artsy or pretentious, where I really delved into what my intentions are and what I wanted to say as an artist. Because I didn’t go to school for photography, I was trying to figure out what students at Emily Carr would be learning and what they would be asking themselves. When I would meet actual photographers that went to Emily Carr, they would share what they were learning and I knew I had to think like that. And in that way, I was just very patient with myself when it came to photogra- phy. And I knew that I wanted to feel the same confidence I have as a person with my camera, which I didn’t really feel until I was 24 or 25. I didn’t take on any work even though friends would ask me. I would just say “I don’t think I’m ready” and continue working on my craft. So I would go on the internet and learn online how people do photoshoots and how the industry works. I really wanted to get into fashion and I would get my homegirl, who has a really good sense of fashion, and ask her if I could take pictures of her. Then, eventu- ally, I started asking people who I knew were models and I would shell out mon- ey to pay their rate and buy clothes to style them. Basically, everything I’m doing now for money I was doing before for free. So it was a really easy transition for me to go do the things I’m doing now because I was already doing them on my own for fun. And it’s something I really love to do. When I started doing it for money, I didn’t feel like I wasn’t ready or unqualified. There’s a certain amount of practice and dedication that goes into a craft. Once I felt more comfortable with photography, that’s when I started to explore how I could give back to my community using photography. Because photography did so much for me, I wondered in what ways I could use it to impact other people. From 20–27 years old, I was only doing photography for myself because I wanted to build myself up—and there’s nothing wrong with that— but eventually, you have to start thinking outside of yourself. And once I start- ed doing that around 28, I realized this is how I can make an impact with pho- tography: not by taking cool photos because everybody can do that, but it’s about teaching and giving oppor- tunities to the next generation of creatives. At this point, I’m one of ten photographers that gets all the jobs, so how am I going to share that with young people like you? And I dis- covered this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. Now, every job and opportunity that I get means so much more to me be- cause it will mean so much more to young people like you. There’s probably a person out there right now who’s walking around Downtown, taking photos of blue spiral parking lots, dangling their feet from the edge, and probably have no photog- raphy background. Yet, they want to do the thing that I’m doing so for me, how do I make sure that person can do what I’m doing and not take seven years to do it? Because that was my journey, and that doesn’t necessarily have to be theirs. If I can be of access to that person, then they can unlock their keys way earlier than me. Hopefully, they can just take my job because once they do that, I can do something else. And that “something else” will eventually trickle back to them. I first started shooting with independent brands and then I started getting noticed by major brands, so I shot for them. Now, those independent brands wanted to continue working with me, but my rate was outside of their budget so I pointed them to my younger homies who would love to shoot with those brands. One of those young people is this guy named Jomar; he’s a photographer at Roden Gray. When I was 25 or 26 shooting for Livestock, he would be this kid who came to events even though he wasn’t even legal yet. Him and his friends would wait outside for me and my buddies to come and hangout with them. Me and my friends are like a photo crew so we would just take photos together. From there, we would hang out until he eventually became my intern, and now, he’s a photog- rapher at Roden Gray. Now, we’re just like brothers. If anything, he’s a better photog- rapher than me. And that’s the exact template that I want to give to young pho- tographers, and younger people in general. Access is all that matters. Why is photography your chosen medium? PHOTOS BY DONNEL
  38. 72 BAHAY NATIN 73 DONNEL GARCIA Around six or seven

    years ago, me and my friends started this magazine called Street Dreams Magazine, a photography magazine. Half of us are from here and the other half is from New York. We started this magazine at the very height of Instagram photography— when everybody was trying to be a photogra- pher because they realized they could get a lot of followers. That’s how we began connecting with all of these people in Vancouver as well as folks around the world. Alongside starting the magazine, something that we thought would be really cool is bring- ing Instagram to print. We wanted to publish our own magazine with all of our friends and all of these awesome people we find online. At the end of the day, wherever you’re from, however you start photography—whether it’s through an iPhone or a Canon AE-1—it doesn’t matter. Seeing your photo in print is always the most fulfilling feeling. This was at a time when a lot of publications were shutting down because everyone was going digital. We wanted to take this digital platform and make it real. First, we started by featuring our friends from New York and a couple friends from here. There would be six photographers: three men and three women. We focused on one photographer that had a really big following on Instagram and another photographer that had little to none. And that was our strategy on how to do community-building. Our intention was that you would go to the magazine and see well- known names next to people you’ve never heard of before; that was our way of bridging these gaps between popular and unknown photographers. And that’s what made the attraction of the magazine so appealing: 1) with Instagram and 2) people would come It seems like so much of your practice is around community-building. How do you build and maintain that support network around you? for the well-known artist but discover new artists. Every magazine that we release, we do a gallery show in a different city. We’ve done every major North American city: New York, LA, San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Toronto, Montreal, and more. To double up on it—let’s say our issue was in LA—when we would choose the photogra- phers to feature in the magazine, one of the major photogra- phers and the less well-known photographer had to be from LA. And the rest would just be a mix. When we have the gallery show, we know people are going to show up because the biggest photographer in LA is in this magazine; then they meet this other photographer who’s also from LA, from their city. So we would gather that local community and all of those people could feel like they’re a part of our family as well. That was essentially my first taste at cultivating community and community-building. From there, that’s how I learned to build and maintain that com- munity. How can I replicate what we did with Street Dreams? But how can I do that for my own network? And how can I con- nect all of these people around me? Whether it’s photographers or Filipino people. I know that “community” has been a crazy buzz word as of late that people just use for SEO (search engine optimization) and shit, but I re- ally take that word and action to heart deeply. For a lot of people, when they think about commu- nity, they think about hosting an event that can cater to as many people as possible, but for me, community can just be us three in this room. This is community. When I tell people to be an impact in your community, it doesn’t have to be the whole city of Burnaby. It can just be your household or you and your brother or your group of friends. Our printer’s been operating at 30­­ –40% since the pandemic so we’ve been holding off on the next issue for now. After our second issue, we got a lot of buzz on the internet too but we keep the magazine going because the com- munity really loves it. Behind the frontfacing magazine, we’ve grown into an agency that does video, photo, marketing, events, etc. We work with a bunch of different companies like major sportswear brands for campaigns and community building photo programs with HBO, Netflix, Honda, and so on. We produce a magazine for Redbull as well — we do a bunch of things now. My email signature for Street Dreams says I’m a photo + studio manager and lead photogra- pher but really, everyone on the team is a lead photographer. Everyone does a little bit of ev- erything. Again, we try to give back when we can so if a gig requires three photographers in Chicago, one of us gets to travel there and the other two positions are filled by putting out a call for photographers in Chicago. We don’t care who you are. Sometimes we’ll reach out to someone who was featured in our maga- zine or someone who follows us on Instagram. “You’re from Chicago? We’ll get you a job.” For me, and speaking for others in Street Dreams, we only needed that one opportunity to feel what it feels like to do the thing we want to do. After that, you can say to yourself, “I know how to do this now.” Then you just go. Some photographers don’t recognize themselves as photographers if they don’t have a lot on their resume so we want to help with that and help them feel the spark they need.
  39. 74 BAHAY NATIN 75 DONNEL GARCIA For a lot of

    people, when they think about community, they think about hosting an event that can cater to as many people as possible, but for me, community can just be us three in this room. This is community. PHOTO BY MAY ANN VILLANUEVA
  40. 76 BAHAY NATIN 77 DONNEL GARCIA It was definitely from

    the beginning. For Street Dreams, it was instinctively that we knew we wanted to feature more famous photogra- phers alongside lesser known ones. It also kind of happened by accident. In the first few issues, we just wanted to feature our friends and then we realized it was a good mix to have a person with 150K followers alongside anoth- er person who takes equally good photos (to me) who have little to no followers. And that’s why a lot of people supported us. They would come to our galleries, see the little name tags beside each photo, look up those photogra- phers, see that they had a small following, and if these people could be in Street Dreams then they could be in this magazine too. Back then, there was no influencer culture, so people weren’t stingy about who they hung out with. When we started Street Dreams, none of us photographers had very big followings (I still don’t!); we just have friends who do. I think that doesn’t really happen so much in photography, but just in general. I’d go on photo walks with friends with thousands of followers and we would just chill together. They don’t care; we all just like taking photos. And that’s the kind of culture and community we’ve built around Street Dreams. We’re for the people and we really care about the peo- ple who interact with us. Did you develop your strategies around community- building with Street Dreams over time? Or did you have these ideas from the beginning? When I was 18, I cold-called and cold- emailed photogra- phers that I admired, and nobody respond- ed to me. I wasn’t hurt by it because I knew it was unlikely to get an email back. I was also young and naive, thinking like “What could they possibly be doing if they can’t send me an email back?” I just wanted to learn, you know? Now, we have this tool called Instagram and appar- ently, it used to be a community-building tool so the first thing I thought about was that I wanted to be what I didn’t have when I was starting. No matter what, even with Instagram, a lot of people still need access. And it’s different when you’re looking at a person on the internet, even if they’re revealing Why is it so significant to you to mentor and uplift young artists? their whole life to you, than meeting them in person or hearing a personal response from them. It means a whole lot more and makes such a huge difference. For me, that was my thing: to be acces- sible. I always try to reinforce and pose myself as someone who’s accessible. If you want to DM me, I’ll answer you. If I don’t have time to answer you right now, I’ll still answer you to tell you I don’t have time right now and get to you on the next day. I think that’s super import- ant. I feel like gone are the days when people don’t want to share secrets, when people don’t want to share how they do things. You can just YouTube it! It means a lot to me when people ask me about my photos because you can just look that up online, but the reason they’re asking me is because they want me to tell them. When I think about it in that way, then I feel good reaching back out to whoever mes- saged me. You could easily just read a book on how to be a photographer, but clearly, they’re seeing someone they ad- mire or feel they can talk to and ask for advice from; I want to try and offer that. That’s probably one of the biggest reasons as to why some things I would do for my community have some effect—because in a way, I’m a trusted source. Part of it is also being honest. Sometimes when someone asks me a question, you know what, I didn’t go to school for this so I actually don’t know the answer, but let me point you to someone that can answer your question. Now, being where I’m at in my career and meeting people who are at the same level, I think when those people see me and how I’m moving in the world, it helps them become more like that. Some people might not be as extroverted, outgoing or have a lot of extra time. There’s a lot going on in people’s lives, but I hope my peers can be inspired by the way that I move. I’m not everyone’s favourite photographer. Absolutely not. There’s people that DM me and I ask them who their favourite photographers are and they say three other Vancouver photog- raphers who are my friends. And it makes me wonder why they’re talking to me and not them. So when I have these types of con- versations with my peers, I tell them “I get a lot of young people saying that they really love you. They really love your work and your photography. Maybe you should check your DM requests every now and then. There’s a person out there who would really love just one sentence from you.” I don’t go for coffee with everybody. I don’t invite everybody to my studio, but I can do the smallest viable thing to help that person. If it grows into a coffee date, then that’s chill. The smallest viable thing you can do can be the biggest thing to another person. Answering a DM is a small act for me, but for that person it’s like “OH MY GOD. Holy crap! This is sick!” And I know that feeling exactly because when Instagram started, I began DMing my favourite photographers and when they would respond back to me, it was so sick and I couldn’t believe it! When I think about them having those kinds of feelings, I think like “Dang, all I did was say ‘slow shutter speed’ or ‘this is my camera settings’” and they’ll respond with so much gratitude. It sounds a little corny or boastful, but I try to tell people no matter what, there’s always someone looking at you and saying “That person’s sick!”. And it doesn’t matter if it’s one person or your little brother. I never take those DMs or any- one reaching out to me lightly. They could’ve DMed anybody, but they chose me so I should put in as much time as I can to that person. It takes a lot of courage to do that. The smallest viable thing you can do can be the biggest thing to another person.
  41. 78 BAHAY NATIN 79 DONNEL GARCIA I came out with

    a project about a year ago called Milan and Lorenzo. Basically, I took photos of two of my Filipino friends, Milan and Lorenzo, and they’re dating each other. They’re a gay couple, but I wasn’t really focus- ing on queer love specifically; I just wanted to tell a story about love. I was really inspired by this movie called Moonlight. And I wanted to take photos that looked like they were in a movie. When I did that project, I wanted to create movie stills so then I asked people to come to my studio, I projected it onto a white backdrop and we just looked through the photos. I actually talked about a lot of what we’re talking about today. I talked about why I did it, my identity as a Filipino person and not feeling more or less because my attitude is ‘Whatever I do is Filipino’. The reason why I mentioned this project is because I wasn’t intentionally focusing on Filipino stories. I was focused on telling a story about love and more specifically, about my friends. The way that a lot of Filipinos in the diaspora like to reconnect to their identity as a Filipino person is sometimes technically not who they are or what they’re connected to. The way I explained it with my project is that a lot of people would take these photos, but they would dress up Milan and Lorenzo in barongs (a formal garment worn by men sym- bolizing Philippine heritage and nationalism). Why would you do that? Sure, they’re Filipino and that’s traditional Filipino-wear but that doesn’t make sense. Those types of projects As part of our grad project, we’re exploring the intersections of Filipino cuisine, the colonial histories of the Philippines, and the immigrant experience/community-making in the diaspora. We would love your thoughts and advice on how to navigate telling very complex and intersectional stories. always feel really forced to me because you’re not looking at yourself as a Filipino person, you’re just looking at Filipino things. What I want to empha- size is that anything you do is a Filipino thing! To me, having Milan and Lorenzo dress exactly the way they dress is a lot more inspiring to a young person who’s maybe feeling certain ways about themselves. Seeing Milan and Lorenzo dress the way that they dress, loving who they love makes them feel more comfortable. When it comes to storytell- ing, it’s not so much about the surface level things or these physical tellings; it’s about how you feel inside and who you are inside. Let’s take something like Squid Game. It’s obviously made in Korea and there’s Korean people in it, but there’s a reason why we watch these things and we feel the same way the characters feel. We laugh when things happen that are funny. Why do we laugh? Because we’re the same. We connect the same way. Just because Squid Game is based in Korea, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s a Korean thing. How is that a Korean thing when you’re feeling it too? How is that a Korean thing when you’re laughing too? Superbad is a movie about four dumbass high school kids trying to go to a party because they’re losers and trying to get with the hot girls. I laughed through the whole movie because that was me and my friends! Superbad is about four white dudes though, but to me, why can’t that story be about an Indian person or a Filipino person or a Chinese person or an Afghan person? We all go through these same experiences as a Filipino-North- American. So why do we have to differen- tiate these stories? I feel like sometimes we’re so afraid of telling the same story because we don’t think it’s ours. Just because white people tell it, how is that not my story too? That’s what I try to communicate to Filipino-North- Americans: don’t be afraid because you grew up here too, so if that’s your story then you should tell it. You don’t have to throw in some random Filipino thing just to try and make it obvious. Cast a Filipino character then! This is how I try to communicate storytelling when it’s tackling Filipino issues, especially Filipino-American issues, because the way we grew up is different from the way kids grew up in the Philippines. Sometimes, I see these fashion edi- torials with Filipino designers making all of these Filipino- inspired things, but why can’t you just make what you want to make? To me, my Filipino roots are here; it’s in Burnaby and Surrey. If anything, I’m going to be more inspired by that. And I’m not telling people not to reach back or go back to the Philippines. It’s good to see those things, but at the end of the day, that’s not who I am. I can’t go back in time and wish that I grew up in the Philippines so that I can be a “real” Filipino. Or just because I read up on Filipino his- tory doesn’t mean I’m validating my Filipinoness. Start with the things that you know. Don’t be afraid just to be you. I feel like sometimes we’re so afraid of telling the same story because we don’t think it’s ours. PHOTOS BY DONNEL
  42. 80 81 PHOTOS BY DONNEL


    NOCHE Our conversation with April was both heartfelt and humorous. She reinforced the idea that identity is multifaceted and accepting who we are and what’s important to us is a form of liberation. In a way, April uses storytelling in her work as a mode of diary-keeping, whether it is through illustrations or Instagram stories. She also talked us through her deeply personal approach to storytelling, which leans into her unique experiences with grief, multiculturalism, and being a lover of Spam. ILLUSTRATOR
  44. 84 BAHAY NATIN 85 APRIL MILNE I’ve lived in one

    place and I’m from another place and I’ve got all of these things inside of me that make me who I am. “ I feel the world tells you that you have to be one thing all the time but that’s just not reality. I think it’s interesting to figure that out... “ I’ve only been to the Philippines twice. When I was four we were there for four and a half months and then I went back when I was 28—so two years ago. Then I was there for like a month but I have a lot of memories from the Philippines. That was where I learned to eat with my hands. But I didn’t come from the Philippines. I think that’s some- thing I’ve always straddled, especially being half-Filipino and half-white. My white side is Scottish and English. My dad’s grandparents or great grandparents came from Scotland on his paternal side. Then, my mom Can you share a bit with us about your journey coming from the Philippines and growing up in Canada? went to Rome in 1986. She was there for three years working as an OFW (overseas Filipino worker) in housekeeping. Then, she came over to Montreal in 1989, met my dad, then they got married and had me. But my mom was so proud of being Filipino. Literally as a little kid, she was always saying, “You’re Filipino. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not Filipino.” I have a memory of when I was five years old with my cousin who’s full Filipino—my best friend—she said, “You’re white actually. You’re not Filipino.” I was shocked because I was like, “What do you mean?” That’s been something that I’ve grap- pled with for a large part of my life; navigating what it means to be half Filipino and half White. A lot of times people come up and they’ll either read me as Filipino or they’ll read me as halfie or they’ll read me I don’t know what else. I used to hate being biracial to be honest. It’s complicated because it’s like what I was saying at the begin- ning: the world tells you that you can only be one thing, but people are made up of so many things. People are layered. You exist in the round. Because being Filipino was so important to my mom and she ingrained that in us, it’s also become so important to me. It’s so inter- esting to me that even “full” Filipinos don’t feel Filipino enough. Especially with Filipinos, there’s so much of colonization that is still in the blood. Whether it’s not teaching your children how to speak Tagalog, reinforcing the beauty standards of whiter skin, or marrying a white person being seen as winning the lot- tery, which is all so messed up. For me, I feel super blessed because when I was in elemen- tary school my mom homeschooled us. She taught us Tagalog and she refused to speak to us in English. Until now, I can understand it and I speak a little broken Tagalog. Maliit lang (just a little). Haha, I’m doing my best. I downloaded Ling (a language app) to strengthen these vibes, but I can read it and I can kind of write it too. I’m just slow and shy which is silly. It contributes to people coming here and not feeling they’re Filipino enough because they’re separated from the homeland. I think that’s a common feeling for a lot of Filipino kids and teens who grew up here or at least from people I’ve talk- ed to about it.
  45. 86 BAHAY NATIN 87 APRIL MILNE How has your upbringing

    shaped your identity and your practice as a creative? And within that, how do you navigate and integrate your bicultural or biracial identity into your day-to-day life? That’s something that I think about a lot. I don’t want to exotify the work that I make by making it a certain way. You know what I mean? It’s tough to balance marketing myself as a Filipinx maker—not that there’s anything wrong with that—but White people have the luxury of figuring stuff out without having to market themselves as something specific. They don’t need to lean into this part of their identity to pull in an audience. They just get to make the stuff they make, but it’s complicat- ed because I also love seeing Filipino work. I love seeing those creators. It’s so beautiful to have Instagram in a way because of creatives like @brwngrlz, @ vintagallery, @hella_pinay, and all of these things made by Filipino peo- ple. I wish I could’ve had that growing up as a teenager because it’s so cool to see. I used to really struggle with biculturalism in- ternally and had a lot of confusion around it as a teenager. I think I’ve come to peace with it, though, because it’s more about the connec- tions you make and what you put your energy into. Perhaps because I’m 30 now and moving through the world, I’m just more at peace with it. I often ask myself, “Am I put- ting my energy into things that will strengthen and lift up other Filipinos?” Focusing on the things that are important to me is my priority, including down- loading the Ling app and learning Tagalog. That’s important to me. Those things—that’s how I grab hold of my day-to-day life. In terms of being biracial coming into my practice as a creative, I try to keep my work specific to me and my stories. When I write or draw, it has to do with how I feel about my relationship with my family or my relationship to my culture; instead of it just being a general thing. I make it about my personal journey. For my education, I went to Langara Fine Arts Program and then I trans- ferred to Emily Carr. I graduated in 2014 in illustration. Then nine months later I was working here again. At first, I was working in student services, then, I was in continu- ing studies, then, I was the international advisor for a bit, and then I came to the Dean’s office. I also do freelance on the side; so here I am. COMIC BY APRIL MILNE
  46. 88 BAHAY NATIN 89 APRIL MILNE How do we interrogate

    Filipino identity but while still asserting/desiring national identity and belonging? And with that, how do we resist colonization and cultural imperialism but then still embrace Filipinx pride and identity? Is that inherently problematic? This is something I think a lot about too. I don’t know if I really have an answer or if there is an easy answer, but I do think the act of questioning alone is very import- ant. When you ask questions and put it out there, you’re dissecting and then building up again. I really like this one Instagram account called @igorot.sky. They create really interesting discourse on this specific issue. I remember being at a party and there were a bunch of indige- nous people there. Then some- one asked me, “What nation are you from?” I said, “Oh actually, I’m half-Filipino half-white.” They said, “So what nation are you from?” And I said, “My mom was half-Ilocano. She was half-Vi- sayan.” They were like, “Okay. So there you go.” I remember questioning why I assumed that no one would think about that or care about that. Again, it comes down to being a bit more specif- ic and learning to love all of the variation within being Filipino. A lot of people say, “Oh I’m Filipino” but where did your family come from? That’s a question that old- er people ask each other. When my grandma meets another Filipino, she’ll say, “Oh saan ka sa atin?” meaning, “Where are ... it’s a conversation being had over centuries... we can’t really change where these markers have been after 400 years, but we can see that they exist and challenge them. “ “ you from back home?” That idea is beautiful in terms of you being from a different place from me but it’s all home. Even with the idea of geography being a marker, who got to determine that the Philippines would be the Philippines except for colonizers? They drew the boundaries and prescribed our national identity. I think that’s why there are so many different con- versations where people say, “Actually I’m Latinx”; “Actually I’m Filipino but I’m Latinx”; or “Actually I’m Filipino but I’m Pacific Islander” because it’s all so complicated, right? But I don’t think that means it’s bad. I just think it’s a conversation being had over centuries. It happened and we can’t really change where these markers have been after 400 years, but we can see that they exist and challenge them.
  47. 90 BAHAY NATIN 91 APRIL MILNE Speaking of geography, how

    do you think Filipino food has been altered through migration? Or rather, what has been the significance of Filipino food in your life if any at all? I was in the Philippines for four months when I was a little kid, but I don’t really know how it has changed over time. You can see that slowly now there are more food trucks and restaurants that fall in the category of “elevated Filipino food”. It’s interesting because that didn’t exist for me before. Maybe elevated isn’t the right word, but it’s more market- ed towards non-Filipinos where it’s palatable. I always felt that Filipino restau- rants here feel a bit different for some reason. I think Kulinarya is one of the few exceptions to that because the one on Commercial Drive is super cute to go to. It’s cute and I like it, but It’s not like the one at Joyce–Collingwood, it’s just like home. Food in general is very tied to memory. It’s so nostalgic and can be so comforting. For me, I find it so comforting. I love Filipino food. I wouldn’t be able to go without Filipino food. I could eat bulalo everyday for the rest of my life. One of my favourite foods is lumpia. Honestly, Filipino spa- ghetti is so good and superior to any other spaghetti. I know that’s not like “wow” Filipino but y’know, it is. I like everything. Right now all I can think about is bulalo. My brain is bulalo. COMIC BY APRIL
  48. 92 BAHAY NATIN 93 They just happened naturally. I was

    examining my work and thinking, “How can I describe it?” and these are the three themes I liked. Grief for me will be ever present probably for most of my life. My mom passed away from cancer four years ago. When she passed away, it was like losing my con- nection because I had counted on her to be there for the rest of my life. I was 26 and you don’t really think about your parents passing away at that age. The family I have in Vancouver is my dad, my brother, and my grandma (my lola). Because my mom passed away and then a month later my grandpa passed away (my lolo), it felt like my Filipino family got so small here. There was a lot around that. My mom was my connection to my culture. She was also my connection to faith because she was very Christian. I’m always thinking about how I can keep her alive through my work and just keep talking about her and the stuff that was im- portant to her. The next set of our questions focuses more on your creativity in practice. We were kind of stalking your website and all your social media pages. We were really intrigued by something that you said on your website biography where you wrote, “My work is inspired by grief and memories, everyday narratives, and issues of identity.” Could you expand a bit more on why you chose to focus on these specific topics in your work? In terms of the everyday narra- tives, it ties into using Instagram stories and highlights as a way of diary keeping. I think a lot about virtual diaries and virtual collage. I write in my physical diary a lot, but I also think that Instagram is its own diary. Of course it’s curated to the world, but I think it can be what you make of it. Things that happen everyday are often either really beautiful or really funny to me. I’m always writing it down on my phone or putting it on Instagram. It’s about liberation because it’s similar to what you guys are doing. How you’re sharing conversations with other people. It’s being open about what is happening to you or what you have been through as a person or what is important to you. The honesty is liberating. The examining is liberating. Showing history is so important too. That’s part of creating what will be history to other people. I find it espe- cially liberating when I see a Filipino creator just making and doing things. There’s this musician named Yellow Miguel; his full name is Miguel Maravilla. He’s so cool. He’s a local musician. He’s Filipino. He’s a good example of someone that I think is really inspiring and is out there exuding the coolest Filipino vibes. Also, actively working to resist colonization and imperialism by doing the work that is also your life. When I say liberation, I think about liberation from considering yourself through the ways that other people might see you. You know what I mean? You’re creating a lens. You get to talk about yourself and write your own narrative. You get to look at people who are mirroring you instead of people who are telling you that you’re a certain way. What I mean by “peo- ple who are telling you that you’re a certain way”, I’m imagining white cis-heterosexual men who have been “traditional” storytellers that have been viewed as the resource for all things. Liberation means we get to be our own resource. What does it mean to be an Asian storyteller to you?

    APRIL I’m always thinking about how I can keep her alive through my work and just keep talking about her and the stuff that was important to her. My work is inspired by grief and memories, everyday narratives, and issues of identity. “ “ “ “
  50. 96 BAHAY NATIN 97 APRIL MILNE In terms of illus-

    tration, I love Jillian Tamaki. She’s always the one that comes to mind. I love her graphic novels so much. They’re so cool. I honestly think the people in my life, like my friends, I try to surround myself with people that inspire me. Another local Filipino that I think is cool is Lou Papa. He’s one of my best friends; he is so tal- ented and so good at illustration and signs. Who are some of your favourite artists? Would you have any thoughts or maybe advice on how to navigate or tell very complex intersectional stories? Be personal and specific. Tell the story that is yours. That’s the note that I have for myself because that’s what I think of when I tell stories. I said that a bit in the beginning. Just talking about what’s important to me, specifically what I’ve gone through instead of trying to be this representation for everyone who’s Filipino, half-Filipino, or whatever. It’s just about me. Be personal and specific. Tell the story that is yours. “ “



    CARR UNIVERISTY We (Fyonna and Kin) aren’t the only Filipinx designers in ECU’s Communication Design class of 2022. Carrie, Erin, Josh, and Lyka inspire us on a daily basis and we’re grateful to have shared a studio with them over the past few years. Get in touch with these fine creatives if you have a project in mind!

    & photographer designer & photographer @designbycarrie.pdf @ carriebraybrooks carriebraybrooks.com @designbycarrie.pdf @ carriebraybrooks carriebraybrooks.com

    ROSE graphic designer @enaps.jpg erinrosenaparan. myportfolio.com @enaps.jpg erinrosenaparan. myportfolio.com graphic designer
  56. 108 BAHAY NATIN 109 *SECTION TITLE* graphic designer @joshuaabejo JOSHUA

  57. 110 BAHAY NATIN 111 *SECTION TITLE* LYKA @artbylycala  beacons.ai/artbylycala designer &

    artist BACALA

    Something beautiful and transformational happened when the sensorial experience of eating with our hands converged with the richness of our unique cultural backgrounds and personal stories. Compact the food with your fingers Scoop the food using your fingers Use thumb to push food into mouth HOW WE ATE KAMAYAN-STYL E On the evening of November 19, 2021, we hosted a Kamayan or Boodle Fight dinner event at the Wellness Kitchen for our friends in the Design Faculty. Kamayan describes the method of eating food using only one’s hands; meanwhile, Boodle Fights are a particularly ritualized and communal version of Kamayan that came about during the American military occupation of the Philippines. Our intention in hosting this event was to experi- ence a part of Filipinx culture that we (Kin and Fyonna) had yet to participate in and create a space of storygathering and communi- ty. Through the act of communal eating, we shared a new culinary experience with our friends and explored the deeper connections between food and resilience. This created a space where we could situate ourselves within a broader complex cultural setting, delving into the intersections of food, language, immigration, and identity.
  59. At the end of the night, we gave each of

    our friends a takeaway box filled with various gifts, including Filipinx snacks, a gift voucher for a Filipinx restaurant we received catering from, and other designed items such as postcards and stickers that highlight even more snippets of Filipinx food culture, and food crawl zines that can introduce readers to local Filipinx restau- rants. Through this, we wanted our guests to recognize that the conversations we had and the things they learned about Filipinx culture can continue beyond our dinner together. This box of gifts also served as prototype designs that we Through this event, we introduced our non-Fil- ipinx peers to partake in learning about our culture and history. The diverse cultural backgrounds and positionalities we brought to the table enabled us to collaborate in building a safe space together where every- one was welcomed to come as they are; we reminded ourselves and affirmed one another by holding space for our different personali- ties, lived experiences, histories, lineages, and traumas. We could have very well communed at a Filipinx restaurant, but by being inten- tional in setting up the event ourselves, we all experienced greater respect and appreciation for one another as we united around our com- mon interests regarding food and community. Something beautiful and transformational happened when the sensorial experience of eating with our hands converged with the richness of our unique cultural backgrounds and personal stories. developed further for our final exhib- it. Overall, these printed materials were our method of giving back to the people who attend- ed, reciprocating their openness to learning about our culture and deepen- ing existing and new relationships within our school communi- ty. It was our joy and pleasure to hear the outpouring of grati- tude from our friends as they expressed how loved and cared for they felt, shar- ing meaningful and heartwarming feel- ings of how this event opened their hearts to learn more about their own cultures. The culmination of this event could not have been possible without all of the support we received from the Wellness Kitchen staff, several restaurants in the Joyce–Collingwood neighbour- hood, and our COMD faculty and peers. The Wellness staff were extremely generous in allowing us to use their space and materials; meanwhile, the Joyce–collingwood restaurants provided delicious catering; and our COMD faculty and peers provided support through insightful feedback in every step of the process.
  60. 116 BAHAY NATIN 117 OUR KAMAYAN EVENT This is a

    “balikbayan box” of takeaways we gave to attendees of the kamayan event. It included postcards, a food crawl zine, a menu of items we ate, stickers, Filipinx snacks, and a voucher for Pampanga’s Cusine (one of the restaurants in the Joyce–Collingwood food hub). The box is meant to represent a very typical artefact people use in the Filipinx diaspora to send gifts to their families back in the Philippines. In Tagalog, it’s called a balikbayan box. In English, “balik” translates to “return” and “bayan” translates to “country”. While the implications of this box can reveal com- plex Filipinx family dynamics and exported labour practices—where family separation is commonly expected as a part of life—we still wanted to incor- porate this gifting aspect into our Kamayan event. These materials also acted as prototypes for our final Bahay Natin exhibit designs.

    CARR UNIVERSITY 2022-05 INTERACTIVE The physical deliver- ables of Bahay Natin consist of this publi- cation you hold and an exhibit at Emily Carr University’s 2022 Graduation Show. While the publication aims to show appreciation for all the relationships and insights we’ve gained throughout the year, the interactive exhibit aims to share the gift of our culture and cuisine through several takeaway materials atop a dining table and gift box display. These takeaways include a menu of conversations, educational paper placemats, food culture postcards, and food crawl zines. The exhibit also features a wall display (pictured on the left) to serve as an introduction to the project and house copies of the publication. We in- tend to create an experience and space where audiences can situate themselves within a broader complex cultural setting; opening up conversations about the intersections of food, language, immigration, and identity.
  62. 120 BAHAY NATIN 121 EXHIBIT The Menu of Conversations captures

    the insights and discussions we had during our communal dining experience during the Kamayan event. By breaking down the event itself, we draw connections between the way Filipinx meals are consumed to its complex militaristic and colonialist histories. Placemats are a very common artefact you can find on most Filipinx tables during meal times. We designed these placemats to edu- cate our audiences about the complexity of Filipinx food culture and its histories, including the eating tools we use, Kamayan’s history, flavour combinations we enjoy and the preva- lence of rice in our diet. We created two sets of postcards to cele- brate and highlight Filipinx culture. One of our sets was inspired by Chase Valencia’s charac- terization of palabok and other Filipino food as “deliciously excessive.” These illustrations depict different types of food stations com- monly found in the Philippines. The other set of postcards revolves around prepaid phone cards, used by families separated across oceans. Combining that concept with iconic food packaging based in the Phillippines, we created something fun, yet nostalgic. The final part of our gift box is a food crawl zine to introduce our attendees to local Filipinx restaurants. The zine isn’t a compre- hensive list but it provides a good starting place for those who haven’t tried the cuisine yet and we hope it encourages them to look into the several other options we have nearby, from Filipinx restaurants to Filipinx conve- nient stores. MENU PLACEMATS POSTCARDS ZINE
  63. This publication was edited and designed by Fyonna Laddaran and

    Kin Godwin Chua. Featured interviews were conducted in fall of 2021. Featured photography is by Kin unless otherwise indicated. Fyonna and Kin are communication design students in Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Fyonna’s practice revolves around branding and illustration, with a love of partnering with people to amplify their stories and cultivate human connection. Kin’s practice employs information design, motion graphics, and photography to educate, entertain, spark curiosity, and support communities. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We gratefully acknowledge that the land on which Bahay Natin was produced is situated on unced- ed, traditional and ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl ̓ilw̓ ətaʔɬ (Tsleil- Waututh), and kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) peoples. Thank you to all of our interviewees—Felix, Lynn, Naodee, JP, Donnel, Kathleen, Claire, Una, and April—for sharing your stories, insights and resourc- es. Thank you for being incredible role models and for partnering alongside us in our exploration of Filipinx-Canadian identity. Thank you to all of our friends and family who supported us along the way—Kailey, Yutaan, Anna, Aradhya, Roche, Laurensia, Hannah, Carrie, Josh, Lyka, Erin, Myrna, and Ed. Thank you to all of our peers in the Design Faculty for such meaningful and reassuring feedback. We’re so grateful for shared meals, laughter, gift exchanges, design crits, and your words of encouragement. Thank you Charlotte, Jon, and Chris, for your valu- able feedback and challenging us to pursue growth amidst our last year at Emily Carr. Thank you for your constant encouragement and enthusiasm when we felt tired or lost sight of our achievements. Thank you Kathleen for all of your incredible knowl- edge, reliable recommendations and eager support throughout the printing process. Thank you for putting so much care into helping us riso-print all of our final deliverables as well. Thank you to the Wellness Kitchen staff—Nick, Alia, and Johnny—for all of your generosity and guidance during our Kamayan event. Without you, none of what we accomplished would have been possible. Thank you to the Joyce–Collingwood restaurants and grocery stores—Kay’s Market, Pampanga’s Cuisine, Plato Filipinx and Kumare—for providing delicious food for our Kamayan event. And a spe- cial thank you to Pampanga’s Cuisine for creating unique vouchers for our attendees. Thank you to Celeste and Reyhan for helping fund so much of our project through the DDM micro- grants and the DDM fellowship. Without this fund- ing, we would not have been able to accomplish all that we have throughout the year. Thank you for challenging us to articulate our project in a way that is comprehensive and accessible to broader audiences. Printed with Westwood Printing. Typefaces used: Obviously by James Edmondson (OH no Type Co.) and Balto by Tal Leming (Type Supply).
  64. 2021 / 2022