by alex

What is Filipino?

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san augustin confessional

whoa! has it been that long since I last blogged? yes! it has. why is that?

While in the Philippines, I felt a unmotivated with this project. It wasn’t that the Philippines or being in the Philippines was uninspiring. As an artist who has been using my Filipina identity within my artistic concepts…being there was total mental stimulation for research on all different levels. Meeting family for the first time, seeing where my father grew up, connecting with the Kilusan Exchange artists and just being put into a different environment that I feel both a connection and disconnection with. Also artists I met, both who use their Filipino identity and those who reach out to other concepts to connect to the world were inspiring in hearing their experiences and seeing their experiences through their art.

So why was I so unmotivated? I suppose it was this sense of not feeling free. This is my philosophy in practicing my art, my freedom. To do. To be. For whatever ‘political’ issues arouse within the group and within the organization which, I work with…it was difficult for me to be free, to do. I suppose this is my realization of my artistic methods in which allows me to create. In this confirmation of the conditions I demand for myself as an artist, I realize the compromise I sometimes must make to work with others and also the refusal to compromise when I believe in something that is important to me. My artistic freedom is important to me…otherwise art becomes just like everything else with rules, politics, restrictions and for me…it loses the playfulness and freedom of expression – and sometimes results in my lack of motivation.

So here I am, back in Toronto with a few days behind me reflecting on my journey and experience in my motherland (the Philippines) ready to share with my homeland and community (Toronto) my experience as a Filipina-Canadian. I have so many thoughts, feelings, and ideas that are ready to be brought forward through my art. To the rest of the Kilusan Exchange participants: Alex, Jeff, Tiff, Ilona and Carlos – Thank you for sharing this experience with me, even with all our challenges that make us grow even stronger as artists and individuals who have something to say through our art – whatever that means to you! 🙂

Thanks Philippines, I cannot wait to come back and learn more – and of course, to really play with you!


by alex

Juanas body is welcomed home by family and Migrante International

Juana's body is welcomed home by family and Migrante International

I had my first article printed in the Toronto Star while on this trip about the homecoming of the body of deceased Filipina caregiver Juana Tejada.  Sadly they didn’t print my photo, but it was all quite a learning experience.

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by alex

[*this is another historical tidbit that, like all good history, still contains lessons for us today…]

I like to look at archival photos every once in awhile. There’s something about seeing images from the past that grips me. The long dead faces, and old–almost foreign–landscapes tell stories.


I was interested in this photo from 1909 instantly, two Filipino indigenous men, captives of colonized Filipino soldiers working for the Americans. One of the bound men had a look that seemed to me fearful, while the other seemed proud and defiant. The caption under the photo only told me that they were the killers of Dr. William Jones.

Who was this Dr. Jones? What was he a doctor of? What was he doing in the Phils and, presumably indigenous territory? And, of course, why was he killed? Continue reading


by alex

Siocon, Mindanao (2007)

***This is an older story.  It’s a travel story from my very first trip back home in 2001.  As the collective is younger and newer to the Philippines than yours truly, I though it would be good to share a memory from when it was all new to me as well.  It’s an email I wrote my friends. I was less than a month into my travels, the trip would last almost 2.5 years. I read this and I remember a younger me…

* * * * *

Monday June 11, 2001

I have come to realize that the psychological aftertaste of testicle lingers far longer than the actual physical flavour… but I am getting ahead of myself. Please let me restart from the beginning of the story. Continue reading

CHICKEN? a story about fear–with photos of chickens

by alex

My recent run in with the military has resulted in a concern from people both in Canada and here in the Philippines.  Even the NGO peeps I work with that deal with this sort of situation all the time have been asking whether I’m ok, whether I was afraid.  People have even gone to call me brave.  Very strange.

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