By Paul Maurillo

I am 18 years old and I am currently working at Kapisanan as a Co-op student from Neil McNeil Catholic Secondary School.

Yesterday I went to the "Spectres of In/Visibility: Filipino/a Lives in Canada" at the U of T. It was a big day for the Filipino/a academics in Canada, because it was the first Filipino academic symposium at the university. I arrived later in the day during the lunch break and waited for the next group of speeches to begin. Much like any other large gathering of people I felt out of place, like I was not supposed to be there. Maybe it's because I'm just anti-social..but I digress.

The speeches after lunch were very monotone and unappealing to me considering I'm not an academic. I thought that they were very informative, but the language was a bit too much for me.The speeches seemed to never end and my eyes barely stayed open, but thanks to my "pinching of the wrist" I managed to stay awake.

What woke me up was the Tita VS Tita, or the "fighting Titas", Round 1. They were arguing over whether the LCP ( Live-in Caregiver Program ) should be scrapped or not. It was like Pacquiao VS Hatton except Hatton didnt get massacred. The two Titas both made very good points back and forth, but before the final bell rang one of the spectators put an end to the match. The fight had gone on for too long and got a bit personal. It was Filipino drama at its best.

The last speakers before dinner were more interesting to me because they were youth perspectives and took on different angles at speaking. One That stood out to me was Conely de Leon's "Mas Maputi Ako Sa 'yo (I'm lighter than you)". She opened up her presentation with a spokenword/painting performance, which was captivating (though I had paid more attention to the painting). Her speech after the performance also got me thinking. She talked about how Filipinos/as from Mississauga were "soft" and ones from Scarborough or Scompton/Scarlem were "hard", which I thought was true (being from Scarborough myself).

She also talked about Filipinos/as lightening their skin thinking "white is right", and the troubles of young Filipinos/as feeling bad for being darker. I thought her speech really spoke to me because it got me thinking about how the darkeness of skin does not determine your intelligence or your opportunities to learn.

The conference had started out a little unappealing to me but towards the end I got more into it. I learned a lot about the troubles that Filipinos/as face when going to other countries and the identity crisis that many filipinos/as have. I don't regret going at all and I left having a better understanding of the troubles we face as a people.