Written by CLUTCH Vol. 4 Participant, Joanna Sevilla
On October 15, 2011 Kapisanan was host to Clutch Vol 4’s first of many Saturday workshops. Staring off with a bang this week’s lineup included mentors Melissa Clemente, Rhowena Adolfo and Lyndel Aguilar. Lyndel Aguilar facilitated a block-printing workshop that covered basic techniques, application and a lecture on Philippine Mythology and Folklore.
A discussion between the Clutch girls began to buzz about superstitions learnt, practiced and folk tales passed down from our parents' generation. I quickly recalled a ten year old me with my mother telling me with a smile “If you bite your cheek a girl is thinking about you, but if you bite your tongue a boy is thinking about you.” Lyndel stressed how the Philippine's rich history played its role in the creation and significance behind some folktales and how some were used negatively to make Filipinos feel bad about themselves. These myths and folktales may range from the great stories of 'Creation' to answering life's more superficial questions such as: 'Why women have no beards' and 'Why Filipinos have flat noses'.
As a young Filipina that grew up in Canada I have learned more about Greek mythology in school than I have about the mythology of my own culture, thus I found this workshop really opened my eyes and mind to the stories the Philippines had to offer. It gave me a peak into the foundation of my culture, I found myself being intrigued by the answers the folktales provided.
Excited, I went straight home to quiz my parents about the stories, most were new to them but they were delighted by this newfound information. Lyndel gave us a lot to think about in terms of how information comes, goes and is passed down. Before writing and books were around stories were commonly passed down through the oral tradition, it reminded me of a childhood game ‘Telephone’ and how stories may get jumbled through the wire. It is enough to make one wonder how many of these folktales and myths have stayed true to its origins. After the lecture Lyndel showed us the basic applications of block printing, the importance of positive and negative space and the labour of digging through soft linoleum block with various gouges. Eager to start the process, we ended our day sketching out thumbnail compositions.