WRITTEN BY CLUTCH VOL. 4 PARTICIPANT, VICTORIA MARIE SAWAL On Yonge street alone there are more than 7 places that a minor could buy their very own fake ID. They could change their name, change their height, address and obviously their age; anything that is unsatisfactory to their standards. Customers are willing to cough up 20 to 60 dollars (depending on the quality they’re looking for); all in efforts to be something they aren’t. The funny thing is, these ID’s are most likely being used by these people, to be in places they don’t belong.
Every Saturday, I travel from Durham to downtown to participate in workshops with my Clutch Vol. 4 sisters. I don’t pass Yonge street at all, but it came to my attention after one of the most surprising workshops of Clutch that every single person carries a fake ID, with out even knowing.
On December 10th, Brian Bantugan, a graduate from UP (University of the Philippines), facilitated a workshop entitled “Filipino History”. Clutch workshops have a knack for catching us girls off guard, but this time it left us wide-eyed and more curious than ever!
But let's back-track a little bit. Before our Filipino History workshop with Brian, Christine Balmes did us the honor of facilitating the first ‘history’ workshop for Clutch Volume 4, with the Philippine Pre-Colonial History workshop. We uncovered some of our cultural roots, indulged in native instrument playing and quickly skimmed over the diaspora that has left the Philippines with so much cultural variety.
So our expectations of Brian and the Filipino History workshops were very much set. But, like I said before… we’re caught off-guard often. Brian presented us the history of the Philippines, as portrayed through media.
Somewhere with in the 4-5 hours of absorbing trivia tidbits, names of presidents and the hilarity of Pinoy viral videos; we were left with a series of questions:
“What is the Filipino Identity?”
“What makes Filipinos original?”
“What makes YOU Filipino?”
“What is your Filipino Identity?”
Give yourself a moment to imagine the silence that overcame the Clutch girls, who are notoriously chatty (especially me, if you haven’t gotten that vibe already). It’s amazing how you can go through life, thinking you know things and with in 5 minutes of meeting someone new, you can completely lose yourself. We were showed that most cultural identities, were seen from the Western perspective, or seen from a perspective that has been force-fed to us by the media. But after being given the chance to think of something completely original to describe our identities as Filipinas, we were left with blank papers, blank stares, and giggles of insecurity.
When you are completely stripped of the names you thought you carried proudly, what are you left with but questions? What are you left with, other than the incessant need to not just find yourself, but prove yourself?
We called ourselves “Filipino”, we were called “Filipino-Canadian”. We were told to differentiate, we were told to separate, organize, sort ourselves. For a moment, we felt as if we had swallowed that fake ID, we felt the plastic card in our throats prevent us from declaring who we thought were. But afterwards, the moment passed and we realized that we never needed a fake ID, it was only standing in our way. It took 4 hours of learning, being told who we WEREN’T and weeks of reflection to realize who we are.
ID’s are made of small pieces of plastic that easily fit in our hands, so we can show others a simple summary of our existence. Labels are there to sort messes, to make things easier to comprehend. A name tag, a birth certificate, an ID, a citizenship cannot begin to summarize a person. It’s easier to comprehend when you sort, categorize, and generalize… Labels are there to sort messes, but every person is a beautiful mess. Life cannot be put into a neat little box, life is filled with messes of people, complexities of culture, it’s hard to understand, life itself is hard… but the effort should be made.
Thank you Brian, for asking us these questions. You only realize that you have something worth fighting for, once it’s put in jeopardy.