Written by NAV Vol. 2 Participant: Dwight Balutan
Huddled on black-and-white chairs surrounding a table with a phone recording, Kapisanan Director Renjie Butalid opens with a question, “How do you identify as Filipino?” The members of Navigation Vol. 2 and Clutch Vol. 7 participated together in a focus group relating to Filipino identity for this week’s activity. The purpose of the discussion was to add valuable data to Renjie’s research about the Filipino Diaspora. The research collects information from many different cities in the world such as New York, Los Angeles etc., and now, Toronto.
The discussion began with the basic components that are relevant to any culture like food and language. As the group warmed up, the discussion delved into deeper topics in relation with each individual’s personal experiences of being a Filipino individual outside of the Philippines. The group, clad predominantly in black-and-white ensembles, opened up about how it was growing up as a Filipino person in various environments. Some had positive experiences being recognized as Filipino as they were viewed authentic and “cool” among friends in neighbourhoods that are predominantly of Caucasian descent. On the other hand, some have dealt with discrimination in the form of racism, bullying, typecasting and stereotypes and name-calling. The talk also explored the lack of media representation of Filipinos who young Filipinos can look up to as a role model. Identifying as Filipino was hard for others, preferring to identify to themselves as of Asian descent rather than specifics due to the possible consequences that this may bring to them. Renjie then talked about how that there are definitely Filipino presence in various industries that are doing big things. Conclusively, identifying as a Filipino is unique to each individual and a broad topic that cannot be condensed in a 45-minute discussion. Filipino Identity is everything but black-and-white.
After the discussion, we head onto the Love Art Fair, which showcased more accessible and affordable art pieces from all over the world. We were welcomed by a sculpture of a man sitting at the root of two hallways filled with art of different media. The fair was bustling with people checking out the works of the artists that ranged from mixed media collages to paintings to sculptures to clothing. Some personal standouts were a minimal pink (also came in black and blue) painting with a spatial gradation between lines, a fox sculpture, a deer smoking a cigarette painting, a 3D mushroom cloud, and a painting of four women possibly in a retro beauty pageant which brought upon body image in those times in mind. This was a great experience as it helped us broaden our idea of what art is and allowed us to gain some inspiration for our own forthcoming exhibition.
Personally, both the focus group and the trip to the Love Art fair has enlightened me in many ways. These two activities reinforced the idea of community as I felt like I was part of the group, learning about them and vice versa. Hearing their experiences and being vulnerable to judgment, allowed me to be able to bond and connect with the group in a slightly deeper level. I felt like I gained a lot of new experience from them through empathy. Especially the negative ones relating to racism, it made me both aware and sad that these things do happen even in Canada, a country known for its multiculturalism. This was definitely an eye-opener.