Written by CLUTCH Vol. 7 Participant: Tiffany Trinidad
Walking into Kapisanan that day, I knew this workshop would be particularly difficult for me. I knew what to expect and I knew this workshop would be heart opening. But speaking, publicly or otherwise, has never been easy for me, especially when put to the task of telling my story. This storytelling workshop was facilitated by Romeo Candido, an artistic Jack-of-all-trades, who worked to coerce our collective experiences out of us and into the open. Personal stories are difficult to tell, yet even in silence our experiences resonate – as artists our identities permeate our creations.
The discussion culminated into two activities. The first, we had to tell our story, simplified, to someone as old as four in the form of a fairy tale; the second, we were to form separate narratives based on the same experience, from listening to the same song. While our individual stories took different forms, some candid retellings while some turned ghost stories, all of them were genuine. And there was a beautiful vulnerability present in the honesty we openly shared. In the second activity, it was interesting to find that from the same experience we imagined different narratives – different protagonists, different environments, and different conflicts. It was all left to our minds to interpret and create.
The Philippines itself is a divided land. It’s separated by water, by roads, by gates, and by different dialects. We acknowledge this but are quick to categorize the Philippines as one unified identity, one unified country. And it is, but we must pay homage to the individual communities contained within – Visayan, Ilocano, and Tagalog, among others. Living in the cultural mosaic that is Toronto is beautiful and wonderful. But being a Filipina here in Canada has its own unique challenges. Toronto is so culturally diverse that everyone is part of a minority. We are a minority contained within the majority. Growing up here, not only are you trying to define yourself through your culture, you are simultaneously trying to differentiate yourself as an individual among your peers. It’s a constant struggle of pushing and pulling. When put to the task of telling your story, where do you begin?
At any given time, in most conversations, all we ever share are fragments of a much greater story. It may be that Filipina identity is greater than the sum of its parts, but that story disappears if not for the individuals. We are but a living library of stories waiting to be told and heard, and they are much more than iterations of our parents’ tales.
We each have our own stories to tell, so speak up – no one else is going to do it for you.