Written by CLUTCH Vol. 8 Participant: Pamela Dungao
What is a story?
A story moves. It informs. It develops. It transforms. Individually, we confront stories in our own way – we laugh, we cry, we think, we criticize.
Part of the immersion of oneself in storytelling is turning a single perspective, a point of view, to a collective experience. Part of it is the construction of the same elements over and over again (a story has its characters, its problem, its resolution) and our role is to derive meaning from this formula because the act of storytelling transcend aestheticism, otherwise it is wala lang. Everyone has a story to tell but the problem has always been where and how to begin.
Let’s start with this.
We begin this six-month journey with Storytelling Through Film, a workshop facilitated by director, producer, composer, and writer Romeo Candido. Romeo posits a sense of vulnerability amongst us (thirteen present newly introduced participants of this year’s CLUTCH vol. 8 and NAV vol. 3) by asking each of us individually, What is your story? A practice in brevity that renders some of us speechless, wordless, and caught off-guard. We were still in the process of breaking-the-ice; but we could already see the fragments of us, pieces of a whole, laid out in the room. Our stories are all different, but each one resonates with another some how and in some way. In this way, our experiences and who we are spread out like tangled pieces of string, meeting at intersections, crossing each other.
Asked also, why do we tell stories? Why are stories important? This is what I learned from the second half of the workshop as Romeo split us up into three groups and told us to create our own story. Amongst the list made from our discussion prior, we are each given a number of things to consider when preparing our stories: a purpose, a genre, a medium, a structure. Telling a story is scary. It makes us receptive and aware of our vulnerabilities. And for these reasons, it is often difficult. As each group presented, we are met with the shuddered speech, nervous giggles, and awkward laughter. So, why do it? Perhaps it is for those very reasons that we should, that we do.
In the process of discussing storytelling, we are often met with the question of representation. There is something interesting about the Filipino-Canadian identity; how so much of our sense of self is tied to the mosaic of diversity, and within this diversity how we are positioned as one of the biggest minority groups in Canada and yet still continue to exist within its margins. From there, we are confronted with the complexities of our colonial past, our post-colonial present, and our diasporic experience. So, at the crux of this question is how we straddle between the tensions of our internal and external struggles as young Filipino-Canadians. That is, as Romeo explains, in the process of trying to figure out and accept who we are and how we see ourselves, we are forced to face what the rest of the world is trying to tell us who we are and how they see us.
What is a story?
Simply, an account of a series of events that happen to a person or persons that lead them to a different place from where they started in the beginning.
To some of us, our story has already begun; an inciting incident has led us to here. To others, this is the beginning, their Act I.
But for all of us, one thing remains true: our resolutions remain undetermined. Instead, we’ve prepared ourselves to explore and experience each other, as individuals and as part of a larger community. This is mine, yours, our story and six months from now, I would like to think that we would be in a different place from where we started.