Written by NAV vol. 3 Participant: Paolo Dungao
Last Saturday, CLUTCH and NAV joined forces once again to defeat the evil forces of eurocentrism and colonialism! Just kidding … ish. We did, however, have a great time exploring our cultural and familial roots through a collaborative mapping exercise.
We began the workshop just as I arrived thirty minutes late (again, sorry Sean). There were sheets on the wall, one outlined with the countries of the world and another one of the Philippines. Later, we added an outline of Metro Manila. We stuck these tiny beads on certain places: where we were from, where our families were from, where we’ve been, and places that were personally significant. After, we discussed what these places meant for us.
Some places connected us to our youth. Some connected us to our families. Some of us lived in the northern regions while some of us grew up in the islands. Our roots spanned all of the country, each place completely different from the next. The Philippines is a richly diverse country, with diverse languages, people, and environments. This diversity was reflected in the stories we shared and who we are as individuals. We all had something to offer and something new to take in. Our unique personal experiences thus informed each of us new perspectives of the Philippines, what it meant to be Filipnx, and what our place is in both of these.
On the other hand, I also found many similarities and shared experiences in our discussions of certain places. For example, some of us had roots in certain places where others grew up/also had roots. Some of us went to the same malls or knew people who used to go our old schools. Some of us had almost exactly similar experiences growing up as others. Subsequently, I found this to be a very validating experience of my own existence and identity as a young immigrant Filipinx.
Thus in celebrating our diversity and similarities through experiences associated with meaningful places, we further strengthened our bond with our people and our hxstory. At one point, I remember someone calling out that they loved the filmsy sheets of metal serving as roofs on some shacks we saw on Google’s Street View. I couldn’t help but think that that was such a defining characteristic of some Filipino communities and how much I missed being in that environment.
In the end, we populated the global map with the sticky beads, reaching far corners of the earth. The small outline of the Philippines was filled up, creating an impression that it was glowing, and each of the beads as if they were rays of its light. To me, it was a visual representation of our expansive experiences, tied to the strength of our connections to each other and to our homeland.