Special thoughts for a special lady on this, her special day

[Pardon the cheese in the title; there just had to be some].

Mum & Dad at Christmas 2012

My dearest Mother,

I think about how mean I was to you as a teenager and I’m filled with guilt. You never once made me feel like less of a human being, nor less of a daughter for acting out. You’ll say that it was your duty as a mother but others would say that it makes you an extraordinary mother.

Okay fine, I suppose I could have been worse – it’s not like I ever got arrested or overdosed on drugs but I wasn’t exactly easy to deal with. Being highly emotional is hard to deal with when you don’t know what emotions are yet. You always knew how to deal with me though, whether it was simply leaving me alone or trying to talk to me in your own indirect way; it was always exactly what I needed. Whether you knew that or not, I’m not sure.

I’ve often wondered how different our lives would be if I confided in you more. I still remember that time I experienced my first broken heart here in Canada and your hug was the only one that comforted me; that made me feel safe. I don’t recall if I said much about the pain I was feeling, but I don’t think it matters.

I like that we’re becoming friends now. I hope we can do more of it. There’s so much more I want to say but fear that should be left for a more intimate setting. I hope you enjoy your special day, because we enjoy having you in our lives and we want you to feel just how much we do magnified by a thousand suns.

Happy Birthday, Mum.

I love you always,

Q1.

Footnotes:
  1. There will be no asking who Q is[]

Like it was yesterday

In Memory September 11 2001

I can’t believe it has been 12 years since the day that we all call 9/11 happened. I remember being woken up by my boyfriend at the time1, and being slightly upset with him. I was trying to sleep in because I had just flown in the night before from visiting Jackie in L.A. I had been there for three weeks and the flight was almost delayed to the next morning. That very morning when horrible things happened that have affected so many lives in ways we’re probably not even done realizing yet.

He told me to turn on the TV and despite my crankiness, I heard something in his voice that I had never heard to such an extent, so I did. And I swear I held my breath for what seemed like an eternity. I held my breath as if I was making a wish before I blow out a birthday cake. I was praying that it was all some sick joke or publicity stunt. It was ridiculous to wish for, but I just wanted something other than the truth to be that a plane had flown into a very important building in New York City.

All that happened though, was that things got worse. I don’t need to re-tell the story because we all know what happened. And we would continue to hear more stories from people2. We all lost something that day. We all lost a little faith, a little hope, innocence… even when we thought we didn’t have any more of those things to lose. Then we started hearing stories about the heroes; the ones who stood in the face of evil and told it to fuck off. And even though their efforts were in vain, it helped to know that they didn’t go down without a fight.

I have lived a lucky life to only know of such horrible loss from a distance. My heart goes out to those who weren’t so lucky. I will always remember.

Footnotes:
  1. a sweet guy who was way too mature for me at the time, If I knew back then what I know now I never would have let him go[]
  2. and we would eat them up because for some of us knowing the details helps us cope[]

KULTURA Filipino Arts Festival starts TODAY!

8th Annual KULTURA Filipino Arts Festival

I’ve always been pretty proud of my Pinoy upbringing, even if I’m not necessarily loud about it. A large part of that pride is tied to the fact that Filipinos have a knack for being talented. We love the arts and the arts seem to love us right back.

Kultura is a festival that celebrates all the things that Filipinos in Canada are doing wonderfully. Every year the festival has featured all sorts of tasty food, marvellous art installations, rockin’ live music & stellar performances – all hailing from the tinubuang-bayan1. This year is gearing up to be yet another impressive week; with a strong finish at the annual KULTURA Philippine Culinary Competition featuring “Kain Kalye” which translates into ‘Street Eats’2, and also includes KULTURA Live! and the KULTURA Marketplace – all taking place at Artscape Wychwood Barns from 12-7pm.

It fills me with all sorts of pride & butterflies to support KULTURA because of all that it accomplishes and the amazing talent that is brought to the light of day through the five day celebration. Considering it started out as a small backyard art show+party, and seeing what it has grown into I can’t help but feel an immense sense of pride and hope that it continues to see nothing but success. All the founders wanted was a natural way to present the kind of work that the Kapisanan Centre was doing throughout the year. I’d say they’ve done that now, and brought about something so much more enriching and inspiring.

I would like to think that one of the contributing factors to KULTURA’s success is the fact that there are family ties rooted in the tinubuang-bayan1, but I’m sure that their passion, love and pride for Filipino culture and talent is nothing to scoff at either. Growing up in Dubai, I recall attending many events that celebrated Filipino talent and pride but they all fall short of showcasing original talent. Much like Caroline Mangosing‘s experience here, where she would only see beauty pageants3, Hawaiian & salsa dancing and Celine Dion cover artists. KULTURA was created to allow those of us4 with something original to share, a place to do it.

Kristina Guison

Artists like Tim Manalo, Kristina Guison & Julius Manapul who will collaborate with Regent Park, Cabbagetown and the surrounding neighbourhoods as part of Daniels Spectrum’s Outdoor Arts Program in Bayanihan: An Interactive Art Installation at Daniel’s Spectrum today from 11am till 7pm.

Artist Bios

Timothy Manalo was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 2006, he attended the Ontario College of Art and Design (now OCAD University), where he received his Bachelor’s of Fine Art from the Sculpture and Installation program and was honoured with the coveted OCAD Medal upon graduation in 2010. Known for being technically skilled, Timothy Manalo has gained numerous experience within the fabrication industry as an sculptor and fabricator working in fibreglass, mascot-making and custom interior finishing companies. Most recently he has started working as an ice sculptor for an ice producing company. His true focus is on his personal art practice, which he is able to exercise in his studio located in downtown Toronto. – See more at: http://kapisanancentre.com/vinta-gallery/timothy-manalo/#sthash.bGSAMIDS.dpuf

Maria Kristina Guison is a visual artist currently residing in Mississauga, Ontario. She was born and raised in the Philippines. She took up Production design in Theater and Film for three years in College of St. Benilde, Philippines, then transferred at Sheridan, Trafalgar campus, Oakville Ontario for the Visual and Creative Arts 2-year program. She started being active in the Kapisanan Centre when she joined the CLUTCH Program, a 5-month arts-based program for young Filipina women that deals with the expression of Filipina identity through a wide range of multi-disciplinary arts. Kristina’s works are mostly inspired by not only the by her personal history and experiences, but also by her views on the Philippine society, specifically the relationship of the so-called oppressors with the so-called oppressed. She is amazed at the beauty and sometimes grotesque characteristic of Filipino resilience through out its long and very eventful history. – See more here.

Julius Poncelet Manapul was born in the City of Manila, Philippines.  He immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1990 where he studied Fine Arts at the Ontario College of Art and Design University graduating with a BFA in 2009.  He then took one year of residency at Toronto School of Art in 2011.  Julius attended the University of Toronto for his Masters of Visual Studies in 2011-2013. Julius cuts to create new Hybrid imaginaries and the unattainable utopian narratives of the imagined Queer happy endings, that reflect his own struggles in religious beliefs growing up as a gay young man in the Philippines and Canada.  All in all placing questions in his coming out process and his own racial melancholia.

Now for a complete look at all the KULTURA events happening this week:

Day 1: BAYANIHAN Interactive Art Installation
Date: Wednesday, August 7th
Time: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Where: Daniel’s Spectrum
Address: 585 Dundas Street East
Cost: FREE
Day 2: ILUSTRADOS – KAPISANAN Legacy Campaign Fundraising Gala Dinner
Date: Thursday, August 8th
Time(s): 6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. seatings
Where: Lamesa
Address: 669 Queen Street West
Cost: $80 
Day 3:
(KONTRA)BIDA: A Clutch Vol. 5 Exhibit
Date: Friday, August 9th
Time: 7 p.m. – late
Where: Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture
Address: 167 Augusta Ave.
Cost: FREE
Day 4 Part 1: Tales from the Flipside: Over Time, Overseas
Date: Saturday, August 10th
Time: 2 p.m.
Where: Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture
Address: 167 Augusta Ave.
Cost: FREE
Day 4 Part 2:
Tambay Nights featuring WilaBaliW
Date: Saturday, August 10th
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture
Address: 167 Augusta Ave.
Cost: $15
Day 5: KAIN KALYE: Filipino Street Eats Competition + KULTURA Live! + KULTURA Marketplace
Date: Sunday, August 11th
Time: 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Where: Artscape Wychwood Barns
Address: 601 Christie St
Cost: Various5

But that’s not all, the folks over at the Kapisanan Centre are doing so much great work I couldn’t fit it all into one blog post. Look out for another post later this early next week sometime this month where I tell you about the great things they’re doing for the Filipino fashion scene here in Toronto.

Hope to see you this week!

Footnotes:
  1. Filipino for homeland[][]
  2. Kain meaning Eat, Kalye meaning Street[]
  3. one of which I actually entered and thankfully lost[]
  4. Filipinos[]
  5. depending on the food truck[]

Oh Canada!

I love this country. I love Toronto the most. This is largely due to the fact that it’s the only city in this country that I’ve lived with but I don’t doubt that my love for Toronto will grow as I explore this great country, which I hope to do starting very soon.

My family and I moved here in 1997 from Dubai and we haven’t looked back. Sure things went a bit sour after the first year, but that’s all in the past. We used to go camping at the beach in Dubai, which admittedly was pretty damn awesome, but camping in the gorgeous wildnerness that exists in Canada is pretty unbeatable as well.

I was happy but mostly indifferent about living here for the first 10 years we lived here. It wasn’t until I moved back from living in Dublin that I fell in love with this city. Something about the possibility of greatness that’s in the air; the hope, the love, the acceptance that is just wafting in the air1. Whatever it is, I love this city and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.. except that my nomadic genes have been itchy for the last 6 months. But I digress.

I love that I can wake up on any given day and have so many choices as to what to do that day and no matter what I choose, I will have fun. Not just because the choice is mine, but because the people of this city are fun-loving despite what the negative nancies out there will try to tell you.

As we finish packing for our 3rd annual family camping trip, I want to wish you all a very Happy Canada Day and Happy Pride!!

Have I mentioned that I love that both of those are celebrated over the same long weekend? Boss!

What are you doing this Proud Canada Day Long Weekend?

Footnotes:
  1. maybe it’s just weed[]