Roundtable Residency 2019: REsistance
NANDITO KAMI (WE ARE HERE) is an ongoing project whose focus is my investigation of Baybayin, an endangered Filipino written text which virtually disappeared after the Spanish colonized the Philippines in 1521. This study requires a double translation; first from English, my mother tongue, to Tagalog and then from Tagalog to Baybayin. The process of physically deconstructing characters of the Roman alphabet with scissors and re-configuring them to generate Baybayin script embodies the cultural distance and the labour required to travel from present day to my ancestors’ original expressions.
My Roundtable residency allowed me the space to delve into the theme of resistance as it relates to my practice: the defiance of dominant consumerist fixations through the use of salvaged post-consumer waste; the struggle against acculturation by locating a visual point of reference apart from—but informed by—the cultures of my family’s country of origin (The Philippines) and that of my country of birth (Canada); the opposition to my tendency to overbuild / over-plan /overthink by attempting a more gestural and playful way of making. I am grateful to the Roundtable Residency for giving me the support and incentive to continue my pursuit of these ideas.
NANDITO KAMI (WE ARE HERE)
Continuing my research into Baybayin, the ancient pre-hispanic written text of the Philippines, its patterns, shapes and rhythms.
This is a mockup of a textile piece in the works. The text is pixelated to mirror the blurry, diffused grasp I have of my Filipinx traditions.
Whang-od Oggay born February 17, 1917), also known as Maria Oggay, is a Filipina tattoo artist from Buscalan, Tinglayan, Kalinga, Philippines. She is often described as the "last" and oldest mambabatok (traditional Kalinga tattooist) and is part of the Butbut people of the larger Kalinga ethnic group.
She has been tattooing headhunters and women of the indigenous people of Butbut in Buscalan, Kalinga, since she was 15 years old, but the Butbut warriors who used to earn tattoos through protecting villages or killing enemies no longer exist. Despite that, Whang-od continues to apply her traditional art form to tourists visiting Buscalan.
The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) conferred to Whang-od the prestigious Dangal ng Haraya Award at Tabuk, the capital of Whang-od's ethnic province of Kalinga, in 2018. She was nominated for the National Living Treasures Award (Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan).
Using vinyl letters
My love of vinyl lettering is constant and abiding. Seeing artwork titles, artists’ names and didactic text on every gallery wall fuels my devotion to the material and to the different ways I can use it as an element in my work. Combining and mutating the decals to create Babayin text is deeply satisfying, tactile—they have proven to be a versatile ready-made facet of my practice.
The phrase “WE ARE HERE” is a simple declaration. In this series, its significance is two-fold: the plain-spoken announcement of presence is antithetical to my lived experience of the immigrant experience in Canada