Kapwa

Kapwa: indigenous Filipino value of “deep interconnection, shared identity, seeing self in others.” 

Here, community connections (like student work, collabs, fundraisers in my neighborhood/our planet, more) are shared to celebrate and support our diverse stories. Maybe we’ll see each other as integrated into The Story mosaic.

Geophyte Mandala (created 2021-2022). This is the “above ground” bloom. Below is where I mostly felt for the past years. Since I turned fi’ty, I am ‘officially’ embracing [read: surrendering to! trying to partner with!]
the transitions of menopause.
These collages were made at writer-artist-teacher, Susan Ito’s annual Community Silent-ish art and writing retreat in Santa Sabina, CA, March 2022. The word I ‘heard’ last summer: GEOPHYTE. These underground and cosmic ‘bulbs, tubers, corms, and rhizomes’ carry all their water and nutrients with them. They are “disaster-ready” bodies, stealthily steadily moving.

The geophytes started relating/speaking/playing with me as I made space to “meet” with them. They kindov look like a Zoom screen, don’t they?
The world(s) where the dark nourishes, where spirals of wisdom go down, up, in, out. My stories, our stories, can torch the falsifying white supremacist, ivory towers. We are the “type righters” in the form of geophytes! Carrots, garlic, ube, taro, daffodils, onions, surprise lilies, woman in menopause…
March 7, 2022. This global Salo-Salo (Filipino term for “banquet, gathering”) offered compelling, imaginative, sacred, unforgettable multi-media storytelling by Kimberly “Kimchee” Kaminski, Vex Kaztro, Rosario Rosario (Rose Sabangan), and Gimi Willie. These Creatives embody stories woven with the Philippines, transracial adoption, family, mixed ‘race’ complexity, Indigeneity, pirates, and more. Participants at the virtual feast also created hay(na)ku, a Filipino poetic form, as an ekphrastic engagement with Mattaja Willie’s self-portrait. (Hosted by Ella deCastro Baron, this is a passion project in partnership with the Lacuna Collective, in the spirit of Kapwa.)

October 25, 2021. This was our first global, virtual Salo-Salo, a rich spread of nourishing subos (bites) and baon (morsels for later) as we gather to be fed by the dynamic kwentuhan (storytelling) of our Ates (big sisters) Vex Kaztro, Rose Sabangan, Joanna Mailani Lima, Antonette Sespene-Anderson, & hosted by Ella deCastro Baron. We even wrote our own Filipino-style poems (“hay[na]ku”, invented by Eileen Tabios). A hands-n-hearts on banquet of Filipino American identity–complex, dynamic, savory, and sweet-tart like kalamansi and sinigang. Kain na! (Let’s eat!)

“S(kin)” 2021

An application question asks, “Where does your strength come from?” I’m sharing from a once-scary, now-emerging source. “S(KIN)” The photo I share is of different creations around where I live. They are different skins: of trees, fruits, my own. I have had to live in a bubble for decades because of my very allergic, scratched and peeling body. But in the last two years, and especially during the global coronavirus Pandemic, I have been learning to touch and relate to Nature’s own scratched and peeling bodies. “Allergy” means “strange action to something strange.” My skin disease, atopic dermatitis, means “strange” (atopy) as well. “Stranger” also means someone who leaves for a long period and returns.

I no longer believe I am a stranger to myself nor to nature. I can finally sit and listen, converse, relate to nature as my skin kin: S(KIN). There is power here.