Written at Babae retreat, April 2012
I am Gabriela, Tandang Sora, Lorena. I am Kemberly and Melissa, Babae and Samaka, Kababaihan ng pagasa.
I wonder, sister, if you think about me? Think about the world that could be, the world we work so hard to build, the world that you and I deserve to have, the world that we want to gift to our children of tomorrow.
I hear your heart beat at night, your muffled whispers to self, incantations of strength, and spirit, and solidarity.
I see you dance through the trees upon every brush of a leaf, every sway of a branch, every flutter of a wing.
I want to reach out to you, sister. Hold your hand, give you courage from the depths of my soul, embrace you until you and I are one.
You are Gabriela, Tandang Sora, Lorena. You are Kemberly and Melissa, Babae and Samaka, Kababaihan ng pagasa.
You pretend to be brave when sometimes you feel fear, uncertain if you have what it takes to face tomorrow.
You touch my shoulder, reassuring, searching. Firm, but gentle.
I worry that our determination will fade with the wind, wither through time
I cry for resistance, for peace. For sisterhood everlasting. For motherhood that will birth a day of justice and liberation.
I am Gabriela, Tandang Sora, Lorena. I am Kemberly and Melissa, Babae and Samaka, Kababaihan ng pagasa.
I understand what my role is. My history, and my destiny. I am a revolutionary.
I say this with every breath in my body.
I dream this with every hope that I manifest.
I will this with every fiber of my being.
I am…A woman.
I periodically follow the Arthouse Co-op because they have some pretty interesting community art projects/challenges. I have yet to officially participate in one since I totally failed in my attempt at the 2010 Sketchbook Project, but this Letters to Home project resonated with me. Here’s a description:
What would you say to your childhood home?
It’s been awhile, and the house you grew up in is starting to wonder about you… If your childhood home could hear you, what would you say? It might have been an apartment in the big city, a farmhouse in the country, or a cabin in the woods — there’s a place from your past that will stay with you forever. Letters to Home is a community art project that asks creative people like you to write a letter to your childhood home. Share an epic backyard adventure, ask a lingering question, or reveal a long-kept secret — we’ll transform our storefront exhibition space into a mailbox from the past.
So here I go…
Sa aking minamahal na 35 Payna St., (To my beloved 35 Payna St.)
It is March 2012 now and though I no longer remember the exact day that I left you, I hope you believe me when I say that I’ve kept you in my heart all this time. I’ve been away 20 years and I am filled with stories and adventures, memories and moments that I want to share, but I find myself speechless. Speechless because a part of me is actually really embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to write you. Speechless because what does one say after 20 years? Hello? How are you? Remember that one time when I played with my teacup set in your living room?
In 2008 I went home and I came to see you for the first time since I had left. Unsure if you’d remember me, I stood outside of your magnificent green gate and touched the iron hearts that adorned your door. The gate was smaller than I had remembered, and I could have sworn the street you stand upon wasn’t that narrow, but it was you. You have a new family now, and I’m sure you are everything to them that you had always been to me, so I didn’t knock. Instead I just stood outside, taking you in, playing every memory I could conjure up in my mind.
I want you to know that I loved you. Still love you. You always made me feel safe and secure; just cozy enough to provide comfort when it was raining and yet felt expansive and never-ending during hide and seek games. You tolerated my insistence of having the equivalent of a small farm within your walls, and never complained once about Lucky the doberman pinscher, Poopy the scraggly puppy, Goldie the retriever, Rocky the fighting rooster & his gang of friends, the hens, the pairs of love birds, all the fish, the chicks and ducks, and the guinea pigs. Thank you for giving them home when the rest of the street laughed, and thank you for the stability you provided me during my childhood.
I want you to know that I never wanted to leave you. I think about you all the time, and I can truthfully say that my life today is defined largely by the time we’ve spent together and the time we’ve spent apart. We whispered our hopes and dreams upon your walls during dark brown out days, hid in your crevices when movies were too scary, and lounged on your cool floors on hot days. You never complained when we lashed out in hunger or frustration, desperation or despair. You always forgave us when we were unable to attend to your needs, and accepted without judgement when we made the difficult decision to leave you behind.
Leaving you was the hardest day of my life, thank you for understanding.
I don’t remember it, and perhaps it is due in part to the deep trauma I still feel from having to take those steps away from you. I hope you know that I didn’t want to do it, never imagined that we could ever be separated. But they explained to me in hushed voices, laid out a logic so plain that even my nine year old self understood, and I knew I had to accept responsibility for a new word that I was then taught, which was survival.
I am well now, and we are happy. I am married, have bunnies, and live in a nice place that treats us well. I keep a photo of you by my windowsill, and think fondly of you often. I know now that leaving you was out of my hands as it was out of yours. I know now that there are many like me who have had to leave unwillingly, and many like you who may be waiting for an explanation.
We are called migrants, and I’ve met countless like me in my new life here in America. We get together often and share stories of green gates and narrow streets, cool floors and pseudo farms within walls. We work towards one day that we all may return to you and to others like you. Building towards one day when letters like this will not be necessary, difficult decisions for survival won’t have to be made, and our relationships to our homes in our own land can be permanent.
I hope you can forgive the time that has passed between us. I look forward to reuniting with you again soon, and perhaps next time I will muster up the courage to knock on your door.
You are my inspiration every day, and for as long as I live, I will call you home.
In honor of IWD 2012, here’s Lorena Barros, a poet-activist and co-founder of the militant women’s organization Makibaka during the First Quarter Storm. She was an epitome and proponent of the women’s liberation movement in contemporary times. Her views and example made clear the identity of the “new Filipina.” She was only in her early 20s when she became a guerrilla fighter of the New People’s Army (NPA) during the Marcos regime.
“Mother” by MA. LORENA M. BARROS (1948-1976)
Ano ang isang ina?
Mayamang hapag ng gutom na sanggol.
Kumot sa gabing maginaw.
Matamis sa uyayi.
Tubig sa naghahapding sugat…
Ngunit ano ang isang makabayang ina?
Maapoy na tanglaw tungo sa liwayway.
Lupang bukal ng lakas sa digma.
Katabi sa laba’t alalay sa tagumpay ang ina ko.”
Dear Friends and Family,
Happy Monday! I know I’ve been quiet on this blog for a long time, but I promise it’s been for a good reason! I am excited to share with you all that I have been hard at work on a few art projects the past few weeks. In time for the holidays I’ll be launching a new online store (!!!) that will have some new items, and will also be bringing back old goodies and other prints. Look forward to calendars, t-shirts, the return of the popular Tagalog alphabet cards, and posters. Here’s a sneak peak below!
Items will be limited to 10 each, so keep on the look out for the official opening of the store! If you’d like to be kept in the loop for future art-related emails, please send an email to lainerz (at) gmail (dot) com and I’ll add you to a new mailing list I’m creating. Otherwise, I promise to stop harassing you (hehe).
Maraming salamat for all the support so far, and happy holidays!
ps. feel free to forward to friends that may be interested!
I was flipping through channels on the tv today, and happened to land upon an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians, a reality show following the lives of celebutantes Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, and the rest of their wacky family. Now I’m sure that most of you out there are familiar with the Kardashian sisters and their antics, so I’ll spare you the intro. The current episode that was playing centered around the supposed “controversy” that has come up regarding Kim’s butt, and whether or not she’s had implants put in.
Now I don’t even want to get started on the state of our media and entertainment industry, but really America? Is this what we’ve come to? That the most relevant “controversy” making our headlines is whether or not someones ass is real? Nevermind the controversy surrounding the police shooting of an armed 19 year old young man over a $2 Muni fare in the Bayview in San Francisco last week, or the attacks that killed 91 people in Norway. Kim’s butt takes precedence. Here’s a snip of the episode:
Kim Kardashian is sick and tired of defending her famous derriere.
Fed up with constant chatter that her Armenian behind is enhanced with an implant, the reality star seeks the advice of her family doctor to help prove her booty is legit.
As the hilarious clip above from Sunday’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians shows, the engaged star, 30, is willing to spare no expense to end the rumors.
“My sisters have dared me to get a butt X-ray,” Kim tells the doc, as Kourtney and Khloe look on. “I really just want to get [it] so I can show the whole world.”
You can even watch the video here: http://www.usmagazine.com/moviestvmusic/news/kim-kardashian-gets-a-butt-x-ray-2011236.
I’m just a little ticked off. This whole thing is so absurd to me in so many levels.
1. What a woman puts in, around, on top, or through her body is none of your business. If she’s not hurting herself or anyone else, it’s really not of your concern.
2. And because of that, it certainly shouldn’t warrant national “news” coverage or resources.
3. There are over 50 million Americans living without basic health coverage, which means access to doctor visits or basic medical care. That’s likely not including legal residents or undocumented immigrants, so the number is probably higher. The fact that the Kardashians just go and waste precious medical resources just to disprove an unfounded rumor (instead of, you know, maybe going to the doctor for a real medical need?) really shows how unfair and biased this system is to the rich (and famous). That as long as you have the money, you can pay any doctor to run whatever tests, access whatever medical devices, and spend whatever amount of time entertaining your requests, regardless of how ridiculous it may be.
4. And all of that will be televised. Because you know, that’s the lifestyle we should really all be emulating.
Oh interwebz, I’ve neglected you.
Life has been full of transitions as of late, and it’s swept your girl right off her feet. Between a death in the family, packing and moving to a new home, heavy political work, sickness, and a lot of (work-related) traveling, I’m almost ashamed to say that I haven’t made one sketch, painting, or design since DECEMBER! Yikes! It’s definitely taken it’s toll on me, leaving me feeling restless and needing a creative outlet. My dreams of opening an Etsy store has not been realized, and I am way overdue for a new creative project to manifest itself.
Luckily for me, Diwang Pinay is just around the corner and gave me the motivation I needed to at least get something done!
I hustled to get at least one painting churned out for auction, along with a painted mirror. I’ll also be vending again this year, so I’ve been busy printing posters, and more of those tagalog alphabet cards for the babies and kids at heart.
Hoping to make a few button magnets, and maybe another painting. Ambitious, I know! But considering I’m making up for almost 4 months worth of a hiatus, I think it’s only appropriate to step it up. More updates soon!