Before starting with the workshops, the afternoon session features a special video message:

“Kamalayan: Canadian Filipinos in the Philippines”

from Alex Felipe, Vince Galvez and Dyan Ruiz.  Produced by Project Balikbayan.




Who were our original ancestors?  The Spanish.  WRONG!  The Philippines was inhabited by various tribes, with rich cultures and their own socio-political systems, but were wiped out by centuries of colonization.  Today, the descendants of these indigenous peoples of the Philippines continue to be marginalized, but there is much that we can learn from their traditional beliefs and ways of life.  Find out more about these, and and learn about some of the dances and music of our indigenous brothers and sisters. (Facilitated by Dylan Hamada and Folklorico Filipino Canada)


We will be making use of various different visual art mediums. Collages, block printing, pen-and-ink and charcoal and acrylic paint. The artworks we’ll be producing in the workshop will be published on the Kamalayan blog. More info to come! (Facilitated by Althea Balmes and Kristina Guison)


Why did your family come to Canada?  Why are there over eight million Filipinos in 186 countries all over the world?  And why is it that when people find out you’re Filipino, they ask you if your mother is a nanny or if you’re a nurse?!? Let’s share our stories with each other and find out how Filipino migration started and why it has become such a large phenomenon.  Where do WE fit in this picture? (Facilitated by Mithi Esguerra)


What’s an ambahan?  Learn about a traditional poetry form, how it was used by our ancestors, and how it’s used today – to tell a story, to woo someone and even to protest injustice.  Write one yourself.  (Facilitated by Len Cervantes)


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Facilitator Bios

ALTHEA BALMES began just wanting to be a successful illustrator, first enrolling herself at Seneca in drawing until she recognized that she had a limited understanding of the world she lives in. Still a de facto visual artist, her ongoing education in Anthropology at York has given her a whole new perspective on things. For Althea, the Philippines is no longer just her birthplace and her place of childhood. Her love for arts and cultures see the Philippines as a presence that aspires exploration and a source of unlimited inspiration.

LEN CERVANTES “has been writing poetry since high school when they were bad rap lyrics. Luckily, his writing has gotten better. Much better, to the effect that he has performed his poetry on television (FLIP! on Omni2), on stage at various local poetry events and most recently, in the studio – where he is currently recording with Minerva Records. Len has conducted poetry workshops for CBT and hosts a poetry event at Kapisanan called P.S.L. – Poetry is our Second Language. His work travels from nostalgia to now, bleeds aggression and promotes progression, both oozing honey and spitting venom along the way. In reality, Len writes poetry to better understand himself – and he feels fortunate that folks are willing to join the ride.” (from the Carlos Bulosan Theatre website)

MITHI ESGUERRA is a community organizer and the coordinator of Migrante Ontario Youth. She arrived in Canada from the Philippines as a teen in 1994, and the shock of being transplanted from her home made her seek out a Filipino community that she could immerse in. She became a member of the Philippine Solidarity Group of Toronto (PSG-TO), and in 1997, became the coordinator of its Youth Centennial Theatre Committee, which produced a play commemorating the over 100 years of the Philippine Revolution. In 2004, she became involved in the Justice for Jeffrey Reodica campaign, at the same time that the beginnings of Migrante Ontario Youth (a name assumed only 2008) came about. Mithi is also currently a Social Work student at Ryerson University and the outgoing Cultural Coordinator of the Filipino Canadian Association of Ryerson for the term 2009-2010.

FOLKLORICO FILIPINO CANADA is a Toronto-based non-profit dance company whose “innovative style… modernizing the folk dances of the Philippine cultures, has made them distinct and recognized worldwide. In line with the objectives of Canadian Multiculturalism, Folklorico Filipino (Canada) aims for the development and promotion of the Filipino identity through performing arts by: (1) depicting Philippine culture through music, song, dance, and drama; (2) training interested Filipinos of all ages in Philippine folk music, dance, and drama; (3) showing the public Philippine customs, traditions, and history through folk song, dance and drama; (4) encouraging Filipinos and other Canadians to discover and develop their talents and abilities and to develop their potential in the performing arts. Folklorico has been involved with the social and cultural affairs of many organizations, schools, colleges, and governments. Since its founding in 1974, the commitment to promote the Filipino identity within the Canadian mosaic remains unchanged.” (From the Folklorico Filipino Canada website)

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 transfered to Sheridan, Trafalgar Campus in Oakville, Ontario for the Visual and Creative Arts 2-year program. She is a member of Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture and Migrante Ontario Youth.

DYLAN HAMADA is taking his first steps into the realm of Filipino culture from a heavily Canadian upbringing. Transplanted from his birthplace in Baguio, Cordillera Province to the suburban streets of Oakville, Ontario when he was just 6 years old, Dylan is searching for his roots amidst the Canadian Experience. Through the great friends he has acquired at the Filipino Canadian Association of Ryerson, Dylan has been exposed to the wonders of Filipino culture and hopes that the same spirit of discovery will unite the attendees of this event.






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