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We’re proud to introduce a MAAARI Blog Series entitled: Being Whole, a collection of inspired works by guest blogger, Kristen Jordan, a Filipinx (Filipino/Filipina; whatever floats your identity boat)-Canadian educator, artist, and choreographer who will give us a glimpse into her experience as a young creative in the Filipino Diaspora.

Here, we’ll explore concepts of identity, foreignness, connectivity, cultural preservation, and the manifestation of filipino art + culture overseas.

Meet Kristen + join the dialogue…



IN HER OWN WORDS, KRISTEN IS:

Passionate about re-storying reverence.
Curious. 
Collector of small objects. 
Playful. 
Lover of trees. 
Elemental. 
Equal parts introvert / extrovert.
Big lips from mama.
Triple fire sign.
Ardent listener of music.
Artist, healer. 

I’m a Playschool Teacher and Community Choreographer, called to connect people through my work with Conscious Minds Co-operative (CMC) + Kapwa Collective.

Kapwa Collective is a group of Filipinx-Canadian artists, critical thinkers, and healers creating bridging narratives between the Indigenous and the Diasporic, and the Filipinx + the Canadian.

CMC is a youth-led co-op actively responding to our social and ecological crisis by creating healing spaces to cultivate resilient community.

 

YOU GUESSED IT. SHE'S FILIPINA:

Being Filipinx has been a major source of empowerment for me. The journey to find home, to connect with my roots, began 10 years ago at 16 years old. I was the youngest member of Clutch - the first volume in a series now 9 volumes deep, held by Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture here in Toronto/Tkaronto. Clutch is a program for young Filipinx womxn to explore the arts, dialogue with each other while exploring their Filipinx identity, and receive mentorship from Filipinx creative professionals in the community. Being surrounded by powerful examples of FIlipinx womxn thriving in the arts, fiercely pursuing their own callings, had a huge impact on me as a young artist. The deep sense of belonging I felt within the Filipinx arts community here, to witness it grow, as I grew --  has been a constant source of nourishment for me.

The sacred work of re-rooting reminds me of the transformative power we hold within our blood and bones, to move beyond the limits of what we think is possible. Ultimately, my filipinx heritage grounds me, and teaches me how to have courage; to trust in the journey that is: coming Home to my truest and highest self. Exploring my Filipinx heritage through the arts, and in community, has brought me full circle. I stand today, closer to my ancestors, and to Spirit, because of it. Humble, open, ready to receive, give, learn.

To be Filipinx is to me, strength, resilience, tenderness, stubbornness, voices in sing-song, huge family parties, communal living, resourcefulness, diversity, care.

 

WHAT MAKES YOU WHOLE?

My mother
(lovingly calling me out, grounding me back to earth)
Walking by the water.
Setting intentions.
Accepting that all things operate in cycles.
Life / death / life
Surrendering to rebirth, transformation.
Crying.
Music music music.
(crying to music)
Moon circles.
Ceremony.
Saying no.
Dropping self-judgment, criticism, perfectionism, comparison.
Embracing play,
Creation.
Solitude.
Sisterhood.
Feeling as transforming...
To remember that things aren’t really lost, just dusted over, hidden from view.
Coming home to self, my cells, my body, and the wisdom living in my DNA.
Rob Breszny’s astrology.
Contemplating past lives.
Full embrace of the language of spirit.
Listening.
Healing.
The Pacific.


"the word destiny is kin to destination. all humans have the same destination in life and that is to actualize the likeness and image of god in which they have been made. divinity is a potential that we must all actualize as a prerequisite for a guaranteed good life. all humans have this destination but travel to it on different paths. the paths travelled by each person is what is referred to as destiny. what all of these paths have in common is a set of adversities that one must meet with peace and joy. peace and joy in the midst of life's adversities are the means of awakening the divine wisdom and spiritual power in humans."


WHAT'S YOUR SUPERPOWER?

Deep listening! + Bringing people together, in community + celebration. I choose to use these gifts to be a mirror for others to remember our deep connection to earth & spirit. Kapwa <3


 

WHAT CONCEPTS DO YOU WANT TO EXPLORE IN THIS SERIES?

_Filipinx diasporic longing for wholeness
_Intergenerational connection: storytelling, and the inheritance of trauma, but also of wisdom
_How to grieve & mourn the losses that come with living away from the homeland (loss of language, of connection to the land…)
_Filipinx arts & culture in the diaspora - Tkaronto, LA, NY, SF; the sacred work of being a Culture Bearer. The power of adornment for reconnection.
_The Return to indigenous ways of being. Callings that are also a responsibility to remember and recover our sense of connection to self, ancestors, the land and spirit.


IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES SOCIETY IS FACING RIGHT NOW? WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST OPPORTUNITIES?

I look at the climate change crisis as one of the biggest challenges facing our human species today. We’re at a point in human history where we’re beyond pointing a finger at an “Other” to blame for the mess we’re in. We all have a part to play in the ongoing destruction of our planet, which means we also each need to recognize the role we have in its healing. At the core of the mess we’ve made is the illusory sense of separation. “Decolonization,” an elder said, is truly just about connection.

When I trace the path of our violent capitalist driven, patriarchal society, I remember that one of the first orders of colonization was to sever our connection to Spirit - to family - to community - and to the Earth-based value systems that guided our ancestors. In the Philippines, the Spanish colonial forces were determined to kill our Babaylans -- to disempower our womxn in spiritual leadership and begin the erasure of feminine power. The oppressive systems that are the foundation of our society have conditioned many of us into fearful apathy. But our bodies know that these ways of living, of thinking, and being, are harmful and unbalanced. Our bodies are guiding us back into reclamation, to wholeness...

The biggest opportunities lie in making a Return to more harmonic ways of living with each other and this Earth. I choose to see this socio-ecological crisis as an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine and re-story new/ancient ways to return to harmony with Mother Earth. I trust that all the solutions we need we have access to already!

It’s about having the courage to question and break away from the norms that we are conditioned into believing are “the way.” To depattern. To create new patterns! To start putting solutions into practice, and embodying them on all levels - big and small. The choices we make, even on micro level as consumers, can have monumental effects.

Withdrawing support from corporations, investing time and money into small, local business, like Maaari! These choices add up, they matter. We are being guided to step away from what Starhawk calls power-over, so we can fully step into the power-from-within.

 

WHAT DOES BEING FILIPINA-CANADIAN MEAN TO YOU?

Being Filipinx-Canadian is equal parts responsibility and privilege. I’m a womxn of colour living on stolen lands. “Toronto” originates from the Kanienke’haka word “Tkaronto” which translates to, “the place in the water where the trees are standing”. The reference is said to come from Haudenosaunee and Huron-Wendat fishers posting stakes for fishing weirs in the narrows of the river systems, many of which are now paved over with concrete*. As a settler on indigenous territory, I must learn to honour the Dish With One Spoon Wampum treaty; an early Indigenous treaty to peaceably share the resources of the Great Lakes region. I am supremely grateful to be Filipinx-Canadian, here in Tkaronto, one of the most culturally diverse places on Earth.

My parents had me young - mum was 18, dad 19. Second generation and Canadian born, I’ve witnessed the loss of culture and connection to our Filipinx heritage, particular in that first generation. Both parents understand the dialects of our families (Ilocano on my dad’s side, Tagalog on my mums), but I’ve never heard them speak in our ancestral tongues, unless in jest (my dad often butchers the pronunciation of Filipinx foods, and cooks Caribbean dishes more than Filipinx ones).

I’ve been reflecting a lot on what it means to be living in the diaspora, away from the motherland, and this trend that I’ve noticed in my community of young balikbayans making the return Home.

I’m beginning to understand that the safety I feel, to practice and identify with my own culture, is an immense privilege not to be taken for granted. I want to find ways to honour the journey my grandparents and ancestors undertook to get me here, all so that I can take the journey in reverse - to find home again. All things in cycles.

*land acknowledgement by Lukayo from Pagtitipon ng Bagong Buwan ~ New Moon Circle


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Photography by Corynn Fowler @corynnfowlerphotography
Styled shoot with @leafandbloom and @jennygiamakeup