Traditionally, celebrated by the Tumandok people, an indigenous group from my island, Panay, "Patawili” is a communal gathering where members of the community help out with the farm work and then celebrate with a ritual of food, dance, and music. Inspired from this, "Patawili" recreates a new ritual in spaces celebrated by 1st, 1.5 and 2nd generation Filipino-Americans. (1st generation Filipino-Americans are those who grew up in the United States with Filipino born parent/s, or the 1st generation to immigrate to the United States. The term 1.5 refers to individuals who immigrate to the United States before or during their early teens. 2nd generation immigrants refer to the U.S.-born children of foreign-born parents.)
Patawili begins with Kamayan, a traditional ritual of villagers gathering and eating with their hands. With almost 100 audience members. The first workshop of this was held at Asian Arts Initiative’s third-floor gallery, filling the space with a diverse population of cast and audience, all partaking in this Filipino ritual.
What better way to sense the spirit but through ingesting its blessings? By beginning the celebration with a feast, Patawili allows every participant to ingest stories through these recipes. It allows the audience to be amongst the community and to view eating not merely as a physical act, but as a spiritual prayer.
This project was supported by Leeway Art for Social Change Grant and a residency micro grant by the Philadelphia Asian Performing Artist in partnership with the Asian Arts Initiative.
Culminating the year long residency, Patawili workshoped an experiential, multi-disciplinary performance installation. After interviewing 2nd generational Filipino-Americans, I merged these sourced materials into a night of visual art, film, food and dance theatre. This is a work in progress towards a larger durational work, hoping to gather more Filipino communities in New York and NJ area.
Patawili is inspired by my daughter, a second generation Filipino American whose experiences are different from my own, navigating America with her multiplicity of being American of Filipino heritage and being mixed raced. In this picture, 11 year old, Malaya Cassandra narrates the ancient mythology to audience members. This is my effort to teach her about our ancient spirituality through the only ancient Filipinx scripture existing: folktales and myths.
Malaya instructs me to inscribe the ancient language, Baybayin. Using abstract choreographic techniques, I used my body parts to initiate the movement as I drew each character from the script on the space and on the floor, eventually forgetting the language completely and falling in desperation.
The Missing Posters Installation
Displayed on the gallery walls of Asian Arts Initiative are MISSING posters of Ancient rulers and gods from pre-colonial pre-Philippines. The impetus for this installation work are the interviews. Many participants shared that the language and many aspects of Philippine culture were not passed onto them, perhaps due to assimilation. They expressed feeling lost or othered. I related this to a cultural amnesia, the loss of history and identity due to colonialism.
This work is important to me because I see how my 2nd generation Filipino-American, preteen daughter, Malaya Cassandra, struggles to navigate America, with all her dualism. Making art is my way of communicating with her without being too abrasive about identity. I want to create a space for her and others who associate with the same complexities. It is important to create a space where we can be unapologetically Pinoys. It is important for us, immigrant parents to find creative ways to keep our culture and pass it on to our children.
In this video, I interviewed three 2nd generation on Filipinx ( Michaela Rada, Luisa Lynch, and Cat Ramirez ). This interview video shows the shared experience and the multilayers of being Filipinx in America.
This video was played on a loop in one of the rooms of a gallery space.
It was the first time I felt held and taken care of in a really long time. I couldn’t quite name it the other day...but it reminded me of being young again...and being nurtured...it helped me face some things today—that I had a really hard time naming. Salamat for being you.- Noel Ramirez
Hope this message finds you well amidst in our very crazy time. I love the moment that you created. Hell, it gave me more fire to do what I am doing here in NYC. I am always up for keeping the conversation going and unearthing a lot of our past and honing what we can do better as we move forward as Pilipinx Artist. I am slowly getting involved with the Babaylan Studies (https://www.centerforbabaylanstudies.org) to further more studies of what we talked about in our meeting.- JP Moraga
Ani! How do you say “sister?” Salamat again for your beautiful performance last night. I am still feeling so deeply the experience of being surrounded by Filipinx folks, feeling accepted, feeling like I belonged, feeling seen. It was truly transformative for me. - Zach Garlitos
Hi Ani! I met you at your Patawili performance in Philly, which was amazing btw. I’m a visual artist here in Princeton, NJ (central NJ) and I am planning a filam artist meetup in the next coming months here at my house. I have reached out to the NJ filam artist via the Filam Artist Directory. Would you be interested in coming as well?- Mic Boekellman