Academicians, advocates gather to review current research on issues, challenges facing community

Community News & Features Dec 18, 2015 at 5:30 pm
Research Summit participants  PHOTO: JC BONIFACIO

Research Summit participants
PHOTO: JC BONIFACIO

The Filipino-Canadian Action Research Summit

By Dr. Philip Kelly

Questions of immigration policy, community building and Filipino identity were all on the agenda at the Filipino-Canadian Action Research Summit on December 5th.

The summit brought together researchers, artists and community members who had collaborated in research initiatives and arts projects examining Filipino experiences in Canada. The event was organized by a group of community advocates and university researchers affiliated with GABRIELA Ontario, York University, Ryerson University, and the Community Alliance for Social Justice. The event was funded by the York Centre for Asian Research at York University and took place at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management.

A wide range of research and arts projects were described in two panels. The first, moderated by Nicole Cajucom of Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture, focused on issues of Gender, Generation and Sexuality. Artist and educator Marissa Largo described her doctoral research into the ways in which Filipino-Canadian identity is being articulated through the visual arts. Sexual identities were the focus of presentations by Professor Robert Diaz and doctoral student Fritz Pino, both part of a larger project entitled Diasporic Intimacies examining queer identities in the Filipino community. The role of fashion in Filipino identity was explored by Professor Denise Cruz and Caroline Mangosing, who told the story of VINTA – a line of haute couture dresses (including the classic terno) designed by Mangosing and ethically manufactured in the Philippines.

Dr. Rupa Banerjee

Dr. Rupa Banerjee

Attention then turned to the experiences of Filipino youth. Representing the Filipino Youth Transitions project at York University, Mila Astorga Garcia, Veronica Javier and Philip Kelly presented findings from the project under the title ‘Filipino Youth Pathways: Echoes of Deprofessionalization’. Another member of the FYTIC team, Jennilee Austria, read from her young adult novel ‘The Filipino Heroes of Bathurst Street’. Jennilee’s book (forthcoming in 2016) draws on her experience working with Filipino youth in schools and provides a unique resource where Filipino youth will find their experiences reflected.

The second panel, on ‘Labour, Care and Migration’ was chaired by Pinky Paglingayen, a former caregiver and now a settlement counselor. After Valerie Damasco described the early migration experiences of Filipina nurses in the 1950s and 1960s, several presentations focused on the more recent experiences of live-in caregivers. Conely de Leon presented her doctoral project at York University examining the diverse ways in which family members extend relations of love and caring between Canada and the Philippines. Mithi Esguerra and Rupa Banerjee then explained the results of the Gabriela Transitions Survey, which traces the experiences of caregivers after they finally settle with permanent residence in Canada. A different perspective on caregiver experiences was provided by York University’s Patrick Alcedo, whose feature documentary film A Piece of Paradise will be released in 2016. Patrick screened a 10 minute clip from the film, tracing the lives of several caregivers from Aklan. Yet another artistic medium was explored by Althea Balmes and Jo Simalaya Alcampo, whose comic book, Kwentong Bayan: Labour of Love, is a collaboration to popularize the struggles of caregivers in Canada. Rounding out the panel, Ethel Tungohan described her recent research with Temporary Foreign Workers in Alberta and their struggles with precarious status in Canada.

Conely de Leon, Wayne Chu, Dr. Ethel Tungohan, Dr. Rupa Banerjee, Dr. Philip Kelly, Jesson Reyes

Conely de Leon, Wayne Chu, Dr. Ethel Tungohan, Dr. Rupa Banerjee, Dr. Philip Kelly, Jesson Reyes

After these diverse and detailed presentations, attendees at the summit broke out into three discussion groups. One, chaired by Geraldina Polanco asked what lines of advocacy should be pursued, especially with a new federal government in power. A second, moderated by Ben Bongolan, asked how community associations and service organizations could better support the needs of Filipino-Canadians. A third, led by Mithi Esguerra, considered the role of the arts in building advocacy campaigns for issues affecting the Filipino community.

The summit was closed with comments by Dr Maruja M.D. Asis, Research Director at the Scalabrini Migration Centre in Quezon City and a leading scholar of Filipino migrations around the globe, and by Jesson Reyes, a regional coordinator with Migrante Canada.

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Dr. Philip Kelly teaches in the Geography Department at York University and is Director of the York Centre for Asian Research YCAR)

Mila Astorga-Garcia and Dr. Maruja M.D. Asis

Mila Astorga-Garcia and Dr. Maruja M.D. Asis

Jo Simalaya Alcampo

Jo Simalaya Alcampo

Althea Balmes

Althea Balmes

Comic book page on caregivers by Alcampo and Balmes

Comic book page on caregivers by Alcampo and Balmes

Mithi Esguerra and Sarah Salise

Mithi Esguerra and Sarah Salise

Dr. Ethel Tungohan

Dr. Ethel Tungohan

Crystal Gaudet and Geraldina Polanco

Crystal Gaudet and Geraldina Polanco

Ben Bongolan (10 PHOTOS: HG)

Ben Bongolan
(10 PHOTOS: HG)