"People gather to remember, and collective memories inspire strength towards action."
This was the uplifting spirit present as Filipinos, Filipino-Canadians, and Canada's First Nations convened for a night of remembering and cultural exchange at Tini(g)Tipon: An Evening of Collaborative Performance, held last September 21, 2016 at the Scotiabank Dance Theatre in Vancouver.
The event gathered artists who explore indigenous knowledge through their works, highlighted solidarity with indigenous peoples, and provided a space for "sharing collective voices on empowerment, reconciliation, and healing".
“Tini(g)Tipon” is a Filipino term coined by the show’s directors Dennis Gupa and Alvin Tolentino to capture the collective spirit of gathering voices from indigenous Filipinos and Canada’s aboriginal peoples -- distinct, yet similar in many ways.
A creative contraction of two Filipino words “tinig” or “voice” and “tipon” or “gathering", the combination of these Tagalog terms with the parenthetical “g” in the middle results in a third concept: that of “the act of gathering” or “the gathered voices”.
The event featured cultural presentations on themes of social justice and human rights. Dance, art, and music performances illustrated the parallel stories of Filipino tribes and the First Nations.
A culturally diverse country, the Philippines is home to an estimated 14-17 million Indigenous Peoples belonging to 110 ethno-linguistic groups, who live in the country's mountains, forests, and coasts. Although they have their own land and culture, these groups often straddle the line between marginalization and poverty.
The third largest ethnic community in Canada, Filipinos still experience a lack of recognition of their skills in the labour market. For their part, First Nations communities continue to be displaced, fighting for representation and for their voices to be heard.
Although the groundwork is improving for these communities, much still lies ahead.
“... arts (play) an important and critical role in education and in strengthening our communities through cultural bridge-building, reflecting, and drawing out the participation of people from across diverse communities,” the event’s co-creators explained.
The evening showcased breakthrough performances from collective groups, First Nations, and Filipino Canadian artists including Kathara Pilipino Indigenous Arts Collective Society; Butterflies in Spirit; Grace Nono; Mutya Macatumpag; Co.ERASGA; Dancers of Damelehamid Company; Coastal Wolfpack Musqueam Group BC; Rulan Tangen; Sammay Dizon; Kris-belle Paclibar-Mamangun and Ronelson Dayao; and Jeremiah Carag. Bert Monterona's paintings were on display and Filipino delicacies were served by Migrante BC.
Tini(g)Tipon was a unique collaboration of Filipino Canadian and First Nations performance artists and advocacy groups, which it is hoped will indeed "inspire strength towards action" in improving the lives of these communities.
Iona Santos-Fresnoza was born in Tabuk in the Kalinga province of the Philippines. A passionate coffee advocate, she helped establish Coffee AID (Assistance for Indigenous Development), a not-for-profit community which aims to empower coffee growers in the Cordilleras through fair trade, capacity-building programs, and sustainable sourcing practices.