I wanted to share the project description of my Narrative Writing & Community Engagement Fellowship. ❤ Enjoy.
My narrative writing and community engagement fellowship centered on building a political community via writing within the Filipino American social justice movement. The threads of this movement is highly counteractive, engaging, and conflicting, but the FilAm movement is most centralized in the Bay Area due to many things: 1. SF carries the highest populace of Filipino immigrants/FilAms in the nation, 2. the history of the Black Panther Movement integrated with the fight against colonialism in the Philippines and against the Marcos Regime during the 1960s, and 3. the monument in the center of Union Square manifests the whitewashing of the Philippines’ past as a colony, and perpetuates the ongoing fight against U.S. policies and cultural erasure. My project, thus, manifested into two phases:
In phase one, I facilitated a community workshop in political writing with Anakbayan, a national democratic organization that protests U.S. neo-colonialization of the Philippines, and non-AB Filipino American writers who perceive the organization as “overly” militant. It was an act of community, a workshop that built a safe space for political organizers and writers to convene and talk about the role of writing in their political lives. It focused on building a understanding between the conflicted threads of the FilAm political movement in the Bay Area, and it allowed members of AB and non-AB members to disarm, self-reflect, and dialogue about political self-identity, practice mirroring and exposing the self, and deconstruct the Philippines’ colonized past. I brought in speakers (Rashaan Alexis Meneses and Barbara Jane Reyes), we dismantled geographical place and how it affects the impressions of a politicized identity, and we culminated the project through a political chapbook and a reading of participants at the Bayanihan Community Center in San Francisco. Phase one’s focus was to deepen my ties with the community, learn how political movements affect the varied selves of Filipino American activists and writers, and achieve community among the disenfranchised and marginalized, using writing as a tool to heal, expose, and build.
The second phase of this project is working with the youth and using writing to further solidify political bodies within the community. In fall 2013, I will teach a one-day writing conference with a senior high school class associated with Pin@y Educational Partnerships, a Fiipina/o American Studies curriculum and teaching pipeline. PEP is currently a service-learning program and partners with SF public schools located in the Excelsior neighborhood, which has the highest concentration of Filipina/o youth. The writing conference is a highly intensive workshop on political writing, where I will bring in speakers, writers and political activists, to create dialogue, serve the younger community by providing a safe space to write, and subvert the cultural erasure of U.S. colonialism. The project will culminate into an anthology and a reading of participants at the Filipino American International Book Fest at the SF Public Library in October 2013. Phase two’s focus is to use the political tools I learned from phase one and instill these tools of writing, archiving, and mental sustenance into the Filipina/o youth.
In summation, my narrative writing and community engagement project is about making and sustaining political bodies in the Filipina/o social movement and using writing as that unifying thread. It is about creating community among the diversified, marginalized, disenfranchised. After my project, I plan to continue my political work in the second biggest populace of Filipinos in America: Virginia Beach. The underlying thread that ties my community together is this notion of one body, hiya (shame), one narrative, one single story of Filipinos in America, oneness. But I personally believe that writing, as Junot Díaz said, “forces you to see every flaw.” My task is to introduce this nuanced and diverse balance and sense of self to my community, and I believe it is only through writing can political bodies survive, self-check, and heal.