Magkaisa Centre Packing Up Another Maleta
Toronto, ON – February 1, 2010 – During the November 2008 “Making the Filipino Community Count In Canada’s Future” conference, Toronto was honoured by the presence of several art works produced by the Kalayaan Centre in Vancouver and the Kapit Bisig Centre in Montreal. Most favourable were two pieces: a series of acrylic painted suitcases (mga maleta) titled the Maleta Family (produced as part of the Maleta art project) and Scrap: A Political Fashion Show. Through cartoon caricatures, The Maleta Family alluded to – visually – the harsh reality that Filipino families face coming to Canada, such as, but not limited to: the de-skilling of our community into service sector jobs and the deceiving nature of the Live-In Caregiver Program as an immigration program. Scrap: A Political Fashion Show presented the stories of Filipino caregivers through projection, audio voice-overs, and from the women themselves dressed in specifically “themed” gowns representing their challenges under a modern-day slavery program. In short, these works represent what the Maleta art project is all about: presenting the issues of Filipino–Canadians through the multi-disciplined medium of Art and through a community-based effort.
For the Magkaisa Centre, 2010 marks the beginning of the Maleta project in Toronto and also the 10th year anniversary of the Philippine Women Centre of Ontario. Maleta is not a separate program; rather, it is part of this celebration of 10 years of Filipino women’s organizing in Ontario. Unlike the initial Maleta project by the Kalayaan Centre in Vancouver, Magkaisa’s Maleta will be a long term project with monthly meetings – not just a series of workshops. Moreover, the Maleta project will be interwoven in all the projects of this celebratory 1oth year anniversary – including the ongoing Anti-Racism Education Research Project, International Women’s Day in March and the National Roots, Rhymes and Resistance in May. The project will include guests from Kapit Bisig Centre, Kalayaan Centre and collaborations with the Macaw Hawk Youth Council.
The main components of this project, however, will be the community effort to produce works that speak about the issues and connect back to the Filipino community’s need for a just and genuine settlement and integration in Canada. Furthermore, Maleta will encourage our community to continue deepening their understanding of Canada and our community’s role in this country’s future by focusing on four major concerns: Combating systemic racism and social exclusion; Overcoming economic marginalization; Making the youth count in our Community’s future; and, Enhancing women’s equality and human rights.
Art is an aspect of culture. For ethnic communities in Canada, multiculturalism has helped shape what that culture looks like and how it is consumed. In the Filipino community, it is a struggle to maintain Filipino culture and stop it from becoming merely entertainment. “We didn’t come here to dance for anyone. But, we’ll dance if we feel like it,” says Reuben Sarumugam, member of UKPC/FCYA–ON. The Maleta art project is a way for us to recognize our militant history from the Philippines, our history of women’s organizing here in Canada and an opportunity to carry on the legacy of our rich culture of resistance.
Magkaisa Centre Organizations:
Philippine Women Centre of Ontario
SIKLAB Ontario (Sulong, Itaguyod ang mga Karapatan ng mga Manggagawang Pilipino sa Labas ng Bansa/Advance the Struggle of Filipino Workers)
Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada/Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance–Ontario
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