Three Fantastic Filipino Artists You Should Know

Leave a comment

Notable conversations on the TTC, on Facebook and in coffee shops galore lead us to our next blog post. These conversations started with “Did you hear about…” and end with “…that’s fantastic, can’t wait to see what comes  next.” Some proud Pinoy action happening in Toronto.  So be in the know and remember these names and events.

Tala Berkes – Fashion Designer
Having recently submitted her thesis entitled “Sound As Signifier” Communication and Expression Through the Sound of Clothing” for her Masters of Arts in Fashion, Tala Berkes has been making headway since awarded the inaugural 2012 Elle Fashion Canada Graduate Award and appearing in the July issue of Elle Canada Magainze (right).

The Ryerson student has been researching the sound of clothing.  On her website Tala goes into further detail about her process…” was interested in looking at what role the sounds of our clothes play in communicating, but I also wanted to understand how sound could lead to a more holistic appreciation of our clothes, to a fuller sensory experience.”
Keep your eyes peeled for Tala Berkes and her  label Tala Kamea!

Hazel Venzon – Theatre Artist
Some may recognize the name, Yes she’s our Canadian Filipino Artists #2! Since our February posting, Hazel has re-located to Toronto and is currently working on a SummerWorks Live Art Installation.

As the largest juried festival in Canada featuring predominantly New Canadian plays, SummerWorks looks to program a festival that uniquely reflects Toronto and Canada’s cultural zeitgeist.

Hazel’s piece entitled “Small Embrace” combines Street Food and Conversation at the Corner of Queen and Dovercourt. A little birdie tells me that Tita Flips may be making an appearance. It’s FREE August 11,12, 18, 19 at 2pm

Diana Reyes aka Fly Lady Di – Dancer & Choreographer
Just recently Toronto- born dancer/choreographer/actor Diana Reyes  was at the Harbourfront Centre teaching FREE house dance and hip hop workshop.

Some of her first dance roles included a part in the movie Honey, as well as music videos for Fall Out Boy, Ashley Simpson, Tweet and Fabolous to name a few. She’s known around the world for her house dance freestyle of which she trained in her hometown of New York City. Di has recently choreographed the famed web series Prison Dancer. As she constantly learns and grows, she wants to continue spreading true dance culture worldwide!

You can catch her teaching House on Monday nights with O.I.P. Dance Centre, Home Of Do Dat Entertainment. You can also catch her  every Sunday 3-9pm at The London Tap House.

We at CBT wish to congratulate these ladies and wish them continued success!


Casey Mecija & Ohbijou at Luminato Sunday June 17th (free)

Leave a comment

Our beloved friends of Ohbijou will be performing at Festival Stage, David Pecaut Square, 55 John Street (next to Roy Thompson Hall) on the main stage. FREE!

Actually, I’m currently on “vacation” from CBT until June 18th because I’m working Luminato as the assistant associate producer. I had the pleasure of speaking with Luminato’s Music Curator, Derek Andrews, who had this to say about Ohbijou “…endearingly intense, intelligently quirky, poignantly propulsive, delicately orchestral, trancy, and beatlesque, they are a pleasure.”

Unfortunately I have my hands tied at the tiff Bell Lightbox for Luminato’s $5 film series but if you have time for a free concert; head on over to the “Hub” and catch them at 4:00PM

Ohbijou return with their third album: Metal Meets. To be released in North America by Last Gang (Metric, Crystal Castles, New Pornographers), Metal Meets is the band’s most mature and creative offering. Recorded by acclaimed producer, Jace Lasek (also of Besnard Lakes fame) in Montreal’s Breakglass Studios, Ohbijou presents an album that cements Casey Mecija, her sister Jenny Mecija, James Bunton, Ryan Carley, Anissa Hart and Heather Kirby demonstrate a relationship to each other and their instruments that is emotive and zealous. The band’s familial-like structure and unwavering support for each other is evident. Casey Mecija is a practitioner of love songs. Here, her audience is privy to a moody, more experimental lyricism and her words bespeak a passionate, rebellious desire. While producing a more complex sound, these songs remain hopeful, at moments pop-infused, and always melodic. Mecija’s vocals are layered atop her band’s skilled instrumentation.

Each band member meticulously conditions the album’s narratives with haunting arrangements. Unique to this album are song-writing contributions from Jennifer and Ryan. This is a resonant and infectious offering, guaranteed to satisfy the appetite of critics and audiences anxious for the band’s return. Their status as one of the most important bands at work in Canada, Ohbijou is renowned for their devotion to the city in which they live. Their lyrics and sounds have always paid homage to Toronto. Metal Meets, however, was crafted during retreats out of their city’s confines. This album is inspired by ventures to cabins in the woods, travel across Asia, Europe and North America (as they headlined tours), and lyrical reflections on familial bloodlines that move across borders. Taking inspiration from territories traversed outside of familiar realms was invaluable. Ohbijou has produced their most thoughtful and experimental record. In Metal Meets listeners will hear the band struggle to realign their sound, using delays, distortions and reverbs to capture a more pensive and experimental relationship to music. This is an album that will draw new audiences while expressing commitment to devoted fans.
Conceptually, Metal Meets draws on sites populated by rumbling volcanoes, deep lakes and haunted waterfalls, metals torn from damp earth, and dark desires usually uncommitted to words (Mecija sings, for example: “A parsing of this blood to find myself in you”). This is a poetic offering. The band retreated from the familiar in order to test the limits of their craft and attend to detail in a way they had not before. As a result, each song on the album is housed in a matrix of experimental effects and timbres. Listeners and audiences will feel Ohbijou come of age with this album, and their adulthood is more precocious and imaginative than their youth.

Casey Mecija, her sister Jenny Mecija, James Bunton, Ryan Carley, Anissa Hart and Heather Kirby demonstrate a relationship to each other and their instruments that is emotive and zealous. The band’s familial-like structure and unwavering support for each other is evident. Casey Mecija is a practitioner of love songs. Here, her audience is privy to a moody, more experimental lyricism and her words bespeak a passionate, rebellious desire. While producing a more complex sound, these songs remain hopeful, at moments pop-infused, and always melodic. Mecija’s vocals are layered atop her band’s skilled instrumentation. Each band member meticulously conditions the album’s narratives with haunting arrangements. Unique to this album are song-writing contributions from Jennifer and Ryan. This is a resonant and infectious offering, guaranteed to satisfy the appetite of critics and audiences anxious for the band’s return.

Last Night’s Supper by Jodinand Aguillon

1 Comment

Last Night's Supper by Jodinand Aguillon

Inspired by the home he grew up in, Art Director and Photographer Jodinand Aguillion (aka Jodee), gathered 13 Filipina artists-enterpenures and used food, fashion, installation art, social media and photography to celebrate our Filipino Culture for The Pearl Cultural Showcase at Miracle Thieves.  See the Photograph and other installations today until May 2, 2012

On Wednesday night myself and 12 fellow Filipinas gathered at Pretty Freedom to help our friend and feast on this glorious Filipino meal that included pancit, kare-kare and lechon. Jodee briefed us that the feeling of the shoot is “…REGAL REALNESS (powerful, bold, elegant – but not over the top) it’s a blend of Beyonce’s “Run The World” & “Joy Luck Club.”‘ We, the participants, noted that the set itself was striking, and filled with familiar symbols of our own childhood but with a contemporary flare.

Once we were ready to shoot, Jodee began by remarking how we inspire him on both personal and artistic levels. “It’s not a coincidence that you’re all here in this room. You all are powerful and instrumental to the success of our community and culture.” During the photoshoot our job consisted of talking, laughing, eating and of course calling Jodee’s mom to wish her a happy birthday. Jodee continued to talk about his upbringing and his mother as a constant source of  strength and inspiration.

Here are the 13 Filipina artists-enterpenures of Last Night’s Super are (from left to right)
Diana Reyes aka Fly Lady Di, painter, actor and dancer
Kristen Jordan, original member of CLUTCH Vol 1, Organizer Daps All Ages
Annalie Bonda, of The Chief Company
Tala Berkes
, Fashion Designer
Christine Mangosing
, Art Director & Designer at C*Mango Design
Maylee Todd, Multi-faceted artis
April Aliermo, of Hooded Fang & Phedre
Casey Mecija of Ohbijou
Eleanor Espiritu of Mirror Phase
Renna Reddie, Artistic Producer at the Carlos Bulosan Theatre
Renelyn Quinicot, CLUTCH Vol 4 member
Gerasil Coria
, Blogger
Charise Aragonza, CLUTCH Vol 4 member

The photo is currently gaining much attention across social media websites and receiving positive accolades.  More often than not Filipino Women are showcased through a male gaze.  All one has to do is Google “Filipino Women” and the computer screen is filled with predominately exoticized imagery and websites. On an intimate level the photographer wanted to pay homage to his friends and their accomplishments but this photo, the set, the food, and all that it encompasses establishes a demand for the evolving Filipino presence in our mainstream culture.

See the night through instagram

Jodinand Aguillon  is the Co-Owner and Creative Director of Pretty Freedom in Toronto’s Kensington Market, Shopcastr Retail Scout, Do-It-Yourself Innovator, Shotgun Wedding Set and Costumer Designer, Photographer and all round Renaissance Magic Maker.

Catering provided by the ever satisfying Tita Flips and her Scadding Court Food Stand and the lechon provided by Mang Bernard’s, who came to Toronto in 1961 and originally sold lumpia in Kensington Market, now in Parkdale he runs his own Filipino Grocery Store.

Make-up done by Gillian Alix and Vincent Trang. Last and certainly not least, Patricio Estebar as Jodee Photography mentor.

B R U H A : A CLUTCH Vol. 4 Exhibit

Leave a comment

Carlos Bulosan Theatre’s Community Partner
Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture presents
B R U H A : A CLUTCH Vol. 4 Exhibit


April 14, 2012
7:00 p.m.
167 Augusta Ave., Toronto in Kensington Market

Visual Art | Installation | Music | Photography | Performances + more

Charise Aragoza
Renelyn Quinicot
Victoria Marie
Victoria Bacnis
Diane Guison
Maureen Mendoza

Wednesdays & Thursdays
12 – 8 PM
Until April 28, 2012


CLUTCH is a free six-month arts-based program for young Filipina women to start a dialogue with each other, get mentorship from professional artists within the community, have access to professional tools to hone their creativity, define their identity, explore their cultural heritage, and tell their stories on their terms. CLUTCH aims to provide hands-on artistic and leadership development, through the exploration of cultural identity as the foundation for empowerment.

*Event* Risking Life & Liberty in Defence of Human Rights in the Philippines

Leave a comment

*Good in the Hood* Our Voices Will Not Be Silenced An Event Hosted by Anakbayan

They have three amazing guests from the Philippines including two recently released female political prisoners (including Angie Ipong,  CBT’s board president Martha Ocampo’s ate who was a political prisoner for 6 years).

Risking Life & Liberty in Defence of Human Rights in the Philippines
A discussion with human right defenders from the Philippines appearing in Toronto as part of a cross-Canada tour
Saturday, March 31, 2012
3:00-6:00 p.m.

University of Tornto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)
Room 5250
(St. Geroge Subway station, Bedford exit.)
BISHOP REUEL MARIGZA: General Secretary, United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and Vice-Chairperson, National Council of Churches in the Philippines

Community health worker, active member of Tanggol Bayi (Defend Women-Association of Women Health Rights Defenders) and acting coordinator of the Council on Health and Development. Former political prisoner.ANGELINA BISUÑA IPONG:

Coordinator, Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Association of Ex-Detainees Against Detention and Arrest). Former political prisoner.

TOUR LOCATIONS: Toronto: March 27-31 / Ottawa: April 1-4 / Montreal: April 5-8 / Winnipeg: April 9-11 /
Vancouver: April 12-16

Bern Jagunos, Program Coordinator, Asia Pacific Partnerships, United Church of Canada. (416) 231-7680
Connie Sorio, Coordinator, Asia-Pacific Partnerships, KAIROS. (416) 463-5312 ext 240

Caroline Mangosing – Canada’s Top 25 Immigrants 2012

Leave a comment

Congratulations to our Community Partner Kapisanan’s Executive Director Caroline Mangosing who was nominated as Canada’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants of 2012 by CLUTCH Vol 1. participant Maricar Ranada. Here’s her reasonings for nominating Caroline.

Caroline is one of 75 shortlisted candidates from all across Canada – it’s a very impressive list including Toronto’s K’naan, Ward 27 Councillor & LGBTQ activist Kristyn Wong-Tam and MMP (and Kensington neighbour) Olivia Chow.

One of the hardest things one person can go through is to leave their homeland and try to survive in an adopted one. As an immigrant in this multicultural land, I was not an exception to that. I too had a challenging time settling in Canada.

In our life’s journey, we meet people who share our own story, who help us grow, who inspire us. About five years ago, only months after I arrived in Canada, I met one. I met Caroline Mangosing, the co-founder of a Filipino arts-based, youth-focused center, Kapisanan.

Maricar Ranada before she moved to Canada (above) and Maricar as a CLUTCH Vol.1 participant (below). Click for bigger photo

As a fresh, young newcomer searching for a place to belong, Caroline and the Kapisanan team welcomed me and offered me a more positive way of adapting to a new environment. Through their program, “Clutch” which helps young Filipino-Canadian women hone their creativity, gain empowerment and explore their identity, I was able to experience an amazing journey in the world of arts.

Throughout the six-month program, I met and shared a dialogue with a wonderful and talented group of people. They were all supportive and generous in sharing their knowledge and talents to us, the participants. During those times, I remember calling Caroline as our “Ate“, Filipino word for older sister. As our Ate, she was always their to guide and support us. Her story is like our own. She was once a young newcomer who wanted to fit in, who wanted to be heard. And through her love of arts, her passion and her perseverance, she was able to build a haven for Filipino youth to develop their talents while they recognize their roots and identity, all through the lens of arts and culture.

Thanks to Caroline’s creative way of helping young people like me, I had an easier transition to adjust to a new country. It helped me embrace another culture while maintaining and remembering my own. I am proud and honored to have met a person as passionate and as inspiring as Caroline. For me, she’s one of the people who truly make a difference.

Please vote for her for Canada’s Top 25 immigrants 2012. Let’s support her and all the people that make Kapisanan thrive as they continue helping the community and inspiring the youth.

============== TAGALOG STATEMENT BELOW ===========

Isa sa pinakamahirap na pagsubok sa isang tao ay ang lumayo at mamuhay sa ibang bansa. Bilang isang imigrante dito sa bansang binubuo ng iba’t ibang lahi at kultura, nahirapan ako sa umpisa na umayon sa aking bagong kapaligiran.

Salamat na lang at nahanap ko ang Kapisanan Center at nakilala ko si Caroline Mangosing. Masayang malaman na may isang grupo ng mga Pilipino na talagang pinahahalagahan ang sariling kultura. Kasama ng isang kaibigan, binuo ni Caroline ang isang “Filipino arts-based, youth-oriented community center” na may layuning suportahan ang mga kabataang Pinoy sa pagtuklas ng kanilang kultura at pinagmulan sa pamamagitan ng sining.

Sa tulong at inspirasyong ibinigay sa akin ng Kapisanan na pinangungunahan ni Caroline, natutunan kong yakapin ang dalawang magkaibang kultura. Sa pamamagitan ng sining, napawi kahit papano ang aking kalungkutan at pangungulila sa bayang kinagisnan.

Ikinararangal ko na makilala si Caroline at ang mga bumubuo sa Kapisanan. Maraming salamat at nandiyan kayo, hindi lamang para gabayan ang mga kabataang Pilipino sa pagkilala ng kanilang kultura kundi para magsimula ng iba’t ibang aktibidad na may layuning tumulong sa mga nangangailangan nating mga kababayan malayo man tayo sa Pilipinas.

Atin pong suportahan ang kanilang adhikain sa pamamagitan ng pagboto kay Caroline na mapabilang sa “Canada’s Top 25 Immigrants. Maraming salamat.

Happy Family Day from CBT

Leave a comment

Taking a less formal approach on the community blog – I thought to wish you all a Happy Family Day (Ontario Statutory Holiday) and tell you about the first time I went to the Philippines and met my family, all five Titas, all 25+ cousins, and all extended family.

For those who don’t know, I’m Canadian born with both Filipino and Scottish backgrounds. My father came to Canada from Scotland in 1965 and my mother came to Canada in 1981, they met years later in Toronto on a blind date in Toronto and fell in love. To give you a little more context my Lolo and Lola migrated to Canada under “Family Care” in 1992 my Lola “hated the cold” and migrated back within a few years while my Lolo stayed, and  became a citizen before his death in 2006. He is buried in Canada.

There was a lot of pressure, both conscious and subconscious, surrounding my December 2008 visit. I was fearful about how I would be perceived, my appearance, my upbringing and my lack of language all contributed to my growing anxieties of the unknown.  I couldn’t do research on the area, demorgraphics (and shark attack stats) etc. My mom’s small village which boasts a healthy population of six people isn’t even available on Google Maps! I was never told a single story about where or how my mother grew up, there are no photographs, home movies or letters, I was only given snip-its memories in the form of passive comments before the conversation was change.

I thought that my family would tell me stories upon stories about my Lolo and help me gain insight into my mother’s upbringing and her relationship with her Mother. My mother is the middle of five sisters and the only one who moved to Canada, via London, as part of the Foreign Domestic Worker Program (before it was called the Live-In-Caregiver Program.) I saw my mother as a balikbayan and how that affected her relationship with each family member. I was being treated like an outsider by my mother and was frustrated with her while she was able to grieve with everyone since the passing of their patriarch. I wanted to grieve too. (hashtag family drama).

As a first-generation Canadian I feel ever more enriched knowing where (both) my parents come from. My discoveries, shape and inform the person that I am. I urge and encourage children of migrant parents to keep asking questions and let your parents tell stories about the home-land.

Years later, an another trip in 2010, my relationship with my family is wonderful but it was a turbulent time trying to seek history when the history was deemed irrelevant compared to the current family dynamics.

So, today I’m working from my parents home – my dad and I are trying to fend for ourselves in the kitchen while my mother is in the Philippines visiting. She  phoned last night to tell me that everything is “fine” and I gave her a gentile reminder that it’s family day to which she barked “What day? don’t buy me a card, save your money!”

Salamat! Thank you! To my all time favourite Santa Guerrilla for letting me use their song “Oh Woman” for the video. Please check out Alex Punzalan’s new song  and like them on Facebook “Pacific Blues Music

Older Entries