Hello friends! I’m writing this as the edges of last Friday’s Aquarian Full Moon wanes. This marks two lunar full moons since arriving back in Manhattan (NYC) on Turtle island (USA), after over a year on Bantayan island, Philippines, the original home of my parents & ancestors. Living through a pandemic on "paradise" island meant also grappling with the changing climate of tourism, marine environments & local community. There' still so much to process, in time, in tender remembering...
Just before I left Bantayan at the end of May, our local artist collective, Panlantawon, hosted "PUNDOK," where islander artists of different mediums gathered to learn from each other in community. Twas a beautiful, successful event! Using my funds received from The New School Fall 2020 Research Award, we were able to pay all participating artists for their creative time & contributions. That same week, I also finished my MA in Media Studies from The New School of Public Engagement (which I started in 2017!). Ultimately, my biggest learning treasure from this past year is language fluency in my native Bantayanon Bisayan, which allowed me to connect deeper to my family & community in ways I never imagined. Saying goodbye to garden that I cultivated, carrying all my plant medicine treasures, I departed from the island knowing there will be many returns to these roots.
But coming back in migrant diaspora, back into Lenape territories of Manhattan, New York City, I found myself wanting to deeply rest. Arriving at the end of Asian-American/Pacific Islander Heritage month, I felt it’s time to part ways with AAPI identity, which privileges American exceptionalism in a larger story of empire’s displacement of peoples. I am Bantayanon, Visayan, Philippine islander and migrant settler on Turtle Island, connected to global trajectories of Asian diaspora. Part of my work, as a healer and artist, for connecting struggles of Asian diaspora on indigenous lands, is with Red Canary Song. I'm so grateful for this collective in uplifting the rights & dignity of migrant Asian massage workers, whose survival at the edges of body, care and sex work are often subject to criminalization and marginalization. On our 3-day retreat in Flushing, we connected with other migrant body work organizations in Hong Kong, Taiwan & South Korea, as well as putting together foundations for outreach projects here in NYC. Looking forward to sharing our work!
For the first three weeks of June, fresh from finishing my MA, I began the next three-year learning journey of Dance Movement Therapy training at the 92Y. Due to COVID-related restrictions, we conducted this year's training all on zoom. For years, I've been offering movement-based workshops which I find often being described by participants as "healing," but without a therapy background, I felt unequipped to help process their experiences. As well, researching about Visayan festivals, dance & performance also pointed to the many ways that the paradigm of the dancer-healer exists in Visayan indigenous culture. Growing my healing arts practice through movement therapy modalities feels like tapping deep into intuitive, ancestral memory.
Always on the path of creative learning & conjuring, I’m so grateful to be an artist resident at the Sugar Hill Harlem brownstone of the Shipibo-Conibo Center, where I currently plant sit the rooftop garden. Anyone who's visited the house knows it is a magical space full of art, healing & honestly, spirits! Described as a "broad experiment in art, culture, politics and the afterlife," the center "promotes and perpetuates the creative life-ways of the Shipibo-Konibo People of the Peruvian Amazon." It is in this space, this home, where I have the privilege to fully rest, brew plant medicines, research, write, dream & heal.
Through July, I've slowly worked to design, bottle and prepare packaging to finally share the plant medicines & island handcrafts brewed from Bantayan, Philippines. Back in April Full Moon, I decided to finally release dreampr00fx (my previous herbal arts project), and re-emerge with a new vision of my healing arts practice rooted in the Visayan expression of pleasure. Kalami Spirit Arts roots healing in the sensual, pleasurable relationship to our diverse ecologies through bodywork, herbal plants, movement arts & cultural arts. Please check out the website & sign up for a bimonthly lunar newsletter!
Although I am 2 weeks post double vaccination, I am still uneasy about COVID safety protocols. There is this rush to return to "normal," but normal never set a safe pace for our nervous systems. As someone who actively chose not to have a full time office job, who has survived through creativity & dreaming & imagining new worlds, I have always followed my own rhythm. While I would love to butterfly more around the city, health is my priority. I am grateful for dearest friends & magical moments of re-connection back in the city, into the wider network of oceans beyond islands.
Until the next moon!