bigbigbigthings bigbigbigthings

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bigbigbigthings  im in honolulu working on my mfa 📸

While at the @philamuseum I noticed a giant wallpaper depicting various scenes from the Pacific, the central focus, despite the general merriment of warriors and topless ladies on land, is the ship battle happening in the distance - a depiction of Captain Cook’s death in Hawai’i in 1779. Colonial European thought continues to surprise and shock me in the way it romanticizes and beautifies it’s absolutely horrific, racist, murderous acts in distant lands, and then disguises them by hailing the “noble savage” in its artworks, plasters them throughout their homes, and we continue to marvel at them in museums. While this wallpaper has some pastoral vignettes of scenes from Captain Cook’s travels throughout the Pacific islands - Tongva, Hawai’i, New Caledonia - studying #indigenouspolitics has taught me to never trust the stories of the conqueror, no matter how pretty the picture is painted. How do we keep #decolonizingmuseums? Check the wikipedia page on this for more details on the panels:

I’ve got cousins and aunties and uncles all over the place, so while I was in Philly of course I had to see my kasinsins - for the first time! @ayavaldez @jackslynn @jasmine.valdez took me to @phillymagicgardens and @rdgterminalmkt and #ElfrethsAlley, the oldest residential street in the colonial US where and older man gave us the evil eye for jumping and laughing too loud :) We talked haunted houses, nurse burnout, tattoos, FOOD, speaking Pangasinense, legalizing weed in New Jersey, family histories, and how important it is to know our mother language, Ilokano! can’t wait to see these beautiful, artistic, smiling faces again in the Philippines in January! good style must also run in our genes lol! Gotta love your family, no matter how far away! Agyamanak unay for showing me such a good time 💐🌺🌻👩🏽‍🎨

Special dedication post to my dear Amiga and long time adventure companion, Sughey, miss @susitaaa, an incredibly talented multi-lingual translator and writer who I have no doubt will go down in history (the history written by US) as being key in the push to have literary works translated and published by native speakers, those familiar with the tongue and culture from which poetry and literature emerge! How many laughs and rants and tears have we produced at home, late at night, or in strange beds, in the woods, delirious at the irony of our own existence and the ridiculousness of so many situations we find ourselves in as brown people living with white supremacy at every turn? She is my hero in language studies and I can’t wait to read her words, published, on paper, so I and everyone else can die laughing and sobbing along with her eternally. Love you, sister, meeting up in Philly, the epicenter of American pride and independence, was no coincidence, it was a match strike for both of us. Plus we love snacks so no matter what happens with our careers at least we know we won’t be hungry (unless we get fancy vegan food in which case we will need to search for late night cookies to make up for it). You make me want to speak and write and tell our stories even more! Gracias por tu amistad y apoyo, te quiero y respeto mucho! ❤️❤️❤️

Woah Philadelphia is so cool!! I had such a good time exploring the city, thanks so much to the crew at @asianartsphilly for inviting me out and for putting together such an important show and programming around #WORK and #workingconditions! I learned so much from everyone who tasted #sukangilokos with me at the table and shared the ways that they use vinegar — I didn’t know that drinking it can make you more flexible! If you’re around please go check out the show in Chinatown up through December. Grateful to be sharing space with other #AsianAmerican artists considering our shared histories and futures. ***Also special love to my bff @susitaaa for coming out from NYC for the opening and for this great 📸 teamwork literally does make the dream work!***

It’s muggy as hell in Philadelphia but made it all the way from Honolulu! thanks to Juliana Reyes for covering #WorkingConditions for the @phillyinquirer, looking forward to the conversations around the work in this show. See you all tomorrow night at @asianartsphilly ❤️ Link in bio to the full article!

Where would I be without this group of revolutionary language learners?? The #ilaing3 crew is dedicated to learning #ilokano and perpetuating our culture, from food to craft to bad words to niog (coconut) drinking. It’s been such a hilarious and tear jerking ride studying and traveling with these folks. We’re moving forward with big plans, let us know if you know anyone on Oahu who is interested in learning Ilokano! Feeling inspired by Hawaiian and Samoan language schools and indigenous #selfdetermination movements that stress the importance of reclaiming and valuing the mother tongue as what #BenedictAnderson calls “language of power”. Also thriving on the importance of backyard meetings and major diy efforts to maintain programs like this with $0 and only minimal support from institutions. As a group, anything is possible! Ammuyokami!

Slippery okra fingers, long kabatiti squash, purple eggplants and calabaza growing close to the ground, stepping onto my ancestral farmland fields feels so powerful yet ordinary, like it was the millionth time and the first, I’m awkward and completely comfortable at once. It was difficult to take photos because I just wanted to stand in awe and contemplation and joy in the rain. I felt shy next to the massive throbbing river gushing with rainwater where my grandmother and her kabsat brothers and sisters used to play. I felt small and ignorant of the manual labor and toil it requires to feed the many tenant farmers on the land, their families, the animals. I struggled picking okra and my cousins taught me the easy back-and-forth snap-off technique. I tried not to step in cow takki. I held back judgement of the farmers as they sprayed the crops. My #firstworldproblems urbanized self felt guilty for knowing so little about growing things, eager for what is really an intuition that I’ve been slowly working on recovering. Our families wanted so badly for us to have “a better life”, right? Yet our midwestern American lifestyles lead us further and further away from what #VandanaShiva says: “Seed is not just the source of life. It is the very foundation of our being.” My goals are to keep connecting with the plants and land of my ancestors, using photo as my tool, the documentation of this endless #decolonial process. 🌿🤞💖💚💚💚

Excited to be heading to Philadelphia for the opening of Working Conditions, a show about Asian American labor at @asianartsphilly! I’ll be doing a tasting of #sukangilocos at my vinegar lamisaan, stop by on Sept 7 from 6-8pm if you’re in Philly!! Much thanks to Melissa & the crew at AAI for their interest in my project and for believing in #fairwagesforall, including working artists! “Asian American lives are shaped by the concept of labor, whether working in factories overseas, as caretakers in the United States, or performing the emotional labor of smiling every time someone asks “Where are you from?”. The artists in Working Conditions utilize a variety of strategies—performance, video, painting, installation, sculpture, and mixed media—to illuminate the ways in which labor operates on a global and a personal level.” Visit for more info.

#filipinoamericanhistory #filipinoamericanartists

A trip to the Philippines wouldn’t be complete without #pamilya!! Even though it was short, having to chance to meet my cousins and visit my grandmother’s house and land was such a powerful experience, I’m still recovering, have so much to think and write about. Mellani and her family took me all around Rosales to taste patupad and tupig, tuba, and fed me the most delicious pinakbet (pork-free just for me!) and grilled catfish, dilis, okra, and all kinds of fresh veggies at home. We are a talkative and silly bunch, can’t wait to get everyone together again for a bigger reunion! Definitely felt the spirits of #ancestors deeply in this place, Pangasinan, “the place of salt”.

Hands down favorite day: planting rice! Honestly love rice so much, I felt so ashamed that I had no real idea of how the rice plant grows, is cultivated, and the incredible work it takes to plant and harvest. Being up to your knees in mud in the hot sun, bent over, or trying to save the kapagayan, rice fields, from torrential rain.... my grandmother and even my aunties worked on the farm and through the hard work of my ancestors I am privileged enough to not have to do this kind of physical labor to survive— but what does it mean when we lose this connection to the land, when we feel foreign on our ancestral soil? Everything emerges from the mud. #iliang3 #riceplanting #mudbetweenourtoes #philippines #riceisnice

Native delicacies of the #Ilocos! Empanada dipped in #sukangilocos vinegar, fresh maiz picked that morning, saba (so many kinds of bananas!), delicious hot fluffy pandesal, tupig and a million varieties of kankanen rice cakes! Everything so fresh, finding plenty to eat even as a vegetarian 🌽🍌🥥🍉 #ilaing3

Made it to the warm waters of the #WestPhilippineSea 🌊 one of the few unexplored oil-rich areas on earth where China is building militarized man-made islands from dredged reefs that encroach upon the Philippine EEZ (exclusive economic zone). Wishing for a day when international cooperation will be to protect our fragile ecosystems and ways of living with the ocean, instead of arbitrary national boundaries protecting the interests of rich corporations exploiting our precious natural resources.

To read the full 2016 Arbitration from the Hague on confirming Philippines’ rights to the area visit:

#saveourseas #noborders #candoncity #philippines #environmentalactivism #oiladdictionisreal #ilaing3

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