Migrante BC

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Migrante BC Youth:

Migrante BC Youth is the youth component of Migrante BC. It aims to reach out and organize Filipino immigrant and refugee youth through education workshops, cultural events, sports and political action. Filipino immigrant youth face issues that include racism and discrimination, family separation, employment, and identity.



Reference: Jane Ordinario and Carlie David 




Vancouver, BC.-- Migrante BC Youth launched its first collaborative mural project on YouTube using this link http://youtu.be/rOKMHUN0nRQ  in its remembering of the International Day of the Child which happened in November. The project was generously supported by the Canadian Council for Refugees Youth Network.

Under the guidance and encouragement of Bert Monterona, a well-known visual artist and art educator from southern Philippines,  members of Migrante BC Youth took up the brush and produced their first collaborative art work. An earlier workshop which focused on Filipino youth in Canada became the sounding board for the images and ideas that would later see life on the canvas.

The mural became the platform to illustrate the immigration journey of these Filipino youth and their families to a new life in Canada where two cultures, two lifestyles and two value  systems continue to challenge the youth and their families. “There is no one way to look at this mural,” explains Bert Monterona. “The young people look at the images that they draw and give colours to and they will tell you what they see.”

Carlie David who coordinated the youth mural project points out the themes in the mural. “The issue of  family reunification for many of our young Filipinos is in this canvas. The young people whose mothers came through the live-in caregiver program know this, and this is where the phrase when strangers reunite comes from. Several of the young artists for this mural are teens and young adults who have gone through that separation.”

“I like it that Tito Bert used the ancient Filipino script, the baybayin to spell out freedom on the canvas,” Lara Maestro remarks from the floor where she sat as she wielded her brush. Marjorie Eda adds, “There are so many symbols in this mural – the suitcase, the blond baby, the plane, the hug that could go on forever, the sad faces of the youth, the Canadian maple leaf and the Filipino sun, the dominance of the women, and the naked Filipina who leaves everything behind for the promise of a good life.”

The borders that frame the mural provided for the young artists their own small personal canvases to work on,  where they painted images which were the  quintessential “my Philippines/bayan ko” sentiments -- the hardy carabao, the mountain terraces up in the Cordillera, the stick figures carrying placards and banners in protest actions, the reds and blues of the Filipino flag and the constant yellow sun with its rays. Canada where new lives are built is reflected in the maple leaf, the joining of the two flags and the Canadian citizenship ceremony. The signature of Migrante BC Youth in its own little box is its own proclamation of ownership of the mural.

There is sadness and desperation in the mural but Monterona also sees the message of hope in it. The text against the blue waters sum up the sentiment of millions of Filipinos forced to find work overseas: “We dream of a society that will never be torn apart just for the need to survive.” And that is the nation that all Filipinos wish for their children, a sentiment woven into the song of A Nation for our Children/Isang Bansa Para sa mga Bata that is the background of the video.

Bert Monterona has inspired the youth that they can indeed take up the brush and tell their stories on canvas. The initial hesitation of the youth was replaced by serious work on the canvas, from picking out the colours on their palette-egg oxes, selecting their brushes to making their own drawings.

An internationally awarded artist, Monterona's most recent youth engagement was with the young students from John Oliver Secondary School and Trudeau Elementary on several mural projects. In 2009, he  also worked with youth and community members on the Shaughnessy Underpass Murals Project. In 2007, Monterona won the International Mural Festival and Competition in Manitoba and his mural can be seen in downtown Winnipeg.

Production and display spaces were generously provided by MLA Mable Elmore for Vancouver-Kensington at her Community Office. The mural is on display at Mable Elmore`s Community Office.