Last Thursday, a visit to San Francisco’s 1:AM Gallery for an urban contemporary art exhibit called “Tabi Tabi Po” changed the way I imagined the spirits that roam the physical and mystical world of the Philippines. The group exhibition features different artists’ takes on the kinds of beings that live in fables and oral histories. From seeing former Philippines’ First Lady Imelda Marcos interpreted as a monster to enjoying a b-boy version of a dwarf, this exceptional exhibit displays the wonderment of stories passed on through generations. “Tabi Tabi Po” continues a cycle that allows experiential art and Filipino folkloric narratives to survive.
At the gallery, each step from one painting or multimedia piece to another invited me into these artists’ elucidations while reminding me of short stories my immigrant family members told. I grew up Filipina through my family’s connections to the motherland, the Philippines. My parents’ stories, my grandmother’s cooking, my ability to fluently understand my mother’s native tongue, Ilokano, and my cousins’ ghost stories heavily shaped the way I learned about my Filipina American (Pinay) culture and identity. (more…)