Walay Naa Diri/ There is Nothing Here (2015)
An autobiographical film essay in four parts in the voice of a third-generation Filipino-Chinese about dealing with modern anxieties of having to have a sense of place, a definite national identity. It tries to explore the notions of race and identity by juxtaposing an assemblage of moving images culled from negotiating memories (going back and forth from Southern China, and the “motherland” Philippines), with a voiceover of an essay written about the lifelong journey of attempting to understand oneself vis-a-vis identity in the context of the layered post-colonial realities of being Filipino.
In the end there is a realization that there might be nothing to understand. The state of confusion paradoxically comes with a state of peaceful acceptance of said confusion. Playing with the nonfiction elements in video, this piece attempts to arrive at an inscription that's neither concrete nor certain. It is a space between, a performance of the present, and the present-past.
A Memory of Empire (2018)
co-directed with Manuel Domes
Using the life story of Norma Limoso “Dipearli”, a former teacher from Iloilo who is now in her 70s, as its backbone, A Memory of Empire unravels the complex and complicated history of the Mindanao conflict through a personal narrative. In 1960, Norma became part of the state-sponsored resettlement from Panay towards Mindanao, the then Muslim-dominated “land of promise” in the Southern Philippines. She and her companions settled in the town Columbio in the former Empire Province of Cotabato, where traditional Muslim clans ruled over social and political life. At 23, Ms. Limoso married Datu “Boy” Dilangalen, a Muslim royal leader, without the approval of her Christian relatives in a Muslim rite deep in the mountains. Her husband would later on become influential in the founding of the Moro National Liberation Front, the first Muslim armed group in open rebellion against the Philippine government.
Funded by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and the Film Development Council of the Philippines.
A longer version of this documentary is in progress.
The Sea is History
(interactive documentary, 2018)
The Sea is History is an interactive documentary that allows an immersive experience of these spaces through 360 degrees videos and a series of meditative documentary short videos.
This project should not be taken as a historical documentation but rather as an exploration of the places where history as connected to the sea took place in Panay island and how these spaces are now as I experienced them whether they still contain monuments or vestiges of their historical importance. This project should be treated as like personal travel narratives of someone who is discovering the island as a newcomer.
Funded by the Commission on Higher Education Grant, and UP Visayas Humanities Division.
Tracking Incendiary Traces
(sound art) 2021
The cover art image that accompanies this sound piece is a composite of different pictures of ruined buildings as a result of the NATO bombings of Belgrade in the 90s. The pictures have been converted into sound files using software and mixed with found audio to create a sound story that reimagines as though the buildings are bomber planes. What if the buildings retain traces of the airstrikes not just through their facades but through sounds? What if the buildings become bombers themselves turning the narrative of war inversely on itself?
This piece was created during the artist-residency at Belgrade Art Studio
Waves of Time and Sea
(sound and video installation) 2021
"Waves of Time and Sea" was part of the Cast But One Shadow exhibition at the UP Vargas Museum launching tomorrow, September 24 and runs til January 2022. This piece was inspired by the book The Ties That Bind which chronicles the friendship of the Sultan of Sulu and the Emperor of the Qing Dynasty in the 14th century. It plays with the historical affinities between China and the Philippines complete with baggage and all using popular iconographies such as the ubiquitous lucky cats waving in different speeds as sound of playing voices in Mandarin based on a copy of the archival letters of the Emperor to the Sultan of Sulu like a harmonic choir of sorts, programmed by Arduino triggering servo motors.
As a bridge to these cats, a pangalay dancer superimposing a composite of the sea plays in the video monitor as Tausug words roll like typewriter scrolls ala karaoke videos harking to the ubiquitous CDs sold in that part of the country (partly inspired by anthropologist Jowel Canuday's dissertation on the materialities of culture that speaks of cosmopolitanism in that part of the Philippines before the colonial period).
"Cast But One Shadow" is the second exhibition of a long-term and iterative research project by Kathleen Ditzig and Carlos Quijon, Jr. that situates Southeast Asia as a compelling coordinate to review the continued resonances of global solidarities. Developed in partnership with KONNECT ASEAN, an ASEAN Foundation arts program funded by the Republic of Korea.
A Ritual of Affliction
(experimental essay film, work-in-progress) 2021
grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts Cinema Quarantine Project
This essay film explores the notion of liminality as a phase artists on standby like myself are caught in the betwixt and between during the pandemic. It also plays with what anthropologist Victor Turner in his discussion on liminality that there are 4 degrees of liminal and one of this is he calls "ritual of affliction" during the a time of massive disease in a community. Among the 14th century Mindanawons, wearing a gold mask during rituals of disease and death was practiced.
(video projection looped, 2011, New York)
Singe-channel video projection/looped for Imagining Language Project (New York) A video art projection piece that plays with the texts and audio extracted from human rights research and archival news reportage on the Davao Death Squad, mixed with a radio recording of Mayor Duterte’s popular statement regarding his links to the vigilante group. This was created before Duterte became president. Now, it is more relevant than ever as his drug war has become a national project which allegedly still involves extrajudicial killings by the Davao Death Squad.
Ligaya, a filmmaker, stays with her uncle Primo in Iloilo, to finish a documentary film about her roots. Motivated by the need to understand why her family in Cotabato resists her plan to marry her Muslim boyfriend Malik, Ligaya is determined to find answers from her uncle. Malik is an orphan whose parents were killed in a fire during one of the massacres perpetrated by the Christian militia known as the ilaga during the war in the 1970s in Central Mindanao.
Ligaya seeks to find answers from her uncle about his past life in Mindanao during the tumultuous 1970s. Armed with her camera, she doggedly observes her uncle doing his rituals, practicing arnis martial art movements, persistently pushing him to answer the questions about the past. Primo, on the other hand, resists Ligaya’s questions. When finally Primo agrees to a video recorded interview, Ligaya is faced with the weight of the wartime secret she unwittingly unravels.
Nominated for Best Short Film, Salamindanaw Asian Film Festival Mindanao shorts category,
Nominated for Best Short Film, Sharjah Film Platform, UAE, 2019
House in Pieces (2020)
co-directed with Manuel Domes
Winner Golden Hercules Award at Kasseler Dokfest, Germany 2020, Winner Best Documentary at Mimesis Documentary Film Festival, USA 2021
A war between government and ISIS-affiliated jihadists in Marawi, Philippines, forced hundreds of thousands to flee from their homes. After the war, residents struggle to rebuild their homes and lives in a deformed city.
The film unfolds as an emotional journey weaving together the stories of its protagonists over a period of two years. Displaced couple Yusop and Farhanna and their children yearn for freedom, income, and comfort after returning to their city. But even to return to normalcy is already a struggle. Nancy, a once wealthy woman, has to cope with her loss of home in an evacuation shelter where she will have to remain for years. An anonymous driver with striking insights shuttles back and forth between places and stories around a city which will never be the same again.
A Hallucinations of a Dumaguete Landing & House of Memory
Looped two-monitor video installation
Hallucinations of a Dumaguete Landing (after Paul Pfeiffer) is a looped video based on the image of a postcard of Thomasite missionaries landing on the shore of Dumaguete who later were part of the founding of Silliman University in 1901. I found the postcard, among the pile of archived documents about the Endhouse Art Center that once was part of Silliman University in the 90s.
The second video that dialogues with the first, entitled House of Memory, is based on a painting of the Endhouse Art Center, which was once the residence of Albert Faurot, an art collector and former professor at Silliman.I play with the theme of the persistence of memory through repetition but such repetition don’t necessarily establish presence. Documents like the images in the two videos, can also function as a questioning of existence in a more instructive sense. No one speaks of the Endhouse gallery anymore as if it hasn’t existed in the history of artists in Dumaguete and Silliman University. In the same way, the history of the missionaries landing in Dumaguete, as documented in the postcard, is no longer spoken of in terms of problematizing the colonial history of the place. These two instances in the history of Dumaguete, particularly in Silliman University, seem to be disparate events, but they are interconnected as evidences of the short-sightedness of remembrances.I treat the videos as my own personal reckoning of my formation as an artist–both a product of colonial American education, and of the group of dreamers that once gathered throughout the two-year existence of the Endhouse gallery in Silliman University.
Exhibited at the Place of the Region as Contemporary, UP Vargas Museum, 2018.
In the end close of a long day when she said to herself time she stops (2015)
Inspired by Samuel Beckett's monologue "Rockaby", this video is a performance piece that explores the concept of female monitoring or self-talk --the internal dialogues we often do to ourselves which indicate that monitoring happens inside of us, but involves the perspectives of others we have imported into our own thinking. It is my self-interrogation of an existential dilemma: there is a fear of getting old and alone, yet there is also a felt liberation in being different, free, living a life of the mind. The struggle is to convince through self-talk as in repetition that time is a state of mind, subject to interpretation within the boundaries of what constitutes one's space, one's memories, one's own identification.
Borders Are Liminal Spaces, We Are Border People
(one-channel video art, looped) 2021
This work attempts to explore boundaries and thresholds and being in-between and how I react and engage with these spaces and beings. Being in a liminal space is experiencing time between ‘what was’ and the ‘next’. As an artist-on-standby during the pandemic, I occupy a place of transition, a season of waiting, and not knowing. It is transformational because within the borders we learn to wait and let it form us.
Upcoming exhibition: Video Art Space Berlin, January 2022
This piece was created during the artist-residency at Belgrade Art Studio
Weft and Warp
(documentary film, work-in-progress) 2021
Despite the surge in COVID-19 transmission, the Philippine government has chosen to focus on curbing communist rebel insurgencies. Indigenous communities are the most vulnerable groups victimized by red-tagging, with reports of indigenous leaders being branded as communists and killed by the military. In the T'boli town of Lake Sebu located in the south of the Philppines, Jenita Eko an indigenous leader who has been tagged as one of the most wanted "rebels" by the Philippine National Police in her area, struggles to keep her community afloat. With the pandemic affecting the weaving business, which is the only livelihood of the women in her area, Jenita who formed the Lake Sebu Women Weavers Association, perseveres by organizing projects for women to improve their finances. Jenita's group devised a way to still sell their products through other platforms. But through these endeavors, Jenita has to stay cautious as the police and military are still accusing her of being a rebel leader. Like the shuttle that in her hands deftly flies across her loom, Jenita has to weave her way through the weft and warp of daily living amid the threats to her and her community’s survival.
See pitch teaser below:
(mixed media installation, 2007)
Exhibited in Sungdu-an 4: Women Artists in Mindanao (A Survey)
July 2007, Capitol University, Cagayan De Oro City