PHOTO: Simone Scarpino
Revisiting Our Roots
A movement does not necessarily have to begin on a grand scale to make change. It can start off small—a flicker—and then grow, spread. Small edits in the way we choose to act and speak, in the way we choose to read, in who we choose to listen to and hold space for, in which books we choose to read and buy and support—that these seemingly minute actions and behavioral shifts within our own individual lives is where real change begins and expands.
This is what was reinforced for me at TAYO’s reading at the 2015 Filipino American International Book Festival that took place this past October.
TAYO was graciously invited by PAWA (Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc.) and the FilAm Book Fest to host a reading. Janice Sapigao and myself, with the remote help of Melissa Sipin, decided that our theme for the reading would be Revisiting Our Roots. With this in mind, we curated a lineup of readers who were past or future contributors: Nate Umagat, Christine No, mgb, and Kim Davalos. I was honored to host and read a short piece as well.
I am not exaggerating when I say that it took me over a week to process the reading with its powerful community energy, the strength of the writers, the vulnerability shared between readers and audience members.
We began the hour with Nate Umagat’s poetry which was explosive and gentle, full of striking wisdom and promise. Christine No started off with a humorous introduction, only to deepen the atmosphere with her work—a sinewy, living, breathing body. mgb took us back to her home, to where her life began, to earth and water, and what happens to that life when earth and water no longer meet. We then ended with the spoken word of Kim Davalos, where she allowed us into her reflection on ancestors and their legacies that we carry with us.
My heart was vibrating from the love and intention in that small room of the San Francisco Main Library. The audience was present and open and so were our amazing readers. But it wasn’t just a reading; it felt like an exchange. The writers allowed us in to their processes—emotional, mental, spiritual. They shared their struggles with us, and in doing so, we could see our own experiences reflected back.
Words have power. And so do we.
We at TAYO are so grateful for the support showed to the magazine and our readers at the FilAm Book Fest. We will continue to provide a platform and a space for the voices of those who write from the margins, who are so often erased from history and literature, who are silenced, who are calling for and enacting the change we are fighting to see in the world around us.
This is our mission, our work, and our passion. If you or someone you know is interested in contributing work to TAYO’s blog, collaborating, or getting involved in some way, please reach out through our Contact page.
Finally, thank you to our community for your support and engagement in 2015. As we grow in our minds and hearts, as individuals and as writers, and as we expand in scope, we are excited to have you grow with us. Onward, friends, colleagues, dear ones—we push onward and through, together. We are certain that 2016 holds more opportunities and promise, more struggles and triumphs, more voices and voicings. We will continue to revisit our roots not as a one time event, but as a practice—as a collective and as individuals—to shed more light on our present, to bring past wisdoms to our futures.
Below, we have included video of some of our readers, filmed and provided by Delilah Davalos, as well as photos from the event. We hope you enjoy!