Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"KEEPERS OF THE STORIES: SOLACE FOR THE MIGRANT SOUL"

Curated by: Connie Longno-Zamora
Project Director: Zen Lopez
Exhibit Venue: Glendale Central Library, 222 East Harvard Street, Glendale, CA, USA
Co-Sponsors: "Keepers of the Stories" Project & Glendale Public Library

The exhibit is a priceless collection of personal memorablia, family heir looms and other treasured pieces brought by Filipino American immigrants as they came to the United States or patiently sent for as they started settling into
their new life. Some pieces date back to the 18th century or early 20th century, and are important items in the personal collections of the New Americans of Filipino Heritage.

An original 19th century baro't saya made of pineapple and sinamay fibers, inticately handcrafted tamborines, Ifugao bulol (rice gods wooden figures) belonging to a family for generations, tribal jewelry, handwoven baskets, indigenous musical instruments and textiles, amulets, antique jewelry, intricately beaded purses, Spanish gold coins during the reign of Queen Isabela II of Spain, a turtle shell comb with gold filigree trim, and a 19th century bible are but some examples of interest in this exhibit that attempt to poignantly capture the intimate aspects of the "immigrant soul's journey".

These are the "story keepers" -for each piece has a story to tell. Each one pegs memory to a person, an experience, a home and a time in history. These are the keepers of the family story, as well as the Filipino people's story, chapters in the book of life for the storyteller to weave into interesting tales.

Through these "story keepers" we learn of the immigrants' journey, and in this, their openness to life while remaining deeply rooted in their culture and personal history, and their desire to keep their culture alive by the transfer of this knowledge to the next generation of Ameircans of Filipino heritage. Thus, the immigrants' heritage is preserved, and the understanding of who they are, defined within the framework of a specific culture and a personal history.

The storyteller is also a keeper of the stories. In stroytelling the ancestors come alive, and the dearly departed join in the conversation through stories that are shared to comfort and soothe tired and lonely souls. Through nostalgic rituals such as these, culture is transmitted, the psyche fed, and wisdom is passed on. Our "interior" ear listens, and a connection is made to the domain of the soul. We are a captive audience to the "lectures" of life, engaged in a cyclic pattern of meaning making.

Nuances of life are learned and gathered through these stories, and various layers of meaning are visited, creating the lens through which a people understand and live their lives. And as the stories travel to different shores through migration and trade, so is the dispersion of their knowledge into other societies and cultures, contributing in time, to the development of a global culture. /flyer: "keepers of the stories project"