Kwento't Litrato

Sat February 1 - Sat February 29, 2020
Kwento't Litrato

Arts Commons Presents 
The +15 Galleries

Kwento't Litrato

Location: The +15 Galleries
Dates: February 1st – 29th, 2020
Reception Date: Friday, February 28th 5:30PM- 8:30PM, Artists Learning Centre.

Kwento’t Litrato (Stories and Photographs) is a collaborative photo-documentary project created by members of the migrant community in Alberta. It brings the voices of the marginalized to the center, as we take back the complex narrative of migration through our photography.

This is the culmination of a series of storytelling-oriented photography workshops organized by Migrante in Edmonton and Calgary between May and August 2019. Through these workshops, participants connected as community, learned about arts-based storytelling, and collaborated to weave together our lived experiences, as inter-connected narratives.

Challenge assumptions. Dig deeper. Think critically. Explore the roots of migration. Ask questions. Be with the people, celebrate the victories, and be one in solidarity with the struggles of migrants. We invite you to connect with our Filipino community in Alberta through the lens of these 17 interconnected exhibitions.

Migrante Alberta is a community-based organization of migrants in Alberta. It works to protect and promote the rights and well-being of immigrants, caregivers and other migrant workers in the province. Migrante promotes the rights and dignity against all forms of discrimination, exploitation and abuse in the workplace and in the community. It asserts the right to organize and strengthen the unity between other ethnic migrant and immigrant groups. It also seeks to empower its members for genuine civic participation.

Nwel Saturay, Lead Facilitator

My name is Nwel Saturay, and I was born in the Philippines to a family of activist-artists. I moved to the Netherlands in 2006 as a political refugee, where I studied documentary photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. After relocating to Calgary in 2018, I began working with Migrante Alberta as a community organer, utilizing photography as a tool for migrants to build connections, share their stories, and collectively make their voices heard.

Gillian Schmid, Co-Facilitator

Hi there, my name is Gillian, I love stories, and I have loved being able to walk alongside the Kwento’t Litrato artists in sharing their powerful and important stories. It has been my joy to be involved with the Kwento’t Litrato & Migrante community, I am very grateful for the opportunity! I became involved with Kwento’t Litrato for my practicum, as part of my Master of Social Work degree in International and Community Development. Kwento’t Litrato continues to teach me so much about the importance of community, the significance of connecting through art, and the power of sharing our interconnecting stories.


Anabelle Clarin | Filipino-ing Canada

I was born and raised in the Philippines. I went to Dubai, UAE right after I graduated from university to search for a greener pasture in order to support my parents and younger siblings. I spent most of my childhood in the countryside where I developed my love for nature, passion for helping others, and my enjoyment in simple things in life. My exhibit depicts the character of Filipinos. We are fun-loving, friendly, family-oriented and hospitable people. We open our homes and our hearts to friends from other cultural backgrounds, and we honour Canada’s traditions, all the while staying true to our cultural values.

Cynthia Palmaria | Bem’s Spice of Life

My name is Cynthia, I am an organizer of Migrante Alberta, and a faculty member at the University of Alberta. I came to Canada in 1987, after 8 long years of separation from my parents. My parents had moved abroad in search of greener pastures, and found work as caregivers in Quebec, which allowed them to sponsor my sister and I to join them in Montreal. In my exhibit “Bem’s Spice of Life” I would like to tell the story of a family who represents the struggle of newly arrived migrants juggling the issues of settlement, family reunification, and survival.

Anonymous | Surviving the Canadian Dream (In Hiding)

I am an ambitious dreamer, and I work hard to achieve my goals. I came to Canada from the Philippines as a temporary foreign worker, and I now live with precarious status. My family and friends back home believe I am “living the dream” here in Canada, but the reality of my “Canadian dream” is different from what they imagine. Through my exhibit, I want to share my experience of trying to survive my reality of living the Canadian dream - in hiding. I know that I am not alone in this journey, this fight of my life.

Eileen Blanco Castillo | Bahay (Home)

My name is Eileen, I am a registered nurse and I immigrated to Canada in 1992. I am a person of faith; I care about the welfare of the people, and associate my service to the people as patriotism to the Philippines. My faith guides me in my service and my pursuit of justice. I try to always remember my father’s instruction to be "just and fair” and to uphold the cause of the oppressed. My exhibit shows a photo of our house in Cagayan Valley, which we abandoned in 1992. When my siblings and I left the country, no one was left to take care of it. Seeing my old house brings up many emotions and memories for me. When we go in search of a better life, there is always something or somebody left behind.

Eric Dizon | Dreaming of a Better Life

My name is Eric Dizon. I was born and raised in the Philippines. I have lived and worked in Japan and the United States of America. I have now chosen Canada to be my homeland, and I live in Calgary, Alberta with my wife, Lovella. I am a pastor of a local Filipino Church, and I love community engagement. Lovella and I are building a family together, and we are thrilled to be expecting a baby in January 2020! My exhibit explores the daily lives of Filipino migrants who came to Canada as Temporary Foreign Workers and now have permanent residency in Canada. My photos feature three stories of Filipinos who exemplify the attributes of resiliency, hard work, sacrifice, and commitment to achieving their goals.

Lyla Luciano | Continuous Dreaming

My name is Lyla, I am a 19-year-old University of Alberta student, a travel enthusiast, and a member of Migrante Youth in Alberta. I am passionate about helping second generation youth and Filipino immigrants in the community. I want to share the diverse stories and experience of Filipino youth in Alberta through my exhibit.

Jay Zapata | Tatay, Nanay

My name is Jay, I love art, and I am a community leader with Migrante Alberta. I have lived in Canada since 2008. In my exhibit, I want to share insights into the lived experiences of ageing migrant Filipinos in Alberta. I have noticed that the stories of ageing immigrants are not often told in our society. Even in community engagement work, it can be easy to forget about our seniors. If we want to be allies, we need to come alongside older adults in our community and join them in advocating for their rights. Through sharing the stories of Tatay Ponciano and Nanay Maribel, I hope to increase our community’s awareness of social isolation and social exclusion. I also want to show how some older adults are making efforts for social inclusion in their communities.

Kim Gabrido | A Migrant’s Incentive

My name is Kim, and I live in Cochrane, Alberta. When I was two years old, my mom moved abroad to work, while I stayed in the Philippines with my dad. Growing up, it was difficult to not have my mom around to guide me, but I understand that she had to make sacrifices for our family. In my exhibit, I featured members of the Filipino community in Cochrane working in a local retirement home. It is striking to recognize that many Filipinos work abroad as caretakers for Canadian children, the elderly, and people with disabilities, while being absent from their own families back home. I can relate to their experience because I know how it feels to be apart from your family.

Lea Luciano | Do You Hear Us, Are You Listening?

Lea Luciano is a photographer, writer, and graphic designer. She has written stories that cover a wide array of topics from the dangers of fast-fashion to human trafficking. Photography is another form of story-telling, and her work focuses on portraits. She wants to show that there is a face to every story, and everyone deserves a voice. Lea’s exhibit seeks to show a glimmer of what youth is all about. She said, “I created this series because I want my generation to feel like their stories matter. Our struggles, worries, concerns, dreams and aspirations are all valid. We have a lot to offer if we are only given a chance. These portraits are visual representations of what millennial migrants look like.” As a true millennial, she is obsessed with meme culture, writing witty Instagram captions and paying for overpriced coffee. Her dream is to own a pet corgi and live in a tiny home somewhere by the sea.

Len Jerusalem | Balikbayan Box (literally meaning ‘repatriated box’)

My love for adventure exposed me to a myriad of cultures and people and brought me to places like Europe, where I worked and studied for years. Yearning for more, I moved to Canada where I found my true calling – to become an instrument for social change. My exhibit shows the contents of a balikbayan box in progress. I can remember as a child when my family would receive balikbayan boxes from relatives abroad. I now find it interesting to reflect on this tradition of balikbayan boxes as both a recipient and a sender.

Lionel Migrino | No, Where Are You Really From?

My name is Lionel Migrino, and I am a photographer in Calgary. I’m just an ordinary guy living with a disability called Cerebral Palsy. I do not solely define myself as a person with a disability because I live my life without any limitation. I got into photography 3 years ago while I was watching some of my photographer friends. I was fascinated by how they used their cameras and communicated with their models to get the perfect shot. At first, I saw photography as an opportunity to hang out with friends, but later on, I fell in love with it because it allowed me to make connections. I believe that every photo has a story to tell. I am excited to continue growing as a photographer and breaking barriers. My goal in photography is to show people that there are no limits to stop anyone from chasing their dreams. The purpose of my exhibit is to challenge the question, “Where are you from?”. A complicated question and I want to share my perspective on it as a Filipino-Canadian, born in Calgary. I hope to spread awareness of how this seemingly innocent question is insensitive due to racial tension. I also wish to showcase the diversity and the richness in culture in our community.

Lovella Penaranda-Dizon | Migration Story of Faith, Forgiveness and Healingv

I was born in Mindanao to parents from Bohol and Agusan del Norte, Philippines. I am the fourth-born out of five children, who are all proud to have come from Mandaya (Lumad Tribe) descent. My family migrated to Canada in the ’90s when I was a teenager, and I am grateful to have been able to call Canada home for almost 25 years. The Philippines is undeniably my homeland, and it will always have my heart. The subject of my exhibit is my husband, Pastor Eric Rivera Dizon. I want to share Eric’s story because it shows a bigger picture of how we all have the capacity to help or to harm. At the same time, I want to highlight how many migrants like Eric have found refuge holding onto their faith in God amidst their struggles.

Lynn | The Struggle Continues

My name is Lynn. I am a proud Filipina, mother, and human rights activist. I came to Canada in 2011 as a temporary foreign worker, and have suffered abuse in my job. While I was pregnant with my daughter, my application for a new work permit was denied. In 2018, I received the “Human Rights Champion Award” for my leadership and activism in promoting the right to health care coverage for children of parents with precarious immigration status. My exhibit features my daughter who is just like any other child but the question I ask is “why does she have fewer rights than other children?”

Marco Luciano | Anticipation/ Samsung S9/Brown Women, Blond Babies/ A Day in a Life of a Nanny

My name is Marco, and I am the current director of Migrante, Alberta, as well as the Global Council Representative of Philippine-based Migrante International for Canada. I am a photo hobbyist, and I often focus on migrant workers, advocates, and the Filipino diaspora in my work. My subjects are my heroes who move thousands of kilometers from one side of the world to take care of other people’s families in order to earn money to support their families back home.

Novie Sambat | Dedication & Service

My name is Novie and I moved to Canada in 2014 to be reunited with my mother, after being separated from her for 7 years. I consider myself a dedicated and determined community organizer. My exhibit focuses on my friend Cynthia who inspires me for her commitment to people, and her dedication to the community.

Qianyun Wang | Migration and Ageing

I moved from China to Canada four years ago for my university education. I am very close to my grandparents, and they inspired me to practice in the field of gerontological social work. I try to seek opportunities to work with older immigrants who have experienced marginalization. I want my exhibit to showcase how my subjects demonstrate strength, resilience, and commitment to actively participate in their community, in ways that are authentic to their unique personalities and lived experiences.

Ruby Rosa G Navio | Eighteen-Hour Work Day

My name is Ruby, and I live and work in Edmonton as a caregiver. In my demanding job, I care for 5 children and a household. I work very long hours. The proudest achievement of my life is that I was able to support my daughter through university, and she is now a board certified nurse working in Bacolod City, Philippines. My work is hard but I have to keep going for my family despite the hardships. My exhibit will seek to show that being a caregiver in Canada is not an easy feat.

Please note this exhibition is programmed during and in partnership with Exposure Photography Festival.