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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Full Circle

I stood downstage delivering my final monologue of Future Folk in which my character, Luz, is reunited with her three children. For Luz, it had been 7 years since she had seen her kids and one of her children, the youngest, does not recognize her. It's one of the many harsh realities lived by Filipino domestic workers around the world.

"No, I'm not your Tita," says Luz to the doubtful child. "I'm your mommy."

At that moment, the audience, mainly comprised of Filipina caregivers, began sobbing. One woman covered her face as if she was watching a horror movie, but instead of a slasher scene, it was her worst nightmare come alive onstage.

After this performance -- a free one scheduled by Theatre Passe Muraille and Sulong Theatre specifically for Filipino caregivers -- one woman approached me and told me that she hopes and prays that her daughter will recognize her when they are finally reunited.

It was a dream for me: To perform Future Folk with my dear colleagues Karen Ancheta and Aura Carcueva, for these women who have given so much of their time and stories to make our production a reality. It seems like a million years ago that I felt like it was going to fail.

You see, before Future Folk was a full length play about the lives of caregivers told through Filipino folk arts, I thought researching it was going to be a breeze. I would simply book time at the Kapisanan Centre, bring food and over the course of one Sunday, we would interview 10-30 caregivers. That never happened. We could never get these women to convene because their one day off -- usually Sunday -- was often taken away from them at the last minute by their employers. I would receive phone calls from teary-eyed women saying they had to reschedule but weren't sure when.

I had to meet with them one at a time, over the course of a couple of years, to get this play's research in order. It was a triumph of baby steps, a puzzle put together with very tiny pieces.

Standing there before these women, these strong women, to tell their stories, made me realize how far we had come...and how much further we must go.

Our biggest win was when Ate Pinky, who contributed a great deal to our research was later interviewed by CBC Radio after seeing Future Folk said, "It was like it was my voice but in someone else's body."

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