Artist’s Statement

by: Jacob Laneria

after Balikbayan(2018) by Kwentong Bayan Collective

Balikbayan boxes have been hallowed
out to show the world they truly contain,
cans of SPAM are shanty houses,
CAMPBELL’S piled up as a Christmas Tree
as cabinets and a miniature box emptied out
in the middle. COLGATE tubes stand beside
packs of IVORY serving as a backdrop to a
town dance. She narrates to the audience
who might be unfamiliar with the concept
her childhood memory of tracing her feet
along with siblings and cousins.
She was naive then, drawing seemed more fun
than actually getting a new pair of shoes
in the box arriving next December.
Everyone was intent as she unpacks
the skill needed to maximize four corners,
the forward-thinking required in taking
note of expiry dates of goods bought half as cheap,
and the pleasure and the pain of remitting care,
all learned when she herself left the country
that can’t produce basic necessities. 
Hence, the need to clear the boxes.

“Artist’s Statement”. The Kwentong Bayan Collective is made up of Toronto-based artists Althea Balmes and Jo SiMalaya Alcampo. I was able to visit their exhibit BALIKBAYAN at Worker’s Art and Heritage Centre in February 2018. Their comics of Canada’s Lived-In Caregiver Program is included in Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle, edited by Graphic History Collective with Paul Buhle (Between The Lines Press, 2016).

About the poet Jacob Laneria is currently a lecturer at the University of the Philippines Visayas, Iloilo. Some of his works have appeared in Revolt Magazine, Loch Raven Review, Ani, and Katitikan. His zine of short fiction, Mga Migranteng Sandali, is distributed by Kasingkasing Press. He lives near Iloilo City.


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SUBMISSION by Jacob Laneria“ She was naive then, drawing seemed more fun than actually getting a new pair of shoes
in the box arriving next December.“ (Read More)