This past Saturday, Kababayan at UC Irvine held its 13th annual “KabaCon,” or Kababayan Conference: “(re)Ignite from Within.” After a 3-year hiatus, I was particularly moved and re-inspired to shift my focus to take action on exploring my own identity through exploring the identities of the ones who have made me. Through three interactive and informative workshop-sections, the eye-opening stories realized through “Exploring (Our)story,” the moving actions explored in “Building Leadership Skills,” and the inflamed spurs to create change inspired in “Taking Action” helped us to not only focus on ourselves as individuals today, but to realize how exactly we ended up here and how the world has openly created, treated, identified, labelled, and bought us. The issues risen not only relates to an internal cause, but to a cause that relates to a patterned history that simply lets yourself say, “This just isn’t right.”
Too often and more than enough have we been becoming more and more complacent. Through becoming more complacent and continuing to let our “colonized” minds rule our actions and lives, it will only cause us to remain products of an individualized-nation, erasing the true matters and meanings of the heart and forgetting to realize those we are “forever indebted to.” Our colonized minds have inspired us to selfishly seek out our own pursuits and goals–as I myself have been victim to it–but, the more and more I”deconstruct” and allow myself to absorb all of the information embedded in my own and my family’s history, I will, perhaps, be able to inspire another and, instead of selfishly seeking out of my pursuits and goals, will gear my own goals towards giving back to the ones that mean the most.
It is easy for me to say I love writing. I love music, I love movies, I love sounds, I love storytelling. But, deep within any “love” for something lies a reason. I love this all because it is my Voice. Yes, there may have been many times where I may have been scolded for it–where people just couldn’t understand my quiet nature or why I took refuge in these medium rather than upfront saying what I mean. In reality–that hurts. “Why can’t you just tell me what you feel?” Sometimes–especially for the creative and introverted–what’s felt is best understood through the art of living (i.e. the actions done, performed, created, speaking louder than words themselves). As I’ve been absorbing more and more realities within the past year of those who have been oppressed and repressed within our society and of my family’s, I can’t stand the idea of not being allowed to utilize my best asset. The key to understanding the struggle of our people is to internalize it–if just for a moment–and realize the pain that comes when you realize the struggle of losing what makes you you. It’s about fighting for what’s right–whatever it is to you.
I’m not going to tell you what I think is right (even though it may slip out in a couple statements or opinions I might have at times). I’m not going to lecture you on the history of our people and how many times we’ve been oppressed (for I’m the worst story-teller and just can’t seem to really “teach” another). I may not be a major pool of information or a great passer-on-of-information, but, I can be living proof of all the information and realizations and experiences I have absorbed and stayed witness to. I can take action and gear towards responding to those issues. And I can fight for what I think is right, if it be by word, by music, by film, or by character.
Perhaps I am in that stage of being “born” right now. I am absorbing all of this information because it has been completely eye-opening and mind-blowing, and I, being one who has always took upon the suffering of the world as if it were her own (and just a natural adapter who thrives off of suffering), want to know more. Within the past year, I’ve had a friend who has educated me on this all–not in the dumb classroom-setting kind of way or formal teaching–but through real talking with me. No b/s. No sugar-coating. Just truth.
I’ve always felt that there was something about me that was able to appeal and attract the interests of others. I too much empathized with others growing up, being that “good listener” and friend to those who needed it. I stayed obedient to rules and duties asked upon me, whether it be listening to my mother or following the uniform dress-code in private school. I was too shy to ever say a word in class, and found such great glee in being able to write what I was thinking. As I grew up, I valued myself and respected myself and wanted to make my realizations more visible. Through cultural dancing I developed confidence in myself to perform in front of others. Through music and playing the guitar, I developed self-confidence in my natural-ability to play that thing and found a sensational sense of story-telling and appeal to the masses in the art of music. Through taking my first stand as a student leader in high school, I found my love for inspiring, moving, and helping others. And, as I’ve received a slew of eyeballs and looks from maybe creepy and not-so-creepy individuals over the past years growing up, I have developed my burning desire to turn that on its head and use my appeal to really voice my thoughts.
Perhaps, what I am trying to say is, through my loves and passions and own natural tendencies of character, mobilizing what you are for the greater good of not only yourself or your family, but also of the community and community rooted back to the motherland, one can still find happiness and success accomplishing the goals that one little girl growing up always wanted to do, but also receive a sense of gratitude in oneself knowing that her work and successes have touched another.
As a closing remark to Kababayan’s 13 Annual Conference, let’s remember:
“When you fail, you should never let it get to your heart. When you succeed, you should never let it get to your ego.”
* Something like “KabaCon” at UC Irvine needs to be continued, for without the right means to knowing our culture, we’re being robbed of our ability for knowledge, and missing the root to what makes Kababayan, kababayan.