Gestural Lineage

Research Description: 

I am a contemporary dance artist who has been based in Vancouver for eight years. I honour both Coast Salish land I am on and the Austronesian land I am from. As a Filipino in Diaspora, I empathize with the sentiments of those who long to connect with their motherland and their cultural identity. Gestural Lineage (Phase 1: Research) will work to share informational and emotional details in my search for my roots and ancestry, to empathize with the many people in Diaspora. I will delve into experience-based research in my motherland with the goal of immersion in traditions, cultural festivals, and daily tasks of its people. This research will delve into the daily gestures that are laden with Filipino culture. I will perform research in five ways- experiencing, filming, writing, movement research, and conversing with tribe members, locals, and academics. I will participate in immersion with the Bagobo Tribe tribe in Mindanao, as well as the Aeta Tribe and Butbut Tribe in Luzon. I will also be attending Pamati, in Visayas, and Kadayawan Festival in Mindanao, to connect with motherland through learning about various Indigenous practices, current issues experienced by Indigenous tribes, and various steps towards cultural resurgence. Jr Guerrero and Babette Santos are two adopted members of the Bagobo tribe and are board membrs of Kathara Arts Collective here in Vancouver. I currently join them in their vocation for cultural resurgence through performance of traditional dance in schools and festivals. Jr and Babette have respectful ties with the Bagobo and T’boli tribes and are advising me on protocols and procedures to pursue a respectful immersion with these tribes between July 2019 and June 2020.

It is in understanding our own culture that we can truly be able to celebrate the many cultures of the diverse people around us. It is in delving into my own ancestry and healing within myself that I can truly understand that we are all affected by colonization. There is so much healing that needs to takes place during this time of reconciliation on Turtle Island, now known as North America — there is much need for this global conversation of cultural resurgence to take place. However, we must start with ourselves in order to build trust with those who have been oppressed. We need to approach with care and room to learn and to relearn. I am called to this practice-based research as my means of taking this conversation into the public eye — through the accessible lens of contemporary dance. I hope to respectfully explore, learn, reflect, and express, to  empathize with people of all cultures and backgrounds who are curious about ancestral healing and cultural resurgence. Sharing the process of this work through blog posts and relaying the work through contemporary art will add an accessible avenue for this conversation to be had in main stream society and would allow me to promote multiculturalism and allyship by example.

What I hope to learn: 

-I hope to observe daily gestures in Filipino culture
-I hope to experience how the environment contributes to the culture
-i hope to learn and observe indigenous protocols
-I hope to understand Indigenous Filipino relationship to the land, water, and sky
-I hope to understand relationships within the community

Project outcomes:

-Blog posts to keep those interested in this work informed on the journey
-Documentation in writing 
-Film compilation
-Live performance piece and/or dance film with Filipino dance artists
-Workshops/discussion on the topics of ancestry, motherland and the first peoples of the land on which we currently reside

How this would benefit Canadians and Filipinos alike:

1. The plight of the Indigenous: is not a narrative that is often spoken about in mainstream society. In the Philippines I see a divide and a confusion as to what it means to be Filipino. This is seen in the introduction of the word “Filipino” from the Spanish. It is also seen today through the various social classes that exist within cities and between regions, as well as the various cultures throughout our archipelago. I hope to highlight a common thread between Filipino groups and classes— whether born in the rural areas of the Philippines, born in cities, born abroad, or immigrated abroad — we have our ancestors, our motherland and our history in common.

2. Filipinos in Diaspora:  Based on the 2016 census, Filipinos represent the 5.6 percent of the entire Canadian population. I have heard multiple Filipinos in Diaposra express a tear in their identity — a longing for their roots. The sharing of this research  would empathize with this 5.6% and allow for an indigenous view and possibly an introduction to their ancestry. Furthermore, understanding our own ancestry would aid in a better understanding of others, their ancestry and how we have that in common as people of this world. It would allow for a healthier multiculturalism. 

3. Respect for the Global Indigenous Peoples:  learning more about our ancestry and motherland would allow us to better honour the First People of the Land we live on, especially for those of us who have immigrated and settled in other countries. This work would promote cultural resurgence, allyship, and multiculturalism.

What I Need & What You Get:
My goal is to raise $3,000 CAD, which is about o12% of the total project cost in order to properly and fairly compensate the four dance artists involved, mentors, travel hosts/guides and scholars who support this important work, and subsidize flight cost & accommodation/supplies, 

Any and all contributions will be of great help to this production. Even if I do not reach my full $3,000 goal, all funds will go towards making this work a success and repaying the artists and academics involved. 

As a form of gratitude, I can offer any of the backers information I have on Filipino culture upon request. This includes sharing my research journal and participating in video/in-person conversations on this topic. I will happily update donors on my research progress. For backers who donate $500 or more I can offer a private screening of past films, including group workshop & discussion on human connection. If interested, please see email address below and contact me for further details.

Risks & Challenges:
Cultural content takes a lot of "checking in" with one's intentions, approach and impact—making sure the integrity of the work and the integrity of cultures are respected and not compromised. Because of this I will be seeking council    from mentors, one indigenous to the Philippines (Bagobo Tribe, in Mindanao) and a mentor indigenous to the Haisla First Nation.

Furthermore, this project has some safety concerns as I will be travelling to Mindanao where there is political unrest and terrorism. However, after having done  research on how to do this in the safest possible way, I have contacts,       partner groups, and locals who will accompany me in the South of the Philippines. 

Other Ways You Can Help:
If you like what you hear and what the project stands for, but can't contribute a monetary amount, don't fret! There are many ways to help this project succeed. You can share this campaign on social media, through mass-emails to family, friends, and co-workers! 

You could also attend some fundraising events that will take place within the next few months! Stay tuned! 

If you have any further questions or would like to be involved, please e-mail me at

Visit this website for updates on my most recent research and work on the exploration of the Filipino Woman:

Donations (0)

  • Susan Coleman 
    • $100 
    • 5 mos
  • Keiko Honda 
    • $30 
    • 5 mos
  • Edna Bisnar 
    • $50 
    • 5 mos
  • Naila Kuhlmann 
    • $25 
    • 8 mos
  • Lucia Wong 
    • $5 
    • 8 mos


Tin Gamboa 
Vancouver, BC
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