A play tells the story of the first Filipinos in Canada

It took two years to prepare the play “Buto/Buto: bones are seeds”.

Three community organizations, the Southeast Asian Cultural Heritage Society, the National Pilipino Canadian Culture Center and the Anycan Act Theatre, joined forces to create the play which addresses stories of migration.

Initiated by renowned theater director Dennis Gupa, the story explores the life of Benson Flores, one of the first Filipinos to live on Bowen Island, British Columbia, in the late 19th century, as well as the first Filipinos to arrive in Canada by the 1791 Malaspina Expedition.

Gupa said migration stories written by members of the company were also collected as part of the play.

“The text of the play is a collection of vignettes and collages. Instead of a scene, there are fragments. So there are fragments of songs, poetry, and dramatic sketches,” Gupa noted. “I hope we can talk about this Filipino migration here in Canada. Why are we here and what forced us to be here?”

Renowned choreographer Alvin Tolentino translated their stories into dance. Tolentino praised the participation of community dancers in the show.

“I love working with community dancers because I find they are so natural in the way they move,” Tolentino explained. “It’s beautiful to see non-dancers find a language to move and do things. It’s really unique. It’s very special because it comes from their own feeling.”

Costume designer Mirabel De Guzman sourced the materials and used local sewers in Kamuning, Quezon City to bring authenticity to the garments.

“I really wanted to find a way to transform the old true native Filipino culture and wear it in what we consider to be the traditional clothing of Filipino culture,” she said.

Ted Ngkaion is proud to have played the lead role of Benson Flores. Like Flores, Ngkaion has a migration story to tell and she was included in the play.

They hope the play will raise awareness of the importance of Filipino migration to Canada.

“Despite our differences, we are united in a singular struggle and that is to uproot ourselves from our home country and then have our kind of butoh planted here. [in Canada]“, noted Ngkaion.

Tolentino added, “I hope viewers come away with a sense of understanding of where we live as the Filipino diaspora in this community, in this region.”

‘Buto/Buto: Bones are Seeds’ will be presented at Russian Hall in Vancouver from July 28-31.

Buto/Buto: Bones are Seeds, play, Filipino artists, Filipino migration, immigrants, Filipino workers overseas, OFW, Filipino Canadians, TFC News

Comments are closed.