I find it a bit silly to post this whilst sandwiched between tonnes of deadlines, but, I just need to share this not so important thing I discovered last night. I have been on earth for nearly 28 years and never thought I have been pronouncing my name wrong. Imagine. When I was young I was often asked how I got my name, why it sounds different, and how come I spell it with a G. On my side of the planet, the alphabet does not even include the sound “v” which I have, twice: Genevi(e)ve.
“You just call me ‘jhenna-viv’,” that’s how I introduce my self, to which many of my classmates would reply, “Ah, ‘dhye-ne-bib’. Such a Filipino way to say it. Hard ‘Dhye’ and hard ‘bib‘. And then, followed by another question: “Where did you get your name?” Mother said, she got it from a dictionary. “Kinuha ko yung dictionary may pangalan ng mga bata sa likuran, tapos, tinuro ko yung pangalan, nagustuhan ko”. (I took a dictionary which had a list of baby names at the back, and pointed to one and I liked it.): Genevi(e)ve.
I am not so sure if you feel the same way, but I get goosebumps every time a stranger calls me by my whole name. It’s so personal, so piercing and I feel like this stranger can see me to the bones. That was the reason I changed the way I introduce myself when I entered college: “Just call me Gen”, and so they did. But I never liked ‘Jen’ (oops sorry), that’s not me. And so I changed again to Bibs, now that’s a very simple, forgettable name. And it’s quite Filipino, so that’ll do.
But in my work, people often remember you by your email address, and so everyone calls me Genevi(e)ve. Around three weeks ago, I had another person asking me “Is that a common name in your country?”, to which I replied “No.” And he said, “You are lucky.” (Well apparently, his name is ahhhm, just-one-syllable-you-are-everyone, Ahmm).
But it was only last night I paid close attention to my name. And then, barely a month before I turn 28, I found out, I’ve been calling myself wrong all along: It’s “Jhan-v-yev“
I’ve been trying to weave her story but I can’t seem to find the right words to start the tale. Originally, I wanted to draw the goddess Amuyao, daughter of the great Cordilleran creator-god Kabunyian. (Mount) Amuyao is quite famous among mountaineers in my country, as it is the second highest peak in the island of Luzon. But, there’s a very beautiful tale behind the name.
The first time I went to Batad Rice Terrace in Banaue, Ifugao, an elder from the community told me a story about her, which is quite different from the other story I saw online. I cannot remember the whole tale, but I tried to make a different version. Writing this for my own memory (sorry).
Once, there was a great el nino (drought) in the valleys of the Cordillera. It was January, the beginning of the planting season. The rice terraces, once filled with flowing water has become parched, and the earth white, cracked… (middle of the story still under construction, haha)… but the farmers, out of desperation went to Amuyao, the goddess. Amuyao climbed up the hill, stood still and lifted her hands towards the sky. She looked up and sang a kanyao:
Kabunyian, you have been good to us
Let my song reach the soles of your feet
And touch the garments of your robes
Whisper to the rain, “Come”
and to the northern wind, “Be still”
Fill our parched land, like milk flowing
And bring us life,
Remember the promise of our navels
(Photo: Amuyao calling out to the winds, making a kanyao or prayer-chants to come and bring the rain. In faith, she wore a Kalinga raincoat made of dried leaves/grass. She wears a tapis– woven garment of the olden times in red-white-black colors.)
What do you think of when you hear the name ‘Tondo’? Cramped. Dirty. Many people. Trash. Noisy. Just like what the movies say. But what they never said is that it is filled with so many (young + young at heart) creative people, full of potentials! Even though I grew up here in Manila, I never really had the chance to come visit Tondo. Until yesterday! I was privileged to be a child(!) again with the many children of Tondo at the SiningKalye, MusiKalsada (rought trans: Street Art + Road Music) with some artists and friends from the Peace Church. The event was filled with visual art, storytelling, dance, singing, magic and lots of music! It was a celebration of art, childhood, life, community, and the love of the Master Artist, Jesus Christ. Sharing with you some scenes and stories:
Then, I noticed there was this huddle on one side of the stage, and it turned out, some boys were very serious on making this small kulintang work. Each one telling another how to strike the pieces, to make a beat. But there was this one boy who really took pains to rehearse with the instrument, as though, he were to perform on the evening music fest:
All photo taken by Bibs | Canon EOS 60d EF-S 18-135mm IS