We take a singular migrant worker and find out that, like most others, she leaves for financial reasons. She aspires for a better quality of life for her family, sometimes, unknowingly, at the cost of her own. The joys of travel conflict with the desolation of being less than a minority. It becomes bearable only on days when she can share similar experiences with others of her ilk--even that, she has to barter for, to regain her dignity. Her choices are curtailed when laws are surreptitiously enacted in response to allegations of unfair labor practice, whether they be unimplemented rest days, or the suspension of habeas corpus. We see her work harder than others, lest she find herself jobless. Slowly, the legal systems mutate into a dichotomy of cultures, hiding behind the veneer of nationalist fervor. Stringent border controls morph into real barriers, trapping the workers both from within and without. She chooses to stay in the country of sojourn, fearing that if she goes on holiday with loved ones, she may be unable to return. She settles for sending material things through other migrants, who still risk denial at the frontier, and the products of her labours are passed on, bringing with them her story, until they reach her kin. Is this cycle of moral penury enough to motivate an act of destruction? When aviation mishaps occur, outsiders are immediate suspects. Is our own persecutory guilt empowering our xenophobia?
La-în, a Visayan word meaning other, is a full-length piece that delves into human migration. It unravels into a non-linear narrative of humanity’s wanderlust. In this series of sketches, there is always the one who leaves, the one who is left behind, and the one who welcomes (or rebukes) the voyager--constantly repeating the same patterns of behaviour, whether benevolent or malicious, in a cycle of oscillating roles. Structured like a Möbius strip, La-în constructs intertwining metaphors of cause and effect.
Gulo (Chaos) What would motivate anyone to an act of destruction, that we could actually empathise with him/her to dread it and fuel our paranoia of travellers? The earliest recorded act of violence aboard a seafaring vessel was in 14th B.C. Thereafter, the mediterranean inhabitants have mystified these pirates as sea peoples associated with migrating refugees. In 1931, the first documented airborn abduction occured in Peru. From 1968 to 1979, an increase incidence of airline banditry has changed the rules of passenger aviation. (Music: Johann Johannsson. Heptapod B/Sapir-Whorf. Arrival (OST) 2016)
Banyaga (Foreign) We disembark in ports to collect our belongings, remnants that bind us to the lives we've left behind. They provide a seeming sense of security as we trek alone in unknown territory. A parade of individuals stream before us with their unique stories. (Music: Leonidas Kavakos with Enrico Pace. Tarrega: Recuerdos de la Alhambra. Virtuoso 2016)
Baguhan (Newcomer) For migrant workers, the prospect of a better future is always pitted against the omen of separation. Excitement is mixed with the sorrow of leaving loved ones. The International Labor Organization estimates there are 151 million migrant workers worldwide, 75% of which are in high-income countries. (Music: Jean-Michel Blais & Bufflo. Nostos, Il. 2016)
Day Off-er Offer. That one day in a week sparking the desire for a commune among marginalised individuals, while, simultaneously igniting discord online. Sundays. Singapore, Lucky Plaza. Hong Kong, Central. Milan, Duomo. Different places, similar experiences. (Music: Jay Ong. Melody for Saxophone No. 12 by Philip Glass. 2016)
Last Name Nity. In 2011, AWARE started a campaign for the legislation of a weekly off-day for domestic helpers (FDH). This started a fiery social media debate, eventually reaching the parliament. That there are people who still believe these FDH do not deserve a weekly respite challenges the moral fibre of our community. This is a tongue-in-cheek sketch of the women who take care of our children and families, invited to our homes, not to rest, but to serve. (Music: Yang Sung Sic. Yang Sung Sic plays Paganini - Works for Violin and Guitar [Disc 1]. 1999)
La-ìn. Does the taxonomy of race contribute to the perpetuation of bias? The migrant worker and his family often become marginal to both the country of origin and the country of sojourn (Kagitcibasi C.). Classifying people according to the color of their skin, or their beliefs further alienates individuals who do not fit the modality of a population. How can our ties with our culture be so twisted that we are stigmatised because of them? Do we give up our dignity as we become a minority? (Music: Joey Ayala. Sayaw Ng Praning. Basta May Saging. 2015)
Baybay (Borders) According to the Canadian government's website, passports and visa requirements were entirely abolished in Europe by 1914 because of increasing tourism. However, World War 1 rekindled concern for international security, which led to the reinstatement of visa requirements. After we have institutionalised a nomenclature of ethnicities, what do we do with them? Do we segregate them with barricades, cemented over existing ethnological and economic differences? The hardest barriers to overcome are not physical, but the ones we've built with our own prejudices. (Music: Valentina Lisitsa. Closing. Valentina Lisitsa Plays Philip Glass. 2015)
And it repeats.
(in alphabetical order)