This past fall OCAD University and Mapúa University (Manila, Philippines) brought together 20 emerging artists to connect, build community and create art in the new digital world through our International Online Residency Experience (IORE): Narratives Through Global Space. This and other IORE projects were made possible through the 'Outbound Student Mobility Pilot Program: Innovation Fund' from Universities Canada.

Over the course of five months (September 2020 - February 2021) this virtual residency recognized the profound and essential value that diversity brings to the creation, reception and circulation of creative practices and discourse. Led by Julius Poncelet Manapul (Associate Chair of Contemporary Drawing & Painting, Assistant Professor at OCAD U), and co-taught with Natalie Waldburger (Interim Chair of Sculpture/Installation, Professor at OCAD U), along with Mapúa U faculty supervisors John Xavier S. Chavez (Professor in Writing for New Media Studies) and Roberto R. Ang (Professor in Documentary Film Studies), participants were given the opportunity to work collaboratively in pushing experimental film narratives across both Canadian and Filipinx cultural spectrums amidst the global backdrop of the pandemic. In collaboration with the participants from Mapúa University, students will join the project in promotion and research led by Dr. Marissa Largo (Assistant Professor in Art Education at NSCAD).

Students were led in bi-weekly live meetings on sharing the iterations and evolving 10 projects along with a one-on-one guidance from faculties in both Universities. Despite the current conditions, this residency found a way to connect creative makers and thinkers globally through digital connectivity. These experimental short films touch on issues of migration, language, identity, faith, symbolism, folklore, cultural objects, diasporic belongings, kinship, and the current global pandemic. The films will be shared alongside a digital panel discussion for Summer 2021. This event will showcase creators from around the world including Canada, Portugal, Mexico, Iran, India, Hong Kong, China, and South Korea.

Julius shares "20 creators in nine countries, spanning five time zones and led by five faculty members across three universities. These tapestries of narratives brings together varied reflections from the 20 creators, combining film makers, visual artists, digital artists, animators, photographers, writers and musicians globally with diverse experiences working together to a common goal to tackle issues of narratives through global space."

Poh Poh, I miss you. Lola, please don’t forget me. Here is what I never said to you.

Set respectively in the Philippines and Hong Kong, filmmakers Angelica Llanera and Agnes Wong each compose a quiet letter to their grandmothers in this nuanced portrait of the two older women- expressing the sentiments they never had the opportunity to say. Fragmented memories, unhealed wounds, and secrets are explored in this cathartic experimental short film about longing.

Similar yet different, the two grandmother-granddaughter narratives unfold to reveal the current situations of the two families, lingering amidst the complex emotions and deep sincerity from the two granddaughter’s hearts. Feelings of longing and heartache are expressed through the subtle and delicate imagery, juxtaposed against moments of ambiguous questions and text posed through handwritten messages.

The two filmmakers navigate their way through grief, guilt, healing, and gratitude in the duration of this experimental short as they explore these unfamiliar feelings both visually and narratively.

How are people interconnected and interdependent, despite their distances and differences?

Abaca- Kenaf which translates into rope, displays how people are interconnected by feeling empathy for each other's sorrow and joy. There are two different narratives that are connected by rope as a metaphorical material, which conveys two distinct perspectives in terms of the context. The rope’s firmness and structure in Abaca represents the bond between the communities. As if every single filament or strand that makes up the rope equates an individual. It displays how the Filipinos value kinship and the spirit of being with someone to lean on.

This strengthened relationship and collaboration is what makes them less vulnerable to life challenges. Furthermore, this also shows how a task, no matter how hard it may seem, can be accomplished when done with the help of others and by focusing on moving the community forward together.

The spirit of “Bayanihan”, a cultural tradition in the Philippines wherein a group of people help each other relocate a house due to several reasons, is evident in this film. In the beginning of the narrative, scattered abaca fibers are shown and eventually used to make ropes. The delicate process of making the rope implies how a solid relationship is formed. The final product of the rope eventually gets unveiled.

Kenaf displays a dual life, a Persian diasporic experience regarding the human right issues happening in the Middle East. Distance will never disconnect her from what other people experience in that part of the world which is connected to her identity. Her daily life is lost in the night life which is affected by the day to day news of people suffering from the political authorities’ decisions like the families affected by the executions and murders. For the mothers, spouses and children, there is no difference why their loved ones have been killed, but all of them experience same spiritual and material issues. Ropes were used for the execution for many years; unraveling it, and changing it to single filaments as a metaphor, represents annihilation to the injustice and cruelty in the world.

Exploring the confessions of day-to-day actions and objects in the lives of two artists during a global pandemic, one Mexican-Canadian and one Filipino.

In this seemingly personal short film, we observe the lives of two artists, one Mexican-Canadian and one Filipino who are oceans apart, as they go through their lives during a pandemic. The differences and parallels of daily life are drawn between confinement and home routines, with meals prepared and eaten, a walk outside the neighborhood, habitual actions, interaction with daily objects, the time spent alone and with loved ones are just few of the things that may confess bits of the culture that they are a part of. Capturing the scenes in a more personal and intimate setting where ordinary actions and common objects gradually instills the idea on how important these are as a facet of our identity. As it may subtly reveal overlooked portions of who we are as humans in the vastness of the world we live in. Despite, often unconsciously losing ourselves in the thought that people from across the globe are far and separated, we then might realise from these simplicities that we have more in common than what we think.

In the era of COVID-19, people keep seeking the voice of god despite the rising issues called “mass infection”; but then, where is the god’s answer?

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has become a global health crisis, where as of May 2020, over 300 000 have died and almost 5 million people have been infected. In the midst of the global pandemic, religion has become essential to the public – putting a strain on many people who seek spiritual solace and guidance. In spite of continuous increase of mass infection, people are still willing to attend religious places and practice religious activities since it gives people stability and meaning. The documentary film, ‘Defying Divinity’ centralizes around how religion plays an important role in people’s life – how religion guides these people in finding meaning and acceptance in the midst of suffering while engaging in the deepest question of life. After depicting their religion and lives, we keep questioning: what is the appropriate attitude as people who are willing to convey god’s voice in a meaningful way?

A balikbayan box becomes more than an object–it is a lifeline to home and family.

An Overseas Filipino Worker is longing to go home but struggles to send money to her family during the pandemic. As the eldest daughter and breadwinner of the family, she prioritizes their needs above her own. Unable to be with her family, she sends a Balikbayan box home in her place, Balik- meaning to return and Bayan meaning homeland and Country.

Filling this box with care packages to send to her family back in the Philippines, This box becomes more than an object, it symbolizes a connection of kinship and a lifeline for home and back to families. Due to her longing to be with her family, placing herself inside the box as a symbolic act of returning back home to her family, back in the Philippines. The symbolism of the Balikbayan Box resonates to a lot of diasporic Filipino’s who may seek a better life and the idea of providing for families. Although this nomadic essence of the box object also harbours a sense of materialistic needs, a need for westernized ideologies that articulates a neo-colonial aspects which travels to South East Asia. Yet another way of how the Balikbayan Box becomes complex, and a symbol of happiness for some and sadness for others.

Sometimes family members don’t understand the hardship one must go through just to provide for families back home. These complex relationships of family dynamics are just some of the narratives for many Overseas Filipino Workers as expressed and illustrated in this short film.

Two auto-biographical narratives of alienation and otherness converge when reflecting on constructs of past, present, and future concepts of ourselves.

In Our Being/Sa Aming Pagkatao is an experimental autobiographical film that converges two queer people of color perspectives from the Philippines and Canada into one narrative body. As a cross-continental virtual production, the two artists converged their two queer and racial narratives that discusses the everchanging self as an intersectional but alienated being. Accordingly, it uses a multidisciplinary approach combining analog film, collage art, along with digital and performative art to create this surreal and evocative visual experience - to feel like the audience are given a chance to look into our own subconscious.

Through the internal and external flux of self-concepts, trying to find stability in how others see us versus how we personally see ourselves - our bodies continue to yearn to grasp the stillness in the ever-changing self. These intersectional constructs of the past, current, and future, serves as a collective entity in defining one’s self. It focuses on ideas of alienation from the self and others and the internal conversations that become inevitable to this feeling of otherness.

Although the visuals are abstract there is an inherent linear structure to how it was organized that grounds the narrative - beginning with the mind which shows this distinct but coexisting identities, and show how that impacts our physical manifestation - there is this lack of unity; but as we journey, the body exudes this yearning for that stillness, it is this progressive metamorphosis within ourselves.

We see it to be separated parts, yet there is still this mixture of all these visuals which tries to allude to the complex and unending conversation within the subconscious and that they are not separate entities – how all these aspects of the mind define us. In this yearning, we find reconciliation; it is cathartic, and allows a greater understanding of self.

In an attempt to negotiate time and distance, two artists from across the world get to know each other by connecting photographs from their family albums.

Two artists from across the world get to know each other by connecting photographs from their family albums. The joining of colors, objects and gestures in the images, allow them to come together as an exchange of memories and a celebration of stories carried throughout generations in Canada, India and the Philippines. These intersections emphasize that despite the physical distance separating them, in many ways, they are close than they appear.

Amidst tumultuous times, the connections between flora and human relationships come full circle.

In a time where virtual connections transform the way we interact and forge relationships, Sofia and Fatima, two artists in Portugal and the Philippines, step back to understand what it is that drives the bonds that they share with the world.

Seeking refuge in her period of life riddled with fall-outs, Fatima’s chapter under sow, traces her beginnings with a story that connects the meaning of home and of family with an old Jackfruit tree. Sprout is a recounting of Fatima’s childhood fascinations of flora, and what it means to grow apart from it. Nurture, written under variations of longing, is the third chapter defined by the slow process of reconnecting with nature. These realizations and the awareness that follow, as we interact and learn from the bonds that we choose to keep in this lifetime.

Our worldly experience is marked by different beginnings and ends, Sofia’s chapter in sow, traces back the moments enlightened by the connection between human and nature. Clinging to our first and truest emotional experiences, an infinity of possibilities all with a small seed. Under sprout, Sofia examines how personal growth stands side to side with nature’s strength, coexisting and inspiring each other. As the trees grow, their leaves turn green and yellow, so do we learn to observe this ephemeral cycle. A parallel between self-care, safekeeping of old memories and the preservation of a loving legacy, nurture is the chapter that reflects on how we lead our lives in favour of others and ourselves. What was once left in decay can thrive again, marking the beginning of a new journey and the importance of cherishing our memories.

The concluding chapter, share, will be an entwined echoing out to the present as they express this newfound perspective of growth and their hopes of imparting the same wonderful experience to the world.

Is being an Aswang something to be ashamed of?

The first animated story foretells the tragedy of a young boy wrought by the strangers who came into their village. In the beginning, the Aswangs a Tagalog word which translates into Ghosts, together with the family of the young boy, lived quietly and peacefully. Their jobs were simply collecting firewood, growing and guarding plants and trees, and hunting for food. However due to the unexpected arrival of strangers in their village, the young boy began to struggle between change and tradition. Ending his dilemma, the young boy decided to leave his identity as an aswang because of fears of humiliation and shame. Here, we learn about the outcome of colonialism and how its legacy is manifested in the Filipinx society today. The second story is a story of about a group of aswang living on an island. Every year they have a festival in which they gather, feast and honor their ancestors, asking for blessings of a good year. This grants them the power to keep the land safe. However, much would change when strange creatures come to their land. These creatures were unlike anything that the aswang had ever seen before. With the meeting would come a disruption to their way of life, their culture and to the way that they saw themselves.

Telling the story of two distinct worlds aiming for a common goal; to know themselves more than anyone could ever.

"Parang Yiyang" is a hybrid experimental music experience telling the story of two distinct worlds of two people living at different time zones with diverse cultures and traditions, yet aiming for a common goal; to know their own selves more than anyone could ever do, to be able to belong in their respective circles. These people treat this journey as their personal mission thinking that to be able to make their contribution into improving their lives and surroundings. To be "valid" and effective, they must first be able to find their identities and understand their purpose in the worlds they dwell in. “Parang Yiyang”, which literally translates to "lt Seems The Same" would depict that these two people have a common goal to accomplish but have different ways to achieve it considering the major factor of being in two distinctly diverse countries which would mean different societal issues to get involved in.