An art exhibit in NY highlights Tandang Sora and women in care labor
Everybody knows Melchora Aquino (a.k.a. Tandang Sora) as the nurturing force behind revolutionaries in the 1896 Philippine Revolution. She was the main caregiver during those turbulent times; the grand dame who tirelessly tended to the sick and the wounded. So, if there’s anybody who deserves a monument, it’s her.
Little Manila Queens Bayanihan Arts—a nonprofit supporting “community-based arts and creative placekeeping efforts by the diasporic Filipino community” in some parts of the USA—recognizes this and has its creative engines revved up to make it happen.
Its upcoming art exhibition “Tandang Sora Project: Building Care and Public Memory” is breathing new life into the heroine’s legacy by unveiling a visual spectacle that doesn’t merely commemorate her historical significance but also spark meaningful discourses on the importance of public memory and Filipino immigrant women in the realm of care labor, and ultimately, install a monument dedicated to them.
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The exhibit will be open for public viewing from Nov. 17 to Dec. 17 at the Flushing Town Hall in Queens, New York City—and it promises more than a stroll through art.
“Tandang Sora Project: Building Care and Public Memory” is a collaborative effort among Fil-Am artists, designers, and cultural workers: Maria Arenas, Princes de Leon, Xenia Diente, Dennis Madamba, Jaclyn Reyes, Ezra Undag, and Kimberly Tate.
They’ve been on a mission to dig deep into the roots of care labor since 2022—exploring the untold tales of immigrant Filipinas whose contributions have often been overshadowed by the grander narratives of history.
The result? A visual feast that immortalizes the tough spirit of these unsung heroines, and prompts us to ponder the crucial role of care labor in shaping societies.
Works that made the cut were able to answer two guiding questions: “How do we activate and visibilize culturally-informed methods of ‘care’?” and “How do we do this in spaces and sectors they are needed—such as health and wellness, political and solidarity work, and the arts?”
Curated by Jaclyn Reyes and Chelsea Arenas, the exhibition is expected to be more than just a static display. It’s an invitation to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, to participate in the creation of a public memory, and to contribute to an ongoing narrative that stretches beyond the canvas.
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Attendees can even share their insights and knowledge, and influence the design of the monument. (Because contrary to popular belief, monuments aren’t useless stones; they are powerful symbols crafted from the collective memory of a community that chooses to remember, honor, and celebrate.)