Kwentong Bayan Collective
Short bio: Kwentong Bayan is a collective of two Toronto-based artists, Althea Balmes and Jo SiMalaya Alcampo. Their artistic mandate is to explore a critical and intersectional approach to community-based art, labour, and education. In the Filipino language, "kwentong bayan" is the literal translation of "community stories". A major part of their work is in collaboration with Filipino Migrant Care Workers, who support Canadian families to care for children, elders, and those with complex medical needs. Many also work as Personal Support Workers, Cleaners, and other Front-line workers during the global pandemic. Kwentong Bayan Collective has exhibited and published their work internationally, their work is taught in elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities and has been integrated into the Ontario school curriculum.
Full bio for Kwentong Bayan Collective
(aka KBC or Kwentong Bayan)
Kwentong Bayan's comic on the history of the Live-in Caregiver Program is featured in the anthology, Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working Class Struggle, edited by the Graphic History Collective and published by Between the Lines Press. The book was awarded the 2017 Canadian Historical Association Public History Prize, and the 2017 Wilson Book Prize for making Canadian history accessible to transnational audiences.
In 2017, the Graphic History Collective commissioned Kwentong Bayan to create one of twelve, Remember | Resist | Redraw posters to intervene in the Canada 150 conversation. Kwentong Bayan's work examines the 150+ year history of care work performed by racialized women in Canada, and includes a contextual essay by Dr. Ethel Tungohan. It has been taught in secondary schools, colleges and universities and referenced in CBC's The Secret Life of Canada.
Kwentong Bayan's work has been integrated into the Ontario school curriculum with the support of PASSOC (Philippine Arts and Social Studies in the Ontario Curriculum). This project develops new learning materials that highlight the Philippines and Filipinos in the diaspora, to support the increasing number of Filipino students in the school system.
From 2017-2018, Kwentong Bayan participated in the Artists in the Library Program. They partnered with the Toronto Public Library to create a weekly Comics/Komiks Meet-up for community members to create and receive mutual support. The year-long residency culminated in the first Filipino Zine Fair in Toronto.
In June 2019, Kwentong Bayan created a public programming series, to recognize the inaugural convergence of National Indigenous People’s month and National Filipino Heritage Month, in partnership with Mississauga Culture and the Small Arms Inspection Building.
This project was entitled, HABI: Weaving Stories of Migrant Labour and Indigenous Resurgence. The month-long program explored Indigenous history, labour, migration, and our relationship with the land.
Kwentong Bayan Collective served as Artist Collective in Residence for Myseum of Toronto in 2020/2021.
From May-to-June 2020, KBC presented, Stories of Collective Care in the Time of Covid-19 - a series of online conversations exploring collective care in Toronto through panel discussions and storytelling.
In April 2021, Kwentong Bayan presented, Here and There - a collaborative storytelling event with Migrant Care Workers, as part of Myseum Intersections.
Kwentong Bayan Collective have completed artist residencies with Art City St. James Town, SOY's Art & Mentorship Program for LGBTQ2S* Spectrum Youth, and the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre in Hamilton.
Kwentong Bayan has organized self-defense workshops for Live-in Caregivers that promote personal safety in their home and workplace in partnership with Combat Science: Warrior Arts of Asia.