2014 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 840 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 14 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Learning from Museums

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[Post by Janet Smoak]

Museums that focus on community, culture, and a shared history are my favorite places to learn about others. And the guided tour of the Balay Cuyonon was inspirational.

IMG_5016Though I was in a place completely foreign and unexpected, when it came to learning about a culture, I did so in the exact same way I share who I am in my museum setting. Museums are common denominators in story-telling–the same tools, the same presentation style, different words and examples. The other cultural sites we visited were the same. Learning cross-culturally has no language barrier.

We embarked on this grant to understand and develop cultural heritage tourism through an exchange with the Cuyonon; understanding that the way we impart information has no language or experience barrier is the true value I received.

Summed up with love

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[Post by Angela Flemming]

My travel to Palawan was a beautiful experience that I will never forget. It was wonderful to reunite with the group of Palawan delegates who traveled to Suquamish last fall. Their visit to Suquamish held special significance for my family. My mother, who is from the Philippines, had the opportunity to host them for an evening and was able to speak with them in her native dialect — a chance she does not often get living in Western Washington.

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Kate, Kirsten Mae, Cindy, Charmagne, Hannilyn, and Angela

The entire trip to Palawan was a comfortable and enjoyable time — but it wasn’t until I had been home for several weeks after visiting that I realized I was absolutely in love with the people. The moment we set foot on their sand, they made us feel welcome and at home. These are friends that I will never want to forget and it is this experience that makes me tell even my family in the Philippines that we need to go back to visit Palawan.

It’s a given that the beaches were beautiful and the sites wondrous; we were in the Philippines, after all. Every day of our visit included trips to amazing locations on the island that I would have never dreamed of. I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to visit along with other Suquamish delegates. We traveled there with little, in order to leave as minimal an impression as possible on the land; traveling light was also necessary, because we were flying on small planes. We were fed food from the land that was simple, clean and elegant and every morning I woke up energized and excited for the day. By night, I was tired and ready for sleep because there were so many activities to take in.

We did so many things during our stay, including a visit to Ille Cave, the Palawan Heritage Center, a day of island hopping in El Nido and much more. What I remember the most out of this whole experience is how welcome I felt. I felt like I was visiting family and friends and they couldn’t wait to share and brag about their heritage to me. I couldn’t wait to watch, listen and experience it for myself. This feeling of not being an outsider is what will make me come back as often as I can afford; and I can’t wait to share with my family. “Balik, balik” or “come back, come back” was what many of the locals told us as we left and everyone among us said that we will be back.

Pusong Mamon

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[Post by Kah-Ty-Ah Lawrence]

I am going to the Philippines. As the departure date draws closer, my interest in Philippine culture grows. I am reading an array of books, one of which expands on cultural differences between the United States and the Philippines. In a country that is dominated by machismo culture and the Catholic religion, one book says, a woman’s most important role in life is being a mother.

While standing at the bakery in New Ibajay, Palawan, looking at the shelves of bread and treats of all shapes and sizes, the connoisseur in me has absolutely no idea what to pick. Trying to make an extremely calculated decision off of nothing, I turn to my Pinoy crush and ask for his opinion on what I should choose. After much translation he finally suggests the pusong mamon and says, “This is the heart of the Philippines!”

The group slowly files back into the Jeepney after filling their orders of treats and sweets from the bakery. As I sit down and open my bag of mystery treats, I bite into the pusong mamon having no idea what it is going to taste like. It’s delicious and firm but, soft with very subtle sweetness to it.

Although a Pinay woman’s most important role in life is seen as being a mother, it is a highly respected role. I have come to learn that pusong mamon is the symbol for the Pinay mother. She is a woman who slides easily from the high demands of a husband to the needs of young children and disciplining teenagers so gracefully. She is a woman who is firm when she has to be, yet soft and sweet on the inside. I was warmed by the connection between women and this food to understand how representative pusong mamon is of the Pinay woman. She is going to change, but she is going to maintain her traditions as a 21st century woman.

A day long journey to Sibaltan is worth the effort

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[Post by Leonard Forsman, Suquamish, WA]

On January 22, we left on a van ride from Puerto Princesa to Sibaltan. The first stop was at the town of TayTay, home to a great restaurant and a 17th century Spanish Fort St. Isabel. The fort is run by a graduate of Palawan State University who is working to expand a small museum in the scenic fort. After leaving TayTay, we stopped briefly in El Nido before heading over the mountain to Sibaltan, our home for three days. After a total of 8 hours on some pretty rough road, we arrived to a traditional welcome dance and meal presented by the townspeople and their beautiful young people. Coconut juice and fried bananas were just a few of the treats.

On this first day, I could see that the people of Sibaltan prize their young people and their extended families. Spanish cultural influences are subtly noticeable, but a strong connection to their Cuyonon ancestors is evident. It was refreshing to see a community so unified and relatively isolated from intense forces of acculturation faced by many aboriginal cultures, including my own people, the Suquamish Tribe.

Blessed to be Visiting the Philippines

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[Post by Angela Flemming, Suquamish, WA]

Anxious, excited, feeling blessed… I’m not sure what those emoticons look like but I am so happy that I have been blessed with the opportunity to finally make a trip to the Motherland.  I was chosen to be a delegate with the Suquamish Tribe in Palawan, Philippines. What I can bring to the table is my unique experience as a 2nd generation Filipina that has worked nearly ten years in the Grant world for Tribal Government, has lived my whole life in the Suquamish and Kitsap Community and yet can give a neutral perspective. If they don’t need my perspective it probably doesn’t hurt that I understand a great amount of Tagalog and can possibly help with translation, if needed.

I was given the opportunity to open up my home and host a dinner for the delegates from Palawan.  Though I had no idea what I was getting myself into it ended up being very comfortable and a lot of fun.  My mom, Rosenda, enjoyed herself the most though.  She didn’t want the night to end.  I loved seeing my mom engage with everyone as well as there is not much more that brings her pleasure than when she can impress with her cooking; and impressed they were.  She was so animated and excited to chat with everyone and everyone got along so well. You would have thought they were long lost friends.  I’m happy to say that she will be joining us as we now go and visit the Philippines.

I’ve been trying to take a trip to the Philippines for many years now and am so excited that I FINALLY get to go but as excited as I am, I can’t say that I’m truly ready to leave.  I did go get my inoculations; I just have not packed yet.  We leave in a couple of days!

I can’t wait to experience the Philippines first hand and what’s extra special is that my mom and I extended our trip in order to visit our family.  We will travel to Palawan, fly back to Manila and visit family that we have near there and we will visit our family located in a remote village in Leyte.  I look forward to experiencing the beautiful Palawan Island with it’s wonderful history and people.  I can’t wait to check on my family in Leyte, meet my relatives by Manila and meet my Godchild, Precious Amethyst.  I hold my hands up to the Suquamish Museum Board for allowing me this rare opportunity and I thank the Creator for continually blessing me.

Salamat Po

Questioning Collaboration

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As an intern with Ancient Shores, Changing Tides, I interviewed several of the participants about what they hoped to achieve by taking part in the Museums Connect exchange. Answers included cross-cultural understanding, new exhibition and storytelling techniques, and enhanced understanding of local heritage. All noble causes, but I was skeptical at first. What do an established museum in the United States and an underfunded museum in the Philippines have to teach each other? Luckily, I was able to journey across the Olympic Peninsula with the delegates from Sibaltan and their Suquamish hosts. After two days of touring heritage sites on the Olympic Peninsula, sharing meals, and swapping stories, it was apparent that they would reach their goals.

Since the delegation’s visit, my involvement with Ancient Shores, Changing Tides has been more peripheral, so I am eager to catch up with the participants midway through the grant. I am particularly curious about the progress they have made toward their goals, and whether their desired outcomes have changed after the first visit.  Of course, I can and will ask them about this, but first I would like to share a few questions and musings about the benefits of community museum exchanges:

How does a cultural exchange program such as Museums Connect strengthen the implementation and functioning of community museums?

Ancient Shores, Changing Tides project leader Lace Thornberg has identified six principles to which community museums aspire: they 1) are committed to social justice, 2) place a strong emphasis on training local people to preserve the collections and manage the museum, 3) are built by activist leaders, through a participatory approach with an emphasis on collaboration, 4) preserve both material cultural heritage and intangible cultural heritage, 5) link the past with the present, promoting community identity and cultural regeneration, and 6) collaborate, cooperate and share best practices. Both the Suquamish Museum and the Balay Cuyonon can be characterized as community museums, founded by and for community members as places in which to shape and share their histories and identities. Museums Connect has presented these museums with the opportunity to fulfill the sixth principle: collaboration, cooperation, and sharing best practices. This principle may seem a little surprising; community museums should focus on the local by definition, so how does collaboration and sharing with other communities contribute to their missions? I’d like to know more!

Maybe you can help answer some of these questions:

  • Why are collaboration, cooperation, and sharing best practices especially important to community museums?
  • How do these activities support the other five principles mentioned above?
  • How does international travel strengthen this collaboration?
  • In what other ways can community museums effectively collaborate, cooperate and share best practices?

Add your comments here, or click over to the Ancient Shores, Changing Tides Facebook page to contribute to the conversation!