About the Project

Kamustahan is an attempt to translate and extend our artistic interventions and collaborations from the Curating Development project into digital spaces. It serves as a platform for artists whose engagements with Filipino migrant communities were interrupted by the pandemic to check on their current condition (kamustahin), using arts and curation to mediate these conversations.

We started with a simple kamustahan. To ask kamusta? (or formally, kumusta) is to say hello, to send regards, to ask how somebody is doing, and to express one’s concern as a way to reconnect and reestablish social relationships. We shared how the pandemic affected our work as artists, academics, domestic workers, organizers, activists, and migrants' shelter volunteers, and talked about the potential of digital platforms and arts in responding to our new needs and situations. We looked at the intersections of our experiences, visions, and capacities to design art projects that will address the limitations of video calls and digital platforms on which diaspora development and migration policy-making now depend.

Through the platforms provided by Kamustahan, we envision a web architecture that can sustain flows of affect disrupted by the movement restrictions imposed due to the pandemic. In Hongkong, movement restrictions meant that friends could not gather in public spaces to eat, dance, share stories and make art together. In a shelter in Taiwan, migrants live in limbo and choose not to visit their families in the Philippines because of the risks of being denied re-entry to their country of employment. In London, precarious migrant workers became more hesitant to form support networks. With lost opportunities to meet their kababayans in public spaces, churches and community centers, their access to care that come from other migrant workers necessary for their survival in this pandemic have become limited. This isolation and heightened vulnerability brought them feelings of anxiety towards the future.

Using online curation, we set up conversational spaces where we bring together Filipino labor migrants, artists, family members, and activists across the diaspora. Art-making is seen here not just as a way to consolidate and present migrants’ testimonies to the public, but as a process that encourages “creative encounters” wherein difficult conversations surrounding migrants’ experiences during the pandemic can transpire.

Positing digital exchange as art, or the basis for an artistic response, allows us to open up the space of the UK-Philippines Filipino diaspora and make art to make visible and feel-able the cross-currents of obligation, hope, frustration, resilience and care that connect policy and practice.


Kamustahan sessions


Planning workshop

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Plenary session / Collage and assemblage workshop

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Meet the core team

Nathalie Dagmang

Lead Investigator 

Artist / Facilitator 

Nathalie Dagmang is an artist working at the intersection of art and anthropology. Her recent art / research projects involve a riverine community in her hometown Marikina City, Philippines, communities of Overseas Filipino Workers in the UK and most recently, food vendors and homeless women residing along a heritage street in Manila.


She has participated in artist residencies and exhibited her works in various galleries and community spaces in the Philippines, Hongkong, Singapore, Taiwan and the U.K.  It was in her artist residency in Liverpool University where she met members of the Filipino Domestic Workers Association and Kanlungan Filipino Consortium and became involved with the project Curating Development. She currently teaches at the Department of Fine Arts of Ateneo de Manila University. more>

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Deirdre McKay


Dr Deirdre McKay (Keele University) researches indigenous peoples, development and migration. She is the author of Global Filipinos (Indiana, 2012) and An Archipelago of Care(Indiana, 2016). She has worked with CIDA and AusAID-funded projects in the Philippines and with Filipino migrant communities in Canada, Hong Kong, London and online. She is interested in personal stories of development, migration strategies, and people’s sense of self, and how these phenomena are being reshaped by social media. She’s interested in development, media and creative approaches more broadly - her other projects explore upcycled plastic arts and crafts and ‘private aid’ after natural disasters. She was co-investigator of the Curating Development project. more >

photo - Henrielle Baltazar Pagkaliwangan

Henrielle Pagkaliwangan

Artist / Facilitator

Henrielle Baltazar Pagkaliwangan is a visual artist based in Cavite, Philippines. She explores stories behind the mundane and indispensable objects to examine Philippine history and material culture. Drawing from taxonomical illustration, she documents personal and historical narratives as a reflection on knowledge through prints and drawings. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in the Philippines and abroad.

In 2019, Henrielle joined a group show titled “Why Did You Come To Taiwan?” which explored themes of migration and colonization, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei. There, she met Sherry Torres Macmod Wang of Serve the People Association (SPA, Taoyuan), who was also part of the exhibition. Inspired by Curating Development’s traveling exhibition, Beyond Myself, Henrielle and Sherry have plans to collaborate on arts-based projects for Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan. more >


Jason Dy SJ

Artist / co-Facilitator

Jason Dy, SJ is a Jesuit priest and Filipino contemporary artist who is currently lecturing at the Fine Arts Department of the Ateneo de Manila University.

He is a self-taught artist who integrates art into his studies in theology and his priestly work in pastoral ministry. In 2009, he founded the Alternative Contemporary Art Studio (ACAS) at the garage of Sacred Heart Parish, Cebu City in order to promote contemporary art.


He pursued his MA in Creative Practice and MA in Art History and Curating at Liverpool Hope University, UK in 2013. Through his graduate studies, he is able to articulate his current creative practice that investigates into “the community and studio-based responses to changing religious and cultural circumstances, locations and events” (LHU).


His graduate studies in arts in the U.K. exposed him to the Filipino immigrants as well as some Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Liverpool, Manchester, Blackpool, Norwich, and Ipswich. During his time in the U.K., he launched the art project entitled Flores De Mayo and in 2017, he contributed a prayer-text in a docu-fiction Maid in Mayfair.   more >




May 30, 2021


Public program of Mayflowers project:

Flower offering and virtual santa cruzan

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Pagbubukas ng Liham

August 1, 2021

Public program of Liham project:

Public reading of letters and artist talk

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August 1, 2021


Public program of Sanga-sanga project:

Spoken poetry and Studio tours

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Daluyan ng pag-asa

October 9, 2021

Closing program:

Panel discussion on sustaining Filipino migrant workers' creativity during the pandemic


Cielo Tilan

Co-facilitator / Coordinator for London

Founding member, Filipino Domestic Workers Association

Cielo spends most of her time organizing for Filipino Domestic Workers Association (FDWA). For Cielo, a hobby is something that one likes doing, and when asked about hers, the first thing that comes to her mind is organizing. Organizing for FDWA is part of Cielo’s daily routine; she responds to the call of migrant workers who need assistance and rescues them from abusive employers, any time of the day. 


She is one of the co-facilitators of the Mayflowers project which started because of the Beyond Myself Exhibition back in 2017. What motivated Cielo to co-facilitate the workshop was her intention to build a network of migrant workers from Taiwan and Hongkong. Personally, she finds flower-making therapeutic.

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Julia Mariano

Co-facilitator / Coordinator for Taiwan

Spokesperson, Migrante International - Taiwan Chapter

Volunteer, Serve the People Association - Shelter

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Noemi Manguerra

Co-facilitator / Coordinator for Hongkong

Founding member, Guhit Kulay artist collective

Noemi has been a migrant worker for almost 18 years now. She worked for 2 years in Taiwan and spent the rest of her years in Hongkong, where she became one of the founders of Guhit Kulay, a group of Filipino migrant artist collective set up in 2017. Prior to establishing the organization, Noemi spends her day-offs at the park, drawing. 


Noemi says that the Kamustahan sessions excite her because as a self-taught artist, she still discovers new techniques because of the workshops. More than the skills, she also appreciates meeting Filipino migrant workers from different parts of the world. Pre-pandemic, Guhit Kulay also launches physical art workshops, and Noemi is excited to facilitate similar workshops again, with the insights she developed from participating in Kamustahan.



Co-facilitator / Coordinator for Hongkong

Founding member, Guhit Kulay artist collective

Cris has been working in Hongkong for 25 years, where she’s also an active member of Guhit Kulay, a migrant artist collective set up in 2017. 


Pre-pandemic, Cris is mostly a visual artist taking part in workshops and putting up exhibits in Hongkong. Because of the lockdown, she ventured to embroidery and sew cloth masks to cheer up her friends. 


She grew up in Baguio where she owns a gown rental business on the side. She looks forward to applying what she learned in the workshops in developing her business.