The Role of Religion and Family in Filipino Identity
Language: English & Tagalog

Printed at the Design Lab at the Parsons School of Design
Laser and Risograph
Typefaces: Maria Clara, Old Century, and Perlas
Bayanihan is a research project, an archive, and a memoir.

Its physical form takes the shape of a book that centers a critical analysis on how Spanish and U.S. colonialism have shaped Filipino identity and impeded our cultural histories. Colonialism, religion, family, and my own personal identity as a mixed-race Filipino/German-American woman are researched, discussed, and visually represented.

Bayanihan is divided into three parts. The first part “A Brief Contextualization of Colonialism” provides insight into my own critical thought processes and sketches that informed the foundation of Bayanihan. This section includes a research essay that I wrote, called “The Imperial Imagination: American Colonialism in the Philippines Through the Lens of Early 20th Century American Visual Culture.” Section II: “Relihiyon / Religion” shares histories of Roman Catholicism in the Philippines according to early 20th century American theologians. Section II explores the religious effects of American and Spanish colonialism/Roman Catholicism within Filipino culture and identity. In this section, I use metallic gold Risograph printing to represent the bleeding of religion, and the marks it leaves on those who encounter it. This "leaving of a mark" represents the stigmata of Jesus Christ. The gold is also representative of the golden edges of a Bible.

“Section III: Kapamilya / Family” is a memoir— a personal recollection of the ways in which my Filipino family has made me feel whole, whether it was through plates of love embodied as more-than-you-can-eat servings of pancit or handwritten letters from deceased loved ones on the backs of old Kodak portraits of the family’s bunso.

I explore the concept of family as a staple within Filipino culture and identity— a place where physical closeness may not be guaranteed, especially for those between the U.S. and the Philippines. Section III embodies my own grieving of loss— of time with loved ones lost because of physical separation, and loss of culture and identity under the hands of imperialism.

The title Bayanihan is written in pre-colonial Filipino script, Baybayin. Derived from the literal act of picking up your neighbor’s house to help them move it to another spot, the Filipino word "Bayanihan" refers to the spirit of working together to achieve a particular goal. Bayanihan represents having an awareness of our personal histories and cultures, as a part of a greater mission to better understand our connections with the people around us. Bayanihan exists as an everyday practice of working together as a community—and to dismantle internalized colonialism within Filipino personhood.

To view Bayanihan on the official Parsons Communication Design Thesis page, visit