Back in San Jose, Lola and I started drawing and painting together. I’d read somewhere that art was a form of therapy with seniors, so we gave it a try. Lola made watercolor paintings, and when they dried I drew her memories on top of them. We called ourselves The Lola x Kenneth Collaboration. When Lola passed in 2016, she left me with the rest of her paintings, and in doing so, she left me with a purpose. I would finish everything she started. I promised.
When Kenneth Tan started this oral history project for his Asian American Studies class at UC Berkeley, he had no idea he would ultimately create a memoir and art book with his grandmother, Crescenciana Tan. In Crescenciana, Kenneth weaves together their artwork, conversations, and memoirs to tell his grandmother’s life story. With heart and humor, he recounts Crescenciana’s childhood antics in the Philippines, her fall on black ice outside of a church in Canada, and her show-stopping civics test performance that earned her citizenship in the United States. At the same time, he revisits her memories as a survivor of World War II and the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, and he reflects on his own continuing grief since her passing. Crescenciana is an art book and memoir about carrying and commemorating your family’s stories. It’s a book about moving forward without leaving your loved ones behind.
Join us for this event celebrating intergenerational connection and ancestral narratives with author Kenneth Tan, an author Q&A moderated by East Wind Books’ Harvey Dong, and a musical performance from fellow author Conrad J. Benedicto and his Kulintang band, Kulintang Dialect. This event is brought to you in partnership with Eastwind Books of Berkeley, Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies Department at UC Berkeley, and Asian Pacific American Student Development Office at UC Berkeley.
Kenneth Tan is a second-generation Filipino American living in his hometown of San Jose. He has shared stories about his grandmother, Crescenciana Tan, on NPR and StoryCorps, and he is a recipient of the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artists Award. Kenneth enjoys boba, board games, and three-item lists. Crescenciana is his first book.
Conrad J. Benedicto a teacher, author, and kulintang musician who was born in the Philippines and immigrated to the United States at age thirteen. He studied with kulintang master artist Danongan Kalanduyan from 1997 until his passing in 2016, including as his apprentice through the Alliance for California Traditional Arts’ apprenticeship program in 2007 and again in 2013. In 2018, Conrad received an individual artist grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission to compose original kulintang music for his project, “Kulintang Dialect.” He teaches social studies, environmental education, and kulintang music at Balboa High School in San Francisco. Musalaya’s Gift, Conrad’s first novel, was published by KulArts in 2021. Kulintang Dialect is a traditional five instrument kulintang band that performs the traditional kulintang music passed down by the late Master Danongan Kalanduyan with fidelity, while also exploring with joy and courage how this music can express itself through new ways that are nourished by our own specific context on this American soil.