In ‘Long Kwento,’ telling Filipino family stories on a vast yet human scale

Emily Wilson, 48hills, November 23, 2021

Maia Cruz Palileo's lush paintings at Wattis combat colonialist narratives by giving subjects tales of their own.


In a YouTube interview with the California College of the Arts, artist Maia Cruz Palileo says most of the titles for their shows come from letters from their grandmother. 

That’s true of the show at the Wattis Institute, Long Kwento. (Kwento means story in Tagalog). Palileo asked their grandmother to tell the story of her life, but she was a little shy, Palileo says, and after a little bit would write, “Oh, long kwento, I’ve talked too much.”

Palileo is telling her grandmother’s story with paintings and sculptures at the Wattis. Besides colorful family history, the show’s inspiration comes from going through the archives at The Newberry Library in Chicago, which has several Filipino collections—including the archive of a colonial administrator in the Philippines, Dean C. Worchester