May 24, 2024

October 1, 2023 - Mona Lavina says there’s something to be learned from a Filipino folk story about a monkey and a turtle who found a banana tree floating on a river.

The Kelowna, B.C.-based curator of Filipino culture and heritage explains it relates to “carefully discerning in life what is valuable in the long run”.

“It’s about the wisdom in choosing what in life will truly bear fruit in the end,” Lavina notes in a written interview.


Mona Lavina brings culture to life through the arts.Mona Lavina brings culture to life through the arts.

Lavina is the founder of the Filipino Canadian Art Museum, a digital platform that celebrates Philippine culture and heritage.

Since its creation in 2019, the site has featured events, exhibits, and Filipino artists in Canada.

“It has been amazing to see how we are able to use the tools of technology. We see our work evolve with it each year. I’m also so happy to have made connections with many talented Filipinos. 

“They inspire me so much and I’m excited to see how the community continues to thrive in Canada,” Lavina states.

Lavina is one of the presenters in BC Culture Days, which runs from September 22 to October 15, 2023.

Culture Days are also happening simultaneously across the country, in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Alberta, and New Brunswick.

On October 14, Lavina’s animated tale titled “The Tale of the Monkey and the Turtle” will show online at 10 a.m. on the BC Culture Days website.

In this Filipino anecdote, a monkey and a turtle found a banana tree floating on a river, and each planted their halves. A half of the tree died, but the other with roots lived and bore fruit.

Lavina notes that one can “learn so much about life from what becomes of that tree”.

She will narrate the tale in English and Filipino, introducing non-Filipino speaking audiences to the national language of the Philippines.

What makes the presentation of “The Tale of the Monkey and the Turtle” in BC Culture Days extra special for the Filipino cultural curator is that it’s a collaboration between her and her two teenaged daughters.

Her eldest daughter Clara rendered the watercolour artwork for the story, and her youngest, Anya, brought the story to life with music and animation.

“This project captures everything I love about our work in promoting Filipino heritage and arts in Canada: the joy of sharing our culture through storytelling and immersive experiences, and the creative use of our individual talents to serve the community,” Lavina says. 

Lavina, Clara and Anya also teach Filipino language and culture in their local community under the auspices of the Okanagan Filipino Canadian Society.

The lessons run monthly throughout the school year, Lavina says, adding that classes include Filipino folktales, like the one about the monkey and the turtle.

 “The Tale of the Monkey and the Turtle” shows online on October 14 at 10 a.m. on the BC Culture Days website.

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