Kristine Buenavista: Listening to Stories from the Barrio


Barrios are an interesting mix of stillness and noise. People sleep at eight in the evening after watching teleseryes, drinking tuba, or listening to the transistor radio. The next day is ushered in by the cacophony of animal sounds in the morning. People go about their day — a cycle of paninda, cooking, siesta, chismis, and tending to the plants and poultry. In this seemingly repetitive way of living, there is silence in between, and this is where Kristine Buenavista listens. She captures these stories with a certain tenderness in her essay, “Ruralismo” and in her poetry collection, “and the sea was saltier”.

Kristine Buenavista reading her poems during the opening of the exhibition, “Clouds, Apples and Consciousness” in 2014.

Despite the affinity of Kristine Buenavista’s words to her roots, she also writes about her travels. Her essays about the people she met, the food she ate, and even the windows of the bus she rode have a certain calm (meditative even).

When she’s not writing, Kristine Buenavista is organizing events that connect art to the community. She is a Co-founder and the Project Manager of Artivism, a group that aims to “raise awareness of social issues through street art in the forms of dance, sports, music, poetry, graffiti, and murals”.

Share with us your first memory of writing.

Sitting on a table with a lit gas lamp, writing snail mails to my Mother when I was 7 years old. I told her stories about school, I asked her a lot of questions about Singapore, and I shared about my explorations on fruits and insects.

What are you currently reading?

Tarun Tejpal’s “the Alchemy of Desire”

In the creative circles you’re part of, what questions do you want to see more people asking?

How can art create deeper self-awakening, social awareness, and spiritual enrichment? How can my creativity be a channel for community engagement?

What creative projects are you currently working on?

I have been rewriting poems and travel anecdotes – from their rawest form in my journals. I have also been working closely with our Artivism team for Artivism 4 and finalizing Voices from the Baryo, a digital  storytelling lab project for Alima Community.

Allyn Canja
Allyn Canja works for a contemporary art museum in Iloilo City. She is a fellow of the San Agustin Writers Workshop, and co-founder of Poetika.


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