20 Filipinos to Watch

Maribeth Tabanera

I am a creator. A life long learner.
A lover of life. A community builder.”
– Maribeth Tabanera

Maribeth Tabanera, also known as Kilusan, makes a promise to herself: to never stop learning.
Monday to Friday she’s educating the future leaders of our city, as an Internship Coordinator at the Seven Oaks Met and Maples Met School. On evenings and weekends, she’s a multi-faceted artist and instructor – sharing her knowledge and passion of dance and DJ. Her passions as a dancer allowed her to compete in international dance competitions around North America. Today, she’s an assistant choreographer of B.O.S.S. Dance Team.

As a graduate of Mama Cutsworth’s DJ Academy for All Women and Non-Binary Folks, you can catch her playing her favourite tracks at events all over our city. In September 2019, she was a part of Bastid’s BBQ Winnipeg, playing alongside Skratch Bastid and DJ Maseo from De La Soul. To catch one of her sets today, you can follow her as a resident DJ with Queer People of Colour Winnipeg and Synonym Art Consultation. Or if you’re interested – take one of her DJ classes at Studio 393 at Portage Place Mall.

What excites you most about what you do?
What excites me most about the work that I do is the community building. One of my passions in life is working towards developing social justice in my local and broader community. Through my work as an educator and mentor, I strive to create learning opportunities for all of my students to move towards their professional and personal goals. I hope by modelling my pursuit of all things I am passionate about, that it inspires others to do so as well.

“I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.” – Toni Morrison

What impact have you witnessed from your work?
The impact I have witnessed from the work that I do is in the success stories of my students. I have been teaching professionally 15 years now (I am including teaching dance). I have seen dancers grow up to become teachers and choreographers. I have seen my previous students whom I taught in my Industrial Arts classes pursue careers as Electricians and Graphic Designers. When young people can pursue their passions in a way that is meaningful and authentic, they are able to see and create opportunities for their success.

Tell us a story about an obstacle you faced and conquered.

One of the obstacles I have faced and continue to be challenged by is the need to overachieve and be perfect. Growing up as a child of immigrant parents, you feel pressure to be successful on behalf of your family. This can sometimes manifest in feeling like a failure when a linear plan does not pan out the way you thought it would. My first years of post-secondary life were challenging both academically and socially. I felt isolated and somewhat lost in terms of what I wanted to pursue. During my studies, I realized that I enjoyed art history and still loved to create art in many forms. After I completed my first degree, I was unsure if I would be accepted into the University of Winnipeg (U of W) Bachelors of Education (B.Ed.) 3-year program due to my GPA and number of volunteer hours, so I also applied to the Red River College Industrial Arts/Technology and U of W B.Ed. 4-year program. My intuition was right, and I was not accepted to the 3-year program at U of W. In the end, it was a blessing in disguise because I quickly realized that being an Industrial Arts Teacher was a much better fit for me than teaching in an academic classroom. The path to success is never linear, in actuality it is a messy drawing of lines that take you all over the place, but as long as you keep an general goal area in sight you will get there and it will be great.

Miriam Delos Santos – Photoshoot with traditional Filipina clothing of my mother’s. Photo collaboration with @merelymegan and @artistrybymeghankinita

I am a mother, entrepreneur and designer. I learned the ropes of entrepreneurship from a young age from my first generation immigrant parents operating their own business, Spice World which we’ve been blessed to have for the past 23 years. I bring the values of hard work and drive to my own company. I participate in maker panels, maker podcasts and workshops. My social media platform is used for connection, mainly with other women, for empowerment, inspiration and art through fashion. I work, create and hold appointments at my downtown studio.

I have been hand making goods made in Manitoba for the past three years. Hello Darling’s design process is a one women show, from the careful curation of textiles, using fabrics manufactured in Canada and the United States, to the design, execution and construction, it all starts and ends with me, and I take great pride in every step and important detail in terms of the product created.

What excites you most about what you do?
Meeting people from all disciplines within the creative scene here in Winnipeg, it is an exciting time! There is so much raw talent in this city. When we come together, say yes to opportunity, many doors can open and magic happens.

What impact have you witnessed from your work?
Last year I was able to spearhead opening up Mothership Pop Up in South Osborne with seven other dear friends, women entrepreneurs who also happened to be mothers. The empowerment we felt as women, the sense of community and collaboration that was fostered, was very special and remains one of the pivotal experiences in my journey, professionally and personally. Through my work I’ve been able to participate in panels about women in business, workshop opportunities with the Winnipeg Art Gallery Makerlabs and podcasts.

Tell us a story about an obstacle you faced and conquered.

When one thinks of a single parent, you would imagine many obstacles and roadblocks, but this is what spurred and motivated me. Taking the brave first steps, learning as you go, connecting with people who will support you and putting your family first will get you where you need to go.