Community//

Jazz’s Daughter Among Philippine Flowers

Adventures with the Philippine Women of Holy Family Catholic Church at Pope Francis' Visit To Cairo, Egypt

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko, Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

In Cairo, the Philippine community embodies the Spirit of self-preservation, self-determination, teamwork, and nation building.  Self-sufficient. Communal. Exemplifying a Spirit of resilience-a willingness to do for oneself.  

My journey with this community began last year.  Yet, for the beginning initiation, it all occurred during the arrival of Pope Francis II.  Boarding the bus with the Philippine community, a reflection took place.  

Some were confused.  Others wondered of my presence there.  Nevertheless, I was there                                                         . . .and we were here.

Catholics from the world over, would be in attendance in Cairo, Egypt on April 29, 2017.  A crucial time, when humanity needed to hear the sweetness of peace.  This time, Egypt was the elixir for such.  All ears were openHearts were forced to receiveA timing of serenity’s bliss!

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

Perfumes of hope and abundance.  The power of believing in impossibilities.  It was the beauty of belief, that resonated with the Philippine community. 

As myself, and others in my field (migration and refugee studies), I heard the horror stories of abuse and despair.  Mistreatment against those loving-Spirited, Philippine women, who labor in particular, Egyptian households.  The atrocities taken against one’s humanity, are abundant.  

The phenomenal thing is that a few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Philippine women, who played a key role in my life and Spiritual path, here in Cairo, Egypt. 

I remember, Lourdes-the young, Philippine manager at Dusit Thani restaurant (in New Cairo).  I had come upon her name in reading one of the novels, by famed novelist. . .Paulo Coelho.  Interesting enough, it related to a particular Catholic Church.  Her kindness in making sure that I was enjoying the Thai culinary on a harmonious evening, in the Summer of 2015.  During her break, she and I spent time together at the Downtown Plaza in New Cairo.  There, we talked about life, love, and issues we experienced as women in Cairo.  

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

Lourdes revealed many things to me, about myself.  Intimate things, I’d never thought of.  Details, which continue to resonate with me-til’ this very day.

I also remember a moment of meeting one Philippine woman, a domestic worker.  In the Philippines, she had been a nurse.  Awaiting the arrival of one of my students, whose home she labored in, we chatted together about our studies.  A fabulous time, indeed!  Her desire to speak with me about the language of Tagalog-it’s connection to the Spanish language.  An orator of her cultureI felt entranced and honored in her care; the desire to teach me of her culture.


It’s these beautiful-Spirited women of the Philippine community, who were subconsciously, Spiritual guardians for my path.  So, it should be no surprise that my enchantment (and interaction) with their existence. . .would lead me to the Maidens of that Garden.

And that is where Philippine women of Holy Family of Maadi Catholic Church come in.

What highlighted this after enchantment was the celebration, after hearing Pope Francis speak at the Air Defense stadium in New Cairo.  Walking the long journey, in order to await our bus. . .it was during this time when you saw the magical Spirits of particular Philippine women.  Comforting my journey, (and a needed one at that) as I was wearing a pair of agonizing high heels that were broken; having been worn by me, for the first time.  A couple of them came to assist me on this difficult task.  

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

Upon reaching an area, where visitors awaited to take pictures, and meet the “foreign eye,” it was here, where the magic of a certain group of women, accompanied me.  Capturing memories in time, it’s important to recognize how patterns of movement are relevant in honoring of one’s existence. 

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

The intimacy of this moment was Spiritual. Their willingness to interact with me, and my desire to connect with them. 

(Photo By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

The conveying of our postures, and different stances, channeled a Spirit of happiness. Illuminating comfort and joy. . .in that moment.   Smiles and stances painted the Spirit, which filled that aura and spacing. 

Being Black America’s daughter in a sea of Philippine flowers was an intrinsic image.  In America, there are Philippine maidens, who have benefited from Black America’s Garden.  Other migrant flowers have ventured into her domain, as well.  After all, she is rather nourishing and abundant! Isn’t she?:)

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

Our waiting area was enriched with different visitors; venturing from myriad nations.  Some were dressed in ancient, cultural traditions.  Others wore symbols of their own particular Gardens.  

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)


Departure of that presence was an imprinted memory.  For on that day, reality became clear.  A coloring of true faces from the myriad of visitors were exposed.  There were those personnel who came for reasons, other than the Spiritual ecstasy of the central decor.  Some came for ego and validation.  Wanting to ensure that conviction of their own holiness was. . .in tact!  Others came because they secretly crave the authority, outside of their cultural existence.

But for me, and these particular Ladies of the Philippines, our unique selves was ENOUGH!  Being who we were was just fine.  And the commonality is that we love and treasure, our unique Gardens.  

Yet, in this painting, representation of two cultural Maidens came together to narrate a masterpiece-an enchanting tale on the day of Pope Francis’ arrival to a Paradise of Egyptian maidens.  

In the midst of a Philippine bouquet was a Black flower-whose Gardens are naturally grown from American soiling. 

The masterpiece was completed, and a universal memory. . .stamped.  All to be re-opened, and observed further. . .for another time.  

More exploration for diverse Maidens, who meet up in a Sphinx’s narrative of                                                                          paradisiacal flowers!                                                                    

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