Origin Story: Gabrielle


I’m not the best with words.

It’s been that way since I was a little kid struggling with talking properly even after kindergarten. It was simply another symptom of autism spectrum disorder that would also shape the person I am today and how I see the world. The combination of my race and being autistic made me look back on my life for more than 20 years and look real hard at how the combination of the two affected me.

Beyond struggling with English words, there’s the fact that I can’t struggle with Filipino words. Simply because I never learned the language. It’s not uncommon for children of immigrants to not learn their parent’s mother tongue when they’re busy working full time for financial security. But nonetheless, the language barrier along with the fact that I never grew up the “Filipino” way in the Philippines speaking Filipino made me feel like an outsider in a group of people tied together because they’re Filipinos. My own Filipino co-workers, who grew up in the Philippines, have said to my face that I’m not “really Filipino” because I only speak English.

It’s hard for me to comprehensively knit the words I need to describe the situation of being considered the “other” in overly-white Canadian society, while also being seen as “not really Filipino” among other Filipinos. My written words can’t do justice to the stories I want to tell, and yet those long 23 years of self-reflection have shown me that I don’t necessarily need only words to say that.

I’ve realized that my own path is to utilize my passion of illustrating to say the words that I can’t necessarily write. And that the splashes of lines and colours will inspire others to say their own words their own way.