A photo of Carla, who has black wavy hair to about her chin, wearing a bright red-orange shade of lipstick on their lips, earrings in the shape of a snake, and a tan v-neck sweater that shows her traditional Visayan tattoo. She has a slight smile and is looking off to the left. Behind her are two small shelves with a plant on each.

Sino ako? (Who am I?)

I am a visibly able-bodied, thin person with a feminine expression of my gender. I have brown skin and very dark brown eyes, and black hair. In my photo, I wear a tan v-neck sweater that shows a traditional Visayan tattoo or “patik” across my collarbones. Spiritual protocol guides me to omit visually describing my patik.

In my native languages of Tagalog and Hiligaynon, pronouns have no gender. The pronoun “siya” is used to refer to persons of all genders, and to all living beings. In the English language, my pronouns are she/her/hers and they/them/theirs. What are yours?

My life and work are grounded in the concept of “ka”. Below is the ancient Tagalog symbol (Baybayin system) for the syllable “ka”. It can be described as a straight vertical line with curved horizontal lines at both ends of it. "Ka" is used in many other languages spoken in the islands known as the Philippines.

As it turns out, the first syllable in my given name “Carla” sounds just like “ka”!

“Ka” is many things, and inevitably, one thing. It is:

  • “implies companionship or partnership when prefixed to a root

‎ka- + ‎sama (“to accompany”) → ‎kasama (“partner”)

implies similarity or interaction when prefixed to a root noun

‎ka- + ‎mukha (“face”) → ‎kamukha (“someone/something similar; look-alike”)

‎ka- + ‎away (“fight”) → ‎kaaway (“enemy”)”

Ka is in all of us, and all of us are in ka.

The symbol for "ka" in a black, brush-style script.

Symbol in Baybayin for "ka", generated from the Baybayin brush font by Kristian Kabuay.