Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Monoculture of the Filipino Diaspora
As Explained by low quality Chicharrón

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: Food Critique-ing, Socially Observing
Previous Post: Not To Sound Hipster Or Anything...

This past weekend, my Mom chastised my Dad for buying Filipino food that was quite poorly done. It was chicharrón in case you were curious.

I had some and agree with her: It was awful. It was so oil soaked and soggy, I think whoever made it does not know the concept of draining and drying the chips of oil so that it'll be crisp and crunchy.

This is not the first time this happened. My folks keep trying out Filipino run restaurants and take out food all over Calgary and they always end up complaining that it's never as good as it is "back in the old country". It doesn't help that my folks had just come back from Christmas in the Philippines. They have just recently refreshed their memories, and their palettes just know how certain things are supposed to taste like.

"It's never as good as it is 'back in the old country'".

You see...

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Not to sound Hipster or anything, but I've been hating on Manny Pacquiao's antics long before it was cool to hate on Manny Pacquiao's antics.

Or: My Love-Hate relationship with Manny Pacquiao

Or: Explaining Manny Pacquiao to White People

Also: Hugas Kamay: Washing My Hands of Manny Pacquiao

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: Taking advantage of an opportunity to "punch down" and get away with it for once!
Previous Post: What's with all the Western Civilization Hate?

Now is probably as good a time as any to comment about Manny Pacquiao and his most recent headline grabbing actions.

For some people, it all started with this:

Manny Pacquiao provokes storm by calling gay people 'worse than animals' - The Guardian

To no one’s surprise except probably for Manny, this sparked a huge backlash that has now ended up with Nike terminating any sponsorship deals with the famous Filipino boxer. More will be sure to follow.

As well, observers are noting how this could tarnish his campaign for higher public office.

Well, well well... isn't everyone oh so progressive now for dogpiling on Manny Pacquiao? 

Not to sound  hipster or anything, but I was hating on Manny Pacquiao's public antics, long before it was cool to hate on Manny Pacquiao's public antics.

Crowd Chants "Do Not Vote!" (for Manny Pacquiao)
not long after he announced he will be running 
for Senator of the Philippines.
Date: October 2015.
 Original Article

Actually, I must confess, although I’m a little surprised that it took this long for people to start finally seeing Manny for what he is - an ignorant, religious fundamentalist, undereducated celebrity who makes a mockery of the Philippine political system - I too am actually late to the party.

Yes, this is me at my most elitist, but goddamnit, this is my one and only chance to "punch down" and possibly get away with it!


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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Dear Randy,
What's with all the Western Civilization Hate?

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: Response to a Comment
Previous Post: Lessons from Filmmaking

Dear Randy,

What's with all the hate for Western Civilization lately? Aren't you a part of it? Don't you live here? Did you not benefit from it all this time? Why are you putting us down all of a sudden? What's with all these posts criticizing it, putting it down, humiliating it, and making us feel bad all over?

What gives, yo?


Dear Anonymous,

Understand that everytime I write about anything or anyone, I'm not pulling feelings from a place of hate, but rather a place of love. I tend to not critique anything or anyone unless I have insider's perspective. Which means that, more than anything, I am critiquing myself. So whenever I talk down on anything or anyone, I have already talked down to myself first. If ever that I have made anyone feel bad, I have felt worse myself prior to that.

And then, after processing everything, I take myself head-on, breaking down all the reasons why I could possibly feel a certain way about an issue. I then call out my own bullshit, I call out my own privilege, and then I call out my own excuses. What you're basically reading everytime I rant about something or someone, is me calling out my own crap.

If the previous post defends Hollywood's financial decisions and talks of how we shouldn't whine too much about how current blockbusters now suck, know that it's basically me telling myself to "STFU and stop whining, that's how the global economy, as we have rigged it, functions". You know, in case the sarcasm doesn't make it all that apparent.

It works for 'the other' part of my personality and identity too, in case you hadn't noticed.

The post, Erik Matti's On The Job started off as praise for how far Philippine Cinema has gone, but very quickly criticizes certain sectors of Philippine Society which comprises its moviegoers, where I say:
"...vast swaths of the middle class would have no part, whatsover, in shaping local Philippine art - though they would gladly put it down with intense vitriol. ...I have met many a conservative Filipino family more conservative and white-bread than actual white-bread, white North Americans. It's almost scary how these white-bread Pinoys have consumption patterns and aspirations more closely approximating Middle America than something you would have expected from the Philippines. But you know the old tale - these are the types who, given the chance, would leave the motherland in a heartbeat for the greener pastures of other lands.
In case it wasn't clear that, this was an indictment of my own origins, I then went on to actually say:

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Monday, December 21, 2015

How the West is losing its place in the World's Stage:
Lessons from Filmmaking

Or: Calling out my own self-importance as a "Westerner"

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: I've been thinking about film cultures all over the world lately,
                    so here's an installment and synthesis of a few thoughts 

                    I've dealt with, here, here, and here. (And maybe here)
Previous Post: Thoughts on Racing With Legends

First, a quote:
You might have heard that China is about to surpass North America as the largest film market in the world. But what does this mean for the average North American moviegoer? How will movies change? ...The truth is, we'll see Hollywood studios fight tooth and nail to collectively claw their asses atop of a giant pile of money. And the whole spectacle will be embarrassing as shit to watch.
After reading that article, (along with this, this, and this) I have come upon this one realization: We – here in “The West” – are losing the culture ‘war’, losing place in the global hierarchy, and we will certainly not be top dog anymore in the coming new world order (or technically, ‘newer’ world order). At the very least we are in retreat after having lost much ground to other powers in ascendance nowadays, with China perhaps being the best example/case study, and which will be used extensively as an example in this piece of writing.

But first, a few definitions: The word “War”, as I have used it in the context of that first paragraph, is not a clash of civilizations type of epic confrontation, but rather a more organic and natural evolution of the global hierarchy. “Global Order” was a tempting term to use, especially when making big proclamations such as “The new World order!” but once again, I feel that is too strong. “Hierarchy” on the other hand comes off as more of a social construct, existing mostly in the heads of people and in the policies of a few gatekeepers, and that indeed will be the focus of my musings. About how populations measure themselves against others, and how they would place the world in a sliding scale of who matters and who doesn’t.

On the one hand, it’s not a disaster lose primacy in the global hierarchy. Geez… it’s not a freaking contest in the general sense of the term, ok? Sure, technically you ‘win all the things’ when you are the dominant culture, but I kind of feel it’s both as much a burden as it is a reward. So what if the next coming century becomes China’s? It’s just History, man. There have been countless dominant cultures that have come and gone. From Egypt, to Greece, to Rome, to all the European powers during the age of exploration, the British during the Victorian and Edwardian eras… empires have risen and fallen. But now that the age of empires have gone, that still has not stopped some historians from citing everything that has happened post-WWII as America’s era, and by extension, all of her allies in ‘the West’.

70 years hence, has ‘the West’ declined? Or at the very least simply hit a plateau? Sure. Some observers say so. And for me, that’s ok. So long as we face it consciously, I’ll be fine. If we let ourselves slide back from the world’s stage, so long as we are completely aware it is happening, I don’t see that as a bad thing. But ONLY as long as it is an inevitability we have accepted, made peace with, and chose to not resist belligerently. A natural progression. Que sera, sera.

Unfortunately we tend to be in denial about it all, thinking we are still king-shit in the grand scheme of things, and will continue to be king-shit in the coming ‘new world order’.

And it is just this arrogance I can’t stand.
So, using Cinema as jumping off point for this rant, here then are all the things that I have observed and annoy me nowadays about this somewhat prevalent attitude.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Thoughts on "Racing With Legends" - a Documentary Film about Philippine Motorsports History

More thoughts on challenging the First World vs Third World Dichotomy

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: An expansion of a thought on a previous Post
Previous Post: Shopping Mall in Marilao, Part II

I don't think I actually posted a review of this! So now, I will.

Racing With Legends is a feature length documentary film about the Philippines' motor racing history. I purchased two DVD copies for about $100 landed here in Canada. Kind of a heavy fee, but I really wanted to support a fellow filmmaker and car enthusiast. One copy I kept for myself, the other, I gave to my older brother, Ian.

As a documentary it can best be summed up as such: Highly informative and interesting for those in love with the subject, but possibly in need of better storytelling.

Throughout the viewing of the doc, I was riveted with the facts and figures they were throwing around. So was my Dad! But in the end, we were the target audience for this. Would someone with less than an outright enthusiasm for cars ever be as enamored with this documentary work?

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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Shopping Mall in Marilao, Part II:
Of Slalom Events and Car Culture

Random thoughts on challenging the Third World vs. First World dichotomy.

13th of January 2007
Marilao, Bulacan, PHILIPPINES

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA, 8 years after the fact!
Composition: A further exploration of a previous post.
Previous Post: Erik Matti's On The Job (2013) 

As Cousin Marco shut the door of the hand painted, latero-formed doors of his backyard talyer special Toyota Mini-Cruiser, he remarked, "You know, they sometimes hold Slalom events here. We should go watch it sometime".

He may have even joked that I should give it a try.

Not in Marilao, though from an event held by the same organization.

Ah, yes, Slalom. Also known by its complete name: Autoslalom. In Japan it is called Gymkhana. In North America, it most closely resembles its fat bloated cousin who goes by the name Autocross. If Philippine Slalom/Gymkhana were ballet, full of pirouettes, spins, and twirls, Autocross1 is square dancing, for North American squares.

Of course I'm just being sarcastic when talking smack against Autocross - it is the one motorsport I have done extensively and have actually done well enough to win trophies in. I was (and am) proud to have some semblance of driving skill in it - and for a brief moment as we walked from the Minicruiser, across the parking lot, under the hot noonday tropical December sunshine, through the glass doors of SM Marilao, and inside its airconditioned glory, I did entertain the vague notion about how I would like to try Slalom in the Philippines too.

Me in my Lancer Evolution I-III. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Erik Matti's On The Job (2013)

What may have been just another crime thriller for international audiences, 
actually means and symbolizes so much more to me.

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: Film Review? More like a reaction paper, really.
Previous Post: I learned a new word!

I have never been as excited for a Filipino film as I have been for Erik Matti's On The Job (2013).

In fact, I have never been really excited for any Filipino film - ever.

Growing up in the Philippines, I suppose you could say that I belonged to a class which never viewed Tagalog films as a viable form of common entertainment nor high art (Now, if my usage of the word "class" seems a bit elitist, please understand that I am simply setting up the tone of this entry, where a commentary on class distinctions and divisions is exactly the point). In our household back then, all literature, home movies, magazines, even our daily broadsheet newspaper, were all in English. It therefore followed that my folks generally only spent money on whatever big Hollywood film was grabbing headlines at the time. For us back then, Filipino Cinema was simply basura.

I don't want to put too fine a point into this, seeing as I have talked about this before. Nonetheless, it bears repeating:  
"In no small way, I now believe the wide variety of media I was exposed to as a kid was a preparation for a cosmopolitan and international outlook. A life philosophy not rooted on any nationalistic (Filipino) pretensions but rather a primer to the idea of global citizenship."
It's a little and a lot like Chimamanda Adichie's own story.

Unfortunately, for me, this outlook also perhaps unnecessarily harmed how I rated Filipino Cinema in that I just never gave it a chance. Because although a lot of movies Filipino Cinema churned out back then - and still churns out to this day - are nothing but straight up escapist fare for the masa (masses/general public), once in a while, you do see masterpieces from internationally recognized auteurs such as Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Celso Ad Castillo, and the like. In fact, I would like to say that I do it no justice whatsover by listing a mere three of its most exalted directors. There are a lot of them, you just have to know their material.

Now, it is important that I mention all this because this was how I approached On The Job.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I learned a new word!
"Colorism" (Oxford spelling: Colourism)

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: Reaction to a Reply
Previous Post: White Privilege in the Philippines, Part III

In my rants concerning Filipino hangups about race, colour, ethnic lineage, white/westerner privilege, I have only been using 'Racism' as a catch-all term. Whether I use it in combination with other words to describe its variations - eg. Internalized Racism, to describe Filipinos' self-hating tendencies - I have always felt it was a bit too much in that it actually undermines my argument.

Don't get me wrong: Racism still exists. However, I am hard pressed to really categorize all the discrimination Filipinos practice - both against each other and towards people of other racial backgrounds - as true hardcore racism. I think that only an ignorant few of them really truly have a worldview where there are genetic superiors and inferiors. Therefore, I do believe it can be successfully argued that the Filipino 'Racism' I have described here, here and here, have more to do with preferences for certain skin tones and its association with class, than an actual practice of systemic discrimination based on a genetic/ethnic basis.

Indeed, Pinoys who discriminate in this manner use it as a way to excuse such behaviour. "Oh, it has nothing to do with race, since we're all Filipinos naman."

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

White Privilege in the Philippines, Part III
White Male Privilege in Asia: It exists whether you asked for it or not.

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: Reaction post to a so called "news story"
Previous Post: We all have different fortunes

If you’re a white male in Tokyo, you can do what you want. I’m just romping through the streets, just grabbing girls’ heads, just like, head, pfft on the dick, head on the dick, yelling, ‘Pikachu,’ with a Pikachu shirt (on). 
— Julien Blanc, dating expert at Real Social Dynamics

Just now, Canadian media started reporting on this Julien Blanc fellow. I've seen his story reported on CBC, Global, and CTV. It's basically everywhere, yet all I could think of is, "Canadian Media just picked up on this, just now?"

Literally: They are only now talking about this and passing it off as news. I don't mean the guy himself - his presence and the petition against him could be passed off as news I guess - but it seems to me as though Canadians are only now discussing how Asia is a playground for predatory white guys? This is news to people here?

I guess they don't know how things are over there, eh?

I don't even know where to begin, honestly, because this shit goes far back in time, perhaps all the way to the age of discovery. I feel like delivering in a flourishing Shakespearean prologue, "Since the dawn of exploration, when man discovered faraway lands, native women have been conquered thusly (pelvic thrust)." And I could say all that and it would be without any exaggeration. From Columbus, to Magellan, to Genghis Khan; conquerors have always systematically conquered with their dicks. 

Perhaps in this modern age, this practice's direct descendants can manifest themselves as racial fetishism, exoticism, and orientalism. Or over there, in Asia, they might put it more bluntly as the white guy who just wants to fuck Asians and act like king shit. 

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Thursday, August 07, 2014

We All Have Different Fortunes.

or: "What happens when you tell people you're an immigrant to Canada, and that you just might want to go overseas."

Written in:  Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Composition: Reacting to a Facebook post. 
Previous Post: O sige, Tagalugin ko na para walang away...

In my 17 years in Calgary, the longest I have spent away from this city was a year. Even then, I was still in the same province, so I don't really tend to count it as being truly "away". Instead, it is this four-and-a-half month stay in the Philippines between 2006 and 2007 which I count as truly being somewhere else. And even then, I still came back. 

Since I haven't done any serious relocating (yet!), I unfortunately don't have first hand experience about the true challenges of moving out of Canada. 

However, I have been thinking, entertaining, and even musing about it a lot, that I have come across a certain observation I would like to share with all y'alls: How the same unflattering perceptions about being an immigrant to Canada get reused, rehashed, and recycled into negatively viewing any plans about doing the opposite - of moving out of Canada.

Which "unflattering perceptions" are those you ask? Well, I kind of have written about them before...

Most recently, there is a previous post where I basically enumerated all the assumptions people tend to make about new immigrants to this place, and how cumulatively, I sometimes found it thoroughly annoying and perhaps even a bit degrading and insulting: About how there may not be racism, but there is still stereotyping; about how there may not be outright discrimination, but it is possible to be reduced to "you people" platitudes; and about how I feel that despite there being a great deal of underestimation of "my kind", they often come from people you least expect to say such outrageous things, and therefore often go unchecked and unchallenged. All these things are still present when the subject of my possibly leaving Canada is put forward.

Beyond writing about how I was made to feel when I was new, I have also spoken a great deal about issues concerning identity, ethnicity, citizenship, and other topics which arise after one has been here long enough: About how people tend to interchange those three; about how Filipinos privilege whiteness; how family, friends, and acquaintances from the "old country" are confused about how I seem to have divided my loyalties between the Philippines and Canada; and about how I, myself, am confused about why they are so confused! Once again, all these things are still present when the subject of my possibly leaving Canada is being discussed.

"I've lived here for most of my life! I think it follows that after all this time, I will have come to like it, love it, and even be loyal to it," so goes my typical rant. Indeed, I have written a great deal about my experiences of moving here in Canada. 

Though not a repeat of those two sentiments, this post will nonetheless synthesize both topics of "immigrant blues" and "identity, ethnicity, and citizenship" into one talking point about moving/relocating away FROM Canada.

In gist, the common reaction to an immigrant like myself planning to move away from Canada often goes like this: "You're already in Canada! How could you even think about moving back to where you came from? Isn't Canada good enough for you? More importantly, isn't that a step backwards?"

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Friday, June 27, 2014

 O sige, Tagalugin ko na para walang away...

Isinulat sa: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Pagkakalikha: Kinopya sa isang liham na aking isinulat bilang kasagutan sa isang talakayan online
Ang nakaraan: Discussing Citizenship, Part II

May napansin ako: Karamihan ng aking nakaraang kasulatan ay pulos tinatalakay ang mga paksang Identity, Citizenship, at kung papano maging isang Pinoy na isinilang sa Pilipinas ngunit tumanda at lumaki dito sa Canada. Sa lawak ng aking pagda da daldal, akin na ring naidamay ang aking magulang sa aking mga kasulatan. Sa aking paglalakbay online at paghahanap ng babasahing nakaka aliw at nakakapag pa isip, aking natiyempuhan ang isang sulatin na talaga namang aking pinag interasan.

Basahin: Half Filipinos, Joey De Leon, at Filipino Pride
"Sa susunod na may aapak sa entablado na half-Filipino, half-foreign, sana kilatisin nating mabuti kung siya nga ba ay tunay na Pilipino o hindi."
-Kalihim ng Yangdon

At kung ang replies section ay inyong pupuntahan, inyong mapansin na may nag iwan ng komento na maaring pamilyar ang online name sa inyo:

Malugod ko po kayong pinasasalamatan sa pagsulat nito. Talaga namang ako’y nasarapan sa pagbasa dahil para bang ito ay talagang “relevant” sa aking buhay. Kung tutuusin, medyo kabaliktaran ng aking naranasan, pero ang mensahe ay aking naiintindihan. Kabaliktaran man sa aking karanasan, ito ay galing sa iisang ugali’t pananaw ng mga Pilipino na puro dugo’t lahi lang ang pinagtutuunan ng pansin, at hindi ang kagustuhan/ ugali/ “identity” at “choices” ng taong pinaguusapan.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Discussing Citizenship, Part II
Kung nalilito kayo sa aking pagiging Canadian, mas malilito kayo sa magulang ko.
[If you find my hyphenated Filipino-Canadian identity confusing, my parents might confound you more.]

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: Recalling events which happened 7 years ago, 
                       plus, philosophizing a great deal. 
Previous Post: Dear Expat, Whitey, or Balikbayan: Be careful what you say!

Before I went on this Philippine trip of mine, I was wary of hyphenating my identity0; I was afraid to proclaim outright that I have become Filipino-Canadian, even though I had been holding the Canadian passport for most of the decade that I had been gone from my birthplace1. Being that I am 100% Filipino by birth, there is a lot of pressure to never forget those roots. Indeed, that is why I made such a huge point about the subject in here and here. It took the better part of my honeymoon period to realize that a large part of me has changed so much after a decade of living outside of the Philippines that it just wouldn't be fair to call myself as only Filipino anymore.

For us children of immigrants, such confusion is actually not all that uncommon. Generation 1.5 kids like me are especially easily misled into believing that we can still cope, tolerate, perhaps even fully live and exist in our birth country despite having been gone for so long. Bonus points if you live in a multi-culti place like Canada, where almost everyone is practically an immigrant and having foreign ties can actually sometimes be considered as a currency of coolness. In here, a hyphenated identity is almost encouraged.

On the other hand, in the Philippines, it is entirely possible for me to hear something like this, "Puro ka artehan ka pa sa ka ka 'identity identity' mo, e Pinoy na Pinoy ka parin na man! Anong tingin mo sa sarili mo? Isa sa kanila?"  [You're so full of shit with your 'identity' crap, when here you are, still all-Filipino. Who do you think you are? One of them? (ie. "White")].

What they don't realize that if there's any pretending going on, it is the opposite of what they assume - that I'm actually really pretending to be more Filipino than I really was. Part of the reason why I took my sweet time adjusting to the place was because I wanted to be really truly fully acclimatized when I embarked on any island-hopping trips throughout the archipelago.

I suppose I should be flattered that they thought I was still Filipino based on outward appearances and behaviour. It means my disguise worked: That I am indeed an adaptable backpacker who can travel incognito in the Philippines as one of them - rather than showing off how "foreign" I am.

Nonetheless, I only made it a point to "do as the Filipinos do in the Philippines" only after I discovered that walking around as a "Westerner"2  while looking like a Filipino presented some unique problems - as though a hyphenated Filipino-Canadian identity were a source of confusion to them.

So, if I was a source of confusion over there, I just wonder how much more confusing my parents would be to them?

Indeed, during this 2006-2007 Philippine trip of mine, everyone expected my parents to come back and/or retire to the Philippines some time in the near future. More than that, if everyone expected me to still have been the same Randy from 1997, then that expectation was even stronger for my parents.

And why not?

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dear Expat, Whitey, or Balikbayan: Be careful what you say!

or: A Travel Tip for those visiting the Philippines

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: Addressing some articles I recently read and couldn't help but react to...
Previous Post: No Medals for Being a Modern Day Pioneer

A traveller who wrote an honest review about her experiences with Philippine street food is chastised, criticized, and condemned to no end. She was even called names, told racist and sexist slurs, and labeled as arrogant, and uppity.

A Filipino who's been living and working in Singapore comes back to the Philippines after seven years, writes honestly about his experiences, and is again, chastised, criticized, and condemned to no end. More than that, his actions were labeled as traitorous, his bearing as pretentious, and he was even told to "go back where he came from" by his own fellow Pinoys.

Kind of ironic, considering he was already "back where he came from", in his "home", the Philippines - or more specifically, Metro Manila.

These recent articles and the backlash over them, particularly the latter one, prompted me to address something I was somewhat building up to in previous posts (here, here and here). I had been saving it, not necessarily for the end, but for another occasion when I could relate it to another narrative post in these here travel memoirs of mine. But since those two articles prompted another wildfire of discussion within the Filipino community - though admittedly, as is the case with these things, most pronounced only within the confines of the respective articles' discussion board, as well as in the blogosphere, twitterverse, and Facebook - I figured that I might as well deal with it now.  

Ika nga: Strike, while the bakal is mainit pa.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

No Medals for Being a Modern-Day Pioneer
The "I was here first, and if it wasn't for me, you would not be here" mentality of some Filipinos I've encountered. 

or: Ang patuloy na pagsingil sa utang na loob!

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: Responding to some "fan mail" which was in reply to an older post
Previous Post: The Duke: The First Pinoy I ever met in Calgary

"Canada is a nation of immigrants", that's one of the most oft repeated statements you'll get to hear describing this place. Indeed, both Canada and the United States were both New World colonies which, through settlement, evolved a separate identity and ideology from its colonial founder(s), and whether through peaceful resolution or the upheaval of revolution, gained self government and independence.

Of course, that's a highly simplistic abbreviation - you should never trust a personal/opinion blog anyway for doing your research, you lazy dope! As well, it ignores the huge history of Native Americans, Aboriginal Peoples, and First Nation's people. Point being: Only they can claim to being truly from here. Everyone else came in after the age of exploration.

In fact, even the redneck-iest of individuals here in this province recognize how their ancestors came here from the old world, risked everything to embark on a journey, faced great hardship taming the west, all just to give future generations a "better life". In modern literature, pop culture, even in the personal stories people tell, the story of the pioneer is a celebrated tradition. They are regarded as heroes, lionized, perhaps even deified. Above all, they are respected.

But the settling of Canada, and Alberta in particular, came in multiple waves from multiple source countries, with each wave of immigrants having their own pioneering individuals. This is not to diminish the true pioneers - the real original homesteading settlers - but for certain communities, what strikes closer to home, appeals to their psyche, and in general are simply more relatable, are those they consider to be their pioneers.

For Calgary, I actually honestly cannot name any pioneering figures for the Filipino community. This should not be surprising since modern immigration isn't like taming the prairie. Without having to cross two thirds of the continent by wagon, without needing to hack away at the brush just to till the soil, and without having to fend off the raw elements and anything mother nature has to offer, there are less chances for outright heroics. However, that does not mean there are no Filipino pioneer heroes that can be singled out. If anything there are just too many of them.

As far as I have observed and were told, the first Filipinos in Calgary arrived during the 1970's and they were a very rare breed indeed! Most of them came as either independent immigrants or as skilled workers - depending on whatever program Canada and or Alberta happened to be running at the time in order to fulfill whatever economic or socio-political need was pressing at the time. When Canada instituted the Family Reunification program, those who had become permanent residents and Canadian Citizens then petitioned their loved ones and close relatives so that they may get here, while they in turn also later became Canadians and petitioned for new potential Canadians. Those first Filipinos - the ones who came here before any discernible Filipino community existed - are, for all intents and purposes, the pioneers for the Filipino community as it exists nowadays. More specifically, they were the personal trailblazers for the individuals and families they have personally helped to get here.

Mabuhay po kayo!

Sounds like such a romantic story, eh?

I suppose it is! So, if you want a feel-good story, you should stop reading right here, because it's about to get ugly.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

The Duke
The first Pinoy I ever met in Calgary

Or: Some other Daydreaming Kid's Response to Losing 'Status'

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Composition: Recalling events which happened 17 years ago
                         when I was new to Calgary - because this blog
                         has just made a breakthrough.
Previous Post: The All-Encompassing Rant about what it was like
                          to be new to Canada out in The Duke's parents' basement was always a weird experience. He would often go on and on about his young life in the Philippines, and I would just try and browse his car magazines, porn, and some of his rap CDs. I was into 90's grunge, alternative and metal; he was into gangsta rap. Had this scenario been playing in the Philippines, I would never have probably even talked to him, let alone gotten invited to his lair to smoke some pot.

"The Duke" obviously wasn't his name, but let's call him that. It is how one of his names translates into English. He was the first Filipino, outside of family, I ever met in Calgary, way back in early 1997. We went to the same junior high. He saw me, the newcomer, and introduced himself. At the time, I thought, 'Neat! I made a friend!'

Then I realized, something was off about him from the get-go.

His stories often revolved around how wealthy, important, and well connected they were back in the Philippines, and I would just take everything with a grain of salt. In Pinoy lingo, he might be called as mahangin. The direct translation is 'windy', but it does not mean windbag.  More like, a person who embellishes their stories.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Isang Ubod ng Habang Kwento Tungkol Sa Kung 
Papaano Maging Isang Bagong Saltang Pinoy 
Sa Calgary Noon

[A very long story about what it was like to be a noob or freshie 
{F.O.B.} in Calgary back then.]

Or: "There isn't really racism... BUT..."

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: Sequel to Of F.O.B.s, F.O.P.s, and Filipino Clubs
                         Recalling both an event which happened in the Philippines 7 years ago,
                         as well as events which happened here in Canada, from 17 years ago, 
                         up until today. I actually went through a few title changes because I was
                         not sure where I was going with this. But as soon as I started typing, things just
                         kind of started going and going. So what you have here is this overly long post,
                         probably the longest I've ever made. I'm keeping it this way - I happen to like its
                         epic rambling mess.
Previous Post: The Town Centre's Fiesta, Part II


In a previous post talking about what it was like for me to be new to Canada, in particular how I made friends with other new Filipinos, I ended with the sentiment:
"...during that visit to the Philippines in 2007, after a decade of having been in Canada, I was so happy, so glad to have reconnected with my Philippine highschool barkada because I realized I was with friends I actually really, truly chose - friends I actually really liked and enjoyed being with - instead of friends I just kind of ended up hanging out with because of common nationality1

Wala pa rin tatalo sa mga kabarkada ko nung kabataan ko sa Pilipinas.
Heavy words? Not really. 

First, let us do a simple thought experiment: Think of your own ethno-cultural and national background. Then, think of a group of people - people who actually exist, instead of strawmen imaginary figures - who have that same background. Then, think of lots of them! A crowd, or a whole group of them!

It's easier if you are actually an immigrant like I was (or am). All I need to do is think of the old country - of the Philippines and all the Filipinos born and living there. But even if you are a multi-culti Canadian with a myriad of friends from all parts of the globe, this can still work - just think of whatever classification you might fall into. Let's say you can trace your origins to the not-so-rare Italians of Montreal. All you need to do then is to think of all those Italians in Montreal. A WASP from Post WWII England? Then think of all the other WASPs with ancestors with similar immigration stories you've met over the years. West Coast Chinese? Rural Albertan with Ukrainian roots? American from Houston Texas? African-American person from Georgia? You get the point.

Now, answer this simple question: Do you think its possible to get along with each and every one of "your kind", all because you share the same ethno-cultural backgrounds?

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Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Town Centre's Fiesta, Part II
Contrasts in Pinoy behaviour: From Friendly Fiestas, to Stand-Offish Strangers

The Town Fiesta: February 8, 2007

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: Recalling an event from 7 years ago, which happened in the Philippines
Previous Post: Of F.O.P.s, F.O.B.s, and Filipino Clubs

One of the most often repeated descriptions I hear all the time about the Philippines is that the people are friendly, they're always smiling, and are very welcoming to visitors. As it says in my Insight Guides, Philippines:
"Filipinos have a justifiable reputation as one of the most hospitable people in the world, especially in rural areas where traditional attitudes still survive. A foreign visitor lucky enough to have the name of a local resident is usually fed and shown around, if not offered a place to stay for free."1
Indeed, I experienced all of this during my stay in the Philippines, and in particular, during the Town Centre's Fiesta. In fact, there is no better illustration of Filipino friendliness, hospitality, and the warm smiling culture than the Town Fiesta, or any town fiesta for that matter.

However, I must say that I also experienced its exact opposite, ALL on the same day.

After having lunch at the household where Uncle Tito was a guest, I asked permission to venture out to Santa Maria's Parish Church. I went alone, even though Maika and Marie were with us. Like I said in another post, it's really hard to find someone to come with me who finds all the celebration a tad repetitive.

But for me, it's a very special occasion! Because the town centre's public square was all tasseled up, I thought I'd take a photo of it.

I even went inside to take a photo of the fresco on the Church's Dome.

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Saturday, March 01, 2014

Of F.O.P.s, F.O.B.s, and Filipino Clubs 
Expanded from, Discussing Citizenship (and Identity)

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Composition: Recalling both an event from 7 years ago which occured in the Philippines,
                           as well as my highschool life 17 to 15 years ago here in Calgary. Hell, this 
                           "travel blog" has turned into a "travel memoirs" of sorts! I might as well go back 
                           even further and relate my Philippine trip with my high-school life - because why I was 
                           so deeply affected by that trip has a lot to do with my first decade here in Canada.
Previous Post: Nothing, just some notes on layout...
Related Post: Reunion with the Barkada 

 Here's something pleasant before we proceed. It's Amorsolo's "Tinikling". I promise it'll make sense as you read.

My former classmates in the Philippines have all asked me, in some version or another, "What was Highschool like in Canada?" and "Did you have any Filipino friends?"

It was a very important question - both to them and myself. I left the Philippines after third year highschool, one year short of graduation, and moved to Alberta, Canada where highschool took a further two years, up to Grade 12. It was both a question of curiosity and also of concern; they wanted to know how I got on without them, my dearest barkada.

That second question of whether I had Filipino friends during this time was in fact asked, not just by my Filipino childhood friends and former classmates but, by almost everyone I met during my 4 and half month Philippine stay.

Truth be told, I feel as though I never did answer that satisfactorily. As in, I never really got into the nuanced and complex issue that it was for me at the time. Here is an attempt to really dig deeper:

In senior highschool, about 15 to 17 years ago, I used to hang out with Pinoys who were relatively Fresh off the Boat (FOB).

It's a pejorative, make no mistake about it! So don't go throwing around such a derogatory term/acronym. FOP (Fresh off the Plane) is probably more appropriate, because who arrives by boat nowadays? Though as used back then, FOP was usually reserved for well-moneyed immigrants, like the Koreans and Hong Kong-ers. FOP too is a pejorative, so don't go throwing around that word/acronym either.

Yet I heard them a lot during my late teen years.

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Nothing, just some notes on webpage layout...

Written in: Calgary, AB
Composition: Updating this blog
Previous Post:  Trials and Tribulations though Talented in Talking Tagalog

I finally changed that pretentious "This is my Story" banner to something more relevant to the theme of this blog. It's still kind of tacky, but at least fits the "travel memoirs" theme. Besides, that's a mere hour's of work. I just needed something else in there.
I made the original one 7 years ago, right before I left Canada for the Philippines. The VERY NIGHT before I left, in fact!

It stayed there for such a long time because I thought it captured the last-minute, "holy crap! What am I going to get myself into!" nature of my departure. Deep down, I hated that banner, not only because it sucked, but because it was - like I said - super pretentious.

As for the rest of this site/blog/whatever... I'm keeping it largely the same. I like how it looks like it was made 2006-2007.

Besides, I've done so much customization to the sidebar that I feel I now really truly own this layout - cluttered though as it may be. At least there's a rhyme and reason to it. A kind of Table of Contents or, perhaps appropriately, Index for everything.

I might make buttons on the banner about "Home", "Timeline of Events", "Calendar", "Complete list of posts" once I'm all done. Yes, "done" as in, there will be a point where I conclude things, like a book. Because even though none of this crap is book-worthy, and vanity publishing isn't my style (nor within my means), then at least, I will have put up a piece of work that - though far from being a masterpiece - nonetheless tells the story of how I went away for four and a half months, and came back a changed person.

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