Tag Archives: arts

Filipinos and Regionalism

Regionalism is defined as the consciousness and loyalty to a distinct region. Populations within countries are not monolithic. There is not one Canadian population, but a group of separate populations united under one nation. The same can be said about many countries. Even South Korea, a country whose population is quite homogeneous exhibits regionalism, rearing its head most often in politics and in dating.

The Philippines consists of over seven thousand islands. The biggest islands in the Philippines, Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, etc. are mountainous and tend to separate populations into different regions. This encouraged a multi-cultural environment where different languages and dialects developed. Out of these languages, Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Ilonggo, Bikolano, Waray, Kapampangan, and Pangasinense became the most widely spoken, with Tagalog being made the official Filipino language. Of course, as a former US colony, you can add English to the mix of the most common languages in the country, but we’ll come back to that later in looking at regionalism.

Prior to colonization, regionalism already exists in the country. It is after all, only human to be loyal to the place where you were born and raised as well as to the people who speak the same language as yourself. Even when you go visit the Philippines right now, people who hailed from the same region tend to be more comfortable and have an easier time getting along. Ilocanos would be with Ilocanos, Cebuanos with Cebuanos. But when the Spanish colonized the country, they used regionalism to their advantage. They would favor one region over another in order to prevent a unified rebellion. With colonization comes the creation of Spanish Filipinos, the mestizos and mestizas. Now the term in current day Philippines can be used for any Filipino of mixed European, Chinese, or American ancestry, but back then it was exclusively for Spanish Filipinos who tend to be of a higher class compared to the general population. Interestingly, with languages, the Spanish occupation created a Spanish-based creole language, Chavacano, which today is still spoken by many Filipinos.

After the Spanish occupation, the United States introduced a different form of regionalism via immigration. This occurred in three waves: pre-World War II farm laborers (Hawaii, etc.), Filipinos in the United States Navy, and post 1965 family reunification and occupational immigrants (Espiritu, Y.L. (1995) Filipino American Lives). Filipinos began arriving in the United States during the occupation in order to study. These were either scholars sponsored by the government, and thus called pensionados, or those whose wealthy parents could afford to send their children overseas for higher education. It wasn’t until the United States started utilizing Filipinos as cheap plantation workers did migration significantly increase. The initial recruits where from Tagalog-speaking regions, then came the Ilocanos and the Visayans. When the Navy started recruiting Filipinos in their fleet, once again, it was most often the Tagalog-speakers who were often recruited.

The batches of immigration to the United States centered on specific regions created a gap in opportunity and wealth in the country. Now, even if a Filipino person can immigrate to the US today, their ability to create wealth is only beginning now, while someone from a different region already had generations of creating wealth and sending money back home.

So how does Filipino regionalism manifest itself right now? Well, like many countries, it created regional stereotypes that continue to this day. People from Tagalog and Kapampangan speaking regions tend to be more affluent. The capital of the country is in Manila, and with President Duterte being the first president not from a Tagalog-speaking region, he made a promise to institute a Federalist government and not focus all of the country’s wealth and development solely on the Tagalog-speaking capital. Tagalog-speakers have enjoyed quite the number of perks throughout history and to this day, they often employed people from poorer Visayan regions as cheap household laborers. Thus, Visayan is seen as a lower language. Visayans and Cebuanos in turn tend to be very proud of where they come from due to chips on their regional shoulders.

One time during a trip to the Philippines, I tested a rather harmless regional stereotype on a relative who is Ilocano (from an Ilokano-speaking region). His daughter was dating someone who was Kapampangan. Now, some Ilocanos believe that Tagalog and Kapampangan-speaking people tend to be braggarts due to their privileged history. Ilocanos in return are said to be notoriously thrifty because they had to travel to other regions, save up money, and send it back home. Without any knowledge of how his daughter’s boyfriend truly is, I asked him, “So I hear your daughter is dating a braggart.” With a sigh he goes, “Pretty much. He’s Kapampangan.”

Back to politics, voters tend to be swayed by regionalism as well, with people voting for the candidate most aligned to their region and language. It is why the election of Mindanao-born Duterte was monumental. Populism has defeated regionalism. Of course, regionalism in politics is not unique to the Philippines. South Korean politics is so heavily divided into regions when it comes to politics that I sometimes wonder why politicians even bother campaigning in a region that is so captured by their opponent. Every election, just like the United States, there are often only a handful of true battleground states.

When it comes to immigration, Filipinos can sometimes be regional as well. Sometimes those born and raised overseas are more comfortable associating with other natives, while newly-landed immigrants are more at ease with those of similar circumstances. Filipinos can sometimes feel insecure in the way they speak English, with Filipinos making jokes regarding mispronouncing or misappropriating English words. These jokes tend to be aimed at no one, but it can manifest into insecurity or a form of impostor syndrome, and seeing those who are more fluent in English to be more highly evolved or worldly.

What I find amusing is that sometimes, even in a foreign country, Filipinos will still find a way to group themselves into their regions. This is not to say that Filipinos will discriminate based on their ancestral region, but they will often be more at ease with those from the same background as them. Growing up in Canada, I was amazed and bewildered that my father founded a group for Ilocanos in the city. I was like, “Why?” and “How did you find each other?” But most importantly, “Isn’t there already a bigger group for Filipinos that is not exclusive to Ilocanos?” This is like me starting a group in Seoul specifically for expats from Winnipeg. What are we supposed to do in this group? Listen to Burton Cummings and talk about the Winnipeg Jets?

Just as black people are not a monolithic group, the same can be said for Filipinos. Scratch that. The same can be said for any population, really. There are Filipinos who get along well with other Filipinos, there are there are those who get along better with Filipinos from a specific region or from a common background, and sadly there are those that hate other Filipinos.

Blame the islands, the mountains, and years of colonization.

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The Woven Tale Press

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Thank you to the good people at The Woven Tale Press  for including me as one of their featured artists for their issue this month. They do wonderful work at introducing new artists as well as literary works to enthusiasts.

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That Phone Will Kill You

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An old friend from Canada and her Spanish boyfriend visited me this month. We were travelling all over Seoul, Osaka, and Kyoto for the past couple of weeks so I didn’t have much time to update my site. I would like to talk more about my vacation, but I feel like a more significant incident happened while we were waiting for the subway train in Seoul Station.

There was an unusually wide gap between the train and the platform we were in. A sign on the platform doors warned about this fact. But a woman ahead of us, much too focused on her phone, fell in between the gap as she was getting in. The lower half of her body was under the platform.

For a few seconds, everyone around her was in shock. Nobody, including me, was moving. These things just don’t happen, and it was unbelievable that it was happening at that moment. A woman was about to get horribly mutilated on a Friday afternoon.

Then I snapped out of it, grabbed the woman by her right arm pit and pulled her out of the gap. Then, my companions and I entered the train right before the door closed. She didn’t acknowledge what happened and just limped way and took the only free seat. I asked her if she’s okay in Korean, and she finally said “thank you” in English, and that was that.

All that time, her phone never left her hand.

My wife said that perhaps she was in shock, that’s why the woman just went to her seat and buried her face into her phone. I’m guessing it’s a mixture of shock and embarrassment. Now, while I’m glad that my guests from out of town were spared from an impromptu subway guillotine, and I kinda forgive the woman for acting rather nonchalant about the horrible fate that she just avoided, but I’m more annoyed about the precursor of the whole incident. People are not paying attention to their surroundings because of their phones!

It’s probably one of my biggest pet peeves. Sometimes you’re not looking, a passerby will knock it off your hand. It will fall and break, and ruin your day. But that’s one of the better outcomes. That phone will get you killed. It will get you in car accidents. It will get you falling off platforms. So please, STOP IT ALREADY! The modern day cellular phone has already killed table manners, polite conversation, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and the need to actually remember things and be competent in basic arithmetic. It will actually kill human beings as well. And last Friday, it nearly killed one in front of us.

I just hope that woman learned a lesson that day.

Musing on Japan, culture, and everything else later.

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Rats

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Sometimes, there’s not much to do but draw the royalty of the rat kingdom.

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AIDS Cures on TV

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My niece colors like a serial killer.

I saw Bill Maher interview Dr. Samir Chachoua, the doctor who is currently treating Charlie Sheen. He’s the doctor who advised him to get off his regular meds, use a treatment that he claims cures HIV (not therapy), and apparently even injected some of Sheen’s own blood to himself in order to assuage Sheen’s fears. It is a bit concerning that Bill Maher would give the doctor a media platform when prior to the interview, Charlie Sheen said in Dr. Oz’s show that his “numbers are back up” after getting on Dr. Chachoua’s treatment. Still, the booking was not much of a surprise. Bill Maher keeps giving questionable people platforms. He once talked to Sam Wurzelbacher or “Joe the Plumber” as if he was a serious person. He also basically birthed S.E. Cupp who often comes up with the most ridiculous points on issues.

But aside from the doctor’s many dubious claims on the program (“I’ve cured entire countries!,” “Sheen is HIV negative.”), I believe there’s value in the message that we shouldn’t be complicit with the status quo. We should have healthy skepticism of what’s being told as well as keep an open ear to what’s new. Is the current HIV and AIDS treatment truly the best science has to offer? Perhaps we should be looking at other options. I haven’t done much reading regarding Dr. Chachoua’s claims. But my skepticism goes both ways, to the established science which is married with corporate interests and to the unknown Dr. Chachoua. My skepticism for the doctor comes from Sheen himself. His numbers are back up. I already fear that he’s leading Sheen down the wrong path, whether the doctor knows it or not.

The many claims Dr. Chachoua put out on Bill Maher’s show paints a great picture of possibility regarding curing AIDS and other disease, but the media tries to ridicule him and his treatment based on arthritic goats. While he may indeed be a “quack,” we should not dismiss the possibility of finding cures in the least likely of places, even arthritic goats. There is value in looking at all alternatives and not just surrendering to what the established truth is. Scientists right now are looking at sloth hair clippings for new antibiotics. However, it all must be evidence and results-based. And right now, I still haven’t looked at evidence that supports the doctor’s claims.

I guess the fear here is that this will produce another Jenny McCarthy: more “experts” that would convince people to forego proven treatments to their detriment. This is generally a symptom of the mistrust against authorities, and unfortunately in many cases, people rail against scientific authority for the wrong reasons. This is why there’s a resurgence of flat earthers and creationists along with the climate change deniers. The Charlie Sheen/Dr. Chachoua HIV thing could very well be explained as a similar reaction against established scientific authority. I am hoping it leads to more creative zeal regarding the treatment of diseases, not necessarily from Dr. Chachoua who may or may not be a “quack,” but to many people in the scientific community. I’m hoping it doesn’t result in a wave of AIDS denialism. So yeah, for now, I’m cautiously optimistic about the doctor’s appearance on Bill Maher’s show.

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Canadian Feminist

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Emily Murphy inspired by Lautrec on a day when I have not much energy to write anything.

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Hidden Artists

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A co-worker quit last week. I believe she was with us for three to four years. We never really had much conversation since I don’t really talk much to the women at work. I think the women here at work are scared of me. (Well, at least one of them was. She left me a note saying she was scared of me right before she left. ) Anyway, this co-worker who left, I really didn’t know much about her other than her being a strict vegetarian. So it was a bit of a surprise that on her last day I find out that she’s also an artist (http://bbkjy.blog.me ). She even has a show on the night of her last day.

Instead of worrying about the wave of downsizing going on in our company, I kept on wondering how I could’ve missed this. How did I not know this person was not an artist as well? Shouldn’t we all sense each other’s presence like the immortals in Highlander? She sure dressed like one.

Do people in the office even know I make art? Would they be just as surprised? Anyway, it was a missed opportunity to get to know an artist. I guess the blame is on me. I should’ve been nicer to the people I work with.

Maybe I’m just a bitter person with a dark hole where my heart should be, but looking at her works, they are a tad saccharine for my taste. But I really do admire her tenacity for drawing and her commitment to a style. She knows what she likes, studies it, and keeps at it. Under the right conditions, her works could be extremely marketable. You’re probably not reading this, Jiyoung, but here’s to your success.

 

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Gooble Gobble

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This is as close as I’ve ever come to a self portrait. It’s not anatomically correct, and no, I don’t have tentacles sticking out of me, but my goodness am I worried about my thyroid.

I’ve never done a self-portrait before, especially in the style of drawing that I do. A part of it is that I’m not really a big fan of my face. I find it narcissistic. And I don’t think so much of myself to the extent that I couldn’t afford narcissism. Another part is that a lot of what I write in my works is more personal and probably says more than a portrait would. A picture does not tell a thousand words. Pictures lie. Diaries however, while they may not be 100% truth, they show that particular person’s truth.

And speaking of my fears.

cancer

What a difference an article makes.

 

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Porn For Freedom

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Still annoyed at the North Korean hacking thing. God help the poor people of North Korea. The shenanigans of the people in power of late are not really helping those that truly need help in that country. There is no win in this story. Here are a few thoughts:

-North Korea still denies they were involved at all, and proposes a joint investigation with the US, threatens the US if they don’t cooperate. I wonder how far I would go in life if I handled my affairs this way.

-I always liked George Clooney. His little petition, which was sadly left unsigned due to cowardice, proves just how much awesome that man is made of. I would write more about the ways he’s awesome, but I only have so little time for posting entries.

-God bless Larry Flynt. God bless pornography for all the things it brought us, from technology to freedoms. Larry Flynt just announced that he would be making a parody of The Interview. This is brilliant, both in its stand against censorship, also in its genius in marketing. This might be first porn movie I ever used real money on in years.

-Speaking of porn. See how the great men of pornography stand up for rights? There’s Bob Guccione, founder of Penthouse, artist, dreamer, social critic, and wearer of awesome medallions. He’s always been a hero of mine. Then there’s Larry Flynt, founder of Hustler, freedom of speech vanguard, political critic and provocateur. And finally, there’s Hugh Hefner who awards people for protecting First Amendment rights. Your pornography at work.

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Please Let Me See This

I wonder if I can get a Kickstarter going where I buy The Interview from SONY and release it myself. Too bad I would have to raise over $100 million.

That’s what SONY’s losing… over $100 million. It’s a pretty expensive price to start a precedent on capitulating to terrorists, a huge setback for freedom of speech.

But really, I don’t blame SONY. Aside from probably fearing further leaks of sensitive and embarrassing information, they are in a no-win situation whether they go ahead with the theatrical release of The Interview. They release the film and something happens, they get sued as well as blamed for whatever tragedy happened. “Look at SONY, ignoring threats and putting people’s lives on the line for profit!” And really, why release a film if no theater is going to show it? Why would a theater show it if their insurance won’t cover it?

If they don’t release the film, they lose their investment, get called cowardly, and get blamed for starting a dumb precedent. And still, all of this doesn’t guarantee that the leaks from the hack will stop. This specter (haha!) will continue to haunt the company until the perpetrators are caught and all the data is accounted for, all 100 terabytes of it. But yeah, how do you truly contain and control information that in on the Internet? It’s like the company’s nude selfies were stolen from the cloud. Who knows who has copies of them?

I’m not even upset at SONY’s reaction when it didn’t immediately inform its own employees about the hack. Of course the company had to investigate and try to contain the problem. Of course they had to say it’s an “IT problem.” It is an IT problem. What difference would telling people immediately make? Nothing. There would be no panic, just people checking for anything funny going on in their accounts. I’m sure the reaction would just be the same as now, people getting upset at SONY’s lax approach to security. This was not the first time the company has been hacked.

Since the hack was discovered, people have speculated that the hackers were not from North Korea and that they were just using the banana republic as cover. If that was the case, then freedom of speech took a backseat for the lulz. The movie was taken down for the sake of bragging rights. SONY, the theaters, and also the FBI, gave more power to hackers. See what they can do? While they can shine a light to many issues and affect change in a positive way, they can also do the shittiest thing to freedom of speech, and that is to silent it. In a way, it’s no different from misinformed and overreacting parents successfully petitioning Target not to sell Grand Theft Auto, except that those parents did it out of concern for their children. If it was a just some hacker group, then it was done for ego and lulz. What kind of world do we live in? Lulz. Where is our generation’s great cause?

This is not to say that it would be better if North Korea was behind it all. The United States and huge companies like SONY were bullied by a country that can barely feed its citizens. It doesn’t matter who did it. Whoever did it was a bully, a terrorist, and SONY and those theaters bowed down to bullying. If indeed, North Korea did it, then Kim Jong Un must be the most fragile person alive. He’s like a dainty little flower. His father was mocked in a movie before, so was Hitler. Heck, everyone gets parodied, everyone is fair game, even Jesus… but for whatever reason, this punk must be kept in an insult-free bubble. It’s not often that I praise Kim Jung Il, but Kim Jong Un’s father was a man who loved film. Heck, he kidnapped a director to make his own Godzilla film. Though he might’ve been embarrassed by the movie Team America, I would like to think he understood what parody was. And as for his politics, Kim Jung Il tried to create better relations with the South.

As for Kim Jung Il’s kid, his fat spoiled kid, what has he done? Just a few years ago, he was just some kid getting fat in Switzerland, watching basketball. Being the dictator of a starving country IS HIS FIRST JOB! Kim Jong Un has never done anything significant ever. Well, correction, he has murdered his relatives and brought Dennis Rodman a couple more minutes of fame. But has he ever done anything positive? Is North Korea any better now that he’s in power? He doesn’t even have enough smarts to avoid getting gout on his thirties. Every time I see him, he goes about like a relic… someone who has innumerable accomplishments, ruling a mysterious kingdom, and deserving the fear and respect of his noble people. And his generals and advisors surround him in antiquated costumes, hanging to his every word and action. But that is exactly what everyone is wearing: a costume. Those old men are not wearing military uniform; they are wearing the costume that keeps them employed. And Kim Jung Un… he’s wearing the Kim Il Sung/Kim Jung Il costume. He’s neither his father nor his grandfather. He’s just some fat kid who had it all. He’s probably scared out of his mind should the North Korean people finally snap out of it and realize all of this. And he’s probably bored to death with all of those factory tours. I’m sure he wishes he could be courtside watching a basketball game instead.

What the whole thing demonstrated though was the power of 9/11. It is like the n-word of the calendar. Mention the n-word in a conversation, and the whole tone changes. It was all fun and games with leaked e-mails about Angelina Jolie until someone said 9/11. Things suddenly got serious. And again, if it were just hackers doing the whole thing, then shame on them for their cowardly tactic… but also touché for knowing exactly how to get people to pay attention. It’s just like magic, “9/11.” And if it is indeed North Korea, then shouldn’t the US government be more aggressive in all of this? Wasn’t this a direct (albeit probably hollow) threat? Countries have felt the mighty hand of the US military over less direct aggression.

And where was the NSA in all of this? These are people who gather information and try to get hackers and journalists when they reveal something embarrassing to the US government. These are the same people who spy on their own citizens in the name of national security. How come they don’t seem to know anything about these hackers? Freedom of speech just got taken down big time. Not only that, but a multi-national company just lost out on its investment, and we all know how the US government loves its multi-national companies. It was an attack on capitalism. Where’s the NSA and the FBI on all of this?

I really hope they catch whoever did this. I really hope this doesn’t start a precedent of appeasing cyber terrorism. The Internet is about knowledge and freedom. It is a platform where ideas are shared and opinions are expressed, not a tool for shutting down speech. A part of me thinks that perhaps this is all just a brilliant way for SONY to sell their film. Some critics have called it unfunny, but now it is all beyond that. “Watch The Interview! Do it to spit on the face of tyranny!” And I would, I totally would. Maybe not in a movie theater, but I would gladly give SONY money to watch this suddenly historically-significant Seth Rogen film.

All to spit on the face of tyranny.

 

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