Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Filipina: What's in a name?

The word, "Filipina," is associated with:
a) mail-order brides
b) sex tourism (ie. White guys seeking "Filipina treasure" overseas)
c) Asian porn industry
d) all of the above

Seriously, I think our name has been dragged through the mud enough. Don't you think? I can get into the political, economic, and cultural ramifications of the Philippines' long colonial history, but that's a whole other can of worms. Basically, as we all know, the above stereotypes are a result of systemic issues regarding power, sexism, and the globalization of popular culture. But as history reveals, a lot of this is old news. Equally problematic is the lack of authentic Filipina representation within popular (Western) culture and academia known to the general public. If you don't believe me, try naming five Filipina Canadian or American actresses, musicians, artists, academics, feminists, politicians, activists, etc., that even the average Joe would recognize. See, it's harder than you think, isn't it? Allow me to further elaborate:

When I was a teenager growing up in Canada, I was really into the local punk rock/ ska scene. Folks, I'm not talking about Simple Plan here either. I followed the hardcore acts of SNFU and DOA, while skankin' away at Planet Smashers's shows. Before I get carried away and start drifting off into nostalgic space, let me get to my point. Do you think there were any other Filipinas running around in those chaotic circle pits? Nope. Hell, there were hardly any people of colour at those shows for that matter. And it wasn't like I lived in small-town-hicksville either. This was like a major urban, Canadian city in which no other Filipinas or Asians enjoyed the likes of punk rock culture. At the time, I felt I had earned a level of street cred for being the lone Filipina enjoying this subculture, but there is something to be said about sharing such experiences with those from your own culture (especially if you happen to be a "visible minority"). I can tell you that if a group of Pinay punks threw together their own garage band consisting of angst-driven lyrics, "Chelsea" hair-dos, and terribly distorted power chords, such cultural visibilitiy may have strengthened my sense of identity during
those years. But I guess hindsight is always 20/20, right?

2 comments:

SoupNumber5 said...

Similar experience. Most pinoys and pinays were into hip hop and rap and the import car scene here in FL. I was one of few brown people to put on some shit kicker boots, stomp around, and slam into the fella with me. I was a rare bread but there were others. Not many but others. That was the scene I was into. That was the scene that drew me in. That was the scene I felt most comfortable in. It was punk rock. It was hardcore. It was ska. I was a rudie with my 2-tone dancing shoes on. Good memories. Good times. Not many other flips understand it. It's all about fashion and convenience. I prefer absolute rawness.

--Bamboo Blitz-- said...

Nice, SoupNumber5! It's great to hear that you too, were stomping around in those crazy circle pits and skanking away to those mad ska offbeats. There was definitely a special kind of energy at those shows that couldn't be replicated anywhere else....

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