Saturday, December 16, 2006

Progress Report - Month 1

So, a month into this project, and there's really nothing yet to report.

We are talking with several artists, including Elmer Borlongan, Plet Bolipata, Juan Sajid Imao, Manny Garibay, Norman Dreo and Rodel Tapaya. Some companies, and even cities have mentioned - in passing - an interest to participate, which is encouraging. We won't reveal them just yet for the simple Filipino reason na baka mausog.

Several writers have promised to send in guest blog entries on the topic of What is a Filipino? and we're very excited about getting them on board.

Finally, we have one idea cooking to encourage more public participation in the project, and in this blog in particular. It could get you a free Inday Cadapan limited edition print, so watch out for it! :-)

* To the right is Inday Cadapan's 1998 watercolor work "Artist and Her Model."

Friday, December 15, 2006

High School is Never a Thing of the Past

According to Gilas, only 32 out of 100 children who enter Grade 1, manage to graduate from high school. That's a 68% drop-out rate.

Who knows how much better off the Philippines will be with substantially greater investments in education.

Consider this campaign for UP Integrated School, a small publicly funded high school. You may not agree with the politics of some personalities who appear in this ad, but you cannot deny that this one small school has managed to produce leaders, not just in politics, but probably more importantly, in art, music, business and other fields.

Imagine our country if such leaders - confident and articulate - emerged from all over, and not just from high schools (mostly private!) in Metro Manila.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pasko Na!

Is it possible to separate the Christmas spirit from the Filipino? Surely not!

Not when we have the longest Christmas season on the planet! Or is this an urban legend? Not that it matters.

And not when some of our most popular radio personalities count down the days to Christmas as early as September of each year!

Here's something from the late great Larry Alcala. I would have loved to have him as part of this project.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Puzzle of the Filipino Laborer

Here's an interesting piece from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

EVERY YEAR, the AIM Policy Center participates in a World Competitiveness Survey conducted by International Management Development of Switzerland. Every year, the same puzzle appears.

Why is it that, according to global respondents, the Filipino is the number one most preferred labor in the world, and yet, the same survey says that the productivity of Philippine labor, while they are in the Philippines, ranks 58th, or third to the lowest, among the 60 countries surveyed?

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

No Need for Words

Source - an Italian site of all places!

You Know You're Filipino If...

A friend sent me this list... The email didn't attribute the list to anyone, so I googled it, and it seems to have come from here.

You know you're Filipino if:

01. Two words: Mengo juice
02. On your wish list, Magic Sing is higher up than the iPod
03. "At the end of the day", "That being said", and "Irregardless" (is that a word?) are always mentioned in your conversation
04. You feel that life was better when the past president was in office ummm... irregardless of who is in office and who was the past president
05. Yahoo Messenger is always on in your office computer. As well as Globe Chikka
06. Your office computer is still running Windows 98 without the updates
07. Load is not heavy. It's costly.
08. You have at least applied once in a Call Center
09. Your coffee drink is Mocha Frappuccino
10. When the government warns that a nearby volcano will erupt you ignore it. When a psychic mentions that an earthquake will happen at 5pm, you panic.
11. You're angry about government corruption but angrier if the cop doesn't accept your bribe and still gives you a ticket
12. Your brand spanking new nose job was done by the beautician in the nearby salon
13. Badminton is your latest sport
14. Your cellphone is more a camera than a phone
15. Your favorite basketball move is the layup
16. U stl use txtspk evn wen chatng
17. The Buzz and Startalk is your source of news
18. Your career goal is to be a caregiver in another country
19. You're idea of an art film is about gay macho dancers or sex starved nymphets
20. You can easily name three of Kris Aquino's ex boyfriends but have a hard time recalling three presidents before Marcos
21. You are either "Kapamilya" or "Kapuso"
22. LBM is your number one excuse for not going to work
23. The local herbologist is more qualified than your doctor in curing you
24. Any unnamed disease or condition is caused by withcraft
25. During funeral wakes, any butterfly, cockroach, or moths present is definitely the spirit of the deceased.
26. Cancer can be cured by magical oil from a crying statue
27. FX is not a movie process, it's a ride
28. It's not acceptable to poke fun on filipinos but it's ok to make fun on balds, blacks, the blind, the deaf, the mentally challenged, etc. etc.
29. You lost because the other person cheated
30. Lance Armstrong? Wasn't he one of the Voltes V?

I've come across many of these you-know-you're-filipino-if lists, just as I'm sure you have. Wasn't there a book on this a few years back?

But what is it that ties them all together?

Related to this, and not that there's anything wrong with it - why is it that we not only like to laugh at ourselves, but we actually take pride in making ourselves the butt of our own jokes? As in... an American, a Japanese and a Filipino were arguing over who had the dirtiest underwear/the stickiest phlegm/the best thieves/etc...

Guess who always wins in the end?!.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Dos por Dos

Last Saturday, I passed by the opening of Dos por Dos at the Boston Gallery in New Manila.

About 200 artists participated by contributing 2x2 works on the general theme of human rights - including works by some of the very best this generation has to offer - Elmer Borlongan, Mark Justiniani, Manny Garibay, John Santos III, Norman Dreo, Dansoy Coquilla, Michael Cacnio, Fred Esquillo, to name a few...

In more ways than one, this is a project similar to what we're trying to do - except that this is an indoor show of smaller pieces, whereas we want an outdoor, more publicly accessible activity of banner-sized works. And we're dealing with a ligher theme - What is a Filipino? - that might be more appealing to more people.

A lot of the works, individually, are already quite provocative.

But there is one factor that makes this show important.

If we look at the press today - depending on where you sit, you may perceive it as either repressed and under siege on the one hand, or as irresponsible and reckless on the other. I don't know who's fault this really is, but either way, the public ends up confused or skeptical.

Dos por dos, taken together, demonstrates the power of sheer numbers focused on a single effort (there are nearly 200 of them!) and makes quite a statement on the possibilities for the art community as an alternative force for raising and pushing greater awareness on very important public issues.

Dos por dos runs til December 30, 2006 at Boston Gallery.

* The artwork depicted is Fred Esquillo's "Scarecrow II" (24"x24" Oil on Canvas, 2006).

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Without Spanish, What is a Filipino?

Found this on the web:

El Mes Español — Without Spanish, What Is A Filipino?
Friday, October 13th, 2006 in Jaded Fables, Culture by Pepe Alas

A PILIPINO is convincing a FILIPINO to become patriotic…

PILIPINO: We must get rid of Spanish words from our native languages!

FILIPINO: And why is that?

PILIPINO: “Why” is a stupid question. Haven’t you learned anything from your history class? It is but a folly to retain Spanish loan words in our languages when it was Spain who destroyed our identity!!!

FILIPINO: Oh. Really.

PILIPINO: Really!!! And not only that! We should not cherish any Spanish legacy at all! Aside from Spanish tyranny, Spanish culture is not Philippine culture!

FILIPINO: Does that mean we have to throw away the culture that Spain bequeathed to us?

PILIPINO: Yes, of course! Don’t you remember what Señor Simoun told Basilio? “If they are unwilling to teach you their language, cultivate your own.” In a larger sense, we should cultivate our own culture.

FILIPINO: Hmmm, you have reason. So, throw everything away?

PILIPINO: EVERYTHING! The language, the culture, the concepts, the religious superstition… EVERYTHING!!! Our national heroes have already set an example by revolting against Spanish tyranny! Leadership by example! We should follow the great Filipinos of yore!

FILIPINO: Oh, OK. I might agree. But first, you have to begin this Castilian purging from our “culture” yourself. Just like what you said, “leadership by example…”

PILIPINO: Exactly. I’d be happy to take the lead. Now, what do you want me to do?

FILIPINO: First of all, take off your sombrero my friend. It’s Spanish.

PILIPINO: (stumped). That would be easy.

FILIPINO: And throw away that corbata, too. Of course you know it’s Spanish.

PILIPINO: (thinking) Well… I think I’d still look fine without a tie.

FILIPINO: And your passionate “nationalism” would look good on you if you take off your chaleco, camisa, vestido, zapatos, cinturón, and pantalón as well.

PILIPINO: Now wait a minute there…!

FILIPINO: No, you wait a minute there!!! You’re PILIPINIZATION is not yet reflecting on you. You’re still wearing a relój.

PILIPINO: Fool! This wrist watch is from the US, not from Spain.

FILIPINO: You’re the one who’s loco, ese. We’re not talking about brand names. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing GUESS? or HILFIGER or whatever stuff that came out from another country that is not Spain. We’re not only talking about Spanish words now but concepts also. Before the arrival here of ROLEX and SWATCH and TIMEX, Filipinos already have watches and large grandfather clocks. Of course you already know that.

PILIPINO: (hesitant) Oh, all right! (mumbles and grumbles, but throws watch away) There! Gone!

FILIPINO: You can always tell the time by just looking at the sun, moon, and the stars, right! That’s the true PILIPINO way! Cultivate our own!

PILIPINO: (sigh of exhaustion) Cultivate our own…

FILIPINO: Uh, sir. you still have your medias and calzoncillo on…

PILIPINO: (raising his voice) Are you mad?!

FILIPINO: Nope. But I think you are if you’re still donning Spanish concepts. Leadership by example?

PILIPINO: (groans)

FILIPINO: Don’t worry! You can always search our forests –or whatever the neocolonizers might have left of it– for tree barks and any natural material for your clothing. Now that’s true PILIPINO culture. Am I right? Or am I right?


FILIPINO: Good! Leadership by example.

PILIPINO: Leadership by example.

FILIPINO: Cultivate our own?

PILIPINO: Cultivate…

FILIPINO: (inspects PILIPINO) Say, you’ve got false teeth.

PILIPINO: (embarrased) Yeah, so what?

FILIPINO: Throw that postizo away, dude. That’s demeaning to our “true” culture. But let’s save your peluca just for this month’s Halloween party.


FILIPINO: Here, wear these in the meantime so you won’t grow cold (hands over strips of banana leaves for the PILIPINO to wear).

PILIPINO: Are you doing this to mortify me?

FILIPINO: How ’bout saying “thank you for giving me something to wear” instead?

PILIPINO: (grumpy) Thank You!!!

FILIPINO: You’re very much welcome. Now where were we? Oh, yes, and don’t use all utensils that the Spaniards brought here.


FILIPINO: OK. Let me make it clearer. “Throw everything away?” That’s perhaps the most patriotic idea I’ve ever heard in my life. Friend, dispose of your cubiertos, aparador, cama, silla, balde, pozo, lápiz, papel, plato, cepillo, florera, la mesa, ventilador, todo todo TODO! And do I even have to mention the food?

PILIPINO: Friend, I think you should…

FILIPINO: Go on? By all means. Don’t even think of continuing your educación. Those libros at school will poison your mind. Stop going to church, too. Remember how María Clara was screwed! And your ancestral home, man, your bahay na bató is getting to be an eyesore. Better demolish it.

PILIPINO: (panting) That house is my family’s house! It is the history and the soul of my family and ancestors!!!

FILIPINO: Which is, unforunately, español. Enough talk. I’m your convert, dude. You woke me up from the “bitter” truth. You make me proud! And without anything to wear now except for those leaves, sonuvagun, you look very fine! Very respectable! Very great when you’re naked, y’know. Very PILIPINO.

PILIPINO: Oh please stop…

FILIPINO: Indeed, without Spanish, our “true” identity will emerge. Thank you, friend, for this “awakening.”