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Bay to L.A.

Assignment No. 2: Football Ads

  1. Were the ads effective in persuading you?
  • Some ads were effective in persuading me to understand the message they were trying to convey of their company. I think that due to the recent controversies under Trump America, companies have tried to either be neutral about political matters. However, their audiences demand more from them and want people of their power to stand up to the recent presidential executive orders. For example, the lack of Nike commercials was shocking to me — especially for a sporting event. I also believe that most Super Bowl advertisements, for me, are purely comical (i.e. famous Doritos and Taco Bell commercials).

b ) Which brands stood out the most and why?

  • 84 Lumber and Audi’s commercials stood out to me due to the boldness of their advertisements. The concept that Trump is able to demean or even devalue a business through a Tweet is particularly terrifying, most especially for large businesses like Audi and 84 Lumber. Personally, I’ve never heard of the latter, but their commercial was the best one this year (in my humble opinion).

c) Which ones did you pay less attention to or ignore?

  • I ignored some of the Taco Bell commercials because they weren’t selling the product, but just the stupidity of the characters.

d ) Why do you think these brands chose a football game to advertise in? e) What surprised you?

  • I think they chose a football game to advertise in because of the millions of viewers which would then increase exposure knowledge of the brand and their products. The Mr. Clean commercials surprised me — only because they were unlike past commercials. I thought it was a bold (and funny) move for the company.

f ) Which brand was most successful and why?

– In my opinion, the 84 lumber advertisement was the most successful because it showed that empathy, compassion and love could really “trump” all. It presented a different side of illegal immigration that many Americans do not know of. It was really about time for a company to set their foot down on this issue and show what their products can do to help. I thought it was a bold and solid move for the company, and I would not be surprised if their stock prices or even ROI increases exponentially in the next few years.

 

 

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Assignment # 2: Personal Brand

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My brand mission is:

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to empower ourselves by doing things that we love. We are passionate, we are dreamers and doers, we are the believers. We do not back down to any obstacle. We are strong and fierce. My brand mission to empower you, me, and the world through our passions and the sheer will to accomplish our dreams.

My audience is:

16+, Baby Boomers, Great Generation, Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z  

What makes my personal brand unique:

My past experiences and life story. Adapting to a different environment quickly and efficiently is a second language to me.

What makes my personal brand compelling:

 My personal brand is compelling because it is derived from resilience and holds a place in the museum of stories reflecting upon achieving the American Dream.

My brand story is:

I grew up in a lower to middle-class suburb in Mandaluyong City, Philippines. I immigrated to England and the U.S. shortly after due to my parents working overseas in order for my brother and I to have a better life. Adapting to different cultures and culture shocks became minutiae to my every day life. My family then settled down in Northern California, having to be immigrants at first and eventually becoming naturalized U.S. citizens. I moved out at 18 to move to Paris — only having to come back home to California. I am currently studying Public Relations at the University of Southern California. 

My brand is authentic to me because:

It is relatable to every immigrant who has ever dreamt of not only achieving the American Dream but breaking down boundaries and clichés on the way to becoming my brand. 

My brand is based on these personal strengths:

Resilience, Inclusivity, Fearlessness, Faith, Compassion. 

I want my brand to help me achieve:

Helping others to find, create, and solidify their personal voices and strengths through their experiences in hopes of becoming the person or brand they were always supposed to be. 

 

 

 

Assignment # 1: An Impactful Ad

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Expedia UK

Ad/PR Agency: Ogilvy & Mather

What is your personal reaction to the ad?

  • This advertisement caught my eye immediately. I laughed at its wittiness and enjoyed the simplicity of the message behind it. Personally, I thought this print ad was very funny, smart and sexy. It exuded a feeling of enjoyment, fun and sexiness — all three components of a fantastic vacation. The ad made me want to buy a plane ticket from Expedia and enjoy some sun, sea, sand and (if I get lucky) sex.

What do you think the main message is?

  • The main message of the advertisement is to draw in audiences to buy vacation tickets using Expedia UK. It appeals to pathos and the audiences’ drive to go on vacation. It takes sex as a bridge between the audience and the company. Sex is the common ground here, and the ad holds it accountable as it is the last word of the four words.

Identify the target audience/demographic.

  • The audience is vast: vacationers within the following generations: The Great Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, millennials. Perhaps the most targeted audience are the millennials due to the “sex” and “beach” factor within the ad. Many millennials often associate “sexy” vacations with the beach and the deed which comes with it.

What you think the persuasion objective is?

  • The persuasion objective is, again, the “sex” factor. Many people want to feel good and look good during a vacation and sex is the “feel good” factor. It is quite persuasive to buy a plane ticket in order to enjoy sun, sea, sand and sex — four components to the advertisement.

Why do you believe it was effective in achieving the objective?

  • I believe it was effective in achieving the objective due to the fact that it appealed to pathos and sex. Also, it was fun, smart and witty, which raises credibility with the company (that they can provide these types of services). Furthermore, it was effective due to its brevity; we live in a scrolling generation, and advertisements need stark visuals in order to reel in the viewer. In this case, the words were part of the visual, a successful relationship between two medium.

Post-Election Thoughts

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Reader: Have you started to believe in this mayhem? Has the dust settled for you?

America, founded on democracy, has elected a bigot, a chauvinist, a xenophobe to be the President of the United States of America.

Isn’t it a shame?

I am now starting to become tired of describing Mr. Trump as the adjectives which I have described him as up above. America has become a laughingstock, an entertainment train chugging through the world’s mayhem. It has become an international reality show; a surrealist nightmare.

Published on November 9th, 2016, this video presents John Green discussing the outcome of the 2016 election, “the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency, the astonishing and beautiful persistence of hope among humans, and attempts to offer somewhat lost thoughts on where to go now” (John Green, YouTube caption).

Even here, John Green, a profound mind of the 21st century, is a lost as to where the country is going to go now.

I watched the world crash down in front of me as I watched the election results in a building filled with my fellow university students. Initially, the night was hopeful — there was popcorn, pizza and drinks to pre-celebrate the night which was to come. Supposedly, the night which would then become a night to remember: the night when America voted a woman to be the President of the United States of America. Throughout the night, I saw my fellow students eventually break down, laugh hysterically, bawl in public — any which way one can cope with the terrible news that Donald Trump won.

Perhaps, I am still in shock. Perhaps, I still do not believe that these fair states could do this to the country and to the world. Perhaps, I still refuse to confront this humiliation to women, minorities, the LGBTQ+ community.

I think that for now, I am willing to help our society by calling out bigotry, misogyny and racism. I will not stand for anything less than good, than fair.

Will you?

 

Amidst Chaos and Riots, A Safety Pin

 

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From Kottke.org: Safety pins as a symbol of solidarity against racism 

 

On November 8, 2016, an Internet troll became the President of the United States of America.

His name is Donald J. Trump; he is a corrupt businessman who antagonized minorities, LGBTQ+ and women (among others) and used it as fuel to drive his tumultuous presidential campaign. He is now preparing to sit in the Oval Office — this past week, President Obama invited him to the White House.

 

This stuff-of-nightmares pricks me.

 
For alt-right supporters and Steve Bannon, a white man in the White House means that we are making America great again.

For many Americans, a bigoted, chauvinistic, misogynistic man in the White House means— let us make America grieve again.

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via Huffington Post 

According to Swiss-born psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, there are six stages of grief:

  1. Shock
  2. Denial
  3. Anger
  4. Bargaining
  5. Depression
  6. Acceptance

 

As part of the disenfranchised population, I am sorrily stuck on Stage 3. To cope with the news, I am staying proactive at school, on social media and looking out for my friends in case they need comfort and support. For some, raising hell through violent riots is how they cope. For others, peaceful protests are the way to go.

 
And for the Internet population, taking a selfie with a safety pin is the norm. It is apparently how we as humans show virtual support and solidarity for fellow Americans and “illegal aliens” who feel lost, angry and afraid.

 

At first, I thought it was cute. And then I became furious.

 

To quote Christopher Keelty, “Dear white people, your safety pins are embarrassing.”

I am an Asian woman and naturalized citizen of these great states. I am not racist. Having been bullied extensively growing up due to my skin color, I vowed not to add more animosity upon the world. When I first heard the news that Trump won the presidential campaign, it was like my heart was an open wound being poured on by endless amounts of rubbing alcohol.

 

It hurt; it burned; it stung.

 

In Nell Irvin Painter’s New York Times article “What Whiteness Means in the Trump Era” he states that, “Donald J. Trump campaigned on the slogan “Make America Great Again,” a phrase whose “great” was widely heard as “white.”

The slogan itself is ensnared with white nationalism. We cannot simply wear safety pins to show that we are allies with disenfranchised people.

Marginalized populations remember the extensive history of white people claiming themselves allies while in turn doing absolutely nothing to help.

Now, I understand that not all Trump supporters are racist, sexist or homophobic.

Don’t believe me? Van Jones, an African-American CNN political commentator, interviewed several white Trump supporters in Gettysburg, PA — where naturally the Battle of Gettysburg and then President Lincoln’s well-known Gettysburg Address both occurred.

As far as the episodes went, the interviewees seemed genuine with their opinions. They unanimously agreed upon one subject: they voted for Trump because they wanted change.

Truth is, I’m all for change. I’m a millennial, for Pete’s sake.

But how can one look past the debauchery, acrimonious rhetoric and racially charged actions that this white nationalist demagogue has done?

With great assumption, Trump supporters will naturally counter my argument with calling Hillary Clinton a liar, a cheat, a woman who should be in jail. All points taken.

However, the truth is, if you voted for Trump, then you decided that racism isn’t a deal breaker. And that, my friends, is a deal breaker for me.

By voting for Trump, you chose to extend a long arduous fight that dates back to whence it began: Blumenbach’s five categories of raceCaucasian being the utmost best. The historic fetishization of white beauty is strongly affiliated with the power of the white man. It took the world centuries to trump this idea and find a happy medium between races. Though imperfect, the Western world certainly found a way for many races to live together.

Until now.

If you voted for Trump, then you chose to invalidate battles, fights, wars against racism —one of the most important social causes of our time. You chose to invalidate the lives of millions who fought their way for us to get here.

I do not know if America, or the world in general, will be able to extenuate that.

On his take of the election votes, an emotional Van Jones helplessly asked the viewers, “How do I explain this to my children?” He then blamed President-elect Trump’s win on a “whitelash.” 

The term “whitelash” seemed too harsh, too truthful for many Americans. In retrospect, Van Jones was simply stating a fact.

A whitelash cannot simply be broken by conveniently hitting two birds with one stone: stroking one’s egoism and posting a weekly selfie while wearing a safety pin, along with a wannabe empowering caption.

You cannot wear safety pins to show total support for your fellow Americans when in fact you voted for the person whose campaign rhetoric is the reason why they — we — are all in this predicament.

I am speaking to all —most specifically white Trump supporters.

You are not allowed to convenience yourself by wearing a safety pin. Your safety pins do not absolve the sins of your fellow racial cohort. Your safety pins do not allow you to assuage the guilt and say “I am one of the good ones.”

Just as equally as the fact that none of us are allowed to eschew Trump’s racist, sexist and homophobic remarks. Most importantly if one helped in creating Trump’s stairway to blinding white heaven through voting him to office —then one must be aware that in doing so, one helped to create the disenfranchised people’s stairway to hell.

This Thanksgiving, I plead with you — if you hear of your aunt’s annual racial commentary about i.e. a Chinese woman who runs her laundromat, please stop her. Stop her. Call her out. Inform her. Do all that you can to show her what you see. Because if what you see is good, and she sees that as well — then we have hope.

Do not wear a safety pin when your words and your actions can act as a safeguard to everyone — including yourself.

Perhaps the result of the 2016 presidential elections is not the result we hoped for. And perhaps the Trumpocalypse is upon us.

But I offer this idea to you — it’s beautiful, isn’t it?

How it hurts, how it burns, how it stings — but we never give up.

Social Media: A Concerning Medium

Social media came to full fruition in the middle of the 21st century. It began with ancient websites like Friendster, AOL and Myspace — both of which, at the time, were powerhouse websites whose goals were to connect. The concept behind each website was to connect each other, to connect people from all over the world, the idea that a 16 year old girl from Cincinnati, Ohio could chat with a 40 year old woman from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam about anything and everything about Vietnam was a huge ‘mind-blown’ moment for humankind.

At the time, it was one of the most exciting and life-changing idea to be able to speak to someone from across the globe. In 2016, we have the ability to speak to anyone and everyone, in any nook and cranny of the world, in any medium we want. Applications like FaceTime, WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage are all wonderful pieces of technology with which we are able to speak, talk, and converse with someone. We not only speak with them, we are able to see them personally, eye to eye, as if they were there.

For my 80 year old grandmother, telegrams, letters and phones were mind-blowing. The idea that today, she is hooked to her Nook is beyond belief. She knows how to use the device as well as anyone I know can. That is the beauty and danger of social media — anyone and everyone will one day learn how to use it.

However, social media was a baby born out of a set of very finicky parents — the Internet and the creation of the computer. The computer came first, at a time where people did not think anyone would be able to touch or see a screen lit up for more than an hour or two. The Internet came second, a revelation to humankind — which later became an accessory, an accumulation of knowledge, something we definitely take for granted. And when the Internet and computer both decided that Google was not the only way we can find out about one’s whereabouts — there came social media, the prodigal son.

And our lives were forever changed.

According to Kate Lonczak’s article, “Vine Shut Down — Is Twitter Next?”, “Vine, the video sharing social media outlet, officially ended its four year run earlier this week. Twitter owned Vine and announced the termination of the six-second video sharing service after it severely declined in popularity over the past year.”

A once behemoth of an application, the Vine app recently announced that its services would be terminated since its participation and popularity has decline over the past year.

That is the past year. As in 12 months. In colloquial terms: if you ain’t got no popularity, then you out.

The danger of social media is that it is dynamic, it is ever-changing, and if you do not change and innovate with it, then you will be terminated and you will see your app (and your job’s) demise. Its danger is also its beauty — the concept that we do not have to read through 16 pages of newspaper and waste 2-3 hours of our time looking for something ‘juicy’ is long gone. We can find something extremely entertaining on all social media sites.

The fruit of social media is definitely ripened and most importantly — juicy and always changing.

Why Your Facebook Friends Are Checking Into Standing Rock, ND

Facebook Check-In: Standing Rock, ND

It is currently post-midterms and pre-Thanksgiving season, and as a college student, you should either be exhausted, on the verge of having your fourth nervous breakdown of the week, or watching Netflix instead of editing your paper. Instead of doing your lengthy readings, you are scrolling through Facebook in hopes of eschewing the daunting truth that there are only five weeks of school left and you must get your grade up.

I have a Facebook friend whose primary objective in her digital life is to inspire her followers to vote for Hillary Clinton. Her posts are usually leftist, outspoken and liberal, and refreshingly entertaining. I was really banking on her sense of humor during a study break, so I decided to scroll through her Facebook page and lo and behold — my Facebook friend checked into the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. I was very much confused; I had just seen her on campus a few days ago. Maybe she had flown to protest? Maybe she wanted to take a trip to North Dakota? I had no idea and was thoroughly puzzled.

Are you also wondering why your Facebook friends are sporadically checking into the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota?

As of today, there have been over 1 million people who have checked into Standing Rock, North Dakota through Facebook in an attempt to confuse the police. Supporters are believing lawmakers and police officers are using social media as a tool to track down protesters. The “checking-in” feature is usually used to check-in to restaurants, tourist spots, etc. In this case, the feature is utilized in a show of support for the tribe that has been rallying against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Most “visitors” are not actually in North Dakota at the protest camp; however, through checking into the reservation, they are showing their support for the tribe and the sacred land they are fighting for. According to an NPR article, the planned route crosses the Missouri River just upstream of the reservation, and the tribe says it may have the ability to contaminate drinking water and defile sacred land. 

People are using the checking in tool as a tactic to confuse the police. According to The Guardian, “Water Protectors are calling on EVERYONE to check-in at Standing Rock, ND to overwhelm and confuse them.”

However, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department posted on their Facebook page on Monday that “it does not follow Facebook check-ins for the protest camp or any location.” Regarding the report, they claimed that it was “absolutely false.”

Whether or not the Sheriff’s Department is checking Facebook to track down protestors, they are, however,  inflicting unnecessary brutality towards the Water Protectors and other supporters.

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From Vice: A protestor says he fell down and severely cut his hand after being maced in the eyes by police officers while praying at the protest front lines. 

The tactic of using social media as a tool to exhort audiences to fight against injustice is a 21st century protesting tactic — and in my opinion, it is extremely smart and savvy. Social media is free, relatively easy to use and practically everyone within the ages of 9-70 will have some type of social media account. Facebook is a universal, familiar and widely-used social media site whose platform is almost perfect for the amalgamation of media, politics, opinions, and funny memes. Furthermore, the affinity between “Facebook friends” is something companies and organizations bank on when it comes to digital analysis towards a brand, product or restaurant/company/start-up location — in this case, the location happens to be the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota.

Shailene Woodley’s Stand Against Injustice

Six days ago, world-renowned actress Shailene Woodley published an article on Time magazine regarding the truth behind her alleged arrest. The actress was part of a blockade for the North Dakota Access Pipeline. She was charged with criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot.

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Shailene Woodley (left), with other protestors for the North Dakota Access Pipeline 

The young actress was arrested on Oct. 10, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a holiday where “America is meant to celebrate the indigenous people of North America.” (Time)  Woodley is an avid activist, a feminist and advocate for equal rights. She states in the article, “I was in North Dakota, standing in solidarity, side-by-side with a group of over 200 water protectors, people who are fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

The actress tackles a huge atrocity in North American history: the forgotten culture and respect for Indigenous Peoples. Reflecting upon the actress’ actions, I can relate to her adamancy towards finding respect for the Indigenous Peoples. These forgotten acts of targeted killings due to racism is comparable to the Nazis of World War II. In Europe, there are laws against Holocaust denial, and the European Union established and approved legislation in 2007 that would essentially make denying the Holocaust punishable by being sentenced to jail.

America is behind the times; we are a people who pride ourselves in being open to a ‘melting pot’ of cultures, but we are still in denial of our history with Indigenous Peoples.

In the article, the actress states, “We wear their heritage, their sacred totems, as decoration and in fashion trends, failing to honor their culture. Headdresses, feathers, arrows. Moccasins, sage, beadwork. You know what I’m talking about, Coachella. Walking around the flea market this weekend, I can’t even tell you how many native references I saw being used in a way that feeds our western narrative.”

I wholeheartedly agree with the actress. Western culture seems to adapt their taste to native culture and use the culture to embellish their tastes. Coachella is a great example for this; it seems to me that every year the music festival occurs, more and more people ignorantly disrespect native culture. The worst part is that they pretend they know what their actions are involved in, but they have never really delved into the culture since 99% of the time, if you are American and you studied in American schools, you were not taught to delve into native culture. Only the great Sacagawea and perhaps Pocahontas, and maybe a little paragraph regarding The Trail of Tears are allowed within the curriculum.

I remember reading about The Trail of Tears in my fourth grade history book and wondered what was this event. I further read through the very small, very insignificant paragraph compared to the concept of “Manifest Destiny”.

Shailene Woodley’s arrest definitely enlightened America with current issues regarding Indigenous Peoples and the denial of their targeted killings.

‘It took me, a white non-native woman being arrested… to bring this cause to many people’s attention’ – Shailene Woodley

The Loss of Filipino Culture

  A few weeks ago, my six-year-old cousin Teeyah blatantly refused to speak Tagalog to her Ate Christine (Ate is a colloquial term to show respect for an older female) over our weekly Facetime call. She said she would rather speak English over Tagalog. Born and raised in the Philippines, she is a spunky, intelligent and artistic little girl — she can also barely speak a word of Tagalog. This sparked my interest as I stewed on this question: how can a girl living and studying in the Philippines not know Tagalog (the official Filipino language)?

I speak fluent Tagalog; I grew up in the Philippines, immigrated to the United Kingdom and my family eventually settled in Northern California. I allowed myself to fully delve into the previous question and journeyed through texts and readings and even interviewed several members of the Filipino community.

Throughout my research, I found that centuries of colonization have gradually taken away and degraded traditional Filipino culture that modern Filipinos are now tailored to believe that a Western way of thinking is much better than being and thinking like a traditional Pinoy (colloquial term for Filipino).

So — where does this leave us?


I. History of Filipino Culture — Me, Manila. 2004. Handa, Awit

I grudgingly walk into a military-like formation as my third-grade teacher corrals my class for our weekly school assembly. She yells to me, “Ms. Bumatay! Please fall in line. We are going to sing the National Anthem shortly.” I turn red; I am always belligerently embarrassed by my teacher in front of the entire class. It is something I am used to as other kids are too.  The teachers are bullies — especially Ms. P.  Perhaps it is not as bad as  my daddy’s school days. He said that his teacher used to spank his hands with a wooden stick if he didn’t stay quiet. 

The announcer finally speaks, commencing our three-hour long assembly. He leads our National Anthem: 

“Handa, awit. (Ready, sing). 

Bayang 

Magiliw,

Perlas ng Silanganan

Alab ng puso

Sa Dibdib mo’y buhay.

Lupang Hinirang,

Duyan ka ng magiting,

Sa manlulupig

Di ka pasisiil

Sa dagat at bundok,

Sa simoy at sa langit mong bughaw,

May dilag ang tula

At awit sa paglayang minamahal.

Ang kislap ng watawat mo’y

Tagumpay na nagniningning;

Ang bituin at araw niya,

Kailan pa ma’y di magdidilim

Lupa ng araw, ng luwalhati’t pagsinta,

Buhay ay langit sa piling mo;

Aming ligaya na pag may mang-aapi,

Ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo.” 

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Before Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines, the country was a beautiful archipelago with indigenous peoples spread out throughout lands; the Ifugao People of the North are only one of many.  The Ifugao/Igorot people of the North farmed the steep mountainous regions of Northern Luzon, close to where my mom grew up. Over 2000 years ago, the Ifugao people carved the Banaue Rice Terraces, coined as ‘the Eighth Wonder of the World’. Ifugao culture revolves around rice and intricate celebrations correlated with agricultural rites. There are many other indigenous peoples; the Southern island of Mindanao is home to multiple indigenous societies to this day. Perhaps the interesting part about the Philippines is that there is no secularity in the islands— atheism is unheard of and each region has its own religion, belief and customs, even before the Spanish colonized the islands.

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Banaue Rice Terraces, Ifugao region

In 1521, Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in Homonhon, Eastern Samar in the island of Visayas; this marked the beginning of Hispanic colonization in the Philippines. In 1543, Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos named the archipelago Las Islas Filipinas in honor of King Philip II of Spain. The Philippines, from the very beginning, was named after a colonial power and not after our own people. In 1565, Miguel López de Legazpi from Mexico City arrived, and the very first Hispanic settlement in the archipelago was established. The Philippines would then be a part of the Spanish empire for over 300 years.

In August of 1896, The Philippine Revolution began when Spanish authorities discovered Katipunan. The Katipunan was an underground anti-colonial organization led by Andrés Bonifacio, a Philippine war hero. The Katipunan was a liberationist movement with the goal of gaining independence from Spain through revolt.

After the Philippines won over the Spanish during the Philippine Revolution, the First Philippine Republic was established. It was momentary, however, being followed by the Philippine-American War.  The Treaty of Paris of 1898 relinquished Spain of the remaining colonies of the Spanish Empire and was then surrendered to the United States. Countries included Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. The United States retained sovereignty over the archipelago until after World War II — when the Philippines were finally recognized as an independent nation.

The post-WWII era in the Philippines does not paint a pretty picture. Often, the country’s tumultuous experience with democracy has been splashed in headlines all over the world; the EDSA Revolution against Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorship is one of them. Currently, the Philippines has been in the media due to current President Duterte’s mass killings of people and his backwards concept of fighting the war on drugs

Perhaps the constant tumult of the country is derived from the identity and cultural gap which came after our victory against the Spanish during the Philippine Revolution. Our dissociation with the Filipino-Hispanic past still reflects Filipinos’ actions to this day, and instead of trying to uphold our traditional customs, we are clinging to Western ideals and ways of thinking.


II. A Traditional Filipina—Cross your legs 

Standard Things A Filipino Girl hears everyday from her Nanay (grandmother) and/or Mom 

  1. Cross your legs! Hindi magandang tignan yan, babae ka pa naman. (Cross your legs! It’s not nice to see that, you’re a girl.”- Nanay 
  2. Pray first before you eat. – Mom
  3. Kailangan dapat may lalaki kang kasama pag-uwi, at saka bawal kang lumabas nang bahay mamaya, madilim na. Kailangan ka nasa loob nang bahay nang alas-syete. Okey? (You need a man to walk home with you, and you cannot leave the house later, it is too dark. You need to be inside the house by 7 p.m.”- Nanay
  4. Bakit ang taba mo na naman? Tumigil ka na ngang kumain. Ano ba? Hindi maganda yan!! (Why are you so fat again? You need to stop eating! What is wrong with you? That doesn’t look good!” – Mom, Nanay 

In my opinion, it is much more difficult to be a woman in the Philippines and in general, a Filipina. Traditional Philippine culture calls for a demure lady— short and skinny, long black hair, small eyes, button nose, full lips, porcelain skin, shy and submissive, a devout Catholic, the light of the home, a waiting wallflower.  In short, she must be perfect.

There is a multi-million Peso industry based on Filipinas wanting to have lighter skin. To be called mestiza is a huge compliment in Philippine society (mestiza, in the Tagalog context, means to have light skin). Women are often subjected in the Philippines, and physical appearances are key. There are thousands of whitening products sold at drug stores, grocery stores, markets, malls, etc. The most sought out products have the whitening ingredient called glutathione. Many Filipina celebrities even use their social media to share their “gluta” experience — experiences include trips to Belo Medical Group (the largest and most popular beauty/cosmetology medical group in the country).

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From Jennylyn Mercado’s Instagram (famous Filipino celebrity). In the image, she is undergoing an Instalift while an I.V. Glutathione Drip is inserted into her veins. Glutathione is meant to maintain her ageless beauty and porcelain skin. 

Growing up in the Philippines, I was a rebellious, loud and outspoken gal on the block who had her fair share of fights with the schoolyard kids. My neighborhood was pretty rough, but I never felt unsafe. Our house was my great-grandfather’s; the land I played in was my family’s from generations back.

I would always be disciplined on how to “be a lady.” Don’t be burara or unkept, my mom would tell me. Don’t eat too much. Brush your hair. Don’t bukaka or open your legs while sitting down on a chair. Be good. Do well in school.

Within a historical standpoint, the Spanish severely punished Filipinos who were untidy, unruly and uncivilized. The Spanish saw Filipinos as slightly barbaric — for example, it is a Filipino custom to eat with your hands, with meals served on banana leaves. The Spanish ruthlessly disciplined Filipinos to become like them, and eventually, Filipinos did adhere and adapt to Spanish customs. We even adapted Catholicism as our national religion.

Most Filipinos are extremely devout Catholics, with a superstitious way of living. As per Spanish customs, Filipinos have a room or a corner in their homes with saint statues, the cross, rosaries, prayer books and your occasional alay or offering to the dead. Alay is usually a plate of food with an alcoholic drink. It is an offering to your loved ones who have passed away, and it is customary to have a conversation with your loved ones as you are offering the alay. 

philippine_food

Besides our love for karaoke and pointing with our lips, our love for food is possibly what we are known for the most. Filipinos are massive foodies. Food, in a cultural aspect, is something Filipino families enjoy together. We never eat breakfast, lunch or dinner alone. Kumain na tayo or ‘let’s eat’ is a phrase I have heard in 5,000 different ways throughout the years but all mean one thing — the family that eats together, stays together.

Familial bond and loyalty maintains a huge presence in Filipino culture. Due to devout Catholicism, pro-life beliefs and quite frankly, boredom, most working class Filipinos are “fruitful and increase in number; (they) multiply on the earth and increase upon it” (Genesis 9:7). Most working class families at or below the poverty line have 3 or more children and have no education regarding birth control.

In 2008, I volunteered at a local clinic in the Philippines in order to delve more into what medicine looked like in progressive countries. I did not expect much, as I knew what I was getting myself into — my parents had worked in these clinics previously and they have told me their stories repeatedly. However, in this case, I was still shocked. A 22-year-old woman who looked like she was in her 40s, held two babies as she came in demanding to know more about condoms. She said that the third baby was on its way, and her husband was relentless with wanting to grow their family. My dad always makes a joke referring to these cases, saying they are “not family planning but family planting.” 

Due to the Catholic Church’s refusal to teach birth control at schools, most Filipino either do not know or are completely ignorant to the issue of policing birth control. The lack of secularity within the school system is a social issue which is almost always shot down in Congress due to the Church’s stiff hold on the education system.

Because of this way of thinking, many teenage girls become pregnant and become socially branded as wayward girls, as girls who are wanton. It is part of Filipino culture to protect a woman’s virginity — her virginity is a trophy, a medal which a man must win through marriage, and she is only allowed to give it away once she receives her college diploma.  The correlation between education and sex is still an issue I deal with personally to this day — perhaps only specifically to this subject, I have a more Westernized perspective as I did go through mandatory sex ed in the 5th grade and high school.

There are many instances where traditions have been erased; the lack of policy around birth control and the policing of a woman’s actions are not part of these instances. In fact, I do not think that these issues are going to dissipate any time soon.


III. Language — One Day 

Me, 6 years old, Mandaluyong City, Philippines 

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men never saw Humpty Dumpty again,” my mother sings to me as I lay in bed with no blankets — it is a very hot December night. The fan makes whirring noises across from me like helicopter blades. Beads of sweat pour down my back; it makes me believe that there are ants all over my body.  I think about how come the other kids at school have “air-con” (air conditioner) and we only have this measly old fan. Daddy is in England, my mom says. Daddy is in England to work for you and your brother Jian and your education. Why are you speaking in English, Mommy? I ask. Because it will be good for you one day, she says. What do you mean? I ask. Because it will mean all of this will be worth it, she says. 

I grew up in a multi-lingual household, intermingling and switching both English and Tagalog in my everyday vernacular. The glorification of English is a social construct in the Philippines, and speaking both Tagalog and English is not only welcomed but celebrated. Filipinos tend to associate speaking “Taglish” with the higher class or sosi (a shortened version of the term sosyal — a colloquial term which means ‘of the higher class’).

The modern Tagalog language is a patois made up of multiple languages. Its origins come from the Malay language; however, dahil sa mga Pinoy nung araw, or because the Filipinos of the past constantly trading with Eastern countries such as China and Indonesia, the Tagalog language also has Chinese and Indonesian elements.  During the Spanish colonial era, Filipinos were forced to speak Spanish — thus, the Tagalog language having many Spanish colloquialisms.  Shortly after, American colonization gave way to Filipinos learning English. Today, the Tagalog language is a mixture of Malay, Spanish, Chinese, and English words. It is particularly interesting that the language is a reflection of current Philippine culture — although nowadays, Filipinos center their lives and concepts mostly around what Americans watch, eat, drink, or simply do. The streets are filled with English signs, the malls are full of American stores and restaurants (i.e. Forever 21, California Pizza Kitchen, etc.). It is custom to glorify the American culture and think that it is ang pinaka-best, or the best there ever will be.

The glorification of the English language is a rite of passage in the Filipino culture. It is a classic belief that if one speaks English, then one must be rich. The colloquial phrase “Marunong ka ba mag-English? Ang yaman mo talaga, te!” (You know how to speak English?  You are truly rich, girl!” is said again and again in the Philippine society. Like many things correlated with the arts, Filipinos truly believe that the ability to speak English is an association of being mayaman (rich). In contrast, Filipinos of the working class have a way of expressing their difficulty for speaking English through a slang term called “nosebleed.”

Nose bleed is a term prevalently used to describe the difficulty of understanding and speaking English. Although the Filipino is able to understand what the foreigner says, there are particular colloquialisms and phrases that are somewhat difficult to express in full English fluency — thus the term “nosebleed” is used as a term to express this difficulty.

On the other hand, it may also mean that the Filipino is having trouble understanding the foreigner due to their accent. In any case, the idea that Filipinos use an English word to explain their difficulty of understanding and speaking English is ultimately ironic and perfectly shows one of many paradoxes in Filipino culture. Perhaps these paradoxes, and the way we have submitted ourselves to colonial languages and customs, have become the reason why Filipinos have dissociated themselves with our traditional culture.


IV. Television— ABS o GMA?

“ABS-CBN o GMA ka ba?” 

Class associations with television networks are also part of Philippine culture. Your choice of shows, movies and networks fully reflect your societal class. There are several T.V. networks in the Philippines but only two truly matter: ABS-CBN and GMA-7.

GMA-7 and ABS-CBN are two of the largest television networks in the Philippines. They have a long-lasting rivalry with regards to celebrities, t.v. shows, movies, etc. It is a custom for Filipinos to look up to and copy celebrities — they call them their “idols”; the actual phrase is: “ <insert celebrity name here>, idol kita!” (you are my idol!). Filipinos are loyal fans, and they tend to be very competitive when it comes to their networks. I know that from personal experience, many of my friends from home follow celebrities on social media just to copy their looks, diet, what they buy for their skin products, what they wear, etc. Furthermore, family friends only watch a certain network mostly because their idols are loyal to that network. A sense of affinity for idols is prevalent in Filipino culture as well.

Filipinos’ total loyalty to their celebrity idols is imminent when one looks at television ratings. It is a part of the Philippine culture to watch soap operas or teleseryes with their celebrity of choice. It is a Monday-Friday, 6-9 p.m. tradition to watch Filipino teleseryes with family or friends. Perhaps this is due to the fact that it is also customary for women to be home before sundown (6 p.m.) and serves as a reason for women to come home before supper. The teleserye  tradition is an established custom in the Filipino community, so much so that it has followed Filipino immigrants abroad.

please-be-careful-with-my-heart032013-ika_mainphototwo-wives  *ads of popular teleseryes

 

The Filipino Channel, colloquially known as TFC, is a channel targeting Filipino expatriates and their families. I stopped watching TFC as I am a solid GMA-7 fan, but I can tell you that TFC channel is almost always on in every traditional Filipino household. Produced by the ABS-CBN network, watching shows on TFC is a custom for Filipino immigrants abroad. It is a way for them to feel closer to home.

Being raised in the Bay Area in Northern California, I have encountered many Filipino family friends who watch teleseryes on TFC every single day. I have entered into Filipino homes with teleseryes on every television in the household. Today, TFC teleseryes and shows carry English subtitles to boost fluency in both languages — most especially targeting the younger generation of Filipino-Americans.


V. Filipino-Americans & the Future

*For the sake of my argument, I have to clarify that by Filipino-American, I mean Filipinos born and raised in America by native-born Filipino parents. The events that I am about to share are my personal experiences with the Filipino-American community and are not meant to be generalized whatsoever. *

Between native-born Filipinos, concepts about the Filipino-American community are a bit hazy and in fact, very judgmental. There are many discrepancies and cultural dissociations between Filipino-Americans and traditional Filipinos. In Carlos Bulosan’s classic memoir America is in the Heart (1946), he describes these differences and what it is like to be treated as a criminal in a strange and alien America. Bulosan, a well-known Filipino poet who immigrated to California, stated that “it was a crime to be a Filipino in California” (America). 

To be frank, there have been many moments abroad that I felt this way. Many passive yet racially motivated events have happened to me but only one occurrence comes to mind: when I was in fourth grade, I immigrated to America from a 6-month stay in the United Kingdom. I adapted a British accent, as I was forced and bullied into it. When I arrived here in California, I was bullied again due to my accent by none other than a Filipino-American girl.

From personal experience, most Filipino-Americans I have encountered are much more inclined to judge Filipinos than other ethnicities. It is part of Filipino-American culture to be systematically racist towards “FOBs” or “fresh off the boat” — a degrading term for native-born Filipinos who have come to America to work. It is part of Filipino-American culture to not necessarily speak Tagalog but to only understand it. Compared with the Hispanic population in California and their ability to hold onto their language for generations, Filipino-Americans are more negligent towards the Filipino language. I have met some Filipino parents who have blatantly — proudly, even — told me that their children are not to speak one word of Tagalog on the defense that it was a “tacky” and “lost” language. The lack of cultural policing for the Tagalog language is a clear reflection of Filipino-Americans’ adaption to the American culture, though with the cost of losing their ancestors’ traditions.

Likewise, Filipinos who are born and raised in the Philippines glorify America. The ideal of ‘a better life’ is directly related to the word ‘American’ or Amerikano. My favorite examples of this ideal are the way Filipinos see the American brands Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. In the Philippines, massive billboards crowd EDSA —  the largest highway in Metro Manila. Billboard ads and posters of the brands are ubiquitously seen in the streets. Working class Filipinos unanimously agree that if you drink Coke, you’re rich; if you eat McDo, mayaman ka na (you’re rich).

Social classes are distinguished through the brand name drinks you drink, the food you eat, the clothes you wear. Much like the judgmental and brand name-oriented Filipino-American culture that I have seen in the U.S., native-born Filipinos are cut from the same cloth. I find it interesting that an ever-changing culture is not dependent upon one’s location but depends on the person.

Today, there is an ongoing search for the ‘classic’ and ‘traditional’ Pinoy (colloquial term for Filipino). The glorification of Western ideals in Philippine society hinders the traditional aspects of the Filipino culture. Scholars of the Philippine community have debated that because the Philippine Republic is so young, perhaps we have not established the balance between Eastern and Western ideals just yet.

On the other hand, I firmly believe that centuries of colonialism have allowed us to process our culture differently than other countries have. Because of the differentiations between the Spanish, American and Japanese cultures, Filipinos have collectively taken concepts from each and created a beautiful mixture of the world. However racist, judgmental, crass, barbaric, and different the Filipino culture can be, there is one thing that I am incredibly proud of about my culture: we are known to be the happiest people in the world.

My theory behind this phenomenon is the fact that we as a people have been put through so many tribulations due to unfair and malicious conquerors that we know and understand real human pain. Due to our innate realization of pain, I believe that we simply choose to be happy every day. It is a custom for Filipinos to thank God for every thing that has happened, is happening, or will happen to us.

When I was around 6 years old, my mom, auntie and I were stuck in floodwaters in a very small Kia. I was terrified — the hurricanes and tropical storms in the Philippines are devastating. My mom was also scared but was singing and praying through the storm. Eventually, a wonderful man helped push our car out of the floodwaters. I still remember the laughter and relief which came after.

We did not worry about the Kia; we did not call AAA; we did not care if the engine might have busted, and it would cost us a lot of money to try and fix it. My mom and auntie were laughing and singing on the way home — I knew then that being Filipino means that there is nothing to be afraid of as the worst has happened to me and nothing could be worse than worst. I carry that belief with me to this day; it has helped me with everything that I have wanted and needed to overcome.

There are many faces of culture — mostly good and perhaps some are bad. Much like other cultures, the Filipino culture is always evolving and adapts to its environment. Perhaps years of colonization have gradually taken away traditional Filipino customs; however, I choose to think optimistically. Happiness, familial loyalty, ultimate love for food and the constant need to smile — those are what I know the Filipino culture to be. Perhaps there are different varieties of Filipinos throughout the world — perhaps our culture is always moving as we move, traveling as we travel, changing as we change.

We play the game of tag with different cultures, always trying to catch the “it” — the richest of riches, the bridge to America, the way out of this supposed “tacky” culture. Perhaps the “base” in this game of tag is within ourselves — that our culture remains in the warmth of our smiles, the loyalty we have to our families, our undeniable love for food, and our constant need to smile and make others happy. Maybe instead of judging who is “more Filipino”, perhaps we should celebrate that — we should simply celebrate ourselves.

 


For a humorous video regarding Filipino culture, watch here.

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