Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Where the Filipinos Gather

Benito Vergara, an academic and web editor, gives an insider’s look at Daly City, California, the unofficial capitol of Filipino America, in today’s NYT. When I’m out on the West Coast, I try to always find time to visit Daly City with its amalgam of Filipino turo-turo restaurants, shopping malls crowded with Fil-Am teenagers, and its hybrid vibe of Philippine and American cultural values. It’s one of the few places in the U.S. where I don’t feel self-conscious or marginalized, where eating with a spoon and fork is the norm rather than the exception.

Among other concepts like “crab mentality” of Filipinos, Vergara discusses the beauty of the predominantly Filipino community:

There’s this joke that Filipinos like telling: “You know why it’s always foggy in Daly City? Because all the Filipinos turn on their rice cookers at the same time.”

It’s another indelible quality of being Filipino: the ability to laugh at oneself and her circumstances. In a more religious sense, it’s also the concept of “bahala na,” or, roughly translated, “come what may.”

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Filed under: asian america, culture, filipino, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Promoting–or Pigeonholing?–Pacquiao

I worry about media representations of Manny Pacquiao.

Forget the ignorant, racist comments of Adam Corrolla. I worry about the coverage of Pacquaio that promotes the idea of the savage; the subtle, perhaps unnoticed ways he is represented as the “little brown brother”–a pejorative concept introduced more than a century ago, during the Philippine-American War. The culture of forgetting seeks to characterize and categorize non-white people. Presenting Pacquaio as eccentric (a karaoke singer! a boxer! a religious zealot from the Philippines! and a man who runs for Senate?) serves to exoticize his image in Western media. How can we view a man with this kind of wacky, far-flung, misguided, ambition as an equal?

My students gave a presentation on Filipino stereotypes last week. When they asked random students on campus to name stereotypes of Chinese, responses ranged from hard-working and good at math to reducing a group of people to “Chinese Food.” Stereotypes of Europeans produced no better soundbites. But common stereotypes of Filipinos? The students couldn’t think of any.

The shock for my students came in the fact that Filipinos are the second largest Asian community in the U.S. Not Japanese or Koreans, ethnic groups with clear imagery in our minds. Filipinos? An invisible population, despite a population of 3.1 million, according to the U.S. census. The dearth of commonly-known images of Filipino Americans only adds to my concerns in how Pacquaio is presented.

Shaman or athlete? Political force or punchline to a racist joke? Little Brown Brother redux?

Filed under: filipino, media, , , , , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
August 2019
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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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