Covid-19 and Cancer: Following Audre Lorde

Someone whom I admire so much, thank you for sharing us your thoughts. All the more power and love to you ❤

feminist review

BY AZEEZAT JOHNSON

I have been processing the widespread anxiety caused by an illness that knows no borders and has no cure. As my loved ones and colleagues know, in October 2017, I received a call that I had been dreading for the previous 10 years: the cancer had returned. Anyone who has dealt with that type of call before knows that this is one of those moments where your soul feels frozen in horror. For so long I felt trapped in a body (and a world) that kept on failing me and my hopes for a future. The threat of death entwined with a cancer diagnosis has made me starkly aware of how quickly and brutally my life could be cut short.

This is where I must begin any response to the Covid-19 pandemic. After all, it’s been the cancer that has informed my sharp awareness of death, not…

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A relatable anime for おたく?! 何?!

WARNING: I will try my best to keep this spoil free, but it will be hard lololololol.

We all love a bit of rom-com, let’s not lie to ourselves here y’all…

The main problem is that rom-coms, no matter what medium is used to showcase it, is usually that most corny and cringe worthy type of story. Why do story writers always try to be as slimy as possible with their storyline? It’s not everyday cringe, sometimes I just want to be able to laugh, and if possible – be able to relate to the sheer realism in its scenes.

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Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls: if you are into nerdy/gaming culture – this is definitely something that you will enjoy!! I am very picky when it comes to my rom-com anime and I fell in love with this anime as soon as the first 10 minutes of watching it. And here is why…

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku [Wotaku ni Koi was Muzukashii -ヲタクに恋は難しい] is originally a Japanese web-series written and illustrated by Fujita-sensei, published by Ichijinsha whom are known as publishers for famous manga such as: Masamune-kun no Revenge (Masamune-kun’s Revenge), Okusama ga Seito Kaichou (My Wife is the Student Council President) and Citrus (the manga is better lol).

The story surrounds two main protagonists: Narumi Momose and Nifuji Hirotaka. They are both childhood best friends who cross each other’s lives again due to working at the same work place that Narumi moved to. Both of them are otaku (closeted nerds), a group of people who are very negatively stereotyped by the Japanese community. Being a closeted nerd may seem like a strange idea to us in the West, but in East Asia and especially Japan – they are perceived as very “creepy” and “gross” due to having “strange interests” and an overwhelming interest in anime and kawaii culture. So as you can imagine, the dating scene for an “out” otaku is very hard – almost non-existent even. However our two protagonists try and make it work, alongside with some other characters that will tug on your heartstrings and make you laugh from the realism of the life between nerds and the rest of the population that us loveable nerds call, normies.

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just watch this anime already please, or even better – read the manga.

Fujita-sensei is a great illustrator, and their drawings of the characters suit the storyline to a T. This may be due to the very millennial themes of the storyline, along with the references constantly made within the manga/anime. I don’t know how much did A1-Pictures and Amazon Video paid in order to be able to freely reference games such as “Monster Hunter” and “Mario Kart” or alcoholic drinks such as “Asahi Super Dry” – but sheesh, it must’ve been a lot because the graphics that they used for the anime is the actual CG from the gameplay. A1-Pictures was the perfect animation studio to have worked with Fujita-sensei in creating a live-anime, the quality of the video and the way they perfectly animated the characters to life could not have been pulled off by another studio. A1-Pictures is responsible for big names such as: Sword Art Online, Oreimo (Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai) and Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso).  It is absolute genius how they managed to make the storyline as nerdy as possible in order to synthesise with the way the characters react with each other. For example, they repeatedly reference the way you make choices in RPG games via the way Narumi processes her thoughts internally and how she makes her decisions before acting on them. This is such a clever way of taking advantage of the ability to animate the illustrations that they use as reference from the manga.

The way A1-Pictures fully took advantage of the storyline’s characters, and the insane amount of time they all bond via MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) is honestly brilliant. The characters repetitively play PSO2 (Phantasy Star Online 2) on their computers, and A1-Pictures cleverly carried out its storyline within gameplay – as if the characters were transported in the game just like in a isekai setting-based anime such as Overlord. They cleverly animated them into chibis (smaller versions of their character) which made it even more endearing to watch; it was as if A-1 Pictures was trying to purposely ingrain into your mind how invested these gamers become when playing their games – but they are still aware that this is only game play. It wasn’t done in CG so the transition from “reality” into “gameplay” and vice versa, wasn’t too jarring and easy to follow. Honestly, A1-Pictures created a really smooth and beautiful animation when it came to this. Most anime do use CG within their projects, however it’s usually something minor such as trains and backgrounds. Even with really small things like the facial expressions of Narumi, who is very expressive when it comes to her anime references, was beautifully executed. The fact that they were able to use the anime referenced’s drawing style and many people were able to recognise them from just solely this – made it even funnier to watch. Because of this, I really do commend the amazing work that A1-Pictures have done with Wotakoi.

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right Narumi references the anime JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and on the left is Akagi.

Before I ramble about how great the animation and graphics are, let’s start with the very first thing that you see after the introductory scene – the beloved opening and its OP song. The opening theme titled “Fiction” (フィクション) by Sumika and it is brilliantly paired with the most beautifully animated, and well directed short M/V. Honestly, before you carry on reading this blog post – click on this link to watch the M/V. Within the anime community there was a massive wave of fellow otaku who tried to learn the hand gestures from the main characters during the M/V – it’s mostly agreed within the community that the OP is very hard to skip. Just watch these two dudes who also enjoy the OP as much as I do. There’s only a handful of anime whose OPs I will never skip, people think that just because I like the song – it automatically means that I won’t skip the OP. Well, you’re wrong. For example, I love Lisa and her multiple songs – most especially Crossing Fields. But the intro for Sword Art Online was definitely not as exciting compared to Wotakoi’s; it was just stereotypical trying to be intense and exciting at the same time type of intro m/v – which I guess would make sense, had the whole storyline been good and sensical.

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You can’t tell me this isn’t the cutest mfking thing!!

Putting the animation and music aside, the storyline itself was simple yet brilliant. This may be biased because I was someone who was very closeted with my nerdy interests, but this fact is still very true within the Japanese culture. So much so that they have their own word for it, it being otaku (おたく). The main reason the word otaku has negative connotations is due to a certain individual who was a murderer whose room when ransacked by the police was found to have had many nerdy memorabilia – thus dubbing him as the “otaku murderer” and tarnishing the name for many otaku. Because of this, whenever someone is proclaimed as an otaku by someone, they are unable to run away from the image of socially reclusive outcasts, and predominantly seen as creepy. However, with the boom of the anime wave during the beginning of the Heisei Era (1989 to the present day), many otaku started rebrand the meaning of the word into a more “netural” word – yet retaining its nerdy roots. With the help of the globalization of the otaku culture (predominantly within the West), this helped many Japanese people to empower themselves and embrace their title as otaku.

Within many countries, and most especially in the East – watching cartoons, anime and playing games still has a very negative connotation. Being open as an adult in the East about your nerdy interests is by contrast very different than being a nerd in the West. There were a few of my relatives who gave me (and at my parents) a strange look when I was open about being into anime and gaming, asking why am I wasting my time on such “childish” interests. This is exactly why an anime such as Wotakoi is very refreshing and relatable for us adults who are very into the nerd culture. In most anime such as Recovery of an MMO Junkie (Net-juu no Susume – ネト充のススメ) and My Two-Faced Little Sister (Himouto! Umaru-chan – 干物妹!うまるちゃん), clearly show just how hard people try to stay closeted when they are an otaku, as if they are going to be condemned by their fellow peers if they “out” or find out about their interests. This is why it is important for us fellow otaku to have an anime that is accepting of us, along with a wholesome storyline about friendship and love. Why? Because we exist!! I always thought I would never find a partner who would enjoy the same interests as me, and love me as an individual romantically – and yet here I am. In a long term relationship with someone who would be deemed as an otaku by others (except in this instance, he’s a filthy casual in regards to anime so he’s more of a gaming otaku lol).

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I really wish that one day, this trope will die because it is getting so boring

More importantly, it humanises the term otaku rather than keeping this image of us being “socially inept/isolated”, “creepy” or “unhygienic” etc. All of these negative stereotypes that befall within one word is very hurtful – but fortunately, shows such as Wotakoi and the acceptance from many millennials and post-millennials has come to show that we don’t have to be so closeted nor shamed for having nerdy interests. Wotakoi expresses the daily lives of normal people who just happen to be very passionate about a certain thing. This is what baffles me about being given the title otaku. The meaning of this definition in the Japanese language simply means “a closeted nerd” or someone who is very passionate and obsessed about a certain topic. If we go by this definition worldwide, then shouldn’t this mean that sports athletes are otaku by its definition? Sports athletes such as Olympians, basketball players, footballers etc., they have had to be extremely passionate and obsessed about their sport in order to achieve the level that they are now competing in. But why is that it is only us nerds that get the negative backlash of the word, when really – what is the difference between someone who is obsessed with gaming and someone who is obsessed with a certain sport?

Lastly, the romance. Who doesn’t love a bit of romance?

The romance between Nifuji Hirotaka and Narumi, Kobayashi and Kabakura, and lastly Nifuji Naoya and Sakuragi is so endearingly realistic that it makes my heart melt. It’s very rare to find a storyline within anime that does not overdo these romance storylines, it’s very easy for them to make it as corny and as cringy as possible. I was honestly very surprised that this slice-of-life anime did not fall down this route – but I am so glad that they didn’t. Narumi and Hirotaka definitely was a trope – but the fact that there wasn’t a long drawn chase between them two, made it more realistic, considering the situation that Narumi was struggling romantically and her best friend offered to be there for her both romantically and in gaming – it seemed like the ultimate offer for her. This is not to presume that she is easy in any way, if anything she was surprised that Hirotaka even saw her in that way. However, because they were best friends and have known and come to accept each other as individuals, it may be that Narumi came into acceptance that maybe she also had feelings for him that she never really addressed.

Kobayashi and Kabakura both started dating in high school and there was a brief flashback in the anime which goes into more detail within the manga. Their relationship borderlines the fine line between hate and love which is a very real thing in real life – but no one seems to properly address it. You could clearly tell that between these two characters that they knew each other very well, but just like any normal couple, they always had communication problems – luckily they were easily resolved. What I love about these two is the fact that even though they fight a lot – they really do just love the fact that they both don’t have to hide their interests from each other. They comfortably read manga together (albeit it being very different genres and causes them to argue constantly), they both genuinely want to make their respective others happy and therefore dabbles into new territory in order to understand why it makes the other happy etc. Which in my eyes is what the most healthy, loving and most importantly normal couple I have watched in an anime for a very long time.

Nifuji Naoya and Sakuragi’s relationship is probably the most realistic in the sense of a completely introverted otaku is being befriended by someone we would call a “normie” (someone who is not at all used to or aware of the nerdy side of life). Naoya is very pure and innocent, he clearly is very accepting of his brother’s and Narumi’s interests. He takes life as it is and is very friendly. Because he is aware of his brother’s harsh gaming way of life, he becomes very curious and willing to learn. However his brother, Hirotaka, is very short tempered and clearly disinterested in teaching his younger brother anything in regards to gaming because of how bad Naoya is. When Naoya approaches Sakuragi, he does so in order to befriend her and to also learn how to game. Sakuragi who is used to being alone and is very introverted, is shocked by his friendly approach but reluctantly agrees. What she doesn’t realise is that she develops a really strong friendship with him, and maybe isn’t aware that she is developing a crush on him. Their relationship is very pure and quite refreshing to watch. It’s not forced love nor is it very blatant, it makes the audience want to stay tuned in order to see their relationship’s progress. Seeing as the manga has released more chapters and is a couple of volumes ahead from the anime – you can clearly see the small progressive steps and honestly – it makes my heart melt so much.

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can you believe Naoya doesn’t realise she’s a girl!?

After reading all of this, why are you not watching Wotakoi yet?!

Honestly I’m surprised you’re even still reading this and not watching it yet. Watch it, watch it now!! I guarantee that you will thoroughly enjoy it. Just make sure to fangirl with me afterwards 😉

I’m embarrassed to be Filipino.

I’m embarrassed to be Filipino. That sure grabbed your attention didn’t it?

Granted, I am not full Filipino nor did I grow up in the Philippines. So maybe to a lot of people reading this, they’re probably thinking: “here we go, another second generation Pinoy that thinks they’re above homeland Filipinos”. Before you start sending me hate messages: let me explain.

Growing up I had severe identity issues. I never fitted in well with actual Filipinos, and obviously growing up in the West – I never fitted in with white people despite being of Hispanic/European heritage. Why was that? I never fully understood the reason why I couldn’t fit in with neither community. I had always joked around with friends that we all have our “white people appropriate” persona that we put on in order to fit in slightly better. As a child, I never fully understood why I did these things. But I do remember having so much internal hate of being a Filipino that I used to just try to avoid the topic of heritage.

I know for a fact that there’s gonna be a lot of Filipinos reading this and some are ready to fight me in the comment section; or even message me personally to express their disappointment. Hear me out. Let me explain as to why I’ve accepted that I will always have an internal hate towards my other half, my Filipino half.

I’m embarrassed to be Filipino.

As a child, I never understood why so many Filipinos would always comment on my appearance. What has my appearance got to do with who I am as a person? Of course in all cultures, you do comment on appearance when you see someone that you haven’t seen physically in a very long time. Unfortunately Filipinos take this to the next level. Let me give you a short list of phrases that Filipinos always use to greet me. I repeat, to greet me. It’s as follows:

  • Ang laki-laki mo na! Lakas mo sigurong kumain ng kanin no?” – “Wow you’ve gained so much weight! You must eat a lot of rice, right?”
  • Ang ganda mo talaga, pero sayang tumaba ka/ang taba mo.” – “You’re really good looking, but it’s a shame that you gained weight/you’re so fat.”
  • Akala ko taga abroad ka? Bakit ang itim ng kulay mo? Akala ko mapuputi kayong lahat doon.” – “I thought you lived abroad? Why is your skin so dark? I thought everyone there would be white.”

So on and so forth.

Now that I’m an adult, I have learnt to ignore these comments. However there are still some comments that irked me and have led me to write this blog post. Comments as to why I’m “dark skinned” even though by Western standards, I’m definitely on the lighter end of the “medium/tan” spectrum. These type of comments have continued to brew deep inside of me, to the point that I realised that every single country that has had a Western influence or like most countries – colonised by the West – has a very unhealthy or even, hateful relationship with their native characteristics and most especially their skin colour. This just didn’t quite sit right with me.

The term we’re all looking for is called colourism, defined as by Oxford dictionary:

“Prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.”

As aforementioned, I grew up in the West. I spent a total of five years living in the Philippines. I’d like to believe that during those years, I wasn’t influenced by such a mentality – unfortunately this wasn’t the case.

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Here are some native Filipinos who are called the Negritos. They are our indigenous people whom are closely related to Africans.

My mama is considered dark skinned in the Philippines growing up. For someone who is of Hispanic descent, she had darker skin. Which is actually quite a normal feature for Southern Europeans to have. I remember we had a conversation before in which mama, who grew up within Filipino culture, was influenced by the “whiter is better” mentality that she ended up using whitening products. However it didn’t exactly work to her benefit because as we all know, bleaching your skin isn’t exactly healthy. Bleach burns your skin. Why in the hell is this something Filipinos encourage to do towards themselves and even worse, to their children? The eurocentric standard of beauty within Philippines is so toxic that my mama (who had curly ringlet hair, as most of the older generation of Spanish women had) had her hair chemically straightened. It didn’t damage her hair at the time, however this obsession with trying to keep up with a certain standard of beauty did damage her hair eventually. How is this something that us as Filipinos are okay with happening?

I’m embarrassed to be Filipino.

Being a teenager is hard. Hormones all over the place, self conscious towards how you looked and most of all, acne – so of course, if someone offered you help in regards to fixing your acne – you would happily accept! Most especially an adult who you looked up to. Unfortunately, this person was also someone who contributed to this toxic Filipino standard of beauty towards me. Unlike my mama, I was quite lucky to grow up in the West in which they (strangely) upheld darker skin – but that’s a topic for another day. Despite my body dysmorphia, I was actually okay with being darker. I liked having tanned skin. In fact, I was darker as a child and as  teenager than how I am now as an adult. However I’ve digressed. This person whom I looked up to, “helped” me by offering me facial products which without my knowledge had whitening or bleaching qualities. Luckily now the discolouration in my face has completely disappeared, however my acne scars worsened due to the fact that my skin has been sensitive ever since I used those facial products. I was horrified.  I already felt self conscious of my face because of my acne and of my very large birthmark which is quite prominent on my face, but for someone who I trusted to give me products that worsened the state of my skin? Just because she didn’t like the fact that I was a “darker skinned” Filipino? What the fuck? What is so great about having white skin?

I don’t mean to be rude, but having white skin just means you lack melanin and therefore you burn easier – making your chances of getting skin cancer increase by 200% (okay maybe I’m overexaggerating on that, but you get my point); thus leading you to spend more money on sun screen, since you have to layer yourself with it every hour or even as often as every 20 minutes. I don’t know about you, but having darker skin makes me happy because this means I only put on sun screen every five or six hours. It’s a great life, not worrying too much about burning myself under the sun. The sun is nice too, why would an entire group of people who live in a tropical country avoid being under the sun? It’s actually so confusing that it baffled me so much when I visited last year. I stood under the sun for 10 minutes just to get some good old vitamin D and my family made jokes about me getting even darker. Of course I called them out on this, and explained to them that this type of mentality is very dangerous. If I become darker, good. It means my melanin is working and I won’t be dying of skin cancer any time soon. When they asked me why do we prefer being tanned, I simply answered: “because in the West if you’re super pale: people think you’re either sick; don’t like being outdoors hence are anti-social; or unfortunately just have very white skin which means that being under the sun will burn you”. Oh I wish I took a picture of the reaction they had, differences in mentalities sure is weird, huh?

Even worse, this said person along with my mama (whom sometimes still denies that this ever happened lol, it’s okay mama I’ve forgiven you – but it happened lol pls just accept it) would tell me that I was overweight and I have to lose more weight. At that time, I was struggling with an eating disorder. But of course I didn’t really know what I was going through and neither did my parents. I’m not really mad at them for it, because I should’ve said something about it. However, I cannot excuse the fact that they were pushing for a certain beauty standard. I can’t speak for my mama, but I have an inkling that she is also severely affected by these beauty standards. The hourglass body type that I have is something that I inherited from my mama (queue the lyric: I got it from my mama); mama and I still have conversations in regards to how she’s unhappy with the way she looks and that she looks fat. Everyone who knows my mama is that she is not fat – she’s actually slim and curvy, she’s just very short. A middle aged woman is still stuck in this toxic beauty standard.

If two grown women still get affected by such a thing and are not directly exposed to the mentality anymore – what chances do those in the mainland have?

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We need to aim for the celebration of our differences – not only empower one type, rather accept and love everyone for the world is beautiful and colourful.

Asian Boss have filmed a video in which they interview young girls on the Filipino standard of beauty. I knew that the extreme Eurocentrism was bad, but I didn’t think it was this bad. Despite one girl saying that she likes being morena (brown skinned) – she however made a very discriminative point: “I prefer tanned skin, ’cause if you are white skinned and you became darker – people will oppose. However if you are dark skinned or tanned and you became lighter or whiter – everyone’s gonna be like, wow you’re beautiful!” This is the normative mindset within Filipinos in the Philippines – which is awful. I’m all for the body positive movement, I praise people who are comfortable in their own skin. I support people who have this mentality regardless of their race, gender and looks. However, I am not here for people who claim to be body positive and yet still favour those who have Eurocentric features whilst bashing those who do not fall under this category. It just doesn’t make any sense. I’d advise you, dear reader, to click on the sentence in pink and watch the video. The hypocrisy in a seven minute video is quite prominent that it leaves you confused as to what message are these young girls really trying to portray in regards to the Filipino beauty standards during their interview.

Another point that was raised in this video is the fact that Filipinos really uphold those who are of mixed race blood, which is very true. However, this is only if you are of white Western heritage. Another video by Asian Boss in which they interviewed two different individuals, both identify as Filipino females however one is half white-American and one is half Nigerian. It is quite clear that Filipinos have such a clear bias towards those who are half white. Using words such as: beautiful, rich and successful to describe the half white Filipina. Whereas the half Nigerian is described by Filipinos with such awful and negative words such as: monkey, negra and smelly. As a child, fellow children wouldn’t play with her. All because she is half black. Even just typing these words out makes me want to throw up. I’m so disgusted that this is part of my heritage. I highly recommend that you, dear reader, are to click on the sentence in pink above.

This harsh truth of colourism within the Philippines has to change.

Asia Jackson is a half Filipina and half African-American beauty blogger/influencer who grew up in the Philippines before moving to American just before she turned a teen (this is what I’ve gathered from her story). As you can imagine, Asia experienced extreme colourism in the Philippines despite her being considered as “light-skinned” within the black community – something that I am very uncomfortable saying to describe someone’s attribute. In 2016, Asia created a the movement of #MagandangMorenx in order to raise awareness of the extreme colourism that every Filipino who is visibly not white enough for the society and fell victim within its colourist mindset. I suggest you look up this hashtag on Twitter or click on the hashtag to be linked into her blog. We have to create more awareness. As a proud FilipinaI have to do better.

Unfortunately, I’m still embarrassed to be Filipino.

The question that always lingers whenever colourism in the Philippines is brought to light is this: why is no celebrity or someone with great influence speaking out against on this issue? Why is it always us from the West who speak out against these issues? I have a pill that’s quite hard to swallow, and if any mainland Filipinos are reading this – I hope you’re ready for my version of the truth.

Filipinos are so stuck in the post-colonial mentality of “the whites are still better than us” or “the whiter, the better” narrative, that has affected its society deeply till today. Today is not a history lesson, however it has to be mentioned. As a society, we have always welcomed others with open arms. That’s the Filipino hospitality that we have had since pre-colonialism. However this was corrupted by colonisation. We are so easy to give in to the perks of “social standing, that once we’re comfortable – we stop giving a shit about our kapwang Pilipino*.

*Fellow Filipino

Don’t believe me? Let me give you a very modern example:

Anne Curtis-Smith, a well loved celebrity in the Philippines who regularly speaks out in societal inequalities and claims to be socially aware. She is actually a current UNICEF ambassador who continually helps out children in need. A perfect role model to push for the fight against colourism agenda. Unfortunately, Anne Curtis promotes whitening products*, does regular advertising for whitening products that are shown on TV every time it’s advertisement break between programmes. Moreover, Anne being half white-Australian – she is already upheld quite highly.

*Click on links in pink to be directed to another page

Please tell me as to why this is okay? I do not understand. Do not tell me that “she has to get money somehow“. A celebrity who knows that she’s being looked up to and claims that she aims to be a good role model – and yet, endorses in whitening products that are highly damaging both mentally and physically. What is it with Filipinos caring more about the money that goes into their pockets than their moral standards? Do we all just become blind as soon as money becomes involved? What is it with us Filipinos?

As long as it puts money in our pockets then no worries, right?

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These products are everywhere, when I last visited Philippines last year – it was almost impossible to find a skin product with no whitening ability.

Only now people are realising that those who are tanned and darker are pretty too. Wow, only just now? Really? It’s so ridiculous that I can’t even express my embarrassment.

I’m embarrassed to be Filipino.

The effects of post-colonialism (actually it started waaay beforehand, but that’s a blog post for another day) are still very prominent. I’ve recently found out that colleges and universities in the Philippines have official gotten rid of the Tagalog/Filipino curriculum. It’s as if the Philippines is actively trying to get rid of its culture. Why? When I went to school in the Philippines for a brief period of time, I remember quite clearly how prejudiced they were against those who spoke Tagalog or any of the dialects (in my case Bisaya). I don’t think my classmates quite realised this but I completely forgot how to speak Tagalog; I picked up Bisaya quickly as I knew Italian and some Spanish. The problem was that I didn’t speak English at all. You have to remember, this was Italy in the 00s. English wasn’t very popular back then in Italy, so I completely forgot it overall.

I was so proud of myself for picking up Tagalog and Bisaya as quickly as a month, after all – it’s quite lucky that I’m gifted with being a linguist. However this didn’t matter for my fellow classmates and teachers for they didn’t really care nor did they praise me for learning Tagalog again. If anything, they were against me learning my mother tongue. For them, I was a pretty useless “banyaga” (mixed race person) since my worth was measured by my ability to speak English. What the fuck? I had a couple of friends who didn’t care (thank God) and there was another friend my brother and I made who was half German and half Filipino, who had a similar issue with us. She spoke Bisaya better than she spoke English. Her German was okay, but since she had lived in the Philippines for a long time back then – it’s understandable. I wasn’t going to hold it against her, of course it’d be great if she’s picked it back up now as an adult.

Unfortunately we all bonded due to a similarity, which was we couldn’t properly fit in within the school community. Moreover, our friend knew she experienced white privilege on the daily – and she hated it. I would always remember her liking being around my kuya and I because we didn’t really treated her any differently. A similar experience to the half white-American woman interviewed by Asian Boss. Considering the fact that our friend was just part of a working/middle class family (middle class in Philippines is the working class) just like my family and the woman in the interview – you can blatantly see the differences in treatment so much more. Our friend and the woman in the interview were not rich or very well off. They were just regular people. Just like the everyday Filipinos that we went to scho- actually, that’s a lie. We went to a private school, and truth be told – compared to my classmates, we definitely were not the richest. To put it bluntly, most of the mixed race kids in our private school were actually the “poorest“. And yet we were the ones whom they assumed to be living a lavish life? Riiiiiight, sure.

My point from this small story is that, I don’t understand this belief that being able to speak English is better. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t learn English, it’s inescapable anyway considering 99% of the nursery to high school curriculum is taught in English. Moreover wherever you go in the world, you will be surrounded by the English language. But the fact of the matter is, we are all losing touch with our Filipino roots. Once again, using another Asian Boss video in which they test the general public in Manila on their fluency in Tagalog. Of course this is only representative of the Filipinos in Manila, however the rest of the Filipino population look up to or aim to be like the people in Manila. They see them as more chic and modern because they’re more “educated” in their eyes, since they speak English. First of all, I blame the Western entitlement on expecting people to be able to speak English in whatever country they visit. It’s not fair. Of course for the sake of being able to communicate effectively, it’ll be good to speak at least on mutual language. Usually those who are also not English that travel a lot, such as those from South Asia, Eastern Europe etc. who visit the country. However, I’ve heard this phrase way too many times from native English speakers: “It was really annoying visiting *insert country* because they didn’t speak English”. But why does it have to be English? Are people now incapable of buying phrase books!?

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Here’s the Aeta indigenous people of the Philippines playing one of our many traditional street games called Luksong Tinik, which means jumping over thorns. The Aeta are one of the few tribes left that are being protected by the government – but how much longer can this carry on with the massive wave of Westernisation in the modern times?

This sense of entitlement stresses me out. I understand that yes, English is a universal language. Luckily most Filipinos can understand it almost perfectly, however if one visits a very obscure area that isn’t very populated; such as those who enjoy hiking the forests of the Philippines. I found it very insulting when I hear stories of people saying such phrases as mentioned earlier, or expecting that everyone has to be able to speak English. It’s because of these type of people who visit that it feeds onto the fact that Filipinos believe that one is uneducated if they do not speak English.

Let me hit you mainland Filipinos with a fact: native English speakers speak worse English than those who have learnt it as a second/third (so on and so forth) language. I have rarely come across people who are white British and are from a normal working class background that know better English than I do. Being able to communicate in English does not define your worth, it just makes you a bit more skilled in life. Take it from a linguist who speaks five languages: I still need to improve my Tagalog despite being able to speak many languages. I’m definitely not a genius – I’m just skilled at languages. It’s not a measure of my intellect – I’ve had to learn these via circumstances that kept changing in my situation. Anyone who has been moving around as much as I have would be able to pick up languages like I did.

So please spare me with the mentality that the mainland Filipino society have in regards to what you have to be able to do in order to be considered cleverIf anything, have you heard our language? How rich it is? Are you aware that post colonisation, we’ve had to change our characters from baybayin into romanised because the white man enforced his standard of intellect? Of course not. I didn’t even find this out until I turned into an adult and that was more than five years ago.

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Just ask yourselves: why are we the only country in Asia whose mothertongue, does not use our own characters when writing? Why is ours romanised?

But despite all of this, I love being Filipino.

It’s true, I really do love being Filipino. I have overcome my identity issues when I became an adult. I finally realised that the only way I could stop having these issues is by accepting that this is the reality of what it is to be Filipino. This is the burden we carry. Everyone in the world only is made aware of the good points of being acquainted or friends with Filipinos. Whenever you mention Filipinos to non-Filipinos, they immediately comment positive things and believe that we are unproblematic – which unfortunately just like any colonised country, we have severe issues that are never addressed. And this is the narrative that has to be changed.

No one ever wants to mention the bad points, the realityI say that I’m embarrassed of being Filipino – but I’m not. I’m not ashamed of these things, I believe that we can overcome it. Though in order to overcome the colourism narrative – we have to face the snake by its fangsWe have to be honest with ourselves and face these problems; continue the conversation on colourism; call other Filipinos out whenever they make a comment or joke out of ignorance or prejudice – be the changeDo not be afraid to go against the norm. If it wasn’t for people like Dr Martin Luther King. Nelson Mandela or even our own national heroes such as Dr José Rizal and Andrés Bonifacio – we wouldn’t be able to progress in society nor have the freedom to be able to express such feelings against discrimination and prejudice. Do not be ashamed and be the change in our society and for the future generations of Filipinos to come.

I believe that my generation of Filipinos in both mainland and overseas are starting to push for a change in mentality – such as Asia Jackson with her #MagandangMorenx movement. However, we need more from the mainland to actively help us in creating this change. We are now starting to realise that things have to change, if we leave things as they are – we are never going to move on from the toxicity and will repeat this cycle till the end of time.

I love my Filipino heritage.

I love my Filipino languages and dialect.

I love the Philippines.

I am proud to call myself Filipino.

 

 

PSA: This is going to be a series of blog posts in regards to colourism and Westernisation in the Philippines. Be sure to suscribe and follow me on my social medias to get notified whenever I drop a new blog post!

Being borderline sucks and I want to die

It’s actually frustrating and annoying the way I have to live with myself for the rest of my life.

That’s genuinely how I feel everyday. Knowing that I have to be myself everyday is probably one of my biggest hates in life. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not anyone’s fault. It’s all in my head. It’s all me.

Whenever I mention borderline personality disorder, it’s actually quite embarrassing and I’m frankly ashamed of admitting I have it. I wouldn’t deny it if someone asks if I have it or if someone is curious and asks questions. That’s all okay with me. It’s more me having to accept that I have an illness that makes me unable to fully control my own actions. It’s sound gross, doesn’t it? I absolutely despite not being able to have 100% responsibility in my own actions, also. But the very fact that I have an illness that diminishes my responsibility somewhat, actually disgusts me with myself.

Currently I’m writing this blog post when really, I’m supposed to be finishing up my essay which is due in a couple of days. The problem is – I can’t. I’m actually really fixated on the thought that I’m stupid and I will never be able to finish this essay nor ever be able to graduate from university. That I’m just wasting my time because I’m the dumbest person alive and whatever effort I will be exerting will be made in vain. Basically in summary, I’m freaking the fuck out.

Moreover there’s a freaking text bubble that WordPress has on my screen which tells me to click on it in order to get rid of it – but it’s not letting me. I’m actually so triggered by this, hence the freaking diversion from the actual topic of me writing this blog in order to raise awareness of how those suffering from BPD are left unable to cope with minute little situations/problems such as these, compared to as how a “normal” person would be able to and instead I’m unable to write a freaking essay. WordPress actually pisses me off with these kinda things. Like c’mon, I’m just tryna write a freaking blog post., Move the hell out of my way you motherfreaking text bubble. How freaking dare you.

Okay I’m done with that little side note.

These are the current thoughts on my head which have been louder than usual:

  • worthlessness;
  • suicide;
  • inability to cope;
  • loneliness;
  • “everyone hates me, including him”;
  • “there’s not much point in even carrying on”;
  • crying meltdowns;
  • the need to self-harm;
  • stress;
  • worrying about whether my housemates will make it home fine;
  • “is my friend who is suffering from severe anxiety okay”;
  • “I don’t know why you think your friends hate you, they literally expressed their want to help, you moron”;
  • “he doesn’t hate you, you know he loves you”;
  • “I have a 10am tomorrow, I should really get home soon”;
  • “your family don’t even give a shit about you”;
  • “papa rings you everyday to make sure you’re okay”;
  • “you are in so much debt, you should just starve yourself”;
  • “lmao treat yourself, amirite?”;
  • “you’re the worst person alive”;
  • will these thoughts ever get out of my head, or am I really gonna have to live with this for the rest of my life?

 

I always say that I’m exhausted to whenever people ask me how I’m feeling. That’s because I am. I’m mentally exhausted. Being able to feel every emotion there is under the sun 24/7 for every single minute of the freaking day. Even when asleep. Wait, you thought it stops when I’m asleep? Oh God no. My dreams are often nightmares that are the thoughts of my subconscious – but that’s for another blog post.

Honestly, I didn’t even plan on writing this out. I’m just really freaking out and needed to let it out somehow. I cried a little just now in my little corner space of the silent study part of the library. It helped a little. But unlike mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety; unfortunately BPD isn’t like “waves that come and go”, it’s more like a never ending tightrope that you have to walk on and make sure you don’t fall. Sometimes there’s a safety net – but 99% of the time it’s just a free fall until you either land and break a bone or land on a mattress. Your luck depends on how “mentally stable” you are that day. Luckily, today is a day that I landed on a mattress.

I wanted to be more open about it now. To be honest, I was wrongly mistaken in thinking that I was always open with it. Apparently not. My closest friends told me that I have never really properly opened up about it and just suffered in silence. Which is funny because I always thought I was open about it. Clearly not if they are worried for my wellbeing. I’m grateful to have them in my life.

This isn’t really a cry for help, more like an awareness of what my mind is like everyday. One of my friends commented before saying “for someone that claims to be so stressed, you sure don’t look stressed.”. They’re right, because I hide it well. But take a look closely at the way my body is reacting to the stress. If you know the way your immune system reacts to stress, it basically treats your body like it’s being attacked by a virus. It starts trying to kill something that isn’t there – since stress is a feeling not an actual microbe. My skin is breaking out, it’s super dry and cracking on my face. I’ve become anaemic because of intense menstrual blood loss back in November – but my blood count never fully went back to normal. My asthma becomes worse and worse by the day, but I just pretend it’s because I’m unfit. I’m physically exhausted from not being able to sleep. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day I just pass out, my body’s probably exhausted.

But I do understand why they said it, most “normal” people react to stress by crying or venting it or however other ways they tell you to cope with stress. The problem with me is, my whole life has been surrounded by stress. My problems are a never ending cycle in my head which I just have to learn to live with because it’s a part of me and my multiple personalities. It’s okay, I don’t get angry at people for that. BPD is something that isn’t really talked about, so why should I be mad at people for just reacting like they would with any other “normal” person?

I’m starting to calm down more now. I’ve cried and had my mini meltdown (third one of the day lmao). For those of my friends who do read this, I do have meltdowns a lot more frequently than you think. I’m just good at hiding it. It varies from a 4 hour crying session or a 30 second cry by myself in the bathroom. It all depends.

Anyway, I’m going to get back to writing my essay. My module lead finally replied to me and gave me some advice for my essay. It calmed me down a little at least knowing he is one of the friendlier ones that you can approach for help.

Thanks for reading this guys, I hope you don’t act weird towards me after this. I’m fragile, yes. But I’m used to being hurt, so don’t wrap me round cotton wool. I’ll be okay. I just hope that I’ll really be able to stick to this promise of not hurting myself, cause these kinda days are what makes it so hard.

Have a good night y’all x

 

Post-publish edit:

Soooo…. I had a really depressive episode about over an hour ago. A funny thing about BPD. I don’t really remember what happened. All I know is that I posted this blog post, an IG post in order to spread the word and every other platform that I could spread my blog post. Strange, huh.

I just wanted to add another thing to this post edit, which is very relevant to this blog post. After every depressive episode, I experience either extreme mania or euphoria. You’ll find this very hard to believe but, I’m actually really freaking happy right now. So very happy. In fact, I just got off the phone with my mother telling her I had an episode and not to worry cause I had published a blog post (my mama is suscribed to my blog posts). Don’t exactly want her worrying when I’m feeling perfectly “okay” now.

It’s really hard to believe, isn’t it? Unfortunately I don’t know the reason as to why I’m feeling the complete opposite of earlier. Sometimes I become extremely angry afterwards, it’s like some emotions roulette my mind plays with me. I will never know why. All I know is that this is one of the many possible reasons as to why I’m exhausted. These intense emotions that I end up feeling after random episodes.

I don’t really remember a lot from my episodes. I’m not really sure why, I think it’s just a mechanism my brain does to protect itself. Everytime I’ve experienced something traumatic – I don’t remember it very well. Only in my dreams. PTSD life, amirite?

Anyhow, that’s my post-editorial note. I hope you guys found this eye-opening. Please do share this blog post in order to raise awareness about Borderline Personality – or even mental health in general.

Have a good night, loves x

Isn’t anime for kids?

I become so irritated whenever I hear someone say that to me or anyone else for that matter. Anime for kids? For kids? ANIME?!?!?

Anime: short for animation. The way the Japanese pronounce animation sounds different from how us Westerners pronounce it, hence leading to them possibly shortening it to anime. I can easily understand why people would think that it’s for children. Society has had it embedded in us all these associations in regards to as to what is “acceptable” to watch within your age group. Why would you want to restrict yourself?

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this is me judging you from afar… Anime – Persona 5

Furthermore what confuses me even more is the fact that as adults, it’s more acceptable to be a Disney fan but not an anime fan. People give me a weirder look if I openly admit that I am an anime fan compared to when I openly admit that I am a Disney fan. What is the difference? They’re both animations, one just happens to revolves around English culture and the other Japanese culture. Is it because of this belief that Japanese culture only revolves around “ecchi” or hentai? People have led themselves to believe that Japanese culture is extremely weird and that’s it. Well, I’m here to tell you exactly why Japan is not that weird and that they are so clever in their way of trying to influence pop culture and the rest of society.

One of the first few times I started showing interest in the history of how anime developed to be the way it is, is due to someone having suggested to watch a video from Super Eyepatch Wolf on Youtube called “What Shounen Jump Was Like 30 Years Ago“. This video had caught my interest because the genre of anime that first captured my interest in the Shounen genre – which basically translates as “for boys genre” and aimed at young boys who are the ages of 5-16 years old. No, it doesn’t mean it is only aimed for boys (because I clearly do not identify as of the male genre); it just means that this genre revolved around “boy-like” interests such as masculinity, ego and pride, violence and fighting etc. Stereotypical “only for boys” interests, amirite? Totally.

But this is what’s great about anime – they have always been inclusive with their audience. Sure they have categories for their shows but they’re mostly their for guidance, the beauty of anime is being able to express your love for so with things such as cosplay. If you ever go to a massive convention such as ComiCon or MCM, you’ll see that those who cosplay do not abide by the gender expectations spectrum: men and women will happily cross-dress and other fellow “nerds” will appreciate their concept art. Anime brings together people from many different ethnicities and allows them to express their favourite anime character in however they so wish. You’ll be able to witness people’s creativity as majority of the people who cosplay create their costumes from scratch. I can barely draw a circle perfectly let alone create a damn costume. Isn’t that admirable?!

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fellow anime lovers cosplaying as the Sailor Moon characters – FYI Sailor moon’s characters are all female!

Apart from that, anime has full of representation. Granted, ethnically it is Japan-centred and it does have a history of making fun of certain cultures (ie. Africans and anyone who isn’t Japanese); although now it is so much more diverse. Moreover they have a gay category, or categories which specifically show men-men or women-women love, and this isn’t a niche category neither. You would think that a conservative culture such as Japan, they would be a bit more shut-out when it comes to topics such as these. If anything, their fantasy of those who are LGBT being in love is actually really held up high and seen as quite precious which is quite honestly the cutest thing. Obviously this can’t be said for all of the older generations  since they had to hide within the closet and whatnot, but the newer generation are more progressive than most.

Compared to the older generations of anime who appropriated other cultures for their entertainment, making fun of them and showing them in a negative light whilst using their stereotypes – the newer generation of anime now uses other cultures to their advantage to create a much more interesting story line. For example, one of the mainstream anime within the last few years is Shokugeki no Souma which in its English translation is called Food Wars (even though Souma is the main character’s name, so I don’t know why it’s called that. Don’t ask me, I’m not a Japanese producer who created the anime – I’m just a big fan).

This anime shows quite a few different ethnicities to show their diverse characters who appear within the story line. Shokugeki is about a 15 year old boy called Yukihira Souma who has an extreme passion for cooking, his father wanted to test him with this passion and (this is genuinely the only description for what his father did) ditched him in the most prestigious cooking school in the world, Tootsuki – funny how the school is conveniently placed in Japan. Anyway within this school, he comes across many different people who share this same passion from all over the world: American, Norwegian, Indian and Italians etc. It came to me as a shock when I first watched this anime as it was probably the first time I have ever watched an anime that does not make fun of other cultures, and if anything it increases the appeal of their anime because of the way they used the diversity for their benefit.

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these are the main characters of Shokugeki no Souma, you can clearly see the diversity

There are also other new generation anime which have showed their good use of different ethnicities: I’m currently watching an anime called Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori who has an Italian guy as one of their main characters and it was refreshing to see that no stereotypes were used, none of the silly overly romantic type of Italian characters – no, he was just shown as the typical Italian who does overly use “mamma mia” and someone who enjoys their coffee, which is very true. I have yet to meet an Italian who does not like coffee in some form. I remember when I was younger, I was surrounded by people who drank either espresso or cappuccino. Tea was only drunk if they wanted a cold drink, just like Americans do. Anyway, I digress.

Another thing I love about anime is the fact that Japan uses anime as a means to make their society aware of the social changes that is happening around their country and trying to change people’s mentalities. It is well known globally that the Japanese have high expectation of themselves since birth and this affects their adulthood considerably so. The Japanese have a major love for cute things or otherwise known as kawaii culture, and this translated towards anime and manga. Anime and manga provided as an escape for people from their harsh working life reality, Moreover it is not just that, as previously mentioned anime and manga provides as a means to make society aware of its societal problems such as rape, racism, race and poverty – quite harsh topics for anyone. Nonetheless, these topics were still inputted within the stories whom have had children as its audiences.

Despite it being a heavy and quite hard topic to digest, because of the hush-hush like culture that exists within Japan – it was probably one of the most efficient ways for people to be aware that these problems exist without having to even talk about them, which is honestly genius! Imagine if the West adopted this, there would be a considerably decrease in such crimes. Before you all start crying and saying that it’s wrong to do so, look at the statistics: let’s compare Japan with the United States, Japan is ranked 18th in the world for its low crime rates whereas the States is ranked 30th and has four times more crime than Japan (it is so safe, people are said to  leave their phone and possessions unattended because it is highly unlikely that someone will try to rob you); Japan is ranked 52nd for rape rates which is considerably low whereas the States is ranked 9th, 27 times more than Japan – need I go on? I could go on about the different subcultures within Japan as a result of anime cultures such as: Harajuku girl; Hosuto; Wa, Gothic and Sweet Lolita; Yamamba; and Gyaru. But that should be saved for another blog post.

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Harajuku is a part of Tokyo which is known to host all of these subcultures, here you can see a Lolita and some Dekora some toned down Yamamba.

Although there is one downside that I wish anime could progress further with, which is they really need to stop giving Japanese accents to people who they consider are from other cultures. I understand that Japan is only now starting to become more progressive and accepting different cultures, however it is so cringey hearing English phrases and Italian phrases in a Japanese accent. As a linguist, it’s one of my pet peeves. Regardless of the fact that I love a certain anime, I honestly start seeing a character as annoying when they have a weird accent. I know that that is just how things are for now; for example, “halfus” are usually upheld within their society – as long as they are white. They even had a little controversy when at one point their latest Miss Japan was a half Japanese half African-American. That could possibly be why they are still struggling to employ people who aren’t just Japanese, they could possibly see them as unable to fully be able to portray a character because they aren’t “fully Japanese”. Which I don’t see as true considering the fact that I’m here writing this blog post and I seem to know more about the history of anime and manga, and its subcultures compared to some Japanese people. And just like Miss Miyamoto who considers herself 100% Japanese because of the fact that she was born and bred in Japan – it’s not exactly rocket science to understand that, but she was a victim of discrimination in her own country. No wonder why they don’t employ those who aren’t perceived as Japanese enough. But once again, I’m digressing. I’ll write about it in another blog post another time.

Japan is perceived as “weird” by the rest of the world, but in my eyes I think they are actually very clever in dealing with their societal problems. The fact that they used media in a positive light in order to positively aid their members of society, to somehow at least improve their quality of life in some form or another. The strange humour and TV programmes that they have are a result of the tense and serious lifestyle that workers have everyday. Having an outlet such as anime and manga allows them to have a means of expressing themselves and not feel that pressure. And surely that isn’t a bad thing? Call it childish, but I don’t think that there is anything wrong with a society that does not mind having adults indulging in anime and manga. There are much worse things out there for people to indulge with in order to escape from their day-to-day reality such as drugs (but even this has a low rate in Japan). You could even say anime and manga culture saved their lives.

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Psycho Pass – I thought this screencap was appropriate

I know anime culture has helped me a lot through my darkest days. During the lowest points in my life, I had no interest in anything and I even lost my love for anime. Then I rediscovered my old and all-time favourite anime, Hunter x Hunter. It was 2014 and I found that they had re-adapted the show and added more arcs (also known as narrative arc, they are an extended or continuing of the story line which in turn progresses the story even further). Hunter x Hunter is a story about a young 12 year old boy, Gon Freecs, who decides that he wants to become a hunter in order to find his father. I was feeling lost, doing a course I didn’t really like that much and just like Gon, I was unsure of my place in this world. My mental health decreasing even further than it already was, was not helpful neither. My darkest days were not as bad on the days when I would binge watch this show, Gon‘s unwavering nature and the fact that he will always fight for what is right had rubbed off on me. The more I watched the programme, the more his character influenced me to do something in order to help myself. His character was one of the factors that gave me the courage to finally seek the help that I was looking for and got treated for my mental health. It’s strange and even funny admitting it: an anime character affected your decision in life!? Hilarious, right?

If anything, I started to fully understand why anime culture is such a big thing in Japan. It does help people in more ways than one. It’s not just a hobby. People do see some characters as role models within their TV shows, and this isn’t any different. Anime brings people together and allows you to express this love via cosplay and other forms such as gaming and fashion. It provides an escape for those who have a very demanding and stressful life. It also provides happiness for those who are feeling rejected and lonely. The happiness that people feel when they find out someone else loves anime, is honestly one of the best feelings I have ever experienced. Being able to create a bond with others by watching or finding a new anime is like finding lost treasure that has been buried deep within the Pacific Ocean, and realising that you’re accepted by a community.

That is the beauty of anime.

OMG can you even speak in Filipino?

One of my parents’ biggest fears when I was a young child was that I would forget my own cultural background.

I had recently watched a video by AsianBoss (which you can watch here) in regards to the Filipinos who reside in the capital city of the Philippines being unable to converse properly in our mother tongue, Tagalog (or Filipino). I found this incredibly interesting and wanted to talk about it.

But first, let me begin by telling you a short excerpt from my childhood.

We migrated from Philippines to Italy back when I was only five years old. It is a known fact that those who are very young will find it much easier to learn another language, especially if they are exposed to such an environment which will only allow one to speak in that specific language. For my case, I had learnt Italian in the space of two months. I had only lived in Italy for about a month before I started grade school; the only people I had been around were people who spoke English and Filipinos. That very first day of school, I cried because of the realisation that had dawned on me: I did not understand a word anyone was saying to me.

Picture this: six year old Fides was sat down in the middle of the classroom by her 1st grade teacher; several children had already made friends and happily joking amongst themselves; the only words my mother taught me were the words for hello, thank you and please. My childhood best friend, Giulia, was the first person that spoke to me in that classroom. Thinking about it now, I genuinely feel sorry for Giulia. The first ever memory we made was of her attempt to befriend me (which worked, obviously else I would not have called her my childhood best friend). She had only asked me whether I was new and what was my name. Rather than answering her properly, like a normal human being, I instead proceeded to bawl my eyes out. Yes, you read it right. Six year old me just started drowning everyone with my tears. I was inconsolable. My teacher had to ring my mother and ask her to come in to console me. Good Lord, now that was embarrassing.

Fast forward to three years: I was perfectly fluent in Italian. I loved Italy; I breathed, walked and lived like an Italian. The downside of assimilating into Italian culture? I had forgotten my own language. My parents weren’t exactly unaware of this since they had tried to keep some sort of Tagalog vocabulary in my brain somewhere, but this had blatantly failed. This was expected since like I had mentioned earlier, I was practically living like an Italian and the fact that I had always appeared to be ethnically ambiguous did not help either. I just looked like a random mixed-race kid who they took for as part Italian. But that’s for another blog post for another day

Our family went back to the Philippines before we moved to the U.K. and this was when problems arose. My grandmother was not very happy knowing this since I physically could not converse with anyone, I understood about 50% of what people said to me and could only converse with people in broken Tagalog (I had forgotten English too). School proved to be just as difficult, much like my first day of school in Italy – minus the crying of course. Give me a break, I was nine years old already. Lucky for me, we are a family of linguists and I had quickly picked up two and a half languages: Tagalog, Visaya (Philippine dialect) and some Spanish from my very awkward grandmother. In a matter of months, I had learnt all of these languages. Though most importantly: I had also learnt the importance of  the acknowledgement and treasuring your heritage.

The video produced by AsianBoss shows a number of people being interviewed and asked quite simply to only answer the whole interview in Tagalog. Sounds simple enough, right? We couldn’t be any more wrong. People struggled even saying simple words in Tagalog such as “kasi” (which means because or “and so”) and stating reasons such as “English is so much easier to converse in” or that “barely anyone speaks Tagalog properly, and mostly use Taglish (mix of Tagalog and English)”. I call bullshit, to be honest.

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Follow them on Facebook and YouTube – @AsianBoss

It makes me sad to admit that I was genuinely not surprised that this occurrence was happening in the Philippines in some shape or form. Here are a number of reasons as to why I think so:

  1. Philippines is the most multi-cultural and diverse country in all of Southeast Asia, even pushing it to say – all of Asia. Our country was literally colonised by so many different cultures: such as the Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Arabs, Spanish, Portuguese. The Americans were the last foreigners who came to colonise the Philippines, therefore making their colonisation effects much more prominent, i.e. with the English language.
  2. From the years I attended school in the Philippines, I remember a few things quite clearly: excelling most Western schools in their levels for Science and Mathematics in grade school (even nursery and kindergarten), but primarily the fact that we could not converse in our mother tongue at our schools. It was genuinely frowned upon and would enforce some short of punishment if we spoke in any other language other than English, such as fines.
  3. People think that English is the “cooler” language. God knows why, I would hardly call English cool. It’s confusing and the Western countries whom speak English as their primary language have this insane expectation that everyone should speak English wherever they go.
  4. Lastly, the Philippine society has a stigma against those who cannot converse in English. Often calling them “uneducated”, which quite frankly I highly disagree with. In fact, I’d call myself “uneducated” because my Philippine grammar sucks; moreover, I sometimes confuse my pronouns and nouns. The Philippine language is so diverse and we have many dialects, making it so hard for anyone to even be perfect in Tagalog unless you have a major in Philippine studies (which I must say, I applaud you).

I don’t agree with these reasons at all. Filipinos call themselves prideful people when it comes to our Philippine culture – but then, look down on those who speak Tagalog rather than English? Something doesn’t quite add up here.

It’s really refreshing seeing signs that aren’t in English abroad

I recently visited the Philippines, after 10 long years of not having visited my homeland – I finally went back and experienced an ever changing and conflicted society. Growing up, I always knew that these reasons will become a prominent factor as to how Philippine society will evolve and changed – either for the best or worst. If this keeps up, at this rate no one in the capital city will speak Tagalog at all. People will have to ask themselves: “What makes Filipino culture, Filipino?”. Most will argue that it’s our cultural festivals, our differing attitudes and many different provinces that provide different experiences for those who come and visit the Philippines. However, I feel that people forget the one main thing that lays as a foundation for any culture: its language

Generally speaking, us Filipinos proudly say that our national hero of the Philippines is José Rizal. Most, if not all Filipinos know what Rizal died for. Rizal fought for the right for Philippines to retain our language. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t even be speaking Tagalog anymore – we’d be speaking Spanish, just like our brethren in colonisation – those in the South Americas. The Philippine society, no. Every society needs to remember that your native language is important. Had it not been for heroes such as José Rizal, we would not even have a language to be proud of.

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“While a people preserves its language; it preserves the marks of liberty” – José Rizal

Interestingly enough, I had this discussion with my cousins in the Philippines and we all derived towards the same conclusion – it’s all a bit superficial. It may be quite an unpopular opinion but when all matters are taken into account, a lot of the reasoning as to why a lot of Filipinos in the capital city tend to only speak English is because they want to be seen in a certain way by other people. All this bravado and fear of being seen as “uneducated”. What utter bullshit. There are people out there who struggle with their own identity because they feel that they are missing out on certain aspects of their culture. I don’t think people in the capital city quite understand how lucky they really are to be immersed in such rich culture and to be able to express themselves however they wish.

Sometimes I wish that I could show them the experiences that I have had when it came to culture and language. To be able to show them that there is nothing wrong in taking pride for liking and even preferring to speak in your own language. Likewise that there is nothing wrong if you are someone who is trying to learn a language because it is part of your heritage, and unfortunately you didn’t have the privilege to learn it beforehand. There will be people who will make you feel guilty for not even knowing it beforehand, or put you off from learning it. I have had people who are Filipino who have told me “don’t worry about learning Tagalog fluently, no one even speaks it like that anymore anyway”. Whilst that may be true, there is nothing wrong with wanting to deepen your language even further. Do you know how amazing the feeling is when you learn so much more about a culture because you are able to converse with the people in their native language? Ask anyone who travels. Quite a lot of them will tell you the same thing or something similar; when they are able to converse in the native language – the whole experience becomes much more intimate. Don’t you think that’s a much nicer experience than just expecting someone to speak in English all the time, wherever you go?

Take some pride in your heritage and culture, don’t be ashamed in talking in your native language. I understand that in the Philippines, at work primarily, it may be better to speak in English because of the environment and certain level of professionalism – they do work with a lot of foreigners in the capital city. However this does not mean that you can’t speak in Tagalog when you’re off work. Hell, even my cousins who live in the capital don’t speak English unless they’re at work. Even if your accent sucks, my accent sucks in whatever language I do speak in. Yes, this includes English. Do I care? Oh hell, no. Although, I do have a younger cousin whom I’m constantly trying to explain to him that as much as I am proud that he is already fluent in English – he can’t forget that he is still at the end of the day Filipino who resides in the Philippines. Take pride in that.

There are just some things in this world which restricts you such as these silly reasons which I have mentioned earlier, and in my eyes if you restrict yourself from all of these opportunities of growth and pride – you may as well be the same type of people such as those Westerners who expect everyone to speak English wherever the world you may go – even if it is the most isolated and never-been-colonised place in the world. You may as well be that person.

 

 

I hate Earth Day.

I guess it’s only right for y’all to ask, why?

It’s the people who celebrate it or tweet out #HappyEarthDay like they try their damnedest to recycle and lower their carbon footprint everyday. People who only tweet out the popular hashtags on Twitter because they like joining the bandwagon. People who only care about the likes on their status/tweets in regards to this topic. I hate it so much.

I work at a bar as a bartender. At work, I am genuinely so frustrated knowing that we produce so much waste and our higher ups don’t provide proper bins for the amount of wastage we produce. Why? I’m pretty sure anyone can just request another bin from the local council for whatever is needed – especially if one owns a business. Moreover, recycling is honestly not that hard to do – especially if you already have the tools to segregate your items correctly. In the UK we have regular recycling collections with which we are given 3 bins so we can organise metals, glass, cardboard, plastic, paper etc. accordingly. If people can do it at home – why can’t businesses?

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I would like to think that this is how business men look like while trying to figure out how to recycle better

WRAP has done a collective data research and the Caterer (leading multimedia brand for the UK hospitality industry) has commented on this data, along with those at Greene King, stating that they are ” publicly pledging to reach zero waste to landfill by 2020″ – which I find to be quite ambitious, though possible if they push this agenda hard enough. The reason that this agenda is being pushed is because only 61% of total waste is recycled. Where is the other 39% going to, you may ask? Landfills. Contributing to non-biodegradable waste which is poisoning our beautiful Earth. The average cost of each meal wasted in the pub industry is 41p – if there is a waste strategy put in place to eradicate food wastage totally, then this also reduces landfill tax. Another ‘why’ question can be put forth: why is this good news? It means that there is less non-biodegradable waste to manage, or in fact – no waste at all. Everything that would be in landfills will be food waste that can be turned into compost and recycled for farmers to use with their crops, thus contributing to the beautiful circle of life.

Further comments are made: “This is significant progress that we’re proud of, but we remain focused on further improvement to deliver on our 2020 pledge.” People at Greene King are now implementing education within the pub industry in regards to managing food and other waste within their businesses – which I cannot stress enough the importance of. It’s so upsetting to see the amount of plastic straws that get thrown into the waste bin when it should be put into the recycling bin. However, some plastics can’t even be recycled which is even more saddening.

A recent article was released by sources such as the Guardian and the Time magazine in regards to the possible ban of straws and cotton buds. Now now. Before you start screaming that you won’t be able to drink your drinks in the manner you’d like or can’t clean your ears – you have to look at the fact that these have a good chance of getting banned, because most straws are not recyclable and neither are cotton buds. Moreover, cotton buds are dangerous to use – you’re pushing the wax further into your ear canal which causes blockage or even rupture your ear drum. Don’t believe me? Read this article, here. So yes, Audrey. You can still clean your ear drums in other ways and drink your damn drink without having to use a straw.

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An estimated 8.5 million straws are found in the beach every year by the Marine Conservation Society in the UK alone.

Lifestyle changes can be made by slowly implementing these in your day-to-day life. For those who live in the UK, we are already experiencing first-hand the changes that Global Warming is causing to our poor mother Earth. Before you laugh it off and call bullshit, why do you think we have had snow in March when spring had started? Why do you think we are having longer summers? Think about it. It doesn’t exactly take a scientist to realise that there is obviously something wrong with the way we are treating the environment that we are living in.

How can you implement these changes? Simple. Say no when offered a straw. Invest in products that are reusable, for example: you drink a lot of coffee on the go? Invest in a travel mug. Struggling on figuring out how to clean your ear canal? Invest in an ear pick and enjoy that eargasm of cleaning your ear canals, you’re welcome (it feels great, trust me). You really do like using straws? Buy a reusable straw, they come in many varieties and are so cute!There are so many ways to change your lifestyle, you just have to make the conscious decision of doing it now rather than later. I’m not perfect, I still make mistakes every once in a while. But hey, we’re only human, right?

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teach children so that they will form a good habit for the benefit of their future.

One day, I hope to not say “I hate Earth Day” ever again. Let’s make this a reality, let’s all make changes. Let’s save mother Earth together

Soooo how does one blog?

Oh, hey there.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and checking out my blog. I really do appreciate it.

I’ve always wanted to blog, but I never really knew what about. I have so many experiences in life and varied interests that it always prevented me from taking that first step onto my blogging journey. Whenever I would watch videos on “How to Blog” or “Tips on Blogging 101“, they always advised that I should have a strong topic or recurring theme within my blog so that it’d make more sense in the reader’s mind. Well, I’m breaking that mould. I’m here to talk about all things that peak my curiosity, random anime reviews and my roller coaster of a life.

Is that not what people do with their blogs anyway? What would be different with mine, you ask? Now that is an interesting question in itself. What does make this blog or even myself, different even, from the other bloggers out there? I could give you a list of a million reasons; but that would just be begging and I would sound like the many essays that I have written for university, which quite frankly is something that I would rather not do. A short 500 word essay on how to get people to follow you? No thank you. I’m not here to write a persuasive argument, I’m here to discuss all things that are interesting, funny and weird and also, hopefully to create a platform in which we are able to discuss certain social movements/topics that are very important in today’s society.

I do hope that you will follow and go along this eccentric journey with me.

All the best,

Fides x

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

a far away rainbow
I took this picture during my visit at my father’s hometown, Leyte in the Philippines
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