Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Venceremos - Spanish for "We Will Win"

No spiel for today, just a quote that has been on my mind for awhile now.
"People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave." - Assata Shakur

Open up your eyes,

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I apologize.

As I read over my very recent blog entries, I just don't feel that I'm doing these topics and issues any justice. I read them over and over knowing that I held back certain opinions in fear of offending someone. Not anyone in particular, but just anyone. I also fear that I have too much to say, so I just don't write anything at all. Other times, I attempt to articulate my ideas but I come up short. Maybe not to you, the reader, but to myself. So I decided that I'm not having that anymore. I apologize. I need to be honest.

And with that confession out of my system and into a bigger one, I continue. (Sappy emoticon goes here.)

Many media outlets are "celebrating" and "honoring" the one year anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina devastation to the Gulf Coast of the United States. The effects of this natural, racial, social and political storm linger still. In choosing an appropriate video to display the tragedy that was Hurricane Katrina, I couldn't. The images are too much to bear and I just come too close to tears and almost always meet frustration. Besides, I've been seeing many of these HK images on news stations for almost a week now. Each one reminding their audience of what happened one year ago today. And as I was watching a two-hour long HK celebratory news segment, I noted the immediate commercialization of this American tragedy. I couldn't believe that a network would of course film in front of an area that was seemingly untouched by Katrina. To add insult to injury, this national news program innocently put in shameless plugs for a local restaurant that was fortunate enough to restore its entire restaurant and staff in one year's time. That's all gravy for their business but what about the people native to New Orleans? This strategy caters to the interests of tourists but the focus needs to be on the locals. A year ago today, I remember seeing video footage of guides attempting to give tours of the dilapidated remains of residential area homes. Commercialization has taken on new forms within our media outlets; the news shouldn't be utilized as another venue for advertising. Nowadays, everytime I hear anything about Hurricane Katrina, I hear about how "America came together" and how the situation is "improving" as if it never took place. People need not overlook nor forget about what really went down one year ago:

One year ago today Hurricane Katrina made landfall. For many of us, it was
a moment of clarity: "this is what government looks like when it's run by
people who don't believe in it."

A year later, dead bodies are still lying in abandoned homes, garbage has
yet to be collected from New Orleans streets and countless residents have
no home, temporary or permanent.

But instead of addressing the continuing disaster, the administration is
on a public relations blitz to rewrite history. There are two things we
can do together to help make sure that America remembers Katrina.

1. Watch "When the Levees Broke" on HBO. Spike Lee has put together a
beautiful documentary that captures the full experience of Katrina in
a gripping and powerful way--you don't want to miss it. It's screening
on HBO tonight and all this month, and since a lot of folks who want
to see it don't have HBO, ColorofChange is encouraging folks to watch
together. If you can help someone who doesn't have HBO see it click
here. And if you don't have HBO, you may be able to find folks hosting
screenings here.
2. Write a letter to the editor. The administration's media tour is
designed to whitewash the government's terrible response to this
disaster. Let's not let them get away with it. The opinion pages are
the most popular pages in the newspaper--if they're flooded with our
letters, we can help shape public opinion. (There are some talking
points below.) Click here to get started.

As progressives, we don't believe in a sink or swim nation--we believe
we're all in this together. And Katrina's a terrible reminder of why that
basic idea is so important. Together, let's make sure it doesn't happen

Thanks for all you do,

--Nita, Justin, Eli, Ilyse and the Civic Action Team
Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

P.S. Here are some points to help with your letter, but you can find more

* Katrina shows that the Bush administration is unable to keep us safe.
The failed response and the fact that things got as bad as they did in
the days following Katrina showed all of us that 4 years after 9/11,
the government still can't keep us safe.
* Katrina reminds us that poverty in America is real. President Bush
vowed then to learn from Katrina and renew a commitment to fight
poverty in America. This is promise he has either broken or forgotten.
* Katrina underscores the need for change in America. During Katrina,
the people who needed the government most were the ones who were
forgotten. As progressives, we believe we're all in this together.
Katrina's aftermath was a terrible reminder of why that basic idea is
so important.

And here are the documentary links again:

* Set up a screening:
* Attend a screening:
* Learn more about the documentary
Water is a symbol of Hurricane Katrina: the storm, the flooding and the tears.

I can't help but compare this watershed (pun intended) to that of 9/11. It's amazing how much these tragedies of our time serve as revelations that, perhaps, unravel themselves too late. This can definitely be seen with the 1898 Spanish-American War that jumpstarted the U.S. colonization of the Philippines.
So how could a nation justify taking colonies of its own especially after fighting for its own independence as a colony against a colonial master? And what the hell does this have to do with 9/11 and the Philippines? In summing up an entire semester's worth of history and information, the U.S. faced a major decision at the close of the 19th century (republic or empire) regarding its social, economic, political and militaristic future. Through claiming the Philippines as an official colony-turned-commonwealth, we see the consequences of that decision with events such as 9/11.

It's been argued that at the time, the U.S. could have pursued a path of a republic or an empire. I'll let you guess which one was chosen with the following verse:

"Just because I'm Asian doesn't mean I'm politically passive or or attracted to racial lies that are massive and classic like // 'Freedom is spreading democracy' // but then don't tell us that democracy is a consumer commodity for sale without modesty // by political pimps so America could turn slutty tricks // for corporate dicks // who sell her out to dishonesty and tell us they're 'saving the economy' // Yeah it's even gotten to be there's no ridicule for big pimpin gone political // it's criminal // the World Trade's rebel tender money Bush calls honey // so he can hitch his bitch towards a disaster centerfold // as his fake president's pot of gold // 9/11 ends up commercially sold and now the situation is critical // people are taking ground zero car tours and Congress gives Bush the okay to start wars // drop bombs on Islam // Afghanistan .. // all by invoking the names Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein // but it's plain // Bush's Christian mission leaves blood stains on stone tablets // as his family has this habit of seeing themselves as American Royal // while they covet Middle Eastern oil // not above it to stake out the oil and claim war spoils from the oh so chic // make indiscreet excuses for the lies they deplete // but UH OH politics in play // better watch what I say // ain't supposed to start trouble // because Asians ain't part of the struggle // that's okay // keep being gullible // bury a century of Asian faces under your war revel // then expect Asians today to quietly stand by // as you force feed them your super size lies // just don't act surprised when the numbers are not on your side // when half the world uprise" - Yellow Rage

Even the big leagues are into this Empire of Liberty.

With the World Trade Center movie and now with Hurricane Katrina, the same tired strategies are used to supposedly uplift the American public. The WTC trailer publicized 9/11 as an event that "showed the strength of the American people" and "brought people together" but with all this I'm sayin that it shouldn't take a 'terrorist attack' or a 'natural disaster' to bring a people together. We don't need a movie or a tragedy or its aftermath to show our individual strengths and bring people together. In order to empower and learn, let's not exploit ourselves and each other to ultimately reach understanding.

When did we cease to be a people?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"I am an Asian American woman. It was important for me to be here." - Yellow Rage

During my daily myspace session, a bulletin featuring the following letter caught my eyes and my heart. But not my ears. Most likely, not your ears either:

To, Patricio Ginelsa/KidHeroes, and Xylophone

We, the undersigned, would like to register our deep
disappointment at the portrayal of Filipinas and other women in the new music videos for the Black Eyed Peas song, Bebot. We want to make it clear that we appreciate your efforts to bring Filipina/o Americans into the mainstream and applaudyour support of the Little Manila of Stockton. However, as Filipina/o and Filipina/o American artists, academics, and community activists, we are utterly dismayed by the portrayal of hypersexualized Filipina hoochie-mama dancers, specifically in the Generation 2 version, the type of representation of women so unfortunately prevalent in todays hip-hop and rap music videos. The depiction of the 1930s dime dancers was also cast in an unproblematized light, as these women seem to exist solely for the sexual pleasure of the manongs.

In general, we value's willingness to be so openly and richly Filipino, especially when there are other Filipina/o Americans in positions of visibility who do not do the same, and we appreciate the work that he has done with the folks at Xylophone Films; we like their previous video for The Apl Song, and we even like the fact that the Generation 1 version of Bebot attempts to provide a history lesson about some Filipino men in the 1930s. However, the Generation 2 version truly misses the mark on accurateFilipina/o representation, for the following reasons:....

After reading this letter, I can't help but agree with the points of these women. Not only do I agree, I really feel that this letter is something that I could not have ever written better by myself. The points made in this letter are the points of those who are pinayists, those pinays who speak, believe, emit and honor the stories of their sisters and mothers who have been silenced. I'm sick of watching females willingly portray themselves as sexual objects. I'm tired of this American standard of beauty and the heights and dumps women put themselves through in order to achieve them. More importantly, I'm tired of women passively taking a backseat to a man.

I don't put much weight behind the word "overanalyze." This is the main argument behind those supporting the Bebot videos. These scholars aren't just sitting around criticizing every potential event, music video or inanimate object. A majority of the letter's undersigned were female. What does that tell you? Simply dismissing their words/their arguments would be horrid. Yes, the song is called "Bebot" but there are no words in the Tagalog language used to demean females. There aren't even words for 'prostitute' or 'prostitution'. These are all labels of ideas that did not stem from Filipino culture yet are given a strong, social meaning in the Filipino American culture. "Bebot" the video is heavily portraying Filipino females as 'hot chicks', but "Bebot" the word is conveniently becoming synonomous with the words 'bitch' or 'hoe.' What is also disturbing is the fact that many pinays do not know that they are being hypersexualized or exploited. But just because members of the Filipin@ community finally step up and make a video that has anything to do with being Filipino, does not mean that its entire community must follow suit and automatically support its efforts. If we want to send a message/music video/word from the Filipin@ American community, we must send the right one. And it cannot be a message that perpetuates the silence of community women nor can it be a message of straight up ignorance.

I can't explain it. Silence is not quiet. It is not quietness in a room and it is not awkward silence. Silence is not telling someone to shut up, but almost shutting one's self up. And this is not only done because of fear, insecurity, sadness or pain, but it is an external and internal force that limits, perhaps ceases, the ability to speak. It's not that one doesn't speak up because they hold themselves back, and that needs to be understood. It's social. What is it about a particular setting that silences someone? I don't know. But it damn sure hurts. It's the feeling I get most times when I could have said something but didn't. It didn't feel right. And 1 out of every 100 times someone will stop to notice. It's not that one isn't opinionated or bold enough. It's immeasurable and substantial.

Ask yourself: why are you here?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Contemporary Issues

I recently attended the annual Pistahan Festival in San Francisco with a friend, and for lack of a better description, it was a grand old time. Neither the presence of Black Eyed Peas member nor the showing of the "Bebot" videos highlighted my trip to Frisco for this festival. Rather, it was a magazine I picked up from the SF-based Filipina Women's Network (FWN) booth. The magazine itself is called V Diaries and it is published and distributed by the FWN. The FWN is also responsible for putting on productions of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues to honor the work of those dedicated to ending violence against Filipina Women and girls. The FWN is also supporting this woman known as "Nicole" - the rape victim filing charges against 4 United States Marines participating in the Visiting Forces Agreement, a military agreement between the U.S. and Philippines (known to many as the Subic Bay rape case).

The FWN, along with the Gabriela Network and The Outstanding Women in the Nation's Service (TOWNS), are rallying together in "Justice for Nicole." On Nov. 1st, 2005, "Nicole" met the 4 marines at the Neptune Club, a karaoke bar located in the Subic Bay Freeport in Olangapo City, Philippines. Nicole and friends went there to "enjoy" themselves and one of the men grabbed her to dance with him when she was dancing with one of her other friends. Nicole drank that night and remembers being on the dance floor, but then remembers being dragged out of the club and taken into a van where the marine she was last dancing with, Daniel Smith, was on top of her, kissing her. She says she tried to push him off, and screamed but was unsuccessful. When she woke up, she was confused as to what happened and found herself on the ground, with her pants put on backwards. An eyewitness states that she saw the men unloading her "like a pig."

"...rape victims are being victimized all over again each time their doubts are cast against their character. 'She was in a bar. She was drunk. She was dancing. She was out late at night. These are some of the accusations against Nicole and why she should be accountable to what happened to her. These are not the point. The point is nobody has the right to rape you." (Taken from the Manila Bulletin)

Being recently self-introduced to the FWN, and the more I read up on the Subic Bay case, I get a little more angered at the fact that this has been going on too long but that much more empowered to do something. I'm also frustrated at the arguments against Nicole, talk about social construction, foreal. Drinking, dancing and being out late at night all at once are NOT invitations for males to pursue power over females. It's hard, but it feels to be a woman. Why is it that it's socially accepted for women to not do many things, but be certain things? A fellow Pinay once made me think of it like this: Would you rape your sister? What would you do if your sister had been raped?

Just to tie everything together, the "Justice for Nicole" fund was one of the FWN's beneficiaries in their New York staging of the Vagina Monologues this past June.

Another reason why I feel like I needed step into this blog space was so that perhaps other women could hear their own voice in mine. Also, I just wanted to shed more light on women's lives and issues. There's a difference between quiet and silent. And I know the latter all too well.

A drought in China leaves 10 million people thirsty and an oil spill in the Philippines has caused many villagers to leave, move or be exposed to dangerous chemicals.

Peace and love,


Friday, August 18, 2006

Tuning out to what's inside.

Here it is. My political side. Take it for what it is but these are words that have been waiting to erupt. Even more eager was this idea to FINALLY create a blog to rant and discuss my opinions on current events. I've been inspired by
The Bishop of Hip Hop himself and Mr. Matt Ledesma. I finally stopped and smelled the roses, because I finally thought that I was able to hang when I realized that I knew what the fuck either of them were talking about before they posted their blogs. I may just abandon my Xanga for this, who knows. I don't know if I wanna reveal my own identity just yet. But I can tell you one thing: I'm about to get hella people mad with my shit. And in this case, shit is something that I just gotta let out.

Here goes nothing something...

So... Inside Edition. They contact everyone and blow everything up outta proportion. This JonBenet Ramsey case is all over the news. So I'm sitting and tryna learn and update myself about this case that I haven't heard of since I was in elementary school, and I love the portrayal of the Thai Press and people put on by Inside Edition when they show footage of JonBenet's alleged killer. A video with the excerpts I saw is below. Unfortunately, Inside Edition's ignorant comments describing the situation in Asia includes the people as "noisy Malays" who "parade John Mark Karr around." What an accurate description of my Asian brethren, you jerks.

Again, I'm looking forward to this journey of gargantuan vernacular.

Let's save tomorrow,

Note: what I.E. calls "noisy Malays" "parading" John Mark Karr around.
It's the commentary that I heard, that they probably won't admit to giving.

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