Friday, March 28, 2008

Sayaw, Mamay, Sayaw

This Lips Like Asukal post is a response to the (apparently real?) FOBs versus Fil-Ams debate.

With all the other issues that are going on in the world, I am a little surprised that Filipino-Americans and Filipinos have a little spat going on. Can we please just squash this? Maybe I'm just blowing it out of proportion just because I came across this video on youtube, but just the fact that there might be tension between these groups is annoying. I'm sorry, but I can't describe it any other way because it's too stupid an issue to describe with words.

In a nutshell, immigrant Filipinos in the U.S. and Filipino-Americans (American born) have an issue with each other. From what I gather, it mostly has to do with Fil-Ams who ridicule these Fresh-Off-the-Boathers (FOBs) because they do not behave the way other Filipinos do (i.e. FOBs do not act Fil-Am, they have accents, they have different customs). Likewise, there's also the immigrant Filipinos who put down the Fil-Ams for acting white or not being Filipino enough.

Just describing this is making me gag. (Tastes like chips and southwester dip-- my gagging, not the issue, or is it?)

Just so you know, I am a Filipino-American, but I have a good idea of what Filipino immigrant is: my family. I think the whole issue comes down to people finding their identity in a diverse culture. Some people feel the need to put down other groups in order to build their identity. They do this to show that they are dissociating themselves from such groups. Fil-Ams feel the need to separate themselves from immigrant culture, while Filipinos feel the need to dissociate themselves from a dilution of their culture.

Gagging some more. (Tastes the same as before but now it has a citrus tang to it.)

Now this division is more pronounced in the west coast of the U.S., because of the greater population of Filipinos and Asians in general. Because there are a fewer number of Filipinos in the east, Filipino-Americans gravitate towards the immigrants to gain more knowledge and keep in touch with Filipino culture. Actually, I got this idea from the video. As a Fil-Am, had there been other Filipinos in my school when I was growing up, I am sure that I would have associated myself with them. But regardless of coast, this division is really stupid. Just stupid.

Both sides need to clear their heads. Yes, I wish I knew how to speak Tagalog. I understand like many Filipino-Americans, but unfortunately, when I try to even say the most simplest things like "Grandpa, you'll have even more difficulty sleeping if you drink coffee", I sound like a chicken being punched in the gut while trying to read a book of syllables with a couple of k's and ng's. But, I also understand that my parents felt that I would not be successful in school if I did not learn English first. They thought speaking to me in Tagalog would prevent me from learning English. In reality, children of non-English speaking families eventually acquire English through the school system. Many of my friends who were not Filipino but grew up in immigrant households learned to speak their family's language first and did just find in school (Hey, they were in the accelerated class with me so so much for that advantage).

If I don't speak tagalog, does that make me not Filipino? Well, how do I say this: bullshit. Translate for me my Filipino friends (tae ng kalabow?). If that were the case, then we would not even be considered Americans because we speak English. Are we English then (Mornin' Guvna!)? How about my uncle's family who only speaks Cebuano? You should get the point. If Filipinos in the Philippines cannot even decide to speak one language, you cannot expect Filipino-Americans to have their Filipino club in high school be conducted in the Pinoy mother tongue. Honestly, I wish I could speak tagalog, but that does not make me any less Filipino.

This works both ways. Just because an immigrant comes to America and does not speak the language, does not make them illiterate. So why do some people insist on making fun of other people who speak English but with accents. This is addressed in the video when a Filipino-American girl explains who hurtful it is when others think her father is dumb because he has a rich accent when he speaks English. First of all, Americans, most people in the world are multi-lingual. English is not the be-all-end-all. Just the simple fact that someone is speaking to you with an accent should show you how smart they are. They are able to converse, to whatever degree, with you in a language that is not their native. Think about it. Can you speak to them in their language. I don't think so. I shouldn't even have to explain anymore-- in fact, if you hear an accent when anyone speaks to you in English, bow down. Salute them for even learning to say 'screw you' when you laugh at them, and all you can do is give them the finger because you have no room left to learn three new words in your ignorant, small brain.

As a Filipino-American, I just happen to identify myself as being both American and Filipino. American because I grew up here in this lifestyle with American ideals and dreams. Filipino because I grew up with their values and customs. (My parents were not American and did not completely assimilate into American culture, you know. Even if they are Republicans now. Hehe. Ouch, I'm crying a little.)

I really hope that I do not come across as one of those arrogant Filipino-Americans to Filipino immigrants. Both groups can learn from each other. There's already so much discrimination between ethnic groups and cultures in America that Filipinos cannot survive if they cultivate hate amongst themselves.

Peace, I'm Outtie.

1 comment:

arnique said...

I had no idea that there were tensions between Fil-Ams and Filipino immigrants. But it sounds more like the ancient problem of class division. "Rich"-"poor" and all that. It's the same here in the Motherland. :))

If you speak English, you're a konyo snob. If you don't speak English, you're a lazy boor with no prospects. Catch-22 whatever language/dialect/accent you use.

We can deal. It's trivial BS anyway. What bothers me is the odd habit of pointing out achievements of people (usually in the entertainment and sports industries) with even the SLIGHTEST bit of Filipino ancestry.