thisfilipinoamericanlife

Episode 158 – Baybayin atbp. with Kristian Kabuay

Baybayin, the pre-colonial written script of the Philippines, is a major foundation of our cultural heritage.  The alphasyllabary script consisting of 17 characters was understood and used by communities throughout much of the archipelago prior to colonization.  Spanish missionary Pedro Chirino, who lived and studied Philippine society in the early years of Spanish colonization, documented in 1604 that “there is hardly a man, and much less woman, who does not read or write in the letters.”  However, as the Spanish expanded its rule over the Philippines, Baybayin fell out of favor among the locals and replaced by the Roman alphabet.

However, Baybayin has experienced a cultural revival over the last few decades largely due to the work of artists, historians, and practitioners based in the diaspora.  In fact, the script is relative easy to learn (quick tutorial here).  You can see Baybayin on artwork, logos, tattoos, and other branding that serve as a cultural identifier for Filipinos. One of the major cultural workers who has rebranded by my end and brought it back to the forefront of Filipino and Filipino American culture is Kristian Kabuay.

In this TFAL episode, Joe and Kristian discuss his work in promoting Baybayin, how it is used and its functionality in today’s world, and the myths and misconceptions of the script. We also talk about other projects that he’s working on as well as his opinion on cultural appropriation. Hope you enjoy this episode and that it inspires you to do your part in reviving our cultural writing.
Example of increased use of Baybayin on signage in Manila.
Note: I mentioned the use of the danda on the episode refers to the single or double line “punctuation” that locals used in pre-colonial times separate words or phrases. However, Kristian misunderstood my question and it was never addressed.  A more deeper discussion of the danda and its function on writing/reading Baybayin can be found on this lecture here:

Episode 157 – A Few of TFAL’s Favorite Things – Small Businesses to Support this Holiday Season

In this episode, we shout out some of the many Filipino Small Businesses that we are personal fans of, ones that you should definitely support this Holiday season!  Here is the list of who we mentioned on the show, along with some other ones that are also near and dear to our hearts:

Jewelry

Clothing

Art

Food

Desserts

Books

Other

 If you’re in the LA metro area, we even have a map of small businesses throughout the southland that you should check out:  tiny.cc/tfalmap

And don’t forget, we also have our own storefront and Patreon page, both of which you can check out on our website at thisfilipinoamericanlife.com

Listen or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

Is there a small business you want to give a shout out to?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

Thank You, and Happy Holidays!

 

Episode 156 – Freethought, Faith, and Politics with Filipino Freethinkers

Gotta have faith!
Freedom

Like many Filipinos and Filipino Americans, the TFAL crew grew up around Christianity, specifically Catholicism. We speak of our upbringing in our podcast, mainly about how it’s shaped not just our adult selves, but the continued practices and traditions of many family, friends and listeners alike. Although we all look at religion differently today from when we were younger — some practicing religiously and others traditionally — we may be able to agree that we believe a higher power, whether we call them God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Allah, or Buddha.

What if that “higher being” was not a Christian or Muslim God, but rather, science and reason?  Does religion get in the way of good government policy?

When Rodrigo Duterte and Donald Trump were elected as president of the Philippines and the United States respectively, TFAL released a few episodes talking about how to deal with those results. Our collective disappointment did not equate to shock that these results happened during a time when political sides became more and more polarized. Although “separation of church and state” is included in both constitutions, one can argue that religion and religious beliefs have always played a crucial role in the determining the outcome of the elections, policy-making, and governance.

On this TFAL episode, we talk to Red Tani, founder of Filipino Freethinkers, a civil society organization that has been promoting reason, science, and secularism in the Philippines since 2009. They are considered the largest and most active organization for freethought in the Philippines.  Brace yourselves as we talk about atheism and agnosticism; challenging dogma and tradition; creating reasonable policy separate from the Church; thinking freely; and regardless of religion, being good humans to each other.

Episode 155 – Filipi-mnemonics: Remembering the Tagalog with Geoffrey Ocampo

Oh, the dad joke. We all know it. We all love it. And for Filipinos it gives us life. While Dad jokes can be a myriad of things, dad jokes to Filipinos are especially punny (get it?). For one Filipino American, dad jokes have become a way to learn Tagalog words.

In this mini-episode, the TFAL crew joins forces with Geoffrey Ocampo of the Remembering the Tagalog Podcast. As is the usual set up for his podcast, Geoffrey helps the TFAL crew create funny mnemonics of Tagalog words to help us all remember them better. (A mnemonic is a device that assists in remembering something).  While not all of them end up being crowd-pleasers, I promise you this is a very funny (and punny) episode that can’t be missed!

Listen or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

Do you have a funny mnemonic based on a Tagalog word?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

Episode 154 – Manifest Technique: Talking Filipino Americans and Hip Hop with Mark Villegas (Social Distance Series)

In this episode the TFAL crew is short one Ryan Carpio but is happily joined by Kat Carrido Bonds on this episode about Filipino Americans in Hip Hop. Mark Villegas shares his wealth of knowledge as an academic scholar in this field bridging his previous collaborative work with DJ Kuttin Kandi and Dr. Roderick N. Labrador, Empire of Funk: Hip Hop and Representation in Filipina/O America, to his latest book Manifest Technique: Hip Hop, Empire, and Visionary Filipino American Culture.

Listen to or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

When did you fall in love with hip hop? Let us know! Leave us a voicemail or text message 805-394-TFAL or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

===

Mark Redondo Villegas is an assistant professor in American Studies at Franklin & Marshall College. He received his Ph.D. in Culture and Theory at the University of California, Irvine and M.A. in Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Episode 153 – Kulintang Kultura: A Conversation with Theo Gonzalves and Mary Talusan Lacanlale

Kulintang (literally meaning “golden sound moving” in English), is the gong and drum ensemble indigenous to the Sulu and Mindanao islands in the southern Philippines  This classical music genre has resonated across the Philippines and throughout the Filipino diaspora. As a way to honor and archive the rich sounds of kulintang, the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings recently released Kulintang Kultura: Danongan Kalanduyan and Gong Music of the Philippine Diaspora, a two cd-set full of traditional and contemporary takes of this musical genre. The collection is a tribute to the late Guro Danongan “Danny” Kalanduyan, a champion of kulintang and U.S. National Heritage Fellow, a lifetime honor awarded to him by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1995.

Joining us on this TFAL episode are Kulintang Kultura co-producers Theodore S. Gonzalves and Mary Talusan Lacanlale. As scholars and artists, Theo and Mary discuss the past and future of kulintang, the sonic rhythms of the instrument which have the ability to capture the sounds of Filipino America, and what we can all do to keep this artform alive.

Listen to or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

When was the first time you first listened to kulintang?  Do you have a story you think we should tell?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or emailing us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

===

Theo Gonzalves currently serves as Interim Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and is a scholar of comparative cultural studies, focusing on the experiences of Asian American / Filipino American communities. He has taught in the United States (California, the District of Columbia, Hawai’i, and Maryland), Spain, and the Philippines.

Mary Talusan Lacanlale is an assistant professor of Asian-Pacific Studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills. She has a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles and specializes in Filipino and Filipino American music and culture.  Her book Instruments of Empire: Filipino Musicians, Black Soldiers, and Military Band Music during U.S. Colonization of the Philippines was published by University Press of Mississippi.

Episode 152 – A Life Well Designed: The Legacy of Pinky Santos and the Influence of Filipino Art on the Lived Environment

“If there was one thing to take away from this story, I would hope that it’s motivation for you to go create something.” -Antonio “Miko” Javiniar

This is a story about chairs.

Whether you knew it or not, the rattan and bamboo hourglass-style peacock chair that has been seen in photos and homes for over a century traces its origins to the Philippines.  In fact, the first photo taken in what’s often been referred to as the “photographer’s chair” was taken at Bilibid Prison in Manila.  Vox’s short doc on YouTube is a good primer on the chair’s history and influence.

Photos:  Huey Newton / Black Panther Party; “Jail Bird In A Peacock Chair” / El Paso Herald.  Re-published by Esquire Philippines.

And whether you knew it or not, if you’ve ever seen the chairs at Gracias Madre, Pink Taco, the Ace Hotel, or even in the movie Jurassic Park, you were looking at the art and designs of Pinky Santos, including her own take on the peacock chair.  She designed furniture for the renowned and influential Fong Brothers, and then eventually for her own design house in the Philippines, fulfilling a life-long dream.  And she drew, doodled, and painted.

Photos courtesy Antonio Javiniar.

And while all of that is notable on its own, we know Pinky not because of chairs, but because, for a time, she was part of the extended family at Search to Involve Pilipino Americans, where Producer Mike and guest host Gerlie Collado both worked, and where her kids, Antonio / “Miko” and Kat spent their time after school.  So to us and so many others, Pinky, Antonio, and Kat were family, nothing more, nothing less.

Photos by Michael Nailat

Last June, Pinky passed away, leaving behind Antonio and Kat, both of whom have grown into incredible creative people in their own right.  And rather than let their loss fade into memory, Antonio made sure to tell the story of his mother’s incredible body of work on his Instagram, a story so beautiful that we had to have Antonio on our show to share it with all of you as well.

We often celebrate the most visible and notable people in our community, and we’ve interviewed a lot of them on this podcast.  But it’s also important to tell the stories about the less well-known but just as remarkable people in our own lives as well.

Pinky Santos was so many things to so many people:  a humble industrial designer, an eager artist, a supportive mother and friend, a chaser of dreams.

This is a story about chasing those dreams.  This is a story about finding family and community wherever you go.  This is a story about the art we experience in our daily lives while rarely ever thinking about their origins and the artists that created them.

This is a story about Pinky.

Photo courtesy Antonio Javiniar

Listen to or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

Have you seen or sat in one of Pinky’s chairs?  Do you have a story you think we should tell?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or emailing us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

 

Episode 151 – Filipino American Heritage…er History Month

Happy Filipino American Heritage…er History Month!

It’s hard to believe, but in the five years this podcast has been around, we haven’t dedicated an episode to Filipino American History Month (FAHM).  So this episode, the TFAL crew discusses our experiences with October ever since the Filipino American National Historical Society declared the month as FAHM.  Listen as we discuss how we first learned about FAHM, what we did and currently do during the month of October, why it’s called Filipino American History, and not Heritage, Month, how we all can contribute to and expand the definition of “Filipino American History,” and what happens when months such as these get appropriated by corporations.

This is also the first time we’ve recorded in-person after close to two years of social distancing, which may have enhanced our conversation.  All we can say is it was definitely more fun in the TFAL Studio!

Listen or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

What do you do during Filipino American History Month?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

Photos from PIC Magazine (March 3, 1942) and James Wood Collection (UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library).

Episode 150 – The Wisdom of Guncles: A Conversation with Michael Dumlao (Social Distance Series)

Are you the black sheep in your family who chafes at traditions and seeks examples of how to redefine them? As Filipino Americans, we are constantly pulled in various directions and navigate multiple spaces in our families and in society, often getting shunned for just being our true selves.  The black sheep, however, are in key positions to move our families and communities in a more inclusive and equitable direction.

In this TFAL episode, we speak to LGBTQ+ activist, artist, brand manager, and author of The Wisdom of Guncles, Michael Dumlao.  He discusses his journey as a gay man from a very conservative Filipino family, his experience crossing (and recrossing) geographical, racial, and sexual borders, as well as his brave attempts at breaking barriers and redefining what it is to be human.  Michael’s story, as well as others he shares in his book, will inspire all of us as we aspire to be better people for ourselves and for others.

 

About the book:

The Wisdom of Guncles is about queer people and their relationship with family — however they choose to define it. Featuring a diverse pantheon of gay uncles (“guncles”) and other queer mentors, their stories offer unique perspectives about life, love, and personal empowerment.

The Wisdom of Guncles shares ten powerful journeys, each bearing knowledge honed through struggle and triumph, on living with audacious authenticity and compassion. While these narratives are unapologetically queer, they hold universal lessons about the human condition that, like all stories about family, are grounded in love.

Listen or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

Do you have a story to share about your experiences as a black sheep?  Leave a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com!

Episode 149 – Contested Relations: Fil Am Experiences with Filipinos in and from the Philippines (Social Distance Series)

What are Filipino Americans’ experiences and relationships with Filipino immigrants and Filipinos in the Philippines?  Filipino Americans – Filipinos who are born and or raised in the U.S. – often have vastly different experiences from Filipinos in the Philippines and those who recently immigrate to the U.S.  Sometimes those differences clash when discussing issues of Filipino identity, culture, and politics.  And these tensions have significantly heightened over the last few years because of social media.  Why is there such a divide?  Why have we developed such different perspectives, particularly on issues such as racism, classism, and imperialism?  Are Filipino Americans considered a part of the Filipino nation?  Where can we find commonality?

In this TFAL episode, we explore the tensions between Filipino Americans and Filipinos from the Philippines.  The crew first discuss our experiences with Filipinos who recently immigrate to the United States and our views of other communities.  Then we have a great conversation with Kristoffer Pasion, a Historian and Museum Researcher at the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.  Also known as the Indio Historian, Kristoffer provides us with great historical insight on these contested relations between our communities.  He points out how we can resolve many of our issues through much needed dialogue.  He also discusses the important work he is doing with the National Historical Commission.

Listen or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

What are your thoughts on this divide?  Do you agree or disagree with what was said in the episode?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or emailing us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com!