thisfilipinoamericanlife

Episode 88 – Colorism in the Filipino Community

Don’t play out in the sun.  You’ll get too dark!”

Most Filipinos have heard this phrase from parents or elders numerous times when they were children.  For Filipino Americans, this phrase might strike a chord as an example of Filipinos’ preference for lighter skin.  For some, it may conjure up memories of being bullied, traumatized, and socially excluded for having darker skin.  For others, the phrase may simply be a reminder of how to maintain a certain privilege for having lighter skin.  Regardless of one’s memory of that phrase, skin tone has unfortunately shaped all of our lives.

Colorism, the prejudice and discrimination based on skin tone, is a centuries-old practice of class stratification in many societies.  In the Philippines, light-skinned folks have a tremendous amount of social privilege compared to those who are dark-skinned.  Filipino celebrities, for example, go to great lengths to maintain the light-skin tone in contradistinction to their largely dark-skinned audience.  As such, colorism has fueled a multi-billion dollar world-wide industry based on skin-lightening products.  But where and how did it originate?

Colorism predates European colonialism and has been prevalent in many complex societies all over the world where field and domestic labor under the sun is not valued highly.  The practice of binukot among the Panay Bukidnon, for example, where young women were shielded from the sun in order to attract higher suitors, predates Spanish arrival in the Philippines. Nonetheless, three centuries of colonialism has solidified and exacerbated colorism in Philippine society.  Colorism is a sad reality and it affects many people, including Filipino Americans.

However, folks like Asia Jackson and her #MagandangMorenx movement and the backlash from colorist ad campaigns from skin lightening products have made inroads into trying to change the cultural perception that light-skinned is better.  Many Filipino and Filipino Americans have been slowly changing the discourse around skin tone with phrases like “Brown is Beautiful” and owning the term, kayumanggi.  It’s an uphill, yet necessary battle.

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Joanne Rondilla, SJSU Professor

In this episode, we talk about our experiences with colorism and where we’ve seen it manifest.  Then, we speak to Joanne Rondilla, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at San Jose State University, who has done extensive research on colorism in the Philippines and in the United States.  Listen as she discusses the history of colorism in Philippine society, the “secret” of the skin-lightening industry, the limitations of “colonial mentality” as the sole explanation for colorism, and suggestions on how to deal with colorism in your family.  It was a tremendous privilege to have Joanne on TFAL and we hope you enjoy the episode as much as we did.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

What are you experiences with colorism?  Do people tell you that you’re “too dark.” Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL (8325) or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

Finally, a special shout out to our TPALs who emailed us some of their comments and questions.  Here’s a picture of TPAL, Toni Geurts, and her beautiful mother:

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Episode 87 – Filipino Americans in the PBA: TFAL Talks to Former PBA Star Tony De La Cruz

It’s no secret that Filipinos are obsessed with basketball.  Same goes for Filipino Americans.  Ask many Filipino Americans and more likely than not, they LOVE basketball.  TFAL even did an episode on it.  Did you know that several hundred Filipino Americans are in the Philippines playing basketball in the college, minor leagues, and the PBA? When the NBA seems out of reach for most, many Filipino Americans strive to join the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

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What are the experiences of Filipino American ballers in the Philippines?  What is it like to move away from the U.S. to pursue their hoop dreams?  In this special TFAL episode from the Philippines, we speak with former PBA star Tony De La Cruz about his journey to the PBA.  He talks being among the first Filipino American players to join the PBA, the culture shock he experienced when moving to the Philippines, his current role as a basketball and life coach, and his views about Filipino-style of basketball and basketball in general.  He also discusses his battle with depression and the importance of mental health among Filipinos.  Tony truly believes that basketball is an apt metaphor for life.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

Tony is truly an inspiration and it was a honor to interview him.  He welcomed Joe and Gerlie to his lovely home and we broke bread with him.  Though the premise of the interview was basketball, our conversation was so much more.  We hope you enjoy this episode.

Episode 86 – Filipino Americans Doing Business in the Philippines: TFAL Talks to Roland Ros of Kumu and Carmel Laurino of Kalsada Coffee

As a Filipino American, have you ever considered moving to the Philippines?  Whether you were born in the diaspora or moved from the Philippines as a small child, does the Philippines ever “call to you?” If you’ve ever contemplated it, you should check out this episode about two Filipino Americans who moved to the motherland to set up socially-conscious businesses.

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In May, Joe and Resident Reality Checker Gerlie was able to carve out some time during their Philippine vacation to speak with a couple of Manila’s newest Fil Am residents. In this TFAL episode, we speak to Roland Ros of Kumu, the hottest social streaming app to hit the Philippines (download it now!). We also speak to Carmel Laurino of Kalsada Coffee, a company that supports Filipino coffee producers in their efforts to bring Philippine coffee to the world. Listen as these two talk about the reasons why they decided to move to the Philippines, how they work with local entrepreneurs to set up their respective businesses, and how they come to terms with their Fil Am privilege.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

Do you have any urge to move to the Philippines?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL (8325) or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

P.S. This is the photo of early Philippine coffee importers in Seattle that Carmel referenced in the interview.

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(Image courtesy of Museum of History and Industry)

Episode 85 – Filipino Ethnic Enclaves: Do They Exist? Do We Need Them?

Despite efforts to create Filipino ethnic enclaves – Historic Filipinotown in LA, SoMa Pilipinas in San Francisco, Filipino Village in National City, Little Manila in Toronto, etc. – a common narrative out there is that Filipinos do not have a discernible ethnic enclave. Even heavy Filipino-populated suburban cities such as Daly City, Carson, Vallejo, Jersey City, etc. are not majority Filipino and arguably do not have a markedly Filipino character, economic activity, or cultural identity like say a Chinatown, Japantown, Little India, or Koreatown.  Are they considered Filipino ethnic enclaves?

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In this TFAL episode, the crew discuss Filipino ethnic enclaves in the United States.  Do enclaves – in the common American immigration context – exist?  Are they necessary? What would Filipino Americans gain or lose if a Filipino ethnic enclave existed? Are current geographies – where Filipinos are largely scattered in a metropolitan area with some concentrations in certain urban neighborhoods and suburban cities – adequate for the Filipino American community? We also talk about Joe’s early – and quite embarrassing – obsession on Filipinotowns.

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Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

Here is the picture of the Joe’s drawing referenced in the episode.  Please remember that Joe was 15 when he drew this. =)

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We only scratch the surface on this subject and admittedly neglect certain topics.  For a more in-depth analysis on Filipino ethnic enclaves, feel free to download Joe’s dissertation about Filipino American racial space in Los Angeles.

Episode 84 – Filipino Canadian Businesses and Cultural Arts in Vancouver: TFAL Talks to WSDMCLUB Barber Shop, DISTRIKT MOVEMENT, and Kathara Pilipino Indigenous Arts Collective Society

 

Welcome back to Canada!  We round out our travel shows with our last two interviews from Vancouver.  In this episode we interview entrepreneurs Marvin Soriano of WSDM CLUB Barbershop and Jian Pablico of DISTRIKT MOVEMENT.  They discuss opening up their respective businesses, not only to make money, but to serve as community centers for a lot of folks in Vancouver.  We then talk to Birthmark Tattoos artist, Mayo Landicho, and JR Guerrero, co-founder of Kathara about preserving Filipino indigenous arts in Canada.  We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did!

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

We had a great time with our Pinucks in Canada!  We hope to visit again someday.  Where in Canada should we go next, eh?  Toronto?  Winnipeg?  Edmonton?  Who should we talk to?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail to (805) 394-TFAL (8325), or emailing us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

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Thank you listening to this episode!  Many of you have written us asking us to visit your city.  As you know, traveling is not cheap.  Only a part of our trip to Seattle and Vancouver was subsidized through your generous donations.  We certainly had to pay out of pocket to travel to those cities.  A $5/month or $10/month contribution makes a huge impact on our ability to bring Filipino American issues to the forefront.  If you enjoy our content and want to hear Filipino American stories from other parts of the diaspora, consider becoming a T-PAL through our TFAL Patreon account.  Salamats!!

Episode 83 – Filipino Canadian Politics and Community Organizing in Vancouver: TFAL Talks to Mable Elmore, MLA, RJ Aquino, KAMP, and Tulayan

 

Welcome to Canada, eh?  In addition to our trip to Seattle last month, the TFAL crew was able to take a trip to our neighbor to the north, Canada…Vancouver to be exact.  In our next couple episodes, we talk to some of Van-city’s awesomest Filipino community leaders.  This episode focuses on political and community organizing in the city and Canada as a whole.  Mable Elmore, Member of Legislative Assembly for British Columbia, and RJ Aquino discuss the benefits of being in a more tolerable country like Canada (unlike the hyper-capitalist United States).  We then talk to Maureen Mendoza of the Kababayan Academic Mentorship Program (KAMP) and Marjorie Eda of Tulayan, two extraordinary Filipino organizations working on empowering Filipino Canadian youth.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

Special shout out goes to RJ Aquino and Sammie Jo Rumbaua for helping us coordinate the interviews and for your warm hospitality!

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Episode 82 – Filipino Food Scene in Seattle: TFAL Talks to Hood Famous Café, Kamayan Farm, and Musang Seattle

What is the Filipino Food scene like in Seattle? In this TFAL episode, we’re back in Seattle to talk about Pacific Northwest Filipino food with some members of the Ilaw Collective, a coalition of Filipino food and beverage professionals in the region. First, we talk to Chera Amlag and Geo Quibuyen of Hood Famous Bake Shop and discuss the popularity of their Ube Cheesecake and bringing back Filipino flavor to the International District.

Then, we talk to Ariana de Leña of Kamayan Farm and discuss the importance of agricultural foodways and sustainable living for Filipino Americans.

Finally, we round out our Seattle interviews with Melissa Miranda of Musang Seattle and discuss her journey from pop-up restaurant to brick-and-mortar as a way to continue the Filipino legacy in the Beacon Hill neighborhood in the face of gentrification.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

Seattle was soooo much fun for us, so we we’ll definitely be back. Thanks again to all of our old and new friends in the Emerald City!

EMPTY BY DESIGN

EMPTY BY DESIGN is Andrea Walter’s feature debut and will have its world premiere as the Closing Night film for the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Walter’s film evokes the loneliness of returning to a home you no longer recognize or a home that does not recognize you.

 

EMPTY BY DESIGN

Fri, May 10, 7PM

Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center

1000 W Olympic Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90015

 

BUY TICKETS HERE:

https://laapff2019.eventive.org/schedule/empty-by-design-5ca076743b07ca002f7ca101

 

PARENTALS & #LIFE

PARENTALS highlights how parents and children take on the complexities of today’s world. This shorts program features MANILA IS FULL OF MEN NAMED BOY by Andrew Stephen Lee. In this film as Michael Jackson’s televised funeral plays throughout The Philippines despite terrorist attacks in the south, an estranged son purchases a child who can drink and smoke to impress his father. However, what determines who is more valuable of attention?

PARENTALS

Weds, May 8, 6:30PM

Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center

1000 W Olympic Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90015

 

BUY TICKETS HERE:

https://laapff2019.eventive.org/schedule/parentals-shorts-program-5ca503c34f00bf002f194838

 

#LIFE is a cinematic invitation to step into contemporary perspectives on family, culture, and career. This shorts program features HALO-HALO by Bernard Badion where a man on a deadline at work is incapacitated by the thought that he may have met the love of his life earlier that day, but has no idea how to find her.

 

#LIFE

Thurs, May 9, 8:45PM

Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center

1000 W Olympic Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90015

 

BUY TICKETS HERE:

https://laapff2019.eventive.org/schedule/life-shorts-program-5ca50a011da54700235ba0f2

 

OMENG SATANASIA

What film has a satanic dance number, singing angels, perilous escapes, bawdy humour, and a rough and tumble fight scene? The  visual mind trip of a film OMENG SATANASIA, starring the ‘King of Comedy’ Dolphy. OMENG SATANASIA combines the golden era Philippine Cinema of the ‘70s and ‘80s with the prolific entertainers comedic stylings. ABS-CBN has restored this 35mm FUJIFILM so that we can director Frank Gray Jr’s work with our 2019 lens. This screening is free, however tickets are required. Reserve your tickets today!

 

OMENG SATANASIA

Weds, May 8, 8:30PM

Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center

1000 W Olympic Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90015

 

BUY TICKETS HERE:

https://laapff2019.eventive.org/schedule/omeng-satanasia-5ca50d71c954d80029f3bc00