I’m currently doing research for a project that I’m going to start digging into later this summer. And I’m aiming to finish this blog post by 3:30 pm, which is in 15 minutes, when I have to head out the door.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been reflecting deeply on race and gender. And not in the general sense, but specifically about being a woman of Asian descent, being Filipino, and a Filipino artist, in America. There are so many contradictions and I’ll be eloquent on another day, but now I’m down to 10 minutes. With the way I’ve been brought up, there’s a mixture of pride (lumpia is THE BEST type of eggroll, #sorrynotsorry; Pacquiao (as an athlete, not as a person!); Boracay is one of the most stunning beaches in the world) and self-loathing (stay out of the sun to avoid getting dark; use skin-bleaching soap; looking more Chinese=better). I’m proud to understand every word of Tagalog, although I do need to brush up on my speaking. I love so much about the country where my parents come from, but it can also be such a sad place. Last night I watched the movie Metro Manila and it pained me to see the slums of the Philippines that are all too real, and the way most of the world sees us.
Us? I was born in the United States so I’m American...wtf am I even talking about? But as I’ve gotten older I’ve been drawn to investigating how my upbringing as a daughter of Filipino Immigrants have affected my worldview. It’s become undeniable, unavoidable. Being born female and having the natural inclination to prove I can do anything boys do definitely complicated things, as Filipinos still had a “traditional” view of women when I was growing up: I had to beg to play volleyball (luckily I did; I was good and played varsity for 3 years of high school…in fact, I often thought I’d pursue volleyball instead of piano) and when I wanted to skateboard, my dad was resistant and asked if I was a lesbian. (And of course I didn’t back down without a fight. And of course I won. For the record, my dad is actually a really nice, open-minded guy…he’s grown a lot, so please don’t hate on him! Plus I keep him in line. And I’m a shitty skateboarder.)
I need to finish this up so long story long: I’m creating a piece that incorporates a Filipino dance called the Tinikling. I’ve found a lot of metaphors in the dance itself that I think I can really expand on. This week I've been reading through various texts and I thought I’d try writing this (very rushed) post as part of my process.
If you are also the child or descendant of immigrants and want to share anything related about your own experience, please feel free to comment!