Saturday, December 22, 2007
Charice Pempengco: Asian Face Don't Match?
At the risk of sounding essentialist, "it's in the genes!"
Of course, I'm being sarcastic, but how many times do we hear this statement? It's even in the comments section of the above clip. Anyways, I would really like to know: What's the deal with Filipino talent? We all probably heard of the stereotype of Asians not having rhythm, soul, voice, etc. because of some stoic, passive, serene cultural attribute. But for some reason that never really made sense to me. In fact, I remember at a New Years Party/poker game with mostly Filipino/as, when people started groovin to the music, a homey who was white said he didn't know how to dance because he "wasn't Asian." I'm very confused.
What is more confusing to people is seeing Asian faces that don't "match" the performance. I am convinced that Filipinos are out there to baffle Joe Averageman. Sadly, I think that the legacy and tradition of Filipino dance/song/music performance has been very underappreciated, especially in the U.S.; it is underappreciated on both sides: from those who just dismiss Filipinos as a curious aberration that don't really contribute to the development of creative culture (how many times have we gotten "oh you're just another Pinoy breakdancer/DJ?") AND from Filipinos themselves who might blow some pipes or bust dope moves but don't realize they are part of a greater history and community of Filipino performance tradition. For the former, I think the notion of Filipino "invisibility" and "misrecognition" as Elizabeth Pisares writes about has much to do with the downplay of Filipino creativity; we simply don't fit nicely into a racial/ethnic category for people to easily understand or consume. And for the latter, I think Filipinos should dig deeper in their creative roots and understand the historical and community context in which their talent emerges. "We're very talented people" shouldn't be a saying that we giggle about; we need to take it seriously and not downplay a very proud tradition.
And to touch on the "genes" theory, I have a hunch Miss Charice Pempengco is Chinese-Filipina (peep her accent when she talks to Ellen? And "engco" on Filipinos' last names are "Filipinized" Chinese names, right? I need your thoughts). If that's the case, then we can be sure that creativity and skills (and rhythm) are reproduced through culture (as I have been emphasizing throughout this blog) and not through blood (I mean, not to say that those who are Chinese don't have the above attributes, as I know that's definitely not true!). Even though Filipino culture has strong precolonial performance roots, as we know, the Philippines, as a U.S. colony, has been going through a thorough "Americanization" which includes a "African Americanization" for more than a century (hence the dope yet little known soul, jazz, and funk bands in the Philippines and States in the 70s, Filipino American R&B and hip hop today, and Filipino hip hop(ish) dance troupes worldwide). So the colonized speaks! And "speaks so well"...
Keep on keepin' on, good people. Keep it loud and keep it hot!
Click Here for fresh Pin@y talent: www.heavyrotationshow.com/