Goodbye Edublogs

Let’s see other people. Actually, I’ll see other people and you can just cry as I walk away or something. That’s right, I’m finally moving to a new site. The lucky winner is Anthroblogs for their non-annoying spamless hosting solutions, plus there’s that whole anthropologist ghetto they’ve got going. It only took me an entire month to accomplish the move. Thanks go to John Norvell for letting me join his merry band.

Actually, I’m still not done with the move. I want to migrate all of my posts at the very least and I’m screwing around right now with Perl scripts to do just that. Let me tell you, it’s not simple at all, especially for someone who used to play Tetris back in programming class in high school (six years ago, I might add). I’ll probably have to move comments manually which will add another layer of frustration to this bastard of an undertaking. If anyone is better than me at Perl, I’d be glad to accept their help.

I’m also trying to finish a chapter of my thesis to include as a writing sample in grad school applications, so I might not have the new blog set up the way I want until the new year. Until then, don’t mind the exposed wires and wet paint as you follow me — into the future!

Here’s what you can expect to see over there:

Cavite (the movie)

I learned of this movie from The Wily Filipino. Got to say, I wasn’t impressed. I already rented Suicide Girls on his recommendation and found it a bit “wtf?”, although there is a Clockwork Orange-y rape scene in Suicide Girls that is eerily beautiful. One more strike, though, and I’ll just have to say that The Wily Filipino and I have divergent tastes in movies .

CORRECTION: It was actually Suicide Club.  Suicide Girls is the porn website where the models all have tattoos and piercings.  And no, I’m not a subscriber (sin is a financially taxing endeavour).

The plot centres around a 2nd generation Filipino American in the Philippines whose family is being held hostage and who is forced to do all kinds of illegal things by the bad guy who relays all his instructions by cellphone. Yes, just like that one cellphone hostage movie that was out recently which I never plan on seeing. Oh, and he has to do all his running around in the province of Cavite.

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Cavite (the movie)

Cavite.jpg

I learned of this movie from The Wily Filipino.  Got to say, I wasn’t impressed.  I already rented Suicide Girls on his recommendation and found it a bit “wtf?”, although there is a Clockwork Orange-y rape scene in Suicide Girls that is eerily beautiful.  One more strike, though, and I’ll just have to say that The Wily Filipino and I have divergent tastes in movies .

CORRECTION: It was actually Suicide Club. Suicide Girls is the porn website where the models all have tattoos and piercings. And no, I’m not a subscriber (sin is a financially taxing endeavour).

The plot of Cavite centres around a 2nd generation Filipino American in the Philippines whose family is being held hostage and who is forced to do all kinds of illegal things by the bad guy who relays all his instructions by cellphone.  Yes, just like that one cellphone hostage movie that was out recently which I never plan on seeing.  Oh, and he has to do all his running around in the province of Cavite.

I grew up partly in Cavite, but that has nothing to do with my dislike of the film.  Rather, it’s clear to me that I’m not the target audience.  The movie is obviously set up with 2nd generation Filipinos in mind, since the whole thing is about the anxieties of the 2nd generation in regards to their Filipino identity.

The first thing that didn’t fly with me was the language.  I speak Tagalog well enough, and to me, the menacing voice on the phone issuing Tagalog commands didn’t sound menacing at all.  In fact, the guy sounded like a complete tool.  It was hard to take his threats seriously since he actually has more of a comedian’s voice.  I kept expecting cellphone guy to start cracking toilet humour jokes.  Not only that, but it seems rather odd to me that Adam, the main character, should understand Tagalog, since his family is supposedly from Mindanao and I would expect him to be more fluent in Chavacano or other more regionally-appropriate languages.

In fact, language is one of the things that 2nd generation Filipinos have an ambivalent relationship with.  Obviously, Adam has passive fluency in Tagalog so that the story is able to take place, but he also talks almost entirely in English because he’s “not comfortable with the language [Tagalog]”, just like many 2nd generation Filipinos.  Quite a few don’t understand any Filipino languages at all, what with their parents wanting them to assimilate completely.  That, or they’re embarrassed by their parents’ languages and make an effort to speak entirely in English.

In this case, the menacing voice on the phone represents the Filipino-ness that 2nd generation Filipinos (the kind that would watch this kind of movie) want but don’t quite feel they’re worthy of.  The voice is the inadequacy that 2nd generation Filipinos feel towards being Filipino, that they’re not really authentically Filipino if they can’t speak Tagalog, have never been to the Philippines, can’t eat balut, and all sorts of other things.

In fact, the movie is all about gaining this elusive authentic Filipino character.  Cavite begins by forcing Adam to confront the poverty and material deprivation in the Philippines (what could be more authentic than the poor?) and he is then forced to participate in other “authentically” Filipino experiences such as watching a cock fight, drinking soda out of a plastic bag, and eating an unhatched duck egg.  In fact, the scene with the balut is significant because watching foreigners recoil at the thought of eating balut is one of the pastimes Filipinos engage in with outsiders.  Having eaten the balut, Adam has proven that he is really Filipino.  The taunts of the voice on the cellphone are merely the prickings of his guilt at not being Filipino enough.

So this movie is actually about discovering one’s identity, and not just any identity, but ethnic identity.  Therefore, it’s about discovering what one always already is, or so the proponents of ethnicity will claim.  Still, the journey of ethnic discovery parallels the journey of the tourist in many ways.  Both centre on finding the authentic among foreign Others, particularly savage Others (the poor, the non-white, and the non-Western).  Second generation travellers might argue that they’re different from tourists, that tourists only see the surface, the superficial, but we have penetrated this wall of inscrutability and have beheld the true faces of the Filipinos.  In fact, we have always been Filipino, so there was never a wall there in the first place.  But the desire for the authentic still marks both journeys.

The search for authenticity is of course not politically neutral.  Second generation Filipinos look to the Philippines as a source of identity because they cannot find it in their home countries.  That is, the search for inclusion within the Philippine imaginary is contingent on the exclusion that 2nd generation Filipinos experience in their lives outside the Philippines.  Identification is always a political act, and a diasporic imaginary, as James Clifford put it, can be seen as making the best of a bad situation.

Which is all well and good, but the political goals of 2nd generation Filipinos don’t speak to me at all.  Cavite didn’t resonate with me because it showed me nothing that I hadn’t already seen before.  Rabid dogs on the street?  Floating mountains of garbage in the rivers?  Squatter children bathing outdoors?  Ho hum, how very boring.  Adam is shocked, but I sit and wait for the movie to start.  By the time it ends, I realize those scenes were the point.  And there’s nothing more boring than watching a movie that was made for someone else.  I wish I’d just gotten Superman Returns.

In the hizzouse

Hello, my name is Jesse de Leon and I’m new to these parts.  My old blog is over there and it’s about my Master’s research on Filipino bloggers.  Well, it’s kind of morphed into something else, now it’s mostly me holding forth on whatever I feel like.  I got sick of Edublogs and their not fun hosting (ask me if you want to know the boring details) and decided to move here to Anthroblogs.  Thanks again to John Norvell for giving me a new forum for my online musings.

So, I’m a 1.5 generation Filipino immigrant who’s working on his Master’s thesis in social anthropology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  I’m planning on moving my old posts over to Anthroblogs, but that involves Perl and scripting and work, and (1) I suck at programming, (2) I’ve never used Perl before, and (3) I’m trying to finish a chapter of my thesis to include in applications to PhD schools, which all means that I won’t have time to properly set up my new blog anytime this year.  But if anyone is better at Perl than me, who only started learning it 2 days ago, I would dearly love to benefit from your expertise.  I’ve already found 2 scripts on the Internet that will mostly do what I want, which is migrating posts from my old blog to my new one.  Moving comments would also be nice, but moving the posts is essential.  But I’m having trouble figuring out what parameters to set and such, so I need help with that.

Anyway, I thought I’d just start blogging on the new site and worry about all that later.  I’m glad to join Anthroblogs and I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Faster than a speeding blogger

This is the first time I’ve ever posted more than twice in a single day. Actually, it’s technically Tuesday now, but my days only end when I go to sleep.

Via Rough Theory, I found out that Scott Eric Kaufman at Acephalous is conducting an experiment on blogging. It goes like this:

  1. Write a post linking to this one in which you explain the experiment. (All blogs count, be they TypePad, Blogger, MySpace, Facebook, &c.)
  2. Ask your readers to do the same. Beg them. Relate sob stories about poor graduate students in desperate circumstances. Imply I’m one of them. (Do whatever you have to. If that fails, try whatever it takes.)
  3. Ping Techorati.

The object of the experiment is to discover how fast a (cough, ahem) “meme” can spread on the (English language) blogosphere. I’m obviously willing to participate, but danged if I don’t see holes in the methodology. For instance, I suspect it will hardly penetrate Myspace and possibly not even Xanga. Probably not Friendster blogs, either. I also doubt that the meme will be spread by retail-oriented blogs or blogs run as online community newsletters. Which is to say that Scott Eric Kaufman will not be measuring the spread of his meme through the English-language blogosphere, but rather the spread of his meme through one particular region of that blogosphere.

In “Bridging the Gap: A Genre Analysis of Weblogs” (a more developed version is found here) there is presented a blog classification scheme created by S. Krishnamurthy, where blogs are classified according to their location on a particular matrix:

Krishnamurthy's blog classification matrix
Krishnamurthy 2002, cited in Herring et al. 2004:3

I would place Acephalous on the line between Quadrants I and II, meaning that I think it’s about both SEK’s personal life and about certain topics that he uses the blog to explore.

Building upon Rebecca Blood’s typology, Herring and her co-authors also present their own classification scheme:

  1. Journal blogs, which are about the personal doings of the individual bloggers (i.e., most blogs on LiveJournal),
  2. Filter blogs, which provide commentary on things external to the blogger, such as US politics (blogs in Quadrant III of Krishnamurthy’s schema can also be called filter blogs)
  3. K-logs, or knowledge blogs, which are used in projects to allow project members to disseminate up-to-date information to each other
  4. Mixed-purpose blogs, which are combinations of two or more blog genres
  5. And finally, Other types of blogs which do not fall under the previous categories (Herring et al. 2004:4-6).

Using this typology, I would classify Acephalous as being a mixed-purpose blog, in this case a filter blog with some journal blogging thrown in.

My objective in classifying Acephalous, though, is to point out that being mostly a filter blog and oriented towards other filter blogs (a quick scan through the blogroll reveals mostly filter blogs), SEK’s experiment will likely end up measuring the speed of his meme among filter blogs, leaving journal blogs mostly untouched. This means that the spread of a meme through the English-language blogosphere’s biggest genre will never be measured — note, for example, that 7 out of 10 of the biggest blog hosting services focus mostly on personal journals, and that’s not even counting social networking sites like Myspace (Perseus 2005).

So in conclusion, I’ve forgotten where I was going to take the rest of this post. I’d just save this draft and work on it more tomorrow but SEK did ask participants to post ASAP, so I’ll do it now. I is sleepy, I go beddy-bye.

References

Herring, Susan C; Scheidt, Lois Ann; Bonus, Sabrina; & Wright, Elijah L. (2004), “Bridging the gap: a genre analysis of weblogs,” hicss, p. 40101b, Proceedings of the 37th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Electronic document, retrieved March 8, 2006 from http://www.ics.uci.edu/~jpd/classes/ics234cw04/herring.pdf

Krishnamurthy, S. (2002). “The Multidimensionality of Blog Conversations: The Virtual Enactment of September 11.” In Maastricht, The Netherlands: Internet Research 3.0.

Perseus Development Corporation (2005). The blogging geyser. Electronic document, retrieved March 4, 2006 from http://www.perseusdevelopment.com/blogsurvey/geyser.html

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She talks Tagalog more better than me (and probably cusses better too)

[Original Youtube link defunct, please view clip here]

Seriously, the Russian teacher of Tagalog (a.k.a. Filipino) at Moscow State University speaks better Tagalog than me. Actually, I speak Taglish and my academic Tagalog is at a 4th grade level. I sometimes even have trouble reading the Tagalog comics my uncle brought with him when he was visiting from the Philippines. Anyway, this situation isn’t unusual for a lot of 1.5 generation immigrants.

But back to the video: Russkies speaking Tagalog! It’s always surprising to learn when people who don’t have friends or family in the Philippines are actually interested in learning Tagalog. Actually, I got this from the tagalog community in LiveJournal and one of the people there is actually a student in that class (but wasn’t in the video). In response to the question of why anyone not Filipino would want to learn Tagalog, ptiza_schastya says:

No, i don’t have any friends and relatives in The Philippines and i have never been there 🙂
The thing is I’m studying in the Institute of Asian and African Studies and there are many different languages to choose to learn (the most popular are japanese and chinese of course) But the groups are small and there are many languages except these ones, so some people don’t pick the languages, they are just given it. So, i was given tagalog. But i absolutely don’t regret it 🙂

Just for the hell of it, I’ll try translating the above into Tagalog to see if I can do it:

Hinde, wala akong mga kaibigan o kamag-anak sa Pilipinas at hindi ako ever nakapunta duon 🙂 (Fuck!)

Ano kasi, nag-ii-study (Goddamit!) ako sa Institute of Asian and African Studies at marami yung mga lenguahe na pwede ko matutunan (crapper!) (yung pinaka popular ay siyempre yung hapon at intsik). Pero maliit ang mga grupo at meron mas maraming lenguahe kaisa sa mga ito, kaya hindi pini-pick (fuck bucket!) ng mga ibang tao yung mga lenguahe [na tinututunan nila], in-a-assign (bugger!) sa kanila. Kaya binigay lang sa akin ang tagalog. Kaso hindi ko ni-re-regret 🙂 (mother of fuck!).

The comments in parentheses are the muttered curses I let out when I kept resorting to Taglish. I marked out the cussing so you’ll know just how bad my Tagalog is. Six substitutions in one paragraph? That’s weak. I just know the Tagalog words will come to me later when I’m chopping vegetables or something. The “crapper” is for the fact that I actually swapped the Tagalog for “learn” for “choose to learn” because I couldn’t remember what “choose” was in Tagalog, subtly changing the meaning of the translation. And “popular” is spelled the same way as in English but pronounced like in Spanish. By the way, did you notice that I curse in English? I only have a ten year old’s grasp of Tagalog imprecations, I sound childish when I try to swear in it. Perhaps I should work on that.

[youtube]i3pGxctGDlc[/youtube]Also, this video from Youtube combines anthropology with Filipinos, or so the title screen claims. It seems to show the hijinks of a group of Filipino students in the Philippines and apparently doesn’t have anything anthropological in it, or so the comment below it says (I haven’t watched the whole thing):

astig ng vid, kahit di me anthro.. astig pa rin! galing mo kuya kimchi gumawa ng vid! -ann

“Cool video, even though there’s no anthro . . . but still cool! You’re great at making videos Kuya (big brother) Kimchi! – Ann”

That one was easier to translate. I assume this Kuya Kimchi is Korean from the nickname. Perhaps these are anthropology students? Youtube has so many of these enigmatic videos on it, they’re kind of sickeningly fascinating to watch. It’s like reading the personal blog of someone you don’t know and where almost all of the comments are clearly from people the blogger knows in person.

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