I am the Gatekeeper

My application for a travel grant to New York was rejected. I was going to interview some New York bloggers, but apparently my trip was “poorly justified” in my application. I hadn’t discussed enough the importance of offline context, the everyday lived reality of identity, and of course my participants’ personal and local experiences of transnationalism. They (you know who they are) told me that I could reapply and explain these things more clearly. Plus I should include an abstract of my proposal and a letter from my supervisor corroborating my reasons for wanting face to face interviews. The good news is, they did approve $200 for research assistants and $100 for photocopying, even though the plane tickets were the point of the application and those other things were just in case I came in under budget and still had money to spare. Aaarrggh. This is probably going to set me back by two weeks. Good thing I can still do phone interviews and other research.

Bonus points if you remember what movie the title of my post is from. It’s very relevant to the topic.

What does Sarapen mean?

Penpen de sarapen
de kutsilyo de almasen.
Haw haw de carabao
batuten.

Sayang pula, walang pera.
Sayang puti, walang salapi.

That is a children’s rhyming chant from the Philippines. Specifically, it’s a Tagalog rhyming chant. There are different versions, but I suspect mine is slightly wrong. What can I say, it’s been years since I learned all this stuff. My brother says it’s “Sayang pula, tatlong pera” and so on, and my uncle adds the verse:

Sipit namimilipit
Gintong Pilak
Namumulaklak
Sa tabi ng DAGAT!

He also says that there are more verses that he can’t remember. But what does the rhyme mean? You got me, I only have a Grade 4 education in Tagalog. I think it’s a nonsense rhyme anyway. “Kutsilyo” is knife, “almasen” is warehouse (in Spanish), and “carabao” is water buffalo. The “sayang pula” verse makes no sense to me at all: Too bad it’s red, there’s no money, too bad it’s white, there’s no money? What is that supposed to mean? I originally remembered this as “oras pula” and “oras puti” or “red time” and “white time”, but no one else in my family remembers this version, so perhaps I just made it up.

Continue reading What does Sarapen mean?

So, who am I and what am I doing here?

Right, like I said before, my name is Jesse de Leon. I’m a Master’s student in Social Anthropology conducting my research on Filipino bloggers. I’m what’s known as a 1.5 generation immigrant: someone who immigrated as a child old enough to remember the country they were born in. In my case, I immigrated to Canada from the Philippines when I was ten years old. I consider myself as having grown up in both countries. I know that if I had grown up entirely in the Philippines, I would be a different person than what I am today.

It’s therefore understandable that I’m interested in issues of migration, transnationalism, and identity. I’m particularly interested in what identity is like for other Filipinos who have migrated. Do they consider themselves as being completely Filipino? Or do they see themselves as being Canadians now (or American, or Australian, or so on)? But it’s not just migrants that I’m interested in, but also their children. How Filipino do they feel? Where is home for them? How do they relate to being Filipino and to being Canadian (or American, etc.)?

Now, this is all well and good, but lots of other people have examined these issues. What am I doing that’s new? Well, I’m investigating Filipino migration and identity, but I’m investigating them through blogs. Specifically, I’m looking at how Filipino bloggers talk about these issues. I’m also looking at how Filipino bloggers don’t talk about these issues. There’s a lot more to what I’m doing, but this is the essence of my project.

And that, dear reader, is what I’m up to.

Hello world

And welcome to this blog. My name is Jesse de Leon and I’ve set up Sarapen to coordinate my research project on Filipino bloggers. It’s a place for me to order my thoughts about my research as well as a place where the people I study can find me online. I also hope to use Sarapen to disseminate information about my research to anyone interested. Expect more as the days go by.