Tag Archives: Colonialism

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT WE ARE (Remix-Response 2010)

9 Sep

“If you want to know what we are WE ARE REVOLUTION!” – Carlos Bulosan

And we still are kasama…

If you want to know what we are,

We are People Power beyond yellow shirts and U.S. sponsored dictators

and popular presidents,

the energy of beautiful short victories and the persistence in the day-to-day.

If you want to know what we are,

know the crack of tinikiling sticks, the footed dialogue with the floor,

trembling the spirits to an intentional sound that exits stage left

and reaches a new language from a bullhorn,

We are

the dreamers, dancers, lovers, artists exhausting their individuality,

B-boys becoming men, the storm of ones and twos, melodies yearning to be reawakened.

If you want to know what we are,

We are the hurt demanding release,

we are chest heaving, identity crisis bearing, and tippy toed against a vertigo fall,

running through an educational system

teaching us little

at high cost.

We are still students, sardined in your classrooms,

We carry the hazy memory, the subtext of your American History books,

The subtext that yells and screams on the way to your standardized tests.

You know us, the walking-breathing-flesh-archives of an unwanted history that incriminates you

with more blood,

the spirit that haunts your water board torture.

We are the shaky science that is enraged and tired-eyed.

If you want to know what we are,

We are hands domesticated, but not still.

We are the workers praised as modern day heroes,

but in the same breath

are the murdered, the disappeared, the illegally arrested when we labor to serve the people.

Only heroes in your eyes when we pay for the debt-foolishness,

when our work sustains your cycle.

Remember, the sister, taken, and, tortured,

her spirit is not broken

is not silenced.

She remains that deathless counterpart

untamed

and determined.

We are the voice that never died,

that is not pacified by the distance of the pacific.

We are surviving, but surviving isn’t enough.

We are Revolution, abducted into a fantasy world and sometimes abducted.

our voice co-opted, words of Hope and Change contested on auction blocks, on the presidential line.

We are the invisible blood stain on your tax dollar

We, speak, a, missing, silence,

And if so we will connect these silences

arm in arm,

language over language,

So that this silence never seems still, So that this silence never seems quiet, but waiting,

Waiting and calculating the time.

We are

Revolution,

Surface you 21st century Gabriela Silangs

Surface you young Bonifacios

Unravel that which is contained in your risen fist,

Unravel that

which is contained

in your risen fist,

a testament

dissident

song incomplete,

a song

incomplete

whose next note

shall be played by the person next to you,

and the next, next, next, next…

Advertisements

Point(s) of departure in US/Filipino History

21 May

Point(s) of departure in U.S./Filipino History

 

(photo of Morro Bay California)

A couple of weeks ago I was discussing the idea of the history of Filipinos in the U.S. with two friends.  The two of them (pinoy and pinay) seem to disagree with me on the issue of the point of departure for Filipino historical study.  I ruffled some feathers by stating that the arrival of Spanish Galleon (that carried Luzones Indios) in Morro Bay, California in 1587 was not a good point of historical departure.  I argued that American Colonialism was a proper place of beginning a “Filipino American History”.  Needless to say, I didn’t come off very convincing to my colleagues.  I was accused of being negative, and for putting to much concentration on numbers, and to top it off, paraphrasing what one of them said:  “elevating Americans in Fil-Am history”, instead of focusing on Filipino efforts.  I was troubled by this uncritical acceptance of history.  As if Morro Bay landing was a “Filipino effort” (they were under Spanish servitude).

It seems various online sites and Fil-Am groups (as far as my experience with them goes) privilege this event.  I have no problem mentioning it as a historical event, but to foreground it as a significant event in Filipino American History lends itself to a poltics of recognition, a strategy under the logic of liberal multiculturalism.  Privileging this event (The rationale for having Filipino American History month in October is because of this event) becomes about integration and pluralism.  Implicit in the investment in the importance of this historical event is the lack of Filipino history/culture in existing U.S. curriculum.  What is missing is a mention of why there is a lack of Filipino history and culture in the first place.  The liberal multicultural logic is one that seeks to integrate and become apart of society without addressing issues of injustice.  The history framed in this way shows that belonging precedes justice. 

I am not disregarding this historical event, it should be studied.  But it needs a proper context and presentation.  If anything, the Morro Bay landing should be mobilized into understanding the World System of the late 1500s and the complexities of Spanish Colonialism.  The approach to this event is tame and watered down.  Filipino Americans become interpellated in elevating the Morro Bay landing to the status of a migration narrative.  Interpellation is the concept put forth by the marxist Louis Althusser.  The process of interpellation is the dominant ideology producing its subject(s) by ‘hailing’ them.  In the response to being hailed or called, subjects recognize themselves in the dominant ideology.  In short, in the context of the priviliging the Morro Bay landing, Filipinos identify themselves in the dominant ideology of the U.S. Hegemonic state.

Not only does the framing of Filipino/U.S. relations lend itself to the logic of liberal multiculturalism, but it obscures the centrality of American Colonialism in Filipino/U.S. relations.  Filipinos were not migrants but were colonized subjects.  As they say, “We are here, because you were there”. 

(President Mckinnley bathing a Filipino native, “Benevolent Assimilation”)

I find it incredible that to this day even in “progressive” circles under emphasize the genocide of the Filipino American War (1899-1902, dates vary), of course they are not to blame when the much of the history is relegated to a footnote in U.S. History textbooks.  The privliging of the Morro Bay landing pales in comparison to slaugther of 1.4 million Filipinos (numbers vary, numbers not inclusive of Moro death toll). 

(dead Filipinos in a trench)

The necessity of examining American Colonialism at the turn of the century will help us to better understand the Neocolonial present.  Instead of murdering Filipinos themselves, the U.S. government relies on the corrupt Gloria Arroyo regime (responsible for 1000 political killings/abductions since 2001), its compradors and landlords, to do its dirty work in keeping the Philippine semi-feudal and within the sphere of the U.S. hegemonic bloc, for reasons of neoliberal globalization and miltary dominance in Southeast Asia and beyond. 

Geniune critique is needed in Filipino history, I say enough of the self-serving identity politics in abstract “pride”.  The 1.4 million dead haunt us, the dying and disappeared today will haunt us in the future if Filipinos shy away from a historicizing and problematizing the political and economic policies by the U.S. and Philippine governments.  Filipinos have endured just under 500 years of colonialism.  The saying goes “300 years in the convent [Spanish Colonialism], 50 in Hollywood [American Colonialism]”.  That needs to be extended to the 50 years plus of Neocolonial control.  Another reality is possible, enough of the half-stepping.