Your Filipina Pen Pal!

But seriously, folks: it's all about dialogue...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Discipline and Punish

Regarding Leny's last post: The thing that bothers me about R's writing is that I feel that it IS written to attract the voyeur in everyone. Using those images, talking about Filipinas, and positioning himself as a white man in the "candy store" is his way of getting attention and feeling powerful. He knows that what he's writing will attract attention, and it probably doesn't matter whether it's positive or negative, so long as he gets the attention.

I'm also thinking now of the voyeurism involved in all the recent scandals about Abu Ghraib, the recent airing of British troops beating protesters, how in all these instances, the need to record and replay these displays of punishment and power (in many cases eroticized in the videos -- even in the British case, the hysterical vocalizations of the narrating soldier were disturbingly orgasmic) have exposed the abuses. In some ways, perhaps what we are seeing on the Expatriots in the Philippines site is a kind of micro version of what's getting played out on a larger scale; in both cases, someone must be "disciplined" so that they can be worthy of the gifts of modernization and democracy.

Certainly, this isn't just about the Philippines, although the Philippines, as a tropical archipelago feeds into a particular type of (Conradian or Melvillian) fantasy.

I think Leny is also right that "the lingguistic turn in the academe and professionalization of Ethnic Studies has severed or widened the gap between our communities and our scholarship."

It's hard to feel compassion for someone like this, but this kind of behavior also seems to suggest that, while money certainly helps people to survive, neither riches nor "democracy" are the answers for all our problems, and they are certainly not the heal-alls for a sick soul.


  • At 3/01/2006 11:21 AM, Blogger EILEEN said…

    As regards the last paragraph of this post, it's true that money isn't the ultimate solution, but given recent developments in the Philippines -- where yet again politicians fail the people -- I want to respond to make sure that this point doesn't dilute the fact that poverty is being institutionalized irresponsibly by those who are supposed to serve and protect their constituency (e.g. elected government officials)....thus leading to a situation like the pen pal and/or mail order bride situations.

    It may be too much to ask for certain people to be responsible for curing other's "sick souls." But it's not too much to ask for people who received their positions of power to hew to their promises. Like, an elected official is not supposed to rip off IMF money for their private coffers. An elected official is supposed to pass laws that prevent pedophilia rather than use such as a tourist attraction. An elected official is supposed to help promote domestic economic development efforts (by that, I include eliminating corrupt bureaucracies) to allow people to make an honest living.

    The primary problem is not Rik, indeed. The bigger problem is that his "Honey" inherits -- not makes, inherits -- an environment where someone like Rik can seem like a lifesaver.

    On one level, there will always be sick souls out there. And while all sick souls concern me in the sense that all are interconnected, on certain issues some sick souls concern me more than others -- the sick soul politicians suddenly in charge of a country's policy(ies) versus the sick soul hoarding his internet time to blog.

    When one is hungry and/or worried about starving, caring about the soul of the one taking advantage of my poverty can be a ... luxury.

    Money doesn't solve everything...but poverty causes a lot of problems.


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