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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Jean said I should blog this....

Hi, Jean and all -
Actually I started to blog yesterday, Jean, about similar concerns you express here. I felt like a voyeur while skimming through Rik's was very unsettling. Barb's post from Ninotchka and Eileen's post connect the global(political) and the local/personal...but it also made me want to extend this even farther back: Asia, in the Western imagination, has always been feminized.

In spite of global decolonization movements, scholars of Orientalism, Asian American studies, critical cultural studies -- these haven't made a dent on the "reality on the ground" maybe because the lingguistic turn in the academe and professionalization of Ethnic Studies has severed or widened the gap between our communities and our scholarship. Perhaps this exercise is a reminder to us on how to find ways of reconnecting with people who are already addressing these issues in the frontlines. (at least this is what I'm telling myself).

There will be a conference on mail-order brides iN Canada in May. I will ask my sister,Lily, to send us info if anyone is interested. Will also ask her to read the blog and ask if she can also share something from her own research on mail order brides in Arizona.

As for Rik, there are thousands of them in the Philippines -- in Puerto Galera, Boracay, outside of Clark and Subic -- who see the Philippines as nothing but a sex playground. Like Bino, I also feel a bit of compassion for the likes of them -- their woundedness, their unconsciousness-- which unfortunately wreaks havoc and violence on both sides - psychic, emotional, physical. Colonial wars have never ended.



  • At 2/19/2006 5:05 AM, Blogger Miss F said…

    Leny, your quote on Asia reminds me of Edward Said’s arguments in his nice book “Orientalism”.

    Although he was writing about Muslims and Arabs mainly, I as an Asian can relate with him when he says that “history is made by men and women, just as it can also be unmade and re-written, so that "our" East, "our" Orient becomes "ours" to possess and direct. And I have a very high regard for the powers and gifts of the peoples of that region to struggle on for their vision of what they are and want to be.” (from

    How can we “possess and direct” our history? I recently re-read a semi-postmodernist (at least that’s how I see him) book from Vicente Rafael “White Love and other Events in Filipino History” and his answer seems pretty bleak. (What I like about women thinkers in general is that they refuse to despair and like to reconstruct after deconstructing.)

    A lot of Filipinas understand that you can only have a political voice if you are rich, so they find ways to have that economic power – by marrying a “Western male” (and all that he represents) who could turn out to be a horrid Rik-type, for one thing. So the sordid cycle continues.

    I honestly can’t empathize with Filipina MOB’s that much cuz I don’t really know what they’re going through. When my mom listens to Am radio sometimes I get to hear some woman asking for legal advice about her foreigner husband who suddenly disappeared, or some mother whose daughter married someone in the US and simply stopped communicating, saying that the embassy doesn’t seem to be of any help. I fantasize about relocating abroad if I find a suitable BF/husband, and it seems incredible that I will have the same plight.

    So I think talking about this through blogging or whatever, and getting these women’s stories, is a step in the right direction.

    this is also the message of Simone de Beauvoir’s imposing book “The Second Sex” and just about all female political theorists I’ve encountered.)

  • At 2/19/2006 10:00 AM, Blogger Jean said…

    Miss f:

    Thanks for your comments here; it's good to continue to ask these questions -- how to possess and direct our history? Personally I'm tired of bleakness; it doesn't help anyone to extend such a view.

    As for your ability to empathize or not, I don't think that empathy is something that one just has, or doesn't have. It's a function of the imagination, which one has to exercise. Sometimes we have to think about things that are unpleasant in order to understand...

    Thanks for your thoughts on all this -- so far I think you are the only pinay located in the Philippines who has responded!


  • At 2/19/2006 10:54 AM, Blogger Leny said…

    Miss F -
    I think Gabriela can tell all kinds of stories about poor women who are possessing and directing history as part of the various social movements in the Philippines. Your post also reminds me of the nation-wide anti-graft and corruption movement led by Fr. Alejo. He says that the public discourse about Filipinos who aren't part of the corruption (in the government and business) need to be made visible. But movements like these, indeed, are struggling to move against the grain, yet they do.

    I have felt the same way about the writings of postmodern scholars -- in their attempt historicize (valuable in itself), they also end up being nonprescriptive (everything is contingent!). That's why I also like Said because he takes very strong (postcolonial?)positions. His perspectives on issues are broad and inclusive but when it comes to taking a position, he is very clear on which side he chooses to empathize with. I find that lacking in pomo scholarship.

    I was just reading the Dalai Lama's take on developing empathy so it's interesting that you brought it up. His concept is no different from other Filipino scholars' description of our Loob and Kapwa.:-))


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