Growing up as a 1.5-generation Filipino American (born in the Philippines but spent my formative teenage years here in the U.S.) has both its perks and curses. I have the ability to speak another language fluently, I grew up with both the youth culture in the Philippines and the U.S., and I can take part in older Filipino Americans’ nostalgia for the Philippines; on the other hand, I find it difficult to connect to most of my peers on my love for the Filipino culture I grew up with. Apart from the language, hardly any young Filipino Americans I know, unless they are also 1.5-generation, appreciates the Philippines like I do. Most of my peers associate the Philippines and Filipino culture with what their parents and grandparents brought when they first immigrated to the U.S., and are understandably unappealing. If not that, surely the corruption in Phillippine politics is no motivation to be associated with a struggling country. However, I’ve also seen the spark of pride my fellow Filipino Americans with every success of Filipinos in the news. Perhaps the most unifying source of pride in recent times for Filipino Americans is boxer Manny Pacquiao. With every win and title added to his arsenal is the roar of Filipino American voices yelling out his name and local artists dedicating their works to the Philippine hero. I remember seeing a myriad of Manny Pacquiao shirts on my college campus around an upcoming fight, from both Filipino Americans and non-Filipino Americans.
While Manny Pacquiao’s international recognition as one of boxing’s best is a great conversation starter to someone about Filipino culture, often times, one’s sense of pride stops there. If not Pacquiao, I’ve found that any kind of positive conversation related to Filipinos and the Philippines turns to food, the Jabbawockees, or the young singer Charice. I’m not belittling the success of any of the aforementioned talents; instead, I’m calling out to my fellow young Filipino Americans to delve deeper into the youth culture thriving in the Philippines. There’s nothing like the present to start looking into what our country has to offer. Whatever preconceptions you have of the Philippines–that the country is stuck in the olden days, that it’s a distant land that only older generations can fully appreciate–I’m here to tell you that we have a place in the Philippines. Throughout the next few weeks, I will be showcasing different aspects of the “new” Philippines, and my only hope is that you will find at least one thing of interest to research and, gradually, love.
If you’re a music lover, give Filipino music a try. Not all Filipino music is in the style of the cheesy love songs your inebriated relative sings on the karaoke machine at family parties. Although, admittedly, ballads still remain popular in the Philippines, other styles can also be found within its music industry. The victory of KZ Tandingan in the reality show X-Factor Philippines provides a glimpse of the country’s eager acceptance of other music styles, as well as the availability of talent in the Philippines. Local band Up Dharma Down, with its electronic neo-soul sound, has been hailed by BBC UK’s Marc Cole as “the Manila band most likely to cross over to the lucrative Anglophone market of North America.” Want a more modern ode to Filipinos to play at your next gathering? Try “Noypi” by Bamboo, a rock anthem that tells of the strong resilience inherent in all Filipinos. For a taste of Filipino rap, try DiCE & k9’s “Eargasmic” and “Rendezvous” or Gloc 9’s “Lapis at Papel” (“Pencil and Paper”). Other great artists include: Hale, Kyla, South Border, and Nyoy Volante.
Music is a great avenue to the rest of Filipino culture. Love of music is universal, so if language deters you from wanting to listen to any of the Filipino artists I’ve mentioned, fear not. Give the artists a try, despite the language barrier, and once you find your style of music, learning the lyrics of your favorite songs, and understanding what they mean, will only add to your appreciation for the music. Also, you’re bound to come across English songs within the discography of Filipino artists. With how accessible the internet is, getting into Filipino music is as easy as going on Youtube and looking up any of the artists I’ve mentioned. If, afterwards, you find yourself hungry for more suggestions on Filipino music, feel free to comment and ask me; I’m eager to spread the love for Filipino music. Happy listening!
_Cheryl Marcelo, Managing Editor
_Cheryl Marcelo, Managing Editor
Would love to hear from you. Click the Follow button when you visit our website, and please leave us a comment.