Paulo Avelino Raps (And Identifying Identities)

This is an enjoyable performance of both Paulo Avelino and another Starstruck contestant singing the Black Eyed Peas’ rap song, Bebot. Pareho silang magaling although mukhang mas bigay na bigay yung isang kumanta kaysa kay Paulo 🙂

The Bebot song, by the way, has reportedly become a hit among Filipino Americans. A story in the La Times explains why:

The Filipino American community is famous for putting its cultural identity behind assimilation. Though they’re the second-largest Asian group in California behind the Chinese, they have never established set “Filipino” neighborhoods — the equivalent of Monterey Park for Chinese Americans or Little Saigon for Vietnamese Americans. There is a historic Filipinotown west of downtown L.A., but the U.S. census found that less than 15% of its residents are actually Filipino.

Many Filipinos arrive in the United States speaking English, immediately making assimilation easier.

“Part of the problem is we blend in so well,” said Winston Emano, an executive at an L.A.-based public relations firm and a community activist. “We have a rapid rate of assimilation. Put a Filipino in Antarctica, and in one month they’ll be one with the penguins.”

For Emano and others, “Bebot” is a vibrant reminder of their cultural past, an easy-to-digest history of their shared experience.

UPDATE: Proof that Igorots are not celebrity-obsessed is the fact that, so far, the discussion about this post in the comments section focused more on “Filipino identity” (which was touched upon by the LA Times article) rather than on Paulo. I guess its our collective way of saying: “Yeah yeah yeah, Paulo you are a celebrity, you are in Starstruck, we will vote for you because you have the potential of helping change Igorot stereotypes but we have more interesting things to talk about.”

So join us in the comments if you are interested about cultural identity, national identity, regional identity, history, and a concept called post-modernism. Of course, for those so inclined, comments about Paulo’s rapping abilities, the probability that he will win, his love team, his hair and make-up, etc. etc. are still welcome. This update is added just so the comments won’t look out of place 🙂

RELATED POSTS: Akala Ko Di Tayo Mahilig Sa Artista; Will Igorots Be Starstruck with Paulo Avelino?. VIDEO CREDIT: Starmometer. INFO SOURCE: LA Times.

11 thoughts on “Paulo Avelino Raps (And Identifying Identities)”

  1. this capacity to easily assimilate must have something to do with our having what is described as a damaged culture. this has always been blamed for our disunity and the filipinos’ trend towards regionalism. bicolanos will relate more easily with fellow bicolanos, ilocanos with ilocanos, and so on. there seems to be no distinct filipino identity which would make for a deeper bond among all filipinos, from batanes to sulu- one which would naturally make them flock together. i don’t think a cebuano family having an ilocano family for a neighbor in the us will treat the latter much differently from the other people in the neighborhood, whites or asians alike. fil-ams maybe the largest asian group in california but they could very well be an aggrupation of people from the different philippine regions . if the group hailed from a single region, say, bicol, then maybe the chances for the establishment of a ‘filipino neighborhood’ could be higher. i dunno.

  2. One of the good things though that’s happening among Fil-Ams, according to a friend who is one, is that the younger generations do not have a regionalistic mentality. Sabi niya, they think of themselves more as Fil-Ams rather than say Cebuano, or Bicolano, or Igorot. Kaya daw wala na yong mentality na “I don’t like that person because s/he is from ….” which might have been common among the older generations. Whether this brings about a stronger Filipino identity or just hastens the Filipinos’ assimilation to the dominant culture is something I don’t know.

  3. A damaged culture has something to do with a colonial culture eradicating an original culture.

    So had our culture/s not been damaged, the Philippines would be more diverse nowadays.

    And I see nothing wrong with strong regional ties. You see, the Philippine national consciousness had always been held suspect because it was initiated from the outside and now maneuvered by the corrupt. A national identity among Filipinos will always fail if their local identities are not affirmed first.

    So for me there is no real Filipino identity yet, only Filipino identities. That is why it is easier to find local groupings than a Filipino community abroad.

    I would be more worried when oversees Filipinos lose their regional identities for the sake of affirming a bigger identity. You see, there is nothing wrong with having a plurality of identities. What is wrong is when your identity is defined by whatever mass media defines it to be — what you call the American culture, or even the Filipino culture.

    And even mass culture is so ’80’s. Postmodern na tayo so diversity is more noticeable /acceptable /noteworthy /hip /vogue.

    Why are the arguments I find in Igorot blogs so dated?

  4. Hi Sandati,
    The “datedness” of the arguments, if they are indeed dated because who is to say what is dated or not, is part of the diversity of ideas in the internets which we celebrate in this post-modern world.

    (I’m just using post-modern here without understanding what it really means. He he. I first heard it from a professor in the mid-1990s and I immediately tuned out. I dunno, it is a big word that my mind finds hard to grasp. But I think I tuned out because that professor usually threw big words around and it wasn’t for the purpose of explaining them.)

    Having said that, I also agree with your points. Of course there is nothing wrong with having a strong sense of regional identity and in retaining this identity in a nation with a plurality of identities. Parang sa Canada. I think what they are trying to build there is a nation modeled after a “mosaic” rather than a “melting pot”. So the different peoples are encouraged to retain their identities and at the same time be a part of a greater community. Is it a better model than America’s melting pot? I think so, I also go for diversity rather than having a uniform mass culture.

    Still,retaining our regional identities should not prevent us from attaining a common national identity. I do not think it is a choice between regional identity OR national identity whereby the different regional identities are erased before a national identity is achieved. As earlier stated, the Canada model proves that having distinct identities does not prevent the emergence of a national identity [as a peace loving, liberal, tolerant people].

    Now, how does one balance these identities [say Igorot/Filipino] in a foreign setting like the U.S? Should one sacrifice one’s Igorotness for the sake of unity with fellow Filipinos? Or should one ignore one’s Filipinoness just so we can maintain Fortress Igorotlandia-US Branch. Or is there somehow a middle way between these two where we can unite with other Filipinos and yet retain our identity. There must be. Or else I will jump from a plane (a-la Miriam Santiago 🙂

    For me, the more important challenge isn’t so much our lack of national identity but our lack of national unity. National identity kasi is a very tricky and hazy concept which is much harder to imagine than national unity. And if we talk about unity, we do not go down that slippery path where we have to feel defensive about retaining our distinct identity as a people.

    But then again, does our lack of national identity prevent us from getting united? Or does our lack of unity prevent us from building our identity?

    And in relation to the LA Times story, is the Fil-Ams’ ability to easily assimilate erasing their identity? Is it preventing them from being united?

    Is our “damaged culture”, however one defines the term, related to our capacity to assimilate which may be related to our lack of identity which may be related to our lack of unity?

    I really don’t know. Unless one made an empirical study which categorically states that ABC are the reasons why Filipinos are XYZ, then we can only speculate. And speculation of course gives everyone the license to bring up ideas which are pre-“post modern” in whatever blog, whether Igorot blogs or not.

    Hey, Sandati, thanks for making this an interesting discussion 🙂 You made me think hard there ah. Whenever you are in Manila or if you are based here, maybe we should meet for coffee sometime. He he biglang naiba ang topic. But seriously, this is a good topic for discussion over say a cup of coffee or a bottle of beer. Of course it is also good to continue discussing it in blogs.

    Thanks again 🙂

  5. i’m not sure about many things, and the affirmation of local identities being a necessisity for the formation of a filipino national identity could be one of those i’m not sure of. such affirmation of one’s local roots seems to be something which we have had too much of. local identities seem to be so ingrained in our brains it might very well be one of the hindrances to the creation of a national one. disunity among the different regional groups has been a major stumbling block towards the creation of a ‘real filipino nation’ from time immemorial to the present. if there was unity or cooperation among all filipinos, the chain of events in our history could have been different. to illustrate, i’m quoting this line from the book, ‘of igorots and independence’ by the late william henry scott – “between 1572 and 1872, the filipino population paying tribute increased from 500,000 to 5 million – yet there were never more than 2,000 spanish soldiers in the whole archipelago!” this is to digress a little, but, had our lowland brothers been as ferocious as igorots in defending their independence (yabang natin, ano?), or, had there been any coordination among the different revolution leaders from the different regions, the philippines’ bondage to spain wouldn’t have lasted for 300 years. there are other factors, but still… and in the coming elections, we would be hearing of national candidates wooing the cebuano vote, the pangasinense vote, etc. it’s not helping.

    other nationalities might find diversity as something that is noticeable / acceptable / noteworthy / hip or vogue. but then, to filipinos for which diversity has always been the normal state, the formation of a national identity should come first. after that, maybe, we could diversify.

    maybe, the dated arguments have never been clearly resolved so they keep popping up. it’s like ate glo’s garci tapes – ‘why do the opposition keep on recycling old issues?’

  6. akala ko this post is about paulo avelino rapping? post-modern argument pala. hehe. di ko rin alam what post modern means. 😀

    This discussion is way over my head, but I’ll try to put in my 2 cents.

    The reason why there will never be a ‘Filipino’ identity is because it is a Spanish construction. The spaniards made it up. Pinoys, I think, primarily identify themselves regionally first and nationally second (if at all). I’ve been meaning to blog about this and I’ve made comments on this issue here and here. And as Nathan Quimpo once said, the term ‘filipino’ is a colonial name anyway. Click here for his article.

    Fil-Am identity? ay, I’ll comment on that later na lang. haba na nga itong comment ko. 😀

  7. Wow the net doesn’t love me. My comment wasn’t published at all!

    Too sleepy to rewrite–

    But we have to start by splitting the discussion into government, culture and identity. At the same time, we mustn’t forget that the three are inseparable in reality.

    And since is a post about Paulo, let me add this: I stopped voting for him. Mag-wa-one-week na.

  8. Wil,
    I think its the Bebot rap song or the LA Times article that triggered this discussion he he. Kawawang Paulo naging non-issue sa post 🙂 Thanks for the links, interesting readings. I agree that we tend to identify ourselves regionally first and nationally second. Whether that is good or bad, I can’t say. Discussions about identities can always get way over our heads talaga 🙂 By the way, do you know how to delete a comment in Blogger even if your blog is unmoderated? Spent some time trying to figure it out but haven’t found it yet. Thanks.

    Hi Splasher,
    That’s too bad. Blogger has been doing strange things lately. I also had a hard time publishing a comment yesterday (damn you corporatized Google). I agree that discussions on identities need to be delineated to certain subtopics. Otherwise, people will be talking past each other. Even though we might actually mean the same things but are saying it differently. I like how you subdivided the topic, but too bad your comment got lost (damn you Blogger again he he).

    Hey, why you naman stopped voting for him? Eh di ba you’re one of his first supporters? Hint hint. Email na lang if the reason is unflattering 🙂 Thanks.

  9. how to delete a comment. hmmm… i think if you go to the bottom of the Paulo post, you’ll see:

    Posted by Bill Bilig at 6:27 PM

    The time (6:27 pm) is a link and the # of comments (9 comments) is also a link. I think if you click on the “9 comments” link (or whatever the # is), then you should be able to see a trash can at the bottom of each comment. click the trash to delete that comment. And make sure you’re also logged in. That’s my guess.

  10. Filipinos in general lack the concept of diversity. That’s why I don’t like the Hispanistas as much as the Pro-Americans. The Hispanistas bash the British and Americans for the lack of “mestizaje” but therein lies the problem of assimilation…forced assimilation to be exact. The Hispanistas want the Filipino culture to be based on Spanish. Come on, the Filipino culture is not purely Spanish… and the non-Hispanized are a small but sizable minority.

    Evolution of culture is inevitable. Mestizaje is not bad at all, but the obsession with it post threat to the other half of the Filipino culture and the culture of the “minorites”; the Igorots especially. The Muslims are more advantageous when it comes to culture kasi the Philippines has identified them as distince(although discrimination against them still exist); but the Igorots, the continuity of forced assimilation is there. Noticed that the Moro history is now part of the Filipino history yet hardly are there Filipino History books that talk about the struggles of the Igorots.

    Buti sana kung integration, but no what people are doing is assimilation.

    But I’m not pro-pregionalism. Kaya di ko masyadong makasalamuha ang mga Cebuano. Many has gotten their “Bisaya-ness” into their heads; now it is not uncommon to meet a Cebuano who thinks he is better than the Tagalog or Ilocano.

    Dapat ang identity ng Filipino is mestizaje-diversity. Not purely mestizaje.

    I think it would be nice is the Philippines will be framed after SIngapore. Singapore is 75% CHinese yet it does not identify as a Chinese state but a multi-racial one. Ganun din sana dito, majority have the mestizaje culture pero sana diversity din ang concept… Don;t forget na 2-3% of the population is Chinese. it’s significant enough to be called diverse alonf with the Igorots, Moros, Lumands, Ivatans, Ibanags, Agtas, etc…

    I am pro-diversity…

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