Tuesday, September 25, 2007

From Professor Emil Flores of U.P.

Prof. Emil Flores made a comment on this entry, which I'm copying and pasting on this post (see below), and linking to here, where all the links are posted. Thanks, Prof.!

Emil Flores here. First of all thanks to Kenneth for coming over to the class and giving a good sumary of the things we talked about.

I won't get into a long lecture on "national identity" (I will say thiugh that "nationhood" is a terribly complex and unstable concept for colonized cultures and the fact that we're problematizing what should be a basic idea demonstrates how deeply colonialism has affected us).

The point about FOOD is actually a very good idea. There's a book called MEMORIES OF PHILIPPINE KITCHENS by Amy Besa and in it she shows how as a country like the Philippines was able to preserve indigenous cooking while adapting foreign ingredients and techniques. Amy went all over the country gathering many recipes and rediscovered the Philippines in the process.

She even mentioned in our discussion how, through cooking, she wants to show the world how unique Filipino culture is. "You are what you eat" indeed. According to her, the American customers in her Filipino restaurant in Soho, New York just love adobo. Our food is unique. We just don't think of it as special.

I told Kenneth that I believe in unversal themes and concepts (love, hate, revenge heroism etc.) but the manifestations of those concepts are culturally grounded.
Why is Hollywood remaking SIGAW into THE ECHO? Why is the main character in THE ECHO an ex-con? That's because he comes into conflict with his cop neighbor. This change is important for American audiences. In the Philippines, you don't have to be an ex-con to get into trouble with a cop.

My Japanese students loved THE LAST SAMURAI but when I asked them if it was similar to a Japanese movie, they emphatically said no. The same is true with MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA. It's a Western view of Japan where individualism reigns over duty.

As silly as it may seem, compare ZAIDO to SHAIDER. The family and oppression angle is very much present in the Filipino version of the tokusatsu show. Now compare that to VR TROOPERS or POWER RANGERS. At least the Filipino version didn't just splice together Japanese footage and then reshot scenes with the cast of teenagers from Saved by the Bell.

This is what I tell my students when I don't talk about postcolonial theory: You come from a unique culture. It's up to you to see it. We eat differently, we talk differently, we walk differently, we communicate differently (who else points with their lips or nods with their eyebrows?), we look at the world differently. It is this outlook that makes us Filipino. That outlook gets blurred particularly in SF because our models are foreign. But make no mistake, we are different.

As writers or would-be writers, I tell them to just look at the world around them, when they walk through the corridors, when they ride a jeepney, when they use a cell phone, when they eat. Embrace that world and slowly, very slowly that world will permeate their minds mired in worlds created by foreigners. When that happens, whether they use indigenous ideas or take all the foreign tropes they want, that world will still come out.

Wow. That went on longer than I planned. Hope you don't mind.

All the best!"

Other new posts: Mia too, who brought up the food and fiction connection in an earlier comment, expounds on this here. Kristel too has her say. And so does The Coffee Goddess. Again, the complete set of links are here.


Blogger Mia said...

:D So you know, let's just eat! Or something, haha. I like what Prof. Flores said. I wish I were his student.

Thanks for linking!

10:43 AM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

Thanks for writing something about this too, Mia! I like the food-fiction connection you brought up. The analogy is quite apt.

10:45 AM  

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