did this on Monday:
my favorite question during the open forum, which to me was also the bravest one asked: how can we stop being silent, when everyone else is?
the question was borne of what i talked about to be critical pinoy pride, where we might insist on asking questions of the current sources of pride that media and government have imposed on us: Manny Pacquiao, easily, no matter that he has sells everything from deodorant to vicky belo; Jessica Sanchez, no matter that she was in a context called American Idol.
being critical allows us a space to ask the right questions about these institutionalized sources of pride, including the one question that might allow us to see where pride might also lie, what other things and people we might take pride in. we ask: what do these celebrations of particular people, Pacquiao and Sanchez included, silence? what do we forget in the process of believing what government and media tell us about pinoy pride? about who we must be proud about?
we make the choice to be critical, i think. but also we make the choice to give what’s being done locally a fighting chance at impressing us, at proving to us that pinoy talent and creativity do exist beyond what’s on bookstore shelves or commercial cinema, what’s on TV and radio and who’s in magazines. and it’s in these creativities that i have much hope, it’s these cultural productions that i’m most proud about, because these persist and survive, no matter that it might not get the support and attention it deserves.
a student came up to me as i was walking down the stage, asking if this meant a complete no to foreign texts. the answer is no. it just means that given a choice, i will not spend on an American film, or a foreign musician’s CD. as i told Jason while on stage, and he asked me pretty much the same question, i wait for these films to be shown on TV. i will only go to the OPM section of a music store. it is only in bookstores that i do not resist what’s foreign, but that’s also because i would otherwise have no access to the literary titles i like.
and really, critical pinoy pride to me at least, has more to do with making the conscious decision to give what’s local a chance, and from there giving the alternative to the mainstream some time and some good money. i’m not saying i don’t love john lloyd cruz and toni gonzaga movies; i’m saying that there is love to be given our independent films, too. as there is reason to take interest in our local theater productions, our art exhibits, our designers, rarely heralded as they are.
i’m saying give this critical space, give our own independent cultural products, the chance to surprise you. because in the throes of discontent and injustice, in a nation that is impoverished in many ways, it is in the silenced aspects of culture where you will find the gems of our survival. it is here that we persist, that we insist, that we demand for our space in the sun. and if that isn’t reason for an amount of pride, then i don’t really know what is.
and as i told the boy who asked the question about silence: the mere fact that he acknowledges the silence and the silenced is already such a huge thing. the only way to respond to being silenced is to speak up. demokrasya ang Pilipinas diba? karapatan nating magsalita. at higit, karapatan nating magtanong.
note: will answer the questions that were given to me by the organizers, the Sigma Theta Delta girls. there just wasn’t enough time to do all of it in the open forum.