A Facebook Comment

Someone verbalized exactly how I feel about so-called activists in the Asian-American Community. It resonated with me because he seemed to describe a lot of people I’ve personally encountered.

” thank you! i know exactly the types you’re talking about. They use activism as an excuse to express their pessimistic and negative world view. When I run into these types, they never have proactive solutions just a ton of complains and anger. They use race as a crutch instead of taking initiative to change the game. They’re such bitch ass Asians, they want us to look badass and respected but jeeebus they contribute to the stereotypes by being such weak asses. Don’t get me wrong I love the real activists who get things done but these other insecure mentally weak people who think destructively are not true activists. I’ve ran into some in the industry too, the usual case is that they suck at their craft and it’s very obvious to the rest of us but they swear its because of racism. If we can prove that there’s a demand for us, we make sales, race doesn’t matter, money does. Somehow even racists overlook it when we can bring in numbers. Bruce lee is a prime example, in an era that was even more openly racist, he made sales so he got funded, he got lead roles. He took risks and had balls. With a thick ass accent he still had a level of cool about him where non Asians wanted to be him. Where are the “activists” with a set of balls like that? Please no more dickless whiney ho’s that don’t get shit done. And i hope they quit making movies at the film festivals with gimmicky titles like “broken rice” or someshit like that lol.”

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Further,

“multilinguals can expand their personal horizons and—being simultaneously insiders and outsiders—see their own culture from a new perspective not available to monoglots, enabling the comparison, contrast, and understanding of cultural concepts;”

“Thus, just like Latin once used to be taught as an academic exercise, mental gymnastics with the aim of cognitive training, it has been demonstrated that people who know more than one language usually think more flexibly than monolinguals. Many celebrated bilingual writers—such as John Milton, Vladimir Nabokov, Samuel Barclay Beckett, or Iosif Brodsky—attest that knowing a second language enhances the use of the first.”

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On mongrels

“And any man who has to say “I am the King” is no true king at all.”

-Tywin Lannister

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Shine Boy, Pin Boy, Fish Pond Girl

They were working children.

Tony at the age of 12, shined shoes outside the famed Dagupena restaurant, its beckoning aromas of pinakbet and sizzling milkfish stirring but never sating his salivary glands, his flaring nostrils nor his oft empty belly.

As the brass double doors flung outward for exiting land barons and lawmen soaking up the languid mid-day sun while lighting slender cigarillos culled from linen suit pockets, Tony, could only crane his neck to the curb, take up his brush and chamois, and lacquer up the next pair of tobacco oxfords or two-toned wingtips nestled snugly at his station.

With each pass of the brush or whip of the worn chamois, he would try to forget glistening metal platters of fresh prawns nestled in spicy coconut milk or pork belly, squash and bitter gourd simmered in pungent fish paste, and steaming piles of rice in wooden bowls lined with banana leaves. It was not easy, not when he smelled it on the linen and leather of his indifferent clients.

Tips for shine boys were appropriate, not abundant, never enough for even a small treat. And, returning to his stilted house across from the town cemetery, he would be greeted in the kitchen by an ash-filled stove littered with cat feces.

His youngest sister often set aside a bowl of rice porridge seasoned with about an inch of ginger and if lucky, some softened onion for him. But it was cold and sparse and not quite a meal at all.

You never get accustomed to hunger. It nags and peels away at your insides, makes you swear with all your might that one day, when your pockets are lined, you will buy everything your famished imagination spent years romanticizing.

To be continued.

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Self Love

Sometimes
Reading
The
Words
Of
Others
Is
An
Infidelity
The
Voyeurism
Hastens
Contamination
Of
The
Burgeoning
Seed
The
Original
Thought
That
Waits
To
Be
Born
To
Be
Inundated
With
The
Ideas
Of
Others
To
Succumb
To
The
Orgiastic
And
Infectious
Notions
Of
Supposed
Better
Thinkers
Can
Kill
Can
Suffocate
Can
Hybridize
That
Which
Was
Meant
To
Be
Your
Thought
Your
Notion
Your
Truth

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Not

I am not that stolen term Pinoy,
Not that tin saber
That is rattled as clumsily
As an inner city vocabulary.

I am not that apish gawker
Lamenting over papaya soap
And the danger it poses
To nut-brown skin

That same hypocrite
Who does not think twice
Before coloring hair
Or masking speech
With inflections
Of another “oppressed” race

Nor am I that scavenging vulture
Picking only at the tribal past
While looking with arrogance
At the post colonial realm

I do not treat family recipes
Like cheap whores
To be stripped down and
Cruelly manipulated
Into anemic cuts of
Bland flesh in pale sauce

I do not scar my skin
With geometric suns
To prove my legitimacy
Or pollute my sight line
With half-truths
That bear no relevance
To the kaleidoscope
Of my history.

I belong to what I was
And what I will be
Whether damaged or
dysfunctional
I stand sublime
Among squat mongrels
Too busy snapping
Mindlessly at each other
To see that they are
Masterless curs
Spreading parvo
And baseless filth.

I am not them.

I am Filipino.

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Untitled

My Mother
crossed the mei kong river
To birth my brother
Her waters broke in Vientiane
And, on a rickety jeep,
anxious and beautiful,
she reached Bankok
Her ivory belly
slashed vertically
So that the distressed boy
Could be pulled
Into the light

My Father
Came a day later
Bearing orchids
White for the
slashed skin
Aubergine for
Spilled blood
A son, another start
A swiftly waxing moon
Heralded promise

The birth was celebrated
With a three inch cuff
Eight panels of carved gold
Depicting the passage
of seasons
He had brought her
To the finest jeweler
And said,
“pick what you want.”
And she reached for this
Lovely shackle
To encircle her
Cream-tinged wrist
The ivory of her skin
Deepening like
The inner lips
Of a tinned lychee
As she softly
Uttered words
Of praise
And thanks
To an ever
Listening
God.

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