Monday, December 31, 2012

Koreans in the Philippines: Middle of Nowhere, Out of Everywhere

At the foothills of the magnificent Taal Volcano, two hours drive south of Manila, there is a little two-story concrete building.  It is a building no different from any other local ones that stand densely across the highway from the luxuries resorts, restaurants, and private homes that crowd the Tagaytay Ridge offering perfect, unobstructed view of the Volcano's surrounding lake fromed from an ancient crater.  On the second floor of the building was a little sign: Hansung Vision Church (한성 비전 교회), pasted in strips of simple blue-colored plastic tape over a background picture of green field dotted with pink flowers.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Reality Escapism Revisited: the Shopping Mall as a Social Institution

The streets down below are steamy with fumes, all sorts of fumes.  One can almost smell all that as one gets off the crowded platform of the nearby train station.  It is, as many other places of humanity are, a chaotic symphony of sensory overload of any and every nature.  The smell is a combination of toxic exhaust fumes belched from inefficient jeepney engines, the heavily salted batter of fried chicken, fried fish, and fried God-knows-what-else.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Duality within the Stereotyped Character of the Average Filipino

Your blogger here has always considered himself above the typical racial stereotyping that goes on in societies around the world.  He tries to see only individuals and their unique personalities, some of which are component traits that can be observed in a diversity of different societies with little interaction (such as individualism, optimism, rebelliousness against the status quo).  But residing and bonding with people who are eager to resort to certain "national/ethnic characters" as the primary means of making sense of their own existences and their places in the world, he finds himself gradually succumbing to similar tendencies...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Yes, Sir!"/"Yes, Ma'am!" Culture as a Reflection of Social Conformity

Every time another shooting rampage occurs in America, the first instinct of nearly anyone who hears about the tragic news is to blame the lack of gun control.  They somehow believe that more strict access to guns is the ultimate resolution of such problems.  While the author is just as much a proponent of gun control as the next leftist, he also believes that sort of random killing that occurred in a Connecticut elementary school says much more about how America's culture create lethal-minded deviants rather than how America's gun culture lead to lethal incidents.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Price and Glory of Cheap Alcohol in the Philippines

For anyone moving in to the Philippines from any of its Muslim neighbors, the price of moral "sinning" becomes shockingly cheap.  Everywhere you look, there are prostitutes walking around seeking out potential clients, local bars with little restrictions on smoking indoors or televised lingerie models, or customers, both local and expat, mixing together, heartily laughing away at crude sexual jokes, while dancing to the latest hip-pop hits imported from the US.  Fluent English with American accents are sprinkled with Filipino on the streets, giving the place both a familiar and exotic feel simultaneously.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Welcome to the "Little Las Vegas" - Day One in Manila

That is the term the real estate agent used when he shows foreign clients around the neighborhood for the first time.  Among the dense skyscraper-filled skyline of Makati, Manila's central business district, a whole new scene unravels on the street-level.  As one cuts into any one of the small side streets leading away from the impeccably maintained, tree lined, wide central boulevards of the country's premier financial district, a whole new world of dodgy entertainment and equally dodgy people hits the casual pedestrians unwittingly passing through, with a force that one simply cannot ignore.