Love Me Tomorrow – Film Review

Love Me Tomorrow – Film Review

Love Me Tomorrow is the latest Star Cinema romantic-comedy-drama, released in theatres May 25th. Starring Piolo Pascual, Dawn Zulueta, and Coleen Garcia, the plot highlights topics such as age-gaps in romance, unrequited love, and trying to maintain youth the older you get.

Love Me Tomorrow ***PLOT SPOILER ALERT***

Piolo Pascual plays JC, a 30-something year old nightclub DJ who, despite being ranked the #1 DJ in the Philippines, is finding himself slowly pushed out of the spotlight by younger, hipper DJs. At one point in the film, when he finds out that he will not be main-eventing a wild beach party, he laments that the party will probably be full of teenagers anyway.

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Dawn Zulueta plays a 50-year-old fashion designer who has recently lost her husband to illness. Both of her children are adults and out of the house, so she focuses on her fashion designing to keep herself busy.

Coleen Garcia plays Janine, a nightclub promoter and fashion model who works alongside Piolo Pascual, and often tries to defend him at board meetings when the board accuses him of being a fading star, and too immature to occupy a seat on the board.

Pascual and Zulueta begin to form a relationship, to the annoyance of Coleen Garcia, after Garcia and Pascual do some promotional work for Zulueta’s fashion label. Pascual candidly explains to Zulueta that he and Garcia had a relationship in the past, though Pascual bluntly says they were merely “FuBus” (fuck-buddies), and are now merely friends and co-workers.

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Zulueta’s daughter is also a bit angry to discover that her 50-year-old mother is dating a man who is around the same age as her (Zulueta’s daughter), and accuses her of being a cougar. We learn however that she is really mostly upset that her own marriage has fallen apart and her husband is asking for divorce.

As Pascual and Zulueta continue to date, Pascual realizes that his days of being a featured nightclub DJ are soon coming to an end, as many of his scheduled nights have been replaced with younger DJs. He gets the idea to open his own club, but lacking the financial capital for such a venture, turns to Coleen Garcia to co-own it with him.

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When Zulueta learns of this plan, she becomes upset. Not so much upset that Pascual will be co-owning a club with his former “FuBu”, but that he appears to have made this decision in haste, without fully thinking about the logistics and financial aspects of such a venture. He appears to be compensating for their age-gap by trying to prove his “maturity” to her, and he proclaims that he will give them a good life when he is rich and successful.

Pascual and Zulueta’s relationship begins to grow rocky when he mentions the idea of them having a family together, and she explains that she is a woman in her 50s, and she does not want to be a 70-year-old woman with teenager children. She also makes it evident that she does not completely support Pascual’s idea to operate his own nightclub, and warns him of the financial pitfalls, which he angrily brushes aside, and accuses her of not being supportive of him.

While Zulueta’s fashion design business is booming and she is being featured on fashion magazine covers, Pascual and Garcia’s nightclub is a complete flop. The grand-opening has almost no guests, and after a short time of continued failure, Pascual and Garcia shut down their nightclub experiment. On their closing night, Pascual gets drunk and shares a steamy elevator kiss with Coleen Garcia. When the elevator door opens, Zulueta is standing there and sees them in the act.

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After an argument about Zulueta focusing on her fashion business and not being supportive of Pascual’s nightclub experiment, they part ways for a bit. After some time, Zulueta and Pascual meet in a park and try to talk things out. Zulueta is adamant, however, that while Pascual gave her a new zest for life, their age difference is not fair for him, because he is still young enough to pursue the family life he desires. We then see Pascual break down and cry, and plead with Zulueta, claiming his love for her, but she assures him that life will put them back together in the future, if it’s meant to be.

The film ending shows Pascual as a successful businessman in insurance, taking international calls and planning trips abroad with his new girlfriend (Bea Alonzo). He bumps into Zulueta at the airport, introduces her to his new girlfriend, and they catch up for a bit before going their separate ways. Zulueta then bumps into Richard Gomez, which made many girls in the theatre audience shriek with joy, as Dawn Zulueta and Richard Gomez have been in many romantic films together.

Love Me Tomorrow – Film Theme Analysis

The film itself is nothing spectacular and will become just another romantic-comedy-drama title in Star Cinema’s long list of titles, but the director did try to highlight a few underlining themes, notably Pascual’s “grown man-boy coming-of-age” story. Pascual is in his 30’s and still DJs at nightclubs, and clings to this as he believes he has no other valuable skillsets. Dating an older woman kick-started his desire to mature, but he was a bit like a fish out of water. If you’re already seen as a person who refuses to grow up, announcing to your 50-year-old girlfriend that you want to dump a huge sum of money into a nightclub business is not the best way to alter those opinions.

When Pascual broke down in tears as Zulueta explained that he didn’t have the family future he dreams about with her, and sobs out that he loves her, we get the picture of a man who was after a maternal figure, and not so much a romance. He was putting her on a pedestal because she fueled his motivation to become an Adult (capital A), not an adult-who-still-DJs-at-nightclubs-for-a-living.

The director also tried to throw in the love-triangle with Coleen Garcia, but in my opinion, it was poorly executed. The director didn’t villainize Coleen Garcia and portray her as the third-wheel trying to insert herself between Pascual and Zulueta, he went the opposite direction and made Coleen Garcia’s character actually likable. She defended Pascual to his peers, she was supportive of his ambitions, and risked her own money on his nightclub idea.

I suppose I could scratch my head in puzzlement over why Pascual’s character didn’t just pursue a relationship with Coleen Garcia in the first place, but I guess in a sense, she was too good for him. He saw her as an occasional “FuBu” while she pined for something more meaningful. So I suppose that also contributes to Pascual’s immaturity in the film. He had the potential for something great in front of him all along, he chose to pursue something a bit more far-fetched, and in the end, he finally “grows up”.

So while the film plot itself is a bit water-thin, there are some valuable lessons to take away from it. Most notably, if you’re a man-boy who still DJs at beach parties in your 30s, don’t try to start a nightclub business with your fashion-model “FuBu” as a co-owner, while trying to convince a 50-year-old woman you want to start a family with her.

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7 Filipino Films Foreigners Should Watch

7 Filipino Films Foreigners Should Watch

Hollywood films are easily available here in the Philippines, especially top blockbusters like Harry Potter, The Avengers, Spider-Man, etc being shown in cinemas. However, there is also a robust Filipino film industry that is worth attention. Filipino movies are usually family-friendly romantic-comedies, but there are also great historical and drama films.

As a foreigner who enjoys Filipino movies, I thought I’d make a recommendation list. I’ve watched dozens of Filipino movies, but these are the ones that stick out particularly in my head, either because of the performances or thematic significance. Watching Filipino movies is also a great way to learn about the culture and pick up bits of the language or phrases, if you’re interested in learning Tagalog.

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Metro Manila

Okay, okay, spare me. This isn’t actually a “Filipino film” – it was funded and directed by a foreigner. However, it was shot on location and tells a truly heart-breaking story of one family’s life after moving from the rural provinces to Manila. The hardships they endure, the numerous scammers and shady people they encounter, sums up what life can really be like for poor families in Manila. The scene where [spoiler alert – highlight text to see] they give a “landlord” down-payment on an apartment, only to be evicted the next day by police who tell them the “landlord” was a scam-artist, is gut-wrenching. This is truly a must-watch film.

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English Only, Please

A fantastic romantic-comedy starring Derek Ramsay and Jennlyn Mercado, two great Filipino actors. Derek Ramsay plays a Filipino-British (which he actually is in real-life) who has spent most of his life outside of the Philippines, and therefore does not speak any Tagalog. He visits the Philippines so he can find his Filipina ex-girlfriend and, with the help of a translator, deliver a spiteful monologue to his ex. However, what Derek Ramsay’s character did not count on was for his translator to be the beautiful Jennlyn Mercado, and while teaching him Tagalog, she also helps him get over his anger towards his ex. This is a fantastic film for foreigners to watch because, even though Derek Ramsay is Filipino, there are a lot of scenes that us foreigners can relate to. Being in a foreign place, learning a new language, falling in love with our beautiful, bubbly-personality translator…okay, maybe not so much that last part. Still, I highly recommend!

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My Amnesia Girl

This was one of the first Filipino movies I watched, and it’s certainly a good one. It stars John Lloyd Cruz and Toni Gonzaga, who have great scene chemistry and have gone on to work in other films and television shows together. Plus, Toni Gonzaga is one of the most beautiful Filipina actresses, in my opinion. In this film, John Lloyd plays a man who is trying to win back the affections of a woman he left at the wedding altar in a previous year – however, she pretends to have amnesia and have no memory of him whatsoever. He tries to take advantage of her “amnesia” to woo her a second time, so the situational comedy comes from the fact that she knows who he is the entire time. I won’t spoil the film but the bar scene where they swap cheesy pick-up lines is pretty funny.

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My House Husband Ikaw Na

This is a light-hearted family comedy that explores the themes of role-reversal in traditional Filipino marriage. The husband has lost his job, so his wife suggests that she go out and work while he takes care of house duties. It’s full of comedy that revolves around aspects of Filipino culture such as gossiping neighbors, traditional gender roles, and the couple learning to appreciate what they both bring to the household.

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You’re My Boss

Another fun romantic-comedy starring Coco Martin and the always-beautiful Toni Gonzaga that explores role-reversal. Toni Gonzaga plays a strict boss who, to her horror, must pretend to be the assistant of her assistant Coco Martin, who pretends to be her boss, in order to land Japanese clients who do not have modern views of females in the workplace. The situational comedy revolves around this role-reversal and Coco Martin taking delight in his new “position”, but we also learn Toni Gonzaga’s history and why she is a highly critical boss at times. Of course they fall in love throughout the movie. It’s a heart-warming film filled with plenty of chuckles.

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Alagwa

This is an independent Filipino film that won many awards for its gripping, heart-wrenching story. It tells the tale of a single-parent father who loses his son to child-kidnappers, and his descent into the dark underworld of human traffickers in Manila’s seedy underbelly. Whether you’re a parent or not, you will feel the main character’s grief and rage, and cheer during the scene he beats the shit out of a pimp / gang-associate for information. Spoiler alert [highlight to see]: this film has a heart-breaking ending, as he manages to finally find his son in the end…many, many years later. It’s a very bitter “happy” ending.

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Heneral Luna

This is a historical drama that focuses on General Antonio Luna, and his leadership of the Philippine Revolutionary Army during the Philippine-American War. Many Americans are not aware that we tried to colonize and subvert the Filipino people after “freeing” them from Spanish rulers, which led to a war with many horrible massacres between 1899-1902. So often we Americans think of ourselves as rescuers, not realizing that our “help” is not always appreciated or even well-intentioned. This film showcases the bravery of the Filipino people as they fight for pure sovereignty, and is overall an excellent history lesson as it portrays many events that happened in real life.

 

 

Have you watched and enjoyed any of the films in this list? Do you have any to suggest? Add to the comments!

Basic Tips for Living in the Philippines

Basic Tips for Living in the Philippines

Learn more than just basic Tagalog (or the regional dialect)

This one should be a no-brainer. Some foreigners here simply don’t care about learning the language, figuring that most Filipinos speak English. I’ve heard the reasons on the Expat groups – hard to learn, people speak English anyways, etc. But really, what’s the point of moving to a foreign country if you don’t immerse yourself in the culture, even if a majority can speak English? Filipinos in the major cities may speak great English, but once you go out into the very rural provinces, you’ll find that some Filipinos may only speak very basic, Elementary-level English.

It really helps to know more than just a few phrases in Tagalog. Reason number one, it shows that you live here, you’re not just a tourist, and you’re aware of things. For example, a lot of foreigners complain about being overpriced at the market. This happens very rarely to me – why? Because I speak in Tagalog to the vendors, and I’m aware of what things are supposed to cost. This may be my own theory, but I think marketplace vendors are more likely to see you as a tourist, or someone they can overprice, if you can’t converse with them, or only know a few things like “magkano?” (how much?). When you’re able to speak more fluidly with them, share a joke or two, and answer their questions, you’re much more likely to get the “local” prices. They’ll think, “oh, this guy knows our language. He’s been here awhile! He’ll know if I’m asking too much.”.

Don’t be afraid to haggle (tawad)

To extend on the topic of overpricing, understand that haggling (tawad) is a way of life here. Filipinos don’t just overprice foreigners, they overprice each other too – to a lesser degree, of course. However, the difference between us and them is that Filipinos will eagerly engage in haggling over prices. If you’re married to a Filipina, go with her to the palengke (marketplace) and watch this tawad in action. The vendor will ask 200 pesos for a pair of shorts – your wife will say 130. The vendor will say 160. Your wife will ask “last price?”, and the vendor will say 145. It works for foreigners too, if you’re willing to engage in the practice. Maybe they won’t come down as far on the price for you as they would for another Filipino, but you’re under no obligation to buy what they’re selling. If you don’t like the price, don’t get angry, don’t make a scene. Just walk away. There’s 100 other vendors selling the same shorts and slippers, di ba?

Buy a coin pouch

You’ll find when living in the Philippines that your pockets will quickly fill with coins. Local vendors rarely have change for larger bills – if you try to pay for something that costs 50 pesos ($1.08) with a 1000 peso bill (about $21), in most cases, the vendor will not have enough change to cover the difference. Due to the economy here, Filipinos prefer smaller bills. 20 peso, 50 peso, and 100 peso bills. The coins are 1, 5, and 10 pesos. So after a shopping trip in the marketplace, you’ll probably have a handful of coins in your pocket.

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Now, the reason you want a coin pouch, aside from just keeping your coins more organized, is very simple. Tricycles here have a very slight tilt in the seats. When you’re riding inside a tricycle, you’ll find yourself sitting at a very slight backwards angle. Thus, it’s fairly common for your coins to roll out of your pocket and get lost in the seat cushion. If it’s a bumpy ride, this risk is increased tenfold. Do yourself a favour and save yourself the embarrassment of having to look for your coins between the seat cushions when it’s time to pay the driver – BUY A COIN POUCH!

Give food, not money, to street children

It’s no secret that extreme poverty is common in the Philippines. With poverty comes beggars, and in most instances, the beggars here are children. There are several reasons for this, which I’ll explain. Number one, the children likely have parents who work in the marketplace or sell food on the street corners. So the parents may send their children out to beg for money to increase their daily income.

Alternatively, the children may be syndicate controlled and be giving the money back to their adult gang-leaders. This is a common Filipino theory, and while it may be true, I think Filipinos have latched onto this theory to avoid feelings of guilt, because it’s rare to see Filipinos giving money to beggars, even if the beggars are children. That is understandable, of course, if you are so poor you cannot afford to give to anybody else.

However, not all of the street children are from extremely poor families, or are reporting back to street gangs. Some of these street children simply have a gambling addiction. There are games that street children play here in the Philippines, such as shooting marbles or flipping coins into a circle. By begging strangers for coins, they increase their gambling capital.

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A Filipino child playing a common street game, where the objective is to knock your opponent’s coins out of a circle with your own. The winner keeps all the coins.

Now, if you’re a generous person and simply can’t bear the remorse of not giving coins to beggar children, you’ll encounter another problem. They flock like birds once your hand goes into your pocket. It may start out as only one child coming up to you with their hands out, but the moment you give them a coin, 5 other children appear out of nowhere with their hands out too. Some of them may even get pushy and start tugging on your wrist or shirt, or follow you if you try to walk away.

So with all of that in mind, it’s much simpler to give food. Tinapay (small bread-rolls) is the standard. This can also help you easily distinguish who are the really poor children, and who are the children just looking for gambling capital. If they happily accept your food, they’re poor. If they turn it down and only want money, they have other plans.

Buy things early in the day

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This is for the night-owls like me. If you’re the type of person who stays up working late past midnight, you’ll discover that most stores here close early – very early, in fact. If you’re living in a provincial town, it’s not uncommon for all the stores to open at 6am and close at 5pm. Therefore, you should buy anything you need for your late night work hours during the day – snacks, cigarettes, whatever. If you’re lucky, you may find a store or two open past 9pm, especially on the weekends, but depending on your area, you may want to avoid walking alone late at night. So just buy everything you need during the day.

 

 

That’s all the tips I have for today – if you have anything to add, please share in the comments!

Tattoos in the Philippines – Cost, Culture, Etc.

Tattoos in the Philippines – Cost, Culture, Etc.

This post will talk about the culture of tattoos in the Philippines. I intend for this information to be useful to anyone who is considering having tattoo artwork done here in the Philippines, and I will also explore some of the cultural beliefs surrounding tattoos here.

The Philippines, while becoming increasingly liberated in social views thanks to the internet, has a traditional Asian attitude towards tattoos in general. Tattoos for the sake of “body art” is generally looked down upon, seen as something that only criminals or low-class people take part in. A Filipino who has many tattoos may be viewed by his fellow Filipinos as a gang member or drug abuser, or someone who has been in prison, because prisoners giving each other tattoos is also common.

There are some cases where tattoos carry a respectable significance to Filipinos. Military tattoos, for example, are one such case. Another case is a political organization called the Philippine Guardians Brotherhood. This organization originated as a military unit, but opened local chapters to civilians and has become more of a civil service organization, and now many adult male Filipinos are members of this fraternal brotherhood. Members often receive a tattoo signifying their membership and rank within the brotherhood.

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Here is a picture of Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, where I have circled the Guardians membership tattoo on his arm.

Historically, tattoos in the Philippines were not always viewed negatively. Tribal tattoos were once common, and there are some indigenous people that still practice the art of Kalinga, a traditional method of tattooing that uses a sharpened bamboo needle to ink the design. [Youtube link]

Outside of these cases where a tattoo represents military or civil service, tattoos are generally seen as a mark of criminals. It does not matter the type of tattoo a person has. I once met a Filipino man who had a portrait of Jesus tattooed on his arm. As someone who also has tattoos, I tried to strike up a conversation about it with him, asking him where he got it, etc. He seemed quite shy and very ashamed of it. He admitted to me that it was a “mistake” he made in his youth, he regretted it, and people look down on him for it. He did not want to talk about it further. We’re talking about a tattoo of Jesus Christ, in a country with a strong Catholic influence.

Now having said that, the views are slowly starting to change. Tattoos are becoming somewhat increasingly common with youth. The Philippines does in fact have tattoo conventions and artist competitions, and I received one of my own tattoos at such a competition here in the Philippines.

Tattoos are also incredibly cheap in the Philippines compared to America. I have a cartoonish “punk-rock penguin” tattoo on my arm that cost me about $200 in America, and it’s only about 6.5 inches in height, and took maybe an hour to finish. I have another tattoo that is about 14 inches in height, is incredibly detailed, and took about 8 hours to complete. My total cost was about $80.

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$200 tattoo in America
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$80 tattoo in Philippines

Now you may be thinking, “getting a tattoo in the Philippines sounds dirty and dangerous. How clean are their needles? What if you get AIDs?!”. The artist who did my tattoo used clean, fresh needles from a brand new package he opened in front of me, he sterilized the needles, and he wore gloves. It was very professional at a fraction of the price in America.

My Filipina girlfriend, admittedly, is not a huge fan of tattoos. I’ve received 3 so far here in the Philippines, from the same artist. Two of them were done in his studio, and the third one, pictured above, was at a local tattoo competition. My girlfriend went with me to the competition, and she was just a tiny bit uncomfortable. As a rural-raised, traditional Filipina, she did not really enjoy being surrounded by all these people with tattoos, hard rock music blasting on the speakers, and just the generally “morally loose” environment. She also told me I wasn’t allowed to have any more tattoos (LOL!)

Now, I think the Filipino view of tattoos generally only extends to other Filipinos. Filipinos are generally aware that in America, we are much more “liberated” and see tattoos simply as artwork. A handful of Filipinos have asked to see my tattoos, asked me where I got them, complimented them, etc. Some have even told me they wanted to get their own tattoos, but were afraid of the social ramifications. So a foreigner with tattoos will likely not be viewed as a “criminal” the same way a Filipino with tattoos is, because they acknowledge the difference in our cultures.

I really don’t know what else to write about in this post. I guess if you’re a foreigner living in the Philippines, or thinking about visiting the Philippines and getting tattoo work done because of the cheaper prices, just be aware that people here may be a little more skeptical of you if you’re walking around with full arm sleeves.

 

Are you a foreigner with tattoos? Are you a Filipino with tattoos? What’s your opinion on this post? Share it in the comments below!

An American Liberal View on the 2016 Philippines Presidential Election

An American Liberal View on the 2016 Philippines Presidential Election

I am going to preface this post by saying that I identify with “liberal” politics. There are some areas where I fall slightly left-of-center (I support the death penalty for extreme cases, for example) but for the most part, I have a “leftist” view on most things.

I also want to say that this post is not intended to influence or engage in any political activity in the Philippines. This is simply an examination of the candidates and some thoughts from an American perspective. I do not endorse any candidate in the Philippines.

 

As I’ve admitted in other posts, I’ve only been in the Philippines for 3 years. Therefore, my familiarity with Filipino politics is limited at best, and while I try to research as much as possible from an unbiased perspective before I form a final opinion, I could not tell you first-hand what life was like for Filipinos under the Marcos administration, for example.

So while you read this post, please bear in mind these are only my thoughts and opinions, formed from research, watching the candidate debates, and comparing things to American politics (the Philippines is not America, I know).

In the 2016 presidential election in the Philippines, there are 5 candidates. I will try to summarize their stances and party ties.

 

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Jejomar Binay – Current Vice President under Benigno Aquino III, Jejomar Binay holds a degree in Political Science from the University of the Philippines Diliman. He has been involved in numerous high-profile scandals, and has been accused of many instances of financial corruption in recent years, including accusations from the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue). He also admitted to having an extramarital affair after pictures of him with his mistress were leaked online. As Vice President, his achievements include leading relief operations to areas affected by typhoon disasters. He is a member of the UNA (United Nationalist Alliance) party. The UNA follows a “compassionate conservative” ideology, which stresses traditional conservative politics, especially in economic policies, with an appropriate amount of concern for social welfare. One simplified example of this political ideology would be the idea that privatized rehab clinics are better at reforming drug addicts than publically funded ones.

Miriam Defensor Santiago

Miriam Santiago – An experienced long-term politician, Miriam Santiago has served in the judicial, executive, and legislative branches of the Philippines government, as well as 3 terms on the Senate. She is known to be incredibly intelligent, having studied at Oxford and Harvard, and she is also notoriously fiery when her anger is aroused. She is a “no nonsense” politician who is known to cut down rivals during senate hearings, and she mercilessly blasted defendant Janet Napoles during the Pork Barrel scandal trials, particularly when Janet Napoles pleaded the 5th on many of the accusations. Miriam Santiago is a member of the PRP (People’s Reform Party). Reformism, simply put, is the idea that the existing political institutions can be changed from the inside, and political revolution occurs when you use the system against the system itself.

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Rodrigo Duterte – A former lawyer, Rodrigo Duterte has been the mayor of Davao City in Mindanao for over 22 years. He is most known for his strict anti-crime policies, and has been criticized by Humans Rights activists for some of his methods in dealing with criminals, but statistics show that crime was dramatically reduced in Davao City during his tenure. He was once featured in Time Magazine, with photographs showing him riding in a motorcycle convoy, armed with M16 rifles, as part of a crime patrol. Despite Duterte’s seemingly harsh stance on criminals, he has also implemented social welfare programs, including a 12-million Peso drug rehabilitation center, and he personally declared that any drug addict who was serious about kicking their habit would receive a 2,000 Peso monthly allowance from him. Duterte is a member of the PDP (Philippines Democratic Party – People’s Power), which was formerly alliance with the UNA, and therefore also follows a “compassionate conservatism” ideology.

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Grace Poe – The daughter of famous Filipino celebrities Susan Roces and Fernando Poe, Jr., she holds a degree in political science from Boston College, and has served on the Philippine Senate since 2013. She is arguably the most socially liberal candidates in the current election. She has spoken out for LGBT rights in the Philippines, has called for increased funding for feeding programs for malnourished children, and has suggested the government should research if medical marijuana could be appropriately regulated in the Philippines. She is an Independent candidate, but unlike American politics, Independent candidates do not face many hurdles in Philippine politics, and she has enjoyed a surge of popularity in recent candidate debates.

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Mar Roxas – He is the grandson of former Philippine President Manuel Roxas, and has served in numerous branches of the Philippine government, including a Senator seat from 2004 to 2010. His most notable bill authorship was Republic Act No. 7780, which decreed fair distribution of the education budget among all provinces. He also initiated the Personal Computers for Public Schools program, which distributed over 30,000 computers to 2,000 public high schools. He is a member of the Liberal Party, which was founded by his grandfather Manuel Roxas. A distinction must be made, however. The Liberal Party in the Philippines is not “Liberal” in the Western sense of the word, where in America, we view Liberal to be “far left of center”. The Liberal Party in the Philippines prefers to gravitate towards the center, and avoid extending itself too far left or right.

 

Okay, that sums up the highlights of the candidates. You can read much more about them on their campaign websites or Wikipedia pages.

 

So, where do I stand? Well, I need to be careful in my opinions here, because as a foreigner, my opinion is not of much value, and I could even be declared persona non grata (no longer welcome) in the Philippines if I am deemed a “foreign activist” in Philippine politics. I’m not sure exactly how that is handled, it seems to be a case-by-case basis. Still, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

As I said earlier in this post, I do identify with “liberal” politics, in the American sense of the word. Therefore, I tend to enjoy Grace Poe’s platforms the most. In a Catholic-Conservative country where LGBT people don’t enjoy rights, marriage is illegal, and possession of drugs can lead to lengthy prison sentences, it’s inspiring to hear someone bring a more socially-liberal agenda to the table.

Shabu (methamphetamine) is a huge problem in the Philippines, and while I sympathize with the victims of drug lords, human traffickers, and small-time drug sellers who see criminal activity as an escape from poverty, I also understand the Asian mindset that drugs can destroy a society. Opium did a lot of damage to Imperial China. However, when politicians like Duterte are claiming he will eradicate drugs in 6 months after election, I can’t help but think of America’s own failed War on Drugs, the billions of dollars wasted, and the lives destroyed through harsh sentencing policies.

I respect the hell out of Miriam Santiago, she is one of the most intelligent people in Philippine politics, and it’s always great to hear her verbally assault, with great wit and sarcasm, people who engage in political corruption. However, for all of her fiery intelligence and sharp tongue, she does not completely support things like LGBT rights to marriage. She uses her brain much more than she uses her heart.

Political analysts predict the presidential race will boil down to Grace Poe vs Rodrigo Duterte, and I’m inclined to agree. The support for these two candidates is massive, and I’m almost sad they’re not running mates. Duterte’s heart is definitely in the right place, but his methods are harsh and outdated. Grace Poe could show him a more compassionate way of dealing with social problems. The two of them together would be an unstoppable team in Philippine politics.

 

Are you a foreigner with an opinion on the current presidential election in the Philippines? Are you a Filipino who agrees or disagrees with me? Please post below in the comments. Keep it nice and civil!

Hip-Hop Music: Its More Uncensored in the Philippines

Hip-Hop Music: Its More Uncensored in the Philippines

While the Philippines is an English-speaking country, not all of the Philippines are English-speaking. People in Manila may speak fantastic English, for example, but when you go out to the provinces and rural areas, the English-speaking ability diminishes greatly.

So with that in mind, hip-hop music is very popular here in the Philippines, especially with the youth. I’ve lived in an extraordinarily remote, off-the-grid village deep in the jungle, and even there, hip-hop music from America was played at village festivals and dances. The hilarious thing, and I’m not laughing at Filipinos for it, but the hilarious thing is that the songs are always uncensored, and nobody knows what the lyrics are about.

I’ll give you two perfect examples, old and new. The first example is from a couple years ago. I’m at the grocery store, it’s Christmas season, and they always play music over the speakers. Sometimes it’s the radio, sometimes one of the workers will plug in a USB playlist. Either way, the song over the speakers was a Christmas themed hip-hop song, but the lyrics were… filthy.

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This pretty much sums up the song.

I can’t remember any specific lyrics from the song or else I’d post them here, but I just remember the general context of the song was about unwrapping packages, holding Christmas balls, and other innuendos. And I’m listening to this song, looking around the store at all the families shopping together, and nobody seems to notice. It blew my mind but then I remembered that, because the song is in English, they probably don’t get the innuendos even if they somewhat understand English.

So my second example is from today, which inspired this post. I’m at my favourite local restaurant, waiting for my takeout order. There’s families at the other tables, with children. And the song playing over the restaurant’s speakers, I shit you not, is a hip-hop / club song where the chorus is basically “pop that pussy, pop pop that pussy” repeated like 10x. And there are kids dancing and the family is looking on and clapping and encouraging them. And I’m just like…holy shit, if only they knew.

Those are just two examples, I could give a bunch more, but that should give you a pretty good picture of the situation. To me, it’s funny, but I know if my mom visited me here in the Philippines and heard that stuff on grocery store speakers, she’d have a religious melt-down.

 

Have you experienced this where you live in the Philippines? Comment below!

Bakla Culture in the Philippines

Bakla Culture in the Philippines

This post is going to explore the Bakla and LGBT culture in the Philippines. Despite the Philippines being a strongly Catholic-influenced society, “bakla” (homosexuals) are commonly accepted in society, and there is even a pride parade in Manila.

 

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A bakla beauty pageant in the Philippines.

Where to start with a sensitive subject like this.. well for starters, I am not gay. I do have gay friends, however. I support LGBT rights and equality. When I moved to the Philippines, I heard a lot about transvestites and sex-changes in Southeast Asia, especially in Bangkok, Thailand. I was surprised to learn that it’s also common in the Philippines, and generally accepted in society. In fact, bakla in the Philippines are considered to be a third gender.

I will say that, in my observation, gay males in the Philippines are more likely to cross-dress and be “effeminate”, embracing this role of a third gender identity. In America, there are many “macho” men who are gay. Going to the gym, doing “manly” activities, these are things that gay men in America do like any other regular men. In the Philippines however, I’ve noticed that gay men are almost expected to act effeminate. It is, in my limited experience, much rarer to meet a homosexual Filipino who does not cross-dress and take on a “female” personality.

Part of this, I believe, is due to the strongly gender-constructed society in the Philippines. Men are men, women are women. Therefore, if a man likes other men, it is expected that he acts the role of a woman. The same goes for lesbians in the Philippines, actually. There are many “tomboys” here, which is another name for lesbians. They cut their hair short, try to conceal their breasts, and dress boyishly. It is rare to see a Filipina lesbian who does not assume the mannerisms of a male.

One of the most famous actors and celebrity personalities in the Philippines is Vice Ganda. Vice Ganda is a stand-up comedian, hosts his own TV show, and has appeared in some of the highest-grossing Filipino movies. Vice Ganda is a gay male, yet often appears in drag clothing. He is, to an extent, the Filipino version of RuPaul.

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Vice Ganda, famous gay actor in the Philippines.

Bakla culture has become so widespread in the Philippines, there is even a “gay lingo” here. It is a combination of Tagalog, English, and pop-culture references. An example of “gay lingo” would be, if a bakla is sweating under the sun, they might say they’re feeling “Pawis Hilton”. Pawis is the Tagalog word for sweating. By creating phrases like this, bakla in the Philippines have developed their own language entirely.

Despite LGBT culture being so widely accepted in the Philippines, they are still fighting for LGBT rights. Gay marriage is not accepted in the Philippines, and is not even on the table for discussion in politics (presidential election candidate Grace Poe has actually come out for LGBT rights).

Most recently, Manny Pacquiao, the famous Filipino boxer, and election candidate for a Senator seat in the Philippines, made disparaging remarks against homosexuals during an interview. Pacquiao stated that gays are worse than animals, because animals know better than to mate with the same sex. It’s certainly an ignorant statement, because there are plenty of examples of homosexuality among animals, but the quote became a hot topic and fiercely debated across Filipino social media.

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Many people from the LGBT community, and liberal-minded Filipinos, condemned Manny Pacquiao for his statements. Others agreed with Pacquiao, and many religious quotes about homosexuality and biblical punishment were posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Thus, while the LGBT community is accepted in Filipino society, there are still many Filipinos who condemn their lifestyle. The concept of “hate the sin, not the sinner” seems to be the attitude.

 

Do you have anything to add? Write in the comments below!

Update: Throughout this article, I use the word “accepted” in regards to LGBTs in Philippines society. A better word is probably “tolerated”.