the gapanese invasion is nigh!

"pinakamaganda ka nga sa buong kapuluan, pero latina na naman ang magwawagi ng korona at sash sa miss world! racism ba ito? lupasay!"

Sunday, May 04, 2008

who cannibalizes whom?

Waking up after my UP sojourn with partyphile, I felt a terrible itch to watch a cartoon (what nasty thoughts were you thinking of?). since my neighborhood lacks immediate access to my personal definition of amenities, i.e. fast food restaurant, internet café, laundry shop, lugawan that answers my craving for isaw, atm, video rentals, among others, I had to walk past three talipapas to find what I was looking for. I was rooting for aladdin because 1. it is a cinematic retelling of a part of scheherazade’s arabian nights, which I’m teaching in afro-asian class, and 2. the song “a whole new world” reminds me of someone special from the field of theater but unfortunately, other disney cartoons as well as hentais are the only available copies. I chose the little mermaid as an alternative because 1. I better watch arielle than that marian rivera in her “beri epektib” dyesebel stint, 2. there is no beauty and the beast, which pangga and I love (figure out the parallel), and 3. I can sing the gay anthem “part of that world.”
Returning home, I passed by a perya and decided to check out what the attractions were. a pathetic but well-attended carnival show claimed, “aniway, ang babaeng gubat. queen of the jungle from africa. wild woman cannibal eating live animals. [and if the announcement in english wasn’t enough to arouse curiosity from the gullible] kumakain ng manok na buhay at hilaw na karne.” the billboard, which showed a painted version of the supposed female “savage” in an animal skin attire reminiscent of forest people pictured in multimedia, ended with the maxim, “to see is to believe…”
of course, I did not have to go inside to prove that the hype was nothing short of exoticist exploitation. the invocation of the otherness was highlighted for the star attraction to sell. she supposedly hailed from the dark continent midway across the globe, she did not develop a culture in which food are cooked and eaten using implements, she was flushed out of her forest hiding to be entrapped as a circus freak, and she is a female. The motif of the wild woman was embodied by this cannibal, and she is being watched in order to be mocked by those who deem her inferior in terms of ideological civilization. the male patrons remarked on the possibility of the cannibal’s possession of milky-white skin and curvaceous figure, whereas the female ones lambasted her face for being too asian to fit their preconceived idea of an african countenance. it was easy for me to point out the more savage between the voyeurs and the object.
the male announcer dangled before the crowd a bloody chicken which aniway had gorged before her pervertedly delighted spectators. He proclaimed, “walang pinag-aralan ang mga african. sa matinding gutom, pati balahibo kinakain.” i was aghast at his pronouncements, first at deciding that africans are illiterate. i wonder what african literary giants like wole soyinka, nadine gordimer, jm coetzee, naguib mahfouz, doris lessing, alan paton, chinua achebe, ben okri, doreen baingana, ad infinitum would have to comment about this denigration, and i haven’t even mentioned stalwarts outside the literary circle. in light of the extreme hunger he mentioned, what if rioting for food happened out of the food crisis being experienced here as well as around the globe? if people would be reduced to eating vestiges, then freak shows will be out of business.
but it’s hard to tell whether these people were indeed being savaged by crisis, for if the low-class people owning fake mp3s were any indication, then people do not have any right to complain about the exorbitant price of rice. they were all around the fair, headsets plugged on their earlobes. whether they were inside the octopus cars swiveling in midair or they were tossing one-peso coins on game boards, they were enjoying the same music as that of their trendsetting economic superiors. How democratizing pirated new media technology can be, given the elite’s and the masses’ similar looks that seemed to me not entirely different from deaf people wearing hearing aids. it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think of my neighbors in the slums soon wearing cheap contact lenses in shades of opaque blue or emerald green.
my train of thoughts was interrupted by the sudden downpour and so, fearing leptospirosis, my feet skipped the streams of muddied rainwater as I headed home.

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