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19 May 2006

canberra and other exits

compared to manila, tokyo and cambridge, canberra tends to be really laid-back. but postgrads from a.n.u.'s research schools are expected to take on their academic assignments with persistency and greatness. contrary to perceptions back home, it's been tough living here as a student.

in manila, helpers do most of the household chores. there’s the ever-reliable family chauffeur to take me to work, meetings and errands. mom and dad would always be delighted to wake me up, take me out for lunch or dinner.
cousins who work as mom’s secretaries run across the metropolis to claim parcels, send documents and pay bills on my behalf. i don't usually get upset about anything because i keep myself preoccupied taking my nephews and nieces to cheap treats after school. most importantly, teaching in u.p. allows me to encourage many students and shape lives. my life back home is far more meaningful.

in canberra, on the other hand, things are hardly wonderful and exciting. i wash, dry and iron my own clothes at the dorm. i go to the palengke, do my own cooking and work on my expenses within a shoestring. i cannot afford frequent trips to coffee shops and fine dining establishments the way i do back home. there isn’t much time to watch movies either. there's no reason to paint the town red. canberra isn't much of a town, anyway. but there's phd-related work waiting to be done from 1 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily. focus remains in place even during weekends and holidays.
there are academic deadlines to beat and the pressure to pass and finish is always forthcoming.

coming from the philippines, one is frequently exposed to subtle racism in many parts of the world. most of the time, people will not talk about race or skin color. but there will be academics, students and people elsewhere who will make you feel that you are exotic and therefore, less-sophisticated. sometimes, paperwork necessary for certain academic, federal or legal requirements gets delayed vis-a-vis applications of white residents or those who come from wealthier countries. students from the third world are always under suspect. there’s always this running perception that asians, arabs, africans and pacific islanders are all going to stay here for good. there's also this certain look in the eyes of many locals that non-whites are out to take the most precious jobs away from the anglos.

i have been fortunate to move past these challenges most of the time. after all, i am certain about returning to u.p. immediately after my studies here. but i always have to be exceedingly diligent in my studies. there is no room for complacency in canberra. i have to prove myself worthy of privileges being given to me as a phd scholar all the time. i have accepted ages ago that these are perils arising from my not being australian or white.

because of my experiences living overseas, i could not possibly forgive our government for encouraging many of our compatriots to work perpetually as maids, entertainers and manual workers. there’s nothing wrong about these jobs per se. but the dependency on remittances from overseas have been detrimental to our psyche as a nation.

filipinos shouldn’t always be depending too much on foreign jobs. there has to be a way for philippine economic policies to genuinely trim down the widening gap between the rich and the poor. there has to be less greed and more commitment from our leaders. the more privileged ones should be compelled to follow suit.

it depresses me to see how filipino overseas workers have reconstituted landscapes in america, australia, europe, the middle east, and east/southeast asia. and the filipina nannies. how they laboriously shape fibers of children from other cultures and societies. in contrast, many familial relationships back home have fallen apart as a result of such expatriations.

meanwhile, the word pathetic can be attributed to those who suddenly turn anything but filipino. these are filipinos
who dissociate themselves completely from the country after nailing down strings of financial or professional success overseas. one can assume another nation's citizenship without relinquishing the fact that he/she was born/raised in the philippines. or the fact that one has philippine roots. nothing beats the nerve of these ingrates who have forgotten so easily that once upon a time they were all patay gutom like everybody else.

living in canberra has allowed me to think more about home and country. i have nothing against people who eventually decide to move overseas. but i hate it when people cut off their ties completely then reason out that there’s no hope and future for those who continue to stay in the philippines. filipinos shouldn’t go on believing that going abroad and being there for good is the only cool thing.

admittedly, we do have shameless government officials back home. but there isn’t anything shameful about preserving aspects of our roots and identity wherever we go.

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
coombs building, home to a.n.u.'s research school of pacific and asian studies (rspas)

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Blogger subrosa said...

patay gutom...did you know that through your blog i'm contextually (re?)learning tagalog?

which is important because, i'm going to the philippines next month!

it's my inay's birthday (paternal grandmother), and it's become a big deal for the family. i won't be there for too terribly long though (12 days - 6/28-7/9), and i'll be in batangas for most of the time.

i haven't been to the philippines since i was 12, so i'm really excited. what are the chances you'll take a summer break back home?

- Anne

Sat May 20, 04:34:00 AM 2006  
Blogger wendell said...

anne! couldnt be back in manila until april 2007 because im on my final year. get in touch with tito romy and tita norma. they live just a block away from our house in manila. my mom and dad would be pleased to see you and your family. stay cool.

Sat May 20, 02:15:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Misispi said...

i think that to be able to effectively face up to people anywhere in the world, one has to have an appreciation of where one is coming from, even if it's from our country, and even if there isn't too much good news to be heard from here lately. i think the strength of character to love one's own country, despite, is worthy of respect, and that no amount of hairdye or contrived foreign accents can hide one's feeling of inferiority which really began early at home but is conveniently, if wrongly attributed to one's skin color or nationality.

true, there were times when i was not proud to be a filipino, but by no means am i ever going to conceal the fact because that is who i am.

Tue May 23, 08:57:00 AM 2006  
Blogger wendell said...

i felt the same way too lampel. especially when i was younger. but realizing how lucky i have been to get these grants and scholarships and to have my teaching job in diliman where i can help transform the lives of students. i realized that there is meaning and purpose for all of us. especially filipinos who have been more fortunate in more ways than one. philippines is home. in spite of. we can go anywhere in the world but we will always be filipinos. no amount of dyeing, concealing, surgery or whatever can change that. i guess i am crazy to idealize these things. but we need to love our country because it's the only home we've got. even those pinoys who lived overseas, many of them continue to help their families, schools, communities back home. being filipino can be done in many ways. i am just totally against anyone who consistently/completely denies his/her being filipino after years of staying outside the philippines. i miss having coffee in morato right now. the philippines will always be home. not japan, not england, not america, and certainly not australia.

Tue May 23, 01:08:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Lance said...

I've had a great time reading your blog, Mr. Capili.

I agree. We shouldn't be overly dependent on OFW remittances.

At any rate, I hope you do well in your schooling. I hope to take one of your classes when you get back in UP.

More power to you.


Tue May 23, 11:43:00 PM 2006  
Blogger wendell said...

thanks for dropping by lance. ill be returning to diliman by june 2007. will be teaching creative writing (non fiction, poetry), philippine lit in english, literary history and/or japanese literature within the next school year. keep in touch. w.

Wed May 24, 12:09:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Coffee fairy said...

I miss home -- the warmth and the smiles of the people, the hospitality. I miss Starbucks Commonwealth Avenue. I'm going home one weekend in June, just staying overnight but it's all worth it.

Tue May 30, 11:44:00 PM 2006  
Blogger wendell said...

say hi morato for me if you can. that's my coffee avenue. say hi to UP from commonwealth when you pass by.

Wed May 31, 12:03:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Jay Kay said...

HEy me again..
Well i agree with you totally on the underlying racism in general.. lately i ahve been coping it because my last few gf's happen to be all east asian appearance!

But in term of academic, it is more to do with the western research culture i believe,a t least in science. All the journals are dominated by white authours and instituitions.

Hopefuly this will change as more and more non-western instituition gain high-visibilitiy research output.

Sun Jun 04, 05:41:00 PM 2006  
Blogger wendell said...

hi again jay! after studying in cambridge and tokyo, and being fortunate enough to receive fellowships all over the world, i was greatly disappointed with some australian academics. i can compare quality supervision with my experiences before coming here. i have been fortunate to find the best supervisors at RSPAS. otherwise i would have gone back to the UK or japan. i realized that ANU has globally competitive departments. but there are mediocre faculty members and mediocre departments too. these teachers and departments should go.

Sun Jun 04, 10:03:00 PM 2006  

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