18 August 2006

aklan's patrick alcedo bags 2007 rockefeller fellowship

for the record, i am on study leave from the university of the philippines (u.p.). i've been teaching there since 1988. contrary to rumors (from london, of all places), i have not resigned from my job. and i've got no plans of doing so. i will return to teach in spite of my measly salary as soon as i finish my studies here. diliman is my vocation town. the germ that defies petty departmental politics and low wages. teaching in diliman makes me really happy. that which my heart compels me to do. and with all honesty, i wouldn’t be too rational about hanging on. i've been overwhelmed emotionally by rows of acacia trees embracing diliman’s academic oval. circles of light flushing out of these trees have convinced me to stay.
one of the big reasons why i am always committed to teach at the university of the philippines (u.p.) is that my classes would always have the brightest students from metropolitan centers and rural edges all over the country. many of these former students would become movers and shakers in their professions. it remains a delightful experience to look back and be overwhelmed by the thought that i had been an instrument to teach and encourage these luminaries when they were younger.

certainly, i have nothing to do with the success of my students. but in a small way, i would hope to think that i did not do anything to hold in their unfolding. at the very least, i must have encouraged them and showered them with heaps of positive energy when they were in class. so it moves me immensely when many former students drop by and visit with their partners/kids (and scream "i won the elections!!!"), send emails (“i passed the board exams....yipeeeeh!”) or make that quick phone call to say hello (“i just finished a new movieeeee!”) in spite of their busy schedules.

i will probably run out of space should i be required to name my students from 1988 onwards. but every time i hear a good thing about my former students, i would always burst out with thrill and energy. at the end of the day, i am always affirmed by my decision to stay.

just days ago, i learned from former schoolmates at cambridge that a filipino from u.c. riverside has received the 2007 rockefeller humanities fellowship at the smithsonian in washington, d.c. according to my friends, there were 140 applicants from 45 countries. only 10 were nominated for the fellowship. immediately, i became certain about the identity of the filipino rockefeller recipient.
he can only be russ patrick alcedo. originally from aklan (where boracay is). a very diligent student. one of my very first students when i started teaching in 1988. in fact, he took me twice: in communication ii (types of academic discourse) in 1988-1989. and humanities 1 (literature, society and the individual) in 1989-1990. i even remember the grades he got from me. 1.75 (89-91%) in comm. 2 and 1.5 (91-93%) in hum 1. during those days, i wasn’t too generous with grades. but i do remember patrick receiving one of the highest marks in his batch. he got on top of his limitations and pushed himself double time so he can be the best of the lot.

as soon as he got an email from me, patrick was very pleased to confirm the news. he got the rockefeller! i suddenly remember how patrick was a b.a. english (language) major who worked part-time to support himself and his brother to college. he became an active member of the u.p. filipiniana dance company. and he was ably guided (both academically and artistically) by veteran filipino dancer/dance choreographer/dance critic steve villaruz. oftentimes, i wondered how he managed to work, study and perform simultaneously with great agility.

once upon a time, patrick also taught courses in u.p. the very same people who labored many times to put me down when i was starting out (these people are now mostly retired; the ones who are still in active service are either losing their cohesion or varying in shades of desiccation) once described patrick (during a department meeting) as someone who “couldn’t write,” “who didn’t belong.” so patrick switched places and taught somewhere else within the university.
now it’s patrick alcedo who made it all the way to the top. the one who received postgraduate research and teaching awards, earned a phd in dance history and theory and was conferred with a postdoctoral fellowship at the university of california, riverside. then he became freeman artist-in-residence at the university of hawaii at manoa. the very same patrick alcedo who will be moving to the smithsonian institite as a rockefeller foundation humanities fellow on theorizing heritage.
meanwhile, walang nangyari sa career sa mga naging detractors niya----come to think of it, someone should write a tv drama or movie about the meanie means of academia. but then, no one should be glorifying criminals of that ilk.

so i’ll stick up for the likes of patrick alcedo. he who defies the meanie, greedy pundits....

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bulwagang rizal (previously known as the faculty center), u.p. college of arts and letters

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siyam na diwata ng sining by national artist for scupture napoleon abueva outside bulwagang rizal
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the oblation by national artist for scupture guillermo tolentino outside quezon hall, u.p. diliman
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new u.p. college of arts and letters building
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u.p. main library (gonzalez hall)
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u.p. sunken garden

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two u.p. presidents: francisco nemenzo (1999-2005) and emerlinda r. roman (2005-2011)
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u.p. diliman by google
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university of the philippines (b.a. english: language) and university of california, riverside ( ph.d. dance history and theory) alumnus patrick alcedo by u.s. photographer david cheney

11 August 2006

filipino-australian actor alfred nicdao appears on neighbours

i’ve always been ranting about the essentialization of asian experiences in australia. most of the time, representations of asians and asian-australians here would have to be dominated by chinese and chinese-australian identities. filipinos tend to be subsumed at the bottom of the ethnic ladder. oftentimes, filipinos in australia would have to contend with various forms of ignorance and insensitivity vis-a-vis certain hostile sectors within the larger society.

so it thrills me to hear that my friend alfred ("alf") nicdao is finally appearing on neighbours, australia’s longrunning soap. i remember catching a few episodes of neighbours when i lived in england during the mid-1990s. it still is a toprating program on british television. but from my perspective, the show is particularly notorious for being too “white”. i guess tv viewers here are not yet ready to accommodate asians, africans, aborigines and pacific islanders within their systems. so i ended up not being too fond of neighbours. but if only for the reason that there’s going to be an asian character next week, i will certainly have to catch alf’s holiday with characters from ramsay street.

alf’s episode will be screened on australia’s tv channel 10 on 18 august (friday) and 21 august (monday). alf will be appearing as a surfie who settles in byron bay. it is going to be a fleeting role. but a landmark achievement for primetime viewing in australia. that's one glimmer of hope for the subaltern!

now the great thing about alf is that he keeps on getting what filipinos refer to as “markado” roles as a part-time actor. he is actually a full-time workplace trainer. he delivers hospitality and retail traineeship as part of a government-funded incentive to australian employers. alf has also developed a program for secondary school students called job skills workshop. job skills aims to assist kids with little or no previous work experience in marketing themselves to prospective employers. alf dreams of bringing this unique program to the philippines one day. indeed, there are changes taking place in the workplace. but oftentimes, academia is failing to address problems that have come out of these changes. frequently, young people have been duped and exploited for being totally unprepared when they join the workforce for the first time.

to this very day, alf downplays his stint with neighbours. he insists that he just got lucky. but i remind him that he was handpicked by jan russ, one of the show’s producers. jan russ was the key figure behind the discovery of kylie minogue, jason donovan, guy pearce and many other famous australian actors and performers. so alf couldn’t just be plain lucky. certainly, he has heaps of remarkable talent.

very few people here would actually know that alf is a filipino. most of the time, he gets to play chinese or vietnamese character roles on aussie tv, commercials and films. since 1979, he has worked with mel gibson, russell crowe, hugo weaving, geoffrey rush, peter phelps, john wood, rebecca gibney, marcus graham, jane turner (star of abc tv’s awardwinning comedy kath and kim), david roberts (one of the stars of the matrix), jason donovan, kylie minogue and many others.

he also co-starred with benjamin bratt, joseph fiennes and cesar montano in john dahl’s the great raid (2005). he has appeared in british and australian tv productions like state coroner, mercury, stinger, round the twist, loot, scooter: private detective and blue heelers. he has done commercials and videos for telstra, herald sun, wiggles, victoria police, the new south wales department of education and the national australia bank. he has done the bite (1995) and bootleg (2003) for the british broadcasting corporation (bbc). early this week, he played the role of a malaysian drug lord in forensic investigators starring lisa mccune (channel 7, weekdays, 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.).

and yet, throughout these experiences, alf remains connected to his filipino heritage. he hasn’t forgotten his sampaloc (manila) roots. he always reminds himself that he grew up along governor forbes, dimasalang and maria clara. alf earned his basic education at juan sumulong and ramon magsaysay before his adoptive parents took him to australia. since he left manila at age 14, sampaloc remains the key to alf nicdao's accomplishments as an actor, workplace trainer and family man.

along with hi-5’'s kathleen de leon (now married to savage garden's daniel jones), lina cruz (one of the stars of the stage production of priscilla, queen of the dessert in sydney), actress natalie mendoza (star of toprated uk tv series hotel babylon), and singer kate ceberano, filipinos and filipino-australians have every reason to be proud of alf nicdao. the next generation here should easily follow suit.

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filipino-australian actor alfred nicdao

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alfred nicdao appears in the september 2004 issue of tv week

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alfred nicdao with martin jarvis and gemma jones on the set of bootleg, a bbc drama series (2003). gemma jones has played many other important roles: emma thompson and kate winslet's mother in sense and sensibility (1995), lady queensbury in (oscar) wilde (1997), renee zellweger's mum in bridget jones's diary (2001) and bridget jones: the edge of reason (2004), poppy pomfrey in harry potter and the chamber of secrets (2002) and jackie chan's queen victoria in shanghai knights (2003).

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alfred nicdao with cocoy laurel (engineer), joanna ampil (kim) and two other friends during the australian production of miss saigon

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alfred nicdao visits top filipino film director mario o hara at broadcast plaza (abs cbn) on bohol avenue during the early 1980s; in 1973, alf attended a philippine educational theater association (peta) summer theatre workshop in paco park. even as a high school student, alf took a small role in estrella alfon's kuko ng hanging habagat with veterans bernardo bernardo, mars cavestany, dante balois, mitch valdes, national artist lino brocka and o hara. brocka was then busy with the principal photography of tinimbang ka ngunit kulang. o hara was alf's first acting mentor.

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alfred nicdao with the cast of blue heelers

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a scene from neighbours: alfred nicdao with dichen lachman (katya) and stephen lovatt (max)