Manila Vanilla

What it's like to be a U.S. Fulbright scholar, basketball player, journalist, and the whitest man in Metro Manila.

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Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

New Yorker by birth, shipped across the globe to the world of malls, shanty-towns, patronage, corruption, basketball and a curious burnt-toast smell that wafts around at dusk

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Archival Footage!

The die-hard Manila Vanilla fans will no doubt be disappointed by this clip, which -- unlike my fabled turn in GMA 7's Bakekang -- features neither my hairy chest nor my attempts at acting. However, I managed to appear somewhat composed and intelligent for 10 minutes with local sportscasters Bill Velasco, Boyet Sison and Jinno Rufino, whose quickfire repartée can feel a little intimidating to an intruder/guest like myself. Our subject is -- what else? -- Ateneo/La Salle. I got more mileage from writing about that rivalry than any other subject in Philippine basketball, and while it is a rich and interesting story that reveals a lot about Manila society, I don't know if it deserves its preeminence over the rest of the basketball world. I know why the Green Archer/Blue Eagle rivalry gets top billing, however. The same elite alumni who pack the Araneta Coliseum each time the teams meet are the people who have the disposable income to buy Ateneo/La Salle gear, the people who drove my NY Times story to #2 on the sports page's most-E-mailed rankings and the people who control local media outlets that analyze the rivalry ad nausea.

So, without further ado, enjoy the video.

One final note on accents: My American readers, especially those who know me personally, might wonder why I'm talking with a put-on Filipino-English accent. I'm not exactly sure why. All I can say is that foreigners who end up staying here for long periods of time end up using the local English accent and some of its irregular idioms like "open the light," "go down from the bus," and "craving for rice." It just feels natural to respond to people in the same manner they talk to you. It's easy to look at this from another angle, however, and say that my adoptive accent is an ugly example of pandering racism. I would never walk into a Chinese restaurant in New York, for example, and say, 'Herrow my fwend! I would rike sum poak flied lice!" Of course, Chinese-Americans and Chinese immigrants living in America don't speak like that anyway, but I wouldn't use any voice other than my own while ordering at Hunan Pan. Yet that's exactly what I do here.

Here is the difference, as I see it, between the Chinese restaurant example and my experience in the Philippines, are these: First, the Philippines has a stronger claim on English than many other nations outside of the United States and United Kingdom. Of course, it is the same gnarled claim that other former colonies have, in which native cultures and languages have ceded ground to English, which has become lingua franca and in the Philippines' case, a second national language. The colonial experience was ugly and too complicated to unravel in this short post. Regarding the language/accent issue, I believe I'm not pandering to Filipinos' accents, but speaking a Philippine variant of English that may sound odd to American ears the same way American English sounds crude to the boys at Eton.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

All you guys are having fun talking about Ateneo & LaSalle.
It doesn't get any better for sports talking heads when you see they're having a blast. Kudos. And your accent is fine. The other analysts give you creds for speaking fluent Tagalog, no mean feat there. Good show!!!

8:48 AM  
Blogger jj said...

nice post... keep it up... i think having a neutral accent is rather much better than a full bloodied American drawl...

6:37 PM  
Anonymous kuro_neko said...

i think your accent is fine. honestly i got quite confused since i thought there wasn't any semblance of filipino-english accent at all. what gave it away were the words like "san miguel","ginebra" and especially "san beda" where you pronounced it like what a local would do.

i wonder why i've never seen you around katipunan before....

3:10 PM  

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