it’s pretty hard to explain how important of a symbol that rainbow flag is to me, and what it has meant in my life - especially because i am straight. fun fact: i have one hanging in my room, over my sister’s old desk. :) i’m not gay, but that doesn’t mean i can’t stand alongside my loved ones in their fight for equality.
so gosh, that feeling of seeing that flag all over twitter, being used as a symbol of my school, and watching it being passed around the stadium… wow.
i only hope the people sharing those images and carrying that flag take the time to understand what it means- what it really really really means - to struggle for gender (and racial and social) equality. because that fight is so much more real than just a cheerdance competition routine.
In a sense, Leslie Espinosa was living the American dream. As a hairstylist and makeup artist for film and theater, her job took her from San Diego to Los Angeles, and finally to New York City, where she worked on popular Broadway shows.
Leslie was one of the five Fil Am fellows. She quit right before the second year. It was abrupt but we were happy. Just for clarity, she and none of us are or were “volunteer teachers.”
Unless in Leslie’s case, if by “volunteer teacher” you mean a teacher who was absent once a week, didn’t fill out any of her forms, left most of her administrative work to her coworkers (who themselves were drowning in their own requirements), didn’t bother learning Filipino to a degree suitable for the job, made no effort to connect with her students, coworkers, or community, and personified everything I cannot stand about Filipino American activism.
"Leslie decided to take up a volunteer teaching program in the Philippines and ended up exchanging New York City for Quezon City or, to be more precise, a public school in the district of Balintawak: “The area itself was dirty, smelly, dark and unsafe. I was soon hospitalized because of dengue fever, but even then I did not want to leave this country, because I was here to discover myself.”"
This is everything that is wrong with our community, that we can highlight this without fact-checking it, that blithe optmism is more important than hard work and follow-through, that “well she’s working harder than the locals ever have” might pardon “but if the work was poorly accomplished was it really better than not doing anything?”
For one, I’m sure Balintawak is nothing like New York but I’ll bet its citizens are hardworking industrious folk who find beauty in what they do have. I love how, just like you did, this article simply throws its citizens away and acts like GK is the end-all when at the end of the day, Balintawak, as “dirty, smelly, dark and unsafe” as you claim it to be, will STILL BE THERE, with all its people, struggling, working, and loving one another to get through tough times. I can’t judge you for admitting you couldn’t endure it another year but I have every right to take umbrage at you painting the barangay as some incorrigible source of disgust when a) your other co-teachers seem to be doing just fine there and b) such a fucked-up belief is the obvious work of your Westernized closed-minded world view. Do you really advocate for the Philippines? If so, what gives you the right to construct the barangay as such? A monkey in a silk suit is still a monkey. At the end of the day, whether in a condo or in a makeshift home, we are Filipino and we’re all the victims of colonial and imperial phenomena, which you would know if you ever opened your fucking eyes and ears.
But I guess none of this matters because you’re pretty. PR really is your speciality. It’s too bad I’m part-White so nobody assumes I’m here on your good intentions.
I don’t apologize for this anymore. I have endured too many ass-backwards people questioning my right to be here when people like you are able to sell your story and maximize it to the point where nobody cares that you did way more harm than good. To think I fucking CRIED on the second-to-last day of school because I was convinced I hadn’t done enough as a teacher, that I had spent a whole year messing it all up, when you were busy doing more self-promotion than education.
To think people back home are painting you as some sort of social justice warrior when you taxi-ed into school every day from your CONDO in Ortigas. I’m sure life was very rough.
Come at me if you really want to. You’re only one and I’ve got 48 other teachers who have no interest in associating with you or any part of your facetious agenda. The only positive to this is that you remind me of why I actually am here, NOT why people THINK I’m here, NOT to begin an illustrious show business career or achieve some charity-related feels, NOT to “discover myself” at the price of Filipino children and their education, but to actually do the job expected of me and TEACH.
You are Fil Am but you are not my kasama. Seriously, who is giving you all this press?
If anyone wants to hear a more informed perspective, don’t hesitate to contact me, the other two Fil Ams who didn’t quit, or literally everybody else who is a part of my work.
Reblog away. I can’t even with this. Peace.
because i’ve seen these about 500 times -
The Dangerous Lives of the Altar Boys
The Dark Knight
V for Vendetta
Celeste and Jesse Forever
white oleander by janet fitch
everything beautiful began after by simon van booy
one hundred years of solitude by gabriel garcia marquez
wasteland by francesca lia block
middlesex by jeffrey eugenides
the unbearable lightness of being by milan kundera
a natural history of the senses by diane ackerman
poor economics by abhijit banerjee and esthler duflo
the motorcycle diaries by che guevara
confessions by saint augustine
fish-hair woman by merlinda bobis
because i still can’t believe how many of my friends and acquaintances continue to share that god-awful blogpost. because years later, i am still so angry, so ashamed, and so insulted -
it is laughable that anyone would defend their right to be rich and privileged.
look outside your car window, at the crippled man with the cup in his hand. read the news. talk to the child begging for alms at the street. listen to the plea of the scholars of your so-called equal opportunity university, those who can barely afford to pay their tuition, and have to work two jobs in order to do so.
soak that all in for a second and think about where your anger and impassioned speech should be directed.
at people who only wish to be afforded the same opportunities you were? really? fucking REALLY?
it isn’t your fault you were born rich, boo hoo, i know. believe me, i know. i mean - look at me. the twang in my voice, the car i drive, my impeccable english. all telltale signs of what kind of spoon was stuffed into my mouth since birth. but the difference between you and me, is that i would never cry foul at someone who looked at me and saw reflected in my obvious upbringing, the kind of injustice and imbalance that they have to consciously live with everyday.
you ask not to be defined by your social class. they would too, if that was an option.
but to be oppressed means precisely that - that you are defined by class, gender, sexuality, race, etc whether you like it or not. you are defined by your social class if your stfap (now STP) bracket, whether you like it or not, prevents you from enrolling because you cannot pay tuition. you are defined by your social class if, whether you like it or not, your parents’ income means you need to work while in school. you are defined by your social class if your everyday choices, whether you like it or not - where to eat, what to wear, how to spend your free time - are so limited by what little money you have that those choices - whether you like it or not, are nearly non-existent.
you ask not to be defined by your social class. please understand that that is a luxury few people can afford. that the choices you nonchalantly make everyday without a thought, are not readily available to those less privileged than you. you ask not to be defined by your social class when so many people, whether they like it or not, simple are. can you blame them for being angry?
it isn’t your fault you were born rich. but is it their fault, that the system is so completely flawed that simply because they were not born as you were, all odds are stacked against them? is it their fault that this reality is reflected in YOUR speech, clothes, mannerisms?
you are angry because you say their anger is misdirected. maybe it is. but so what?
the injustice that persists in this society is so pervasive that i cannot blame them if their anger is too great to contain that it spills over into an insult thrown your way, into this so-called “reverse elitism” you cry foul over.
"reverse elitism" exists because elitism exists.
you are angry because they are angry.
but you are the privileged one. use your privilege to educate yourself, to rid yourself of such ignorance.
there is a quiet war happening, and if you could only see the monsters the rest of this less privileged word was fighting, maybe you would understand how silly your little reverse-elitist battle sounds.
maybe you could all wake up for a second and see what all the fuss is really about.
when i am with you/ there’s no place i’d rather be
…But it’s also about our faith in Jesus. And Jesus had a strategy: Sell everything. Give it to the poor. Follow. Now keep reading before you get that AMDG tattoo, start pasting up your garage sale signs, or closing your bank accounts. More than a simple rebellious act or a hasty adoption of a religious creed, this is a guiding principle, an orientation, a standard by which to live and to learn. What you have is not yours – at least it hasn’t always been yours. You were given everything and now you are asked to give it all away. That’s it. Accept the privilege you’ve been given. Give it away. And follow.
Look to the poor and vulnerable – make their needs and priorities your own; look to them as you make decisions about how to live. Be a teacher, a lawyer, a chemist, a filmmaker, whatever, but look to the poor to understand what you should do as a teacher, a lawyer, a chemist, a filmmaker, etc. Let the outcast tell you what works and doesn’t work about this world. Look for God in the marginal places. Discover Christ in poverty (yours, theirs, and his) and follow. Accept. Give. Follow.
This strategy of conversion involves a strange kind of excellence (i.e. vulnerability) and following is certainly a strange kind of leadership, but it’s the way of Christ and it’s the way of love. Any Jesuit education worthy of the title should afford you the kind of self-possession that prepares you for ultimate (and absolute) self-donation. We want you to know yourself well enough to realize that you’re life is a gift, unearned and freely given. If you understand this then you’ll realize that the only way to live your life fully is to give it away unconditionally to the under-served and the un-deserving. Truly accept the gift of your life and you will understand how the way to fulfillment is generosity. To know this is to follow the way of Christ. To live this is to have experienced the conversion we seek.
…Liberation came not in strength but in weakness. Freedom was found not in satisfaction but in a fundamental conversion – a kind of failure called surrender. Something happened to me and everything changed. It felt like falling in love – attractive, unsettling, and deeply consequential.
So this is the conversion strategy. Fall in love. Move to the lowly place, be with the lowly people, and discover humanity in those places – yours and theirs. In this place love is real. In this place you discover the only answer worth discovering. You discover your profound need of reconciliation. You discover your need of love. You discover the many ways love is abused or misused in this world. You awaken deep desires to make things more like the way they ought to be. You develop a distaste for the cynicism that insists that things continue the way they’ve always been.
More than this, you make a sacrifice. You burn your best things and in the smoke you smell an answer, a reminder of the dust. You remember that dead flesh spoils so why not live, better yet, why not burn it all and have a BBQ. You find yourself ignited. You finally come to understand the meaning of all those cathedral candles, funeral pyres, smoke-filled temples, and incensed altars. Your heart burns within you as you come to know that what is true of fire is also true of love–it changes things.
This is a strategy for conversion. This is a plan for redemption. This is a way to cash in on the gift of your life. This is a way to spend your time and energy. This is a call to prayer, to worship the only things worthy of worship – joy and justice, right-relationship and peace. This is real work. This is a call to love. This is, unapologetically, about coming to know God. This is about the gift of creation and the audacity of fidelity to that gift. Don’t let the gift expire. Don’t let the flesh rot. Burn it all. Spend it extravagantly. Be converted. Your life is a gift. Hurry up and get to the giving.
"See, what I didn’t want was to turn up boys who would claim in later life to have a deep love of lit-era-ture. Or who would talk in their middle age of the lure of language and their love of words. Words, said in a reverential way that is somehow… Welsh.
That’s what the Tosh was for. Gracie Fields, Brief Encounter. It’s an antidote.
Sheer, calculated silliness.”
- Hector, The History Boys