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Open Access Publications from the University of California

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The mission of Alon is to provide an on-line forum for publishing original and refereed essays, artwork, reviews, and moderated reflections that productively and critically engage with Filipinx American and Filipinx Diasporic Studies. Through Alon, we aim to generate and showcase works that positively engage with and critically analyze key questions in the production of knowledges regarding Filipinx Americans and Filipinx diasporic subjects: how are Filipinx bodies represented across multiple forms of media and in what ways do Filipinx people cultivate and create identities and subjectivities to counter these representations? What are the experiences of Filipinx migrants and what about these experiences shed light on the nature of global racial capitalism? How do they imagine and organize toward non-extractive, sustainable futures? How do Filipinx people construct an alternative global archipelago of being and belonging? How are these fields’ particular theoretical and methodological approaches rooted in scholarly production and activism? How are these projects linked with attempts to trace interracial solidarites, as fraught as they may be, to disrupt racial capitalism’s impulse to both homogenize and propagate “multicultural” difference? These and other related questions drive the work behind and in front of Alon.

Alon seeks submissions from those who are engaged in fields that include, but not limited to: Filipinx Studies, Philippine Studies, Filipinx American Studies, Asian American Studies, Asian Studies, Ethnic Studies, Diaspora/Transnationalism Studies, Gender Studies, Sexuality Studies, Cultural Studies, Literature, and the Visual and Performing Arts.

ALON Volume 2 Number 1

Issue cover

Essay

Walang Arte: Gina Apostol’s Insurrecto and Filipino Non-Coherence

In this article, I use and theorize the Filipino performative style of walang arte to account for the ways in which Filipinos negotiate with the violence of translation and everyday life. By way of walang arte—which I will also be referring to as “the Filipino style of being” and “Filipino non-coherence”—and its disruptive and playful stylistic possibilities, I look at Gina Apostol’s 2018 novel Insurrecto as not a mere performance of a postmodern aesthetic but an enactment in novel form of a Filipino repertoire of style. On the one hand, the Filipino repertoire of style that Insurrecto performs poses a problem for translation as an act of mastery and fluency because of the ways in which it not only identifies linguistic fragmentation but bridges the fragments through play; it enacts the Filipino capacity to move between fragments of languages. On the other hand, through fragmentation and acts of breaking, the novel articulates the disjunction between playfulness and pain, the relationship between the pain of breakage and the play that breaking allows.

Leese Street Studio

Forum

Apology to Our Fathers

This poem validates the expectations set forth by conventional and conservative Filipino cultures, and honors the queer men who rejected these expectations in favor of living a radical and beautiful truth.

“From Asog to Bakla to Transpinay: Weaving a complex history of transness and decolonizing the future.”

As we look into the last five hundred years of our history in the Philippines, it is profoundly challenging to trace the history of transness and queerness. However, it cannot be denied that in our pre-colonial times, our society was more matriarchal as well as inclusive and celebratory of otherness. The baylans or asogs as usually referred to in the Visayan are reflective of our transgendered past. They were shamans and leaders, revered and feared. But the colonial years seemingly decimated them, erased, silenced. Then later the bakla became the narrative of post-colonial queerness. Then in the age of intersectional feminism, transpinays claimed visibility in various spaces, which sometimes celebrate her but mostly harmed her. This editorial attempts to weave a complex history of transness and explore our narratives within Philippine society where identity politics is amnesiac of our glorious queer past, selfish of our repressed present and unaffected of our uncertain future. As a transpinay, I position myself among these narratives and speak from the power of the truth as well as weave a tapestry of transcendent transgender experiences that bravely begins to decolonize their future.

 

Keywords: Asogs, babaylans, transpinay, bakla,

Oryól

The poem narrates the physical and ontological transfigurations of the transfeminine while alluding the female ascendant mythopoetic narrative of Oriyol, the sagacious snake in the Bikol Epic of Ibálong.

KONTESERA

A transgender`s relationship to his dream to be beauty queen and her coming out story to her father.

“That’s My Tomboy”: Queer Filipinx Diasporic Transmasculinities

This essay explores the circulation of the figure of the tomboy within queer Filipinx diasporic culture. In particular, I examine “That’s My Tomboy!” a segment of the popular Philippine variety show, It’s Showtime, an ABS-CBN show filmed in front of a live audience in Quezon City, Philippines. Circulated globally on the international cable channel, The Filipino Channel (TFC), It’s Showtime, stars the hugely popular bakla performer, Vice Ganda. As a vignette on the show, “That’s My Tomboy” is a talent competition in which tomboys compete for cash prizes through modelling and singing. This essay uses an interdisciplinary approach that integrates personal narrative and analysis of television and social media to analyze the queer diasporic figure of the tomboy. Beginning with an autoethnographic vignette, I describe my experience, as a queer diasporic Filipina American femme woman, with the term “tomboy.” In particular, I describe the experience of bringing my masculine-presenting, nonbinary partner to meet my family in Dallas, Texas, for the first time. Upon meeting my partner, my Filipino father immediately asked her if she had seen, “That’s My Tomboy.” In this encounter, my partner was immediately recognizable to my immigrant father as a tomboy, both from his personal experiences with Filipinx female masculinity, but more importantly, through his engagement with Filipinx diasporic popular culture. My father’s familiarity with the figure of the tomboy – mediated through his consumption of Philippine popular culture through The Filipino Channel – reflects the circulation of this figure within the Filipinx diaspora. Drawing on this initial theorization of the figure of the tomboy within Filipinx diasporic culture, I then analyze the emergence of other tomboy figures, such as Jake Zyrus and Ice Seguerra, within both television and social media that circulate throughout the diaspora. Ultimately, I argue that social media representations of tomboys create possibilities for queer pleasure and spectatorship, contributing to a broader Filipinx queer diasporic mediascape.

Minsa’y Isang Paruparo: Memoir

This memoir written in swardspeak chronicles the life of a bakla entertainer in Japan in the early 80s. The coded language using baklavolary recreates the milieu of the author. The challenge of writing an essay in swardspeak is the loss of the oral and aural texturality of language and its possible unintelligibility among non-beki speakers.

Contributors