Monday, November 27

Identity through cuisine

I've been reading Fernando Zialcita's Authentic Though Not Exotic, a collection of essays about Filipino identity. I've had the book since summer--attended the launch and roundtable discussion and all--but it's only now that I found the time to read it. It's actually more like self-required reading, but anyway.

Zialcita's claim is that supposedly, many Filipinos are uneasy about the "authenticity" of their identity. Can we really be "authentically Asian" when we've had a lot of Spanish influence? Or are the "real Pinoys" those who had resisted colonialism? Or is the real Pinoy the ingenious lowland Christian Filipino who transformed the Western culture he received into something more palatable to his taste?

Those who are into post-colonial theory and all that blah will recognize this debate about identity except that Zialcita uses a different set of terminologies. It takes a while to get used to, but replace "syncretism" with "hybridity" and you get the drift. Also, he uses a lot of Arnold Toynbee, a name I haven't really heard since high school. But I like how he argues that there is no real Asia but a multiplicity of Asias and he uses cuisine to illustrate his arguments.

Anyway, I was a bit surprised to find the introductory essay serialized at the Inquirer website last week--around the same time I was reading the book. I suppose they're making like The Guardian now. So if you'd like to know more about how the only things we have in common with our Asian neighbors are sinigang and patis, and how we're all really bastards, i.e. tisoys, here's what the Inquirer has serialized so far:

1: "An Identity Under Question"
2: "A Demonized Influence"
3: "No Sense of Context"
4: "A Limited Menu of Binary Contrasts"
5: "Reductionist Interpretations"

And that's where my patience for linking ends. If you want to read more, you're on your own. But otherwise, this book was also previously discussed here.

No comments: