PART ONE: SamuraiJat in Wonderland
It was a Sunday, and I found myself staring into nowhere, out of my window. My mind unable to comprehend the images laid out before me, as if my past and present had collided at this very point of time in my waking reality. Sunday…
A day for the family, and back home this meant everyone… cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. I started to look back at my humble beginning, living in a tiny two-room shanty beside the railroad in Tondo, Manila, with my whole extended family (I think there were 15-18 of us at the time). A time when we didn’t even have our own shower but shared a village water pump to clean ourselves – except when it rained… that sensational feeling of the ‘pitter patter’ on your dusty dried-out skin, washing away the stress and toils of your day along with your sweat. Oh, how I miss showering in the rain.
It’s crazy because looking back now I can only remember how happy I was… everything seemed so simple. It didn’t matter that we didn’t own a TV or even had proper electricity, I loved being outside running around with the neighbourhood children coming up with any type of game we could play. Although, I have to admit that at times, we would gather around the window of a family who owns a TV and watch the Chicago Bulls win games in the NBA whenever they played. Of course, we weren’t ever able to watch for long because the owner would turn around and scare us away. It was fun, running away with your cousins and friends (my best friends were my cousins since there were 7 of us) laughing. But Sunday…
Every morning on this day, we smarten up (as much as we could) and got ready to go to Church where we prayed and sung as a family, including those who weren’t of the same blood. It was a sense of unity within our community, which I adored. I always looked forward to it. When the clock ticked noon, the Church sang a final song, and out came the snacks and drinks for everyone to indulge in and provided time for strangers to get to know each other. Of course, as a young kid, I procured as much sugar as I could stomach, restlessly running around the street screaming in excitement about almost anything. Occasionally, when we could afford it we would all take a trip to a shopping mall… we couldn’t really afford much but there was a pleasure to be gained by the anticipation, or rather, the fabrication of a false reality of obtaining these American branded products. I remember always dreaming of buying a pair of Nike shoes, mainly the Jordan’s, and always hoping to live a life similar to those that I would see on TV those few occasions. Yes. The American dream. Yes. America the greatest. Back then, everyone continued to praise the American economy, almost obsessively, you couldn’t really get by a long conversation without hearing ‘America’. During those young school years I spent in the Philippine education system, we were told stories of our national heroes, one of which was Emilio Aguinaldo, who courageously fought off the 377-year Spanish rule over the Philippines. Although he did get some help from the American Navy. So, naturally, we always thanked America for everything.
I lived the simple life in Tondo, Manila, for years to come. My parents, which I never mentioned, worked abroad and sent money back home to help support the entirety of my family tree… so I never really saw them growing up, and my grandmother was the main one to take the mother role in my life, but whenever they were able to come and visit, I would get so excited! Hearing my mother tell stories of a life filled with more luxury than we had – again the anticipation was killing me! My brother and I were unable to live with them in Hong Kong, my sister was already there, simply because they couldn’t afford to support all of us here at the time. However the days soon came, first my older brother moved, then I joined a couple years later – Hong Kong was still under British colonial rule, so naturally, the ‘best’ country in the world there at the time was England. During their colonial rule they were able to establish one of the largest trading harbours in the world, and so was praised for bringing so much prosperity into the country turning Hong Kong into one of the strongest developed cities. Moving to this city surpassed all my expectations; the country was clean, huge skyscrapers, designer brands everywhere, and my bedroom were only shared with my brother, not 10+ others – we even had our own bathroom! Furthermore, we were able to afford walkmans and iPods. It even got to a point where my father bought a Ferarri Spider (which he sold after a week because he hated it). This was the dream of dreams! At this point in my life, I accepted and embraced the economy that the colonization brought into the country(ies), “Imagine America”, I told myself. Throughout my whole life I was told by everyone, and my educators, how great the Western colonies were, and so far I had not been disappointed a single bit. One day during dinner, my father asked:
“Have you kids ever heard of a country called Singapore?”
“Well, if you can find it on this globe, I will buy you presents.”
So the three of us, huddled over our one globe, and desperately tried to find this so called ‘Singapore’… half an hour had passed and we continued to fail in our attempt to actualize the promise of a gift.
“Well, time is up… Here it is…”
“That tiny, tiny dot below the line of the equator…”
“WHAT?! That’s a country?! It’s just a dot…”
“Haha yep. Well… I got offered a promotion there, but I told them I’ll only move if my family agrees to move with me. What do you all think? You can have a few days to think about it if you want. It could be a new adventure.”
Looking back now, this was the move that changed my perception on everything. Even though we moved into an even larger house, one that had a garden, a 15m-20m private pool with a waterfall feature, Jacuzzi, and stood four stories tall. I thought I was overwhelmed before, but this was another level. I attended an international school, where they taught history in the most unbiased way, thus began my ongoing rage and sorrow which was only amplified by the natural insecurities of my teenage body at the time.
PART TWO: Welcome to Our World, Insanity.
It seems as though the more you learn about the world and our society, the more disappointed you get. A never-ending hollow abyss that continuously fills your soul. Take for example:
Emilio Aguinaldo has freed the Philipines from Spanish reign, thanks to the American Navy… Freedom and independence at last.
I was brought up to believe this. Looking back, it’s a little amusing as to how this sentence reflects the whole concept of the American dream and economy, or rather the western modernization of the world today. The Philippines was free, but only free from the Spanish reign, what they never told you as a kid was that the Philippines, in turn, became in debt to the American Navy thus technically under American reign. This resulted in the full Americanisation of the Philippines; Basketball, Baseball, Shopping Malls filled with American Shops, etc. It’s like replacing your breakfast with doughnuts… its a quick fix to your hunger problems, but you feel like s**t after. The Americans pretty much invaded the Philippines, only disguised as Freedom. I’m not saying it’s all bad, they did bring in technology, proper sanitation, medication and the concept of democracy – which also backfired because of the debt culture built by the Americans (the Philippines used to be one of the most powerful Asian economies in the world until the debt culture). The thing that I started to question during my teenage years was, why did people celebrate colonisation as if it was the greatest thing that has ever happened. It’s celebrating bloodlust, domination, rape, slavery and everything in between. I remember friends inviting me over for a party during Thanksgiving (they were American friends). A party?! It is absolutely insane.
Freedom is colonisation? Freedom from war is that really freedom? All you do is place the power of one party to another. There is no freedom from anything that has seen blood. I mean even now, THE INTERNET! The platform where everyone is equal and everyone is free! WRONG! Everything is recorded, everything is monitored, everything is regulated. They give you this idea that you are free, but you’re not. Someone is always watching you. The internet, out shopping or going to the gym. Does freedom exist if you are always limited by law?
Before moving to Australia, I thought I had already acknowledged the whole truth behind colonisation. However, I was proven wrong. When I first met my very albino friend, Liam, he told me he was off Indigenous descent. I cracked up. But he was. It showed how even someone, who thought he was educated enough, was still ignorant to many influences that colonisation had.
When I first arrived I was aware that there were European settlers, but I didn’t know the degree and how recent the events took place. These settlers just landed her on some boats and imposed a new government system and one that discriminates against the original inhabitants of the land. Additionally, I specifically remember a bunch of drunk bogans yelling at me, ‘get out of our country yah f**ck’n Asian c*nt’, luckily I just found it a little amusing because, before the Europeans, the Asians actually migrated here. There are archaeological findings that indicate the trades between the Indonesian Islands and Indigenous people hundreds and hundreds of years ago. It’s like they just like to claim things that aren’t theirs.
The thing that triggers me most, is how Western colonisation has essentially killed Culture. Everywhere in the world. This makes me mad because, culture is what shows our individuality, although the world would be very different today (and I probably won’t be writing this blog for my university in Australia), and it shows how we connect to our environment and surrounding. We not only have almost killed the planet, but we have lost the memory of humanity. We have become a single culture; Chadstone Shopping mall, Vivo City (Singapore), Greenbelt Shopping Mall (Philippines) and The Bloc (LA) all have the exact same shops, selling the exact same clothing aiming to make the exact same thing, money. On top of which, if you walk down the street you will see multiple women who look exactly the same because they follow the same makeup model on Instagram. Western Colonisation seems to want to control everything and seems to disregard anyone with alternative thinking, such as; Indigenous tribes, people with mental disorder, people who simply just think differently from them. They marginalise them through brute force, and often, are successful because these minority of cultures never had the desire to do so to them first. It almost shows cowardice through the amount of fear they have of the unknown.