Grandma is excited to watch again Folklorama. She asked me to accompany her to the Filipino pavilions. I readily agreed, anyway, I’m still on school vacation. Uncle George, who was on vacation here in Winnipeg, butted in, “I’ll go with you, but hey, will there be something new? I’ve been going to the Folklorama for so many years, but what I usually see at the Filipino pavilions are the same familiar faces and programs. Do they lack new volunteers who will show something new? They always show the same old tinikling and other traditional dances; even the song numbers are just karaoke-singing and imitation of songs and styles of currently famous singers. Don’t we have Filipino artists in Winnipeg who can compose their own songs and music? I am told that there are numerous bands and songwriters here who perform their own compositions. Maybe the organizers of the event just don’t want to give them a break. It seems that a selected group of people is monopolizing the management of Filipino Folklorama.”
“It’s about time that we advance the Filipino culture here in Winnipeg! Let us not forget that culture is made up of not only the old and the traditional but also the new and contemporary. Maybe the elder members managing the Folklorama don’t realize the ever-increasing number of Filipino youth here in our community. It’s about time that they attend to their interest. Sometimes, that’s the trouble with people in positions—like people in the government—they tend to be selfish; they usually think of only their own welfare. They are like race horses whose eyes are covered at the sides—they can see only straight ahead; they can’t see other directions.”
“I’ll make a bet—they will be selling again the same kind of foods. I was once asked by a non-Filipino coworker, “Are those the only Filipino foods you got?” Another one asked, “Why is it that your music performers always consist of karaoke performers singing songs of the likes of Céline Dion and Whitney Houston? Don’t you have Filipino artists and composers here in Manitoba whom you can be proud of?”
“Uncle George,” I interrupted, “Slow down; don’t be too critical. Let’s just watch Folklorama. Maybe the Filipino community committee has some new ideas and numbers to present this year.”
“Well, I like your positive thinking,” said Uncle George, “but I’ll bet my return ticket to Toronto that they will present the same old shows—numbers more suited for old people! I have the feeling that they will showcase once again the same performances from last year. And if there will be some singers, they would be singing songs by other people; no original music.”
“C’mon, Uncle George, let’s just give Grandma company.”
“Okay, let’s talk again after watching Folklorama. Let’s see if there’s still hope to see something new in the Filipino pavilions.”
“Letter to the Editor”
Re: Mga Puna ni Inna: Filipino Folklorama, Here We Go Again
I just hope that before you published this article, you thought twice how it would be interpreted by our fellow Filipinos especially by the volunteers of the Filipino pavilions. Inna and Tito George seemed that they used the column to express their bitterness because of their selfish personal interest.
Did the writer ask the Pavilion Coordinator to let their band play during Folklorama and was not permitted?
The Folklorama is a chance to learn and experience the different cultures of the different nations since Winnipeg is the home of multiculturalism, and this is also a great opportunity for the younger generation to know their roots.
What interests of the youth was Tito George talking about? Hip-hop dance, playing in a band, singing their original compositions? Where were you when they had these different events to showcase the talents of our young Filipinos?
I guess this time Tito George’s ticket is at stake because we still have tinikling and other traditional folk dances.
I think Inna should volunteer if she has the talent.
I don’t see anything wrong in our Filipino singers’ singing foreign songs on the karaoke machine. This is how we show our foreign guests Filipinos’ versatility.
If you think that the dances and the volunteers are “parehong pagmumukha,” why don’t you, Inna, and Tito George go to other pavilions so that you will not see similar faces and dances. We have 45 pavilions to visit; and if you already know our heritage, why don’t you broaden your horizon and go to other places? I don’t understand why you keep on coming to the Filipino pavilions and watching the same dancers and shows which you are sick and tired of?
If this writer is not in good terms with the organizers of the Pilipino pavilions, then it is not the concern of the volunteers. You have no right to question our integrity and sincerity as volunteers.
I am a parent of one of the dancers whom you ridiculed in your column. My daughter was asked to perform without any monetary promise. The kids offered their time, energy, and talent; while we, parents, generously donated our time and financial support.
When Tito George questioned why my daughter volunteered to dance again “dahil pare-parehong pagmumukha” every year, I wanted to appeal that this Tito George be deported from Winnipeg since a person like him is not needed here in friendly Manitoba. This is my first time to read an article that is publicly mocking the volunteers’ sense of volunteerism.
I strongly believe that this kind of journalism that you are practicing with your newspaper should not be supported by any sponsors or any kababayan.
I believe in the freedom of the press, but you should also observe and abide the journalism ethics and standards.
Mr. Editor, do you think this type of article helps the community? Or are you just creating instability in our community? Please reflect on your purpose of publishing the newspaper. Is it to inform, deliver news, and inspire? Or mainly to earn income for your family?
Thank you, and I hope that you take time to read this reaction the same way you approved and published Inna’s article.
From a very disappointed volunteer of Folklorama,
Madel Samaniego (parent of one of the dancers at the Nayong Pilipino Pavilion)
[Filipino Journal will publish the Editor’s rebuttal in the next issue.]
[Note: FJ is hereby publishing an English translation of the previous article due to requests by some readers who found it controversial. And controversial enough, we have received a number of “letters to the editor” expressing disappointment about the said article, accusing the writer and the editor of committing cultural treason. In the spirit of professionalism and balanced reporting, we are featuring one of such letters, as well as the editor’s general rebuttal.—Editor]