On positive criticism
A good editor does his homework well by analyzing every opinion, by doing research especially when factual information is concerned and involved, and by ensuring that opposing views are presented. So, don’t think that the editor didn’t think twice before finally deciding on publishing an article that criticized the repetitive nature of the Folklorama Filipino pavilions. The editor found the commentaries in the article positive because it was actually challenging the cultural status quo; it is challenging people to be more creative and to think of new things and ideas. The article did not fall short of suggesting and proposing new concepts that may be added to the current programs of the Filipino pavilions to make the event more relevant, updated, and more enticing especially to the younger sector of our population.
On the repetitiveness of Folklorama
The article did not put the entire Filipino community down; it even uplifted their cultural spirits by showing that there remain many aspects of the Filipino culture that are yet to be explored and presented at Folklorama. In fact, a Winnipeg Free Press article written by Melissa Martin—published a week after Filipino Journal’s—shared almost the same concerns—that Folklorama’s repetitive nature and lack of new concepts and representations of the modern and contemporary aspects of the evolving culture has long been boring and disappointing many people—whether Filipinos or non-Filipinos.
The article was not questioning the Folklorama volunteers’ integrity or sense of volunteerism. Nothing was mentioned about this. The focus of the article was clear: the repetitive nature of the current programs and the lack of representation from the modern and contemporary aspects of the culture.
On bitterness and personal interest “Inna” and “Tito George” are using the column “Mga Puna ni Inna” to express their observations on human behavior, follies, cultures, and beliefs—to challenge the status quo; to offer alternatives especially to those who want something new and different. Was Tito George being sarcastic? Yes. Nothing is wrong with that. Sarcasm is an age-old literary technique many writers and literary personalities have employed since time immemorial—as early or even earlier than the time of William Shakespeare (The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, circa 1600), Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels, 1726), and George Orwell (Animal Farm, 1945).
On the mirror on the wall
The published letter to the editor was implying that Filipinos criticizing Folklorama are less Filipino than those who are volunteering in the shows. She was also suggesting deporting those who criticize. Don’t these critics have also the right to express their disappointments, the way some readers have expressed their disappointments with such criticisms?
Tito George was not promoting abolishing the traditional performances shown at the Filipino pavilions at Folklorama—of course, this is a part of cultural heritage. What he was suggesting was diversify the Filipino programs by featuring also modern part of culture. Presented at the Folklorama every year is just a small percentage of the thousands of islands comprising the entire Filipino culture. There is so much more that we can showcase.
“Folklorama is a chance to learn and experience the different cultures of the different nations especially that Manitoba is the home of multiculturalism, and it is a great opportunity also for the younger generation to know their roots.”
Correct! That’s why we have to showcase not only the old and traditional but also the modern and even the unconventional aspects of the continuously evolving culture.
Volunteerism comes in various forms and levels. In the end, however, we cannot and should not measure who has the better sense of volunteerism because doing so destroys the very moral foundation onto which volunteerism is anchored. It’s like being kind but comparing your kindness to the kindness of others and implying that you are kinder than they are, and in the process makes your kindness mere hypocrisy. Therefore, we should not expect Inna and Tito George to volunteer at the Folklorama events just to show their sense of volunteerism, because they are already doing something to express their own sense of volunteerism—that is, writing for Filipino Journal for free and sharing their observations and commentaries on human behavior and challenging others to think and analyze.
On opening the doors to the usually ignored and unnoticed It’s about time to open the doors to other willing volunteers who would represent the modern aspect of Filipino culture at Folklorama: Art/photo exhibits by local Winnipeg Filipino artists and longtime photographers like Ted Bobier (abstract art/painting), Ronald Yaya (tattoo art), Arnel San Jose (events photography); original music by local Filipino-Canadian bands like Wang the Merciless, Sacrament, Narra, Mustave, haLf man haLf eLf, Foursight, and 2MSU (when we say original, this means that the band themselves composed the songs that they have been performing); local Filipino writers and authors who have published articles or books to conduct poetry reading or storytelling or short literary workshops; local Filipino fashion/clothes designers who will exhibit their creations like Aldo and Scerbo. And the list goes on and on. And all these have not yet been given a chance at Folklorama! They are some of the usually ignored and unnoticed cultural heroes of our community—who passionately create works of music, arts, and literature—their contributions to Filipino culture. Tito George was not suggesting that these people replace our equally talented dancers and singers and other volunteers currently active at Folklorama. He was suggesting that the current committee of Filipino Folklorama share the two-week program, venue, and opportunity to these long-ignored or unnoticed talented Filipinos. Is there something wrong with that?
For, culture is not only paying tribute to our roots and traditions and the dead; it is also about showcasing our new breeds of local and living talents and artists and new creators of cultural and literary artifacts.
This is diversity. This is our complete cultural heritage.
(Note: In the last issue, we published one of the “letters to the editor” we received from our readers who wrote to express their disappointment for Filipino Journal’s publishing the article “Filipino Folklorama, Here We Go Again,” which contained commentaries concerning the repetitive nature of the Filipino pavilions’ programs and several suggestions on how to improve the annual multicultural event. In the spirit of professionalism and balanced reporting, we are now featuring the Editor’s general rebuttal to the letters.)
Letter to the Editor – Filipino Journal
August 7, 2010
Dear Mr. Ron Cantiveros,
I am writing in response to Page 9 of the current issue of the Filipino Journal, August 5-20, 2010 (Volume 24, Number 15). The article in question is entitled “Filipino Folklorama, Here We Go Again,” written by an unnamed columnist whose nickname, presumably is “Inna.” May I also add that this is the first time you are hearing from me. I am not the type to complain or voice my opinion – not unless it is something I consider a serious matter.
First off, I find it ironic that for your newspaper to promote local volunteer talents of the Filipino youth in our community through Folklorama, you should choose to publish an opinion piece ridiculing the very festival featured on your front cover. Even more unfortunate is that this very edition is available for guests to pick up at both pavilions. Now, imagine that Filipino guests read this article before a show, and how it may change their opinions of a show that volunteers have taken the time to present.
Secondly, I earnestly encourage your contributor to do research before writing their pieces. It doesn’t take much research to know that what she calls “Filipino Folklorama” are Filipino pavilions in the festival Folklorama. By targeting what she repeatedly calls “Folklorama” in her article, she targets the entire festival – one of the largest and longest running cultural festivals of its kind.
I’d like to begin my response by mentioning that the mission of Folklorama, as quoted on their website, is “celebrating diversity and promoting cultural understanding” (“Our Mission.” Folklorama. http://www.folklorama.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=24&Itemid=24).
That being said, my concern lies in her opinion of the repetitive nature of the pavilions. While I am not complaining that she has an opinion – we are all, after all, entitled to one, I would just like to clarify several of her arguments.
This columnist, “Inna,” claims, and I quote directly, that “sa ilang taong ipinunta ko sa Folklorama ng Filipino e halos pare-parehong pagmumukha at programa ang napapanood ko. Bakit wala na bang ibang mag-volunteer para magpalabas naman ng bago?” (In how many years that I have visited the Filipino pavilions, it’s always the same shows and programs that I see. Is it because there are no other volunteers that can produce a better, newer show?) She specifically mentions that the show is “panay tinikling, at tradisyonal na sayaw” (full of Tinikling and traditional dances).
Folkorama is not a talent contest; it is a presentation of culture. Like their mission statement emphasizes, it is a celebration of diversity. Culture can be anything from artefacts, food, literature, music, and performing arts. Culture begins at the roots of one’s heritage. It has surpassed centuries – the roots never changing, but the experience of it open to interpretation. That interpretation is available through opportunities such as Folklorama.
As someone who is strongly involved in my pavilion, and have been for 8 years, I can assure you that when we perform traditional dances, it is not because we can’t think of new ideas, but because we are sharing these roots with the rest of the community. TINIKLING is in fact the national dance of the Philippines, and not an easy one to perform. While she mentions the repetitiveness of both pavilions, a close observer will note how different styles (hiphop, martial arts, ballet, jazz, contemporary) are incorporated into each performance to adapt traditional dances or songs for a newer generation to appreciate.
Folklorama is about KEEPING TRADITIONS ALIVE. Each year, we welcome new members who see the importance in finding their Filipino roots within Canadian society. So when “Inna” sees the same faces on stage, doing the same dances, I sincerely hope she realizes that these same faces have been performing, and more importantly, making the effort to learn more about their heritage each year. These same faces recognize the importance in expressing their pride in their cultural roots, and presumably will pass these traditions onto future generations. The pavilions also find a way to keep the spirit of BAYANIHAN alive in the Pinoy community, which is the spirit of being supportive in community endeavours – something “Inna” might want to take note of.
I’d like to point out how disappointing it is that, while both pavilions are praised from guests from all over North America, and occasionally other continents, some people in our own community take the time to belittle our efforts in local media.
Let me end by saying that Folklorama is a volunteer service. It’s a selfless act for the love of music, dance, theatre, culture, food, and tradition. It’s an opportunity to embrace the cultures of the world in the convenience of one city. It’s a time to learn about other cultures, and it’s a chance to take pride in one’s own.
Judianne Jayme, 23
Pearl of the Orient Philippine Pavilion since 2002
Dancer / Production Member