Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My interview with Boston-based blog ASPIRE MOTIVATE SUCCEED now online: addressing the challenges of migration and development

BOSTON, MASS.:  On Saturdays, the blog ASPIRE. MOTIVATE. SUCCEED features people from different backgrounds who tell success stories in their own ways. I was honored to be chosen by Alpha Miguel-Sanford who has featured me in her Boston-based blog ASPIRE. MOTIVATE. SUCCEED as the "Success Story Twenty Two: Randy Gener."  

We discussed the challenges of migration and development: on the role arts and culture plays in the future development of second- and -third-generation immigrants abroad.  Here are excerpts from that Q&A interview:
AMS: You delivered a presentation in Manila about challenges of migration and development, would you tell us how you were selected to be a part of this huge event? 

Randy: In December 2010, I went back to Manila with my family to pick up a Presidential Award from His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III at his residence Malacañang Palace.  The Commission of Filipino Overseas (CFO), which administers that biennial awards system given to individuals and organizations overseas, invited me to speak on the topic of “Solutions of Culture and Education: Keeping Second Generation Filipinos Overseas Rooted in Philippine Culture” at a two-day conference entitled “Vision 2020: Responding to the Challenges of Migration and Development.”  This conference brought together all the stakeholders and sectors (academe, civil society, international organizations and the diplomatic corps, national government agencies, local government units, private sector and Presidential awardees who belong to the constituencies of overseas Filipinos). The Philippine government wanted to discuss the direction it seeks to take in relation to migration and development. 
Basically the Aquino administration aims to undertake public-private partnerships to modernize the infrastructure of the Philippines.  The aim of the CFO is to cooperate with a host of stakeholders and sectors (which also includes leaders of the National Federation of Filipino Associations in America and US Pinoys for Good Governance). Can Filipinos overseas and in the diaspora inspire or respond to the future development of their homeland? What, if any, is the role of arts and culture? How can Filipino artists and arts groups abroad (indivuals, networks and organizations overseas) actively participate in the development of Philippine arts and culture, given the fact that whether we like it or not, Filipinos are both a global, mobile and diverse people?
AMS: Would you share us your views on migration and development?

Randy: I am presently looking for speaking opportunities, discussion platforms and collaborative partners who might be interested in listening to my views on what (and how) arts and culture can do to keep the second- and third-generation Filipinos overseas rooted in Philippine arts and culture. I think that supporting the Filipino languages through education is one obvious answer, but it is actually not enough. 
Second- and third-generation Filipinos — in particular, children of Filipinos overseas — need to see Philippine arts and culture as a dominant aesthetic force both domestically and internationally.  We do not need any more "role models." We need to see the international world's recognition of Philippine artistic works and aesthetic styles as a moving spirit and a generative force. When second- and third-generation Filipinos visit the Philippines, they need to see that there are thriving Philippine artistic and educational communities back home from which they can draw inspiration, influences, new forms and artistic training.

Philippine performing artists, for example, need to be cultivated, developed, encouraged and promoted so that our postmodernity as Filipino artists is identifiable and recognizable, similar to how the world perks up its eyes and opens its eyes when they encounter new trends in African-American aesthetics. Without an infrastructure that supports both emerging and established Philippine performing artists, our second- and third-generation Filipinos will latch on to other foreign cultures (usually in the foreign lands where they were raised), and they will only see their connection to Philippine culture as only a matter of ancestry, tourism and geography.

Moreover, the parents who work abroad to make money which they send back home, often turn their backs on Philippine arts and culture in the process of attempting to assimilate in the new cultures. Frequently these parents will forbid their own children from pursuing careers in the arts (in favor of business, medicine or law). This process not only impedes the advancement of Philippine art forms abroad but also imbues a sense of shame and embarrasement in our culture.

In the theater we are stuck in a cycle.  Filipino American writers are under-represented in mainstream U.S. institutions, because the leaders of those companies will say, "We haven't found the kind of Filipino American plays that will speak broadly to the mainstream U.S interests. If we do produce Fil-Am plays that speak directly to Filipino-American issues and concerns, we don't make money by programming these Filipino-American productions. There is no prestige value in putting them on. Filipino American communities do not make an effort to show up in the audience. It is too difficult for us to put Pinoy butts in seats. Sometimes Filipino Americans themselves will say to us that they are not interested in these works."

So we're stuck in a self-fulfilling cycle. There are no Filipino-American plays because Filipino-American audiences rarely come to see them. Except for families and friends, non-Filipinos are the ones who frequent Filipino artistic events. In terms of culture, Filipino-American audiences do not represent an economic force to be reckoned with because the top theaters and institutions are not convinced that programming or producing Filipino-American shows will lead to material success. Filipino-American artists both abroad and in our homeland remain in the twilight. And since we as artists are perpetually hidden, Filipinos overseas can't see the significance that a strong arts-and-culture aesthetic plays in defining our global identities. Meanwhile, the young people who want to become actors, singers, writers and performers are either out of work or (if they are lucky) working in Western shows or remain perpetual amateurs, because there are no Filipino-American productions where they can practice and ply their trade.

In my presentation, I argue that it doesn't have to be this way. 
AMS: Who or what inspired you to be who you are? 
Randy: Artists inspire me. The work of other artists frequently have a generative effect on me. When I see or read or hear or experience works that I find fascinating in some way, I am frequently moved and stimulated to follow the artist’s way. 

This Q&A interview I gave AMS Daily was posted on Saturday January 28. 

Here is the link to the entire interview:

The AMS Daily site, located at http://amsdaily.net/about/contains stories, videos, books about aspirations, motivations and successes.  "The individuals who have shared their stories with us," according to the site's founder and editor Alpha Miguel-Sanford, "are what the editor believes to be successful. Success/successful is relative to the reader or the person who perceives the idea of who is successful.  These individuals have proven their value to the community; their passion to what they do; their mission to the world and to their families and most of all these individuals know who they are and what they are capable of doing."

The AMS Daily site has a Facebook Page located at https://www.facebook.com/amsdaily

Support education one click at a time:
Every time you "like" this Facebook Page or become a blog subscriber of ASPIRE. MOTIVATE. SUCCEED, the site's founders say that they will donate $0.40 U.S. centers toward the education of about 22 high-school students of the Tarlac College of Agriculture-Laboratory High School in Camiling, Tarlac in the Philippines.

Do you want to support education? Can you be ONE of this site's 3,000 Facebook Fans or Blog Subscribers? If you do, here’s what you can do:
  1. LIKE the Facebook Page – which you can find by clicking here.
  2. SUBSCRIBE to the blog – which you can do in two minutes by clicking here.
  3. SPREAD the word – the site needs to get at least 3, 000 people to visualize this project.

If you want to read more about this, click on the link below: http://amsdaily.net/2011/09/01/pledge-for-education/

Thank you to Alpha Miguel-Sanford for including me in her inspirational new site.

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