As someone who came to the United States when I was only 2 years old, it was always expected that I would go home to visit the “mother” country. It was never hard to imagine doing, as I had plenty of relatives who still lived in Taiwan. But, my parents never had the money or the time to take me when I was growing up. The only times they ever went was because someone in the family was sick or dying. And then, only one of them would go and the other would stay and take care of the kids. My first trip back to Taiwan wasn’t until I was in college, using a frequent flyer ticket from my mom. I’ve been back many times since, and now I’m a parent struggling with the same issue. My own daughter is getting older and I’m trying to decide when is the best time to expose her to her roots.
It turns out I’m not the only parent facing this same dilemma, as Wayne Chan writes this week about his decision to take his children to China in Northwest Asian Weekly. Chan’s wife confronts him the with the 8 simple words, “Maybe we should go to China this year”, and his immediate reaction is dread, as he has visions of the long plane ride, and the the hot summer weather (the only time he can go as his kids are school age). But in the end, he reminisces on his own first trip to China, and the life-changing event that it was for him, and he realizes:
I went to China that year as an American who happened to be Asian. I came back as an Asian American. So in all seriousness, “Maybe we should go to China this year.”
It’s that same life-changing experience I dream of for my own daughter, and I know it’s really too early for her, since she’s only 4. But there are a lot of other reasons for taking her back to Taiwan. We’re going for our Thanksgiving break this year. It’s actually a trip I’ve wanted to make for the last two years, but we were never able to go. Originally it was supposed to be three of us who were going, my mom, myself and my daughter. I had even purchased the tickets 2 years ago, but my mom got too ill from her cancer. In the end we had to cancel the trip, and cancer won the battle.
I view this trip to Taiwan, partly as a way to honor the memory of my mom. I’ll be taking my daughter to do all the things I wanted to do with her and her grandmother. She’ll get to meet all the relatives (many of whom are also getting on in age), including aunts, uncles, and cousins. I’ll make sure she sees the sights of Taipei. She may not remember any of it when she’s older, but at least I’ll have the photos to show her, and I’ll know I’ve done my duty to her and to the other elders in the family. My only wish is that this isn’t the only trip to Taiwan she gets to go on before she’s in college.
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Ever since the Internet has been available to Asian Americans, we’ve heard random shit about Asian American men: They’re effeminate. They’re child abusers. They’re wife beaters. They’re undesirable to women (or men, for that matter). They’re drunkards. They’re socially inept nerds who prefer playing WoW or D&D than having actual conversations in real life, where the sun shines.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that we have yet another stereotype to be aware (or proud?) of: We’re cheaters!
Normally, this wouldn’t even register on my radar — ooh, straight Asian guys are having sex. yay — but then realizing how the stereotypes of Asian men have been since at least the 1960s, when apparently Asian men couldn’t have sex with anyone except themselves, it’s good to know that American women (read: middle-class white women) are finally acknowledging this basic fact: Straight Asian men are getting it on. WITH WOMEN. WHITE WOMEN. AND THEY CHEAT.
Of course, when you read the article, it’s painted with incredibly broad brushstrokes (“Asian” culture? Gag.), but it does point, however awkwardly, that straight male privilege is the same in nearly all parts of the globe. Men are expected to be the breadwinners, work excessive hours to maintain their jobs and their families, and are lucky to see their wives/partners/etc. more than once a week, while having to deal with their stress by excessive drinking, womanizing, etc., because the workplace culture demands it. And of course, if the writer is assuming this by dating ten or even twenty Asian men, that’s still not enough to make any generalizations.
At least it’s better than the assumption that Asian men are all docile little pussycats that would be the nearly-white men that these white women can take home to meet their (incredibly racist but overly polite to mention it) mothers.
So, to the original writer of that post: Asian men are still men. And some Asian men are douchebags and assholes who will cheat on your complacent white ass (like a certain Asian American man who’s been WAY overexposed who’s known for having eight kids.) And some Asian men are the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. You’ve just been unlucky to meet a whole slew of douchebags.
President Obama has already made history by appointing secretary cabinet members Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu, Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. Last week, The Washington Post did a nice short profile on lesser known Chris Lu – Obama’s former Harvard Law School friend, classmate and former aide who is now Obama’s Cabinet secretary – the chief intermediary between the White House and the federal agencies.
It’s my favorite time of the year again; basketball season! Unfortunately for Yao Ming fans, Yao may be out the entire season due to having surgery on his broken left foot. However, besides watching the L.A. Lakers defend their title as the NBA champions, I’ll also be closely watching the progress of the New Jersey Nets – Yi Jianlian. Inevitably compared to Yao Ming, he’s been listed as the third ranked celebrity on Forbes Lists of celebrities in China. One major problem – He’s a totally different player than Yao. He’s a much more athletic player than Yao and scores in a variety of ways (including dunks), while playing as a PF. However, for the past two seasons in the NBA, Yi has seemed to be limited to mostly a jump shooter while also struggling to play in the post.
Also news controversies with Yi seems to be keep growing, which include questions over his age, finishing third amongst Eastern Conference forwards in All-Star Votes, and the possibility of Yi having to miss the start of his third NBA season to compete in China’s National games. Apparently Chinese officials went as far as pleading to the NBA’s commissioner, David Stern, for the Nets to honor a contract stipulation (from the rookie contract he signed with the Bucks) that would have released Yi Jianlian to go back and play in China. Yi had already competed this past summer for China at the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship, where China placed second. Fortunately for Yi, he will be staying to play in the NBA and he seems to have made improvements during the off-season. In his last three pre-season games, Yi’s averaging 17.0 points and 10.3 rebounds while shooting .475, twice posting 20-10 double-doubles and not attempting a three. His last pre-season game with the Nets, he ended with 22 points and 11 rebounds, and that was without the Net’s star player – Devin Harris, who definitely has noticed.
Some additional analysis on other Asian and Asian American basketball players, after the jump.
Windows 7 launched worldwide this past Thursday, but in what has to be one of the strangest, most bizarre cross promotions I think I have ever come across, Microsoft teamed up with Burger King in Japan to promote Windows 7 by offering the 7 layer Whopper – that’s seven beef patties. The whole burger is about 2,000 calories, all for about 777 Yen, or about US$8.50. But what does a Whopper have to do with Windows 7? I s Burger King is going to be selling copies of Windows 7 at their stores? And it’s not like I’m more interested in upgrading to Windows 7 because Burger King is running this promotion; I guess the only value for Microsoft is that it gets some free press. [EDITORS NOTE: Like, you know, this blog post.]
De Anza’s Gay-Straight Alliance in Cupertino, CA is screening the film “Saving Face,” a romantic comedy about right, wrong, and everything in between. “Saving Face” was the first feature film from writer and director Alice Wu. In the film, a Chinese-American lesbian and her traditionalist mother are reluctant to go public with secret loves that clash against cultural expectations.
You can see the film trailer here for a preview. The movie will be followed by a student-led discussion encompassing the friction between cultural and LGBT values. The movie will begin promptly at 6:15 p.m., so please arrive early. Refreshments will be provided.
“Saving Face” Film Screening, Thursday, October 29, 2009
Conference Room B @ 6:00 p.m., De Anza Community College Campus
For more information, please see the Facebook event invitation here. Please feel free to invite your friends and loved ones — this is a free and open event where everyone is welcome!
For those of us growing up in the U.S. with immigrant parents in the seventies and eighties, there was no getting around the fact that the term F.O.B. (Fresh Off the Boat – pronounced letter “F”, letter “O”, letter “B”) was meant to be derogatory, when applied to ourselves, or to our parents. I had no idea, the term has changed in recent times to “fob” (rhymes with rob) and used affectionately as “fobby”. Jeff Yang tackles this topic in a recent article for SFGate. Specifically he writes about two websites, that have gotten a lot of attention in Asian circles, mymomisafob.com and mydadisafob.com. I’ve actually seen the first site, and read through many funny entries.
Yang calls our attention to these sites, not only because they are funny, but because there’s something endearing about them for those of us that have immigrant parents. We love our parents and all their funny quips and sayings. As I said earlier, for those of us of certain age, we’d never actually call them F.O.B., so Yang wanted to know why Teresa Wu and Serena Wu (not related, but creators of the two respective sites), included the “fob” in the title of their websites. It turns out they used the term as “fob”, not “F.O.B.” and referred to their parents as “fobby” in the most endearing way possible. Yang gets some help from another Yang, Gene Yang, to get the explanation for this cultural shift:
[Gene] Yang, who now resides in Fremont, notes that Mission San Jose, the high school Teresa and Serena attended, has one of the most Asian student populations in the nation. “It’s like 80 percent Asian,” he says. “The average SAT scores there are through the roof, and they have no football team, but an absolutely killer badminton team.”
It makes sense that kids growing up in an environment where being Asian is the norm would have a different view of being an immigrant than one where they’re in the minority. “If everyone has immigrant parents, it’s easy to go, ‘Oh, my parents are such fobs’ and feel affectionate toward them, even proud of them,” he says.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to wrap my head around calling my own parents “fobby”, but they definitely had their share of “fobby” moments. When my parents bought their first new car ever in 1973, they bought vinyl seat covers to go over the vinyl factory seats. They finally took the seat covers off 13 years later to sell the car. By then the rest of the car was rusted out from too many New York winters, but the seats still looked brand new. I was able to convince my parents in later life that should enjoy the velour in their new car in 1997, rather than wrap the car seats with seat covers, so the next owner could enjoy the seats. I’m curious if anyone else actually uses “fob” and “fobby” endearingly, or do you also think of “F.O.B.” as a derogatory term?
In modern pop culture, the Three Kingdoms period of China is kinda like the Medieval period to Americans — dramatic war stories full of people performing acts of valor and glory that have been dead of hundreds of years — except, you know, that shit was real. (Okay, King Arthur may be real, but the whole slaying flying dragons thing? Come on, now.) Which is probably why Red Cliff, the epic four-hour movie based on the Three Kingdoms period that was directed by John Woo last year smashed box office records in China previously owned by Titanic.
Now an abridged, westernized version Red Cliff is coming to America and if you live in the Southern California area, you’re in luck — you can watch a free screening in Los Angeles at the DGA. But here’s the catch — the free screening, especially geared towards 8Asians readers, is Wednesday night. Yep, tomorrow. To RSVP, YOU MUST send an email with the subject line “RED CLIFF RSVP – AAAN” to [email protected] where you will receive further instructions. Priority will be given to registered people, but that does not guarantee a seat, so we recommend you arrive at least 30 minutes before the special 7pm screening time. And use the bathroom beforehand — this may be the abridged version, but with a 140-minute screening time, you’ll not want to miss any of the action.
“If he grows a few inches, you should have him consider playing tackle football.”
This is the comment that Number One Son’s flag football coach told me after a football game. Number One Son had a good game at cornerback, shutting down the receivers on his side of the field. Tackle football? I can’t say that I am a fan of tackle football, given some recent history of deaths, concussions, and the general feeling that it doesn’t contribute toward lifelong fitness. Besides, Number One Son, while quick, is a thin lean Filipino kid. Filipino kids don’t go pro, do they?
Well, apparently, they do! At least there is a small number who do. While we have talked about Hines Ward and his work in South Korea, this article from the Asian Journal (reposted also here at New American Media) talks about NFL players of Filipino descent, both past (like former Rams quarterback Roman Gabriel) and present. Some, like running back Steve Slaton, are partly Filipino but acknowledge their ancestry (Slaton has a Filipino flag tattoo). Manila born offensive lineman Eugene Amano is not a typical Filipino at 6 foot 3 and 310 pounds. He gives back to the community by hosting football clinics, and is working to raise awareness and funds for Filipino Typhoon victims.
Will I let Number One Son play tackle football? I don’t know yet. We’ll see if he puts on those extra inches. While I am not very enthusiastic about tackle football, as I stated above, I’d like to see what he wants to do. In any case, it’s good to know that some Filipino kids can go pro.
Earlier in the year I blogged about How Bruce Lee Changed the World. And now Shannon Lee — Bruce Lee’s daughter — is trying to expand and profit more from his legacy, as described recently in the Wall Street Journal:
“In a bid to tap into growing interest in Mr. Lee in China and to develop her father into a powerhouse global brand, Ms. Lee last year bought back the rights to his image from General Electric Co.’s Universal Studios, which had held them since the late 1980s. “They didn’t put the effort behind it I felt should be put behind it,” she says. Universal declined to comment. Then she formed Bruce Lee Enterprises, a licensing company, and LeeWay Media Group, a production company, to raise his profile. Ms. Lee also consulted with the estates of other famous people, including Elvis Presley and John Wayne, to learn more about how to successfully revive a deceased icon’s image. In recent years, the Bruce Lee brand has brought in around $1 million a year, the estate says. With the new push, Ms. Lee hopes she can squeeze $5 million to $10 million from it annually.”
It’s odd to me that the Lee family didn’t own the legacy of their patriarch. Back in September, 60 Minutes did a really interesting segment on “A Living For the Dead” describe how famous dead icons were still generating a lot of income for the family’s estate. Given the fact that Bruce Lee died at the young age of 33 back in 1973, it’s amazing that he’s lived on in his movies and television shows. His impact has directly affected in many ways how Asians and Asian Americans are perceived in the United States and the world. The good for obvious reasons, but have you ever been asked as a kid if you knew Kung Fu like Bruce Lee?
The King of Licensing also happens to be the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley, who according to Forbes Magazine brought in $52 million. Actor James Dean brought in $5 million. While I think Bruce Lee is more well known than James Dean, most Chinese didn’t know about Bruce Lee as a result of the Cultural Revolution and China being fairly well closed to the rest of the world when Bruce Lee was alive. Last year, the Chinese state television company CCTV showed a 50-part series — yes, you heard that right — on his life after Shannon Lee licensed her father’s image to the company.
I’m glad Shannon Lee has controlling rights to her father’s image, but I hope she doesn’t do anything tacky to tarnish Bruce Lee’s iconic image. Lee has apparently already starred in a Nokia commercial in China, showing him play ping-pong with a nunchuck and his daughter has signed an off on a Broadway musical about her father which is to debut in the 2010-11 season. Hopefully, we won’t see him vaccuming with a Dirt Devil like Fred Astaire.
(Flickr photo credit: striatic)
For those who are regular listeners of my podcast, POP88 or listen to me Monday evenings on SRC at omgkpop would know I’m a regular viewer of Global Talk Show, aka ChitChat with Beautiful Ladies. It’s basically an informal round table discussion with twenty female foreigners living, working, and going to school in South Korea. Their perspectives are offset with five Korean celebrity guests. I enjoy watching it because while a bit cheesy, it’s also fun and sometimes insightful.
In this particular episode, instead of the five Korean celebrities, they invited seven foreign men to discuss topics such as: “Foreign men are considered more attractive in Korea,” “Is it easier for foreigners to get into Korean universities?” and more — more along the lines of social intricacies and preconceived notions. Be prepared for some outrageous stereotypes and a lot of fighting words back and forth. (The best part is one of the ladies defining LBH — “Loser Back Home.”)
The show is available with full English subtitles. My fave is Alberto from Italy and Poh from Malaysia (rowr) but I regularly watch the show for Dominique from Quebec, Dongling from China, Cristina from Italy and Taru from Finland.
The rest of the episode is available after the jump if you’ve got an hour or so to kill.
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This is a webpage of phrases discussing sex in Tagalog. Just to clarify: The Filipino language Tagalog does not have a direct translation for the word “Sex”. “Mag-seks” is Tag-lish (Tagalog prefix with an English suffix.) Back in the day, before the word “Mag-seks” was invented, people used euphemisms to describe the act of having sex and genitalia.
Quite frankly, I think I would keel over from laughter if someone I was with tried to talk dirty to me in Tagalog. Not because of how it sounds, but more so because I can translate it with a quickness. That, and it would sound like a relative talking to me.