Thursday, June 2, 2011

Virtual Ethnography 101: Two Stories of Lives in Captivity

This summer I asked my college students in Anthropology 1, aside from learning anthropological concepts and theories inside the classroom - to explore places, experience cultural happenings, and then apply their learning through writing ethnographic accounts using the method of participation-observation.

I am posting in my blog with the writer's consent selected ethnography penned creatively by my students to contribute to the emerging sub-discipline of anthropology called 'Virtual Ethnography'.

Basically, virtually ethnography is also referred to as Webnography. We cannot deny the fact that with increasing use of technology and the Internet, there is now a demand for online spaces on various ethnographic accounts.

Ethnography by Pink Celine Aparicio

Born in life full of joy are Bunso and Kingkong. In different worlds, they live. Bunso is with the human race while Kingkong belongs to the family of apes. Both, however, share a common denominator not only of origin but also in the course of life.

The Life of Bunso

Bunso is born in the slums. He and his family have no proper place to stay. They build their shelter, with all others, along the railway. Everyday seems to be a battle. His parents have to work to fins sustenance for the family’s daily consumption of goods and to feed him and his five other siblings.

Sadly, out of desperation and hopelessness, Lando, Bunso’s father, engulfed himself into vices such as alcohol and gambling that results to hurting his wife and children. He earns no money. He gets drunk as if it would be the answer to all his problems. “This is a filthy life! We will not be able to go anywhere else. Your children are born this way therefore you will die this way,” Lando always says.

Bunso’s mother, however, works to earn a penny or two but it is not enough. “Life is real hard. I have to survive for my children. I have work hard, but I do not know where to start,” she sobs.

Until one day, “My father is too desperate, my mother is all worn-out, and brother and sisters are starving,’ Bunso is pushed to steal. He, together with his other friends who are also in such tragic lives, break into a mini grocery store in attempt to sneak six cans of sardines for lunch.

“Your little children, what do you think are you doing? Out you go! Shoo! Never come back again or I will call the police,” the storekeeper shouts as he caught the juvenile kids in the act. For the reasons such unruliness, Lando put his son Bunso to jail.

Though still a minor, Bunso has been put in jail with adult inmates. In a situation like this, how would Bunso survive the captivity?

The Life of KingKong

On the other side of the globe is KingKong. Unlike Bunso, she is with her happy family. Her parents work and find food for her and her siblings. In spite of this, like Bunso, Kingkong and her family have no permanent place to stay. They live in a jungle, facing survival of the fittest with poachers and hunters who may catch and sell them in black market.

“Let us stay together and fight for each other. We must fight the enemies when they arrive,” father Kong said to his band of apes.

Wretchedly, the most unwanted time came. Kingkong had been taken away from her family.

She now lives in a small cage in a zoo.

Compared Lives

In both situations like this, how would Bunso and Kingkong survive their harsh conditions?

Although, both of them live in distinct penitentiary – Bunso under the social welfare while Kingkong in a cage at the zoo. Would they still be happy in captivity?

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