Monday, March 26, 2012

Virtual Ethnography 101: Clark-Subic (The American Influence)

I would always ask my college and graduate students in Anthropology, aside from learning anthropological concepts and theories inside the classroom, to explore places, experience cultural or social happenings, and write ethnographic accounts using the participation-observation method.

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, virtual 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.

By Carl Benedict Cruz

The Philippines is a country of diverse culture that could be told by its history. Our country’s history, as far as it is concerned, has a lot to tell. It could start from the prehistoric people, then to Lapu-Lapu, then to the four centuries of Spansih occupation. Later on, the American occupation, a little of the Japanese occupation, then our freedom.

American influence is very evident in our society. A lot of Filipinos has a strong sense of colonial mentality. It is likely that you know someone who always says, “mas maganda ito noh! Imported ito galing states!” Or you might also know somebody who says, “wag ka na muna bumili dito, magpa hanap tayo nyan sa tita mo sa states, mas bago at mas maganda.” Though our colonial mentality is not only “active” in merchandise, products, etc., we also look up on the Americans with their attitude, culture, and looks.

With those things said, it is safe to say that many Filipinos would at least admire different places and sites that are influenced or built by Americans.

Since I was young, my family goes to vacation at least once a year. It could be during summer or Christmas. Most of the time we just travel locally, and sometimes abroad. When my siblings and I got older, we become more appreciative of our vacations, and of course, we remember clearly and keep track accurately where we went last Christmas, last summer, summer of2010, Christmas of 2008 etc.

I noticed that our family goes to either Subic or Clark almost every other month.

We usually go to Clark for two main reasons. First, we will have a reunion with my paternal side. My cousins and I would swim in Fontana. As for the adults, they would have a lot of food for salu-salo in the viillas. Second, our family goes to Clark when we want to buy imported food, chocolates etc. in its groceries. Almost similar to Clark, we go to Subic for reunions, beaches and groceries.

Since we go to Subic, more often than Clark, once in a while, I have always observed and became aware of the American influence it has.

In Subic freeport zone, it is obvious that the streets and road network is very American. Every street in an intersection would have solid lines and stop signs. It has a “first to stop, first to go” policy which ALL Filipinos obey. If they don’t obey, they would be caught by the SBMA police. If the intersection has no solid lines and stop signs, it has traffic lights. It is also very noticeable that ALL sidewalks are full-size, free of vendors or parked cars, and are complemented by pedestrian lines. In short, the sidewalks are clear and used by pedestrians only.

I was also able to observe that every building or establishment has its own parking lot. Their parking lots are huge enough and are designed and located correctly so that cars would not park in the streets. A lot of establishments as well have parking slots and elevated railways for the disabled.

When you get the chance to go outside the “center” of the city and go to the forests, beaches etc., it is still clean everywhere. There are no garbages in the streets or at the side of the streets. The water in the ports are clean.

I would say that the Americans are remarkable when it comes to. Though I think that we Filipinos don’t have to look up on them too much. We don’t have to imitate them in every aspect to the point that we lose our identity and we don’t have enough self-esteem to believe in ourselves to make our own laws, policies, and products with pride. If there are things we “should imitate” from the Americans or improve in our country, I would say they are quality control, law implementation and discipline, not their culture.

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