I know I’m not Pilipino, nor do I have Pilipino culture in any remote bone in my body. I may, in fact, be the least culturally interesting person you’ll ever meet.
But my friend Angelica is Pilipino, and I wanted to see her strut it. I went to this event, one of many cultural events held at our awesomely diverse campus, with a group of equally-super-white people, and I think it’d be safe to say that we got our eyes opened. In a good way.
The one drawback about this show was its 4-hour length. My butt fell asleep. But in that time, I went from being completely ignorant about Pilipino culture to knowing more than I could ever have soaked up from a textbook. I saw traditional dances, hip-hop routines, skits involving marriage-crazed mothers and boxing-obsessed fathers, stories of abuse and rape, racism between Asians and Mexicans … the list goes on. It’s sad to think that I never knew about this culture, about the beauty it exudes and the violence it overcomes, and even sadder to think that in my culturally banal life I’ve experienced none of those things. I have no traditional dances. I have not experienced prejudice. And I have no national hero. It’s hard to find a reason to be proud of being white, except maybe for the accomplishments of people like William Shakespeare or George Washington. But that’s it.
I think it’s extremely important for people to inform themselves about other cultures. I mean, duh. But instead of taking a class and reading an anthropologist’s abstract about a culture you may never encounter, take the time to learn more about your own friends. It’s more interesting and it’s more valuable. After all, you can’t understand yourself until you understand the people you spend your time with.