Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rising from the Ashes (a poem)

Wo shi Feng Dan,
I am Feng Dan,
born into a world of obstacles,
unwanted by the Chinese society,
unaccepted by the American society.
I am stuck between TWO WORLDS.

I am Hu Hai, son of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.
I force death onto my older brother and take the throne
as the second emperor of the Qin Dynasty.
My father builds Chang Cheng, the GREAT WALL,
to hold me within my own country,
to protect me from the unknown.

I am a railroad worker, the “head man” of my gang.
I live in a tent and eat dried food.
I shoulder the WEIGHT of heavy metal,
and die amongst the railroad tracks.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mirza Sahiba (The retelling of a folklore)

Recently, I watched a movie by my favorite Bollywood director, Yash Chopra. He died one month before the release of his last film in 2012. He was probably one of the best romantic story tellers in the Hindi movie industry. His last film, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, featured a little song called "Heer". This song inspired me to look up the old folklore. To the best of my knowledge, imagination, and attempt, here's my retelling/recreation of the folklore Mirza Sahiba. It deviates from the original storyline a bit. Thanks to mritunjayport.com for allowing me to see the original story behind the famous song.

Source: http://www.mritunjayport.com/

A long time ago, in the village away from the seas, there was once a woman of great prestige. She was the wife of a powerful member; who's the brother of the clan leader. Her husband loved her very much so. She was his life and happiness. One day, the happiness increased tenfold.

She was pregnant.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Stories We Carry: Our Authentic Ways of Portraying Our Culture

Filipinos in Alliance’s Battle of the Bamboo (BOTB) has been an event that is very dear to my heart. Along with the dance experience I have obtained, I have also cultivated a much more expansive student network and background in the folklore of the Philippines. This year I was given the opportunity to be one of the judges for BOTB and it has given me a different perspective in story-telling and identity as a Filipino-American.

Judging for BOTB required intensive research on so many classic stories such as Indarapatra at Sulayman and the iconic Muslim-suite dance titled “Singkil” which shares the story of how Princess Gandingan, who along with her slaves, traversed through a forest infested with magic, fairies, and dangerous conditions. With every dance, there was an iconic element such as usage of bamboo sticks, how the toes are pointed by characters, which instruments are utilized, and what garment is worn by dancers. As difficult as it may have been to analyze some customs, culture was able to shine through means of dancing, even when languages and dialects get lost in translation. Being able to act out and dance to portray a story has made preservation and sharing of our stories much more entertaining and understandable.

Niles North High School's portrayal of "Singkil"
Photo by: Zveephotography

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Documented Voice

A Documented Voice*
Screenshot of a scene from "A DREAM A Part"

Five hundred sixty thousand.
That is the number of undocumented immigrants living in Illinois.
Of the 1.5 million undocumented Asian Americans in the United States,
67,000 of them live here, and I am one of the people
making up 12% of the “unauthorized population” in the state.
You haven’t heard much about my existence
because I have been hiding my immigration status,
trying to protect my family, trying to protect myself
from the government, from the white-washed society,
from the people who look down upon me
simply because I don’t have a document
saying I have as much right to be here as they do.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The UIC Perspective: #ChapelHillShooting

The UIC Perspective: #ChapelHillShooting
By Alysha Mancha
            We all go to a great school that promotes such diversity within the student population. A diversity that I personally define as the inclusion of individuals originating and identifying themselves of different sexual orientation, age, ethnicities, social class, economic class, religion, race, and even skin color. In fact, we are one of the most diverse universities in the nation! Within this microcosm, we have a huge number of students who self-identify themselves as Muslim. Recently, one of the most discussed events in social media and (depending on the station) news channels is the Chapel Hill Shooting, where 3 Muslim Americans were shot to death at the University of North Carolina campus. They were young university students, Muslims of Arab descent, and high achievers who were aspiring to be professionals in the dental and architecture field. Their names were Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Abu-Salha.
            As such, old media and new media have been clashing. Twitter took OFF immediately with the hashtag #ChapelHillShooting, while the news stations took a little longer. Depending on the area covered, different points of view on this incident resulted in a heated debate about the Muslim American stereotype vs the media coverage portrayed. I saw how this issue was very important to the UIC community. As such, multiple UIC students were asked to present their thoughts on this event/issue, and some had the right to anonymity.  And so, I present the UIC perspective:
Source: Google Images/ CNN/Family members

“Words cannot describe how upset I am by this event; it really hit home because it could have easily been my friend or loved one. The double standards set by today's media.”
 Abad Majeed, Class of 2016

If the killer were any other race, this would be labeled as a hate crime and there wouldn't be "more investigation" needed. It's b.s if this doesn't scare you. It scares the hell out of me that I could have my life brutally taken away from me for who I am and yet I would be in the wrong.”

Gilcy Aquino, Class of 2016

“I find it very sad that young people of such high acheievement would have their lives taken from them so early. It's very sad.”
 Amy Clinard, Class of 2016

Monday, January 26, 2015

Parade of Idols

I grew up in the tiny village of Saint Basil located in the province of Pampanga in the northern island of the Philippines. My village is definitely a very superstitious and religious place where a lot of religious ceremonies and unusual beliefs are practiced but nonetheless, they contribute to the rich culture of my hometown. During the holidays, children sing Christmas carols, churches are open fairly late at night for evening masses called "Simbang Gabi," vendors on the street sell the most delicious pastries and grilled meats, and the most glamorous event, the parade of idols.

Idols play a central role in the religious culture of my hometown. Idols are made and blessed by the church and are adorned with jewels and beautiful garments. They are usually sold to the general public but the church holds some of the most sacred and gigantic idols in the village. They have statues of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, a plethora of cherubs, and many more Catholic symbols and people.

My family is in charge of taking care of the Santo Inchero. The Santo Inchero is one of the most well-known religious idol not just in my village but also in the major islands of the Philippines. The Santo Inchero varies in terms of appearance; in many major series, the Santo Inchero is dark-skinned (also known as "The Black Jesus") and in some areas, the Santo Inchero depicts certain events before the Crucifixion. In my village, the Santo Inchero is light-skinned with either maroon or purple garments (depending on who in the family is dressing the Santo Inchero) with jewels and a crown of thorns and metal spikes and my family purchases perfumes from Italy and Jerusalem, some places central to Christianity. My family initially received the sacred duty of taking care of the Santo Inchero, my predecessors decided to use perfumes from religious cities to add a certain aroma to the Santo Inchero's bed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Media Revolution: Asian-Americans in Versatile Roles

Media representation of minority groups can be seen as a major change in pop culture and can influence the flow of the narrative and such. However, media representation fails when it does not represent Asian-Americans and Asians as versatile people. Asian-Americans tend to fill in roles that portray stereotypical Asian "archetypes" such as an intelligent nerd that happens to be mild-mannered or submissive, a comedic character that does a stereotypical Asian accent, a martial artists, and many more. Nowadays, there have been notable changes to Asian-American roles in the United States and it has caused a revolution in the progressive representation of minorities. Great examples of this are Ki Hong Lee and Conrad Ricamora.

Ki Hong Lee has been a rising star in modern pop culture and is prominent for his role as Minho in The Maze Runner (2014) and a multitude of Wong Fu Production videos such as Away We Happened and This is How We Never Met and also from his own youtube channel. He’s portrayed roles such as a person always on the lookout for a girlfriend, a comedic extra, a man overthinking about his marriage and memories, and a person having uncontrollable thoughts about a complete stranger. Conrad Ricamora is a theatre actor that has made a breakthrough in the critically acclaimed series How to Get Away With Murder where he plays a gay Asian-American character.

Perfection that is Deepika

My sisters and I beam with our pre-show jitters

A few months ago, the greatest beauty to ever walk the earth landed in Chicago for the SLAM! Tour. This perfection is Deepika Padukone. If you are a Bollywood junkie like me, you’ll know who I’m talking about. Now, most can argue that she isn’t that pretty and is just famous thanks to SRK (another famous Bollywood actor, King of Khans, etc).

No matter what, I disagree. My sisters and I are big fans of her. From her dancing to her acting, we obsess over her to the point that it may be deemed unhealthy. From her debut in Om Shanti Om (Bollywood Film), I have watched her turn herself from the token item girl to a versatile actress. When I say token item girl, I mean random hot girl who is only in the movie for a song. She has bagged roles that encompass a broad range of identities and her success is a result of that.

Now, back to that SLAM! Tour. My sisters and I rush to the theater to get our seats. We have our posters ready and take selfies. All adults around us think we are narcissistic fools. Oh yeah!

Friday, October 24, 2014

From Korean Pop to Media Representation: A Casual Talk about Asian-Americans and Asians in Media

By: Alzen Santos, AARCCorner Contributor

B1A4 thanking the fans after a great show in Rosemont, IL

B1A4, a South-Korean pop boy band, has been amplifying the Korean pop craze ever since their debut performance in 2011 with their debut song entitled “O.K.” along with the release of their cute music video to accompany it. They are well known for their cute demeanor and adorable dance moves alongside their iconic fashion sense. I thought I would never see them in person because Korean pop groups tend to have concerts either in the West Coast or the East Coast; it almost feels like the Midwest does not exist in a lot of Korean entertainment companies’ eyes. To my surprise, B1A4’s managing company decided to hold one of their US concerts on October 5, 2014, at the Rosemont Theatre, right by the blue line Rosemont CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) station.

As I walked towards the concert venue, I was able to see a stream of fans ranging from teenagers to people in their twenties like myself. A lot of fans brought their boom boxes and started playing B1A4’s songs alongside other popular Korean pop songs. Some fans decided to make colorful fan signs and one of the fans actually made fan signs for everyone to hold! The intensity of the dedication of many of these fans is very high and many of them even learned all the dance moves to B1A4’s popular songs such as “Beautiful Target,” “Baby, Goodnight,” and “Lonely” and performed them in unison in front of the concert waiting line.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


By: Alysha Mancha, AARCCorner Contributor

Shiva and sati by mmmmmr

Your husband just died from a horrible disease at a young age. You notice that his color and his pallor faded. Now, you are wearing either black or white to represent your widowhood. You gather the pyre for the cremation, and hand it off to your fellow comrades. They will burn his body, but you wish to watch from afar. You wish to live your life watching over your child. Unfortunately, your community is forcing you to die with your beloved one. You must lay down your life and walk the burning funeral pyre. You are to die with him, as it is your duty.

After all, your life begins and ends with him.