{{COMING SOON}} A YouTube Channel + Website About Filipino (Literary) Works

I would like to announce an upcoming project that I have been working on for the past few months: a YouTube channel + website called {getlitfilam channel} (or, stylistically, getLITfilam)!!

{getLITfilam} is a space created for discussing works by and about Filipinx(*). At this point, we will focus on literary works–novels, poetry, memoirs, non-fiction articles, plays–through analysis and reviews, while also providing historical context and personal anecdotes that touch on “the Filipino experience”. In the future, I hope to include other narrative forms of media and interviews with authors, creators, and influencers from the community.

Currently, I am working with a team of amazing people to put this project together. It will be launched next month, so hopefully we will have things up and running by then!

To get an idea of what {getLITfilam} will be like, think of Thug Notes on Wisecrack meets various Anime review channels meets HappySlip (sorta) or swoozie06 (minus the animations, sorry~). But the influences run deeper than just favorite YouTube channels…

An Amalgamation of Influences (My #LKF Story)

#1 – Back in middle school, I felt like “that lonely Filipino kid” because I was not involved in many of the activities that other Filipino kids I knew participated in. My routine was basically school-to-home and the occasional family outings and Sunday masses. My only refuge from a mundane life was the Internet: MySpace, Blogger, DeviantArt, and YouTube were my cyber-abodes that gave me a glimpse of the “outside world” and made me wish for a more adventurous future.

YouTube was the place for video blogs uploaded by anyone, including (diasporic) Asians that could build their own representation in this particular media platform. People like HappySlip, kevjumba, nigahiga, Shimmycocopuffsss, and Wong Fu Productions were huge influences to me, as a young Asian kid that wanted to see Asian people be “people”, not stereotypes or caricatures that are often presented on television or film.

Because of that, I was encouraged to start my own video blogs… but that did not go so well! I have had two YouTube channels: the first one was mainly for fan-made videos of my favorite anime and a Sims2 machinima series that never came to fruition (short story: computer virus wiped my files clean); the second one was for video blogs about my college life, but that project got stalled because of… college (lol).

Needless to say, I am still pushing for a channel where the content is both fun and meaningful for other LFKs that want to see themselves in any media platform.

#2 – Back in high school, I was a self-proclaimed booknerd that wanted to have a library of “classic literature”. I am talking about books by European and American authors, which made up the majority of the existing “literary canon” that has been highly regarded by critics, professors, and historians as “significant” and “important”. They were the kind of books that are taught in English classes, whether or not the work engaged students to think critically or be interested in reading.

But as I got older, I realized that there was a lack of books written by or about non-White people being taught in the classroom. Granted, there were novels like Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, that gave us a glimpse of non-White experiences. But the way those works were taught in school either exoticized or “Other”-ed those experiences. Although I enjoyed reading the works themselves, I wished that it did not have to be seen through an Anglo-centric gaze that made these experiences or characters “foreign” or “unrelatable”.

I also noticed that there weren’t many books that talked about my experience as a Filipino American. Or so I thought…

#3 – Back in college, I was still searching for more literature outside of the Anglo-centric sphere. Particularly, I wanted more Asian American literature–works written about or by people of Asian-descent. Specifically, I wanted works written about or by Filipinos. It was not until my second-to-last semester of college that I finally got what I was looking for, when I took a course called “Filipino American Literature”! (It took seven semesters to reach that point because registration and degree requirements were excruciatingly difficult to get through…)

As much as I appreciated learning and reading more about Filipino culture and history, in a classroom setting, I started to wonder why it took this long for someone like me–a lonely Filipino kid wanting to discover her heritage–to have access to these resources. I considered those who do not have inclusion of diverse literature in their classes, or ethnic studies programs/departments in their universities… or those who are not even enrolled in an institution of higher education. How can we show that there is a body of work by and about members of underrepresented communities, so that it can encourage others from those communities to tell their stories that will build more representation and visibility?

— From all of these things that came up in the past few years, I decided to create a space for that lonely Filipino kid–a space that focused on their lived experience, explored through works by other Filipinx(*), and accessible to many from one’s own space. That is how {getLITfilam} came to be.

(*) You might be wondering why I am using “Filipinx” when talking about {getLITfilam}. I was inspired by another Fil-Am to think about my own privilege (cis-female Filipina woman, born and raised in America) and about those who are often left out of the ever-evolving, grand narrative of “the Filipino experience”.

In coming from an academic background, my area of study is focused on narrative forms. I am concerned with how different forms of storytelling is used to elevate and empower voices that are often erased, silenced, disregarded, or minimized in certain spaces. This includes the underrepresented communities that have their own circles of people considered to be “outcasts” or “outliers” by other members. In my case, I want to focus on Filipinx that are not giving the space they need to speak and make themselves heard.

It may sound disconcerting because it sounds like I am pushing for “political correctness”. But consider what it is like to be told that you do not fit in with what is “normal”. Think of what it is like to be confused and trying to figure out your true self, while at the same time being called names like “maarte“, “bakla/tomboy“, or “manggulo” and being criticized and shamed by your inner circles. It can be difficult to find people you can trust or confide in, as you undergo major identity changes (physically, physiologically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually).

Fo me, using the term “Filipinx” is part of Decolonization, an ongoing process that helps me to learn and unlearn certain things so that I can better understand my own Filipino experience and others’. This involves the use and impact of language in discussing lived experiences. And because this is an ongoing process, mistakes are abound and lessons will be taught/learned. There will be times where I will use “Filipino” and “Filipinx” interchangeably–intentionally or by mistake. Not everyone will be on the same page, but I hope to invite others into conversation about why certain terms are used and how our words and actions affect others.

— With that, I hope that {getLITfilam} contributes to the growth and development of the Filipino/Fil-Am community. In this stage of my life, this is what I feel is the best that I can do, to start things off with what I am good that–analyzing stuff as “texts” and discussing them in a way that sounds both fun and smart.

I look forward to the support, feedback, and future of this project!

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Blogging since the time Myspace was popular.

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