How to Cure Our Racist Disease  

Posted by Hyllma

How to cure our racist disease? (sharing an entry at Anas, for letting me share this interesting article!)

In a recent interview, I was asked what steps we can take to promote ethnic harmony in our country. How can we cure ourselves from our racist tendencies? I suggested that if we want to ensure success we must tackle this problem at the various levels.
They are in order of importance, the individual, the family (home), pre-school, school, college & tertiary, the workplace and finally other organizations like interest groups, political parties and the government.

The first two are the most important starting points although the majority tends to focus on the final two. I say do what we can do first. In that way, slowly but surely things will get better.

So here are my suggestions for you to consider. As my idea is easily doable, please have a go at it. At the least it will make you feel good about yourself. Why? Because you know you are doing the right thing. You will be sending your children to a peaceful future as oppose to a possible bloodshed.

I call this simple method, “Ten good things you can tell your children about …” They are part of my experiences during my early socialization growing up in Penang. They are not exhaustive. Feel free to add value to the list.

Practice them over and over again. Drum them in and see the effects in a year or two.

Here we go in alphabetical order

Ten good things you can tell your children about the

1)They work hard and set high standards therefore they are rich.
2)They are good in business, therefore they are rich
3)Even when they are rich, they lead a simple life and many donate their money freely
4)They are good at saving money and know how to delay gratification.
5)They are a discipline lot. They eat dinner early; finish their schoolwork and study before watching the TV.
6)Chinese parents really care and are serious about education – they are willing to sell their property and move to a smaller home so that their children can be educated in a good college overseas
7)They share with us the joys of Gong Xi Fa Chai and gave us angpows
8)They respect their elders
9)When the rest of us were still poor it was the rich Chinese who pay taxes. With that money the government builds schools, hospitals, roads, etc benefiting everyone regardless of race.
10)And, they make the best Ais-kacangLen Chi Kang and
Penang Laksa!

Ten good things you can tell your children about the Eurasians

1)They are fun to be with, they sing, they dance and throw the best barbeques and parties
2)They make friends easily
3)They give freely, they like to share
4)They make good neighbors
5)They are always concern about others so they make real good teachers, nurses and social workers; always helping, helping, helping!
6)They speak English well, you can learn from them
7)They somehow always are able to see the positive side of life
8)Though marginalized they do not demand much like the rest of us
9)They share the joy of Christmas with you
10)They make the best nasi lemak ever!!!

Ten good things you can tell your children about the Indians

1)They make great company; never boring, always fun
2)They know how to laugh at themselves.
3)They are passionate people, especially the Punjabis.
4)They gave us the best danceable music
5)They do not complain much even when some of us are insensitive and serve beef during our functions
6)They truly respect and care for their parents and elders. There are always some old folks living with them.
7)They are hardy, strong, resilient and tough. They reach Mount Everest for us Malaysian
8)They share the joy of Deepavali with us
9)Without them we would have not being able to produce rubber and be the number one rubber producer for so many years
10)The introduce one of the most important food to us – the curry!

Ten good things you can tell your children about the Malays

1)They are gentle and peramah, the nicest people around
2)They make loyal, long time friends.
3)They will share with you everything that they have; their food, their wealth, their power and their land.
4)They are good neighbors, caring and sharing. Gotong royong is their middle name.
5)They are artistic, cultured and sensitive
6)They are willing to compromise. Their leaders lead not just their own race but also all Malaysians
7)They know how to relax
8)They are easily won over – give them half a chance to make peace, they will grab it. Always giving in.
9)They share with you the joys of Hari Raya Puasa
10)They make the best sambal belacan & sambal ikan keringsambal petai in the world!

Ten good things you can tell your children about the Bidayuh
1)They respect the women and the elderly.
2)They like to ‘nyera’ which is a Bidayuh version of pot luck a lot with friends and family
3)Bidayuhs have really strong family ties
4)They are very caring about their neighbours; if the neighbors are drunk, they’ll let them sleep over at their houses!
5)They are willing to ‘gotong-royong’ when needed
6)They have very energetic kids and they are fun to play with
7)Their grandparents will spend time to tell epic stories on Bidayuh legends to their grandchildren
8)They are proud to dance the Bidayuh dance during Gawai Dayak

9)They play very good music
10) They make delicious 'pangkang' which is lemang in Malay.

Ten good things you can tell your children about the Kadazans
1) They have humble beginnings and strive hard to be better. Though they are rich, they still lead a simple life
2) Family and children are most important.
3) They respect the elders and will live with the old folks for as long as possible.
4) Parents are serious about their children’s education. They will go all out to ensure that their children are educated so that the children can have a better life.
5) They hold on to various ancestral traditions regardless of how modern the environment is – especially the ‘Kadazan-Dusun’ language.
6) They are good neighbours and are always concerned about the well being of others.
7) They always see the positive side of life.
8) They share with you the joys of the Harvest Festival especially the crowning of the ‘Harvest Festival Queen’.
9) They enjoy performing the ‘Sumazau’ dance during weddings and festivals.
10) They make the best tapai what we know as rice wine, bambangan or pickle, hinava or marinated raw fish and panasakan or steamed fish.

If you found many of the good things I suggested about the other ethnic groups similar to your own, don’t be alarmed. We are more similar then we think. We are One.

Meme: Save Yvonne's Sight  

Posted by Hyllma

I came across this touching story while on Facebook, thanks to Anas Zubedy. I don't know Yvonne personally, and nor does she know me. But as a human being, I believe we can always help others the best way we know how. 

Since last April Yvonne has been raising funds for the operations she needs to treat her neurofibromatosis which causes tumors to grow inside her body.

About six months ago, Yvonne lost her hearing. Now she's losing her eyesight and needs another operation. The operation is due in December and cost of the surgery is RM154,770 plus hospital stay for two weeks is RM3219.

She has already raised RM10, 000 and need more. She's hoping to raise the rest by republishing her book I'm Not Sick, Just A Little Bit Unwell in English and Chinese. The books are now available in Malaysian bookshops and from her website store. She is also selling T-shirts at bazaars and via her web site store.

You can read about her surgery and donate to her fund here.

You can also help by sending on this meme. If you do, please follow these meme rules:
  1. Create a blog entry titled "Meme: Save Yvonne's Sight"
  2. List three things you love to see. Add in the picture of Yvonne's book cover. The URL is
  3. End with the line, "Yvonne Foong is in danger of losing her eyesight thanks to neurofibromatosis (NF). Please find out how you can help her by visiting her blog at
  4. Tag 5 blog friends. Be sure to copy the rules, OK?
  5. If you have a Facebook account, please check out Ellen's new invention, a "feme" pronounced FEEM, a meme designed for Facebook here. And if you want to blog about NF, that would be great too!
  6. I'm tagging the following blogger friends to ask them to help:
              dr farhana

7. Three things I wish to do see:

    a) The smiles on my parents' faces when I eventually settle down
    b) The beautiful beaches of Pangkor
    c) San Marino High School (when I was there 92-93)

*Yvonne Foong is in danger of losing her eyesight thanks to neurofibromatosis (NF). Please find out how you can help her by visiting her blog at

what does it mean to be malaysian?  

Posted by Hyllma

sometimes, I'm ashamed to be Malaysian.

we claim that 'budi bahasa budaya kita', but I hardly see proof of the fact.

we claim that we are 'multiracial', and 'multicultural', but we are actually like oil and water, together, but never really blending, like in a melting pot.

so, by what yardstick do we identify ourselves as 'malaysian'?

The Letter I Would Like to Read to You in Person  

Posted by Hyllma

As this letter to his beloved in Slovenia displays, his relationship with local cinema is still very much like a long-distance love affair.

My Dear Nika,
I’ve been asked to write a column for this issue of Rogue, and the topic given to me was myself. I’ve always felt it awkward to write in public spaces about personal motivations behind the work I choose to do, so I have decided to use you as an excuse: there are things that you must know, that you may sense but not understand unless I tell you, and so I shall use this opportunity to put them on paper.

Besides, how could I say no to this offer when just the other day you recalled how an essay that was written by the solicitor of this column—in a previous incarnation of this magazine—played a central role in our being together? One must pay back one’s debts . . .

When we met in Rotterdam last January there was something about you that struck me immediately. It was not your beauty, or rather, not just your beauty, but your manner of speaking: which now sixteen months later still demands so much of me. There is a precious intensity in your gestures, the way in which your eyes dart and hands reach out to grab the right word, that illustrates how strong a desire you have to communicate, especially when the conversation turns toward the things that matter to you—the integrity of your work, the importance of nature, the concern for your brother. (I know what you’re thinking—shut up! I’m not a native speaker!—but this isn’t a question of familiarity with language.)

We both did not arrive at the festival in the best of conditions: you in ill health and from the disappointment of not closing the latest issue of Ekran before leaving Slovenia (compounded by you missing your flight and multiplied by a year’s fatigue of battling for editorial independence) and I from the solitude of learning to live alone, and of not yet having come to terms with the abrupt death of my father seven months before (something which, as you know, I am still attempting to do).

I wasn’t in a very good place the months before we met, reckless and hurried in my interactions with new acquaintances, but in Rotterdam it was hard not to fight for clarity and calm when the person before you, beleaguered and weary as they were, would still refuse to let their words slip carelessly . . .

I know sometimes you may think that it was the fact that we worked in the same field that attracted me to you, but I must tell you that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Why? Because one of the greatest joys I believe one can feel is to share that which they find beautiful with someone who otherwise wouldn’t have noticed it, and to see it appreciated. This is the main reason why I love teaching and why I refuse to show Lord of the Rings to my students (no matter how fervently my co-teachers insist). It is also the evidence that cinema isn’t what brings us nearer to each other: because in this regard, we are on equal footing, and I must instead find other things in me to share with you. For anyone who knows me, they know how difficult that is . . .

Does a place mean more than a person? Does my work in the Philippines mean more than the possibility of a life with you, somewhere, anywhere else?

But Rogue wants to hear about cinema! Or at least about my work and what I have done in it. Why it means so much to me, and why I have done the things that I have. So it is about cinema that I must write! Some of this may seem like things you have heard, my dear Nika, but don’t worry, if I am successful it will all come together in the end, and you will see why it relates to you, to us, and to the future.

Allow me to begin with a story, one of which you may be quite familiar.

In 1997, my father decided that my brother Chris and I, together with my mother, should return to the Philippines (my father as you know had been going back and forth between Manila and Vancouver, never growing quite comfortable in Canada. Remind me to make you a copy of the essay “Where’s the patis?”).

We had moved to Canada in 1983, leaving the Philippines just a few months before the death of Ninoy Aquino and just a few months after my second birthday.

Like most teenagers, I was still growing comfortable in my own skin, or rather trying to, and the thought of moving to another country for my last two years of High School petrified me. I resisted: on one hand, I protested to my parents that I wanted nothing to do with a country that was so class conscious and so corrupt (though I didn’t mind going there for vacation . . . ), and on the other hand, inside, I just didn’t want to deal with attempting to infiltrate ill-fated High School social circles in a new country. I was also completely devastated about having to leave the first girl I ever slow danced with in my high school life—Melodie Pangan—who I’m sure never thought of me as anything more than a friend, but who I still called dramatically from the airport, in tears, telling her I loved her for the first time. But I digress . . .

My father seduced my brother and I with the promise of round-the-clock air conditioning and a driver to take us wherever we wanted, which admittedly made the move easier to take (so much for my 16-year old defiance of class consciousness). Both of which, as it turned, were just selling points: things he was able, but unwilling, to provide.

As you know, we are five children in my family, but only Chris and I, together with my Mom, moved back. The primary excuse for it being just he and I was that we were the two youngest, and since Chris was just preparing to enter College and I was finishing my last two years of High School, we would both be able to adjust easier. But the other reason was also that we were men and, as men in the Philippines, he had wanted to groom us to take over the family business, to help maintain what he had established, or build on top of it. The primary reason, I believe, for him wanting my mother to come back was so that Chris and I would. We had grown quite close to my Mom over the years in Vancouver, as my Dad was often away, and he knew that her agreeing to go was the key to being able to bring us back. On the part of my Mom, she was settled in Vancouver, she wasn’t comfortable having helpers live in the house, and was used to cooking and cleaning herself and looking after us. She moved back for him, because he asked her to.

Two years passed, and my mother moved back to Vancouver. She had been battling bouts of depression caused by their fights, by her lack of control of the family, and it was decided that she would go to Vancouver for a while for therapy. I didn’t know at the time that it would be for good, it was supposed to be for two months. She returned for the first time in 2006 for my father’s funeral.

My brother Chris never quite settled in the Philippines. One theory we have was that he never got to imbibe the culture in a manner deeper than gimmicks in Makati—and as a majority of his good friends were foreigners and he had no Tagalog classes, he didn’t learn the language much. The other possibility is that he just wasn’t used to living under my father’s watchful eye. He graduated from University in June of 2001, and by August he moved back to Vancouver.

The first impulse of any good film critic, and to this I think you would agree, must be of love.

What was left of my Dad’s dream—of keeping the family together in the Philippines and of one of his sons taking a keen interest in the business? Me. And just me. With less people living in it, the house had more space, and I no longer shared my room with anyone, but I felt more and more suffocated. Upon graduating with my studies directed towards business management, I began working for my father. I lasted from June to November of 2004 before admitting that I couldn’t do it any longer. I would tell you I quit. My father told relatives at family gatherings he fired me. Either story will do now; it doesn’t really matter.

Sender: Dad
Date: 24-04-2006
Time: 05:19:51pm

“BF 2 GF’s rich dad: I wana mari ur dauter,
Dad: Do u work?
BF: Im a theology scholar.
Dad: Can u afford a weding?
BF: God wil provide.
Dad: Wat about a haus, raising a family & education of d kids?
BF: God wil provide.
Later…Mom: How’d it go dad?
Dad: D guy’s poor, & he thinks Im God!”

Sender: Dad
Date: 24-04-2006
Time: 05:22:32pm

“BF 2 GF’s rich dad: I wana mari ur dauter,
Dad: Do u work?
BF: Im a Unvrsty Profsor nd a film critic.
Dad: Can u afford a weding?
BF: God wil provide.
Dad: Wat about a haus, raising a family & education of d kids?
BF: God wil provide.
Later…Mom: How’d it go dad?
Dad: D guy’s poor, & he thinks Im God!”

I never wanted to be a film critic. To this day I abhor using the term for myself, but I’ve begun to do so regularly, just because it makes life easier.

Many filmmakers, especially filmmakers in the Philippines, have a problem with the word critic. We have little to no culture of healthy polemics in the country, as any attempt to consider fault is taken as a personal attack. Rare are those that are able to deal with it properly. One particular filmmaker took objection to the idea of a publication that I was to edit using the title “Criticine”: he had a problem with the word critic being included. A nasty term, I suppose he thought.

The first impulse of any good film critic, and to this I think you would agree, must be of love. To be moved enough to want to share their affection for a particular work or to relate their experience so that others may be curious. This is why criticism, teaching, and curating or programming, in an ideal sense, must all go hand in hand.

The first proper review of a Filipino film that I wrote was on Lav Diaz’s Batang West Side. I knew I liked movies, had even harbored thoughts of making them at one point, and I certainly took a measure of pride in being looked to by my peers as someone whose opinion was worth seeking. But despite this, and despite the surprising satisfaction of first seeing my name in print, I never had any interest in writing film criticism in any serious way.

It was not writing the review of Batang West Side (which I was quite proud of at the time, but look at with a bit of embarrassment for its simplicity today) that changed things for me, but rather what took place before and after writing it: the complete lack of engaging, intelligent writing on the film that engaged more than just the length. (Conrado de Quiros tried, and perhaps his championing was more important than the actual text.) Batang West Side, as you now, is 5-hours long, and if you read most of the articles that I mentioned (I dare not say discussed), this would likely be all that you knew. Even Jessica Zafra, after organizing a screening of the film through her engaging-if-but-short-lived FLIP Magazine (and having commissioned an article from Lav), proceeded to make crude jokes about the film in the letters section of the succeeding issue.

I was a junior in college when the film premiered, and in the five years I had lived in the Philippines, the closest I had come to connecting with culture via cinema were a few jokes in April, May, June, a film about three sisters starring the then quite popular Alma Concepcion and maybe SPO1 Don Juan: Da Dancing Policeman, starring the great Leo Martinez. Needless to say, Batang West Side was a departure, not only in length, but in aesthetic: its rhythm, the distance from the camera to its subject, the duration in which shots were held, the construction of the discourse (equally about past as about present), and most especially in its attitude towards its audience—its stubborn refusal to give in to our inherent need for a neat ending, instead forcing us to draw our own conclusions.

I wasn’t prepared for Batang West Side. I hadn’t heard of Lav Diaz and simply attended because it was during Cinemanila, and it’s not everyday someone makes a film of that length. I was curious. The film stuck with me. Especially so as one of the first films that made me think concretely about what it meant to be Filipino, about the pitfalls of migration. Perils that, I think for the first time now as I type this, my Dad probably understood better than anyone. It’s a shame he never got to see the film.

It was now a full year after Batang West Side premiered, a good few months after I wrote the article, and still little literature was available on the film. I contacted Lav and asked if I could interview him, to which he obliged graciously. The interview ran close to an hour, and I asked him all the questions I wished others had.

Happy with the results, which ran 12 pages long and was published on the website (may she rest in peace, how I loved her so!), I used all the prepaid credit I had to text most everyone mildly interested in cinema in my modest phonebook to plug it. Hardly any of them responded, of course, but there were notes of appreciation on Indiefilipino’s forums, and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

There were people, it turned out, who were interested in reading serious writing on serious cinema—it just had to be written and published somewhere accessible.