Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hollywood says? This is the Philippines

The Philippines is blipping on the global radar (by "global" I of course mean American). But in true Filipino fashion, our Hollywood-ized identity is confused and a little bi-polar.

Earlier this year, blockbuster production The Bourne Legacy was shot in several locations around Manila. Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with celebrity arrivals (from leads Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz, who star in the film, to Weisz's beau Daniel Craig), shooting schedules and casting calls for extras. When the trailer was released (below), we were all excited to see that Manila was featured prominently, replete with chubby cops, shanties and our iconic jeepney. I don't know how many people stopped to consider that the film actually portrays our city as an ideal escape for Americans on the run. The film wasn't shot here only to be billed as some other third-world country. It is absolutely, clearly, iconically the Philippines. 

kfc-cheese-top-burgerOn the completely opposite end of the spectrum, we have a glorious product "innovation" that could only have hailed from the Philippines. KFC has started offering a cheese top burger. Yes, a CHEESE TOP BURGER! Somehow, this is not a joke. Where does the wrapper go? How does anyone eat this? Is a sandwich made without meat still a burger? I can't imagine who came up with this, how it got approved and produced. Surely someone along the line would have realized what a ridiculous product it is? But it is actually available as a "Streetwise" offer and is so preposterous that it was recently featured in a Jimmy Kimmel's sketch.

From our gritty streets to a quirky product, the Philippines is all over the map in terms of Hollywood's assigned / derived imagery. Though I guess it wouldn't be possible to wrap up our personality in a neat little package. But you have to admit, this is a little confusing.

Maybe what we need to remember is that, with our world-class athletes, singers and internationally spread blue- and white-collar professionals (domestic helpers, nurses, teachers, entertainers, salespeople, etc.) and the unending string of American celebrities that have made it out here to be featured on our cityscape billboards, we are quickly gaining a voice in the world/American pop culture stage. Even our food is supposedly the next hot international cuisine. But with our massive representation on social media, through Twitter hashtags and user-generated YouTube videos, we get to set the agenda. We can shape how the world sees us. What that image will eventually add up to be, only time will tell.

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