Friday, March 30, 2012

Paralysed and depressed

   There is nothing depressing about this post. Nothing. I promise.

   The earth is now in the spring equinox so snow won't be coming until late fall and there won't be another cold and depressing winter until mid-November or December. Or maybe it might snow before April ends. One will never know. This is Canada afterall. But just because I'm talking about paralysis and depression don't mean that I'm paralysed and depressed. Far from it actually. But I'm not saying that I'm happy right now, at this moment, because I'm not, and that's an entirely different story, but I am happy today. Of my present disposition in life.

   I was reading an old blog post titled "Paralysis" about this Filipino woman I met on the bus. She told me she missed the shopping malls and Filipino foods. On my mind, I don't blame her. But I was surprised when she told me she has lived in Canada longer than me. And the reason why she missed the Filipino culture was because she didn't like this new culture that she's living in. I find that disappointing, because I think (and as I wrote on the post) that one should learn the cultures of a new country--especially if he or she is permanently living in the said country. I'm not saying that one should completely forget about his or her culture, but he or she should make an effort to accept a new culture into his or her life. I don't want to judge the woman because I don't have the right to judge her. However, with her manner of speaking it sounded like she didn't want to assimilate into a new culture.

   I guess this denial of accepting a new culture is part of an immigrant's experience, where he or she has trouble accepting the reality of living in another country. It is difficult to deny one's culture and learn a new one. This process makes one have a dual self, living two identities at the same time. It takes one to immediately transition from one self to another self in order to adapt to the environment and surroundings. I don't know how it goes for other people, but this is exactly what it's like for me.

    Keeping up with two cultures is difficult especially in today's technology where I have access to the Internet and I can chat or talk to my friends in the Philippines. But to be honest, I don't do it often. I used to do it a lot, like, everyday. I used to check my Facebook everyday and check my friends' Facebook updates everyday if they held parties or reunions. But that is so 2009 (because they had the reunion in 2009. heh.). Nowadays, I rarely check my friends on Facebook for two reasons: one, I don't have all the time in the world to spend looking up for their profiles everyday when I have other things to do on the virtual world and in the real world. Second, the more I see them, the more parties and reunions I miss, the more they have fun with their lives, I get jealous. There it is. I admit it. And I just digressed. But this example from my life is one of the reasons why a person denies a new culture. Why he or she does not want to learn a new culture because he or she does not want to miss out on what his or her friends are doing in their home country. I hope I don't sound cynical but I am sure no one checks my Facebook everyday (because I rarely update it) the same way I used to check it everyday. Unless someone really wants to know what's going on in my life, they'll make an effort to chat with me the same way I'll chat with them. Anyway, this is becoming too personal (and I don't mean to attack anyone) so I better stop. The point is, one reason why I used to be paralysed and depressed is because I close myself to new possibilities instead of branching out in this new country. So I tried to change. And it helped, quite a bit, because I can now see a change in myself (like rarely checking Facebook). I don't deny that I miss them, because I do. I miss them a lot. I miss my old friends. But that's it. That's where it ends. I already have a new life. I should just be happy that I have a whole new life ahead of me, new challenges that await me, new people who would like to meet me (I hope), and new places that I can't wait to travel. There is no use bringing up the past because I'm already living in the present for my future. 

    So one solution for an immigrant to not be depressed? Open up to a whole new life and accept the reality of it all. Difficult as it is, the learning experience is worth it. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Looking Back

   Now that I think about it, I haven't really written a post about the day when I left the Philippines. It all seemed like a blur now, particularly that day when I traveled probably because of jetlag or culture shock.

   I left the Philippines on December 2007. I was a teenager then; I wasn't that young but I wasn't too old either. Everything was a rush because our visas arrived unexpectedly so we immediately bought December plane tickets in October. I didn't have time to meet all my friends for the last time. I only told a few people too, because I didn't want to make a big deal out of it. And my close friends knew this would eventually happen so they were not really surprised (I think). As for most people, like my high school classmates and friends, they didn't expect it.

   Within the four years that I have been living here in Canada, I want to think that I've accomplished many things. I learned more than I never expected to learn--especially at the university. I became more responsible. If the 19-year-old me would look at the present me, she would think, "You have grown a lot, Lora. You have changed." I want to think that I have changed for the better; although some of my friends think that I have lost my pride and nationalism due to my harsh criticisms when I was in the Philippines in July and August 2010. But what could I do? I was only telling the truth; all those criticisms were based on my observations. But of course they would never believe me. They might had thought that I completely changed. That I became more Canadian than a Filipino. I can't really blame them if they thought that way because they have never lived in another country before. Sure, some of them might had gone to Canada or the US for a vacation but that was it. A vacation does not last 2 years. It does not last 4 years. Once a person lives in a new place, he or she begins to adapt to the new culture because he or she is an immigrant. He or she, like me, is a person from another country. So if I visit the US and stay for 3 months, I would still not be able to fully assimilate myself into the culture. I'm not saying though that an immigrant should assimilate his or herself into the new culture. It takes time, and it also varies in every person. Even though sometimes I feel like I have fully immersed myself into the culture, there are times when I still cannot relate to what other people are talking about. I think it will never go away. But if a Filipino of my age starts talking about the cartoons in the 90s, then I can relate because I grew up in that culture. But now, I can say that I know less of the Philippine pop culture as I learn more of the Canadian culture.

   Start all over again. Then look back after a few years. What have I accomplished in the last four years? How did my perspectives and ideologies changed over the past four years? Would I want to go back and start all over again?

   I'd rather not. I've had my ups and downs during the four years, but looking back, I prefer not to be paralysed and would rather look into the future. A bright and unpredictable future.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Technology and Me, A History: Part III

   I was reading Candace Spigelman's Personally Speaking: Experience as Evidence in Academic Discourse where in chapter three she talks about the construction of one's experiences in narrative writing. She argues that we, the storytelling humans (as Walter Fisher argues on the Narrative Paradigm), cannot capture the "real and actual" events in our lives based on contemporary theory (62). What we can do is "reconstruct" this memory, to experience these events into text and not the truth (63). I wrote my Technology Narrative paper before I read Spigelman's book so when I was reading the book I agreed on this argument, and the chapter on "Constructing Experience". As I mentioned in part two of this Technology Narrative series, I remembered bits and pieces of my childhood stories due to pictures or remnants of memories in my brain. I don't remember all my childhood memories, and if given the chance I would like to go back to see how I lived as a child, but not change anything. But let's not talk about it here, because my early experiences with technology is only a part of my childhood.

   I talked about the first technological tools I used, the pen and paper, in the second part of the series. This series is actually a four-part narrative series, the third part about the technological devices from my childhood at home, and the last part would be my technological narrative in school (from grade school up to high school.).

   Remember, I was born in the Philippines. I grew up in the Philippines. So the young me in the story is someone who grew up in the Philippines who had no idea (then) that she was migrating to another country (and culture). My parents taught us to not have everything we wanted. This taught me to value what I have, to not waste it, and to not fix something that is not broken. Despite not having everything I wanted as a child, looking back, I am glad that my mother did not buy me all the toys in the toy store. Instead, she bought books. Sure, we had toys, but not a lot. And I was fine with that. I was a happy kid growing up in the 90s.

   As I mentioned in my technology narrative paper, music is a significant influence to my life so it was no wonder that we have a music system at home. My mom told me we used to have a record player because my dad had his vinyl records kept. So growing up, I used any musical technological device. There was a tape player in the van too whenever we go on road trips and long drives. When relatives visit, the adults watched concerts (on VHS tapes) while the children played outside. On Sundays when there were no classes and it was cleaning day, my mom would turn on the radio. I remember during second grade where I used to watch Disney films on our VHS player after I got home from school in the afternoon. I first asked my mom how to set it up and when I learned how to do it myself, I watched films by myself because I didn't want to interrupt my parents who were busy with work (we had a home-based business). So at the age of 8 I was able to watch films by myself. I didn't just watch films or listen to music when I was growing up though.

   My two older brothers played the Family computer a lot while I watched them. I didn't play a lot; one, I had to fight over my two brothers, and two, I wasn't really interested. I preferred watching them play even though I could finish one stage of Super Mario or Battle City. My brother also played the GameBoy, and as usual, I would only watch him. If I did use the GameBoy, I think it was only for easier games. Whenever we visit my cousins, I would also watch them play Resident Evil on the PlayStation. 

Nokia 1011 - quite close to the first cell phone we had and this looks much worse. 

Nokia 3210 - a better phone than the 5110 but worse than 3310. 

Nokia 5110 with its interchangeable covers. I never really liked this phone; I don't know why. 

Nokia 3310 released in 2000. 

   Our household had a fair amount of communication devices that I used as a child. Because we had a home-based business, a telephone was necessary. I think it was in the mid to late 90s that I was introduced to cell phones. The first cell phone I held on my hands was a Nokia phone. It was a huge and heavy phone, but based on the time it was released, it was perfect. I'm not sure what the model name was, but the phone looked like Nokia 1011 but aesthetically better. There were other cell phone brands that emerged in the late 90s. Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Philips were some of the brands, but Nokia was more popular. The Nokia 5110 and 3210 were the classic Nokia phones that were really popular before 2000. But after the clock stroke a new millenium, there was another popular cell phone that emerged: the Nokia 3310. This was the most popular and widely-used by most Filipinos; everywhere you go, almost everyone used this phone. I started high school in 2001, and a few of my classmates had cell phones better than the 3310. The Nokia 3310 was just a basic cell phone: it has a call and text message feature but it had better games and ring tones than 5110 and 3210. But after the 3310, everything changed. Again. 

   By the time I was in my third year in high school (equivalent to Grade 11 in Canada), most cell phones had these features: camera, video, built-in music player, polyphonic and monophonic ring tones, coloured wallpapers, and different sizes and shapes of phones. By fourth year, everyone in class had cell phones. Cell phones became a regular accessory because everyone had it. I was so used to seeing cell phones when I was 15 years old so sometimes I'm not fascinated with cell phones anymore unless these phones are made in Japan or South Korea.

    I've always thought that North America is still far behind the technologies in Japan and South Korea. Especially Japan. I maybe biased because I've always wanted to go to Japan. Or maybe because I grew up in a place where technology seemed to change as soon as I get used to one device. Take the BlackBerry and iPhone, for example. I'm not excited to own these cell phones, and I don't see myself buying one soon. First, because I don't need it. Second, I'm not interested. And alright, the third reason is that I don't have a budget for an iPhone plan that's more expensive than my monthly bus pass. Seriously, I don't see myself owning an iPhone in the near future. I know that I will eventually use a Smartphone, but not an iPhone. Even though I don't buy the latest cell phone in the market, I keep myself updated. And right now, the phone that I really like is the Samsung Galaxy SII or the Sony Ericsson Xperia. And yes, I just said that I prefer Asian-brand cell phones. Although I don't mind a Nokia phone in the future which depends on circumstances.

Spigelman, Candace. Personally Speaking: Experience as Evidence in Academic Discourse. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2004. Print.

            If you want to see the old Nokia cell phone models, here's a link: GSM Arena Nokia cell phones. On page 6, I can count in my fingers the number of cell phones that I had never seen before I graduated from high school. So this gives you an idea that I was a witness (sort of) of the cell phone history (or timeline) and why I'm not too interested in getting a Smartphone right now. You could look at page 5, and again, I've seen most of these phones before I turned 16.