Mer-Medusa

This has actually been finished since Tuesday morning, but the lighting’s been terrible for photos because of the rainy weather.

I have been itching to experiment with painting on surfboards since I started surfing so I am beyond stoked that Nikko entrusted his board to me.

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He wanted Medusa but with sea snakes, so y’all know I was obsessed from the get go. I’m glad we were on the same page of not wanting the design to take up the entire bottom of the board. I think surfboards look great as they are, so I prefer surfboard art that still lets details of the board come through.

I had originally thought I’d go all-out snake-mermaid, but it went in a different direction during the sketching process. I took a lot of inspiration from traditional Japanese and monster pin-up tattoos, which I think lent itself well to the limited colours I had to work with.

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Which brings me to the struggle that was real: Paint markers. If we’re friends on social media, then you’ve witnessed my various meltdowns while I was experimenting and figuring out how to work with the markers. I’ve had to start over a few times, but I think it came out alright in the end. It’s the most fun I’ve had working on a piece in a long time. What I’m particularly patting myself on the back for is that I didn’t fall back on my usual crutches of repeating patterns and hair that takes up more than half the canvas. 😛

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If I’m not Filipino and I’m not Nepali, What am I?

I’ve always been aware of my lack of cultural identity. I’m Filipino by ethnicity and citizenship and Nepali by osmosis. In terms of culture, I feel like I don’t have an anchor. If I’m not Filipino and I’m not Nepali, what am I?

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Patan Durbar Square

I’m a former expat kid. I was three when my dad’s work brought us to Nepal. I could say I felt more Nepali, as I was fluent in Nepali but not in Tagalog, went to a local school, and celebrated Hindu & Newari festivals, but the truth is I’d felt just as odd in Kathmandu as I do in Manila. My brother and I were the only non-Nepali kids in our whole school and the only full-Filipinos among our non-school friends.

When we moved back to Manila a few months shy of my ninth birthday, classmates called me maarte because I couldn’t speak Tagalog. If we’re with our Nepali friends, who consider my brother and I as one of them, I feel horrible because I don’t understand Nepali anymore.

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Third grade class photo

When Manila friends talk about home towns/provinces, I immediately think of Kathmandu. But when I visited Nepal a few years ago, I nearly had a breakdown at the entrance to one of the UNESCO Heritage Sites because I realised I wasn’t a local anymore. I was a tourist, being charged exorbitant tourist prices because I couldn’t speak the language anymore.

So if I’m not Filipino and I’m not Nepali, what am I?

Mha Puja (?)

It was a cousin, who’d spent most of his childhood in Tanzania and Kenya, who first introduced the term Third Culture Kid to me.

Third culture kid (TCK) is a term used to refer to children who were raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their development years.

…The first culture of children refers to the culture of the country from which the parents originated, the second culture refers to the culture in which the family currently resides, and the third culture refers to the amalgamation of these two cultures.

…Third culture individuals can also be referred to as cultural hybrids, cultural chameleons, and global nomads.

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Christmas pageant at my preschool.

With the popularity of low-cost carriers, international travel has become a huge thing among people my age. Which is great, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I could have afforded to go back to Kathmandu if not for LCCs, but it also comes with this romanticisation of being rootless, of being restless, of wanderlust, which annoys me.

I feel like a lot of people romanticise these ideas but don’t think of how disjointed and othered it can feel. I know it makes me sound like a hypocrite since there’s nothing I love more than visiting other countries, but I think what makes travel great is the concept of home. I’ve been living in the Philippines  for 20 years now, and it still doesn’t feel like home. It still feels temporary.

So if I’m not Filipino and I’m not Nepali, what am I?

I guess Third Culture Kid is the closest I’m going to get. It’s not the answer I’ve been looking for, but it’s an answer nonetheless and I can live with that. 🙂

p.s Here’s a great TED talk on TCKs

Smash the Patriarchy II – To my younger self:

There was a post that was shared by several contacts on Facebook about how women should be modest in the way they dress because, and I quote, “Real men love their gift wrapped.” This made me so angry, I’m still seething three days after reading it.

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While this started as a rant to counter what was in that post (which you can read here if you are so inclined), I thought I’d expand it a little to general things I wish I knew when I was younger.

1. Your body is your body.

Treat it well not because it is an object to be preserved for your future partner but because it is yours. The only person who can tell you what to do with it is your doctor regarding your health.

2. Makeup is fun.

Don’t ever let anyone shame you into not wearing makeup if it’s something you love. Contrary to popular belief, girls don’t wear makeup for boys, they wear it for themselves.

3. Dress for yourself.

While I do believe in dressing appropriately for certain occasions, — say, formal for a gala show at the theatre, business casual for a job interview, etc. — don’t be afraid to wear what you want. Women have been hyper-sexualised by society and the media while simultaneously being shamed for their sexuality for ages. You’re going to drive yourself crazy trying to please everyone. And on that note…

4. …Don’t be afraid of your sexuality. 

We’ve all been kind of brainwashed from childhood that female sexuality in particular is a dirty, dirty thing. It’s not, embrace it. Own it.
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Masturbate, have sex, don’t masturbate, don’t have sex. It’s your choice. There’s nothing wrong with exploring your sexuality as long as you’re smart about it. There’s a saying in the BDSM community that applies to any relationship, sexual or otherwise: Safe, sane, consensual. Be safe, use protection. Be sure you’re in the right state of mind and emotionally ready once you do start having sex. And always, always, make sure you and your partner consent.

5. Rape comes in many forms.

This tumblr post may save lives:
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If you are uncomfortable with anything your partner wants to do with you, please know that you always have the right to say no. Again, the keyword is consent. 

6. No to victim/slut-shaming.

If someone is catcalled, harassed, molested, raped, the blame is entirely on the attacker. What a person was were wearing or how drunk they were, does not give anyone else consent to have their way with them.

7. “Real women are…” NO. JUST NO.

If you identify as a woman, you are a woman. Whether you’re cis, trans, demi, genderfluid, etc. Don’t let anyone define what being a “real” woman is for you.

8. Never dumb yourself down.

Or lower your standards for anybody.

9. Feminist is not a dirty word.

In a nutshell, feminism is equal rights regardless particularly of your sex and/or gender. It’s celebrating everything that makes you a woman, it’s getting rid of toxic masculinity, it’s tearing down stereotypical gender roles so you’re free to do pursue whatever you want. Most people confuse misandry with feminism, educate yourself so you can educate others.

10. Other women are not your competition.

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Competing with other women specifically, whether it’s in the workplace or within a friend group really needs to stop. We have enough trouble fighting the system, working extra hard to prove ourselves equally if not more competent.

Additionally:

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I could go on, really, because I have a lot of feelings. But the gist of what I want to say is, you do you and don’t let outdated gender norms dictate how you want to live your life.

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