The Philippine Emo, an Indigenous Creature


Hey, Bubba! Seen any emos around lately?

No, not the emu. That would be in Australia, the great nation upside down and chock full of creatures found nowhere else, including a Buddhist enumerator of Skotch descent and an enlightened and literally gifted Filipina resourceful as to the application of humanoids in the shirkplace.

The Philippines is mostly right-side up, being slightly on the correct side of the equator, that being north. It has its own roster of bizarre and sometimes deadly creatures, including the most venomous snake alive outside the Family Ampatuan, the Philippine cobra. And it has bug-eyed little creatures that may actually be mice on meth, it is hard to tell. They are called tarsiers. I’m told there are monkeys here, and I’ve seen the crocodiles, both kinds, saltwater and government. Anteaters infest the forests of Palawan and the bottoms of Chinese smuggling boats. Americans are crawling all over the place and are generally hunted for their pelts, called greenbacks.

It is a wild place, this Philippines.

And the wildest creature of all is the Philippine emo.

“Emo” is a real word, not a made-up one or an internet abbreviation like lol (laughing out loud) or a military term like FUBAR (fouled up beyond all relation). Emo is a word derived from a style of rock music played by bizarre bands that emerged in the 1990’s and bloomed after the turn of the millineum, if you can call inspiring young people toward depression and suicide “blooming”.

Wiki dedicates a lengthy piece on emo music, most of which was composed by crackheads I think, or people who speak a different language than JoeAm, that’s for sure. However, I COULD relate to the observation of musician Ian MacKaye of the band Minor Threat, revealed in this pithy quotation right from Wiki:

Emo Band

Charmaine Clamor, this ain’t.

  • MacKaye also traces it [ the term “emo”] to 1985, attributing it to an article in Thrasher magazine referring to Embrace and other Washington, D.C. bands as “emo-core”, which he called “the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life.”

You won’t find that in Random House.

But we find at the end of that punishing Wiki write-up that the term “emo” has a generalized meaning, too:

  • “Emo has been associated with a stereotype that includes being particularly emotional, sensitive, shy, introverted, or angst-ridden. It has also been associated with stereotypes like depression, self-injury, and suicide.”

Adapted for the peculiar Philippine variety, it would read like this:

  • Emo has been associated with a stereotype that includes being particularly emotional, sensitive, shy, introverted, or angst-ridden. It has also been associated with stereotypes like  self-injury.

Depression and suicide are not characteristic of the Filipino emo but self-injury is a way of life. And “emotional” takes on a peculiar twist, too, to attach to uplifting occasions like a Pacquiao boxing win, a Jessica Sanchez knock-out croon, or Lady Gaga at Araneta. And it attaches as well to a Justin Bieber insult or to Chinese football fans raining insults and bottles at Philippine fans gloating over a win.

Emo rules Philippine news media headlines. We see relentless grief and gore spiced with anger or weepy tears, bleeding bodies and the network’s drama stars preening for ratings, in the guise of news. As a student of journalism,  I am frequently seen by my wife during the TV news shows  running for the bathroom to be ill. Not from the gore. From the lack of journalistic integrity.


Mouse on meth . . .

Perspective or facts are irrelevant.

Emo is not limited to cheers for entertainers or national news, though. It is everywhere, in the halls of education or aisles of Congress, even issuing forth from the pontificatory mouths of bishops leading the Catholic emo flock around by the guilt, or imams passionately directing Muslim women into the dark ages of little education and even less compassion toward others. Not to mention passionate beheadings now and then of any poor white fool who wanders into the jungle watching birds or building bridges.

The NPA extortionist gangsters who are erroneously referred to as communist rebels could be put on the Philippine flag as the national symbol of emo. They attach their acts to no sane purpose whatsoever, and just go emoing across the countryside shooting mayors and blowing up electricity lines or shooting poor unarmed farmworkers as if that fine ideological principle will bring health to the Philippines and wealth to their families.

Come to think of it, maybe we should put suicide back in, as it refers to the emo NPA bozos. They don’t mind killing off the entire Mindanao economy, for sure.

I dunno, fans.

Emo is in, but I don’t like rap, even, or emo F words inhabiting songs on my car radio. I like my music to sound like music, not like some screaming jet overshooting the aircraft carrier runway in a driving typhoon.

Give me the blues any day, and Charmaine Clamor. Let’s sing about love and love lost, and how when things get bad, we just climb on a train to Kansas City. Let’s sing about booze and babes, not death and taxes and for sure not about government.


Definitely not about government.

41 Responses to “The Philippine Emo, an Indigenous Creature”
  1. J says:

    But my favorite emo band Dashboard Confessional sings great music!

  2. manuel buencamino says:

    What we have in the free world is ad-sponsored news. In the unfree world, they have state-sponsored news. One serves commercial interests, the other serves political interests. Truth and useful information are incidental to both enterprises. Emo is the poor cousin of rap.:-)

    • Joe America says:

      Ha, yes. I remember when I used to read news at an obscure station in Los Angeles. The only sponsor was the mortuary across the street, owned by the guy who owned the radio station. The hardest news segue in the world is “And now the news, brought to you by the Angels Funeral Home. In Viet Nam today . . .”

      I earned 65 cents an hour, as I recollect.

      Rap is not music. It’s syncopated noise and nonsense, torture to the trained ear.

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        Sssssh!!! dissing rap music is racist according to them. Classical is elitist.

      • cha says:

        My daughter likes rap music. As such, I’ve been exposed to the genre and can’t really say it’s all that bad. I think the genre is evolving, from its early association with gangsterism to more recent attempts to use rap to speak of social ills and youth issues. The rap artists of old have grown up and are thus a bit more reflective, and more keen to be a positive influence to their much younger audience.

        There’s the Black Eyed Peas’ “Where is the Love?” from a few years ago, which among other things, takes on racism :

        “But if you only have love for your own race
        Then you only leave space to discriminate
        And to discriminate only generates hate
        And when you hate then you’re bound to get irate, yeah”

        My current favorite rap song is Macklemore’s “Wings” which takes a swipe at how consumerism causes young people to define themselves by the brands they wear (like Nike shoes) and how this obssesion only lets them down.

        • Joe America says:

          It’s good to see parents learning from their kids rather than forcing them into the molds of old, and maybe some of us (e.g., me) with preconceived notions ought to perhaps loosen up a bit and listen better. Thanks for the enlightenment, and the video.

          • cha says:

            It works both ways. Because I patiently listened to their choice of music (yeah, even when the boy was going through his metal phase! The things we do…) my kids return the favor and have thus learned to appreciate my kind of music. One of my daughter”s all time favorite song for some time now has been Earth Wind and Fire’s “September”. Go figure.

            I’m still clueless about emo music though. 🙂

          • Joe America says:

            Ahahaha. Perhaps that’s because you are not psychologically deranged, with apology to J.

  3. edgar lores says:

    1. I was expecting this piece to be on Philippine wildlife — and it is. 😉

    • Joe America says:

      Ha ha. Well, when one is tired of Snowden and the Chinese and Nancy Binay, one is inclined to write a piece that has no redeeming value whatsoever. Other than perhaps a smile. I smiled writing it. Next up is one on the American redneck, somewhat related to a pheasant, somewhat related to a skunk.

      • andrew lim says:

        Other topics I’d recommend that you write on from time to time, when the other subjects get tiresome:

        a. your take on cooking, food and alcoholic drinks -both Filipino and American- those you have come to like and those which you still dont understand

        b. state of the Phil healthcare system compared to the US.

        • Joe America says:

          Excellent suggestions, Andrew. I’ll take up both.

        • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

          Yeah, Andrew, COOKING. Why is it that Philippines only have Adobong baboy, adobong manok, tinulang isda, piniritong isda, tusilog, tapsilog to name a few of the few? While other countries have myriad if not thousands of cuisine? Anthony Bourdain was absolutely not amused by Philippine cooking. Bourdain kept dissing that Cebuano-New Yorker that made him go to Cebu. It was absolute embarrassment. 1/3 of his 45-minute episode was rant against that Cebuano. Most of all Dept of Tourism hijacked him from the airport and showed him only the goot stuff like they do in communist countries. Definitely, Bourdain is not going back to Philippines. He’d rather go to Australian sahara and eat half-cooked Emo intestine.

          • Joe America says:

            Hmmmm. Maybe he was having a bad hair day or something. I think the Philippines has a greater range of cooking than just about anyplace because there are no rules. Dogs to mushrooms. You chop it, fry it, toss in whatever spices are available or can be chopped from a plant in the back yard, mix it together, and voila! A new dish. The problem is that there aren’t enough words in the Tagalog vocabulary to describe them all. My wife makes the best menudo, but it is customized. The only name for it is the same as many of her other dishes: lami.

          • The Mouse says:

            You need to go beyond the Tagalog region. Ilocano dishes are filled with… vegetables and fish sauce(rather than soy) and bittermelons. I guess, they don’t fit “other Filipinos” because “other Filipinos” are not fond of veggies.

            And no, the Tagalog pinakbet is not the same as the authentic Ilocano pinakbet

            Northern dishes are largely unknown outside of Northern Luzon, save for dinuguan.

          • Joe America says:

            Interesting. I’m just starting to concoct a blog “Manila vs. the Provinces”. It did not originate with food, but shows the same starkly different thinking.

  4. ” We see relentless grief and gore spiced with anger or weepy tears, bleeding bodies and the network’s drama stars preening for ratings, in the guise of news. As a student of journalism, I am frequently seen by my wife during the TV news shows running for the bathroom to be ill. Not from the gore. From the lack of journalistic integrity.”

    I can feel you. even journalism profs from UP “vomit” due to the type of “news” reporting at big stations. I heard this straight from the mouth of my journalism 101 prof in the same university. Filipino emo-ness is a big cash-cow. Now, Filipinos manifest their emo-ness by watching male-to-male kilig (you know the Filipino reaction to cheesy, romantic moments) shows like My Husband’s Lover; they might turn into politically-correct, slightly liberal emo creatures hahaha.

    P.S. Modern British indie (sometimes indie-pop) bands sound MUCH better than American emo and non-emo rock bands.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      U.P. journalism professors are bunch of clueless cockroach. What they teach in U.P. is perfection of englischtzes. I am not journalism graduate but I know a biased reporting when I see one and in the Philippines it happens everyday. No wonder U.P. journalism graduate is mopping floors at New York Times and on the side oiling gutenburg machine. This dude confided to me that he is happy what he is doing because he earns nite premium+overtime that makes Philippine Media practitioners envirous.

      • To be fair to the UP Journalism graduates, you can’t bring your ethics code and classroom integrity straight into the real world when your big bosses demand huge profits. And these big profits come at the expense of intelligent, unbiased reporting most of the time.

    • Joe America says:

      I think maybe I should actually LISTEN to some of the alternative music instead of dissing it. I have no idea what an Indie band is. Indiana Jones comes to mind but I don’t think he played an instrument. Pretty good with the whip though.

      • These indie/alternative bands are influenced by new wave/post-punk 80s bands like Stone Roses, The Clash (really punk), Joy Division, The Cure, etc. The movement started in the 2000s and its called post-punk revival.

      • The Mouse says:

        Indie is basically short for Independent music. They’re the music version of Indie films.

        Indie – films and music not produced by big corporate names

        • The Mouse says:

          I’d like to add that Indie music and films have more creative control than their corporate counterparts. Corporate music business tend to not really delve on quality of the music, but marketability(just think of the very awful Glee rendition of Don’t Stop Believin’).

          One reason why we see such a decline in music quality all over the world.

          • Joe America says:

            I think there is also a decline because there is no where to go. We’ve done the slow and the fast and the African and Latin beats, love and love lost, the streets and Christmas. One thing I do believe is that Filipino singing talent is the best in the world, as a nation. We have people who grew up in the poorest circumstance who had only one way to join the richer nation, and that was by singing. I’ve going to stop complaining about the obsession of Filipinos with their stars. The obsession derives from poverty, mainly, and no where else to go. I enjoy checking in on “Filipino Voices” from time to time, the dominant current singing contest hereabouts. Amazing talent picked up from this barangay or that.

          • The Mouse says:

            When it comes to singing, I agree that the Philippines is overflowing with talent. However, when it comes to “mainstream” music, creativity is stagnant. All you see are almost foreign revivals…and singing the same style. It is no wonder the youth are into Kpop (another kind of music which I don’t find pleasing as they sound like each other!)

            You’d get a better variety though in the indie music scene…or when you go bar hopping. Anywhere away from ABS-CBN or GMA recording “artists”.

            • Joe America says:

              I think someone better versed in Filipino music than I am might be able to argue with you on the creativity point. It depends on what you mean. Certainly Charmaine Clamor is beautifully distinctive, but not mainstream. Sometimes creative does not make mainstream because it IS creative. I need to study Indie, but to get there I have to put aside Clapton and Creedence. I suspect I’ll never get there.

  5. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    I haven’t listened to Kill of Sadness sure they look cool, cool like brit punk rock band cool. Most of all they all look traditiional filipino not some tisoys and tisays.

  6. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    “A greedy person would not stand for a department store being slow in providing service, because time is money and he is wasting big money waiting. Waiting. Waiting.” – Joeam from Greed is God

    Why is it I’m happy standing in slow moving line in the Philippines but do not have patience in America? I am not embarassed if I am late for appointment in the Philippines but definitely red in the face in America. Ssssh, when in the Philippines I blow thru stop signs and red lights and scream at pedestrians crossing slow in the street. Of course, I always have two hundred pesos folded neatly in my Philippine driver’s license. $20.00 in my American passport for Philippine immigration&costumes. I can park anywhere, pee anywhere. Smoke on a two-hour ferry from Bacolod to Ilo-ilo. Virtually, I can do anything in the Philippines. It is so refreshing to violate all laws and decorum I feel like a FREE MAN. In 1stworld countries, I am being watched. Can only pee and smoke in designated places. I have to be on time. Dress up for meetings. AMERICANS ARE NOT FREE. They are dictated not to say bad words or racial epithet. AMERICA IS A COMMUNIST COUNTRY!!! PHILIPPINES IS THE LAND OF THE FREE !!!! Long live the Philippines.

  7. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Filipinos must definitely not Asian but only Asian by geography. South Korean management of Asiana Airlines has already apologized to and in public bowing from their hips in pure apology even before the investigation started. Filipinos are defensive lot of people. This is the race in Asia that can never go wrong. Filipinos are perfeckt people. That is why corporators never apologize. The corporators blame their consumers for being careless like they blame the politicians that they elected for being corrupt not themselves for electing corrupt officials. Could these be the teacings of their religion? I guess so becuase their God never go wrong. If Filipinos fail to attain their goal God blame them for being lazy. If Filipinos attain their goal, god taketh the credit. Religion is screwing the minds of the Filipinos. Well, if Filipinos were tad intelligent they would have known better.

    • Attila says:

      Filipinos are “naturals” when it comes to blaming others. Everywhere even in their own family they practice it, causing guilt. and drama. They are master manipulators. Sounds like a TV drama? I just finished watching Gulong ng Palad (all 30 episodes) It is on Viki and free to watch. Every few minutes of watching It had to stop and ask my wife to explain what just happened. It was subtitled and I was able to understand the dialog but their behavior just did not make sense to me. The level of blaming was new to me. With my wife’s translation I learned a great deal more about the culture. We have such a different culture.

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        I just cannot stand Filipino drama on TV. For me it is sooo predictable, 2ndly, I do not learn anything from it. It is not educational.

        • Joe America says:

          3rdly, who needs to impose such relentless emotional pain on oneself, the screaming, the angst, the betrayal, the tears.

          • Attila says:

            Hahahaha that is funny. I’m sure you don’t learn anything from it but to me it is new and surreal.
            I had now idea how common it is for Filipinos parents to disown their own children. Also how the parents demand much more than respect but hey are free to abuse their own children. The behavioral code of those who have money and those who don’t. The 2 tier system of Filipino society with it’s snobbish condescending ways. The list goes on.

  8. AJ says:

    Hey Joe, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Bogart the Explorer from Davao City but you might want to watch some of his videos regarding creatures native to the PH. Maybe you can even contact him and create a video on the Philippine Emo (if he hasn’t done it yet)

  9. JosephIvo says:

    … back in the internet world a late reply.

    I might be far off, but I have the feeling that somewhere the “if you keep them stupid, I will keep them poor” plays a role, consciously or unconsciously. I’ll try to explain in black and white.

    Emo and sex are easy feelings just as sugar is an easy taste. In France children have to eat everything, hence a very developed taste and appreciation for good food. In the US children are taught to be independent and help themselves, go to the fridge and take what you like, we are a free market after all. Hence everything in the US is sweet, it sells and the sugar lobby is strong. As a result overweight the norm. In France where even deserts used to be less sweet, but through globalization sweet Macdo burgers swimming in sweet mayo and supersized Coke are gaining market share, parallel with the disappearance of traditional French family values.

    Emo sells, people want to see tears, regardless if they come from happiness or pain. Tears communicate straight with our seat of emotions in the archaic inner parts of the brain, it make us feel alive. In a free market TV stations program what sells. Emotions and sexy outfits 24/7, whatever the program, news, entertainment, reality shows… In Europe public broadcasting systems had a more guided programming system, selling was not there main goal, but educating. Globalization and the success of Fox, Big Brother and American Idol in parallel with global communication channels killed education via TV or other media.

    If you are never challenged to think, only to “feel”, what part of your brain develops? Today’s information economy however requires more and more knowledge or an active frontal cortex to compete. Poor Philippines, except for the “dynasties” who can keep an unlimited pool of servants, easy to extract wealth from.

    • Joe America says:

      I think television has “dumbed down” American viewers, too. Made them lazy. That’s why we see such inane political stances taking shape, and the inability to be diplomatic or negotiate. Everything is a contest. Interestingly enough, the internet is a more active playground.

      The Philippines is broadly educated, but I look around and see little intellectual curiosity. I think the educators (Department of Education leaders) have no idea what a lifetime of learning “by rote”, and following orders, does to the intellectual spirit.

      Emotion is equated to being engaged. Discovery is not.

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