Am I pogi or not?

Two years on from graduating from Goldsmith’s University with a BA in Applied Social Science Community Development & Youth Work, I have worked in various settings and places relating to youth work and challenging needs.  I remember my dissertation about Chinese and East Asian people not engaging in youth and community services, and I recently started to reflect on my own identity as an East Asian man.  If my course has taught me anything, it’s about really focusing on the self when you start to feel insecure.  There, you can ask yourself why you feel that way and begin to deconstruct the reasons behind your emotions.

I’ve recently realised I have been harbouring feelings of internalised racism since… childhood, I guess?  Especially since I went to secondary school, where your sexuality is starting to run rampant thanks to them pesky hormones.  I honestly thought I was not good enough to be a sexual or romantic partner thanks to certain stereotypes, and I still do to some extent.  I really don’t think I possess the desired facial features to be considered traditionally handsome, what with my chubby jowls, short nasal bridge, wide nostrils and squinty eyes.  Hell, I can’t even carry off the pretty boy “bishounen” look with my face!  Now that I’ve mentioned stereotypes, let’s look at a few examples of common sexual stereotypes and racial profiling related to men of different ethnicities, shall we?

  • Western White men are seen as the pinnacle and rational paragons of human life, because they said so and they have historically decided who or what is desirable in terms of sexuality and quality of life.
  • Black men – be it African, Caribbean or what have you – are labelled as dangerous gang-bangers with massive cocks who are emotionally ill-equipped to be fathers, yet are “bad boys” who can be “reformed”.
  • Arabs and South Asian (the Indian subcontinent) men are these days painted with the same brush of violent terrorists who apparently disrespect women with the whole burka and arranged marriage discourse.
  • Chinese/East Asian men however?  Beta male cuckolds with small dicks, lacks sexual desirability and masculinity and always in a position of servitude in meagre jobs, though they work hard and earn a lot of coin.

Obviously these are mass generalisations, but with Afro-centric and Middle Eastern people, they have their advocates that challenge their stereotypes and profiling because they are ironically empowered by the “aggressive” labels they are given and they have had quite a bit of coverage in the media and on the internet.  Plus, I’ve heard a fair number of female friends of mine talk about how sexy those ethnicities are.  On that note, have you ever SEEN or READ anything about East Asian people challenging the stereotypes they face, or any comment on how sexy their men are?  I had to do quite a bit of searching on the subject.  Oh, and don’t forget – East Asians have the highest population count on this planet, yet we are still seen as lesser people anyway!  Also, isn’t East Asia the part of the world where they made martial arts part of popular culture?

Also, apart from martial arts movie god Bruce Lee, have you seen or know of any East Asian lead actors, let alone ones who are portrayed as a romantic protagonist in mainstream movies?  Apparently, the ending of Romeo Must Die had to be changed because the image of Jet Li kissing Aaliyah was not well-received.  In fact, the only moment I can think was from stoner movie Harold & Kumar Get The Munchies when the Korean lad Harold finally told his Latina neighbour Maria how he felt about her, and this felt so empowering to me despite the fact I’d be just as awkward as John Cho’s character was here!

Going back to those feelings of internalised racism, they have made me try to overcompensate in how I present my image in order to break those emasculating stereotypes, as I usually have a beard, a scowl and a lumbering gait when I walk to show how masculine I am, which I am fairly comfortable with, by the way.  In terms of my history with the fairer sex, it’s spotty at best.  I dated someone a long time ago who turned out to be a manipulative sociopath, leading to a prolonged and messy break-up, and I would pursue those I liked who I would later find to be in relationships already or were not emotionally available for me.  Plus, I have a tendency to be very picky and careful with women who I would pursue romantically in the first place, because bad experiences has no doubt led to some serious trust issues for myself.

In a roundabout way, much of my sexual energy since my mid-20’s would be channelled into becoming a better, well-rounded person.  I honed all my artistic hobbies and talents, became more confident in front of people, started to become more patient and understanding, improved my social skills and was even learning to converse with women in a friendly, funny and non-threatening manner.  It also helped that I befriended and worked with some great people along the way to guide me – particularly those who are involved in artistic endeavours.  This all culminated into getting my degree two years ago.  In essence, I formed a positive identity I can call my own.  Yes, I am and always will be a stereotypical nerd, but given my personality development, I was actually called an “alpha male” by a good friend of mine.  Well, a modern take of one anyway.  I didn’t do all of this to impress people – I did it to improve my own self-worth.  I’m just glad that I didn’t go down the Elliot Rodger route.

Let me emphasise that this blog merely focused on how the desexualisation and emasculation of the East Asian male in general Western society has affected my life.  There are enough articles out there that discuss the historical practice of this (such as America’s “yellow peril” propaganda), the very apparent practice of whitewashing and yellow-face as well as the complete lack of East Asian representation in Hollywood, as well as the fetishization of East Asian women with their overt femininity, submissiveness and that whole “me rove you rong time” bullshit that certain unsavoury men seem to covet.  As for LGBTQ and non-binary East Asians, I am nowhere near qualified or experienced to discuss that, so you’ll have to read this article instead or educate me.

To conclude, I’ve not written this as some kind of self-pitying call to ask for a date.  Far from it.  It’s me being open about my own feelings and experiences, which is something I never would have done before years ago.  Besides, as I’ve mentioned previously, I am a right picky bastard when it comes to dating now.  However, I will end on a positive note here, because to the credit of my East Asian genetics, I look at least 10 years younger than I actually am and I still have a wonderful full head of wavy black hair.  Small saving graces, I guess.

Oh, and I’m not going to bleach my skin either.  Fuck that shit.

Daryl, out…

Links to related articles
Krystal Hur: Emasculation and “yellow fever”
Asian Masculinity vs. “Western” Masculinity by Shadowsweep and Natalie Ng
What Makes Asian-American Men ‘Undateable?’



I shall call this #ProjectIkeAnt

I have been a Robot Wars fan since the second series in the late 90’s, and the recent rebooted series has actually been better than the classics.  No nostalgia goggles for this guy.  Seriously, the fights have been insane.  When I was volunteering at Heart n Soul’s Allsorts, John Findlay from Roaming Robots – a company that ran combat robot events since the original series was cancelled – did a workshop there in 2016 on how to build a cardboard antweight robot with servos and batteries for power.  Needless to say, everyone at Allsorts – myself especially – thoroughly enjoyed it, though certain folks got a bit too carried away!

This past Christmas season after Series 10 aired (the final being the best episode ever), I decided to recreate that cardboard antweight robot building and with an old shoebox, ointment tube lids, glue, tape, grid paper for measuring and coins to weigh the front down, I came up with this little blighter…

Japanese kanji makes things look cool and anime as f…

It has a working flipper weapon, albeit one you operate by pushing the tab at the back, and it fits within the 4-inch cube, as all antweight robots should as per the rules.  So I thought that maybe I’ll start investing in getting parts someday when they become available.  Suddenly, after coming across Alex Shakespeare’s Nuts and Bots site, I came across this that was available in the store…

The fabled NanoTwo electric speed controller with LemonRX receiver that has become hugely popular with antweight robot builders, and are built by Alex and Rory Mangles – both being team members of Robot Wars Series 10 finalists Nuts 2.  As soon as I saw it available, I immediately bought it along with 30mm wheels and motor mounts, and there was no going back – I’m building this antweight robot, and one that’s ready for competition.  I ordered 6V 300 rpm micro motors from eBay, which took a while to arrive, along with Devo 7e transmitter, 2mm nuts and bolts, and an on/off switch, along with a high-power Turnigy servo and 180mAh LiPo batteries with fireproof safety bag and charger.  I even bought a soldering iron, though a few other tools and parts I borrowed from Jason Fernandes – ol’ bass ace himself.  In fact, many of these components were recommendations from Alex, and I trust the guy given how many tournaments and robots he has built – you can even buy a ready-to-fight antweight from his Nuts and Bots site too!

I spend a considerable amount of time on the Nuts and Bots site and the antweight forum on the Robot Wars 101 site in order to get some advice on how to hook things up as I am a complete novice in this area.  Using an MDF offcut, cardboard, a glued lolly stick, duct tape and blue-tack, here’s the robot so far – all operational, but with no armour constructed yet.  It ain’t great looking, but at least it all works and that’s what matters now.  Despite how loose the construction is, the flipper does work well enough at the mo.

The very peak of engineering and design right here!

I have ordered some 1.5mm polycarbonate, and I’m thinking of trying to nab some metal sheet offcuts from somewhere for either front armour plating or a weapon – probably local workshops, which I’ll likely have to use in order to cut the armour panels properly as I don’t have many of the tools or a workshop myself.  I could even start looking at getting some HDPE or even 3D printed parts.  When that’s done, expect another blog post real soon on the bodywork construction.  #ProjectIkeAnt – AWAY!

Nuts and Bots custom robots and components store

Robot Wars 101 antweight forum

Heart n Soul

Roaming Robots

Saving face – An Eastern concept as told by an Eastern man in a Western job sector living in a Western society

Man, I’ve had this thing for nearly two years, and only posted on it once.  I was going to write a couple of blogs here, but I was never happy with them.  It was mostly me airing personal grievances on certain matters, though its nothing too disparaging of other people’s attitudes.  That said, a quick update – I no longer work at Lewisham Hospital, I’m still in Strange Chocolate, I have a new laptop, graphics tablet and bass guitar, and I still look like a well-fed Filipino Jesus with hipster glasses on.

So, Dazmund mk.3 is almost finished initialising and updating, with my three years at Goldsmiths University of London coming to an end and completing my BA in Applied Social Science Community Development & Youth Work – a course that helped me explore my own identity as a Filipino man in subtle but also obvious ways.  So much so, it lead me to writing my dissertation around both my identity as a South East Asian person (I will not use the word Oriental for myself) and the field of work I am about to go into – Why are Chinese & South East Asians rarely seen accessing community and youth work services in London?

Obviously, man’s not gonna post the whole dissertation here, but I wanted to discuss some of the themes I discovered during my research on the topic.  It started off broad, but became narrower and narrower until I had something concrete to build on.  Now, here’s the uncomfortable discussion around East Asian stereotypes.  Be honest.  You probably think of our kind as studious with high grades, well-behaved, likely to be in either high-flying jobs or running food businesses, obedient, stoic, insular… that sort of thing.  Now, I don’t break away from these perceptions an awful lot as I have been getting good grades (at least), I’m never in trouble (with the law), I likes the food and cooking, I will do as you say… until you abuse your authority, and I can be a bit standoffish if I’m not familiar with you.  However, I have grown up in London – well-spoken lad and all – yet I always felt like an outsider and never truly belonged in many social circles because my personality may not fit the expectations of others, as I have always been “Other” – the option I choose in a form when describing my ethnic origin.

It doesn’t help that those of East Asian origin account for a small percentage of the population of the UK.  Though that percentage is a little higher in cities like London, we are quite scattered and diasporic in nature.  It also means that our own experiences has been marginalised somewhat, especially with the moral panics today around black people in gangs and Muslim extremism.  That said, we weren’t immune to racial assumptions ourselves.  Remember all that Yellow Peril stuff when there was a fear of Triad gangs in the 90’s?  Nowadays, that couldn’t be further from the truth, as we are now seen as the “model minority” – a racialised double edged sword on how we are seen by Western society.  Sure, it makes us look like upstanding citizens of society with our academic achievements and dedication to earning money for ourselves, but it ignores the issues we face around discrimination and how we are not taken very seriously.

This extends to community and youth work as well, because the practitioners of that field are not familiar with East Asian people and their cultures – particularly Confucianism – and therefore seem to misinterpret our values and approaches.  Believe me, I’ve gotten in trouble and called out on it by my supervisors in my field work and volunteering experiences.  Of course, East Asians do not get a free pass here.  That insular tag that I’ve heard so many times from others is very much justified – my visit to the Lewisham Indo Chinese Community Centre being a prime example of blatant insularity to the point of shunning others (that “other” word again).  This leads me on to the title of the blog and one of the main themes of my dissertation – saving face.

Reputation, pride and honour are considered important parts of East Asian culture.  It’s not exclusive to China – it also applies to my own experience as someone with Filipino parents, despite being born in London.  This is our “face“, and it defines us as people and the obligations we must meet.  In contrast to the Western concepts around individualism and the self, Eastern cultures based around Confucianism are about collectivism, which includes honouring our family and maintaining harmonious relations at all costs – to the point of denial.  As someone who has worked with people with learning disabilities and has understandings of mental illness, this does trouble me particularly, given that Eastern cultures have no concept or recognition of these aspects in their culture.  I wish I was lying about that, but that was confirmed through the interviews I conducted with East Asian people who emigrated to the UK.  One must think how someone with autism, birth defects or some form of depression can cope in East Asian households.  This whole thing around the “face” and collectivism appears to be a VERY foreign – for a lack of a better word – concept with Western people.  I guess that whole “All Asians are/look alike” had to come from somewhere, if I can be politically incorrect.

The stereotype of East Asian academic achievers is intrinsic to the whole “face” concept as well, because wisdom is valued in this culture.  High grades bring honour to one’s family and wealth by extension – though with the racial inequalities in the UK in terms of employing ethnic minorities, the latter point is debatable to say the least.  Of course, failure in this leads to losing “face”, therefore bringing shame to your family.  In fact, we actively avoid anything “shameful”, hence the stereotypical view of East Asian people being so well-behaved and stoic.  Needless to say, being at Goldsmiths was my second attempt at university as I flunked a good 15 years ago and stayed for longer than I should have, and this has plagued me for that amount of time.  I actually did want to pursue a career in community and youth work, but that was debunked because it is not seen as being as valuable as engineering, medical practice, law or accountancy.  That said, with the grades I’ve been getting, it’s not because I’m declaring myself superior to other people in any way or have to achieve them for my own selfish gain – far from it.  It is my duty to achieve high grades in my culture.

I will say that having that need to prove and improve has its advantages.  In my interests in playing music, singing, drawing art, playing video games, cooking, and even in how I work, my bloody-minded motivation to get better in anything I do or have an inkling of interest in is part of my cultural instillment, and it has worked to my advantage as I can pass off as a versatile person with many “talents” to offer – almost a Renaissance man, if you will.  However, I appreciate comedy and humour to a huge degree – something I feel many East Asians see as shameful and can make people “lose face”, hence their poor sense of humour.  Let’s be fair – when do you see a Chinese comedian?  East Asian comedians come from acculturation in Western countries.  Shout outs to my homeboy from the Philippines – Rex Navarrete.  Extremely funny guy.  Though to be fair, the Philippines is the most Westernised East Asian country today with all the colonialism going on for the last 500 years there.  My surname is a legacy of that.  After all, nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition – especially not those indigenous Pagan pygmies.

Before really getting stuck in to this dissertation, I was definitely concerned with what I would be doing once I finish university.  Now, with the research and reflecting I’ve been doing, I could see myself disseminating some of these Eastern values to many community and youth work settings, because the cultural and language barriers are so huge at the moment, being a messenger or halfway house would be an ideal role for me.  To be fair, there are so very few East Asian community and youth workers in existence (save for the ones who shun outsiders – I’ll never forget, Lewisham Indo Chinese Community Centre) – hell, in my time at Goldsmiths, I never saw a single East Asian person in the years below or above me.  They mostly comprised of Caucasian, Afro-Caribbean, African and Muslim people – including my esteemed classmates.  Therefore, I’m in a unique position to be a potentially influential figure and leader – something I’ve always aspired to being.

Anyway, if you would like to read about the concept of face, check out China Mike’s excellent article on the subject called The Cult of “Face” or Sam Louie’s explanations here and here.  They detail the concepts discussed here and a whole lot more.  You can even watch the Alice Wu’s 2004 film Saving Face for a visual example on the subject, though I’ve yet to see it with all the work I’ve been doing lately.

Thanks for reading this long ting.  Take care of yourselves, and each other.

Daryl out.  See you in my next blog post two years from now.

An introduction

OK, so you found me on WordPress.  Um… hello.  Best do a quick introduction.

My name is Daryl, Saaf East Laandaan born-and bred in deepest Deptford.  I am of Filipino heritage, yet many folks seem to have trouble identifying where I’m from.  Whether that’s ignorance, fear of making a bad assumption or I break stereotypes, I do not know.  As of writing, I am currently studying BA Applied Social Science, Community Development & Youth Work at Goldsmith’s University, which I am enjoying.  To support my time there, I currently work at Lewisham Hospital on weekends, which I don’t enjoy for a myriad of different reasons that I’ll get into.  On occasion, I do volunteer work for Heart n Soul, which is always great fun to be a part of, and play as part of a funk-rock band called Strange Chocolate as a singer and guitarist, and this very blog is named after one of our songs.

Along with being a musician, I also enjoy in other arts and creative activities such as cartoon drawing, voice acting, dance, and cooking.  Along with dance, tennis and occasional gym visits constitute my physical activities.  Otherwise, I doss about playing video games, watch wrestling, browsing random websites and watching random YouTube videos – though these all fit some kind of purpose.  And yes, I can get a bit geeky over certain things I’m interested in, but that’s kind of everybody, I guess.

So, you sort of know who I am and what I do, but it isn’t a complete scope about my identity, views, thoughts, activities and experiences.  I guess this is the place where I explore these – whether I am venting my spleen, getting something off my chest or can barely contain my excitement over a matter.  In any case, thank you for visiting and do come again.