A Critical Look at Inclusive Growth

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetHere’s another throwback pulled from my freshman year column at The Hoya:

There has been lots of buzz these days about inclusive growth and wealth redistribution. So much so that even a humble intern like myself feels the need to grapple with such big issues. It’s come up at every social innovation event I’ve been to and with every entrepreneur I’ve spoken with in Manila. Even back on the Hilltop, The Hoya recently published a column called “The Promise of Reverse Innovation” (The Hoya, July 2, 2015, A3). In a nutshell, the idea is to create business models that target the poorest of the poor. Instead of focusing on wealthy nations, the goal is to look beyond the developed world and break into the untapped markets of those in poverty.

Theoretically, this approach is a win-win. Businesses increase profits and impoverished communities move one level up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. What’s there to criticize? Up until this past weekend, I couldn’t think of anything. This was the groundbreaking answer to development. But then, my fellowship took a trip to the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm, poster child of inclusive growth for Filipino slums. There, I realized that inclusive growth could take on many forms, some sinister, some revolutionary. Depending on the context, combining optimized profit with social change can be insidiously ironic or incredibly empowering. Continue reading

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Check Your Privilege

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I’m about to write about economic inequality in the Philippines while sipping on third-wave coffee in a boutique cafe. Is something wrong with this picture? I’ve only lived in the Philippines for a month, but I’ve jumped headfirst into the conversation on its social issues. Within my summer fellowship, I’m the “bougie” one, thanks to my love of yoga, food blogs, vegetarianism and indie magazines. All these things now feel questionably irrelevant outside my East Coast bubble, but I still find myself pining for that lifestyle in Manila. As a Filipino-American returning to the motherland, I’m constantly reminded to “check my privilege.” It’s been harder than I thought. Continue reading

Manila Mysteries

11890969_990661064298096_6093648069736031015_nHow do I describe the textures of Manila?

Standing at a busy street corner with rumbling jeepneys and pressing crowds around me, I try to pin down the unfamiliar energies of the city. For me, its an ambivalent sensation of excitement, unease, curiosity and caution, all rolled into one. While trying to navigate Manilas vibrant, gritty streets, Ive learned firsthand the importance of flexibility and respect when it comes to the unknown. As I witness the mix of East and West here in Manila, I realize that the chances of confronting the unfamiliar are increasing for everyone. Continue reading

Transcending Ethnicity

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When I think of who I am, my first instinct is to define myself using personality traits rather than by ethnicity. I often wonder why many multicultural people intuitively do the opposite. Have I dishonored my heritage by not prioritizing Filipino-American as my core identity? My personal reflections on race have been admittedly stifled. I probably don’t give enough praise to Filipino culture as I should. I’m not sure if I’m to blame for this or if my parents are, with their progressive break from conventional Filipino customs when they came to America. Then again, exactly how much attention does my cultural identity merit, when in reality, the things I believe distinguish me (indecisiveness, corny humor, chocolate habit, introversion, soccer) don’t involve it? In such a global and diverse community as Georgetown, just how important is one’s ethnicity when it comes to identity? Continue reading

H&M Studio AW 2014

I’ve been on the lookout for fresh new looks for fall, especially since my upcoming first year in college deserves a wardrobe upgrade. For the first time, I won’t have a dress code or uniform to abide by. So instead, I hereby proclaim this H&M Studio collection my new dress code to start with.

All images are via luelle, which is an excellent fashion/lifestyle mag I just discovered. You’ll love it if you’re a fan of Elin Kling or Freshnet.

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Snapshots No. 10 – Urban Suburbans

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Meet my two friends, Ross and Shannon. I won’t see them for four months because in five days I’m up and going off to university! ‘Tis a bittersweet affair. Enjoy some snaps of a few urban suburbans kicking it out on the Septa. There’s nothing like Mexican food, city lights, and public transportation to take you away from cul-de-sac-ville.

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NEW DAWN, NEW ERA, DEMI LOVATO. Alternate title: Out from the Shadows

An important announcement, an even more important metaphor, and a random moment of life reflection. I’ll regret this later, but let’s get personal.

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I once had a secret dream two years ago to become a legitimate fashion blogger. Today, my furtive efforts to achieve that dream have been revealed. Against all odds, I have officially imported my old fashion blog of two years, Coco Carte Blanche, into my new supposedly literary blog of barely two months. (The Fraicheurie Files starts where Coco Carte Blanche ends, after the post, “l’art pour l’art,” and with the inaugural post, “A Riotous Introduction of Sorts“). The result is a mishmash mutt of a personal compendium with little sense of what direction it’s headed in or where it came from to begin with, which works well as a life metaphor for me personally.

Moving on to that important metaphor.

Continue reading

Amour, You Stupid Thing

As it were, her story was never one about romance.

tumblr_n5086gFZUK1qc08oho1_500On a yellow beach towel spread upon the sand lay a sunburnt girl of 17. She had an easy smile and an ethnicity that was never fully confirmed. Often, but not always, she turned heads when she walked, out of what she could only imagine to be people’s bemusement. The attention made her notably self-conscious. She had full, soft lips like a cloud that had yet to be kissed. Her eyes, dark and shining, could seduce unwittingly, but only with handsome strangers she passed on the streets. Once at age 16, she became entangled in an innocent friendship with a Spanish boy at summer camp. To her stifled dismay, it never amounted to much more. That was the extent of her love life.

Continue reading