Carljoe Javier is the author of “And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth“ (he also did a recent guest post for the site), and an avowed geek whose particular background and history gives him a unique view of life and geekdom in the Philippines. In the first of a two-part interview, we talk to him about that background, and what the word “geek” means to him.
What’s your family like? Are they geeks like you or the type who love you in spite of the Emma Frost action figures?
My mom is totally non-geeky. She’s very supportive, but I get the sense that she kind of just nods along and thinks, O sige anak kung yan ang gusto mo.
My younger brother, who is also back in the States, is a bro in geekhood as well. Though there’s a five year gap between us, we share a lot of geekhood, we used to hang out in the comic book store and he went a step further by actually working at the comic book store (whereas I just worked at the library). He’s also got a much better Magic: The Gathering ranking than me. And we played a lot of video games together; we’d have our specialties. I could never beat him at fighting games, but I always pwned him at sports games.
I’ve also got a younger sister who I am trying to influence in geekiness, but she’s in high school so she’s still worried about looking cool and fitting in.
As for the extended family, cousins and the like, I’m a bit of an outsider, no geeky group around.
I know that you spent part of your formative years in Los Angeles. How long did you live abroad?
Yeah my mom and I moved to the States when I was three. I’m the eldest, so by the time we moved back to the Philippines when I was fourteen, we were making the trip back with my younger bro and my sister who was a baby at the time.
What was the biggest adjustment you had to make when you moved back to the Philippines?
Oh, the heat. haha. That and the mosquitos. Seriously, I spent the first couple months in air-conditioned rooms and the mall.
But culturally, I found myself in a pretty middle class neighborhood and I had come to the country assuming that I would have to learn and assimilate whatever was in front of me.
In that sense then, language was the hardest thing. I came back to the Philippines armed with enough Tagalog that I could hold a conversation, but the idioms were very different, (the only spoken Tagalog I’d been exposed to other than that spoken by other Fil-Ams came from Tito Vic and Joey and Rene Requeistas movies). People would use words and I’d look them up in the dictionary and they wouldn’t be there. Case in point, “Pare, ang lupit nung flipkick mo kanina.” I’d run home and look at the dictionary and it would say “Cruel.” And I’d be wondering how a flipkick could be described as cruel.
Also, on my first day of school, people laughed at my accent, and I’ve made a conscious effort to not have that accent since then. But then sometimes when I’ve been drinking the accent will sneak out and make an appearance.
Read the rest of this entry »