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“Miss Chapati Queens” by Bino A. Realuyo

2015/9/30 — 11:54

【Text by Bino Realuyo】

"Her accent sounds like it comes from the deepest part of a rock."

“Miss Chapati Queens” is part of a fiction manuscript titled The F.L.I.P Show, an interconnected collection of stories about the Filipino American community on the East Coast. The Philippines is an archipelago of 175 languages and/or dialects. Most of us are at least bilingual.  In my household alone, five major Filipino languages, including English, are spoken.  As a former colony of the United States, the Philippines has been using English as a lingua franca—the language of power, and of the media and the government—for over a hundred years, further complicating its multilingual tradition.

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Although set in Queens, “Miss Chapati Queens” explores Filipino multilingualism. The protagonist, Rosario, is half-Indian, half-Filipino but grew up with a Filipino mother, and thus understands and speaks Tagalog. Her voyage into becoming more “Indian” coincides with her decision to join a beauty contest called Miss Chapati Queens. There are almost four million Filipinos in the U.S., some of whom are of mixed heritage, like the character in this story.  These households reflect the multilingual backgrounds of the Filipino people.  I speak English, Filipino (Tagalog), and Spanish, but understand Bicolano and Chabacano (language of my maternal heritage from Zamboanga City, a former Spanish port).  

 

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