Browsing Tag

The Philippines

U.S. Fulbright

Jolli Meals: The Rise of Filipino Fast Food, By Laurel Fantauzzo, 2010-2011, Philippines

July 10, 2012

Whenever I told Filipinos I was researching Filipino fast food on a Fulbright grant, they would laugh twice. First, they would laugh at how funny and ludicrous my topic sounded. Then, they would laugh again, because fast food, and food in general, is such an obvious part of their everyday lives. Then they would start to tell me their fast food stories: their memories of the Jollibee commercial “I Love You Sabado,” their favorite McDonald’s order, their family celebratory traditions, their theories as to why certain foods were embraced by Filipino culture.

I noticed that when Filipinos talk about their cuisine, they’re not talking about only food. Embedded in every interview I conducted was a discussion of memory, of gathering, of a Filipino identity, shifting and constant all at once. It didn’t matter what station in life Filipinos occupied, whether they were drivers, businesswomen, CEOs, food experts, students, or housecleaners. Fast food has deep, daily, emotional and cultural implications for Filipinos, and they were eager to share their interpretations with me, a relative outsider. If I could name the simplest, deepest impact my presence had in the Philippines, it was as a listener. I could sense how important it was for Filipinos to feel heard, and I was honored to help represent their stories and relationships to fast food.

As I went through the process of scheduling interviews with Filipinos from various walks of life, I gained much more confidence as a nonfiction writer. It was helpful to have nearly daily practice at interviewing various food writers, food entrepreneurs, and everyday workers of all ages and walks of life. It also gave me a fascinating overview of Filipino society, a complex culture that is both welcoming and challenging in a variety of engaging ways. I sensed, too, that Filipinos were always happy for the chance to share with a dayuhan (foreigner) the story of their fast food cuisine, the diverse, accompanying narrative of which reflects the vibrant development and history of the Philippines itself.

If you’re a research/study applicant interested in the Philippines, look closely at what in your professional and recreational background makes you ready for the research you want to do. I’ve always been fascinated by what food represents beyond a functional meal, as far as the identity and the story of a people, and I wrote about restaurants and food during my post-undergraduate life in New York City. In my free time, I also volunteered at supper clubs and ran food events for an overseas charity. What about your background, interests, and daily work prepares you for your Fulbright research? Everyone has their own compelling narrative. The Fulbright Program is an opportunity for you to honor and build on it.

Photo: Laurel Fantauzzo, 2010-2011, Philippines, eats a quick ube ice cream cone in Quezon City, Philippines, as part of her research for Jolli Meals: The Rise of Filipino Fast Food

U.S. Fulbright

How to Stop Being a Control Freak and Get a Fulbright Grant, By Krystal Banzon, 2007-2008, Philippines

August 3, 2009

I was a little bit of a control freak.(I’m better now.)

When I barely entered the ivory tower, I wanted to know what I was going to do after graduation.As a freshman at Smith College, I had heard of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program through my college’s Fellowship Program Office.I did research online, read through theFulbright U.S. Student Program’s website and decided that getting a fellowship was the perfect way to wrap up my undergraduate experience and begin my life in the real world!

After thoroughly reading through several available Internet resources, I decided that I wanted to apply for a study/research grant.To where?It didn’t matter.I wanted a Fulbright grant.I stressed over the right classes to take for the non-existent research project I was trying to map out.I loved academic tracks, so I set myself on a government and women’s studies double major track.I brainstormed, drew charts, obsessed about solidifying premature ideas of maybe researching sex trafficking somewhere in Asia (that’s popular!), or perhaps some sort of policy governmental thing in Latin America (a lot goes on there, right?).Little did I know I was spinning my wheels in the mud, wanting something for all the wrong reasons – and getting nowhere fast.

Good thing I got sidetracked…

As my college years flew by, my passions and interests began to reveal themselves.I began to drop my government classes and started to take theatre classes.All of a sudden, what I thought was an extracurricular activity became my main interest, passion, and focus.I would skip joyously between my women’s studies courses and the directing lab for rehearsal.Unknowingly, I had opened up to changing my academic direction; my train had jumped off the track.Funnily enough, I was still moving along!In turn, I had forgotten about the half-hearted projects I once tried to force into fruition.

At the end of my junior year, I was chosen by the Theatre Department to direct one of the three main stage plays during the following school year.My interdisciplinary interests in studying race, culture and performance led me to become passionate about plays with cultural narratives, the history of colonization, stories about people of color, the importance of identity as well as performances about identity. I chose to direct Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters, a play about martial law in the Philippines.

Then, the summer before my senior year, my Fulbright research project fell into my lap.

I wanted to study theatre in the Philippines.When I began to honestly and truly think about what moved me and what I was passionate about, everything suddenly became clear.I began my application that summer with the help of my campus Fulbright Program Adviser (FPA) and a faculty mentor.Because I was already working on something I cared about, the resources were right at my fingertips.In preparation for my play, I contacted an international student from the Philippines, and she directed me to her former theater professor in Manila.Through this professor, I was able to request a host affiliation letter from the chair and artistic director of the Theatre Department at the University of the Philippines Diliman.I furiously worked on my application in between classes and my show rehearsals.As I wrote my study/research grant statement, I began to get a feeling of accomplishment because my Fulbright application was helping me to connect the dots between my passions and goals.

I get a lot of questions from current students at my alma mater about how to apply for a Fulbright: How do you choose a country?How do you create a project for a research grant?

I can make two suggestions:

1) Start early.Maybe you can pump out a study/research grant statement in two weeks, but it is impossible to obtain affiliation letters from your host institution unless you start early – especially if you’re applying to a country where access to the Internet, email, and faxes might be limited.You might have to write actual letters (remember snail mail?) or wait for mailed letters to be sent back to you.

2) Your project will come to you when it’s ready.You have to be honest with yourself.Follow your passions!Let go.Keep doing what you are crazy about. Your country of interest will be come clearer, and the research questions you want to explore will begin formulate.

To quote my alma mater’s fellowship website, “Applying for a fellowship requires a degree of soul searching.”It’s true.It’s unnecessary hard work to do work on a subject if you’re not interested in it.Make your fellowship application process a little easier on yourself and let go.

Photo: Krystal Banzon (right), 2007-2008, Philippines, in Baguio City.