Mar 16, 2011

For MuQ: Who are you really, how do you pronounce your name, why do you look lazy, etc.?

[Before "regular programming," I just want to say this: It's always a struggle to write something characterized by levity (even pettiness) in the wake of a disaster so horrific and so shocking like what happened in Japan last Friday when a massive earthquake, and the tsunami which it caused, destroyed entire cities and towns and claimed thousands of lives.  And to make things worse, the disaster appears to be far from over, what with the ongoing threat from the nuclear facilities which were badly damaged. I hope nobody will find this a cheap and crass shoutout, but I really have been very impressed so far by the way the Japanese people have reacted with unbelievable amount of collective calm, courage, dignity and discipline in the face of such great national suffering, destruction and death. And readers from Japan who chance upon this blog are probably thinking that, half a world away from the epicenter, I am really very fortunate that I can continue blogging about relatively silly matters, and I hope nobody takes it as my callous indifference to their plight.  My wife was an exchange student in Japan in the 1990s and she has "family" there -- even a loving "Japanese mother" she calls her "Okasan" for acting like one to her -- and  I too have extended family and friends there. That's why I do want to say in this blog, from the bottom of my heart, that our family's prayers and thoughts go out to the Japanese people affected by this continuing tragedy. -- The anonymous blogger behind AAF!, otherwise known as The Pinoy, The Filipino or TF.]

Dear MuQ,

For this time (and I hope, this time only), I want to be the questioner because since we changed the banner/logo of the blog, you've begun to upstage me, and I'm beginning to feel kinda jealous. I'm supposed to be the blogger here answering all sorts of Pinoy-related questions, but now, I'm getting asked questions about YOU!

The questions range from the metaphysical (who you are) to the practical (how your name is pronounced), et cetera. Maybe some chubby Midwestern buffaloes are probably just curious and want to flirt with you, but one prominent Filipino muralist is even openly challenging your Pinoy cred and claims you're actually Chinese!

While I respect his work, the same artist referred to your droopy eyes too!  He thinks you have the "Lazy Look" (knowing you, you probably love that alliteration!). And probably because of that look, he thought my reading pose while I was on top of you is, well, quite lazy-looking too (notwithstanding the fact that I was pictured busily reading a book). Thus, with the two of us appearing lazy to him, we supposedly perpetuate, according to him, the misguided stereotype that Filipinos are lazy!

So what say you, The Buffalo Gigolo?

Your BFF,

Dear TF,

Wow, I feel important – very important! Imagine: I get to actually write my very own post in this blog and not just submit planted questions?

Thanks for this opportunity, but where do I start?

TF: Well, why don’t you start from the very beginning. First, introduce yourself.

That’s a good idea. Thanks, TF!

Well, you could say I was first conceived in January of this year because my Creator -- you, of course! -- wanted to write about a beautiful Ford supermodel, but no reader had submitted a question which he could answer and somehow discuss her success story.  Then you thought a planted, perfectly worded question would do the trick so you made up a fictional questioner, the Made-up Questioner, or MuQ in short – i.e., moi.

At that time though, except probably for cojones the size of humongous lansones, even in the mind of my Creator (you), I had no real attributes, no identity, no face, no character, no personality, no nothing -- except a name which happens to be a nice, short and sweet initialism or acronym. And, of course, a job: to ask the perfect questions at the most perfect times.

But I didn’t know if I needed to sound like a lowly vassal, a disciple, or a rap star wannabe. I didn’t even know if I had to speak collegiala Taglish or have a British accent, although I knew I would have hated it, like, if I had to, you know, speak like, you know, a Hollywood star or something.  In short, neither I nor you knew what I was going to end up as.
The previous logo and banner of the blog.

Luckily, you as my creator met a creative guy. He’s an artist who has served as art director for several top advertising companies in the world. He’s also active in the Filipino OFW community in Europe, organizing sporting events for the hyphenated Filipino youth. As a musician, he volunteers his talent, treasure and time to make sure that worthy fundraising projects, all aimed at helping less fortunate Filipinos back in the Philippines, are successful. His name is Peter Molina.
Peter's different AAF! logo studies.

Peter liked the AAF! blog so much that when he was approached about it, he decided that, for a token fee, he’d help upgrade the logo and banner of the blog. It took quite some time because of his busy schedule but he subsequently came up with several “studies” for the new logo, all of which were nice. Most revolved around Jose Rizal because the Philippine national hero is the original figure which graced the top banner of the blog. But the last of the studies actually ended up taking the prize because Peter did not just create a logo – he, probably inadvertently, also conceptualized the personification (or in my case, the "animalification") of a fictive character created solely for this “Ask blog”. And the character looks like someone who fits the name "MuQ"!

People ask: “Why would that name fit?” Well, because it is pronounced like “muck” which rhymes with buck or luck.

And “muck” is also perfect because it means “a moist sticky mixture, especially of mud and filth” or “dark fertile soil containing decaying vegetable matter.” In short, “dirt” – i.e., my favorite stomping grounds when I want to, as the Brits would say, “muck about” or “spend time idly.”

But then, by saying that last phrase, I guess I just confirmed that muralist’s very charge, huh? That is, that I’m lazy, right?

I hope not.  But if that’s what he thinks, who am I to ask him to think otherwise?

After all, I’m just a [fictive] carabao, a lowly beast of burden. I’m not a truck, a tractor or a car, even if my kind has been serving like those mechanical beasts many centuries before they were even invented. I don’t perform tricks like the dogs do, nor purr and act cute like the cats to get what I want.

But what that artist probably doesn’t realize is that as a carabao, I have no sweat glands, so I have to cool myself after long hours of working under the sun by lying in a filthy waterhole or mud or muck. That muck, caked on to my sexy body, protects me from bothersome tropical insects who can’t seem to get enough of tasty me.

I’m probably wasting my time saying all these things though because again, who am I really to argue with that famous muralist? Us carabaos are not even supposed to complain. We’re supposed to be docile and just work hard. We're supposed to just carry heavy burdens. We’re just supposed to plow hardened soil, rain or shine, to soften them for another round of planting. We’re [sniff] just supposed to provide milk and when really necessary [sniff], offer our meat and our hides for you guys. We’re just [sniff]…

TF: Hey, calm down, dude. Don’t cry because you’re going to make me cry, too!

I’m sorry but I can’t help but feel bad, TF. Why does this guy think I look lazy? It’s bad enough that the scientific community gave us a long, ugly and tongue-twister of a scientific name -- Bubalus bubalis carabanesis – but now I’m supposed to just accept additional abuse too because of my droopy-looking eyes?

Besides, he’s unfair and quite misguided in his anthropomorphizing because what applies to humans does not necessarily apply to the animal kingdom. Besides, has he ever thought that those droopy eyes were the result of tiredness, not laziness?  Besides, I happen to think those eyes are my best assets because they make me look approachable and harmless among the female members of our specie. And here's another more important besides: I have massive horns, you see, and I don’t want female carabaos to think, well, that I’m “horny”!
TF & MuQ: Happy together!

But it’s true, TF: I like my dreamy look in Peter's work because it makes me an enigmatic character. And truth be told, like you, I’m really a dreamer.

TF: But what about your Pinoyness? He questioned that too. He thinks you’re of Chinese origin.

So what? Just like millions of Filipinos, right? Should we strip those folks of their Pinoy kinship and connection too?

Let me remind you: Carabaos have been around since pre-Hispanic times in the Philippines and I have just as much right to be considered Filipino as he has. Doesn’t he consider himself Filipino too despite his Spanish name or, presumably, mixed ancestry?

Tell me this: How many centuries does it require to be considered native to a place? We’ve been the primary source of material for the armor of pre-colonial Filipino warriors. Some of my Filipino cousins were even exported to Guam in the late 17th century, and Guamanians considered my cousins Filipino, not Chinese!

And actually, do you know what else Guamanians did? You’re right -- they made the carabao their national symbol!

That’s called respect, bro. As in R-E-S-P-E-C-T!  And sadly, we don’t get it that much among Filipinos, nowadays. We’re seen as too provincial, too rural. We’re of the lower class.  No, make that lowest class.

That's why if somebody is ugly, he/she "looks like a carabao."  If somebody is a slowpoke, he/she is “as slow as a carabao.”  If somebody speaks broken English, he/she is said to speak “carabao English.”

It hurts, bro. We deserve better treatment. Besides, we’re supposed to be the country’s national animal – Ang Pambansang Hayop – right?  Believe me: I can't help but feel envious of my distant relatives -- those spoiled cows -- living in India.

But you know what?  It’s a good thing The Big Guy above gave us thick hides and even thicker hearts. So we are able to endure all the slings and all the slights.

Then, pretending as if we’re not tired or not hurting or not affected, with our characteristic pluck and poise, we plod along, plow ahead or plot a plan.

TF: Thanks, MuQ!  For a supposedly lazy creature, you answered my question quite non-stereotypically: i.e., quite thorough and in -- I apologize for saying this -- non-"carabao English".

You're welcome!  And you're forgiven this time (but this time only). ;-)

Got a question for MuQ The Filipino?  Email him now at


Curious Blue said...

Love the new banner! Now that we've seen MuQ, I'm wondering if Babe the Blue Ox is a relative.

The Filipino said...

@Curious Blue:

Hahaha -- maybe they are indeed related. But MuQ is puny of course compared to Babe the Blue Ox. And that's fine because I'm no Paul Bunyan either.

Anonymous said...

I love the new banner too! This fits TF better than Jose Rizal. I have always visualized TF more as an 'Andres Bonifacio' --- if Andres got to travel the world.

Idea : Why don't you start selling some TF paraphernalia using the new logo with all the profits going to the Japan reconstruction/aid? I am getting bored of my shirts with the PH map - time for some change!

Your # 1 Fan in Singapore!

Anonymous said...

Hey Bubalus!
I actually prefer your nickname MuQ. I also don't think you look sleepy, it looks to me though, that you've been chewing a different kinda weed.

Well Big MuQ, I hope you never get so old that they turn you into a Big Mac (anyway most Filipinos don't get that name right if they only speak carabao english)

Wok with Ray said...

Love the new banner bro! First time I saw the new banner, I started laughing because it's a lot more appropriate than the original. It fits your style of blog. You are doing a great job. :)

Unknown said...

Awesome banner! Definitely a great change. Not that the old banner was ugly but yeah. :P And thank you for letting us know more about MuQ!

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