Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Anthony Bourdain No Reservations: Philippines

For those of you who have seen Anthony Bourdain's TV show No Reservations, you are familiar with the typical Bourdain style. A hip, leather jacket sportin', cigarette smoking, beer chugging, adventurous, entertaining, daring, and outgoing Bourdain is not what you would call a shy person. The clever title of his show has a dual meaning. No Reservations in the sense of not making arrangements for accommodation at a restaurant, and No Reservations in the sense of not holding back emotions and opinions.

Unfortnately, in the most recent episode in the Philippines, Bourdain seemed to lack his usual flare. I can't imagine that it was due to a lack of tantilizing foods, flavors, or aromas. And although he says he had a great time in his blog (Anthony Bourdain), one could only wonder how in the world he could tolerate the complete lack of emotion from his Cebuano tour guide Augusto Elefano.

For a person who "argued so fervently for his country of ancestry," Elefano showed little knowledge about his motherland when it actually came down to it. Anyone can put together a video...even me, and I'm a PC. Watching his video that convinced Bourdain to visit the great Archipelago gave me high hopes of a truly entertaining episode. But when it all came down to it the show, because of Elefano's enthusiasm, was flat.

I'm glad that Bourdain visited the Philippines. And I'm sure that he was able to feast on his fair share of foods. I mean, it's only a 1 hour show, so I'm sure there's plenty of film on the editing room floor. But I was more concerned with the way this Filipino American came off to the viewing public.

Augusto's personality on the show was the complete opposite of the video that achieved the Philippines the honor of hosting Bourdain. There was no excitement. The show is called No Reservations! Why did I feel like he confined his emotions and enthusiasm? Who could hold back any type of emotion? I understand that Augusto was going through some sorts of an identity issue (not crisis), but being in the land of his predecessors should have given him some type of pride. He was uber proud in his video. But how could he have been so proud with his so-called identity crisis?

I'm not so much concerned with how the food was presented or what was / was not highligted. I guess the bottom line is that Augusto's representation of Filipinos and the culture is off. From his complete 180 degree personality change between his video and his performance on screen to the lack lustre dynamic of his family "party," the overall portrayal of Filipinos was weak. Yes, in a sense Elefano put us on the map in the Foodie world, but his actions and words are setting us back. Plenty of Filipinos and Filipino Americans have made great strides to further us as a people.

Augusto - there are plenty of organizations and people to help you "FIND yourself." For goodness sakes, you live in the cultural capital of the world that is New York City. Use the New Yorker in you and FIND those resources to help you identify.

I hope Chef Bourdain does a Part Deux.


JD said...

i need to watch this show!

DJ oLLy said...

AMEN to that. While I was watching I swear I said "you ignorant ass Filipino-American" at least 4-5 times. What pissed me off the most was that he was talking as an outsider, as if he wasn't even Filipino AT ALL.

I say you hunt this guy down and SCHOOL him so that IF he's on National television again, he doesn't make us look like fools.

Oceans of Thoughts said...

I agree with your observations whole-heartedly. Augusto was a complete embarrassment to me as a Filipino-American. I was born in the Philippines but grew up in America. BUT, I have always been in touch with my culture, and was SO SO excited to have Anthony Bourdain experience all that.

EPIC FAIL. Augusto - WHAT happened???? You played out all the stereotypes of the ignorant islander and it HURT to watch the episode.