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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Genuine Religiousness"

We have said that religion is genuine only where it is existential, where man is not somehow driven to it, but commits himself to it by freely choosing to be religious.  Now we have seen that the existentiality of religiousness has to be matched by its spontaneity.  Genuine religiousness must unfold in its own time.  Never can anyone be forced to it.  So we may say, to genuine religiousness man cannot be driven by an instinct -- nor pushed by a psychiatrist. [77-78]

- Frankl, Viktor E. 2000. Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning. New York: Basic Books.

Anno Mundi?

Sunset, Saturday, 22 October 4004 BC (Julian Calendar).  Irish Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656) pegs this date as the time of Creation.  Before Ussher's publication of his most notable work, The Annals of the World,   Cambridge scholar John Lightfoot speculated that the world was created on a Sunday, 12 September 3298, and that Adam was created on a Friday, 17 September 3298 at 9am.

A lot of writers, including the scriptwriters for the play Inherit the Wind (Larson 1998, 242), have mistakenly attributed the exact hour (9am)  of creation to Ussher when in fact he did not mention it in The Annals (see some of these published errors here).  This confusion of facts had been blamed on Andrew D. White who made the error in his book, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom.

There have been over a hundred suggested Creation dates, five of which are mentioned by Martin Gorst (2001, 15,16):

♦ 6904 - Alfonso of Castile

♦ 5199 BC - Bede

♦ 4000 BC - Martin Luther

♦ 3992 BC - Johannes Kepler

♦ 3761- Western Jewish scholars

- Sources/Recommended booksLarson, Edward J. 1998. Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Monkey Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; Gorst, Martin. 2001. Measuring Eternity: The Search for the Beginning of Time. New York: Broadway Books; Giberson, Karl W. & Donald A. Yerxa. 2002. Species of Origin: America's Search for a Creation Story. Lanhan, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"In the Land of the Head-hunters" as an Orientalist Text

In the Land of the Head-hunters as an Orientalist Text

We left Pines Hotel this morning and took up residence in a government bungalow. It is a compact little building, made of wood and some sort of thick canvas material—the latter giving it a very fragile appearance. It looked almost like a Japanese paper house but for the corrugated iron roof…par1

The first essential, after dumping down our baggage, was to get a fire lit in the kitchen gate. I essayed to chop fire-wood, and, after nearly slicing off my toes, gladly relinquished the job to two native Igorot boys who offered their services. They chopped wood, lit the fire, cleaned the dirty dishes, fetched distilled water from the neighbouring depot, and all for ten centavos each (roughly twopence half-penny): labour is cheap in the Philippines.par2

These Igorot tribesmen fascinate me. They are dark brown in colour, with shapely limbs, but their faces are scarcely handsome—flat-featured, broad-nosed, eyes far apart, and lank black hair. The general aspect of these gentry is fierce and forbidding, as befits their head-hunting reputation, and yet their voices are strangely soft and musical. As to their dress, it is reduced to the minimum, at any rate in regard to the men. They seem to find clothes irksome, specially when they are at work, and so (to Vera’s embarrassment!) we sometimes come upon stark naked brown men, whose only concession to decency is a narrow strip of embroidered work (reminding me of a piece cut off an old-fashioned bell-pull) suspended from the waist. The dress they more usually adopt is a curious blend of western civilization with Igorot savagery—to the waist a singlet, and then, from there downwards, nothing! To see an Igorot walking through the streets of Baguio, as I saw one to-day, clad in an abbreviated vest, a Bill Syke’s cap stuck rakishly on his head, and carrying a mackintosh over his arm, but with not a shred of trouser-cloth to cover his lower nakedness, makes a man wonder whether he is wide awake or merely dreaming dreams and seeing visions! And yet these unclad folk go about quite gaily and unconcernedly, and no one seems to mind…par3

The walks in the neighbourhood are gorgeous, and the interesting glimpses one gets of native life are most fascinating. Here you see an Igorot woman, heavy featured, wild-eyed, clad in native cloth, stripped in vivid colours, staggering along with a heavy basket hanging on her back and kept in place by a strap across the forehead. These baskets are of the type used by the peasants in Switzerland, and so possibly they got the original design from these far-distant islands. Another Igorot damsel passes with her arms laden with ornaments—coil on coil of glittering brass—and the flesh thickly tatooed from the hands up to the elbows. The little children are attractive in their naked simplicity, and some of them have winsome faces, and great, dark, lustrous eyes…par4

Sunday morning is the great time for this [Baguio] market, it is then that the natives from all the outlying districts come in to buy their week’s provisions. I have seldom seen a more animated or more entertaining sight. A sort of corral had been formed by bullock carts in the open space outside the covered market, and here all sorts of stalls had been erected and a roaring trade was going on. Here native dress (and undress!) could be seen in every shade of colour and variety of material. Some of the women wore curious white turbans, which looked as though a towel had been twisted rope-fashion around the head. Many of them were smoking enormous cheroots; some of them had the gauzy crinoline sleeves of Filipino fashion; others had their limbs laden with brass ornaments.par5

The up-to-date Filipino,” so runs the local guide book, “mingles with the scantily dressed Benguets, Lepantos, Bontocs, Ifugaos, and occasionally Kalingas… In one corner sturdy natives of the hills will be buying the piece-de-resistance of a coming feast—a dog—which will probably have four or five days hiking over the mountain trails, carefully guarded by its purchasers, before its miserable existence is brought to an end. A little further down a fashionably dressed visitor will be buying curios; across the way, squatting on the ground, smoking a cigar a foot long, will be a native woman haggling over the price of rice or camotes; and next door one of the Baguio housewives will be buying locally-grown strawberries and cabbages; and so on without end.” par6

Some of the men were of ferocious aspect. I induced one to stand before my camera while I snapped him—he had nothing on except a girdle and a hat, and his arms and chest were heavily tatooed.par7

After tea we went for a walk and saw a typical Igorot dwelling. It looked rather like a large beehive on stilts, and its outward filth suggested an interior that must have been verminous to the last degree. Close by was another house—decidedly novel from an architectural point of view, for its walls were made entirely out of kerosene tins!8

On returning home two visitors called to see us—one of the masters of the school, whose chapel service we attended this morning, and a missionary-person whom he introduced to me as an authority on the Igorots (apparently he runs a mission school for them in Bontoc, the Igorot metropolis). From him I gleaned quite a lot of interesting information about these wild tribes. He assured me that head-hunting has by no means died out; to his own knowledge several natives had literally “lost their heads” during the last few days; but, to console their pleasantries to their own dark-skinned brethren.par9

Their mode of burying the dead notables of the tribe is curious for the bodies are smoked and preserved for many days before the final interment takes place. Some of these dried-up corpses are to be seen in a cave near Baguio.par10

The Igorot children have small knowledge of what family life means, for when six years old they are separated from their parents, and all the girls of the tribe have to sleep together in a dormitory-hut called an “Olag,” while the boys spend the nights with the old men in a building of their own. The children may have meals with their parents, but they must not on any account sleep with them.par11

The “Olag” is as much a mating-house as a dormitory, and here the young men come when they want a wife. They believe in experimental matrimony; the girl is taken “on appro.,” so to speak, if she bears a child, well and good—the marriage is then regarded as binding: but if she proves barren, she is returned to the “Olag” as unsatisfactory, and another damsel is taken in her stead. It would seem that the one motive governing marriage among these wild men of the mountains is “procreation of children”—what we know as “love” has little to do with it.par12

The narrative above is excerpted from an unnamed Englishman's journal titled, “In the Land of the Head-hunters,”[1] written during his 1924 visit in Baguio City. This essay interrogates it under the rubric of Postcolonial Theory largely drawn from the theoretical paradigm of Edward Said as primarily fleshed out in his magnum opus, Orientalism.

In the Afterword to this work, Said notes that

The construction of identity…involves the construction of opposites and ‘others’ whose actuality is always subject to the continuous interpretation and re-interpretation of their differences from ‘us.’ Each age and society re-creates its ‘Others’… the construction of identity is bound up with the disposition of power and powerlessness in each society… (1978:332)

He demonstrates this binarism in identity construction in the West’s discursive [2] and essentializing representation of the Middle East (i.e., the “Orient,” thus the term “Orientalism”) which artificially bifurcates the world into the superior West, and the inferior East.

As Hans Bertens (2001: 205) explains,

The inferiority that Orientalism attributes to the East simultaneously serves to construct the West's superiority.  The sensuality, irrationality, primitiveness, and despotism of the East constructs the West as rational, democratic, progressive, and so on.  The West always functions as the 'centre' and the East is a marginal 'other' that simply through its existence confirms the West's centrality and superiority.  Now surprisingly perhaps, the oppostion that the West's discourse about the East sets up makes use of another basic opposition, that between the masculine and the feminine. Naturally the West functions as the masculine pole – enlightened, rational, entrepreneurial, disciplined – while the East is its feminine opposition – irrational, passive, undisciplined, and sensual.
Head-hunters may be read as an “orientalizing” text on the Igorots [3] for it exoticizes or sensationalizes and “others” the native. This it does by highlighting such details about him that somehow demonstrate his physical, economic and social inferiority compared to the Westerner thus projecting a distorted image of the native.

The title itself is revealing, rather catchy, when read by a “civilized” European who may immediately infer from it ideas such as follows:

1. The Igorots are uncivilized.

2.They are warlike people.

3. Most, if not all, of them are headhunters.

4.Only they, among all the ethnic groups in the Philippines, have a history of widespread headhunting forays.

The generalization and misrepresentation involved in these “facts” may come naturally to an uninformed European who may not be aware that in viewing the Igorots as uncivilized, he may simply be imposing a Eurocentric “discourse of civilization” on them. On the savagery of these "headhunting savages," he may miss out on the fact that, in the words of cultural critic Delfin Tolentino, Jr., “headhunting was an aspect of traditional culture and must therefore be understood in that sense,” [4] that not all Igorots at the time engaged in headhunting, and that Igorots also enjoyed periods of peaceful socio-economic coexistence with their neighbors (gold trading, for example) even before they were discovered by the Spaniards (Scott 1974: 51). Further, he may also be unaware that other Filipinos like the Ilocanos, Pampangos, Tagalogs, and Zambals had also engaged in headhunting prior to and during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines (Scott: 17, 48-53). Finally, his horror at the “barbaric act of headhunting” might make him forget to “reconsider the role of [his] own modern culture in exterminating the primitive and natural world that has nurtured it” (Howard 2000: 81).[5]

This travelogue views the native as a curio, a source of amazement and amusement and not as a repository of knowledge that allows one to understand a different but not necessarily inferior culture. One may even hear in this text the undertones of Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden” the first stanza of which is, in the words of Servando Halili (2006:8), "heavily influenced by racialized ideology" that "denigrated and dehumanized" Filipinos "by describing them as 'new-caught'" and "hailing them as 'half devil and half child.'"

When the tone of this text is compared with, say, that of David Howard’s fully illustrated The Last Filipino Headhunters, one sees a marked difference between a Westerner who makes a passing comment on Igorot culture without really coming to a deeper appreciation of it, and another who starts out with the idea that these natives “were little more than imaginary relics of some prehistoric period, to be relegated to the same dusty shelf stacked with myths and folktales” and comes out of his immersion in indigenous culture with the conviction that he should “now look to the best qualities of primitive tribal culture when forming [his] own aesthetic and philosophical criteria.” (2000:9)

Howard observes that much of what many people know of the Igorots have come from the outsiders’ jaundiced perspective. He thus calls for the recognition and acceptance of “other peoples’ positive influences, without imposing our preconceived cultural assumptions and prejudices.” (19) In the same vein, Bertens (2001:199) writes:

…to take another culture seriously means to accept it on its own terms, to accept the distinctive ways in which it differs from our own culture. And it entails a genuine interest in the predicament of those who belong to the minority culture – in such encounters the cultures that are involved usually do not meet on equal terms – and who see their culture and their identity threatened by that of the dominant majority. To take another culture seriously means that we cannot take for granted that its literature shares our preconceptions and our systems of value or that it will reflect a universal human condition.

The text under study, however, evidences veiled impositions of certain “preconceived cultural assumptions and prejudices.” It starts out by noting the “fragile” condition of a public building which  is likened to a “Japanese paper house” (par. 1; cf. par. 8). The association of a usually assumed feminine quality (fragility) with another Oriental or Asian culture (Japanese) seems to smack of the Orientalism as described above. The author’s mention of “cheap” labor reinforces the economic backwardness hinted at in the first paragraph and illustrated in the pre-modern cooking preparations made by the “native Igorot boys” (par. 2). Incidentally, his “nearly slic[ing] off [his] toes” may be read as the writer’s way of emphasizing that “East is East and West is West” [6] or as a “crack” in the text which actually allows the native a peek into the European’s ignorance and crudeness amidst his claim to being civilized (i.e., his technological advancement ironically emasculates his basic survival skills).[7]

This British traveler’s euphemistic description of the “scarcely handsome” (read: ugly) faces of these natives whose “general aspect…is forbidding, as befits their head-hunting reputation” and his cavalier comments on the natives’ garb (par. 3; cf. “ferocious” look in par. 7) carry with them what Said in “Arabs, Islam and the Dogmas of the West” calls as “principal dogmas of Orientalism” such as “the absolute and systematic difference between the West (which is rational, developed, humane, superior) and the Orient (which is aberrant, undeveloped, inferior)” and “the Orient is at bottom something either to be feared…or to be controlled (in Macfie 2000: 104-105).”

His comments on the “nakedness” of the Igorots (pars. 3,5) point to the Orientalist picture of the “sensual” native and remind us of the infamous 1904 St. Louis Exposition where the “nudity” of the Igorots which “best condensed spectacle, commercialism, and late-Victorian sexual repression” gained more textual space in "newspaper coverage, memoir, and scrapbook" more than the Filipino soldiers' splendid "musical performances and tight drills" did (Kramer 2006: 255-266).  This preoccupation with the natives' "nudity" perhaps reflects the European's puritan sensibility with which he judged the clothing pattern of another culture.

As if to mollify a native reader who might get offended by his use of the terms “old-fashioned bell-pull,” “Igorot savagery,” etc. (par. 3) , the tourist drops descriptive terms that conjure up a “sweet” picture of the Igorots: “strangely soft and musical” voice, “gorgeous” neighborhood, “fascinating” native life, “attractive” children, etc. (pars. 3,4). The overall condescending tone of his write up, however, seems to carry more weight than his sprinkling of  pleasant descriptions of the Igorots and their culture.

His notes on a typical market day (and don’t forget the miserable dog!) and the traditional burial rite of the Bontoc society (pars. 5,6,10) are details that are seemingly intended, not only to add color to this already multihued culture, but also to further illustrate how odd or weird -- in other words, exotic -- indigenous culture is.

His mention of the “local guide book” (par.  6) implicates other Filipinos in the exoticization of the native. While the tourism industry in the country boosts both the local and national economy, it nevertheless becomes, to a certain extent, complicit in the identity construction of the Igorot. By extension, we might see here the press being implicated in this textualizing and commercializing project which is evident in the productions of today’s media outfits. In his paper, “Constructing Igorotness in Popular Culture,” Prof. Jimmy Fong (2008) of the University of the Philippines Baguio (UPB) observes,

Baguio-based and national Philippine newspapers and other publications also tend to use pictures or images of indigenous people on their front pages presumably because of the novelty or strangeness (oddity and unusualness being important and traditional news values) that the images still possess. Or the images are merely used as “clip art” freely cut and pasted onto anything for whatever purpose, but mostly for profit. How about an Igorot as a mascot?

The last two paragraphs of the narrative under study are classic illustrations of an Orientalist distortion of the indigenous people’s cultural distinctives. The Englishman advances the misconception that the “Olag” [sic] is a “mating house” functioning also as a dormitory (par. 8). But as Bontoc native Carmencita Cawed explains:

The olog is not a place where intimate relationship between sexes occurs, as it is commonly believed, but is a place where courtship begins and where a couple is betrothed a few days before the final ceremonies of marriage are performed. Once betrothed, the couple sleeps together in the olog. No relationship between boy and girl can exist, unless there is an intention of marriage. I quote Dr. A.E. Jenks in his observation: ‘The life in the olog does not seem to weaken the boys and the girls or cause them to degenerate; neither does it appear to make them vicious. Whereas there is practically no sense of modesty among the people, I have never seen anything lewd.’ (1972: 19) [8]

Again, the Englishman's reading of the Bntoc society's betrothal process and marital relationship is flawed:

The Bontoc have always been monogamous, and insiyan (divorce) is not lawful to them. However, a childless couple, after living for several years together, can break their contract with the hope that each one will be lucky to have children with another. This is the only lawful ground for separation and divorce. Arrangements are made between husband and wife, and no third party is involved. A Bontoc woman, on seeing that for several years of their union she cannot bear a child, will suggest to her husband to go look for another woman who can give him heirs. The man may accept or reject the proposal. Should he accept, he must leave his house and the lot, where the house is located. Respective properties are retained and anything acquired during the marriage is either divided or the man given his share to the wife. He then goes back to the ato and be among the eligibles. If the man marries after a short time, he builds himself another house. (Cawed 1972:21)
He cites a missionary whom he describes as an “authority on the Igorots” (par. 9). But whatever value judgment on the Olog-related practices of the Bontoc Igorot he got from the said missionary is not necessarily a fair assessment of this particular slice of the Bontoc’s lifeways, it being filtered through the colored lens of Christian morality (or an ecclesiastical version thereof). Further, the narrative does not take into account the unwritten moral code which the Bontoc had been known for at the time as expressed above and in other narratives about the Igorots in general; nor does it take into consideration the socio-political conditions that may explain the behavior of the Igorots at certain periods in their long and checkered history. [9] Had it done so, it would have perhaps taken a higher view of this tribe’s moral standards.

Howard (2000, 174) writes at the conclusion of his book:

The narrow Western concept of civilization implies a complicated social and religious order, legislated standards of morality, and serious concern for the rights and needs of all the members of society. Yet the reality of our advanced civilization is quite different – crass materialism, rampant racism, and a callous disregard for the beliefs and values of others abound in nearly every modern society. In light of this unpleasant reality, the simpler but more profound values of these tribespeople may well serve as a model for our own debased civilization.

Perhaps many Westerners object to Howard’s glowing picture of indigenous culture which he contrasts with the stark image of Western civilization. And some, like Bryan Turner in his “From Orientalism to Global Sociology” (in MacFie 2000: 371) might caution us against the danger of “a naïve trust in the ‘native’ or the pre-modern as a form of humanity which is not corrupted by Westernization or modernization” and against “an outdated orientalism for an equally prejudicial Occidentalism.”

Well-taken. And it should be added that even among Filipinos themselves there are some whose mindset  is  cemented with ethnocentricity and ignorance that they still tend to essentialize certain subcultures in the country.[10]

Still, all these reminders do not gainsay the fact that Head-hunters is a piece of Orientalist writing which -- although the author may not have been conscious of it –- was part of a pervasive "discursive formation" that continues to essentialize and "other" the Igorots (and all Indigenous Peoples, broadly speaking) to this day.



[1] Hereinafter, Head-hunters.

[2] Said employs Foucault’s concept of discourse, “a loose system of statements and claims that constitutes a field of supposed knowledge and through which that ‘knowledge’ is constructed. Such discourses, although seemingly interested in knowledge, always establish relationships of power.” (Bertens, 202)

[3] Natives of the Cordillera, a geopolitical region in Northern Philippines. Although there has been an increasing acceptance of the natives of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) of their collective identity as Igorots, “Igorotness” remains a contested concept owing to the heterogeneity of physical attributes, practices and worldview within this Philippine sub-culture. (see Finin 2005; Fong 2008)

[4] Class notes.

[5] A case in point may be the “White Man’s” treatment of the Native Americans which has some semblance to the colonization of the Igorots by the West. Although it might be a little hyperbolic, Trebbel and Jennison’s denunciation of the Europeans’ atrocities may be appropriate here: “From the first atrocities of the Spanish, French, and English explorers and colonies to the final, frightful massacre of Indian women at Wounded Knee in 1890, the white man’s war against the red man is a record to match in savagery, if not in scope, anything the refinements of twentieth-century civilized warfare have produced.” (2006, 12)

[6] I take this out of its original context. Kipling’s “The Ballad of the East and West,” in contrast to his  imperialism-friendly poem “The White Man’s Burden,” seems to have no racist undertones as it merely presents the cultural differences of Kamal (Oriental) and the “Colonel’s son” (Westerner), circumstantial contradictions which need to be taken as natural features of a diverse human culture and which should not only be recognized but also understood or appreciated.

[7] This calls to mind scenes in the reality show "Survivor" where participating Westerners consider it  a feat to be able to crack open a freshly picked coconut, to dress a chicken, etc. when such mundane activities are just a child's play to those who belong to traditional cultures.

[8] Jenkins’ dated but still useful work, The Bontoc Igorot, can be accessed at the e-portal Project Gutenberg, available @

[9] Cawed (1972:17) includes in this Bontoc “code of ethics” such laws against lying, on respecting neighbors’ properties and on brotherhood. Two of the several books considered as “standard readings” on the socio-political background of the Igorots are Frank Jenista’s The White Apos (1987) and Howard Fry’s A History of the Mountain Province (1983).

[10] One recent example is the ethnic slur on the Igorots made by a Filipina in France which generated dozens of irate comments from Igorots and non-Igorots alike [see Francesca & Igorots (1)Francesca & Igorots (2)]. Other related posts: Call Centers & Racism, Burning Cultural Artifacts: A Biblical Mandate?, Churya-a, Kidla-a, Igorot, 1st Int'l Meet on Cordi Studies

Works Cited

Bertens, Hans.2001. Literary Theory: The Basics. New York: Routledge.

Cawed, Carmencita.1972. The Culture of the Bontoc Igorot. Manila: MCS Enterprises, Incorporated.

Finin, Gerardo A. 2005. The Making of the Igorot: Contours of Cordillera Consciousness. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Fong, Jimmy. 2008. “Constructing Igorotness in Popular Culture.” A Paper read during the “First Cordillera International Conference” held in Baguio City, 7-9 February 2008.

Fry, Howard T. 1983. A History of the Mountain Province. Quezon City: New Day Publishers.


Halili, Servando D. Jr. 2006. Iconography of the New Empire: Race and Gender mages and the American Colonization of the Philippines. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press.

Howard, David. 2000. The Last Filipino Headhunters. San Francisco: Last Gasp of San Francisco.

Jenista, Frank Lawrence. 1987. The White Apos: American Governors on the Cordillera Central. Quezon City: New Day Publishers.

Jenks, Albert E. 1905. The Bontoc Igorot. Bureau of Science, Ethnological Survey Publications, Vol. 1. Manila: Bureau of Printing. [AVAILABLE @ Project Gutenberg]

Kramer, Paul A. 2006. The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, & the Philippines. Philippine ed. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.

MacFie, A.L. 2000. Orientalism: A Reader. New York: NYU Press.

Said, Edward. 1978. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books.

Scott, William Henry. 1982. The Discovery of the Igorots. Rev. ed. Quezon City: New Day Publishers.

Trebbel, John & Keith Jennison. 2006. The American Indian Wars. Edison, NJ: Castle  Books.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yahoo closing down!?

This is Yahoo President Anna Rubenecia, I am sorry to announce that Yahoo has reached its maximum number of accounts two million. If you would like to keep your account for free send this to everyone on your list. This way we can know which accounts are being used and which accounts we can delete. Send this within 8 days and your account will remain free. Once again I am sincerely sorry that I have to do this. Please start sending. Jay Russell, Yahoo Management kane & korn: WHOEVER DOESN'T SEND THIS MESSAGE YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE DEACTIVATED AND IT WILL COST $10.00 A MONTH TO USE IT! TO

Yeah right -- has this to say about this hoax:

What you got there is nothing but a phishing email. Don't respond to the message or click on the links at all. Doing so will have the phishers to take over your account and quickly change the password, denyig you access to in the process. (Many people lose their Y! accounts becase of this.) Instead, send the message off to the following addresses:
Then turn around and have it spammed straight into oblivion right away. By doing as I instructed, you will have kept your Y! account safe from the phishers' hands.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jĭnfáng (Beware) ! : ESL-China Blacklist

Those intending to do ESL/EFL in China need to be aware of frauds and cheats who have already victimized a lot of teachers from the Philippines and other countries.  For inquiries on legit teaching jobs in China I recommend Dave Sperling's site. Here's an "ESL Blacklist" compiled by some of my former co-teachers in China:

Chinese recruiters of Huali Education based in Hefei, Anhui Province:

Their various aliases and institutional names include: ESL Recruiters in China, Jiangsu ESL, SALL Education, Mary Brown, Sally Wan, Maggie and Sandy, English Education Direct, English Teachers China

Their web sites:, and

Their email addresses include:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,    jtt6×,,,,

They post a multitude of job offers under a multitude of aliases. Sometimes they copy the job offers of well known web sites or recruiters and just change the name of the school at the top and their email address (even leaving some details of the original job offer remaining in the text).

They use fake or “borrowed” resumes, with pictures of beautiful blond teachers, and add their own email addresses so that Chinese schools - their prospective customers - unknowingly write to them thinking they are responding to a teacher’s resume. They do this repeatedly on multiple ESL websites.

When confronted with their behavior, they just laugh (they really seem to find it funny and to find themselves very smart), or they attack and accuse as a way of defending themselves.

Schools, Cities and Provinces they promote include: Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangxi, Shandong, Hebei, Changzhou City, Zibo City, Rongcheng City, Changsha City, Nanchang City, Qingzhou City, Guangxi Tianjin, Jilin, Shanghai, Taishan, Shandong English School, Jiangsu Middle School, Shuangyashan, Tan’an International school (also Taian), Zhejiang Wenling Middle School

Their telephone numbers include: 86.551 3612-211 86.551 3612-470 86-551-5317-593 86-551-5317-382

Chinese recruiter Alin Buuer aka Frank Zhang &

The man’s various aliases include: James Zhang, Frank Zhang, Dragon Zhang, Alin Buuer, and many other names with the surname Zhang.

Chinese recruiter Huapu Education Group: Xuhui District, Shanghai

Main websites:,,

- Main Company Names:  Chinese Campus Online, Shanghai Longman English, Success Company,  English Success Company

- Main email addresses:,,,

Phone Number given:   021-64274821

They probably learned of me through an ESL forum, and I received this come-on:

“We are very interested in your rich teaching experience and our center belongs to one of most famous education groups in China. Could you please send us your detailed CV including contact number? …… we can sign the contract right now.”

And of course I haven’t heard from them since, which means they are likely out selling my services somewhere."

Also, avoid a man calling himself Zhou Qiming. He has aliases of Walter and Bob, and is a shill for the above websites (and possibly others).  He has contacted me several times under different names, and in one case he had hijacked the username and ID of a person on another large ESL site, and was using that method to send emails.

He contacted me with a contract for the Shanghai Jin Hua Private Middle School, offering a MAXIMUM of 15 - 45-minute teaching sessions per week for 10,000 RMB per month, with a free two-bedroom apartment less than 0.5 Km from the school, all Chinese AND American holidays paid, both summer and winter holidays, paid air fare, computer & printer, free ADSL Internet, etc. His ploy was that he was a teacher already operating under this contract, and could help me get the same deal at the same school.  And he referred me to the websites above.  When I didn’t contact them, they contacted me.

Among other ploys, he also pretends to be a disinterested outside party (who somehow learned that you want a job), recommending ‘very good’ ESL recruiters (names given as above) that want to ‘hair’ (sic) foreign teachers, and says “I hope I can make you friend.”

Chinese recruiterWilliam” of Beijing

- E-mail addresses:,,,

Here is one teacher’s current experience (September 9, 2005):

“I asked him to find a public school for me. He called soon after, saying that he had found a public middle school which provides paid winter and summer holidays and a three-room flat. In fact, it was a private training centre in a dirty building. The owners placed me in a filthy two-star hotel. I was supposed to sign a contract with them next day.”

Here’s another:

My husband and I accepted a job in Qingdao through William 3 weeks ago and in the contract we were promised a 2 bedroom off campus apartment with kitchen, high speed internet etc.  When we arrived at the school they put us in 2 dorm rooms at the school. There is no kitchen, telephone, internet, etc.  There are 2 washing machines that have to be shared with other staff and students.  The internet connection at the school is a joke and is only available from 8am -4pm. (there are no computers in our office anyway.)

We specifically told William that we wanted an independent apartment with a kitchen as we like to be free and cook our own food and he assured us that this was no problem.  But as I said before there is no kitchen and the school has an 11pm curfew.

The contract William gave us was not the school contract; the conditions were very very different; they tried to make us sign it but we wouldn’t.  We also asked William if there were any office hours and he said no, but then the school contract stated you have to be there from 8am-4pm.  All in all the man is a liar and cannot be trusted.

William changed most of his e-mail addresses.  These are the new ones:

There are 5-6 young Chinese girls (very naive ones) working in his office.  Every teacher is supposed to get a flat with two bedrooms and a computer with free 24-hour internet access  (it doesn`t matter where the province or school is).  The truth is, they have never checked these flats.  All their ads start like this: “Our school is in…”

Chinese recruiter Yakup International/China Talents

This is a serious one. Everyone (especially young single women) must avoid this dangerous group.

There is some evidence that he is also currently running a scam with “SYS Education” in Beijing, recruiting foreign teachers to teach Business English, but not paying them.   Someone said he’d been sent to jail, but he’s still operating out of Beijing; there are many posts on the internet made in Sept. 2005.

Yakup International
Suite 2706/ No. 426 Building, (or Suite 1002, 1106 and 1310 No. 418 Building)
Wangjing West Garden, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100102
Tel: 8610-6474 4641, 6470 3913
Fax: 8610-6470 3913

Yakup claims to be a medical doctor and to have attended the London School of Economics, but there seems to be adequate documentation that he is not an M.D. and that he never dd attend LSE, although he apparently does have a Ph.D. that he purchased on-line somewhere.

His website has a couple of dozen testimonial letters that appear to be fakes.  I haven’t read them all, but the spelling and grammar mistakes are typically Chinese and the comments excessively glowing.

The website also has a large FAQs page which contains some substantial misinformation.  For eg., on salaries, he quotes these amounts as the maximum permitted by Chinese law to be paid to foreign teachers:

BA/BSc./ Diploma or Equiv:
2,500-3,300 RMB/Month    60 RMB/Each Hour
MA/MSc./MFA./Mphil or Equiv:
3,300-4,600 RMB/Month    65 RMB/Each Hour
Ph.D or Equiv:
4,600-5,600 RMB/Month    70 RMB/Each Hour

Then, it states that schools can pay 5% more in larger centres to allow for the higher cost of living; Private schools can pay 10% more; and married or cohabiting couples are paid 5% more - all apparently stipulated by Chinese law.

It goes on to say, “Please be extremely cautious and alert that by offering a higher salary, many schools and language training centers in various part China are employing foreign teachers illegally (underground) without license/authorization.”

Also, “Please note that under the strict Regulation/Law of CSAFE, no any schools (which are registered and licensed under Chinese law) in China will be allowed to break the law applicable to foreigners.  If a school is found to be providing much more salary and more benefits/offers to a foreigner than those norms/standard (Pay Scale and other offers) regulated by the CSAFE, then the school shall have to face a certain fine in the end and loss its license to employ foreign teachers.”

The site further claims that “Under strict Chinese Law/Regulation, no any school / organization in China is allowed to provide the air ticket before the arrival of a foreign teacher in China.”  It also claims that it is illegal for schools in China to reimburse more than half of a teacher’s air fare up front.

Also, it seems that the schools he recruits for are very poor and in out-of-the-way places; often, there are no other persons who speak English and the teachers are very isolated.  The schools, which are apparently hard pressed for even a few thousand RMB pay Yakup 7000 a head if he recruits “volunteers” who will work for 1000-2000 a month. One of the more disturbing aspects of “Dr.” Yakup is in the personal references posted in his behalf by none other than Alin Buuer aka Frank Zhang.  These have appeared with some regularity on teachers’ ESL sites.

Worse, here is a quote from the administrator of a prominent ESL teachers’ board: “Some 6 months ago, Alin went as far as creating an email address at Hotmail with the name of a teacher who had written a bad review against him on our Review board. He wrote to us, using this fake Hotmail email account, pretending to be the teacher, and asking to remove “his” post…”

The most disturbing part is that it was easy to uncover one more quite unpleasant and dangerous aspect to this “Dr.” Yakup, relating to his carnal appetites.  It appears that attractive young female teachers are encouraged to accept a ‘job’ as recruiters in his office at 10,000 per month instead of teaching at a much lower rate of pay.  The job includes ‘free’ housing and, since his office is in his apartment, that means living with him.  I have discovered sufficient credible posts by these girls that it cannot but be true.

According to those who have accepted these overtures, the job consists of spending all day posting countless numbers of fake job ads on every site available.  They claim Yakup tries to place teachers only after they arrive in Beijing - that he has no live jobs open at any given time.

In each case it seems that after a month or two the girls realise they’re being had and want to quit, at which point Yakup demands 10,000 RMB as payment for their housing and then dumps them on the street.  There are also documented reports of Yakup requesting sexual favours from teachers prior to placement - including from married women who are there with their husbands.  ”There is another and extremely more troubling allegation of a young lady who claims sex was forced on her by “Dr.” Yakup against her will.”

Here is one such sad letter from a young teacher.  I’ve deleted her identity.

“Some months ago I sent an application to “Dr.” Yakup; He is neither a medical doctor nor a PhD holder.  But just for fun he calls himself a “Dr”.  I got a prompt reply.  He asked me to meet him immediately.  I went to his office in Beijing.  He told me “There is a very nice job for you … Recruitment officer in my Office.  You can earn 10000 yuan every month”.  I thought it was a nice idea to be with him.  He promised many things.  He put me in a nice apartment.  I started working for him, day and night!.  My job was to find Teachers.  Within one month I found some teachers.  But he never paid me anything.  He behaved very badly.  I left him.  later I came to know that he is not a normal person.”

And another: “My wife, who is a Chinese native, was recruited to work for him as an agent. Yakup kept making many promises, but (they were) only lies.  This man (kept) asking my wife for sexual favours and (to) introduce young female friends to meet with him.

“I worked for Yakup as a recruiter for 10 months, where I recruited over 60 teachers.  More than 75% of them were sent to different locations than the ones I had promised to them, simply because the fool Yakup DOESN’T ACTUALLY PLACE YOU UNTIL YOU ARRIVE IN CHINA!  This means that it’s possible that you could get to Beijing, have no job, and he might be unable to get you a job, which is exactly what happened to a number of underqualified teachers whom we recruited.  Yakup is a liar.  Yakup is a cheat.  I would love to put him away, but he’s got too many ties.”

Yakup is a crook!  He spends a lot of his time putting up postive (posts) about his company, to confuse people to believe he is legit, but is not.  He has several alliases.  Lives in Chaoyang, and rarely goes outside, lives in a secure building.  Most likely afraid to go out, because someone might like to break his legs.  He is a pervert and a pedophile… Not to mention other things.  Lying and cheating, full of deceit.  We are currently trying to have cases against him, to put him away.  A truly despicable human being, if we can call him one…”

Recently “Dr.” Yakup had a potential new hire - a female teacher who spoke not one word of Chinese repeat to him over and over again Wo Ai Ni (I love you).  He refused to tell her its meaning and while holding her hand, had her repeat it over and over again.  He and his Chinese staff thought this was simply hilarious.

This same young lady was originally told her contract period would be for less than a month (summer camp type work) and she would be paid quite well.  When she asked to see a copy of the contract, she was told that such a thing only existed online and apparently the friendly folks at Yakup International lacked the resources to print one for her to see.  Red Flag Number One.

She was held in an apartment (originally offered for her to stay at, as a gesture of how nice they were) with several Chinese people who never let her out of their sight.  They even went so far as to stand watch over her outside the bathroom.  On her second night in her new ‘home’ when she asked for more details about her job, she was summoned to another building to “Dr.” Yakup’s office (which also happens to be his personal apartment) where he told her that she would now be expected to work for at least 5 months, possibly a year.  Red Flag Number Two.

She got nervous and wanted to contact some family and friends.  Despite their flashy website and obvious computer savvy, they could not provide her with internet access or arrange it for her to check her email or send any email. Red Flag Number Three.

Then, the next night, “Dr.” Yakup had her in his “office/bedroom” (now her third night in this increasingly uncomfortable situation) and while holding her hand for an extended period of time, proceeded to tell her that if she ever smoked another cigarette again he would be “very, very angry with you.”  This young lady was now scared and really wanted out.  When she mentioned that she didn‘t want the job (telling him that the reason was now the job had gone from a 3 week summer camp position, to a 5 month full time gig, possibly a year), “Dr.” Yakup told her that she had no choice.  He claimed the men coming to get her had already left for Beijing and so there was no debate about it, she HAD to take the job.  She would be leaving soon and that was that!  Red Flag Number Four.

No contract, no guarantees and no answer as to exactly where she would be going, or for how long.  No access to International Phone calls.  No access to emails.  The only thing she had was a cell phone, but it was not able to make International calls and she was monitored on every conversation.

Anytime she tried to get away (even just to go for a walk around the neighbourhood as she tried telling them) she had at least one, usually two people who went with her everywhere and kept her from doing what she wanted.

She was terrified; feeling trapped and wanted to leave.  She had no idea how to contact the police (everyone should know the phone number for the police in any country they visit.  So, the young lady then called me (someone she barely knows), frightened and feeling trapped.

While on the phone, I told her to act excited (in a good way) and tell them that a friend from Beijing wanted to come and say goodbye to her before she left Beijing.  She did so and waited.

When we arrived, everyone was friendly enough.  We greeted the Chinese staff who spoke to us in English and we when they asked where we were going, we simply said we were taking her to have some lunch.  They asked why we were taking both her bags and we said we were also going to do some laundry and buy some things to prepare for her trip out of Beijing.

They told us no and began to block our way out of the apartment.  They said they would have lunch brought to us.  We thanked them for their kind offer, but said we had a special restaurant we wanted to take our friend to before she left Beijing and that we would be back in about two hours after lunch and laundry.  They got even more in between us and her, blocking our way and told us now that no one could leave.

I began to get upset and pushed my way past them to take the arm of the now completely terrified young lady and move her out the door.  Suddenly the Yakup staff who couldn‘t speak or understand anymore English and the one lady told her colleagues to call for others to come, saying in Chinese Ta xiang tao pao (She’s trying to escape).

That is when I reminded them that she had no contract, was not obligated in any way to stay and we were leaving now and they needed to get out of our way.  Through many loud comments in Chinese about how we had to stay, could not leave, etc. we made our way to the elevator.

Once we were in the elevator, one of the Chinese staff for Yakup International kept pressing the button for the elevator (outside the door) to keep the door from closing, while telling all the other Chinese people already in the elevator that the foreign girl had ‘my jacket in her bag’.  I told them that we were going to call the police and foreign affairs and they needed to let us go.  She still blocked our way and kept everyone trapped on the 11th floor by repeatedly pressing the button to keep the door open, while screaming for her colleagues to get others here quickly.

After I stepped out of the elevator and kept her from hitting the button again, allowing my colleagues to evacuate the now almost crying young lady to our vehicle, the Chinese staff from 1106 - Building 418 - Wangjing Garden Apartments, attempted to keep ME from leaving by way of the stairs.  I am a large man with no fear and after extracting myself from their lame attempts to physically hold me until others from their company arrived, I went down the stairs.  I was punched in the stomach by the lone (quite small and young) Chinese man of their staff, after I broke free from their grasp.  I’m sorry that he had his punch returned; I am quite sure he felt his ‘gift’ a bit more than I felt his.

Hysterically screaming from the top of the stairs in Chinese, their female staff member kept hollering Wo bu zhi dao shen me yi si (I don‘t know your meaning).  My meaning was quite clear. We were taking a young lady from an almost hostage-like situation to safety.

I have already contacted the police and the foreign affairs department and encourage anyone else who has had a negative experience with Yakup International to do the same.

There are some postings by others you need to read as well.  They young lady I am speaking of found this horrible organization through a website called “That’s Beijing” (   I realize that they can not control who places ads on their system (after all, one can simply change their email address and re-register again).  I do not fault them in any way for what has happened.

Beware of situations like this, please use some common sense and before you leave Beijing for any job.  Make sure you know where you are going and when you will be back.  Register with your embassy in Beijing, take their phone numbers with you and make sure you know how to use your cell phone to contact the police and call internationally.  You can buy phone cards, but often they only work in the city where you have bought them and you may not be able to do this from the countryside.  Have your family and/or friends call you weekly in such a case to make sure you are safe if you have no other method available to you.  In short, be an adult and make sure you are looked after and don’t allow someone else to do this for you.

The time to get out of any situation is back at Red Flag Number One.  From a safe distance you can take the time to determine if the warning is serious enough to stay away, or something that can be resolved.

Chinese recruiter Dai Chao

DON’T BE FOOLED BY THIS PERSON. He also holds office at Rm.403, B2 tower, Unis Bldg.Chaoyang District, Beijing, with the office  name- Assumption University, China Representative Office. Just like any other cheats, he claims to be an agent of a prestigious university in Thailand and pretends to have graduated from a prestigious university in Canada. He also offers promising salary and jobs for his recruited teachers. His system is to let the newly recruited teachers work for his “contact school” (particularly in Shanxi Province) for 1 term; however, before the term ends, he would find ways and means to free himself from paying the last working month of the teacher. This guy is also one hell of delinquent payer, thus the teachers are always left waiting for more than a month or 2. His email address is Don’t be fooled by their advertisement at ESL

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ifugao to Host 29th Nat'l Conference on Local & Nat'l. History

The Philippine National Historical Society (PNHS) will hold the 29th NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON LOCAL AND NATIONAL HISTORY on October 23-25, 2008 at Banaue Hotel, Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines. The Conference theme is "Philippine Ethnohistories: The Luzon Cordillera and Beyond." The objective of the conference is to look at the research and writing on the Cordillera and Northern Luzon and identify gaps that can be addressed by future or further research, situating the region's history in the context of a Philippine national historiography.

- lifted from the Cordillera Studies Center (CSC) website