Letter from the Editor
My Korean friend Suzie told me everything I know about otaku. “They’re socially inept uber-nerds. The only thing they ever do is play video games.” I never doubted Suzie’s authority on these matters. I came to know her as wise and welltraveled. She was born in Belgium, went to university and interned in London (Vivienne Westwood adores her), and her job—the precise nature of which I never attempted to understand—takes her on frequent traveling sprees. On one such official business trip she flew to Manila almost weekly for two months, checked in at the Intercontinental, and eventually applied for an SM Advantage card. We would eat full slabs of baby back ribs at Chelsea in Serendra. Suzie isn’t fluent in Japanese, but during these dinners, she would make what seemed to me an authentic impression of a shy Japanese girl, muttering a tiny something in Japanese while simultaneously bowing. Then we’re back to the topic: “And otaku— the men, they’re crazy—get married to anime girls printed on pillows. Pillows!”
You can perhaps imagine how baffled I was when, before meeting Paulo Avelino, I find out that on his Twitter bio, he describes himself as “Actor, cinephile, rock climber, otaku, casual gamer.” I don’t recall if I was more shocked to realize Suzie’s false infallibility or the possibility of Paulo wanting to get married to a pillow. (After much overdue research, I learned that otaku is a general term for people with obsessive interests, commonly anime and manga. There are female
otaku, too.) For the record, Paulo showed no signs of manifest creepiness. He was, in fact, pretty chill. On the makeup table he played Breezeblocks by alt-J, and Do
I Wanna Know by Arctic Monkeys. That he is a legit cinephile can’t be contested. He talked about serious actors and essential art house, and a desire to cultivate a career of significant filmography. It’s refreshing, isn’t it? If more actors—who are, after all, some of the most popular and influential people of our generation—cared less about image and buzz, maybe we’d have more reason to rush to the cinemas, not for Sicario or The Last Witch Hunter, but for something proudly homegrown, original, and new.
Cinema and photography happen to be big chunks of this issue’s content. Some of JL Javier’s snapshots of landscapes from a California road trip resemble beautiful agate cores. San Francisco native Jess dela Merced’s films are a mustwatch (she tackles themes such as youth and racism toward Asian Americans); I’m beyond excited for her new work. Sarker Protick’s body of work, from his documentation of the Bangladeshi film industry to his portraits of grandparents, is haunting and surreal. And Geloy Concepcion’s photos of graffiti and unsung characters will introduce you to a complex side of Manila. Their visions are totally different, but I’m proud to report that they can share a common platform of exposure and discussion here in Scout.