This week we are featuring one of our first-year students in the MA program in Southeast Asia Studies, Adrian Alarilla.
Could you tell me about yourself? How did you become interested in studying Southeast Asia?
I grew up in Metro Manila. I was working on my BA in Film and Audiovisual Communication at the University of the Philippines when my mom’s petition for me to emigrate to the US came through. I moved here, stopped school for a while, and finally finished my BA, this time in Communications, last year at UW. I really love making films and I also help with the Seattle Asian American Film Festival and the Diwa Filipino Film Showcase. Filmmaking really is my passion, but working in the local film scene, I realized that not a lot of people talk about or study about films from my part of the world, Southeast Asia. Last year, I made up my mind that I wanted to do an MA combining my love of film with my heritage, so I decided to study Southeast Asian Cinema.
What is your research interest?
I haven’t really declared my official research topic to my advisers yet, but I am really interested in doing comparative work on post-World War II films in Insular Southeast Asia (Malaya, Indonesia, and the Philippines). As these nations just became independent from their American and European colonizers around this time, I think it might be interesting to find out how this new experience of independence may have shaped the films of this time, and if the films also helped shape national consciousness as well. I decided on this topic because I wanted to know more about the history of cinema in the region, and how mass media like film helped shape a burgeoning national culture in these countries.
Why did you choose UW?
I decided on UW not only because the Jackson School has a great reputation when it comes to international studies, but also because Seattle has been my home for the past 6 years. I love the beautiful campus; I love the Pacific Northwest and the people here, and I would like to enjoy it as much as I can before I move elsewhere to pursue my PhD.
Do you have any fun/embarrassing stories while traveling abroad?
One thing I don’t like about living in the PNW (Pacific Northwest) is that the beaches aren’t swimmable. I’m an islander through and through so I try to go to the beach whenever I can. Last year, my friends and I went to Hawaii (The Big Island), and decided to go on an adventure and go to this unnamed beach in the South end. But to get there, we had to drive down this rocky, uneven road on a lava field. The beach was worth it, but going back up to the main road, our car slipped and got stuck between some rocks, and the dust prevented the tires from getting a firm grip of the road. We finally freed ourselves after 30 minutes, and it seems funny looking back, but at the time, it was terrifying because we were so far from the main road and we didn’t have any phone signal and we were the only people there for miles!