Stay up, Jasane!

Jasane Phillip with his wife of 22 years, Karen Cozier-Phillip. Photo by Mark Lyndersay
Jasane Phillip with his wife of 22 years, Karen Cozier-Phillip. Photo by Mark Lyndersay


My name is Jasane Phillip and Brother Valentino (calypsonian Emrold Phillip) is my dad.

My name is pronounced, “Jah-san-knee.” But most people say, “Jah-sane” or “Jason.”

My nickname is Figs but that story is not rated PG.

I’m originally from St James/Woodbrook but I spent some time growing up in Mt Lambert, living with my best friend all my life, Ricardo Rambert, in a big house in Mt Lambert.

He had no brothers and sisters – and I had six! So they kinda lend me out.

(Then) my mom said, you go give your father some stress. So I spent some years well with him in Grande.

I’m not a rebel. I’m just miserable.

I don’t go to the gym because I’m very physical.

Plus I live 150 metres up a hill. When water goes, I have to go down the hill with two pigtail bucket and tote water.

People pass my workspace 100 times a day and, every time, they say, “Good morning,” or “Good evening,” I will respond. Every time.

Because is free. If you take the time to show me courtesy, it costs me nothing to return it.

If you spend an hour with any of my family, they’ll spend 45 minutes of that hour telling you how miserable I was growing up. I dislike going to family get-togethers because half of it is talking about me when I was young.

Six o’clock in the morning, you wake up, and you can’t find me – and I was three years old! I gone.

I’ve been married for 22 years to the most amazing woman in the world, Karen Cozier-Phillip, and we have three kids, Zachariah Jasane Louis Phillip (aged 16), Amy Ruth Phillip (14) and Emily Rebecca Phillip (12).

I love being married and I love my family. Karen tells me she still loves me, so I have to believe her. Somehow, we make marriage and children look very fashionable. No matter how hard it gets, we deal with it with a smile and grace.

We share family responsibilities. If a pipe need fixing, you’ll find my wife outside with the wrench. And you’ll find me inside making breakfast.

When our son was born, my wife never had to put him to sleep. If I was out, I would come home, put him to sleep and go back out.

The easiest job to do in the world is take care of my children.

I REAL miserable and I have a wife who doesn’t quarrel!

As a single man, I partied six out of five days a week. The first Friday we were living together, my wife said, “Babe, not because we’re together you have to change your routine.”

That was the last Friday I ever partied. She real smart. She does reverse-psychology me to death!

I don’t go to church often because, when I do, me and the priest usually get away. The first thing, when you join a church, they ask you to stop searching and believe what they tell you.

I’m not going to sit in a congregation and listen to what I know is a bunch of nonsense.

Trinis who want to change the culture are doing one of two things: isolating themselves; or moving out of Trinidad.

There are people in Trinidad who are not affected by plenty of the things that affect Trinidadians. Because they form these tight-knit communities and are able to function outside of the chaos. Is only when the madness reaches their own doorstep that they realise how bad Trinidad is.

I grew up (partly) in Maraval, with the well-offs and the who’s whos of Trinidad and they don’t see life through the same spectrum.

We see a cylinder; they see a circle. Same thing we look at, but their perspective is different.

And they’re not going to sacrifice their comfort zone for the sake of the rest of Trinidad. They don’t buy, shop, lime or venture outside their circle. And you can’t blame them, because is for their safety.

If our leaders were different, Trinidad could have been like Dubai. We had just as much oil.

But we are almost as lousy at managing our resources as the African continent. That’s why, for anything to make sense, you have to invite a white man(in).

I’m not racist, because my wife is white like a sheet, (but) we don’t have confidence in ourselves. Three-and-a-half oil booms since I born and we still have a s...ty health sector.

We’ve had political parties who’ve interrupted the rule but we’ve only really had one ruling political party in Trinidad.

And their supporters are still at the bottom of the barrel!

Jasane Phillip. Photo by Mark Lyndersay

The three-and-a-half years of (Prime Minister Keith) Rowley has been the hardest in my 44 years of living.

They say Chambers was a dunce but I think Chambers was smarter than Rowley.

If this kinda thing goes on, I feel I will have to go Venezuela!

Whatever anyone says about Brother Valentino, I cool with that. Being my father’s son is a real pleasure.

I think I’m his best friend. I think I hear him laugh most when I’m with him. I have a lot of my mother in me, too.

In Trinidad, we haven’t had to simmer down to pot-scraping yet. We haven’t had a natural disaster yet, to test us, whether we will band together. Where your money can’t do anything for you, where people will look at the human in you and decide, “I could help you because you is a good person!”

I feel if we get that test, plenty people will fail.

Trinis need to fix they head. They’ve been kept in mental chains for so long, they wouldn’t know what to do with their freedom if they got it. If you gave some of these people a job, so they wouldn’t need to depend on the government no more, they wouldn’t know how to function.

I got offered a job away with a salary of TT$10K a week.

Only the money was an incentive to leave. There were so many more reasons to stay. I am a Trini to the bone in truth.

I wouldn’t necessarily say my father was a great man but I know for a fact that he made a great contribution.

The real great thing about my father is he is the most humble soul I know. He’s never deviated in 45 years, never changed his message to win no crown. He marched his road against corruption and crooked politicians.

I think the people who appreciate my father’s music are the real Trinis.

I don’t think Trinidad could be Trinidad without Tobago and vice versa.

If we understand the two blessings we have, an industrial, financial island and a resort, recreational island, we’d understand we’re the luckiest people in the world. People have to travel hundreds of miles to get that! So get the ferry fixed, let we enjoy it.

Read the full version of this feature on Wednesday at


"Stay up, Jasane!"

More in this section