As an American of Filipino ancestry, I find myself burdened by my own skin.
There are times when I look at my country and I know–that a good majority of its ruling class would consider me inferior because of the color of my skin. It’s not a good feeling. The truth hurts.
Enter the Military Order of the Carabao. “Carabao,” in tagalog, translates to “water buffalo.” Now, you’re probably wondering what goes on at events that they throw. Well, the Village Voice has this article that details their Annual Wallow, which is held each year on the Saturday closest to February 4, the date of the Philippine Insurrection. They also go into detail about this oft glossed over period of American history, during which the United States purchases the Philippines from Spain. That however, is a different post. On to the Annual Wallow. Read the article? Good.
Everyone, say hello to the the men in charge of our military. Feel better? I know I do. I feel even better, knowing that the Department of Homeland Security has moved literally, across the street. I walk home that way sometimes. Part of me says that this will impact nothing. Part of me imagines armed guards accosting me on the walk home (inexplicably with German accents) and asking me, “Papers. . . Please.”
I want to go down the Omni Shoreham and see if this order really exists. I just want to see, with my own eyes. I want to read the black plastic board with the white plastic letters that never seem straight enough.
I’m afraid though. I’m afraid that I’ll read:
Military Order of the Carabao
POSITIVELY NO FILIPINOS ALLOWED
Seventy-three years later, I still carry the burden of skin.