Monthly Archives: June 2002

Ahhh. . . Just another one of those nights.

And now it’s time for everyone’s favorite sport–drunken blogging. Much like curling, nobody knows why they do it. Today: Went to a baby shower and then went to a party at the Monkey Manor. Really good time. I was disappointed when it started to wind down. Ah well. Good day all around. Saturdays are so much different when you don’t have to come in to work. Even if “work” consists of you hanging around at a shopping mall and ringing up videogames.

Dissonate, Part the Second

I guess I’m atypical.

I’ve never been to the Philippines. Pretty much every other Filipino I know has been at least once, to see family. My parents, for some reason, never saw it as important. I’ve never known the joy that is a Manila traffic jam. I’ve never ridden on a Jeepney. I’ve never eaten at a Jollibee. I’ve never met my extended family. I don’t know Tagalog well enough to speak it. The first time I ate a boiled duck embryo was a year ago.

A lot of Filipino families I know go back to the Philippines. Some of them make a yearly trip, during the summer. Mine never did. When my brother and I asked, they asked us why we wanted to go to the Philippines. A question with a question. To this day, my brother and I still don’t know. We haven’t asked since then. We just wait stateside and ask other families to bring us back barrel men (don’t ask–trust me) and pirated software.

I don’t know what impetus drove my parents to distance themselves from the Philippines, but they did. It even manifested itself when they sent me to grade school. I attended Sacred Heart Parish School in Coronado. The city of Coronado, incidentally, is as “white” as my neighborhood is Filipino.

It’s strange what you remember. I remember “Uncle Larry.” Uncle Larry had no teeth, was missing an index finger on his right hand, and wore his pants well above his waist. I remember he’d pitch wiffle balls to us. We’d wield orange, oversized bats wrapped in white cloth tape. He pitched with the hand that was missing a finger, low easy pitches that we’d be sure to hit. He and “Aunt Mimi” would watch us in Spreckel’s Park, conveniently located right across the street from my school. Occasionally, Uncle Larry would have to point at something. He always used his middle finger (in lieu of the missing digit) which we found riotously hilarious.

Every Friday, the kids in my class would go watch a movie after school and go to Wendy’s. Everyone would bike home and change, then meet up after school to head off to the movie theater on Orange Avenue. I never went. I had to wait for my carpool to bring me back home. My parents didn’t want me gallivanting around Coronado, considering how dangerous it was.

Coronado is an island off the coast of San Diego populated by Navy brats and the retired. It has fought tooth and nail to remain in the 1950s. You can walk the entire length of Coronado in an hour, and you will have seen everything. The one screen movie theater. The public library. The white picket fences in front of perfectly manicured lawns. Two point five children playing in Spreckels Park. A lot of palm trees. Lots and lots of palm trees. There are cars in Coronado, but everyone gets around on bike.

It only took people ten minutes to bike home, change and then come back to school. I was always still in my uniform, while everyone else wore jeans and t-shirts. They always asked me to come. I never managed to make it.

I didn’t feel like I fit into my community, so I left.

Thanks, Everyone, Thanks. No, Really.

All right. No matter how hard I try. . . Just as I drift off to sleep. . .

I can’t wipe this damn smile off my face.

Well, I Totally Didn't Expect that. . .


Resonate, Part the First

I guess I’m atypical.

I grew up in a predominantly Filipino neighborhood. Whenever I go back, I’m amazed at just how “Filipino” the area is. My neighborhood has no less than three Filipino bakeries, four or five mom and pop Filipino restaurants, Filipino markets, a high school that offered Tagalog as a foreign language, and a Jollibee.

A Jollibee.

I never came to hate being Filipino. I accepted it. It’s a part of me. I didn’t think it was particularly special or unique. Just different. What I grew to hate was the rampant self-destruction that I started witnessing when I became more self-aware. I noticed things.

When I was in grade school, I was watched by a series of babysitters in my neighborhood. These families had kids my age, but while I went to a private school, they went to public school.

One of the first babysitters I had was a young woman named Nancy. She basically took care of each and every child in the household while the mother was at work. Nancy was calm, self assure–until her mother came home. Whenever Nancy did anything wrong, no matter how miniscule, her mother would browbeat her. Nothing was good enough for her mother. One day, I remember her younger brother locked himself in a bathroom. He couldn’t figure out how to unlock the door so he started crying. Nancy didn’t have an emergency key, so she kept trying to unlock the door with a coat hanger. When her mother came home, she unlocked the bathroom door and then beat Nancy with her fists. Nancy was screaming and curled into a fetal position, trying to keep the blows from hitting her face.

The next babysitter I had was an older grandmother that would later save my brother’s life. This family had a teenager named Michael. I remember Michael because of all the screaming matches between him and his parents. That, and the red bandanna he always wore. Michael ended up stealing an RX-7 and plowing it into the side of an empty schoolbus. He was going so fast, the doctors say he died on impact. I remember going to the funeral. I was wearing khaki pants and a dark blue sportcoat because my mother never bought any black clothes for me. It was open casket although it shouldn’t have been. It was one of the only times I saw him without that bandanna.

I’ve got too many stories like this.

Friends on parole for shooting people. Children of doctors who lived at home and attended community college to humor their parents. Teenage mothers that gave up raising their own children, instead passing that responsibility on to the grandparents. Filipinos whose parents gave them everything they wanted, and yet they still failed. Filipinos who took every single advantage that their parents gave them and threw it all away. So many parents let down. Parents that only wanted a better life for their children.

I didn’t feel like I fit into my community, so I left.