Snowing again in New York

Yes, I’m complaining, and yes, I wish I could go home.  Makes me miss PAG-ASA’s signal warnings back in Manila with Signal no. 3 meaning no work!  Here in New York, it’s mostly the company’s prerogative.

The boss is driving from Hartford to home in New Canaan, and she’s braving a blizzard out there.  I wish that when her next call ends, she will allow me to leave early.  (Time to get ready to leave, I guess.)

Pinoy na Pinoy

A friend just posted at the SPCQ83 e-group for US residents a request to help her sister out who’s a graduate student in Communications gather data for her thesis.  Questions revolved primarily on one’s media choices and how much one utilized the various sources of information.  At the very beginning of her survey was a rather intriguing question: 

On the scale below, how would you rate yourself in terms of cultural identity?
Totally Filipino
Mostly Filipino
Rather Filipino
Rather American
Mostly American
Totally American

The answer to the question didn’t even merit a pause — I clicked on TOTALLY FILIPINO.  For someone who has been here almost 5 years now and who still refers to things in Manila as “Sa Atin” compared to things here in the US as “Sa Kanila“, I think I can truly say I am still totally Pinoy.  After all, when I am hurt accidentally, the expression you will hear is not “Ouch!” but usually “Aray!”. 

The fact that such a question was asked as part of an effort to gather data for an academic study leads me to believe that there is a distinction, or at least, Filipinos in the US see or perceive a distinction.  (Emphasis supplied)  I have always believed that you are either Filipino or American, whether you were born back in Manila or here, and it was either one and not half and half or one or the other. 

I had made up my mind when someone in the family was describing a friend as “being too Filipino“. I couldn’t help but wonder what that was about and how it could be if like black and white, you produced a totally different color when you mixed half and half of each in grey.  You were either one, but not part one and part the other in one person.  Am I making sense?  Humor me..

I now have a 10-month old son who, for all intents and purposes is an American.  He has my skin color and my features but has thicker eyelashes which I attribute to the human body’s natural predisposition to adaptation, being that he was conceived and had been nurtured in a colder environment than the one I was born into.  While my husband and I know that racially, he is pure Filipino, in my heart and mind, he is a Filipino-American, but if it were to be a toss up between Filipino and American, he is an American.

He will never know what it is to sing the Bayang Magiliw with a throng of people and will not know why people in the moviehouses stand up as it is played before the last full show.  He might learn the song eventually, but he will not know what it truly means — unlike how he will get a full appreciation of the Star Spangled Banner. 

He may, in time, consider himself Mostly American or Mostly Filipino, but in the end, I know he will know he’s an American.  Never too American — just an American.

In the same way that I will always be Filipino.  Not only because I speak the language fluently and I think and feel in the language — but more so because I know that I will forever nurture in my heart the values I had grown up with back home. 

This early I speak to him in Tagalog and English.  I know he understands me in his own innocent way.  I have seen people who were born here speak the language fluently with only a very slight twang.  In the sea of Filipino-Americans who can comprehend bits and pieces of the language but who cannot speak Tagalog coherently like my stepson, I have seen people who can actually hold a decent Tagalog conversation, with nary a hint that they actually grew up here in the United States.  I want to give that gift of language to my son.

If the Koreans and the Latinos can teach their children to speak English and speak their native language, it should be second nature to us Filipinos who speak two languages back in Manila. 

Kung tatanungin ako, taas noo kong sasabihing Pilipino ako. Kahit pa napapagkamalan akong intsik ng mga dayuhang nakakasalubong ko dito sa Amerika, buo ang loob kong sasabihin sa kanilang Pinoy ako.  Kahit dito ako mamalagi hanggang sa aking pagtanda, at magpalit ang aking kinikilingang bandila kapag ako’y naging isang naturalisadong Amerikano, alam kong Pinoy na Pinoy pa rin ako.


Pinay New Yorker in Paris: On Postcards


I just finished scanning the postcards I had purchased from Paris and as always, here I am wishing I had bought more.  Forget that I had tried to stick to a budget and confine my postcard purchases to my collecting interests.  Most of the postcards I bought actually showed the places Alan and I had visited.

The postcard of the Louvre on the upper left hand corner is most special to me because I had bought multiple copies of this and sent it to Angel and other friends.  It is a lovely picture of the pyramid entrance to the museum, a sight I admired from the distance as I came into the square between the sprawling grounds of the Louvre.  On the way here I bought most of my postcards, price ranging from .25Euro each to 13 pcs for 1Euro.  As always, they kept getting cheaper as I kept moving forward, and by then I had purchased a few Euros worth.

I kept away from the oversized postcards but had no choice but to get a few pieces from the Airport, trying to break down my 20Euros into smaller denominations.  In my quest for postcards, I managed to find 3 other map postcards of the METRO bringing my map postcards of France to 4.  (I had the original “I LOVE FRANCE” with a map in outline.)

Just going over these postcards brought me back to Paris again.  And when I go back, I know which ones I will look for next time around.

Can't wait to have Nikky here

Nikky is my youngest brother, 18 years younger.  (Calculating mentally —  since I’m turning 39, he is actually turning 21!)  I haven’t seen him since I visited Manila in 2002.  Right now, we are in the process of having him apply for a tourist visa so he can spend the summer here with me, helping take care of Angel while Mom takes a sabbatical at home.  (Actually, she has to exit as her visa extension runs out on April 22.)  I am looking forward to having him here in New York for 2 months, until Mom returns sometime mid-June, when Nikky has to go back to Manila to resume his studies.  (He’s in an incoming 4the year PT Student at UERM)

Eversince I arrived here in New York in 2000, a constant wish in my heart was for my family back home to “experience” life here as I discovered it from day to day.  My sister Offie has been here twice and will be coming a third time this year if plans don’t miscarry.  My mother is here with me right now.  Only Nikky and my brother Abril have yet to make it here, and I can’t wait to have Nikky here finally.

For the longest time, every time I entered a store or a shop, I would see a ton of things I’d like to get for them.  Having them actually here is something that makes me happy and fulfilled beyond words. With Nikky here, I hope to show him another side of the world he’s beginning to know better as he grows older.  I want to show him what kind of life he can have if he chooses to eventually join me here..   I just want him to enjoy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, all the cookies and chocolates he wants, and just have a fun time exploring this side of the world.. soon..