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Saturday, September 24, 2011

You Know You're Getting Old When...

Current Mood:   
Currently Listening to: The Gay Divorcee (Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. 1934)

You know you're getting old when you decide to perk yourself up on an overcast, lazy Saturday by watching a Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly movie :-).


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Thursday, September 15, 2011

On Being Bicultural

Current Mood:   
Currently Listening to: Nothing right now

“You’re probably not even Filipino anymore.”

Someone I was having a conversation with said that recently, and it’s not the first time I’ve been told that. Depending on the source of the statement, it’s either being meant as a compliment or a chiding remark.

Sometimes the statement makes me feel like I’m being put into some sort of “half-breed” category: not quite Filipino, not quite American. I’m in the gray area, where I don’t belong to either group.

I was born and raised in the Philippines, and I speak Filipino fluently. I even have a “Parañaque accent.” I moved to the US in 2004. I have the unique (and awesome) opportunity of working closely with a very principled entrepreneurial American executive team, which has given me a front-row seat to the American visionary spirit in action. I’m married to an American.

But it doesn’t mean I’ve lost my sense of being Filipino. As a matter of fact, I’ve become much more acutely aware of it, because sometimes it’s so clearly different from how everyone else around me thinks. Sometimes it allows me to help people more. Other times it gets me into trouble. But believe me, the nuances of one’s original culture is much more noticeable when that person is completely immersed in a different culture.

I do feel the need to reconnect to my Filipino self sometimes, especially since all my US-based relatives are either on the west coast or the east coast. In addition to the “call-the-folks-back-home-every-two-weeks” routine, I have several Pugad Baboy comic book digests next to my bed, which I sometimes read at bedtime.

When I find a comic strip particularly funny, I want to share it with Steve. So I try and translate it—not just literally, but idiomatically. It’s challenging, but I like doing it…it’s particularly satisfying when I succeed in making a Filipino joke universal. I guess it’s also a way for me to share my being Filipino with him. He loves adobo, by the way—he considers it one of his top 3 comfort foods. And he can make rice the way Filipinos do it: using his fingertip as a measuring device. “Sayang” is part of his everyday vocabulary.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m proud of being bicultural. I get the opportunity to see the strengths and challenges of both my home cultures, and I get to combine the best of each. I suppose it’s almost like being able to go to Narnia, except *I* get to have a say as to when I get in and out of the wardrobe.

“You’re probably not even Filipino anymore.”

You’re right.

I’m Filipino plus.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

Current Mood:   
Currently Listening to: Nothing right now

10 years ago today people all around the world watched in horror as planes crashed into buildings, symbols of strength were destroyed, and office workers jumped to their deaths in desperation.

I still lived in the Philippines in 2001, and even though I didn't completely understand what the World Trade Center towers represented at the time, I could see the expression on people's faces as the news cameras zoomed in on them.  Even through the dust and the cameras, the feeling of helplessness was palpable.  I didn't have to be a mind reader to know that the foremost thought on people's minds was, "Oh dear Lord, what do we do now?"  And I had a feeling it was only a matter of time before helplessness would turn into panic and chaos.

And yet that's not what what happened.  I did see the confusion, and I did see the anger, but most of all what I remembered was how people started helping each other.  My most vivid memory of the aftermath was the line of people that snaked around buildings.  They weren't in line to collect for handouts; they were in line to donate blood.

Everywhere I looked, the feeling that resonated through the TV screen was: "We're Americans, damnit, and we're going to get through this."

The song "The Change" says it best:

"I hear them saying: 'You'll never change things...
No matter what you do it's still the same thing.'
But it's not the world that I am changing--
I do this so the world will know that it will not change me."

As we remember September 11 and grieve for all the lives that were lost, instead of just focusing on how terrible this world can be to itself, let's focus on how people have risen above it... and let's continue rising.

The Change


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Saturday, September 03, 2011

Blogging A Little More

Current Mood:   
Currently Listening to: The Way You Look Tonight--Beegie Adair (I'll Take Romance)

I love Saturday. 

I think it's the sheer "mine-ness" of the day that I like the most.  Read a book?  Sure!  Play World of Warcraft?  You bet!  Eat cheesy poofs for breakfast?  Try and stop me.  And hey, if I want to continue required reading for work, then that's my choice too (you hear that, honey?) :-).

Sure there's regular chores to do like the laundry and the floors.  But you know, our place isn't very big.  It takes me an hour tops to both vacuum *and* wipe the hardwood floors down.  And if I plan it right, the laundry can be running while I'm doing all that.  And since there's only two of us, I only ever really have 4 loads of laundry to do.

Often I get a sense of wanderlust, like if I don't get in the car and go someplace for some reason I'm wasting the day somehow.  There have been a few weekends where I've told Steve, "Let's drive someplace."  No real destination in mind, just going out, taking the back roads and watching the fields and trees go by.  Sometimes we argue about who gets to drive, because whoever drives has control of the radio :-). 

This weekend is my high school's 20th reunion in San Francisco.  I was originally planning to go but a house expense has dipped into my travel fund and has rendered me house-bound.  On one hand, I'm going to miss everyone and that's a bummer--it would have been nice to reconnect with everyone.  On the other hand, it's kind of hard to stay bummed when you realize you have the weekend :-). 

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