November 11, 2004

I was excited to walk by so many Filipino-owned businesses, especially a Filipino restaurant that claimed to be "Nueva Ecijan," (that is the province where my mother's side of the family is). All geeked out over this, I took a picture of the front of the restaurant. This one strip of shops and restaurants in Jackson Heights was beautifully lit up (white lights strewn across the trees) for diwali (Festival of Lights); young and old were out and about while bhangra beats boomed out of the cars passing by.

While in NYC a lot of the discussions I had with friends (new and old) ended up focusing on (at some point or another) the recent elections, current events in general, and various other (serious, deep) things.

Y mentioned to me that someone had committed suicide at Ground Zero: Distraught over Bush continuing a second term, a man shot himself at the site of the World Trade Center. I don't know about y'all, but (frankly speaking) Bush (to me) isn't worth killing myself over. We made it through the first four years -- we'll make it through the next four. Thank Buddha he can only be in office for two terms, right? (Don't make jokes about Martial Law to a Filipino, okay?)

On Sunday night I got to meet some of Y's new friends, these two Filipino guys A and D. When D first arrived, S and I thought he was cute (it also helped that he bought us drinks), but then he started talking and our consensus was, "Shhh! Don't speak! You're so much cuter if you don't open your mouth!" (No, we didn't say this out loud to his face.) He started talking about how he loves former mayor Giuliani; how Giuliani cleaned up NYC, etc., etc. As a Californian who grew up with this romanticized vision of NYC, I don't know anything about NYC politics. What I do know, however, is that I don't think "cleaning up" NYC by throwing homeless people in jail was (is) the best solution.

At the end of the night, A drove S and I back to Manhattan, to Harlem, near Columbia University. (Knowing people in NYC with a car, and getting to ride in their car, is a treat. Access to a personal vehicle is rare in NYC, unlike in the Bay Area.) During the ride back, after getting off the Williamsburg Bridge and passing through Alphabet City on the way uptown, A, S and I started discussing gentrification (comparing NYC and San Francisco). I mentioned how before the Dot Com bubble burst, many people ("yuppies") started infiltrating the South of Market (SoMa) and Mission neighborhoods in San Francisco. A essentially said (though not in these words), "I love gentrification!" S and I held our tongues.

I moved to San Francisco for my freshman year of college, right around the beginning of the Dot Com Era. I remember walking to the bus stop from my internship at NAATA and a homeless man asking for change with a sign that read: (I had to give him a dollar for creativity and humor!) I know of newly immigrated Filipino families and Filipino seniors that were displaced from their cramped apartments downtown, because some new dot com or hotel developer wanted that space. I'm all for development, but when I hear of people being pushed out of their homes I-Hotel style...I cannot, in good conscience, say that I support gentrification.

It was interesting to me that these two East Coast Filipinos could say that gentrification is good. I don't fault them for having their opinions. But it bothered me that these two guys were "hating" on West Coast Filipinos in general -- reducing us to this rice rocket-driving, Fubu-wearing, wannabe bedroom DJ, E-40 listening, "Wesssyde!" stereotype. In passing I made a comment (trying to be funny, but also make a point): "Filipinos are like the Puerto Ricans of the West Coast." I meant this in regards to how Filipinos in the Bay Area influence hip-hop trends, but then I realized that it also meant something else in a broader context: Replace Puerto Rican and Filipino with whatever marginalized minority (that has achieved middle class status) you like.

Oh, and... I'm sure you've heard about this? My dad is a retired Navy man, too old to be reactivated for duty. However, I have older cousins who have recently retired from the Army and Navy, or are about to retire from service, and this involuntary reactivation worries me. Let's see how this pans out.




I don't really think A & D were reducing our identity to the rice-rocket driving fiends we see in daly city, but rather just making comparisons to things that you don't normally see out here.
I just found out that the Basco Brothers' band FLY BROWN DRAGONS is going to be playing tonight Friday, April 1st 2005 at 10:30 at the HARD ROCK CAFE in Beverly Hills.
glad you had such a good time in jackson heights--one of the best neighborhoods in the best borough in nyc! just wanted to say, though i'm sure you knew, that not all filipinos out here are like that guy. there are a lot of radical pin@ys organizing here too. although between the "young professional" fil-am organizations & the radical ones that advocate violence, people like me feel a little left out--is it like that in the bay area? either you have to be a yuppie or pro-armed rebellion to be a filipino activist?
Thanks for mentioning my cousin David Miyasato. We just got good news yesterday. The Army is releasing him from active duty. Of course, we had to file a lawsuit and make a huge media stink about it. We know that 8000+ have been called up through the back-door draft--we don't know how many may be in David's exact-same situation or even without the loot to fight it. Anyway, thanks for this and here's some links for the update... again and you know you guys rock!
the filipino perspective out here is VERY different though most of the friends i've made, including A & D, voted for Kerry. they've seen new york through good and bad, and i do feel that the post 9/11 attitude pervades. filipinos in california in many ways are seen as a foreign specimen in many ways looked up to because of the many resources we have out there that are only beginning to grow out here.i don't really think A & D were reducing our identity to the rice-rocket driving fiends we see in daly city, but rather just making comparisons to things that you don't normally see out here.i never realized that i'd feel the need to represent my filipinoness as much as i have in the past few months i've moved. it sometimes amazes me how invisible we are in this city, despite being the 2nd largest asian american group in the united states. but then again, if you think about how notoriously passive and 'assimilated' filipinos are in the eyes of the dominant group, it really shouldn't be a surprise.
Sorry to get so into this, and to generalize, but... Also, I'm sure a big reason there is a difference between Fil-Ams on both coasts is socio-economic. Many East Coasters were born to parents who immigrated in '68 and on, during the Asian Brain Drain (the US allowed Asian professionals to immigrate). Many of the West Coasters are kin of the Manong generation (farmers who worked along the Central Coast) or WWII vets. (I am the daughter of a Navy man and a nurse who came in 1968, so I guess I'm somewhere inbetween.) Filipinos are much more visible in California (Dream, Qbert, Triple Threat DJs, Basco Brothers, all the female R&B groups, blahblah), and I know for a fact that some acquaintances from LFS (League of Filipino Students [one of those orgs viewed as being "militant"]) went to a FIND (Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue [an East Coast, probably less "militant," org]) conference back in the day and felt very unwelcome and alienated.I know that A & D weren't really looking down upon "Daly City Filipinos," but I was astonished at the amusement they found in being different. Almost like being one type of person, is better than the other. I don't know if they really thought that they were coming off that way, but I felt that. I'm not a "Daly City Filipino," but I was offended, deep down.I grew up in the white, middle-class suburbs. I always latched on to other Asian faces; I was always one of the few Filipinos where I grew up. I "found religion" (pan-Asian American identity) in college, and so even now, as the publisher of Hyphen, I am one of two Filipinas on staff. I always feel like I am representing Filipinos, even in Asian America.I've made friends with people who are active in the Filipino American community, ranging from the back-to-the-jungle "Communist" who wears t'nalak cloth vests and bamboo backpacks, the revolutionary backpacker hip-hop head who does spoken word, to Fil-Am yuppie. I definitely don't see myself "fitting in" with these extremes, but embodying a little bit of all these things (in ideology and lifestyle).To lighten the dialogue up, though: I know if/when I move to the East Coast, I'm going to be making my way to Queens a lot. Just for the Filipino food and to rent Tagalog movies.
just to clarify--i wasn't necessarily commenting on being friends w/the different types of filpino activists (i do have friends who support armed rebellion), just on finding a home for activism that i feel comfortable w/. i would rather not raise money that goes to groups that support armed rebellion, so there goes one avenue. & i don't quite feel like i fit in w/the other extreme either.& also, i don't mean militant solely as being someone who supports armed rebellion (although i suppose that could be inaccurate).v. good point about the differences in the two coasts re: when the filipinos arrived.& i'm sorry if i didn't make this clear earlier--i am VERY jealous of the huge filipino community on the west coast! all the organizations, all the stuff going on... i just did wonder if the activist scene there was polarized like it seems to be here.& hey, why just visit queens if you move here? this borough is a great place to live 24/7. ;)
now that we're getting into borough pride...BROOKLYN BABY! haha ;)