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: SpareChange.com. (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.