Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Marrying the White Guy

Today marks 2 years of marital bliss for my husband and I.

Anyone who was there can relate to you about how our wedding was: how I was hungry and stuffed my face with McDonald's chicken nuggets and fries right before the ceremony, how we played smooth jazz versions of Top40 hits like "Shake it Like Salt Shaker" and "Blame it on the Alcohol" during our reception, and how my husband passed out during the ceremony. I won't get into that specifically, but ask anyone who was there and they will tell you how it was. 

Now, 2 years later, we're still married. Needless to say, we've had a lot of  rough patches. By a lot, I mean... a lot, but even after the amount of time we've been together, my husband still has the uncanny ability to give me an extreme case of the butterflies. No really, it's really extreme. So extreme that it's to the point where I feel like I can't keep still and I have this natural inclination to  just tackle him (or at least try to) and smother him with love because I don't know what else to do...

And when he smothers me back with with a terential storm kisses... it's like an overload of happiness and my toes wiggle out of overwhelming joy. The only other thing that has that sort of effect on me is really really good dessert, like Kona coffee ice cream.

mmm.. Kona coffee ice cream. .. ::queue in wiggling of toes::

For a time (like during High School), I thought that I would eventually marry a fellow Filipino. I think it's because I had a lot of Filipino friends growing up who were part of big Filipino families that gave their children debutant balls, that it created a sort of ideal of what I thought I wanted in life: little brown Filipino kids that would run around calling each other 'ate' or 'kuya', or calling their grandparents 'lolo' and  'lola'. 

But... things change, perspectives change, including perspectives on what you thought was ideal. I mean, while I think it would still be cute to have kids running around saying "kuya" and "ate", I've come to the realization that you don't need to marry a Filipino to have that sense of family and to keep those sorts of traditions alive.  Life ... God often gifts us with things that we didn't necessarily specifically think we needed, but we ended up getting and becoming much happier because of it.

And so I met and married my husband. 

Being married to someone outside of my ethnic background doesn't create much of a cultural rift at all, contrary to what some might think - if they do think that at all. If I was fresh off the boat, it would be a totally different story, but since I'm pretty much Americanized - we share a lot of the same interests and sense of dorky humor.

There are some things that may appear out of the ordinary to my husband that, growing up, I always took as a way of life.

Eating Fish with the Head on

Whether fried, boiled in a soup, or baked - it seems to be an Asian thing (not just a Filipino thing) to be served fish as a whole, not chopped into a filet. 
When my husband first spent Thanksgiving with my family (or some other holiday), he was a little weirded out that a piece of fish was served in its full form.  I had to explain to him it's an Asian thing, while the head is not necessarily eaten, it's still served as a whole. 

Talking to Relatives from the Motherland

My father is a big investor of $5 calling cards from local convenient stores. Don't ask me why he doesn't just invest in a calling plan that will allow him to call the motherland whenever he wants. Buying calling cards is what he does; he will buy them to talk for hours not just to the foreign family in the Philippines, he will also talk to family of family, family he's never even met, friends of family and their friends. It's not like they talk about anything particularly important, but I think he misses his home and country so much, he is willing to make any connections that he possibly can with whomever he can from the homeland.

When we were little, my dad would always make my brother and I talk on the phone with these relatives from the Philippines with whom we never met. I always hated it because we never really could understand each other. I'd try to speak their native tongue, they'd try to speak English, but it would just be awkward.

Relative: Hello
Me: Kamusta aunty
Relative: Oh .. mabuti ... 

::then they start talking to me in Filipino because they would think from that one phrase that I said that Iunderstand and speak, but really - I only really knew that one phrase.

Me: ...ehhhh... Here's my dad.

I would hand the phone off to my dad.

As you can see, it's bad enough when my dad makes me do it, but there has been a couple of times when my dad has handed off the phone to my husband to talk to my relatives. He'd chit-chat, ask a few questions about the weather, and you'd think that the conversation went okay, but they probably did not understand anything they said to each other.

Rice Making Method

I grew up eating white rice all my life. It was not until I met my husband that I ate brown rice or even tried Uncle Ben's rice. It was a weird transition, but now I prefer brown rice over white, unless I have a white rice craving. 

I also grew up making rice in the pot, the OG way. Back in the day when there was no such thing as a rice cooker, Filipinos used a method of guess-a-mation where they measured the amount of water needed to make rice based on a pinky - measurement method (the level of water from the top rice level to top water level needs to measure in the middle of the pinky) I think this drives him nut - in being an engineer, he works on exact formulas and measurements, which this Filipino method is not. 

Hulk: How many cups of rice did you put in? 

Me: Uhm, I don’t know, I just poured in the pot 

Hulk: What? How are you going to just pour the rice in without really knowing how much? You need to know how many cups you put in so you put water in accordingly 

Me: I just measure the water by my pinky. 

::point half to the inch marker of my pinky:: 

Hulk: Why would you do such a thing?

Me: I don’t know…. because that’s how I was taught? 

 But, the thing is even though it drives him nuts that I don't have a rice formula, I make perfect sticky rice every time. It's in my blood

 There are a million other things that I probably do that my husband looks at me funny for, due to either my cultural upbringing or just because I'm weird. Lucky for moi, my husband accepts the weird cultural stuff as what it is that people do. and luckly for my husband, I am not overly boater or else... it could be worse.

Anyways, happy anniversary to me!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Filipino Pride!

It's normal to feel proud of one's cultural background. While there are some who choose to identify themselves with who they are not - i.e. the rich kid from the 'burbs' who pretends like he's gangster (but really... he's just awkward), or that person who claims that their Great Great Great aunt was Sacajawea, thus they are Indian and, by default, know everything about Indians - most human beings have a sense of pride for their nationality and culture.

Filipinos are no different.

In fact, you might even say that Filipinos have a lot of Filipino Pride. I mean, a lot. Maybe even a lot more than usual.

Whatever do you mean? you might ask.

Here are some examples:


I actually saw someone wear this at church.  Seriously, nothing screams fresh off the boat more than this track jacket. 

and the hats

 and the wave of Manny Pacquiao attire that everyone wears because.. well... Manny is Filipino. 

I like how this kid is not Filipino, but he still has Pacman pride

That is just a small fraction of Filipino pride-wear that is out there as there are a lot more out there representing the national colors in all it's glory.While people are free to wear whatever they want and be as boastfully patriotic as they want to be, my personal opinion is:

a I don't think wearing a country's flag is an up incoming fashion trend, unless it's a independence holiday or the Olympics 


 b. Manny Pacquiao is not very attractive. Why would you wear him on  your body? 

On top of having pride for those who are full-bred Filipino, Filipinos tend to claim anyone who has even only an ounce of Filipino ancestry. Even those who are only 2% Pnoy, but look like Canadian-  are classified as Filipino by Filipinos.

For instance,

Okay maybe not Canadian, but apparently his great grandmother was Filipina. 

Google it and look at all the stories that are out there with headlines about his Filipino-ness

 Filipino drafted to NBA. Filipino wins Slam dunk competition! Nate Robinson eligible to play in Philippine National Team. 

To that I say: 

 That's rediculous. He's 1/8th Filipino! 1/8th doesn't really count. He probably doesn't even eat Filipino food! Well maybe he does, but probably not any of the weird questionable food.

Nate Robinson is just one of many celebrities Filipinos will claim as their own. If you look on, there are videos dedicated to famous Filipinos that have somehow made it in the world (see below) 
Cheryl Burke, Vanessa Hudgens, Ernie Reyes, ( and some other people who you're like, Who the hell are they? so then you have to google them) all of their pictures run through a slideshow while a cheesy song plays in the background. 

I know, someone actually took the time to make youtube videos on this. Undoubtedly, more youtube videos will be made on this all-important subject. Maybe even one that will include the American Idol 2012 finalist 
Jessica Sanchez 

Oh American Idol...

My interest in the talent show has waned during the past year, however I did watch a couple of episodes to specifically see Jessica sing. I had read so many facebook updates raving her performance, was asked by a few of my Filipino coworkers - Did you see Jessica sing last night ?

Me: Who's Jessica?
CW: She's Filipino
Me ::confused:: okay

I had to google and youtube her to know what they were talking about. Honestly, I was hesitant to even do so just because I didn't want to fall into that bandwagon.. It is often the case that Filipinos will cheer on an individual like Jessica Sanchez just because she is Filipino, not necessarily because of their talent. They will vote and vote and vote as many times as it is possible to support their favorite countrymen. 

Even people in the Philippines were crazy about her and taking unauthorized days off from school and work to watch live tapings of the shows, which is crazy since a. the Filipinos are poor. and b. it probably costs a lot of money to stream that kind of stuff live. 

After her American Idol loss the other day, one news article quoted the Philippines (as a country) being heartbroken over her American Idol loss. 

Really? Heartbreaken? That's a very strong word... but okay.

But do not be too heartbroken my Filipinos, it is likely that even if she does not make it as a star in the states, she will become a mega-star artista in the Philippines, modeling for Filipino clothing companies and hosting game shows like Game Ka Na ba? (Game NA!)

Anyways, so you get my point about Filipinos having a lot of pride. There's a lot of it. 

To some extent I feel it might be a little much. I mean, it's great that people are proud of their ancestral heritage; people should be allowed to be proud,  but I don't necessarily agree with being completely defined by it. Boisterously labeling oneself as belonging to a group that other's aren't can create divisional lines of "you" versus "us.  This ultimately defeats any sense of unity that is often lacking in our society. How many times have we seen in American / World History the struggle for equality? Yet, in the event that equality is "achieved", there still is this struggle for empowerment over others, this need for people to differentiate themselves in some way or another when it's like.. why can't we just exist without any these racial lines? 

To another end, I do understand why Filipinos are a  proud people. We have had a History of being overtaken and oppressed by conquistadors, occupied by Japanese soldiers during WWII, our Filipino tribal history erased, and currently almost everyone in the country is in a state of poverty.  Filipinos need to feel proud about something, there is the need to have a hope in something other than the crappy situation that is being lived, there is a need to feel that the struggle endured for hundreds of years somehow wasn't in vain and that there is a place in a world for the Filipino who can offer something relevant and amazing enough for someone to be like.. wow, being a Filipino must be awesome. 

and it is awesome being Filipino. There are a lot of great things about the culture and the people that I love and I identify that as part of who I am as an American. Anyways, i kind of went off the intense deep conversational end here so I'll leave it with a light hearted note:

While I identify myself with the Filipino culture, Filipino never believe that I am Filipino because of the fact that I don't look like the traditional Filipino pnay: I am light skinned, have freckles, and my eyes are chinkier than normal. 

are you viet? No? chinese no? what are you ? Pilipino ? Ooohhh!!!

They are usually pretty excited when they make the discovery that I am one of them and am able to say a few select words like "hello" and "I'm hungry" in the native tongue. But it always disappoints me that they don't get that I'm Filipino to begin with. I don't know why, but it does. I feel like it's kind of like not recognizing your own child. O-well. They may deny me initially, but i will never deny them.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Smelly Kiss

The other morning, I found myself giving a smelly kiss to my husband.

Wtheck just happened here? I was doing what my parents, aunties, uncles, ninongs and ninangs did to me when I was growing up and what I swore I would never do when I grew up: plant the smelly kiss

For those of you who don't know what this smelly kiss is, it's kind of a weird tradition to explain. So many of us define a kiss as the standard puckering of the lips.  While Filipinos have adopted this westernized method of affection, the rubbing of noses is the way natives back in the day would actually kiss before they were colonized by the Spanish.

 In doing some other research, I found that even after the Spanish taught Filipino natives how to smooch, they would still rub noses and smell.

Was it an act of rebellion against those conquistadors that they chose to continue to rub noses? or did they figure it was affection x2? or maybe they felt weird doing the westernized kiss and so felt the need to offset the weirdness by topping it off with what they knew how to do? Nose rubbing. Whatever the reason, it is a tradition that has passed down from generations.

It surprised me to learn that the nose / affectionate sniffing deal is not a tradition practiced just by Filipinos, but is common among other Asian countries.

...and I thought Filipinos were the only ones doing quirky stuff.

While lip to lip action is what many of us define as a kiss, it is a more recent practice than you would expect. According to  Wikipedia on Snogging, it only practiced among the upper class during the middle ages, never among the lowly. Some cultures had never even heard of kissing. Which is totally not what you see in movies about the middle ages.  Like that one version of Hamlet with Mel Gibson.. I'm pretty sure there was kissing in that movie. Lies!  all lies!

Yes, I know - I did a whole lot of research on this subject, but I couldn't help it. One google search led to another. It was just interesting to learn that this tradition which I had always thought so weird is not uncommon.

::Flashback to my younger days::

Ay na ko. dalaga na ka!! omg, you're a young lady now, my aunts would say after seeing me. Even if it had only been a week or a few days since I saw them, they would still react like I'd gotten boobs or grown 5 inches taller since I'd last seen them.

They would then take my face in both hands and ::WHAM!!: plant a smelly kiss on both sides of my cheeks. Their noses pressed up against my face as they inhaled, holding their held breath for a few seconds. With the exhale of air, they then would give a loud smucker.  I could not get away; I wasn't supposed to get away. If I evaded them somehow, they would find me.

::Fast Forward::

And now I was planting smelly kisses on my husband. I remember the first time I gave my husband a smelly kiss, he gave me an odd look of what the fuck was that?  Did you just smell me? 

Indeed I did, husband. Indeed I did.

He has since gotten used to the quirky kisses and accepts it as my way of showing mas affection. If he thought it was really weird and asked me to stop, I would try, but wouldn't be able to guarantee anything. It's part of my nature, kind of like how it's part of a dog's nature to pee when they want to mark their territory. I don't ever mentally think I'm going to plant a smelly kiss on my husband and my dogs right before I go in the big smooch. No, it's an innate reaction that I have whenever I am overwhelmed with feelings of happiness and love... and I just want to smother them with love. It's the best way I know how. I'd like to think my husband is starting to reciprocate the form of affection, but... probably not. lol.