Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Competitive Filipino Parent

For a while when I first started my job, my dad told everyone that I worked for Microsoft. Well, he would tell people I worked for Bill Gates, and people would exclaim Huh...  Microsopt?!? as Microsoft is generally the first thing that people think of when they think 'Bill Gates'. My Dad never bothered to tell them otherwise. When asked what exactly I did, he would respond with oh... I don't know. 

Thanks Dad.

I would try to correct him, saying Dad! Why do you tell people that?!? I work for an imaging company owned by Bill Gates, not Microsoft!!!

Dad: Oh.....

But he would continue to tell people I worked for Microsoft anyway.

All my life, I feel like this was the case with my dad: every achievement, whatever educational milestone us kids had accomplished, even things that weren't really accomplishments, he would proudly exaggerate and boast to his friends. It was kind of annoying and embarrassing because I always felt that whatever it was he bragged about was never really a big deal.

Dad: My kid goes to UW
Me: Dad, everyone I know goes to UW... 

Dad: My son is a concert pianist
Me: Dad, sure Scotty is good, but he's never played a concert in his life. 
Dad:  but he could play in a concert... 

Dad: My son graduated valedictorian
Me: Dad, I think it was sumo cum laude.. that's like 4th place

The thing is, it wasn't just him who exaggerated and boasted, other Filipino parents did so as well. It's like there was an unsaid competition between Filipino parents and their kids; the 'whose child is better than the other' competition.

My child is a nurse. (Oh that's nice, mine is is doctor). My child plays concert piano pieces. (Wow, so does mine - but she also singe opera. Does your child sing opera? No? That's too bad, maybe they can learn, but my child is very advanced  ... but I'm sure your child would be able to learn the basics) 

Even when a Filipino parent responds nicely to another parent's prideful boasting, shit talking goes down after the conversation ends.

Bright! she said that her child is bright and wants to be a nurse.  I don't think their child will make it in life.

It is seriously that vicious.

I cannot think of any psychological reasoning behind the competitiveness that exists between Filipino parents. Is it a cultural thing? It is because Filipinos, as a people, are a poor people that many of them feel this need to be exceptionally better than everyone else within society?  Do they have this need to have something to be proud of? To be able to hold their head up and be looked up to by their countrymen? Perhaps it is the idea that if children are a reflection of the parents, those exceptional children equate to exceptional parents who by being exceptional, have helped to elevate the Filipino people. 

I'm pulling these these ideas out of my butt, but really, I don't know the answer to this.

I guess the issue that I have with all of this is that I'm thrown off by the boastful pride of Filipino parents.  Why be competitive at all and gloat to your neighbor on how much better your child is? I understand that it's in a parent's right to be proud about an accomplishment, but there's something to be said about being humbly proud. Ultimately, when this competitiveness kicks in, it is the relationship with the parent and child that can end up strained. Filipino parents will never admit that this occurs, but it does.

I don't think that Filipino parents don't love their children, they do as much as any other parent. However, I do think personal ambition has the tendency to blindsight love and thwart the reasoning for the competitiveness as being an act of love.  But at the end of the day, they do love their children. It just may take a bit for some parents to set aside their ambition and realize that their children themselves are more important, even if they do become other than what a parent envisioned they would be. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

My dad cracks me up

This past Father's day made me think about my dad and about how he cracks me up. A lot of what makes him funny is his boaterness: his inability to pronounce the letter 'v' or the letter "f"


Where is de bix? (Where is the vicks?)

I like de pig pie (I like fig newtons)

Can I get de pries ( Can I get fries? )

I like go to de bits (I want to go to the beach)

Are you going to papers? (Are you going to pay first?)

or the way he describes things in shapes and colors instead of it's proper English name

Dad: The round one
Me: What round one
Dad: The round green one to put on like that

::motions a squeezing motion over his food::

Oddly enough, most of the time I do know what he's referring to, even if his descriptions are vague. Having had to grow up with his vagueness all my life has made me in sync to his descriptive patterns and tendencies, thus allowing me to decipher what specific thing he is referring to. Ultimately, it was a matter of survival.

Me: oh you need a lime.

This ability to decipher his language, by default, has made me one of his few interpreters (the other person being my mom) It's kind of funny that he would need an interpreter, but while he does speak English, his English is so choppy and thickly accented that it has evolved into a totally different language that many find difficult to understand.

Me: He's asking you how are you.
Friend: Really? totally didn't get that. I'm doing good.

I'll admit, growing up I found it so annoyingly frustrating that he had a hard time describing things. Sometimes, I would pretend to not know what he was talking about just so he would figure it out himself in English what it was he was asking or telling me. After so many years, he still does it. But when I reflect upon all the conversations we've had and still have,  it still is annoying, but I'm not as frustrated with it.

He has adapted some ways to ease his communication with people. For instance, my husband and I recently introduced him Chipotle and he has become obsessed with the vege burrito. For days he would rave about it.

Dad: What do you call dat one with begetables that we ate the oder day?. 
Me: ......
Dad: you know.... de wrap one with da tomatoes... and da...mexican?  it was good.
Me: ... Chicken burrito? 
Dad: Yea.. dat one!! Das good. 

At first, he was hesitant about going there by himself because he was self conscious about ordering and having difficulties communicating what  he wanted in his burrito.To resolve this, he called me up and wrote down all the ingredients on a piece of paper to bring each time he went to Chipotle. Now, every time he wants a burrito, he goes there, hands the burrito maker the list of ingredients.. and ::Bam:: a burrito made just like the first time. I bet he would have me make lists for everything if he could so as to make communicating less difficult for him, but I don't see that happening. 

 lol, That guy... cracks me up. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Filipino Parties and Food

Whenever my husband tells me we're going to such and such event, it is often followed by me asking, Is there going to be any food? Growing up in a Filipino household and going to Filipino parties has left me with this expectation of being fed whenever I go to a house party. And not just being fed, but being fed really well. My family would always go to these parties a couple times a month as, within the Filipino community that lived in Hawaii, it was always someone's birthday that need to be celebrated. More food than could be eaten was always served, but it was served with an understanding the guests would take some home. And so, every party party we went to we ate to our heart's content and left with the party host pretty much forcing us to take food home 

Hoy! you bring house, huh?!? Here! Take some more!!!

But life has taught me that not every party is going to feed you like a Filipino party, but in the back of my mind, I still have this expectation.

Is that so much to ask? To be fed good food that will not leave me hungry and wanting to make a Taco Bell stop after I leave a party? Or to want to leave in order to make a taco bell run so that I won't be hungry during a party.

Unfortunately, there have been many a social gathering that has left me disappointed in only being fed cheese, bread, crackers, grapes, and sun chips.  Don't get me wrong, it's not like I'm ungrateful for the cheese and crackers, it just leaves me hungry

This past weekend I went to a friend's housewarming/Pacquiao fight party that had food galore. Fried Chicken. Fried Rice. Lumpia. Pancit. etc etc I walked in the house with my meager tater tot casserole dish and my mouth seriously went ajar at seeing all the food. 


Now that I'm looking at the picture and see the red velvet cake, I'm like.. dammit, I didn't get any of that!


Oh, and there was more food, but I got a little self conscious at being looked at as weird for taking photos of food.

To my husband: See! See!!! This is what I'm talking about!

Needless to say, we ate throughout the night. At least I did. Even the next day I couldn't help but think about how full I still felt from the night before. I was a happy camper. 

I know not every event I go to is going to leave me as satiated as this one, but what can you do? I guess what I can do is make sure that my own social gatherings don't leave guests as disappointed as I would be. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Filipino Broom

The other day, while I was driving down the street towards my house, I saw a little old asian woman sweeping the sidewalk in front of her house with a Filipino Broom

 Where the heck am I?, I thought. Asia? 

She was hunched over, sweeping intensely like she was trying to get the dirt out of the crevices of the sidewalk. My second thought to this was  Why is she using that Asian broom to sweep the sidewalk? More importantly, she's sweeping a sidewalk.... Who does that? 

I wasn't going to completely pass judgement on the little old woman. If she wanted to sweep her sidewalk with an Asian broom, that was totally her business, but it brought back flashbacks on my childhood and how my own mom used that type of broom to do her sweeping.

Supposedly, there's two types of Filipino brooms.

Walis Tambo

and Walis Ting Ting

Side tangent: The Filipino language is funny in that words often have sounds that repeat. i.e.  Ting Ting (the broom above), Su-su (boobies), Chacha (my cousin's name in the Philippines). Connect any two sounds together, and you more than likely have a Filipino word that means something. My parent's used to call me Win Win when I was a kid, then it was shortened to Win. But... don't start.

Anyways, my mom always used the walis tambo when cleaning.

I always wondered why she used this type of broom instead of a regular broom from the grocery store when it seemed  inefficient. For one, the broom is made for short people. I mean, really really short people. It is probably around three feet tall so even someone who is Filipino short like myself has to hunch over in order to grab the handle and sweep the floor. True, the way the broom is designed allows it to get into corners, but I feel like it sheds a lot  and so adds to the dust/trash that you're trying to pick up.I don't know...I just never thought that it was effective

But ... almost all Filipino households have them.

 Curious to see the overall process, I watched a youtube video on it.

It was interesting to see how much of a process it was to make it and how whole families made this their trade. In this one particular youtube video I watched, this little girl who couldn't be more than 6 years old spreading out the broom grass in preparation for the assembly. I can honestly say that after watching this video, I have a new appreciation for the broom and for the fact that out of nothing and in poverty, people can make such a beautiful product as the walis tambo. It's like a piece of Filipino art.  Ultimately, it makes me want to go to the Philippines and watch someboday make a broom so I could buy it from them. I know that sounds silly, but that's how I feel.