Tuesday, December 1, 2009

'Tis The Season to Post More Updates

New Month's Resolution
Mabuhay! December's here and I'm feeling shame for having only two November updates.

I'd like to blame it on the holidays, my ongoing job search or myriad other factors, but really it's mostly procrastination, sports and X-Box that have been sabotaging my burgeoning blogging career ($1.03 on Google Adsense and counting!)

To Be Continued...
So the challenge is before me: Will I step it up this month or continue to slack? Only time will tell.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

American Jekyll, Filipina Hyde

My wife is pretty easy-going, with a couple of notable exceptions:

1) Filipino Gatherings
When hanging out with my American (mostly white) friends and coworkers, she has a good time but becomes more of an observer. The ride home from these activities is often more entertaining than the actual party, because she always has hilarious observations about the evening. At Filipinos parties, however, she turns into the life of the party. She uses an assortment of funny Tagalog expressions, according to my Filipino friends. I sometimes wonder if she's making fun of me, but she knows (at least she does now) our friends will tattle on her if she does.

2) Boxing and Football
Boxing - Whenever Manny Pacquiao fights, my wife and I make that a priority. A couples weekends ago, we missed a friend's birthday party and drove 90 minutes to watch the Pacquiao-Cotto fight at a Filipino party in Corona. As soon as the fight started, my wife started freaking out! She yelled at the TV, did push-ups (she was sore for two days afterword), and jumped and screamed like a crazy person. I'd like to say this is an isolated incident, but evidence points to the contrary.

Football - By now, our neighbors must be used to the yelling coming from our apartment on Saturday mornings in the fall. As recently as a couple years ago, I was the only crazed armchair quarterback yelling at the TV while the Wolverines sunk to new depths of mediocrity. But eventually, like the steady erosion that enabled the Colorado River to form the Grand Canyon, my psychotic obsession with college football infected my impressionable Third World* wife and turned her into a terrifying pigskin hooligan (*wife-approved term). These days, we take turns criticizing the refs, coaches, announcers, players, cheerleaders and fans at The Big House.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Filipinos and Small Dogs

Puppy Sitting
We're looking after our friend's Mini Pinscher mix, Junior, for the next eight days or so. Between poop-scooping and planning our weekend around this psychotic little ball of cuteness, I've come to the following conclusions...

1. Chicks, Filipino or Otherwise, Dig Tiny Dogs
If you have the personality of wallpaper and no game with the ladies, just borrow your friend's cute little dog for the weekend. The urine stains and chewed shoes will be offset by the date you just scored with that hot chick at the farmer's market who was lured in by your canine companion's charm.

2. Filipino-Americans Like Tiny Dogs
After we took Junior to Intelligentsia for coffee and croissants this morning, we stopped by Seafood City where I waited outside while the wife stocked up on SkyFlakes and NFA rice. Junior seemed to draw positive reactions from the Filipino families entering and exiting the market. One of the employees even stopped to explain that he owned a Chihuahua and was also selling Pug puppies. With small dog in tow, I had more interaction with a wider range of people than otherwise.

3. Having a Small Dog Makes Up for No Costume
The three of us did a tour de force of the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval last night and Junior stole the show. Even though I was too lazy to don a costume, attractive women dressed in risque garb (this blessed holiday gives otherwise shy women license to let it all hang out) were fawning all over our little visitor.

4. Dogs Are Great to Own and Even Better to Borrow
We've babysat Junior on a few occasions now and giving him back is always a little bittersweet. But we also appreciate the freedom not actually owning a dog affords.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Pilipino Axe-Cent

The Filipinos I know speak much better English than I speak Tagalog, but that won't stop me from making another list.

Fs become Ps and Vs become Bs
By listening to enough conversation in Filipino, I started to pick up on the fact that Fs get converted to Ps ("fifty" to "pifty") and Vs often become Bs ("Biernes" instead of "Viernes"). This and other linguistic idiosyncrasies lay the foundation for frequent mispronunciation of English words. By the way, none of the following examples actually come from my wife, but she likes to read about herself so mentioning her again scores brownie points.

archie-teck - This person designs buildings. Pronounced phonetically here (which makes perfect sense).
choco-laite - Third syllable pronounced like late.
reee-leee? - Axe-cent on both syllables.
two porty pour - The number 244 called over the PA at Seafood City.
bri-yawn - Accent on yawn. I've heard my first name pronounced like this before.
pire place - Where logs are burnt and the letter F is forgotten.
creeteeseesum - The letter i becomes ee.
san jego - The di is pronounced as a j.
canajian - The di is pronounced as... you know.
calipornia - Most Filipinos do a better job of pronouncing my state's name than the sitting governor, who calls it cowlifornia.
hippopotamus - Americans put the accent on pot. I've heard it pronounced with the accent on tam.

Speaking of the Governator, my wife tells me that I sound like him when I try to speak Tagalog! Yikes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Filipino Entertainers in America

Animals and Gambling
To surprise the Mrs., we visited the San Diego Wild Animal Park in May 2008. I'll never forget that Saturday because I won more than $1300 in a single poker hand at Pechanga Resort & Casino after a relatively uneventful day at the park (I still prefer the actual zoo). Even if the park was a little boring, we ran into two celebrities with random connections to our own lives.

Celebrity Sightings
First, we ran into Dhani Jones, an NFL linebacker (that means he's a badass) for the Cincinnati Bungles who has an adventure program on the Travel Channel. Jones also starred in football at The University of Michigan, my alma mater. For whatever reason, I went up and introduced myself and we chatted for a few minutes about his show and football.

A few minutes later, while standing in line for the safari ride, my wife spotted legendary Filipina singer/diva Kuh Ledesma a couple groups ahead of us. We didn't speak to her because the line was moving but my wife started to sing one or two of her greatest hits and explained that Kuh is the Filipino equivalent of Mariah Carey or something. Anyway, running into her reminded me of a story from my wife's childhood....

Chasing Planes and My Mother Imelda
When my wife was little, she was fascinated by planes and would stop whatever she was doing to stare in wonder as they flew overhead (good thing she didn't live next to an airport). Upon observing this behavior, her mother rightly predicted that Mrs. Ober da Bakod would grow up and travel the world.

My wife had an active imagination, apparently, because she also insisted that she was actually long lost daughter of another famous singer, Imelda Papin. The Vegas entertainer was everything my wife longed to be: famous, an entertainer, rich, and fair-skinned.

I'm not judging, mind you. When I was little my favorite dinner was pancakes (one of my birthday meals, thanks to an understanding mother) and I endeavored to be an Orkin man because the company uniforms and hats were cool.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An Apology and Stuff About Filipino Communities

I'm Back
It's been a week since my last update but I'm going to get out of the habit of apologizing for my procrastination. I have a life to live and one laptop to share with my blog-happy wife. The low traffic numbers on Google Analytics are a constant reminder that updates = page views. Now let's get back to the gist of the post.

Filipino Communities in the U.S.
I've noticed that, unlike many concentrated Chinese and Japanese enclaves found in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Filipinos tend to spread out and blend into surrounding communities. Los Angeles has Historic Filipinotown, but how "historic" is something created in 2002?

For whatever reason, Filipinos (generally speaking) seem to blend into their communities. Maybe this tendency to blend has something to do with the history of the Philippines itself. Unlike some other isolated Pacific Island/Southeast Asian nations, the Philippines were ruled by the Spanish for 100s of years, brutalized by the Japanese during WWII and more recently populated by Chinese immigrants. Maybe all of these foreign influences have resulted in a more adaptable population, or maybe I'm just making reckless assumptions based on limited information.

Unofficial U.S. Filipino Capital?
So what can be considered the capital of Pinoy culture in the States? A lot of people might point to Las Vegas where Filipinos are the largest Asian minority group and many are employed as casino dealers and other public-facing occupations in the hospitality trade. Well, based on five minutes of unsubstantiated Internet research, that theory gets blown out of the water. It turns out that Los Angeles has 400,000 Filipinos alone, which might be ten times the amount of Vegas kababayan.

As a percentage of population, Daly City, a suburb of San Francisco, has the highest percentage of Filipino Americans of any mid-sized city in the U.S. We drove through on our way back from the Bay Area last Thanksgiving but didn't stop to take in the sights.

Home is Where the Puso Is
You aren't going to find the center of Filipino culture in any one community... The Land of Lechon can be experienced in the homes of your Filipino neighbors and friends, in restaurants and grocery stores where you can buy fish balls, and on most cruise ships sailing the seven seas.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Random Thoughts and My Filipino Friends

First Things First
So it's been a few days since my last update and I'm still working through the guilt associated with missing a day(s). I suppose thinking of blogging as a marathon would be a healthier view of the situation, but I'm holding on to this outdated notion that blog = diary.

Anyway, with less than 10 updates in my archive, I'm amazed at the reach and attention these posts have garnered... I interviewed with a certain mouse-related media company last week and one of the interviewers had read some of it. Today, I was catching up with an old coworker and she also mentioned this blog and was surprised to learn that I'm remarried.

Filipino Friends
I'll qualify this by admitting that most of my Filipino friends were my wife's friends first. I've had Filipino coworkers in the past without ever realizing they were Filipino. I just figured last names like Gumayaga, Gapuzan and Ladaga were Samoan or Hawaiian or Polynesian or something, never really appreciating that your chances of encountering a Samoan in California are infinitesimal next to meeting a Filipino.

In general (I love to qualify everything I write so as not to paint myself into a corner) most of the Filipinos with whom I'm friends are pleasant, educated and very laid back. The men seem quiet, mild and a little hard to read. Maybe their personalities shine through when communicating in Tagalog or their native dialect, but my impression is that these people are smart, good-hearted souls who enjoy life without taking things to extremes. Again, most of my Filipino friends here in So Cal are physical therapists, nurses and professionals, so I admit that my perspective is limited. But it seems like my white friends (and Asian and African American for that matter) are a little more boisterous, a little more outspoken and a little more inclined to self-destruction and depression.

Filipino women, by contrast, seem more outspoken and assertive than the men. We attended a white guy-Filipina girl wedding in August and it was the women that took center stage at the reception. When we go clubbing, it's the Filipina women that seem to be a little more social than the men. Some other observations of Filipino men and women in America...

1) The women like to buy Louis Vuitton handbags.
2) Both men and women usually drive an import.
3) Filipinos often live in Filipino-dominated towns like Carson and Daly City.
4) A lot of Filipinos work at the post office.
5) Filipino tourists seem to enjoy shopping and sight-seeing almost as much as Japanese tourists.
6) Filipinos have cousins in every major city in the United States - my wife has more family in
the States than I do and my family has been here much, much longer than hers.
7) Filipinos will travel, out of season or in, all over the damn country. My Filipino friend took his dad visiting from Manila to Mt. Rushmore in December! Seriously, these people are hard core about their sight-seeing.
8) Filipinos like to take pictures of every thing, especially plated food in restaurants.
9) Filipinos like to read this blog, apparently. I've met a lot of cool people on Twitter by posting my updates there.
10) Filipinos can take a joke and have a sense of humor about themselves... I haven't gotten any hate mail yet!