Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pinoy Ka Ba?

Are you Filipino?

Filipinos are the only people I know who will ask each other this question, at least those born and raised in the Philippines. And usually when they ask, they already know you are. The question is the ice breaker. I get asked all the time and when I say yes I automatically get an extra smile and a little more attention. They also start speaking Tagalog (national language). I understand most of what I hear and read but the speaking part is a challenge. In my defense I'd like to say that I'm not Tagalog and that I left the Philippines a month before my 12th birthday. I was at that age where it was easy to get in the groove of a new language but hard to hold on the old one. It comes back to me when I'm home especially my native language - illongo. They say I speak both with an American accent. As a child I went to a prestigious private school and my education included extensive lessons in English and Tagalog. I was educated for a life, a world away from the farmlands of my native province. Considering the way my life turned out, I am deeply appreciative for the foresight of my parents and the relatives who took care of me, especially my grandmother who raised me for the first part of my life. We were not rich but I was given a priviliged life. Not everyone leaves the old hometown of course. My uncle Ambrosio (don't you just love that old school/old world name) lived in Manila for three decades. It started with college then on to the the high energy life of a hard working, hard playing advertising creative to eventually landing the high stress life of an advertising executive. He has traveled the world like my mother and yet after all he has experienced, has chosen to retire in the more laid back, middle of nowhere farmlands of our home province. Something admirable and endearing about that. He has traveled, crushed deadlines with the best of them, partied like it was 1999 way back before Prince even coined the term and still his heart returned to the dusty, small town vibe of Bacolod City.

This thoughts got started today as a fellow Pinoy at the United ticket counter asked me if I was Filipino. When I was younger I used to laugh it off as sentimentality of the old but I am older now and perhaps much more appreciative of my culture. In a country that is so culturally and ethnically diverse I've come to celebrate my own.

My running has taken me to heights and accomplishments that I would never have imagined. Believers in Christ sometimes use the Cross as an illustration of growth. You grow vertically towards God (vertical stroke) as you also continue to grow horizontally to the people and communties around you (horizontal stroke). My path in running is the same way. As I've ascended to new levels of accomplishments and experiences my support base has also gotten wider. I've met a lot of people through racing and volunteering. My involvement with blogging and the online community network Facebook has brought even more people into that community. I guess it was only a matter of time before I started reaching out to other Filipino runners. Oh I've always known a few but this past year, through the internet, I've contacted Pinoy blogging runners directly. I gotta tell you, it's been a lot of fun.

Anyway I am headed to Orange County for a race. I will be spending the night with my mom. I have permission to use her car for the weekend and tomorrow morning I head out for San Diego where I pick up my friend Jessica who will be helping me with my big race this weekend and Chris Marolf, another runner who will be car pooling with us. The race is a long one and we will be there from Friday through Sunday. I'm looking forward to meeting some folks I've only conversed with online, a couple of them Pinoys. Sunday afternoon after dropping off Jess and Chris I will head back to Orange County to spend another night with my mom. The next day, Monday, is her birthday and she has planned a big lunch with relatives before they drop me off at the airport for my evening flight back to San Francisco.

I'm looking forward to the race, hooking up with family and eating a lot of Filipino food.

Myself, the uncle Ambrosio and cousins.

My mom in her high school years. The photo resides in our farm house where other family pictures are kept. My high school picture is up there. I wish it wasn't, hahaha.

Downtown Bacolod City, small but busy.

A family gathering with my cousins, a gathering isn't a gathering without lots of food. Every time I visit for 3 weeks I gain at least 6 pounds, at the most I gained 9 or so.


bambibo said...

A poet once said : "The end of all our exploration, is to come back where we started...and know the place for the first time". And I say amen! Ive come back to Bacolod to find my bearing and perhaps map out the horizon for the remaining years of my life. You should think about coming over again. Your cousins, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunties, not to mentio your lola await your next visita with bated breath.

typhoon1 said...

The food at the Tanalgo's look good
yummy.I should make a mental note of how I looked then to motivate me to increase my time in the treadmill.

Ramil said...

there will be a run for cause from Bonifacio Global City to Makati Central Business District. online registration for this event is until TODAY only. you can register online at i will be up for the 21k race. hope i will be seeing you there!