Sunday, September 24, 2006

Voila, American Me

On Wednesday, I trekked to downtown Oakland's Federal Building to take my immigration test. Remembering the last time I tried to get my citizenship in SF, I was worried. The SF federal immigrations building in the 1990's was hot, humid, filled with humanity. It almost felt like the US embassy in the Philippines.

At any rate, I was informed by the sister that I need to pass this test because next year, the fee will be $900. Damn. It used to be $90. Then it went to $300. That $300 was so expensive, it was not until I could get a real job at a real company that I could afford it.

I spend about an hour studying inside the atrium of the federal building. I sang the star-spangled banner many times. I read the study brochure multiple times. I was ready!!!

I dropped off the appointment notice and waited. It does not take that long, maybe fifteen minutes. A gentle, quavering voice called out my name. The interviewer did not know how to pronounce my name. It's alright. He could have called me a Chinese name and I would have responded.

He checked my information. I had to be doubly alert when it came to the crime section. What with all those double negatives that sometimes pop up in questions.

Nope, never been arrested. [That's why I missed the demonstrations in Berkeley.]

Nope, never had a felony. [I'm a delicate rose petal. I don't do the dirty work.]

Yes, I will bear arms for the United States. [Who do I have to kill for America? For my citizenship, I'll do it.}

Nope, don't know any Communists. [American communists are living off the fat of the capitalist market. Filipino Communists were turned by Marcos into businessmen who live off the fat of the people. Chinese communists are capitalists hiding behind a communist flag. Nope, no communists in this world. Communists only live in the books.]

Nope, Never been outside of America. [Only once in Canada, but that is part of America. Why would I need to go to Mexico? It looks like the Philippines. It's also a lot poorer. And with that leftist guy trying to become president, you never know how stable that place is.]

Nope, never had the desire to travel outside of the US. [I got warm water in the plumbing. I got toilets that work. I got tissue paper. What else do I need to see in the world? They won't have tissue paper or you will have to squat to use the toilet. I'm just not that flexible.]

So yeah. I will be an American. Now, I just have to choose which background I'm going to be:

Southern evangelical. Knocks on doors of neighbors. Tries to bring the kingdom of heaven for only $199.99. Can't get heaven any cheaper. Well, the Catholics offer heaven for free, but they always collect during Mass.

Finnish Midwesterner. I could then represent the Philippine team for the 500 meter speekskating event.

A Texan Cowboy. I am a Republican. So if I choose this, I can be just like George W. Bush. Hoo-hah!!!

An Asian from California. Wait, isn't that what I am already?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Happy Martial Law Anniversary

34 years ago, the great visionary, President Ferdinand Marcos instituted discipline for the Filiipinos.

Para sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Music through the internet

I am constantly surprised by the internet. Live 365 allows you to connect to streaming music. Korean Pop, here I come! Pinoy music, I can listen to you!!!

American Me

Or, rather, I should be by the end of the day. I take my citizenship exam today. To tell the truth, I am a little nervous. I have not taken a history class since my junior year in high school. AP American History with Ms. Goldblum. Ahh, those were the days… I wrote essays on the viewpoints of historians with respect to the events of American history.

I sang the star spangled banner song last night to completion. Some bars were hummed. The SO tried to help, but I drowned out her voice because I was concentrating. Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics for that.

Washington. Both the president and the capital of the world. Lincoln. Both president and emancipator of slaves. Both executives with cabinets.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Congress makes the laws. The senate and congress legislates. The Supreme Court interprets.

Thirty-seven years old being a Filipino. It's not that hard to give up a citizenship when I hardly visit the Philippines. Some Filipinos have been giving a hard time to Jim Paredes of APO HIKING fame because his family left the Philippines. But he has a great reason to. He wants to follow a religious calling. You can hardly do that in the Philippines specially if it is Buddhism.

I don't see becoming an American as giving up hope in the Philippines either. I just see it as taking care of myself. A new box. I get to experience the world in a different way. I get to converse with new people as an American.

I get a new pretty box. I should reupdate the old box too. Maybe I will make it like a jeepney, with horses stampeding on the hood, curtains shielding the soul from the sun, mud flaps exhorting GOD to protect everyone in the jeep and no one else. I'll take it out for a spin every so often. I wonder if anyone will notice.

As for the American me, hmm, better take some pictures. Maybe I'll get blonde hair.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

25 Years is a Blink of the Eye

Two weeks ago, we attended my a twenty-five year wedding for my father-in-law's brother. We became a substitute for the candle sponsors when one of the sponsors could not make it from the Philippines.

Uncle J and Auntie A began dating in the 1970's. When they got married, the story goes that they were just wearing jeans. No muss, no fuss. Twenty-five years later, here came the en grande wedding.

There were about twenty primary sponsors. Most of them though were from the ballroom dance club that my aunt and uncle belong to. The number of guests were actually held to less than 250. The larger hotel could not be reserved in time. If not, probably they would have broken the 350 barrier.

While I was looking at their video, I could not help but think of how quickly 25 years go by. Three children. Twenty plus years in America. Children in high school. Children in college.

J and A ended up getting interested in ballroom dancing. As we have seen, couples need something in which both partners can participate. Both partners must enjoy the activity. It can't just be one of the couples enjoy it. Otherwise, it will not be fun and the other partner will resist.

The SO said that is why she likes bowling so much. We can both do it. And, I can do it alone if I wanted to. Heheheh.

During the ballroom section, there were some pretty amazing moves. I wonder how long they have been practicing that. There was one move where the woman leans backward and the man supports her neck. Wow. Talk about trust. I wonder how many times the guy dropped thee woman.

The celebrants also ended up dancing with their family. I believe it was a West Coast Swing. Very nice. Very beautiful.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mr MSG the Bowling Team


Mr MSG is the name of the bowling team that I play in. I liked the name ZOO, but over the weeks, Gary preferred the MSG reference. It is from the initials of the players in the team and not from monosodium glatamate. As a sidenote, some people are "allergic" to MSG. They get headaches. In the 90's, scientists figured out that glutamate was a neurosignal to the brain.

Yesterday was the Jubilee tournament. I never participated in any tournament before. Frankly, I was just not athletic. And the thrill of competition was something that I avoided. It was akin to the thrill of natural selection. My body would pour so much cortisol into me that I would be sad for a long time.

Jubilee was in Palo Alto. A long drive for a bowling tournament. When we got to Palo Alto, the SO pointed out all the 1950's architecture like the car wash. The bowling alley itself harkened back to the time of rock and roll's birth.

We enter the bowling alley and see people… lots of them. Oh my god. It's like Vegas. Or like a racetrack. This is insane!!! I don't do well in crowds. This put me off in my mood. There was no air conditioning. Bowling bags everywhere. It seemed nasty. The bowling floor had equipment from the 1960's. No changes at all even with the plastic seats.

We get there at 2:30 PM. The game is at 3 PM. We order pizza and drinks. I hope for the best. The SO asks if we could enter a side-contest. I'm thinking "is she nuts?" we're just beginners. BUT, bowling has developed a perfect handicap series. It allows beginners to compete with veterans.

Game 1 began. I threw the ball and felt it go into what seemed like a canal. Oh-oh. What kind of lanes are these? The approach is sandal. Thee front is maple and the middle is pine, according to a book I later read. The lanes are uneven, not like Albany Bowl. I did not realize that bowling alleys like these still existed. I thought that everyone had switched by now. The wooden lanes gives the place a nice character. I fish out a 129 from the first game.

Game 2. I resist the temptation to experiment. But I can not find a string of spares or strikes. But I manage to eke out a 140+ game. Mostly, I could hit some spares. I was bowling with a straight ball and going at it from an angle.

Game 3. I figure that the lanes have changed so much that I sort of need to find the curve. I switch to the 3 to 9 o'clock suitcase hold. The ball hits the 4-7-8 pins. The second ball does the exact same thing! It was good that no one was looking. By the sixth frame, the score was something like 88. In the seventh frame, I readjust the hold. I FOUND the curve! Got a strike for the eighth. In the ninth, I get another solid strike. The pins have more action. It allowed the other pins to knock down the 10th pin. In the tenth frame, the ball slips somewhat, but there is still so much action that I got a strike!!! A TURKEY!!! Gobble-Gobble!

I leave to celebrate. The sister-in-law calls me back to tell me that I have another one. I actually manage to close out the game with two more strikes. AMAZING. My first five bagger in a game. In a tournament!!!

Final score was 177 or something like that. Woohee!!!!

The SO had an out of this world game in Game 3 with a 195+ game. WOW. She got a turkey and fulfilled her desire to try and get bowling shoes. Awesome.

The bowling alley was so challenging that I found my curve ball!!! Praise be to God!!!!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Xman #65 Dangyunhaji - Lee Jong Soo vs Ok Bin & Ki Bum (en)

This is why I enjoy Korean variety show XMAN. The guests are willing to suspend their being a superstar to become realistic participants. I specially enjoy the embarassment of Ok Bin. Great reactions.

A Filipina Goes To America and Misses Iowa or August & September 2006

August & September 2006

I believed the months were going to be empty. But, turns out that just like any other year, the months fill up with fun and interesting moments.

I believe the last time I was here, we were about to go up to the hillside retreat of the winelover / chatelaine / avant / gardener Eileen Tabios. On the way to the hermit's abode, the SO and I stopped by Star Bakery, which occupies the old Valerio's store in Vacaville. The rest stop was to buy the offerings to the Hermit in the Mountain. After purchasing 60 sen~oritas and 3 chicken empanadas off to the mountain we went. Just as a sside note, we got the senoritas while they were still hot. As a result, as I bit into one, the melted sugar would solidify in my front teeth. Ahh, can Filipinos make anything better with flour, sugar and butter? I don't think so.

The Saturday at Galatea was beautiful. Lunch at the favorite spot of Taylor's Refresher. I ordered the Club burger. The ahi tuna was getting to be ridiculous with respect to price at $13.00. Hell, can I not get tuna at that price in Ranch 99? Lunch was at Dutch Henry's where we dived into wine tasting of five bottles. For the whole day, we consumed or tasted 19 bottles of wine. Seven bottles were tasted at Pride. Seven more at dinner.

I think the highlight of the weekend was our meeting Eileen's mother. Heheheh. Talk about enchanting. I and the wife had a blast talking to her about the province, the Philippines, Marcos, and food. The next plan is to bribe Eileen's mom with kare-kare, pansit and other goodies so that she will tell us about the embarrassing stories of Eileen.

Eileen's mom was a student of Edith & Edilberto Tiempo. Edilberto and Edith Tiempo studied with Paul Engle in the University of Iowa's writer's workshop in the 1960's. Eileen's mom told us of a very interesting story. When the Tiempos started the program, they mentored five undergraduates who eventually finished their master's degree. The plan then was to send each one of them to Iowa to study. Eileen's mother was the third in the sequence.

However, the first student to be sent across the ocean into America never made it. The female student apparently had an illness and she ended up passing away in the boat bringing her to the United States. After the death of the student, the others were not sent to the US. Of course, I had to ask Eileen's mom what would have happened if she had been sent to the US. She looked away into the window and said, "Well, by that time, I already had a family so I don't think I could have gone." It was an interesting story because she would have gone to the United States at about the time that Eileen would have been born. Eileen screamed that she could have been a blonde Iowa goddess!!!! Bwahahhahaha!!!!

So, it is so interesting to me because the idea of a writer's workshop in the Philippines was so intriguing. And then, I meet one of the first students of the writers who set up the Dumaguete workshop.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Me: Girl takes pic of herself every day for three years

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