The New Generation of American FilipinoBy Philip Dominguez Mercurio
SAN FRANCISCO - “WHAT do you think Matthew?”
John John stood sa corridor flanked by doorways; his question still reverberating back to his cousin, Matthew, who at the time was still making his way up the coiled stairwell.
Matthew, still a little lost from the new environment he was in, couldn’t help but nod in agreement with his older cousin.
Soon the two scurried into one of the rooms, then returned from another insane direction less than a minute later. Not contented, they headed in another direction; another bunch of rooms and corridors awaiting their sights.
Soon, comments could be heard in the distance.
“I ... I don’t have a feel for this one,” one said.
“Estoria is better.”
“No, NO ... Hidden Brook is still the best.”
Oh, just remember ... this is coming from kids who haven’t even graduated from elementary yet. Imagine my surprise.
Now, if names like Estoria, Hidden Brook or Victoria don’t immediately ring a bell, then you haven’t been doing what apparently my little nephews and I were seemingly enjoying at the time: That is... house-perusing.
Today, it seems we were tackling the houses of the Victoria complex, a gigantic spread of semi-mansional houses on the western edge of Hercules that in some ways seemed to complement the Amtrak and the surrounding ‘view’.
Manong Rick Crisostomo, the educated realtor he is, functioned as our guide that day, explaining to us the use of the two-tone along the interior walls and how the ability of certain plant ornamentations could create a sense of decorative feel without the hassle of looking for some unique combination of traditional furniture in some far-off antique shop somewhere.
As Rick and company went about their tour, their kids took little time to worry about any of the shading the paint created. Jam-Jami (or as I’ve nicknamed her, Jam-Jammer) and her younger cousin, Joshua raced across the elegant floor patterns in the kitchen, to retain some of the free bottled waters in the refrigerators while their older siblings were upstairs, kicking off their shoes, getting ready for lift off.
Flying like some circus seals do, these kids crashed into the humble mattresses located in the master bedroom, not exactly worried that others below may hear the ruckus they created by the thuds throughout the dry wall.
Kids like Matthew and Jam-Jami represent the new generation of Filipinos sa America, an enclave of upper-middle class children of the much more carefree variety. With much of their parents having already passed the phase of hardships in the inner city or the silly ‘small’ houses in pre-existing suburbia, these kids were now in the full spotlight of their parents’ success, basking in its heat and feeling the effects of its glow.
And it’s no wonder…
Their parents were now on the real estate market, buying new state-of-the-art houses, with rooms adjoining rooms and bathrooms galore. Places like Home Depot were their domain and their checkbooks seemed to have no bounds, accessorizing their houses with big barbeques and eloquent gardens with lawns that are “hella” green even while the surrounding hillside seemed to be contrasting with something “hella” dry.
Lalo na, with so much space inside, the items for the choosing seemed endless; along with the fancy curio, massive grand pianos, came big screen televisions with hundreds of channels which became more of the standard, not the exception to the rule.
My familiarity, of course, with such grandeur isn’t so since my parents weren’t exactly as “successful” when I was smaller as their parents happen to be now. Dreams and aspirations I had before as a youngling now seem almost inconsequential, judging by what my nephews are exposed to.
For example, I never had a bathtub at my place of living and so I’ve always wanted to have one. Bubble Baths were considered on the luxury side of the scale from my point of view. No wonder I enjoyed going to hotels so much.
Of course, the total opposite story plays out for these little nephews of mine.
The playground my little nephews, Gabriel and Joshua, are getting is larger than the in-law house I was born into.
In fact, it’s about the size of some of the playgrounds in Golden Gate Park (No, not the one near Kezar Stadium) but other ones along Martin Luther King Dr. Say what you will but no matter what … to me that’s huge! Of course, such obvious differences do bring me to my question.
In such well-off circumstances, will these kids remember what their parents and older generations living and gone had to go through just for them to enjoy what they’ve been given?
Or will it be forgotten under the cover of glamour, glitz and the occasional “bling-bling” that superimposes them?Though I’m in a much better disposition than before, the days growing up in Jay Z’s world of the “hard-knock lives” did have its interesting effect upon me.
In my world, hardship actually had some tangible meaning, for I could just look around at my surroundings for signs of it. Such a situation created a need to actually break out from such circumstances, inspiring me to trudge through school, wringing out the best grades and hopefully culminating into a better future for me in the end.
But for kids such as these, that urgency isn’t as present, being as elusive as trying to find cellular service in some parts of Hidden Brook.
That resolve to “try” isn’t exactly as necessary as it was for me, for they already “have” and so sometimes even their parents, who believe they’re “a - o.k.,” are usually caught off guard, stuck in the belief that being in such pleasant surroundings would eliminate the stench notoriously known to encircle inner-city environments, not realizing that past suburbias from East Bay to Orange County, once considered to be havens of good, have proven time and again that kids even in these more modest of settings could still easily succumb to evils that even high suburbia living can’t cure: that is the drugs, the street gangs and the like.
So, whose responsibility is it to continue the invaluable ideals that I learned from our hardships to these children before they become the victims of their parent’s success?
Well, that responsibility soon falls upon their parents and older relatives (like me) that surround them, whose job is to instill a sense of determination in their young hearts based on the valuable lessons that former generations had learned from their own experiences.
Kumon (math tutorial) and other math problems could only go so far as getting them through algebra but nothing will beat the time and true lessons of the Filipino experience, filled with its virtues of living the “American dream” along with its vices, like racism whether real or subtle and the continuing struggle to find identity in a world in which things like Prop 54 pop up, seemingly out of nowhere to try and derail our fragile existence.
It’s from these stories that these children will learn the true value of being a Filipino in America, where everything isn’t fancy and pretty but real and from there, will ultimately attain that “need” to be a success later on.
As I guarded the doorway, a couple passed us by; their eyes seemed to roll at me as if I was doing something wrong. Although medyo put off ako sa attitude they dispelled sa amin, I tried playing it off…
“Don’t worry... they’re just testing the springs,” I said point blankly.
OK. So maybe I capitulate to my nephew’s eagerness for adventure. But as far as I was concerned…
They’re still young. Let them have their fun. - PDM