Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Where the Filipinos Gather

Benito Vergara, an academic and web editor, gives an insider’s look at Daly City, California, the unofficial capitol of Filipino America, in today’s NYT. When I’m out on the West Coast, I try to always find time to visit Daly City with its amalgam of Filipino turo-turo restaurants, shopping malls crowded with Fil-Am teenagers, and its hybrid vibe of Philippine and American cultural values. It’s one of the few places in the U.S. where I don’t feel self-conscious or marginalized, where eating with a spoon and fork is the norm rather than the exception.

Among other concepts like “crab mentality” of Filipinos, Vergara discusses the beauty of the predominantly Filipino community:

There’s this joke that Filipinos like telling: “You know why it’s always foggy in Daly City? Because all the Filipinos turn on their rice cookers at the same time.”

It’s another indelible quality of being Filipino: the ability to laugh at oneself and her circumstances. In a more religious sense, it’s also the concept of “bahala na,” or, roughly translated, “come what may.”

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Filed under: asian america, culture, filipino, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You Think Your Country’s Good?

Over at Information is Beautiful, an interactive visualization that shows each nation’s worth. The chart, titled “International Number Ones,” lists one thing that every country excels at. Whoulda thunk the most male smokers could be found in Mongolia? That Belize had the most mammal species? Or that the Philippines outranked its western counterparts in text messaging? Or that Israel was expert at diamond polishing?

I could go on (and the chart does so). What’s also interesting is the Excel spreadsheet revealing artist David McCandless’ sources: Unicef, the Museum of Fine Arts, the CIA factbook, among others. Kind of like a behind-the-scenes video of the making of.

What a meta-tastic (I just made up that word) society we’ve become.

Filed under: art, innovation, world, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What’s Up with the Hanging Sneakers?

I had always assumed that they were gang-related.

True or not, the images of sneakers hanging from telephone wires in the neighborhood conjured images of gang territory. In this report from the BBC’s excellent Close-Up Series, filmmaker Ramon Goni seeks the answer. His interviewees have a variety of explanations for the shoes, ranging from memorializing a favorite pair of Chucks to gang violence to modern art pieces. The Murky Fringe offers a first-person explanation.

You can’t help but wonder if this earnest reporter is revealing his naivete–who’s going to admit the real meaning of the shoes, even if they do understand their true purpose? I imagine the reaction of the locals: What’s this reporter–from a news agency outside the Bronx–up to, asking all these questions?

Or, maybe the sneakers dangling from wires across the city aren’t related to gangs at all. Maybe they’re stretched across the sky by kids who want to simply say: We were here. This is our neighborhood. This is ours.

No matter their original design, the shoe couples–tied together by laces, light as air–are things of beauty.

Filed under: art, culture, new york, , , , , , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
September 2017
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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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