March 6, 2012

Singgalot: The Ties That Bind

From now through April 22, the Charles B. Wang Center at Stony Brook University is displaying an exhibition called "Singgalot: The Ties That Bind" that deals with the subject of "Filipinos in America from Colonial Subjects to Citizens." Being that I am of Filipino descent, I knew that I had to see this one. While I have never been to the Philippines, I would like to visit the country of my heritage someday. I've seen many photographs of the walled city of Manila and its historic district called Intramuros (which dates back to the 1500s), but to actually set eyes on such sites would be an experience that I would never forget.

I am fortunate to work with a lady who came to America from the Philippines. One day, she introduced me to a dish called Monkey Meat (chicken skewers with a savory marinade) and, every so often, she'll teach me a new phrase in Tagalog. The best ones I've learned so far are "Maganda ka" and "Mahal kita" (in English, "You're beautiful" and "I love you"). I also have another good friend who served in the navy at a base in Olongapo City on the South China Sea. A poor area, he told me stories of how groups of local kids would surround him as he walked off of the base to go into town, all hoping to get his empty soda bottle. He told me about a river of sewage that ran through the middle of the city and, just beyond the bridge, the series of clubs that offered some of the wildest nightlife he had ever seen. He also spoke about the deliciousness of Monkey Meat, though he was quite sure that it was made of actual monkeys in the Philippines.

Anyway, the exhibition at the Charles B. Wang Center consists of a series of poster boards that chronicle the history of Filipinos in the US. From the 1700s, when the first Filipinos settled in the bayous of Louisiana after jumping from Spanish Galleons, through the 1900s and their struggles with being labeled as "nationals" which brought about the Filipino Naturalization Acts of 1946, up to the present day and the 2.7 million Filipinos that live and contribute in America. For me, it was great to get to know this part of my world a little bit better. It's nice to see one's cultural heritage well-represented. Magandang araw sa iyo!

"Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong,
but always try to be kind to each other
and to everyone else."

~1 Thessalonians 5:15