Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Anatomy of "My Kinda Girl"

I decided not to write some reflective post about my 2009 year. Instead I've decided to finally succumb to a few requests to post my poem that I performed in the PNW 2009 Formal. But in typical Ramon fashion, I couldn't just... post it and get it over with. No, I have to complicate things. So I've decided to have some kinda commentary to "My Kinda Girl." As the year ends, I will end it by dissecting my poem about a girl.

I'm not too proud about my performance. I was visibly nervous and forgot my lines. I didn't really practice my delivery, and I wish that I really went in on a few lines. With that said, I'm very happy with the poem itself. Not so happy that I finally wrote a poem that I felt happy enough about to share with people, but because I got to share with a room of about 250 people my love and admiration for my mom, for whom the poem is inspired by and dedicated to. I'm a mama's boy and I'm far from perfect but on an emotional level, this was a man's way of saying "I love you mom." For us guys it is sometimes hard to say "I love you" so openly without having to "beef" it up somehow. I got to say I love you in a way that only few people ever could: I got all the guys wishing they could find that kinda girl, and I got all the girls to wish that they were THAT kinda girl... and who ended up being "that kinda girl?" Well my mom of course!


On another note, as you'll see in my commentary, I am happy with this poem because it was very personal to me... as funny as the poem seemed, it was very personal. This was the product of a year of self-realization and way too many mistakes to ever put down on paper. This poem was a product of my experiences within the last few years in my quest to find THAT kinda girl. And from all of these hypothesizing and analyzing, I've realized that I really don't deserve THAT kinda girl. I never really could, unless I could somehow take back all my mistakes. But throughout this past year, I was able to take a good look at myself and realize that I have A LOT to work on. Just like when it comes to my poetry!


When our district prez told me to hurry up and submit the poem, I kept holding it off. I was done with the poem, but I hadn't really touched it in a few months. I had to change the poem somehow, to fit my experience. I'm glad she let me change what I needed to change, because I felt like I was happy with the end product. So here I go, the anatomy of my one decent poem!


My Kinda Girl

She asked me about my kind of girl,
the kinda girl that would send my mind in a twirl,
someone help me find this girl,

and if she's heaven-sent I'd ask God why in the world
would He leave an angel behind in a world
that's so sinister?!

then maybe God would direct me to a minister
who would direct me to a couple of verses
written from scripture,

And I'd discover that this kind of girl is a mixture,
of patience, hope and tolerance,
girl holler at a mister!

[I started writing this on September 2, 2008. I know this date because I started this poem off as some lame/gag birthday present to my friend Lot Lot. We were talking online on the night before her birthday and I told her I was going to write her a poem. I said I'd be done when her birthday struck at midnight, and I started at 11:15pm!!! The above lines were all I could come up with. We had a laugh about it but something kinda sparked in me. I put it off for a day or two but I decided to continue on with the thought, thinking about the 'perfect' girl. I really do think Lot Lot asked me about "my kinda girl" haha.]

Please excuse my burst of child-like excitement,
but i'm easy to excite when
my mind becomes enlightened,

senses are heightened when she stands right beside me,
as if she's more than just a person,
an experience worth describing,

she's like a simile - she's a metaphor in the making,
what she's like and what she is
never quite justified in statements,

she's like a spaceship high above the atmosphere,
Unbelievably Fly Object,
one blink and she's outta here,

she's the perfectly synced playlist,
with what she whispers in my ear
i can close my eyes and fade out the world's fakeness,

her fashion maybe makeshift,
clocks in daily for her dayshift,
education gives her opinionated conversation,

i could care less if she's democrat or republican,
liberal or conservative
but she's concerned with the government,

and gives thought to all the issues concerning her society,
But above all that
she strives to improve on her piety,

And I could never judge that,
Cuz if she'd judge back,
We’d bump heads for days our prides' so high - it's hard to budge that.


[This is what I started to write about as the poem came along. I'm basically describing some attributes I'd like. I just wanted to keep some kinda hip hop vibe with it because my roots are based on hip hop. And in hip hop you want to try to NOT be so corny yet keep it 'one-hunnid (heartfelt)'. The political line was inspired by this question I asked my friend James one time. I asked him if he would switch sides politically if a hot girl told him to... I won't say what he said but hilarity ensued haha. The "I could care less" phrase was actually meant for the line before and the line after. It was kinda me being a jerk, like "her opinions? I could care less" hahahaha sorry, I do care now!]

But I could dig that,
Just like a shovel digging dirt,
Covering the hurt of worst firsts and cursed works,

My kinda girl's mind unfurls,
when she learns
how to break down my defenses that I built up because of "her."

You know - "her", that one rotten apple
That men are foolish enough to bite into
and it leaves our heads rattled,

My kinda girl fixes where other girls messed up,
Cuz if love was a TV show,
then she'd be the "best of,"

[The last line, the "best of" line, was one of my favorite metaphors that I ever though of haha. I had to use that somehow. I juggled with saying "if love was a sitcom" or "if love was SNL" but decided to stick with 'TV Show.' This section actually means a lot because it seemed to foreshadow what would happen to my life within the next few months. I "bit" into a rotten apple and it really did jack me up - poisoned if you will. I heard that guys only really get their hearts broken once and never get that hurt ever again. I felt like within the past year, it happened to me. I wrote that section in like September and actually went through it in like January. Art imitating life much?! But I mean in the relationship I'm in now, it seems like that's how it played out. My girlfriend, Joy, seemed to just outshine all the crap I went through. And without going into specific details, she really did "fix where other girls messed up." =) ]

She brings order
When my thoughts become unruly,
Don’t get me started on her beauty!

But my kinda girl gives beauty a whole new level of aesthetic,
She can out-mack
Mac cosmetics,

And if Beauty was music
Then she should be used to it,
She’s soulful R&B while other girls auto-tune it,


[This is actually the last addition to the poem. I was listening to The Dream's "Rockin' that Ish" remix and felt like, man if I ever hopped on that remix I would totally talk about auto-tune. Haha. I knew everyone would understand what I meant. My Kinda Girl would be real. The 'aesthetic' line was inspired by this thing that my friend Redgie told me. He told me that beauty can somehow be measured by the symmetrical aspects of your face. As if the way your head was shaped might make the difference. As if the Feng Shui of your face helped in your beauty. So the aesthetic aspect of my kinda girl's face would be totally Feng-Shui-licious! ]

She can keep it real simple
But she never looks sleazy,
Simply put: she makes it look easy,

My kinda girl's like a pearl,
found in a shell in the ocean
clamped down to protect herself from the "squirrels,"

You know what squirrels want,
All the players in the game,
My kinda girl has pulled plugs and left quite a few in shame,

I'll admit that my kinda girl is the type, see
she puts me in check
like a fresh pair of Nikes... get it?

[I added the 'squirrels' line because I wanted to get away with what I was referring to. I actually wanted to literally take hold of "what squirrels want" during my performance but decided against it. haha. The 'Nike' line... oh man that was the biggest fail of the poem. I TOTALLY thought that was going to work. When I wrote that line I totally patted myself on the back, but then the line totally didn't work!!! I guess when it came down to the performance, I didn't get it hahaha. When I originally wrote this poem, this part would have been the only part where I alluded to like my own flaws. Like I knew that my girl would have to put my player ways in check, but that's all I wanted to say about it at first haha]

My kinda girl knows
My kinda type,
She’s the monotype corsiva to my comic sans kinda hype,

And yes those are fonts,
More of my metaphors and similes,
Since our destinies are pre-written God wrote her name in calligraphy, (try it out on Word)

She personifies elegance,
So relevant that she’s written in reverence,
How can I not be a gentleman?

[I wasn't sure if the 'font' line was going to work. It got mixed reviews haha. Some people got it but some people didn't. The original lines that followed my Nike line really didn't make sense. It went off like my girl is really clever and she keeps me on my toes. But then the words I used just didn't have the flow I wanted. I was trying to find my inner Eminem with the wordplay but instead it came off sounding forced. I ended up not even using the last few lines in the actual performance because I was like thinking to myself "man I've been up here for a long time I gotta get to the point." Totally left on the cutting room floor.]

But my kinda girl sees me
As A walking contradiction,
She won’t believe me when I say I’m a “man on a mission”

She’ll see me for what I am,
Just a boy bouncing around,
She’ll say to impress her my feet really have to touch the ground,

My kinda girl would laugh when she sees me trying to aim too high,
She’ll tell me “in order for us to work
Just see me eye to eye,”

My kinda girl will know the many mistakes
And missteps that I’ve mismanaged,
So I guess she really deserves more than moderately above average,

In order to make the grade,
All these mistakes that I’ve made,
It’ll take more than a few unused heart vacancies that I’ve saved,

My kinda girl is the interior decorator
To my cluttered warehouse of a heart,
I guess I have a lot of cleaning up to do before we’d even start,

[This whole section is dedicated to my girlfriend, Joy. This is the part I needed to add before I submitted the poem. Without going into too much detail, this is like what I had to deal with when we started talking. Like she began to figure out, early on, that I wasn't really that great of a guy. But then she was like forcing me to find it in myself. That good guy that she was hoping was there. I'm like, I am that good guy I say I am, I just kinda lost myself in the last few years. I read somewhere that "the first time is a mistake, the second time is a trend, and the third time is a habit." I think I got that from my childhood crush Diana. It became like my goal to make sure that my mistakes were a one-time thing, and Joy wanted to be sure of that as well. So in the early stages of our relationship, it was like my heart was "under new management" and so I really had to re-think and re-do a lot of things that got me in trouble. During my performance, Joy was all I thought about. That's why I kinda slowed down and sorta serious'd it up a bit. She let me know that she wasn't going to be some princess from a fairy tale, but a real woman who needs to just be loved in real-time. There was like no fantasy in it, just real talk. How hip hop is that!!! No wonder why we work.]

But my kinda girl is worth every investment,
She’s not one to complicate my life
But she complements it,

If change is what it takes
For this transaction to last,
Then a penny for my thoughts I hope this change is exact,

My vision often blurred,
So when Heaven sends the perfect contact solution,
When I can finally picture love my kinda girl is at the highest resolution,

[The 'complicate-complement' line was something I actually told someone. It struck me when it came out of my mouth because some little voice in my head told me like "man you better be serious." Guys, that's a pretty smooth line to say, and you're welcome haha. This was part of my last-minute additions because the original climax was like more of the direction of "man my girl is so cool! More metaphors please!" But I decided to go in the direction of my kinda girl being that girl who changes my life for the better. I realized that I've kinda gone down the wrong path and in order for me to really find that GOOD kinda love, I needed to change a lot about myself. And that last line... the whole 'change' reference... come on that line was the most 'super-lyrically hip hop' I've been in a good long while! Haha I found my inner Eminem/Inspectah Deck via "The Triumph" on that one! The 'vision' line came off better in my performance than what I wrote down. I had to put myself in the poem in terms of me liking photography yet having bad vision. It played off each other in an ironic sense. My vision is blurry but my kinda girl being at the highest resolution. I channeled my inner National Geographic Photo on that one!!!]

so that was my answer that I completed with a sigh,
the lady saw the twinkle in my eye,
followed it up with this reply:

"you're quite the ambitious type,
you give that kinda girl a lot of hype,
what if she's nothing as you expected to like?"

so i replied: "i'm just getting my truth on,
i know i'd love this kinda girl,
cuz she'd be a lot like you mom."

[Because of time, I didn't really stick to this last part in my performance. I just had to bring it back to the beginning about some lady asking me about the girl. This ending never changed. When I completed the first draft of the poem in like October 2008, I knew it was going to end with me showing love to my mom. I don't think I really actually talked to my mom about the kinda girl I liked, but this last part was inspired by something she told me when I was like 16. She told me not to go for a girl just because she's pretty or whatever. I had to be with a girl who really makes me happy. And that advice really did turn out to be very beneficial because I've come to realize there are a lot of "pretty faces with ugly hearts" out there, and I KNOW THAT NOW. That advice stuck with me through the years and I realize that it was like my mom was telling me to go for someone like her haha. I mean I see it in my dad's face, how happy my mom makes him. How content and at-ease he looks when they're together. My mom deserved a simple-yet-complicated poem like this because she's just super like that. Like, if this conversation really happened, and I ended it like "yeah she has to be like you, mom," my mom would probably smile, tell me that I'm sweet, then just kinda walk away. Personally, I prefer the audience-reaction outcome.]


So that was my poem. I hope you still like it, if you did before. My mom's reaction was priceless and vindicated my efforts to craft a poem worth telling. The poem was an extension of my life in the last few years... started off kinda silly and almost too self-assured... but towards the end you can tell I'm like an injured fawn just trying to find something worth living for. Not saying I'm Bambie, just sayin.'

Hello 2010, here's to more to look forward to. Let's do this!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A song to describe my 2008

I spent the last few days wondering if there was one song that could best describe my year. This was my year of stress, heartbreak, heartache, let-downs, mistakes, confusion, and undeniably great fun! How could I put all of my feelings into one song? My mind has been spinning all week.

But then I realized what really was the biggest thing about my year. It wasn't me moving back to Washington, me breaking up with someone, or even putting all my dreams and goals on hold. The biggest factor this year was my mom. My family all knew that we would go into this year facing immense trials. But after all the ups and downs, after all the tears and uncertainty, I approach the coming of the new year realizing what this year really meant to me: my family.

I'm not sure if I've been the greatest son to my parents or the best sibling to my brother, but if it's one thing that's for sure, family is all I really had this year. We shared tears and laughter, we fought and we held each other up, all for the sake of our family. As cliche as it is to say, something tragic had to make me realize just how much I love my family. My mom's cancer was an emotional rollercoaster, from the first time she came home with the bad news to the time she got the news that she beat it. But she did it. She beat it and that makes her my hero. My dad was there through every heart-wrenching moment and that makes him my hero. My brother was always there to keep everything going and in order, and that makes him my hero. 2008 was the year that the Palacios family beat cancer.

And so as we celebrated my mom's birthday today, I almost felt like I was cheating my mom. I was definitely around and I celebrated it with her, but my mind was a million miles away. I've been busy thinking about my bills and my job and my school and my future, I kinda forgot to live in the moment. My mom survived her battles and won the war against a formidable enemy that has claimed the lives of many good people in the past. It's like, why should I even be worried now? My mom is still alive and I'm not singing about the "coldest winter," so why should I even feel so upset about everything else that isn't going right in my life? I guess what I'm beginning to realize is that the problems and the stress will always be there no matter what. But I had the chance to celebrate my mom's birthday with her and that was a great feeling.

It was a year ago, two days after my mom's birthday, when she came home with the news that she had cancer. I remember that because that was the moment my life began to look dreary. I spent the last year aimlessly wandering around, not knowing what to do, and the truth is that I haven't really found any answers. I haven't figured out who would be the "one" for me or what I'm going to do about school. But the last year really wasn't about me figuring this stuff out. This year was for me to realize that my mom matters more than anyone else in the world.

I'm currently not looking to the future. I'm not really thinking about what's to come and what I'm going to do about the next few years. I'm sitting here, secluded in my own little world, basking in the joy to know that my mom is only three rooms away from me. That's... really all that I'm happy about at the moment.

So here I sit, listening to the song that I will label as "the song to describe my 2008." It is called "When your mind's made up" by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. I dedicate it to my family. I dedicate it to my mom's strength and resiliance. I dedicated it to my dad's faith and endurance. I dedicate it to my brother's hope and optimism. I dedicate it to everyone who knows that family comes first. I dedicate it to the fact that this year wasn't about what Ramon wanted or wished for - this was what Ramon can't live without.

This song describes what I feel towards my family. It's a simple statement but a meaningful manifesto. So before I decide to make promises to someone that I want to fall in love with, these are the most important people in my life, and I thank God that they stuck around. I really suggest that you don't just take my word for it that this is a meaningful song but give it a listen all the way through. There's a very powerful harmony towards the end, and I dedicate that portion to the love that my parents dedicate to each other. Enjoy =)






When Your Minds Made Up - Glen Hansard

So
If you ever want something

And your call comes

Then I'll come running

To fight,

And I'll be at your door

When there's nothing

Worth running for


When your mind's made up

When your mind's made up

There's no point trying to change it

When your mind's made up

When your mind's made up

There's no point trying to stop it


You see

You're just like everyone

When the shit falls

All you want to do is run

Away,

And hide all by yourself

When it's far from

There's nothing else


When your mind's made up

When your mind's made up

There's no point trying to change it

When your mind's made up

When your mind's made up

There's no point even talking

When your mind's made up

When your mind's made up

There's no point trying to fight it

When your mind's...

your mind

There's no point trying to change it


So

If you ever want something

When your call comes

Then I'll come running

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Can you count them all on one hand? I can't"


Photo courtesy of BET.com

"To the death of us, me and my confidants we shine, You feel the ambiance, yall n##### just rhyme"


Earlier tonight, I was sitting comfortably in my room, getting ready to watch one of my Chinese art-house films that I've been hoping to watch for months now. As the movie started my friend calls me, and I replied by ignoring his call. He calls back after five minutes, and I decide to entertain him for the moment. My friend is the kinda guy who will always tell me something that he heard that may have involved my name or some kind of connection to me. He like, never fails to let me know what he knows. And tonight was no exception. To spare the gossip its unnecessary details, he tells me about what happened at a certain event that involved people that used to have great involvement in my life. At first I was telling my friend that I knew about it already, and I really didn't care about it anyway. He wasn't the first person to tell me about it, and I was beginning to think that he was just telling me this stuff to rile me up and have me start drama, as most people love doing in this world. I kept telling him that I really don't care about those two people anymore and that "guys need to do what they gotta do" so as far as I'm concerned... I'm not concerned.

But then my friend makes his argument. He knows I could care less about these people, but he felt that what happened was disrespectful to me. He felt that what person A did to person B was an indirect slap at my character and friendship with Person A. At this point, I really do begin to get riled up. But I tell my friend that I know what's up, and it's nothing new to me. I appreciate what he's trying to do and I believe that he's only looking out for my best intentions, but I really don't need to do anything about it and I would have been a lot happier if I remained ignorant of everything. But what's done is done, and I know what's up. My friend proceeds to tell me what he would have done if he was there and so forth ("I would have been like 'what about Ramon? Remember him?'"), and it's all hilarious. But through all of that, I began to think about something that I've been thinking about for a while now. This whole issue of friendship and the respect and "guidelines" of what makes a real friendship between people. I figured that I've never really talked about my friends as a matter of my relationships with them, so I might as well try to get into that now, while I'm still a little riled up.

The clear-cut truth is that I have a lot of friends. Being that I've moved around a lot and have always been open to making close ties, I've come out of a lot of cities with several guys and girls that rightfully claim a piece of my heart. I would like to convince myself that I'm careful of how I choose my closest friends, and when it really comes down to it, I got a pretty good circle around me. Throughout the loves and heartbreaks I've encountered, there was always a close friend to provide the support I needed. It's easy to be my friend, because I'm not opposed to people. I love being around people and I'll make the effort to be social in order to KEEP people around me. That's just how I rock.

Being that I'm in my mid-20s, some might say I'm still a little immature that I still represent and claim "crews" with pride. I'm still DX, I'm still LID, I'm still the other half of 'Black and Brown.' I just don't think it'll get old, because what is represented isn't any lame gang or territory affiliation. What is represented is an honest and heartfelt effort of true friendship. I have true friends in these people, and it's such a good thing that we had to put a name to it. It's something to look back on and to go forward with. I got to spend a night hanging out with my DX guys, a night that was 7 years in the making, and I loved it! I can't wait until we hang out more, because hanging out with the same guys let me know that despite our differing directions in life, we can still come back to each other and have a great time. Call that immature or whatever, but while we all have that privilege and opportunity, we're just going to keep taking advantage of it!

"It was all good just a week ago"

My last day in Texas was spent with my LID boys, minus 1, along with my Dallas brothers. What a better way to spend my last day than to spend it with the only people who have always had my back in Texas since day one. What a better way to create a few final memories than to create it with some of the most memorable people in my life! The fact that my LID guys from Houston drove 4 hours in the middle of the night just to spend time with me is a definitive display of friendship and brotherhood. How could anyone dispute that? So it's simple enough to figure out that I am heterosexually in love with these guys, because they know how to show love back.

With friendships comes the issue of respect and even loyalty. Respect is a big part of me, because respect surpasses any other characteristics in a person. You can be a total idiot, a total A-hole, a total c-block, a total slob, but if you earn my respect and show me loyalty then all other factors almost always ceases to matter. If a person is loyal to my friendship, then I will ride and die with that person for life. It's an unspoken oath and code of ethics that I live by, and it's what I offer to anyone who wants to be close friends with me. The people who know me best know that I have a friend's back, regardless of the situation. I don't always agree with what my friends do, but I always let them know that I'm still there for emotional support and any other kind of support I might be able to offer. I might make fun of my friends a lot, but at the end of the day, I still remain willfully guilty by association. I even appreciate when my friends tear me a new one for whatever weird thing I do or say. That's what friends are for!

But with respect and loyalty comes the issue of integrity. Integrity isn't something that someone can do for another, I feel like integrity is almost exclusively a personal thing. I won't try to define what I think integrity is, but it's something I try my best to uphold. With all my choices and lifestyle decisions, I try to do everything with integrity. Integrity is something that we all work on in ourselves. But the idea of integrity can be evident in how a person treats their friends and colleagues. However the relationship develops, friends uphold their own integrity in how they treat each other. Even if I'm always offering to pay for gas or food or offering a ride (that is, if I had a car), I'm a bad friend if I'm not dignified enough to uphold my personal integrity with my friends. I think a person respects me more as a good friend if they can tell that I try to abide and uphold by a code of morals and ethics that define my character.

"We destroy and rebuilding"

And so now we go back to whatever the heck went down this weekend. I've only had to kick one person out of my rather tight-knit circle of friends in my whole life, and it happened this year. That's not to say that we're not friends, and I still appreciate that person as a human being. But I now approach that person as no higher than an acquaintance. Someone I just know, but I don't expect that person to have my back or anything like that anymore. That person is a good person, but as far as I'm concerned, he's just someone cool to hang out with. That doesn't imply beef or drama or any kind of hatred. It's just that, well, I don't need disloyalty in my environment. People who know me know how I feel about that person, so there's nothing more to say. I'll defend a friend who might make a lot of poor decisions, but when a person makes poor decisions on how to handle my friendship and love and respect, then it's all in the past now.

I'm not acting out of jealousy, hatred, or anything negative. I don't consider my life as having one less friend at all. But as far as my closest of close friends, well that circle just got a little smaller. If someone doesn't have the integrity to consider my feelings, then that's a snake move right there. My closest friends always know to call me just to see how I'm doing or how I'm feeling about whatever - those are the people that I love best. All my closest friends called me or texted me when I was moving back up to Washington - from both states. All but one. I figured that if a person can't even let me know I'm on his or her mind, then I really don't matter to that person. Therefore, I might as well cut that off and give more concentration on those who do show me that kind of concern. I'm not opposed to any relationship choices, but I just think a good friend let's me know what's up. A good friend doesn't need my permission or approval for anything, but I just think a real friend would love me enough to let me know about what's up, especially if that choice has some kind of relation or involvement to me. And let's be real homey, I'm involved, whether I want to be or not! That's as much as I'll be up front about it.

With all that said, I'm still down for all my close friends. I'm enjoying my time right now, so everything is gravy and stuffing. This is a positive blog darnit! I appreciate my friends and people who appreciate friendships in general. We don't really need to be loners in life! Enjoy the people around you, but be smart about it, as you should be smart in everything you do. If you suspect someone of being shady, then pull the dang shades up from your suspicions and just ask about it. With that said, uumm... the movie Quarantine SUCKED. Go watch the original version, the Spanish-made [Rec].

Friday, July 11, 2008

Excerpt from "America is in the Heart"

Photo used from of Literaryhistory.com


Filipino-American poet Carlos Bulosan is an OG in every meaning of the word "OG." While many of us youngins run around happy and proud that Pacquiao is knocking down half of Mexico and 75% of America's Best Dance Crew are Filipino (and super attractive at that), it really should be made known that our Filipino immigrant pioneers in the United States were trying their best to make it all possible for us. And because I was raised on hip hop, it is my RESPONSIBILITY to 'respect the OGs'. People should really give themselves the chance to read America Is In The Heart, Bulosan's autobiography and a first-hand look at how things started for the pinoy and pinay folks, especially in the West Coast. It's not that exciting of a read but it's honest and informative. It is also tragic yet passionate.


I have included the following excerpt from the book and for some reason it inspired the HECK out of me when I read it. So hopefully Mr. Bulosan's legacy of his literary efforts will continue on for generations to come, long after Pacquiao retires and ABDC gets canceled.

Excerpt from America is in the heart:

I was becoming aware of the dynamic social struggle in America. We talked all night in my brother's room, planning how to spread progressive ideas among the Filipinos in California. Macario had become more serious. When he talked, I noticed his old gentleness and the kind voice that had rung with sincerity at my sickbed in Binalonan. His words seized my imagination, so that years afterward I am able to write them almost word for word:

"It has fallen upon us to inspire a united front among our people," he said. "We must win the backward elements over to our camp; but we must also destroy that which is corrupt among ourselves. These are the fundamentals of our time; but these are also the realities what we must grasp in full.

"We must achieve articulation of social ideas, not only for some kind of economic security but also to help culture bloom as it should in our time. We are approaching what will be the greatest achievement of our generation: the discovery of a new vista of literature, that is, to speak to the people and to be understood by them.

"We must look for the mainspring of democracy, but we must also destroy false ideals. We must discover the origin of our freedom and write of it in broad national terms. We must interpret history in terms of liberty. We must advocate democratic ideas, and fight all forces that would abort our culture.

"This is the greatest responsibility of literature: to find in our struggle that which has a future. Literature is a living and growing thing. We must destroy that which is dying, because it does not die by itself.

"We in America understand the many imperfections of democracy and the malignant disease corroding its very heart. We must be united in the effort to make an America in which our people can find happiness. It is a great wrong that anyone in America, whether he be brown or white, should be illiterate or hungry or miserable.

"We must live in America where there is freedom for all regardless of color, station and beliefs. Great Americans worked with unselfish devotion toward one goal, that is, to use the power of the myriad peopls in the service of America's freedom. They made it their guiding principle. In this we are the same; we must also fight for an America where a man should be given unconditional opportunities to cultivate his potentialities and to restore him to his rightful dignity.

"It is but fair to say that America is not a land of one race or one class of men. We are all Americans that have toiled and suffered and known oppression and defeat, from the first Indian that offered peace in Manhattan to the last Filipino pea pickers. America is not bound by geographical latitudes. America is not merely a land or an institution. America is in the hearts of men that died for freedom; it is also in the eyes of men that are building a new world. America is a prophecy of a new society of men: of a system that knows no sorrow or strife or suffering. America is a warning to those who would try to falsify the ideals of freemen.

"America is also the nameless foreigner, the homeless refugee, the hungry boy begging for a job and the black body dangling on a tree. America is the illiterate immigrant who is ashamed that the world of books and intellectual opportunities is closed to him. We are all that nameless foreigner, that homeless refugee, that hungry boy, that illiterate immigrant and that lynched black body. All of us, from the first Adams to the last Filipino, native born or alien, educated or illiterate - We are America!

"The old world is dying, but a new world is being born. It generates inspiration from the chaos that beats upon us all. The false grandeur and security, the unfulfilled promises and illusory power, the number of the dead and those about to die, will charge the forces of our courage and determination. The old world will die so that the new world will be born with less sacrifice and agony on the living...."

Find it on Amazon here.

America is in the heart
by Carlos Bulosan
University of Washington Press (1974)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Homecoming, and a little insight into being a PK




It's kind of a strange phenomenon to see how fast your life can change in a short period of time. I was looking through my phone's picture album and I noticed a quick switch in like... who was in the picture. Within a week's time it went from the Malabanans of Dallas to the Valdez of Seattle. That's the life being a PK. I'm not sure about my other PKs, but every-so-often I just want to write about the whole moving part of my life. Just the part of moving in itself makes my life very unique. It's a part of every PKs life, whether you stay in one region (or coast) for most of your life or you bounce around the globe. But there is something I have come to realize about being a PK and moving - as much as we all are the same in going through the "move", it is this life experience of moving that ultimately makes each PK different and unique in their own way. Moving truly can make or break someone.


I am slowly beginning to understand the psychology behind the "move." It all kind of lies beneath my mom's old piece of advice that she used to give me when we would move around while I was a teenager. She would always see me moping around, and so she would always tell me not to get so attached to people. But that is exactly the person I grew up to be. Sorry mom! I can't help it, but I do get attached to a lot of people and it's easy for me to do so. So that is one kind of person you might get in a PK. Someone who gets close to people in whatever locality they arrive to. Someone who finds a best friend in each place. Someone who promises too many people that they will try to visit haha. Someone who can't publicly make up their mind about which was their favorite place (although with age, I think that choice becomes easier to make). While there are even more distinctions that can be made within the "easily attached" category, the fact is that we hate to move because we fall in love with people a little too much and so the hurt stings just a little more.

The next category is the kind who realizes very early in life that moving is hard so they make sure not to get too attached that easy. People call them anti-social, I tend to call them smarter than I. While they usually make friends easily, they don't open up very much. They keep most people at arm's length, but to the few who make it past that line, they hold them real close to their heart. What sucks is that I've heard these types of PKs being labeled as snobbish, anti-social, and weird, but they fail to see what kinds of risks they try to save themselves from. While I think I'm better off being more friendly than stand-offish, I see and understand that these people just want to make their lives a little easier by running with a few people.

And then there are those who just want to hit the ground running. Somewhere in their youth, they realized that moving is merely a part of life and ultimately, life goes on. So they arrive at a new place and act like nothing ever happened. I think they understand that their time in a place is short, so they want to fit their way into people's lives, even if that means to force their way into it haha. Many people find this annoying, but again, I find it as another way to deal with the instability of knowing what "home" is. People tend to say about this type of PK "who does he/she think he/she is? Acting like we've known each other for years!" Well, can you really blame them? They are only approaching life the way they feel works out the best.

Now everybody got the game figured out all wrong,
I guess you never know what you got till it's gone,
I guess this is why I'm here and I can't come back home,
And guess when I heard that - when I was back home!
Every interview I'm representing you making you proud,
Reach for the stars so if you fall you land on a cloud,
Jump in the crowd, spark you lighters, wave em around,
And if you don't know by now, I'm talking about Chi-town!
-Kanye West "Homecoming"

I'm sure there are even more categories but I'm just making the point that we all have unique experiences. Moving back to Washington has become a unique experience because I've never moved back to a place I used to live before. Well, I did when I moved to the Northeast twice but I was a lot younger then so I really don't remember much. But being back in Washington is a little weird to me, because I really wasn't sure how to prepare myself for it. This time around, I wasn't really worried about making new friends - the worry this time was to see who I'd still be friends with. It's not so much a worry as it is just something to discover. And it is weird, because I'm not really sure where I stand in the lives of my old friends anymore. I look at some old friends in a new light and obviously, I still made a lot of new friends. Being away for almost 7 years is definitely a long time, and there's this air of "restarting" about it: like I have to restart my relationships with some people. It sounds like a bad thing but I mean that in a positive light. People can't help but become a different person from their teenaged years to their quarter-life mark.

So I guess I was going about this move all wrong. When my brother and I were making our three-day drive from Texas to Washington, I felt like I would just move back to Washington, eat at all my old favorite spots, visit UW a few times, and then everything will die down for me. But I'm looking at it differently now: this will be a whole new experience. I'm back in Washington but I haven't come back to the same people. While it's true that some people still act the same, I think the important thing is that I'm not the same, and I'm eager to see how the Ramon sans 7 years later will interact with Ramon's friends sans 7 years later. For a minute I was kinda weary of how I might feel with people but it's actually exciting to see what kind of memories and/or milestones will be created, now that my friends and I have gone from childhood to adulthood. While I wish that I never left because I've missed out on so much, I'm just glad to be back. I'm still glad that I get easily attached and that I end up missing people like, all the time.

Welcome back to Ramon's world, dear Washington state. Allow me to put on for my city =)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Jack Ketchum's "The Girl Next Door" is the very reason...

(Photo credit: www.tim-burton.net)


...that I am utterly afraid of the suburbs.


There is a reason that horror and suspense movies rarely take place in the urban areas of a city. I have realized that in the ghetto, there are no secrets. Everybody knows what the deal is. In the ghetto you know who deals drugs, who sells drugs, and who DOES the drugs. You know where the hoes are, and you know who to go to for "connections" (free cable, discounts, bootlegs, etc.). People try their best to be happy but no one will try to cover the fact that their lives are difficult and they do what they can to deal with it legally or illegally.

**I would like to take this opportunity to once again reiterate that I did not grow up in the projects, BUT I've always lived in the cities in neighborhoods where the "minority is the majority." I've never lived in an apartment but our family's income has never been something to brag about! I'm broke!**

Take a movie like Scream. That took place in a decent neighborhood in the suburbs. And what lived in that decent neighborhood? A crazed killer! Take a movie like Carrie. Man, nuff said. Take a movie like Donnie Darko. I mean, man, that movie was so trippy that an airplane fell on dood's house. Only in the suburbs man!

What induces filmmakers to set crazy films in suburbs? The answer: the secrets. Suburbia is so dang secretive because everyone who lives there try their hardest to blend in and not raise any eyebrows. You can live next to the same family your whole life and not know that the mom was a crackhead and the son was gay. Little kids have lemonade stands during the summer but dangit, what the hell happens to them in the winter? It's a conspiracy I tell ya! The suburbs are FREAKY! The more "American" it is, the freakier it really is!

I have many friends who live in the suburbs and I don't openly admit this to them, but I get real uncomfortable when I pull up to their neighborhood. It's just... too... serene. Serene in the sense that, there's that "evil-lurking-in-the-shadows" feel that I just can't shake. And I'm more often right, I can almost guarantee that.

So I have made my decision: when I get married, I'm staying in the city. Forget that, I'll take a job teaching inner-city kids, I really do not mind. I just want to go home to a nice neighborhood where I have to lock my doors at night. I'd rather be safe than waking up with a knife in my back the next morning because the suburban kids took too much PCP. No thanks.

So, about the movie:

The Girl Next Door, directed by Gregory M. Wilson, is a very shocking tale about a suburban mom with a sick-eff secret. She takes in a relative and her younger, disabled sister and proceeds to torture them like a sick freak. The mom, whose name is Ruth, must have had some real self-esteem problems growing up because she grew to despise herself as well as the female sex, and since she only has sons, she vents all her sick-eff frustrations on the girl. What makes it even more messed up is that Ruth was originally thought of as "the cool mom" because she lets her sons and their friends drink beer and stuff, but now she gets the boys to go along with the torture of the poor girl, named Meg, and her sister Susan. The boys end up being real douchebags, except for the next door neighbor Davey. He's pretty cool but, being that the movie takes place in the 1950s Suburbia, he's forced to keep quiet about what goes on. The movie is real hard to stomach, and believe me, I can stomach many movies. Hostel, Saw, I say naw. If you really want to be disturbed, watch The Girl Next door. You want to know what makes the movie ALL THE MORE messed up? It's based on a true story dangit! That stuff really happened which tells me that yes, the suburbs is NOT the place to be!

Read about the actual real-life messed up story here:
http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/young/likens/1.html

It's real sad man. The movie will leave you feeling real eye-violated because some of the stuff that they did was uncalled for. I really paid attention to the whole psychology behind the movie, and it makes it more sad because everyone just really sucked in life.

So, once again, I say, beware of the Suburbs. The family next to you just might be a family of devil worshipers, and if they are, then, guard your chest!

Other creepy suburban evil movies:

The last house on the left, directed by Wes Craven (1972)
The Burbs, directed by Joe Dante (1989)
Arlington Road, directed by Mark Pellington (1999)
Edward Scissorhands, directed by Tim Burton (1990)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hood-Raized Habitz


I currently live in a decent part of town where my house is on a very Suburban-ish street. I mean, I live in a neighborhood where people feel safe enough to jog late into the night, everyone has a nicely groomed dog or puppy to walk every morning, an kids skateboard or play catch every evening. I would be lying if I said I jog around the block but I do often walk around the neighborhood when I feel like getting some fresh air. As I walk around the neighborhood, nice cars drive by without spinner rims or blaring reggaeton and/or G-Unit music. Another thing I observed is that plenty houses leave their garage doors open even though they're inside the house. What I'm feverishly trying to imply is that my current neighborhood is safe. It's as safe as a MacBook with all the anti-virus programs known to mankind - that doesn't ever connect to the internet other than to update the virus definitions.

This environment of my suburbia is a shocking contrast to what I grew up around. This is the first nice neighborhood that I've ever lived in since I was like 7. I never grew up in slums or project housing but I've always lived in what all suburbanites might consider the "hood". While my current neighborhood isn't all white-and-right, I'm used to living with the minorities and poor people. It's everything that I've known up until late 2006. People wouldn't jog with weight vests, they'd jog with bulletproof vests. People walked pitbulls and terriers and stuff. There were no garages, just parking complexes and parking meters. I can recall many instances where I'd just see bums and shirtless peddlers ready to harass pedestrians. It was no 5th ward or Cabrini Green, but I usually lived in the same area if not vicinity. I've been mugged, chased, screamed at for no reason, asked if I wanted to buy illegal substances, and asked if I had any to sell. It's my version of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood that would air on like, BET or something.

I'm not trying to flex my ghetto pass or anything; it's hardly a thing to brag. I'm comparing these two neighborhoods and what I'm used to because I've come to realize that there is certainly a social and environmental context in terms of habit-forming that I've discovered in myself. I hang out with a lot of upper middle-class people who have lived in the suburbs for more than half their lives, and our habit and "ticks" are very different at times.

I have a friend who never locks his doors. I won't disclose anymore information but the fact that he doesn't think about doing a small thing like locking doors is almost a culture shock to me. Growing up in my usual neighborhoods, it's the first thing you do and the last thing you check to make sure that you locked the doors. I remember seeing a news segment where they left a car out on a bad side of town with the doors locked. For about two days, no one touched the car. But the next day, the door was unlocked and maybe a window rolled down half-way. Within a day or two that car was stripped naked like that one Demi Moore movie. That's like an unwritten rule in poverty-ridden neighborhoods. You lock everything and keep a close eye out on your belongings. You never leave behind anything on a table or open window sill unless you want to buy it back from Hustle Man (referencing to Tracy Morgan's character on Martin).

Which brings me to my next point. While I'm here in the nice part of town, and going to a fairly safe and decent University, people leave their ish EVERYWHERE. As of the current moment, I'm sitting at the school restaurant and popular studying area. Students always leave their bags and belongings on an empty table to go to the bathroom outside of the restaurant and sickeningly away from sight. A few minutes ago, some chick left all her books and bags to do whatever in the table right in front of me. Looking at the other people around, no one would have given me a second look had I decided to grab all of her stuff, sell her books to the bookstore and maybe strike gold to find a laptop in her bag. It's just a habit over here to not be so cautious nor anal about your belongings. I do not leave my stuff on a table unless I have a perfectly clear view of it from wherever I need to go. I'll make that extra effort to carry the extra weight over my shoulder just so I don't have to take the risk. Seriously, if I was still going through that whole "stealing impulse" phase, I'd have a lot more stuff to sell on EBay.

But I'm not trying to make fun of the people who grew up here in the nice part of town. Why should they take the extra precaution and lock their doors? These areas are safe so it's not that big of a deal. I understand that and I find myself being a lot less cautious these days. My guard is lowered and yet I hope to never fully let it down when it comes to my shizzle. It's all a matter of habit. It's been my habit to watch over my stuff and safeguard it. I grew up around people with quick hands so it's just in me to keep my stuff with me. It's some sort of environmental factor that gives me this cautious and "watchful eye" thoughtfulness. Maybe it's a nature vs. nurture concept that although I always feel safe when I'm at home or with family, I don't trust any public establishment enough to leave my stuff behind.

I know I'm not the only one who finds this funny yet saddening at the same time. The fact that there are extreme differences between two separate towns in the same EFFIN' American state (if not the same American city) gives me the idea that there is still a lot of segregation and socioeconomic separation in this great country. The fact that I experienced what could be equivalent to "culture shock", not in terms of different ethnicities but in terms of different sides of the poverty line, in the same fussin' land of the free suggests to me that we're a long ways from equality. So this blog is not simply a matter of environment, it's almost a testament to the sad truth that there are still tragic class issues in this very modern and well-developed nation. I'm not being political at all, I'm being more than that. I'm being realistic and observant. I'm not trying to be pessimistic, I'm just trying to say "damn, there's still a lot of work left to be done".

So, damn, there's still a lot of work left to be done.