First off, i am super late but I finally saw the first episode of Black Mirror. WHAT IN THE ACTUAL DUCK? this show is damn wild, my dudes. I'm still in awe at the writers of this show.
Anywho~ Per my last "issue", I mentioned something something family tree. Over the past few months, at the age of 31, I've been uncovering more and more of my family tree. Someone fancy one day said that if you don't know where you're from, you won't know where you're going. I never really understood this jargon until i’ve learned more and more of my family tree. I've met people who have had the pleasure of meeting their great grand parents or even spending time with them. I personally do not remember meeting my great grandmother, but my mum says I have. I've never gotten to know my grandfathers, as both passed while I was still very young. However, I've been blessed to know both my grandmothers. One whom in particular I get to video chat with every few months.
My grandma’s an amazing woman who played a major role in who I was growing up. One time she walked over to the local elementary school to pick up my little sister when she was in the first or second grade, and got lost. She found her way home by hitching a ride with a nice stranger, and I remember her laughing at her self when she was telling me the story as she got home. Reminds me of the night I got lost in Seattle and hitched a ride back to the hotel with a nice stranger I met walking to where I thought was the right place. Probably wasn't my best decision ever, but no ragrets. The dude was nice and came back to the hotel safely.
Before I get off track.. I wanted to share this gigantic family tree. This is not a full view of my family tree, as I don't recall all the names of the offspring’s of my family in the Philippines. But here's the family tree from my dad's side thus far:
There I am, in the midst of the sea of orange on the right side. Unfortunately, I don't fully know the tree on my mum's side or could not figure how to curate it. My mum's adopted so.. the lines get real blurry. My mum learned about her adoption around the same age I learned she was adopted, in our early 20s. Since I grew up with my mum's side of the family in the Philippines, I didn't question it at all. After she told me she was adopted, I was like holy fuck, I never noticed how none of her siblings or cousins looked alike. My mum's mum and her four sisters were infertile. All of them adopted about 2-3 children as they couldn't have children of their own. I suppose I could draw a family tree regardless of all that, but I don't know recall a lot of my cousins names. I'm a lot more familiar with my cousins out here in the US, over 20 of them, all of whom are on my dad's side of the familia.
When I reminisce on our family tree with my cousins, sometimes I think we take for granted the journey from generation to generation to get where we are at this point. In a country, though full of struggle, strife, and bullshit, had allowed my family to pursue what they've known to be as a better life. I often imagine myself in an alternate universe living in the Philippines and how extremely different my life would be. Jobs are scarce, the technology is behind, and if cops are corrupt here, they are even more so over there. I think about President Duterte and his strict war on drugs. How something as minor as being even suspected of smoking weed is cause for execution over there while all my devil’s lettuce loving cousins/friends here are safe and sound (granted we’re in a 420 friendly state).
Sometimes I think about people I've met who are like, my great great great great great great great great ^ 9th power grandfather was a farmer who moved from the Midwest to the coast during the Industrial Revolution and struck big during the Gold Rush. None of what I may have said is factually correct. I should know stuff about the Industrial Revolution, but I don't lol Public schools, go figure. Anways, I always felt like those people had an advantage. They've had family history in this country and in some cases were able to build generational wealth. I bet after a few generations, it gets easier and easier for tax evasion lol jk. But any who, those are just speculations and assumptions based on nothing. No se. But what I do know is that as a first generation born and raised in the US, the expectations are sometimes haunting. I don't speak Tagalog but I read and understand very well. But what happens to my children? I can only hope that my parents will speak Tagalog for them to understand, but will they ever get to meet the great light that is my grandmother. How do I preserve the Filipino culture for future generations when I am already so damn American-ized?
After a lot of twiddling my thumbs and returning back to my thoughts, I came to the conclusion best put together by the infamous philosophizer, Seneca:
There are 99 million things to worry about in this world. Whether we should be more afraid of herpes or the delta variant, whether my cousin will ever choose the vaccine over Botox one day, whether the housing market will ever be in my favor to buy that casa house I see Kuma and I living in, when my investments into crypto will moon (it's not a case of whether or not, nerds), when will I feel safe enough to return to the Philippines to visit my grandmother, all of which already echo the sounds of first world whining. I can't *whine in Tagalog* because I grew up *whining in English*. I suppose I can pick up the pieces and learn to speak, but that is.. definitely not high priority on my bucket list. What I'm getting at here is that I've grown based on my reality here. I can empathize with the first world struggles of my family in the Philippines, but it's something I've never fully known other than from observation. Though the observations, from experience, are very humbling. (fun fact: did you know that refrigerators in the Philippines were only built to hold beverages? they don't store food in their fridge because it's a daily routine to get food straight from the street market so it's fresh for the meals of the day. WILD HUH)
Though I do not know first hand their struggles, I carry the spirits of my ancestors, my late great aunts and grandfathers, especially my great great grandfather Roger Barnes. The majority of my dad's side of the family made it out of the Philippines because this American Navy man was a father to my great-grandmother Miguela. And according to some law somewhere deep in the handbooks of DHS, it states that children born of an American citizen, have the rights to apply for citizenship or something along those lines. Often, I have to remind myself that I’m walking in my own path with all the late great ancestors walking right behind me, rooting for me. I may not know what growing up in the barrio of the Philippines was like for them, but I’m sure they’re happy that through the grace of my great grand father, my dad found his way into the US to move on from the barrio slums of the Philippines where homes are basically make shift tents to an actual house with a yard.
So here I am, three generations later, given the opportunity to *whine in English* on a laptop with high speed internet through a blog as I work from home. Shrinks everything down to perspective doesn't it? Like maybe all those worries, are just.. dumb lol My dad used to always tell me "BAHALA KA SA BUHAY MO", which in retrospect, wasn't the best phrase to teach a teenager but I always took it as "DO WHAT YOU WANT WITH YOUR OWN DAMN LIFE" lol but truth be told, I was lost in literal translation. In essence, it means its up to you. The kinder way to phrase this is “bahala ka” .
So friends, bahala ka na. You are the product of the strength from generations before you, the untold stories of generational curses, but also the work in progress of future and past generations. I don’t believe the ghosts of families hundreds of years past are here to haunt you, they’re here to remind me and let the sonder kick in. How you preserve some of your values, cultural traditions, and ideology all while growing and owning your own is all up to you. They say the lessons in life will be repeated until they are learned. Luckily, if I’ve made any selfish dickhead moves, those actions aren’t always passed down. But if not properly addressed, the trauma definitely will be.
*DUN DUN DUNNNNNN*
just some two cents friends, enjoy the week. I’m ready for the damn holidays already.