The Culture Of Women : Being Alice

My ode to the countless inspiring and strong Women who continue to represent, not just our gender or being, but the Culture of Women, and their intricacies to society and the world around us.

“I forgot about you today, but I think of you often. Probably more than you know. I’ve been worried about you, worried that you’re alone, no one is listening, no one cares, no one realizes the difference you make, no one respects you. But I do. Like you, I am a Woman too, and share your feelings. I stand with you, for you, and our future.

There are more of us now, supporting each other, being compassionate, fighting for our rights, making a stand, expressing our unique and extra – special voice, believing that change is not only coming, yet it has already arrived.”

Is anyone else still riding on the ecstasy train of Oprah’s Golden Globe speech? I know I am. There is no other critical time than the present for women to be heard, push forward, and bring meaning to our country considering the insurmountable issues like race, gender, equality, sexual orientation, choice, the ability to live in this country and achieve your academic (or non – academic) goals and dreams, the list goes on and on.

I am thankful to be witness to the powerful women who are making a stand and shedding light on issues that are important to them – to us; and the fact that they can stand for themselves when it feels as if no one else is standing with them.

It is with this, that I am reminded of the story of Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll, 1865). You see, it was during my undergraduate classes at Arizona State University when I sat in a peculiar class of over two hundred students, taught by a peculiar teacher who preferred to be known as “The Love Doctor”, who related the peculiar story of Alice in Wonderland to who she believed modern young women should aspire to be.

In Tim Burton’s modern remake (2010), Alice returns to an unwelcoming Wonderland, in which no one believes she is who THEY NEED her to be. But in the end, she pushes forward, challenges doubt (both the doubt of others and herself), faces her demon by slaying the jabberwocky, and becomes who SHE NEEDS to be in her own regard.

Dr. Love, also known as the media -literacy advocate Dr. Mary-Lou Galician, refuted the ideas of “princesses waiting for a prince to save them”. Rather, she believed, that like Alice, women should take a stand, battle their own battle, and discover who they are on their own individual journey — because we are forever changing and ” may be a different person than [we] were yesterday” (Lewis Carroll).

Continue on, Alices of the world. Thank you.

The Culture of Racism

Racism: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. (Google Dictionary definition. August 16th, 2017)

Hi, my name is Sunday Daniels Garcia and I am of mixed race; half Filipino (with a bit of Spanish and Chinese as my Mom says) and the other half White. Side note: It has always been “funny” to me to say that I’m “White”. I feel like its the most nondescript way of stating who you are; my “White” is a mix of French, German, and Swedish. But it seems that the term “White” is expected to cram in all European backgrounds such as Irish, English, Swedish, French, etc. However, I don’t believe people from Ireland, England, France, and other European countries would identify as “White”, am I right? But that’s a whole other blog.

Now, to get back on track…

Although I do not express my political (or anything controversial really) views on social media, the recent issues in Charlottesville have affected me on several levels in which I want to express my thoughts. I am deeply saddened by the hate that still exists in this country. More specifically, hate that is impressed upon those who have been oppressed.

First, I will say that growing up in a predominately Hispanic town as a mixed Filipino girl, I knew I was not of the same ethnic background and never felt like I fit in. I wasn’t “Filipino enough” for the other Filipino kids, and I wasn’t “White enough” for the “White” kids. But looking back, that was the worst of my experiences with race. I was fortunate.

Second, while many have argued about our President’s response to the happenings in Charlottesville, I will not go there. This blog post is not about him. We hear enough about him on the daily.

Third, I am married to a Mexican – American man who has confided in me his racial experiences, discussed the meaning and significance of “White privilege”, and described what it means to be singled out on his race alone.

Now, in light of the tragedy in Charlottesville, and following the news, reading posts and others’ opinions, I feel that some of us are focusing on other matters than what is most important — and that is that racism still exists. This is an ugly dark issue that, dreadfully, has never subsided.

I know that there are active hate groups in this country, that there are racist people, that hate exists in the most unimaginable horrible forms. But I also know that many have stood up and fought hard to abolish hate and unite our country so that all may share equal rights. Yet, we are still a very young country and have much to improve upon while fighting these battles. Will we ever get there? Yes, I believe we will. It will take more paying attention, paying respect, and paying education and knowledge to our children.

I believe that instilling in our children that color is of no matter, and encouraging them to relish in the beauty of culture to celebrate our “otherness”, not our differences, we will then be led to the light of our hope.

Thank you to those who have stood up for peace and justice in this country in the past, present, and future.

Culture-on, folks.

My Baybayin Tattoo: A Story of Pregnancy & Infant Loss

wpid-wp-1445032446835.jpg

My Baybayin Tattoo: A Story of Pregnancy & Infant Loss

  Not very many people know the true meaning and significance of the tattoo on my wrist. Most do not notice my tattoo at all, while others think it is a number, perhaps letters, or even meaningless symbols. My tattoo is a symbol, however far from meaningless. My tattoo is in baybayin script; ancient Filipino script that traditionally is understood to be written in syllables to develop letters and form words. The representation of my tattoo is actually an entire story—a story of sad memories, intimacy, and loss.

  The baybayin script represents the name “Bella”; the name of the child we would have had during our first pregnancy. However, nothing is more tragic than what recently happened to my dearest cousin who lost her five month old son to SIDS. Since October signifies Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness I wanted to write about my pregnancy loss to help me cope with the sadness in my heart that my entire family is suffering from the loss of my sweet nephew, Parker.

My story:

I was 22, unmarried, still a few years short of graduating from college, and had only been with my boyfriend (now husband) for about six months. I didn’t feel well one morning before work and assumed what I was feeling were pregnancy symptoms. So I took a test. It was positive. The first phone call was to one of my best friends, Melissa, crying and concerned since I was unsure how my boyfriend would react and feel when he heard the news. My second call was to him. Sitting outside of work in my truck, I announced to him that I was pregnant. He instantly was excited and said “I love you and we can do this”. At that moment, his response further solidified why I wanted to marry him.

The first month of pregnancy went fast. I was attending college part-time while working part-time. Ruben was working full-time. My sister was living with us in our two bedroom apartment in the Phoenix area. The pregnancy was still new and I had yet to make a doctor’s appointment. All the while I was waiting to be granted health insurance through my employer as my wonderfully supportive boss at the time (who is really like a mom-away-from-home) worked diligently to get me coverage.

I was starting to show and glow, we were excited about our little blessing, and we planned to tell our parents soon. My sister promised to take care of the baby while we worked. I felt like serious preparation was about to begin. One morning I woke up cramping. I used the restroom and noticed blood in my urine. I immediately started to freak out and rushed through the chapters of my “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” pregnancy book. I began to read about ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages. The cramps begin to worsen. I was scared and Ruben and I were unsure of what to do. The cramps were like nothing I ever felt before, so I told Ruben to take me to a hospital. We jumped in the truck and drove to the nearest hospital.

Oddly enough, we ended up at a Native Indian Veteran’s hospital (we were new to the area and didn’t know where else to go). I walked into the emergency room to check in. Standing in front of the lady at the front desk, I said “I think I’m having a miscarriage”, as tears ran down my face. I was admitted into the hospital and we were taken to a room to meet with a doctor. I won’t go into details from here, because it may get too graphic. It was a traumatic event as I ended up losing so much blood that there was discussion of a blood transfusion and other issues. Due to the seriousness ensuing, my sister called my parents (who had no idea I was pregnant and living with my boyfriend) and they immediately got in their car and drove up to Phoenix. Sadly, I lost the baby.

Ruben and I believed the baby was going to be a little girl and we wanted to name her “Bella”. Unfortunately, we were not told how far along I was and we never officially knew the sex of the baby. The hardest part was what happened after the overwhelming rush of adrenaline and devastation. Ruben and I went through a period of uncertainty and sadness.

As time passed (it’s been almost 10 years now), our relationship grew stronger and we now have a healthy active little boy. But I still remember every bit of that day like it was yesterday. I will never understand why uncontrollable, and sometimes, horrible things happen in life. But I have to believe that the man upstairs has a plan; it is the only thing that will keep me going and provide reason within times of despair.

I hope that my cousin and her family will continue to find courage and comfort after their great loss. I cannot imagine losing a child who has already been brought into this world. I dealt with my sadness by going back to work, staying focused on school and finally graduating, and released emotional pain when getting my tattoo. Ruben and I got tattoos together a few weeks after the miscarriage to help us cope with what we would have had. I look at my tattoo every day and never really tell the story when people ask. I know now that I shouldn’t be ashamed of what I had and lost; pregnancies and infants lost too soon will never be forgotten.

Rest in Love, Parker and Bella.

Memories Molding Our Culture

Jeepney

When I think about the Philippines, my mind reflects back to my first and only visit over twenty five years ago. My mother took my sister and I back to her home town, Angeles City; a small town in the province of Pampanga outside of Manila, which is the capital of the Philippines. The roads were mostly dirt, traveled by many non-descript cars, Jeepneys, and bicycle taxis. Jeepney: a modified Jeep made to fit a large number of people at once, usually intended for public transportation. The Jeepneys were decorative, bright in color, and overcrowded. While riding through town, I often saw carabao on the sides of the roads, hauling carts of food, possibly fruit or vegetables for sale. The carabao, as my mom would explain, were a reliable resource to her town. The carabao, more commonly known as water buffalo, served purposes for milk, meat, and farm work.

My grandmother’s house was two stories high, a mansion in my memories. Wood floors, steep stair case, gated front patio, and a small candy store added on to the front of the house. There was even a water pump in the back yard in which I often had to pump to create running water. During the two whole weeks I was there I learned some words and phrases in Tagalog and my mother’s native tongue, Pampangan. I became the salesperson of the family and ran the candy store in the afternoons when the kids got out of school. I remember asking, “Ano ang pangalan mo (what is your name)?” and “Ano ang gusto (what do you want [to buy]?”

One of my more vivid memories of how some people lived was when my grandfather took me and my then-toddler cousin on a short bike ride to a relative’s house—I believe it was an uncle. The man lived in a small home, with only four walls, dirt floors if I remember correctly, and threaded palm tree leaves for a roof, a Nipa Hut. It was a tight space and there were several people in the one room circled around a small makeshift stove on the floor. The man was cooking and we must have visited him at dinner time.

These memories, along with others, are precious to me in that stories are told of my family, culture, and history. I understand how my mother grew up and most importantly, my perspective on life and what is meaningful is molded by these memories. My family is planning a trip to the Philippines in a few months and I think it’s my turn to visit again. I can hardly wait.

Becoming A Culturalist

wpid-20150513_191517.jpg

Becoming a Culturalist

You may be wondering where these cultural posts and blogs are coming from. You may be wondering why it is significant for me to mention and address culture lately. You may be asking yourself, “What is a culturalist”? And you may be thinking to yourself, “Who cares”? Well, I do. Culture has been an important piece of me for many years…as far back as I can remember. If you have read my last two blogs, you will understand that I tie in individual experiences with culture and discuss how we are shaped by family, tradition, food, music, religion, and so on. My journey of culture began a long time ago, but recently I was inspired to become a culturalist.

It was mid-week, a Wednesday evening. My long-time friend, and someone I look up to, invited me to a Latino Women’s Conference in downtown Phoenix. The conference focused on three successful Latinas in the community who have fostered their success through social media, i.e. blogging. Wannabe bloggers, such as myself, and amateur bloggers flooded the small historic room of the building that once was the first Bank of America in Phoenix. Historic spots transformed into hip hangouts are a common theme in downtown Phoenix. If you don’t know, now you know. The room itself was inspiring with beautifully colored Mexican art, southwestern motif, and over-sized wooden furniture to match its restored historic charm. We sat in the front row, anxious to listen and learn. It was this conference that re-inspired me to “call my dream a goal with an action plan and make it come true” (Cano-Murillo, 2015).

So you ask again, “Why culture”? Well, why not? Pinay in the City’s mission is to highlight Asian American (specifically Filipino) culture, bring cultural awareness to the community, and bust stereotypes and perception of what Asian Americans appear to be. A culturalist is someone who emphasizes the importance of culture (Merriam-Webster, 2015).  I aim to do all of this through my own self-discovery process that is represented in Pinay in the City– my dream that has turned into a goal with an action plan. Follow me to experience my journey.

References

Cano-Murillo, K. (Speaker) (2015, May 13). Successful Latina Influencers: tips for bloggers and          brands. Collectivo. Lecture conducted from Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce,       Phoenix.

Culturalist. 2015. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://www.merriam-            webster.com/dictionary/culturalist

Anatomy of a Mexipino

Anatomy of a Mexipino       

I had the pleasure of learning from Dr. Rudy Gonzalez at Arizona State University, where he taught one of my Asian Pacific American Studies courses during my senior year as an undergrad. It was then I first heard the word, “Mexipino”. What is a “Mexipino”, you ask? Well, let’s chat about it.

Gonzalez was a Mexipino; as he described to be “a product of multiple generations of Mexicans and Filipinos intermarrying and having multi-ethnic Mexipino children” (2012). He hailed from the southern California region and made his way to Arizona to teach students like me, who are of multi-ethnic race. I felt he understood us in that we are not just half Asian, but whole-unique individuals.

He described his experiences as a fascinating mix of both cultures. One memory in particular described his grandfather tending to a guava tree while his mother sang the Mexican rancheros that blared from his tiny radio (2012). I realize my husband and I are building upon our son’s culture within our own home through Mexican and Filipino traditions by cooking and eating sinigang, pancit, nilagang baka, while the few Santo Nino miniature statues adorn our shelves next to wooden plates and bowls from the Philippines. The many weekends of listening to corridors during our regular carne asada cookouts, making salsa, speaking Spanish with elders and other family members, and also the many pieces of Mexican art hanging from our walls accompanied by art from the Philippines that traveled to the U.S. when my parents migrated to Yuma, Arizona, are all representations of our culture.

Learning and reading about Dr. Gonazalez’ experiences as a multi-ethnic individual, at the time and now, help me relate to who I am and who our son will be. A Mexipino is an individual rich in both cultures with tradition, food, family, music, sacredness, and ethnicity. I want my son to know he is half Mexican, a quarter Filipino, and a quarter Caucasian (really a mix of French, German, Irish and possibly others). Most importantly, I want him to be proud of it! Viva Mexipino!

Reference
Gonzalez, R. (2012). I am your illusion, your reality, your future . In When half is whole: asian american identities (97-111). Standford University Press

What are you made of?

What is culture? What does it mean to you? To me, culture tells a story about an individual, a family, a group of people, and a community. Culture is made of many things such as people, religion, ideas, beliefs, food, practices, clothing, etc. But I believe the best part of culture is exploring it. This blog’s primary mission is to explore culture in the Greater Phoenix area and beyond; it will describe my personal journey of self-discovery through Filipino American culture while learning about others.

Growing up in small town, Arizona with just a little population of Filipino Americans at the time, did not allow me to connect to my Filipino background as much as I would have liked to. I didn’t “look Filipino”, so I was told. I didn’t speak “the language”—although many people do not realize there are over 100 dialects in the Philippines. I didn’t eat very many Filipino foods. So, does that mean I’m not Filipino? No. My mother was and still is an extremely active member of the Filipino American Association in that small town to this very day; and when I was small, I always felt the outcast.

I always felt distant from my Filipino side of the family too. I didn’t look the same as my family, I didn’t eat all of the Filipino food, and I didn’t speak nor understand their native tongue. However, that does not mean anything. Every individual, family, and group of people are unique and share different experiences.

As an adult with a child of my own, I believe it is important to know many cultures exist other than those we are exposed to on a daily basis. I also try to teach the importance of exploring and understanding our family’s culture—it is what we are made of. When I asked my three year old son, “what are you made of?” His reply, “I’m made of Ivan”. He’s exactly right.