On Thanksgiving Day, FilAms stay close to families, friends and faithIn sprawling suburban homes and cramped apartments, Filipino Americans feted Thanksgiving by celebrating with their families and relatives, friends and co-workers and giving thanks to God for His blessings. In the case of an account executive who lives by himself in Queens, the day was quietly celebrated solo with a takeout turkey from a Georgia’s Diner.
“Thankful for being alive,” Define American founder and immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas writes on Facebook. “Thankful for, after years of living in fear, being present and awake in my own life.” He is equally grateful, he said, to the family, friends and supporters “who don’t need to see pieces of papers to consider me an American.”
I thank the Lord for his gift of love, writes Ledy Almadin, an accountant from Jersey City. “God bless everyone.”
Like Jose, New Jersey community leader Ludi de Asis Hughes remembers her family and friends. Echoing Ledy, she offers thanks to her Creator. “There is so much to thank for: our family, good friends, good health and many more. But most of all, I give thanks to our Creator for giving us all the blessings.”
Filipinos in the New York Tri State flocked together to celebrate a holiday rich in the symbolism of everything American. The tradition is spent over holiday feasts dominated by a turkey and a leg of ham and all the fixins.’ Some, at the end of the sumptuous dinner, dashed off to the nearby malls for the “Black Friday deals” and a chance to snap up a flat screen TV for $78. Others stayed home until the evening, engaged in catch-up chats with family, napped and watched endless reruns of “Law & Order” – the food-laden dinner table just hovering in the background.
Thanksgiving signals the start of the long holiday season in North America, and the mood is often celebratory with a more subdued religious tone. The arrest of a FilAm in Los Angeles for alleged involvement in a terror plot to “kill Americans and bomb U.S. bases abroad was lost in the orgy of feasting and merrymaking. There was not a mention of the arrest of Ralph Kenneth De Leon by the FBI – at least not among my network of 700-plus Facebook friends. A discordant, deflating note, some say, to the joyous spirit of the day.
In New York, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was an annual tradition for some FilAm families who found delight in the colorful spectacle of marching bands and giant balloons. Business executive Randy Rivera, his wife Monette and their children are avid parade goers.
“We’ve been going for the last five years,” said Monette, a TV journalist. “It’s for the kids.”
Three hours before the parade started, the Riveras were camped out at their favorite spot on Central Park West and 72nd Street with their favorite books and a chess set. Just another day to “praise God for all the blessings,” said Monette beaming. – Cristina DC Pastor