WHERE I LIVE: Charina Nadura shares a long and funky road with the hipsters of Williamsburg

Charina Nadura with 7-year-old son Artchan

Charina Nadura with 7-year-old son Artchan

By Cristina DC Pastor

Sometimes, we live in neighborhoods that do not give us the feel of home. Many reasons. It could be one that is heavily populated by one ethnic group or maybe it has an overconcentration of nail salons and not a lot of grocery stores. Other times, we know, once we see a particular vicinity, that we will stay there forever. An array of subway lines, a produce market on weekends and a downtown district with antique shops and book stores are among the alluring amenities. The FilAm begins this week a new section called ‘Where I Live,’ where FilAms provide a snapshot of their charming neighborhoods while giving us a glimpse into their borough or suburban lives. WIL pries open the sprawling maze that is the New York metropolitan area – from NYC to New Jersey, Connecticut and Northern Pennsylvania — where Filipinos find their homes, raise their families and live their ideal of the American Dream.

Around Bedford Avenue where she lives, Charina Nadura shares Brooklyn’s longest street with Williamsburg’s greasy-haired hipsters, or those vegan-loving folks dressed in thrift store frocks and slender jeans, clutching their iPad minis or drinking out of mason jars.

“Ugh, I can’t stand them,” Charina, 24, a student at CUNY’s Brooklyn College and a Multimedia News Production Fellow at Democracy Now!, laughed in mock contempt. “They’re weird. I can’t relate to their lifestyle.”

The hipster lifestyle as we know it consists of a sub-culture that is typically the opposite of mainstream. Clothes are usually layered, uncoordinated and un-ironed. Food is artisanal, unprocessed and sensual. Disposition is friendly but also somewhat self-indulgent.

“They’re always trying to be different,” added Charina, “always starting a trend. Sobrang pretentious, sobrang over the top.”

In this Brooklyn neighborhood, where rows of brownstones, boutiques, and breweries serve as its gentrified markers, lives Charina with her seven-year-old son, her mother, and her cousin’s family. It’s been her family’s home for the last three years. Charina’s partner, who works as a merchant marine, is in the Philippines.

“It’s a good neighborhood with a lot of diversity,” she said. It boasts a middle-class vibe and is a nice place to go biking with her son, Artchan, who is a first-grader at P.S. 84.

As a matter of fact, Charina is one of those rare-breed New Yorkers who drives to school. The adjacent stretch of Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is her free-range parking lot. She relies on the L train to take her to the Democracy Now! office on West 25th St., but she drives to Brooklyn College. In about 45 minutes, she is in her History class.

“I don’t drive to work in Manhattan because of problems with parking, but that is not much a problem in Brooklyn,” she said. Living in Williamsburg gives her easy access to Manhattan where many places are open 24 hours.

Home to singer Barbra Streisand, comedian Joy Behar and novelist Henry Miller, Williamsburg is the headquarters of Vice TV, known for its provocative news and touted as the “new media for hipsters.”

“They’re about 11 blocks away,” said Charina.

Weekends find her and Artchan biking around Williamsburg’s oddly-named boutiques and joints. There’s Pinkyotto with its hipster-inspired fashion line, and Pema, noted for its Tibetan scarves and jewelry. Over at Brooklyn Bowl is where drummer Questlove of Jimmy Fallon’s late night show regularly deejays.

On days when Williamsburg gets way too crowded with local tourists quaffing as much as they can of the hipster culture, Charina escapes to her favorite coffee shop, Mountain Province on Meserole Street, which is owned by a FilAm and his Caucasian partner. “They have the best coffee and they bake their own ‘bibingka’ and ‘empanada’ every morning,” she said.

Gentrification – otherwise known as the migration of white ‘stroller’ families to Crown Heights or Bushwick — has conflicted Brooklyn over the last 15 years. While new investments have prettified the borough with nice apartment buildings and fancy boutiques, it has also pushed away talented musicians and artists who have long called it home. One-room rentals, for instance, are upwards of $1,500 a month. Charina disclosed that in her son’s school, many Puerto Rican students are leaving. “Brooklyn is no longer cheaper than Manhattan.”

Not too many FilAms live in the neighborhood; neither has she seen Filipino organizations holding offices nearby.

Has she met any Pinoy hipster?

Charina shrugged, “Nope,” but let us in on an Instagram find: Actress KC Concepcion lives in Williamsburg!

Graffiti wall, one of many in Williamsburg

Graffiti wall, one of many in Williamsburg

Yes, there is 'ensaymada' in Brooklyn and Artchan found it in Mountain Province coffee shop.

Yes, there is ‘ensaymada’ in Brooklyn and Artchan found it in Mountain Province coffee shop.

At the Brooklyn boardwalk after school

At the Brooklyn boardwalk after school

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