A collection of memorable personal essays for 2014

essay 3By Cristina DC Pastor

As a reader and editor, I’ve always liked the personal essay. It is storytelling at its most honest. It is the authors’ unstructured, rambling thoughts, and because it is your life, the decision to make public a conflicted or deeply personal episode is always a brave one.

The FilAm has published almost 300 articles for the year, some of them thought-provoking and engaging autobiographical essays. Poet and English professor Lara Stapleton writes about her visit to the Philippines to attend a writing workshop and how she felt very conspicuous because of her ‘mestiza’ features. Grandmother Julia Carreon Lagoc shares how Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law has become her family’s ‘Holocaust’ after her husband was arrested and detained without charges for six months.

Young professionals Tiara Teruel and Daniel Griffith examine the question ‘What am I?’ with a response that celebrates their blended ethnicity as Filipino-Americans. Book author Jen Furer writes about the wrenching guilt she felt as she took her oath as an American citizen while members of her family were waiting to be deported. Bella Owens bristles at being a token Asian woman in the GOP and wondered whether becoming a Democrat was the correct decision.

Two contributing writers Daniel de la Rosa and Megan Villarin share an almost spiritual experience with their favorite cities: For De la Rosa it’s a love affair with Boston, especially its Fenway Park; for Villarin, the day she handed her Reyna Elena crown was one proud Santacruzan moment for her New Jersey town.

In my essay, I confess to having a somewhat liberating feeling of reclaiming my personal space after my husband left to accept a job offer in Hong Kong. On a lighter note, Math teacher Mayette Geraldino recalled a hilarious episode where she and her husband were left behind by a bus to the White House, and instead of sulking, the couple used all means of transport possible to get to where they need to be.

There’s holiday time left to catch up on our readings.

Racing to the White House without losing my sanity…and my lipstick purse by Mayette Geraldino

My thought was interrupted by my husband’s nudge, “We are going back to the Amtrak Station at the Madison Garden,” he whispered. What happened next could rival that of a James Bond movie plot, kind of. As soon as the train door opened, I found myself urgently led onto the subway platform, into a cab, onto a Washington D.C-bound Acela Express, and then in yet another cab four hours later. Yes, I made it to The White House in time for the first of three layers of security checks by the U.S. Secret Service.

Confessions of a loyal Asian Republican who converted to the ‘party of change’ by Bella Santos Owens

While my employers loved my brains, talent and energy; I got away with more perks because of their perception that I was a naive Filipina and treated as a novelty. I was known as the Filipina who talks with a heavy accent when upset. I was supposed to be the loyal Asian who will be indebted for life to whomever gave me a chance and would never leave. I was insulted.

‘I am only now starting to understand my identity’ by Tiara Camille Teruel

As a Filipina-American, I often question my own identity as much as I am questioned about my race. I was born and raised in the Philippines and I am American not only by blood, but in the way that I have chosen to be American. I have grown up here and found my voice about my beliefs here. America has shaped me and molded my ideals, especially as a Filipina. I am mixed and proud to be Filipina-American.

After 42 years, exhuming a bitter memory of Martial Law by Julia Carreon Lagoc

September 25, 1972, a Monday, and a working day. My husband Rudy, a labor attorney, was typing a decision on a labor dispute in his office when he was “invited” to Iloilo City’s Fort San Pedro. For a “few” questions, the military said. The invitation lasted for six months of detention in the stockade and two months of provincial arrest.

Being ‘tisay’ and feeling very conspicuous in the Philippines by Lara Stapleton

I feel very conspicuous in the Philippines, perhaps more than I would if I were a white tourist. Fil-Am friends speak of the sudden feeling of inconspicuousness that one feels moving around in the Philippines. For me, that occurred more in Mexico, or even New York (I think we all feel inconspicuous in New York, and to be a mestiza in the U.S. is a very different thing, related to the history of, well, maritime advances as experienced in the Americas).

My American birthday by Jen Furer

My voice cracked as I recited the Pledge of Allegiance. “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance…so help me God.” And with that, tears rolled down my face. “Congratulations,” the immigration officer greeted everyone. The room erupted in cheers and applause, and everyone hugged their families. My family was not with me. Their appeal for immigrant petition had been denied and they had received their letters of deportation.

A weekend full of festivities, from the NJ Santacruzan to the NYC parade by Megan Villarin

I will always be fond of the Philippine pride shown that day. So many people came out to celebrate the occasion and take part in such a joyous event. It was absolutely breathtaking seeing such a big and lively crowd, united to show their support for our beautiful country.

Boston belongs to my heart by Daniel de la Rosa

I’ve gone back — alone — to Fenway mostly in different seasons, in all sorts of days and all kinds of weather. I remember sitting on the third base side a few rows watching a game on a warm summer afternoon. The intimacy of that ballpark embraced me. It was the first time I watched David Ortiz, the only remnant of that band of idiots who won the first World Series title for the Red Sox in 86 years in the fall of 2004.

A marriage in transit by Cristina DC Pastor

I was taken aback; I didn’t know he felt that way. I never complained about the moving and the adjusting to unfamiliar cultures, but he must have seen how his professional career has flourished while mine has remained in slow simmer. He was always the well-paid breadwinner working for a top company and I the parent who always worked for a kindly, benevolent employer who allowed me days off to attend our daughter’s marching band practice because one parent had to be there.

Growing up FilAm, filling the holes in my heritage by Daniel Griffith

Throughout school my ethnicity was a non-issue. As far as I was concerned, I checked the ‘White/Caucasian’ box on my standardized tests. Though most of his family was not present in my life growing up, my father’s name held precedent. I held myself up on that basis during most of my childhood.

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One Comment

  1. […] Fast forward to today. I just learned that one of my FilAm articles made it to her “A Collection of Memorable Personally Essays for 2014.” […]

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