No history, no self. Know history, know self.
As part of my most ambitious class project to date, I ventured around Downtown in search of remnants from the pre-National City, Filipino community that once thrived between Market and J street, and Second through Sixth Avenue, trying to tie past photos with present locations, hoping to discover significant artifacts from my cultural roots.
Instead, I found a dismal conversion of Filipino businesses into tea rooms, ice bars, bar bars, restaurants, boutiques and convenience stores with no signs of their humble beginnings. Scholarly essays and texts have labeled us the forgotten Asian Americans and the invisible minority and standing here, in the historic heart of San Diego–surrounded by architectural and palatable traces of a former Chinatown and Japantown–those monikers couldn’t be more true. All that remains of my past heritage is a historic Gaslamp Quarter landmark sign and a tiny Philippine Library and Museum next to Burger Lounge.
Mmmm. Burger Lounge.
But the library wasn’t even open, and they like to ignore my calls. Nerds.
I swore I saw the Filipino flag waving over the US Grant Hotel once, but it totally disappeared when I visited today.
Also, I went to the Crystal Ballroom in the lower level of the Grant for one of these photos, and as lovely and ornate as the room was, the spine-tingling chills were so real, somewhere between The Shining and that Disney Tower of Terror movie, like reverse butterflies in the stomach for moo moos lol. Rushed the photo since it felt creepy AF. Bright piano music included.
A common theme in this American Culture course has been lessons on cultural and ethnic identity. As a So-Cal bred, Filipino-American fully immersed in American Popular Culture on the daily, how much of my heritage do I truly identify with? After centuries of colonialism, imperialism and oppression, how have we preserved our native customs and traditions? And how’s our representation in society and mainstream media? For this creative project, i’m exploring all things Pinoy and making a visual poem out of it. So totally rad, talaga. Maligayang gabi, bayan.