Went to central London today. Aunt is going on a holiday and being the nice obedient relative that I am, I helped her carry her stuff to the movers in Gloucester Road. After that we went to Earl’s court to eat some Filipino food (kare-kare! hipon! sinigang!). After that we went back to Romford, straight to Dagenham road (site of the new Sally Hawkins’ movie “We Want Sex”) to have dinner with my aunt’s Filipino nurse-friends.
I must confess that the only reason I only ever go is because there is always Filipino food (dinakdakan! twalya! inihaw na – or grilled – bangus! inihaw na tilapia! inihaw na talong! yay!) at these gatherings. This gathering is to celebrate the seventh month of the son of the young couple with whom my aunt is friends with. It strikes me now as absurd why parents would celebrate their child turning a month older every single, fucking month.
Anyway, I’ve been here in England a year now and I must say, I can’t stand being around young, married, middle class Filipinos (especially the ones who have British citizenships or are permanent residents). Aside from being made to sit through unbearable discussions about the point-by-point development of their child (such as the first time the child learned to blink, to smile, to scrunch up their nose, to make fists, to move their legs, to crawl, to walk, to run, as well as regular reports on the child’s urinating habits and bowel movement including size, shape, frequency), I am also made to sit through extremely uninteresting, excruciating middle-class preoccupations. These preoccupations include: houses, mortgages, cars, insurances, appliances (flat screens, surround systems, DVD players, DVD vs. Blu-Ray debates), how many hours in a week they worked, how much they earned, where they will go on their holidays, gossip about their fellow Filipinos, visas and citizenships. As if this is not enough, I am subjected to the Filipino middle-class predilection for boring taste in movies and even more boring taste in music. One time I was made to sit through “Die Hard” and “Batman”, as the owner of the movies extolled the virtues of Blu-Ray discs, flat screens, Bruce Willis and Heath Ledger (I’m going to get a lot of shit for this, but though I think Heath Ledger was good in this film, I didn’t think he was that good. The other thing was I knew said owner was only saying these because he heard somebody else mention it. I hate that people have no minds of their own.). Today I was made to sit through music video upon music video of stupid, brain dead, pop music (what I call subwoofer music – because they are only good for playing if your sound system had a kick-ass subwoofer) from singers/groups such as the Pussy Cat Dolls, Girls Aloud, Enrique Iglesias, Kelly Rowlands, Timbaland, most of whom are mindless, lyrically-challenged individuals whose claim to fame is only that they have pretty faces and hot bods.
I was so glad that they didn’t know me well enough to start grilling me on my civil status, my relationship status, when I plan to get married, how many kids I plan to have, where do I plan to raise them and all that. When I first got here, the standard greeting was, hello, how are you, what is your visa status, how long do you intend to stay in the UK and why. But when they found out I was going back to the Philippines, today, they had this sorry look on their faces, as if they pitied me and hoped I could come back. But I think deep inside they were all breathing sighs of relief and thinking, “Thank god I’m not her”. As if going back to the Philippines is a kind of death sentence. As if going back to the Philippines is like the end of the world.
Oh, the shallowness of the middle classes!
I suppose I’ll probably expect the same kind of behavior from Filipinos back home as well. I was looking at some former colleagues’ photos on facebook. I have not worked with them for years now. The photos were taken this year, in different locations, but in those locations, my former colleagues were doing what they were doing when I left them a few years ago to get me a proper job: binge drinking and partying and getting hammered. It’s kind of weird to see them and think that whereas you’ve moved on, they seemed to have been stuck in perpetual arrested development mode.
Like the middle-class Filipinos I was stuck here.
If I stayed any longer, I swear I probably would have grabbed a fork and stabbed myself to death than listen to them discuss yet another mundane topic. I escaped that party as quick as I could.
But not before snagging a portion of dinakdakan. One must have one’s food!