Thursday, October 01, 2009

This American Life: or, Dammit, Why Didn’t She Teach Us Tagalog?

Ding: hey, V-.
JP: hey
Ding: gotta question
how do i research my mom's names?

JP: the answer is "no"
Ding: you suck.

JP: what are your mom's names?
what do you want to know?
Ding: gurindola and monblanco
like, what they mean. i know 'white mountain'

JP: wow
Ding: i misspelled one:
JP: I’ve never heard names like that before
Ding: i KNOW!
i've been on these stoopid Filipino surname sites and i can't find them!

JP: you want to know what they mean and stuff?
Ding: yeah. i want to redo my tattoo and i think i want to do a great big shout out to my moms.
JP: what did Google tell you?
Ding: i found these really neat Filipino tribal tattoos but that's not me
Google gave me shit
and Bing gave me even less
i think my mom had made up names!
my mom's a mystery.*

JP: see if there's a facebook group for people named 'guirindola'
Ding: ooooh
JP: or monblanco
Ding: good idea
where is your family from?
JP: the one with V- has the Spanish crest and everything
Ding: niice
JP: their hometown is Sto Tomás, La Unión.

Ding: remember when you snapped on your landlady and said your name was the product of 300 years of Spanish colonialism?
that was funny.
JP: they always talk about being Ilocano
actually only one of my grandparents is from La Union
and my roommate said ¨that would do it.¨

Ding: i can't remember if my mom was from Romblon or Leyte
JP: she was Visaya, right?
Ding: i guess so (yes, I’m a bad daughter)
so what does Visaya mean?
is that a region?
and yes, you are my pathway to my Filipino origins

JP: yes,
it´s the main region
Ding: shit. so where do i start?
JP: it’s like saying 'she s from the west'
without saying ‘she’s from so cal’
sorry, Spanish keyboard
Ding: so would Leyte or Romblon be in that region?
Leyte is this teeny island in the middle of nowhere.
it's in the middle of the whole Philippines cluster
JP: that middle cluster is called 'visayas'

Ding: ohhhh
I’m going to have to write my titas.
I kinda wish she came from a neato mountain family.
that would be awesome.
JP: they are both in the Visayas region
you are a goofball
Ding: like the song
do you remember singing the song?

JP: did i teach you that song
Ding: my mom would sing it then you sang it and it freaked me out!
JP: oh god.
listen, did you try asking Google for your mom's names plus either one of those islands?
Ding: no. i asked Bing and it was useless
JP: did you hear what my mama said after she taught that song?
Ding: i forgot but i bet it was funny
JP: she said, "sometimes those Filipinos discriminate [against] those negritos, too. why don't they leave them alone?"

Ding: bwah!
i remember!
JP: lunch time
gotta go
Ding: my dad would sing this song!**

*being the daughter of a closed-mouth immigrant is a pain in the ass - especially now that she's dead and i can't confirm any of these blasted details.
**why this is interesting: if my mom taught him this song, I think my mom had a real bitchy sense of humor.


Orange said...

Are you in touch with any relatives in the Philippines? Maybe they can track down local websites or resources for surnames.

Hang on a sec...your Google fu sucks. Right on the first page of Google hits, a Spanish translation:

"Bosom of a shirt, frill."

Parado, my MIL's name, is Spanish for "stopped." And los parados means "the unemployed." Those Spanish colonialist bastards! They didn't bother coming up with a list of good Spanish surnames to affix to Filipinos (and god forbid they just leave people with the non-Spanish names they already had). "Hey, Juan, you got any crappy nouns to add to the list? Why don't you ask your sister, the seamstress? Guirindola? Perfect!"

ding said...

i didn't do Google - but AWESOME!

my mom's name is a freaking decorative embellishment.

that is so frakking perfect. honestly. perfect.

ding said...

and, yes. i'm with you on the spaniards. that's the best they could come up with?

what were they doing? just walking around the village pointing at shit?

jp 吉平 said...

orange, "parado" usually means "standing" or "erect." No further comment.

btw, everyone, that song goes:

"Negritos of the mountain,
what kind of food do you eat,
what kind of food do you eat,
what kind of food do you eat?

Also, most of the adults in my parents generation use "discriminate s.o." as a transitive verb, where as we would say "discriminate against s.o."

ding said...

i was trying to find the song but, again, my Google-fu was weak.

and that is why i bracketed [against] - it was a totally colonialist editor move.

Orange said...

OMG, JP! Does my mother-in-law know? She wouldn't appreciate my calling her Erect.

bitchphd said...

You're doing all this research for a tattoo?