Sunday, April 15, 2007

europe withdrawal

Feeling the European withdrawal and looking for some Spanish ham as we forgot to get pasalubong for a couple of people, we found The Spanish Table. What a great store! Don't bother hauling the regular items back from Spain, just pick them up here! They even had boquerones, achovies in vinegar, and Spanish ham. They also had much of the pottery, but maybe not the fancier plates that our cousin will be shipping to us, but the regular Spanish pottery they have. Oh and all the paella pans you could ever want from the individual uno racion to the ginormous 120 raciones size.

We also picked up a Spanish cookbook with the hopes of having a pool paella party this summer. In the mean time we hope to learn to cook a few things and make some tapas and such before then.

About a year ago I was having discussions about what white culture was with various friends. And while Americans don't think they go anywhere to meet their ancestors or have an alternate homeland other than America, Western Europe really is it. And I mean this as a Fil-Am. That in going to Western Europe I came to understand the American side of me better. Because really, the same questions that I had about what it means to be Filipino, I really also had in regards to what it means to be American and in some respects, white. It's like going home to see your family, your relatives you grew up with. How far have you gone relative to where you started? And while British culture is far from American culture and has evolved in its own way since the colonies, it's like meeting your inlaws and realizing, "so that's where he gets it from!"

And "white" culture in America is European culture and it is British, and French, and Italian, etc, but it's also something more than the pieces combined because if it were just a clone of it, then I might have recognized it for a particular thing. And while Canada and Australia have very clear ties to the motherland, the Queen is still on their money and they participate in the commonwealth games, America's cultural ties are quite subtle. All those clear your clutter shows, nanny shows from Britain? Americans think we hoard, have you seen the Brits? Because we are European, but we're not. In the way that at times we are our parents, but we're not.

In the same way we get aspects of our personalities from each of our parents, those aspects don't necessarily add up the same way, but it still gives us the tendency to behave in certain ways.

And as a Fil-Am looking at Spain, I didn't find myself "angry at the colonizer," I actually found it both sad and funny. And I remember being all angry about how the Spanish called the Filipinos lazy, but in many ways were they not just reflecting and projecting what they saw in their culture, and in particular their own pains and flaws. Colonization on one level was an economic endeavor, colonization on a cultural level is some crazy form of therapy. And it makes me want to go back to see what the Spanish wrote about the Filipinos not to see what the Filipinos were like but to understand who the Spanish were. The Filipinos were their reflection. And as much as we were called heathens, how much of those words really reflected a side of them that they knew existed but never admitted to?

I'm coming back from Europe with a greater sense of freedom. In part because it's fun to feel, "international" but also because I'm finding an understanding of who I am at a greater depth. To see who I am in the reflection of others.

If I didn't have a connection in the first place, then I would have never have the withdrawal.

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