I’m talking about RACE again *shudders*

For the past few years I’ve been at the Jewish Board, I’ve been thinking about my role and my place within the agency. Moving to New York has been an eye opening experience in many ways, particularly when it comes to being Filipino. For the first 25 years of my life, I was spoiled. I have a big Filipino family that never quite gave up the culture and traditions for the sake of assimilating. I speak the language, I can cook the food (grew up w/ a dirty kitchen in Concord at grandma’s house), and I know the history to a ‘t’. So I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to get when moving to New York City. I knew where Queens was and that I get involved when I can with the community in NYC, but I was hoping that it would be the same as California – it is New York, the most diverse city in the world. But the experience has been very different, in New York I have become accustomed to people in Bushwick assuming I was Dominican or Chinese/Korean/Japanese if I was in Manhattan (save for Chinatown – they KNOW I’m Filipino there). It is kind of weird to me, but I don’t mind feeling this way because I think it has helped me become more aware of who I am and how I can use that knowledge as a clinician.

Such is the feeling I got the other day when I attended the first regional Jewish Board Brooklyn People of Color meeting. I knew I was going to be the only Filipino, only Asian, in the room and everybody else was of African descent or Spanish-speaking. This has not been the first time I’ve attended a meeting of this kind and was an ‘only.’ New York, in many ways like other parts of this country (California being the exception) still views racism as Black and White. And 5 years of thinking about this conundrum finally led to this ‘epiphany’ and it all came spilling out when it was my turn to share my feelings on our first meeting. I was nervous, but managed to get through it with the help of everybody else. I talked about all of the above. It was freeing.

I also noted how it could have been really easy for me to get a job with an agency that targets Asians in New York, but I didn’t want to (I noticed one of the other attendees saying, “I was about to ask you that). I chose not to apply to any of those agencies because I strongly believe that I am at a point in my life, my identity where I needed a different challenge. I will ALWAYS be a part of the Filipino community in some form, but I also think that it is my responsibility as a Filipino professional clinician to give my community a voice by working in a larger agency with other groups of ‘others’. As a student and community organizer, I’d often become frustrated by the lack of recognition of Filipinos in the many movements targeting civil rights and racism in this country. I think that’s due in part to divide and conquer tactics by dominant White society attempting erase our struggle in this country and their imperialism from the textbooksandthe Filipino community’s own provincial nature. So if it means that I’m the only Filipino sitting at the room during these meetings for the time being, so be it. Bring on the challenge. I’ve sung to the choir many times and now it’s time to bring it to the church. I want other people of color to know that our community exists and that we stand in solidarity with them in examining one of the most important issues that impacts us all – this country’s racist history and how we can help each other andour clients through our own journeys with it.

Happy Holidays!

Hearty ham soup

Hearty ham soup

As many of you know, I prepared a holiday ham for my family’s Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) celebration. To make transport easy, I carved it off the bone and kept the bone for soup. My recipe? Well, it’s a combination of different ones I saw on the internet. I wanted something hearty, creamy. Perfect for winter and many servings for the next several days since my sis and I are moving. Here goes…
– 1 onion diced
– 1/4 lb of ham (shredded off the bone)
– 1/4 lb of ham fat for rendering
– 2 regular-sized cans of kidney beans
– 3 regular-sized cans of corn
– 2 regular-sized cans of peas
– 2 regular-sized cans of chicken stock/broth
– 1 pint of heavy cream
– 1 lb. red potatoes diced
– 3 tbsps. olive oil
– 1 pack mushrooms sliced
– 1/2 lb. cheddar cheese – cubed
1. Render ham fat and onions til the drippings start to get golden brown. 2. Add ham meat, mushrooms, and potatoes. 3. When meat, etc. starts to cook, add chicken broth and bring to a slow simmer over low-medium heat. 4. Once potatoes are cooked, add rest of beans, peas, and corn. 5. Allow to simmer for at least 15-20 minutes to allow flavors to come out. 6. Add heavy cream and cheese. 7. Salt to taste.

Upper East Side Filipino Thanksgiving = Turkey MIA

Lechon, originally uploaded by joeytoofresh.

My family has never really been big fans of turkey. The earliest Thanksgiving I remember my family celebrating when I was in grade school, the centerpiece was a chicken. We made turkey in following years, but never in the traditional American way. One year my uncle roasted it outside on a spit. The past two years my dad has been slow cooking it in our Webber to perfection.

So, in true Santos-Villacorta style, we served pork loin roast, pinakbet (pork w/ string beans and squash), baked chicken, and a ham accompanied by rice, stuffing, etc. The picture above is from the after party. YES – the day after. It just so happened that a bunch of family was visiting from the Philippines and Washington State so we were invited to not one, but two nights of revelry where Friday evening’s centerpiece was a suckling roast pig. Better than any turkey out there. Vegetarians beware when coming to my house…