A Taste of Home In Brooklyn



shoes, originally uploaded by joeytoofresh.

In an effort to forge our surrogate families here in Brooklyn, my sister and I hosted our first dinner party in Brooklyn. These pix were taken by Joey. It allowed me to debut the crock-pot and serve some kare-kare aka Filipino oxtail peanut stew. Good times, lots of laughs, and GREAT company.

I’m in a patriotic mood…Introducing Jose Rizal

One of my favorite poems is by Jose Rizal. The Philippine national hero who died by execution in 1896.

Mi último adiós

¡Adiós, Patria adorada, región del sol querida,
Perla del mar de oriente, nuestro perdido Edén!
A darte voy alegre la triste mustia vida,
Y fuera más brillante, más fresca, más florida,
También por ti la diera, la diera por tu bien.

En campos de batalla, luchando con delirio,
Otros te dan sus vidas sin dudas, sin pesar;
El sitio nada importa, ciprés, laurel o lirio,
Cadalso o campo abierto, combate o cruel martirio,
Lo mismo es si lo piden la patria y el hogar.

Yo muero cuando veo que el cielo se colora
Y al fin anuncia el día tras lóbrego capuz;
si grana necesitas para teñir tu aurora,
Vierte la sangre mía, derrámala en buen hora
Y dórela un reflejo de su naciente luz.

Mis sueños cuando apenas muchacho adolescente,
Mis sueños cuando joven ya lleno de vigor,
Fueron el verte un día, joya del mar de oriente,
Secos los negros ojos, alta la tersa frente,
Sin ceño, sin arrugas, sin manchas de rubor

Ensueño de mi vida, mi ardiente vivo anhelo,
¡Salud te grita el alma que pronto va a partir!
¡Salud! Ah, que es hermoso caer por darte vuelo,
Morir por darte vida, morir bajo tu cielo,
Y en tu encantada tierra la eternidad dormir.

Si sobre mi sepulcro vieres brotar un día
Entre la espesa yerba sencilla, humilde flor,
Acércala a tus labios y besa al alma mía,
Y sienta yo en mi frente bajo la tumba fría,
De tu ternura el soplo, de tu hálito el calor.

Deja a la luna verme con luz tranquila y suave,
Deja que el alba envíe su resplandor fugaz,
Deja gemir al viento con su murmullo grave,
Y si desciende y posa sobre mi cruz un ave,
Deja que el ave entone su cántico de paz.

Deja que el sol, ardiendo, las lluvias evapore
Y al cielo tornen puras, con mi clamor en pos;
Deja que un ser amigo mi fin temprano llore
Y en las serenas tardes cuando por mí alguien ore,
¡Ora también, oh Patria, por mi descanso a Dios!

Ora por todos cuantos murieron sin ventura,
Por cuantos padecieron tormentos sin igual,
Por nuestras pobres madres que gimen su amargura;
Por huérfanos y viudas, por presos en tortura
Y ora por ti que veas tu redención final.

Y cuando en noche oscura se envuelva el cementerio
Y solos sólo muertos queden velando allí,
No turbes su reposo, no turbes el misterio,
Tal vez acordes oigas de cítara o salterio,
Soy yo, querida Patria, yo que te canto a ti.

Y cuando ya mi tumba de todos olvidada
No tenga cruz ni piedra que marquen su lugar,
Deja que la are el hombre, la esparza con la azada,
Y mis cenizas, antes que vuelvan a la nada,
El polvo de tu alfombra que vayan a formar.

Entonces nada importa me pongas en olvido.
Tu atmósfera, tu espacio, tus valles cruzaré.
Vibrante y limpia nota seré para tu oído,
Aroma, luz, colores, rumor, canto, gemido,
Constante repitiendo la esencia de mi fe.

Mi patria idolatrada, dolor de mis dolores,
Querida Filipinas, oye el postrer adiós.
Ahí te dejo todo, mis padres, mis amores.
Voy donde no hay esclavos, verdugos ni opresores,
Donde la fe no mata, donde el que reina es Dios.

Adiós, padres y hermanos, trozos del alma mía,
Amigos de la infancia en el perdido hogar,
Dad gracias que descanso del fatigoso día;
Adiós, dulce extranjera, mi amiga, mi alegría,
Adiós, queridos seres, morir es descansar.

José Rizal, 1896

My Last Farewell

Farewell, beloved Country, treasured region of the sun,
Pearl of the sea of the Orient, our lost Eden!
To you eagerly I surrender this sad and gloomy life;
And were it brighter, fresher, more florid,
Even then I’d give it to you, for your sake alone.

In fields of battle, deliriously fighting,
Others give you their lives, without doubt, without regret;
The place matters not: where there’s cypress, laurel or lily,
On a plank or open field, in combat or cruel martyrdom,
It’s all the same if the home or country asks.

I die when I see the sky has unfurled its colors
And at last after a cloak of darkness announces the day;
If you need scarlet to tint your dawn,
Shed my blood, pour it as the moment comes,
And may it be gilded by a reflection of the heaven’s newly-born light.

My dreams, when scarcely an adolescent,
My dreams, when a young man already full of life,
Were to see you one day, jewel of the sea of the Orient,
Dry those eyes of black, that forehead high,
Without frown, without wrinkles, without stains of shame.

My lifelong dream, my deep burning desire,
This soul that will soon depart cries out: Salud!
To your health! Oh how beautiful to fall to give you flight,
To die to give you life, to die under your sky,
And in your enchanted land eternally sleep.

If upon my grave one day you see appear,
Amidst the dense grass, a simple humble flower,
Place it near your lips and my soul you’ll kiss,
And on my brow may I feel, under the cold tomb,
The gentle blow of your tenderness, the warmth of your breath.

Let the moon see me in a soft and tranquil light,
Let the dawn send its fleeting radiance,
Let the wind moan with its low murmur,
And should a bird descend and rest on my cross,
Let it sing its canticle of peace.

Let the burning sun evaporate the rains,
And with my clamor behind, towards the sky may they turn pure;
Let a friend mourn my early demise,
And in the serene afternoons, when someone prays for me,
O Country, pray to God also for my rest!

Pray for all the unfortunate ones who died,
For all who suffered torments unequaled,
For our poor mothers who in their grief and bitterness cry,
For orphans and widows, for prisoners in torture,
And for yourself pray that your final redemption you’ll see.

And when the cemetery is enveloped in dark night,
And there, alone, only those who have gone remain in vigil,
Disturb not their rest, nor the mystery,
And should you hear chords from a zither or psaltery,
It is I, beloved Country, singing to you.

And when my grave, then by all forgotten,
has not a cross nor stone to mark its place,
Let men plow and with a spade scatter it,
And before my ashes return to nothing,
May they be the dust that carpets your fields.

Then nothing matters, cast me in oblivion.
Your atmosphere, your space and valleys I’ll cross.
I will be a vibrant and clear note to your ears,
Aroma, light, colors, murmur, moan, and song,
Constantly repeating the essence of my faith.

My idolized country, sorrow of my sorrows,
Beloved Filipinas, hear my last good-bye.
There I leave you all, my parents, my loves.
I’ll go where there are no slaves, hangmen nor oppressors,
Where faith doesn’t kill, where the one who reigns is God.

Goodbye, dear parents, brother and sisters, fragments of my soul,
Childhood friends in the home now lost,
Give thanks that I rest from this wearisome day;
Goodbye, sweet foreigner, my friend, my joy;
Farewell, loved ones, to die is to rest.

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.

Still livin’ it up in Bed-Stuy

Most of you probably remember that my sister and I had decided to move after our friend was hit upside the head and robbed on our block. Joanie and I had our hearts set on staying in the neighborhood, but moving south towards the A train. After seeing a few places, we found our new home. We moved in on 12/31/08 and presently settling into our apartment. We are quite the apartmenttherapy.com wannabes w/ our decorating process. We’ve decided to slowly set everything up while unpacking so that we don’t have to move things twice. Furthermore, we want our place to feel like home. Pics to come as soon as I get back from DC…I’m celebratin’ the Inauguration in the Capital!

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…
Ingredients:
– 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…

Sistamatik Saves Some Lives – AGAIN



Sistamatik, originally uploaded by joeytoofresh.

I love sharing my skills for a worthy cause. We raised money for Kamay at Puso, an organization in the Philippines aiding toxic waste victims in the town of Madapdap, Pampanga. It was also the Sistamatik reunion – it’s been a while since all three of us played together. Can’t wait to do it again!

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