#TrailingSpouseStories: Embracing Filipino version 2.0

Photo by Daniel Joshua Rubin

Welcome to June’s #TrailingSpouseStories.  This month we explore our national identity and how it shows in our day-to-day expat life.  We also reflect on how our itinerant life has influenced the expression of our national identity and how we feel about it.

Last week I had a friend over. We’ve been friends since the 6th grade, sharing the same middle class, Catholic school girl, college graduate and working professionals backgrounds. We’ve gone separate ways as she left the Philippines for New York City, while I stayed behind, then later on left the country for Dubai and the US.

Here we were again, catching up in person after years of sustaining our tried and tested friendship via online channels. Apart from the usual girl talk and I-can’t-believe-we’re-all-grown up stories, the expat life crept into the conversation often, an exchange of notes on the variety of experiences in the big city and the suburbs and in different countries.

Though we’ve been away from our countries for so long, we both were still unabashedly Filipino, holding Philippine passports. We ate Filipino food often (Homemade sisig was our 1st meal) and, sadly, cannot survive too long without white rice. We read, spoke and wrote the language. We shared our expat lives with fellow Filipinos: family, roommates, friends.

But we were definitely not the same Filipinos that we were back home.

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Pink’s Hot Dogs @ Los Angeles, CA

Summertime is hotdog time!

In the Philippines, hotdogs are usually for breakfast with rice and eggs please! Or maybe for merienda (i.e. snack) in a bun or encased in a sweet, buttery waffle or plain on a stick.

But in America, summertime means hotdog time. I don’t know why. But I suppose because these are the snacks you have in the ballpark. Yep, baseball season is now here. Or because hotdogs are best done on the grill, which is most popular in this sun drenched season.

In Los Angeles, Pink’s is the place to be at for hot dogs.

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The 2nd best fried chicken in America

That’s REAL GOOD fried chicken

You can never have too much of a good thing…especially with fried chicken. The best fried chicken (at least to me) at Gus’ Fried Chicken is a minimum of 3 hours of driving. Luckily, they have a branch in Austin City,

But, when I have a hankering for really, really good fried chicken, I think the second best is more than good enough. Thankfully, the trek for the second best fried chicken is a couple of minutes drive versus hours.

And the surprising thing about this fried chicken is that it comes out of a fast food joint.

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Mary’s Cafe in Strawn, Texas

Chicken Fried Steak Haven

The Husband and I are always keen to try local Texas food. Ones that are made by and made for locals who have lived in their neck of the woods for long. After reading about Mary’s Cafe and its famous chicken fried steak in a travel magazine up in the sky, we knew we had to visit that neck of the Texas woods even if it is a two hour drive from home.

I know, we are cray cray like that.

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Lion City Chinese Cafe in Plano, TX

Char Kway Teow

When we lived in Dubai, The Husband and I yearned for good East Asiand and Southeast Asian food. There wasn’t an abundance of it as compared to the South Asian and Middle Eastern resturants. Understandably so, especially that there is a skew of the expat population to South Asians and Middle Easterners.

And so, when we arrived here in the US, we were ecstatic. We landed in Atlanta’s East / Southeast Asian food paradise. And when we moved to Texas, we were relieved to have access to a lot of our beloved East / Southeast Asian cuisines.

I’m more than happy that we have a good choice of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese restaurants. But I never expected to find authentic Singaporean food here.

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Grand Canyon National Park, AZ (The South Rim): That grand hole in the ground

Meditate on that

Ever since The Husband and I have hit the road towards the West Coast, we’ve wanted to hit that great hole in the ground – The Grand Canyon.

The first attempt, we failed miserably. We underestimated the distance of the canyon from Show Low, AZ. Remember that quaint mountain town where life was unbelievably slow? It was a 3-hour one way trip and the sun was already setting. We settled for a smaller (definitely not lesser) National Park, the Petrified Forest, which was an hour away from Show Low.

The second time we tried, we were just too pressed for time. There was a 10-hour road trip ahead back to Texas and no more time to enjoy the grandeur of the Grand Canyon. We decided to pass it up and drive on.

The third time was the charm, as they’ve said. It really was. The Husband and I planned well and made it!

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Central BBQ in Memphis, TN

BBQ mural

When I talk about American barbeque / bbq places, I always talk about the star of the show: the low and slow, smoked meats that you can tear with your fingers, that melts like butter in your mouth. Rightfully so, because it wouldn’t be called a barbecue place without it.

But with Central BBQ in Memphis, TN, I will not talk about their bbq. Their brisket is average. Their sausage meh. It looked more like an overcooked, shrivelled hotdog than sausage to me. Their pork ribs were good – moist, savory and sweet. Just the way I like my ribs.

Though tasty, I do not remember those ribs as much as I do their bbq beans. Good Lord. Those bbq beans were the best that I’ve ever had.

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A Conversation on the LGBT Trailing Spouse Life in NYC with Shakira Sison

Shakira Sison and her wife after their triumphant marriage in NYC

Welcome to April 2015’s #TrailingSpouseStories!  This month, we played with April Fools and asked each other “What got you “fooled” into being a trailing spouse?  What myths did you start out with and what did you discover in the process?”  Here is my take on the matter.

I’ve been reading Palanca award winner Shakira Sison‘s weekly column on Rappler for quite some time now. She is a brilliant writer, often (if not always), nailing on the head insights about experiences on the plight of Filipinos abroad, life in the US and, of course, issues on LGBT. We are very proud to have her with us this month as she is our very 1st LGBT trailing spouse to join us in the #TrailingSpouseStories blog crawl.

Shakira, like most of us fools for love, actually left her life the Philippines to trail her then partner, now wife, to NYC. She and I had a great conversation about her decision to leave the home country and life in the US, hence, this will be a long read. But I do promise you that it is worth every second of your time :-)

This is her story on love, life, legends and lores as a LGBT Filipino trailing spouse in the Big Apple.

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