TONY / 412 clifton Ave
I grew up in the Philippines until the age of 7 and then in Passaic at the end of route 21. I have happy memories from growing up with my 4 brothers and one sister, who sadly has passed away now. If you saw how close we are all now, you would not believe how much we fought with each other as kids, we all laugh about it now. Family is important to my heritage, - we all live in the States and spend a lot of time together, which other people don’t seem to find as normal. Food is important to all of us, there is a thing where there is always way too much food at Filipino family events and everyone’s like “Did you eat? Did you eat?”. We all bring something, and I usually bring ambrosia, for which I use lots of natural foodstuffs like pineapple, strawberries, grapes, tangerines. At the end there is always still enough leftovers for everyone to take something home. We have a lot of ad-hoc get togethers, rather than waiting for thanksgiving for example. You just fire up your grill and call people and then it’s a party!
We are tight and a very blended family too, - everyone has married into different races/nationalities, - like I have a black sister in-law, one from Poland, one from Uruguay, my brother in-law from Puerto Rico. When we have family re-unions in the Philippines, people joke – could you not marry any Filipinos ;)?
Catholic faith is very central to us and the Rosary is an important symbol, - we pray before going to bed, - ‘.you make the cross, palm of the elder and put it to your forehand and then you are blessed.
My niece is a minister at a church now.
Another happy place for me looks like summer times spent on the beach, - I go to Sandy Hook a lot on my bike. Certain colours are important in my life, like red, black, robin egg blue and Cyrillian blue. Patterns that are meaningful to me include the star from the Philippine flag, which has four rays, with more rays in the background so it like a cross. My partner is Panamanian, that flag also has a star on it. I love the jimson weed flower, - there one is the park at Greenwich village, one day I saw it walking by, and went ‘wow, that’s a very interesting flower’ – it reminded me of a painting by Georgia Keefe. The day I first met my partner in the east village, I picked one of them and walked inside the bar with it, - he was looking at me, going like ‘where did you get this?’.
I feel very connected to Forrest Hill, - you develop friendships and certain people are a big part of the neighbourhood – when people move away it’s a loss. When I tell my work colleagues that I know my neighbours they are amazed, - it seems unusual in this day and age. Branchwood park and the cherry blossoms are a big part of living here, - the family checking with each other ‘Are they out yet?’. Considering there are a lot of Asians in the community it would be nice if Asian culture was a bit more represented in the community and at events.