Posted by: nastypen | October 29, 2006

The Land That Many Hands Built

For the past two days, I was a designate tourist and went to Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and Atlantic City.  I guess my final days at the East Coast are spent shuttling around in a car.  I don’t mind, really.  I have had my fill of culture going to all these museums and the New York public Library.

I went to Atlantic City, where I played with a slot machine for the first time in my life.  I didn’t like it all.  We went to the Trump Taj Mahal.  I thought it was highly ironic and historically-culturally ignorant to name a casino after Taj Mahal.  Well, the Taj Mahal was built by a Muslim monarch for his beloved wife in India.  Gambling is prohibited in Islam.

Moreover, the Taj Mahal is a tomb.  Maybe it was apt after all.  I saw several people fixated at the screens waiting for a jackpot like a zombie out for fresh meat.  We went outside by the boardwalk.  I enjoyed walking outside the casinos.  The Atlantic ocean was fierce.  The winds whipped up the waves like they were stallions crashing the shore.

I was staring at the cold tumultuous ocean and cleared my thoughts from the smoke and despair I inhaled in the casinos.

I took this shot of a woman who might be doing just the same thing:

Crash into me, waves.

The other great thing in Atlantic City is I bought a stash of colorful socks.  I got myself brand new argyle socks….in mint green and hollering orange!  So, I lost ten freaking dollars to Donald Trump’s casino but I gaines six pairs of socks.  Not bad.  I love those socks, I swear.

Of course, I had to have the requisite photo with Lady Liberty, proof that I was a good tourist and dropped by to say hi:

LAdy Liberty and Lady Marmalade

But I must say the trip to Ellis Island I greatly appreciated.  I went around the musuem that used to be the facility that immigrants from Europe pass through before getting in. 

At Ellis Island

It’s all clean now.  But you could just imagine the hustle of the immigrants unwashed from the weeks at sea.  I could smell the stench and the eagerness for a new life.  Last time I was in New York, Ellis Island was being renovated.  Now, I just went through the great hall where millions lined up agitated, tired and hopeful.

There was an installation of pictures of several people of various ethnecities.  You see the pictures on one corner but if you walk and change your angle, you see the American flag.  I thought this is great because it goes to show of the several hands that built America.  It was not the white man that made this country great and a beacon for greener pastures.

Land of the Free....

I may have a lot of issues with America like their role in this earth as the largest Arms dealer and the most powerful aggressor.  But I will not challenge the mystique of America that still entices foreigners to risk life and limb to get in this country that could make their dreams come true.

I cannot tell you the number of times I am told to just leave the Philippines and work here.  I must say I am considering it, but, I don’t want to invest my time and emotion to get to a place.  I’m jsut walking around this earth.

I am tired on how my relatives use occupation as a validation of existence.  It’s like saying “I make this amount amount of money ergo I’m better.”  I think it is utterly pathetic for people to use money as a life’s report card.

The weirdest thing I heard in my trip was from a relative telling me to stay in America, because she knows several female nurses who would want to marry me.  I’ll marry into America.

Uh….HELLO?!?!?!?!  So, that almost made me gag and bits of leche flan almost flew out of my nose.  Are these people blind or in denial?  HAHAHAHA…..My mother’s proudest moment: to see her only son marry an Americanized nurse.  Just a few weeks ago, I’m told that my mom had a fortune telling session and her son will be married and in North America and subservient.  Woohoo.  Like that will happen.

Anyway, back to ellis Island.  I like the fact they used several editorial cartoons in their exhibits to show the immigration issues.  this is one of my most favorite:

Compare and Contrast

I like this because this is how a lot of Filipinos justify their leaving the Philippines.  I cannot blame them.  You see a groaning land of filth in Manila with inept politicains and jaded people shuttling back and forth from thankless jobs.  Dreaming of greener pasture IS the Filipino national pasttime.

There was a database on the number of immigrants in marica.  I searched for Filipinos and there are 1.8 million DOCUMENTED Filipinos in USA.  Apaches, native Americans who have roamed the land for several millennia just has 47,000 people in the states. 

Asian immigrants at the start of the 20th Century

Filipinos started to trickle in Hawaii, alsaka and California at the start of the 20th Century, when America usurped our revolt against Spain and colonized us under the guise of benevolent assimilation.  So, Ilocanos were the first Filipino exports to Hawaii to work in pineapple plantations.  Some Filipinos worked in Alaska tanning cow hides amd such.  i remember doing research in high school and I chanced upon a photograph in early 1900s California of shop that had a sign “Dogs and Filipinos not allowed.”  Fast forward a century later and the largest Filipino communuity is in California.

Basically, jobs that the average America would not do or would not think of a primary profession landed on the Filipinos.  Then, we picked oranges in orchards.  Now, we’re nurses.  And what a big nursing industry it is.  so much so that people are willing to cheat just to get in.  Some Filipino recruiters would bleed Filipino nurses dry by submitting them to modern-day sanctioned slavery.  I can paint you a portrait of a recruiter I met that is so vampiric that I wanted to curse her but then realized that life has cursed her with an ugly face.  No matter how much she buries herslef with jewelry and brand clothing, a mangy puppy is more adorable than her.

The fact is that there are several layers and issues to be dealt with when you dream of greener pastures. 

Now, there are Americans who are harking xenophobia and telling them that foreigners and immigrants will steal American jobs.  I would like to slap people when they go in litanies of border stability or how immigrants will spread diseases in their communuity.

Hello.  America is built by immigrants. 

I especially like this section of the exhibit when an immigration officer asks a Jewish immigrant questions on her mental capacity and other capabilities:

You said it, sister!

I was asked by the immigration officer when it was my turn to be queried how much money do I have with me.  I told him “Enough for a tourist.”  I told him of the amount and raised my eyebrow and said I have no plans to sneaking in your country to work here in underemployed purgatory.  Please!

Ah well, I like America because of their museums, library and the availability of strawberry milkshakes in McDonald’s. 

i was in one of the many rooms of the ellis Island facility and saw this view:

I thought and understood why a lot of people would be seduced by the images filtered to them.  America is a country reliant of images.  People yearn for a dinner table brimming with food.  The flashbulbs that adorn celebrities famous but with no apparent talents.  How about the gadgets and the cars that are proofs of one’s status?  The crawling buildings that will violate the heavens and dominate the skyline.  The prospect of snow and bouncing on the soft white powder from the sky.  Postcards of a glittering city to be sent as weapons for envy to relatives.




  1. You truly amaze me, Chong! I mean, your thoughts and comments about migration, immigrants and also how you think about life here on this planet. I wish there were more people like you. Anyway, for other goods news, Smart Bro is now offering Smart WiFly through Airborne Access! Just add 99 pesos to your monthly fee for six months, and then only 199 pesos right after the promo period in case you want to continue the service.

  2. hahaha, thanks fanataical teacher…mejo naloka ako at mega praise ka tapos may i insert ka ng plugging sa smart bro! hahahah i might avail of that. Might. hahaha

  3. sir chong! you look so pogi(ganda) in that pic of urs with lady liberty! =p take care always!

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