Thursday, February 12, 2009

Daly City Semi-Love Song

I have Daly City on the brain.

REASON NUMBER 1. Every third grader has been assigned a city within San Mateo County and is required to turn in a written report, deliver an oral presentation, and develop some sort of visual enhancements. Vida was jumping out of her Converse when she was given Daly City. There are few things more amusing than a 9-year-old pumping her fist and saying, "Yes! Yes!" Risa, on the other hand, stood perplexed when assigned the venture capitalist capital of the world: Woodside. "Where is this place?" she said, staring at her paper.

REASON NUMBER 2. It so happened that my dad had a craving for Sinugba the other day, thus giving Vida the opportunity for field research. The restaurant turned out to be closed, so ignoring all other input, I made a beeline for Westlake Shopping Center (making quick stops first at my high school and then our old house), home of Daly City's one branch of Nation's. As we drove down endless Southgate Ave., Dad gave Vida a little impromptu suburban architecture talk and pointed out that every third or fourth house was exactly the same. Meanwhile, I was shocked to realize that a lovely view of San Francisco Bay was spread across my sightline. Was that always there? I asked myself. Of course, you idiot, I answered. You just weren't looking.

REASON NUMBER 3. During this same time, I was (and still am) reading Sunny's Pinoy Capital: The Filipino Nation in Daly City. A third of the way through I had to e-mail him to scream about how frighteningly spot-on he is with his observations about the cultural landscape of Serramonte Mall, the breach of understanding between newly arrived Filipinos and the more established, and the fact that there is nowhere (such as parks) that encourages community gathering. The closest thing to a park has always been the Serramonte food court and, for a little while, Westlake Bowl. When I was eight or nine, I used to walk to the library, but I stopped going after I'd been flashed too many times by some perv in a grey trenchcoat. Oh Sunny, wailed your Nesting Ground Mistress in her e-mail, I was so psychologically boxed in by the omnipresent fog and the orderly lines of houses! Is it any wonder I never noticed the Bay?

*pause for dramatic effect*

Thank God Sunny didn't take the easy opportunity to make fun of me (at least not TO me). I also want to note that his take on the story behind first Filipino Mayor Mike Guingona's rise to the pinnacle of Daly City politics is a must-read.

REASON NUMBER 4. While all this was happening my eldest brother, who has lived on the North Shore of Oahu for twenty years and whose online presence has been hitherto slim, made his splashy debut on Facebook. This simple act contributed significantly to the Daly City pile-on because it inspired a flurry of Fairlawn Ct. remembrances from our cousins. Most of these memories revolved around skateboards, a truly horrible game called "Butts Up," and a guy named Fish who once held my little life in his hands as we careened down a large hill on his skateboard with no thought given to cross-traffic or other pertinent dangers.

REASON NUMBER 5. Add to this two questions, one posed by Barbara Jane and one by a white neighbor who grew up in San Bruno, and you have all the ingredients necessary for a lengthy trip down memory lane. Guess who asked which question:

1) "You're D.C., right?"
2) "What is your relationship to your city?"

If you didn't guess correctly, you're funny.

I left Daly City for good when I was seventeen years old, and I have had many homes since then: San Francisco, Vancouver (Canada), Washington, D.C., Virginia, Santa Barbara, and now San Mateo. But none have the visceral pull of the long empty streets of my foggy, Filipino-filled hometown. I'd post a picture for you, but would you believe it? I don't have one.


Jimsjoint said...

If you visit Daly City on one of the 10 days per year when there is no fog, you wonder why you ever left! That view of the Pacific that you see when going down Southgate is really beautiful.

I could have sworn that your family (and Lola and Lolo) were the first Filipino families in Daly City. I tell everyone that you were.

I continue to enjoy reading your blog. More Norm and Sue would be great!


72 Fairlawn Ct : )

Shuboy said...

interesting how our views differ... I remember thinking, "one day I'll live in one of those apartments" (the ones right across the street from our house). that changed to, "I gotta get outta here". and I did. The cities got bigger... SF, New York, Dallas, New York again, back to SF and now I live in the little, tiny town of Madison, WI.
who knew?
Now all I want to do is be with my whole family again. Doesn't matter where. If I could (and everyone would do it) I'd just move you all out here. Since that's not gonna happen -
I guess...
I gotta get outta here!!!

Shuboy said...

Mr. "72"... I'm with you on us being the first Filipino family in D.C. the first time I saw kids "like me' was in 6th grade - Jessica Nimenzo and Maricar Nunez. I guess they were the 2nd and 3rd families!

Frank said...

Hey Ver,I would like to share with you and mikey that my spouse is the second Filipino family in D.C.yes its Jessica Nemenzo.Ver your so funny,I think the same when we drive down southgate,make the right on 87th left on Pinehaven pull in the driveway to jessica moms home.The everlasting memories just flood my thoughts,the little foggy town that we know as D.C.

ver said...

Hey 72! Soooo weird to drive down our block now. 88 is home to someone who ALSO keeps a boat on the front lawn; the house evidently has its own karma.

Frank(ie)! SHUT UP! You and Jessica Nemenzo? Very clever of you to marry into one the triumvirate of Daly City's first families. I guess the question now is: who did Maricar Nunez marry?!

Hey, Kuya, Kuya R. will be here on the 28th for a week with the boys and some girl from South Africa (?!!). Come out!

Shuboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank said...

Ver,if Kuya R comes out from the islands I sure would like to meet up with you guys in San Mateo or if you have an idea? I would be there in a minute. It would be good times,to visit with everyone please let me know if he has time during his visit.because we'll comeout.!!

ver said...

Let's have dinner at the Peppermill and dessert at Farrell's. You and Kuya can share the pig's trough. HAHAHAHAHAHA! Kidding aside, it sounds like fun! Lemme work it out with my big brother. If you're on Facebook, hit me up; it'll be easier to communicate...

Marianne said...


This was sooo interesting! Is "Nation" a bookstore, a stationery store, or a restaurant?