23 October 2007

Vanilla with a Bisaya Coating

Samok Daddy back again for yet another chronicle of his adventures diving into the Bisaya zone...

Okay, so Goobs was turning four and J's relatives in the states still hadn't seen hide nor hair of our two little ones yet. We figured it was high time that we got down to business, hopped in the car, strapped them into their car seats and took off for suburban Detroit to visit the "rellies."
We gave J's cousin a call to get the ball rolling a couple of months ago and the planning started. It was decided that a serious party would take place to celebrate Goobs' birthday. J's cousin, Leah also was having a birthday over the weekend, so the plan was to make it a double birthday bash. J definitely took this seriously...she put together a menu for the occasion and seemed excited to do something like this. It was going to be an all out production...no small potatoes, this party... there were phone calls and plans made. Things were definitely in the works. Samok Daddy looked on when these things were going on and contemplated what this would mean for him. He had been involved with parties in Davao before, but never here...this was something new (enough of the third person goofiness...)
When the time came to go, we left early in the morning from Minnesota. We were on the road by 4:15 am. We had originally planned to stay in a motel on the way, but I felt so good and we had put so many miles behind us, that we soldiered on until we got there at about 7:00 pm eastern time. There were hugs and laughter when we got there. J and her cousin immediately started with the family tsimis. I talked to her husband for quite a while. We were too wired to sleep. The kids slept right away, so that was definitely a blessing.
Well, we did all sorts of touristy things for the first two days of our visit. We spent a lot of time with J's cousin and her husband. Because of that, conversations tended to drift into Bisaya. I am trying to learn as much of the language as possible, but there are gaps. I sat and patiently waited for an explanation or part of the conversation to slide back into English. Sometimes it happened and sometimes it didn't. I tried to gain a gist of most of the conversations. I think I was on track part of the time, but on other occasions I still felt like I was on Mars.
One of the best times we ended up having at the beginning of the visit was going to a filipino restaurant, called "Royal Kubo" in a suburb of Detroit, called Clawson. The food was absolutely wonderful and I believe that the way the family dug in and the manner in which everyone was laughing, that the stuff that lay before us...the adobo, pork barbecue, pinakbet, and bulalo (whoops...lest I forget the piles of rice) was-yes, I'll say it...true "Soul Food." It gave life to our conversations, our smiles (despite our full mouths), and those deep emotions that words are lost on. If you're in Detroit, do yourself a favor and run down to the Royal Kubo. Hopefully, you'll have a light heart and a full belly...just like we did.
Okay...I've been writing a lot and I haven't even gotten to the meat of things. On Saturday we had the party. Okay...I'm a white, midwestern guy, who's used to some pretty dull affairs. We usually have hot dogs and burgers at birthdays and sit our butts down in front of sporting events and are lulled into afternoon nap-comas, only to be wakened for round two of hot dog and potato salad consumption. Filipino parties are far more interesting...First off...the food...We had a bunch of it catered...Let's see...we had pinakbet, chicken curry, bisteak, lumpia, and a whole bunch of other stuff that other folks brought...J's uncle brought his famous dinaguan (samok daddy avoids the dinaguan because he's a wimp). J and I wanted to put a little twist into things...we went to the local asian market and picked up a whole snotload of Kalbi (Korean short ribs) and marinade. We got out a weber kettle and barbecued them. I now know that some filipinos really dig kalbi. Heck, all of the kalbi disappeared, so it had to be popular!!!
So, there was a lot of food. There was also a lot of noise. Parties for this family are not quiet and dead affairs. There were a bunch of people participating in Karaoke...other folks were watching a tape of Manny Paquaio's last fight. Another few people were in the living room messing around on the piano. Others were involved in talking about the latest family dramas...lots of laughter was going on with this. I didn't catch everything since the tsimis session was conducted completely in Bisaya. J told me a lot of what was discussed as we drove back to Minnesota. I will say that her family is much more interesting than mine...we are true vanilla Minnesotans...boring and stoic. Our parties are not really things where you get down, get funky, make a joyful noise, or just get loud. So...anytime where we can whoop it up...it's a good thing.
One of the coolest things that went on was that family in the Philippines was actually involved through the internet. J's cousin used an internet program called "skype" that allowed those with webcams to converse real time back and forth-samok daddy is a dork and isn't up with all the stuff that's out there. They had the computer set up so that J's mom and her aunts in the Philippines were actually part of the party. Everyone had a chance to talk to them and they got a chance to see our kids...which was really cool. The only downside for them was that they couldn't eat all the good food layed out there.
Okay...I've yammered on enough. I just want to state that we had a great time. I have found warmth and welcome in the bosom of our Bisaya side. It didn't matter that I was the only one who was vanilla and not "Manila." The kids loved their stay and I want them to feel more of their roots. J was happy too...she got to catch up on all things with her family that she felt separated from. Now...we're back in the frozen tundra of Minnesota. After witnessing the Karaoke, J now thinks that she wants us to get a Karaoke machine, so the kids can experience their musical filipino side...Okay...we'll try that.
So, now you have a little idea of how the vacation went. I've said a lot. It's time to relax now...


mom2amara said...

I think it's so fantastic that you are trying to learn Bisaya. Dad2Amara is having a hard enough time trying to decipher what food is what!

Speaking of food, even with my fight against some stomach bug, your post made me hungry... So envious of your party fare!

Anonymous said...

bisaya sounds so lyrical to me. I love hearing bisayan people speak. But I'm often out of the loop too!