I was born in the Philippines but due to political and economic reasons, my parents emigrated in the 1970s and settled in New York City when I was a toddler. I grew up in Elmhurst, Queens surrounded by people from all over the world living as neighbors. When I was eight, my mother took me back to the Philippines to visit our family. That trip was the first time I got on a plane (that I could remember) and the first time I traveled overseas. Visiting the place of my birth was so strange because everything was so familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. I confronted poverty for the first time, permanently altering my outlook on life leading to a lifelong curiosity about how other people live.
As I grew up in America, I was raised in a traditional Filipino household. This experience developed my ability to see the world simultaneously through two distinct cultural lenses. Yet being bicultural created great emotional angst especially as a teenager when I rebelled against my parents’ Filipino worldviews. Relief came when I attended Mount Holyoke College where I discovered anthropology. The discipline helped me intellectualize the turmoil I felt inside. I studied foreign cultures of the past and present, learning how people around the planet come to understand the world they live in. I finally discovered how my bicultural identity could be useful and began to accept it as a blessing rather than a burden. At Columbia University, my masters thesis focused on the global movement of people, things, and ideas.
Travel brings to life the cultures I’ve read about in books and quenches my thirst for knowledge about other people. I love to observe how others behave, taste the food they eat, and participate in activities important to them. I seek to understand the factors that influence their behaviors. Yet my impressions are not reserved solely for foreign cultures. I also observe my own. This blog not only covers the places I visit but also the place I call home: New York City. I place special emphasis on Queens because it is the most ethnically diverse county in the United States. I show you how people in New York City live.
Culture is the glue that binds a group together. It is complex, contradictory, and messy. My job is to capture its vividness, make sense of it, and share with you my thoughtful impressions. I hope to increase your curiosity about others and inspire you to step outside your comfort zone and experience the world beyond what you know.