Thoughts from stateside

Today would be my 2 years in this country, although I've moved to a different state since then. The first thing I noticed here is that moving from one state to another is a BIG deal. It's tantamount to moving from one country to another. Driver's license has to change, car plates, insurance--everything. It's like starting over again. People don't easily move from one state to another, because it means a different set of state laws (a striking example would be the recognition of gay marriage in some states,) a different computation of taxes (I pay more income tax in KY than in FL, but sales tax is lower,) a different demographic (more white, more conservative, etc.) Contrast that to how Filipinos are so raring to move out of the country, an anywhere-but-here mentality. It was an eye-opener for me to see how difficult it was for Americans to uproot themselves from one state to another. Most gave up their jobs, (which was hard given the economic climate) choosing to stay unemployed than move from Florida to Kentucky. At the back of my mind I was thinking, if this were in the Philippines, this would be a no-brainer. Breadwinners leave their families all the time.

Another thing. Outside the liberal media, US is a very conservative nation. Just how many states have legalized gay marriage? Toys "R" Us pulled out a Life With Archie comics that featured a gay couple getting married because people were threatening to boycott the store. Same with JCPenney, because they hired Ellen DeGeneres, a lesbian--although JCPenney didn't buckle down from the threat. Recently, a grassroot campaign in California has released a "study" that said allowing gay people to marry would promote polygamy. Republicans vying for their party's presidential nomination quote Bible passages to oppose gay marriage. If they have their way, the Bible would replace the Constitution. Bullying has caused so many students to jump off bridges or hang themselves. A 71-year old Texas woman beat and choked her grandson's roommate because she thought the roommate's gay. Tolerance is a hard thing to come by. Some people still adhere to the white supremacist ideology. I'm white, I'm right.

Also. They're not very conscious of grammar. African-Americans speak the way they do (double negatives, subject-verb disagreement, etc) because they're not very good in English. Hollywood and the music industry have made it cool--and thereby acceptable to the rest of the world. You speak very good English--I've heard this many times from black officemates. For them, even though they've lived here for twenty years or forty years, they struggle with it. English is a complicated language to learn, especially when the sentences start to run off to infinity and beyond, separated by endless commas, semi-colons, long dashes without a full stop in sight. Even writers make these grammatical and spelling errors. Which is understandable for early drafts and you're in the middle of a hundred-thousand-word manuscript (that's why there's an editor.) At some point, you lose perspective and you just want to be done with your draft. Screw grammar, he can go fuck spelling. I don't correct anyone at all how to speak or how to write, unless they ask me to. Because that would be equivalent to an American correcting me how to speak and write in Filipino. Loosen up when people make grammatical mistakes. Nobody's perfect. Just look in the mirror.

Last. There are Americans who have a very narrow view of the world outside them. Some thinks that outside America is an uncivilized world. Do you have electricity in the Philippines? An officemate asked me last year before I travelled to Manila. But that's not to say that it's any different than some Filipinos. Do you have electricity in Bicol? A classmate in freshman college asked me. I want the two of them to meet so I could bang their heads together.

Comments

  1. So true. I am reminded of the opening clip/credits of True Blood. White supremacists, the conservative religious right, etc. Let's just all move to Europe! Chos.

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