Kumusta kayo, pare?

Posted on Jan 27 1999

I should have known better. In fact, I should have known it from the start. I suspected it at first, but then . . . dismissed it altogether. “Nah,” I thought, “it couldn’t be. It just couldn’t be.”

Then he ordered another round of brews, in perfect Tagalog, too. I thought maybe it was only because he was in the US Navy, stationed at Subic Bay. But then . . . there were other signs as well.

Now, of course, I see through it all: the facade, the sham, the clever deceit. Suddenly, it has all become quite clear. All along, my friend Ed Stephens Jr. was a Filipino in disguise, pretending to be a white American citizen, when, all along, he was nothing more than some suplado balikbayan.

Aye, nako!

I knew it instantly, immediately, when first I read the San Francisco Chronicle’s factual report on the CNMI:

“The two daily newspapers — one of which is owned by Tan — are staffed exclusively by Filipinos on one-year, renewable contracts. Like the garment workers, hotel workers, housekeepers and myriad other foreigners, these imported journalists must practice self-censorship for fear of being deported.”

Then, of course, I realized: So was I–and my uncle, John S. Del Rosario, too.

All these years, I was a Filipino contract worker and didn’t even know it. I never renewed my entry permit, and now I guess I will have to be deported. Hello, Mr. Goldberg!

Now I know why, when I went to the Philippines, they all thought I was a fellow kababayan: because, in fact, it’s true. The San Francisco Chronicle said so, therefore it must–it has–to be true. They wouldn’t publish anything that was false, now would they?

Hindi puede, pare! No way Jose.

Yes, now it is all coming back to me–my proud Filipino heritage: Jose Rizal, Fort Bonifacio, General Aquinaldo, Manuel Quezon, President Roxas, Ramon Magsaysay, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos and the rest.

Yes, it’s true: I am a Filipino. I write for the Saipan Tribune. Like Zaldy and Marvic, my kabayans all, I write what I am told, I obey, lest I be deported.

The two newspapers, the Chronicle says, are staffed exclusively by Filipinos.

And yet all along, I thought our former reporter Ashley Hudson was an American. I thought Mark Broadhurst and Dan Phillips, both Tribune editors once, were Americans. I thought Dan Hughes, a former Marianas Variety editor, was an American. I thought Laila Younis, who writes for the Variety, was a local citizen.

Gee, what interesting things we learn about ourselves when we read mainstream American newspapers!

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