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Pinoy Capital

Pinoy Capital: The Filipino Nation in Daly City

Benito M. Vergara
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Pinoy Capital
    Book Description:

    Home to 33,000 Filipino American residents, Daly City, California, located just outside of San Francisco, has been dubbed "the Pinoy Capital of the United States." In this fascinating ethnographic study of the lives of Daly City residents, Benito Vergara shows how Daly City has become a magnet for the growing Filipino American community.

    Vergara challenges rooted notions of colonialism here, addressing the immigrants' identities, connections and loyalties. Using the lens of transnationalism, he looks at the "double lives" of both recent and established Filipino Americans. Vergara explores how first-generation Pinoys experience homesickness precisely because Daly City is filled with reminders of their homeland's culture, like newspapers, shops and festivals. Vergara probes into the complicated, ambivalent feelings these immigrants have-toward the Philippines and the United States-and the conflicting obligations they have presented by belonging to a thriving community and yet possessing nostalgia for the homeland and people they left behind.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-666-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. 1 A Repeated Turning
    (pp. 1-22)

    One will hear the joke told, eventually, though it hardly ever sounds like one. It’s almost always delivered casually, thrown out like an offhand rhetorical question, as a matter of incontestable fact. “You know why it’s always foggy in Daly City, right? Because all the Filipinos turn on their rice cookers at the same time.” This particular teller of the joke (Wally, a newspaper photographer) and I (a student of anthropology) are sitting in scuffed plastic chairs in the living room of his cramped apartment in the Pinoy capital of the United States. We are both among the 33,000 Filipino...

  4. 2 Little Manila
    (pp. 23-45)

    If you drive down California’s Skyline Highway a little too fast, you might miss Daly City altogether. Bordering San Francisco to its south, Daly City, like much of suburban America, stretches its boundaries into the next town, in a diffuse mass of tract housing—varying in age, cost, architecture, and prestige—that extends from the Sunset District in San Francisco all the way down south to Foster City and beyond. What were once acres of cabbage patches and pig ranches became, from the late 1940s through the 1970s, rows upon endless rows of suburban dwellings crisscrossing the Colma hills.


  5. 3 Looking Forward: Narratives of Obligation
    (pp. 46-79)

    When he was 11, Wally Curameng¹ dreamed of coming to America. His cousins, who were his earliest childhood playmates, immigrated to the United States. “Even then,” he told me, “I was already excited to come here to the States because my cousins, they’d write, they’d send pictures—it’s like this in the United States, it’s great in the States, like that. But I said to myself, I decided to ignore it because I knew I had no chance to come here.” Curameng’s father had been a Boy Scout and one of the Philippines’ representatives to worldwide Scout gatherings, or Jamborees,...

  6. 4 Spreading the News: Newspapers and Transnational Belonging
    (pp. 80-108)

    If the desire for transnationality is embedded in Filipino immigrant lives, it is perhaps most prominently displayed in the pages of a newspaper. ThePhilippine News, a Filipino weekly newspaper based in South San Francisco, California, is the most politically influential of all Filipino newspapers in the United States and also one of the oldest. It is the most widely circulated and the most prominent Filipino newspaper in America today. For that reason alone, thePhilippine Newsilluminates the political and cultural dynamics of the Filipino immigrant community and offers a better understanding of the ways in which Filipino immigrant...

  7. 5 Looking Back: Indifference, Responsibility, and the Anti-Marcos Movement in the United States
    (pp. 109-133)

    The tension between the desire to demonstrate immigrant achievement and the need for political awareness may be directed “forward” to the United States or, more importantly, “back” to the Philippines. I argue that the call to remembrance, to a kind of nationalism outside of the country’s borders, is integral to understanding the Filipino community. The call for more active, concerned participation in the affairs of the homeland, demanding sacrifice, was most acute during the Marcos regime, and it still is potent today. But Philippine nationalism was not only at cross-purposes with a new life in America, it was also contradictory...

  8. 6 Betrayal and Belonging
    (pp. 134-160)

    Many scholars have used the push-pull model of migration, but it has been criticized for its neo-functionalism and assumption of discrete, autonomous receiving and sending states (Rouse 1992). Rouse adds that “the emphasis on a bipolar framework has obscured the ways in which many settlers…have managed to maintain active involvements with the people and places they have left behind and…have often helped create new kinds of communities that span the international border” (1992, 25).¹ His reconceptualization is a valuable reminder that places like Daly City (and the people who reside in them) perhaps inveitably derive their identities from at least...

  9. 7 Citizenship and Nostalgia
    (pp. 161-191)

    If the immigrant predicament requires the careful balancing of obligations to homeland and new home—as manifested in the acts of turning and turning back—then it is made all the more difficult by perceptions of betrayal. Citizenship, or the act of naturalization, is one of the more definitive acts that can foreclose the possibility of “turning back.” To become an American citizen is to accept that state’s protective guidance and, most important, to uphold that country’s practices and beliefs and ostensibly renounce another’s. This characterization is, of course, not entirely accurate, as such a scenario is not encouraged in...

  10. 8 Pinoy Capital
    (pp. 192-206)

    On a summer day in 1931, the writer Carlos Bulosan stood on the deck of a ship after almost a month in steerage and saw America for the first time. He felt he had come home.

    We arrived in Seattle on a June day. My first sight of the approaching land was an exhilarating experience. Everything seemed native and promising to me. It was like coming home after a long voyage, although as yet I had no home in this city. Everything seemed familiar and kind. … With a sudden surge of joy, I knew that I must find a...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-214)
  12. Index
    (pp. 215-222)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 223-223)