This may sound somewhat shocking considering I was in Los Angeles and the Bay Area for about 11 days, but I only had Filipino food once during the entire trip. Isn’t that crazy? Thank goodness it was good Filipino food!
July 1 was the beginning of the busiest part of our vacation. My family and I left Camarillo that morning to make the drive to La Puente, where one of my mom’s grade school classmates lives.
Before we officially “left” Camarillo, we stopped by the place — a small building outside a strawberry farm — that sold Tita Chabeth the sweetest strawberries I’d ever tasted. We bought one bag of them as a gift for my mom’s classmate.
Camarillo is over seventy miles away from La Puente, so it took a while to get there (to say the least). The one thing I noticed is that the temperature outside got hotter as we got closer!
When we finally made it, we were greeted by some of my mom’s grade school classmates who live in the area. Lunch, entirely Filipino food, was untouched on the table, and we were told to eat. That’s one of the things I noticed about Filipinos in general — food is a top priority in social gatherings. Don’t serve food? You’re not a good host.
Want to hear a difference between Los Angeles and Dallas? Smaller homes. Homes in LA just tend to be… well, smaller. Sometimes, it’s a little shocking to see that not every house fits Dallas norms. Personally, I kind of like smaller houses. They give that more cozy and “homey” feel.
One of my mom’s classmates also had three children that she brought along with her: two daughters (both older than me) and one son who was slightly younger than me. I’ve noticed something — a somewhat disturbing trend — throughout my trip regarding people around my age: once you hit around age 12 or 13, talking with peers you don’t know can be very… awkward.
If you’ve never met in person or you don’t follow each other very much on social media like Facebook or Instagram (trust me, it makes a huge difference), then you have to go through an obligatory “warming up” period filled with very little talking. It usually takes somewhere between a few hours and a few days, but it’s usually towards the “few days” end if any one is on the shyer side.
It makes me jealous of my younger brother, a seven-year-old, who can just find anyone near his age and start playing with them. When you’re young, you can just play whenever you want with whoever you want. You don’t have to have anything in common — some of my friends I met when I was younger turned out to like the opposite of the things I like — you just have to want to play!
Those three definitely had one major advantage over me, though. They actually know what Filipino food is. Seeing the three of them get food on their own made me feel out of place. I had to keep whispering to my mom, “What’s that? Is that good?”
The biggest problem is that my mom doesn’t make traditional Filipino food. (Every adobo I’ve tasted tastes similar, except for my mom’s.) My mom has this tendency to “fusion-ize” or just simply change her Filipino food so that it’s more “fun.” I can’t complain, though. After all, I do like my mom’s cooking best. (Everyone should like their mother’s cooking most of all, right?)
I got my food and sat down on the couch with the other three — they were finishing their food — as I tried my best to not sit too close to them. I’d rather not be remembered as the person who doesn’t know personal boundaries.
Like any good Filipino household, The Filipino Channel (TFC) was on in their living room. It gave us all something to stare at, and it distracted them from noticing my complete helplessness with the food. The only problem was that I don’t speak Filipino. I don’t know if they understood Filipino (maybe they thought I spoke Filipino?), but I ended up just staring at the television hopelessly. They at least seemed to know what was going on.
“Just make up a conversation based on their facial expressions!” my friend Alessia texted me. (For those of you who watch TFC, it was one of those pop culture shows where they talk about celebrities and trendy things.)
The three kids seemed very nice, just a little bit on the shyer side. They’re probably like me; I don’t do that well with a group of people I don’t know. When they left, they all still said, “Nice meeting you,” which I thought was very kind considering we barely spoke to each other. I’m sure that if there was more time, maybe another day, we would’ve definitely started talking a lot more. (It happened later in my vacation with my cousins I didn’t even know existed, so it’s definitely possible.)
I ended up sitting there on the couch watching TFC. I had absolutely no idea what I was watching, because there were some children (and I do mean children) singing “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction. It was complete with lyrics on the screen, beach scenes, and a girl their age.
It was great to see my mom’s classmates again. Tita Giselle, who stayed at my house a few years ago when she and Tita Happy visited, actually remembered the promise she made me years ago! She promised that we would go out for donuts together (we both love donuts, although we don’t have them often), and she told me that she would bring donuts with her tomorrow when we go to the Philippine Consulate. I would’ve never guessed that she would remember!
It was great seeing my mom have so much fun. Occasionally, she’ll remark about the food we had there and how good it was. I’ll always respond with, “Which one was that?”
After we left La Puente, we began the drive down to my mom’s college friend’s house, whom I affectionately call “Uncle Steve.”