Islander in the City:


Last November 8, I woke up with a major vexation to the spirit gone.
Now I only have to contend with another vexation considered the “emotional twin brother” of the defeated US president.

To be sure, I am not an admirer of anything American.

It takes time to like anything or anyone from the USA. I prefer European musicians to Americans.
But I did like folk singer Joan Baez.

However, I easily took to American authors.
The initial dislike?
Blame it on the Filipino-American war genocide.
Blame it on the Vietnam war.
Blame it on the likes of Bush whose face got pummeled by flying shoes in one presscon.

But I have special affection for Peace Corps volunteer Bill Keating whose Catanduanes stay introduced me to American literature in my high school days.

Moreover, I didn’t have an American Dream.
There was no hint of envy when I hear our then CNHS exchange scholar talk about her American experience during the morning flag ceremonies.

Many years after, there was no excitement when I was invited to cover a ballet company’s performance in Mexico and then on to New York — my first foreign travel in American soil.

Dialogue at the US Embassy visa section:
How much money do you have in the bank?
Not much.
How long do you plan to stay in New York?
Three days.
What do you do?
I am a music reviewer.
Name three American composers?
Copeland, Barber, Bernstein.
Ok. You got your visa. We can give you more than three days in New York.

I insisted on staying only three days.
I was given a one-week visa but I only spent three days in America just to pose with the New York pianos of Cecile Licad, to see New York on top of the Empire State Building and set foot at the Met lobby and the Carnegie Hall.

On the third day, I left for airport and bought a book of fiction on old New York at the JFK Kennedy airport book store.

To this day, I don’t know the lyrics of New York, New York.
But I like the new president and the new vice president and yes, that feisty lady representative-elect of New York.

Listening to their speeches, I feel they represent what is real and good about America.
At least for the moment.
Come to think of it, my favorite book on the good ol’ USA is Carlos Bulusan’s ‘America Is In The Heart.’

I like the tenor of the speech of the president-elect:
“For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment. I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again. And to make progress we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies. This is the time to heal in America.”

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